When Men Are No Longer Men
There is a major problem with men these days. No it isn’t sexism, or racism, or any of the other usual bugbears trotted out by the post-modern left to demonize the male half of the species. The problem with men today is that a very large number of them are no longer working. According to the most recent studies of the labour force participation rate, up to a third of working age men are not actually working these days, a level last seen only during the depths of the Great Depression.Unlike the dirty thirties, however, the cause of this latest bout of male malingering cannot be lain entirely at the feet of an ailing economy. While no one would dispute that even now, closing in on a decade after the Financial Crisis imploded the global economy, all is still not well in the world no one would seriously argue that the situation today is comparable to then. Moreover, a great number of the men in question are not just out of work but also making absolutely no effort whatsoever to rectify the situation; these aren’t blokes having a stretch of hard luck but rather ones who have checked out of the job market altogether.
Anyone whose read “Coming Apart” by Charles Murray will be aware that this is not a new problem either. The proportion of men (particularly young, less educated and less affluent ones) neither working, looking for work, or participating in education to further the kinds of work they can do has been rising for decades. This trend has been ongoing regardless of the underlying economic conditions, with men continuing to drop out of the labour market even in the boom times of the 90s and early 2000s – further evidence that this is not purely a problem of opportunities for work not being there.
But if it is not simply a question of it being “the Economy, Stupid” where else could the explanton lie? I would hazard a guess that this is simply yet another example of the decline of traditional masculinity and the accompanying societal expectations that went with it; men simply aren’t working these day because they no longer are expected to.
Go back even a few decades in time and the expectation was that if you were capable of work you would work. Choosing not to if you were otherwise able made you an idler and a ne’er-do-well. This is no longer the case. Certainly being out of work is not something anyone would boast of, but the social stigma that used to surround such status has doubtlessly decreased in part due to the well documented hardships many young people have faced entering the labour market in recent years and also likely because of the slow erosion of them traditional image of the man as the family’s primary breadwinner and supporter.
Thanks goes beyond the social realm. Thanks to the benevolence of the modern welfare state, financially it is actually possible to choose not to work and still get by. Indeed, if you’re minimally skilled and therefore eligible for only the most menial of work the difference between the the two scenarios is not actually that noticeable. If you’re not bothered by the idea of living a tad rough (which not an insignificant number of men aren’t) and your only other alternatives are working part time stocking shelves or flipping burgers the idea of sleeping in till noon every day and then playing video games ever afternoon will doubtlessly be somewhat appealing.
It’s not like your love life will suffer from it. The rise of men not working has been accompanied by another statistic in recent years showing an increasing number of households where the woman is just the primary breadwinner in the family but the only one, with her husband or live in boyfriend doing absolutely nothing other than living off her paycheque.
Feminists love to criticize patriarchy as a method by which men control women’s sexuality, and while this is true they fail to realize that this is incidental and not actually the end in and of itself. Patriarchy is not really about controlling women at all but instead all about controlling men, for if you control women’s sexuality you also control society’s young men. Tell blokes that the only way they can ever hope to get any action is by achieving XYZ and pretty much all of them will dedicate themselves to doing so. Given that women’s independence (not to mention the sexual revolution) have effectively removed financial security as a deal breaker for most women when it comes to evaluating men as potential mates, even this final and most potent incentive for work has fallen by the wayside.
Putting aside all moral questions, does any of this really matter? After all, is society itself worse off by having a large section of its males out of the work force devoting their time to Call of Duty and Halo? Yes. Not only does this rob the economy of a vast amount of human capital but historically societies with large numbers of idle young men have extremely unstable (for a modern example look no further than the Middle East – or those parts of Europe worst affected by the refugee crisis for that matter). When a person has no stake in society they are more prone to engage in all kinds of undesirable anti-social behaviour than those who do. What is the alt-right after all other than a large number of very angry young men who feel let down by a modern world that seems to have nothing more to offer them than video games, precarious work prospects, and high-speed internet porn. Take masculine virtue out of society, and far too many men ultimately prove to revert simply to being beasts.