Category Archives: Links

Talking about boys

An interesting conversation has been sparked recently about the role/decline of men in society. I thought I would gather it together here for your perusal. Kay Hymowitz more or less started it with the following:

Boy Trouble
In fact, signs that the nuclear-family meltdown of the past half-century has been particularly toxic to boys’ well-being are not new. By the 1970s and eighties, family researchers following the children of the divorce revolution noticed that, while both girls and boys showed distress when their parents split up, they had different ways of showing it. Girls tended to “internalize” their unhappiness: they became depressed and anxious, and many cut themselves, or got into drugs or alcohol. Boys, on the other hand, “externalized” or “acted out”: they became more impulsive, aggressive, and “antisocial.” Both reactions were worrisome, but boys’ behavior had the disadvantage of annoying and even frightening classmates, teachers, and neighbors. Boys from broken homes were more likely than their peers to get suspended and arrested. Girls’ unhappiness also seemed to ease within a year or two after their parents’ divorce; boys’ didn’t.

  • Are Boys Irrational?
    Hymowitz (and her economist sources) does not make an empirical inquiry into what young males’ objectives are. Instead, she assumes their objectives to be what she thinks they should be. Hymowitz laments that young males are insufficiently interested in “becoming reliable husbands and fathers.” Imagine somebody opening a piece with the converse lament that young females are insufficiently interested in “becoming reliable wives and mothers.” The author would be attacked as a misogynist and a dinosaur. Why, critics would demand, should women set their sights so low?

    Well, why should men? Except perhaps in very conservative communities, men with sufficient social skills can find sex and companionship without need of a matrimonial commitment (and for those who lack social skills, a willingness to marry is unlikely to provide much compensation). The culture’s unrelenting message–repeated in Hymowitz’s article–is that women are doing fine on their own. If a woman doesn’t need a man, there’s little reason for him to devote his life to her service. Further, in the age of no-fault divorce, “reliable husbands and fathers” not infrequently find themselves impoverished by child support and restricted by court order from spending time with their children.

    • The “Men Go Their Own Way” Mystique
      Well, for one thing, I say all this as a Black Man, seeing all this from what I refer to as Ground Zero in the ongoing Sexual Politics Wars – Black America. For the past few decades, Black Men have been the shock troops in that war, arguably millions of them “going Ghost” in that time. As I’ve noted in a previous article, it is not at all unusual to pass through entire Black zones of a given city, and NOT see Black Men aged 30-49 in any appreciable numbers, if at all. Many will attempt to attribute this to mass incarceration of Black Men, or high homicide rates of same, and to be sure, they have played a role; but in a time when both are dropping, and, as we’ll see below, Black male cohorts outside of those commonly associated with jail and murder are “ghost” as well, something else has to account for the whys and wherefores as to why so many Brothas are MIA. MGTOWism, explains it very, very well.
  • Boys will be Girls
    My real criticism for Hymowitz’s piece is not just based on her feminine-centric definition of maturity and “human capital.” Much of what she does write about is an accurate description of how the Fatherless home leads to a cycle of male dysfunction and anti-social pathology. In many ways, she’s correct – the absence of the Fathers in the home, removes all the positive aspects of masculinity as an influence and guide to his development. What she doesn’t address (and is most likely completely incapable of even recognizing) is not only the absence of positive masculinity harming to his development….but how the negative feminine aspects of his Mother’s influence plays a role in his pathological development.

    Boys don’t just need Fathers in the home to role model and provide guidance them on how to become Men. Boys need Fathers in the home, to keep the mothering from becoming smothering.

