If the twenty-first century could be summarized with a few key words, “equality” and “social justice” would likely reign supreme.
And why not? Who doesn’t like the idea of being treated fairly and with dignity?
But while our talk and promotion of equality, justice, and other buzzwords sounds wonderful, are we really any better at these things than other generations have been? Have we simply reversed the scales, and instead of giving equality and justice to all, have handicapped some formerly privileged groups for the benefit of others?
Such seems to be the case with American men. Once the “privileged” sex with many advantages, the American male now seems to be fighting an uphill battle to maintain a fair and reasonable position in society.
Many true, strong men would of course be loath to say this, considering such an admission to be a whiny, poor-me type of attitude unbecoming to manhood.
But is there a grain of truth to the idea that men are being pushed to the side and are experiencing serious decline? Scholar and journalist Andrew Yarrow suggests such is the case and offers several data points underscoring this premise in a new book entitled Man Out. These data points include:
1. Work Decline
“Fewer than seven out of ten American men age 20 and older work; in the 1950s, nine out of ten worked. Just over eight in ten working-age (25-64 years old) men work, compared to nineteen out of twenty in the mind-twentieth century.”
2. Lower Wages
“Inflation-adjusted (‘real’) wages for the bottom 60 percent of men fell between 1973 and 2016, with the most dramatic declines occurring among the bottom 40 percent, and despite growth during the final Obama years, real median wages for all men were slightly lower in 2016 than at their peak in 1973.”
3. Marriage Reduction
“By the mid-2010s, just half of men were husbands; in 1960 three-fourths of men were married.”
4. Adulting Problems
“In 2015, 35 percent of 18- to 34-year-old American men lived with their parents (compared to 29 percent of millennial women); in 1975 about 28 percent did.”
5. College Decline
“There were projected to be 37 percent more women in college than men in 2017-2018, whereas in 1970 there were about 35 percent more men than women in college.”
6. Mortality Increase
“In 2013 mortality rates among less educated, middle-age white men and women were about 20 percent higher than they were in 1998, life expectancy among American men had fallen in the mid-2010s, and life expectancy for white men in rural West Virginia was more than eight years less than it was in the affluent suburbs of Washington, D.C., 100 miles away.”
7. Civic Alienation
“Male membership in civic groups – including service organizations like the Masons, Rotary, Elks, and Kiwanis – has fallen by between one-half and two-thirds since the 1960s."
Author and liberal activist Norman Mailer once said, “Because there is very little honor left in American life, there is a certain built-in tendency to destroy masculinity in American men.”
Could this mentality explain the above statistics which many men are wrestling with? Have we removed from American men the honor and the ability to fight and stand up for themselves? And as a result, have we been slowly eroding their morale and ability to compete and stand strong in today’s world?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.