Time for men to embrace new gender roles

I have a faucet that leaks, a broken lightbulb stuck in its socket and a thingamajig which has fallen off my closet door.

Where is a man when I need one?

I know what you are thinking…fix it yourself! We have just celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Women are independent, strong and capable.

Women make up approximately half of the world’s population. Since earning the right to vote in Canada in 1918, women have continued to make gains and now outnumber men in the workplace and universities.

Women have pushed through the glass ceiling and sit in boardrooms as CEOs of large companies and are being elected into the corridors of power. Women are choosing to be single or are leaving long-term marriages. Women are even choosing to have babies without the need for a man, save an anonymous donation of sperm.

And, more and more, women are opting for loving, committed, same-sex relationships.

All of this must feel threatening to the other half of the population.

Has the ascendency of women resulted in the irrelevance of men?

It’s been tough on men, as the traditional male roles are disappearing or have been usurped by women. As Zoomers who grew up in the Father-Knows-Best world of the 1950s, men’s roles were clearly defined. A man was the primary breadwinner for his family, and his status and power in society was reflected in this omnipotent role.

To be a man meant you had power and control. He certainly didn’t show his emotions. In fact, in the past century, the archetypal image of manhood has remained relatively unchanged.

So what has changed? Can we blame it all on the feminist movement, which is laterally being referred to as the new “f” word?

Not so fast. I would suggest the recent economic turmoil which has shaken the world has also played its part. In the U.S., of the 8.4 million jobs lost during the recession, 80 per cent belonged to men. According to a CBC documentary, The End of Men, unemployment for men is traumatic as they struggle for an uncertain future and are forced to redefine their manhood.

As a woman, who was unceremoniously laid off from my job in 2009, as devastating as the experience was, it didn’t cause me to doubt my femininity.

However, for men whose career and status has defined them, they are feeling betrayed by the stereotypical definition of manhood they have bought into.

But as the social and economic fabric of the world changes and the rigidity of gender roles dissipates, this is an opportunity for men to embrace a new definition of manhood.

But fellas, before you embrace this new-found liberation, can one of you fix my damn lightbulb?

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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