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The Crisis of Young Men Is A Crisis For Us All

The most marginalized and poorly served group of people in the United States is also the key to our future: young men. The WSJ reports that prospects for male twenty-somethings are bleak:

The unemployment rate for males between 25 and 34 years old with high-school diplomas is 14.4%—up from 6.1% before the downturn four years ago and far above today’s 9% national rate. The picture is even more bleak [sic] for slightly younger men: 22.4% for high-school graduates 20 to 24 years old. That’s up from 10.4% four years ago.

Young men are less likely than women to attend or complete college and are, therefore, less competitive in the jobs market. Even the military can only take a minority of its applicants.

Joblessness is only one aspect of a growing social crisis.  America is increasingly failing at the most basic task of socializing any group of people faces: helping its young males make the difficult transition from boyhood and adolescent to mature manhood.  Raised right and appropriately mentored, young men channel their energy and idealism into building families and making a better world.  Hard work, ambition, the desire to serve and protect: young men at their best make indispensable contributions to social health and well being.

It is perilously easy for young men to lose their way and our society does very little to help.  Between widespread divorce and illegitimacy, many young men are growing up with only tenuous connections with suitable adult role models.  Movies, television and popular music offer the most distorted and destructive images of men: either superhuman macho killing and loving machines or ineffectual workadaddy wimps and figures of fun.

If our boys don’t negotiate that complex transition and become men, American society will fail.  It is really that simple.  In some urban communities the transmission of the values and behaviors that help boys become men has broken down altogether; that crisis is spreading out of the inner cities and into the mainstream.  Churches, community groups and individual men need to think hard about how to reach and help this vulnerable and vital demographic.  Without new generations of upright, God fearing, disciplined, hard working and community minded men, American society will be a poor and violent place.  We are already well on the way.

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  • Buce

    General Sherman saw it coming:

    The young bloods of the South: sons of planters, lawyers about towns, good billiard-players and sportsmen, men who never did work and never will. War suits them, and the rascals are brave, fine riders, bold to rashness, and dangerous subjects in every sense. They care not a sou for niggers, land, or any thing. They hate Yankees per se, and don’t bother their brains about the past, present or future. As long as they have good horses, plenty of forage, and an open country, they are happy. This is a larger class than most men suppose, and they are the most dangerous set of men that this war has turned loose upon the world. They are splendid riders, first-rate shots, and utterly reckless. Stewart, John Morgan, Forrest, and Jackson, are the types and leaders of this class. These men must all be killed or employed by us before we can hope for peace.

    And see generally:

  • Anthony

    Culturally, WRM our young men have been abandoned (they have really been up against it). That is, since Title IX (not mitigating acts social benefits) boys generally in America have become an afterthought (culturally speaking) vis-a-vis their general role as future husbands, uncles, fathers, brothers, societal functionaries, etc. You are absolutely correct we have neglected our boys for last 30 years at our institutional peril (Kay Hymowitz has written about the unsettling bias against boys in our culture). Now, how do we galvanize and focus U.S. attention, without offending gender particularist, on general plight of U.S. young men and its potential disadvantage for American socio-political health?

  • gooch mango

    Young men break things. They disrupt things. They tear down the old and build new things.

    They ask “Why?” too much. They try new ways too often. They upset too many applecarts.

    Young men are the font of creative destruction, and that is a clear and present danger to an over-bureaucratized, over-credentialed, crony system that only wishes to perpetuate itself ad infinitum.

    “Sit still, shut up, and do as you’re told” is the ethos of the day. Now take your Ritalin and toe the line, mister… or no credential for you!

  • whiskey

    I’d argue that the central problem is WOMEN. Women create the men they end up with, in aggregate. These guys are what they are because women rewarded it, and created it. Read the article, the steady “nice guy” is divorced and living with his mother after he lost his job, the ex-con mooches off a string of girlfriends (because he’s the sexy bad boy). It is utterly predictable to anyone with a passing knowledge of women to find the ex-con has a passel of girlfriends supporting him, the other guy is basically a sexless hermit dropping out to Call of Duty and beer.

    Economic hardship is part of the eternal up/down cycles of any economy (planned or capitalist). We will always have it. If it takes heady earnings for a guy to attract and keep a mate, that’s not sustainable. Because those heady bubble-derived earnings are not sustainable.

    For every Call of Duty playing male drop-out, you have a corresponding Sex and the City female devotee with a string of bad boy sex partners (leaving her unable to bond to anyone). With also unsustainable “careers” in government (“soft” social work and paper-pushing), HR, PR, marketing, fashion, infotainment, and so on. The entire consumer economy and media are focused on female consumption and spending — that’s not sustainable because a massive female-dominated “professional class” doing marketing, PR, design etc. is no more sustainable than the housing bubble.

    It is not as if women are becoming: engineers, chemists, physicists, materials scientists, or other things that create value and wealth in a society. Outside medicine and law where they dominate female professions are fairly useless. A bubble set to burst. [And really, pretty much all accounting, corporate finance, and general paper pushing can be done far cheaper by either computers or outsourced folks in India/China or both. And so will, eventually.] About 70% of what women do in the workplace is utterly useless, mere wealth transference not creation.

