But, surely, there has been some ineffable shift in the definition of dignity. Many men were raised with a certain image of male dignity, which emphasized autonomy, reticence, ruggedness, invulnerability and the competitive virtues. Now, thanks to a communications economy, they find themselves in a world that values expressiveness, interpersonal ease, vulnerability and the cooperative virtues.Surely, part of the situation is that many men simply do not want to put themselves in positions they find humiliating. A high school student doesn’t want to persist in a school where he feels looked down on. A guy in his 50s doesn’t want to find work in a place where he’ll be told what to do by savvy young things.
Brooks highlights an important point: the middle and lower class used to gain confidence and competency from jobs in the manufacturing and construction industries, jobs that have all but evaporated. Today, a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for many jobs (even ones that don’t really require a college education to perform well). But for some reason, men, broadly speaking, have been slow to respond to this new reality. By contrast, 35-year-old women were 23 percent more likely than their male peers to have a bachelor’s degree in 2010.And this has consequences. One-fifth of men in their prime working ages “are out of the labor force,” Brooks notes. The situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon, as more children than ever are now born out of wedlock—likely due to the decreasing marriagability of these men. And children born in single-family homes are less likely to graduate from high school themselves.Read the whole thing. [Assembly line worker image courtesy of Shutterstock]