Memes Debunked #001
A closer examination of popular social media memes, pop culture wisdom
The idea of debunking superficial, shallow and populist memes has been in my head for quite some time. But this one got me started. I guess none of the six people who gave it a Like have sisters, grandmothers, female friends, teachers or neighbors worth loving.
A man following this advice would have a seriously poor emotional life, and he better not have two daughters because there is no space for a fourth woman in this scenario. And no, I don’t care that it sort of rhymes, it’s still nonsense that plays on our mushy sentiments and perpetuates toxic thinking.
A man should LOVE all sentient beings of all sexes, as well as himself, planet Earth, the Universe or God if he believes in one (or two, or three, however many he chooses). There is plenty of love for all, but he should probably only have sex with his wife, unless explicitly agreed otherwise (and such an agreement, of course, would be nobody else’s business except for the parties involved).
Doesn’t sound as catchy? Yeah, because it’s sort of obvious, isn’t it? It’s simple enough, just not simplistic. I went that one step beyond to remove subliminal implications and include diversity – and suddenly it lost its luster.
Does It Irk Me So Much? Why
I believe in the power of words. The words we expose ourselves to shape our thinking more than we’d like to admit. A simple statement like this:
- flies in the face of the very concept of Unconditional Love (which is the one he should be giving to his mother, wife
anddaughter, as well as everyone else),
- reinforces the notion that love comes in limited supply (don’t get me started on how entrenched this nonsense is in the Western population),
- suggests that love should only be distributed to selected few (even bigger nonsense – the notion of treating love as a commodity is the one that on a global scale causes inequalities, injustice, and disconnect),
- plays up a singular view of what (in this case) a man should do (implying that every man is the same),
- implies what constitutes manhood (wife-child-picket-fence may not be an authentic view or path for everyone),
- perpetuates the “woman as a fragile princess” notion – despite the fact that we are looking at a very iconic image of a woman’s strength! (one could expect a completely different commentary here)
- perpetuates the exclusive “you are the only one” notion when in fact his mother, wife
anddaughter are simply among the many women he loves. Yes, naturally, he would love them the most, but there’s nothing all that special about that. If we were to celebrate these strong bonds, it should be through highlighting and inclusion, rather through the exclusion of all else. It could have said “Of all the women in my life, these three…” and it would be fine. Exclusion, by default, is the very opposite of love!
From My Experience…
I hate to sound cynical, but smooth mother-son relationships are quite rare and many men find it difficult to love mothers who are bitter or emotionally abusive (not to mention anything worse). There is a level of default respectful love, since it is a woman who gave him life, but the rest depends on how she actually performed as a mother and on her personality. And it’s only right.
Also, this lovely couple has some 50% chance of divorce. The concept of “being the one and only” may quickly fall apart. And then what? A narrative and habit of openly loving many people without jealousies and suspicions both increases the chances of a healthy marriage and provides a smoother transition in case the marriage does fall apart.
My husband is still best friends with his ex-wife. I like her a lot. Actually, I love her. My heart was aching when she became ill and rejoicing when she recovered. Not just because it affected him (which doesn’t go unnoticed in a close relationship) but because I know her and can totally understand why they would value each other even after they grew apart.
My husband used to go back to visit her for weeks at a time and help out with his aging former parents-in-law. He always loved them, they were once a family. Why wouldn’t he be there for them now that they needed him? If I lived with the “he’s mine, and
And likewise, he’s not jealous when I spend time with my ex-boyfriends and ex-lovers. Not even when we travel together and end up sleeping in the same bed. Not even when we have a blast co-creating or doing something that doesn’t include him. Jealousy and possessiveness are not just about sex. Many men can’t stand if their woman has “too much fun” with another man!
Of course, I still love them all, just our relationships changed to a new stage. Love is there, it will always be there, plenty of it. How we choose to shape our relationships is a completely different story. And in this new chapter, my husband knows my soul mates and exes and is actually a good friend with several.
This is what I mean about Unconditional Love. It takes trust, open-heart, and deep respect for everyone’s individuality. It takes a deep breath and
They are the ones about which we should make memes. But have you ever seen a meme where a woman is leaving for a party with an ex-lover and the husband, while washing dishes, says “I don’t like dancing, you guys have a good time!” That’s what tolerance looks like in daily life, that’s what Unconditional Love looks like in practice. And let me just tell you – it does exist and I see more and more of it around me.
Conditional love is toxic. It stifles growth, it suffocates those exposed to it. Let’s stop promoting it, shall we?