Are Males Are Becoming the New Second Sex?
In 1949, when Simone de Beauvoir wrote the book, The Second Sex, she described a period when women's lives were restricted. Women were seen as mothers and homemakers and those who wanted to work outside the home were often seen as "less than" a complete woman. Males ruled the workplace, government, and academia. Since bringing home the bacon was seen as much more important than raising children, they were top dog at home. It was a time when "father knows best" and "what is good for General Motors is good for the nation."
But times have changed, I believe for the better. Our daughters can grow up to have many more choices than their grandmothers. Our sons don't have to carry the full load of supporting the family. Bacon is no longer seen as a health food and men are valued for more than our status as wage earners. However, in some ways things have gotten worse.
We still live in a culture that Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade, calls a dominator society. She says that the dominator model, which is popularly known either as patriarchy or matriarchy, ranks one half of humanity over the other. She contrasts this with a partnership model in which the differences between men and women are not equated with either superiority or inferiority.
Dominator societies are like teeter-totters. When one side goes up, the other side goes down. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. If women are on the rise, men are in decline. One respected researcher who has recognized this shift is anthropologist Helen Fisher. After studying men and women around the world she concluded that the balance has shifted significantly in the 50 years since de Beauvoir wrote her book. She reports these findings in her book The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World. She quotes historian Gerda Lerner who said, "We stand at the doorway of what may become an age of women."[i]
Fisher uses her considerable talents to survey the world of the 21st century and concludes that women will increasingly find their talents and skills being useful while men, unless there is considerable change, will find themselves to be falling farther and farther behind. For instance, she finds that the differences in the way males and females think will favor women. She says that women more regularly think contextually. They take a more "holistic" view of issues. Men, on the other hand, tend to compartmentalize their attention. Their thinking is more channeled. In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, where context is everything, men are at a considerable disadvantage.
Power in the world is shifting and will continue to do so in the 21st century. Countries like the Soviet Union have come apart. Huge corporations like Enron have folded. The power of the United States government is being challenged from within and without. Centralized, top-down kind of power is shifting everywhere towards a more egalitarian shared power.
This way of being is familiar to women and is often foreign to men. "Men regularly associate power with rank and status," says Fisher. "Women more often see power as a network of vital human connections." We can see it with children on the playground. Boys play war games and sort themselves into hierarchies. We compete to see who will be the leader, the quarter-back, the top dog. Girls are more interested in the relationships that form in play. They care about each others feelings more than boys do. "If girls want to be liked," says Fisher, "boys want to be respected." This need for respect is a significant male need that is becoming increasingly difficult to get in our modern world.
We see that women's way is increasingly becoming the business model of the future according to Edie Weiner, a futurist and co-author of Insider's Guide to the Future: The Powerful Forces Shaping Our Future...and how to profit from them. "These trends toward decentralization, a flatter business structure, team playing, lateral connections, and flexibility favor women's way of doing business."
Does this sound familiar? Drop me a line and let me know what you have experienced.
Sign up for Jed's exciting, informative, up-to-date men's health newsletter, and receive a FREE copy of Jed's booklet "Why Men Die Sooner and Live Sicker: And What You Can Do About It."
Sign me up!
This article first appeared on Gordon Clay's MenStuff Web site, http://www.menstuff.org/