Thursday, September 12, 2013

"The Masculine Mystique"

I'm catching up on my magazine and journal reading, and I came across a thought-provoking article in The Atlantic that I recommend  if you care about the American family, fatherhood, or feminism. That trio casts a pretty wide net. However, I will say that the article only looks at things from a heteronormative point of view. Fair warning.

In the paper copy of the magazine, the article's title is "The Masculine Mystique" by Stephen Marche, but the online version is titled "Home Economics: The Link Between Work-Life Balance and Income Equality."

Here a some quotations that might pique your interest:

  • "Men's absence from the conversation about work and life is strange, because decisions about who works and who takes care of the children, and who makes the money and how the money is spent, are not decided by women alone or by some vague and impersonal force called society."
  • "The central conflict of domestic life right now is not men versus women, mothers versus fathers. It is family versus money."
  • "It is an outrage that the male-female wage gap persists, and yet, over the past 10 years, in almost every country in the developed world, it has shrunk." 
  • "We live in a hollow patriarchy: the edifice is patriarchal, while the majority of its occupants approach egalitarianism. This generates strange paradoxes."
  • "The hollow patriarchy keeps women from power and confounds male identity."
  • "A conversation about work-life balance conducted by and for a small sliver of the female population only perpetuates the perception that these are women's problems, not family ones." 


Babe Runner said...

I'm adding this to my "to read" list as well. Some excellent points, especially the idea that the whole male vs. female is a false dichotomy and that we should be considering money vs. family, because both of these are everyone's concerns. Good stuff.

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

His personal story in the article is very interesting. He left a tenure-track job as a professor because his wife got an outstanding job in Toronto, which is a place where day care is good and its cost won't destroy a person's take-home pay.

Still, it would be helpful to read an article about how gay couples juggle the same issues.

Dr. K said...

It was good to see this gesture to diversity: "Decisions in heterosexual relationships are made by women and men together."

But I LOVED this: "when I first read “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” I immediately thought of the men I know who might be said to “have it all.” The wife of one of my editors had a premature baby at 28 weeks; after they brought the baby home, he did not miss a day of work. Soldiers, I suppose, “have it all.” They have meaningful work and then come home (eventually) to their waiting families. Does anyone imagine that they consider themselves the victors of society’s current arrangement?"

This bit is more complicated than he makes it, I think: "Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In Circles”—her national network of book clubs cum professional self-help groups for women—are not supposed to be mere marketing exercises; they are intended to be psych-up sessions for elite women who want to learn to be more demanding. Good for them, I suppose. But do we want women emulating the egomania of the corporate male?"

But he's certainly right that "having it all" is over-rated when all everyone has is work.

And the US needs to get its act together on child care. (In Illinois this begins with the graduated income tax amendment.)