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Study Says Masculinity Is On The Decline


Every so often I read something that sets me off. This happens to be one.

Leo Burnett Chicago has released its first study of people and behavior highlighting six key consumer trends expected to have a lasting effect on American brands and marketers in 2012 and beyond.

The study “HumanKind 2012: The Transformation of Aspiration“, forecasts the evolution of American society as we know it. It deviates from the predictable “Big Plan” to go to school, grow up, get married, have kids and climb the corporate ladder. It’s a new kind of America: Men stay at home, women win the bread and nearly 40 percent of all children are born to a single mom.

I found the study’s findings largely defeatist. It says life is not fair, nobody pays retail anymore, single parent families are the new family…and collective bargaining is the new weapon. Yikes. This is pathetic stuff.

The one finding that sets me off is one that I happen to be an expert on. As a man, I consider myself an expert on being a man. The study says that men are evolving as masculinity declines. It goes on to say, the universal archetype of masculinity is over. The old rules that define a man’s role in the home and office do not apply in today’s world. Women are out-earning their husbands and men accept it. In fact, 77 percent of all men are comfortable with their wives earning more than them and 72 percent are OK with staying home to take care of the children.

Burnett takes this finding and translates its implication for brands as such: Speak with caution when referring to traditional views of masculinity. Focus instead on shaping identities and transforming individuals, not a specific gender.

What? As an expert in “guyness” I say this is bunk. Guys, even if their other half is making more money than they are, still like guy stuff (sports, sophomoric comedy, and pretty women). Don’t talk down to us. Don’t sell us on our “shaping identities”. Give us what we want – an evening watching Caddy Shack, with a couple of buds having a few beers and a pizza.

Not that much has changed, Leo Burnett!

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