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(6,155 posts)
Sat Feb 3, 2024, 08:10 PM Feb 2024

What's The Matter With Men (from the New Yorker). [View all]



I'm hoping that there is no firewall for reading this, since every paragraph seems necessary. I have been watching what I would call "the decline of American men" for a while now, and even though I am a feminist, I want equality, not women advancing at the expense of men. More men are out of work, and not interested in working. Many lose themselves in video games. Some are taking prescription drugs and claiming disability. More men are committing suicide (and homicide and mass murder). More boys from single parent families are having trouble adjusting. It doesn't affect girls the same way. It is a crisis and its something that we need to pay attention to. And do something about, although there's no consensus on what to do.

I strongly believe that this gender crisis makes it possible for someone like Trump to rise. He's a man's man, he subjugates women. He ridicules those with any perceived failing or disability. even prisoners of war. I can see some men idolizing him, Christian morals be damned. They wish they could be like him, and if they can't, then they can propel him to superstardom, even though he's not the kind of person who should be president. (And I truly believe that some of the women who vote for him are the women who wish they could enjoy his attention.)

Maybe in 2024, Biden's second term, when he doesn't have to campaign and worry about his popularity, maybe in 2024, when we have a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, maybe we can commission a study on what to do about the men who are being left behind, and try to turn things around.

Many social scientists agree that contemporary American men are mired in malaise, even as they disagree about the causes. In academic performance, boys are well behind girls in elementary school, high school, and college, where the sex ratio is approaching two female undergraduates for every one male. (It was an even split at the start of the nineteen-eighties.) Rage among self-designated “incels” and other elements of the online “manosphere” appears to be steering some impressionable teens toward misogyny. Men are increasingly dropping out of work during their prime working years, overdosing, drinking themselves to death, and generally dying earlier, including by suicide. And men are powering the new brand of reactionary Republican politics, premised on a return to better times, when America was great—and, unsubtly, when men could really be men. The question is what to make of the paroxysm. For the revanchist right, the plight of American men is existential. It is an affront to biological (and perhaps Biblical) determinism, a threat to an entire social order. Yet, for all the strides that women have made since gaining the right to vote, the highest echelons of power remain lopsidedly male. The detoxification of masculinity, progressives say, is a messy and necessary process; sore losers of undeserved privilege don’t merit much sympathy.

Richard V. Reeves, a British American scholar of inequality and social mobility, and a self-described “conscientious objector in the culture wars,” would like to skip past the moralizing and analyze men in the state that he finds them: beset by bewildering changes that they cannot adapt to. His latest book, “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It” (Brookings), argues that the rapid liberation of women and the labor-market shift toward brains and away from brawn have left men bereft of what the sociologist David Morgan calls “ontological security.” They now confront the prospect of “cultural redundancy,” Reeves writes. He sees telltale signs in the way that boys are floundering at school and men are leaving work and failing to perform their paternal obligations. All this, he says, has landed hardest on Black men, whose life prospects have been decimated by decades of mass incarceration, and on men without college degrees, whose wages have fallen in real terms, whose life expectancies have dropped markedly, and whose families are fracturing at astonishing rates. Things have become so bad, so quickly, that emergency social repairs are needed. “It is like the needles on a magnetic compass reversing their polarity,” Reeves writes. “Suddenly, working for gender equality means focusing on boys rather than girls.”

“Of Boys and Men” argues for a speedy response because the decline in the fortunes of present-day men—not only in comparison with women but in absolute terms—augurs so poorly for men several decades on. “As far as I can tell, nobody predicted that women would overtake men so rapidly, so comprehensively, or so consistently around the world,” Reeves writes. He notes that schoolgirls outperform schoolboys both in advanced countries that still struggle with considerable sexism, such as South Korea, and in notably egalitarian countries like Sweden (where researchers say they are confronting a pojkkrisen, or “boy crisis”). In 2009, American high-school students in the top ten per cent of their freshman class were twice as likely to be female. Boys, meanwhile, are at least twice as likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and twice as likely to be suspended; their dropout rates, too, are considerably higher than those of their female counterparts. Young men are also four times as likely to die from suicide.

It would help if we had a firm grasp on why men are withdrawing from work. Many economists have theories. Eberstadt believes that “something like infantilization besets some un-working men.” He notes the availability of disability-insurance programs (roughly a third of nonworking men reported some kind of disability in 2016) and the over-all expansion of the social safety net after the nineteen-sixties. In 2017, the late Alan Krueger, who chaired President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, calculated that nearly half of all nonworking men were taking pain medication on a daily basis, and argued that the increased prescribing of opioids could explain a lot of the decline in the male labor force. Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago, thinks that the rapid improvement in video-game quality could account for much of the especially deep drop in work among younger men. Anyone who has recently played (or momentarily lost a loved one to) Elden Ring or God of War Ragnarök can grasp the immersive spell that video games cast. But, in the end, most economists admit that they cannot settle on an exact etiology for the problem of nonworking men. The former Treasury Secretary and Harvard president Larry Summers, who is not known for his intellectual humility, recently surmised that “the answers here lie more in the realm of sociology than they do in economics.” Reeves, too, thinks that we can’t explain the economic decline of men without looking at non-economic factors: “It is not that men have fewer opportunities. It is that they are not taking them.”