    Besides, the entire Democratic Party, consisting of anti-ordinary-White guy alliance: rich White elites, Blacks, Hispanics, Professional White women, are happy to see these guys obliterated. That’s the whole point, the alliance cannot get “more” (power, resources, spending, government preferences) without these ordinary White guys getting less. That’s not going to change, until White guys start rioting and burning down cities ala the LA Riots. That’s the only thing our modern elites reward.

  • ms

    As a mom of 5 kids, 3 boys and 2 girls, I have thought a lot about this topic. In a way I hate to say it, but I’ve come to believe in watching my kids grow that people need roles. The roles don’t have to be rigid, but at the same time, every generation can’t reinvent the wheel. It’s far easier to live a meaningful and satisfying life if you have some idea what is expected of you as a useful member of society.

    Being a father and supporting a family is a very important role for both society and men. Too many women would like to turn men into lap dogs while they “have it all.” They push men around and then are unhappy with them because IMO, on some level, women want men to be strong.

    Now, I understand that two incomes are necessary for many families. In spite of this, we need to recognize that familial division of labor is a GOOD thing. Men and women are not the same and this is to the advantage of families. Parents need a wide variety of skills and abilities in order to successfully raise children. When the skills of one are not adequate, the other is there to fill in the gap. This has worked very well in our family.

    The current trend toward normlessness in society has been harder on men than women, it seems. My three sons are of the educated-nice-guy variety. They do not “hook-up” and want to marry and have kids. It is hard for them to find women who want what they want, however. As my son put it, it is hard to form relationships these days because nothing is assumed, everything has to be negotiated.

    Again, it is important that roles not be rigid so that those who don’t fit standard roles can find a satisfying life, but for most people norms and roles serve a valuable purpose–they allow us to have relationships and live lives that do not have to be constantly negotiated.

    Finally, I firmly believe that institutions have concentrated so hard on “reviving Ophelia” that they have revived her with a vengeance. In my state, sadly dysfunctional California, the state universities now admit 55% females and 45% males. I personally know a number of young males, boys who are by any measure stellar students, who were rejected by these institutions in the past year. I strongly suspect that there is a bias against such young men in the admissions process. I think the universities still labor under the delusion that young women are at a disadvantage. They need to rethink this and the further delusion that female abilities are more important and valuable than male attributes. They are not. Both are vitally important for families and society as a whole.

    Beyond this,

  • downstate

    Here’s some free advice, take it or leave it. To any young man – learn a trade, stop chasing worthless (or undervalued) degrees. Roofers, welders, plumbers, backhoe operators, truck drivers, electricians and so forth, forever.
    Do not study to be a pencil pusher, America is full of them, but we have a real lack of men who can actually do something.
    If you are willing to get your hands dirty, and be tired at the end of your work day, there is a job out there for you.
    I speak as someone who lives in flyover country. There are jobs, some require training, but not a 4 year degree. Get to it. If your area doesn’t have opportunities, leave. You’re young, you probably can leave. It’s time to use some common sense, guys.

  • Grim

    “Joblessness is only one aspect of a growing social crisis. America is increasingly failing at the most basic task of socializing any group of people faces: helping its young males make the difficult transition from boyhood and adolescent to mature manhood.”

    The movie Fight Club does an excellent job addressing this issue. When you raise a generation of disillusioned, confused young men it causes major problems in any society, from suicide bombers in the Middle East to suicide by gang shootout in the USA.

  • Scott555

    “Without new generations of upright, disciplined, hard working and community minded men, American society will be a poor and violent place. We are already well on the way.”

    Fixed that for you…

    Feel free to drop references to the imaginary friend club at any time. The very people we can all acknowledge must get engaged in a serious manner – and fast – are not going to respond to solicitations from fairy-tales and appeals to the supernatural.

  • KG

    I agree with downstate, go for a trade. Degrees, even in the hard sciences, aren’t a guarantee of anything, and there is an upper limit on how many such degreed people we need. And it is far lower than for trades.

  • Warlord

    My pity goes out to the young men brought up by single or divorced women.With no male to
    relate to,and the majority of his mothers friends male haters,he matures with a warped sense of male/female interaction .The result being, a man that either adores his mother, and other women,or the extreme opposite, the mother
    hating women beater, with no sense of respect
    for family unity,unless its a gang.

  • James Lane

    Young men have no models to pattern their lives after? After forty years of male bashing, what do you expect? In this country, relations between men and women are poisoned.
    No wonder the future belongs to the conservative religious. At least they have something to pass down to the next generation.

  • Luke Lea

    There is a way out.

  • Mamasnowwhite

    I’m a divorced mom of three and yet blessed to have their dad be very active in their lives. Men AND women need to be actively involved in the raising of their children. It’s the only way society will overcome the obstacles present today. I firmly believe children need boundaries, discipline, rules. If children are raised with a sense of entitlement there is no hope. They must be TAUGHT to respect authority and rules. They must be taught to connect with reality.

    Every adult in our country needs to go see the movie
    ‘Courageous’ and then stand up and make a change in their own circle of influence. It’s up to us.

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