Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men is a fascinating essay on the changing nature of men in American society. It is a generalized view which omits some very important exceptions but well-worth consideration.
The primary focus is that, as women are finally making headway in the workplace, the role of men is changing from primary head of household to equal partner, or less. As men, especially in the middle and working-class bracket see their jobs change or disappear, this essay states that men have either lost their ability to navigate change or never really had the ability in the first place; essentially being a missile that cannot change course once it is fired.
The most interesting example was how women went about the college admissions process more efficiently and completely, managing the entire process while male candidates often passively followed along while their parents (primarily the mother) did all of the work.
OK, with that said, there are some important exceptions to this rule that point to an issue beyond gender in this widening gap between men and women. And using the college admissions example, we can see the root cause. The assumptions set for men’s behavior is lower than that for women. Part of that is that women were held back and so men were allowed to coast while women had to work harder to reach parity. With the recession and consequent changes in the labor force and economy, women’s disciplined approach is paying off while men are falling behind.
So what can these men do to gain parity? Well, for one, instead of hiding in macho fantasy they can truly “man up” and take a look at themselves, their true strengths, and the world around them; and move forward. Embrace reality and do what they have not done before. Be strong, loving, and wise. Just like women.
Feedback from my friends has been interesting. The point I’m trying to make is that current or recent views on masculinity and the male role have not been static. In fact, the changes which I wrote about seem to be taking us back to an early, pre-Victorian view of the male role in society and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.