Continuing from my last post on the Shriver Report, I'd like to focus on its essay by sociologist Michael Kimmel - a work of pure ESP gold. The essay, entitled Has a Man's World Become a Woman's Nation?, starts with a description of how women's increasing equality in the workplace and at home has led to different reactions from different types of men.
Some men, Kimmel explains, view women's expanding roles as an invasion of their own space and God-given rights. Others, the 'masculinists,' long for a world where men are men and women are women, and focus on the (very small) differences between the genders rather than all the characteristics and abilities that we share. A third subset considers fatherhood to be political; these men speak of fighting bitter custody battles to retain equal rights to their children, and of the effect of a fatherless America on crime. Each of these rather stereotypical male models actually represents only a small population of American men, says Kimmel.
The final type of evolving man that Kimmel describes is the largest sector of all. He is someone who quietly accepts the equality of women and ends up joyfully realizing how evolving gender roles can benefit his life as much as they can benefit his wife's. He supports wage equality, comparable worth, women's candidacies for public office, and dual-career families. To this male subtype, women's equality is just what is fair and it doesn't threaten his value as a man. As Kimmel says, even though we still have a long way to go to get to true equality, "without fanfare or struggle, [these men] drifted into more egalitarian relationships because they love their wives, partners, and children."
The last third of Kimmel's essay is devoted to describing what happens to men (and women and children) in egalitarian relationships. This is the really good stuff! "...when men do share housework as well as child care, the payoff is significant," says Kimmel. Research shows that, in egalitarian relationships:
- Children are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, less likely to be put on prescription medication, and less likely to see a child psychologist for behavioral problems.
- Children have lower rates of absenteeism and higher school achievement scores.
- Children get along better with their peers and have more friends if they do housework with their fathers, and they show more positive behaviors. That's because men who take on domestic work teach children cooperation and democratic family values.
- Wives are happier, regardless of class/race/ethnicity, reporting the highest levels of marital satisfaction and lowest rates of depression, and are less likely to see therapists or take prescription medication.
- Wives are more likely to stay fit.
- Husbands are physically healthier - they smoke less, drink less, take recreational drugs less often. They are more likely to stay in shape and visit their doctors for routine screenings. They are less likely to end up in emergency rooms or miss work due to illness.
- Husbands are less often diagnosed with depression, see therapists or take prescription medication. They report higher levels of marital satisfaction. And they live longer.
- Couples have more sex.
Anybody out there really want to pass this up?