Masculinity in Menopause: The Emasculating Effects of Fatherlessness and Feminism
The cultural climate in the United States is growing increasingly hostile towards men. The barbaric behavior of Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassr, and Bill Cosby has put all males in the proverbial doghouse. To make matters worse, major news outlets and left-leaning politicians add fuel to the fire by pushing an agenda-driven narrative that masculinity is inherently oppressive, violent, and domineering. Though it is true that hypermasculinity is problematic, we face a far greater threat at the opposite end of the macho-spectrum. Ironically, America is experiencing an epidemic of young men who fail to launch -- millennials who resist growing up and becoming men. They are abandoning traditional male behavior in favor of metrosexuality -- shoe-shopping, manicures, pedicures, and make-up are becoming the new norm. We are not making men like we used to; in fact, we are not making them at all.
For example, a recent study published in the Journal of Hand Therapy finds that millennial men had significantly weaker grip strength than men 30 years ago. The average millennial male has the hand strength of a 30-year-old woman.
The hormone that makes men masculine is vanishing from the western world too. Testosterone levels have dropped at least 17 percent since 1987 and continue to decline1.2 percent annually. Consistent with other trends in male reproductive health, men's sperm count and quality are also dwindling. Between 1989 and 2005, average sperm counts fell by 33 percent, meaning that one in five males will have difficulty conceiving. These statistics have significant implications for male fertility and health, but is it affecting the male psyche as well? Is it possible that low testosterone levels are making our men's character more receptive to feminization?
Millennial men lack the defining grit and initiative of men from prior ages. Not only are men getting weaker and more effeminate, but they are also floundering academically too. Women are presently outperforming men in every level of academia.
Regrettably, it's easy to lay blame at the feet of these feminized millennial weaklings, but let's not overlook the cultural forces that shaped them. A major reason boys are failing to grow up is that many do not have fathers. If boys are ever going to learn how to be real men, virtuous men must be present in a boy's life to teach him. But in America, men like this are in short supply. Tragically, 39 percent of school-aged children live in homes without their biological fathers. In fact, the majority of a young boy's adult influences are women, namely his mother and schoolteachers. Without a father or a male role-model, boys are emulating the pseudo-masculinity portrayed in pop culture.
Children begin absorbing values and beliefs as soon as they can understand language. A young boy's mind consumes everything in its environment; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether we like it or not, the impressionable minds of young children are always learning. A good dad guards and protects his children from the corrupting influences of the culture. If fathers are not there to foster the development of their son's character, Jay-Z or Lil Uzi will do it for them.
But even more disappointing is that boys who have fathers in the home don't fare much better. In their formative years, many millennial males had fathers who were in the house physically but absent mentally. Although they may attend a few of their son's baseball or football games, they were nowhere to be found for their son's spiritual and moral development. On Sundays, many boys were taken to church service by Mom while Dad either remained at home or attended begrudgingly. Today, almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women attend services without their husbands. How can we expect these boys to have character when they've never seen it modeled?
But our society's lack of fathers is not all that threatens masculinity. Public education is encouraging feminine behavior for both genders. Statistically, there are more male geniuses than female geniuses, but the bottom of the academic barrel is filled with boys. Schools across the country are reporting that their boys are withdrawing from school life and the girls are taking over. Dr. Michael Thompson, child psychologist and author of Raising Cain says, "Girls outperform boys in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college, and graduate school," Since 2008 women have earned the majority of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. If the current trend continues, the last male to receive a bachelor's degree will do so in 2068! Women are outperforming boys academically because schools are set up for girls.
According to psychologist Judith Kleinfeld's research, " Girls mature more quickly than boys... they enter school with bigger vocabularies and better fine motor skills, so it's easier for them to learn to write." The U.S. Department of Education’s surveys of student commitment shows that girls are more likely to do their homework and come to school with their supplies. On the other hand, boys fidget and squirm, are easily distracted, and more prone to getting into trouble. In a conventional American classroom, when a boy acts like a boy, he is punished, but when a boy acts like a girl, he's rewarded.
The sad reality is that when boys act like boys, many are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and drugged with high doses of amphetamines. By the time boys reach high school, one in five will be diagnosed with ADHD because our schools have adopted feminine behavior expectations. Upon entering the age of legal adulthood, they have been brainwashed into believing their brains are defective and that masculine behavior is unacceptable.
As if these fatherless, discouraged, and effeminate boys were not hobbled enough, militant feminism joins the fray looking for blood. To these feminists, masculinity is a negative word, synonymous with chauvinism, oppression, and violence. They charge that masculinity is "toxic" and accuse men of holding them back. Our politically-correct culture believes the propaganda and hastily hops on the anti-man bandwagon. The gender war is in full force, and millennial men are retreating en masse. With tears in their mascara, they flee from the battlefront because their instinct to fight has been suppressed and their spirits crushed. The burden of these emasculating forces is often too much for a young man to bear. Can you really blame them for withdrawing from society and losing themselves in a virtual world of video games and internet porn?
But all is not lost. A remedy can be found in history. Rather than "toxic," masculinity in colonial times was virtuous. Fathers did not have jobs like modern dads do. Work was a family affair and fathers were present in the home industry. Whether it was in the fields or in the sawmill, whatever work dad did, he was assisted by his wife and children. Since work was a family affair, fathers were held to a higher moral standard. These men sacrificed their time and energy for the good of their family.
But fathers not only worked hard, but they also taught harder. Even the parenting literature of the colonial era addressed the fathers. Colonial dads personally saw to their children's educational and character development. It was through teaching and modeling that fathers honed the skills and character their children would need for adulthood. Unlike our utilitarian educational system, a good father taught his son what he ought to do rather than what he can do. Colonial fathers rightly emphasized self-discipline over freedom and know-how at the expense knowledge.
If you were wondering how we can learn from our colonial forefathers, it doesn't involve loosening soil behind an ox-drawn plowshare. We can learn from them the value of a father's presence in the home and the necessity of him modeling and teaching virtue. Boys need discipline and instruction only a wise and loving father can provide.
Unlike the colonials, our society encourages parents to share their child-rearing responsibilities with government institutions and the mass media, which reinforces the unspoken American philosophy that earning a living trumps parenting. However, parents must resist this cultural enticement. Parenting is not a collective endeavor with the government and community organizations. Institutionalized education, the government, and mass media are training boys to be weak, lazy, and effeminate. Parenting is not flying by the seat of your pants, it is discipleship. Rather than allowing our culture to guide and shape our boys, let us take a page from the colonial playbook and reintroduce men to virtuous masculinity.
Jordan Black is a 10-year NFL veteran, the director of a classical homeschooling co-op, and the owner of a fitness center. He has a degree from Notre Dame and is wrapping up graduate work at Houston Baptist University.