Kids these Days! (Feats of Strength Edition)

Who knew Tim "The Toolman" Taylor was a columinist at NRO? (Will kids these days get that reference?).

gym-weights-hiI don’t know if it is because I am aware that complaints about the youth are at least as old as ancient Greece or it is because I am constantly around a new crop of 18-22 year olds on an ongoing basis, but one of my major pet peeves are “kids these days” laments.  On the first point, we should have ceased to be as a race if, in fact, each generation was worse than the last.  On the second point, my personal observation has been that, in fact, each generation does pretty well (and this anecdotal observation is backed up by the empirical fact that someone the world keeps rolling along as each generation ages into their appropriate roles).

A recent example of this lament, and perhaps one of the most ridiculous I have seen in some time, comes from David French at The National Review:  Men Are Getting Weaker — because We’re Not Raising Men:

If you’re the average Millennial male, your dad is stronger than you are. In fact, you may not be stronger than the average Millennial female. You’re exactly the kind of person who in generations past had your milk money confiscated every day — who got swirlied in the middle-school bathroom. The very idea of manual labor is alien to you, and even if you were asked to help, say, build a back porch, the task would exhaust you to the point of uselessness. Welcome to the new, post-masculine reality.

The proximate cause of his sweeping proclamation:

This morning, the Washington Post highlighted a study showing that the grip strength of a sample of college men had declined significantly between 1985 and 2016. Indeed, the grip strength of the sample of college men had declined so much — from 117 pounds of force to 98 — that it now matched that of older Millennial women. In other words, the average college male had no more hand strength than a 30-year-old mom.

He does, at least, acknowledge, “Yes, I know it’s only one study. Yes, I know that grip strength is but one measure of overall physical fitness.”  Still, he goes on to note:

But as the Post noted, these findings are consistent with other studies showing kids are less fit today. (For example, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than it did 30 years ago.) Simply put, we’re getting soft — and no cohort is getting softer faster than college men.

That we are not as fit, as a country, is not necessarily a surprise but even allowing that, he is making huge generalizations from a few studies.  I am also struck that it stands to reason that an economy that is predominantly post-industrial has less physical strength, on average, than when we were in a more industrial period (not to mention in 1958 a lot more males had served in the military as a percentage of the population than is now the case).

In other words, if one wishes to argue that about general health and physical fitness, all well and good I suppose.  But, no, this about being men:

Raising a boy to be a young man used to be a natural act. Common experiences and rites-of-passage meant that my D&D friends could pop the hood of a car and get to work right alongside the future mechanics of my high-school class. We weren’t as good or as knowledgeable, but we held our own. And there were no social-justice warriors shrieking that there was no such thing as distinctively male or masculine pursuits.

First, I am not sure that we can ever fully claim that a particular kind of child rearing is wholly “natural” as such things are very heavily driven by culture, norms, and expectations that evolve over time.   A simple example:  how one raises children in a rural, agricultural setting is going to be different than how ones raises children in a post-industrial, suburban setting.

Second, so much of this, as with the rest of the column, reeks of simplistic “kids these days” lamentations. Further, I don’t believe that the D&D nerds of French’s youth (of which I would have been counted and am of almost the exact same generation as French) could hold their own, in the aggregate, when compared to the more mechanically inclined in their high school class.  Yes, it is likely that they could change the oil on their car (I could) but the shift to taking the car to the Quick Lube joint is more about the hassle of disposing of used oil than it is about grip strength or lost masculinity.

And I would add that the debate over what constitutes “masculine pursuits” is older than the advent of the social justice warriors (and, really, making fun of SJWs these days feels a lot more like modern day hippie punching than any kind of honest analysis).

Back to social norms:  there is no reason, apart from social constructs, for popping hoods and working on engines to be a masculine pursuit.  That is a fully socially constructed position.

French continues:

Now, for parents of the privileged, raising a boy to be a young man has to be an intentional act. You have to ignore the voices who are telling you to indulge your child’s inclinations — no matter what they are — and train them to be not just morally courageous but also physically strong. They can have their Xbox or their PC (my son brags about his kill/death ratio on Battlefield, and we belong to the same World of Warcraft guild), but they can also hit the weight room. They can also not just learn to shoot but also how to assemble and disassemble their weapon. Even if you’re rich, you can make your kid do the hard work that keeps any household together.

All of this sums to a very specific view of the masculine:  that to be authentically male one has to pump iron and shoot lead.  I will allow that in a hunter/gatherer society it may well make more sense for the males to do the hunting, but seriously, we don’t live in that era any longer.  (A side note:  playing video games is also considered a mainly masculine pursuit as well, as is playing D&D, especially when French and I were in high school).

Also, what is up with “You have to ignore the voices who are telling you to indulge your child’s inclinations”–why?  Why not cultivate an individuals natural gift and inclinations if they are otherwise healthy?

More French:

Though this sounds simplistic, never ever underestimate the positive effect that raw physical strength can have on a young man’s development. I’ve seen the impact that weight training has had on my son, and I wish I’d been as diligent when I was his age. I’ve experienced the impact — even as an older adult — of the physical transformation of Army training.

Yes, it does sound simplistic.  But more significantly, the problem with the argument is that it is asserting that the virtue of exercise is a masculine one.   I also see personal regret being expanded into a universal critique (which is not surprising since much of this column, and the follow-up to it, is a lot more about anecdotes than anything else).

His final paragraph:

Our culture strips its young men of their created purpose and then wonders why they struggle. It wonders why men — who are built to be distinctive from women — flail in modern schools and workplaces designed from the ground-up for the feminine experience. Men were meant to be strong. Yet we excuse and enable their weakness. It’s but one marker of cultural decay, to be sure, but it’s a telling marker indeed. There is no virtue in physical decline.

First, there is the loaded issue of “created”/”built”/”meant” in the paragraph which assumes a transcendent, metaphysical intentionality about the version of maleness that French is proposing (although, to turn the Christianity for a moment, I am unaware of dicta about body building or auto repair in the teachings of Christ).

Second, there is the problematic (from an empirical point of view) assertion that “modern schools and workplaces [are] designed from the ground-up for the feminine experience”–except that I don’t see this to be the case, at least if the test is who dominates these arenas, as males remain pretty dominant in our socio-economic space (just not as dominant as they once were).

Really, what I see here apart from the usual lamented about the younger generation is a reflection of the conservative zeitgeist at the moment:  the fear that males (or, to be more specific, white males) are losing ground.  In this case, they are getting weak, soft, and feminized and so it is time to get back to manly things like changing the oil, building decks, and lifting weights. And while French is not in the Trump camp (and was, weirdly, briefly touted as a potential third party candidate) he is reflecting the discontent that is helping propel a lot of white male voters Trump’s way.

It would be nice if we would evaluate a given generation in a way that takes into consideration context and is not used as a way for older people to self-aggrandize.  Beyond that, conservative white men are going to have to understand that their ability to be dominant in a given system is not the proper way to judge the justice of that system (not to mention to acknowledge that they has far from fallen out of power).

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    Aren’t there plenty of statistical indicators that young men are, in fact, not doing all that well? I’d agree that French’s prescription seems like rubbish but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something happening.

    And just because the whole anti-nostalgia riff about laments over “kids these days” is now as cliched as the laments themselves, can anyone look at Russia over the last 100 years and say things have been getting better? Nations decline. Civilizations and religions disappear. That can only happen if at some point things do start getting worse. If every generation is as good or better than the one before, the Roman Empire would either still exist or it would have been voluntarily abolished by its own citizens.

