As a woman, I spend a lot of time thinking about a few important themes that dictate my sense of identity: what I look like, how I'll one day juggle motherhood and a career, my sexuality and how to be a modern woman while still embracing my femininity.
These themes come up when I'm seen as “too bitchy,” “too slutty” or “too intimidating” if I embrace "masculine" traits like assertiveness, sexual confidence and ambition.
They come up in cultural discussions about how I'm supposed to "lean in" and in debates about my access to paid maternity leave and whether or not I can truly "have it all."
They come up when my worth is determined by how well I abide by narrow beauty standards, when I'm called a prude for not having enough sex -- and a slut for having too much -- and in victim-blaming rhetoric that accuses me of being too sexual if I'm raped.
I can't escape these themes. They control my entire existence and determine my every move.
After considering how frequently I think about all of these things, I couldn't help but wonder if the same thing happens to men.
How frequently do men think about their appearance, how they'll one day balance fatherhood and a career, their sexuality or their ability to balance being a modern man while embracing masculinity?
Better yet, how frequently do other people tell men to think about their appearance, balancing fatherhood and a career, their sexuality or their ability to balance being a modern man while embracing masculinity?
What would happen if I asked men the same questions that women get asked every single day?
Last week, I created a survey that did just that. I publicized it all over my (and my coworkers') social media channels and received 80 responses from men ages 19 to 50.
The majority of the results were rather earnest, with most responses coming from men in their 20s.
A few people trolled me (one guy called himself Tom Brady), but that just further highlighted my point: Men spend so little time thinking about these things that to have to think about them, ever, is that absurd.
Here's what they said.
On his morning beauty routine
Many men told me their beauty routine was just a shower and a teeth brushing, which makes sense, since 60 percent said they never think about this, and 75 percent said nobody else has ever made them think about this either.
A few men had more extensive routines that included moisturizing their face and shaving, but the majority of responses were short and simple.
Wake up, scratch buttcheek, shower, dress, look in the mirror, shrug my shoulders, make guns with my hands, pow pow.
- Stefan, 25
Well I jump in the shower, use my wife's fancy shampoo. I shave every three days. I like the stubble; she likes smooth. Use me some hair wax -- never gel -- and out the door with my classic Old Spice deodorant. Amazing how many female co-worker types dig the class. Perhaps they think I remind them of their dad.
- Nigel, 44
Shower? Idk what else there is to do.
- JC, 22
Rinse off my face, put on some deodorant, fix my hair and pick my nose.
- Mike*, 27
I wake up and slap some water on my thighs.
- Dolan*, 22
On balancing fatherhood and a career
The responses were mixed. Lots of men said they would want to find a balance between spending time with their children and advancing in their careers, and they seemed pretty confident in their ability to do that -- to "have it all," so to speak.
Other men said they'd want to know what career their wives have first before thinking about fatherhood. A few men admitted to wanting more traditional parental roles.
Overall, only 27 percent of respondents said they frequently think about balancing fatherhood and a career, and only 9 percent of respondents said other people make them think about it.
I am the type of person who works to live instead of the other way around, however, that is not to be construed as a lack of ambition. I want to be successful and advance my career, but never at the expense of my hopefully healthy relationship with my family and children.
- Rob*, 22
I can't really answer that honestly. I do plan on having both, but it would depend on what my wife has also selected as a career. We would have to work on that, but I will be a father first. I wouldn't miss Daddy/Daughter dances for work. No way, no how.
- Tommy, 27
Never really had to think about it. I guess I would say that I'd probably put off kids until I'm successful in my career and then, ideally, marry someone who would stay at home.
- Joesph, 21
Most likely, there will have to be some give and pull between me and my wife. It will depend on who has the bigger or more lucrative career. I would think about being a stay-at-home dad, but my dad was, so that might influence my perspective.
- Austin, 21
In my line of work, I can't really imagine balancing fatherhood and a career. Sometimes I think that I would like to be a stay-home-dad, although other times, I think I would go crazy. I see what Betty Draper goes through, and I just don't know if I could survive it.
- Ace, 26
I will earn money. My wife will take care of the kids.
- John, 21
Raising children really is your number one obligation once you make the decision to become a father. If it's not something that you're actively doing, you're likely raising someone who will become the world's problem.
On if he'd sleep with a girl on the first date or fear she'd find him slutty
Reactions were also very mixed here.
