Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Phillip Hodson, UK
"We are living in a revolution"
 real 28k

Edmond Glasgow, St Lucia
"Men have no rights at all"
 real 28k

Don Speed, USA
"There's an 'us vs them' mentality"
 real 28k

Tommy Baumer, Australia
"There have been tremendous changes"
 real 28k

Sunhee-Oh, South Korea
"Men are still compelled to live up to stereotypes"
 real 28k

Anne Pekie, US
"I am the major breadwinner"
 real 28k

Hany Rengier, Germany
"Let's give women opportunities"
 real 28k

Dafyd Palaitis, Berlin
"I enjoy life as a father and houseman immensely"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 14:07 GMT
Are men trapped in outdated roles?

All over the world men are finding that traditional roles don't work for them.

The power they thought they had at home and work is no longer assured. Men are beginning to find that their partners earn more than they do, that women's skills are more valued at work.

Fathers have also been found wanting as they're often not around for their children, and husbands under scrutiny for their too-frequent violent behaviour towards their partners.

A woman's place used to be in the kitchen. Where should men be today?

We took your calls on the subject in our LIVE phone-in programme "Talking Point On Air". Dan Damon presented the programme and was joined by author and psychotherapist Philip Hodson.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme

    This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are published below.

    Your comments since the programme

    I have been a single parent for the past 12 years

    Ian, Swindon, UK
    I have been a single parent for the past 12 years, looking after 2 children and holding down a full time occupation. I cook, clean, wash and iron. So what?? It's about taking responsibility and caring. I, for one, do not need a partner who will invariably whinge, or make unacceptable or for that matter unreasonable demands. So to all men out there who feel 'weak' take heart.
    Ian, Swindon, UK

    We are all born into a body and taught by society how to perform our gender roles. However, it is individual determination and opportunity which allows us to create the lives we want to lead. Long live equal education, opportunity and the ability to support others as we would wish to be supported in seeking our own, our partners, children and our community goals in life.
    Malcolm, Fremantle, Australia

    What ever happened to good old family values?

    Mick Rebel, Derby, UK
    What ever happened to good old family values? The modern way of thinking in marriage is almost certainly destined for the scrap heap as outlined by the modern statistics of divorce. I am proud to say that I have been HAPPILY married to my wife for 23 years and we both know where we stand and our duties towards each other!
    Mick Rebel, Derby, UK

    The emasculation of men is and will cause the downfall of us all. This worldwide women's movement has turned beautiful flowers into warty frogs. Most women today look more masculine then their men. Open your eyes and have a look.
    Clarke L. Jones, Bermuda

    I am a lorry driver and I embrace the new found equality of women and can't wait for the day when my wife takes over my work and leaves me at 5am in the comfort of my home to get on with my washing, ironing, shopping and other chores. I can't wait for her to take the stress off my shoulders and all the health problems I suffer because of my job . Please God, let women take over our jobs and give us a break. The only trouble is my wife doesn't seem keen on the idea!!!
    James Bevan, UK

    Men and women will never be equal because women will always carry and give birth to children

    Claire, London, UK
    Men and women will never be equal because women will always carry and give birth to children. It is more important for men to be successful in their careers because they will probably be supporting their families one day. Being a housewife and mother is every bit as important as going out to work, perhaps even more so. Once women have children they should accept that their lives will change dramatically and they cannot just pick up their jobs as before. There is nothing wrong with this - just look at nature - the female looks after her babies and the male goes out to look for food.
    Claire, London, UK

    Trapped in a traditional role? Who says? It's as good as it gets. It cannot get better.
    Jayant Chauhan, Chandigarh/ India

    Equality? How can there be equality? Men and women are different and each has different skill sets. We should embrace these differences that have evolved over several million years and not try to ignore them. The trouble is that society looks down upon many of the roles traditionally held by women, such as raising children. That is a VERY hard, demanding and important role that we should all look up to.
    Max, UK

    The increasing number of female workers decreases the cost of labour. This is good for the corporations, therefore today feminism is flourishing. The long-term effect is degradation of the society because of poor nursing. Finally the countries with traditional gender roles will overcome the "feminist" countries and will be victors of the future world wars.
    Iouli Andreev, Vienna, Austria

    Surely a more sensible attitude would be for men and women to work together in all things

    Della, Bromley Kent
    Surely a more sensible attitude would be for men and women to work together in all things, and not, not doing something because it is seen as traditionally male or female but because one or the other is better at doing it.
    Della, Bromley Kent

    What is very clear from all of the comment is that men and women are different, each have their own idiosyncrasies and their own strengths and weaknesses. Those who say they can live without either sex are kidding themselves or have an axe to grind. Questions like this one add nothing to the debate except allow a few foolish people to vent their spleen.
    Gerry, Glasgow,Scotland

    Men will get where they want to be if they have the gumption to do it, as will women. We're not men and women primarily, but people, and the lessening gaps between us are a fine thing.
    Dan Norcott, Loughborough, UK

    You all complain too much, why is everything someone else's fault? Take charge of your own lives as individuals, not a simple gender stereotype.
    Nick Smith, Bradford

    Feminism has had considerable success - sometimes at the expense of men's rights, e.g. positive discrimination, custody of children. What's the counterweight?
    Michael Grazebrook, UK

    I can't understand why women so desperately want to take on the roles that men have 'traditionally' been assigned to

    N. Harris, Jersey, Great Britain
    I can't understand why women so desperately want to take on the roles that men have 'traditionally' been assigned to. Women seem to think that there is some kind of 'glamour' in doing that. If they think that most men WANT to do these things, surely they are mistaken. Men have traditionally gone out to work because they have had no choice but to do so, NOT because they want to.
    N. Harris, Jersey, Great Britain

