I'd like to see a study in which men are asked how they feel about all the studies that ask men how they feel about being men. They may share my mild embarrassment that our gender has become the object of such earnest attentions, with experts hovering over us as if fearing we've got the vapors and might soon expire altogether. There's something of that flavor in a new JWT survey on the state of men, querying adults of both sexes in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and the Netherlands.
The report of the survey data comes complete with stock photos of women (a) trampling on a man, (b) confining a man in a dog crate and (c) throwing a drink into a man's face. The actual survey results are less drastic. When the poll asked whether men's status has deteriorated vis-à-vis women's, 52 percent of male respondents said it has, as did 33 percent of female respondents. One wonders how many of those polled think men's status has changed but wouldn't pick the word "deteriorated" as the best one to describe the phenomenon. Another bit of data offers a clue: 79 percent of respondents agreed that "it's a good time to be a man," vs. just 22 percent of men and 19 percent of women saying it's a bad time to be a man. Despite op-ed opinionizing that men have become obsolete, just 34 percent of men and 25 percent of women endorsed the statement, "The 21st century will belong more to women than to men." A less-than-landslide 23 percent of men and women "can imagine a time in the future when men will be the weaker sex."
If anything, respondents were inclined to believe the female role is the one that's in flux. Respondents of both sexes were more likely to agree that "Women are becoming more like men" than that "Men are becoming more like women." Under the circumstances, it's no surprise that many men are perplexed about how women wish to be treated. More surprising is the fact that men haven't all thrown up their hands and retreated into a world of laddish bonding. The poll asked whether respondents agreed that "If they had to choose, men would prefer the respect of other men rather than the respect of women." Women generally thought this was true. But the men were evenly divided, with 32 percent agreeing, 33 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 35 percent disagreeing.
In one crucial respect, men are quantifiably worse off than women: They die younger. So, do men think society should cut them some slack as a result? Actually, just 14 percent agreed that "The man deserves some special privileges because statistically his life is likely to be shorter than the woman's." Odds are, it seems long enough.