Plain English with Derek Thompson - Why America Has a Crisis of Masculinity


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Today’s episode is about men in America.

Now, I would say there’s about a 5% chance.

This episode gets me a little bit of trouble, maybe a 10% chance, and that’s because I think it’s genuinely difficult to talk about this subject without sometimes misrepresenting myself.


So I want to take a little bit of extra time today to tell you about why this episode this topic is interesting and important to me in the last few years.

I’ve become interested in the emergence of a gender gap in American politics.

We’re Unused to exist.


Since 1980, we have seen a huge Gender Gap open up in the electorate for most of the 20th century, men and women voted very similarly but 1980 there was this sudden and surprising eight percentage Point difference between women and men voting respectively for the Democrat and the Republican Ronald Reagan incredibly.


It was only in a 1981 newspaper article published in the Washington Post that the term gender gap was coined, that Gap, Grew From eight points in 1982 12 points, 2002 13 points in 2016.

The Habit this Forest at if you are younger than 43 years old in America, you have never once lived through a presidential election, in which a majority of men voted for the Democrat.


Now, one way to summarize, the situation is to say that each party now lives with its own gender problem.

This is glaringly obvious to me when it comes to Republicans, Donald Trump is the very antithesis of a feminist, the overturning of Roe v– Wade.

The backsliding of abortion rights seems to be pushing women toward the Democratic party right now.


But there is I think an audience of relatively moderate men in America, who are looking for a positive vision of masculinity. and I don’t think modern Liberals are very good at offering that I think Joe Rogan is offering it, I think Jordan Peterson is offering it.


I think any number of people, I don’t particularly listen to, or like very much is offering it, but I don’t think the left is And for a long time, I’ve wanted to do an episode.

That asked why Today’s guest is the Brookings, institution scholar, Richard Reeves.


Richard has a new book coming out called of boys and men and this book do something, very interesting.

Richard points out that despite the clear Legacy of patriarchy in America and all sorts of gender and inequality where women get the short end of the stick today.


The American man is in a state of Crisis from elevated, Dropout rates to skyrocketing, overdose deaths, to gun violence, and he delicately ties.

This struggle to the question of defining masculinity for a new age.

In this episode we talk about why women out achievement in school, the science of male and female brain development, the politics of gender and what a positive Progressive vision of masculinity.


Just might look like I’m Derek Thompson.

This is plain English.


Richard Reeves.

Welcome to the podcast.

Thank you for having me under.

It is subtitle of your new book of boys.

And men is why the modern male is struggling, why it matters and what to do about it?

And I like that subtitle I think we’re going to proceed precisely in that order.



This is happening.

Why it’s important?

What we can do.

But I have to imagine that for some people, maybe even for most people who tuned in to this episode, The Very existence of this episode, The Very existence of your book, raises a really important question, that is not answered in the subtitle.


What the hell are you talking about?

Men struggling like for every dollar earned by men women in America earn 83 cents, men run 91% of Fortune 500 businesses, they control 73 percent of the seats in Congress.

So what is the evidence that you are basing?


Your book on when you say that boys and men in America are struggling at all.

Well the big answer to that question is two things can be true at once that there can be remaining barriers and you just listed quite a few and we can dig into some of the details of it.


Whilst there are also problems facing many, boys and men and one you didn’t mention, but one that’s quite close to home.

For me I have a wife trying to raise seed capital, For business, only 3% of venture capital money goes to female Founders.


So I’m feeling, you know, we’re feeling that one’s like, that’s, that’s that’s did.

Every day, every dinner table, I get a version of that question.

Derek with that. 97 percent figure thrown at me.

But, but yes, this broader point, I think, is that in a sense?

Because we have made a lot of progress towards gender equality, not complete but significant progress on a whole range of fronts that we might get into.


What that It means is that you can talk about gender inequality in more of a two-way two-way street, there are some gender inequalities that remain to be tackled for girls and women for sure.

But there are some we’re really is boys and men who are disadvantaged and especially most vulnerable, boys and men.


And so, really, I think it’s kind of gift of the progress of the women’s movement to be even having this conversation at all.

I don’t think we do.

It was synonymous the cause of gender equality was synonymous with girls and women.

So incredibly recently like a blink of an eye in human history but it is still true and I fear that unless we turn our attention now to the problems of boys and men, that many of them will fester and they’ll get harder to deal with if we leave them to fester for too long and should give me some specific examples where our boy struggling, what, where is the data that you’re pointing to?


Well, the three main areas, I look at our education and it’s something that you’ve written a lot about direct and you’ve written a couple of very good pieces.

One in particular, on the growing gap in college and college campuses, where we’re sitting at 60 percent of the students on college campuses and Rising being female.


And so we’re seeing very big gender gaps in education.

