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By contrast, the good doctor and countless other social commentators always assumed they knew what men wanted, especially in the realm of work. With wives to manage the domestic scene, working men of the past had little reason to question a system deed by and for them.
Though many wives of male chief executives still stay at home, spouses of most other men now work. In order to do so, men of the s must reevaluate what it means to be a success, both on the job and in the home.
Not all men want the same thing, of course. Some still resist efforts to change the old rules for masculine behavior. But in the professional ranks, a new organization man has indeed emerged, one who wants to be an involved father with no loss of income, prestige, and corporate support—and no diminished sense of manhood.
Like working women, we want it all. Few s men fit the traditional picture of distant father, patriarchal husband, and work-obsessed bread-winner; fewer still have dropped out of the working world completely into full-time daddydom and house-husbandhood. Given that most American men grew up believing in the traditional symbols of manhood—wealth, power, status—there are clear emotional and financial costs involved in making other choices.
Since many companies still deem dedication to career the sole marker of professional success, the new organization man may believe he has to hide his participation at home. Even if his boss knows this man is caring for and not really sick, the time off is viewed as an exception rather than a threat to the status quo.
With the costs of redefining What does men want male role, however, come the benefits that are driving men to change: as a of the books reviewed here will show, men who call themselves involved fathers often report that their lives are more meaningful. Some have chosen careers that provide more intrinsic satisfaction, like social work or teaching. But what about those who want both a challenging career and involved fatherhood?
Not surprisingly, the compromises made by the new organization man bear a striking resemblance to those of the new organization woman. Yet even if the evidence supporting the changing needs of corporate men is primarily anecdotal, based as it is on interviews and clinical case studies, companies would do well to consider what the new breed of organization man says he wants.
The conventional image of the man in the gray flannel suit emerged in the early s, after the tumult of the Great Depression and World War II. According to the business writer William H. Whyte, Jr. Individual expression was cut as short as suburban lawns; these were company men. For Whyte, increasing collectivization was not a temporary fad but had its roots in the Industrial Revolution and the rise of large corporations and mass production. Rejecting the comforts of corporate conformity, this new man ran on the fast track.
Preoccupied with success, he used the company for his own career advancement as much as the company used him. He was more interested in attaining power than in fitting in. During the high-flying s, the image of the career-oriented professional took a back seat to that of the greedy Wall-Streeter popularized by Hollywood. Hanan urged companies to take advantage of this new definition of male success by expanding board representation, equity participation, and decentralized decision making; by providing opportunities for collaborative leadership; and by creating an executive fast track that allowed for self-fulfillment through career advancement.
Many U. The fast and furious environment of high-tech companies, exemplified by Microsoft, Apple, and Sun Microsystems, has reinforced the image of male business success that is popular today. Whether a programming nerd or a shirt-sleeved manager, he lives and breathes his job because he loves it, even if that means eating takeout in front of his computer every night.
Yet today wives work too, and they may be fast-trackers themselves. Most important, given the economic fallout of the s, organization men can no longer count on What does men want careers as an unquestioned source of self-fulfillment—or even as a clear path to financial success.
Men who are now 30 to 50 years old are the first U. In The Male Ego, psychiatrist Willard Gaylin discusses the current erosion of American manhood in three roles: protector, procreator, and, especially, provider. Sexual impotence, like sudden loss of ambulation or physical strength, may shatter his self-confidence. But…pride is built on work and achievement, and the success that accrues from that work.
Yet today men often seem confused and contradictory in their attitudes about work. Gaylin accurately What does men want the ambivalence and frustration of many men. Such strong words sound a bit sweeping; but they do resonate emotionally with the experiences of men who have recently lost their jobs. Indeed, depression is often the result, and as a of recent studies show, the rate of various forms of depressive illness is on the rise for American men. Indeed, I must depend on you. Even men who have achieved success as traditionally defined—such as high-paying executives who can fully provide for their families—may feel that something is missing.
Weiss chose to interview for S taying the Course, his insightful if overly celebratory study, defined themselves by vaulting ambition; most seemed to be content with a kind of grounded stability—being what they called good fathers, good providers, good men. But all of them reported stress and irritability; half had trouble sleeping; most had few close friends, choosing instead to compartmentalize their lives to get through the day. The Organization Man, William H. New York: Simon and Schuster, Griswold New York: BasicBooks, Men, Work, and Family, edited by Jane C.
Hood Newbury Park: Sage Publications, Pleck, in Hood, ed. While they claimed to be devoted fathers and husbands, none of these executives shared housework or child care equally with their wives. Historian Robert L. In the early nineteenth century, advice manuals to parents about how to raise What does men want children were addressed primarily to fathers, not mothers. Affectionate bonds were especially strong between fathers and sons; before and during the Civil War, for example, letters from sons were primarily addressed to fathers.
But after the war, letters written home were increasingly directed to mothers, as fathers became more remote, enveloped by the rise of the modern corporation and the financial rewards of American Big Business.
But now the terms have changed again, Griswold argues. And by necessity, men may find a new sense of purpose through close bonds with their children. But I know I see the kids more now. But the daddy-tracker quoted above is still able to provide for his family. What about the disillusioned yuppies of the go-go s who are still childless? What about gay men who are breaking out of stereotypically gay professions? Yet such descriptions, even if they linger in popular culture, hardly match What does men want today. The entry of women into the workplace is the other major trend pushing men to redefine themselves, whether they want to or not.
Just because so many U. Women not only want both work and family but seem to need both. A of researchers have discovered that, contrary to conventional wisdom, women who are both employees and mothers often have better self-esteem and experience less stress than those who spend all their time at home with children. Now men too face some painful choices. A New York Times article is typical of the many work-family surveys conducted in recent years: in it, two-fifths of the fathers interviewed said they would quit their jobs if they could spend more time with their children.
