Last week I wrote about an angry but clear and defensible post on the Breitbart.com blog. Written by Milo Yiannopoulos, “The Sexodus, Part 1: The Men Giving Up on Women and Checking Out of Society” explored the recent tendency of males 15 to 30 years old hunkering down alone or with same-sex friends, and not pursuing jobs or romantic relationships but instead maintaining a sort of state of early adolescence. I made four main observations about the phenomenon: that the model of men being primary breadwinners had good reason to become obsolete; that their joblessness alone caused deep problems with getting wives or girlfriends; that recent attention on rape beyond its status as a violent crime, along with mandatory consent codes, damaged young men even more; and that women were themselves being hurt badly by men in their 20s and late teens giving up on so many things. The failure of an expanding share of half of the population to grow up, even beyond lacking the financial ability to take on more responsibility, is not a value-free cultural change, but destructive in itself.
So how can we solve, or at least alleviate, this rising concern?
First, authors, columnists, and involved people themselves need to publicize the tendency of young men to drop out. There seem always to be articles and books about the issues faced by women of those same ages, on topics ranging from high-school cyberbullying to documentation of and commentary on the sex ratios of those entering scientific and technical fields. It should not take a rather rough-edged blog post to bring such a sad and alarming sign of American deterioration to the attention of those publishing in more widely read outlets, only because the people suffering in this case are men. We need much more on this subject to find its way into the likes of David Brooks’s and Ross Douthat’s columns and the New York Times Sunday Book Review.
Second, men and older teens who find themselves stopped from jobs or romance need to keep bettering themselves in other ways. One article in the New York Times’s recent series on “nonemployment,” or the growing tendency of people to not be working, named a disturbing difference between men and women going through joblessness. Women, according to Binyamin Appelbaum in “Key Differences Between Men and Women,” when not employed did more volunteering, exercising, and helping people in their own families, whereas men did more reading, watching TV, and Internet surfing. Those choices of activities, as well as ones taken up by those interviewed and discussed by Yiannopoulos, reveal an area of improvement for all too many men, who are failing to find more constructive actions and help themselves in ways they can.
Third, since men’s falling income and employment likelihood seems to be a trend that will stay around for a while, they should not give up on either women or on society as quickly. Men unable to find work should not be ashamed of themselves, and should not assume that they are ineligible for wives or girlfriends, since they are hardly the only ones in that situation. Because of the shrinking number of males with jobs, more women will face a choice of either being involved with people who are stable and civilized but not employed, or holding on to old-fashioned expectations about being supported and eventually settling for being unattached. If nonworking men can show they are worthy in other ways, they will usually get somewhere.
Fourth, more husbands should drop the false pride of needing to earn more than wives with higher income potential and more wholeheartedly acclimate themselves to contributing secondary income, or even none at all. The number of househusbands keeps increasing, but that title still only applies to a small minority – in fact, to only 140,000 Americans as recently as 2008. With about 40% of wives earning the most in their families, it is time for many more men to accept current realities.
Fifth, since the root of so many of young men’s troubles is the jobs crisis, we need to address it, and at least seriously discuss possible solutions. Four with at least some merit are guaranteed income for all, shorter working hours, a system of paying contributors of online resources, and guaranteed government jobs. Two measures, though they would not be as permanent, would be a nationwide WPA-style infrastructure program and reformed taxes to give the lowest rates to those creating or maintaining paid work for others. There are more, and once the issue of not enough employment reaches our collective consciousness, they will also be put on the front burner. And that is the right place for them.