Here's a great Father's Day thought: Men and boys need help. They've become more self-destructive, more apathetic about success and more violent. Fewer are moving on to higher education, and boys and men alike are being outperformed in school by girls and women.
On this day, Fathers Day, the culture continues to redefine masculinity, but struggles to know what it means to be a "real" man. Meanwhile, the bashing of the traditional male role continues without surcease.
A case in point: CBS' Sunday Morning on Sunday celebrated Fathers Day by asking in its lead piece: "As gender roles change, are men out of step?" It's a scatter-shot piece, badly in need of focusing by a skilled editor, and it never really answers the question. Yet not a single defender of traditional role of men and fathers appeared to suggest why boys and men have gone off the rails. Instead, there is the demeaning reference to "out-date He-Man ideas."
Dean Jennifer Delahunty of Kenyon College in Ohio is interviewed extensively, raising alarms about the declining number of young men applying to the formerly all-men's college. In a New York Times op-ed, she apologized to all the women that she didn't admit to the college because there was some kind of unspoken quota to equally "balance" men and women in the student body. Getting a lot more applications from women than men makes that harder, she explained.
In the CBS interview, she was asked if she thinks there should be "... a sort of affirmative action for boys?
Here's her breathtaking answer:
[Affirmative action's] not the answer. The answer is to look at this problem systemically. I don't believe in affirmative action for men in higher education.
I don't either. But I also don't believe in it for women. Presumably Delahunty does.
The CBS piece by correspondent Susan Spence rushes on, suggesting that the "Delahunty hinted [that affirmative action for men is] happening anyway. She wrote [in the New York Times], 'The reality is that because young men are rarer, they're more valued applicants,' and she apologized to girls who'd been rejected because of 'demographic realities.'"
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity.
Here, public policy is at war with itself. The law requires that there must be no discrimination regarding sex, yet affirmative action programs for women abound. (I should note too that equality among the sexes also is a principle argument of proponents of same-sex marriage, but the liberal mindset requires no harmonizing of that idea with the idea of affirmative action.)
CBS chose on this Fathers Day, of all days, to reopen the gender wars, with a one-sided piece that somehow suggests that changing male roles has had nothing to do with the the increasingly sorry state of manhood in general and fatherhood in particular. For decades now, the two traditional roles have been variously ridiculed and degraded. Spence continued that disservice by gratuitously dragging up the "out-dated He-Man" model of masculinity, as if that always was a widely accepted definition.
As a father I find that idea "offensive," as the politically correct like to say. The virtues of taking responsibility for yourself and for others, achievement, caring and so forth, were and are cornerstones of the traditional definition of masculinity. They have been lost, and not found, in the newer definitions, as played out by an increasing disengaged stable of men and fathers.
Laugh it up, if you will, at the "outdated" traditional culture that gave us such unrealistic TV shows as "Father Knows Best," but it was not in that culture that young men were gunning each other down along with innocent children on a daily basis on the streets of Chicago. It was not that culture that seems to have spurred more and more young men to lose their sense of responsibility to their own children their mothers. Marriage and the commitment it involves is endangered. The rise of strident and radical feminism cannot be exclusively blamed for a phenomenon that is the spawn of much larger causes, such as the emergence of extreme individualism. But the radical feminist devaluing of manhood cannot escape blame either.
Nor can a CBS correspondent stumbling around for a new definition of man.