An interesting new book has just been released, entitled Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys by Kay Hymowitz. The book examines much of the same territory as Hanna Rosin's article, The End of Men, published in the The Atlantic last July. Both describe a seismic change in our global outlook on gender - in which women can do almost anything that men can do and often so much more. What's the point of men? Hymowitz says that men are retreating from this question into a prolonged pre-adulthood in which they stay childlike in their responsibilities. As women gain ever more ground with more advanced education and higher paying jobs, at least until they become mothers.
While we haven't had a chance to read Manning Up yet, we were struck by a review of the book and this topic in The Guardian this week. The piece in the The Guardian gets down to what we feel is the point: it is our culture's narrow definition of masculinity that is the real problem. Men, stuck trying to adhere to the tough guy, breadwinner, non-nurturer, top-dog persona that our culture says is the only way to live if you want to be a real man, are increasingly simply giving up. Rather than rewrite this silly definition of manhood, they opt for video games on their mother's couch well into their twenties and thirties (to use an example from The Guardian article).
What's the alternative? It seems pretty obvious to me. With fewer and fewer men-only arenas left in the world, the answer is to claim it all - just as women are doing. Don't parent 'her' way - parent your own way, with pride and confidence and a deep sense that this is what you are born to do! Do the same with tackling the chores, earning your share of the family paycheck, and simply having fun. We don't need anyone sitting on the couch playing video games (at least not as a way to hide from gender equality). But we do need partnership - equal and intimate partnership. That's the stuff of a great life!