And in fact the gender gap in getting a four-year college degree in the u.s. now is wider than it was in 1972.

When Title, Nine was passed to help girls and women in 1972.


So, at 13 percentage points, more likely that a guy would be getting a degree than a woman.

Now let’s flip to 15 percentage points.

More likely that a woman is going to get at them at.

So so bluntly put gender inequality in higher education in the u.s. is wider today than when Title 9 has passed but the other way around and then we’re seeing it.


You know, among the top scoring GPA high school students two-thirds of them are girls.

Big differences and are big difference in high school.

Graduation rates and so on.

Then on the work front and it’s important.

I think here this is going to be true generally but to add kind of nuances to who we’re talking about.

Most men in the u.s. today, earn less than most men did in 1979 adjusting for inflation.



All adjusting for inflation and it but I was also very careful in my language because I because is you direct.

So I have to be incredibly careful.

I say most men aren’t now earning less than most men were then it doesn’t mean it’s not the same man, but the male wage distribution.

Action adjusted for inflation, is a little bit down and where it was.


So if American men were nation and we’re measuring them by their earnings that Nations poorer today than it was four decades ago, that’s a remarkable economic fact.

And one that I don’t think is really sunken into our kind of policy debates.

And so there has been this decline in mail wages, and of course, the drop in mail, labor force, participation, especially for those with less education and then in the family, what we’re seeing is like a really big increase in the number of fathers who are not in a close relationship with their children.


For all kinds of complicated reasons, Reasons around family, and stability and so on to, but at heart, I think, because of the incredibly positive challenge that’s been made to the role of men as Breadwinner protect the provider by the success of the women’s movement but the result of that has been to leave particularly least powerful men.


Somewhat adrift and disconnected from very much from their own children and that’s bad for them.

It’s bad for the moms and it’s bad for the kids.

Overall as I was reading your book and trying to find some way to synthesize what I saw as the struggles of some boys.

And In America, it seemed to me that there’s this idea, someone controversial of a success sequence.


And if you go across the success sequence, men seem less likely to succeed in high school, then less likely to take advanced classes in high school, then less likely to graduate from high school more likely to drop out of high school then less likely to go to college.

If they go to college more likely to drop out less likely to graduate from school and then over the last 50 years is you’re pointing out in the labor force.


This is partly cashing out in the fact that they’re more likely to to drop out of the job.

Search entirely these activity rate or participation rate of prime.

Aged men has gone down consistently with every single decade.

So that’s sort of how I conceived of the problems that we’re talking about, is this happening in the US only or are you touching on global themes here by and large?


I think this is an international Trend.

I think that’s one of the things is that I one of the reasons I don’t have to pay close attention to it because if it was just a peculiarity of the u.s. you might say, well, what’s About our education system.

All can we go and learn?

Maybe, let’s go and see what they’re doing in France, or Finland or you know, South South Africa or Australia.


But the basic Trends are pretty similar everywhere.

The, the u.s. does stand out a little bit for the extent to which men of lost ground economically.

It’s not like men have done amazingly well in those other countries but they’ve at least made some ground.

They haven’t we haven’t seen this sort of backsliding quite the same way elsewhere but the basic pattern you’ve just described with this pipeline basically of just like a it’s like a domino.


All the way through from break, from the beginning, actually from pre-k, or even feel like you’re two years old all the way through to the 20s.

And so that’s why young men are more likely to be living at home with their parents, in their late, 20s, and women are Etc.

And so I do think there’s this kind of sense of a causal chain running all the way through.


But there’s that also cut too, deep cultural questions as to why that should be the case.

I think the question as to why it’s happening, is a different one, but the fact that it’s happening in pretty much the same way and pretty much every advance.

Economy again, big caveat, right?

This is only a conversation.

You can be having really and pretty, advanced economies, in most of the rest of the world.


It’s true.

The statements we made earlier about gender, equality, really, being about girls and women is still true, right?

If I’m, if I’m in Afghanistan I’m not making this argument but in advanced economies, the conversation has changed.


In the book you point to Scandinavia in Sweden, there is a term.


I’m probably going to butcher the pronunciation of it but polish Gleason, which means literally Oh boy, crisis in Finland, happiest Nation on Earth, one of the countries that American Education reformers most look to to say this is the country that we could be.

If we got education rights, there’s a massive gender gap in Finland. 20% of finished girls score at the highest reading levels.


Compared to just nine percent of boys, and that ratio is reversed at the bottom.

Boys are three times more likely than girls to score at the lowest reading level.

Let’s get into Y and let’s limit the question here, specifically to education.

As you mentioned, there’s been extraordinary progress in gender inequality when it comes to men and women. 100 years ago in America, certainly we discourage women from getting high school college education, men used to earn the vast, vast majority of bachelor’s degrees, but today men have clearly fallen behind women in high school and college in college completion.


