Men, Masculinity, and Humanity

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Tiassa, Jul 6, 2014.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    On Masculine Identity as a Reaction to Women

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    Click to settle on slightly lesser things.

    It seems a curious proposition that masculinity should be defined according to how one feels about women. To the other, it's more normal than such a distillation might sound.

    It hasn't been a great time to be a man without a job.

    The jobs that have been disappearing, like machine operator, are predominantly those that men do. The occupations that are growing, like health aide, employ mostly women.

    One solution is for the men who have lost jobs in factories to become health aides. But while more than a fifth of American men aren't working, they aren't running to these new service-sector jobs. Why? They require very different skills, and pay a lot less.

    They're also seen as women's work, which has always been devalued in the American labor market.

    (Cain Miller↱)

    Economist David Autor, in speaking with the New York Times points to the obvious, that job growth occurs in different sectors than job losses, and explains, "I'm not worried about whether there will be jobs. I'm very worried about whether there will be jobs for low-educated adults, especially the males, who seem very reluctant to take the new jobs."

    And everything just gets strange from there; or not, depending on how you look at it:

    Take Tracy Dawson, 53, a welder in St. Clair, Mo. He lost several jobs, some because his employers took the work to China and Mexico and others because the workers were replaced by robots. He has heard the promises of fast-growing jobs in the health care field: His daughter trained to be a medical technician. But he never considered it.

    "I ain't gonna be a nurse; I don't have the tolerance for people," he said. "I don't want it to sound bad, but I've always seen a woman in the position of a nurse or some kind of health care worker. I see it as more of a woman's touch."

    It would be easy to nitpick, comparing the idea of "health aides" earning ten and a half dollars per hour versus the word "nurse", which is better money, but Cain Miller's note toward wages is more applicable; the fifty-three year-old welder in need of money probably isn't going to a university to become a nurse.

    Still, though, it's easy enough to think we see; my doctor is male, and two of the three med students I remember seeing with him were males, but all of his regular staff are female. And there is a lot of rollover. And there are always adverts running around, say, my region suggesting need for phlebotomists; forty miles out of St. Louis might look like a different world, but the push toward health insurance coverage inherently raises health care labor demand pretty much everywhere.

    Interestingly, though, there is presently a glass escalator:

    Women have always entered male-dominated fields — usually well-paid, professional ones — more than men enter female-dominated ones. There are now many female lawyers, but male nurses are still rare. One reason is that jobs done by women, especially caregiving jobs, have always had lower pay and lower status. Yet when men, especially white men, enter female-dominated fields, they are paid more and promoted faster than women, a phenomenon known as the glass escalator.

    Much of men's resistance to pink-collar jobs is tied up in the culture of masculinity, say people who study the issue. Women are assumed to be empathetic and caring; men are supposed to be strong, tough and able to support a family.

    "Traditional masculinity is standing in the way of working-class men's employment, and I think it's a problem," said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins and author of "Labor's Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America."

    "We have a cultural lag where our views of masculinity have not caught up to the change in the job market," he said.

    But telling working-class men to take feminine jobs plays to their anxieties and comes off as condescending, said Joan Williams, a law professor at U.C. Hastings and author of "Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter."

    "White working-class men's wages have plummeted, and what happens to men in that context is anxieties about whether they're ‘real men,' " she said.

    It's no surprise, then, that Donald J. Trump appealed to men who feel this way — not just his promises to bring back factory jobs, but also his machismo.

    Looking deeper, it turns out that minority men are more likely to pursue the pink-collar sectors; the NYT report considers a recent paper from Dill, Price-Glynn, and Rakovski↱, via Gender & Society. The authors summarize:

    Feminized care work occupations have traditionally paid lower wages compared to non–care work occupations when controlling for human capital. However, when men enter feminized occupations, they often experience a "glass escalator," leading to higher wages and career mobility as compared to their female counterparts. In this study, we examine whether men experience a "wage penalty" for performing care work in today's economy, or whether the glass escalator helps to mitigate the devaluation of care work occupations. Using data from the Survey of income and Program Participation for the years 1996-2011, we examine the career patterns of low- and middle-skill men in health care occupations. We found that men in occupations that provide the most hands-on direct care did experience lower earnings compared to men in other occupations after controlling for demographic characteristics. However, men in more technical allied health occupations did not have significantly lower earnings, suggesting that these occupations may be part of the glass escalator for men in the health care sector. Minority men were significantly more likely than white men to be in direct care occupations, but not in frontline allied health occupations. Male direct care workers were less likely to transition to unemployment compared to men in other occupations.

