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August 1, 2006 - 3:42 pm

The emNew York Times /emhad an a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/31/business/31men.html?pagewanted=1ei=5087%0Aen=4c7e6806162a74f1ex=1154577600″interesting article /a yesterday on the large number of men who are no longer working (Hat tip: a href=”http://instapundit.com/archives/031717.php”Instapundit/a):br /br /blockquoteMillions of men like Mr. Beggerow — men in the prime of their lives, between 30 and 55 — have dropped out of regular work. They are turning down jobs they think beneath them or are unable to find work for which they are qualified, even as an expanding economy offers opportunities to work. br /br /About 13 percent of American men in this age group are not working, up from 5 percent in the late 1960’s. The difference represents 4 million men who would be working today if the employment rate had remained where it was in the 1950’s and 60’s./blockquotebr /br /The article gives a number of reasons for men’s apathy about holding a job: increasing Social Security Disability payments, living alone with no household to support, being fresh out of prison, and a popular culture that shows guys like Cosmo Kramer as role models for the non-working life style. Perhaps men are using some of these reasons to stay unemployed, but admit it, who is having more fun–Cosmo Kramer or the a href=”http://www.fact.on.ca/news/news0006/as000601.htm”dutiful dads and husbands /awho bought into the idea that a man had to make the money, help with the kids and housework, and not complain? Why should we be surprised that men are opting out of their masculine role as provider when “experts” and feminists have been trashing this role for years? br /br /And now, finally, men are taking their advice to heart and are discovering themselves, relaxing, and giving up their masculine “roles” and people are concerned that they are jobless? Can we really have it both ways? br /br /Take for example, a href=”http://www.drronaldlevant.com/whystudy.html”the advice of Ronald Levant/a, the 2005 President of the American Psychological Association:br /br /blockquoteFor the past several decades, men have had the experience of attempting to fulfill the requirements of the masculine mandate in the midst of criticism that has risen to a crescendo. Men feel that they are being told that what they have been trying to accomplish is irrelevant to the world of today. Since women now work and can earn their own living, there is no longer any need for The Good Provider. Furthermore, society no longer seems to value, or even recognize the traditional male way of demonstrating care, through taking care of his family and friends, by looking out for them, solving their problems, and being one who can be counted on to be there when needed. In its place, men are being asked to take on roles and show care in ways that violate the traditional male code and require skills that they do not have, such as revealing weakness, expressing their most intimate feelings, and nurturing children. The net result of this for many men is a loss of self-esteem and an unnerving sense of uncertainty about what it means to be a man. br /br / Men are caught in a trap both because they do not have the incentives and because they are ill-equipped to address the loss of the good provider role in a collaborative and equitable fashion with the women in their lives, and as a result react with anger and defensiveness. They do not have the incentives to address the loss of the good provider role in collaboration with their wives because of the power, prerogatives, and entitlements that accrue to them in a patriarchal society. And they are not equipped to address it in this way because to do so would require a degree of comfort and fluency with emotions (particularly those emotions that make one feel vulnerable, such as sadness, fear, or shame) that is rare among men, due to the effects of the male gender role socialization process. /blockquotebr /br /Now, instead of being angry and defensive, some men are taking Levant’s advice and taking it easy. The ema href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/31/business/31men.html?pagewanted=1ei=5087%0Aen=4c7e6806162a74f1ex=1154577600″NYT’s/em article /a indicates that men who no longer work are able to sleep in until 11, read their favorite books, pursue their interests such as studying to be a pianist, and explore their lives in ways they never could have in the past. Perhaps this is good for their emotions. Society has been harping on men taking more care in their emotional lives for decades. Men have gotten the message. Why is anyone complaining?

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