We ask you, men, do you think men are in crisis?
But it seems like nobody’s really talking to the men or asking them if they feel in the middle of a masculinity crisis.
Sam De Brito of TheAge examined the issue of changing gender norms in his piece The “Crisis” of Masculinity, wondering whether much of the evidence cited by articles on the topic are going into the question with some confirmation bias. De Brito explains:
My problem with sweeping statements like this is they take for granted the point they’re trying to prove: it’s assumed men are in crisis so, according to the law of confirmation bias, a documentarian who’s already decided on the premise (and title) of their film will include everything proving their hypothesis and ignore that which does not.
It’s persuasion dressed up as reason.
That doesn’t mean gender norms aren’t changing, but rather that these changes may not necessarily be creating the upheaval and misery that the term “crisis” implies.
Beyond assuming that all men are somehow resistant to change, or ridiculed for embracing the softening walls between male vs female, De Brito asks us to think about whether all of the behaviors considered traditionally masculine need to be rejected as harmful or oppressive.
Eva Figes, in her famous 1970 feminist polemic, Patriarchal Attitudes, summed it up, writing: “Human beings have always been particularly slow to accept ideas that diminish their own absolute supremacy and importance. [For men,] like all people who are privileged by birth and long tradition, the idea of sharing could only mean giving up.”
Part of the problem for men is many “traditional” male behaviours depend on the diminution or domination of women. “Traditional” feminine virtues often encourage this subordination.
That said, I can’t help wonder if we’re in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater by deconstructing and rejecting every “traditional” male behaviour as destructive or irrelevant.
One also can’t help wonder whether anybody is actually even saying that all traditionally masculine behaviors should be thrown out, or whether that’s a concept designed to sell articles.
De Brito also argues that it isn’t just men who have to be competitive and fight for a place in the hierarchy. It is the nature of all living organisms to compete for survival. So why have we set competitiveness as a masculine trait in our society?
And so we turn it to you, our readers. Guys, do you think there’s a crisis in masculinity?
Are the roles of men changing?
What traditionally masculine characteristics do you think are particularly valuable?
Dad with son: Flickr/Anders Porter
Men racing to pool: Flickr/Rodrigo Esper