Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Masculinity in America

The website I have used to look at masculinity in America today is an article from the Baltimore Sun. It specifically talks about how masculinity is being represented in modern America through outlets such as movies, and how economic change has affected the way in which men view themselves and their roles within the family.

The article argues that since 2008, the economic downturn - here named the "Great Recession", has meant that many men are feeling the pressure when it comes to money, especially those in the middle and working class whose families recognise that they are not very well off and frequently pine their household provider for items they cannot afford. It raises the fact that the financial climate has also meant that those who are unemployed are finding it difficult to get a job, creating a stressed-out and bitter personality in the American man, that the editor of the article says can be related with-and even portrayed in the movie "Capitalism: A Love Story" by Michael Moore.

The article then goes on to claim that changes in gender roles and expectations has also had an impact on the male agenda. Now that big money lies in so called "Soft power" represented by corporate industries, masculinity is now earned by one's position within the social class. Well paid executive jobs favour rich, middle to upper class men of good education and background to work for them, therefore it could be said that masculinity in America's capitalist society today is defined by how much a man earns and his job position.

Interestingly, the article uses a census to suggest that male income has decreased in recent years, however female wages have increased by as much as 25 percent. To correspond with this, The article points out that from the 2007 census, "22 percent of husbands had wives who earned more than they did, compared with just 4 percent in 1970."
This could mean that some men living in households with these cicumstances may feel that they are not fulfilling their role as the main provider for the family as their fathers and grandfathers before them would have done.
With this further blow to male masculinity, men may now be seen as "at risk" of holding a redundant position within the family as "Alpha moms" are capable of achieving both domestic and income duties and could even be seen as the beginning of the swapping of roles within the American nuclear family.

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