    Mike

  2. @MBunge: It is true that men, in the aggregate, are not as well off as they were in the past–but the reason for that would be that some of their privileged position has eroded.

    Nations decline. Civilizations and religions disappear. That can only happen if at some point things do start getting worse. If every generation is as good or better than the one before, the Roman Empire would either still exist or it would have been voluntarily abolished by its own citizens.

    This is perhaps generally true, but also largely unhelpful. I take the basic point, but I suppose I am thinking here in terms of the human race and not a specific country, since the lamentation is largely universal.

    Beyond that, though, I think we would find that the reason for various social changes is more complicated than simply that at some point in time the youth were inferior to the previous generation.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Let’s start with the easiest point: no one works on cars now because cars are no longer cars, they are computers. I believe my car has something more than 50 on-board computers. Further, the engineering is so sophisticated, tolerances so tight, space at such a premium that modern cars are simply not manageable by a home mechanic.

    The larger phenomenon of male panic is not quite so easily dismissed. It is simply a fact that males have given ground on duties that used to be specifically and exclusively male. A few months ago I did an event with a woman who flies jets off aircraft carriers and drops bombs on folks who annoy us. That is not a job that any woman could even have hoped to have 30 years ago. That was exclusive to men.

    The underlying complaint that men are relatively less empowered than they used to be, is true.

    The problem, as is so often the case with conservatives, is that time only moves in one direction. The past is gone. We cannot get back there even if we wanted to. It is simply reality that many formerly-male jobs can be done just as well by woman. The naval aviator I mentioned above? She’s a Navy Top Gun. 60+ combat missions. Add in training and she’s flown a jet off and on a tiny, heaving deck well over 100 times, and she’s still alive, so she is unquestionably competent to do the job.

    By what means or mechanism would we put that genie back in the bottle? Does the author of the piece imagine a set of laws excluding women from the military, from carpentry and plumbing, from auto mechanics and police forces? In what universe would that be possible? In what universe would the Congress pass and the SCOTUS allow such a set of laws?

    The problem these men have is that reality has changed. Their problem is with reality. Reality devalues physical strength. Reality is full of machines that do the heavy lifting. Reality has shifted from heavy work to office work. Reality dictates that we spend a lot of time tapping keyboards and a lot less time shoeing horses.

    Which of course is why conservative plans gang aft a-glay: they want what simply ain’t gonna happen. It does not matter who they elect, women have the vote, women have education, women have jobs and money, and there is simply no real-world way that that is going to change.

    Men can either cope with reality, or they can stew in their impotent bile, but women are 51% of voters, and a lot of men have already found advantages in equality for their spouses and daughters, so, yeah, that whole back-to-the-50’s thing is about as likely as a return to hunting and gathering.

  4. Thor thormussen says:

    is david french about 60? Cuz that’s usually the age when people start with the whole “kids nowadays don’t blah blah blah”

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    …is david french about 60?

    Could be.
    The only David French I ever knew was a freak who lived out in the woods and sold some of the best hashish I ever choked down.
    This was 1969. Don’t know where he is today.

  6. Andre Kenji says:

    I like to pump iron.

    And in fact, I like to be as physically large as I can be(I always emphasized gaining muscle over losing weight), in part because that makes me feel safer. Just being bigger means that you are less likely to be mugged.

    Most American men don´t fear being mugged, unlike in the 80´s, where muggings were much more common. That should be counted as a factor. American Cities are safer(And I do agree with French that schools should have more Male Teachers and should take more in account Male Students´sensibilities in a Female dominated environment).

  7. Michael says:

    How about mandatory two enlistments in the Armed Force of your choice to develop and maintain a nice handshake grip?

  8. Slugger says:

    No question we need more manly men. We should show more gladiator movies in schools. Young boys should be given to older men for instruction. Doesn’t anyone read Phaedrus these days?

  9. CSK says:

    French was born in 1969. Does that make him Generation X?

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Is it any wonder that the first instinct when talking about National Review commentators is to point and laugh…

  11. Gustopher says:

    And I would add that the debate over what constitutes “masculine pursuits” is older than the advent of the social justice warriors (and, really, making fun of SJWs these days feels a lot more like modern day hippie punching than any kind of honest analysis).

    Making fun of Social Justice Warriors is far more about signaling to your bretherin that you are not PC, and can be relied upon to laugh at a sufficiently crude joke about women who should know their place.

    That he then goes on about the decline of masculinity for another few thousand words shows that he has failed to learn the one thing Millennials are good at — brevity.

    His entire essay could be a tweet. “#SJW ugh. Ruining men by making them boys. #getoffmylawn”

  12. MBunge says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What I’m talking about is stuff like this.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly the same percentages of males and females in 1995 had attained an associate’s or higher degree. By 2015, 50% of females had obtained an associate’s or higher degree compared to 41% of males.

    That is not a matter of undeserved and unearned male privilege and power being more equitably redistributed to others in society, which is a thorny issue we need to figure out how to handle. And I’m not sure it has much to do with civilization being less oriented around physical strength. It is an actual measurement of men falling behind women, and I think there are other areas were actual data shows the same dynamic.

    Now, society could survive having a male underclass the same way it survived having female and minority underclasses, but…

    A. Is that the kind of society we want?
    B. An overclass becoming an underclass is a lot more problematic than the loss of privileged status.

    Mike

  13. Someone who admits to playing D&D and World of Warcraft is complaining that men aren’t men nowadays?

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

    Is this guy the living personification of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons?

  14. Gromitt Gunn says:

    What a completely bizarre argument.

    On my community college campus, the number of bros who lift hasn’t gone down at all, from what I can tell. If anything, the number of guys whose bodies tend towards scrawniness seem to now be full of lean muscle.

  15. steve says:

    Thank heavens my son is a power lifter. Tomorrow morning I can tell him he is a man. Oh wait. He is a lousy mechanic but a great baker. Now I have gender confusion. Or maybe he does. I don’t know what he is now. Oh please Mr French, help me out here.

    Steve

  16. Ben Wolf says:

    Didn’t this magazine run a major article effectively declaring people who do physically intensive labor are all rural losers and should just die?

  17. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    Making fun of Social Justice Warriors is far more about signaling to your bretherin that you are not PC, and can be relied upon to laugh at a sufficiently crude joke about women who should know their place.

    Not really. It just really easy to lampoon Social Justice Warriors for their simplistic, superficial complaints. It’s not always about signaling. SJWs, on the other hand…

    (That said, very thought-provoking turn of phrase from Dr. Taylor: “hippie-punching.” I might have to rethink how forcefully I react to this SJW stuff from now on. Maybe the SJW movement has already gone from “check yourself” to “wreck yourself?”)

  18. Matt says:

    @michael reynolds: You have way overstated the mechanical complexity of cars these days. There is only so much engineering you can put into an axle or suspension. In the end you still use bolts and washers and other basic hand tool based connectors. Those “computers” are mostly simple ECUs (Electronic Control Units) with very little in logic capability. You can do a surprising amount of work on those ECUs with simple solder related tools.

    FYI : Large cities and some counties have local disposal centers for car fluids which includes used engine oil. Some quick lubes, car dealerships and repair shops will also take your used oil. Just make sure to keep the various fluids in separate containers.

