• Posted: Jun 26, 2010 18:47:53
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A recent article in Atlantic magazine has the provocative title "The End of Men". The assertion made therein is that American men, over the preceding couple of decades, have lost their status as primary bread winners within American families. According to the author, in today's economy women are often better educated than men and willing to take on work roles that men are either unprepared for or unwilling to take on. At the same time, many of the high paying jobs men have traditionally filled, such as manufacturing, have been shipped overseas to places like China where labor is cheaper. Those same men are now unemployed, psychologically reluctant to retrain, and face the prospect of working for far less than they once did. Consequently, on average, the male contribution to family income has fallen substantially while female contributions have grown.
It can be noted, however, the situation described in that article is not new to black families in the U.S. For many decades, the ability of black males to earn enough to support a family has been severely limited, limited by discrimination, limited by education, limited by internal subcultural factors that undermine confidence and will to succeed. But black families have often survived and even prospered because strong women were not afraid to take charge and make sure mouths were fed, school work was done, bills were paid, and that any grown man who stayed around either toed the line or was sent packing. Those same women may not have been especially pretty to look at, but they got the job done. And nobody dared mess with them. You see such a woman in the image above.
The question of what it means to be a man is a continuously open question in not only contemporary U.S. society, but globally. The role of resourceful and inventive problem solver will always be open. The roles of fine craftsman, builder, and agricultural producer will likely always be open. The role of explorer, in the sense of scientist, artist, or entrepreneur, will likely always be open. It also seems likely that more and more men, in the end, will find fulfillment in less familiar supportive roles like teacher, nurse, caretaker, and technical or clerical assistant. Unfortunately for all of us, far too many men will revert to the decidedly primitive role of plundering warrior and reckless abuser to find fulfillment.
May the Queen Bees among us help set the better course.
Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
23 mm 109 mm