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No Man's Land: An area of anomalous, ambiguous, or indefinite character. An unowned, unclaimed, or uninhabited area. An unoccupied area between two opposing armies.
A husband relaxes in front of a television, beer in hand, while his children play unattended and his weary wife labors in the kitchen after a long day at the office. A muscle-toned, well-dressed bachelor parks his shiny new sports car and enters an apartment filled with luxurious furniture and the most advanced stereo equipment. A young father nestles his infant in a baby carrier while attending to his toddler on a playground.
These popular images offer conflicting views of men's lives in the closing decades of the twentieth century. They also stand in stark contrast to the dominant assumptions about manhood that prevailed only thirty or forty years ago. In 1950, breadwinning husbands (and their female counterparts, homemaking wives) accounted for nearly two-thirds of all American households. Most young men could expect to marry, have children, and provide the sole or main economic support to their wives and children. They could also expect to leave child rearing and housework to their nonemployed or intermittently employed wives. Those men whose wives did work typically viewed those earnings as secondary and the work commitment as tenuous.
To be sure, the primary breadwinner pattern never accounted for all men, even during the height of domestic resurgence in the 1950s. In 1955, forexample,almost 22 percent of all households contained an employed wife, and almost 9 percent were headed by single mothers. By 1960 the breadwinner-homemaker arrangement barely accounted for a majority of households, having dropped to less than 52 percent. Even though over 23 percent included an employed wife, 11 percent were single-parent families, and almost 15 percent were single adults, these other family forms were still considered not only deviant but dysfunctional by most analysts. Those men who did not or could not conform to the ideal of the good provider were typically judged to be failures. The reigning ideology defined mature manhood almost exclusively in terms of achieving economic success and providing for wives and children.
Since this period, women's lives have undergone a revolution, one that once seemed fragile but is now incontestable. In 1990, about 74 percent of women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four were in the labor force—up from 43 percent in 1962; 77 percent of them worked full-time (at least thirty-five hours a week); and about 80 percent of unemployed women were looking for full-time jobs.
Changes in the kind of women who work have been equally dramatic. In 1990, over 58 percent of married women and 67 percent of mothers were employed or looking for work. Among mothers with school-age children, 75 percent were in the labor force, and among those with a preschooler, over 58 percent were either employed or looking for a job, up from 12 percent in 1950. Indeed, over half the mothers of children under the age of one were in the paid labor force. Among employed mothers with preschool children, close to 70 percent held full-time jobs.
Women of all ages and family statuses have streamed into the workplace, rearranging the balance of their ties to employment and child rearing. They have also mounted a conspicuous challenge to men's longstanding privileges both at home and in the workplace. As we approach the twenty-first century, women's strong attachment to paid work shows no sign of abating. We may debate the political and social significance of these changes, but there is no doubt that fundamental changes have occurred.
Successful revolutions, by their nature, can never remain confined to one social group. Revolutionary change reorganizes the basic foundations of a society, changing the rules and dynamics of social relationships among dominant as well as subordinate groups. Just as changes in race relations involve whites as well as people of color and changes in class relations involve the economically privileged as well as the economically disadvantaged, a gender revolution must include men as well as women. Alongside the revolution in women's lives, there is another, less familiar story to tell.
The Uncertain Contours of Change
Are men changing, or are they remaining steadfastly traditional despite the shift in women's lives? If some men are changing, then how? Are they becoming more egalitarian in response to women's insistent demands, or are they rejecting their historical responsibilities in a continual search for unbridled freedom? Experts and lay observers have characterized change—or the lack of change—in men's lives in all of these ways.
The decline of the male is primary breadwinner is the most apparent aspect of change. Men who provide the sole or major economic support for their families have not disappeared, but as a group they no longer predominate and are unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. By 1990, the percentage of American households consisting of a married couple dependent on a sole male breadwinner had dwindled to less than 14 percent, down from almost 60 percent in 1950. Even taking into account the 16 percent of households where the wife did not work full-time year-round and the 3.1 percent of households headed by a single father, it appears that only about a third of American households now depend solely or primarily on a male earner. (See appendix, table 1, for a graphic representation of these changes.)
