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February 16 2011

What's the Matter with Men and, More Importantly, Why IS So Much the Matter?

Carrie L. Lukas

One of my favorite bloggers, Dr. Helen Smith, has an interesting critique of a new book by Kay Hymowitz, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys. Hymowitz appears to focus on how many men appear to be in a state of arrested adolescence, avoiding marriage and wasting time on video games and other childish activities. Dr. Helen points out that our society tends to welcome male bashing, but rarely considers the reasons why many men are today failing to achieve traditional milestones associated with adulthood.

Like Dr. Helen, I very much plan to read the book before passing judgment. Kay Hymowitz is a fascinating anaylst and Christina Hoff Sommers has written a forward to the book, which suggests to me that there has to be a lot of value there.

But in skimming the descriptions, I tend to agree with Dr. Helen in being concerned that society too often seeks to blame men for the problems afflicting their sex, rather than considering what are the driving forces behind their deteriorating state. No fault divorce, for example, has empowered women to leave their husbands and take the kids-and often kicking those men out of homes they helped pay for to boot-simply because they aren't so enamored with the guy anymore. Academia has spent decades pounding into students that men are generally to be viewed with suspicion as potentially violent enforcers of the patriarchy.  Title IX has been used to take away men's access to athletics, one of the few extracurricular activities that men express more interest in that women do. Now Title IX is being advanced to try to strong arm women into science and engineering programs, since those are just about the only academic disciplines left in which women don't already outnumber men.

This isn't to suggest that men are all angels. Certainly I think there is something to the fact that our culture has made it easier for men to indulge counterproductive instincts, and many men happily dove in to the whirlpool of meaningless encounters and media stimulation, rather than pursue higher goals. But a solution to the downslide of men's prospects aren't going to be found just by heaping insults on what might increasingly be characterized as the new weaker-or at least more vulnerable-sex.

UPDATE: Turns out, Christina Hoff Sommers didn't write a forward to this book, but there are other endorsements from many I admire, such as Caitlin Flanagan and Bill Bennett.



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