    I refuse to allow quicklubes to change my oil. I’ve seen too much damage first hand done by their minimum wage barely trained employees.

  19. Matt says:

    @Matt: I did some looking and found that walmart/sams club will take used oil. So will autozone, O’Reillys and some Advanced Auto parts.

    For specifics in your area this should help.

    http://search.earth911.com/american-petroleum-institute.php

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    “My dipstick is longer than your dipstick, I change my own oil!”

    The only maintainence I do to my rides (2013 Ford Fusion and 2003 F-150) is to change the air filter. I can’t remember the last time I did my own oil and filter change.
    For $30 the local Ford dealer where I bought both will do that and rotate the tires while I go to the Dunkin Donuts next door get coffee and a free donut with my AARP card and use the free Wi-Fi to catch up with OTB.
    I have my priorities.

  21. Mister Bluster says:

    In this case, they are getting weak, soft, and feminized and so it is time to get back to manly things like changing the oil,..

    Guess I got feminized years ago.
    In 1977 I spent some quality time with a gal who was an auto mechanic at a local garage.
    In those days she would change the oil in my ’63 Corvair while I would hang out with her 5 year old son.

  22. Tyrell says:

    Fitness trends come and go, and change. A while back it was the machines and circuit trainers. Now it seems to have gone to a combination of exercises in quick succession: lift weights, run, climb rope, kettle balls, waving heavy ropes. (see Crossfit). I remember watching the Univ. of Florida basketball team work out where the players were pushing and pulling a truck ! It might still be available on You Tube.
    Mud running is also very popular.
    There was the Swarzeneggar trend: people went to the gym and lifted weights you could look like him.
    Interesting videos on YT of John Cena and Rock training.
    I recall the pe class in college : jump rope, jumping jacks, and bench stepping – pure torture for 40 minutes, but I got in great shape.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    A few observations:
    – pretty much anyone who sells motor oil is required to recycle used oil.
    – I’m a car guy. I’ve raced and maintained sports cars. I plan to rebuild a TR-3 in retirement. I have a garage full of tools and equipment. I don’t lift the hood on my modern Mazdaspeed 3.
    – I find this a typical bit of conservative psychology. Ross Douthat is upset that conventional marriage is in decline. Marriage served a pressing social need: everybody is horny, sex = kids, kids need nurturing. End of story. Until reliable birth control and now sex =/= kids. Things change, but Ross D thinks marriage is sacred anyway and French wants manly men. Men don’t fight off indians, handle 9 lb. 1861 Springfield rifles, chop down trees, or plow straight furrows behind mules anymore. We seem to have no way for a man to prove he’s a man except to buy a pick pickup truck and a several black rifles. Of course we could focus on being good partners, good parents, and generally being a mensch, but that’s hard.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Matt:

    I don’t use Jiffy Lube, I go to my dealer because they give me decent loaner cars. The problems my car has are exclusively electrical. Mercedes really needs to break down and ask the Japanese how to wire a car.

  25. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    Men don’t fight off indians, handle 9 lb. 1861 Springfield rifles, chop down trees, or plow straight furrows behind mules anymore.

    The old excuse for men being in charge of women (even to the extent of owning them as property now and again) was that you needed a man to wield the sword for defense, the bow for fetching dinner, the axe for clearing land, the plow for tilling it. Women were stuck with bearing children anyway, so they bore and nursed and educated the kids, fed everybody, cleaned, washed, and provided unlimited sex in exchange for protection and heavy outdoor lifting — a great deal for the guys.

    So, when the weak no longer need a personal protector, and breadwinning (or personal defense, for that matter) doesn’t require muscles, this no longer seems like a defensible arrangement — especially if you’re a woman. Men, as a worldwide group, are intensely threatened by this.

  26. Thor thormussen says:

    We seem to have no way for a man to prove he’s a man except to buy a pick pickup truck and a several black rifles.

    There are many instances to be found of David French fetishizing Black Rifles, almost like he really, deep down, wants a Big Black Weapon to establish his manhood.

  27. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Prefer automatic or straight drive ? Conventional or synthetic oul ? How about cars now compared the ’60’s ? I had some hot cars when I was young. The one car I always wanted was a 69 Mercury Cyclone, Boss 429 engine.

  28. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Men, as a worldwide group, are intensely threatened by this.

    Say what?

  29. Bookdragon says:

    Huh. I’m a woman about French’s age and I played D&D with a mix of guys and gals. I also had a brown belt in judo by 15 and could do basic auto maintenance. Somehow I never viewed guys who didn’t do tghlse things as less manly. In fact, the guys obsessed with being “manly” were so obviously insecure about it that they seemed anything but.

    As to kids these days, my son in Jr high has a black belt and also loves cooking. Since his both of his parents are engineers, he would be baffled at the idea that car maintenance is somehow a mark of masculinity. Ditto guns since mom is the one who taught him the rules for handling them. Fortunately, it doesnt matter as we’re raising him to be a mensch, not some paleo conservative concept of a man

  30. Andre Kenji says:

    I do agree that Men in general face several problems. They are more likely to be homeless, incarcerated or victims of homicide. I do agree that society should be debating more of these problems. I also do agree that schools should hire more Male Teachers – male students deserves to see good models in school, and they deserve to have contact with male teachers and tutors.

    On the other hand, It´s idiotic to define manliness in such simplistic terms. And it does not help men. Whining about men that bake cookies does nothing about mass incarceration or male unemployment.

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tyrell:..How about cars now compared the ’60’s ?

    Unsafe at Any Speed Ralph Nader
    The first chapter was aimed at the 1960-63 Chevrolet Corvair compact. Mr. Nader argued the rear-engine car had a suspension defect that made it easy for the driver to lose control and sometimes roll the car over. To this day, some Corvair enthusiasts dispute that assertion, although G.M. did make significant suspension changes starting with the 1965 model.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/27/automobiles/50-years-ago-unsafe-at-any-speed-shook-the-auto-world.html?_r=0

    As I stated above I owned a ’63 Corvair. I also read Unsafe…. Everything Nader said was true! Had to slow down to about 5 mph to execute a turn or the wheels on the opposite side of the direction of the turn would lift right off the road!
    Don’t remember what else Nader covered about this air cooled Death Wagon but the heater somehow ran off the manifold and the cabin was aways reeking of exhaust fumes.
    I suppose the fact that the entire steel floorboard rusted out and that it had been replaced by 3/4 inch plywood by the time I bought it might have had something to do with all this. But for $100 you get what you pay for.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    @MBunge:.. Civilizations and religions disappear.

    Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.
    Lenny Bruce

  33. stonetools says:

    I’m a fan of Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History” podcast and he did a podcast (“Old School Toughness”) on whether we could beat our grandfathers in a fight. He points out that when we lose a dozen men in Afghanistan , that’s a bad day for us, but that our grandfathers lost thousands killed per day in winning World War Two He also is a proponent of the idea that empires rise and fall because the tough barbarians who conquer the empires go soft by the third or fourth generation. In his latest podcast ion the Persian Empire, he argues that the reason Alexander the Great conquers the Persians is that the last emperor, Darius, just wasn’t man enough( Darius did flee the battlefield-twice).
    It was an interesting podcast that I recommend listening to. HIs thesis probably would not withstand scholarly analysis, but he does make you think.

  34. Matt says:

    @Mister Bluster: That is an excellent deal. You can’t get anything resembling that price here let alone from a dealership.

