Dr. William Pollack did a study back in 1999 that’s still relevant today. He showed “boys a drawing of a man wearing a shirt and tie sitting at a desk while gazing with a neutral expression at a photo of a woman with two children. Asked to write a story about the picture, only 15% of the boys envisioned a contented family man. Instead, the overwhelming majority constructed narratives about lonely husbands working overtime to support their families, divorced men missing their loved ones, and grief-stricken widowers”.
There’s some evidence gay marriages are happier than heterosexual marriages. The reason is probably the lack of traditional gender roles in gay and lesbian marriages. The male-female dynamic has default positions regarding childcare and bill paying. But lesbian and gay marriage partners have no default – they must talk it out.
Today’s young men were raised with pop culture’s Homer Simpson portrayal of fathers. They watched their own fathers try to fulfill the traditional male role while accommodating modern roles for women, only to be mocked as inadequate. For example, we’re repeatedly sold the false claim that women work more total hours per week than men, when in fact men and women work equal hours – but men work more outside the home and spend less time with their children.
We’ve been told that men don’t do enough childcare. In my 18 years in the workforce, I’ve know several men who – at their wives insistence – got second jobs when the kids came along when really then wanted to be with their children. But I’ve never heard a woman say that she’d be willing to get a second job so her husband can spend more time with the kids. That’s why it’s mostly men who work overtime or second jobs.
I have to wonder if heterosexual millennial men, upon seeing the more egalitarian marriages of their gay friends, will start to speak up about more flexible gender roles for men in heterosexual marriages.
There’s also the question of divorce. Same sex marriage is relatively new worldwide. It’s not yet legal in all US states, and it’s only been around for a decade in Massachusetts – the first state to legalize same sex marriage.
I’ve written previously that preliminary data show that both heterosexual women and lesbians are twice as likely as men (regardless of sexual orientation) to file for divorce.
If this pattern continues then family courts may have to question long held assumptions. Mothers typically get primary custody, but when there are two mommies whom will the courts favour?
Though courts ignore men’s call for a presumption of shared parenting, society is much more eager to respond to women’s concerns. Will lesbians take up the cause of shared parenting? If so, men could benefit.
Alimony is another issue. Typically men pay alimony to women, but what happens when a woman is ordered to pay alimony to another woman (perhaps for life)? Will alimony paying lesbians team up with the small number of heterosexual women who are ordered to pay out?
Society only listens to men when they talk about impersonal things such as sports or politics, while refusing to hear men when they talk about personal issues. But society listens to women’s personal concerns, and perhaps only women can make the personal unfairness of alimony a political issue.