While watching an episode of “White Collar” last night (the USA show is excellent, by the way), I was taken aback by the subplot involving the FBI agent’s inability to come up with a sufficient anniversary gift for his wife.
He eventually did, of course, but she didn’t get him a single darn thing.
And that got me thinking.
In any TV program or movie you see, it’s the man who’s the gift-giver on anniversary day. You have the ridiculous stereotype about the “Forgetful Father” who bumbles his way through life while not remembering the anniversary date and other special occasions. You have fictional men going all-out to please their wives with vacations, jewelry, dinners and the like. And even the diamond commercials lay heavy into this sentiment (“this anniversary, give her something that shows you actually care”).
So, what gives? Why is anniversary giving (in fictional worlds, at least) all on the man?
Wasn’t the woman at the wedding, after all? And don’t they say that weddings are all about what the woman wants? So why does she get to just sit back and be lavished upon year after year.
No, for the record, this sentiment isn’t reflective of any real-life misgivings on my part. My wife and I decide each year not to give gifts to each other, instead just enjoying dinner and/or a movie together.
But TV and movies can persuade some viewers, so these stereotypes – while not as harmful as those beer commercials with the nearly naked women – can do harm to relationships. If you’re saturated with any message to a certain extent, it will rub off on you in some form.
I’ve never been married to anyone else (nor will I be), so I don’t know what the “normal” anniversary gift-giving arrangement is. But I hope it’s nothing like what TV would have me believe.