Newsweek’s cover story this week is on changing conceptions of masculinity. They argue forcefully for a “New Macho.” This is super cool, and important, and not just because I’m quoted via my recent Slate essay.
From the story:
Since the 1950s, the image of the American woman has gone through numerous makeovers. But masculine expectations remain the same—even as there are fewer opportunities to fulfill them. As a result, says Joan C. Williams, author of Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter, “men have a choice: either feel inadequate or get a lot more creative.” What’s required, then, is not a reconnection with the past but a liberation from it; not a revival of the old role but an expansion of it. The End of Men isn’t nigh, nor is macho dead. But its definition should be broadened to include both Mr. T and Mr. Mom. It’s time, in other words, for a New Macho: a reimagining of what men should be expected to do in the two realms, home and work, that have always determined their worth.
The Swedish model has been getting some buzz lately – a big New York Times story, my essay did much better than I ever expected, I’m getting media requests from Australia, Canada and so on.
But this is the first time that a big publication has actually translated the message to America. It’s not a gee-whiz moment about those progressive Swedes up there in their fairy tale north. This is about the need for American men to change in order to thrive in a changing world.
That means making child care cool and macho and all that.
And maybe Americans are more on board than I thought:
Recent polls show that majorities of Republicans (62 percent), Democrats (92 percent), and independents (71 percent) now support the idea of paid paternity leave.
And maybe the solutions are not all that hard, even in the conservative, free-market U.S.:
The most likely model for paid leave is an employee-funded insurance program like Social Security—which, according to Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for American Progress, could support 12 weeks of paid leave for a measly $10 a month per worker. That translates to a payroll tax hike of no more than three 10ths of a percent. Even the most generous program—a full year of leave for every working parent in the country—would cost the country only $25 billion, according to Columbia professor Jane Waldfogel, who studies work-family issues. Washington already spends four times that amount each year on fraud, waste, and abuse.