Q. Friend in Trouble: I’m very worried about my friend “Ted.” He works two full-time jobs at literally all hours—sometimes all day, sometimes all night, but always 12 to 16 hours per day. His wife does not work and stays home with their young son. She is a warm and friendly person when I am with her, but I have been shocked to hear her scream at Ted on the other end of his cellphone. When I saw Ted recently, he was a shadow of the gentle and funny person I have known since we were kids—exhausted, emaciated, and almost silent when his wife is around, which is all the time. He and his wife have fallen out with his family and the other friends he had before his marriage, and I don’t think he has anyone in his life right now other than his wife. Is there anything I can do for him?
Men are more at risk of committing suicide, states professor and chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group in England, Louis Appleby, because they are “reluctant to seek help”, in addition to being more prone to heavy drinking and self-harm. The problem isn’t going away, even internationally—every country in the world has seen male suicides outstrip female ones, and it’s because men are silent. Or, rather, they are trained to be.
With more women going to college than ever before, there are only so many baccalaureate bachelors for them to meet and marry.
That seems reasonable at first glance. Hey, if a woman is looking for someone with her level of education, and this is a deal-breaker for her, then sure, there’s a serious shortage of suitable men.
Birger points out that a woman who was 34 in 2007 began college in 1991 when women outnumbered men on college campuses by 10 percent. He notes that “in 2012, 34 percent more women than men graduated 4-year colleges.”
The numbers are indeed daunting. But they obscure a question all of these unmarried college-graduate women should be asking themselves: Why does a degree matter so much, anyway?
Fathers are as crucial to a child’s well being as a mother by Barbara Kay in the National Post.
It is true that fathers abandon or are exiled by family court from their children “all the time,” as Jon notes. But the fact that fatherlessness is common — moreover widely accepted as normal by certain ideologues and, by trickle-down effect, in certain cultural enclaves — makes it no less tragic a loss for every father-deprived child. About a third of American children live apart from their fathers, and in general, they are not doing well.
Girls without fathers are more likely to suffer low self-esteem, become pregnant or embrace promiscuity, while boys without fathers are at risk for a multiplicity of poor outcomes, notably school dropout, gang membership and imprisonment. In black communities, where the epidemic is most acute, fatherlessness is a far more serious obstacle to upward mobility than racism.
A fact that goes hand-in-hand with boys’ high rate of incarceration is that they are up to five times more likely to die by homicide (as in 2004) and up to seven times more likely to die in a gun-related death than girls. These are the boys who got out of juvenile detention or managed to never be sent there and who raised their risk factors through certain high-risk behaviors, as laid out by the Department of Health and Human Services. These include early aggressive behavior, drug and/or alcohol abuse, hanging out with other troubled kids, and poor academic performance; in other words, all issues that could be prevented at a young age through education or other responsible adult instruction.
When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. Now, though, with teen births down more than 50 percent from their 1991 peak and girls dominating classrooms and graduation ceremonies, boys and men are increasingly the ones under examination. Their high school grades and college attendance rates have remained stalled for decades. Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.
However, when the modern women’s movement began to turn its attention to girls – as in books like Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls(published in 1994) – they were already doing better than boys on many measures of educational achievement, including college enrollment(link is external). And this gender gap – favoring girls — has only widened in the more than two decades since.
But we don’t hear much about that, certainly not compared to how much we hear about the pay gap between men and women (which is more complex than the simple mantra of “77 cents for every dollar” would suggest). Or the “1-in-5” female college students who is sexually assaulted during her years on campus. But I’m not even arguing about that data here — though good arguments have been made. I am simply saying that this does not imply that we should – as we have done since the early 1990s – take this concern out on half our children: our young sons.
When I say “take this out on,” I don’t mean that we necessarily treat boys badly. I mean that, relatively speaking, we simply ignore them and their needs, their relative lack of achievement, and who they are. Again, think of how often you hear or see something in the news about how women are being treated badly. (And much of this may be true.) But how about the fact that boys are not doing so well. How often do you hear about that?
Warren Farrell in USA Today after the Sandy Hook shooting:
We respond by blaming guns, our inattentiveness to mental health, violence in the media or video games, or family values. Yes, all are players, but our daughters are able to find the same guns in the same homes, are about as likely to be mentally ill, have the same family values and are exposed to the same violence in the media. Our daughters, however, do not kill. Why the difference?
Start with suicide. Each mass murder is also a suicide. Boys and girls at age 9 are almost equally likely to commit suicide; by age 14, boys are twice as likely; by 19, four times; by 24, more than five times. The more a boy absorbs the male role and male hormones, the more he commits suicide…
It’s time we go beyond fighting over guns to raising our sons. With one executive order, President Obama can create a White House Council on Men and Boys to work with the Council on Women and Girls he formed in 2009. Why? No one part of government or the private sector has a handle on the solution.
