THE DECLINE OF MEN: How the American Male Is Tuning Out, Giving Up, and Flipping Off His Future

by Marie O'Shea

Ample research shows that male malaise is a problem in the United States, but unfortunately, this book won’t help fix it.

What’s with male malaise? Ample research suggests it’s a common scenario: across America, young men are showing little zeal for excellence. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see The Decline of Men helping us figure out why or how to fix the problem. Author Guy Garcia finds dozens of statistics and anecdotes to illustrate men’s crisis of identity, but his attempts to explain it drift head-scratchingly from one line of reasoning to the next.

Rather than weaving research into a coherent argument, Garcia unloads his interviews—with academics, notable men, and average guys—like depositions, and the quality (and sanity) of subjects’ insights varies widely. Convict-turned-writer Joe Loya, for example, offers compelling points about the ways boys learn aggression. But the CEO of Time Warner launches into fuzzy, safari-inspired analogies: men are like male lions, born to be waited on by females—or perhaps, women are leopards, competing with men (lions) for fresh kills (jobs). Garcia quotes these musings sans judgment, yet elsewhere chides Camille Paglia for making men sound like brutal, um, lions. The effect is sloppy.

Most important, he obscures an obvious reason why women should thrive in their new roles while men languish: correcting past inequality inevitably means that men lose perks. Consider the way Garcia approaches nature vs. nurture. On one hand, he seizes on evolution as an excuse of sorts, the reason men are innately fond of danger and ill-suited to ironing. On the other, he frets that male brains are too adaptable, vulnerable to a mass feminizing “that may already be under way.” Which is it, Guy? It sounds like you just don’t want to iron.

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