What’s Up With Modern Masculinity?

October 18, 2022

What’s Up With Modern Masculinity?

May 29, 2023

Occasionally, someone approaches me after a speech and asks why MEA is exclusively for men. Of course, knowing that almost ⅔ of our MEA alums are women, I sprout a quizzical look on my face and then learn that this person thinks that only men can be an “elder.” Thank God that’s not the case.

That said, I occasionally do wish for some divine intervention to help men realize that MEA offers a threshold to a more vulnerable, empowered, and nourishing life. And, given some of the following statistics from a recent David Brooks NYT Op-Ed called “The Crisis of Men and Boys,” it’s clear we need more programs like MEA. Check these statistics out:

“They (boys) are struggling in the classroom. American girls are 14 percentage points more likely to be “school ready” than boys at age 5, controlling for parental characteristics. By high school, two-thirds of the students in the top 10 percent of the class, ranked by G.P.A., are girls, while roughly two-thirds of the students at the lowest decile are boys. In 2020, at the 16 top American law schools, not a single one of the flagship law reviews had a man as editor in chief…also, in 2020, amid Covid, the decline in college enrollment for male students was seven times that of female students.

Men are struggling in the workplace. One in three American men with only a high school diploma — 10 million men — is now out of the labor force. The biggest drop in employment is among young men aged 25 to 34. Men who entered the workforce in 1983 will earn about 10 percent less in real terms in their lifetimes than those who started a generation earlier. Over the same period, women’s lifetime earnings have increased 33 percent. Pretty much all of the income gains that middle-class American families have enjoyed since 1970 are because of increases in women’s earnings.

Men are also struggling physically. Men account for close to three out of every four “deaths of despair” — suicide and drug overdoses. For every 100 middle-aged women who died of Covid up to mid-September 2021, there were 184 middle-aged men who died.”

While boys have probably always been less socialized to process and share their emotions than girls, some of this male crisis is new. For example, just 3% of men said they had no close friends in 1990, which is now 15%.

There are some green bamboo shoots in this desert of masculinity. The New York Times recently profiled something akin to a male version of SoulCycle, a program, F3, that pushes members physically but also allows them to bond emotionally as well as in their faith. F3 stands for fitness, fellowship, and faith and is a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie.

Over the past five years, we’ve had multiple women-only workshops at our MEA campus in Baja. Maybe it’s time we offered a men’s workshop? Our 2023 calendar is complete, so it may have to be at our Ranch campus in Santa Fe when it opens or in Baja in 2024. Feel free to send me your thoughts on this.

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