The New Lady’s Man

photo from dropbox on phone 002For many centuries, men have sought to be kings of their castles. They provided, protected, and made all of the right–or wrong–decisions for everyone in their homes. Men were large and in charge. Their lifestyles and roles were unmistakably defined. After all, it is a man’s world, right… right. (Ok, cue the crickets, please)

Seriously though, have not we so soon forgotten when we guys thought that a woman’s place was at home, either in the kitchen or in the bedroom?  –And they did a fabulous job too. However, back then, this selfish and sexist perception of women by most men was unfair, but it was part of what made a man a man. Women followed orders. Those were his rules; that was his role. Men were men and women were women.

–Well, not according to today’s standards. These days, an increasing number of men are finding it necessary to get more in touch with their feminine side. Frankly, they are not the men they used to be. Strong economic and social influences have steered many men towards embracing women’s roles and lifestyles. Now it is the kings’ challenge to take the orders (burger, please). It is they who need to be soft.

Like it or not, men and women are defined by the roles they play. Well, those roles have been steadily reversing. More women are wearing the suits and the crowns. The men, however, are cooking the meals. Modern women are flooding the workforce as many more men are finding themselves surrounded by a majority of female co-workers. Surprisingly, men are becoming the minority. No longer are males perceived by our society as that manly “white knight” who rode into town to save (oh my!) economically overburdened and fragile women from the evil clutches of a hard life.

In addition, with that shift in power, women are viewing men as more their equals, more domesticated and somewhat more effeminate contributors to our society. Many males are now doing women’s work! So, can men be “man enough” to accept their new feminine roles as they become more encumbered to explore the many facets of their female side at home and at work? Can men learn to be ladies?

First, they need to learn how to be Househusbands at home. A growing number of men are opting to be “little Suzy homemakers” as they chase sticky fingered kids around the house all day. Now, men are washing dishes. They are dusting furniture and folding sheets. They are also attending high school plays and PTAs. Therefore, it is quite normal now to find men who are “holding down the fort”–not the ladies.

In 1996, 21,000 men with partners working outside the home were labeled economically inactive. Just last year, that total reached 62,000. The office of National Statistic expects this rise will only increase. Is society creating men with a gentle hand and a soft touch? Are we comfortable with this new image of men? Can their fragile egos survive this?

Even in the workforce, “real men” have had to learn to be more sensitive (lady-like) by employing new coping skills in order to co-exist in many predominantly-female work environments. To them, secretarial and nursing jobs will forever be typecast as effeminate. Now they have to monitor their language. They have to watch their etiquettes. In addition, in order to survive, they have to learn how to patiently negotiate disagreements with soft words instead of crude profanities. Even if he is inexplicably besieged by emotionally explosive female co-workers (particular time of the month), he must show restraint and understanding. He should always remember: fragile emotions may be working there. Consequently, he is ultimately responsible for adjusting and learning new “behavioral strategies”.

Yet, the ladies seem to have mastered this social transition more adeptly. Increasing numbers of them are training to be plumbers, electricians and ironworkers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women have been making progress in a range of professions between 1970 and 2011. Percentages of female pharmacists have gone from 12.1 to 55.7. Chemical engineers spiked from 1.3 percent to 22.3 percent. Also, 19.2 percent of security guards and 12 percent of police officers are females. Women are successfully invading men’s jobs. They are not concerned about losing their femininity. They do not allow themselves to be caught up in the stigma of being too masculine as they work ever more traditionally males’ jobs. Women are learning to be tough, and soft.

So, why are men having such a difficult time accepting these typically female jobs? Women have claimed and worked these so-called women’s jobs for years and have excelled. Why then, in this slowly recovering recession, men do not appear to be particularly rushing to fill relatively available nursing and secretarial positions? Although they are surely warming up to these types of jobs, 9 percent of all nurse in 2011 were men while 91 percent were women. Still there is a huge gender gap. Where are the men?

Just recently, President Obama selected Jeremy Barnard as the first male social secretary in the White House. Surely, that should bring more liberation, acceptance and prestige to men in choosing more secretarial jobs. Only time will tell. Recent census data, says that of the 4 million workers who worked as administrative assistants between 2006 and 2010, a full 96 percent were women. Men are still non-committal.

So why cannot guys seem to shed their delusional macho self image and step up to the plate? They continue not to be able to overcome historically sexist perceptions and social stereotypes surrounding women’s jobs and lifestyles. Girls have had to learn to be tough in this role reversals and self-improvement world. Why cannot men learn to be gentle? The shame, I am afraid, may be too great to overcome.

Let us face it. Men simply may not be emotionally “man enough” to accept non-traditional jobs that require them to be subordinate, supportive or nurturing. They seem to be hopelessly prisoners of their own “superman” egos, pride and fears. They continue to shy away from female roles concerning jobs and lifestyles.

Yet, these same gentlemen ironically invest billions of dollars into improving their appearances. According to a Los Angeles Times story covering the growth of men’s cosmetics in the market place, more and more dudes are willing to spend megabucks on skincare products. Men toiletry sales are expected to hit 3.2 billion in 2016. That figure is up from 2.2 billion in 2006. More interesting is the fact that men are also investing more dollars in tummy tucks, botox injections and face lifts. An article at RealSelf revealed that the average cost of a male tummy tuck from 57 reviews is 8, 750.00, and higher. Hmm… I guess as far as vanity is concerned, there is no discrimination.

Cosmetic brands such as Evolutionman and Eylure have made news for introducing men’s beauty care products like false eye lashes (“guy lashes”) and nail polish. Yikes! That is a woman’s thing, right? When did men become so obsessed with their appearances? Are men becoming the new ladies? Certainly, consumer cosmetic spending statistics seem to suggest that. Many men seem to be investing more time and money on vanity products. Maybe boys “just want to have fun” as well.

OK, so it is not a secret anymore. Our society is engaged in some sort of social transformation of role reversal between men and women. It is a life change that is fueled by economic and social influences. In addition, as this continues, it impels women to launch this necessary invasion on our workforce by stepping into men’s shoe–pants and suits. Women, seemingly, are becoming the “new men”!

Why is this important, you may ask? It is important because what this does to our modern society is cause us to re-examine our reality of what a real man’s role was compared to what it is becoming. Those outdated perceptions of a man’s identity of boss, sole breadwinners, and all-around tough guy are being challenged at home and at work. Can they ignore their prides long enough to adjust to this social evolution? As more males venture into available but unpopular women’s roles, the more feminized they may need to become to adapt. In short, to keep pace in our ever evolving society, men need to be “man enough” to be ladies.

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6 thoughts on “The New Lady’s Man”

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