3 Feb 2011

... And Also "The End Of Men"

Image Source: CBC.ca
Seems gender roles are a hot little topic nowadays (which is neat as it's something I've thought about more and more since doing The 50s Housewife Experiment). Just this week I mentioned a study and article about the decline of "women's work" - and tonight the CBC is airing a documentary called The End of Men. Gotta love a title that's bound to stir up some controversy (isn't that right, Tiger Mother?).

(Note: I could be wrong, but some of the info in this documentary might already be outlined in the stats-focused article, "The End of Men", that was in The Atlantic last summer. Anyone know for sure?)

Based on the promo, the documentary largely focuses on the effects of the recent US recession and how jobs predominantly held by men have been lost. The film explores how this has impacted the male psyche - one that is arguably or traditionally shaped by his ability to provide for and protect his family.

For some wonky reason, the CBC doesn't allow embedding, but you can see a four-minute clip of the show here. The entire documentary will be loaded on the site after it airs, should you be interested but already have plans to watch The Office or TLC's 12 Little Fudge-Makers And Counting (OK, not a real title, but at this point, anything is possible with TLC).

Because the documentary hasn't aired yet, it's hard to comment on it - but that, of course, hasn't stopped anyone else. I saw a Tweet in response to the doc by someone who was annoyed by the title. The tweet went something like, "End of Men? This should be called the Evolution of Men!" It reminded me of responses to the other article where people applauded women's inability to cook and clean as progress in an evolving society.

Again, I don't see it. Just as I don't see an inability to make a nutritious meal as an accomplishment, I don't really get how it's progress for millions of people to be out of work or for a chunk of their identity to be ripped away from them. I see progress as both men and women gaining new opportunities, abilities, representation and choices regardless of gender.

Is a recession that forces men into a position where they become a homemaker (or underemployed) the catalyst for our society to see this "role reversal" as a viable, long-term option? Is it an unexpected opportunity for men and society as a whole to "re-wire" themselves from believing that "real men" need to work outside of the home? In a way, it's not entirely unlike how the demands of World War II suddenly encouraged women to join the work force. I don't know the answers - but from watching the promo, I don't see too many of these men rejoicing in it. I don't think it's because they're chauvinists - I think it's because they didn't get to make the choice. And isn't 'choice' truly the jewel of an evolved society?

Anyhoo - if you tune in, let me know what you think of it. Je suis curious. I'll be taping it - not because I'll be watching something else - but because I get to go to a fun Mad Men-inspired event held by the LCBO tonight. My choice is to get my booze on. Yay! (And will blog about that later!)


Di Smith 2:57 pm, February 03, 2011  

Saw that promo last night and thought of your blog... interesting stuff. Love your point that choice is the jewel in an evolved society.

Marsha,  11:20 pm, February 03, 2011  

This reminds of stuff I've read from the 40's and 50's, about how women were defeminizing themselves by working- which ignored that many women went to work because they had to. Same thing with the guys now- lots of angst over how externalities are what define people. Look, it's great if a guy discovers how much he likes homemaking and caring for kids while his wife works, but it doesn't sound like these guys have much choice. And having to move in with your folks is never fun for anyone- been there, done that. Without having choices, this is just trying to paint a bleak economic situation in different colors.

Seems to my mind that an adult should be able to hold down a job, cook and clean, change a tire, and comfort a crying child. Incompetence in any of those areas isn't something anyone should be proud of.

And the only way I could watch the entire thing is if it's on the Interwebz- no cable :)

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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