As the proportion of men who are sole or primary breadwinners has declined, so has their cultural support. A once-uncontested belief in the superiority or the "good provider" has given way to new debates about men's proper place in society. It is no longer clear what goals a man should pursue, much less how he should pursue them. Indeed, it is no longer clear what it means to be a man. As women have become almost as likely as men to shoulder the responsibilities of supporting a family, it has become harder for men to defend and justify advantages based solely on being born male. The demise of a cultural consensus on the meaning of manhood has left men in a no man's land, searching for new meanings and definitions of maturity. It is no wonder that books about men and masculinity are frequenting the best-seller lists, men's studies has become a growing field, and television talk shows that once dealt almost exclusively with women's concerns now discuss men's frustrations in tones that imply a current or impending crisis.
One important aspect of the gender revolution is the slow and limited degree of change in men's domestic participation. Men's family involvement has not kept pace with women's increasing commitment to paid employment. This "housework gap" has left most women with more work and less leisure than their male counterparts. According to some estimates, married women average two to three fewer hours of leisure per day than do married men. And when the time spent performing paid work, housework, and child care is added together, men work an average of eighty-eight fewer hours a year than do women. From this vantage point, the movement toward gender equality, which once appeared to be an attainable if distant goal, has become stalled at the domestic doorway.
While most married men continue to resist responsibility for domestic work, other men are making different kinds of choices. One has been termed a male "flight from commitment," which is as significant as the more explicit feminist revolt of the last two decades. Men in this group have chosen autonomy, either by moving away from marriage and parenthood altogether or by not maintaining involvement with children they have brought into the world. The rise of divorce and singlehood as acceptable alternatives to marriage has allowed a growing group of men as well as women to choose freedom and autonomy over economic and social ties to parenthood and family life. Several factors have contributed to this trend.
First, more men and women are postponing marriage, remaining permanently single, or getting divorced. Divorce rates doubled between 1950 and 1985, and even though they have declined slightly since then, they appear to be leveling off at a high rate. By 1991, the average age of first marriage among men had risen to 26.3 years; one in four Americans over eighteen had never married, up from one in six in 1970. More significant, over 17 percent of men between the ages of third-five and thirty-nine had never married, up from less than 8 percent in 1980.
Many of these unmarried men are likely to remain so: once he reaches forty, a never-married man has only about a 12 percent chance of marrying; by forty-five, his chances fall to 5 percent. According to recent estimates, 10 percent of the adult population of men and worsen may never marry, up from 5 percent in earlier decades. When the growing proportion of never-married men is added to the ranks of divorced men, the result is a large proportion of men who are single. In 1990, over 17 percent of American men were single adults who lived either alone or with an unrelated adult, up from about 8 percent in 1970. Among men between the ages of forty and forty-four, that figure remains high. In 1991, close to 16 percent of white men and close to 24 percent of black men in this age range did not live with a spouse, a parent, or a child.
As divorce, postponed marriage, and permanent singlehood have become more common, so has the tendency for men to postpone becoming a father, to eschew fatherhood altogether, or to lose contact with their children. Although studies of men's childbearing patterns are rare, it appears that men, like women, are more likely to postpone parenthood or to remain childless than were their counterparts three to four decades ago. In 1986, 28 percent of women between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine did not have a child in their household, up from 18 percent in 1960. Among white women in their late twenties in 1986, more than 40 percent were childless. Indeed, among all women born in the 1950s, 17 percent appear to be remaining childless, up from 9 percent of women born in the 1930s. These trends surely apply to men as well.
