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Summary: Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It by Richard Reeves

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Recommendation

Boys and men are in trouble. Compared to women, relatively few boys or men enroll in or complete higher education. Boys and men don’t participate in the workforce up to their full potential. They’re disproportionately dying deaths of despair from suicide, drug overdoses and substance abuse. Parents worry about their sons’ futures. While recent cultural and economic changes have created problems specific to boys and men, most liberal and conservative politicians alike fail to acknowledge the crisis or do anything about it. Brookings Institution scholar Richard Reeves offers concrete suggestions that can help men without damaging women’s hard-won advances.

Take-Aways

  • Boys lag behind girls in education.
  • Men are falling behind in workforce participation.
  • Men have lost their roles as fathers and heads of families.
  • Policies that attempt to help men and boys aren’t working.
  • Political progressives pretend men and boys aren’t in crisis.
  • Political conservatives want to return to an earlier era of masculinity and family life.
  • Boys should start school later than girls and stay longer.
  • Men and women must re-imagine men’s roles in families.

Summary

Boys lag behind girls in education.

There is a huge, unexpected gender gap in education. As of 1972, women were 13% behind men in obtaining bachelor’s degrees. That gap was sufficiently significant that the US government passed legislation to promote equality between the genders in education. By 2019, the gap reversed: Boys were 15% behind girls in obtaining bachelor’s degrees.

“The underperformance of boys in the classroom, especially Black boys and those from poorer families, badly damages their prospects for employment and economic upward mobility.”

This educational gender gap cuts across all levels and countries. The renowned excellence of Finland’s educational system, for example, almost entirely reflects girls’ performance. On average, girls are a year ahead of boys in reading ability. Boys are far more likely to perform poorly in core subjects such as math, reading and science. By age five, girls are 14% more likely to be ready to attend school. Perhaps people’s low expectation of boys influences their school performance, but boys’ brains develop more slowly than girls’ brains, especially during the time when they are in secondary education. Immature adolescent boys’ brains seek short-term pleasures and rewards and struggle with impulse control.

The gender gap becomes more pronounced in higher education. For example, women now obtain 57% of the bachelor’s degrees in the United States. As of 2019, women obtained fully half of US law and medical degrees.

Men are falling behind in workforce participation.

In recent years, economists expressed concern with women’s position in the labor market, and feminists felt men were unwilling to relinquish control of powerful, top-notch jobs. Increasingly, though, men simply aren’t working. Those who do earn stagnating pay. The gender pay gap has compressed in large part due to a decrease in men’s average pay.

“The deepest fissures in the labor market are not those between men and women. They are between white and Black workers and between the upper middle class and working class.”

Men’s position in the labor market has dropped in terms of developing skills, levels of employment and wages. Participation in the labor force by men has gone down in the United States by 7%. One-in-three men who haven’t progressed beyond secondary education aren’t working or looking for work. The most significant reduction in male employment occurs between ages 25 and 34.

Male employment has declined on multiple levels due to changes in the economy. Jobs traditionally held by men, such as in construction, prove disproportionately vulnerable to automation. Men lack the skills to adapt to the new economy. Jobs are shifting from demanding physical strength towards tasks women often dominate, such as in health care and education.

Men have lost their roles as fathers and heads of families.

The original women’s movement sought to enable women to achieve economic independence from men. The roles of women and mothers now include both care-giving and earning money. Men’s roles no longer offer the same level of purpose and value that came from taking care of a wife and children.

“The economic reliance of women on men held women down, but it also propped men up. Now the props have gone, and many men are falling.”

The idea of men being providers for their families – which connected men to women through marriage, to their children and to society as a whole – has been central to male identity for thousands of years.

Women are now the principal providers in over 40% of American homes. This is inclusive of women in marriages that remain intact. For example, in nearly half of families in which both parents have full-time jobs, women earn more than men. This leaves some men alienated and adrift. Society judges men by their ability to be providers. Men’s inability to serve as providers puts their marriages – and their ability to enter into marriage – at further risk. Men without jobs, marriages or close links to their families are prone to depression and to seek short-term rewards rather than broader fulfillment. Such men tend to have weak social support networks, poor health outcomes, substance abuse issues and elevated suicide rates.

Policies that attempt to help men and boys aren’t working.

In the past, “gender economics” addressed problems and inequalities women and girls suffered. But this approach often overlooked problems that stemmed from class and race. High earners tend to marry each other and combine their resources to benefit their children. The income difference between people at the high end of the income scale and ordinary workers has increased dramatically.

“Any serious attempt to improve rates of upward mobility or reduce economic inequality must take into account the specific challenges being faced by boys and men.”

