A bad time to be male

I don’t think it takes any great wisdom, or insight, to sense that the male of the human species is taking quite a hit these days, from all sorts of directions.

I began to sense this about twenty years ago when I started to see how men were portrayed in television commercials. Over and over again, I noticed how men were always the dummies. In the typical husband/wife commercial for anything from cars to home improvements, the husband would say something inane, at which point the all-wise wife would set him straight and mock his obvious ignorance.

The male as dummy also shows up a lot with commercials involving Dad and the kids. Almost always, the teen kid knows more about something than her father, who is assumed to be hopelessly behind the times, and generally clueless.

Commercials are the popular culture. No executive of either sex is going to spend a lot of money on an advertising program that violates the prevailing norms, and for this reason advertising is a pretty good indicator of norms and trends. In other words, the male as dufus is now the accepted wisdom.

Over in the world of learning and education, the doors are really open to females who want to study anything and the preferences given are obvious. At the university level, female attendance has surpassed males to such an extant that some schools are talking about affirmative action efforts to boost male enrollment. Whole departments, usually in the soft areas such as humanities, but increasingly in science and tech, are now dominated by females, and they make no bones about wanting to bring in new females for tenure positions as the older male cohort retires.

On the corporate side the same sort of selection process is normal. Once a female reaches the executive level, she begins hiring other females for positions below her, and there is a clear prejudice against a middle-aged white male. Another way it plays out is when a seasoned male staffer, who has worked his way up over many years, and knows the company culture and procedures inside and out, is let go and the position given to a twenty-something female at half the salary and almost no experience or knowledge. It is not uncommon for management to force the older male to train his female replacement.

I think we have a long way to go before this all ends. The career momentum is clearly in favor of young, bright women. But it’s all coming at a great cost: men are feeling the obvious and not-so-obvious lack of balance and it must lead to resentments of all kinds.

Far too many men are feeling useless or hopeless of getting anywhere. The cultural biases and trends make them feel the deck has been stacked against them, so they give up or drop out.

Recent statistics reveal a drop in life expectancy for older males, and this is concrete proof that something is going on and it’s not good. Older working men are taking their own lives or descending into terrible addictions while women are exhilarated by all the doors opening up for them.

A vast social experiment is underway, but does anyone know the wisdom behind it all, or how it will all end?

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