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Wayne Parker

Men's Lib - The Need to Reimagine Masculinity

By October 8, 2010

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Andres Romano and Tony Dokoupil at Newsweek have struck a chord with many fathers and other men this week with their article Men's Lib - The Need to Reimagine Masculinity. With an ever changing workforce including more and more women, and the recent economic struggles of traditionally male dominated industries, the article argues that men need to think about abandoning old views of masculinity in favor of "The New Macho."  Check out these quotes from the article:

Until recently, the concept of masculinity had always bent to the demands of the day. Before 1776, according to the historical sociologist Michael Kimmel, the perfect man was still a genteel patriarch, a dandified landowner steeped in the codes of the Old World. By the early 19th century that ideal had given way to the image of the heroic artisan, the rugged individualist (a farmer, a cobbler, a carpenter) who might lead a caravan west. In time, the log-cabin model was replaced by a more modern ideal: the self-made man, a restless, competitive breadwinner whose masculinity depended on success in an industrial, materialistic society.

It's clear that we've arrived at another crossroads--only today the prevailing codes of manhood have yet to adjust to the changing demands on men. We're not advocating a genderless society, a world in which men are "just like women." We're not even averse to decorative manhood, or the kind of escapism that men have turned to again and again--think Paul Bunyan, Tarzan, and bomber jackets--when the actual substance of their lives felt light. If today's men want to be hunters, or metrosexuals, or metrosexuals dressed in hunting clothes, they should feel free.

But they need to be more than that, too. On the surface, the New Macho is a paradox, a path to masculinity paved with girly jobs and dirty diapers. Dig a little deeper, however, and it begins to make a lot of sense--not just for men but for everyone. If men embraced parental leave, women would be spared the stigma of the "mommy track"--and the professional penalties (like lower pay) that come along with it. If men were involved fathers, more kids might stay in school, steer clear of crime, and avoid poverty as adults.

What do you think?  Are we done with the old masculinity macho and into a new paradigm for modern men?  Or can men be involved fathers without sacrificing traditional masculinity?

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