Have Men Become Obsolete?

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Men’s roles in relation to reproduction and the family have in recent decades been increasingly dismissed, rendering the traditional institutions of marriage and family obsolete. Proponents argue that men are not needed in a family unit, providing the mere genetic code for their children, thus are replaceable and “obsolete”. I believe that this can be best explained by developments in reproductive technologies and the gender revolution – its effects on marital satisfaction and meanings attached to roles of men and women in a traditional nuclear family.

The improvements in assisted reproductive technologies (ART), like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and artificial insemination, and the legalisation of their use have given women more alternative means to facilitate birth and pregnancy. To the extent that men’s contribution to a family is sorely biological, men’s function in the family could be considered negligible. This is observable in trends of patients receiving IVF. Yet in reality men are not perceived merely as sperm ‘donors’. To thoroughly explain the author’s stance, a symbolic interactionist approach to understanding the meaning attached to the roles of a husband to his wife might better explain changes in social attitudes towards men’s roles in matrimony and family. The gender revolution can explain this change in social attitudes towards men’s roles. The global shift towards a post-industrial society saw an increase in the demand for a more literate and numerate workforce (Brym & Lie, 2007). “Muscle mass” was less of an employment consideration and employers were employing more competent women, thus leading to more women working and receiving education (Brym & Lie, 2007). The author rightfully noted that “women have been a majority of college graduates since the 1980s and their numbers are growing”. Conflict and feminist theories identify men as the breadwinners in a traditional nuclear family, and women as being economically dependent and...
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