As a father to three boys, I noted with some interest Richard Reeves's 2022 book about Of Boys and Men. While some people tried to use it as another silly armament in the culture wars, the book wasn't intended that way, nor did the usage really stick. Reeves was far more interested in understanding the problem boys face and straightforwardly solving it than he was in pegging the blame on anyone. (This Guardian review has a bit more on his approach.) Reeves's book was far different from most in along these lines. The people talking about any challenge faced by a group tend to be far more interested in wielding the grievance as a cudgel.
This isn't just true for those on, broadly speaking, the 'mens rights' branch of the right wing. A few years back, my workplace promoted a set of videos recorded by some progressives about various flaws of traditional masculinity and how those flaws manifested themselves in mistreatment of women and some other groups. I remember watching those videos and wondering just what they'd have us do, aside from feel guilty about the poorly-formed historic and lingering notions of what it was to behave like a man. Understandable as it was, the justifiable grievance wasn't all that constructive.
This brings us to the article I've linked to below. Carlos Lozada does good work in parsing the tribe-signaling in Senator Josh Hawley's book on masculinity; Lozada also links to the rebuttal Reeves posted about the book. More than that, though, he shows the long history of comparing current boys and men with their fathers and finding them, to varying degrees, lacking. I'm not so sure there's anything all that unique about what's happening today: it's more like people are always comparing what they see to the halcyon days of yore. No one quite measures up to their Dad or their Uncle or their Grandpa. How could they? He was a big dude when they were tiny.
I'll be failing in the attempt to measure up to my Dad in this weekend's golf tournament: his golf handicap rounds to an 8; mine to a 16. It's a good thing we're playing on a team: Yellis vs. the world.
Men Have Lost Their Way. Josh Hawley Has Thoughts About How to Save Them.
It's the problem that has too many names. Toxic masculinity. The feminization of America. The epidemic of fatherlessness. The crisis of boys. The end of men.