An even more dramatic rise has occurred in the percentage of children who do not live with their fathers. Between 1970 and 1991, the proportion of children living with two parents declined from 85 percent to 72 percent, while the proportion living with one parent—usually the mother—rose from 12 percent to 26 percent. In 1991, 19 percent of all white families and 58 percent of all black families with children were headed by a single mother. Most white children who part ways with their fathers are the product of divorce and separation, even though the percentage of white mothers who never married rose from 3 percent in 1970 to 19 percent in 1991. Among African-Americans, out-of-wedlock childbearing has become the primary cause of a father's absence: 54 percent of one-parent black families in 1991 were headed by women who bad never married, up from 15 percent in 1970.
Whether through divorce or their parents' decision not to marry, the ranks of children who are growing up without sustained financial or emotional support from their fathers are swelling. A 1987 survey found that only 30.1 percent of divorced women received the full amount of court-awarded child support (which may or may not have been adequate). Forty-one percent were awarded no support; 14.8 percent received less than the full amount; and 14.2 percent received nothing despite a court decree. For never-married mothers, who find it difficult to establish paternity or make any claims on the men who fathered their children, the situation is even worse. Fewer than one-third of these children can be legally tied to their fathers, and fewer than 15 percent of unwed mothers collect any child support.
The economic vulnerability of children and their mothers is a serious new development. In a world where women's earnings average 72 percent of men's, women and children who do not live with a man are at distinct financial disadvantage compared to married couples or single men. In 1989, the median income of families headed by a woman was only $16,440 a year, compared with $38,550 for married couples and $27,850 for single men.
Men's estrangement from family life has fueled a rise in female and child poverty. In 1989, over 32 percent of families headed by a woman were struggling below the poverty level. Non-Hispanic white female-headed households had a poverty rate of 25.4 percent, while the rate for black female-headed households was 46.5 percent. In contrast, only 5.6 percent of married-couple families and 10.3 percent of all American families lived in poverty. Sadly, the poverty rate for children reached close to 20 percent that year, higher than that for any other age group.
It is clear that some men are remaining aloof from domestic work despite their increasing reliance on women's earnings, while others are relinquishing parental ties altogether. These developments have troubling implications for the well-being of American women and children. They do not, however, tell the whole story. Alongside these trends, another kind of change has occurred: the rise of the nurturing father.
Although the gender gap in domestic work persists, men's domestic participation has increased, even if slowly and to a limited degree. Whether the glass looks half empty or half full depends on the point of comparison. When men and women are compared, men's participation is clearly lower. When men's current behavior is compared with their behavior of several decades ago, however, a rise hi participation becomes apparent. From 1969 to 1987, the average time men spent at household work rose by 159 hours per year for men with two children, by 162 hours for men with one child, and by 173 hours for men with no children. Men increased their share of housework from 15 percent in 1965 to 33 percent in 1985. They continued to spend most of this time on traditionally male tasks (such as outdoor chores, repairs, gardening, and paying bills), but they spent more time on traditionally female tasks (such as cooking, meal cleanup, housecleaning, and laundry) as well—from 8 percent in 1965, to 11 percent in 1975, to 20 percent in 1985. As a result, women spent 7.5 fewer hours a week doing housework in 1985 than in 1965, while men spent 5.2 hours more.
More pronounced changes have taken place in men's involvement in child rearing. In a recent study, married women reported that their husbands' share of housework remained low but that their participation in child care was much higher, averaging just over 40 percent of the total. Taken together, these figures show that although inequality persists, the domestic labor gap is shrinking.
More important, these averages mask important differences among men. While some continue to avoid all domestic involvement, others are more involved in domestic work than the averages convey. This is especially true of child care. Among married couples with an employed wife, 12 percent of the women reported in 1988 that the father provided the primary care for their children when the mother was at work. Among those with a child under five, 17.9 percent reported relying on the father as the primary caretaker. An additional 5.4 percent reported relying on the father as a secondary provider of care. Social psychologist Joseph Pleck thus concludes that "taken together, it appears that married men on average perform one-third of the housework, and one of five fathers with an employed wife is the primary child care arrangement for his preschool child."
