We are so used to, as women, to cry ‘foul’ over sexism, discrimination and inequality that there is a risk of actually missing the fact that in terms of achievements, earnings potential and opportunities we rarely had it so good.
As a matter of fact, as the author of Microtrends, Mark Penn, pointed out today there is the phenomenon of what he calls Guys Left Behind: “Sure, most leadership positions are still filled by men, and there are lots of super-achieving men out there,” he says. “But on the other end of the spectrum, serious problems are brewing for the future of men.” According to statistics, he says, men are 15 times more likely to go to prison, more likely to be obese, alcoholic, unemployed and die earlier.
“When it comes to earning what you learn, guys aren’t learning what they need to — women are getting almost 60% of the college degrees conferred… This college gap could be the one that spells the most serious problem for guys, and over time can be at the root of a lot of increased frustration and even crime... The lifestyles and habits that worked so well for men in more dangerous times may not be working so well for them in the information age. In every age from the caves right on through the second world war, it worked for men to take big risks, have short attention spans and be driven by ego. These days, those things are more likely to get in the way of doing a good job.”
Women then are better suited to modern living. Legislation, changes in the workplace and even the recent credit crunch seems to benefit us more than men. Yet it’s still women who get all the press attention, the sympathy vote, the advice the, the help and the partridge on the pear tree. At this point feminist friends of mine would be horrified but I think it’s time we actually stopped thinking that there is a war going on between the sexes which somehow needs to be won and understood that guys are as capable of being misunderstood as women.
We are each products of a long evolutionary process which equipped us to deal with things in a totally different way. It’s no accident that a women might (stereotyping alert, look away now!) scream at the sight of a mouse while a guy will reach for the pool cue and sort the situation out. Fashion, modern living and an increasingly confusing signal we send to men have began to create a whole lot of new roles for them which sit uncertainly on their shoulders. Androgynous males, emo and metro-sexual types seem to be turning traditional alpha males into dinosaurs. Yet, women themselves never feel happier than when we are with a guy who really knows his mind, understands what we like and knows how to take control without over-stepping boundaries.
The point is that guys need a little help from us these days in order to understand what we want and what we like. They have given up on being mind readers and are no longer sure they know what they can become. Unless we want to start feeling all left out in a world where masculinity is becoming a rare commodity and men become the second sex we should be prepared to help them find themselves and, us, women.