Feminism is (still) a huge debate and discussion point (as shown by the response yesterday on the Mia Freedman's blog, Mamamia - you can view her article here). We all know the achievements of early feminist movements and, as a result, the choices available for women, and subsequent expectations of them, have vastly changed in the course of a few generations.
So we have all taken on different responsibilities and the 'traditional' roles are being redefined. But what does this mean for a man?
He too has choices. He can stay at home with the kids. He may ask for flexible work arrangements to spend more time with his family. The SNAG and the metrosexual made an appearance. It's OK for him to show his emotions and it's fine to talk about how he feels.
But with choice comes responsibility.
He should be a supportive partner and understand the way a woman's mind works and how she is feeling. But not too much so, because he needs to be a 'real man'. He needs to spend more time at home to be actively involved in his childrens' day-to-day lives, even if he is the sole earner. He must have a career that brings in a decent amount of money to provide for his family. And he should protect his family and be the strong one. Oh, but not too strong because it's OK for him to need support and nurturing.
Wait, there's more.
He should open the door and give up his seat for a woman. Oh, hang on, maybe not, because she might be offended. He should pay for dinner when he goes on a date, unless of course she is happy to pay for half, or all, of the bill.
Still confused? That's because the mixed messages are endless.
My views? I'm all for equality, feminism and choice. Absolutely. But I think we need to remember the men when we discuss it all. That is, to take into account the needs of society as a whole: male and female. Because it's like a domino effect; where one role shifts so does the other.
We also need to realise that it's not only fine, but normal and wonderful, for men and women to be different.
And we can be 'traditional' if we want to, as long as we respect each other. A man being a gentleman and a woman loving being treated specially. A man opening a door for a woman without thinking of her as helpless or weak. And a woman cooking the man in her life a beautiful meal after he's had a tough day, without being seen as a subversive wife. A man choosing to spend time with his family without being 'under the thumb'.
In short, men need to be able to make their choices too.