The political right has eagerly filled the void. At the 2021 National Conservatism Conference, the Republican senator Josh Hawley gave a keynote speech on the crisis of masculinity, in which he blamed “an effort the left has been at for years now,” guided by the premise that “the deconstruction of America begins with and depends on the deconstruction of American men.” Hawley, who is planning to expound upon his thoughts in a forthcoming book titled “Manhood,” argued that the solution must begin with “repudiating the lie that America is systemically oppressive and men are systematically responsible,” and with rebuilding “those manufacturing and production sectors that so much of the chattering class has written off as relics of the past.”

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Yep, there's a paywall. redqueen Feb 2024 #1
Hmmm... qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #4
Not all men. When you define being a man with sexist stereotypes redqueen Feb 2024 #6
I wish I could read the entire article. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #10
Yes, socialization plays a huge part. redqueen Feb 2024 #11
Genetics happen. cachukis Feb 2024 #22
Yes, and? redqueen Feb 2024 #46
Ha. Ha. Ha. cachukis Feb 2024 #50
Oh. My. God. Scrivener7 Feb 2024 #54
How so? Enlighten me. cachukis Feb 2024 #57
"The coquette bequiles the brute because she needs a brute" redqueen Feb 2024 #64
Really? Have you not played the game? cachukis Feb 2024 #66
Never in my life redqueen Feb 2024 #69
I don't know that delivering is part of the equation. cachukis Feb 2024 #71
Well...but they might be birdographer Feb 2024 #39
But they aren't. redqueen Feb 2024 #45
All very interesting birdographer Feb 2024 #76
I thought Dems believed in science. That's a meta analysis redqueen Feb 2024 #77
Wisdom. cachukis Feb 2024 #21
What you are attributing to "wired differently" has been researched spooky3 Feb 2024 #28
OK, I stand corrected. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #48
Some of it is biological. It's just a much smaller portion than many spooky3 Feb 2024 #53
I looked on the web. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #61
The most relevant literature is in psychology journals. spooky3 Feb 2024 #65
"We should let them." Who is stopping them? Scrivener7 Feb 2024 #32
Perhaps qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #35
Bookmarking. Thanks. lamp_shade Feb 2024 #2
That was intense. Lot going on in this. cachukis Feb 2024 #3
I wouldn't call it discrimination. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #5
Nor I. But it's there. Too much to take on. cachukis Feb 2024 #15
So much of "masculinity" has always and everywhere been based on enough Feb 2024 #7
That's sad. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #8
"competitiveness is what inspires men to do great things" redqueen Feb 2024 #9
Where I was coming from qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #13
A lot of men's inventions weren't even driven by war redqueen Feb 2024 #18
Yup... qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #19
Ah, a conflict face. cachukis Feb 2024 #16
Agree with much of this limbicnuminousity Feb 2024 #62
On the other hand... -misanthroptimist Feb 2024 #80
The troubling and possibly telling thing is, this isn't just an American problem. paleotn Feb 2024 #12
Same guy. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #14
" "the most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women,"" lindysalsagal Feb 2024 #17
Interestingly. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #20
Anecdotally: Women are less likely to date a 'lower status' male speak easy Feb 2024 #23
Status is relative. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #26
No, it's not anecdotal, it's statistical. Joe Cool Feb 2024 #37
And as women raise in status relative to men? speak easy Feb 2024 #38
Upper class men are the most likely to be or have been married Joe Cool Feb 2024 #42
Hmmm... qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #49
Just reread the thread. cachukis Feb 2024 #24
Non paywall version FelineOverlord Feb 2024 #25
Thank you very much. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #27
The article touches on the role of the online "manosphere" grifters, nearly all... keep_left Feb 2024 #29
Hmmmm... qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #31
This is what I'm talking about (from the article). keep_left Feb 2024 #40
I am conflicted. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #43
Trump isn't a man's man Joe Cool Feb 2024 #30
Goodness... qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #33
Have you ever seen the average MAGA? Joe Cool Feb 2024 #36
trDUMP is a toxic man's idol - who they dream to be like. magicarpet Feb 2024 #67
It's laughable anyone thinks Trump is a man's man Joe Cool Feb 2024 #34
This conversation is rife with disturbing stereotypes.. Scrivener7 Feb 2024 #41
From another thread cachukis Feb 2024 #44
Love it. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #47
You've opened a high level Pandora box. cachukis Feb 2024 #56
Those researchers don't seem to know the men I know. LakeArenal Feb 2024 #51
Well... TlalocW Feb 2024 #52
Just one thought - Trump is definately not a "man's man". He is the kind of walkingman Feb 2024 #55
Every time I see a piece like this, grumpyduck Feb 2024 #58
Exactly. There's no there there. Scrivener7 Feb 2024 #60
I think the book is data driven. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #63
Seriously? Everything here is anecdotally cachukis Feb 2024 #68
Qanon is an anecdotally provocative subject which people pondered and made conclusions about Scrivener7 Feb 2024 #72
That's a good stretch. Everyone absorbs the cachukis Feb 2024 #73
location, location, location willamette Feb 2024 #75
I hate just about every reply in this thread edisdead Feb 2024 #59
Bummer. cachukis Feb 2024 #70
I don't know it had a middle school lunch table discussion quality that was fun. BannonsLiver Feb 2024 #78
"I can give you your answer right now. My answer is: Nothing." Fichefinder Feb 2024 #74
The path to equality is rough ismnotwasm Feb 2024 #79
I've thought about this some now. -misanthroptimist Feb 2024 #81
Male brains haven't evolved to accommodate the very recent massive societal/technological/work changes Sky Jewels Feb 2024 #82
What exactly do you mean by this: Bettie Feb 2024 #83
It's hard to explain. qwlauren35 Feb 2024 #84
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