In a CNN Editorial William J. Bennett blames videogames and other mediaor the "Decline of Men." Colin Campbell from IGN responds in his own Editorial. This seems like an interesting issue for discussion. I have copied both articles below.
William Bennet CNN Contributor said:
CNN Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." Bennett is the Washington fellow of the Claremont Institute. He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and was director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.
(CNN) -- For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men. Now, society has rightly celebrated the ascension of one sex. We said, "You go girl," and they went. We celebrate the ascension of women but what will we do about what appears to be the very real decline of the other sex? The data does not bode well for men. In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women's earnings grew 44% in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men.
In 1950, 5% of men at the prime working age were unemployed. As of last year, 20% were not working, the highest ever recorded. Men still maintain a majority of the highest paid and most powerful occupations, but women are catching them and will soon be passing them if this trend continues. The warning signs for men stretch far beyond their wallets. Men are more distant from a family or their children then they have ever been. The out-of-wedlock birthrate is more than 40% in America. In 1960, only 11% of children in the U.S. lived apart from their fathers. In 2010, that share had risen to 27%. Men are also less religious than ever before. According to Gallup polling, 39% of men reported attending church regularly in 2010, compared to 47% of women.
If you don't believe the numbers, just ask young women about men today. You will find them talking about prolonged adolescence and men who refuse to grow up. I've heard too many young women asking, "Where are the decent single men?" There is a maturity deficit among men out there, and men are falling behind.
This decline in founding virtues -- work, marriage, and religion -- has caught the eye of social commentators from all corners. In her seminal article, "The End of Men," Hanna Rosin unearthed the unprecedented role reversal that is taking place today. "Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed," writes Rosin. The changes in modern labor -- from backs to brains -- have catapulted women to the top of the work force, leaving men in their dust.
Man's response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?
So what's wrong? Increasingly, the messages to boys about what it means to be a man are confusing. The machismo of the street gang calls out with a swagger. Video games, television and music offer dubious lessons to boys who have been abandoned by their fathers. Some coaches and drill sergeants bark, "What kind of man are you?" but don't explain.
Movies are filled with stories of men who refuse to grow up and refuse to take responsibility in relationships. Men, some obsessed with sex, treat women as toys to be discarded when things get complicated. Through all these different and conflicting signals, our boys must decipher what it means to be a man, and for many of them it is harder to figure out.
For boys to become men, they need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example and correction. It is true in all ages. Someone once characterized the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them? Each generation of men and women have an obligation to teach the younger males (and females of course) coming behind them. William Wordsworth said, "What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how." When they fail in that obligation, trouble surely follows. We need to respond to this culture that sends confusing signals to young men, a culture that is agnostic about what it wants men to be, with a clear and achievable notion of manhood.
The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, "Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married." It's time for men to man up.
Colin Campbell head of news & features at IGN said:
Over on CNN today there's an editorial by William Bennett, bemoaning the alleged decline of men, and blaming, among other things, video games.
In the past 40 years, women have won more freedom from imposed gender roles. Since the early 1970s, stats for female academic achievement and career progression have soared. Bennett argues that the male response to this social change has been "pathetic". He adds, "Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys."
Bennett was in charge of the U.S education system in the late-1980s and ran anti-drugs policy under the first Bush administration. You can argue among yourselves whether this list of dubious career highlights qualifies him to whine about what other men do with their lives.
He pulls out a parcel of stats about how much worse men are today than, say, the 1950s, when more of us got married young, trotted along to church every Sunday, worked oppressive hours in factories, were forced to serve in uniform and watched gormless movies about cowboys.
He mentions high rates of unemployment as if this were the fault of men too apathetic to rise from our Gears of War marathons, rather than a direct and very obvious consequence of a global economic recession.
His most egregious argument is that men and women are locked in some sort of mortal combat for college grades, fancy jobs and worthy hobbies. Men, he argues, must be the losers because women have better lives.
Laughably, he serves up proof of his thesis with anecdotal evidence of desperate women in search of "decent single men". Because, yeah, this is an entirely modern phenomenon that never occurred to the Ancient Greek poets, Shakespeare, Jane Austen ya-de-ya.
Just a reminder folks, this guy was in charge of U.S. education.
Bennett uses games as a catch-all 'bad thing' ignoring the fact that it's merely part of the fabric of modern life, has many social uses and offers people a welcome release from our stressful and / or humdrum lives, as well as a sense of achievement and progression. He makes zero mention of the fact that women make up around 50% of games players or that the fastest growing sector of the population playing games is adult women.
Bennett is the latest in a long line of commentators who believe that the world's ills can be blamed on something that's new and unfamiliar. He says his problem is with games, but if you read between the lines, it's clear that what he really doesn't like, is people.
He is the worst kind of social critic; one who does not understand society.
I'm far too tired to articulately respond to this however regardless of some moronic statements, the guy has a scientifically backed point which is that men as far as being the more educated and more adept providers are concerned have diminished dramatically within most of our lifetimes. The ratio of college degrees bit is particularly staggering.
Obviously this has a lot more to do with the destruction manufacturing (due to outsourcing) and construction (due to illegal immigration) jobs than video games, however his main point does stand.