    I earn about eight times as much as my wife earns. It therefore makes sense for her to be the one that gives up work to look after children. If her earning potential was higher than mine it would make sense for me to give up work instead. As for domestic violence, one incident is one too many but let's not pretend all men hit their partners - this is as sexist as saying all women can't drive.
    Dave Tankard, UK

    The issue is largely based on social-economic affluence. I am from the Midwest region of the United States, where the men are expected to play a significant role in family life. I am a stay-home man, and I enjoy my role very much.
    Ryan, Paris, France

    It is mutual respect for each other's roles that will lead to equality

    Ahmed, College Station, Texas, USA
    I do believe in equal rights for men and women, but I do not believe that these rights should be gained by saying that men and woman are equal in all respects. They are not. There are some things that men are more suited to and there are those that women are more suited to. It is mutual respect for each other's roles that will lead to equality.
    Ahmed, College Station, Texas, USA

    Alan Tyne evidently has a problem. Generalising the way he does about women indicates that he has a major chip on his shoulder. Fortunately most men, and also most women, do not take this refuge of the dim-witted dunces that have to generalise because their small brains are too under-powered to understand the concept of individuality. I wonder whether the poor man has been overlooked for a job perhaps. Maybe 'his job' went to a woman. The reason for that might just be because he is so evidently prejudiced that no self respecting employer would want him.
    Sara, London, UK

    If my wife becomes pregnant and we separate before the child is born, she gets the absolute right whether or not to keep the child. I get no say whatsoever

    Nigel Dempster, UK
    If my wife becomes pregnant and we separate before the child is born, she gets the absolute right whether or not to keep the child. I get no say whatsoever, yet I am expected to pay for the upkeep if she decides to keep it. To add insult to injury I only get to see my offspring at times approved by a judge and accepted by her. If she decides to bar my access there is little I can do, if I decide to withhold support payments I get hauled before the court. So much for equality.
    Nigel Dempster, UK

    Capitalist society demands equality because it increases the workforce and allows companies to pay employees less because no longer is only the male the bread winner for the family. The modern corporate world demands that a family can only financially survive if both work. This will inevitably destroy the nucleus family and create extreme social problems.
    S Huntley, England

    The majority of humanity lives out lives trapped in roles which are centred around one outcome - the procreation of the species. If this were not so we would not be here and some other species would dominate the planet.
    John Brownlee,

    I am surprised by some of the male responses here. I really thought we had moved beyond all this and equality was not even an issue. As for Mr Angry from Ireland, is he for real? Does he really not know how pathetic his whinges sound? All woman have ever wanted are equal opportunities and happily we have moved in that direction. Why do certain men find that so threatening? If men had been treated as women have been for centuries and were finally given their freedom I would be happy for them. But then I am not afraid of men. Surely equality for all is simply fair?
    Marilyn, Dubai, U.A.E

    Where men go wrong is in assuming that just because a woman is irrational and emotional she is also stupid

    Chris, Stirling
    Considering women's collective reaction to the 1980s and 1990s "new man" it is obvious that women aren't sure what they want, only what they don't want. Thousands of years of natural selection where the woman fought off most sexual advances and only the strongest fiercest male got the cookies is not going to be reversed in a few generations. Hence the popularity of the diet coke man and bodice-ripper novels even among the Cosmo' reading chattering classes. Where men go wrong is in assuming that just because a woman is irrational and emotional she is also stupid.
    Chris, Stirling

    This kind of debate strikes me as a non-issue fuelled by silly psychologists. Women need and desire men and men need and desire women. Attempting to define ones role is a pointless exercise carried out by people with too much time on their hands. While the rest of us are too busy having a good time.
    Jeremy Silverstone, England

    Women have begun to step out of their traditional roles as mothers and wives

    Beena Giridharan, Miri, East Malaysia
    Women have begun to step out of their traditional roles as mothers and wives. However, this is not often met with approval from various sections of society. The onus is always on them to be the parent who meets the needs of the children. The ability of women to nurture their offspring is often exploited by men. It is not a rare occurrence when a wayward child is said to be that way because the mother was not at home to guide him/ her.
    Beena Giridharan, Miri, East Malaysia

    Where I work there is a safe secure convenient car park at the front of the building for women, whereas men have to use a car park at the rear on the edge of a troubled estate with wrecked cars littered about. Were the situation reversed the cries of sexism would probably make the national press, as it is we weakly accept this discrimination.
    Sam, Portsmouth

    Women are happy to sneer at men and their "redundant" macho values of being tough and physically courageous. But they will equally poor scorn on a man who lacks those qualities when they are needed. Look at the way all women ridicule a man who complains of being ill - "men are such wimps". And have you noticed that whenever there is an unpleasant, dangerous or physically demanding job to be done, women always assume that it is a man who should do it? Women complain about glass ceilings etc but they are only ever interested in cushy paper pushing jobs that probably don't even really need doing .
    Alan Tyne, London, UK

    Men are supposed to earn and provide for their family. Women are supposed to devote a significant amount of time in the upbringing of their children. She is the first and the most important teacher of children and can either create a nation of good citizens or destroy it.
    Murad Ansari, Pakistan

    If women want equality they can have it and open doors for me too!

