Newsweek provides a photo overview of changing ideals of masculinity throughout American history. The gallery is based on the work of sociologist Michael Kimmel and his 2005 book Manhood in America: A Cultural History. According to the gallery, we are now in the era of “The New Macho (2000s-2010s)”:
Beta Males–younger guys who treat masculinity as a winking, ironic act–are probably the most noticeable variation on masculinity today, but this piece is about the future, a time when, weirdly, Brad Pitt looks a lot like the New Macho, at least from a parenting perspective. He and his wife (Angelina Jolie) are co-breadwinners, alternating movies while the other one parents the brood. Nannies help, of course, but earlier this year, when asked to explain how she balances work and family, Jolie credited Brad as “the word that makes it possible.”
It is interesting to trace how the ideal has changed over time and how it has been influenced by larger social forces.