The Rules Have Changed
What do we expect of men in a new world?
By: Mayra David
A couple years ago, I was at a party and overheard two women talking about their sons. “I think he’s lost,” one woman said. “I don’t think he knows how to be a man in this world.”
Having no sons of my own, I couldn’t relate. But I assume the statement meant that the world was changing and, consequently, the rules for men had changed. But I don’t think we really want the rules to change – what we want is for the rules to apply to both teams in the game.
In a report by Dr. Monahan Lang and Barbara J. Risman for the Council on Contemporary Families, it was concluded that men and women are headed for a gender convergence, that is, “an ever-increasing similarity in how men and women live and what they want from their lives.” Last month, an article published by the same council – entitled “Men Who Do Housework Get More Sex” – illustrated this even further (and generated a lot of buzz) by presenting evidence of convergence in the work-family balancing act performed by both men and women.
And what about emotional gender convergence? Today’s man is often seen as deep or courageous for expressing emotion under duress. But what about crying in response to a moving film, song or speech? How do we – as daughters of fathers who never cried – feel about men who are sentimental? According to a study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, men’s tears may actually be viewed more positively than women’s. Study leader Professor Stephanie Shields said, “It seems that because men are less frequently noticed crying, they’re given the benefit of the doubt.”
So have the rules changed? Is our society truly evolving, or are men merely adapting? And if men are changing, how are women adapting? Are we ready for this “new man” in a new world?