The situation for divorced and single fathers is also more complicated than the averages convey. Although the overwhelming majority of children in single-parent families live with their mothers, the percentage of fathers who retain some form of custody, including residential custody, has risen. In 1990, 3.1 percent of American households were headed by a single father, up from 1.8 percent in 1950. Men now head 12.5 percent of all single-parent households. Among children whose fathers did not retain any residential custody, 40 percent reported in one study that they had seen their fathers within the last thirty days, including 28 percent of those whose parents had been divorced for ten years or more. These figures in no way mitigate the crisis that has developed because the majority of divorced fathers neither see nor support their children in a systematic way; they do, however, point out that not all divorced and single fathers have abandoned their children.
Paradoxically, a pattern of involved fatherhood has emerged alongside this retreat from family commitment. A growing group of fathers, most of whom are married to work-committed women, are changing diapers, pushing strollers, cuddling their children, and generally sharing in the pleasures and burdens of child rearing. Although equal sharing with mothers remains rare among these involved fathers, they are nevertheless demonstrating a capacity, a willingness, and an enthusiasm for parenting not seen in their fathers' and grandfathers' generations.
Each of these trends represents a piece of the puzzle of how men's lives are changing. Viewed as a whole, change in men's lives has been ambiguous and multifaceted. It is not a simple matter of things getting worse, getting better, or staying the same—all three are happening at once. A once-predominant pattern has given way to increasing, and perhaps unprecedented, variety.
Studying Change in Men's Lives
The current generation of adult men has come of age in a period of rapid change and growing confusion. Their responses to new freedoms and new constraints have challenged some long-standing beliefs about the nature and experience of manhood. Examining their lives thus provides a rare opportunity to chart the process of change and to uncover the reasons for men's behavior. The life histories of a sampling of this strategic group will reveal how and why men who came of age at the same time developed differing commitments to women, work, and children.
I conducted in-depth interviews with 138 men from diverse social backgrounds. Although not a statistically representative sample of all American men, they were carefully selected to illumine the diverse paths men are taking. The men were chosen at random from two sources: alumni lists of a private university located in the New York metropolitan area (including some who never graduated) and lists of workers maintained by a labor council covering the same tri-sstate area and representing a wide range of blue-collar and service occupations (including workers who were not union members). The men lived in a variety of locations, including the central city (31 percent), the outer city (10 percent), and the suburbs (59 percent). Since more than three-quarters of the U.S. population now resides in a "megalopolis" that mixes cities, suburbs, and sprawl, the residential locations of these men are in keeping with where most Americans live.
Although they claimed diverse racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds, the men in the group were predominantly non-Hispanic white. Sixty-three percent reported predominantly Northern European ancestry; 19 percent reported Eastern European ancestry; 13 percent reported Southern European ancestry; and 6 percent reported African, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern ancestry. I found no relationship between the ethnic background of these men and their choices about family and work.
These men were between the ages of twenty-eight and forty-five at the time they were interviewed. The average age was thirty-six, and only 4 percent were below the age of thirty. As young and middle-aged adults, they were in the family- and career-building stages of their lives—old enough to be making consequential life decisions about work, marriage, and parenthood, yet young enough to be directly affected by the gender revolution of the last several decades. Their lives offer a lens through which we can view the dynamics of change.
Approximately half (53 percent) held college degrees and were employed in white-collar, managerial, and professional occupations. The remainder lacked college degrees (and usually any significant college experience) and were employed in a variety of blue-collar and low-level white-collar occupations. This diversity in occupation and class position makes it possible to analyze how work experiences and occupational opportunities shape men's family and work commitments. It also allows us to explore the similarities and differences between middle-class and working-class men. We will see, for example, that the image of the "macho" working-class man, who opposes any move toward gender equality, is as misleading as the image of the "liberated" and "sensitive" middle-class man. The variation within both class groups is far greater than the differences between them.
