They were disappointed that boys “…were being told to be strong men and take care of their wives….Traditional gender role stereotypes were reinforced and gender was portrayed in an essentialist manner” (Boys Adrift, 203–204).One can easily see why the image of the man as the strong caretaker and the woman as the one-being-taken-care-of risks creating a patriarchal relationship that puts women and children in the same category.
How does it affect men when we look at them like that? What are we supposed to make of the fact that for the first time in history, there are more single than married women in the United States, and – astoundingly – one in three babies in the United States is born to an unwed mother? For a woman, who came into the world in the context of a relationship – Eve was created as Adam’s wife – life is often about relationships.
The answer is that she buries them deep inside her, and steps out to negotiate in a man’s world. When men are repeatedly told how not much is expected of them, sometimes they sink deep into the quicksand of hedonistic self-serving self-service.
I recently met a 38-year-old man who told me that in his mind the biggest tragedy would be if he had married a woman who just didn’t understand him.
To my mind, the biggest tragedy had already happened: here was a man who at 38 didn’t realize that the most important thing in life is not to be understood – it’s to be man enough to understand someone else!
Love requires vulnerability, but it is dangerous to make yourself vulnerable to someone who is focused not on you but on fulfilling his own needs.