Last summer, a Pew Research study came out that announced that the percentage of women who are the primary income earners for their family had increased.
While some people reacted positively to this news, others did not react in such a manner. Most infamously an all-male panel on Fox Business heralded this information as evidence society is collapsing and that the world is ending.
One argument put forward by those who viewed this revelation in a negative light was that men and women have different societal roles and that men are supposed to be the dominant leaders in society and family. This new development, they would say, is leading to the dissolution of the nuclear family and societal ills. As usual, the stuffy old pundits are wrong. This study came out months ago but I believe that it is important to talk about the reaction to it and its context for those of us currently in college who will be graduating in the coming years and going forth into the world.
Those who view women being the primary breadwinners in a household negatively make two assertions in their arguments, one explicit and the other implicit.
The explicit argument is that men are supposed to be the dominant members of the nuclear family and society who go forth into the world and bring home the bacon while women stay home to cook it. This is nothing new for misogynist men to espouse. However, they make an implicit assertion as well. According to them those men who are not the primary income earners for their family, those men who are stay-at-home dads and fulltime housekeepers are not masculine enough.Realizing that these two assertions are false is key to success in life for anyone but especially those who plan to get married one day. Both assertions are symptoms of the collectivist mindset that plagues our society today.
Just as racism is a form of collectivism in that it groups people together and evaluates them not on an individual basis but rather on a collective basis so too do these assertions group individuals together and evaluate them not as the individuals that they are but rather as a collective group that cannot portray an accurate depiction of reality.
People say that men and women are different and that is true. But it is also true that one man is different from another man just as one woman is different from another woman. To group them together and assign them certain qualities does not portray a true picture of what life is like.
The fact is that gender norms are socially constructed and therefore subjective with no objective standard of definition. One cannot use reason and logic to derive the conclusion that a woman should cook and clean, nor can one use reason and logic to derive the conclusion that a man should be the primary income earner for a family. Such things are only beliefs that people hold for some reason but that reason is not grounded in logic.
Just because a woman doesn’t want to stay home and clean does not make her any less a woman. Likewise just because a man is fine staying home and raising children while his wife is the family’s primary income earner does not make him any less a man. Male and female are separated by biology not their actions or mannerisms.
In this modern day and age it is common to hear from men that women are shirking their womanly duty if they are going out and having a career although this criticism is not as often heard from other women. However, on the other side of the coin it is quite common to hear a man questioning another man’s masculinity simply because they do not meet their subjective definition of masculine.
Often a man is derogatorily accused of being homosexual if he does not meet another man’s subjective definition of masculinity. Such an accusation does not even make logical sense. A gay man is still a man and therefore masculine. Too often do people confuse being gay with femininity and therefore associate men whose characteristics they perceive as being feminine as being gay. The people who go around questioning a man’s masculinity because of certain characteristics are acting the same way as people who a century ago accused women who wore pants as being too masculine and will be viewed the same way when looked back on in history.
Now that the gender norms have been covered what in the world does this have to do with success in life? To put it plainly in life you will have to deal with people and people are all different and the sooner one recognizes this the easier time one will have. While in the past being derogatory who people who are different may have gotten you ahead, increasingly as time goes on and people do not conform you will only alienate yourself.