Many social policies put in place to address inequality benefited women and girls but not low-income or Black boys and men. A program that provided college tuition for students in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for example, increased the number of young women completing college degrees by 45%, but did nothing for young men. The Stay the Course program in Fort Worth, Texas, intended to increase community college completion and the number of students moving on to university. The program tripled young women’s completion rates, but produced no change in men’s results. Similarly, a variety of worker-training programs across the United States that sought to increase employment rates and income showed a significant impact for participating women, but not for men. These examples illustrate that some young women appear to have benefited from policies in ways young men haven’t.

Political progressives pretend men and boys aren’t in crisis.

In 2018, at a high school in an affluent suburb of Washington, DC, a young man generated a list of his female classmates and ranked them by their level of attractiveness to him. His female classmates exposed the list; the young man was punished, and public protests began. Media attention on sexual harassment and “toxic masculinity” ensued, as did panel discussions on school culture.

“The incident at our high school highlights the first of four major failings of the political Left on issues related to boys and men, which is a tendency to pathologize naturally occurring aspects of masculine identity.”

Toxic masculinity is an invented concept hardly utilized prior to the #MeToo movement and Donald Trump’s presidency, but political progressives brought it into common use. The use of such a newly minted and poorly defined concept alienates and confuses many boys and men; and it does not aid in addressing significant issues. Progressives tend to deny the biology of gender differences and how those differences affect outcomes for boys and men. They also deny that gender inequalities are complex and can work against men, as well as women. The 2021 White House Gender Policy Council’s National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, for example, didn’t address any issues that apply specifically to boys and men.

Political conservatives want to return to an earlier era of masculinity and family life.

In a 2021 speech at the National Conservatism Conference, Republican Senator Josh Hawley blamed the issues boys and men must face on progressive ideologue’s efforts to undermine masculinity and its traditional values. Progressives play into the hands of conservatives such as Hawley when they pathologize masculinity as toxic.

“Conservatives have paid more attention than progressives to the growing problems faced by boys and men. But their agenda turns out to be equally unhelpful.”

Rather than provide possible solutions to issues faced by boys and men, conservatives exploit those issues for political gain. Around the world, this approach generates more grievances and anger and drives men toward right-wing political views and action. Unlike progressives, who tend to dismiss biological gender differences, conservatives overestimate biological gender differences and ignore or weaponize social and cultural issues. Thus, they argue that biological gender differences justify a traditional and outdated division of labor between men and women. The only purported solution conservatives offer is to restore traditional gender roles.

Boys should start school later than girls and stay longer.

To promote gender equality, society must reform the educational system. Given that boys’ development lags behind girls, boys should spend an additional year in pre-K before they enter kindergarten. In 2021, for example, 12% of parents delayed one of their children’s entry into kindergarten because they believed their child was neither emotionally nor intellectually ready. This delay enables boys to be more mature and focused when they reach middle and high school. Studies suggest that these boys proved more successful on different levels through their elementary school years. This proved true of lower income and Black boys, and all boys benefitted from these delays considerably more than girls. The educational system also needs an increase in male teachers.

“The singular focus on the traditional college route sends a strong signal that some skills are more valuable than others…One upshot has been a persistent undervaluing of vocational learning. This has been harmful in general, but especially for boys and men.”

The educational system should develop more trade schools, which will create more opportunities and more ways to be successful in work and life. In addition to curriculum and school reform, apprenticeships need greater capital investment. The National Apprenticeship Act, passed by the House of Representatives in 2021, will invest $3.5 billion over five years for new apprenticeships.

Men should enter fields that women traditionally dominate, such as education, health care and administration. The education system and better financial incentives can encourage this shift, which would reduce the shame associated with men working in what society often perceives as women’s fields.

Men and women must re-imagine family roles.

Practical, policy-level solutions exist for the issues of boys’ education and men’s withdrawal from the workplace. But restoring or re-imagining men’s role as fathers and family members proves a more complex problem. Men’s loss of their historical roles as family providers has caused a cultural earthquake; neither progressives not conservatives provide useful solutions.

Rebuilding the relationship between fathers and children could proceed on a “direct dad” model, in which the relationship between the father and mother doesn’t mediate the father’s parenting relationship. The direct dad model could find support at the policy level by mandating equal paid parental leave for each parent. The “legal default” for married and unmarried couples who separate should be shared custody. Child support payments should take into consideration the non-financial contributions fathers make. Flexible employment opportunities should be available to men that enable them to stay present in their children’s lives. For direct dads, fatherhood is crucial to their identity.

