A HE-cession? I'm not buying it.
The folks at ABC World News released the second segment last night in a series they're calling "The New Gender Rules." Apparently, men are being hit harder by the recession than women (though many sources say otherwise) because male-dominated fields like engineering and finance are where the majority of jobs are being lost. This, according to "The New Gender Rules," is causing a wacky shift in traditional gender roles. Guess what? Gender inequality is gone because of the recession! Goodbye sexism! Helllooo postfeminism!
Check out the first segment in the series:
Okay, first of all, "the HE-cession?" Who exactly is calling it that, Charlie Gibson? And isn't the very fact that ABC has deemed stories of a man who is going into nursing, or a man who is staying at home with his kids, so very newsworthy an indicator that we haven't started following these "new gender rules" quite yet? And how about the narrator's voice? Could he have strained any more on the words "wrenching re-negotiations over gender roles"? I thought he was going to choke and pass out. (Is there a special heimlich maneuver for when someone chokes on gender norms?)
Couples who are making their own gender rules are awesome, of course, but ABC World News hasn't quite convinced me of an overall societal shift in that direction with this piece. Somehow it seems like a GIANT oversimplification, but perhaps the second video segment will suggest otherwise? Let's watch it and find out!
We've switched to a female narrator in this one, but somehow she's still not inspiring a lot of confidence. Call me crazy, but the very fact that a man who cares about his children is on the national news because of it suggests to me that we've still got a looong way to go before we reach the Postfeminist Promised Land. Of course it's great that these couples are negotiating gender roles in their own way, but come on! An email to ABC World News (that they chose to read on the air) saying my husband is "at home right now cleaning!"? That seems like evidence of how far we still have to go before we're living in a world where gender roles have dissolved.
Maybe it is cranky and pessimistic of me, but I am wary of mainstream media that suggests that we've somehow achieved complete gender equality. It's such an oversimplification of a complicated issue, and I don't like the idea that couples all over the world might be throwing in the gender towel (which I imagine is both pink and blue) and hanging up their "Mission Accomplished" banner when it comes to gender equality just because they both help their kids at bath time. I know it could be the uptight feminist in me, but I'll be a lot happier when stories like these aren't considered newsworthy.
Stay tuned for more "New Gender Rules" coverage. Maybe next time we'll see (gasp!) a gay couple! In the meantime, what do you think of all of this? Do you think the recession (or HE-cession?) will bring about a shift in gender roles?
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