Prior to Women’s Liberation, one mechanism that triggered the male response to assume the responsibilities of Provider was the stark realization that he had a pregnant wife and would therefore have to put away childish things and don the mantle of bread-winner. Since women have become empowered to assume their own titles, the balance of power has shifted, and with it, cultural norms and expectations.
There are predominately positive aspects of the paradigm shift in that women are enthusiastically able to pursue their talents and passions into arenas that were previously beyond their spectrum of possibility. We are empowered to exercise our brains, education, and talents in pursuit of a better world for our families. We are remembering to appreciate Divine Feminine in all her glory.
However, we are also experiencing a phenomenon of exhaustion, over-extension and a nagging guilt that we are fulfilling all of our duties insufficiently. Many are maintaining a tenuous grasp on the distinction between personal satisfaction and obligation. We are excellent multi-taskers, but in the attempt to do everything perfectly, what are we sacrificing?
As women redefine (and increase) their roles and responsibilities, the male partner is, by one argument, relieved of many of his previous duties. If the woman has established a lucrative career, less of the financial responsibility falls to him. Because men are often not taught domestic skills, the majority of the housework is usually the prerogative of the female. Because women both desire and are physiologically and emotionally bound to devote much of their energy in the care and rearing of children, in the creation and nurturing of new life, they naturally make sacrifices in pursuit of higher goals. In other words, we are adept at “taking one for the team”, but there is increasing resentment over our systemic feeling of isolation in this sacrifice.
Is this new breed of superwomen enabling a generation of men to never grow up, to embody Peter Pan in an unrealistic fantasy land where they get to play video games, watch football, and have another beer while their wives disproportionately change diapers, do laundry, and forego that last drink because they understand all to clearly that otherwise the task at hand will not be accomplished to their satisfaction and standard?
What are the consequences of the inevitable resentment of this imbalance? How can we move to a more equitable environment where the sexes can distribute duties in a way that suits their biology, aptitude, and ambition? As we evolve as a species and culture, it will be important to address these gender roles and discrepancies before we reach a tipping point that affects our ability to maintain Balance.