Last week my wife and I welcomed a new baby to our family.
This is unfamiliar territory for me. My son is my third child, but my first boy.
As most parents do when they’re holding their new baby in their arms, my thoughts last week turned to what the future might be like for my little one. I’ve thought about this a lot where my girls are concerned, but this is the first time I’ve thought about raising a son.
I’m a little worried. There are a lot of issues facing males today that we, as a society, really don’t spend a lot of time talking about.
Like the gender education gap.
Young boys are generally more rambunctious than young girls and mature at a slower pace. Yet in our education system, where female teachers dominate, policy is geared toward girls. Recess and physical education time is being diminished. Material that might hook young males into an educational experience -- stories and games about pirates and battles, for instance -- are deemed too violent.
“Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” writes psychologist Michael Thompson in his book “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.” “Boys are treated like defective girls.”
That makes school a tough environment for boys, and it is starting to show up in higher education enrollment. “In 1994, 63 percent of recent female high school graduates and 61 percent of male recent high school graduates were enrolled in college in the fall following graduation,” a 2014 study from the Pew Research Center states. “By 2012, the share of young women enrolled in college immediately after high school had increased to 71 percent, but it remained unchanged for young men at 61 percent.”
Women are also succeeding in college where men are not. According to a 2014 report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers, since around 2005 there have been more women attaining at least a bachelor’s degree every year than men.
In fact, the percentage of men attaining at least a bachelor’s degree has been in decline since the late 1990s.
We talk a lot about helping girls achieve in education, which is something I can appreciate as a father to two daughters, but are we helping girls at the expense of boys?
And how about the area of health? Women live longer than men. In fact, women on average live about five years longer than men.
But have you ever wondered why women live longer? Or why that never seems to come up when the debate turns to gender inequality?
Activists talk a lot about the gender wage gap, but rarely do you hear anyone talk about the gender death gap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 there were 13 men who died on the job for every woman. That same year the incidence rate for non-fatal injuries and illnesses for men was 119.2 per 10,000 full-time workers. For women it was 97.
In North Dakota, specifically, workplace fatalities involving men in 2013 were more than 10 times the number of fatalities for women.
And speaking of death, did you know that men commit suicide a lot more often than women?
Historically, men have a suicide rate that’s about four times higher than females according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and suicide rates are highest by far among caucasians.
“White males accounted for 70 percent of all suicides in 2013,” reports the AFSP.
Again, political activists tell us that white males are privileged, but if that’s true why do so many more men kill themselves?
My point is not to say that men have a grievance, or that the plight of males is worse than that of [insert victim group here]. Only that our modern obsession with victimhood and identity politics has us failing to see the forest for the trees.
It is my hope that my son will grow up to be successful based on his merits and effort. I worry that in a society where what you are in terms of race or gender has come to mean more than who you are as an individual that might not be entirely possible.
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