Friday, September 24, 2010

A Response to Newsweek's Call for a "New Masculinity"

The current Newsweek cover story, "Why We Need to Imagine a New Masculinity," insists that men must do more child rearing and aim for more female-centric jobs like nursing and teaching.

That's no fairer to men than to insist that most women must direct their job aspirations to the likes of plumbing and roofing and spend their evenings playing with power tools in their workshop.

Of course, some men would be well suited to such changes just as some women are well-suited to be plumbers, roofers, etc. But for a Newsweek cover story to suggest that men overall need to make such a change is merely the latest in an endless series of insults to and invalidations of men.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Nemko, I agree that for hobbies no one should declare what someone should take an interest in.

But I think what the article was trying to say is that the job market has changed and in order to be more competitive men should consider jobs that have not been traditionally welcoming to them (such as nursing and librarians). And I think the article was further telling society (men and women) to stop assigning these jobs as unmasculine so that men don't feel uncomfortable assuming these roles.

On the issue of childrearing and housework, the article seemed a little convoluted. I am a very strong believer that as long as both the husband and wife are working, men must contribute to equally (or in some form of equal) to the household chores and childrearing. Perhaps the wife cleans up if the husband cooks. Or the husband gives the kids a bath if the wife puts the children to bed. If the time spent for parenting and house chores aren't equalized, then women can't contribute fully at work. They fall behind.

And women should stop assuming it's their "ancestral" instinct to take care of the kids and keep the house clean. My brother is an incredible single-father Dad, his daughter thinks the world of him. Women do not have an "instinct" for child-rearing just as men don't have an "instinct" for math and science.

One final comment, I wish these male-inspired articles would stop being so unnecessarily provocative. For example the article title "Are men really necessary" is only there to provoke not open up a meaningful dialogue.

Marty Nemko said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank for your the intelligent disagreement. As I love to say, I believe that such discussions are what the world needs desperately.

Of course, I agree that all jobs should be open and valued for both genders. But not all the jobs of the future are for nurturers--There are endless jobs, for example, in technology. The article mentioned none of that. Its message is; men, feminize yourselves: seek nurturing-centric jobs and at home, you do 1/2 or more of the housework.

Where I most disagree with you is the notion that men should do 50% of the domestic chores. Such a broadbrush dictum is simply wrong. It DEPENDS: It depends on which partner is doing how much and how demanding work outside the home and which partner is better at doing the various domestic tasks. Disproportionately, but certainly not exclusively, women ARE better at the nurturing and domestic chores AND care more about them. It's a meaningless discussion to debate what percentage of that is social conditions vs genetic, but certainly, both are at play.

There are many additional complicating factors. For example, disproportionately, women are more likely to pressure their man to have a child (or simply stop using birth control) than men are to pressure a woman into having a child. In such situations, the person (of either gender) who did the pressuring incurs additional responsibility in parenting.

One size does not fit all, and no gender, en toto, should be told to fit into another's basic mold.

ST said...

The Newsweek article was too narrow. Not all jobs are in manufacturing, construction, nursing and teaching. Again, like you said, no mention of many jobs in technology and information management.

Women are more interested in domestic care. Since I've been single many years, stopping myself from being a slob at home, I do very little in domestic work. Just enough to remain clean(ish) and healthy. My ex wife and girlfriends afterward had lists and lists of honey-do-this's. As far as child care, I never went there, so can't comment.

The economy of jobs will have to change, but I suspect (blue collar) men will go into more of the trades and repair side of things, versus manufacturing or construction. There are plenty of things that need fixing, and it can be a much more challenging and interesting job than just standing on a line or nailing shingles on a hot roof. The interesting part could be trying to figure out how stuff works that is imported.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Nemko:

Why have any hope for men being treated fairly across the board?

It's my judgement that life will never be fair. In fact, 'fair' is a judgement call anyway... I don't want a 50/50 relationship. I want to give 100% of my masculine energy... dedicated to provide/protect/sacrificing for women & children & society.

(I've never met a woman who wants to provide/protect/sacrifice for my benefit.) That said, I'm not looking for that... but looking for a woman who will give 100% of her energy towards the greater cause. (nurturing/building children, each other, society)

I have met countless women who want equal rights... but don't want equal responsibilities.
I don't want to share equal responsibilities either...

I want to create magic that can only happen when a MAN & a WOMAN come to together.

So... I'm ok leaving the conversation of a few angry, bitter, bitchy, vocal women tying themselves up in knots over fairness discussions...

I'm ready to evolve to a more loving conversation...

my experience is that doesn't happen at a systemic level... but at person to person, Dad to boy, dad to girl, level...

This world will be saved by the few... not the masses.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with both Anonymous and Dr. Nemko when each states what a man or woman "should" or "must" do in a relationship.

In my couples' counseling I teach my clients there are no "shoulds." The best division of labor in a household consists of what each collaborativley agrees works for them. The issue is not what is "right" or what is "fair," but rather what they mutually decide works for them.

Dr. Michael R. Edelstein

Marty Nemko said...

Dr. Edelstein, I wrote precisely what you advocate. Where did I say that there should be a broadbrush "should?"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Nemko,

I'm glad that you're speaking out on these things.

Personally, what I like about men is that they ARE different from me. It makes life more enjoyable. If I had been looking for someone feminine, I'd be a lesbian!

A. Roberts

Anonymous said...

its one thing to encourage people to explore these options and show they are acceptable for men to do as well-its another to force them into it.

Strong Man said...

Excellent Points.

I wish we could celebrate the unique strengths men bring to both the workplace and the home.

Men can be outstanding role models for working hard and earning a great living without necessarily doing 50% of the housework.

What's wrong with Men and Women having genetic, instinctive differences? Why can't we celebrate those differences, embrace and support them?

Jeffrie said...

Perhaps the "new masculinity" starts at birth.

Two quotes in the article, from sportswriter Peter Richmond, who named his son Maxfield:

"'We liked it that the name carried no image of masculinity, that it would free him from all preconceptions and let people see him as unique,' Richmond said."

"'Naming your kid Hunter or Breaker is like saying f--k you to the world that invented feminism,' said Richmond. 'It’s a desperate cry to hold onto an archaic and useless form of masculinity.'"