Amidst all the serious problems facing America is a sleeper issue: we haven’t come to terms with the crisis of modern male immaturity.
So writes Janet Shaw Crouse on the American Thinker.
Crouse is right: this issue is bigger than you think. It’s one we’ve long been concerned about at IWF. Followers of Inkwell will recall that Carrie Lukas recently took note of Kay Hymowitz’s new book, Manning Up, about the unfortunate state of the American male. The problem of the immature male may be reaching crisis proportions. Crouse writes:
Clearly, awareness is building that, as Kay Hymowitz said, “Today’s pre-adults have been wait-listed for adulthood.” Hymowitz believes that we are in the middle of a “momentous sociological development.” The crisis of the American male is a “major demographic event” where, as Erick Erikson explained, young men between childhood and adulthood experience unprecedented “role confusion, emotional turmoil and identity conflict.”
Crouse lists three cultural trends that she says stunt a young man’s development. The decline of marriage means that young men are less often than in the past asked to be responsible; unclear social identities allow men to find their identities in hobbies (sports, hunting, fishing) rather than in providing for their families; and recent developments in education have turned men into a minority on many campuses. This last is something we have talked about a lot at IWF. Here is what Crouse says:
More and more men are lagging behind women in educational attainment and thus lack the credentials to compete in the marketplace. Take college graduation: 34 percent of women (ages 25 to 34) have earned degrees compared to 27 percent of men. This fact alone leads to fewer men in graduate schools and in the high prestige and high salaried jobs. Even in areas typically dominated by men — like law, medicine, and business — women are excelling and their numbers and proportion are growing in comparison to men. Clearly, in our eagerness to level the playing field for women we have seriously destabilized the balance between the sexes to the detriment of males. Kathleen Parker was right when she challenged our culture to “save the males.” As Christina Hoff Sommers said in her book, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming our Young Men, the fact that “women are significantly more literate, significantly more educated than their male counterparts” is likely to create a “lot of social problems;” the lack of enough well-educated men does not “bode well” for anyone, particularly the growing numbers of sophisticated women.
There were some things in the Crouse article with which, as a single woman, I might quibble. But I think her prescription is excellent:
As a society, we must revive those values and ideals that provided strong incentives for young men to pass the tests of adulthood. The first steps of a solution are quite simple: we must begin by (1) scorning and ostracizing those men, no matter how rich and famous, who fail to take up the responsibilities of being a husband when they father a child and (2) demanding that our public school teachers unlearn those pernicious myths absorbed in college and graduate school and start re-creating an environment, starting in kindergarten, that respects masculine traits and behaviors: that is to say, stop demanding that little boys act like little girls and punishing or medicating them for acting like little boys. Less than this is, on the one hand, to continue to accept what is unacceptable, and on the other to continue to discriminate against our sons and brothers.