Fear of Being a Male Advocate
More than ever, we need older males, particularly the educated classes, to cast aside their inhibitions and lead, fund, and support male advocacy groups and policy changes. Although there is a great need to focus on boys and men of color, more than ever we cannot deny the essential truth in this contemporary American time: all boys and men, regardless of race, are doing worse than their female counterparts on far too many life measures. One young man who did have the courage to speak up was awarded a proclamation by the city of Kirkland in Washington during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and has continued his work to advocate for boys and men in a number of arenas.
Even though the New York Times chimed in regarding its concern with males in a recent article by Liza Featherstone on "Josh Hawley and the Republican Obsession With Manliness," one cannot help but sense the Times fears Hawley's brand of masculinity more than it cares about boys and men.
Hawley is right about some things, [says Featherstone]. Deindustrialization has stripped many men of their ability to earn a decent wage, as well as of the pride they once took in contributing to prosperous communities. Boys are sometimes overdisciplined and overmedicated for not conforming to behavioral expectations in school. And while more women than men are diagnosed with anxiety or depression, men are more likely to commit suicide or die of drug overdoses.
None of these problems are caused by liberals. But liberalism hasn’t offered a positive message for men lately. In the media, universities and other liberal institutions, it sometimes seems that every man is potentially guilty of something. As Mr. Hawley puts it, men are being told by liberals that “they’re the problem.” Our side — the progressive side — has struggled to articulate what a “nontoxic” masculinity might look like, or where boys might look for models of how to become men.
Though Featherstone at least addressed some of the leading concerns our nation's sons face, the Times must do considerably more than react to a particular type of masculinity it abhors. The response feels more reactive than proactive. After all, the Times has an "In Her Words" column but no "In His Words" column for well established and recognized writers who have written on boys and men's issues for decades but who do not find ink with any consistent or regular seriousness in the Times. And to suggest "liberals" are not somewhat of a cause of these problems is to turn a blind eye to the Times own reluctance to support a regular column, the White House to champion a Gender Policy Council on Boys and Men, and to establish an Office of Men's Health. (There is, currently, an Office of Women's Health and a White House Gender Policy Council for women and girls as well as many other programs. The Office of Women's Health and Gender Policy Council were established during two pandemics where men represented the greater number of deaths, HIV and COVID).
In her resignation letter to the New York Times, Bari Weiss wrote:
Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.
At the end of her resignation letter, Weiss would write, "I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them."
I imagine those are the ideals our nation's sons think about nearly every day and hope are fulfilled by those of us around them.