Why Boys and Men are Obsolete to The New York Times
July 19, 2020
by Sean Kullman
The resignation letter from Bari Weiss to The New York Times speaks to the larger concerns of those looking to the press and social media to embrace, as Bari Weiss says, “the importance of understanding other Americans.”
Those who work with boys and men know all too well the lack of support and coverage boys and men receive in the public discourse. Weiss’s words resonate with a recent Global Initiative for Boys and Men article regarding the blind spot the New York Times employs when it comes to boys and men’s issues; featuring a twice weekly “In Her Words” column but offering no In His Words column.
The Times (as well as others) consistent narrative around boys and men tends to focus on toxic natures and patriarchy with an occasional article about the current struggles of boys and men as a way to appear impartial in its reporting. A sustained, healthy narrative regarding boys and men remains absent from The New York Times. This criticism seems surly, but it’s difficult to imagine a major newspaper rightly supporting an “In Her Words” column but not offering a comparable In His Words column at a time when males are dying at significantly higher numbers of COVID-19, boys are 65-70% of special education students, males are behind women in college by over 2 million more each year since 2003, males are 79% of suicide deaths in the U.S., fathers do not receive fair parental rights, and a number of other issues too long to recount here. The physical and emotional health of boys and men remains practically absent from its pages. It leaves us wondering: where is The New York Times when it comes to the voice of boys and men?
Weiss’s notion that the New York Times practices a particular “orthodoxy” has not gone unnoticed by some well-known writers who have supported boys, girls, men, and women. Dr. Warren Farrell, author of The Boy Crisis and a number of other books, notes, "When I was on the Board of the National Organization for Women in New York City, every op-ed I submitted to The New York Times got published. As I began to understand boys' and men's issues and submitted op-eds that incorporated empathy with their struggles while still supporting girls and women, only one of the next 80+ op-eds I submitted to The New York Times got published--and none of more than 40 in the last 15 years."
The “truth,” says Weiss, “isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.” The New York Times dogma has provided a confluence of material for other newspapers, magazines, social media, and television outlets; a reservoir of prescriptive narratives best described as an ideology designed to enforce predetermined and recirculated information. What Weiss calls the norm of “self-censorship.”
Most recently, the Global Initiative for Boys and Men (a non-profit supporting boys and men through research and advocacy) had its boost marketing privileges removed by Facebook for supposed violations of its ads policies. Despite multiple attempts to ascertain the nature of the violation, Facebook provided no details and essentially left the same email with each inquiry:
“Thanks for contacting Concierge Facebook Support.
Our team is not specialized regarding with specific part of Facebook product and policies.
But according to our Internal team your Ad Account was disabled because it breached Facebook Ads Policies" (This is the exact response from Facebook on July 15).
Other groups supporting boys and men have faced similar blacklisting by Facebook, rejecting boosting privileges without any understanding of supposed violations. The articles by the Global Initiative for Boys and Men are neither inappropriate nor unsupported. And they certainly deserve a voice in the public discourse. Juggernauts like Facebook and The New York Times, however, control the ebb and flow of information in unprecedented ways. And the information juggernauts want a scripted and specific narrative that influences public perception and policy no matter the consequences to the unheard voices and the professional reputations of those who dare to speak-up out of concern for fair and balanced journalism.
As The New York Times and other institutions work in conjunction with the social media culture to fuel memes and 15 second news, they collectively polarize our nation by excluding those they consider beneath their self-congratulatory, intellectual fortitude and whose viewpoints differ from their own. The news incites social tensions, preys on an atmosphere of nervous self-censorship, and does so with complete disregard for principled journalism.
A former supervisor of mine in the field of education-administration once wrote, “as women have continued to emerge in the workforce in places traditionally held for men, men are struggling to find their place of comfort.” The comment is an interesting observation by a person who regularly reads The New York Times and would probably welcome an In His Words column. Yet the comment also speaks to a lack of awareness regarding the lack of opportunities for men in professions traditionally held by women: men must "struggle to find their place of comfort" while women forge ahead. Would the world be a better place if 50% of truck drivers and law enforcement personnel were women and 50% of nurses and elementary school teachers were men?
We cannot possibly explore the role of boys and men in our society if we deny them a voice. The New York Times famous slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print” served as a doctrine and promise to impartiality. But a sustained ideological narrative and the new cancel-culture now silence reason and opposing points of view while boys and men become obsolete.