Sisterhood Blog

More Men See Marriage, Family as the 'Ultimate Male Status Symbol'

By Elissa Strauss

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Well it looks like the emasculated husbands who appear in the bulk of beer and car ads aren’t too representative of the typical American male. Men, it turns out, actually like being married and having a family.

In a new survey from Askmen.com, 85% of men said they still believe in marriage, with 67% believing “it is a necessary institution and one in which [they] will participate to help preserve .” Also, having a family was the top-rated “ultimate male status symbol” among the 100,000 men who participated; it ranked above a high-profile career, a beautiful wife or girlfriend, a beautiful house, a luxury sports car, and a membership to an exclusive club.

This surprises me. Due to the relentless portrayal of happy un-wed men and miserable wedded men in popular culture, I would have thought that having a wife and kids had become something men trudge through because they feel like you have to — a far cry from the “ultimate status symbol.”

But perhaps men have wised up to the benefits that gender equality has produced for both sexes in the home. In Barbara Ehrenreich’s “The Hearts of Men,” she convincingly argues that the old-school, breadwinner marriage was just as imprisoning for men as it was for women. The flexible roles partners have in marriage today free men from the workplace just as much as they free women from the home. In fact, things have come so far that stress over a “work-life” balance — an issue once relegated the woman’s domain — is a growing concern for men. As recently reported by Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times, 59% of men in dual-earner relationships feel some conflict about balancing their personal and professional lives.


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