Boys and Men Goodbye to All That
Mark Steyn’s talking about social engineering in the classroom (subscription required), but the method that he’s highlighting — the elimination of individual friendship — broadens quickly:
… much of the contemporary scene owes its origins to silly little fads among “educators” that seemed too laughable to credit only the day before yesterday. I see the Times piece references those literary best friends of yore, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. But Tom and Huck’s boyhood is all but incomprehensible to today’s children. I believe that unlike its fellow Missouri educational establishment in St. Louis, the grade school in St. Petersburg had no “director of counseling,” because, if it had, she would have diagnosed Tom with ADHD and pumped him full of Ritalin, and the story would have been over before he’d been told to whitewash the fence. The suppression of boyhood would have been thought absurd half a century back. Yet the “educators” pulled it off, effortlessly. Why not try something even more ambitious? …
Give me a boy till seventh grade, say today’s educators, and we can eliminate the man problem entirely.
By “the man problem,” Steyn means the intractability of fully formed and independent adults; any Tea Party mom will will tell you that fully expressed womanhood is on the engineers’ suspect list, as well. Nonetheless, the males of our species are under particular scrutiny.
Which brings us to Mark Patinkin:
It was Atlantic Monthly. It had a cover story that did not bode well for my gender. It was titled, “The End of Men.” The thesis is that we are becoming secondary in society. Our record of running things for the last millennium or so is coming to a clear end.
I at first thought it would be a feminist screed. Perhaps it was. Unfortunately, it was also convincing.
Here are two facts that say it all. (1) As of this year, women make up most of the U.S. workforce. (2) Three of five college graduates are women.
Patinkin and his source note the transformation of our economy from industrial to service, but “services” are of such a variety that, in general, the industry needn’t be gender specific. One would expect more parity than sublimation were that the key factor. The next possibility that he mentions is that young men are to blame, citing an anecdote from the Atlantic piece:
Here’s one from Ashley Burress, student-body president of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, who’s getting a Ph.D. in pharmacy. The article sums up her view of the genders on campus this way: “Guys high-five each other when they get a C, while girls beat themselves up over a B-minus. Guys play video games in each other’s rooms, while girls crowd the study hall.”
Anybody who’s either applauded, lamented, mocked, or passively noted male competitiveness should see immediately that the motivation to excel is not a gendered phenomenon. It’s a cultural phenomenon, and on first blush, it looks as if we’re turning the world into every boy’s dream: Women, on top of being more man-like in their sexual adventurousness, are chasing career paths. The young men can hook up at parties, play games all day, and as the cultural pressure eases on them (1) to get married, and (2) to be the breadwinner, they may begin to expect their wives to take care of them when their parents no longer will. There’s a Tom Sawyer cleverness to playing while others work.
But it can’t last. The more men feel at ease as leeches, relying on their significant others to supply whatever adult variation of Ritalin they prefer, the less use they’ll be. The less attractive they’ll be. When professional women fulfill that natural urge to give birth (assuming they maintain that urge), it will make more sense for them to pair up with other professional women for the purpose of parenting. As it happens, our society is charging toward equation of such relationships with traditional marriage.