    Drake Baer↱ tries to summarize the general landscape:

    ... the jobs that are collapsing are traditionally masculine while the gigs that are growing are traditionally feminine. As in: The occupations projected to fall the most are locomotive firers (down 70 percent) and car-electronics installers (down 50 percent), and they are overwhelmingly dude-saturated, at 96 and 98 percent respectively. Meanwhile, the gigs that are growing tend toward the ever-so-slightly feminine, like service and health care, as Friday's jobs report reconfirmed.

    This is only going to get more extreme. For a number of reasons. By 2030, 20 percent of the U.S. population will be older than 65, with rural America graying faster than the cities and suburbs. Since 1980, seven million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the U.S., with five million of those losses since 2000. (That's a over a third of all manufacturing gigs.) The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that manufacturing is going to slow its fall, but will continue declining into 2024. Most tellingly, the construction industry is slated to have the biggest gains, while construction employment continues to fall. The shifts in demography and economy have long been combining for a perfect storm of what's traditionally been "women's work": gigs where your job is to take care of people, often in the context of health care. If you're working with your hands in the coming decade, it's more likely to help someone out of bed than to place a rivet. Like Hanna Rosin observed in a 2010 Atlantic cover story, "The working class, which has long defined our notions of masculinity, is slowly turning into a matriarchy."

    To the other, we might nod to the realities masculine insecurity by reminding that pleading for Judith Butler↱ to save us probably won't settle well with insecure masculinity.

    Or "retrospective wait unemployment"↱, which Harvard economist Lawrence Katz describes, according to Cain Miller, as, "looking for the job you used to have", arguing that the problem is "not a skill mismatch, but an identity mismatch". That is, one looks for the job he used to have because he cannot comprehend the prospect of himself as this other type of worker. It doesn't exactly boost self-esteem to hear stuff like that.

    Still, though, Cain Miller noted:

    If more men do pink-collar jobs, they could erase the stigma and turn them into men’s jobs, said Janette Dill, a sociologist at the University of Akron, at least for jobs that require less hands-on caregiving. “More men will go into care because they don’t have a choice, but they’re going to carve out spaces for themselves that feel less like women’s work,” she said.

    And it really is kind of important in that context; "Telling working-class men to take feminine jobs," Cain Miller writes, "plays to their anxieties and comes off as condescending". Joan Williams of University of California Hastings explained that as white working class men have seen their earnings and potentials crash, "what happens to men in that context is anxieties about whether they're 'real men'".

    Yes, it seems a self-imposed box. To the other, that's perfectly human in and of itself. Neither is specific recognition of that fact any actual solution. 'Tis a delicate challenge, to say the least.
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Notes for #101↑ Above

    Baer, Drake. "Working-Class Men’s Refusal to Do ‘Women’s Work’ Shows How the Patriarchy Wounds Everybody". Science of Us. 6 January 2017. 9 January 2017.

    Cain Miller, Claire. "Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women". The Upshot. 4 January 2017. 9 January 2017.

    Dill, Janette S., Kim Price-Glynn, and Carter Rakovski. "Does the 'Glass Escalator' Compensate for the Devaluation of Care Work Occupations? The Careers of Men in Low- and Middle-Skill Health Care Jobs". Gender & Society, v.30 n.2. April 2016. 9 January 2017.

    Fischer, Molly. Think Gender Is Performance? You Have Judith Butler to Thank for That." New York. 13 June 2016. 9 January 2017.

    Katz, Lawrence. "Long-Term Unemployment in the Great Recession: Testimony for the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, Hearing on 'Long-Term Unemployment: Causes and Solutions'". 29 April 2010. 9 January 2017.
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I've noticed a trend toward male housecleaners - my elderly father employs one. Interestingly enough, they seem to be valued for some stereotypically masculine attributes they bring to the job - they more readily and willingly move furniture and appliances, take care of outdoor aspects such as gutters, shuffle things in and out of basements, flip mattresses, clean windows, climb ladders to ceilings, and the like, etc. They also tend to bring more gear, things like battery drills and wire brushes, to take care of business.

    And they seem to value the independence of such work - beats working on an assembly line.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's probably also a little bit better for health, since walking from room to room (and even inside to outside) provides a bit more exercise than standing at a machine and pulling a lever.
    river likes this.
  8. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Did anyone notice the mess that was left after the Half Million Women March in DC the other day? Placards strewn about the streets. Disposable cups and garbage left on the grass and roads. Just how many of the street cleaners, where women, do you suppose? Maybe 50%? Or perhaps 0%? I'm wondering how many of the women, who left their trash to be cleaned (probably by a man), feel there should be more women street cleaners, women miners, women working in the sewers?

    I just found it somewhat ironic - the male street cleaners I mean.
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Pretty much all of them.

    Those are good jobs, that women have been excluded from for a long time, in the US.

    They can't even get hired to clean up after a Women's March, maybe (if your supposition holds) - is that the irony you meant?

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