Nearly three out of four American men "wouldn't mind" working for a female boss; most think it would be fine if their wives made more money than they did, and an overwhelming majority would feel comfortable if a woman asked them for a date.
These liberated attitudes are just part of the picture painted of "the new male" in a survey just released by Hyatt/Esserman Research Associates in New York.
On-the less-liberated side:
Most men feel a woman with a child under 6 should stay at home, nearly three-fourths would try to get their wives to stop working if it interfered with home life, and more men think it's okay for their son to live with a girlfriend than for their daughter to live with a boyfriend.
"the new man is a living embodiment of the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times,'" says researcher Carole Hyatt who, with her partner June Esserman, conducted the survey for Abc-tv's "good Morning America."
"on the one hand he feels the women's movement has done good things for women, but on the other hand he says, 'hey, what about me?' He vacillates between traditional and new views."
Despite this ambivalence, says Hyatt, "a lot of the responses show startling evidence of how far men's attitudes have changed. The typical male much more open to new thoughts, and more lenient in terms of attitudes about social, sexual and work issues than most women give him credit for."
The two-part survey began with group rap sessions in New Jersey, Atlanta and Kansas. A cross section of men age 21 to 45 were each paid about $18 per session to discuss how the changing roles of women have affected them.
Hyatt and Esserman then developed key issues into a questionnaire answered by a representative sample of more than 750 men, also age 21 to 45. The results, Hyatt claims, "are indicative of the attitudes held by men at large in the United States."
Men's mixed feelings about the changing roles of women are summed up in their reponse to a question about the women's movement.
"fifty-nine percent of the men felt the women's movement had a positive effect on women," says Hyatt. "But only 43 percent felt it had a positive ef-fect on men.
"this means that 6 out of 10 men see concrete benefits -- as opposed to attitudes 15 years ago that linked 'women's lib' with bra-burning lunatics.A majority are pleased with the new opportunities for their daughters and wives and its effect on helping maintain their standard of living.
"but the negative side is that many men feel 'it's terrific for her, but not so great for me.' They feel new opportunities for women mean less opportunities for men. And some discomfort persists from having a more assertive wife or daughter, or a more independent girlfriend."
Among other male attitudes revealed in the survey:
72 percent said job satisfaction was more important than the amount of money earned. This indicates, says Hyatt, "that with two-paycheck couples more common, the burden of support is not just the man's and he may have the opportunity to no longer consider money the No.1 issue."
72 percent would prefer having a male boss, but said "it wouldn't matter" if their boss was a man or a woman.
71 percent disagreed with the statement "because women are more emotional, it gets in the way of their making sensible decisions.
68 percent disagreed with the idea that "women would rather stay at home and be supported than go out to work."
55 percent disagreed that "today many women get promoted because they are women, and not necessarily because they deserve it."
76 percent said it "would be acceptable" to marry a woman who is not a virgin.
63 percent wouldn't mind if the woman they dated had as many sexual experiences as they had.
86 percent felt the woman should initiate sex "some of the time."
66 percent said "it's not okay" for an unmarried couple to have children.
79 percent thought women should not always get custody in divorce cases.
But new male attitudes, stresses Hyatt, "don't necessarily mean new male behaviors. Men may talk about how nice it is to take turns staying home if the kids are sick, but whether they do or not is another matter.
"it is a start, though. In order to have behavior change, the first step is attitude change."