Why do you think this is happening?

So I think that the very success of the women’s movement in, taking the breaks off women’s educational attainment has revealed.

The fact that the education system is inadvertently structured in favor of girls.


Now, I’ll talk about why that’s the case.

But the are inadvertently point is very important.

This is not, this was not a feminist plot, 100 years ago, a bunch of feminists didn’t sit around and design the education system this way, and then pretend to be men in order to make it happen because of course it was men.


Creating the education’s but one thing that and I’ve talked to a lot of sociologists and education less about this who are working these issues in the 70s and 80s.

Nobody expected girls and women to blow past men.

Everyone is focused on get to a quality get to a quality.

No one expect the line to keep going but the line keeps going and keeps going and it’s great over to peaking as happened at education and I think the primary reason for that is that the education system is somewhat more female friendly the main reason for that.


Is because girls mature earlier than boys and a biggest Gap in maturity occurs at the most important years for educational attainment.

IE, adolescence, adolescence is, when are you going to go to college or not how you’re going to get a high school?

You’re going to make a transition.

You’re going to graduate high school.


What kind of classes you go take your going to do AP.

Have you even thought I raised three boys like truck.

Have you even written a college essay?

I had one.

Son who literally would only apply to colleges that didn’t require an essay on the grounds.

That that would be extra work, right?

And so again, upper-middle-class boy, he’s fine, he’s college.


But that difference and it’s in these non-cognitive skills we can dig in a bit more on this if you like and so the result of that is that once the brakes came off girls, just blew past then natural advantage in the education system was only could only become apparent.


When they started going to college, it was only when we took the breaks up.

And now the brakes are off the storming past.

We hang on.


Actually there.

Well let’s look at the education system, one way that I thought about it.

As I was reading, both your book and this essay and the Atlantic that we’re going to talk about in just a second.


Is that education policy in the US?

And certainly around the world used to be explicitly patriarchal and anti-female.

And so men dominated women on an uneven playing field but his policy created more equality of opportunity in the education space.


It meant that young female brains and a young male brains were competing on a more even playing field and on that even Playing field, young female brains, just heard a kicking ass, right?

And so, I’d love you to tell me a little bit more about why this is happening, just one level deeper on what is happening in girls brains and boys, brains that would explain why.


And again for people listening, if this were just happening in the u.s. it would make no sense to look at some biological explanation, but the fact that it’s happening in every Advanced country, that has taken away.

The patriarchal barriers to education that they’re seeing young women Blow by young men.

It might, it leads.


I Actually to us looking at slightly more Universal explanation.

So one level deeper, why might, why might we be seeing this difference between boy and girl?

Brains, yes, I love the way you put it which is by leveling the playing field.

If you have one team that has its naturally better than the other, they’re going to win, but that was only a parent.


Once you level the playing field, you know, even even among the women I was looking at the data recently, even among the women who did go to college, like back in the 60s, and 70s, which was a for 10th, Tiny fraction.

The median woman that went to college back then was married within a year of graduating and generally leave the labor market, right?


So it was good.

Just to say there was a different world even just like in my lifetime.

Is it is an understatement.

But so what we’ve learned more is the biggest difference between male and female.

Brains is not how they develop in terms of where they end up there.


I think both sides just overstate the argument make there’s no Friends or is cuter.

The big difference is went.

And so what you’re seeing is particularly this prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain, that’s about planning.

It’s about deferral of gratification.


It’s about the balance between what psychologists usefully, I think refer to as the gas and the brake for the gas is just all gasp.

Go go, go party, take risks, do whatever the breakers, like Maybe not, maybe I should turn in some homework.

Maybe I should worry about my GPA, maybe I should think about college and so adolescence is a period where there’s more gas than break but a much more true for boys and girls but critically girls get the balance right much earlier than boys and so there’s something between a 12 and 24 month Gap in the development of areas like prefrontal cortex hippocampus cerebellum Etc, there’s no controversy about this in Neuroscience.


There’s a controversy about how much the distributions overlap how consequentialism so on but this is one area of Neuroscience with literally no controversy at all.

Particles girls hit puberty earlier party.

Except brain seemed to develop earlier the the path of maturity is not taken, his is just not controversial, put that into the classroom, take a between one year and two year Gap in the development of these skills around, planful nurse, self-organization future orientation and then ask yourself which groups going to do better.


So put that way, it’s blindingly obvious.

Why cancer doing as much better?

And part of the reason is biology and it’s very important to say that is not to say something wrong with boys.

Having just published this piece in the Atlantic, getting some stuff on social.

A oh, yeah.

So you’ll pathologizing boys.

I know you’ve been saying is something wrong with boys, and I was horrified because I think it’s literally the opposite of what I’m trying to say, right?


