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If you think about it, women barely resemble the 50’s housewife in any way these days. Back then a woman’s security was based on her husband’s ability to provide for her and her children.

Women have come a long way in the last 60 or 70 years. They’ve become educated, self-sufficient and hold a variety of traditionally male careers.

Growing up in the 70’s I often wished I’d been born a man. I felt that my future was limited in some way because of my gender.

In the 80’s and even into the 90’s I was consciously aware that I ‘dumbed down’ for the sole purpose of letting the men I was in relationships with solve all the issues that came up, you know, be ‘the man’. I’m not saying they required me to do so, but for some reason I felt it was the thing to do.

It wasn’t until I hit my 40’s that it felt ‘normal’ for me to speak my truth and believe that I was equal.

In my own struggles to be heard and taken seriously, I never gave much thought to how this woman’s movement, this revolution was affecting men who also grew up with the same stereotypes I held to be true.

The other night I watched a documentary called The End of Men. It told the stories of three men, all of whom had been unemployed for about a year. In their late 40’s to late 50’s these men shared what a nightmare it was for them to suddenly be out of work. It was hard to watch them become emotional (because yes, I still, at some level, buy into the fact that men don’t cry.)

All three men dealt with their situations in different ways. One, at 57 was going to college to become an accountant. Another, the only one whose wife was somewhat supportive, was starting his own business. And the other seemed to be sinking deeper into a depression and his marriage was falling apart. Interestingly enough however, all three men were relishing the relationships they were building with their children. Through their experiences and the things they said, I felt as though I got a glimpse, for the first time ever, of what it means to be a man to a man. Here are some of the comments I remember that really struck me.

My wife and I are always fighting now. I can tell by the way she looks at me, she’s lost all respect. Our marriage is on the rocks. I was blessed to grow up in a happy and financially secure home. I look at my kids, and it kills me that I can’t give that to them.

It’s been devastating to lose my job. I don’t know who I am anymore. A man is supposed to provide for his family. I don’t feel like a man anymore (tears). Sure it’s tough for a woman when she loses her job, but she doesn’t stop feeling like a woman.

You know, I’m happy for women and children. For so long they have been oppressed in a way. It’s been hard for them. Women feeling empowered is a good for them. Maybe it’s good for men too. I mean it’s a lot of pressure to live up to the ideal of being a man in the traditional sense. Maybe I can learn to be a person who has dreams. A person who enjoys being a Dad.

And isn’t that what equality means? It’s not about women finding their own and men losing it all. It’s about men and women finding a way to be happy as people and pursue their dreams – it’s about being equals. My eyes were opened by this documentary. It gave me a lot to think about.


What are your thoughts on what makes a man, a man?