(OzyDads) Empowered women, incomplete men(USA)

Submitted by Editor on Sat, 28/08/2004 - 21:23

Women educating men on how to be men!!!!
My generation of women grew up with family, society and even Barbie chanting, "We girls can do anything."

We are proud recipients of a legacy of women's advocacy. Suffragettes won women the vote. Feminists of the 1970s gained reproductive freedom and greater power in the workforce. We have been encouraged to pursue higher education and challenging careers. Now, we are professors, doctors, CEOs, lawyers and senators. We are told we need not use relationships to define ourselves, but that we can have dynamic relationships and be Supermoms while managing our careers.

Feminism has advanced the course of women, and it still addresses formidable problems of domestic violence, the wage gap and the denial of basic human rights to women worldwide. Of course, we still have a ways to go.

But what about men?



Guest columnist

The State

Posted on Thu, Aug. 19, 2004
Masculinity is still defined by too much of our society as physical and sexual aggression. Perhaps this didn't seem to be a problem in an era when women were chattel. But in today's society, this leads to incomplete men and overburdened women.

This is one of the areas in which feminism has a critical role to play: to help redefine masculinity, perhaps into something we might call masculinism.

We must redefine "being a man" as being responsible, emotionally astute and, most important, well-rounded.

In 1860, English essayist John Stewart Mill stated that women were raised "artificially" so that only their feminine sides were made to thrive. Mill encouraged women to enjoy equal citizenship.

Men have not had such encouragement. If alive today, Mill would likely observe that men are artificially cultivated in an environment in which aggression, sexuality and sloth are nurtured, while traits such as scholarship, responsibility and emotional awareness are declining.

As more women heed society's encouragement to pursue higher education, men are shying away. Since 1974, women have outnumbered men as undergraduates; since 1984, they have outnumbered men in graduate schools. Now, women make up 57 percent of U.S. college students. Our culture should take pride in this victory for women.

But what about our men?

From an early age, men are discouraged from being intelligent. Boys' computer games focus on sports and violence, while those for girls are educational. K-12 boys do not make as good of grades as girls. Instead of adapting to boys' natural energy, many schools give them Ritalin. The stereotype of intelligent, well-behaved boys as gay or nerdy also fails our men. Boys are seen as cool if they have cars and jobs, even if that means neglecting education. Many men are not taking advantage of opportunities to maximize their potential.

Our media are full of images of Supermoms, but fathers are shrinking from the limelight. Forty percent of U.S. children do not live with their biological fathers. This statistic is frightening, as children from fatherless homes are more likely to commit crimes, drop out of school, have emotional problems and have teen-age pregnancies than are children living with their fathers.

There are glimmers of hope. While disadvantaged fathers do not get as much attention as mothers, some organizations help. The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine's Fatherhood Initiative helps single fathers establish good relationships with their children and learn job skills. This work is much-needed, but we must also reach our younger men.

Professional women are encouraged to become mentors to younger women and girls. Books and magazines drown girls and women in encouragement to push, to succeed. We have Title IX and the American Association of University Women. We have Take Your Daughter to Work Day (which was finally changed last year to include boys). All focused on getting girls interested in and prepared for successful careers.

It may be difficult - in a society in which a woman makes just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, where men still run the government and the corporations - to see a problem. But consider what those college trends mean: Within a couple of decades, women will greatly outnumber men in the professional classes.

One of the reasons colleges for women were founded was to provide them with enough of an education to be suitable wives for educated men. In today's society, where will we women under 30 find suitable husbands?

We need more mentors in our communities to teach boys how to be men. We must encourage our sons, husbands, boyfriends and nephews to demand the freedom to be a whole person that we women have been taught we must demand. Men deserve the right to be intelligent, artistic and sensitive. Men must be encouraged to seek knowledge and careers. Men deserve the right to contribute to intimate relationships. They need the right to bond with their families.

When men claim these rights, they will alleviate Superwoman syndrome. A real man will be able to help his wife with their income, relationship and children. And women will no longer struggle as much to balance careers, families and personal time.

Even Superwomen deserve an equal partner.

Ms. Clary is a rising senior at Columbia Collage and an intern in The State's editorial department.



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