Reeves’ work may be the most well-researched compilation of problems plaguing the modern male. Mothers, fathers, wives, employers, and educators are “really worried about boys and men,” Reeves emphasizes. “We need a pro-social vision of masculinity for a post-feminist world.”
Men are losing their grip. Literally. Adult men today have a 30-pound weaker grip strength than four decades ago, writes Richard Reeves in his latest book, Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It. And that’s not their worst problem.
Grade-school boys are far more likely than girls to fail math, reading, and science, and twice as likely to have developmental disabilities. The problem persists through higher education: Women receive more than half of bachelor’s degrees in the United States and the majority of master’s degrees, associate’s degrees, law degrees, and doctoral degrees. Women now dominate most previously male-led fields. As Reeves explains, “there have been no equivalent gains for men…nobody predicted that women would overtake men so rapidly, so comprehensively, or so consistently around the world.”
Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is not alone in identifying the male species’s decades-in-the-making downfall. “America’s boys are broken,” comedian Michael Ian Black wrote in the New York Times in 2018. “And it’s killing us.”
Hallmark feminist Gloria Steinem wrongly assessed such a situation in her 1970 essay, “What It Would Be Like If Women Win.” She predicted that with women “bearing financial responsibility, and with the idea of ‘masculine’ jobs gone, men might well feel freer and live longer.” She praised Sweden, which adopted radical feminist policy years before America, as a soon-to-be “working Women’s Lib model.” Reeves claims Sweden once again leads the way: The country in 2010 penned the term pojkkrisen (boy crisis) to address the widening gender gap, the same year Forbes magazine declared America’s “Year of the Woman.”
Women won. And after decades of diligent feminism, men are worse off. While the sexual revolution liberated women to leave men behind in the dust, it also left men right there in the dust. Women wrote themselves a new economically and physically independent script, and men never drafted a response. Instead, the feminine mystique paved the way for what Reeves calls the male malaise.