Men are grateful for women’s progress, but they wonder where exactly they fit in today’s world.
We know roles for women are changing, with women’s advancements making headlines nightly, particularly with a female candidate throwing her hat into the Presidential race.
But the role of men in a society that often pits women and men against one another in a damaging (and false) gender binary, is also shifting rapidly. Rarely do we stop and consider the changes men and boys are facing as women make well-deserved strides toward equality.
Maria Shriver, founder and Chief Visionary Officer of A Woman’s Nation™, wanted to know more about how men see their changing roles in the world, so she and her team launched The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man, a fascinating survey conducted with the support of The California Endowment, conducted by Hart Research Associates.
The results are fascinating, and remind us how we are very much in the middle of these changing times.
Robert K. Ross, CEO and President of The California Endowment, explains:
This Snapshot tells us that we are not seeing the whole man when we watch television or read newspapers. Young men don’t see the role models that they are looking for depicted in everyday life. These findings closely follow what we’ve been learning through our Sons and Brothers work and the impact it has on their overall health and well-being.
Some key points from the survey include:
Sixty-eight percent of today’s men say having a strong personal character and sense of integrity are the most important ways to exhibit strength in today’s world. The next most important markers of strength for men today is the ability to provide financially (44%), the confidence to follow his own path (40%), having the emotional strength to deal with stressful situations (37%) and physical strength (11%). Men over age 65 are less likely to note emotional strength as a definer of strength than younger men and older men and more likely to mention the importance of physical power. In general, only 22% of American men said showing emotion is a sign of weakness. The Mad Man has been replaced by the Emotionally Intelligent Family Man.
This confirms what people, like those of us here at GMP, who work with men advancing the conversation around fatherhood, husbands and masculinity have always known. As we’ve learned over the last five years running The Good Men Project and hearing thousands of men’s stories, guys want so much more than to just kiss their wives and kids goodbye in the morning and to read the newspaper alone when they get home from work at night.
Men today want to play, teach, and emotionally engage with their kids and partners. They struggle to balance their home and work lives, and worry they aren’t spending enough time with their families. They are, in every way, striving to be engaged parents in ways their fathers and grandfathers never were.
Survey results that were more surprising involved men’s feelings about the advancement of women and how that affects them.
Four in nine of today’s men say that it is harder to be a man today than it was for his father. The most common reason given for this sentiment is women attaining a stronger position in the workplace, a stronger position financially and greater gender equity. In fact 30% of American men agree that women taking on greater responsibility outside the home has had a negative effect on the confidence of American men. Men also mention negative social assumptions about men, a more competitive job market, greater household responsibilities for men and greater expectations for men in society today as reasons why it is harder to be a man today.
It should be noted, however, that the survey also indicated that around two-thirds of men are very comfortable having a female partner work outside the home, and that roughly half of men surveyed were very comfortable being out-earned by their partner. They’d also be comfortable reporting to a female boss.
Imagine the change from their fathers’ generation – or even more so, their grandfathers’!
Maria Shriver, serving as Executive Producer of the groundbreaking film The Mask You Live In by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, launched the survey in coordination with the Los Angeles premiere of Siebel Newsom’s film. In a TIME.com op-ed, Siebel Newsom explained:
“America’s views of masculinity are changing, but we still have a long way to go to end the ‘boy crisis’ our country is facing. The research shows that compared to girls, boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives. We need to expand the definition of masculinity in America and I am so happy to have Maria Shriver as a partner in that effort.”
Explore the full results and analysis of The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight into the 2st Century Man and let us know if you think these survey results reflect your experiences as a man today.
And watch the compelling trailer for The Mask You Live In below.