Gayish: We need to talk about grilling
Gayish on GLUE: Two homosexuals, unpacking queer stereotypes one at a time.
So much of gay men’s lives involve breaking the stereotypes and assumptions of what it means to be a man.
Traditional society expects men to provide for their families, light fires, be a little socially isolated, eat meat, and care for their lawns. That’s why we talked about the ultimate straight man stereotype: grilling.
The idea that men have historically been hunters who find and kill animals to feed their family seems to fuel a lot of the modern-day explanations for why men are the way that they are.
It’s a seemingly scientific way to justify the assumptions of what it means to be a man. But is it really true?
Turns out, the idea that men are hunters and women are gatherers, each in distinct societal roles, is a sweeping generalization that doesn’t capture the full complexity of early gender norms.
In 2018, when the remains of a person buried in the Andes Mountains found along side advanced hunting tools was discovered to be female, it threw into question the assumptions society makes about hunters.
A 2020 research study found that 30-50% of big game hunters in the area during that time could have been biologically female, a far cry from the standard “men are hunters, women are gatherers” narrative that has long been established and fed into our psyche.
For comparison, when anthropologist Carol Ember surveyed 179 societies, she found 13 in which women participated in hunting. There’s truth to the fact that men tend to be hunters in early civilizations, but the generalization that men are hunters both discounts the women that also hunted and unfairly characterizes men as the ones solely responsible for providing food.
In a similar vein, the idea that men need to “provide for their families” in often incorrectly associated with early cavemen days when men (and yes, women) hunted game for food. The truth is, these societies shared the bounty of the hunt with the community, so men weren’t focused exclusively on their immediate family. They worked together for the greater good.
Generalizations about the past get so narrowly misinterpreted and applied to explain toxic behavior in the present.
The idea that men do the grilling brought up a surprising amount of stereotypes, not only about gender, but about sexuality, race, and nationalism.
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