“Stand true to your calling to be a man. Real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men” ~ Elisabeth Elliot, The Mark of a Man    

I love the Big Bang Theory. I watch re-runs of the show every chance I get. In one episode, a young husband, while trying to garner sympathy from his wife, says, “I am sad because I am trying to be a man in a world where it’s increasing difficult to be one.” Of course, his wife had short shrift for that excuse and the episode continued…

Some time later, what he said came back to me and I wondered if he was on to something. Was he right that? Pre-feminism and equality, it was the man’s duty to provide in every sense, especially materially. The man had to kill the buck otherwise the women folk would go without meat or clothes. After the cave man era, men went out to work and the women stayed at home. The women bore children and raised them while the father was out toiling to ensure there was food on the table and money to clothe the children. Women got married young to older men who could provide for them. While some women worked at the beginning of their married life, they certainly had to stop and look after the children full-time when they arrived. After all, wasn’t their true calling to nurture while men answered their true calling to provide? Seems rather clear-cut doesn’t it.

Now, things are dramatically different. Women no longer have to aspire to marriage. Instead, they can aspire to be and be anything that men can be. Feminism and the advent of constitutional rights have shaken the very foundation of what was a man’s role in the past. We now live in a world where a woman can bring to the table the same salary or more than her husband earns. A woman can be her husband’s superior in the office. A woman can clothe the children with or without his help. A woman can vote. A woman can and often does have strong opinions. A woman can, for all intents and purposes, be all that a man can be.

Should a man find himself wed to such a woman, is he then entitled to feel less like a man? I am posing more questions than I can answer here but I would really like to know.

Coupled with the scene from the Big Bang Theory was a blog post on Linda Ikeji’s blog where the following scenario, which I have paraphrased was presented…

“My husband and I are recently married and work for the same company. I earn R550 000 per annum and my husband earns R300 000 per annum. The Company policy dictates that married couples can not work for the company therefore one of us must resign. There is no way of telling how long it will be before the one of us who resigns will get a new job. We can survive on my salary for a while but the budget will be a lot tighter if we live on his salary alone. Which one of us should resign?”

After reading this, I thought the answer was rather obvious but I was not in the majority. I read through most of the hundreds of comments from men and women alike and most of them sounded something like this:

“If you want to stay married, you (the woman) had better resign. A man is a man after all.”

“Of course the woman must resign! It is the man’s job to be the provider.”

“if you want peace in that home you should resign. The Bible says the man is the head of the home.”

“How can you expect the man to sit at home while you earn. Chai! Women of today. resign oooo!”

The minority agreed with my view that whether or not the guy was the head of the home, the bills would still need to be paid and common sense would suggest that the one earning less should resign. On the basis that the man in question agrees with the majority, I suppose the question at the root of all of this for me is, “Is a man’s manhood tied into whether or not he feels superior to the woman he is with in every way?” Is it not a greater showing of strength to resign for the greater good of the family? How is it being a good head of home to make the family survive on less to protect your manhood (read ego). Is it harder to be a man when the competition is on equal footing? Is it harder for men to adapt to a society in which a woman can be and should be an equal? I may not know the answer but I sincerely hope not. Perhaps, I should be asking whether society is conspiring to emasculate its men?

I have more to say but this is getting too long so a part 2 will have to be written….