Man Out

In the trenches of the gender wars

By Andrew L. Yarrow Feb. 1, 2019 Updated: Feb. 1, 2019 12:16 p.m.MoreCommentsPrint

FILE – This Oct. 1996 file photo shows a replica of a Neanderthal man

When my book, “Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life,” was published a few months ago, I expected some backlash from both left and right. What happened instead has been quite a different story — one that speaks volumes about how our divided politics make it very difficult to talk about issues basic to our culture.

In my preface, I wrote that sometimes I would sound quite conservative, at others, pretty left wing. However, I tried to give a balanced account of intertwined problems facing tens of millions of American men — with work, with health and mental health, with their relationships with women and their children, and of their alienation from America. These are not all men, but they are a huge population, part-victim, part-culprit, battered by a ruthless economy and a changing culture.

It would seem as American as apple pie that we would try to help any of our people who are having a hard time or suffering.

My book has turned out to be kind of a Rorschach test. Many men see themselves in its pages — lonely, sad, out of work, fearing unjust allegations of sexual harassment. Many ex-wives and other women recognize good-for-nothing husbands or boyfriends. Parents see their sons’ struggles.

Many men and women across the political spectrum got my message: Women have suffered from sexism, oppression and violence, but that does not mean that all men are evil and that no men are having a hard time in 21st century America. How often have I said, “It’s not a zero-sum game of men win, women lose (or vice versa).” In many (but certainly not all) media outlets — from Fox News to newspapers including The Chronicle and the Washington Post — I found audiences and editors who understand that the issues facing many men are real and worth sober discussion.

When one interviewer introduced me as a men’s right proponent, I said: No, I’m pro-people, and it’s not good if men or women are treated badly or unfairly.

However, all too many reacting to my book went to their corners, ready to beat the hell out of their presumed adversaries. I often found myself caught in the crossfire.

During the Brett Kavanagh hearings, some liberal media wanted to hear my views on the fraught concept of “masculinity.” Yes, I told them, there’s a lot of misogyny, particularly on the internet, and considerable bitterness toward women and feminism.

Then, some liberals and feminists started muttering that it was “tin-eared” to talk about men’s problems in the era of #MeToo. The glib assumption was that men, or at least white men — as if all are alike — are the problem: If that’s right, they can’t possibly have problems worth understanding and addressing.

In response to a recent Washington Post commentary, one woman declared that men should become “extinct.” I doubt that most mothers would want their sons to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Others — who seemed to have read only the word “men” in my 90,000-word book — wrote that “men are finally getting what they deserve,” or derided me for the heresy of writing a book about men. Some repeated the tired truism that many men are sexist and need to get with the program of Manhood 2.0, as if culture turns on a dime when elites say so. Yes, more than a few men I met made similarly grotesque statements about women.

The all-men-be-damned rants sounded eerily similar to those of racists, anti-Semites — and, yes, misogynists. They also seemed deaf when I repeatedly said that a white male elite still had most people under its thumb.

One self-proclaimed socialist got it right that some progressive elites and feminists see working-class men as troglodyte white trash, but also believe that a vastly expanded welfare state would solve all problems. It would solve some.

On the right, I became a favorite of those who think that many men aren’t getting a fair shake, and that feminism has done much for women but little for men. Some bemoaned men’s status and not so implicitly attacked women. Other conservatives took a different tack, seeing the “men out” as lazy “losers.”

Some on the right have also assumed that “Man Out” was an unequivocally “pro-men” book, and those further to the right damned me for not understanding what terrible things women have done to men.

In short, the very fact that a large contingent of women and men see each other as the enemy, and that many on the left and right see the “man problem” so differently, mirrors the hideous polarization in other parts of our culture and politics.

As one of my more thoughtful readers — someone who didn’t identify their politics or gender — opined: “There is room in our hearts to care for all those who are hurting.”

Andrew L. Yarrow, a former New York Times reporter and affiliate faculty member of history at George Mason University, is the author of “Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life” (Brookings Institution Press, 2018).