It’s not like, it’s not like, it’s not like my son’s could control their prefrontal cortex development.

It’s more, just recognizing the difference, right?

Share the point that you make in this radical, you just reference in the Atlantic.

The article is called red shirt.

The boys, why boys should should it start school a year later than girls?


It begins with, I think very wisely, a series of facts, the facts of Brain development.

The fact that a six percentage Point gender gap in Reading proficiency, seems to open up around fourth grade and rela and stay there for several years.


Your solution to this is to hold boys back, one year.

Tell me a little bit about this plan and how it will work.

So the the attempt here is to try and make the developmental age of boys, somewhat closer to that of girls, especially in the critical years of adolescence and the way to do that is to stagger their chronological age, right?


So age is just a rough proxy for development anyway.

I mean, it is just incredibly crude.

Anyway, just saying 06, you ready for school but if you’ve got this pretty clear difference between boys and girls.

It’s particularly important I think to bear in mind.

The girls are just developing a bit faster.


So a sixteen-year-old girl is not developmentally the same as a 16 year old boy.

And so if we can build in an understanding of that difference, right at the beginning and register the boys IE put them in a year later than girls that means the boys will on average be a year older chronologically than the girls in their class which means that developmentally they’ll be closer to them so it would level the playing field.


Now it may not look like a Level Playing Field because From the outside.

You just sing, when you’re 15, you’re 15.

But once we look inside the brain, what we see is, yeah, but 15 year old boys are not the same as 15 year old girls and although there’s good Neuroscience for this.

There’s also common sense.


One of the interesting things I’ve discovered on a talk about this book is that people go wild uh, Lake every year?

Yeah, like tell us something, we don’t know.

So, okay.

So we know that what influence does it have for education policy because if we think that’s so obviously true, do we not think that?


Maybe we should take it into account?

In the way we run education policy.

And so that’s the thinking behind the idea of having this staggered School entry has, it has anybody tried this before our their pilot programs within the us or around the world that have attempted to Redshirt and entire gender in that area and seeing what happens?


Because I’m so curious about the beginning in the end at the beginning, this means that boys are in daycare a year longer and at the And it means that freshman boys are all a year younger than the Freshman girls at college.


And it like, it might be neurologically scientifically appropriate, but it is also weird.

And so I would just love to know, I guess, I guess your two questions for you.

I’m sorry.

I asked the question that if they’re the stupid thing which is then to make a comment question.

Everyone has anyone tried this weird thing?


And then question number two, do we know how weird it might be to create this?

Yo in in the labor market in college, well, as far as I can discover no one’s done it in quite this clear away.

And as you can imagine, I look pretty hard.


What’s happened is that it’s sometimes been done a little bit by stealth.

And actually, in the Atlantic piece that you just referred to, I did some reporting on private schools and in private schools.

It is pretty much an open secret.

Now, they don’t read, sure.

All the boys, they will register the younger boys in particular, but it’s pretty common.


In practice.

But how would we test this?

Would you want to do a few pilot programs?

First before we roll this thing out Nationwide, if the education secretary called me right now after listening to this and said, okay, I’ll do it, I’m gonna do it nationwide.

First of all, isn’t that the power to do that?

Of course, I do know what I want.


Is a small school district with a huge gender gap where we can just face it in.

Maybe try a third of boys at once.

Do careful evaluation because I honestly look, we don’t know because the studies have read showing so far have basically been because of other kinds of policies.

Of almost randomly, put people into these classes only can see the gender differences.


We haven’t had a proper and full evaluation.

I do say that the other thing to point out is to say it sounds weird.

You know, what’s really weird, putting, boys and girls into different schools?

Imagine a world where you never had done that, we just everything.

Always been co-ed and someone came in and said you know we should have we should have single-sex schooling or maybe the other way around.


Maybe if you’d only had and the number of people who said to me, this is a crazy weird idea.

What we should have is single-sex schooling and I like, you think my ideas are Urkel just waiting a year to send to the same school.

You want to literally segregate, the entire education system, and sent to different schools.

But I think it’s again the sort of thing where you can easily imagine a world without would seem weird if it wasn’t already being done so much.


I agree.

And I think that we are all prisoners of familiarity and assume for whatever reason that the world as it existed, when we were young, adults is the way the world should exist and whatever has changed.

Since we were young, adults is some horrific with, right?


I’m gonna Ranged over.

Just Russia obviously, true.

This is, especially true in music.

Yeah, everyone always feels that any change in music since they were 23 years old is capital W wrong.

Ami is everything since Duran Duran, honestly?

Okay, that’s really wondering you’re wrong.


There we go.

For me, it’s called play.

Um, so I had to imagine that some people listening to say, all right there is this clear inequality in achievement between boys and girls in school?

But there’s also a gender gap.