    @Mister Bluster: I imagine the heater was similar in design to the one used by the old VW bugs. They used the hot exhaust manifold to heat air that is then blown into the cabin. So even a minor exhaust leak would be noticeable when the heater was run. Apparently Corvairs had an option for a gas heater. I never even heard of such a thing.

  35. Mister Bluster says:

    @Matt:.I never even heard of such a thing.

    A gasoline heater is a small, mounted or portable, gasoline-fueled, space-heating device.
    In the United States they were used mainly for supplemental heat for the passenger compartments of automobiles and aircraft. Some aircraft continue to use gasoline heaters.
    (Another reason to stay on the ground.)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_heater

    Volkswagen gasoline heater.
    http://www.ratwell.com/images/FireBus2.jpg

  36. Mister Bluster says:

    Disclosure: $30 Oil Change ticket includes $10 rebate.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What a frickin’ pansy, whine whine whine.

  38. In regards to some of the issues noted above that may, in fact, be valid concerns for men in the US: let’s try and figure out what the problems are and how to move forward to fix them. Reactionary fantasies about how things used to be in the glorious past are a pointless (and, indeed, counter-productive).

    In other words, if males aren’t graduating at the appropriate rates, let’s address that, but let’s not act like we have to go back and make males great again, let’s look forward to figure out how the challenges that face us can be addressed. Part of the point of discussing these issues (as well as those of race and ethnicity) is to point out that these backwards looking attitudes simply lead to a group feeling aggrieved and nostalgic for a time when they were dominate in some way over other groups. Whatever the solutions may be for male graduation rates it is not going to be found in the 1970s.

  39. anonymous says:

    @Ben Wolf: The article said that communities of the rural poor who aren’t doing labor should die.

  40. stonetools says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Trump’s campaign is entirely based on this kind of nostalgia. The most apt slogan for his campaign would be “Make America 1946 Again.” Or at least, the golden hued version of 1946 in many conservatives’ heads.

  41. bookdragon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: This:

    In other words, if males aren’t graduating at the appropriate rates, let’s address that

    I would argue that nearly every one of French’s ideas about ‘making men’ is counterproductive to improving male academic performance and graduation rates. The ‘Iron John’ and/or macho-man concept tends to push boys away from scholarship since by that mindset the kids who care about books and learning are typically harassed as nerds/wimps/whatever-the-opposite-of-jock-is. It all too often seems to send the message either implicitly or explicitly that you can’t be intellectual and a “real man”. Guys who grow up, or grew up, with that message are very much at a disadvantage when it comes to getting anywhere in a modern post-industrial society.

    So, French’s article with its snide swipes at Millenial college males for not meeting his outdated standard of manliness is not highlighting or offering solutions to the problem, but exacerbating it.

  42. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Whatever the solutions may be for male graduation rates it is not going to be found in the 1970s.

    Agreed.

    On the flip side, the folks high-fiving themselves over the end of “male privilege” are not all that concerned about finding a “solution” for falling male graduation rates…or any other problem afflicting males.

  43. bookdragon says:

    @Andre Kenji: I think French’s attitude is part and parcel with the problem of hiring more male teachers. How many guys subscribing to his view of what it means to be a Real Man (TM) are going to choose to go into teaching, especially at the K-6 level where the impact of such role models is greatest? Wouldn’t French and his ilk consider that a ‘feminized’ choice?

  44. bookdragon says:

    @James Pearce: I wouldn’t say that’s true. For one thing, some of us who’ll be happy to see an end to ‘male privilege’ have sons and want them to succeed the same as our daughters. The thing is, if men can only succeed when women are weak and dependent, then there is something seriously wrong with our concept of manhood and it is certainly not one I want my son to adopt – not only because it’s wrong, but because ultimately dependence on privilege is debilitating. If being a man is about being strong and self-reliant, then saying you need to get a leg up on women to get there defeats the purpose.

  45. stonetools says:

    @bookdragon:

    What’s interesting about all this is the last 50 years has been pretty much the story of “The Triumph of the Nerds”. I doubt if Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Andy Groves ever had a single gun among them, but they largely built the modern computer industry. The President of the United States is the antithesis of the “he man” ideal. Indeed, he’s a nerd who admires nerds. ( he’s also an athlete , too showing that the two aren’t mutually exclusive).
    I guess for French , it’s better to reminisce about the some Golden Age of Manhood, than to urge boys to be more like kind of men who can succeed in the modern age-men who are smart, creative, and are good partners and fathers.
    To a certain extent too, I blame Hollywood, which does seem to present the view that what women really admire in a man is the ability to kill people, drive fast, and set things on fire . It’s good for me that my wife didn’t get the memo!

  46. stonetools says:

    @James Pearce:

    True enough. However, It’s not clear to me that this will be a persistent problem. Heck, ten years ago, I remember the complaint was that women weren’t graduating from college in the numbers their proportion of the population merited and that we would need to change the way we taught college to deal with this problem.Now, it’s men graduating from college that’s the problem.I would wait a few years before hitting the panic button.

  47. Andre Kenji says:

    @bookdragon: Not only that. Movement Conservatives like French have no solutions for problems like Homelessness, Mass Incarceration and Male Unemployment. In fact, they are part of the problem in some sense.

  48. James Pearce says:

    @bookdragon:

    Wouldn’t French and his ilk consider that a ‘feminized’ choice?

    Maybe….I dunno.

    But I do know that there is another “ilk” who would consider men who want to teach children to be a little weird, as in, “Maybe he’s a pedophile.” It’s consistent with their view of men as sexually aggressive brutes, but oh so wrong.

    The thing is, if men can only succeed when women are weak and dependent, then there is something seriously wrong with our concept of manhood and it is certainly not one I want my son to adopt

    Well I don’t really think of these issues in terms of “Battle of the Sexes.” After all, it’s not women who say to men, “Be a man” and it’s not men who say to women, “Wear make-up to be beautiful.”

    If I were to blame anything for “weak male syndrome,” I’d blame helicopter parenting, not “male privilege.”

  49. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Helicopter parenting is an adaptation to circumstances rather than a root cause. It is partly about low fertility. When you have two kids you can spend more time with them that when you have six. It’s also though part and parcel of the conflation of education and job training – if a B- means you don’t get into a good school, and a good school is the be-all, end-all, then you get more intrusive parenting. Parents are also more to blame in society for failures in education. And we’ve all been subjected to a firehose of demands – spend more time on floor play, spend more time on reading, attend every event, be involved, involved, involved.

    Here’s how it works. My wife and I hate going to bullshit parent events. But then if our kid gets in trouble at school, we get a call, and we troop in to see the counselor and get beat up because we aren’t sufficiently ‘involved.’ When I was a kid when I screwed up, I was responsible in both my parents eyes and in the estimation of the school. If my kid screws up now, it’s largely on me.

    Is it IMHO mostly a waste of time? No question. A huge investment for very little return. I’ve got a biological kid and an adopted one. In both cases DNA trumps upbringing. But helicopter parenting isn’t something we parents invented one day because we felt like we wanted to be thinking more about our kids, it was an adaptation to demographic, economic and societal pressures.

