I was reading this article on CBC. Long story short, it talks about men not going into what would be considered traditionally female careers. The conclusion, or the point that is made, is that men are not adapting to the changing job markets. This is a reasonable observation and is probably partially true.
However, there is major framing in this argument that seems dishonest. In particular, calling it a failure of men to adapt.
Considering a similar issue, there is a common thread in talk about STEM industries. It is often said that they are male dominated and females are excluded. From this side of the argument, it is often believed that the problem is that woman are discouraged or blocked from participating. From this idea of the cause, programs are set up to encourage women to participate and take part in STEM industries and education.
For these two similar types of situations, we have two different approaches. With men, there is a failure to adapt, with women, there are barriers and impediments that are blocking them. If we are, to be honest about these situations, wouldn’t we need to assume that the causes were similar? If that was the case, we should be reducing the barriers for men and women to the respective careers they’ve been avoiding. Even better, should we rely on personal responsibility and say that both groups are refusing to adapt?
I’d suspect that while both sides are seen differently, i.e., treated differently. The real cause of the framing is rooted in very traditional views of men and women.
The traditional gender roles would see women as needing to be protected because they can’t do things for themselves. Men, on the other hand, are seeing as strong, and completely responsible for themselves. Of course, these are brash, incomplete analogies, but my intended meaning should be clear.
This is to say, that while these issues are seemingly similar on both sides, the way they are approached comes down to mythologies about our different views of men and women. It curious to think that while these issues are happening today, in modern times, our approach to viewing them comes from stories many thousands of years old.
With this said, it’s hard to believe that our approach is going to change anytime soon. So how do we solve these problems if we can’t be honest about them? Why is it that while we try to breaking with tradition, we still cling to it? We wish to abandon the past, but still, want to be able to use it to explain our problems.
If we want equality, there needs to be equality everywhere, but equality doesn’t mean denying reality, at least it shouldn’t.