About the Author

Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and director of the Future of the Middle Class Initiative, Richard V. Reeves is the author of four books, including Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It.

Review 1

Sure, here is a brief review of the book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It by Richard Reeves:

Of Boys and Men is a 2022 book by Richard Reeves, a British-American economist and author. The book argues that boys and men are facing a number of challenges in the 21st century, including declining educational attainment, rising rates of incarceration, and increasing suicide rates. Reeves argues that these challenges are not inevitable, and that there are a number of things that can be done to help boys and men succeed.

The book is divided into three parts: “The Problem”, “The Solutions”, and “The Future”. In “The Problem”, Reeves discusses the challenges that boys and men are facing, including:

  • Declining educational attainment. Boys are now less likely to graduate from high school or college than girls.
  • Rising rates of incarceration. Men are far more likely to be incarcerated than women.
  • Increasing suicide rates. Suicide is the leading cause of death for boys aged 15-24.

In “The Solutions”, Reeves proposes a number of policies that he believes can help boys and men succeed, including:

  • Early childhood education. Investing in early childhood education can help boys and men get off to a good start in life.
  • Supportive schools. Schools need to be more supportive of boys and men, and they need to do more to address the issue of bullying.
  • Jobs programs. There needs to be more job training and placement programs for boys and men, especially those who are incarcerated or have criminal records.
  • Mental health services. There needs to be more funding for mental health services for boys and men, and these services need to be more accessible.

In “The Future”, Reeves argues that we need to change the way we think about boys and men. He argues that we need to stop seeing them as a problem and start seeing them as a potential. He also argues that we need to invest in boys and men, and that we need to create a society where they can thrive.

Of Boys and Men is a well-written and informative book that provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges that boys and men are facing. Reeves’ proposals for solutions are thoughtful and realistic, and he provides a clear vision for the future of boys and men.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the book:

  • The challenges that boys and men are facing are not inevitable.
  • There are a number of things that can be done to help boys and men succeed.
  • We need to change the way we think about boys and men.
  • We need to invest in boys and men.
  • We need to create a society where boys and men can thrive.

I highly recommend Of Boys and Men to anyone who is interested in learning more about the challenges that boys and men are facing and what can be done to help them succeed. It is a thought-provoking and inspiring book that will challenge you to think differently about boys and men.

I hope this helps!

Review 2

Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It is a book by Richard Reeves that explores the challenges and opportunities facing men in the 21st century. Reeves argues that the traditional masculine norms of strength, stoicism, and dominance are no longer adaptive in a changing world, and that men need to embrace new values of empathy, flexibility, and collaboration. He also examines the causes and consequences of the growing gender gaps in education, health, work, and family, and how they affect not only men but also women and society as a whole. Reeves offers a balanced and nuanced perspective that avoids blaming or shaming either gender, and instead calls for a constructive dialogue and collective action to improve the well-being and prospects of boys and men.

The book is well-written, engaging, and informative, drawing on a wide range of research and evidence from various disciplines and countries. Reeves does not shy away from addressing controversial and sensitive issues, such as male privilege, violence, sexuality, and fatherhood, but he does so with respect and compassion. He also provides practical suggestions and examples of how individuals, families, schools, workplaces, and policymakers can support men’s development and empowerment, while also promoting gender equality and social justice. The book is not only a valuable contribution to the literature on masculinity and gender relations, but also a timely and relevant guide for anyone who cares about the future of boys and men in our society.

Review 3

Here is my review of the book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It by Richard Reeves.

The book is a thoughtful and timely analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing boys and men in the 21st century. Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the father of three sons, argues that boys and men are struggling in many areas of life, such as education, work, family, health, and identity. He attributes this to the profound economic and social changes that have reshaped gender roles and expectations, as well as the failure of our attitudes, institutions, and laws to keep up with these changes. He also challenges the dominant narratives of toxic masculinity and male privilege that often frame the problem of men as a problem of men themselves.

Reeves offers a more nuanced and empathetic perspective that recognizes the diversity and complexity of male experiences and aspirations. He acknowledges the achievements and advantages that some men enjoy, but also the disadvantages and difficulties that many others face. He shows how boys and men are affected by factors such as race, class, geography, culture, and age. He also explores how boys and men can benefit from gender equality and diversity, not only for the sake of women and girls, but also for their own well-being and happiness.

Reeves proposes a positive vision for masculinity in a more equal world, one that embraces both strength and sensitivity, both autonomy and connection, both tradition and innovation. He calls for structural and societal changes that can create more opportunities and support for boys and men to flourish in all aspects of life. He suggests concrete policies and practices that can improve education, work, family, health, and identity for boys and men. He also urges boys and men to take more responsibility for their own development and behavior, to challenge harmful stereotypes and norms, to seek help when needed, to respect and value women and girls, and to contribute positively to society.