  50. bookdragon says:

    @James Pearce: hmm… in my experience (fairly recent since my youngest just left grade school) it’s not feminist moms who worry about male teachers potentially being pedophiles. If anything that sort of suspicion comes more often from the more conservative crowd – the ones who view gender roles in a particularly rigid way. But then, maybe that’s what you meant. The rigid gender role ideas do often play into views of men as aggressive brutes (and therefore unsuited for ‘nurturing’ jobs like elementary teacher) and people who cling to those stereotypes do seem more likely to expect men to use force to obtain sex even if they ultimately blame women for ‘provoking’ them (as if the men had no more control than a mindless animal).

    I’d agree that helicopter parenting is harmful, but to both girls and boys. However I think in general “weak male syndrome” is a made-up thing, a “this generation is going to heck in a handbasket” perennial delusion much as Steven has pointed out.

  51. DrDaveT says:

    @stonetools:

    Or at least, the golden hued version of 1946 in many conservatives’ heads.

    “Make America Leave it to Beaver Again”

  52. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    On the flip side, the folks high-fiving themselves over the end of “male privilege” are not all that concerned about finding a “solution” for falling male graduation rates…or any other problem afflicting males.

    It’s a twelve-step process thing. First, you have to admit you have a problem. Then, you can start to fix it.

    Assuming you were including me in your caricature, I will admit to having LESS concern for the plight of white males than for other groups, simply because other groups have it harder in every way. If part of the decline in white male achievement is that they are starting to get outcompeted by other groups, that’s a good thing. (And yes, graduation rates are to some extent zero-sum — America grades on a curve, not on absolute accomplishment.)

    But less is not the same as none, and I certainly do worry about how poor US scholastic attainment is in every demographic class, including the privileged. As others have pointed out, though, doubling down on the culture of macho physical superiority is hardly the way to improve classroom performance among white males. In inner cities, it might help — because when you’re in the YMCA or school gym working out you’re relatively safe from violence and temptations, and exposed to mentors who might get you thinking about the value of education. But the inner cities are not the locus of poor white male scholastic performance.

  53. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But helicopter parenting isn’t something we parents invented one day because we felt like we wanted to be thinking more about our kids, it was an adaptation to demographic, economic and societal pressures.

    Excellent point. I’m not a parent myself, but I do recognize helicopter parenting as a product of social pressures as opposed to parents deciding on their own that they’d raise their kids in a super-protective environment.

    Adolescence being extended into their 20s (for both boys and girls) may also be a contributing factor.

  54. michael reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I do worry about the uneducated white male, but less than I would if that group had ever shown the slightest concern for African-Americans or Hispanics or gays or women. They gleefully dumped all over every other group and now want pity because, awww, it’s them now, and they’re special. It’s amazing but we now have the phenomenon of a group that thinks it deserves special privileges even in their decline. They’re not just victims, they’re special, entitled victims.

    You reap what you sow, and what Southern White Man and Rural Northern White Man have sown is intolerance and contempt. They ask for what they never gave.

    As a practical, political matter, yes, we have to do something to help these people. But lord knows they don’t deserve it.

  55. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    If my and my wife’s nightmares were a movie, and the movie had a tag line it would be:

    Adolescence being extended into their 20s.

  56. James Pearce says:

    @bookdragon:

    If anything that sort of suspicion comes more often from the more conservative crowd

    I don’t think this is influenced very much by political persuasion at all. I think generally Americans of all stripes are suspicious of men “nurturing” children. We’re likely to see it as a case of arrested immaturity or something darker, like sexual predation. If Mr. Rogers was around today, we’d all think he was Michael Jackson with puppets.

    @DrDaveT:

    I will admit to having LESS concern for the plight of white males than for other groups, simply because other groups have it harder in every way.

    Dave, I hate to be the the bearer of bad news, but when you admit you have LESS concern for a certain demographic for a certain reason, you’re not only indulging in racism, you’re also justifying it. Now I get that you view this as okay because it’s some kind of corrective. But question your assumptions, for example, the assumption that “other groups” have it harder in “every” way.

    Poor whites in Appalachia are better off than urban blacks in Los Angeles? I don’t think so, dude…

    If part of the decline in white male achievement is that they are starting to get outcompeted by other groups, that’s a good thing.

    Why is this a “good” thing?

    Also:

    doubling down on the culture of macho physical superiority

    That may be French’s argument, but it’s not mine.

    @stonetools:

    I would wait a few years before hitting the panic button.

    Oh, I’m not panicking. Just being my contrarian self, defending white privilege and all that good stuff. (Where’s Loviatar to set me straight?)

  57. Loviatar says:

    @James Pearce:

    Where’s Loviatar to set me straight?

    Oh I’m here.

    I just felt there was no need to join in as you yet again made a fool of yourself defending the oh so special entitled white male victims.

    Additionally, I think michael reynolds, bookdragon and a few others have the subject well in hand.

    Please proceed, James Pearce.

  58. James Pearce says:

    @Loviatar:

    I just felt there was no need to join in as you yet again made a fool of yourself defending the oh so special entitled white male victims.

    I was being facetious about that, dude…

    I am, as usual, arguing that “white privilege” has very little to do with it. It’s the liniment “stay woke” bros rub on everything, the crutch they lean on.

    Here’s something that I find more relevant towards “kids these days”:

    How do we know technology is causing the decline in employment for these young men? As of now, I don’t know for sure. But there are suggestive signs in the data that these young, low-skilled men are making some choice to stay home. If we go to surveys that track subjective well-being—surveys that ask people to assess their overall level of happiness—lower-skilled young men in 2014 reported being much happier on average than did lower-skilled men in the early 2000s. This increase in happiness is despite their employment rate falling by 10 percentage points and the increased propensity to be living in their parents’ basement.

  59. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    “Make America Leave it to Beaver Again”

    June: “You were a little hard on the Beaver last night, Ward.”
    Sorry, but somebody had to dredge that up.

  60. bookdragon says:

    @James Pearce: Sexual predators are in the news more today and so parents worry about it more. (If I were Catholic, I would certainly have a very careful talk with my kid about boundaries before allowing him to be an altar boy…)

    However, at least among the parents I know (middle class, mostly left-leaning centrist medical and tech professionals) a guy being nurturing toward children is unremarkable. Most of the dads care for their kids pretty regularly since the moms go out of town on business trips just like they do, and those dads join in the general neighborhood ‘overwatch’ of kids zipping around on bikes, etc. We also have a decent number of male teachers. My son’s 4th and 6th grade teachers were men. I’ve never heard anyone question their motives for teaching.

    Now, an older guy with no kids hanging around the local playground might well raise eyebrows. However, I think a childless woman with no connection to any of the kids might as well. The difference, which is unfair perhaps, is that more people might *assume* she was an aunt or babysitter, whereas they might feel compelled to go and ask in the case of the guy.

  61. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Dave, I hate to be the the bearer of bad news, but when you admit you have LESS concern for a certain demographic for a certain reason, you’re not only indulging in racism, you’re also justifying it.

    Oh, please. Can you really not distinguish between “I have less sympathy because they’re white” and “I have less sympathy because they are still privileged, but have failed to take advantage of that”?

    Poor whites in Appalachia are better off than urban blacks in Los Angeles?

    No, poor whites in Appalachia are more _privileged_ than urban blacks in Los Angeles. They face fewer external barriers to self-advancement, less discrimination in housing and employment, less police harassment, etc.

    “Better off” is an outcome. “Privilege” is where you start.

  62. James Pearce says:

    @bookdragon:

    Now, an older guy with no kids hanging around the local playground might well raise eyebrows.

