The New Man of 2022: Redefining Masculinity

By: Diana Bello Aristizabal

Para leer en Español

“All men are the same” is a cliché that generations of the 20th century and even the present have grown up listening to. But today, in the middle of 2022 with a pandemic on our shoulders that has forced us to question our values ​​as a society and after the impact of feminist movements, is this statement still valid?

This is the question that remains in the air in a world that has gradually changed and created new rules in the spheres of work, romance and parenting, which has brought great challenges to the man of today. today that are worth revisiting in Father’s Month.

But to talk about the role that men play today, it is necessary to analyze that of women, who have been a key player in the construction of the mentality and behavior of their male counterpart.

“During the second wave of feminism in the 1970s, a significant number of factory jobs disappeared and many more women entered the workforce because men’s wages were no longer sufficient to support from a family. It created a crisis of masculinity by altering the role of men as the sole provider,” says Claire Oueslati-Porter, an anthropologist at the University of Miami.

Then, around the 1980s, women began to gain more power by entering all productive sectors and with this, the concept of “career woman” was incorporated into American culture.

“As they started filling positions, they also started questioning other issues as if it was still right for them to take care of all the household chores,” adds Oueslati-Porter, who is also a cultural anthropologist specializing in gender issues. .

At this time, the gender pay gap and sexual harassment also started to become evident, which was hardly discussed at the time but very present in society. Recently, this issue was widely exposed with the #metoo social media movement under which several women around the world spoke openly for the first time about the abuse they had suffered.

All these circumstances and others have served as fertilizer for the man of 2022 who tries to navigate between traditional masculine ideas and new ones that are incorporated into new generations. So what does it mean to be a man today?

The New Masculinity in a Polarized World

According to Oueslati-Porter, from the 1990s to the present, women have increased their expectations of men. Given this reality, many are happy to live up to their demands while others see them as a threat to male power. “We continue to live in a culture of rape and during the pandemic we have had the highest spike in domestic violence committed by men.”

This toxic masculinity, based on the stereotype that men solve problems through violence and are unable to show their vulnerability, is still latent in much of the population, although perhaps the most significant change is that some realized that being a man can feel different.

“Men are now allowed to be more vulnerable, to seek help and to lean on their friends, which the American Psychological Association says is vital for them as they need support networks. There is also research that says men with daughters are more willing to challenge toxic attitudes and change them driven by their desire to leave a better future for their daughters,” Oueslati-Porter said.

This happens, in large part, because the meaning of masculinity varies from time to time. “It’s a social construct and not something defined or fixed,” says Jairo Ledezma, an assistant professor of sociology and history at Miami-Dade College, who says people change because society changes.

Currently, we live in a service economy where communication and emotional connection are needed more than ever to attract consumers, which has benefited women who naturally have better communication skills and tend to be more emotional.

As a result of this shift, according to Ledezma, women are gaining prominence in the workforce and in academia while men are lagging behind. “They haven’t fully adapted to the new work scenario as women prepare more every day.”

For this reason, academically, women perform better than men, especially in Latin American and African American communities, as they opt for more undergraduate, master’s, associate’s and even of doctorate.

But for Oueslati-Porter, women do not hold more jobs than men today because many have not yet returned to the workforce since 2020, when most children plunged into virtual education.

“The job growth the country is experiencing has fallen mostly on men if you look at the statistics from the Ministry of Labor. In fact, a woman is more likely to miss out on a job promotion than a man, because childcare responsibilities still fall disproportionately on her.

However, a large number of men, especially in the Millennial generation, want to be more present in the education of their children and demand respect for their rights as fathers, which is why there are currently many more cases in front of them. courts where men sue women for child custody.

“The modern man understands that women have power and has passed it on to them. He also wants to educate his own children and not delegate this task to others. He protects his family with compassion and responsibility. He is also the one who can talk about sex with his children and does not say “ask your mother”, he does the cleaning and the cooking and is not the only one who takes care of him at home, ”explains Ledezma.

