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Taking the Measure of Men
How men describe their own masculinity
This week, I’m turning the focus to men and masculinity. On Thursday, I’ll share highlights from your thoughts on when we rely on writing rules as a substitute for inculcating virtue.
The New York Times has been doing a series of focus groups with Americans on various topics (younger women on work, teenagers on their future, etc) and the most recent was a group of conservative-leaning men.
Here’s the section that seemed particularly of interest:
Patrick Healy: I want to ask each of you to throw out a word or two on this: What does it mean to be a man?
Robert: Provide for your family.
Tony: Being responsible and being a model for your kids.
Joe: I think providing for your family, teaching your children right from wrong, leading by example.
Derrick: Having integrity.
Krupal: Taking care of your family and being respectful to others, regardless of your personal perspective.
Robert: From my religion’s standpoint, the man is in charge. The responsibility falls upon a man in certain areas. And if something fails, it’s the man’s responsibility on why it failed, not the woman’s.
The men in the focus group put their emphasis on male duties not male privileges.
The duties can still spark conflict or leave women feeling sidelined. A husband who feels like he has the final responsibility may be reluctant to agree with his wife that she will take the lead on a family project.
But still, amid all the discussion of toxic masculinity, I appreciated that these men began with thoughts about what they owe others, not what they were entitled to receive.
Some time ago, Serena Sigillito put out a call for good writers on masculinity, and I’d like to echo her here.