The book is well-written, well-researched, well-argued, and well-balanced. It draws on a wide range of sources, such as academic studies, media reports, personal stories, historical examples, cultural references, and statistical data. It is engaging, informative, provocative, and persuasive. It is not a polemic or a manifesto, but a constructive and compassionate contribution to the ongoing conversation about gender issues in our society. It is a book that should be read by anyone who cares about boys and men, as well as anyone who cares about gender equality and human dignity.

Review 4

Richard Reeves’s “Of Boys and Men” is a thought-provoking and insightful exploration of the challenges faced by modern males and the implications for society as a whole. With a compelling blend of personal anecdotes, research, and analysis, Reeves sheds light on the struggles that boys and men encounter in today’s world and offers valuable insights on how to address these issues.

One of the book’s strengths is Reeves’s ability to blend personal narratives with data-driven research. He shares his own experiences as a father raising sons and combines them with extensive research to illustrate the complexities of the modern male experience. This combination of personal and empirical evidence creates a relatable and compelling narrative that resonates with readers.

Reeves addresses a range of issues impacting boys and men, including education, mental health, masculinity, and social expectations. He explores the challenges boys face in school, highlighting the gender disparities in academic achievement and the impact of societal expectations on their educational outcomes. Additionally, he delves into the emotional well-being of men, discussing the pressures they face to conform to traditional notions of masculinity and how this can contribute to mental health struggles.

What sets “Of Boys and Men” apart is its emphasis on the broader societal implications of male struggles. Reeves argues that the well-being and success of boys and men are crucial for the overall health and stability of society. He highlights the need for a collective effort to address these issues and offers practical suggestions for individuals, communities, and policymakers to make a positive impact.

Moreover, the book challenges traditional gender stereotypes and encourages a reevaluation of societal norms. Reeves calls for a more inclusive understanding of masculinity that allows boys and men to express a full range of emotions and engage in healthy relationships. He emphasizes the importance of fostering emotional intelligence and empathy in boys from an early age, promoting a more balanced and equitable society.

While “Of Boys and Men” provides valuable insights and analysis, it does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Reeves acknowledges the complexity of the issues at hand and encourages ongoing dialogue and action to address them effectively. He presents a range of strategies and interventions, from educational reforms to cultural shifts, emphasizing the need for comprehensive and multi-faceted approaches.

In summary, “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It” by Richard Reeves is a compelling and important book that shines a light on the challenges faced by boys and men in today’s society. Through personal narratives, research, and analysis, Reeves offers a nuanced exploration of these issues and provides valuable insights on how to support and empower males in a changing world. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding and addressing the struggles of modern masculinity.

Review 5

“Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It” by Richard Reeves is a compelling examination of the challenges faced by modern men and the societal implications of their struggles. In this book, Reeves delves into the complex factors that contribute to the difficulties many males experience in today’s world.

The book presents a thorough analysis of the societal shifts, cultural expectations, and economic changes that have shaped the male experience. Reeves draws on a range of research, data, and personal stories to shed light on the educational, emotional, and professional challenges faced by boys and men.

What sets “Of Boys and Men” apart is its balanced approach to discussing gender-related issues. Reeves avoids oversimplification and instead offers a nuanced exploration of the multiple factors contributing to the struggles of modern males. He acknowledges the importance of addressing systemic inequalities while also recognizing the personal agency and resilience of individuals.

Reeves’s writing is both engaging and informative, making the book accessible to a wide audience. He raises thought-provoking questions about the implications of male struggles on families, relationships, and society at large. The book prompts readers to reflect on the broader consequences of these challenges and the potential paths forward.

In summary, “Of Boys and Men” is a thought-provoking and well-researched exploration of the struggles faced by modern males. Richard Reeves presents a balanced analysis of the complex factors at play, emphasizing the importance of understanding the multifaceted nature of these issues. Whether you’re interested in gender dynamics, social trends, or the broader impact of individual struggles, this book provides valuable insights and encourages meaningful discussions about the evolving role of men in today’s world.

Review 6

Summary:
“Of Boys and Men” by Richard Reeves is a thought-provoking exploration of the challenges faced by modern males and the implications for society as a whole. Reeves delves into the various factors contributing to the struggles of boys and men, highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing these issues. Through a combination of research, personal anecdotes, and insightful analysis, the author offers practical suggestions for individuals, families, and communities to help alleviate these challenges.

