August 7, 2006

Crisis in Masculinity

Everyone seems to be talking about the New York Times article, Men Not Working and Not Wanting Just Any Job.

Millions of men like Mr. Beggerow — men in the prime of their lives, between 30 and 55 — have dropped out of regular work. They are turning down jobs they think beneath them or are unable to find work for which they are qualified, even as an expanding economy offers opportunities to work.

About 13 percent of American men in this age group are not working, up from 5 percent in the late 1960’s. The difference represents 4 million men who would be working today if the employment rate had remained where it was in the 1950’s and 60’s.

But Dr. Helen quotes the 2005 President of the American Psychological Association, Ronald Levant who says that the traditional norms of the male role - the emphasis on toughness, competition, status, and emotional stoicism  - are viewed as problematic and that we are in the midst of a crisis in masculinity.

Men feel that they are being told that what they have been trying to accomplish is irrelevant to the world of today. Since women now work and can earn their own living, there is no longer any need for The Good Provider. Furthermore, society no longer seems to value, or even recognize the traditional male way of demonstrating care, through taking care of his family and friends, by looking out for them, solving their problems, and being one who can be counted on to be there when needed. In its place, men are being asked to take on roles and show care in ways that violate the traditional male code and require skills that they do not have, such as revealing weakness, expressing their most intimate feelings, and nurturing children. The net result of this for many men is a loss of self-esteem and an unnerving sense of uncertainty about what it means to be a man.

Read them both.

Posted by Jill Fallon at August 7, 2006 7:15 PM | TrackBack | Permalink