The Masculine Mystique and Imagination by Ewen Stewart
…in 1963, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique argued that the dissatisfaction women felt with their lives wasn’t due to a “modern lifestyle” driving them away from an ideal feminine identity, but rather their inability to even imagine living full, independent lives. Friedan called upon women to recognize this possibility: a life free of gendered expectations.
Today, Stephanie Coontz suggests the media blitz over the “crisis of boys” (lower grades, reduced college graduation rates, and slipping economic prospects for men) stems from a similar problem with gender roles:
In fact, most of the problems men are experiencing today stem from the flip side of the 20th-century feminine mystique — a pervasive masculine mystique that pressures boys and men to conform to a gender stereotype and prevents them from exploring the full range of their individual capabilities.
The masculine mystique promises men success, power and admiration from others if they embrace their supposedly natural competitive drives and reject all forms of dependence. Just as the feminine mystique made women ashamed when they harboured feelings or desires that were supposedly “masculine”, the masculine mystique makes men ashamed to admit to any feelings or desires that are thought to be “feminine”.