So it’s the men labeled as sexist who, according to the experts, probably haven’t changed even though it seems like they’ve changed. “In a culture where there is more sensitivity around work and sexual harassment, many men have been trained to fit into the new collective ideal to accept,” explains the anthropologist from the University of Miami.

However, according to her, there has been some progress as many men see value in following feminist principles based on equality and inclusion. “That way they become more human and overcome the labels that have always been stamped on them.”

In the area of ​​romance, on the other hand, things are somewhat confusing because if you follow the parameters of conquest of yesteryear, you risk coming across as a stalker instead of a romantic as was the case in d other times. “Men don’t know if paying the bill and opening the door to women is considered respectful or not.”

But what do men say about masculinity? We spoke to several of them and here is what they told us.

Between the “must be” and the “is”

Ricardo Lopez

For Ricardo Lopez, 37-year-old Venezuelan, father of 4 children and living in Miami, the father figure has changed a lot. “My father was much more distant and his father even more than me with my children.”

According to him, men have not changed their mentality on most issues, but they seek to act more as a team with women and educate children from a freer perspective.

“The man was forced to moderate his behavior to be socially accepted, even if inside he continues to have the same beliefs. I was raised with many concepts that I won’t change, but I don’t intend to pass them on to my children either,” he says.

However, he acknowledges that some acquaintances around him continue to think they have inherent rights over women simply because they

Michael Bodkin

are male, something Michael Bodkin, a 41-year-old Panamanian American who lives in Atlanta and has no children, agrees with.

“A lot of men don’t adapt to the new expectations of women and still want to come home and see a hot meal served but I think that shouldn’t be a social imposition but rather an agreement between the couple.”

This is the case of Ricardo, who has a traditional system established at home in which he is the breadwinner and his wife, the one who takes care of the children. “That’s how I was raised, but that doesn’t mean I can’t cook for her because I know her job and mine are both equally important.”

Luis Cordoba

Others maintain a 50/50 system at home, as is the case of Luis Cordova, a 36-year-old Peruvian living in Miami and father of a 9-month-old baby girl. “We do everything between the mother and me: clean, pay and raise. On the days that I don’t work, I usually do a little more because women are tired of being with a baby all the time. I like taking care of my children and not leaving this task to a third party.

For Luis Martin Mesa, a 68-year-old Spaniard who has children and grandchildren, the image of the male provider and the female as quasi-sole caregiver is still present in society.

Luis Martin Mesa

“There has been significant progress as many men today understand that housekeeping is a shared responsibility and not ‘helping’ when done by him. But many women continue to have the same workload both at home and away.

Moreover, Luis says that in Spain it is always easier for a man to accept a job that requires total dedication than for a woman. “A man does not commit a great sin if he goes to work and comes home at 9 p.m., whereas if a woman does the same, she feels like she is letting her family down.”

Ben Zion Ptashnik, for his part, a 72-year-old Israeli-American, although he grew up in New York in the 1950s and had to fight against himself to overcome sexist beliefs, now believes that modern men need to be more present in the lives of their children. Lives.

Ben Zion Ptachnik

“Everything changed when I had daughters. I raised them to have a career and a source of income, not just to get married and have children,” says Ben, who confesses that he passed of a teenager who viewed women as something to be “chased” and not equal to him respecting their role in society.

A role that has also changed in the romantic realm, although, according to Michael, many men see dating as a transactional process in which they give to receive something in return.

This culture of seduction, Ben calls it “repulsive”. “The challenge as parents is to monitor what children see on their mobile devices, because in pornography they are taught that women are a kind of bird to be hunted.”

But the common opinion is that beyond gender, men and women act sexist or egalitarian due to other factors such as religion, race, environment and political affiliation.

The challenge facing the new generations is to understand that men and women are more alike than we think and that we can live without discrimination or stereotypes, such as blue for men and pink for women, resulting to a sexism that not only harms women but also men because it exerts pressure on them that runs counter to individual freedoms.

On the other hand, this period of history is an opportunity for men to redefine their role in society by being more attentive to their emotions without fear of losing their virility. On the contrary, a vulnerability could potentially become a common tool for dealing with problems rather than violence.

Comments are closed.