The Death of the American Male

There is a current trend in advertising and entertainment that bothers me. No, it's not reality TV or celebrity worship, it's much worse. It is the continuous practice of casting the American male as a bumbling fool, helpless but for his knowing wife. I'm not saying that all men are geniuses or that we are without our flaws, but I think most of us could figure out how to take the seats out of a minivan. Right?

Dad used to be a smart, respected member of the community, able to hand out advice and fix whatever problems popped up. No longer. Now, dad can't even seem to think rationally. He tries to get rid of bees by hitting the nest with a stick. He lights his arm on fire when he tries to cook on the BBQ. All he seems to think about are sports and beer. Dad is the lovable idiot there solely for comic relief. I don't know about all of you, but when I look at my own parents, I see a much different picture.

Sure, my dad has some trouble when it comes to programming the VCR and the concept of watching TV in anything but his underwear is foreign to him, but he's also pretty smart. He's always ready with good advice, works two jobs, knows the ins and outs of the water heater and, I'm pretty sure, wouldn't be dumbfounded by the process of taking the seats out of the minivan. I'd say most men are able to think rationally when it comes to the minutiae of everyday life. And I'd say women have the same capacity: the same intelligence and foolishness of their hairier counterparts.

I guess, in a roundabout way, I'm asking for equality: the right to laugh at both men and women. I'm sick of being forced to only laugh at the stupidity of men – there are only so many times sitcom writers can make the dad-can't-work-the-washing-machine joke before it becomes annoying. Why can't I see one commercial where mom doesn't know how to do something and her husband saves the day? Is it so outrageous that a man would know how to do something a woman didn't? I don't think so.

I don't know if showing stupid men sells more products, but what I do know is it isn't having a positive affect on me. I don't like to think of my Dad – a man I respect and admire – as a moron who can't do anything right. As much as I admire my Mom, I know that she doesn't have the answer to everything either. I also don't like to think that when I grow older and have a family of my own I will be looked at by society as a dependent idiot who relies on his wife for everything. I hope that with sixteen years of education, a fairly good SAT score and a reasonable amount of intelligence I will be able to turn the stove on and off.

Perhaps I am being insensitive to the plight of women. I know that for most of history women were not, and sometimes still aren't, treated equally. I know that many women suffered and died for the freedom that men "naturally" enjoy. I know that there is nothing inherently different between intelligence of the sexes, although the president of Harvard might disagree with me. I know all of these things, but I still can't help feeling a little pissed off when I see a man – a man who probably works hard, pays bills, loves his children, loves his wife, supports his family and is of sound mind – unable to understand the concept of operating a blender.

Let's laugh at him. Let's point out his flaws and have a chuckle about it. Let's watch him stumble around the grocery store and knock things over. Why not, it's funny. But let's also remember that his wife – the one that always is there to solve the problems for him – has flaws of her own. Let's laugh at her too. Let's stop pretending that one sex is smarter or stupider than the other, and let's just have a good laugh at how dumb we all can be sometimes. Now, if you'll excuse me, I can't seem to figure out how to open this can of beans even though I know it is ridiculously easy, and I need my girlfriend's help.