Men's Lib

By Romano, Andrew; Dokoupil, Tony | Newsweek, September 27, 2010 | Go to article overview

Men's Lib


Romano, Andrew, Dokoupil, Tony, Newsweek


Byline: Andrew Romano and Tony Dokoupil

To survive in a hostile world, guys need to embrace girly jobs and dirty diapers. Why it's time to reimagine masculinity at work and at home.

What's the matter with men? For years, the media have delivered the direst of prognoses. Men are "in decline." Guys are getting "stiffed." The "war on boys" has begun. And so on. This summer, The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin went so far as to declare that "The End of Men" is upon us.

There's certainly some substance to these claims. As the U.S. economy has transitioned from brawn to brain over the past three decades, a growing number of women have gone off to work. Men's share of the labor force has declined from 70 percent in 1945 to less than 50 percent today, and in the country's biggest cities, young, single, childless women--that is, the next generation--earn 8 percent more than their male peers. Women have matched or overtaken men as a percentage of students in college and graduate school, while men have retained their lead in alcoholism, suicide, homelessness, violence, and criminality. Factor in the Great Recession, which has decimated male-heavy industries like construction and manufacturing, and it's no wonder so many deadline anthropologists are down on men. But while the state of American manhood has inspired plenty of anxious trend pieces, few observers have bothered to address the obvious question: if men are going off the rails, how do they get back on track?

Without an answer, some men have turned to old models and mores of manhood for salvation. Rutgers University anthropologist Lionel Tiger, for example, wants to reclaim "maleness as a force, as a phenomenon." Harvard government professor Harvey Mansfield advocates action and aggression. And the term "retrosexual" has all but replaced "metrosexual" in the lifestyle sections of national magazines, which are full of stories about affluent urbanites wearing hunting garb, buying designer axes, and writing about the art of manliness on blogs with names like (ahem) the Art of Manliness. Throwback masculinity dominates other media as well, with The Dangerous Book for Boys (a work of dad-and-lad shtick) and Shop Class as Soulcraft (a cri de coeur for manual labor) topping reading lists, and television shows such as Dirty Jobs, Ax Men, and Deadliest Catch re-romanticizing soot-collared work. A rapper's saggy jeans, a hunter's concealed weapon, a suburbanite's man cave, a hipster's obsession with Don Draper: all might be seen as variations of the same coping mechanism. The impulse transcends race and class.

But suggesting that men should stick to some musty script of masculinity only perpetuates the problem. For starters, it encourages them to confront new challenges the same way they dealt with earlier upheavals: by blaming women, retreating into the woods, or burying their anxieties beneath machismo. And it does nothing to help them succeed in school, secure sustainable jobs, or be better fathers in an economy that's rapidly outgrowing Marlboro Manliness.

The truth is, it's not how men style themselves that will make them whole again--it's what they do with their days. The riggers, welders, and boilermakers of generations past weren't wearing overalls to feel like men, as Susan Faludi, the author of books on both sexes, has pointed out. Instead, "their sense of their own manhood flowed out of their utility in a society, not the other way around," she writes. "Conceiving of masculinity as something to be"--a part to play--"turns manliness into [something] ornamental, and about as 'masculine' as fake eyelashes are inherently 'feminine.'?"

Since the 1950s, the image of the American woman has gone through numerous makeovers. But masculine expectations remain the same--even as there are fewer opportunities to fulfill them. As a result, says Joan C. Williams, author of Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter, "men have a choice: either feel inadequate or get a lot more creative. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Men's Lib
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.