Man Out  2.8 million young people — about 4 percent of American children — were being raised by 2.6 million grandparents (including 7,250 kids in Washington, D.C.), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nationally, the number of children raised by their grandparents increased by nearly 15 percent between 2007 and 2017

Man Out


Why progressives should stop avoiding men’s issues

A man fills out a job application at a job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla., in July 2016. (Lynne Sladky/AP)By Andrew L. YarrowJanuary 18 at 8:43 PM

Andrew L. Yarrow, a former New York Times reporter, is a senior fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute. He is the author of “Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life.”

Millions of American men are disconnected from work, children and family; are in poor physical and mental health; suffer from addiction and isolation; and struggle with what it means to be a man. Yet most progressives — who claim to care about all of society’s underdogs — seem to assiduously avoid these issues. Instead, their main concern when it comes to men is that too many men remain wedded to “traditional” notions and norms of masculinity. Problems facing men of color are largely seen through the lens of race, not gender.

The very phrase “men’s issues” conjures up images of bitter, angry white guys who stupidly don’t realize that they are oppressors and on top of the world. In the era of #MeToo, men don’t have problems; they are the problem. To some, even talking about men’s problems can brand one as tone-deaf and sexist.

I am a liberal, I have studied and supported feminism, and I know well that sexual harassment and assault are sickeningly common. But the fact that women remain victims in many ways does not negate the reality that many men are struggling and are victims of economic and cultural changes — ones that often also hurt women, children and society. Men are not a monolithic group, and it is not a zero-sum game in which men win and women lose (or vice versa).

So, what are these problems, who are these men, and why should the left — as well as Americans across the political spectrum — care about them?

During and after the 2016 election, we’ve heard the simplistic trope that President Trump’s supporters are angry, less-educated, white working-class men — the people whom Hillary Clinton unhelpfully called “deplorables.” These men on the sidelines of American life are of all races, places and classes, and include millennials, better-educated late-middle-age men and former prisoners.

The data on male well-being tell a bleak story for a large minority of American men. About 20 million men have abandoned work (or work has abandoned them), as the male civilian labor force participation rate has fallen from 85 percent in the mid-1950s to 69 percent in November (and this excludes 2 million incarcerated men). Median inflation-adjusted income for all U.S. men was just 1 percent higher in 2017 than it was in 1973, and incomes for about 80 percent of men have stagnated or declined. About 8 million to 10 million fathers never or rarely see their minor children — and most of those fathers are not “deadbeats.”

Young adult males have higher poverty rates than their counterparts 40 years ago, and 25-to-34-year-old men are significantly more likely to live with their parents than women their age. Twice as many men than women are hardcore gamers. Compared with girls, boys have more behavioral problems and lower average academic achievement, and they are much less likely to graduate from college. The millions of formerly incarcerated men have few prospects for a decent life.

Health and mental-health problems among men are increasing: Life expectancy, which remains stagnant among women, is declining among men. Males bear the brunt of opioid overdoses and alcohol addictionSuicide is three and a half times more common among men than women. Many men are lonely or disengaging from society, as membership in unions and organizations that foster male camaraderie, such as Rotary and Elks clubs, has cratered. Males’ anger is rife toward women, employers, government and “the system” — which too often leads to misogyny and violence.

Helping all people in physical, socioeconomic and psychological distress should be a defining characteristic of a humane, caring and democratic society. However, in our bitterly divided times, these foundational goals have been politicized: Many on the right have drawn attention to men’s problems — some thoughtfully, but more often to bash feminism and women. Many on the left are silent because they are implausibly unaware of such issues or, more likely, less willing to highlight them because doing so would be deemed politically incorrect.

This failure of liberals is not only morally wrong, but also it hurts their own prospects of winning broader support among men. Those on the left should wake up and heed the words of Martin Luther King Jr. : “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”R

Man Out

The American Psychological Association issued new therapist guidelines saying that traditional masculinity harms boys and men.

and critics of the guidelines:

APA group addresses media misconceptions of guidelines, saying that only “extreme stereotypical behaviors” are harmful:

What do you think?



Man Out

Tucker Carlson denounces both left and right for their failure to recognize how the status quo and status quo-politics and “infuriating” many Americans for being out of touch and not addressing the concerns and needs of millions of Americans. He goes on to discuss how many men are struggling with work, health, addiction, and identity, as well as how the decline of marriage and responsible parenting have led to so many generally harmful effects on children.

What do you think?