    John Slater, London
    Women are getting off far too lightly with their increasingly bad behaviour which has become socially acceptable and tolerated. It now seems quite normal for young women, in particular, to be as rude as they like to men and about men. What we need to be very careful about is the alienation of young men as a result of this attitude. If women want equality they can have it and open doors for me too!
    John Slater, London

    Potentially, both men and women have something positive and unique to offer, be it in the work place or at home. In any role, this uniqueness needs to be understood and fostered if we are to bring out the best in both sexes working together with a common aim. Sadly, working roles between the sexes are all too often seen as a power struggle or battle. We desperately need to review this attitude.
    Mark F, UK

    Men's role in society is being diminished at our peril. The stability of our society has depended upon strong family units. As roles within these families are blurred, self-esteem and identity are being eroded. The destabilisation of family units is evident by the increase in divorce. Now 50% of all children in this country live with step-parents. It is time for men to be men, to stand up and be counted and stop kowtowing to liberal feminist nonsense.
    John Barfoot, London, England

    It is true that women are more valued in the workplace in today's society. I have found that whenever I phone up companies, if a woman is on the receiving end, they generally tend to be more helpful than men.
    Daniel Gallo, Frome, UK

    Having lived with my partner for over a year now, I have been interested to find myself absorbing virtually all the roles traditionally assigned to the woman of the household: cooking, cleaning, washing up, washing etc. And yes, I do work - I am a full-time secondary school teacher. Perhaps it is a sign of decreased confidence in gender stereotypes that I find myself unable to 'rebel' at the very thought of all this housework, and instead resign myself to the chores.
    Martin, Bridgend, Wales

    The problem is not just in the way in which we educate our children, it has more to do with the expectations of society. In a post industrial society based on service industries, we expect everyone we deal with to be charming, amiable and good looking; which many females happen to be better at. It is not only males that lose out but, the old, the overweight and the disabled. It is not gender that causes inequalities but the importance based on presentation rather than content.
    Paul, Greece

    Men in power have made the world the unjust, violent place it is

    Kate, London, UK
    90% of violence is perpetrated by men, but 90% of men are not ordinarily violent. Men in power have made the world the unjust, violent place it is. However, women with power can be equally unjust and violent in the exercise of it.
    What is needed is a discourse on transformation of power and society that engages both men and women. If we remove the incentives, such as social reinforcement and reward, that drive people to seek power using violent means, the gender discourse will become increasingly irrelevant.
    Kate, London, UK

    Men are finished as a subspecies

    Dr. Mark Waldman
    Women have succeeded in the classic-war-of-the-sexes beyond their wildest dreams and have frightened men into submission by haranguing them with accusations of "Male Chauvinist Pig" and "sexist" and men are starting to react. There is a "smearing" of sexual identities and eventually, either we will all be androgynous or... men will be farmed for their sperm. God Forbid!
    Dr. Mark Waldman

    Women have reinvented themselves but men are yet to do so

    Peter Elgood Melbourne, Australia
    Men have failed utterly to explore a collective approach unlike women who have done this over fifty years through the women's movement. Men have hung on to traditional modes and roles that are becoming increasingly irrelevant. We must seek our way forward finding a common approach and recognising that many challenges facing us are common to a majority of men.
    Peter Elgood Melbourne, Australia

    I think that there is a very fine balance when a woman is a high flyer. If a man tries to be supportive and give her the space that she needs to do the job that she has chosen then this may well be seen as neglect in their marriage role. Its trying to match the untraditional with what has been traditional in marriage terms.
    Keith Wilson

    If God were to look down at the injustices of this world, i.e. war etc. men are at the helm! I feel that as medically assisted conception becomes the norm, more and more daughters will be born of the genes of two women. A Man's role shall be evolved out. Deflating perhaps to my own ego, but possibly a positive trend to emerge for the future of the race.
    Jules Woolford Melbourne, Australia

    Your comments during the programme

    Not all men are heterosexual and traditionally masculine

    Anthony Barreiro
    Not all men are heterosexual and traditionally masculine. Many of us are gay, or bisexual, or transgendered. Throughout history, and very publicly during the past half century, gay men have built communities in which men support one another, create alternative families, etc. This important factor in the lives of many men is routinely ignored or denied by the world's media. I had expected better of the BBC. Please acknowledge that the lives of many men are based on loving, supportive relationships with other men.
    Anthony Barreiro

    Not all men are insecure in their manhood so as to cause a crisis. Not all men are "Macho Men". The "maleness" of men is not a fixed characteristic. It runs from homosexual through effeminate, retiring, normal to macho. As to male housekeeping, many men have quite "manfully" performed housekeeping duties quite successfully for centuries
    R Myers

    If you look at education at the time that that schools were dominated by male teachers, boys did better than girls. As more women entered the job market they tended to be employed in badly paid jobs, of which teaching is one. Gradually, first in primary schools, then in secondary schools they began to become a majority of the work force. Due to this, girls, now being taught by women, do better than the boys. At the moment, only the highest levels of Universities have male dominance, and therefore these are the only places where male students have better results that female students. Without reverting to separate sex education, there are arguments for boys being taught my men and girls by women.
    Jon Beattie, France

    I've been trying to go part time to share the caring for our child now that my wife has a part time job. My large employer (who has won countless awards for employee care etc), says that this is not possible, despite women in the business being able to achieve this.
    Simon Redding, Chesterfield, UK

    Men don't seem to help each other

    Philip hodson, UK
    Women have got their act together. Call it what you like but there is something called sisterhood. There is nothing really called brotherhood and men don't really seem to help each other. And whenever men do seem to have problems, other men come along and say: "Oh, you've got a problem, you must be weak".
    Philip hodson, UK

    Isn't it pathetic that when last year and this year boys' results were far below that of girls, the government was immediately alarmed and acted to prop the new "weaker" sex. In the past when girls were not performing well, very little was done.
    Leo De Clercq, Belgium

    We have been desexed, deserted by government, and society has been desensitised to our plight

    Ian Cugley, Australia
    The real question our liberal democracies should be asking is; why are our men, young, middle aged and elderly dying of their own hand at a rate never before seen in history? The answer is; no wife, no children, no home and no future. We have been desexed, deserted by government, and society has been desensitised to our plight.
    Ian Cugley, Australia

    Why is everyone so obsessed about gender differences? OK, so most women couldn't do some of the more physical jobs but apart from that everyone's equal in my book. The sooner we start focusing on more important issues than time wasting over petty arguments such as gender and race the better!
    Sam, Worcester, England

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    Men are far from being threatened, they are now being called upon to do what is right

