Why Don’t Blue-Collar Workers Just Take Pink-Collar Jobs?: Megan McArdle

vs economists who scold men for not becoming the New Soviet Persyn the market demands:

Why can’t a woman be more like a man? Henry Higgins demands to know in “My Fair Lady.” These days, labor economists are asking the opposite question: Why can’t a man be more like a woman?

The decline of traditionally male blue-collar work like manufacturing has left many men adrift. There are growth industries, such as health care, where some of these men could get work. But they don’t seem to be taking advantages of the splendid opportunities to become home health care aides or day care workers. In part that’s because many of these jobs don’t start out paying as well as the manufacturing jobs these men have lost or had hoped to gain. But in part it seems to be because the work isn’t … well … manly enough.

more (& guess which two sentences in the final paragraph were my favorites)

ETA: You know, a conversation with a friend on Twitter (you can get some of it here–there’s more which I’m too lazy to track down but I think you can find it if you haunt my with-replies) made me realize this McArdle piece stands in some tension with my “Fr. Mother” and “Tenderness in Moonlight” pieces.

I do think it’s possible to say three things: a) The Church offers men a model (more than one model really) of nurturing masculinity–the abbot feeding his monks at his breast, the saint dying because he devoted himself to nursing plague victims. But also

b) baby and elder care is probably harder, in a shifted-bell-curve kind of way, for men. Due to fairly boring, predictable interactions of biology and the cultures we build in response to our biology. Sex roles are flexible but not infinitely malleable. And

c) it’s morally wrong to scold men for being “backwards” if they have a hard time adopting a new, more nurturing self-image because the market took away their also-good previous self-image. Especially when adopting the new self-understanding requires a difficult job change in a culture which encourages us to define ourselves by our jobs. (So often when I see something about “vocation” I get all excited and then it turns out to be trying to make you feel like you choose your job!) The Church can ask more of men than *~*experts*~* or the market should, in part because Christian faith holds an honorable place for the suffering required to follow Jesus.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!