Why Real Men Are Becoming Extinct
Manhood is in decline. From underperforming students to effeminate behavior, traditional manhood is slowly vanishing. What is happening to men today?
As we pointed out in a recent blog post (“Bumbling or Biblical: What Kind of Father Do You Want to Be?”), the entertainment media often uses fathers to provide comic relief. In TV shows and movies fathers are often portrayed as foolish and childish. Families are held together by the strength and wisdom of the mother, despite the antics of the foolish father.
As our blog post pointed out, this is not the biblical standard for fatherhood. The Bible teaches that fathers are to be leaders characterized by love, service and integrity (1 Timothy 3:12; Ephesians 5:25).
But this attack on fatherhood is not the only way the male role is being downgraded and changed in today’s world. In fact, manhood in general is in crisis. This blog post, the first in a two-part series, will look at the core problem of manhood in our societies today.
Where are all the guys?
Before I began working for Life, Hope & Truth, I was a teacher in the public school system. During my time working with students, I (and other teachers) noticed that there was a gender gap in almost every area. I worked for a prestigious high school that offered students the opportunity to take college coursework throughout their four years of high school. As far as grades, the girls far excelled the guys. As far as leadership, finding impressive males who were natural leaders was difficult—but there were plenty of impressive female students who would be called natural leaders!
The decline of true manhood is real. The danger to our boys and young men is real. Unless major changes are made, we will see this trend continue and worsen.It was great to see talented, smart and driven female students! But where were all the guys?
A fellow teacher and I once had a conversation about a leadership award given to one male and one female student. We lamented the reality that there were multiple girls who would be well-deserving candidates to receive the award. But the boys? Well, it was a struggle to even name three obvious choices.
Statistics demonstrate these anecdotal observations. Men are disappearing from higher education. In the U.S. in 2012, 916,000 women graduated with bachelor’s degrees, while 685,000 men graduated. In other words, a third again more women graduate than men! In both the United States and the United Kingdom, the proportion of female college students to male college students is almost identical: In the U.S. colleges are 57 percent female, 43 percent male. In the U.K. colleges are 58 percent female, 42 percent male. This is not just an American problem.
We also see other troubling trends among males. The homosexual agenda and the examples of males in media have led to a feminization of many boys. Just walk into any large American high school and you will encounter boys who dress and act feminine (this effeminate behavior in males is now labeled flamboyant), with many openly declaring their homosexuality. Male homosexuality is the complete antithesis of healthy manhood.
Why are males underperforming?
Though this is a complex social problem, we can highlight three major causes of this crisis:
- Video games and media. Boys, young adult guys and even grown men spend inordinate amounts of time playing video games and consuming media. Though statistics on excessive gaming are nearly impossible to gather, it is becoming clear to many that video game addiction is a major societal problem, mainly impacting males. Some of the unintended consequences of excessive gaming and media consumption are that many spend less time on productive pursuits (such as study, recreation and healthy social interaction), become desensitized to violence (the link between excessive violent gaming and mass shootings perpetrated by young men is documented) and become disconnected from the “real world.”
- Missing fathers. Increasing numbers of children are growing up without fathers in the home. The largest cause of this problem is births to unwed mothers. In 2012, over 40 percent of all births were to single mothers (over 70 percent of African-American babies are born to unwed mothers). Even among those children born to married couples, about half of them will see their parents divorce before the age of 18.
- Lack of strong, positive male role models. This is closely connected with missing fathers—because the father should be the primary male influence in a boy’s life. With the father largely missing, what examples are boys to look to? Young people look heavily to celebrities and the media. Sadly, the examples of celebrities’ personal lives do not help. The examples of proper manhood in today’s mass media are even worse. Movies in the last decade have capitalized on the humor of the unmotivated, unambitious young adult male—the “slacker” male. These movies often portray men as lazy, casual drug users who play video games and avoid real careers and family. A whole genre of movies has developed based on the “slacker” male theme.
Consider the example of the 2007 film Knocked Up. Seth Rogen plays an unemployed, uneducated slacker who is more interested in getting high and drunk than doing much of anything. Katherine Heigl plays an educated, motivated and successful career woman who gets pregnant in a one-night stand with Rogen’s character. The entirety of the movie portrays the disparity between the two.
This general theme is played out in a continuous stream of television shows and movies—and, sadly, in real lives (as anecdotal evidence and statistics bear out).
What is the solution?
The decline of true manhood is real. The danger to our boys and young men is real. Unless major changes are made, we will see this trend continue and worsen. The effects of the crisis will not be fully felt until members of the present young generation enter their 30s and 40s and are expected to begin to take the reins of political, corporate and family leadership.
This should be a wake-up call for every level of society. The three problems mentioned in this blog post must be solved if this crisis is to be reversed.
Here are three practical action steps that should be taken immediately to deal with this problem:
- Video game usage and media consumption must be dramatically curbed by parents. The habits that are built before the age of 18 are often the habits that continue throughout the 20s and 30s. Responsible parents need to severely limit the amount of time their children (particularly boys) spend gaming. Violent games (such as Assassin’s Creed, Hitman, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty) result in nothing positive or productive in the lives of those who spend hours playing them.
- Men and women (of all ages) need to commit themselves to only having children within a committed marriage. The biblical law limiting sexual activity to marriage was not designed just to restrict human sexuality—but was designed to create stable and healthy societies. Breaking this essential law of human conduct is wreaking havoc on the lives of young people and society itself.
- Individual men need to take up the mantle of leadership and example. The problem of the lack of positive examples cannot be solved by anyone other than you. It is up to each individual to choose to live in a way that positively impacts others. This is a call to action for men of all ages.
The natural question is—what does a real man look like? Who should be our model of real, healthy manhood in the 21st century?
This is the first of a two part series on Why Real Men Are Becoming Extinct. For part 2 in this series, see the article “Jesus Christ: The True Model for Manhood.”