    Cornelius Herelle New York, USA
    The time for equality is long overdue. I do not think most people especially women are asking to do away with men, women simply want equality. Men are far from being threatened, they are now being called upon to do what is right. Be good fathers, husbands, considerate citizens, and to get their egos out of the way and treat women as equals because they are.
    Cornelius Herelle New York, USA

    The role of the man in Islam is to work and provide for the family, which includes the wife/wives and children. In no way whatsoever is the woman forced to enter the workforce and contribute to the maintenance of the home. The Islamic way of life offers a realistic alternative and thus brings about tranquillity within the home which is the primary goal of the Muslim marriage, as well as in the development of the society as a whole.
    Abdul-Hakeem, Riyadh, Saudia Arabia

    I'm 40 and used to be a Project Manager responsible for a dozen people and all the hassle that goes with the role. Sure, I got paid well but my life was stressful and awful having to deal mainly with obnoxious feminist upstarts and their mentally limp liberal male lackeys. Now I'm on the 'Helpdesk' get paid much less of course but I really get off on watching my female 'superiors' and lackeys alike AGE with responsibility. Have it all (MISERABLE fems) You're welcome to it!
    Paul Midgley, London England

    It is said that behind every successful man there is a woman. The key word here is 'behind' - that is her place and the moment a woman steps in front conflict starts and family life is ruined.
    Kishoresamtani, Hong Kong

    I am all for a meritocracy. That way, every area of life would be devoid of the need for quotas and positive discrimination. Every person of whatever sexual orientation, gender, and so on would have to compete on their merits. Goodbye to political correctness, and the gender or other 'thought police' who hide behind their inefficiency, and see bias everywhere.
    Alan Cameron, Scotland

    For the moment I am quite happy with man's role as it is defined by Islamic society. I would like to have more time for my wife and kid; and if my wife has some talent that she wants to put to work there is nothing wrong with that. Islam definitely allows for a woman to have her own source of income - as long as she doesn't try to boss me around or to be unfaithful that's okay with me and she is free to do as she pleases.
    Ahmed Karim, Marrakech, Morocco

    It is not a coincidence that the societies that treat woman as equal are also the most prosperous

    Mary Wilson
    People have a rosy idea of the traditional family, but it often led to misery and poverty. During the potato famine in Ireland there are documented cases of woman having twenty children. This led to terrible poverty, frustrations and domestic violence. So much for tradition. The only way forward is for the world-wide education of women. It is not a coincidence that the societies that treat woman as equal are also the most prosperous.
    Mary Wilson

    As a young man growing up during the hottest years of feminism in North America (1970's), I'm often left with the feeling that the quest for equality has a fundamental flaw - it fosters separation between the sexes. Feminism may have produced some advances, but at some point we have to see ourselves as all in this together. I am pleased when I meet an empowered woman who doesn't have a axe to grind about how men or the patriarchy has limited her potential in life. Right on for feminism and let's keep evolving - there's more.
    Jason, Vancouver, BC, CANADA

    The women that I know, know their own abilities. If they want to have a kid, then they'll stay at home and raise him/her. If they want to work, then they won't have one. As a male, I value competence in the workplace. Some women I've known have sought for acceptance in the workplace. There's no problem there, as long as they work the same hours and do the same or better job.
    Andrew Alexander, Texas, USA

    I would suggest that men begin paying a lot less attention to women and more attention to themselves

    Tom, Memphis, TN, USA
    I would suggest that men begin paying a lot less attention to women and more attention to themselves. Men should begin husbanding their resources to benefit themselves and not to benefit women. Men should require women to bear equal responsibility for national defense. If men do these things, I think your rather silly "question of the day" about men being redundant won't be asked any more, by man-hating feminists or by anyone else.
    Tom, Memphis, TN, USA

    It's not about what you know or How much you earn. We need each other for the well being of the family. We all knows that kids need both parents. Men are still going to be the head of the family no matter what.
    Isaac, USA

    I have a traditional family. I work and my wife stays at home and home-schools my two daughters. It works out very well. My wife is very educated. She has a PHD. She used to make much more money than I did. We sacrificed a more extravagant lifestyle for the kids. Family is more important than possessions. We have done with less, but we are still happy. We never starve or go without any necessity.
    Scott Jeffrey, USA

    On the face of it, things look bleak for men

    Ed Bayley, USA (English)
    On the face of it, things look bleak for men. Women have proved themselves the equal to men in the workplace and, thanks also to sperm banks, don't even need men involved in the creation of children! But, all is not lost. A century of social revolution will not wipe out millions of years of genetic programming in a hurry. We all need someone to love and care for, and give us love back, we just need to learn the art of compromising.
    Ed Bayley, USA (English)

    Feminists always carry on about the pay gap, but in professional jobs you've invariably got to bargain individually for your salary, and there are huge disparities among people doing exactly the same work (irrespective of sex). If, on average, women earn less for the same work, it simply shows they, on average, can't negotiate as well as their male counterparts.
    Tom, USA

    100 years ago it was commonly said that if men and women had equality they would fight and become selfish. Marriages would break down and it would eventually lead to the collapse of our civilisation. It appears that this prediction was correct.
    David Dorling, Queensland, Australia

    Women are foolish and misguided to become like men

    Shiv I. Mirchandani, Phoenix/Mumbai
    I must say the western woman particularly the American female have made complete fools of themselves by being trapped by the ridiculous feminist dogma. It is very obvious the most western (American) women suffer from a terrible inferiority complex and feeling of helplessness and weakness. Women are foolish and misguided to become like men, you can't change nature and biology. This feminist movement is indirectly saying being feminine is bad and wrong. Men are having the last laugh! Women are basically adopting men's mannerisms, habits, traits and even actions!! Yes, I am all for rights for women but the fact is we are different whether we like it or not.
    Shiv I. Mirchandani, Phoenix/Mumbai