The men also varied in their family situations and choices. Sixty percent were married at the time of interview; 11 percent were divorced, separated, or widowed; and 29 percent had never married, including five men who were gay or bisexual. Among those who were married, 45 percent had wives who were employed full-time; 26 percent had wives who were employed part-time; and 29 percent had wives who were full-time homemakers. Over half (53 percent) had at least one child. These men had traveled a variety of routes in adulthood and displayed diverse orientations toward work and parenting. Within both class groups, there were men who viewed themselves as primary breadwinners, men who wished not to have children, men who had become estranged from their children after divorce, and men who had become or hoped to become involved in caring for their children (including some divorced men who had retained some form of custody).
Approximately 36 percent of the men who were interviewed came to define their family and work commitments in terms of primary breadwinning (a percentage that is similar to the one-third of American men who now provide sole or primary support to their families). Of these men, 92 percent had married (or were engaged), and 74 percent had become fathers and were working to support their families. (All those who were not yet fathers planned on having children soon.) Among those who were married and had children, 49 percent were supporting nonemployed wives as well as their children, 35 percent had wives who were employed part-time, and 16 percent had wives employed full-time. Whether or not their wives held paid jobs, however, all of these men saw themselves as the primary earner, the one upon whom the family depended. In turn, they resisted involvement in caretaking and domestic work.
Another 30 percent had eschewed parenthood or significant parental involvement. These men had either opted not to have children (86 percent of the group) or had become estranged from their children in the wake of divorce (14 percent of the group, or about half of the divorced fathers interviewed). They were not committed to parenting either economically or emotionally.
Finally, about 33 percent had moved toward more rather than less family involvement. They developed an outlook on parenthood that included caretaking as well as economic support. Most of these men (63 percent) had already become fathers and were involved in caring for their children, while the others were looking forward to having a child in the near future. Most were also involved with a work-committed woman with whom they shared economic responsibilities, although 17 percent had a part-time-employed wife and 4 percent were supporting a nonemployed wife. An additional 9 percent were divorced and not currently in a committed relationship, and 15 percent had yet to marry and were not currently involved with one special person.
While only a minority of those with an "involved" outlook (about 39 percent, or 13 percent of the total sample) had become or planned to become equal or primary caretakers, all were, or wished to become, significantly more involved in parenting than men who developed "breadwinning" or "autonomous" outlooks. These nurturing fathers point toward the progressive potential of current change.
Controversies in Explaining Men's Lives
There are inherent perils in any analysis of men. Since they are members of an advantaged group that still enjoys disproportionate power and privilege, it is necessary (if difficult) to strike a balance between sympathetic understanding of the problems men face and appropriate awareness of their uses and misuses of power. As a woman who considers herself both a humanist and a feminist, I am aware of the complexities of my attempting to make sense of men's experiences and outlooks. We cannot completely set aside our personal experiences, even in pursuit of understanding the experiences of others. But we are not prisoners of them, either. The power of social science analysis is that it allows us to find answers that stand on their own, apart from the predilections of those who seek them. While values have surely influenced the questions I posed, they should not have determined the answers I found.
Although we have grown accustomed to using gender as a category for analyzing women, we are less comfortable when the subject is men. Yet it is unquestionably true that men's outlooks reflect their experiences as men rather than as prototypical humans. This means we need to examine how social opportunities and constraints shape men's lives no less than women's. To do this, I have chosen an approach that differs from most other studies of men. I focus on variations among men rather than on differences between men and women. I analyze men's dilemmas and constraints as well as their privileges and advantages. I explore how men perceive, construct, and justify their choices, even when those choices appear self-serving or implausible. And I search for signs of positive change as well as signs that change is limited or harmful.
