Recently, I was having a discussion with one of my female acquaintances and we approached the subject of masculinity. She told me about how she had gone on a few dates last month with no second dates being on the horizon. She looked at me with a look of hopelessness and sadness and said, “You know Solomon, I always wanted someone similar to my dad. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think men today just aren’t what they used to be”.
She’s not alone and many other girls just like her ask relatively the same question: “What is up with men today?” And questions like this are certainly reasonable. Are modern men weaker than men belonging to previous generations? If so, who or what is to blame?
There are a plethora of reasons why men are of a lesser caliber these days, but I can’t point all of them out. In this piece, I’m going to focus on the three main causes of men being less masculine today.
Attacks on masculinity
The first part I would like to address is the multifaceted cultural attack on masculinity. Many boys now grow up in fatherless homes. Brookings Institute points out that in 1965, 3% of white infants were born to single mothers, while 24% of black infants were born to single mothers. In 25 years, the number grew to 64% for blacks and 18% for whites. In 2019, more than a third (34%) of children in the United States come from a single-parent home and about 25% of children grow up in a home without a father, whether that is biological, step, or adoptive.
Many men are told that being masculine is evil, that it is wrong, that it perpetuates the “pandemic of rape”. Little boys can even be made to apologize for “the behaviors of their gender”. Many little boys grow up in school and are placed at the back of the classroom and misdiagnosed with learning disorders. In several of his books, Dr. Leonard Sax explains how many boys are disproportionately misdiagnosed with learning disorders when they simply are either disengaged with school and/or they simply can’t hear their teachers. A vast majority, 76%, of public school teachers are female and 89% of elementary school teachers are female; because boys usually don’t hear as well as girls and women typically have higher pitched voices, young boys sometimes can’t hear their teachers and pay attention to other things as well as girls. Misbehavior is medicalized and boys begin to have a negative relationship with school.
Then these boys step on college campuses where they are villainized as dangerous, predatory, power-hungry, and sex-hungry. When it comes to allegations of sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and the like, men are discriminated against due to the paradigm of “Believe All Women”. This is why Dr. Jordan Peterson has become such a cultural icon; he tells men that being masculine is not just OK, but that it is “necessary”.
The second part I would like to address is the issue of porn. Having battled my own addiction to pornography for several years, I can attest to how this affects development in masculinity. Porn is free, easily accessible, unlimited, and extraordinarily powerful. Yes, women are addicted to porn as well, but porn affects men on a much greater scale. In real life and real relationships with women, men have to work on themselves in many areas. How to properly groom, how to talk to women, how to act on a date, how to muster up the courage to ask a woman out, how to dress well, and many other things. These steps for self-improvement aren’t a cakewalk; they take a lot of work. With porn, there is no need to go up to a girl and ask her what her name is because all a guy has to do is go to his favorite sites, type in the name of his favorite porn stars, and voila! Hundreds of thousands of pieces of content at the fingertips. With porn, there is no need to shave, shampoo, or shower. A man can sit in his favorite spot in whatever condition he likes with his device. With porn, responsibility and maturity are irrelevant.
Jordan Peterson explains it best in his analysis of Peter Pan. Wendy is a young English girl who wants to mature and have children and a family of her own. She desires that responsibility and accepts her mortality. Tinker Bell is a fairy; she doesn’t exist. Yet Peter doesn’t desire a romantic relationship with Wendy, a real woman, but rather entertains a relationship with Tinkerbell, the “fairy of porn”. Peter wants Wendy to be the mother of the Lost Boys. He refuses to grow up.
Too many men have fallen down this hole of becoming Peter Pans. Too many men have fallen for the Tinker Bells of society and ignored the Wendys around them. Many men would rather focus on living the life of a teenage boy, focusing on their own needs and desires instead of finally maturing. Men have taken the easy road to pleasure and fantasy, and ignored or delayed their way to the road of reality and responsibility.
The internet and social media
The third issue is the virtual world of video games and social media. Now to be clear, I’m not saying video games and social media are bad in and of themselves. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Playstations, and Xboxes are tools, like hammers, cars, dumbbells or forks. But like porn, they are often used as an escape from the real world and responsibility. The average gamer spends almost 8.5 hours a week playing video games and 23% of men play more than 12 hours a week! The average person spent 145 minutes on social media daily last year. That’s 10% of the day wasted on just scrolling! The amount of time spent on social media and video games has only gone up, and trends show time spent in these areas will only increase.
I went to get my haircut last month. My barber, who is older than me, said this: There is a sharp distinction between the real world that humans live in, and the virtual world that humans escape to. The more time spent in the real world working on your craft, the more likely you are to succeed. The more time spent in the virtual world, the more likely you are to lose yourself.
In this country, there is a wide chasm between the average amount of time spent reading (15 minutes a day) versus the average amount of time spent watching television (166 minutes a day). What we see here is a decrease in time spent by men developing themselves and becoming more masculine. Time spent escaping maturation and manhood is increasing and has been increasing for years, which means time spent retreating from real-life responsibilities is increasing as well.
Men today are weaker physically, emotionally, and mentally than men of past generations. No one person or problem is to be blame. However, one thing is certain: When we men aren’t fulfilling our roles, taking on our responsibilities, and doing what we are created to do, we hurt ourselves, the women around us, the future generation of children, and society at large.
Solomon Green is a Contributor at Merion West and the host of the podcast "One More Thing With Solo Green". His writings and podcast mostly focus on Culture and Politics. To send in your questions, comments, podcast topic suggestions, or business inquiries, you can best reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.