Shriver Report on 21st Century Men Is Full of Findings That Show How Far We Have Yet To Go For Equality
I'm just going to throw this out there: there are days where I feel like throwing up my hands and just saying that men kind of suck. And thanks to a Shriver Report about 21st century men, today is one of those days. Thanks, Shriver Report. Thank you a lot. Though really, it's not your fault that a lot of guys clearly have a long way to go when it comes to being egalitarian.
Of course, you can't even say that's entirely their fault, either. After all, we live in a society where gender norms are ten kinds of messed up. Guys are bombarded with messages about hyper-masculinity from an early age, in the same way girls are given any number of messages about femininity — and both are incredibly unhealthy. Our society likes to treat "male" as a default, to frame men as naturally dominant, and to show more deference to and respect for men. So guys can't be completely blamed for coming out of this process with a lot of messed up ideas.
On the other hand, though, none of that makes those things OK. We all expect men to do better, not because we're meany feminists who hate them, but because we're caring feminists who believe in their ability to rise above our society's sexism and misogyny.
Unfortunately, not all that many of them are — although it's definitely worth noting that the survey consisted of only 818 men, which is a relatively tiny sample size. Even bearing that in mind, though, here are six findings from the Shriver Report that may have you, too, wanting to bang your head against the wall.
1. Only 34 Percent of Respondents Want an Independent Wife
It turns out that men might be into the idea that women should be independent in theory, but when it comes to actually marrying a woman who can take care of herself, guys are not so enthusiastic. Also depressing, only 28 percent of those who participated in the survey want a wife who is "strong." But 45 percent still want to marry a woman who is attractive. Because that's so much more important, I guess.
2. Respondents Want Their Daughters to Be Way Cooler Than Their Wives
Although the respondents for this survey may not necessarily want their wives to be strong or independent, they're much more likely to care about those qualities in a daughter. 66 percent say they want their daughters to be independent, while 48 percent say they want their daughters to be strong. The respondents were also much less likely to say they want daughters who are "attractive," "sweet," or "nurturing," than to say they want similar qualities in their wives. I'm curious how these guys think their daughters are going to become these awesome women if their mother is not as awesome as a role model, but then I wouldn't want to get in the way of any male fantasies about marrying women who don't threaten their flimsy, socially constructed masculinity. But seriously, if you would want your daughter to be a fully realized human, doesn't it seem self-serving to look for anything less than that in a spouse?
3. 46 Percent Of Respondents Say Being a Provider Is More Important Than Being Present For Your Spouse
Yeah, I don't get it either. At least slightly more than half say that being there for your partner is more important than providing for them, but the numbers are still not at all what I'd like them to be. In case those 46 percent of respondents missed the memo: Marriage is a relationship, not a financial transaction. You don't marry someone so you can disappear into your pre-assigned gender roles while living under the same roof; you get married to be there for one another. And women nowadays don't really need men to "provide" for us anyway. A family's financial decisions are a bit more complicated, which is just as it should be.
4. Less Than Half of All Respondents Are "Very Comfortable" With a Female Boss
I just...wow. The total number of respondents who say they are either somewhat or very comfortable with working for a woman is much higher — 73 percent — but the very fact that this is even an issue in the 21st century is stunning.
5. Most Respondents Still Don't Like The Idea of Being a Stay-at-Home Dad
Only 44 percent of respondents said that they are either somewhat or very comfortable with being a stay-at-home dad, which is kind of sucky. I mean, guys, really? Women have been doing this forever, and you're not even open to the idea?
6. Respondents Say Women Working Makes It Harder To Be a Man
45 percent of respondents say that it is harder to be a man in their own generation than it was during their father's generation, and the most commonly cited reason for it is the increase presence of women in the workplace. The report doesn't say whether or not these guys are also actively pining for the days when women just stayed home and did the ironing, but still. If you feel like women having freedom makes your life harder, just stop because I am not here for that.
There are some bright spots; most of the respondents say that personal success (being a good husband, father, and son) is more important than financial success, for instance, and only two percent of respondents want their wife to be deferential. But overall, these finding just make me wonder how it is 2015 and we are still dealing with these kinds of attitudes. Just... why?
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