    95% of my classmates in science and maths courses are male. I have also done a lot of reading that says on average, men are better and math and visual spatial things because of evolution. Women tend to be better and verbal communication and very fine motor skills, for example they are much better at sowing. Also, I read men are more likely to be leaders because of their deep commanding voices, whereas women have child like voices, and therefore males always wish to protect them like children. I think this whole argument is ridiculous and if it were reversed, women would be crying sexism. Also, where is this power you say women have. I see men leading most countries, companies, and they dominate the high tech fields.
    David, USA

    I fully agree with what Ms Chitra has mentioned about this subject. More flexibility is required in the case of men and women in understanding the role of each individual.
    Gopalakrishnan, Bangalore (India)

    I think the real men should not panic and try to breast-feed kids at home, but instead keep things in perspective

    Alex, USA
    What women fail to understand is that men and women become equal not by competing in the business world, but by fulfilling their missions and by learning to enjoy their unique status. In the big picture giving life and educating children is so much more significant than spending most of your life buying and selling stocks or playing political games. It doesn't mean that it's a bad thing that women have a freedom of choice in profession and lifestyle. It means that all the new choices easily distract them from what is truly important. I think the real men should not panic and try to breast-feed kids at home, but instead keep things in perspective.
    Alex, USA

    Today we have women who think equality can be achieved with nothing less than leather jackets and motorcycles. In Asia we see what might look (superficially) its reverse: women subjugating their daughters into accepting the culturally conditioned role of the subordinate female. So, in order to even think about tutoring men, we have to get one thing straight: are we deceiving ourselves by pandering to polarised gender roles, or should we take it a step further by redefining what we call socio-cultural 'gender norms'?
    Rapti Siriwardane, Singapore

    Society has changed profoundly and new models have to be found for us all to survive happily and healthily

    Stephen du Toit, London, UK
    The baseline issue is freedom. Freedom to embrace a career for which one has gifts and aptitudes, free access to training and education, freedom to form the partnerships which are healthy for you and your significant other, freedom to have the number of children which you both feel comfortable with. Why are so many people investing so much energy defending outdated models which have so patently been shown not to work? Society has changed profoundly and, like it or not, new models have to be found for us all to survive happily and healthily.
    Stephen du Toit, London, UK

    I believe that it is a reflection on the decline of heavy engineering and employment which relied on heavy muscular skills. The "new" jobs that women are doing they have always done but because of the cyclical nature of trade and manufacturing these roles are being perceived as increasing. I know this is a devil's advocate type of argument but maybe we need to have a major war so that men can be gainfully employed in engineering and manufacturing and reverse the perceived trend of poor downtrodden men. Bye now! I'm just going to get my flack jacket.
    Martin, Oxford England

    Not everything in life is about gender!

    Sally, UK
    Chris in Germany thinks that all politicians should be women. I don't necessarily think this would lead to the world to being a better place. Women are not saints. I'm not saying they don't make just as good politicians as men but politicians make bad decisions when they become corrupted by too much power. This is just as likely to happen to women too. Not everything in life is about gender!
    Sally, UK

    We men have to put up or shut up. We let things get out of hand by socialising at the local pub while women were reading and taking care of kids at home (this is especially true in Kenya). Always remember, there is nothing worse to waste than the brain.
    Kahugu Samuel, Zurich, Switzerland

    Men are in a difficult position when any protest of innocence is labelled sexism

    Eve O'Donnel, London
    I cannot agree more with Brian Higgins' comments. This is too offensive, and had it been written about women it would have provoked outrage - why don't I see similar anger now? Because men are in a difficult position when any protest of innocence is labelled sexism. Women - fight fair, men - stand up for yourselves!
    Eve O'Donnel, London

    What is badly needed is an end to the characterisation of all men as potential rapists

    Henry, England
    We are entering a new golden age where men will again play a part in the lives of their children and from which they were excluded by having to traipse daily to factory or office. Technology is allowing location-independent workers (those who can work online and are not dependent on being in a particular place for work) to work from home and play a bigger part in their children's upbringing. We are returning to the rural idyll (or our fantasy of it) where children will have male role models which they need as much as female role models. What is badly needed is an end to the characterisation of all men as potential rapists and wife beaters by some groups of women. They seek to exclude men from involvement with their children to the detriment of the children and of society. Most men love their children and are protective towards their partners. Their role is being undermined by a tiny minority of men whose behaviour tarnishes the rest of us.
    Henry, England

    The problem is probably the same as it ever was: neither sex really knows what the other wants

    Toby K., Erfurt, Germany
    I am surprised to see the number of women writing in. In my generation (I'm 25), men seem to have adjusted quietly to the newly emerging working and social patterns whereas women seem to have wound themselves up about some "crisis of masculinity". What are they accusing us of? Not being masculine enough because we're able to cook and don't object to women going out to work? The problem is probably the same as it ever was: neither sex really knows what the other wants.
    Toby K., Erfurt, Germany

    Men have always been primary wage earners in families, and are still required to be such, that may never change. Even after divorces, courts overwhelmingly favor the women's side in who has to pay the other, even if the woman makes more money than the man does. And since the arrival of the golden age of feminism, men have had fewer lifetime choices compared to women, particularly the options compared to married women. Men socially can not choose to be "house husbands". To do so would spur great ridicule, and probably a rapid divorce from his wife. Now men are both essential for some things, yet endlessly ridiculed and blamed for all that ails society. We are only half way to what someday will be "real" equality, when women give men credit where credit is due, when women see men are equally valuable in families, in society, in life, as the liberated modern women.
    Stephen Kenney, USA

    My wife has had second thoughts, so I will not be able to tell you how I feel about these issues. I must say that there is not longer a war between the sexes. Ow! Ouch! Please stop hitting me with that frying pan darling sweatheart wife!
    Robert David Hiner, Port Angeles, Washington, USA