I think the actual science behind what he said is that WOMEN AREN'T AS REPRESSED ANY MORE. Not that men have become bumbling fools.
To a degree this is absolutely true.
It's also true however that the age where most boys become men, ie they are self sufficient human beings with the strings completely cut has gone from the late teens to nearly 30. This article, while very poorly worded and drawing some absurd conclusions about the root cause, is in essence talking about the prolonged adolescence of many young men.
I saw this in my own life, I really didn't get my shit together financially until I was 25-26. I'm 30 now and many of my friends are still not sure what they want to do with themselves. Obviously a lot of this is an indication of the time we live in, it's increasingly difficult to get a "good" job, there is a global recession going on, etc, however there has definitely been a trend in our lifetimes of men postponing what traditionally has been called "adulthood" in favor of more adolescent pursuits.
Yeah, that's all well and good, but the author's points are 'pointless' if his conclusions are rubbish. I see nothing wrong with 'prolonged adolescent pursuits' if they aren't negatively affecting the person or his family, while Bennett sees this as an issue, regardless, which is the purpose of the article; to point out the problem.
If a man decides that he doesn't wanna settle down and have a family, who is anyone to tell him that he is not being a man for doing so? Furthermore, why in the hell should anyone feel the need to take issue with men who choose to not get married? Bennett was not writing the article to shell out statistics, he was writing an article to point out a problem. This 'problem' is one that doesn't even exist, so why are we even entertaining the notion that there's credence to what he's trying to say?
@Oldmanwinter I think it is a lot more complicated than just blaming video games. Really, children hitting 20-ish nowadays have almost no reason to want to become what would, traditionally, be called an adult. In the past you maybe married a high school / college sweetheart right out of school, bought a house together, had a bunch of kids, la la la la life goes on. It'd be tough, sure, but you could look ahead and have an idea what to expect.
But now with the economy the way it is where everyone is losing their houses and the word "overpopulation" making you feel guilty for having a large family and the divorce rates skyrocketing (compared to 50/100 years ago) 20-somes have every reason to try to stay a child a bit longer. It's not just that the adult world is "scary" and people are more immature now or whatever, it's that the adult world is a complete freaking mess right now, and doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon. What real motivation do 20-somes have to buy into it? Many of them can just look at their own parents and see what they don't want firsthand.
Also many people don't believe in god anymore, at least not to the extent that they used to. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, I'm pretty agnostic myself, but I think it affects people's decisions. The Catholic church, for one, pretty much doesn't leave much room to stay single late into your life... you get pressured to feel that your "calling" is either priesthood or marriage and if you're just staying single and doing your own thing, you are ignoring god's will. I think agnostics have less pressure to lead a specific kind of life. Historically speaking, it's kind of a new, radical idea (in the mainstream anyway) that people are allowed to live life however they feel like it.
I still want to get married and have kids and all of that someday. I'm not necessarily speaking for myself here, just being an amateur sociologist.
See actually this is why it is tough for me to listen to older people telling me everything my generation is doing wrong. It's sort of like... they created this crappy world for us that would obviously have these results, and then they want to blame us as if it is entirely our fault without taking any responsibility for the world that they created for us.
Now, if someone my age wants to write about what we're all doing wrong, sure, I'll listen. Because I think we can and should rise above the world that was left to us. But that doesn't negate the fact that a lot of what we do makes perfect sense when looking at the current state of things. Generations can't just be blindly compared to each other with no context.
Well being younger doesn't necessarily preclude having batshit crazy opinions. There's probably someone much younger out there who shares the same views as Bennett. Would you listen to him? We aren't talking about facts here. We're talking about a guy who thinks that men who aren't stereotypical men from the 50's aren't real men. Regardless of age, that assertion hold no credence whatsoever, and no amount of statistics will ever give it any.
I'd listen to them with a more open ear, and then I can accept or reject their views without thinking that they are just randomly spouting out nonsense. I know I know, the theory is that you listen to everyone equally and accept or reject their views. But if someone is trying to blame me for a situation that they clearly created, I don't have much patience to listen to their whole argument.
For instance, I didn't even finish that article. Got distracted, have better things to do.
I hear you, Zero. I was going to add that I think a lot of what he's saying is the typical Baby Boomer blame-game, but you've basically said that.
To be fair to Bill Bennett - who doesn't necessarily deserve it - he is right that one reason we've seen a decline in the traditional male identity is the switch from "backs to brains". But, then, I don't think I need to point out the irony of a guy who used to run the education department complaining that my generation of men aren't smart enough to compete in that arena.
There's a worthwhile discussion to have about the changing male identity, the societal perils of extended adolescence and the future of the American worker, but I don't think voices like Bennett should be particularly loud in that discussion.
Oh, I misunderstood you. In some circles, the term 'listen' is denoted as actually accepting one's view. But when you were saying that it's harder for you to listen to older people, you weren't talking about acceptance or being receptive, but actually not even lending your ear or giving it thought in the first place. In that case, I understand what you're saying.
The article is about his problem with the decline, or why it should be seen as a problem. Not the fact, in and of itself, that there is a decline in 'the traditional man'. No one is disputing that, and the discussion would have been more interesting if that were the case. I'm not going to give Bennett credit for something he didn't come up with himself, and what he did come up with is total rubbish.