Review:
Richard Reeves presents a compelling case in “Of Boys and Men,” shedding light on the complex issues faced by males in today’s society. The book is meticulously researched, drawing on a wide range of studies, statistics, and expert opinions to support the author’s arguments. Reeves combines this data with personal stories and experiences, making the book relatable and engaging.

One of the book’s strengths is its ability to tackle a broad range of topics related to male struggles. Reeves explores the impact of changing societal expectations, the decline of traditional male roles, the educational system’s shortcomings, and the influence of technology and media. By examining these interconnected factors, the author provides a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by boys and men.

Reeves emphasizes the importance of addressing these issues, not only for the well-being of males but also for the overall health of society. He argues that the struggles faced by boys and men have far-reaching consequences, affecting relationships, mental health, and societal dynamics. The book serves as a wake-up call, urging readers to recognize the urgency of the situation and take action.

What sets “Of Boys and Men” apart is its practical approach. Reeves doesn’t simply dwell on the problems; he offers tangible solutions and actionable steps that individuals, families, and communities can take to support boys and men. From redefining masculinity to improving educational systems and fostering healthier relationships, the author provides a roadmap for positive change.

While the book is comprehensive and well-researched, some readers may find certain sections overly academic or dense. The depth of analysis may be overwhelming for those seeking a more accessible read. Additionally, the book primarily focuses on the struggles of boys and men in Western societies, which may limit its applicability to a global audience.

In conclusion, “Of Boys and Men” by Richard Reeves is a thought-provoking and informative book that sheds light on the challenges faced by modern males. The author’s comprehensive research, combined with personal anecdotes and practical solutions, makes this book a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding and addressing these issues. By highlighting the importance of supporting boys and men, Reeves encourages readers to take an active role in creating a more inclusive and supportive society.

Review 7

Sure, here is a brief review of the book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It by Richard Reeves:

Of Boys and Men is a 2022 book by Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The book argues that boys and men are facing a number of challenges in modern society, including declining educational attainment, rising rates of incarceration, and increasing rates of suicide.

Reeves begins the book by discussing the history of masculinity in America. He argues that traditional notions of masculinity have become increasingly outdated in the 21st century. He then goes on to discuss the specific challenges that boys and men are facing today, such as:

  • The decline of manufacturing jobs, which has led to fewer opportunities for men to find stable employment.
  • The rise of single-mother households, which has left many boys without positive male role models.
  • The increasing use of electronic devices, which has led to a decline in physical activity and social interaction among boys.
  • The normalization of violence in popular culture, which has contributed to an increase in aggressive behavior among boys.

Reeves concludes the book by offering a number of recommendations for addressing the challenges facing boys and men. He suggests that we need to:

  • Create more opportunities for boys and men to succeed in school and in the workforce.
  • Provide more support for single-mother households.
  • Encourage boys to be more physically active and social.
  • Reduce the exposure of boys to violence in popular culture.

Of Boys and Men is a well-researched and thought-provoking book that provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing boys and men in modern society. Reeves’s recommendations are both practical and achievable, and they offer a hopeful vision for the future of boys and men.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the book:

  • The traditional notions of masculinity are outdated in the 21st century.
  • Boys and men are facing a number of challenges, including declining educational attainment, rising rates of incarceration, and increasing rates of suicide.
  • We need to create more opportunities for boys and men to succeed in school and in the workforce.
  • We need to provide more support for single-mother households.
  • We need to encourage boys to be more physically active and social.
  • We need to reduce the exposure of boys to violence in popular culture.

I highly recommend Of Boys and Men to anyone who is interested in learning more about the challenges facing boys and men in modern society. It is a thought-provoking and informative book that offers a hopeful vision for the future.

I hope this helps!

Review 8

As an expert in giving feedback, summary, and review after reading a book, I can provide you with a comprehensive review of the book “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It” by Richard Reeves.

The book is a thought-provoking analysis of the challenges facing boys and men in modern society. The author argues that boys and men are struggling to adapt to the changing social and economic landscape, which is leading to a range of negative outcomes.

The book is divided into three parts: “The Problem,” “The Causes,” and “The Solutions.” Each part provides a detailed look at different aspects of the challenges facing boys and men.

One of the strengths of the book is its focus on data. The author draws on research from a wide range of fields, including psychology, sociology, and economics, to provide readers with a better understanding of the issues facing boys and men.

Another strength of the book is its accessibility. The author writes in a clear and concise style that makes it easy to understand. He also provides practical advice on how to address the challenges facing boys and men.

Overall, “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It” is an excellent read for anyone who wants to learn more about the challenges facing boys and men in modern society. It provides valuable insights into what needs to be done to address these challenges.



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