Stop Diminishing the Men

There is a "gender crisis" in America today, and it has nothing to do with the alleged 63 varieties of genders espoused by leftists.  Nor does it have to do with women's marches.  Quite simply it deals with the "expendable male," where, "in the space of just a few decades[,] American women have managed to demote men from respected providers and protectors to being unnecessary, irrelevant, and expendable " (Venker & Schlafly, The Flipside of Feminism).

It is apparent by attitudes from well known women – e.g., Pamela Paul, who authored Are Fathers Necessary and wrote, "The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there's nothing objectively essential about his contribution."  Then there is actress Jennifer Aniston, who once stated, "Women are realizing they don't have to settle with a man just to have a child."

Naomi Schaefer Riley at the Washington Post writes that "while our culture often celebrates the single life as empowering, this empowerment rarely trickles down to children.  We can cheer the mother who dragged her son away from rioting in Baltimore after Freddie Gray was killed, and we can find it sweet that the former star of '16 & Pregnant' is taking her young son on 'dinner dates' to teach him how to treat women, but there is something sad about the fact that these boys do not have a father to offer these lessons in a more effective way."

It is commonplace in the college composition classroom to read where single mothers assert that they do not need men since their own single mothers told them never to depend on anyone else.  "Don't need men since they are childish and immature" is a frequent refrain.

Christina Hoff Sommers in her 2013 booklet Freedom Feminism asserts that "the current women's lobby thinks of men as a rival camp.  Not only are men denigrated, but their problems are ignored or explained away.  There is, for example, an alarming and growing gender gap in education that shows male students falling far behind female students."

Men and women complement each other.  We are not on separate teams competing for one trophy.  Our fates are inextricably tied – if one is in trouble, so is the other.

There has been a decided decline of male attendance in college.  In 2015, Forbes highlighted "The Disappearing College Male."

For every four women graduating from four year colleges, there are only three men.  If males graduated from college in the same proportion as women, there would be about 14 percent more college graduates each year – over two million more over a decade.  An under-discussed issue is: why aren't men going and graduating from college as much as women?

The phenomenon of the disappearing male began in earnest in the 1970s and 1980s, and the post-1990 decline has been more modest (indeed, the gender balance seems to have been relatively stable since the late 1990s).  While the decline in the male role on campuses is notable among all racial groups, it is especially startling amongst blacks, where women graduates outnumber men nearly two to one.  In percentage terms, however, the decline among Hispanics is even more pronounced.

The writer attributes the "decline in the traditional two parent family, and, associated with that, the sharp decline among males of their traditional adult roles in society: providing income for their spouses and children.  This is particularly true among racial minorities."  While "the black family survived the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws and lynching, [they] could not survive the Great Society."  Thus, "[m]ales in particular have been neutered by the Entitlement Society and the Welfare State."

The decline in the primary male economic function of being a provider and working is huge, and ''as the centrality of work among males declined, so, apparently, has their ardor to go to college – why bother?  Why do well in high school?  Viewed increasingly negatively by society, men have engaged in increasingly violent, anti-social behavior, manifested in more of them rioting, taking drugs, and ending up in prison.  Society urges women to study the STEM disciplines, but not men."

Accentuating the absence of fathers is regularly reflected in popular culture.  This June 2016 advertisement, titled "Raymond – The Complete Man Saluting Single Mothers This Father's Day," shows a dark-skinned Indian boy and his mother.  The boy gives his mother a mug that says "World's Best Dad."  Filled with pathos and savvy marketing techniques, this ad will surely be appealing.  But a much more serious message is being sent.  Surely, it could be a situation where the father died.  But more than likely, it is not depicting such a situation.

Statistics now indicate that among whites and Hispanics, the single parenthood rate is 45%, whereas 72% of black children are being raised in fatherless homes.

There has been a sea change in the American family structure, as indicated by this 2015 Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends.  In Australia, there is a Single Parent Australia Newsletter for single moms.

Consequently and "unfortunately, Dad's role in society has been undermined long before he becomes a man.  Feminists have been rejecting masculinity for years – and putting  pressure on America's institutions to do the same.  Indeed, they have waged a full scale assault on the American male" (Venker 146).

In 2013 Kaye Hymowitz wrote "Boy Trouble."  Her main findings:

  • [T]he nuclear-family meltdown of the past half-century has been particularly toxic to boys' well-being.
  • [B]oys in fatherless homes are still getting into more trouble compared with their sisters and male peers with married parents.
  • Girls and boys have a better chance at thriving when their own father lives with them and their mother throughout their childhood – and for boys, this is especially the case.
  • There are basic differences between the sexes with boys more physically active and restless than girls.  Boys take longer to mature.
  • Single-mother households tend to be located in poor urban areas and even the most conscientious mother cannot always protect a boy from a culture in which gangs have replaced fathers, the threat of violence looms, and schools are filled with apathetic or hostile males.
  • A community's dominant family structure [is] the strongest predictor of mobility – bigger than race or education levels.

Recently, I had a class of mostly single mothers analyze Hymowitz's piece.  After they had considered her points, I asked the following: if single moms keep reiterating that men are unnecessary, how will this affect their own young sons' perceptions of themselves?

You could hear a pin drop.  They had never considered the consequences of this on their own sons.  Yet Hymowitz makes this poignant point when she writes "that boys growing up where fathers – and men more generally – appear superfluous confront an existential problem: Where do I fit in?  Who needs me, anyway?  Boys see that men have become extras in the lives of many families and communities, and it can't help but depress their aspirations."

This does not bode well.

Eileen can be reached at

Image: trialsanderrors via Flickr.

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