Man­hood in Amer­ica

Bit by bit, ma­cho stereo­types lose ground in the united States.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By DAVID CRARY

TRA­DI­TION­ALLY, the Amer­i­can male was mea­sured against the stoic hero who shook off all doubts, van­quished all foes and of­fered women a mus­cu­lar shoul­der to cry on.

But that was be­fore fem­i­nism, gay-rights ac­tivism, and met­ro­sex­u­als. Hus­bands started to take on a greater share of house­work and child care. The mil­i­tary be­gan to wel­come women and gays.

A ro­man­tic movie about gay cow­boys, Broke­back Moun­tain, won three Os­cars.

And this week, the ground shifted un­der the hy­per-mas­cu­line realm of Amer­ica’s most pop­u­lar pro sport.

The Na­tional Foot­ball League, it seems, will soon have its first openly gay player.

Count­less Amer­i­can men are try­ing to nav­i­gate these changes.

“Men are con­flicted, am­biva­lent,” said James O’Neil, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively on men’s strug­gles over gen­der roles.

“On one hand, they’ve been so­cialised to meet the old stereo­types.” he said. “On the other hand, par­tic­u­larly for men in their 30s and 40s, they have be­gun to say, ‘That’s not work­ing for me. It’s too stress­ful.’ They’re look­ing for al­ter­na­tive mod­els of mas­culin­ity.”

For other Amer­i­cans, the up­heaval is a good sign.

“Ul­ti­mately, con­fu­sion about mod­ern mas­culin­ity is a good thing. It means we’re work­ing past the out­moded def­i­ni­tion,” wrote jour­nal­ist Ann Fried­man in a ny­mag.com ar­ti­cle ti­tled What Does Man­hood Mean in 2013? last fall.

Af­ter World War II, at least on the sur­face, there seemed to be an overwhelming con­sen­sus of what Amer­i­can man­hood was all about.

It was typ­i­fied by Gary Cooper and John Wayne on the movie screen, by the Amer­i­can soldiers on for­eign bat­tle­fields, by the ex­ec­u­tives with home­maker wives and no cor­po­rate wor­ries about gen­der di­ver­sity.

The fem­i­nist move­ment that emerged in the 1960s fu­eled sig­nif­i­cant, though grad­ual, changes in many Amer­i­cans’ per­cep­tions of gen­der roles and stereo­types.

By now, al­though women re­main un­der­rep­re­sented as CEOs, they com­prise close to half the en­roll­ment in Amer­i­can med­i­cal and law schools, and are be­ing wel­comed into mil­i­tary com­bat units.

Per­cep­tions of man­hood and mas­culin­ity also have evolved.

Sur­veys show that hus­bands are han­dling far more house­work and child care than they used to, though still less than their wives.

Foot­ball icon David Beck­ham proved that a male sports star with a celebrity wife could em­brace nail pol­ish and flam­boy­ant fash­ion with­out los­ing his fans.

“The women’s move­ment showed that women didn’t want to be re­stricted by their gen­der role, and it’s opened things up for men to not be re­stricted as well – they can be stay-at-home dads, they can be nurses,” said

It’s be­come ac­cepted that fa­thers can share more of the work, and more of the joy.

Bon­nie Graben­hofer, a vice pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Women, though from her per­spec­tive, the pace of change has been “ag­o­niz­ingly slow.”

Fa­ther­hood re­mains a key el­e­ment in the dis­cus­sion of mas­culin­ity.

Christo­pher Brown, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Fa­ther­hood Ini­tia­tive, notes that the mil­i­tary is in­vest­ing more en­ergy these days in sup­port­ing soldiers’ roles as par­ents.

“Fa­thers are re­ally em­brac­ing that broader role,” said Brown. “It’s be­come ac­cepted that they can share more of the work, and more of the joy.”

Among the grow­ing co­hort of stay-at-home dads is Ben Martin of Mas­sachusetts, hus­band of a physi­cian. In a tele­phone in­ter­view, Martin, 35, said his goal “is to be as good a hus­band and fa­ther as I can be.”

Still, Martin says he knows few other stay­home dads. “I get cu­ri­ous looks some­times when I drop the kids off at school,” he said. “It’s a lit­tle iso­lat­ing at times.”

Gays as well as het­ero­sex­u­als have played a role in the chang­ing con­cepts of mas­culin­ity. Michael Sam, who re­cently told the rest of the coun­try what his univer­sity coaches and team­mates al­ready knew, is al­ready help­ing break down stereo­types about gay men.

But there were many ex­am­ples be­fore him, in­clud­ing Olympic div­ing cham­pion Greg Louga­nis.

Louga­nis, while still in the closet, im­pressed the world with his for­ti­tude at the 1988 Seoul Olympics by win­ning the gold medal de­spite suf­fer­ing a con­cus­sion in a pre­lim­i­nary round.

“When it comes to gay men, the script is be­ing rewrit­ten,” said Sarah Kate El­lis, pres­i­dent of Glaad, a leading les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der ad­vo­cacy or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“It’s a won­der­ful thing hap­pen­ing as the def­i­ni­tion of man­hood evolves, and it be­comes more in­clu­sive of more types of men.” – AP farm an­i­mals that she needed a per­ma­nent home.

Farm Sanc­tu­ary in New York is just such a place and they had a 12-year-old Hol­stein named Tri­cia, who seemed lonely and anx­ious af­ter los­ing her cow com­pan­ion to cancer a year ago.

Cat­tle are herd an­i­mals and she was the only one at the shel­ter with­out a part­ner.

“It was ex­cit­ing to think that by giv­ing Sweety a new life, we might also give Tri­cia an­other chance to en­joy her own,” said Susie Cos­ton, na­tional shel­ter di­rec­tor for the sanc­tu­ary.

Tri­cia, who was born blind, has been at the Watkins Glen, New York, sanc­tu­ary since 2008, when she was saved from slaugh­ter.

There was red tape ga­lore, med­i­cal ex­ams for Sweety, and fi­nally a road trip to pick her up on Feb 4 at a vet­eri­nary hospi­tal in Lachute, Que­bec.

Sweety ar­rived late that night and had to be given a cloth coat be­cause she had lived in barns her whole life and her fur wasn’t thick enough for the cold.

The two cows mooed at each other from sep­a­rate cor­rals be­fore they were united the next day.

Nose to nose, Sweety, tall and bony with a white tri­an­gle patch on her fore­head, bumped into Tri­cia, shorter and thicker with black-and­white body swirls.

They nuz­zled at each an­other af­fec­tion­ately.

It didn’t take long for them to be­come BFFs (bovine friends for­ever), shel­ter spokes­woman Mered­ith Turner said.

Sweety is still bump­ing into things, but Tri­cia of­ten guides her clear of ob­sta­cles.

They eat and walk to­gether and even bed down in tan­dem.

Love may be blind, Turner said, but for shel­ter work­ers, it was a mat­ter of see­ing and be­liev­ing. – AP

Chang­ing per­cep­tions: In mid-20th century amer­ica, at least on the sur­face, there seemed to be an overwhelming con­sen­sus of what man­hood was all about. The fem­i­nist move­ment that emerged in the 1960s frac­tured this con­sen­sus. — aP pho­tos

Foot­ball icon david beck­ham proved that a male sports star with a celebrity wife could em­brace nail pol­ish and flam­boy­ant fash­ion with­out los­ing fans.

In a year, don McCoy had gone from be­ing a top ex­ec­u­tive in a high-tech startup to Mr Mum. he is pic­tured here with his daugh­ter, Is­abelle.

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