For the past week or so, I've been discussing some issues related to the identity of a woman in current American society. Are we really oppressed? Do we have choices? What are those choices when it comes to wanting children and/or working? What are some discussions that couples-to-be need to be having in order to insure fulfillment of both partners?
Today I want to bring men into the picture. Do they deal with these issues of identity too?
Last night Jake and I were discussing this very thing. He was sharing with me his idea that maybe a portion of woman's struggle with her identity is a generational issue. Some women have a hard time making a choice that is different from what her mother, or aunt, or grandmother would think is proper for a woman. Being the first woman to work outside of the home in one's family could be a hard choice. Even if that's what a woman wants, it can feel like she's "oppressed" because she's making a choice that is different than what she saw as "womanly" or "motherly" growing up. It's a crisis of identity that takes significant time, soul-searching and prayer to work through.
Jake said there can be a similar male issue as well. Many men of the older generations have a lot of skills. Many are tradesmen or craftsmen- they know how to weld, they have electrical training, they can build things, they're really handy. When men growing up in that environment decide to do something different- maybe they pursue more academic subjects or decide to be a stay-at-home dad- then they feel a sort of crisis of identity as well. They feel like because they've chosen a different route in life, they don't feel like they have as much to offer. When their dryer breaks, they don't know how to fix it. Instead, they have to call someone else to come fix it. If they want to build a new cabinet space, they have to hire someone else to do it because they just don't know how or don't have the skills to make something that looks nice. They are not "providing for their families" because they stay at home with the kids while the wife is working. It's hard because they're not fulfilling what was considered "manly" growing up.
Things change over time. Roles, responsibilities, expectations. Maybe we as a society need to allow more room for people who want to do things differently or choose paths that look a little odd to the status quo. And as we're beginning to raise the next generation, we may want to constantly be thinking about our expectations for them and how we can allow them freedom in their choices- allowing them to explore who they are and what they like instead of putting (amoral) boundaries around them relating to our likes and dislikes and wants and desires. Of course, much easier said than done. :)