    I'm sick and tired of opening my newspapers, turning on my radio and television, and surfing the Internet to be confronted at every step of the way with wall-to-wall hatred and demonising of men

    Brian O'Higgins, Dublin, Ireland
    Who writes this stuff? The very question is an inflammatory, insulting and provocative come-on to anti-male prejudice, an observation borne out by some of the responses already posted. How dare you say that "fathers have also been found wanting as they're often not around for their children" when it is women who initiate most divorces, increasingly choose elective single motherhood, and when the courts almost invariably award custody to the mother, rarely enforcing often-denied visitation rights to the father. But you knew this already, you're the BBC, you can't plead ignorance, so why did you write it? As for "the power they thought they had at home and work" - what is this, an idea for a Monty Python script? What power, precisely? The power to work themselves to an early grave in filthy, dangerous or mind-numbingly boring dead-end jobs for the privilege of handing over their wages to support their families? - the reality for most men in the past, and many men still today. Some power. But why let the facts get in the way of a convenient smear. Play to the gallery, why don't you, men are always good for a cheap jeer. With respect to the grotesque slander that "husbands [are] under scrutiny for their too-frequent violent behaviour towards their partners", this is disgusting feminist propaganda of the worst kind, and you can't say you aren't aware of the real truth about domestic violence any more, it's out there in neon lights, you can't miss it. Ask me about it, if you want to play innocent. Obviously you think it's ok to slander men. Well it's *not* ok, and I am outraged that the BBC, which has a statutory obligation to be fair and impartial, should be party to this. I'm sick and tired of opening my newspapers, turning on my radio and television, and surfing the Internet to be confronted at every step of the way with wall-to-wall hatred and demonising of men. It's despicable.
    Brian O'Higgins, Dublin, Ireland

    Tom McGuinness's statements about women are generalisations that bear no truth in reality unless I am a superwoman. I do have an extremely good sense of direction, good with Maths and spatial visualization, whereas my husband does not. We are opposites in every way. Surely it is up to the individuals how they conduct their lives. It should not be a matter of power but one of partnership and give and take. Force of circumstances often dictates breaking traditional rules and we are everyone of us different. Tharg Thargson is so right to point out that men start wars, if only women were permitted to be politicians perhaps we would find world peace.
    Gladys Baker , Stockton-on-Tees UK

    The role of men as bread winner has changed in the industrial world; specifically in the West since feminism has paved the way for women to take the traditional role of men in our modern time. As long as men cannot afford to take their traditional role in society today, they can as well make some sacrifices in giving up the role they used play in the past. Though I am a male myself, I find it fair enough to accept the new role when I am no longer the bread winner of the house.
    Hany Rengier, Cologne/Germany

    Re-evaluating gender roles is not solely about redefining men

    Jim Clarke, Dublin, Ireland
    Constantly, men are being urged to be flexible about their traditional bread-winning role in order to make room for women in the workplace and to see more of their families. However, this is a two-pronged process. Re-evaluating gender roles is not solely about redefining men. Women must move over in the home, and allow men to assume the nurturing role of fatherhood properly. For this to happen, we need genuinely equal parenting partnerships. Court decisions in most western countries demonstrate that ingrained prejudice exists when it comes to deciding which parent of a splitting couple is most suited to take guardianship or custody of children. Research shows that children raised by men perform as well if not better academically and socially than their peers from two-parent and single mother families. It is time to question why men are being asked by societal change to provide women with opportunities in employment while women refuse to budge from antiquated attitudes about the roles of parents.
    Jim Clarke, Dublin, Ireland

    Leave it to the BBC to raise the issue. You folks are just a bunch of socialists/communists bent on social engineering to turn men into women and women into men.
    John Pallic, Johnstown, CO, USA

    When a man can destroy a woman's reputation by crying rape and hiding behind legally sanctioned anonymity. When a man can choose whether or not to keep the child growing inside of him. When a man can be taken seriously when he claims to have been attacked by his partner. When services and companies offer products for men only, with women explicitly excluded. When testicular cancer has the same public awareness as breast cancer. When a man can get away with acting strangely once a month, just because it is that time of the month. Then we can say the sexes are equal.
    Dave Tankard, UK

    The UK has moved from promoting sexual equality to promotion sexual discrimination. Women now have government bodies dedicated to them, in a way that would be unacceptable were the same applied to men.
    John Atkins, Helsinki, Finland

    It leaves men, as natural, in the missionary position. On top.
    Arsak Palabiyikyan, Yerevan

    Men are right when they say "women want the best of both worlds", maybe the next generation will have better defined roles

    Carolyn, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    The male-female roles are somewhat confusing to me too. Having been deserted by my father at a very young age I quickly made the decision that you can't rely on anyone else to support you and built my career accordingly. Now as a successful IT Manager, managing an all male department I'm married to a man who earns less than me. I still expect him to be 'the' man socially and sexually as I still hold the traditional old fashioned values within me. My husband and I have no problem sharing the house or DIY work. I also work with a male colleague who works a 4 day week, when I discovered this I asked myself, "what is he for a man?" Men are right when they say "women want the best of both worlds", maybe the next generation will have better defined roles.
    Carolyn, Amsterdam, Netherlands

    What it boils down to isn't to decide which roles should men have and which roles should women have. Rather it is a question of human beings' rights. The main idea of emancipation is not - as some people seem to think - that women should become what men are, or that men should become what women are. It's rather that your gender should not prevent you from doing what your abilities make you capable of doing. Contrary to what other people have claimed on this page, there are actually quite a number of female engineers, and they are good at it! Similarly there are a number of male nurses who are also good at their job! I think the main task we have is to stop viewing other people as representatives for their gender, and instead look at them like diverse human beings with their own qualities who deserve respect for what they are. That, of course, also means that gender discrimination such as unequal pay for the same job is intolerable!
    Goeril, Oslo, Norway

