Do leading men want to protect and provide? Expectations of black professional hybrid masculinity – gender and society

Do leading men want to protect and provide?  Expectations of black professional hybrid masculinity - gender and society
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Near Marbella Eboni Hill

Marriage is one of the most valued social institutions in America. Being married is the same norm as working. In the United States, however, some groups are getting married less and less over time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, black Americans, who face racism in all aspects of social life, are also the worst in terms of marital outcomes. Their chances of ever getting married cannot be explained by a different desire to marry. Many people who want to get married face challenges beyond their control to achieve this goal.

One of the challenges affecting young people’s marital behavior today is the growing confusion over who primarily qualifies for marriage. The road to marriage used to be clearer and socially necessary. Gender-related matchmaking processes were once associated with family involvement. Men were expected to be protectors and guardians of wives and families, and women were confined to the world of housekeeping and care. It was, of course, a white-coded model of marriage inaccessible to most black couples who historically share marital responsibilities. Black women have always played a key role in both the paid and unpaid workforce. Access to higher education and well-paid jobs for black men has been hampered by various forms of discrimination that have persisted for centuries. The “separate sphere model” in white has always been unrelated to how black couples have historically married.

Despite this historical context, both academics and non-academics have blamed blacks for racial differences in marriage. They argued that black women have far fewer marriage prospects than other groups because many black men are at a disadvantage due to unemployment, incarceration and low levels of education. In other words, men’s marriages in the U.S. have been linked to their ability to assume the role of dominant financial provider, and many black men have been identified as unmarried by this definition. But these arguments paint a monolithic portrait of the black experience, despite the fact that 50 percent of black Americans who are not low-income but still marry at disproportionately low rates.

In other words, although black middle-class young people have also experienced a decline in marriages, they differ from their lower-status counterparts in that this decline cannot be explained by unfavorable economic conditions. This paradox led me to ask a group of black men who had never married and graduated from college about their marriage aspirations and expectations. How they define a man’s role in marriage.

Findings in my recent article Gender and society, shows that high – earning single black men do not rely on the dominant guidelines of hegemonic masculinity to define their expectations of being a man, but focus on goals such as balance and justice in future marriages. Each of my respondents seeks to marry a black professional woman who they believe will be successful on her own and committed to her career. In light of these expectations, men stress that it is right to share household responsibilities evenly, including financial provision, cooking, and cleaning.

But men have paired these egalitarian expectations for marriage with essentialist gendered ideas about men who are naturally more suited to risky activities. Despite controversy that the role of financial provision should be shared by spouses, men define men as natural protectors of wives and children. Against this background, they argue that outdoor housework, such as garbage removal and lawn mowing, is a male job, probably because they are risky and should remain so.

Given that black professional men favor both egalitarian and essentialist gender ideologies, I characterize their unique racized and classified gender identity as a particular Black professional hybrid masculinity. I conclude by saying that while this construction of masculinity does not meet the basic standards of feminism, as it leaves intact the essentialist idea of ​​biological gender differences, it challenges the long-held image of masculinity of black women and weak images of blacks. Black professional hybrid masculinity is also detrimental to academic and public narratives about the partnership of black middle-class men with non-black women, as these men not only plan to marry black women but also develop their masculine identity according to their needs.

Marbella Eboni Hill is a PhD student in sociology at Stanford University’s VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab. Her research focuses on how young professionals navigate family formation and work processes at different intersections of races, classes, and genders at the beginning of their careers.

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