For years, we have been talking about the modern woman. She brings home the bacon, takes care of the children, mows her own grass and isn’t afraid to step out of her apron -sporting a sexy black dress without panties underneath. This woman has evolved since the days of June Cleaver and with a little get used to, has been happily accepted by society. But what about the modern man? Who is he, what does he do and most importantly where can YOU find one if you aren’t lucky enough to already have one?
In relationships, even those couples with completely egalitarian intentions find that there are many matters of marriage that are swept under the rug. A great many of these are derived from a sense of gender roles that are often skirted before marriage. You might be dating a man that loves to cook, has no dissention for the washing machine, and folds his underwear more neatly than you do yours, only to find that vows and parenthood cause a shift in this comfort with typical roles of femininity. Why? What happened? The answers aren’t always clear, but it does seem obvious that much of how we feel about marriage and raising children comes from years of socializing and growing up in recluse worlds where mom and dad did certain things around the house. This is popularized by every facet of the media from sit-coms to movies. When you think of the movie Three Men and a Baby, you have to wonder why it was such a hit. If it were three women and a baby, chances are few people would have spent the $10 to see it in a theatre, even if the actors were hot.
And even as men try to change there is still a stigma in society that drives men to feel guilty for their duality? Commercialism promotes comments like “when men were men” and everything from beer commercials to grocery store ads work to manipulatively keep men rooted in machismo, while women are looked at and portrayed as caretakers. The modern man is able to throw all of these innuendos out the window and realize that being a couple in life - is about forging a partnership of equality. Modern men realize that it doesn’t matter who does the laundry or makes the most money, just that all the boxes on the to-do list get checked off.
Modern men aren’t struggling with their own masculinity and would never hide behind the excuse that they farted at the dinner table simply because that’s what boys do! Luckily, many of these modern men are raising children while mom is off at work. In fact, there are more stay at home dads today than ever in history. Yet most of these men attending PTA meetings and grade school holiday parties are looked at with both adoring and suspicious eyes from the hosts of other moms who are there. The first response when you see a stay at home dad tending to a child’s every need is where is that child’s mother? As if dad cannot do it just as well. And then I wish my husband was like that! This just seems to prove that the road for modern men is hindered by both men and women. Then there are the questions such as who wears the pants in that marriage or assumptions that the male partner is a loser because he forces his wife to be out of the house slaving away. The reality is that this couple may have simply figured out the best way to raise a family and make ends meet without being duped by societal expectations and pressure and should be safe from external judgments.
If you think about the plight of women trying to gain equality in this world, you can see how strongly the social pressures of gender roles are impressed upon us. Women are still struggling for equal pay and acceptance in a business world that seems to perceive men as superiors. Walk through a toy store and there are still aisles which are themed specifically for boys or girls, and ask 2 out of every 5 men and they will say they oppose their son playing with Barbie dolls. Even more influential are the generational gaps that place more pressure on marriages. If your husband comes home and cooks dinner each and every night, washes his own clothes (and yours) and does the grocery shopping – there is a good chance there is a mother-in-law in your life who huffs and puffs about the poor existence of her ‘baby boy’ when she should be proud of her son for being a modern man! And it is up to this man to save face in the interest of his partner rather than bathe in the self-pity. Not doing so only puts this modern couple on the high road to divorce.
There really is no true definition of a modern man.
Today – men and women have ample opportunity to explore interests and roles that exist on both sides of the fence. While a man or woman, who dips their toes in another genders ocean, will be prone to judgment, scorn, irrational comments – they are obviously confident enough in both their relationship and themselves to not give it a second thought. To think that a modern man is one who cleans, cooks and helps with the children is in actuality just an extension of the thought that gender roles exist at all. If you are grateful that a man does these duties – you are somehow agreeing to the mentality that there are gender specific behaviors in life. After all – why shouldn’t a man be able to make dinner, do laundry, or take care of his own children?
It might be safest to think of the modern man as one who is deeply open to ‘taking care of business’ so to speak. This man will have enough respect for himself, his partner, and his family to not feel led into a world of perceived gender roles. He may be the perfect combination of machismo and tenderness – which makes him a safe place to lay your head at night – regardless of what the mother in law thinks!