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.
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.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
We take fewer mental pictures per second.
- Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
- In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
- The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
- A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
- The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
- The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.