Gender roles in 2010? Part I

Yes, there will be a part 2…

While watching the news a few days ago, I heard a statistic that didn’t really surprise me. In 1970, only 4% of men “married up”, while now close to %22 do the same (Here’s a more in-depth story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122612096&ft=1&f=1003) . In other words, in 1970, only 4% of men married women that had higher salaries and more education than them. I believe part of the reason for this is a reversal in gender roles. 40 years ago, it wasn’t common to see so many women graduate from college with their Bachelors, go to graduate school, and pursue a lengthy, successful career afterwards. Women 40 years ago were fighting Title IX opposition, so I can be sure that they weren’t given the same opportunities to do well as men were. It was almost an unwritten societal rule that a man was supposed to not only find a wife, but care and provide for her and the rest of the family until death do them part. You really would have had to dig deep to find a family where the wife earned more money, had a better education, or better job than her husband.

From personal experience, I know more women that are in school, working towards their careers, or have already begun their careers, than men. Granted, there are more women than men, but I’m speaking in terms of ratios. I figure that out of every 100 women I know, at least half of them are being productive, while that number is much lower for the men that I know personally. It’s not as simple as “women are better than men”, but in my opinion, slightly more complex.

Blame goes to the NBA and LeBron James, partly. Yes, it’s been six years since he made his NBA début at the age of 18. I understand that a rule has been put in place requiring high-schoolers to attend college for at least one year before entering the NBA Draft. I’m also fully aware that every guy to enter the draft after high school has not enjoyed James’s success. Still, there are dozens of thousands of little boys across the country that want nothing more than to be the next LeBron James. They dedicate their lives to basketball, and put academics on the FAR back-burner. Some of these same little boys go through high school intent on being the best prep basketball player in the country. They then go to college, where they are treated like royalty and basically told that even though their title is “student-athlete”, they are enrolled in school to make the basketball program better. A college basketball player only needs to attend classes for the fall semester to be deemed eligible by the NCAA for the fall AND spring semester. There are many freshmen that are students for only one semester so that they can be athletes for both. With no one to step in and bring up the fact that this loophole is constantly being taken advantage of, many 18 and 19 year-old boys continue to do the same thing. Some enter the NBA Draft, are selected, and completely forget about the college education that they abandoned. Occasionally, you’ll hear of an example like Carmelo Anthony, who only went to classes for the fall semester before entering the NBA Draft. After he was drafted, he vowed to finish his degree at Syracuse University, which he is working towards. But how many failures do you hear of? How many cautionary tales have you heard about a 20 year-old that skipped college to go pro, only to have his dreams dashed, and left with no way to pay for college afterwards?

On the flip side, there is no role model like that for young girls. Candace Parker is a force, but her popularity is nowhere near LeBron James’s. She has been described as dominant, innovative, and transcendant. Those are three words that have been used by many to describe LeBron James, but you wouldn’t know it based on the ads, exposure, and their salaries. James made a little more than $4 million as a rookie, while Parker made a little less than $45,000. James signed a $100 million contract with Nike at the age of 18, and Parker has her picture in a few Adidas ads in select stores. To go back on what I said earlier, Parker IS a role model for young girls everywhere. But girls that believe in realism understand that even if they’re better than Parker, they won’t be anywhere as popular as LeBron James. No puppet commercials. No very own shoe. Popularity in the USA, but a lack of global appeal. A WNBA player would have to double what Michael Jordan did in his playing career to even make half a million dollars. That is unlikely, seeing as how the WNBA salary cap will be at under $1 million for this upcoming season.

James never stepped foot in a college classroom. As a matter of fact, I doubt that he even took an unofficial campus visit. Parker attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for 4 years and graduated with her incoming class with a degree in Sports Management. While James will most likely play pro basketball for the next decade and make hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, Parker will struggle to make $100,000 a year, but at least have a degree to fall back on. Because the money and fame isn’t there for WNBA players, I believe that’s why you see many more college-educated players in the WNBA than the NBA. Most of these women don’t really have a choice. They HAVE to graduate from college, because they can’t solely rely on their basketball career as a way to provide for themselves and family. Even with endorsements, top WNBA players still don’t make as much as players in the NBA that earn the league minimum, which is slightly over $1,000,000.

