Science Daily for March 1, 2011 reports that researchers at Emory University have predicted that as this century progresses more and more men will be afflicted with psychological depression (this on top of the economic depression and woes with which the capitalist system will be afflicting all humans in the coming years).

Why are men about to fall victim to this affliction? Dr. Boadie Dunlop is quoted from the March issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry: “Compared to women,” he writes, “many men attach a great importance to their roles as providers and protectors of their families. Failure to fulfill the role of breadwinner is associated with greater depression and marital conflict” (my emphasis -tr).

But surely we are beyond teaching boys and young men that their futures in this new century involve their being protectors and breadwinners? Women too play these roles and if men, “compared to women” think these roles are of “great importance” that is due to a rotten educational system as well as retrograde religious attitudes that downgrade the importance and person hood of women as compared to men.

According to Science Daily, since 2007 about 75 percent of the U.S. jobs lost have been those of men. Women have to become the “breadwinners” and, up from 4 percent in 1970, 22 percent of working women make more than their husbands. “Unfortunately,” the magazine writes, “there is little reason for anyone to believe that traditional male jobs will return in significant numbers with economic recovery.” The whole concept of  “traditionally male jobs” is wrong headed. It stems from a time when women were not allowed full participation in civil society.

The article continues, “Additionally, biological and sociological differences in men and women may make it harder for men to fit into the role of primary care provider to young children than most women.”

Outside of nursing infants there are no biological differences in men that should make it difficult for them to act as primary care providers. As for “sociological differences”- these are the results of educational and economic conditions imposed upon us by society.

Dr. Dunlop seems to be aware of this as he says, “Men in the changing economy will face the same risks for depression that women faced in older economies: trapped in a family role from which they cannot escape because of an inability to find employment.” He means inability to find employment in “traditionally male jobs.”

The magazine also points out that depression regarding one’s life circumstances is traditionally twice as great among women as among men, but that this may be about to change due to the new economic realities.

According to Dr. Dunlop, “The changing socioeconomic positions of the West could lead to prevalence in the rates of depression in men increasing, while rates in women decrease. Practitioners need to be aware of these forces of life, and be prepared to explore with their patients the meaning of these changes and interventions that might be helpful.”

But as long as we have a capitalist economic system and an educational system based on patriarchal values, practitioners will have to gear themselves up to force human beings to  accept and fit into the world that the capitalists create.

But both men and women have another model of society for which they could strive. The socialist model is not only possible but is necessary in order for males and females to live a fulfilling and normal life without “depression” due to not living up to defunct role models.

Let me end with a quote from Simone De Beauvoir’s great classic The Second Sex:

A world where men and women would be equal is easy to imagine because it is exactly the one the Soviet revolution promised: women raised and educated exactly like men would work under the same conditions and for the same salaries … marriage would be based on a free engagement that the spouses could break when they wanted to … birth control and abortion would be allowed … maternity leave would be paid for by the society that would have responsibility for the children, which does not mean that they would be taken from their parents but that they would not be abandoned to them.

That the Soviet Union failed to completely create and sustain this world does that mean that other men and women in our time should not struggle to bring it about.


Thomas Riggins
Thomas Riggins

Thomas Riggins has a background in philisophy, anthropology and archeology. He writes from New York, NY. Riggins was associate editor of Political Affairs magazine.