  • It’s a man’s world and it always will be
    It was always the proper mission of feminism to attack and reconstruct the ossified social practices that had led to wide-ranging discrimination against women. But surely it was and is possible for a progressive reform movement to achieve that without stereotyping, belittling or demonizing men. History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men’s hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children. Over the past century, it was labor-saving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.
  • More ominous than a strike
    What we are seeing isn’t men throwing a collective temper tantrum, noble or otherwise. What we are seeing is men responding to incentives. Even worse, inertia has delayed the response to incentives, which means much more adjustment is likely on the way. Conscious choices can be bargained with, and threats of punishment are still effective. The culture itself is far harder to negotiate with. No one is refusing anything. So the Soviets had no choice but to assign quotas, and severely punish those who failed to meet them. But while the quota/coercion system keeps production running, it works against human nature. If you become the best producer you end up being assigned a larger share of the quota burden; from each according to his abilities. Over time the logic of this works its way into the culture, as everyone gets just a little more inclined to go with the flow and not do more than required.

    The more immediate problem in the West is the reduced incentive young men perceive to compete as breadwinners due to the continuing delay in the age of marriage. Again this isn’t a movement, it is a delayed response by the culture to reality. When the average woman marries in her late teens or even her early twenties, the average young man will see himself as competing with his peers for the job of husband. Not only is he competing to not be left out of the game entirely, but he is jockeying for a better choice of wife. But move the age of marriage out far enough, and eventually young men don’t see themselves so clearly as competing for the job of husband.

The Distinct, Positive Impact of a Good Dad
What this view overlooks, however, is a growing body of research suggesting that men bring much more to the parenting enterprise than money, especially today, when many fathers are highly involved in the warp and woof of childrearing. As Yale psychiatrist Kyle Pruett put it in Salon: “fathers don’t mother.” The contributions that fathers make to their children’s lives can be seen in three areas: teenage delinquency, pregnancy, and depression.

The War on Poverty Turns 50: Why Aren’t We Winning?
Things get really interesting when you zoom into the marriage picture. Among what you might consider “modern families” (e.g. the 61 million people married and living together, both working), there is practically no poverty. None. Among marriages where one person works and the other doesn’t (another 36 million Americans) the poverty rate is just under 10 percent.

But take away one parent, and the picture changes rather dramatically. There are 62 million single-parent families in America. Forty-one percent of them (26 million households) don’t have any full-time workers. This is something beyond a wage crisis. It’s a jobs crisis, a participation crisis—and it’s a major driver of our elevated poverty rate.

Be it resolved, men are obsolete…
Since the beginning of human civilization, men have been the dominant sex. But now, for the first time, a host of indicators suggest that women are not only achieving equality with men but are fast emerging as the more successful sex of the species. Whether in education, employment, personal health or child rearing, statistics point to a rise in the status and power of women at home, in the workplace, and in traditional male bastions such as politics. But are men, and the age-old power structures associated with “maleness,” permanently in decline? Or do men still retain significant control over the workplace, the family and society at large, including women? In sum, where are the sexes headed in the 21st century? Watch the debate.

Links – Abortion, Nuns, John Cleese

  • Chilean Study Proves that Outlawing Abortion Does Not Lead to “Coat-hanger Deaths” – Leon H Wolf
    Indeed, only 12-19% of all hospitalization from abortion can be attributable to clandestine abortions between 2001 and 2008. These data suggest that over time, restrictive laws may have a restraining effect on the practice of abortion and promote its decrease. In fact, Chile exhibits today one of the lowest abortion-related maternal deaths in the world, with a 92.3% decrease since 1989 and a 99.1% accumulated decrease over 50 years.

  • John Cleese Reading C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters”

  • Vatican to sisters: Enough moving beyond Jesus – Mollie Hemingway
    The group was not cited in the Vatican document for focusing too much work on poverty and economic injustice. Far from it. They were actually praised for their work in this regard. In fact, on the first page alone is this line, “The Holy See acknowledges with gratitude the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years.” I read the eight-page document and certainly didn’t see anything coming even close to suggesting that the Vatican wants the sisters to focus less work on poverty issues. The document never indicates any problem with that work at all. Instead, it focuses on the sisters’ silence on other issues of social justice and fidelity to church teaching.