    All this talk of 'sharing' responsibilities... I for one just don't believe this to be the case for the majority of working mothers! Personally I admire any mother who manages to hold down a full-time or part-time job and dare all you men to try out - getting up during the night for the children, getting them ready for school or day care, taking them there, going to work, shopping, cooking, cleaning, helping with the homework, washing, ironing, getting the children ready for bed ... the list is endless... and of course, I shouldn't forget ... being a wife - I have to be there for my husband too. It's time ALL men (and not just a handful) realised just how much they take their mothers and wives for granted!
    Frances Koese, Luxembourg

    Men and women are trapped, indeed, in their "typical" outdated roles. Perhaps a committee of experts should clarify their new "typical" roles in the millennium ahead. It seems, however, that in the new model which replaces the (albeit unsatisfactory) old, the roles resemble more and more, those roles of the members of a committee of experts , i.e. push the barrow for their own disciplines.
    George Georgakakos, Athens, Greece

    Stereotyping roles is destructive and kills innovation and progress

    John Jacob, New York, USA
    Stereotyping roles is destructive and kills innovation and progress. Men and women must coexist as friends, colleagues and equal partners in the workforce, at home and in the outside environment, sharing in all responsibilities, risks and rewards. A true partnership, with mutual respect for each other's skills and talents, with no unfair relegation to perceived roles is the key for individuals and their families to attain their full potential.
    John Jacob, New York, USA

    Men's role today? In the kitchen of course!
    Ajay, Bangalore, India

    In a recent US study, women still earn less money, respect and promotion than men. And then there's the housework.
    L. Hill, Aliso Viejo, USA

    If the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, why aren't ambitious men rushing to take up careers as nursery nurses - or just relishing their new-found opportunities to stay at home with their children?
    Emily, Manchester

    My husband isn't trapped in his role. It's just that he's naturally better at cooking and cleaning than I am. He makes my packed lunches for work, makes me a cup of tea in the morning and dinner in the evening - a proper wife!
    Kate, England

    Something I believe most of you missed is the fact that the traditional nuclear family (the way we perceive it) did not actually exist until the Twentieth century. Before then, men took the role of raising their offspring quite seriously and were in fact one of the primary educators in a child's life. Children were viewed as little adults and as such, really did not have the childhood that kids have today. It was only after men went to work in factories, leaving rural life behind, that we see a shift to much less involvement in a child's life. The problem with the current view of equality between the genders is that it is too broad based. One should focus on the equality of each individual in society.
    Don Smeed, Plymouth State College, USA

    As an assertive, ambitious and intelligent woman, why should I be relegated to the kitchen? I want a nice house, car and a stimulating career just as much as any man. Although I can't deny that my husband would love to come home to a freshly cooked meal so would I. It must be great to be looked after. But then what would we talk about? The pros and cons of ironing boards? The concept of gender roles is outdated and the sooner it disappears, the better. If men can't accept that a woman might just be better qualified for a traditionally 'male' role, then they should grow up.
    S. Fowler, UK

    Twenty years of feminism are not going to wipe out millions of years of evolution

    Barry Hammond, Widnes, England
    Twenty years or so of feminism are not going to wipe out millions of years of evolution. Both genders should perform roles that they are comfortable with and not succumb to the social pressures and subtle hints that push us into the wrong thing and pile on the guilt if we fail to comply. E.g. for women "So you are JUST a housewife then". This well known phrase, I am sure must have added to the guilty feeling that some mothers of young children must already have for following their instincts and staying at home at least until children are of school age.
    Barry Hammond, Widnes, England

    The roles per se are not out-dated. It is the way these roles are perceived which is out-dated! If a husband and wife (for example) wish to reverse their roles, with the man staying at home and raising the family while the wife is working, why should this not be so? Live and let live! We must all work together and forget the out-dated ideas of specific jobs for each sex.
    John C., Warwick, England

    The very question as to whether men's role is becoming outdated arrogantly assumes that an unnatural imbalance actually exists. I've more faith in Mother Nature than I do in modern day feminists. There are many things that men are better equipped for, and the same can be said for women. One thing's for sure, women's poor sense of direction and spatial visualization. I suspect that there used to be women hunters back in the Stone Age, but they all got lost and never found there way home. Natural selection at work, I suppose.
    Tom McGuinness, San Francisco, USA

    I would be impossible to attain some form of gender equality so long as parents still reinforce sexual and gender-specific stereotypes. We should educate parents on remaining neutral with reference to career or educational aspiration as children pick up on this and they would continue to perpetuate the vicious unequal cycle.
    Osman Abdullah, Brisbane, Australia

    The process of equality requires re-evaluation of BOTH sexes

    Ken, Tokyo
    Yes. Men need to readjust to the new social structure. Men and women doing the same jobs both in the home and in the workforce. Beyond simple physical limits on both sides, why not. However the process also involves women adjusting to conscious/unconscious socialization about a man, such as HAVING to be the breadwinner or major breadwinner to earn respect, to be the one who protect the family unit. The process of equality requires re-evaluation of BOTH sexes, not just a process to balance the scales that allowing certain lapses as acceptable and fair.
    Ken, Tokyo

    The most important role change men can make is to value their own lives as much as they value the lives of women and children. For example, every comprehensive scientific study on domestic violence finds equal rates of victimization among men and women. Nevertheless, men are afraid to speak out against the all too frequent abusive behaviour of their wives and girlfriends. Men need to think of themselves before their partners.
    Shawn Larsen, Livermore, USA

    I think that men aren't the dominant beings in this world anymore. Now women should be given just as much rights as men and should not be discriminated against just because of their gender!!
    Megan Smith, Queensland, Australia

    I'm married to a wonderful man who is both masculine and very much in touch with his feminine side

