Redefining the notion of “the provider”

I’ll admit I grew up with close girlfriends and a sister. I focus on women and girls in my work. Even though I have lots of guy friends I feel like I have no understanding of what being a “man” in today’s world means. And maybe that’s a two way street.

Growing up in the Midwest gender roles were less pronounced. Maybe that’s another reason.

Either way, I’d love to ask men — what does it mean to be a man today? How has it changed in the last 10–20 years from your perspective?

I keep getting alarmed when I see my male counterparts think they have to reach a certain level of financial success before they settle down.

Why is this alarming? Because from my perspective — or what I want — is to reach that financial success together. As partners.

It surprises me that after decades of going to school, college and life together (as female/ make species). All of a sudden when long term mating season comes around guys revert to a baby boomer mentality that they have to “provide” via a great career. My head starts to spin. Didn’t we study, didn’t we achieve together? How did I — as a woman — get discluded from this equation? I want to do it together.

I’ve seen men in my life shut down at this. We are the recession generation. For many highly educated successful students turned adults its harder to buy a house, have a lucrative career right away.

Instead of banding together. My experience has been guys feeling the need to go off and figure it out on their own and then they’ll be ready for a relationship.

I spent age 25–28 figuring out my next steps thru grad school. 28–31 building a company. Throughout the experience I’ve wanted to settle down as I figure out my career and build an ambitious career with a partner. I haven’t felt that same sentiment in return from men in my life or society’s ideas of men’s/women’s roles.

It almost feels like a betrayal. Didn’t we study, work and get into this world together. And just during the age-years that I would want to band together with my male counterparts (who are my age) they have fallen into a stale patriarchy state of mind masked as a virtuous “I want to provide for my woman”. Your not providing — your abandoning your own age group of females. Forcing them to revert to the stale patriarchal, thousand year old trend, of having to date older men.

Can we redefine what “provider” means as a man? From my perspective — for the millennial generation. A male “provider” is a man who studies and achieves his own dreams, as he cheers on his spouse (and they also cheer them on), the travel and explore, they save money together to buy a house and one day have a family.

Where in that equation does a guys need to have his career figured out? Let’s take it one step further and consider he may be inspired career-wise by his female partner. Didn’t we study together and grow together just a couple years ago? Didn’t we inspire each other’s careers in undergrad? Why does that shift? Why does it have to stop?

And therein lies the breakdown. Oftentimes in a full blown relationship — a male who is struggling with his career is not inspired if his girlfriend has “figured hers out”. It goes so far that many dudes are threatened to be with a woman who has a flourishing career before they do.

Read the above 2nd to the above paragraph again. It could be so much better. It could be beautiful. We could be doing this together. Men being inspired by Womens careers instead of threatened. I’m inspired by the careers of men I date. I would love — and be humbled — for that to be a two way street.

It’s heartbreaking to have things broken off by a man who u know was inspired by your career. But it broke something in him. And he left.

I’m aware i undoubtedly have blind spots here too. And my hope in publishing this is that many of us (men and women) discover them together?

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