    Absolutely. Because yes, news sensationalism has led moms across the country to believe (falsely) that every other man wants to rape their kids.

    middle class, mostly left-leaning centrist medical and tech professionals

    I do not believe that political persuasion is a factor in this at all. It’s a cultural thing, shared across the spectrum, left, right, black, white, everyone. I’d like to think liberals are “more enlightened” on this but…they’re not. They’re down here with everyone else.

    @DrDaveT:

    Can you really not distinguish between “I have less sympathy because they’re white” and “I have less sympathy because they are still privileged, but have failed to take advantage of that”?

    Can you?

    What is the difference between “I have less sympathy for white people because they’re all privileged” and “I have less sympathy for black people because they’re all lazy?” Aside from who we’re talking about and why they’re awful, there is no difference.

    Question your assumptions, Dave.

    No, poor whites in Appalachia are more _privileged_ than urban blacks in Los Angeles. They face fewer external barriers to self-advancement, less discrimination in housing and employment, less police harassment, etc.

    None of that is true, but considering your assumptions, I can see how you’d make that error.

    There are more and better jobs in LA, there’s better infrastructure, better schools, more diversity, a larger more robust economy, better weather. The poorest, most unprivileged black kid can escape his circumstances in Los Angeles, and still remain in Los Angeles. The only way for a poor, unprivileged white kid (they do exist) to escape his circumstances in Appalachia is to get the F out of Appalachia.

    “Privilege” is where you start.

    Privilege is not where I ever start. It’s the way certain lefties explain phenomena that is better explained by other mechanisms. It’s the miasma theory of sociology.

    I’m looking forward to the day when it’s replaced with the sociological equivalent of germ theory.

  63. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    Privilege is not where I ever start.

    Because you have an irrational distaste for the term, seemingly because you feel that being white and male has never benefited you in any measurable way therefor being white and male can’t be an advantage in American society.

    It’s the way certain lefties explain phenomena that is better explained by other mechanisms.

    Then explain those supposed mechanisms. This is something consistently missing from your constant arguing against the term.

    It’s the miasma theory of sociology.

    I’m looking forward to the day when it’s replaced with the sociological equivalent of germ theory.

    Hopefully you can recognize that not only do personal racism, sexism, etc exist, but institutional racism, sexism etc exist. If you can make that step, then it is only one more short step to realizing that those institutions have consequences that disadvantage minorities and women. These institutional barriers don’t face white men. That is an advantage, AKA a privilege.
    You seem to think that because being rich, or being attractive, or being born in an area with more resources also confer some level of advantage that somehow talking about the advantages (privileges) of being white and male is unfair. That is, frankly, a privileged point of view.

  64. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills: I’ve linked to this before, but it bears repeating.

    Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

    Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

    Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

  65. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    The poorest, most unprivileged black kid can escape his circumstances in Los Angeles, and still remain in Los Angeles. The only way for a poor, unprivileged white kid (they do exist) to escape his circumstances in Appalachia is to get the F out of Appalachia.

    How about the black kid in Tulsa?

    How about the white kid in Appalachia starts a business?

    And setting aside those glaring holes in that theory, so what? So move. I’ve lived in something like 50 homes in 62 years. It’s not a tragedy. You learn things.

    Furthermore, fewer and fewer jobs are location-specific. The white kid in Appalachia has the same chance the black kid in Compton has to make music, art, video, write, do telecommuting gigs, etc…

  66. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    Because you have an irrational distaste for the term, seemingly because

    Can we clear up the “because” once and for all? I have a (very rational) distaste for the term, and the framework, because I think it’s wrong.

    Did you skip over my miasma theory versus germ theory metaphor?

    Then explain those supposed mechanisms.

    Well, for one, you can’t substitute race for socio-economic status. You can’t assume that any generic white person is “more privileged” than any generic person of color.

    Hopefully you can recognize that not only do personal racism, sexism, etc exist, but institutional racism, sexism etc exist.

    Of course these things exist.

    If you can make that step, then it is only one more short step

    It’s not a short step, though. It’s a giant leap.

    These institutional barriers don’t face white men.

    But white men DO face these institutional barriers. What is affirmative action (a policy I support, btw) but an institutional barrier to white men?

    Seems to me that if there are no institutional barriers facing white men, SJWs want to create them. Do I have that wrong?

  67. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Can you?

    Yes, easily.

    What is the difference between “I have less sympathy for white people because they’re all privileged” and “I have less sympathy for black people because they’re all lazy?”

    Where to begin?

    1. If you go back upthread, you’ll note that I said white men, not “white people”. If it’s racism, why does it only apply to men?

    2. Being privileged is environmental — it is not an intrinsic feature of the person, but a feature of the society they live in. Being lazy, in contrast, is a personal attribute. You can (in principle) change how lazy you are. Unless you are Gandhi or MLK Jr., you can’t change how privileged you are (or aren’t).

    There are more and better jobs in LA, there’s better infrastructure, better schools, more diversity, a larger more robust economy, better weather.

    And when the black kid from Watts and the white kid from south of Morgantown are in LA, it is easier for the white kid to take advantage of those nice features — because he’s white. Yes, his hillbilly accent will count against him, but not nearly as much as the black skin will count against the kid from Watts.

    I think you don’t actually understand the concept of ‘privilege’ — you seem to be confusing it with a personal attribute or attitude on the part of the privileged. It’s not about what you are or do; it’s about how society responds to you. Other things being equal, our society makes things harder for women and nonwhites than it does for white males. That doesn’t mean all white males have it easy — it just means they have it easier than if they weren’t white and male, other things being equal.

    Privilege is not where I ever start. It’s the way certain lefties explain phenomena that is better explained by other mechanisms.

    OK, now I’m sure you don’t understand what ‘privilege’ means, because it’s not meant to be an explanation of anything. It’s a name for the empirical fact of unequal default treatment by the society. Explanations for how society got that way are complicated; understanding mechanisms in order to figure out possible ways out of the problem is even harder. But the unearned advantages of being a white male are just a fact, like the unearned advantages of being tall.

  68. grumpy realist says:

    The reason why we say white male has the lowest default setting is because you’re not going to be fighting against a whole bunch of stereotypes and having to prove yourself over and over again.

  69. Loviatar says:

    @Mikey:

    Top 10 of my all time favorite posts. Favorite quote from the post.

    The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.

  70. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    How about the black kid in Tulsa?

    A Tulsan black kid born to lawyers in is going to have a more privileged upbringing than a Tulsan white kid born to truckers. It’s affluence not race that determines one’s privilege.

    How about the white kid in Appalachia starts a business?

    They’re not hurting for entrepreneurs down there. They’re hurting for customers.

    so what? So move. I’ve lived in something like 50 homes in 62 years. It’s not a tragedy. You learn things.

    During the Great Migration, million of black people emptied out of the south and moved to Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. They learned that while it was easier to get work, they still had to suffer through racism.

    Moving is not a solution if the problem is structural, right?

  71. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    Well, for one, you can’t substitute race for socio-economic status. You can’t assume that any generic white person is “more privileged” than any generic person of color.

    Being from a rich family is another form of privilege. Just because there is more than one type of privilege doesn’t nullify other forms of privilege. This rpeeated argument from you is why I think you fundamentally misunderstand the term.

    You can’t assume that any generic white person is “more privileged” than any generic person of color.

    You acknowledge that institutional racism exists. Can you not also see that it effects African Americans FAR more than white Americans? If you can see that, surely you can see that this disadvantages one group and advantages (privileges) another.