Part of the blame goes to rappers, other entertainers, and people in power positions as well. Yes, women are big figures in the entertainment industry, but in terms of who runs record labels, publishing and production companies, you simply don’t see many women in that place of power. We think of men more often than women when we’re asked about famous directors, producers, authors, composers, writers, et cetera. Obviously, it’s not because women aren’t qualified to hold these jobs, because we all know strong, powerful women. I believe that there’s an idea that a man sitting as CEO of a corporation will garner more respect, admiration, and fear than a woman. So many young boys have dreams of running a record label or being partner of a law firm, because they feel that’s what they’re supposed to do as an adult male. Young girls have these same aspirations, but I don’t think feeling entitled has anything to do with why many of them pursue their dreams. It’s a different mindset in the classroom between boys and girls(which will be discussed in part 2).

Cam’ron scoffed at the idea of going to college on a mixtape that I owned. He didn’t understand why anyone would want to go to college so they could toil and sweat for 4, 5 years, graduate, and then have to pay back a large amount of student loans. Do you think that message seeped through to more men or women? Do you think more men or women share that thinking with Cam’ron? It’s like Gucci Mane and his love of bricks, money, loose women, and guns. One can’t honestly believe that women are as likely as men to emulate Gucci’s lifestyle. Part of the male persona is machismo. We don’t want to admit when we’ve been screwed over, played, treated, carried, or whatever you want to call it. If that means a few of us forgo college because we don’t want to be saddled with ridiculous student loans or continue to live by certain rules and regulations as “adults”, missing out on a chance to better our futures, so be it. Being 28 with no job is not as embarrassing as being 28 and working at McDonald’s to more men than you think. Most of us want to be seen as providers, and it’s hard to be seen as that when you’re a grown man making minimum wage as a cashier at McDonald’s.

Have men become lazier? I can’t say. Are there more men looking for a woman with money? Of course. My question is: Is that SO wrong? Let’s face it: More women have more to give. It’s caused some complacency amongst men, I admit. But weren’t women the same years ago? I’m sure that 50 years ago, plenty of women married men for money, or to be simply taken care of. Again, I fully acknowledge that this was not because of shallow reasoning, but more out of necessity. However, it still happens now. Tell me with a straight face that you believe even half of professional athletes’ wives married them for their personality and I’ll jump off of the Willis Tower.

Ms. Frechette and I talked about our mothers (both in their 50s) and what was expected of them as women when they were in their 20s. Not much, we agreed. A little bit of the 1950s remained in the 1960s and 1970s. Many women had more of a want to find a husband than those that wanted to pursue their professional career. I don’t believe the average 70s woman entered college intent on completing their Bachelors and building off of that. I believe that because of what society deemed to be important then, more women were looking for potential husbands, as college is not a place for slackers. Although I’m not completely sure, I don’t think that a single woman celebrated her “singlehood” 30, 40 years ago the way women do in 2010. Being a single woman in your 20s in the 60s and 70s was not “normal”, and was frowned upon by some people. It was rare to find a woman established because of her own work and not a man’s back then, and it seems things have changed, for the most part.

Men have become more aware of the abundance of successful women, and some feel that it’s our turn to reap the benefits. It’s our turn to be taken out to dinner. We shouldn’t have to reach for the check everytime. Women can pay bills, and give us money when we’re in need. Women can buy us gifts, and not just because it’s Christmas or our birthday. For years, men were expected to run the household, and with so many women that are highly capable of doing the same, some men want to sit back, relax, and be catered to for a change. We see the number of women that own homes, pay their own rent, and drive their own car. Hell, even Jamie “I’m Getting Too Old For This Shit” Foxx released a song about a woman who “got it on her own”. Independent women are being celebrated more than ever. Whereas a single, successful woman was seen as some type of freak show years back, it is slowly becoming the norm. The way women once did, more and more men are latching onto these women and holding on for dear life. I don’t condone this behavior from men, but maybe there’s been a reversal in gender roles…finally… STAY TUNED FOR PART II…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. “Like, I know, right?!”–Sarah Longwood, my favorite Valley girl…


7 comments

  1. This was definitely one of my favorites. I agree, more women are about their business now, while it seems too many dudes are waiting to be snatched up. Fuck those words hard, E!


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