I am excited to announce that my new book, Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life, is being published by the Brookings Institution Press tomorrow, September 11.
(This is not the end. The MAN OUT story will continue.
If you want to hear about why and how I wrote this book, and get more of an idea of what it’s all about, please read on:
This was an eye-opening book to research and to write. I started with the premise that—despite the fact that women, on average, still have it worse than men—too many men are not doing well and are on the sidelines of American society. I thought about troubling facts that 20-30 percent adult men are not working, many Millennial men’s “failure to launch,” the poor fortunes of most of the 17 million formerly incarcerated men, the 9-10 million fathers of minor children who don’t live with their kids, the huge and rising rates of male overdose deaths and suicides, many men’s struggles with what it means to be a man, many heterosexual men’s poor relationships with and anger toward women, and the disappearance of so many men from civic life. Some of these guys may be “losers,” but all of them are losing.
All of these issues have received some coverage, but the connections between many of these had not been made. During the course of nearly a year and half of interviewing hundreds of men and women in most of the states, practitioners who work with these men, and experts on each of the above-mentioned problems, and mining many data sources and steeping myself in research in many different disciplines, I concluded that America’s “man out” problem is complex, with these problems affecting each other and generally making them worse. Despite all the attention paid to the white working class, “men out” come from many social, economic, and racial/ethnic backgrounds.
I tell stories of fathers crying because they can’t see their children, young men living at home and addicted to online gaming, middle-aged men who have struggled to find jobs but given up, men who say vile things about women, well-educated husbands who are hiding out in their basements (divorce material), guys who have spent decades in prison and have no opportunities, men who believe in women’s equality but feel that feminism has created “double standards,” male opioid addicts, lonely men, men who don’t want to marry and have families, among others.
Not only are there common threads among these issues, but many pieces of this story are very timely—from the decline in the proportion of men who have jobs, confusion about “masculinity,” men’s attitudes toward women and relationships, the anger that courses through our politics, the gender voting gap, many white men’s poor health, mass incarceration, misogyny, “absent” fathers (and the effects on children, mothers, and fathers), men’s declining participation in civic organizations and activities, and the dead-end lives of many Millennial men.
Some people see these men as losers, at fault for their own lot in life. Others see them as victims of economic and cultural changes. Progressives tend to blame the economy, conservatives generally point to the loss of values like responsibility and the work ethic. There is truth to both sets of arguments, but particularly troubling is the fact that many women blame men and many men blames women. These are the big issues and perspectives that I discuss and analyze (and offer some solutions for) in Man Out.