Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Are Men the New Ball and Chain?

A lot of women talk on TED right now.

This one Hanna Rosin goes on about how the global economy is shifting the power balance between men and women. Men are getting hit harder by the current recession; they are graduating at lower rates than men; women are taking more managerial positions; young women are now earning more than young men.

This TED talk, in some ways, blames old-school men-style thinking in the financial sector for the global financial meltdown. Well, not exactly, but they did start a financial company using feminine qualities that survived through the Icelandic financial crisis.

So, what do I, a man, make of all this? Well, I can't make broad generalities, but I can compare myself with, say, my wife. I definitely have qualities she doesn't have; there are definitely some things I can do that she can't or at least not as well. Definitely, the same thing can be said in reverse (and I'm hesitant to say, but I'm sure its true - that overall she brings more to the table than I do).

But are women going to be entering the work force while men stay home? Is that our future?

I like what I do on my job, and in some small ways, I think what I'm doing is important and I want to do more important work more often.

But, as I watch how hard my wife works with our kids and when I see the work she does in the community, I have to say, that the work she does is far more important for more people than the work I'm doing. The difference is that I get paid for it and she mostly doesn't.

And I would have to say, that the most important work (more or less) people don't pay (or get paid) for it or they pay far less for what they're getting than what its worth.

So if women are being lured into the workforce in greater percentages and if what they bring matter more in our current economy than what men bring. What will men be left doing? This isn't me asking by the way, Hanna Rosin herself asks it:

"I went to a men's group in Kansas and these were the same kinds of victims of the manufacturing economy that I spoke to you about earlier. They were men who had been contractors or they were building houses and had lost their jobs at the end of the housing boom. And they were in this group because they were failing to pay their child support. And the instructor was up there in this class explaining to them all the ways they had lost their identity in this new age. He was telling them they no longer had any moral authority, no one needed them for emotional support anymore, and they were not really the providers. So who were they? And this was really disheartening for them. And what he did was he wrote on the board $85,000. That's her salary. Then he wrote down $12,000 and that's your salary. Who's the man now? She's the damn man. That sent a shutter through the room."

Is this our future? Women taking over the work force and then hiring other women to take care of their children? While men, well? Sit in prison? Go off and fight wars?

Not sure what to think of any of this, but I think its something worth discussing.

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