There are many people who consciously mark the achievements of the women’s movement. Women have come through the trenches of domestic duties for the last 50 years and have entered the work place, often making more money than their male counterparts do. Last election the United States saw its first political woman run for the presidency. Where once women couldn’t vote, they are now a coveted sect of the population. In so many ways, perhaps none as obvious as within the home, women have come a long way since the June Cleaver days. But what happened to men?
Once upon a time, men were considered the ‘alpha male,’ the sole provider for families, and the leaders of society as a whole. While men were out making important decisions, women were taking care of the home and the children. In many ways, the domestication of the modern man has changed what people see as manly characteristics. Forty years ago, men were not encouraged to change diapers or take a hands on approach to parenthood or such mundane tasks as cleaning the house. But today, that has all changed.
The empowerment of women over the past few decades has definitely led to some pretty drastic changes to ‘manlihood.’ For instance, today, it is commonplace to see television commercials or even television shows and movies revolving around single male parents. In the United States alone, there are around 66.3 million stay at home dads according to the US Census Bureau. These are most often married fathers of children who are trading in their ‘manly’ duties of providing with their spouses. Additionally, there are around 2 million children pre-school age and younger who spend more time being cared for by their fathers as opposed to their mothers. A situation that was once unheard of.
And as the role of man has changed in the family, so have the expectations of marriage and family rearing. Today, women are comfortable and often adamant about splitting the domestic chores in the home 50/50. There are plenty of fathers doing dishes and laundry, wielding the mop and carrying around their infant children in baby carriers. According to a 2006 report from the Department of Family Services, arguments over household chores are the second most common conflict in a marriage. Years ago, the issue would have never come up, because women did not feel they could ask, count on, nor expect their male partners to be involved domestically.
It is interesting, but a new breed of man is emerging. Mothers today are raising their sons to be proactive in the house, teaching them alongside their sisters how to perform domestic duties. In 1942, an interesting survey was taken in which 94% of men said that they had never done a load of laundry. Today, more than 66% of men are comfortable running the washing machine. As the old definition of a man’s role in his family change, so does the quality of family relationships. Today, children are being raised by their fathers as well as their mothers, which enrich the childhood experience. Plus, according to the American Psychological Association – the changing expectations upon men in the family and the diminishing perceived negativity of divorce, are empowering couples to work towards equal marriages. Since women can now ask for a divorce, more pressure to perform so to speak is placed on fathers on husbands.
Is what happened to men a good thing?
Admittedly, there are many women who still want the man in their life to be ‘manly.’ There are still many families who live in the stay at home mom, work away dad situation – in which gender roles are clearly defined by dated terms. However, the new generation of parents, and the ones to come – are clearly comfortable involving men and women equally in domestic duties. While women are becoming more educated than men are, men are being forced to be equal participants in the often-emotional aspects of life. There will always be women in this world who are uncomfortable with the sight of their man holding a mop, or feeding their infant. And for these women, they are greatly reducing the quality of their own life and the life of their child by continuing in these dates gender roles.
The news and other forms of media are still hard selling the concept of deadbeat dad. There will always be women complaining about the lack of domestic abilities that their man has. Commercials which show a man loading a washing machine full of white clothes with one red sock. But the truth is according to statistics and otherwise, the role of man is changing. And, these changes are a positive thing, which are closing the gaps of inequality between men and women that have been evident in society for so many years.
It’s important to understand that within a marriage, the success of one spouse should not over power the other. If one person is held personally and completely accountable for the raising of the children and the cleaning of the home, being denied their personal successes – the family unit fails as a whole. With today’s new man, unashamed to pitch in and help and proud to be included in diapering infants, women and men simultaneously are being given credo to succeed and be truly happy.
What happened to men? They have grown up over the years. They have become comfortable with both their professional and domestic sides. They are being included and heralded as important members of the family. And they are learning how to be better partners to their spouses and parents to their children. All in all, this evolution is one of great value to society.