Will the Real Men Please Stand Up


Cameron W. Meredith, Ph.D.

Many men today have questions and even doubt concerning their masculinity. Women are demanding that men change, but it is not always what they want. Men sometimes do not know where they stand in our rapidly changing society. They can no longer count on traditional relationships with women.

Many men wonder what has happened to their so-called man’s world. It sometimes appears that only sports and politics are left. Women have even invaded these arenas.

Men are clearly outnumbered by women. Perhaps the idea of a man’s world is a myth whose exposure is long overdue. It certainly does not mix well with the democratic belief in freedom and equality.

As women have gained more status in the last 25 years, men have pretty much stood still. They sometimes feel they have lost prestige and power. They are not as sure as they once were of their place as men.

For hundreds of years, it has been a man’s world. In the family, the husband has been the head of the household and the final word. He has been the sole provider. Backed by tradition, his place has been safe and secure. He has felt like a “real” man.

With women working in more than 50 percent of families today, most men are no longer the sole providers. More and more women are earning even more than their husbands. Most men can’t count on feeling like a man through being the major or sole provider.

A significant number of men are discouraged. As they doubt their manhood, they overemphasize the importance of being a “real” man and then set out to prove it through power and control. Unfortunately, such activity usually results in more conflict, possible divorce and eventually less self-esteem.

Men today can learn that what really counts is being a worthwhile human being in a human world. They don’t have to prove or defend themselves as men. They don’t always have to be strong and powerful. As worthwhile human being, they can be both strong and tender and still feel manly.

“Real” men today are comfortable working and living with women as equal partners. They have learned that sharing responsibility is much more therapeutic for the family then the heavy responsibility and control assumed by men in the past. They are at peace with themselves and others as they prepare for life in the ‘90s.

Dr. Cameron W. Meredith, Professor Emeritus, is a licensed psychologist specializing in marriage and family therapy.