In reality, taking on an increasing share of domestic responsibilities usually represents a tradeoff. Of the executives Robert Weiss interviewed, those who had won custody of their children took on the parental work of mothers, such as cooking, shopping for clothes, giving baths. Yet Weiss implies that for the few men in his study who were single fathers, their careers suffered. Indeed, in corporations that view family involvement as a blight on performance, a male professional may well believe that investing more energy into the home is a form of treason.
Everest, that mountain of unwashed clothing still has to be laundered. Pleck in Jane C. As Pleck notes, however, in the absence of corporate or peer-group support, men often do so through less formal channels. For example, a man may take vacation or sick leave to attend to births and the rigors of a young baby. Even committed family men may steer clear of parental-leave policies that are essentially intended by top management for women. Such dissembling is one indication of how little the conception of success on the job has changed—and why men still avoid the domestic responsibilities many say they want.
For one thing, housework is not an exciting frontier to conquer but a necessary task to be taken care of. In fact, rather than accepting the age-old notion that the good man is a family man—and giving it a politically correct s twist—some men may actively rebel against such expectations. The search for meaning outside of family or work is by no means new. Despite the ubiquity of the gray flannel suit, s men struggled with the cultural ambivalence created by two male demons: the free loner without obligations and the faceless sheep of the corporation.
Yet the demon of overconformity also haunted male professionals, as organization men of the past worried about losing their individuality and their sense of personal purpose. Gerson concludes that, in a recession, becoming an involved father may help redeem a troubled manhood.
The first group clings tenaciously to the traditional breadwinner ethic in order to maintain stability and control. I provide the money. To me, to run a home and raise children is a full-time job. Wary of intimate attachments, these men consume high-end consumer goods and leisure time. Some have failed in the sexual marketplace, others continue to play the field as contemporary versions of the s playboy.
As Robert Griswold cites in Fatherhood in America, nearly two-thirds of all divorced fathers contribute nothing at all to the financial support of their children. Although Gerson calls these men autonomous, they seem more pitiful than free; a deadbeat dad is hardly the archetype of male autonomy. But in past centuries and decades, American men have left wives and children to go west, to sea, to war, or to any other unblemished arena where a man could find himself and prove his masculine prowess.
At the turn of the century, this search for manhood and autonomy brought American men to fraternal lodges one in five were members inaccording to one observer5 while they What does men want their sons to the Boy Scouts or YMCA as a way to avoid the feminine influence of mothers and wives. Neither group believes they actively chose their lives. Not so for the involved fathers, the third group of men Gerson identifies. Most of these men are part of dual-career families.
I realized I paid too high a price for what I got in return. What I got cannot get me back the time with the. These men most closely fit the image of the new man of the s, both in their embrace of a life outside their jobs and in the difficulties they encounter. Rather than defining themselves rigidly as breadwinners or loners, these men are searching for coherence, for a way to combine the many aspects of their lives.
Through such choices, they avoid putting their manhood on the line when it comes to how their job performance is perceived. And by placing less emphasis on the importance of work success, these men present a dilemma for corporations that want to retain the best professionals. Professionals still confront resistance to change on the job, and much of it comes from top management itself.
Before the current economic downturn, the rewards for focusing primarily on career were clear enough, while the benefits of other choices for men often seemed mixed. Although fathers today are most obviously affected by an outmoded image of manhood and professional success, men without children who want other involvements besides a career face similar obstacles.
Whether gay or straight, involved fathers or public-service volunteers, male professionals still confront resistance to change on the job, much of it from top management itself.
The definition of masculinity has proved remarkably inelastic—or, depending on your perspective, amazingly resilient—under its current siege. Except for a few involved fathers, it binds men as tightly as ever to success in the public sphere, in the world of other men, as the markers of manhood and success. But the real problem, Gerson argues, is institutional. In this, company policies toward family leave exemplify the unconscious assumptions top managers make about what men want—or are supposed to want.
Nine of ten companies made no attempt to inform employees that such leaves were available to new fathers. Even in Sweden, with its paid parental-leave policies and an official stance on gender equality, men spend more time at work than women do. In another chapter of Men, Work, and Family, sociologist Linda Haas reports on whether gender roles in Sweden and other progressive Scandinavian countries differ markedly from those in the United States. To some extent, they do: the participation of Swedish men and women in the labor market is almost identical.
Most telling, some studies have found that Swedish occupations are among the most sex-segregated in the world. Men and women do very different kinds of work at different levels of pay: two-thirds of public-sector employees are women, while only one-third of the private sector are women. In the United States, men now work alongside an increasing of female colleagues, which has dramatically altered the traditionally all-male arena of the corporation.
In this context, sexual harassment will continue to be a ificant problem for working women. The tension and low morale now found in many large companies reflect the clash What does men want the need for organizational change and the old ideology. For obvious reasons, men who believe their lives are meaningful are likely to have the strongest sense of self-esteem. Gerson reports that the involved fathers she interviewed tended to be the most egalitarian, especially when it came to the right of women to pursue their own careers.
Thus these men are the most respectful of female colleagues in the workplace. Given the prevailing atmosphere of job insecurity, companies need to become increasingly creative in developing ways for their employees to feel good about themselves and their work. And they must believe their job performance is evaluated fairly, not based on old conceptions of the male breadwinner.
Basing promotions on how many weeks an employee spends working hour days may lead to burnout rather than increased productivity, let alone creativity. In addition, not every male professional wants to be on a management track, though most still believe the work they do defines an important part of who they are. Certainly, some men and some women may always be more career-oriented than others are. Indeed, companies may require a certain of fast-trackers to get the job done. But whether those people should be men or women is still based more on outmoded gender stereotypes than economic sense.What does men want
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What Do Men Want?