Feminism has made immense progress toward gender equality over the past decades. But this change has also come with unintended consequences for men’s well-being. Why exactly are men suffering in the wake of feminism’s advances? The reasons are nuanced. Here are 15 ways men face new challenges navigating their evolving roles in society:
1. Loss of Traditional Privilege
As women gain power, some men feel they are losing long-held economic and social advantages. Losing entitlement to higher status and authority can fuel resentment. Men grapple with transferring historically male privileges to women, like automatic respect in the workplace and public life. Some men cling to outdated hierarchies.
2. Confusion Around Changing Expectations
Rapidly changing gender norms have left many men confused about how they’re expected to act. Men struggle to balance retaining virtues of the “strong silent type” while also expressing more emotion. Shifting social codes provoke uncertainty about their place in relationships, families, and communities.
3. Difficulty Shedding the “Breadwinner” Identity
Men have traditionally held the “breadwinner” role, tying masculinity to financial providing. As more women pursue careers, men wrestle with threats to this key source of self-worth and sense of masculine purpose. Men feel obliged to succeed financially even as women gain equality.
4. Fear of False Allegations
High-profile stories of men accused of sexual assault or harassment, including questionable allegations, stoke fears that men are vulnerable to false accusations. Men feel unsure how to navigate interactions with women in newly charged cultural dynamics surrounding misconduct.
5. Anxiety Around Dating Changes
Shifting dating norms around who pays, asks out whom, initiates intimacy, and acceptable behavior leave men unsure how to pursue romantic relationships respectfully. Men struggle to balance assertiveness with respect, confidence with healthy vulnerability.