Recently here was a twitstorm over Heidi Victoria (the Victorian Minister for Women’s Affairs (Yes that is her real name!)) who made some comments assuming that only women were nurturers.
As a man I took some offence and added my two cent’s worth to the discussion with the following:
Now it looks like I‘m a feminist. Or a nurturer. Or that I’m not sexist or racist, etc.
Nope! Not even close! That doesn’t even begin to describe my problem.
I just don’t fit the stereotype. Any stereotype! And stereotypes don’t work for me. At all. Never have. Here’s why!
I studied a subject that dealt with diversity in training. One of the topics was the characteristics of different nationalities and cultures.
My research led me to the Globe Project and the work of Hofstede which categorised certain cultures as having certain characteristics. An example is that in general Australians are mostly individualistic.
I didn’t like that too much. It seemed to categorise people into little matchboxes…
Stereotype of a Stereotype (Photo credit: El Negro Magnifico)
And then something happened that challenged what I had learned.
At that time I was working with a woman from China who was studying to be a counsellor.
She knew I had some public speaking experience and asked for help with a presentation. And by the way, she didn’t need much help! And her presentation rocked!
But while helping her, I told her what I was studying.
Then she let slip what she loved most about Australia. She could speak up and ask questions and express opinions!
Which completely went against the expected cultural stereotype!. But she then told me she was brought up to be compliant (much like the stereotype).
But I looked at myself. I was brought up to be compliant (in the Australian individualistic culture!).
I now had a paradox.
I turned to a book called Cultural Intelligence and I got it! Check out the culture and then listen to the individual. Or as the book stated as a philosophy: Be mindful around people of other cultures!
Or in other words stereotypes don’t really work. At best they’re a guide.
So now I can relax!
And finally, it means that men can be nurturers too! Sorry Heidi!