The War Against Boys: Chapter 6: Save The Males (Part II, Page 147-157)

November 3, 2010 | NeW Staff

In the second half of Chapter 6, Sommers brings up another group of people our society thinks are “in trouble” — adult men. According to Susan Faludi and her book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male, adult men are in grave trouble due to their “masculinity crisis”:

“Late in 1999, Susan Faludi’s Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male called our attention to yet another huge segment of the population that no one had realized was in serious trouble: adult men. Faludi claims to have unmasked a ‘masculinity crisis’ so sever and pervasive that she finds it hard to understand why men do not rise up in rebellion.”

The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has been researching general happiness, their findings stand in stark contrast to those of Faludi:
“If men are experiencing the agonies Faludi speaks of, they are doing so with remarkable equanimity. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which has been tracking levels of general happiness and life satisfaction in the general population since 1957, consistently finds that approximately 90 percent of Americans describe themselves as happy with their lives, with no significant differences between men and women. I recently asked its survey director, Tom Smith, if there had been any unusual signs of distress among men the last few decades (the years in which Faludi claims that a generation of men have seen ‘all their hopes and dreams burn up on the launch pad’) Smith replied, ‘There have been no trends in a negative direction during those years.’ But Faludi believes otherwise and joins Gilligan, Pollack, and the others in calling for a ‘new paradigm’ of how to be men.”
Many Americans advocate emotional freedom for our youth; they believe it is unhealthy for children to check their emotions. Sommers disagrees:
“These reform-minded experts should seriously consider the possibility that American children may in fact need more, not less, self-control and less, not more, self-involvement. It may be that American boys need to be more emotional–and that American girls do need to be less sentimental and self-absorbed. Maybe some of the crashing and disappearing selves that Pipher and Gilligan talk about are selves that have for too long been self-preoccupied, to the unhealthy exclusion of outside interests.”
Sommers closes the chapter with her solution:
“There does not appear to be anything much wrong with the psyches of the vast majority of American children. On the other hand, there is strong evidence that they are morally and academically undernourished. Every society since the beginning of history has confronted the difficult and complex task of civilizing its young, teaching them self-discipline, instilling in them a sense of what is right and what is wrong, and imbuing them with a devotion to public duty and personal accountability. The problem is old, and the workable solution to is is known–character education in a sound learning environment. The known, tested solution does not include therapeutic pedagogies.”
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