American boys and men are struggling. Educationally, being less likely than females to graduate from high school or finish college. In the workplace, where their earnings and employment rate have fallen in comparison to women. And in our society, with “deaths of despair” from suicide and drug overdose being three times as common among men as women. Many boys and men seem lost in a changing world where traditional masculine virtues and roles–for instance, as breadwinner and head-of-the-family–are less pertinent, and where prototypical masculine behaviors–aggressive displays of dominance, among others–are decried as “toxic.”
So what’s a man to do? Follow the advice of right-aligned masculinity gurus like Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson or Josh Hawley, a Republican Senator from Missouri? Or perhaps they should attend to Richard Reeve whose 2022 book “Of Boys and Men” argues for structural changes in society. Maybe the whole notion of gender-specific roles, values and virtues should be abandoned, leaving us with gender-neutral concepts that pertain equally to every human being. We invite people of all kinds to join us in discussing these matters.
D-Squared (Discussion and Debate) is a bi-monthly online gathering sponsored by HumanistsMN and hosted by Jerry Smith. To promote a thoughtful, informed discussion, we recommend that participants read/view some or all of the following in preparing for the event:
Useful overviews of the issue can be found in these articles by Christine Emba and Carlos Lozada. David French explains how masculinity has been politicized, as by Senator Hawley, whose book “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs” has been discussed by Becca Rothfeld and Paul Waldman. Richard Reeves’s book is the focus of these articles by David Brooks and Michelle Goldberg. A Black man’s highly personal perspective can be found here and this piece offers personal advice for redefining one’s masculinity.
This event is sponsored by HumanistsMN. If you are not yet a member, please consider joining to help us cover our costs and build the humanist movement. Not ready to join? Donations are gratefully accepted! Join or donate at https://humanistsmn.org/