Friday, November 09, 2007

How Feminism Saved the American Man

Feminism saved men in America. In order to understand how, you must get your mind around the fact. Some considered the rise of feminism to be the undoing of men, an end to men acting like men. Some would say that men had it easy for thousands of years, by being the dominant gender, men were able to dictate gender roles, to some extent, and to many men's eyes that worked just fine. The rise of gender equality brought on by the feminist moment, and other related movements, was thought of some to bed the undoing of the American man, however it has given the man more not less.

First we can examine the idea of gender roles. There is a very strong argument that it was "natural" and "necessary" for humans as well as animals. All members of the animal kingdom have developed some sort of gender roles, humans too, and with some notable exceptions they follow pattern. Men: hunters, protectors and women: nurturers. In most animals this is imprinted in the instincts of that animal, and it's not necessary for each generation to work out their own arrangements, thus the feeling that this is a "natural" thing. As humans formed complex societies, these roles were imprinted there as well. Societal institutions were based on it.

Let’s fast forward to the 20th century in America. Along came the ideas of "feminist" and equality, and many resisted. Some of the resistance was just because it was against tradition, and some would even argue instinct. Some of it came out of selfishness, mostly on the part of men, although men had in some ways taken on the more physically and physiologically demanding societal roles, they also had the most interesting ones.

So, by now at least some readers will have said, so what. Where's the proof that this has somehow, "saved the American man." Well, we can make that judgment by comparison, but not by comparing the American man of today to 100 years ago, but by comparing the American man with a modern day counterpart, one from a similar society, but where the idea of feminist didn't quite catch on. That's a tall order, because we also consider equal rights to be part of a developed modern society. So if we look to other societies with similar development, they also have taken on similar ideals of equality, except.. Except as I have found under the vacuum of 20th century communism, particularly in Russia. In Russia's rejection of capitalism, was also a rejection of the idea of gender equality. Today Russia finds itself mirroring the west much more, but still not in gender equality. This provides the insight that is needed to understand how this "old fashioned" life would fit into the 21st century.

Not only do gender roles make men and women different in modern Russia, in general Russian men and women behave as if they weren't raised side by side. Men enjoy manliness, for lack of a better word: cars, womanizing, sports, hunting, the classic man stuff. The big huh occurs here: The skill sets in woman's traditional gender roles are more advantageous to 21st century professional life. Now working in a bank is the place to be. Women would go through higher education, a big waste of time in the soviet period, a classical education with lots of humanities. Also in the work place women were relegated to clerical jobs, typing, filing, keeping track of things. In the 21st century workplace these skills, that were previously considered second rate and burdened upon females, are now the key skill sets to being successful.

In the modern work place we’ve all become typists and filers, even the most basic of the decent paying jobs require some sort of higher education, and in Russia, women have easily transitioned into the new work, and men, men are being left behind.

So what are the men doing? Well, they’re doing “man” things. Military service, factory work, security guards, police, all honorable, manly, jobs, but not high paying and not highly valued in the 21st century.

Of course these gender lines are flexible, but in general, the non-feminist society is experiencing a wider gender gap, and women are gaining something far more valuable then equality, superiority.