In an Newsweek cover story that builds on Hanna Rosin's Atlantic article "The End of Men,"Andrew Romano and Tony Dokoupil examine whether masculinity needs to be reimagined to cope with the demands of the 21st century. With a cover that loudly proclaims "Man Up!" and a subheading explaining that men need to embrace "girly jobs," the article has received a fair amount of buzz from critics who'd like to take the writers to task on their central thesis. Here's what the Newsweek writers are asserting and how pundits are reacting to the argument:
We Need to Reimagine Masculinity write Newsweek's Andrew Romano and Tony Dokoupil. In tough economic times, many men have embraced the "old models and mores of manhood." But telling men to follow some "musty script" only perpetuates the problem, encouraging them to blame women or retreat "into the woods." Instead, men must adapt to new roles, some of them more traditionally feminine in nature, to find a place in a world that's "rapidly outgrowing Marlboro Manliness." As far as jobs go, men now feel "limited to a narrow range of acceptable roles—a range that hasn’t kept pace with the changing employment landscape." Just as men's roles changed during the early 1900s from "historic artisan" to self-made, restless, "competitive breadwinner," they are changing again. They conclude:
On the surface, the New Macho is a paradox, a path to masculinity paved with girly jobs and dirty diapers. Dig a little deeper, however, and it begins to make a lot of sense—not just for men but for everyone. If men embraced parental leave, women would be spared the stigma of the “mommy track”—and the professional penalties (like lower pay) that come along with it. If men were involved fathers, more kids might stay in school, steer clear of crime, and avoid poverty as adults. And if the country achieved gender parity in the workplace—an optimal balance of fully employed men and women—the gross domestic product would grow by as much as 9 percent, according to a recent study by the World Economic Forum.
So...They Mean 'Men Need Feminism'? Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory dissects the cover story, and finds some points of agreement : "Their argument is essentially that we need to encourage men to take active caretaking roles at home and at work. This means putting more emphasis on the importance of fatherhood and recasting so-called nurturing professions so that they no longer seem the sole domain of women. Another way of saying all that? Men need feminism. They are talking, after all, about equal opportunity and expectations, and greater freedom from restrictive gender roles -- that's the fundamental aim of feminism, as I understand it."
A 'Half-Baked' Idea concludes the dismissive New York Post: "Authors Andrew Romano and Tony Dokoupil fail anything that remotely passes as enlightening about the topic or even a clear conclusion on the state of American manhood. The End of Men isn't nigh, nor is macho dead. But its definition should be broadened."
They Arbitrarily Re-Coded 'Masculinity' as Personhood figures TBD's Amanda Hess. "'The Newsweek authors conclude: 'After all, what’s more masculine: being a strong, silent, unemployed absentee father, or actually fulfilling your half of the bargain as a breadwinner and a dad?' OK, but isn't that what all people in American society are expected to do? You remember people! They're those humans who go about working jobs, fulfilling their family obligations, and otherwise acting like grown-ups, regardless of gender identity. If being an adult is the most masculine thing you can do, then I'm well on my way toward becoming a successful career and family man. I even took out the trash last week."
'I Challenge the Framing of the Issue' contends Rachel Sklar at Mediaite. The Newsweek cover idea that "men are in crisis, on the decline, and 'going off the rails'" is "wildly skewed" and fails to appreciate how, "gender parity might actually be better for all concerned." Sklar also noticed that, "there was, "no – absolutely no! – reference to or inclusion of gay men (and/or women) in this piece. Staggering, frankly, in this day and age."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.