Why Can’t We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving Them Feminine Labels?

There’s been a big push culturally to erode traditional gender roles; to prove that men and women are equal and equally capable of filling roles that were once assigned to just one sex. For example: that women can pursue successful business careers and men can care for children. Or that women can display strong logic and men can be emotional and nurturing.

But somehow this has backfired on us and cultural expectations of gender are just getting more rigid. That statement probably raised a few eyebrows. We’ve come a long way, many will argue. Women are now accepted in traditionally masculine professions. They don’t have to just stay at home and raise children any more. We have freedom, equality! Besides, gender is just a cultural construct and we can redefine it however we want so those roles aren’t so confining.

That’s not what we’ve done though. Take, for example, the problem of people pushing young children to identify as transgendered (which the American College of Pediatricians defines as “child abuse”). If a child displays traits outside the gender associated with their biological sex, they’re encouraged to get their sex changed. Instead of making it acceptable for a little girl to embrace femininity and enjoy “boy things” like superheroes and tractors, she’s told she’s not really a girl. She’s a boy. In a fit of mass cultural insanity, we’re making social constructions of gender more rigid while trying to make a person’s biological sex something that’s flexible.

Stranger Things’ New “Mom”

I started thinking about this topic (at least in the context of this blog post) when I came across this image while scrolling through Pinterest:Why Can't We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving them Feminine Labels? Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.comLike many Stranger Things fans, Season 2 turned Steve Harrington into one of my favorite characters. For those of you not watching the show, Steve was a stereotypical character  in the first season but in Season 2 he got some spectacular character development. He grew from a standard jock  into a hero who has a great relationship with the younger main characters. And for some reason that gets him labeled as their “mom” by the Internet.

Why Can't We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving them Feminine Labels? Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.com Why Can't We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving them Feminine Labels? Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.comWhy Can't We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving them Feminine Labels? Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Now, I doubt any of the people describing Steve as the “mom” of the group intended to make any sort of sociopolitical commentary on modern conceptions of gender. But why is it that when a male character who’s previously shown stereotypically “masculine” traits becomes responsible, protective, nurturing, and takes care of children he’s described using a feminine title? Why not “dad” or “older brother”?

The Importance of Dad

To be fair, there are people talking about how great the new Steve is who describe him as a dad-figure. They’re just much more rare than the ones calling him the mom. But why? Is it supposed to be funny? Or is there some reason people don’t want to think about there being such a thing as a masculine parenting role?

Okay, maybe it’s not that much of a conspiracy. But there are too many wonderful, involved dads out there who are asked if they’re “babysitting” their own kids because people don’t see them as a real parent. And on the other side of this problem, there are too many kids growing up without dads becasue society decided some time back that we only need to hold mothers accountable for their parenting role (with the occasional exception of mailing a child support check). And that’s not okay.

the majority of studies affirm that an involved father can play a crucial role particularly in the cognitive, behavioral and general health and well-being areas of a child’s life; that having a positive male role model helps an adolescent boy develop positive gender-role characteristics; that adolescent girls are more likely to form positive opinions of men and are better able to relate to them when fathered by an involved father; that it is generally accepted, under most circumstances, a father’s presence and involvement can be as crucial to a child’s healthy development as is the mother’s (from “The Importance of Fathers” by Ditta M. Oliker Ph.D.)

Fathers (or male mentors like Hopper, Bob, and Steve in Stranger Things Season 2) play a huge role in children’s development. And the four boys in Stranger Things could really use some older men to look up to. Will’s dad is gone (and considering his character it’d be worse if he wasn’t), Dustin’s father never appears (nor is mentioned, so far as I can remember), and Mike’s dad is so disengaged he might as well not be around. Lucas is the only one who appears to have an involved dad, though we don’t see him much in the show.Why Can't We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving them Feminine Labels? Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.com

When Steve responds to Dustin’s request for help, he ends up taking on the role of an older brother/mentor figure. He gives Dustin advice on interacting with girls and styling his hair. He accepts responsibility to keep all the kids safe from monsters. He tries to keep the kids out of trouble but when they drag him into another perilous situation, he makes sure he’s the one out in front accepting the most risk. That’s what responsible adults do, regardless of gender. So let him and men like this in real life fill their mentoring, nurturing, protective role as men. Don’t say that it’s exclusively a “mom” role.

11 thoughts on “Why Can’t We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving Them Feminine Labels?

  • OH THANK YOU FOR THIS I SO AGREE. Compassion, empathy, emotion ect. are not blank stamps that materalize the same way in every person. Men and women are fundamentally different than each other, and masculinity and feminity are still found within their respective use of compassion and all the rest. So yes, I 100% agree with you. And love the blog! The mbti stuff is the best (I’m an INTJ).