In earnings among men and women in their 30s, how do you get achievement inequality?


Which leans toward women when they are say, 10?

15 18, but then another entirely different kind of achievement in equality that leans toward men when they’re 35 45 55.

What’s happening between these years?

That explains how the school achievement Gap becomes a male earnings Gap.


Well, the simple version is that we have a school system that structured in favor of girls and women and we have a labor market structure in favor of men and we have to fix both and there is sometimes a bit of an element of two wrongs may be making a right here in this debate which is upsetting to me, sometimes that is the field of sometimes reaction to this, which I will, that’s, that’s bad.


So we’re going to have this bad as well.

It is getting, I think one of the reasons why the gender gap has narrowed Road, although more slowly recently has been the rise in education, there’s two reasons why it hasn’t really flowed.

All the way through one small one is that women are more likely to go into occupations with quite high levels of education, but relatively low levels of pay teaching, being a classic example, where you’ve got to get at least a four year degree.


Many teachers have a master’s degree, but they’re not usually well-paid.

And so the relationship between the level of education is somewhat different form in the ferment social workers.

And other example, we could talk about others, but the really big reason, Is the no matter how much education women have.

And in fact, in some ways, the more education they have, the more likely they are to take time out of the labor market when they have children.


And so the pay Gap is to a very, very large extent.

Now a parenting gap, having a kid.

If you look at the data, you know, you see these charts of earnings going up and you’ll have seen these these charts that male 1 just goes up and then you just see the female one going up, tracking pretty well through the 20s.

Actually now male and female wages and then this incredible crash, okay?


It’s so Having a child is the economic equivalent of being hit by a meteorite, if you’re a woman but it doesn’t make a dent in men.

And the reason for that is because of the gender division of labor around parenting and so you, take every no, Claudia Goldin has this great work on this, you probably familiar with.


But looking at these Harvard mbas, just Michigan JD’s, and so on.

And what you find is that these women with kind of, arguably the most economically powerful women in the history of the world.


She got Harvard MBA.

I’ll make that claim 15 years later.

Most of them are working part-time or not at all.


That only the minority.

I’m working full-time.

Wait what what what happened and what happened is kids.

And so they’ve really got again into the division of labor around trucker, but that’s the main cause of the gender pay Gap.

Now, is this difference in the allocation of care work?

I think the fact that the education Market is biased for some biological reasons toward women and that the labor market is biased for often legal and cultural reasons toward men, is it really Profound Insight.


That does a lot to cut through the discomfort that I think a lot of people feel when they have to regard these inequalities that lean toward women when it comes to education achievement, it feels uncomfortable.

I think, especially for liberals like me to even approach this issue because there’s this risk of being seen as a men’s rights activist, right?


And it’s like, no, like it’s not about men’s rights activism like men have the rights.

This isn’t a rights issue.

In education policy issue.

And since this policy is something we’ve already made up and we can always remake it up.

It’s our rules, and we can just rewrite them, I’m really interested in your work to change the subject, or move the subject a little bit further to throughout throughout the life spans toward dating markets.


And this is another really interesting way that these inequalities that you’ve mentioned matter.

So historically women tend to marry across and up economically.

Lee and historically, men have married across and down economically and I’m not trying to be normative here like, dudes out there.


Mary smart rich, women, period.

I’m just saying this is what is historically, normal?

But one thing that you’re telling me, when I connect a couple of dots is that we’re going to have an issue here.

If college is graduate to women for every men and that is what’s happening today in 2022.

There is going to be a market crisis for this theory of heterosexual, marriage.


Do you think we’re already seeing problems here with a scare?

The of college-educated men or surplus of college-educated women?

No, I don’t see it yet.

That doesn’t mean that we won’t see it, but I’m less pessimistic on this front actually than some other people are.


I think that I think that it will require some Norm shifts.

You know, we’ve just passed the Tipping point where now, in most marriages, the wife is more educated than the husband doesn’t mean.

She’s earning more for the reasons we just talked about, but she’s owning, she’s more educated.

It’s been true for black couples forever, for example.


The way.

But but now it’s true for all, for all Americans.

And so I think this kind of Norm is going to shift it.

Such that the people are going to become more comfortable with marrying across certain terms of education and especially if there’s a kind of different relationship between education and economic power, more generally.


And the reason I’m not to pessimist about it yet.

This is actually goes back to.

I think an article you may even have commissioned Eric we’re way back when on marriage and upper-middle-class marriage.

The Atlantic that I wrote, and what I see is college educated Americans are kind of Holding marriage up in the US and I think that’s because of their shared desire to invest in their kids and for the kids to do well.


And so I think that the Dynamics around marriage particular upper middle class, women are going to remain strong.

I don’t foresee this.

