Monday, 7 February 2011

Masculine Identity in America

The article I found is entitled "Our male identity crisis: What will happen to men?" and can be found at:

The primary issue that this article sites as a problem for the identity of America's males is the success of women within the education system as well as the workplace. It gives statistics and facts such as the ones below to back this statement up.
  • "Men now comprise barely 40% of enrolled University and College students and graduates."
  • "In 2009, for instance, women will earn more degrees in higher education than men in every possible category, from bachelor's level to Ph.D.s, according to the U.S. Department of Education."
  • "U.S. women earn 159 degrees for every 100 awarded to men. For the first time, less than 50% of law school graduates are men in North America."
It focuses a great deal on the achievements of American women today and how an increasing number of families have women as the main breadwinners. Women are now also taking over aspects of American life that were primarily or completely male dominated such as state legislature.
The New Hampshire State Legislature is now made up of a majority of women, a first for a legislative body in the U.S., and the number of women in government continues to edge up nationwide."
This article was written in July 2010 and so said about the then upcoming Congressional elections that there were an unseen number of women candidates in an area that used to be predominately male.
Men can't even rest easy that, even though there are more women within their chosen job sector, they earn more money because that is also changing. "A study of U.S. Census data conducted by Queens College sociologist Andrew Beveridge found that young women in New York and several other big American cities actually earn more than their male counterparts."

Historically the men went out to work and provided for the women and children, while the women tended to stay at home and do all things domestic. American men knew this to be their job or role and so now it makes it difficult for the men to know where their 'place' is these days, when everything is shifting and changing from what they knew and were used to. The fact that roles are changing means that the two versions of masculinity that were discussed in the lecture; the "self-made man" and the "Wild West" are becoming few and far between.

"Girls today grow up in a post-feminist environment, being told they can do whatever they want in life."

"It's a huge shift, when you think that a generation and a half ago our attitudes and expectations for what roles women and men could play in our society were entirely different than they are today." (Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress)

Another issue that's causing a crisis of identity is the constant negative portrayal of men within society, mainly as being criminals and because of the lack of fatherhood seen today. Something that is not helped by the ability of the women to gain custody of the children so easily when separations and divorces occur. The article states that "medical experiments have shown that male sperm can now be grown artificially in a laboratory" and this would lead many men to question the need for them to be here at all.

"Continuous negative portrayal of men in the media, along with the feminization of men and loss of fatherhood in society, has caused confusion and frustration in younger generation males, as they do not have a specific role model and are less able to define their role in society."

It also touches on how the media portrays men using the examples of Homer and Bart Simpson in comparison to how Marge and Lisa Simpson come across. "The majority of TV shows and advertisements present men as stupid buffoons, or aggressive evil tyrants or insensitive and shallow "studs" for women's pleasure." It is telling today's generations, subconsciously even that, that is how men are and is demoralising for the men themselves, creating more pressure for them to find their purpose. These tv shows that depict men in such a way is also realising the primary fear that men were said to have (1992) and that is being laughed at. Men are fast becoming the topics of jokes like blondes and Irish men are. "From once being seen as successful breadwinners, heads of families and being respected leaders, men today are the butt of jokes in the popular media."

Overall I think this article is useful because it lists numerous reasons as to why there is a masculinity crisis and backs up it's arguments with facts and figures as well as referring to the roles in which men once found themselves and now don't. It also references two different books on the subject matter and ends in a way to make us continue to question where male identity will go in the future.
"The last bastions of male dominated roles appears to be top leadership positions, particularly in the corporate world, the military and politics, although even those areas are slowly being eroded."

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