How Men Have Changed in the Past 100 Years, and Why We Can All Forget About Gentlemen
British researchers found out that in the past 100 years, men have become about 3.9 inches taller and also have gained a lot of weight. But they have also become much weaker. The lack of physical activity has led to the fact that their grip pressure has become 19 pounds lower than their fathers’ at the same age. And now they are equal to the modern 30-34-year-old women.
Bright Side decided to find out the other ways that the men of today are different from their fathers and grandfathers. And the inside changes turned out to be even more interesting than the outside changes.
Men don’t have to be breadwinners anymore.
“A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.” — this is a typical quote from the 50s by popular actress, Lana Turner. In the years right after the war, a woman would be judged if she decided to go to work instead of taking care of her children and her home. Now, the word “housewife” sounds kind of humiliating: women often make more money than their husbands do.
While shooting a documentary series, Swedish journalist Peter LeMarc tried to find a woman that only took care of the housework and her children but he failed to do it: the few housewives that are still out there, didn’t want to acknowledge their status.
So, modern men also rarely play the role of the breadwinner and the main base of the family. Usually, both partners share the responsibility of making money.
They can be on maternity leave and not be ashamed of it.
Swedish law says that if a family wants to get the full payment for maternity leave, the couple should divide the leave equally between both parents. In this case, each spouse has to spend at least 90 days on maternity leave. This encourages parents to take part in raising their children and gives women an opportunity to not give up on a promising job.
In many countries, only fathers go on maternity leaves. Just in the US alone, in 2010, there were 2.2 million men that did that. According to some studies, an increase in the amount of communication between the father and the child has a positive influence on children:
- If a father was actively involved in taking care of the baby during the first 8 months of their lives, the baby deals with stress better in their school years, and shows more empathy in their adult lives.
- Regular communication between a man and his son or daughter helps children avoid the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, have better results in school, and see psychologists less often.
- There is also an idea that boys that were raised by their fathers are less narcissistic and aggressive and girls are less passive.
They don’t have to be “real men.”
The idea of honor is directly connected with the term “a real man.” It was the necessity to support their honor and reputation that made men do the right thing for centuries: they were supposed to respect women, protect the weak, and be firm and strong about their decisions. The traditional honor was based on that code, or series of rules that were supposed to be followed. If a person followed these rules, they were respected by the people around them and if they broke the rules, they could bring shame on themselves forever.
The code for men and boys was made by special organizations: brotherhoods, knights’ orders, scouts, and so on. Now, these communities are almost completely gone, every person has the right to decide for themselves what is shameful and what is not. This is how they form their own code of honor.
And this is what it has led to:
- Men are not expected to act like knights. Imagine this situation: a girl is coming back home accompanied by a man and someone yells something obscene at her. A woman that understands honor in a traditional way expects the man to do something to the offender. But for a modern man, his own well-being may be more important (meaning that his teeth and bones stay intact), rather than protecting the woman.
- Any dishonorable act is not easy to spot. Knights and other warriors couldn’t escape from the battlefield without shaming their names. Most of us live in cities now and we don’t know anything about our neighbors. You can live in a house for 10 years and have no idea that the cute guy next door is an abuser. And on the internet, everything is even less personal, so public shaming is not very scary or not even likely.
- The moral lines are blurry. Violation of the code meant that the man who did it was despised and banished from the group. So, the code was treated more seriously than the law. Now, a man can leave his pregnant wife, not pay any money for child support, and still have his friends’ respect.
- Men don’t have any reason for grandiose reaction. His actions will remain unnoticed by the majority of people and the laws are not always on the side of the hero. If a man is protecting a woman from a criminal but breaking self-defense laws, he can still go to jail for that.
There is an opinion that modern films have become more boring (especially if you remove the CGI from them) because the characters don’t have to overcome any obstacles. They don’t have any moral code, they can do whatever they want, and they just go with the flow. Compare these movies to the films of the past where the main character had to fight for justice, protect the weak, or avenge for someone they loved.
But there is also a good thing about it: for example, in the past, a man could simply cheat on his wife if he could manage to hide it, but now these actions make him a liar and a hypocrite.
American Gerard Martin got arrested by the police after he returned to a burning building to save his dog. He was accused of putting his life and the lives of the fire crew members at risk.
They can forget about the classic meaning of “gentleman.”
The men that followed the norms and the rules set by the society were called gentlemen. But the norms are not up-to-date anymore.
- Men don’t have to protect women’s reputations any more: even regular women can take care of that themselves, let alone celebrities. A century ago, if a man named all the women he was in a relationship with before his marriage, he would look like a bad guy. But today, this information is totally acceptable.
- Men don’t have to open doors for women: women might even treat this as discrimination.
- Men don’t have to watch their language: bad words are not taboo anymore. They can even work as a compliment, the most important thing is to say it with the right tone and at the right time.
The only thing we probably still have left from gentlemen is the ability to treat people equally no matter what they do: they could be a waiter in a fast-food establishment or the president of a world-famous company.
They don’t have to be harsh and strict.
Just some decades ago, the public demonstration of emotions among men was frowned upon. Men were supposed to be strong and stoic. Peasants were not very gentle with their wives and children and could even use physical force to make them do something. The powerlessness of women was astonishing: in England, back in the 17th-19th centuries, men sold their wives in the market as if they were objects.
Now, showing their emotions in public is totally okay. Men are often loving fathers now and the relationships between spouses are based on equality.
But recently, there is another tendency: young men and teenagers are becoming more and more rational in their relationships. They understand their emotions better, they can sort through them, and they avoid connections. Even though this behavior allows them to avoid a lot of problems, they are not very likely to experience any strong feelings in their lives.
Why we shouldn’t worry about the changes that are happening to men
We are still more or less dependent on stereotypes, this is why it may seem that there is “something wrong” with men. But in fact, there is no need to worry.
- Men have become weaker, but modern life doesn’t require them to be strong. An IT specialist that can’t lift anything heavier than a computer mouse earns more than a big strong porter. There is no need to fight in duels for the honor of the beautiful lady: some girls can fight better than men, or at least they can call the police.
- Some women are ashamed of their husbands being at home with their children and doing the housework. But if you are okay together and you earn enough money to support the family, who cares which one of you works? And if your husband doesn’t do anything around the house, either, or you are just tired of him, you can just divorce him.
- Many men are not as masculine as they used to be. But thanks to the fact that men discovered emotions in themselves, they can become good fathers, take part in delivering the baby, and understand their wives and girlfriends better.
- Men don’t think that working around the house is shameful anymore. It is the everyday things that happen in ordinary lives that are the reason for scandals between working spouses in 43% of cases (only 23% of couples have arguments over money). The couples that have a clear agreement on who does what around the house get divorced 2 times less often. Of course, it is still not easy to make men cook or clean. Often it is not just men’s fault, but women are also to blame. Women often think that they are the experts in housework and they have a tendency to be too controlling when it comes to everything: from the choice of laundry detergent to how shiny the floor should be.
What qualities do you value in men? How do you think boys should be raised in order for them to become decent men?