By David Michael Newstead.
The Future of Men by Jack Myers focuses on the significant changes to gender roles already underway our society. “The age of the Dominant Male has passed,” Myers declares as he outlines shifts in the workplace, relationships, and politics that defy the traditional confines of masculinity. He writes:
- Economic crises tend to accelerate changes in the workplace. “Jobs created in recent recoveries looked nothing like those that were lost, and the people hired for those new positions looked nothing like the people laid off from the old ones,” said the 2010 Help Wanted: Projections of Job and Education Requirements Through 2018 report by Georgetown University’s Center on Educaiton and the Workforce. “In the past two recessions, the typical job loser was a high school-educated male in a blue-collar job, such as manufacturing or construction, working in the middle of the country. In the past two recoveries, the typical job gainer was a female with a postsecondary education who lived on either coast and worked in a service occupation – particularly health care, education, or business services.”
In one chapter entitled How Men Can Adapt to the New World, the author offers recommendations for working in this environment like: learn to multitask, pay attention to details, use more words to communicate, and think about other people’s feelings. And while bullet points like these demonstrate more concrete guidance than is typically provided to men in these discussions, the core of the book deals with something much deeper. The Future of Men is really about the identity crisis in modern masculinity marked by outdated traditions and expectations and the uncertainty of what exactly to replace them with. He writes:
- So, what is the future of men? I do not believe it is a downward spiral into a subservient role in society, culture, and business – and I hope it is a new and elevated stature gained through personal growth, greater balance of work and personal lives, positive role models, and newly defined perceptions of masculinity. There is a road back from the genetic progression toward the top of the endangered species list. Well into the twentieth century, man accepted the compliance of women as his due. His role was that of a provider and a protector. His control over his family, his workplace, and his church was absolute. To what extent his authority extended over women was dependent on the individual man and woman, his society and culture, and his childhood upbringing. Man’s dominion over the women in his life was largely left unchallenged in all arenas. Many people remain lodged in this past, retaining outdated and outmoded policies and behavior. Nevertheless, the shifts in gender roles are having an enormous effect on how society values the roles of both sexes within the culture – and how men and women relate to each other both individually and within communities. As men wrestle with the enormous changes they have had to absorb since the end of World War II, they are struggling with the fundamental conflict between trying to make more emotionally honest connections and reasserting their pride and maintaining their self-respect. Society today is more challenging for men than ever before. Once upon a time, men were confident about their ability to meet expectations – whether in politics, business, or personal relationships – simply because they were male, and frankly, employers, voters, and women encouraged this attitude. Modern-day men are hardwired from thousands of years of the traditional roles to avoid intimacy: providers, protectors, and decision makers – the modern equivalents of hunters, warriors, and defenders of home and hearth – need not show affection.
Admittedly, the book covers a lot of territory. But reading it left me with one overarching concern. Not whether change is good or necessary or even inevitable, but whether some people are willing to change at all.