”The labor of women in the house, certainly enable men to produce more wealth than they otherwise could: and in this way women are economic factors in society. But so are horses.” Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The quote above is a good example of how things change. Things have changed enough that some suggest the quote can be applied to men today. I don’t think it is a mistake to suggest that many men today are struggling. Not only is the economy not producing the types of jobs men have traditionally excelled at, but the role of men in relationships is also changing. In 1970 only 4% of relationships had women earning more than their male partners, today that figure stands at 22%. All these changes add up to even bigger changes in the lives of men.
While women earning more money than men is a new trend, history suggests women have consistently contributed as much or more than men to the welfare of relationships. Studies of hunter/gather groups have shown that women are no slackers when it comes to adding value to society (childcare not included). The science, however, is conflicted on what gender provides the most calories or the most valued calories- both studies are attached here for your reading pleasure, Pro Women Pro Man
It is possible we are returning to a more traditional relationship model than we would of thought at first. Our general belief that one person brings home the bacon while another cooks it and watches the kids has no long term historical support. From hunter/gather groups to our more recent pioneer past, it has always taken the joint effort of a couple to support a household. The saying, “A woman’s work is never done,” is hardly a new observation or recent phenomenon.
What has changed is the widespread use of money as a means for settling transactions and it has likely altered our relationships with others. In the distant past, the contributions of an individual to the relationship were less transparent or measurable. How many baskets of berries does it take to equal four rabbits, is a deer in June worth as much as four geese are in February? Today money allows us to put a specific value on things (rabbits, berries, shelter, clothing) and directly compare the contributions each individual makes to the relationship over extended periods of time.
How are men handling all these changes? By nearly all available accounts and observations not very well. Men whose partners earn more than them, can often be found sabotaging the relationship and are five times more apt to cheat on their partner. Not quite the payoff many women were expecting from the late nights of studying and the mountains of student debt they acquired. In short, men do not appear capable of being “well kept” and women seem to prefer men who have a regular daily activity called a job, Love and Unemployment.
This was suppose to be the end of this factor, but there is so much information that we are going to need a Part Three to finish things up! So far we have covered how both women and men feel about income and relationships. The third and final post for this series will try to put all four pieces together. If you haven’t already, take the relationship quiz below to see where your relationships fits.
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