What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

The Last Men on Top?

June 10, 2013, 12:00 AM
Mad-men-12

There were two very interesting things about a recent Pew Research Center study -- the contents of the report and the type of reactions it received. First the findings: working mothers are the breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households with children. Now here's a reaction from the conservative commentator Erick Erickson on FOX News:

When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it's not antithesis, or it's not competing, it's a complementary role. We've lost the ability to have complementary relationships... and it's tearing us apart. 

Erickson, not surprisingly, has been dealing with backlash from this comment ever since he said it. And yet, he is certainly not alone in his fear that traditional masculinity is being threatened. For one thing, it is true that men have taken a beating in the job market in recent years, during the so-called "Mancession." However, 80 percent of the jobs created in the recovery have also gone to men.  

What's the Big Idea?

Erickson's fear, however, is a deep-seated one that can be traced back to the rise of the feminist movement nearly half a century ago. Our culture has an infatuation with the societal changes that started to occur in the early 60's, most notably expressed by the popularity of the show Mad Men. One of the most striking features of the show is how different the treatment of women by men is from today. But, as Susan Jacoby points out in an interview on Jeff Schechtman's Specific Gravity, the culture on Mad Men reflects what life was like only for abnormally wealthy men.

In the interview below, Jacoby raises questions about what toxic effects the lifestyle portrayed on Mad Men had for other men of the time as well. She explains, drawing on economic information, cultural analysis and personal experience from her own childhood how the total freedom and power possessed by wealthy white men at the time created an "aspirational culture", which set unfair standards and placed undue burdens. She suggests that the effects of radical feminist movements at the time and into the 1970s explain the societal changes of women in the workforce are overstated.

Rather, Jacoby says, economic factors drove that change. For men, pressure to aspire to the middle class, for example, having the status symbol of having a wife who does not work (read: have to work), was both unrealistic and damaging to the men of the this generation as a whole.

According to Jacoby, author of the Kindle single The Last Men on Top, what it was like to be a man in the early 1960s, but one who was not Don Draper or Roger Sterling, is an issue that is both poignant and chronically unconsidered in hindsight. 

Listen here:


Check out more of Jeff Schechtman's Specific Gravity here

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

The Last Men on Top?

Newsletter: Share: