In Defense of Boys

hammer-girl

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a male

James Taranto  writes:  The New York Times’s Charles Blow had an interesting column the other day, and we mean that as a backhanded compliment. Blow opens by announcing that his intention is to transcend the “simplistic, black-or-white, conservative vs. progressive discussion around the dissolution of the traditional family and high single-parent birthrates” and instead “focus more on complex areas of causation.”

That’s awfully ambitious, if not impossibly so, for an 800-word column. And Blow ends up spending most of that space decreeing various arguments off-limits.

“We can’t look longingly at the halcyon ideals of yore,” he avers. Good to know. “We must provide thorough and unimpeded sex education.” After all, “abstinence . . . won’t be for everyone.” For the sake of the nonabstainers, “we must provide a full range of reproductive services–prophylactic and contraceptive as well as post-pregnancy.”

In this context, the adjectives “prophylactic” and “contraceptive” are synonyms, but we guess he means to allude, respectively, to male and female methods. “Post-pregnancy,” however, is a new euphemism for abortion, so the bottom line is that female sexual and reproductive choice may not be questioned.

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How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married

couples-vintage

In families headed by married couples, the poverty level in 2012 was just 7.5%. Those with a single mother: 33.9%

brideAri Fleischer  writes:  If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he groomshould focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family. A man mostly raised by a single mother and his grandparents who defied the odds to become president of the United States is just the person to take up the cause.

“Marriage inequality” should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t. According to Census Bureau information analyzed by the Beverly LaHaye Institute, among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty. By contrast, when families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.

And the number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America. A 2012 study by the Heritage Foundation found that 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%. In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not.

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The Real Gender War is Against Boys

It's time to stop the grievance competition between the sexes and ensure all the nation's children get what they need to grow into productive citizens. (Photo: Thinkstock)

It’s time to stop the grievance competition between the sexes and ensure all the nation’s children get what they need to grow into productive citizens. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Lost in all the noise about helping girls achieve their potential is a growing body of evidence that boys are in trouble. It’s the real “gender gap.” Consider this: A recent study by two MIT economists found that men, not women, are less likely to graduate from high school and finish college. As a result, the study said, “over the last three decades, the labor market trajectory of males in the U.S. has turned downward along four dimensions: skills acquisition, employment rates, occupational stature and real wage levels.”

The authors say the declining economic value of men and the rise in women’s achievement contributes to the breakdown of the American family by making marriage less valuable. Then, with more out-of-wedlock births and single-parent households headed by women, the lack of a male role model hurts boys in particular, both economically and academically.

fathers-sonsThis isn’t a new finding: Multiple studies over the past 40 years have shown that boys suffer more than girls from divorcebecause they tend to externalize their reactions and act in ways that make them more likely to cause trouble at school or get arrested. Simply put: Boys need fathers to learn how to become men. And too many of them don’t have one.

The social cost of this is not just the obvious burden from spiraling welfare and prison populations — a 2008 study estimated that family fragmentation cost taxpayers more than $112 billion a year — but in the lost potential as well.

What to do? The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that one exists. And in this case that means ignoring all the political nonsense about a “war on girls” and “war on women,” and taking a serious look at whether the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. The research indicates this is so.

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Boy Trouble

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY
Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

Kay S. Hymowitz writes:  When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. Now, though, with teen births down more than 50 percent from their 1991 peak and girls dominating classrooms and graduation ceremonies, boys and men are increasingly the ones under examination. Their high school grades and college attendance rates have remained stalled for decades. Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.

Economists have scratched their heads. “The greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” MIT’s Michael Greenstone told the New York Times. If boys were as rational as their sisters, he implied, they would be staying in school, getting degrees, and going on to buff their Florsheim shoes on weekdays at 7:30 AM. Instead, the rational sex, the proto-homo economicus, is shrugging off school and resigning itself to a life of shelf stocking. Why would that be?

This spring, another MIT economist, David Autor, and coauthor Melanie Wasserman, proposed an answer. The reason for boys’ dismal school performance, they argued, was the growing number of fatherless homes. Boys and young men weren’t behaving rationally, the theory suggested, because their family background left them without the necessary attitudes and skills to adapt to changing social and economic conditions. The paper generated a brief buzz but then vanished. That’s too bad, for the claim that family breakdown has had an especially harsh impact on boys, and therefore men, has considerable psychological and biological research behind it. Anyone interested in the plight of poor and working-class men—and, more broadly, mobility and the American dream—should keep it front and center in public debate.

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