Contemporary Minds Don’t Always Think Alike

In my previous post, I talked about the really interesting results we uncovered in our gender roles study. Essentially, how traditional vs. contemporary men view both genders’ place in the world, how children should be raised, and what it means to be a man. The differences were noteworthy (although I have no problem with chivalry – let’s keep that one going).

What struck us as strange when we were reviewing the data were the age differences. Honestly, I was convinced I calculated something wrong. Here’s the situation: There are some traditions that the majority of men believed in, like chivalry – and younger men were actually more willing than older men to help their girlfriend/wife with chores around the house. Overall though, most of men in our study are progressively-minded. The kicker is that, of those who held more traditional views of gender roles, a larger percentage of them were under the age of 25. It’s only as age increased that views became more modern.

What?

(FYI: The sample size was a hearty 430 men – I used only Caucasians as I didn’t have enough people to create a sufficient sample size for the other ethnicities).

Here are the differences we uncovered in our study:

Careers: Who is better suited?

Divided into three age groups (under 25, 25 to 39, and over 40), the following is the percentages of men who said that the jobs below are appropriate for both genders:

  • Carpenter: 21% of men under 25, 22% of men 25-39, 42% of men over 40
  • Prison Guard: 21% of men under 25, 31% of men 25-39, 44% of men over 40
  • Secretary: 39% of men under 25, 46% of men 25-39, 66% of men over 40
  • Nurse: 41% of men under 25, 46% of men 25-39, 57% of men over 40
  • Stay-at-home parent: 42% of men under 25, 56% of men 25-39, 60% of men over 40
  • CEO of a company: 55% of men under 25, 65% of men 25-39, 76% of men over 40
  • Police Detective: 63% of men under 25, 71% of men 25-39, 76% of men over 40
  • Financial Planner: 68% of men under 25, 61% of men 25-39, 75% of men over 40
  • Doctor: 69% of men under 25, 77% of men 25-39, 84% of men over 40
  • Teacher: 70% of men under 25, 73% of men 25-39, 76% of men over 40
  • Professor: 71% of men under 25, 77% of men 25-39, 80% of men over 40
  • Judge: 72% of men under 25, 74% of men 25-39, 80% of men over 40
  • Research Scientist: 75% of men under 25, 79% of men 25-39, 81% of men over 40

In terms of gender roles, here’s where younger men and older men differed (I took the most notable differences, as in some cases, men of all ages thought the same way):

The role of men and women in the home

  • 21% of men under 25 believe that a husband should control the finances; 21% of men 25-39 and 9% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 27% of men under 25 think less of a stay-at-home dad; 14% of men 25-39 and 15% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 33% of men under 25 believe that it’s the father who should be the disciplinarian of children; 22% of men 25-39 and 14% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 36% of men under 25 believe that a man should be the main breadwinner; 28% of men 25-39 and 21% of men over 40 feel the same way.

The role of men and women at work

  • 20% of men under 25 believe that the most important decision-makers in a company should be male; 22% of men 25-39 and 15% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 32% of men under 25 would prefer to hire a man to help a company beat its competitors; 24% of men 25-39 and 20% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 40% of men under 25 believe that men are more cutthroat in business than women; 22% of men 25-39 and 28% of men over 40 feel the same way.

The role of men and women in relationships

  • 20% of men under 25 believe that women should have fewer sexual partners than men; 17% of men 25-39 and 10% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 26% of men under 25 believe that a woman who is assertive sexually is likely promiscuous; 18% of men 25-39 and 11% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 27% of men under 25 believe that boyfriends should be the one to plan dates; 23% of men 25-39 and 20% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 44% of men under 25 said that it would bother them if their girlfriend/wife had more sexual partners than they did; 26% of men 25-39 and 15% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 51% of men under 25 believe that guys should pay on the first date; 43% of men 25-39 and 33% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 59% of men under 25 believe that women are naturally more nurturing than men; 50% of men 25-39 and 43% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 60% of men under 25 think it’s OK for a woman to “pop the question” to a man; 72% of men 25-39 and 81% of men over 40 feel the same way.

Men and Masculinity

  • 13% of men under 25 believe that a guy should never back off from a dare; 8% of men 25-39 and 3% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 16% of men under 25 would teach their son that crying and whining are unacceptable behaviors; 7% of men 25-39 and 6% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 30% of men under 25 believe that boys should do whatever they can to avoid being called a “sissy;” 26% of men 25-39 and 17% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 33% of men under 25 are uncomfortable expressing their emotions; 26% of men 25-39 and 19% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 38% of men under 25 would not want to have gay friends; 32% of men 25-39 and 15% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 42% of men under 25 said that they would have no choice but to punch a guy who hit on their girlfriend/wife; 24% of men 25-39 and 15% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 44% of men under 25 believe that a guy should always be aware of how masculine he appears to others; 32% of men 25-39 and 21% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 53% of men under 25 would not like it if their son played with toys that were meant for girls; 46% of men 25-39 and 35% of men over 40 feel the same way.
  • 59% of men under 25 said that they would feel like less of a man if they lost their job and couldn’t support their family; 61% of men 25-39 and 48% of men over 40 feel the same way.

And if you missed my last post, here’s how some guys under 25 explained this phenomenon (these are all my family members, so they were willing to be candid):

“I was raised with traditional values,” explained my 24-year-old cousin, Anthony. “For example, I was in a very sports-oriented environment. My father played soccer, so that’s the direction I was pushed into – not necessarily forced, but influenced. I will likely do the same for my sons one day because it’s what I know best, but if they don’t want to head in that direction, I will support them.”

For 23-year-old Dario (his brother), mixed messages came from both men and some women. “You’re taught not to show any vulnerability in the form of emotions. This would make you seem weak in the eyes of women who expect you to be strong and supportive. It’s only as you get older that you realize that men don’t have to be so tough all the time – but the messages we get are so mixed. And changing, or ‘unlearning’ these beliefs and behaviors is a difficult process.”

“Middle-aged men are at a stage in their lives where they wish they can spend more time with their kids anyway,” was Erik’s theory, my 24-year-old brother. “They’ve already done decades of nine-to-five. Plus, older people are generally smarter. Homophobia, for example, started dying down when those now forty-year-olds were younger. I don’t actually believe that women should raise children and that men shouldn’t show emotions, and I have no problem with gay guys, so it’s difficult for me to understand why some people from my generation believe that. Personally, I think emotion makes you better. Passion makes you better. Bottling it serves no purpose, other than to increase your stress level.”

Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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