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Dr. Jeffrey H. Toney Headshot

Mama Grizzlies, Kanye West: "Man Up"

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"It's a strange year for gender in politics.
Polite sensitivities are being shelved during this election cycle, a trend led by the conservative female candidates who call themselves 'mama grizzlies.'
"

I've been struggling with something lately, and need some advice. Things came into focus when I heard rapper Kanye West in an interview on November 11 with Matt Lauer on The Today Show. Expressing regret about his earlier remark "George Bush doesn't care about black people" after Hurricane Katrina, Kanye West said "I needed to man up... I came to say I've made mistakes."

The phrase "man up" seems to have crept into our lexicon this past year, coming from some surprising sources. Conversations amongst men using such a phrase surprises no one ("boys will be boys") but female candidates running for the Senate using it as a challenge to a male candidate is attention grabbing. Is it not ironic that a successful woman, in any sector, would use a sexist phrase as a barb? That public figures such as Kanye West, Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle each chose the same phrase to express a desire to take responsibility? Who decided that such resolve is an attribute of one sex and not the other?

I am grappling with these questions, as a father of a young daughter. As she navigates her world and learns how to be a good person, the media's role models for young women are performers such as Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miranda Cosgrove and Lady Gaga -- to name a few. In some instances, these performers have an opportunity to take responsibility, to take a stand in something they believe in -- and millions of young girls are watching.

The next time my daughter needs encouragement to take a stand or to accept responsibility for her actions, it could never ring true for me to say "man up". I think I would tell her to be strong.

What would you say?