The War On Women – What About the War On Men?

We’ve heard a lot about the so-called “War On Women” in recent years, a charge most often aimed at pro-life conservatives who want to restrict abortion and other reproductive rights. Yet increasingly we are seeing developments which might well be deemed the “War On Men.” Today I will highlight some disturbing trends that are seriously affecting men in America.

For starters, after 88 consecutive months of the economic expansion that began in June 2009, a smaller percentage of American males in the prime working years (ages 25 to 54) are working today than were working near the end of the Great Depression in 1940, when the unemployment rate was above 14%.

The work rate for adult men has plunged 13 percentage points in a half-century. Since 1948, the proportion of men 20 and older without paid work has more than doubled, to almost 32%.  That is staggering! Yet we hear very little about this in the mainstream media.

On another front, colleges and universities, we see another disturbing trend among young men. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 1972 men made up 57% and women accounted for 43% of enrollees in degree-granting colleges and universities.

Today, those numbers have flipped. In 2012, the latest year for which actual data were reported, women made up 57% of the college population, with men representing the remaining 43%. The percentage of women on college campuses is almost certainly even higher today. The NCES expects that number to rise to at least 61% by 2022. If that projection holds, America will have roughly 14 million female college students and only 10 million male students by then.

Female students are also more likely to finish college than their male counterparts. More than 60% of women enrolling in college in 2006 graduated by 2012; the similar proportion for men was only 56.5%. Additionally, women earned 60% of the master’s degrees and 51% of doctorates in the 2011-2012 academic year (again, latest data available).

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So, if men are now underrepresented in higher education, where might they be? One place is in prison. At the end of 2014, almost 93% of inmates in state and federal correctional facilities were male. There were over 1.4 million male inmates compared to just 113,000 female inmates.

If we add inmates in city and county jails, as well as those on probation or parole, the gap widens significantly. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 5.56 million men were in the correctional system at the end of 2014, versus 1.25 million women.

While men have always dominated the correctional population, they have suffered disproportionately in the recent era of mass incarceration. The total correctional population skyrocketed from 1.84 million in 1980 to 7.31 million in 2009 before declining somewhat in more recent years.

Since greater education and less incarceration both correlate with higher income, we can expect women’s share of the workforce pie to grow in the coming years. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, women’s median weekly earnings as a percentage of men’s median weekly earnings rose from 62.3% in 1979 to 82.5% in 2014.

In an influential 2010 article in The Atlantic, Hanna Rosin documented and explained a phenomenon she called “The End of Men.” Her thesis was that technological and social changes are making men increasingly obsolete. Modern industrial machinery rendered male advantages in physical size and strength irrelevant, while 21st century jobs more often require attributes associated with women — including social intelligence, open communication and the ability to concentrate.

Psychologist Warren Farrell attributes the relative decline in men’s wellbeing to social policies and conditions for raising boys. For example, Farrell and his colleagues point out that one-third of boys grow up in households where the father is absent and are thus deprived of their most important male role model. The numbers are substantially higher for blacks and Hispanics.

Schools have increasingly curtailed boy-friendly programs such as recess (which encourages physical activity) and vocational education. Psychiatrists too frequently address boys’ normal restlessness by prescribing Ritalin and other behavioral drugs with dangerous side effects.

Teenage boys and young men in their 20s suffer from much greater levels of depression than their female counterparts, as evidenced by male suicide rates that are four times higher than female suicide rates.

I could go on and on with such statistics relating to men, but you get the picture. I bring you this because you aren’t likely to see such information presented in the mainstream media – unless, of course, these trends were happening to women – in which case the media would be in a full-blown conniption.

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