    Anne Pekie, Portland, (Oregon), US
    I'm a feminist who manages a software development dept. I'm married to a wonderful man who is both masculine and very much in touch with his feminine side. I make slightly more money, a non issue for either of us, and we share in all household activities. In fact, the dual incomes offer each of us great security and comfort in our careers-- if he's unhappy at a job & needs a change, we have my income to cover us while he looks for something else. This also works in reverse. Our relationship and lives are so much richer due to this partnership. There's never a question as to whether a task or activity is a man or woman's work, just who has the time and inclination. We've never been happier and I highly recommend this new age approach.
    Anne Pekie, Portland, (Oregon), US

    I am for absolutely no sexism. However, sexism is actually ok, I have discovered. Take a recent book prize I went to watch, they had an award for the best book written by a woman. There was obviously no problem with that. But when I suggested to another person there be an award for a male writer, I was called sexist. Both are equally sexist as far as my dictionary definition goes. The sooner we weed out the sexism, even the "politically correct" sexism, the better it will be.
    Jonathan Bensley, Australia

    I think outdated is a word that has to be attached to the institution of marriage, which is responsible for thrusting unnatural roles on men. Society was matriarchal when it began and families began because of interdependence alone. Today, our basic needs are met elsewhere and traditional roles require conscious role-playing on both sides. Both men and women are trapped in outdated roles and the sad fact is that fatherhood is a role that cannot be done away with- for the sake of the child. As long as some men follow the beaten path of traditional roles, those who are sensitive to their own needs will feel like they are not real men.
    Emily Jones, Seattle USA

    It's very sad to see women prattling on about equality when, in truth, all they want is superiority

    Sue, Manchester, England
    It's very sad to see women prattling on about equality when, in truth, all they want is superiority. A man has no rights at all when it comes to choosing if and when he has a child, neither can he elect to not be a father, even if he'd be tricked into it, he still has to pay child support, even if the woman won't allow him to see his child. Yet women can, and do, walk away from their child, either by abortion or adoption, and have no more responsibility to that child placed upon them.
    Sue, Manchester, England

    Men feel threatened by women controlling their own lives and breaking out of their 'traditional' roles because women are gaining power and influence. Speaking of the term 'traditional', traditional society is male-dominated and established, controlled and moulded by men. Only in the last 100 years have women been able to break out of the roles created for them by men. If the situation were reversed, women would be the ones advocating traditional roles because they would be at the defensive end of the power struggle.
    Jane Shlimovich, USA

    Antonio de Luca, Mississauga, Canada

    The economic and social changes happening all over the world, are slowly creating a different family culture, more focused toward sharing responsibilities. If a successful relationship with one's spouse is to be achieved, we men must learn to share some of the responsibilities many of us still consider "women stuff".
    Joe Salas, Merida, Mexico

    Because of rapidly changing economic circumstances the traditional roles of men and women have become blurred and interchangeable I believe this trend will continue and the role we play in life will not be gender based but "circumstance" based.
    don skinner, australia

    Men still are the dominant force in the workplace

    Mike, USA
    Men still are the dominant force in the workplace and earn more then women, at least here in America. Men especially tend to dominate the business, computer, and engineering fields. I think the roles will always tend to stay separate because of biological differences.
    Mike, USA

    I don't think my man's ever had it so good! Wife out working bringing in extra bread, so he doesn't need to support, and he gets his meals cooked, shirts ironed, house cleaned etc into the bargain! I wonder if women have sprung their own trap - can we really "have it all"?
    Debbie, UK

    One thing that today's men should NOT be doing is trying to adhere to a stereotype (New Man, New Lad etc). We should be thinking for ourselves, sticking to our own principles and and achieving what is best for ourselves and our loved ones. Attempting to match an ideal, whether it be 'old style' masculinity, or the 'sensitive modern man' just leads to the sort of insecurities outlined above.
    Mark B, UK

    Where should a man be? No matter how much his wife earns, he should be by her side helping out in the kitchen, in the garden and in the nursery. Instead of sitting like a lump at home waiting for the live-in caterer, he should be more involved with the day-to-day nitty-gritty of running a household and raising a family.
    Faye, USA

    the concept of gender roles is obsolete and superfluous

    Morgan O'Conner, USA
    There should be no gender roles. People should be able to do anything they want (provided it hurts no-one), regardless of what gender they are. In the industrial world, the concept of gender roles is obsolete and superfluous.
    Morgan O'Conner, USA

    I don't know where men are. We seem to be surplus to requirements now - and we're the ones that start wars. Perhaps the world would be a better place without us.
    Tharg Thargson, UK

    Men are the protectors and providers to both mate and offspring. It is demeaning of them to suggest otherwise. True, some men are unable to perform this role through certain inadequacies, but these are the exception not the norm.
    Steve, USA

    Don't complain if it happens, just play more golf and socialise

    Chris (ex-UK), Germany
    It may be radical, but I truly feel that the world generally would be in far better shape if ALL politicians were by law were female. They are more compassionate, just as ruthless, and certainly far more devious than men. They have better dexterity, can multi-task much more effectively, and let's face it, are more intelligent. Where does all that leave men? Where women were 50 years ago, so what? Don't complain if it happens, just play more golf and socialise.
    Chris (ex-UK), Germany

    Men's role? Why standing over the woman making sure she is working hard in the kitchen.
    Gareth, UK

    So what if women earn as much if not more than men. What's the point of all this gender divide is ruling our lives. We are all human and we all make the same mistakes.
    Mark S, UK

  • Search BBC News Online

    Advanced search options
    Launch console
    See also:

    24 Oct 00 | World
    Warning over mens health
    11 Jun 00 | UK
    Laddism 'is dead'
    12 May 00 | UK
    Nursing a female bias
    19 Jun 98 | UK
    Seeking Millennium Man
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to other Talking Point stories