I just spent the better part of my Friday night into Saturday morning finishing an assignment for one of my classes. We are to required to complete four journals on based on four different topics. I chose gender for my first. I thought I'd share what I just emailed to my lecturer.
ARE MEN LOSING THEIR PLACE?
There was once a time when men knew who they were. They were called the protectors and providers and breadwinners of the household. These were just some of the labels that once defined males in society. A man was characterized by his strength – physically and emotionally. Boys were taught not to cry, to be level-headed and not to let emotion dictate his actions. When someone said the phrase, “A man's man” or “A real man” a mental image could easily be conjured up in one's mind and you knew what was meant. That was how it was... at one time.
It wasn't a perfect system. Not by a long shot. Gender roles were steeped in the man's favor and women were forced into a role of subservience, relegated to cooking, cleaning and child rearing. Women held no position of power or influence and though there were some women who dared to stand up and be recognized as more than just baby factories and etch their name into the history books, they were generally reviled and ridiculed by both men and women alike. But they also became examples and were secretly idolized by other women who longed for more but felt trapped by the roles society had assigned them based solely on gender.
But, like they often do, things changed and the waves of time washed over the lines in the sand which once clearly marked the separation of gender roles. Women slowly began to gain a greater role in society and the lines between these roles began to blur.
I, for one, have no problem with this redefining of the traditional roles. I've never believed that any one should a position of dominance over the other and that both male and female have something equally valuable to bring to the table. That's why one's strengths compliments the other's weaknesses. To me this is why it makes sense both genders have an equal say. There are those, however, who would still try to hold on to the so-called glory-days of male dominance. As such, many men harbor resentment towards women for what they see as usurping their authority and taking what they see as being rightfully theirs. Likewise, there are women who seem to have gotten caught up in the hype and see this current wave of change as a chance to snuff out the oppressors' rule once and for all and show them how it's done. In my experience, however, history has shown that the tighter you try to grab on to something that isn't truly yours the faster it slips through your fingers.
Man is no longer seen as the sole providers and breadwinners in today's household. Let me be clear, again, I have no problem with this. The problem as I see it is that he is constantly being told the things which once made him him are now laughable and the male as a gender is left confused, floundering, searching for a new identity to replace the one he lost. Nowadays, even to say the phrases “A man's man” and “A real man” sound like vague and abstract clichés that have no place in today's society. How we look, shave and dress is always under scrutiny and the male image is constantly being redefined. Today, movies, commercials, television, music and all other forms of media try to tell both men and women what should define them – and this it does for often self-serving motives such as to make a sale. Get the right male celebrity to put on a strapless, sequined evening gown and throw a few rappers and/or athletes in and all of a sudden you have the next big fad. This only shows how lost the male as a gender has become.
It's clear, to me at least, that before anybody tries to jump into the driver's seat that people stop bickering about whether the job can be better handled by either a man or woman and everyone truly assess the situation and stop being so smug and self confident and power hungry. Idealistic? I guess. Utopian? Sure. But look what the alternative has brought us.