The Feminization of American Boys

Christmans at my cousins. Big house, lots of people. Only daughter of my cousin, freshman at Oxford, friends from Baltimore prep school. Girls are all strong, bright, active, engaging, fun. Boys are all reserved, slightly effeminate, quiet, seemingly weak. Girls are dressed to kill. Boys are a mess, unshaven, pale, unattractive. Girls are all freshman in college. Most of the boys are living at home, "taking some time off".

I was struck by this. What is happening? Granted, there are still plenty of boys who do as I did and jump into life with both feet (here's a good way!). But how many boys are there who still live at home at age thirty (some say as much as twenty percent), don't attend college (women now account for a clear majority on campus), and are not prepared for the work force (black, male unemployment is estimated to be 65%).

Part of this is the general softening of certain elements of American society. Steven Stolder, in his review of Micheal Barone's "Hard America, Soft America" writes how Barone sees this dynamic:

Hard America is steeled by the competition and accountability of the free market, while Soft America is the product of public school and government largesse.

Boys are also negatively impacted by high levels of divorce, a coursening of popular culture and low moral expectations. They are subjected to a kind of gender ridicule in a way that would be completely inappropriate if applied to women. And they are deprived of appropriate role models in order to shield schools and companies from outlandishly perceived risk.

I suspect men will tend to ignore these trends. After all, who wants to be a victim - particularly a victim of women? Men who play an active role in their sons' lives have direct control over these issues and, thus, may not see the problem.

But women, particularly single mothers, need to pay attention. Are these the guys you would want to date? Are these the men you want helping raise your children? Are these the guys you want defending your country?

2 comments:

Anonymous

9:32 AM

Regarding your quote: "Are these the guys you would want to date? Are these the men you want helping raise your children? Are these the guys you want defending your country?"

The answer, obviously, is... not obvious. You gotta understand that most of these single women-parents are feeling quite empowered, and they believe they don't need a man in their lives (though many believe one would be nice). So, no, they wouldn't want to date these guys, but then, they don't have to. They don't want men helping to raise thier children because men are either useless or dangerous. And as far as defending the country is concerned, women seem to think that they can do a better job of managing the country. After, it's men who start all wars, isn't it?

Brent

9:14 PM

Interesting post, and something I have been concerned with as well. Another part of the problem is the use of Ritalin to suppress (at least in some cases) masculine behavior in boys.