    It’s not a short step, though. It’s a giant leap.

    No it isn’t. All it takes is recognizing that institutional racism and sexism have real world consequences.

    Seems to me that if there are no institutional barriers facing white men, SJWs want to create them. Do I have that wrong?

    Yes you do. You have it almost as wrong as it is possible to have it.

  72. Grewgills says:

    It’s affluence not race that determines one’s privilege.

    It is both and not either or. Being white confers privilege, being male confers privilege, being rich confers privilege, being tall, being attractive, etc. There is not only one type of privilege (unearned advantage). Why do you keep on insisting that we are arguing that?
    You have acknowledged that institutional racism and sexism exist. Why can’t you acknowledge that they have real world consequences for women and minorities?

  73. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    1. If you go back upthread, you’ll note that I said white men, not “white people”. If it’s racism, why does it only apply to men?

    Because it’s sexist as well as racist? I mean, I don’t know. I still don’t understand why white women get a pass and white men get the brunt of it, considering that most white men are just as powerless as the rest of our society.

    How did we go from complaining about “the 1%” to complaining almost exclusively about white men?

    I think you don’t actually understand the concept of ‘privilege’

    You think this is the first time I’ve heard this?

    Let me just put it this way. I think “white privilege” is a concept, an idea, an argument. And as such, there is room for critique, counter-argument, refinement.

    But you guys act like “white privilege” is a fact of life. That a critique is ignorance, that counter-argument is denial, that the concept is perfect as is and cannot ever in any way be improved upon.

  74. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    I don’t even know what “structural” means in practical terms. Here’s how I see it: I was born tall and American. Both of those attributes are unearned advantage. I didn’t make myself tall, I didn’t choose my place of birth. But I was clearly lucky. It is a good thing to be tall, a good thing to be American. Both make life easier.

    Among my unearned advantages is that I’m white and male. Just like I’m tall and American. Being white and male means that I have certain advantages which I did nothing to earn. That’s privilege. Not my favorite word, it’s imprecise and belligerent, but whatever.

    No one is saying I’m a bad person because I’m tall. There are some people who will say I’m a bad person because I’m white, male or American. People who take it there are wrong. You are absolutely correct that the attributes (in this case ‘privilege’) of the group says nothing about an individual member of that group. I’ve argued this point many, many times with people on my left.

    But being correct as to the individual does not in any way prove or support an argument that being white is not a great advantage. We as a group have all the power and all the money. That’s just a fact. We do. And it takes a giant leap of faith into the ozone to believe that our race has nothing to do with the fact that we have all the money and all the power.

    What folks on the left would like us all to do is acknowledge our group advantage. No, it may not mean that you, personally, have somehow cashed in. But it is an acknowledgment that however bad your life may be, you still have one very big thing not to worry about. There is one very big impediment that you do not have to deal with.

    Consider this: if a person with a serious birth defect pointed out to you that you have a relative advantage, you’d have no hesitation about agreeing. It’s obvious: you can walk, he can’t. Likewise if a person is born poor and you were born rich you’d be a dick to deny that you have an advantage, a privilege.

    But when it comes to race or gender you bridle. Do you deny that white makes life easier? Why?

  75. Another potentially useful illustration: think about how much of the world is designed for right-handed people. If one is right-handed this advantage is almost entirely invisible. But once you start to realize it you realize that left-handed people have disadvantages (ranging from mild inconvenience to substantial cost).

    Just like right handed people don’t really give their right-handed advantages much thought, neither do whites (and especially white males) for whom the American experience is often designed.

    Social and cultural norms almost always equate “normal” with “white.”

  76. Bookdragon says:

    @James Pearce: Speaking as a mom, no, I do not think every other man wants to rape my kids. I am quite comfortable leaving them in the care of various male teachers, coaches, etc.

    However, that doesn’t mean I am not aware that pedophiles exist or that my kids shouldn’t be aware that they should run if a stranger tries to get them into a van. That is not being prejudiced against men (my suspicions there extend to women as well), but being sensible.

    I think that applies to privilege as well. It is not just a white male thing. It does in fact involve intersectionalities of race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, regional origin, disability, and many others. However that does not mean that a white kid from coal country in the WVA panhandle (where my grandfather came from btw so I have some idea of the difficulties of growing up poor in Appalachia) carrying a toy gun on a visit to Cleveland isn’t less likely to be shot by police than a black kid with the same toy.

  77. @Bookdragon: Law enforcement and the experiences of whites and blacks in that context is a rather powerful example of the issues at hand.

  78. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    But you guys act like “white privilege” is a fact of life. That a critique is ignorance, that counter-argument is denial,

    White privilege is a fact of life in the US. White people don’t face the same institutional barriers that nonwhites do, that is a fact, and that is what privilege is (living without those additional barriers).
    Not all critiques are ignorant and not all counter arguments are denial. Your specific counter arguments exhibit an (willful?) ignorance of what the argument for privilege actually is despite having it thoroughly explained to you many times. If we called it unearned advantage rather than privilege would you agree?
    Can you understand that being born white in the US gives you unearned advantages (all else being equal) that non-whites don’t have?
    Can you understand that being born male in the US gives you unearned advantages (all else being equal) that women don’t have?

    that the concept is perfect as is and cannot ever in any way be improved upon.

    Where has anyone here ever made that claim? All concepts and arguments have room for improvement. When you make an actual argument for improving the argument that doesn’t amount to sh!tcanning it altogether I’ll be happy to give it a look.

  79. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    I still don’t understand why white women get a pass and white men get the brunt of it

    The phrases “get a pass” and “brunt of it” make no sense in this context. You wouldn’t say that short people “get a pass” and tall people “get the brunt of it” when talking about the advantages height confers in our society; why do you want to do that when talking about the advantages race or gender confer?

    But you guys act like “white privilege” is a fact of life.

    Um, yeah. Because it is. An objective fact, empirically verified many times over.

    Is the problem that we are all taking as given the overwhelming evidence that people in America get treated differently just because they are white or just because they are male, but you are unaware of that body of evidence?

  80. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But when it comes to race or gender you bridle. Do you deny that white makes life easier? Why?

    Because I sincerely believe that “all men are created equal” and that being a white male does not actually provide one an advantage, that “the advantage” is an illusion propped up by an unfair society. So we’re white…we sunburn easily and we have soft hair. So what?

    Having concluded that “white male privilege” is a social construct, I reject it as an actual thing. Must I accept it as an actual reality, like so many others, if it’s actually bullshit? Can’t I attempt to maneuver around it instead of through it?

    As a white male myself, I’m all too aware of how this country in particular has been stacked in favor of white people, men in particular. 1994, I’m 17 years old, the LA Riots, OJ Simpson, Ice Cube. In Dazed and Confused, there’s that line, “And don’t forget what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn’t want to pay their taxes”

    I know the history, trust me. But in 2016 we have Obama, Beyonce, Shondaland, Chief David Brown, and Lebron James. (Can we still talk about Oprah?) I mean, we’re not exactly living in the white male patriarchy here, are we? I don’t feel “threatened” by any of this –Sorry, DrDaveT. I’m actually proud of it in a very patriotic way. These guys are American heroes, even with their critics. Look at em. Look at us. It’s great.

    So why must we complain about white male privilege when we can accept that it doesn’t actually exist, and then live that way?

    @Bookdragon:

    That is not being prejudiced against men (my suspicions there extend to women as well), but being sensible.