  • Where’s the Bacon? – Kathryn Jean Lopez
    During the current HHS controversy some have asked, “What kind of Christians would impose such a government mandate on our religious institutions?” In December, 1941, with Britain in mortal peril and America reeling after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill addressed the United States Congress. In that worst of times, he scorned the enemies of freedom and defiantly asked, ―What kind of people do they think we are! Today, with the same defiance, we can declare, “What kind of Catholics do they think we are!”

  • Partisan Pots and Kettles – Matthew Schmitz
    Commonweal magazine has criticized the recent statement on religious liberty by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a seemingly partisan document that makes the bishops ”sound more like politicians than pastors.” The Commonweal piece skirts around the substance of the matter, talking about the optics of the bishops’ statement rather than its actual merits, concluding that ”if religious freedom becomes a partisan issue, its future is sure to grow dimmer.” If one wants to obsess over optics, one obvious way to make the bishops’ effort “seem” less partisan would be for it to receive a vocal defense from a magazine closely identified with the Democratic party. A magazine, well, like Commonweal. Alas, I don’t think the editors’ commitment to non-partisanship extends quite that far.

Links – Resurrection & Marriage

  • The Resurrection and the Ending of Mark’s Gospel – Mark Heath
    And one point that is often made by the skeptics is usually presented along the following lines: “Mark’s gospel, which is the earliest, doesn’t actually report the resurrection. The church added that bit on much later.” The implication is that honest Mark tells it like it is – Jesus died and that was that, but Luke and Matthew wanted a happy ending for their story, so they fabricated the story of the resurrection, and someone much later “fixed” Mark by adding a resurrection to that too. To someone not familiar with the gospels this sounds like a major embarrassment for Christians – a coverup of epic proportions. But in fact, this accusation is at best a half-truth.

  • Why Was Jesus Crucified? – Larry Hurtado
    So, however attractive to our own gentle instincts may be the sort of Jesus touted often, a guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly and just wanted everyone to be friends, we have to posit a Jesus who could get himself crucified. And we should do so without caricatured Jewish leaders and Roman governor, and without invoking some legal goof-up. Instead, probably everyone involved knew what they were doing.

  • The Christian Divorce Rate Myth – Glenn T. Stanton
    “Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!” It’s one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it’s perhaps one of the most inaccurate. Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population.

  • The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage – Meg Jay
    Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect. Researchers originally attributed the cohabitation effect to selection, or the idea that cohabitors were less conventional about marriage and thus more open to divorce. As cohabitation has become a norm, however, studies have shown that the effect is not entirely explained by individual characteristics like religion, education or politics. Research suggests that at least some of the risks may lie in cohabitation itself.

  • Modern-Day Marcionism – William J. Tighe
    It is not clear from the report whether Ms. Hughes was speaking as a Christian or as an expert in ancient history, but it doesn’t really matter, for she is wrong on both counts. In fact, though, her remarks can be connected loosely with two very old Christian heresies, Marcionism and Montanism, which seem to have undergone something of a revival among trendy religion pundits.

  • ‘Service Religion’ and the Crisis of Cultural Confidence – David French
    Yes, people need mosquito nets, but a lack of netting generations after we figured out how malaria is transmitted (or a lack of clean water, or virtually any other aspect of public health we take for granted) is a symptom, not the cause of multi-generational poverty and suffering in the Third World. To be clear, it’s vitally important that we alleviate these symptoms — and those who labor to alleviate those symptoms are doing heroic work for the “least of these” — but that can only be part of the story.

  • Praeparatio Evangelica – Matthew Anger
    Feser offers the paradox that the old pagan is closer to the faith than the modern agnostic. He refers to the “idea of what Aquinas called the praeambula fidei – the preambles of faith, by which philosophy opens the door for revelation.” But for a few Christians this creates a problem. “Like the Pharisee who scorns the sincere piety and virtue of the Samaritan, some Christians scorn natural theology and natural law as impious or at least questionable. They… despise human nature, and with it any non-Christian understanding of God and morality, as altogether corrupt and without value….”