EXPLORING DIVERSITY AMONG MEN
It has once again become fashionable to argue that men are essentially alike and fundamentally different from women. Women, so this account goes, are nurturant and caring; men share a need fur achievement at work and for domination at home—they are driven toward control but lack a well-developed capacity for sustained nurturance or deep emotional attachment. These visions of gender, which assume homogeneity among men, reinforce the belief that a "masculine personality" is inherent and male dominance inevitable.
I have chosen, instead, to examine the forms and causes of a variety of patterns among men. Ordinary men's experiences are more richly diverse than any homogeneous conception of men can capture, and exploring differences among them helps us move beyond stereotypical notions of the "typical" man. Equally important, it allows us to discover how different social arrangements promote diversity in men's experiences, outlooks, and relationships.
Explaining variety among men has practical as well as theoretical uses. Only by understanding why some men support equality and others do not can we locate the obstacles to progressive social change. By taking a close look at a small but theoretically significant group of men who are attracted to more egalitarian family forms (often for reasons that are not simply altruistic), we can locate the social arrangements that would allow and encourage more men to become supportive partners and nurturing parents. Understanding men's varied and sometimes unexpected family and work choices will help us discover the conditions that foster more equal and loving relationships.
ANALYZING MEN'S PRIVILEGES, DILEMMAS, AND CONSTRAINTS
In addition to presuming uniformity among men, discussions of men's lives tend to focus either on their power, privilege, and ability to control or on their problems and constraints. Yet it is misleading to depict men as either free agents or victims. Men assemble, protect, grid justify the prerogatives of being born male, but they must also cope with dilemmas, constraints, and uncertainties.
Men as a group may possess disproportionate power and privilege, but many individual men do not feel powerful. To some extent, this perception is akin to the proverbial fish who does not notice the water in which it swims. Most members of dominant groups take their privileges for granted—until they are taken away. Nevertheless, even dominant groups are not entirely free. Just as subordinate groups often find ways to create power and opportunity, so powerful groups rarely control completely. Privilege can impose its own constraints, and even very privileged men face some constraints (or perceive that they do). Just as we need to understand that women, though disadvantaged, are not mere passive victims but also active molders of their lives, so we also need to investigate the ways in which men, while an advantaged group, are also constrained by social conditions.
Also, the benefits of being born male do not fall equally on all men. Men vary in their opportunities and constraints, their privileges and burdens. Men's lives are changing in paradoxical ways. The increasing difficulty of earning a "family wage" may lead some men to reject family life and others to share economic obligations more equally with women. The entry of women into the workplace has made it easier for men to move away from economic obligation, but it has also made it harder for men to avoid domestic sharing. As their once secure advantages erode, men can try to hold on to domestic power and privilege or they can take advantage of the opportunity to escape breadwinning burdens. In rejecting the sole-provider ethic, they can reject the obligations of family life or agree to share them more equally. Even those who continue to act as primary breadwinners are not immune from these dilemmas. The rise of new patterns among other men challenges the male breadwinner's historical privileges and poses new uncertainties for us all.
Investigating men's dilemmas as well as their privileges has more than purely theoretical uses. Men need reasons beyond pure altruism to concede power. To discover the conditions under which some men become willing to support greater equality between the sexes and others decide to resist equality at all costs, we need a more complex view of men's interests than one that stresses only male advantage. We need to understand how and why men feel constrained as well as free, burdened as well as privileged, controlled as well as in control. How those conditions vary across individuals and change over time is part of the story of how men's lives are changing.
Some man may be uncomfortable admitting that their choices have costs, that dominance and equality both exact a price. Some women may protest that since most men have far more power than most women, it is beside the point to look at the constraints or costs of being a man. Yet men are coping with the burdens as well as the privileges of traditional definitions of manhood, and it is possible to acknowledge their power and still take account of their constraints.
