A Men's Movement Will Help Us All: How Reworking Our Ideas About Masculinity Is A Feminist Thing
You may remember Anne-Marie Slaughter as the author of "Why Women Still Can't Have It All". The article, published last summer in The Atlantic, argued that we still have a ways to go before women can truly have both a fulfilling career and a happy home life. Now The Guardian reports Slaughter is arguing that the only way we can achieve true equality is if we have a men's movement. I can imagine a lot of people scratching their heads over this puzzling notion, but Slaughter isn't so crazy. And yes, she is a feminist.
Slaughter asks us to "consider what it would take for those twin pillars of human life — caregiving and breadwinning, as she terms them — to be given equal value, and for men and women to reach proper parity, at work and at home." It's not just about getting women to lean in in the workplace, it's also about getting men to lean into their home life.
"There's a growing body of research suggesting men who prioritise family are stigmatised in the workplace — viewed as weak, more likely to be harassed," explains The Guardian's Kira Cochrane. While we still need to work to fight discrimination against women in the workplace, we also need to embrace and encourage men who leave work early to pick up their kids, take paternity leave, or help out with the laundry.
Slaughter isn't pulling this out of thin air. In 2008, 60 percent of men reported difficulty balancing their work and family lives. "I really think we need a men's movement," says Slaughter, "and you're starting to see it. Guys are starting to speak up for themselves about masculinity, about care-giving."
Caregiving is as essential within a family as breadwinning is, and society needs to catch up to this. Mommy wars, pitting working mothers against stay-at-home ones, are ludicrous for this reason. But in that same vein, men should also be equally encouraged to be successful at work and invest in their home life. Only by rethinking and broadening our ideas of masculinity can we achieve a truly equal society. Put aside traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity, and we're all just people. A caregiving-breadwinning gender balance will come afterwards. This is a feminism everyone can get on board with.