Dr. Helen

"Instead of making marriage more attractive, he said, it might be better for society to help make men more attractive. "

The New York Times has an article entitled “Study of Men’s Falling Income Cites Single Parents” where men are just too darn lazy and unattractive to land a woman so women stay single:

For all Americans, it has become much harder to make a living without a college degree, for intertwined reasons including foreign competition, advancements in technology and the decline of unions. Over the same period, the earnings of college graduates have increased. Women have responded exactly as economists would have predicted, by going to college in record numbers. Men, mysteriously, have not.

Among people who were 35 years old in 2010, for example, women were 17 percent more likely to have attended college, and 23 percent more likely to hold an undergraduate degree.

“I think the greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” said Michael Greenstone, an M.I.T. economics professor who was not involved in Professor Autor’s work. “And it’s very, very scary for economists because people should be responding to price signals. And men are not. It’s a fact in need of an explanation.” …

“Single-parent families tend to emerge in places where the men already are a mess,” said Christopher Jencks, a professor of social policy at Harvard University. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Suppose the available men were getting married to the available women? Would that be an improvement?’ ”

Instead of making marriage more attractive, he said, it might be better for society to help make men more attractive.

I think some of the commenters to the Times article have some decent explanations that no one wants to hear:

As the mother of a teenaged girl and a teenaged boy I see the differences between the two of them and between their friends. The modern world and the modern economy agrees with the girls: they see that the glass ceiling is diminishing, they see that their attention to detail and adaptability are valued, they see the world as open before them. The boys? A little less so — generally they are less mature as they leave HS, they sense that the 20th century order, which gave them an instant leg-up, is vanishing.

All the encouragement the baby boom heaped on their daughters is paying off. But we didn’t mean for it to come off the backs of our sons. I think the shift in the economy is reinforcing/ exaggerating the result. It’s in popular culture everywhere, the new woman so strong and smart, the new man so backward and foolish.

Another comment:

Males are now being given a “boot on the neck” and so this has nothing to do with any sort of level playing field. Males are expected to build, repair, transport, and defend everything…while women are free from any such expectations.

Men are expected to be punished for everything. But women are paradoxically treated as “strong, independent victims”.

And yet another comment:

Decades of school systems’ encouraging girls while quasi-criminalizing boys, medicating and penalizing primary-school boys for what is typical little-boy behavior has something to do with this. Perhaps if the majority of primary-school teachers weren’t women of whom many in large measure value the ability of little girls to sit quietly over ebullient expressions of interest (or whatever) from little boys there might be better outcomes at that level and fewer boys internalizing the notion that they’re just no good in school and not valued setting them up to respond to the lure of street life and the usual macho acting-out that that feeling marginalized leads to in males. Insane zero-tolerance behavioral policies by unthinking school administrators don’t help either. Arrest a six year old for bringing a[f] spork from his camping mess kit to school? Totally un-called for – it’s absurd and damaging.

Boys and men right now are off to a bad start from day one and those who don’t go along with the female -privileged society are stuck on the sidelines. A boy’s typical day might be one with a single mom, mostly female teachers who rarely give him a break, a culture that tells him he is a pervert, TV shows, bulletin boards and news shows portraying him as a rapist and domestic violence abuser and all around bad guy. It’s no wonder men have opted out of an economy and culture that values them so little.

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