From “Fatherlessness Common Among 2013 School Shooters” at Women of Grace:
Again, he cites the research of eminent sociologist David Popenoe who wrote: “ . . . (F)athers are important to their sons as role models. They are important for maintaining authority and discipline. And they are important in helping their sons to develop both self-control and feelings of empathy toward others, character traits that are found to be lacking in violent youth.”
Even though most fatherless boys will grow up okay, they are vulnerable, which is why so many are swept away into gangs, violence, and crime.
While the debate over gun control and mental health issues are valuable, if the U.S. wants to get serious about ending school shootings, “it must also get serious about strengthening the families that are our first line of defense in preventing our boys from falling into a downward spiral of rage, hopelessness, or nihilism . . .”
From “Which Mass Murderers Came from A Fatherless Home” at The Federalist:
Now, this isn’t to say that every single mom is doomed to raise a mass shooter. Not every kid who grows up without his father will turn into Roof, and not every mass shooter grew up without his dad. Mental instability can be a product of any number of factors. But to ignore the link between a mass shooter and his fatherless childhood would be to simply ignore the facts. On CNN’s list of the “27 Deadliest Mass Shootings In U.S. History,” seven of those shootings were committed by young (under 30) males since 2005. Of the seven, only one—Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho (who had been mentally unstable since childhood)—was raised by his biological father throughout childhood.
A few days ago I was at a party in liberal north-east London, when I was asked the inevitable question, “So, what do you do then?”
It’s a question I have come to dread. This isn’t because I’m ashamed of my work, or because I think it’s dull and uninteresting, but because I know that if I tell the truth, the warm and open conversation I’d been having with the person in front of me will often suddenly be replaced by a chilled and awkward silence.
You see, telling people I write about men’s issues often feels a bit like telling them I work for Exxon.
On this occasion, I weighed up the conversational fork in the road ahead of me, and decided to take the plunge and be honest, so I told her I’d just finished editing a book of 40 writers exploring what it means to be a man in the UK today. Her response was simply: “That’s brave.”
Of course, it’s not really brave; not brave like writing about government corruption in China, or human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, but I knew exactly what she meant.
Speaking out as a man about the issues men face really can trigger a furious reaction.
The most recent example was in response to the author Matt Haig, after he said he wanted to write a book about masculinity. His statement brought down a Twitter storm of contempt in his head before he’d even written a word.
There is a subtle, but potentially seismic shift happening in the workplace. From sweeping diversity initiatives and radical strategies that tackle the gender wage gap to extended paid parental leave policies, the next decade could reveal a very different picture of American workers. But change often comes with backlash….
New research published in the Journal of Business and Psychology reveals that as fathers take on more caregiving and other family responsibilities, workplace norms still see them as “organization men” married to their jobs, which potentially inhibits their development as true, involved fathers. The study also found that there isn’t much in the way of formal support for working dads.
“Around the globe, it’s mostly girls who lack educational opportunities. Even in the United States, many people still associate the educational “gender gap” with girls left behind in math. Yet these days, the opposite problem has snuck up on us: In the United States and other western countries alike, it’s mostly boys who are faltering in school. The latest surveys show that American girls on the average have roughly achieved parity with boys in math. Meanwhile, girls are well ahead of boys in verbal skills, and they just seem to try harder.”
I must admit that when I read this, and saw the words “snuck up on us,” my immediate reaction was “Where have you been?” For anyone who cared to look at the data – and for millions of parents of sons – the problem was already there close to two decades ago.
When the White House created only a White House Council on Women and Girls in 2009, it left out the other half of the family: Boys and Men. Dr. Warren Farrell organized national leaders into a coalition to create a White House Council on Boys and Men. On April 26, 2015, members went to Iowa and spoke personally with seven of the Republican presidential candidates to invite them to a conference in Iowa this July to listen to boys, parents and experts explain the boy crisis and consider a White House Council on Boys and Men as a coordinator of solutions. Here Farrell discusses with Rand Paul the importance of fathers as a way to strengthen the family and reduce “government-as-a-substitute-dad”. A few minutes later, Paul spoke with 1700 Republicans at the Faith and Freedom Coalition and stressed the importance of fathers.
The Dr. Vibe Show is offering a series of interviews with key members of the commission that is urging President Obama to create a White House Council on Boys and Men. Here are links to three of the programs.
I interviewed him about gender roles, power, why men earn more, and campus rape.
Marty Nemko: You’re most well-known for your book The Myth of Male Power, just out in a new e-book edition. Many people think men have the power: Look at the Senate and CEO rosters. How would you respond?
Warren Farrell: A small percentage of men have major institutional power but across the full population, real power is about having choices. The women’s movement has made it socially acceptable for a mom to work full-time, stay home with the child full-time, or work part-time. That’s as it should be. Alas, it’s not as acceptable for a man to work part-time, let alone be a full-time parent. Mr. Mom is still a term of derision.
This remarkable video shows Warren Farrell explaining what moved us into our present cultural state of seeing males as disposable and offers a number of ideas about how we can move forward to a place where both men and women are valued as human beings.