    I certainly appreciate what you’re saying because I was raised that way too. “No, no, stranger stay away.” But if we’re talking about sensible, it would be to recognize that most, like 90%, of child abductions and sexual abuse happens by someone the child knows intimately, and not a stranger. And yet the “stranger danger” stuff has made a lot of interactions between men and children seem inherently creepy. I’m not saying that’s the way it should be. But that’s kind of the way it is.

    I do agree that one great example of “white male privilege” is not getting shot by the police, but then again, most of the people getting shot by police…they’re white men*. It’s a numbers thing, I’ll grant, but isn’t that what “white male privilege” always boils down to anyway?

    * This is true. I did not make this up.

    @Grewgills:

    When you make an actual argument for improving the argument that doesn’t amount to sh!tcanning it altogether I’ll be happy to give it a look.

    Does the above response count?

    (Also, your list of questions makes me feel like I’m on the witness stand, sweating bullets, saying, “Yes. Yes. God, YESSSSS!” Suffice it to say I’m sympathetic, but also skeptical. If there’s a word in English that conveys that concept, I don’t know it.)

  81. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    you are unaware of that body of evidence?

    Yes, I am unaware. Is there a book I could read or something?

  82. Loviatar says:

    Because I sincerely believe that “all men are created equal” and that being a white male does not actually provide one an advantage, that “the advantage” is an illusion propped up by an unfair society.

    .

    Please proceed, James Pearce

  83. Andre Kenji says:

    Race and Social Class are related. In the United States Blacks are over-represented among lower income families and many racist stereotypes are related to race. And many problems that affects mostly Males(Like Homelessness and Unemployment) are going to affect disproportionally Blacks.

    On the other hand, even a Black Millionaire is going to fear cops, much more than a White Homeless. Sandra Bland, for instance, was a Middle Class Woman.

    By the way, opioid addiction is a problem that affects almost only White. Compare how we compare Opioid Overdoses to shootings in Chicago. No one asks White Celebrities or White Politicians to take a stand against Opioid Addcition, but every Black in the United States MUST take a stand against “Black on Black Crime” or some stupidity like that.

  84. Andre Kenji says:

    By the way, I´m an Asian. I face problems with racism(There is a telenovela in Brazil with a White actor playing a Japanese man, they thought that Whitewashing with Asians was normal). But I´m the first one to say that my race provides me with lots of advantages, specially when compared to other PoC, specially Blacks.

  85. bookdragon says:

    @James Pearce: I’m also aware that most incidents of abduction and molestation involve someone the child knows. I’m sure you’re aware that in most cases that person is also male. Hence, it’s not completely unreasonable for parents to be a little more wary/vigilant wrt how their kids interact with men vs women, whether strangers or acquaintances or relatives. If you had kids, I bet you would take the same approach because there is a primal instinctive desire to protect one’s offspring. However, if you had kids, you’d also know that parents don’t react like this as a blanket thing or consider any interaction between men and kids to be “inherently creepy”. It very much depends on a ‘vibe’ a given adult gives off, as well as a given parent’s background and personal experience.

    For instance, I do not consider all men to be potential rapists. I know far too many good decent men to ever think that. However, as soon as my daughter hit puberty we did have the female version of “The Talk” black men have with their sons. There are precautions women have to think about and take that most men don’t. For instance, I drilled into her that if she’s ever at a party she should never accept a drink she hasn’t seen poured or soda she hasn’t seen opened herself. And if she sets it down and takes her eyes of it for more than a minute, she should toss it and get a new one.

    Now, that might seem paranoid. Maybe it is. BUT when I was 14 my best friend (also 14) had something slipped into her soda at an end-of-year party for her swim team and came to, naked and bleeding, on her mother’s front lawn the next morning. So that experience informs what I teach my kids and how I approached drinking even non-alcoholic beverages at social functions from jr high through college and into early adulthood. (At 50, I doubt I’m in danger of that sort of predation anymore).

    Now, wrt more white men being shot by cops. Yes, it’s a numbers game and if you do # per % in population the results shift significantly. THAT is what defines it as white privilege. I could open carry and no one would give it a second look. A black man open carrying is in very real danger of being shot because “He has a gun!!”. (incidentally this is also one rare instance of white female privilege – a male of any race with a gun would be viewed more suspiciously than a white female). That said, on the topic of being aware of one’s drink at a party, I’ve made sure my son got the same talk, b/c boys are not completely safe there either. The number of incidents may be very, very low as compared with girls, but this is my son. I don’t want him to wind up a statistic.

  86. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    As a white male myself, I’m all too aware of how this country in particular has been stacked in favor of white people, men in particular.

    James, that is exactly what we’ve all been trying to get you to acknowledge. That is white privilege.

    But in 2016 we have Obama, Beyonce, Shondaland, Chief David Brown, and Lebron James. (Can we still talk about Oprah?) I mean, we’re not exactly living in the white male patriarchy here, are we?

    African-Americans are 13% of the population. Their collective buying power is about 1 trillion dollars, out of a 17 trillion dollar economy. 13% of the population, about 6% of income, half the national average. Shall we count members of congress, senators, governors? Shall we count CEO’s of major corporations? Heads of networks? Bank executives? Doctors? Lawyers? I mean, the list could go on forever. The five largest private white landowners control more land than all black people combined. The Walton family is richer than the entire African-American population.

    So stop being ridiculous. We are still absolutely living in the era of white male patriarchy.

  87. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Is there a book I could read or something?

    I don’t know of a good general treatment. Here are some Google Scholar searches that lead to a rich body of published research:

    implicit racial bias

    racial bias pain

    racial bias sentencing

    racial bias perception

    neuroscience racial bias

    It’s worth noting that the literature establishing implicit racial bias is all old; the recent literature focuses on which interventions do and do not affect the magnitude of implicit racial bias, and the neuroscience of how bias is mediated and altered in the brain.

    (The scariest one, to me, is the well-established evidence that even professional caregivers implicitly assume that blacks feel less pain than whites.)

  88. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So stop being ridiculous. We are still absolutely living in the era of white male patriarchy.

    What do you do with someone like this?

    James Pearce I believe is educated, smart, articulate and any complimentary adjective you would like to use, yet has decided to willfully misconstrue and defend an indefensible argument.

    What do you say, what do you with someone like that? Because GOD knows nothing I, you, bookdragon, DrDaveT, Andre Kenji, Grewgills, Steven L. Taylor or anyone else says will convince him to change his beliefs or his mind.

    So once again, what do you do?

    P.S.

    This is not just directed at michaels reynolds, anyone can answer if they have an answer.

    P.P.S.

    Also, while this concerns a random discussion on an internet blog the question for me has greater meaning because for the past 35 years (Reagan) we have the Republican party and its members along with the national media act and argue in essentially the same manner.

  89. Mister Bluster says:

    So once again, what do you do?
    Aparently Citizen Pearce would benefit from the proven value gained by practicing Crimestop.

    “The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.”
    Winston Smith

  90. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: I suggest you google Schrodinger’s Rapist, read a bunch of the articles over at Jezebel, and wonder why it is that women get told to “smile!” but men don’t.

    Also, there’s a hell of a lot of stuff that goes around you that you will never notice because when you are there the harassment stops. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

  91. @Loviatar:

    So once again, what do you do?

    Keep talking. Keep thinking. And remember: change has come and there is more change on the horizon (as distant as it may seem).