Friday, February 29, 2008

Who makes us swoon? (by Suzie)

      Do we idealize women in the same way we do men? 
      Googling “Obama” and “swoon” yields 127,000 hits. Women aren’t the only ones fainting with excitement, according to the media. Men, from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, also have been described as swooning for him.
       I don’t want to debate whether Obama is swoon-worthy. Instead, I’d like to discuss the gendered aspect of the word “swoon” as well as who makes us swoon.
       “Swoon” seems marked as a silly, female behavior. Saying a man swoons is akin to saying he’s acting like a girl, one of the worst possible insults. It’s OK for men to support someone, but they shouldn’t get all emotional (i.e., female) about it.
        Girls and women will worship both genders. Even when they lust after a man, they also may want to emulate his traits and actions. He may be a role model for them.
         Boys and men idealize those of their own gender. Some gay men have female idols, such as Barbra Streisand. Straight men may lust after women or admire them as women. But I wonder how often a straight man worships a woman as his role model. 
         One reason for my question is the tendency to see movies, books and TV shows that feature women as being for women, while those with male protagonists are marketed for everyone.