By David Michael Newstead.
What is the future of men? Lately, I’ve been trying to answer that question and here’s some speculation. As traditional standards of masculinity increasingly confront the realities of the modern world, they will seem more and more out-of-date in our culture, in economics, and in our politics. And while some people might want to return to the mythical golden age of 1950s America, that vision will be unacceptable to many others and impossible in a practical sense even if it were appealing to everyone. Instead, on-going social change will lead to numerous opportunities to question and redefine gender norms for the better, but will people actually do that? In part, that depends on our willingness to change and the difference of opinion between one generation and another. But there are other factors at play as well. Ultimately, gender inequalities are inseparable from economic and racial forms of inequality. And if those increase, then so will gender inequalities in various forms. For instance, the decline of male-dominated professions and industries might at first appear to be an opportunity for female advancement. However, these developments are likely just harbingers of things to come in the economy in general as automation and other technologies separate profitability from human labor, which has far reaching implications. But even if that does not take place, the decline of men is rarely a progressive step forward. In countries where large numbers of men have declined socially and economically, it’s given rise to a kind of hyper-masculine reactionary political climate instead of some gender equitable utopia. Examples of this include Russia, the Philippines, and the United States. Whether this represents the last gasp of traditional gender norms or actually foreshadows our future remains to be seen. It’s possible then that the future of men can be a very good thing, but not without a lot of work and, above all, the willingness to change.