The Man Trap

1843 Magazine has a somewhat decent (though still biased) article about men in modern society called “The Man Trap.” It describes a bit of what men are going through in our current women-centric society:


Many fathers feel obliged to live up to their bosses’ demands in part because breadwinning, and being a good provider more generally, is still often seen as a fundamental feature of fatherhood. Even couples who meet at Harvard Business School can find themselves navigating an awkward and unspoken expectation that the man will earn more. Sean Grover, a therapist in Manhattan who is writing a book about the bumpy transition into parenthood, says that “very traditional ideas begin to resurface” when some career-minded young women start to think about settling down. “When we scratch the surface, they confess they want someone to take care of them, someone who can provide for them. It’s something we really wrestle with.”

These expectations are shifting rapidly: only 28% of respondents to a 2013 Pew Research survey in America agreed with the statement, “It’s generally better for a marriage if the husband earns more than his wife”, down from 40% in 1997. But few are completely impervious to centuries of socialisation. Steve, a screenwriter in his early 40s in Brooklyn, says it was “definitely weird” when he earned half what his wife made during their first years of marriage. “We’re all modern and progressive and we want our marriage to be 50-50, but in times of stress she’d sometimes say, ‘You’re supposed to be taking care of us.’” This tension was subtle, he adds, and they never had real money problems. “But whenever things got to her she’d play a card that it wasn’t supposed to be her problem because she’s the wife. For a man there’s no card like that.”….

Most women think that men cling to traditional male roles because it benefits them. Certainly ascending a professional ladder offers more money, power and status than chugging along on a mommy track. But these perks come at a price. In a recent 15-year survey of married American men and women between the ages of 18 and 32, Christin Munsch of the University of Connecticut found that men typically reported being in the best health during the years they split the burdens of breadwinning with their partners. As these men assumed more financial responsibility relative to their wives, their health and wellbeing declined. Often they suffered from the worst health and the most anxiety when their wives were out of the labour force entirely.


When women work more, they also endure more health problems  — so it’s easier to send the guy out to do the heavy lifting and then the women and society tell the man they are “privileged” and tell him to work harder, help more at home and not complain. Complacent men go along so they can get a few pats on the back, but what they are getting is declining health.

So what’s the answer for men here? Find a woman who is truly willing to share the load of work–both at home and in a job–which means getting to know your partner for some time, or stay single and date (or not).

Other suggestions for men who do too much?


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