This is a complex subject to write about because it’s a hot-button issue for so many. Men still make up 2/3 of Congress. There have only been male US Presidents. Roughly 90% of the Fortune 500 have male CEOs. All that being said, over the past few decades women have made some tremendous strides professionally, and those strides are accelerating.
For every 74 males who receive a college degree today, 100 women receive their degree, and the gap is growing. Men account for 70% of the decline in college enrollment. 50% of women now outearn their male partners. That number was 4% in 1960. Women now hold 50.04% of all jobs in the US (Women in Canada hold 61%). Pay equity is still an issue. In 1980 women were paid 40% less than men. Today that number is 15.5% in some fields, like Software Engineering, pay equity has flipped to favor women over men.
As I said, this is a complex issue because so much work still needs to be done to elevate women. A successful female business owner raised me. When my mother started her business is was rare for women to own businesses. Today over ten million women are business owners.
All of this also doesn’t change the fact that the role of men in work is also drastically changing during this time. Both of these concepts can be true at the same time. The Washington Post recently had an article discussing the issue of these changes to men: Men are lost. Here’s a map out of the wilderness by Christine Emba. Here are some takeaways from the article:
“It is harder to be a man today, and in many ways, that is a good thing: Finally, the freer sex is being held to a higher standard.
Even so, not all of the changes that have led us to this moment are unequivocally positive. And if left unaddressed, the current confusion of men and boys will have destructive social outcomes, in the form of resentment and radicalization.
The truth is that most women still want to have intimate relationships with good men. And even those who don’t still want their sons, brothers, fathers and friends to live good lives.
The old script for masculinity might be on its way out. It’s time we replaced it with something better...
…for all their problems, the strict gender roles of the past did give boys a script for how to be a man…People need codes for how to be human. And when those aren’t easily found, they’ll take whatever is offered, no matter what else is attached.“
What is a good definition of new masculinity?
The phrase “toxic masculinity” gets thrown around too much in today’s world. Yes, there are traits of men that are historically toxic. But it’s also a mind-f*ck we are throwing on heterosexual young men who still hold the majority of roles in our society as men. Don’t act like a “man,” but women are only attracted to you if you act like a “man.”
More from the Washington Post article:
“This is especially compelling in a moment when many young men feel their difficulties are often dismissed out of hand as whining from a patriarchy that they don’t feel part of. For young men in particular, the assumption of a world built to serve their sex doesn’t align with their lived experience, where girls out-achieve them from pre-K to post-graduate studies and “men are trash” is an acceptable joke...
I’m convinced that men are in a crisis. And I strongly suspect that ending it will require a positive vision of what masculinity entails that is particular — that is, neither neutral nor interchangeable with femininity. Still, I find myself reluctant to fully articulate one. There’s a reason a lot of the writing on the crisis in masculinity ends at the diagnosis stage…
“Where I think this conversation has come off the tracks is where being a man is essentially trying to ignore all masculinity and act more like a woman. And even some women who say that — they don’t want to have sex with those guys. They may believe they’re right, and think it’s a good narrative, but they don’t want to partner with them.”
I, a heterosexual woman, cringed in recognition.
“And so men should think, ‘I want to take advantage of my maleness. I want to be aggressive, I want to set goals, go hard at it. I want to be physically really strong. I want to take care of myself.’”
Galloway leaned into the screen. “My view is that, for masculinity, a decent place to start is garnering the skills and strength that you can advocate for and protect others with. If you’re really strong and smart, you will garner enough power, influence, and kindness to begin protecting others. That is it. Full stop. Real men protect other people.”
I like Galloway’s definition of “real men”! Real men protect others because it positively shapes behavior. It’s easy for men to follow.
Many people don’t see this as a crisis. Being a dad of three young men, I try to see the trends before it’s too late. A friend of mine is keen on saying “Idle men are bad business for America.” We are heading down that slippery slope.
Society has gotten comfortable in not supporting men. The view is women need support, but men have had such a historical headstart they don’t need support. All of our young people, regardless of gender, need our support. We should not diminish any of them and their potential in our societal structures. The world needs men who are masculine and care for others as much as the world needs strong, feminine women. These are not competing forces. They should be complimenting forces.
I tried not to make this a gender issue, but it’s complex. In our world today it’s not just male and female anymore. My intent for writing this was to share an insightful article by a really good writer, Christine Emba. I encourage you to read the piece as it goes much deeper than the few pieces I shared here. In the end, we are quickly going down a path that ignores men. While men still hold so much power, we can see a horizon where that won’t be the case. My hope is that women will do a much better job in the next century in holding that power than men did previously.