Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Do We Care About Boys?

Some insights from Maggie Gallagher.

The Economist recently put Rosie the Riveter on its cover to celebrate a major milestone: In the U.S., women are now the majority of the workforce. Why? Massively greater numbers of men than women are losing their jobs in this recession.

Is this really good news?

And yet every sign that boys or men are hurting gets determinedly turned around into a happy news story of female success. The disconnect between the happy headlines and the reality underneath will only be solved by women. The irony of men is that they cannot defend themselves or organize around their own systemic, gendered problems. Putting their own gender in the position of "the weaker sex" unmans them -- and also makes them deeply unattractive to women. It's not going to happen.

So the only way we are going to identify the new problem that has no name, own it, and do something about it, is if women with power make it a cause of our own. We have sons as well as daughters, nephews as well as nieces. We want husbands and fathers for ourselves or for our children who are confident, successful males and good family men willing and able to work hard to support those families. The problem is not that women are doing well, it's that boys are doing badly. The two genders cannot be pitted against one another without all of us losing.

A new report by the Pew Research Center finds that more younger women are marrying down: 28 percent of wives aged 30- to 44-years-old have more education than their husbands, compared to 19 percent of husbands who are better-educated than their wives. One in four wives now substantially outearns her husband.

It turns out women are not necessarily happy about male failure. Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers' 2007 study, "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," notes that "By many objective measures the lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men."



Triannas Treasures said...

This is a very interesting post. I am a mother of two boys who are 15 and 16 who have both lost there part time jobs due to the restaurant they were working at closing. Also my parter lost his full time job last year; he has since found two on call jobs thank goodness, but it is much more stressful for him. I have had to go from working 3-4 days a week to 5 days a week; which is ok with me, I love my job. But all the men in my family are having troubles and I wish I could help them.

Julygirl said...

I believe young males are besieged from all sides, not necesarily by women, but most importantly from males. What is crucial at this time is the guidance of a trusted older male to help them make sense of it and grow stronger from it. However over the last 50 years there has been a feminization of our society which has left young males in a quandry as to who and what there role is.

Brantigny said...

I believe that this feminozation of males began at least as long ago as the Civil War. Millions of men were killed and the young men and boys remained to be raised by mothers. Mothers are a more refined and nurturing folk. The first world war had the same effect added to it by the horrors of the trenches. A whole generation of men were lost, inflicting a terrible loss on the maleness of the youth.

My wife loves to repeat, "...that women never marry men who are smarter or at least as smart as they are..." Tis' the cause of many arguments!


Julygirl said...

It is not a feminization of males, but a feminization of society that I was refering to, there is a difference. Being raised by a mother does not femininize a male, it is more the effect of women on society as a whole rather than an individual mother raising a son alone. The abdication of the male in taking his role in the formation of both genders, not only the male that affects a society. Girls suffer as well from the abscence of the male role within a family.