What We Can Learn From The Cosmo Man Summit

Last week marked an important date on the Cosmopolitan magazine calendar: The annual Man Summit — a time to explore how men really feel about themselves and the women in their lives. Because, apparently, Cosmo doesn’t pander to the needs, wants and thoughts of men enough, the Cosmo Man Summit surveyed around 1,500 guys on the serious issues pertaining to men. They then held a five-guy Man Summit panel — populated with psychologists and sociologists — to reflect on the findings.

“We’re asking so much more of men today. We want them to be great providers — but we also want them to get pedicures,” said Cosmo’s Editor-in-Chief Kate White at last week’s summit. Really? We are? More wisdom from the world of Cosmo after the jump … The survey was less interested in what men wanted in bed and more focused on women and men in the workforce. Among the more surprising statistics:

  • 63 percent of men and 76 percent of women think men have an advantage over women when it comes to getting ahead at work.
  • But the majority (68 percent of women and 56 percent of men) say that traditionally “feminine” qualities—empathy, teamwork, and communication—are more important to success than “masculine” skills like aggressiveness and competitiveness.
  • Nearly 30 percent of men report that they would like to go back to a time when there were more rigid gender roles, because relationships were easier to navigate then.
  • 61 percent of men say that guys today have it harder than men of previous generations, yet 58 percent of women believe men have it easier.

According to the survey, men and women absolutely don’t see eye-to-eye on the state of things. Men feel their lives are getting more challenging, but women fail to see it. Men’s struggles are perhaps not adequately recognized, or simply easily dismissed — because they’ve been in positions of power for so long.

Of course, things are hard for men right now. A crap economy, shifting gender roles and mixed messages make it difficult to suss out what being a modern dude is all about. But it’s not a zero sum game, as psychologist Kathleen Gerson pointed out during the summit. “Just because women are doing better doesn’t mean men need to be doing worse.” And yet! Men seem to perceive that they’re doing worse if women are doing better

The reality is, women also have it harder because more is expected of everyone. So that’s why it’s fascinating (and a bit frightening) that nearly a third of men polled think that their lives would be easier if we could just go back to “Mad Men”-era social roles because that would make it “easier” to navigate relationships. Easier for whom?

One thing that will make it easier: increasing the communication between men and women about what we need and want from each other. What do you think? [NYMag.com]