Friday, May 29, 2015

The end of men. Why can't it be the end of mice, instead!

For years, nearly two decades now, I have been worried about boys lagging right from middle school on, and young men beginning to fall behind.  I have even tagged many of those posts with "save the males," as I have done in this post too. But then neither mice nor humans care about Sriram's views!;)

The worry is because this is not any zero-sum game in which girls and women advancing means that boys and men have to lose.  Instead of a win-win-win-win, the Y chromosome is failing.  Sometimes failing badly.

Talking about males and females has become a political landmine as well.  It is a charged topic.  But then, come to think of it, which topic is not charged.  It is unfortunate that even as we have become more educated as a society, we have not developed the abilities to have constructive and productive discussions.

But then people will take notice when the issue becomes a cover story at the Economist, which has apparently woken up to this issue, finally!  Let me give you the magazine's bottom-line first:
The growing equality of the sexes is one of the biggest achievements of the post-war era: people have greater opportunities than ever before to achieve their ambitions regardless of their gender. But some men have failed to cope with this new world. It is time to give them a hand.
I tell ya, it does piss me off that nobody listens to me.  But, heck, it is such an awesome feeling within that I am doing a good job of connecting the dots.

The magazine notes:
Men cluster at the bottom as well as the top.
When trying to talk about boys and men clustering at the ends, Larry Summers missed a step or two and he was soon pushed out of the presidency at Harvard; remember that?  I cannot understand why this has to be such a political issue!

Anyway, back to save the males; what's the net result?
 Poorly educated men in rich countries have had difficulty coping with the enormous changes in the labour market and the home over the past half-century. As technology and trade have devalued brawn, less-educated men have struggled to find a role in the workplace. Women, on the other hand, are surging into expanding sectors such as health care and education, helped by their superior skills. As education has become more important, boys have also fallen behind girls in school (except at the very top). Men who lose jobs in manufacturing often never work again. And men without work find it hard to attract a permanent mate. The result, for low-skilled men, is a poisonous combination of no job, no family and no prospects.
Yep, all the issues that I have blogged about in plenty.
The economic marginalisation this brings erodes family life. Women who enjoy much greater economic autonomy than their grandmothers did can afford to be correspondingly pickier about spouses, and they are not thrilled by husbands who are just another mouth to feed.
Hanna Rosin talks of “plastic women”, who adapt deftly to economic and social change, and “cardboard men”, who fail to adapt and are left crumpled.
If boys and men aren't adapting, or at least fast enough, then shouldn't the rest of us think about what to do?

Oh, btw, here's a video clip from the wise Stephen Colbert talking about Rosin's article and interviewing her, which I blogged about five years ago--almost to the date ;)


Ramesh said...

My copy of The Economist is lying in my mail box back home and I refuse to read it online. But usually the international edition covers different topics - so not sure if this is the cover story here too.

I have a lot of problem with the men vs women debate. As far as I know there is no evidence that genetically either men or women are any better at education or skills or "success". It is therefore entirely a question of conditioning, adaptation and coping with the change. You are right in questioning in whether men are able to adapt fast enough. In the long run I don't believe there would be any bias in favour of one gender or the other. As long as there is no positive or wilful discrimination on either side, then I suggest we should simply let nature take its own course.

Perhaps its time to stop some of the positive discrimination in favour of women :)

Sriram Khé said...

There are huge innate differences between men and women.
How huge?
You have heard that we humans differ from chimpanzees in only one percent of our make-up, right?
Guess what? It is only a one percent difference between males and females when it comes to our genetic make-up. If one percent can make that huge a difference between humans and apes, then ...

Here's from the Scientific American:
"Science is always tentative, but the latest research suggests that discrimination has a weaker impact than people might think, and that innate sex differences explain quite a lot."

From that same SciAm post:
"To quote Campbell, “Evolution didn’t stop at the neck.” It affected our brains, differentiating the average man from the average woman."

The atrocious social contexts that discriminated against women masked a lot of such innate differences. Now that we are dismantling those structures, we are left with the differences that apparently we don't want to talk about ;)

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