    Liked by 1 person

  • I really hated Steve in the first season, but his bonding with Dustin, his taking an interest in the kids, and his willingness to step up and “be the man” (not a MOM, internet, a MAN who protects anyone younger and more vulnerable than himself) made him one of my favorite characters!

    This whole gender confusion thing is becoming a problem; by the world’s criteria, my mom, since she was a tomboy and loved playing with pop guns and running around with her brothers, should identify AS a boy. No, she’s just a tomboy! Still is. She does more woodworking and sawing of boards than any of the men in our family, but she’s still a woman, still feminine and still… well, my mom. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t like first season Steve either, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to ever write a blog post describing him as a “responsible adult.” Such fantastic character development in Season 2!

      Your mom sounds wonderful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • My poor mother was such a tomboy, and then got a super frilly little girl (me) for a daughter. I refused to wear anything except dresses for the first fourteen years of my life. LOL


        • There were several years growing up that I refused to wear anything but skirts or dresses, too. My sister was the opposite — she hated dresses and “girly” things. I think my poor mom was confused by both of us 😀


  • Even though I don’t watch stranger things, I still understood your points. I am really glad to find a Christian lady who believes that non-traditional gender roles aren’t “sinful” or “wrong.” Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks 🙂 I’m glad to hear from someone who doesn’t watch Stranger Things — I was hoping even though I used Steve as an example the post would still be accessible for a wider audience.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Marissa, thank you so much for this post. It’s extremely sad what’s happened, and is happening, to our culture with gender and sexuality in the name of “equality.” I’m so glad to see other women speaking out against this disturbing trend.

    One of the most frustrating things about it is that the ones pushing the most for “equality” with the genders and the roles they play and demanding change are the least informed people on the topic. I’m not an expert on it, but it doesn’t take much research to find that men and their masculinity are vital for a thriving society, that devaluing and villainizing men and trying to blend masculinity and femininity and make women like men and men like women doesn’t help a society, in fact, it’s detrimental to a society and pushes it toward collapse.

    One of the saddest, and perhaps the most infuriating, things about the feminist agenda and this push for what they call “equality” and the blending of femininity and masculinity is that it claims to “empower” women but all it really does is deceive women with the notion that being aggressive, tough, and dominant and competing with men in everything is what will bring us satisfaction and happiness when studies show the opposite, that women are far less satisfied and happy with their lives now than they were in the “oppressive” 1950’s, and depression is now an epidemic among women. Not only does the blending of femininity and masculinity cause dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and depression for women, it also causes men to lose their attraction to women. I’ve seen several articles on how, at an increasing rate, (heterosexual) men are choosing to not pursue romantic relationships with women and are focusing on their careers and hobbies instead and women are having a much harder time finding a husband. Some of those articles accused men of being too intimidated by the “strong, independent” women of today to pursue a relationship with them, but I believe Nikola Tesla’s answer on why he never got married is the real reason why more and more men are choosing to not pursue women:

    “I had always thought of woman as possessing those delicate qualities of mind and soul that made her in her respects far superior to man. I had put her on a lofty pedestal, figuratively speaking, and ranked her in certain important attributes considerably higher than man. I worshipped at the feet of the creature I had raised to this height, and, like every true worshiper, I felt myself unworthy of the object of my worship.
    But all this was in the past. Now the soft voiced gentle woman of my reverent worship has all but vanished. In her place has come the woman who thinks that her chief success in life lies on making herself as much as possible like man – in dress, voice, and actions, in sports and achievements of every kind. The world has experience many tragedies, but to my mind the greatest tragedy of all is the present economic condition wherein women strive against men, and in many cases actually succeed in usurping their places in the professions and in industry. This growing tendency of women to overshadow the masculine is a sign of a deteriorating civilization.
    Practically all the great achievements of man until now have been inspired by his love and devotion to woman. Man has aspired to great things because some woman believed in him, because he wished to command her admiration and respect. For these reasons he has fought for her and risked his life and his all for her time and time again.
    Perhaps the male in society is useless. I am frank to admit that I don’t know. If women are beginning to feel this way about it – and there is striking evidence at hand that they do – then we are entering upon the cruelest period of the world’s history.
    Our civilization will sink to a state like that which is found among the bees, ants, and other insects – a state wherein the male is ruthlessly killed off. In this matriarchal empire which will be established, the female rules. As the female predominates, the males are at her mercy. The male is considered important only as a factor in the general scheme of the continuity of life.
    The tendency of women to push aside man, supplanting the old spirit of cooperation with him in all the affairs of life, is very disappointing to me.”
    -Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, page 23. August 10, 1924.

    Ps. Sorry my comment is so long. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and have been looking into and what I’m finding is disturbing to say the least, so my mind is quite full of things to say about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment! no need to apologize for how long it is — we like long comments here 🙂 And I can certainly understand having your mind full of things to say on this topic


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