It’s Father’s Day here in Finland, and this has put me in the mood of praising men. My husband is obviously great, but the others are not so bad either. I want to give credit where credit’s due, and I think modern man deserves some credit. Not to mention some slack.
Take housework. Men these days still spend less time on chores than women, but they’ve upped their game since the seventies. Most men do chores, and might even do more of them if they didn’t spend more time at paying work than their partners do on average. The sex differences in chores are not only due to men lazing about (although sometimes that might be the case) but more often to women choosing to stay at home, and shouldering the burden of more housework. If they then return to work, and never demand the housework should be shared more equally, who’s to blame? Also, if both the man and the woman are happy with dividing the work in the traditional way, why not let them? Not everyone needs to fit the same mold.
Most men have grown up with role models who did a lot less, if any, housework and child-minding than their wives. If your father never did anything around the house, and you do 30% of the chores, you’re bound to feel like you’re doing a lot. Men are trying, I really think they are, but stereotypes are as imprisoning to them as they are to women. Both men and women need to get more used to the sight of a man pushing a pram, and a woman changing the tires.
Women want their men to be manly, and this puts many men in a quandary. They know they’re expected to do housework and look after the kids (and they’ve read the study which says that men who do housework get more sex) yet they also know they’re expected to be a bit butch. Women don’t really fancy doormats, and that’s how doing the dishes all the time might make some men feel. Stereotypical masculine men (I’m thinking Bond) are never seen washing the dishes or hanging out laundry. Perhaps they’ve read the study that says men who spend more time with their kids have lower levels of testosterone and maybe they’ve also read the study that says women are more attracted to men with higher levels of testosterone. So what’s a poor guy to do?
Luckily men are less likely to suffer from depression, over-analyzing and anxiety than women. This probably accounts for the fact that most men don’t actually spend too much time worrying over such things. But they really should worry, about many things.
Life is not easy for men. As boys, they have far more problems with conduct and attention, when they’ve grown up they have fewer and less satisfying social contacts, they never get to do their weddings the way they’d like to, they usually don’t get to spend as much time with their children as the mothers, and when divorced they usually get the short end of the stick regarding the custody of their children. The poor things even die sooner than women, if not from accidental death, something drug-related, murder or suicide (the lot of which are a lot more frequent amongst men), then nature does them in through premature extermination.
So maybe we need to cut the poor guys some slack. They’ve worked hard, and they still work hard. Most of them do their best to be good fathers, good employees, good men and good people. Just like women, they are torn by various stereotypes inside their heads and inside our culture. They might have a certain advantage in certain fields, but women have many advantages too.
Like having their pictures taken. When I tried to search for a featured image from Pixabay, my search for simply “man” returned no images of men, mostly just cartoon figures, which were also not of men. And zombies. Poor, poor pictureless men.
So I chose this iconic, possibly sexist figure, the green light man. Walk, man, and go in peace. You rock.