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Steve Harvey Has Us All Thinking

By on May 10, 2012

Recently, I spoke to a parent about the new Steve Harvey movie, “Think Like a Man”.  She informed me that she was raising a teenage daughter and she was confused about what values she should convey to her daughter about self-respect, friendship, and romance.  She expressed that her daughter was a 17-year old senior who had recently been accepted into college and had a special friend whom she was dating.   I thought for a moment and offered, according to the book and movie, if she wanted to teach her daughter to be successful, that she should think like a man.  The mother should teach her how masculinity is exercised in our culture and tell her that she should be assertive, aggressive, independent, non-emotive, and maintain a sense of entitlement.  I let her know that thinking like a man may enable her to be less visible among her peers and possibly make more money as an adult.  Chances are she wouldn’t have be concerned about being scrutinized about crossing her legs or keeping them open while seated, and probably never be questioned about her weight, size, or beauty.   I told her mom that according to the book and movie, thinking like woman has NO place in our society if she wants her daughter to be happy.  I then told the mother that my satirical comments were to get her to think about the message that Steve Harvey is suggesting to the public.

After the conversation, I thought about what I would share with my daughter (if I had one) if I were in the same situation.  I believe I would teach her that being a woman and thinking like a woman can be pretty cool.  While I would not push her to subscribe to traditional gender roles (e.g., passive or aggressive; nurturer or provider; collaborative or competitive, etc), I would encourage her to be “herself” and develop friendships and relationships that enable her to be the best that she can be.  I would share with her how disappointed I would be if she would ever felt like she had to think like a man and act like a lady for the sake of finding a partner.  Inasmuch, I would tell her how disingenuous that would be to her mother, grandmother, and any other woman who marched, fought, bled, or died for women to have the same rights and privileges afforded to men.  I would tell her that acting like a “lady” or “bitchy” would be her choice (I don’t think I would say “bitchy” to my daughter but you know what I mean…lol) and that she could act however she wanted to act so long as she is offering others her authentic self.  Could I have this conversation as a man with my daughter?  Sure I could.  I would have this conversation with my daughter because I wouldn’t want anyone to diminish, negate, or ridicule who she is or who she could be.


Dr. James Wadley is a licensed professional counselor and marriage, family, and sexuality therapist in the States of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He’s also the author of “The Lost and Found Box.” You can learn more about him at drjameswadley.com or tweet him @phdjamesw.



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