Emasculation and compensation are a psychological seesaw that many men ride every day, even if they don’t know it.
A new report published in the American Journal of Sociology entitled “Gender Deviance and Household Work: The Role of Occupation,” makes the argument that men who work in female-dominated career fields compensate by doing more male-oriented chores around the house. The study also says the same holds true for women who work in male-dominated fields.
The study indicated that men in “gender-atypical” careers put in an average of one extra hour of male-type housework a week than men who work in traditional male careers, although women in men’s work roles don’t compensate as much as men who do “women’s work.”
The takeaway from this aspect of the research is that men are more sensitive to threats to their masculinity than women are to threats to their femininity. This concept has been articulated in the past in the context of the decline of the “real man,” and while the study is a testament to growing equality in the workforce and at home there are those who are concerned American males are losing touch with what it means to be a man.
Some sociologists and anthropologists have commented on the effect of the growing tech and service industries, the transition away from industrialization and the impact of the Great Recession on men’s traditional roles and feelings of masculinity. That said, they point out that the powerful men of times past did not draw masculinity from the rigors of their jobs, but from their utility in society.
In other words, it may not be what a man does so much as how he feels about the value of what he does, and that is a worthwhile distinction. A male nurse who focuses on the value of his contribution rather than the cultural perception of his position may not fall within the expected parameters of the gender deviance study.
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