A few admitted their male privilege gives them the opportunity to not be labeled a slut, so they would do it. A few also said their decision to sleep with a girl on the first date isn't whether or not they'll be perceived as slutty, but a product of where they want the relationship to go.
Some admitted they wouldn't judge themselves for doing it, but they'd judge the girl.
Only 20 percent of men were frequently concerned with the impression they gave girls who they slept with on the first date, and only 9 percent said other people ever make them think about this impression.
I think it totally depends on the relationship between her and myself. If I come to think that we get along well sexually, I would have sex with her. If not, I'm willing to wait until she is ready.
- Sean, 20
Yes I would. If it feels right why not?
- Grubey, 27
It depends on the connection with the girl. Most likely not, but every person and interaction is vastly different. And why would I worry if she thinks I am slutty if she is also sleeping with me on the first date?
- Dan, 24
I would never be afraid that she thinks I'm slutty. It depends. If I want a long-term relationship with her, I might hold off. If I don't have strong feelings for her, I might just go ahead with it. If I really want to make a strong relationship, I would want to take it slow, unless the situation warranted taking it fast. In the end, it depends on my chemistry with the girl.
- Chris, 21
If I liked her, I wouldn't because I'd most likely judge her for doing so. I'd also be too nervous I'd under perform.
- Bob*, 25
No, I would not. I would want the first time to be great and, even better, not awkward. Two people need to get used to each other in order to have great sex. The slutty label would not be a factor. - Robert*, 30. I would never worry about being thought of as "slutty." It's probably better for my reputation if I do score on the first date anyways.
- Joesph*, 21
Yes, and no I'm not worried if she thinks I'm slutty because I just saved a bunch of money by not waiting for the third date to have sex.
- Constantine*, 24
I would, but it depends. If the date just led to that, then sure, but yeah I fear being slutty, and I might even think the same about the girl. It depends if I want this to be serious or not.
- Zeke*, 22
I'll give you $10 if you can find a guy worried about being known as a slut.
- James, 27
On worrying if the number of women he's slept with is too high
Almost every single man said they didn't worry about this at all. In fact, many responses indicated they worried their number was too low.
Only two men were worried about it -- one was because he didn't want it to prevent him from being able to marry in a Catholic church, and the other was because he didn't want the woman he marries to think she's "just another number."
Lots of men said they sleep with girls for themselves, don't worry about what other people think and wouldn't date someone who had an issue with how many women he's been with.
A few didn't understand the premise of "too high" or "too low" -- some men seemed confused by the question and asked why, are they supposed to worry about it?
One man admitted that society raises them to "conquer" women, so no number is too high.
On being a modern man while still embracing masculinity
Lots of men had no idea what this question meant.
Some wondered why I implied that the two conflicted each other, and some said they just act like themselves, work to be comfortable in their own skin and don't worry about labels.
One man who actually tried to answer the question did actually talk about balancing stereotypical "feminine" ideals with masculine ideals as part of their definition of a modern man, so it was cool to see this idea replicated in at least a few of the answers.
Overall, only 15 percent of men said they frequently think about this, and only 10 percent of men said anyone has ever made them think about this.
Manners and ideals. By being kind and thoughtful but don't apologize for liking and needing the small things whether it's video games, sports or a nice set of legs.
- Robert*, 30
I think it is ok for a man to admit his fears and weaknesses, while still showing he is a strong man who can step up to the world if need be. There is nothing wrong with embracing masculinity, unless it interferes with emotional intelligence.
- Chris, 21
I'm not particularly concerned with upholding classic ideals of masculinity.
- Carlos, 24
The ultimate [part] of masculinity is transparency. It doesn't matter how modern or classic you are. You may be growing a huge beard or mustache to compensate, and compensating doesn't make you more masculine. Being comfortable in your own skin makes you masculine. Nothing else matters.
- Jose, 30
Try not to think about it too much. I like watching sports, staying fit and playing video games, but I try to avoid being a "bro" and getting drunk at parties, hitting on countless girls, etc.
- John, 21
I'm not very emotional. I try to be strong physically and personally.
- John*, 25
If you're worried about what others think of you, are you a "real man" anyway? "Real men" aren't tied to masculine norms or actively avoid feminine norms. They just live.
- Art, 24
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive at all. I'm pretty masculine (I have a fantasy football team. Is that masculine enough?), but I also watched "UnREAL" in its entirety.
- Evan*, 26
*names were changed