June 23, 2010
Redefining the ‘man of the house’
“You’re no pretty boy, you’re not a mom and there are things your dad never knew.” In a post-metrosexual/Mr. Mom/Mike Brady era, this is how the editors at P&G’s new magazine-like site Man of the House are speaking to their target. Today’s “man of the house,” the About section explains, is a “jack of all trades trying to be better—at work and at home, as a father and as a husband.”
Marketers are looking for new ways to speak to men as gender roles are being turned on their head. Due in part to the recession, women worldwide continue to gain power (a trend we coined Queen Trumps King two years ago), as we noted earlier this year. “What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?” Hanna Rosin asks in her recent Atlantic essay “The End of Men.”
At the same time, men are taking on greater responsibilities in the home. (Note the rise of daddy bloggers.) “Now it is men’s turn to find their place not just at work but in the home,” write the authors of “The New Dad,” a recent study from Boston College’s Center for Work & Family. They add that “Like women, men will not always find this journey easy.” Reports The New York Times: “Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom.”
In some European countries, social policies are helping to drive the shift; the motivation is both gender equality and encouraging population growth. Sweden encourages men to take paid paternal leave, and a few countries are following its lead. The New York Times reports that Portugal mandates a week of paternity leave, and Germany has let new dads take three months of paid leave since 2007. One result of Sweden’s policy: “A new definition of masculinity is emerging,” says the Times. “Many men no longer want to be identified just by their jobs,” a former deputy prime minister explained.
If men want to be seen more holistically, marketers will need to paint more nuanced portraits. Advises “The New Dad” study: “It is time to stop seeing men’s role in the home and as parents as simply fodder for jokes about men’s incompetence in this domain”—something marketing has done for decades. Instead, starting a dialogue about men’s lives, as P&G is attempting, seems likely to strike a chord. Many of the men interviewed for “The New Dad” were thankful for a chance to talk about their roles. “Providing more venues where this conversation is welcomed … would be beneficial,” the authors conclude, “as men strive to adjust to their new, more complex lives.”
Photo credit: manofthehouse.com
Photo credit: KellyB.