I don’t foresee a marriage crisis in the future, but I’ll be honest, I’ll be watching the trends.

We haven’t seen it yet but then again, we maybe wouldn’t quite start to see it yet and I do think you’re right that in the dating market.


So you are starting to see some of those effects in cities in particular of these kind of disequilibrium.


It’s partly about women and men changing their Norms, about what makes someone marriageable?

Let’s bring in class because I think it’s important to say something very very clearly here which is that it is low income men and especially non-white low income.


Men who are seeing the biggest challenges.

So in 2019 Pew, Research Center, surveyed, 130 countries and they found that the u.s. had the world’s highest rate of children, living in single-parent households.

That’s out of 130 countries.

The highest rate, almost a Of American children under the age of 18 are living with just when parents that’s like four times, higher than Japan and of the roughly 11 million, single-parent families in the US, three and four of them are single moms.


So it seems to me that even if you don’t see a looming match in crisis among men and women, we should point out that there is already a crisis of solo parenting.

What I think you’re right to point out, that’s really where the crisis is.

I mean, there’s this growing class Gap in in Marriage.


As you as you correctly, suggested over 40% of kids now born outside marriage.

And so I feel kind of working class and increasingly for middle-class Americans who are seeing this really sharp decline in marriage.

The question then is why and what does that tell us about what’s happening with the boys and men in particular?


And then you see it?

And then the result was his father crisis, but I think is happening.

Is that what the previous glue for?

Marriage was economic dependency?

It was women or economically.

Send an unmanned in order to survive themselves and to raise kids, right?


And the central goal of the feminist movement, the postwar years was to make that not true, was to Mick was to make marriage a choice.

Not a necessity was to give women enough economic power.

So they were not relying on her or on a man and I think it’s very few women today, regardless of their political background, who don’t think they should get in the labor market and not have to rely on a map.


That’s incredibly important.

Now that economic independence has had the consequence of Of asking a very big question about the role of men and if we if we continue to see the role of men as primary Breadwinner or even sole Breadwinner in a world where that’s less and less true in a world where 40% of women now earn more than the median men.


Because it’s not 50%, but it was 13% in 1979, the distributions of male and female wages getting really close in 41 percent of households.

A woman is the main Breadwinner in thirty percent of married couples.

The one earns as much was not more than the man.

So, this is, this is a seismic change in the economic glue that used to be at the heart of marriage.


So then the question is, why Mary, why do I need him?

And we don’t have a good answer that question yet.

And so in particularly in parts of The of our economy where men aren’t doing so well, they effectively get benched because they’re not living up to what is now obsolete model of fatherhood and provision and so they might bench themselves.


They might get benched by the mum, Etc.

And what I think we need to do is reinvent fatherhood as a social institution, that is compatible with gender equality.

You have a chapter in your book about how the problems that you’re writing about specifically affect, poor, non-white and especially black American boys.


And I just had this conversation with the Harvard Economist Raj, Chetty about this concept of Father, presence from his work.

And this points, the idea that for young poor black boys, it’s incredibly important what share of households in their neighborhood.

Have a father in those homes.


It’s even more important than having a father in your house.

Just the Presence of Father, Like mentors, father figures around, you seems to have this effect in terms of lifting up the odds of these kids entering the middle and upper-middle class.


So maybe let’s just hold a bit on this.

Talk a little bit about the degree to which you see that this is particularly a problem that affects young black boys.

Well, I and I think it’s so important to do it through the lens.

You just talked about, which is here to use that that ugly, but useful term intersectional Applied correctly in this view, which is to say, I think one of the problems this debate is, if you’re a white upper middle class person looking around, you’re going, what problems the boys and then, right?


But the danger is that we’re.

So busy leaning in that we’re not looking down, and what’s true at the top is not true in the middle of the bottom.

It is particularly not true for black, boys, and men and Raj’s.

Research finding was about black, boys, the gender gap.

You just referred to the 82 83 percent.


It pay Gap, just it’s about the same gap between white.

In and black men white women now.

Earn black men by about as much as men overall, how burned women white women didn’t used to, they ever took black men and I just blew right past them so you’ve got to think about this in this cross-cutting way and black boys and men.


I think are worse off, not despite being men but because they’re met.

I think they face a racialized form of sexism and working-class boys of all Races away.

You see the biggest gaps in education?

Education, economy, family formation and everything.


And and what Rogers work tells us, they think, is that the role of fathers is not just defined in this.

You need to be in the household.

You need to be like the whole present absent.

Father thing is, missing the point.

It’s really about the relationship between father’s including stepfathers or social fathers and their kids, especially their boys.


And what you see there is that father’s do seem to play and these social father’s, its use that phrase, particularly adolescents, they really seem to be Very powerful, in terms of helping boys, to learn learn their limits Etc.

