Change in Male Role in the Home: 1960-Present
Traditionally the United States, along with the majority of the world has been a patriarchal society. The customary male role, specifically in relation to the home, has been the head of the household, the protector, and the provider. A male’s duty was unquestionably embodied in these three ideas, until the 1970’s. The growing feminist movement of that time began to question and displace these roles as solely belonging to a man, and the male role in society slowly began to shift. Instead of being the sole breadwinner for his home, families with two working parents have become increasingly more common. Women in the workforce have allowed father’s to spend more time at home with their children and helping out around the house. Over the last 50 years the male role has changed drastically, and while not all of the changes that have taken place are bad, the overall effect of these changes on society has been a negative one, creating a generation of fatherlessness, increased crime, and a general lack of respect for authority in any form.
For generations it has been a man’s responsibility to provide for his family. Women were rarely even accepted into the workforce until after WWII. However, government encouragement for women to enter the labor force during the war, in combination with the rising feminist movement started a tidal wave movement of women pursuing higher education and careers. Women currently make up the majority of the workforce and 60% of all college graduates (Rosin). Donnalyn Pompper, a professor at Temple University, expands on this further in her article about the masculine gender role conflict theory. She explains that that after WWII, the increased female presence in the labor force “destabilized the breadwinner role as a basis for male identity, and now men must accept working wives and a more active parental role” (Pompper). And while it is true that the shift to equal opportunity in the workforce is almost universally agreed upon as a positive change, the balance and delicateness of the male psyche and ego are seldom taken into consideration. For many men, the ability to provide for one’s family is an integral part of the definition of masculinity. In interviews conducted by Dr. Pompper, when asked to individually define masculinity, a reoccurring theme in both the younger and older men interviewed was the ability to provide for one’s family. One of the young men interviewed said, “Being masculine means you are able to look at your wife and say ‘I got this’. To be able to look at your kids and say ‘I’ve got you’. That to me is the epitome of masculinity…being able, at the end of the day, to look at your family and say, ‘get on my back, I’ve got you the rest of the way’.” Another man expressed similar feelings and said, “I think that every guy feels like it’s his place not to be the stay home Dad” (Pompper). Even in today’s forward thinking society, men are wired to be the provider. To take that role completely away is emasculating to him and leaves him feeling like he is unnecessary in the home.
Although a family where, either both parents, or just the mother provide financially may be a little tough on the male ego, it is not detrimental. Provider is not the only established male role, protector and ‘head of the house’ are equally important to the equation. The traditional man of the 1960’s was indisputably the head of his home. There was a clear hierarchy, and while the husband and wife still often worked as a team, the culture of the time dictated that a man was undeniably in charge of his home, and his family. In many ways, this has been one of the most distinct changes between the 1960’s and 2012. Because men are no longer the sole breadwinner for their home, they are required to spend a larger portion of their time taking an active role in the home. No longer is the kitchen and house exclusively a woman’s domain, but...
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