Young men: more into traditional gender than their fathers

I’ve frequently heard that homophobia is far less common in younger people. Sadly, the same does not seem to be true for love of traditional gender roles amongst men.

According to the survey released Thursday, more 20 year-old men — about 20% as compared to 14% of their older counterparts — would rather their wives stay at home and take care of the children than maintain a separate career outside of the home. Almost as striking is the assertion that only about 47% of the younger men, as compared to 55% of 50 year-olds, believe their female partner “should do whatever she wants” in making the choice to work or stay at home. And despite efforts of the women’s movement to degender caretaking roles, only 1% of 20-year-old men and 3% of older respondents would choose to stay at home while their wife brings in the primary income.

(Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

9 thoughts on “Young men: more into traditional gender than their fathers

  1. It may be relevant to note that this study was performed by Esquire, whose readers may well hold opinions that are not representative of those of men overall.

  2. Of course, what you could be seeing there is the effect that aging has on people. Older people may simply be more understanding and less dogmatic about this, having learned as they got older

  3. Can it be simply because 20 year-old men are still immature and inexperienced? I would hope this attitude is most easily changed by them actually being in a relationship and experiencing real-life partnership (not to mention real-life challenges, like supporting a household). I bet a significant number of their fathers changed their minds since the 70s.

  4. I wonder if at least part of the discrepancy between the 20-year-old men and the 50-year-old men is that many of the latter group have daughters embarking on careers or life projects of their own.

  5. How puzzling. I would’ve thought that, despite their immaturity, the many years’ worth of experience young men generally have had, by the age of twenty, of their female peers generally out-performing them in school would make them considerably more accepting of “do whatever she wants” than their seniors.

  6. I’d echo Kira’s point — a reader survey of Esquire isn’t exactly a robust study in a peer-reviewed journal. On the other hand, many psychologists have a bad habit of generalizing from what are basically interviewed of volunteers in their Intro to Psych classes, so maybe it’s not that much different.


    Okay, if it were just the second finding — the “should do whatever she wants” one — I might try to explain it away by suggesting that maybe these young men recognize that either partner just doing absolutely whatever s/he wants is a bad idea. These sorts of long-term plans really should be coordinated and compromises may be necessary.

    But that’s not really going to fly in light of the other two. And I’m probably not a good person to try to explain away the apparent gender-regressiveness of my fellow young men anyways: I’m in that 1% or so who would be perfectly happy to take care of kids and other such domestic things full time. (Or almost: ideally I’d also teach maybe one class per semester and have enough time for just a little writing on the side, since I do find those parts of academia deeply satisfying. Philosophy as a hobby is philosophy enough. :-) ) At the same time, I’m probably not likely to set up a household with someone who’s so career-oriented that she makes enough to support a househusband and a kid or two on her own.

  7. Aside from the concerns about the study, which are completely on point, I can’t say that I am surprised by its results. This is just my general impression, but I think in the last 20 years there has been a reduction in the messages that tell women they can choose many different paths to a satisfying life, and an increase in the messages that say you can choose what path you like, but you will be most satisfied when you choose to stay home and raise the children. Of course, it is still seen as a “choice,” in spite of the immense societal pressure to do so. I guess what I am saying is that I think if they surveyed women, they would find a similar change in attitudes, and that the changes in attitudes are linked (i.e., part of the same larger societal change).

  8. I wonder if at least part of the discrepancy between the 20-year-old men and the 50-year-old men is that many of the latter group have daughters embarking on careers or life projects of their own…

  9. The figures for men who’d choose to stay at home are reversed: it’s 3% among 20-year-olds and 1% among 50 year olds.

    Also, it’s not quite just Esquire readers, but it was a survey of “internet-connected adults” in the US. According to this survey, 11% of American 20-year old men make $100,000 or more, which strikes me as unlikely.

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