And so, I think we’re now at a point where you can say, without too much risk of controversy fathers do matter in ways that are complementary to.


But in some ways also distinct to mothers and so we should actually be supporting fatherhood as an institution in its own, right?

I want to bring in politics about here.

There is a gender gap in American politics right now.

That is larger than it has ever been Republicans.


Absolutely dominate among men and Particularly among men without a college degree, Democrats dominate among women have since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and today, they particularly dominate among women with a college degree.

So, the parties are sorting, not only by gender, but also by education, even as gender itself is, kind of sorting by Educators.


Yeah, how much does that concern you?

It really concerns me, it’s one of the reasons I wrote the book direct to be honest.

Because as you see, this kind of compounded, nurse of education, and gender, and to some extent race to then you’ll seeing the parties.



I think splitting along these lines, you’ve just identified, not quite a woman’s part in a men’s party, but trending in that direction.

And I think that’s troubling for all kinds of reasons.

And one of the reasons I think is particularly troubling is Because I think that it means that the man if they feel like, their concerns are not being addressed or at worst dismissed as just symptoms of misogyny or toxic masculinity from the left that’s going to push some kind of further to the right then.


In order to win the Democrats, think we’ve really got a double down on the votes of college-educated women and so they’ll have policies which will really be.

I know that.

I mean, actually loan forgiveness is a, is a great example of policy.

That’s obviously incredibly Pro female, leave aside Arguments for, and But you know, two-thirds of college debt is held by women.


Whereas the apprenticeship Act is stalled in has been stalled in the senate for for a year and 93% of branches are men and so it’s quite easy for politicians like Josh Hawley and others to then sort of weaponize this discontent that we’re feeling and you know perhaps a little less obviously bad level, even people like Jordan Peterson and so on.


I Really they really tapping into this sense of discontent and I think absent a responsible conversation about this.

Inevitably, they become, I think Rudy quite good fodder for the riot, which then makes the right even less attractive to women because it’s adopting a kind of masculinist reactionary policy, which basically says it’s feminism’s fault.


And so you end up with a situation where one party is turning their backs on boys and men and the other party wants to turn back.

The clock on women and girls, that’s a pretty invidious choice for anyone to have to make.

And you can see that Trend worst Over time and both sides are responsible here in both sides can step up.


I think the Democrats in particular just there’s such a political opportunity for them to do a few things aimed at boys and men and it would just take the wind out of Hawley sales and others.

Well, so let’s talk about this.

I’m a liberal, you know that I think most of my listeners know that but I do feel like one thing that my side is often very reluctant to do is offer a clear and unapologetically positive vision of masculinity.


We do it.

Sometimes I just, it seems like we’re not reluctant to criticize men who misbehave, and that’s a good thing.

But I worry is, if it’s like we’ve abandoned the stage upon, which a very positive vision of masculinity, might be performed.


And a lot of jerks I think, have, like rushed toward the stage that’s been left open.

And there are now performing their own version of masculinity in front of an audience of men that really wants something represented for them.

And maybe I think a good place to ground.

This part of the conversation is to ask what?


Think of a term that has clearly set up residence on the left and become a big part of our vocabulary.

What do you feel about the phrase toxic masculinity?

I think it’s a terrible phrase.

That should be consigned back to the margins of obscure academic journals from whence it sprang and 2016.


It was a academic term with a decent definition used in several areas of Criminal Justice and incarceration to find some issues facing particularly Incarcerated men.

And then it bursts out and it just became in discriminately slapped on any kind of behavior that the user found objectionable in ways that is actually.


Now I think definitively shown to push boys and men away from the conversation rather than inviting them in.

And so I think it’s actually been an incredibly unhelpful development and and the real problem that the users of it have is if you say okay they’ll see how are they bad for other bad things about masculinity.



Especially Is immature.

I much prefer the phrase mature, masculinity, so certain aspects of masculinity that everything else equal tend to go being men, like a higher sex drive like a higher more appetite for risk, higher potential for aggression, don’t think those are controversial so in not in scientific circles, then how are they expressed?


Are they expressed at all?

In what ways can a be expressed better?

That’s the real question.

How do you mature into those roles in the same is true of femininity.

If you say Okay, Define non toxic masculinity in a way that’s distinct from femininity.

Then people get into a real trouble, the American Psychological Association got trouble because they put out this whole thing about toxic masculinity, they are attacked for it.


They retreated.

So no with there are lots of positive things about masculinity as wants a great.

What are they doing?

Leadership, courage, and decisiveness, and then all the feminists came for them saying, are you saying that women can’t be equally?

Good leaders decided.

So it’s this is horrible mess.


So just need to get away from that Framing.

And for those two words next to each other, it’s just, it’s not going to help the cause is not going to invite men.


