In 2008, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker made a splash with the release of her book, “Save the Males.” Parker’s book makes a strong case, using humorous anecdotes and examples, for rescuing boys from trends that seem to portend the extinction of masculinity.
Ten years later, in 2018, Drs. Warren Farrell and John Gray published the book, “The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It.” In a very serious manner, the two describe and document how and why young males are in such trouble today. Boys are struggling from crises in education, mental health, fathering, and their sense of purpose and self-worth.
Today, it seems those warnings about our sons from Parker, Farrell, Gray, and scores of others have proven true. A Sept. 6 news story in the Wall Street Journal, “A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost,‘” reports that there is a “widening education gap across the U.S.” at two- and four-year colleges and universities: “At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group. U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.”
That’s pretty worrisome, but in some ways, it is understandable that young men are deciding to forego higher education. When schools like Rhode Island College offer classes on “Rhetoric of Toxic Masculinity,” and James Madison University trains its student employees to treat anyone who is male, white, and heterosexual as an “oppressor,” who can blame them for opting out?
While a college education is absolutely critical for many jobs and careers, there is plenty of work out there that doesn’t involve crippling debt and a two- or four-year commitment. Hopefully, many of the young men who aren’t going to college are instead attending trade schools and learning valuable — and recession-proof — professions such as HVAC techs, plumbers, and electricians.
Today’s young men may be threatened and even bullied. But think about this: When it comes time for the college-educated woman to settle down, will that trade school technician be willing to marry her and her student loan debt?
— Robin Beres, editor