National Review today published a powerful indictment of the fate of masculinity. It lay buried at the end of a lengthy description of a pornography convention coupled with analysis of what this means for culture. In its own right, the piece bore deep into social questions often left untouched and introduced readers to an entire subculture. But should Kevin Williamson use this as another yet another obituary on the fate of the American Man?
"The future is female." Williamson laments. He sees marriage evaporating. Many others see the academic driven opportunities as more appropriate for females than males.Williamson's words seem to echo another thinker's fear about what modern times might do to the modern man.
"A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack of either desire or of power to strive after great things" has afflicted American men, according to one writer. He worries that parents have taught their boys "that ease, that peace, is to be the first consideration." America, should it continue along this path will "rot by inches in ignoble ease within our borders."
Hopefully the writing gave it away. This was not a modern assessment of the masculine. Almost 115 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt warned the nation. It, and especially its men, threatened to soften. And this only two generations removed from the great national test of the Civil War.
Roosevelt feared that the ease brought by modern wonders of his time might soften men, dulling their ambition and work ethic.
Obviously it did not. Great decades lay ahead. The free society that encouraged Roosevelt's narrow social circle to pursue ease and comfort spurred others to make their own fortunes. Surrounded by dandies, Roosevelt at the time did not see the big picture. A nation full of men and women willing to fight for fortune and success.
Williamson describes the general stereotype of the youngest generation of adult men. And stereotypes rarely pop into existence without some small basis of reality. But narrow views and the worries of older men about the generation that is to replace them may limit the picture.
The youngest adult generation has grown up in a country with broken schools and no guarantees. College does not guarantee a spot in IBM management school. It guarantees only debt for most. And even that in exchange for a curriculum high on social engineering and declining relevance or even intellectual stimulation.
Nothing that has happened in this century has inspired any faith that government can handle any problem. The youth have less faith in government than almost any group born and raised in the last hundred years.
Less reliance on the government and Big Business must translate into more reliance on self. Even as government seeks to supplant parents and institutions of faith with itself, it reveals its base incompetence. If you're going to do something right, you have to do it yourself.
On top of that is the core of this generation, not college kids living in their mom's basements, but tens of thousands of men who have served their country on the other side of the world. They bring work ethic, toughness, and perspective beyond anything learned in a classroom.
Fundamentally, things do not change. Men worth marrying will be married, as will many who are not. Ambition to do better in life will remain, so long as individuals may rationally hope that their efforts can lead to it. The older generation always worries about the younger.
In actuality, the 21st century should be a revival for masculinekind. So many in the last few decades dropped axes, trowels, and hammers to pursue corporate dreams that there is a perpetual shortage of people who have these skills. The idea that physical labor is beneath people has opened crucial opportunities. Not many women can build a stone or a brick wall. Men will always have a natural advantage in the realm of physical labor. The skilled craftsman who can handle physical labor has never been in more demand. In some parts of the country, one with experience and a good reputation can name his price.
Why go to college when you can make money and build a business right away? Parents must realize that college is not what it was, nor does it guarantee what it once did. Encourage entrepreneurship when you can.
And encourage pursuit of the noble and profitable.