And the last thing I’ll say on it is that it is in danger of being the only kind of victim blaming that the left permits itself, so men will like, to dive covid.



Because the biology but now it was toxic masculinity, mask-wearing drinking smoking, whatever it is, boys aren’t doing well at school while it’s because they’re lazy.

He said, and so these are kind of individualized explanations that would never pass muster for other groups and what it allows both sides to do is Miss the structural problems that we’ve spent most of our time.


What I’m talking about in education, the economy and the family.

So what is your buzzer definition of masculinity?

Well, I think that the first thing to do is to recognize there are some differences between us that our biological don’t overstate them but they are.

And so, having I’ve raised three boys to add oil and I’m a man and have a dad and a brother and and so on to and I think there are some aspects of masculinity that are positive.


Like I’ll take one of the IPL ones like courage, willingness to take risks the Carnegie Foundation predict our every year this civilian hero woods and those are awards that go to people who risk their own life.

To Save a Life of another, who is not a family member and not as part of their job last year, 71 awards were given out 66 when two men mostly young men, and I can tell you that is not for want of trying to find women because the Carnegie Foundation really want that become more gender equal, but they just can’t find that many 19 year old women do run into a burning building to save a mother and a two-year-old child or I have drowned saving a seven-year-old who was drowning in a lake and drowned, they just can’t find them and so look, that’s a small number but that’s great and I think we should hear a little bit more about that.


And just as it’s a huge problem where we see this horrific kind of shooting events.

And so, on to, it’s also true that men very often do put their lives on the line, because there are little devastate, her appetite for risk, fine.

Not, it’s not true for all men and it’s certainly true for some women to the distributions over lat.

I want to be careful here because I think there’s all sorts of reasons.


For why the gender gap has opened up between the parties.

I think abortion is a huge part of it.

I think the fact that government spending is dominated by Healthcare and education, which are sectors that disproportionately employ, women has meant that the party of larger government naturally, attracts more of the female vote.


But I also worry that a party that talks about toxic masculinity so much more than a talks about positive masculinity is going to naturally find itself, rappelling, male voters and I Think there’s a big open Lane here for someone John fetterman and Pennsylvania maybe Warnock and Georgia to a certain extent.


Honestly, Joe Biden, just like dudes dudes with the potential to represent strength and courage and also and not be misogynistic dicks, even in even in your rarefied liberal Atlantic.


So my rare white Brooking Circle.

So, what most people want, right?

And But it’s just not being offered to them, and I agree that they take that the danger is this Dynamic sort of just gets a bit locked in, where if nearly talking about the problems facing boys and men and say, hey, we maybe should deal with some of these.


Hey, maybe, like we haven’t talked about this but hey, maybe vocational, education would be good, particularly for boys and men are maybe getting more male teachers.

Would be good idea, right?

But that even just sort of setting because boys are really doing really struggling at school.

Like, if even saying that means, oh, you’re on their side, then the dynamic gets locked in because we silence.


Is on the issue.

On this side, we leave the issue to the other side and vice versa.

And I guess it’s one of the reasons why I steeled myself and the end to just stay with this project and write this book, because they genuinely felt as if if we can’t have this conversation then we can hardly complain if the issues get laughter.


If responsible people, don’t deal with issues, irresponsible people will exploit them.

It’s an axiom of Life.

Everyone should read, Josh.

Holy speech to the conservative, conservative, whatever is conference for about masculinity.

And you just said, boys and men.

And Because the left hate them and their branding them toxic.


So you should vote for me and I’ll maybe create a few factory jobs or something.

It was a brilliantly effective political message, even though it’s completely vacuous, because everyone felt the truth of the first of those.

And the left is done, just enough to make the second idea that the left hates men.

Plausible enough, not so much as by what they say, but what they don’t say, and you’ve just mentioned that, I think to.


And so, just leaves that ground open in a way that’s politically.

I think incredibly dangerous and will regret it and years from.

Now, if we allow this Dynamic towards a, men’s find a woman’s party, To keep developing.

In the meantime we all have husbands and brothers and Sons and fathers are is not like men and women are living on these separate islands where the problems of men and boys are somehow not affecting women.


When I talk to my most liberal friends women, like just feminist to their fingernails.

They really worried about this once and this is upper-middle-class ones weather problems are at least two.

But so I think the appetite is there potentially for a better conversation about this.


But it has to be started now because a lot of these Trends are starting to kind of lock in, I just mentioned that 76% of K-12 teachers are women and that number is rising but not even talking about that.

I’m not talking about, would it be a good idea to have more male teachers?

That’s not even on the agenda because the right don’t really care about public education.


And the left think any discussion of man makes you a men’s rights activist.

The book is of boys and men Richard Reeves.

Thank you very, very much.

Thank you for having me on break from us.

Oceans are at loved it.

Thank you for listening.

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