LISTENING TO MEN'S ACCOUNTS
My analysis focuses on men's personal accounts, even though there is good reason to approach them with a skeptical eye. There is often a gap between what we say and what we do. Since circumstance and perception force all of us to distort reality in systematic ways, the challenge is not to distinguish between "accurate" and "false" accounts but to discover how different groups make sense of the world in different ways, Some men may claim to be more egalitarian than they are, for example, while others may act in ways that are more egalitarian than they claim to be. Some men may exaggerate their domestic involvement the better to fit the image of a sensitive, caring man, while others may underestimate their domestic contributions to protect an image of "macho" strength and control.
While it is important to distinguish between reliable accounts and those that merely state what someone believes others want to hear, this challenge should not prevent us from listening to men. There is no reason to assume that men are any more or less truthful than women, even when their accounts diverge. To understand the changing meaning of gender, we need to make sense of men's perceptions. By focusing on differences among men, my aim is to place men's accounts in a social, historical, and comparative context.
EXAMINING (POSITIVE) CHANGE
There is no doubt that some men's resistance to equality in the family and other men's turning away from the family altogether are two major components of recent change. Yet change has a third aspect as well: the movement of some men toward greater equality with women and more involvement in the home. Moreover, most men are perceiving their domestic responsibilities in new terms: contemporary men are much more likely to feel they should participate even when they don't. Whether change appears progressive or retrogressive, significant or inconsequential, depends on what is being singled out for attention.
For practical and theoretical reasons, I focus on the liberating as well as the retrogressive aspects of change. Examining both aspects not only presents a fuller and more accurate picture but allows us to discover the forces that promote or inhibit more fundamental transformations. A narrow focus on how things are getting worse fosters the view that women have lost, not gained, from their fight for equal rights. Acknowledging the positive elements of change along with the negative ones puts ns in a better position to direct inevitable change in more progressive directions.
Gender Stereotypes and Ideals
In exploring the diverse ways that men are responding to new pressures and opportunities, I have tried to avoid juxtaposing "good women" against "bad men" or even "good men" against "bad men." My aim is to explain how social arrangements shape men's choices and world views, not to pass judgment on individual men or women. Virtue is not distributed by gender, and no one choice is right for everyone.
Yet explanations of how men behave cannot be entirely divorced from considerations of how they should behave. Are egalitarian men merely compliant, or are they enthusiastic partners in the creation of a more humane world? Are single and divorced men irresponsible deserters of women and children, or are they bewildered survivors of an escalating sex war? Are traditional breadwinners holding on to unearned patriarchal privileges amid a changing social order, or are they struggling to remain responsible in an ever more uncertain economic environment? All of these judgments swirl around the intensifying debate over the meaning of manhood and the nature of change in men's lives. All too often, the man who expresses nurturance and sensitivity is judged to be weak and unmasculine, just as the woman who appears strong or ambitious is often declared selfish and unfeminine.
My own starting point is that posing the debate in these terms is misleading and dangerous. Men and women share a range of human capacities that belie the gender stereotypes we have inherited. It is inaccurate to view men and women as inhabiting opposite ends of a single psychological continuum in which caring women are contrasted with strong men. It is even worse to condemn those who appear to deviate from these ideal types. Strength and caring are not mutually exclusive categories, but essential human capacities we all need. Armed with a better understanding of why change is occurring but still remains limited, we will be in a better position to build social institutions that foster generosity and strength in everyone. If we fail to understand the causes of change, however, we are unlikely to discover how to build a more humane, just, and tolerant future for all.
Copyright © 1998 by Keith Jessop.. All rights reserved.
|List of Tables|
|Pt. I||Men's Quiet Revolution|
|2||The Changing Contours of American Manhood||17|
|Pt. II||Paths of Change|
|3||The Child and the Man||41|
|4||Turning Toward Breadwinning||76|
|5||Turning Toward Autonomy||109|
|6||Turning Toward Family Involvement||141|
|7||Dilemmas of Breadwinning and Autonomy||182|
|8||Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood||215|
|Pt. III||The Causes and Consequences of Change|
|9||The Myth of Masculinity||259|
|10||Men and the Politics of Gender||276|