Monday, 22 September 2008

Men's liberation

According to a new Irish Times survey, Irish men are shedding the old masculine stereotypes fast. And far from being confused and demoralised by feminist demands, the vast majority are content with their life.

The survey says 53% show their feelings easily, 58% think it's okay to cry, 51% are very sentimental, 48% get annoyed by men who stress 'manliness', and 79% are content with their lot.

That puts paid to the conventional wisdom that men feel they're being pushed around by bossy females and just can't be themselves any more. Or the idea that men are still so strait-laced they can't express tenderness or warmth or any emotions other than rage.

Or does it? People don't always tell the truth in surveys, they often say what they think is expected of them, or what will make them look normal or likeable. If the men's partners were asked about their answers, would they agree?

I have a strong suspicion there's some glossing going on here, and the women in their lives might very well say "Mark expresses his feelings? You're joking. He's like a bloody sphinx." Or maybe "Pete's content? But he moans about everything non-stop. He's the original grumpy old man."

But perhaps I'm being too cynical and men really have changed dramatically. That's what my male readers tell me, anyway. It's certainly encouraging to think that despite all the 'backlash' propaganda about shell-shocked men clinging to their masculine comfort blankets, many of them have no problem with opening up and showing their real selves a bit more.

In fact in all sounds so positive I think I'm going to cry.


  1. Can't really comment on Irish men other than the ones I know are in touch with their feminine side, a bit, well maybe not a lot . . .but I have noticed out here that many more are carrying manbags and wearing pink shirts.

  2. Baino - Pink shirts eh? I'll believe things are really changing when their trousers are pink too! I don't know how men manage without bags - I've had one for decades and you wouldn't believe the stuff I cram into it!

  3. If it's true it's changed a hell of a lot since I lived there, but then again it HAS changed a hell of a lot since I lived there

  4. Pink trousers on men? Please don't...even pink trousers on women are more than my eyes can bear.

    I hope this trend takes hold more in the US. Just today I was reading about a study that shows American men with "traditional" views of women and the workplace earn more than men with more equitable outlooks. Unfortunately, they didn't look into why that's so.

  5. Quicky - Ireland's certainly changing very fast (both north and south) so anything's possible!

    Nicole - I know there are plenty of women who loathe pink and the whole female association with it! Interesting about the high-earning 'traditional' men. Maybe because they're seen as tough decision-makers who're more effective in the marketplace?

  6. Really? Shit, I'll have to redress the ballance. Right, so to do list:
    1) Buy weights
    2) wash less
    3) maintain emotional distance
    4) start watching sports.

    Oh fuck it, lets be realistic, there's no bloody way I'm watching sports.

  7. Thrifty - the only weights I ever handle are the vacuum cleaner and the lawn mower. That's quite enough for me. And I look forward to the new rough, tough, hard-hitting Thrifty. You can put away that mascara right now.

  8. What? Are you watching me? Now I'm paranoid.

  9. Thrifty - Oh yes, I know what you're up to. You don't fool me with all this old-style masculinity baloney, I know it's just a cover. I know about the painted toenails too.

  10. There probably is some playing to what people perceive are the "right" answers on the survey, but let's hope the numbers are close to accurate! It would certainly be nice to see some of the gender roles changing.

  11. Liz - I certainly hope they're fairly accurate. I'd like to think men really are shedding the rigid gender roles that have been throttling them for so long.

  12. I'd be a tad sceptical myself I must admit...still one can always hope.

  13. Conor - Indeed, can you entirely believe the answers? When a guy says he expresses his emotions, does that just mean he says "That was a fantastic meal, love"?

  14. Whenever I analyze data from the Life and Times Survey I seem to find myself thinking that there's either a lot of "glossing over" going on, or I am hanging around with/meeting the wrong people.

    Credit where credit's due, however - my husband once held the attitude that a man pushing a pram "looked wimpy," and is now excitedly picking out slings so he can carry baby around with him when he goes to work.

    Progress is possible!

  15. FG - Good for Max. Very interesting. Perhaps we've missed a trick here, and the way to change men is just to ensure they can look trendy and stylish in the process?

  16. Nick;
    Catching up with you after a few tech-free days.
    My daughter's a stats prof and shows her classes how stats can be manipulated any which way.
    I think most polls are inaccurate.
    Yes, there are enlightened men, but not that many to my way of thinking. Though change is happening but not soon enough.
    Men like to believe they are enlightened, but I believe the polls should be conducted with the women who live with them.

  17. www - I think you're right that their partners should sit in on the answers as a double-check. After all, how many men actually understand what is meant by full emotional expression, if they've been brought up to hide their emotions?