For a long time, young men had clear definitions and guidance on what it means to be a man. Men had to be the breadwinner, the head of the household, a protector, and so much more. Granted, some of that changed and for good reason, but generally it provided clarity and stability led by mentors and male role models. However, this does not appear to be the case anymore.
In the midst of everything going on in our society, more young men find themselves looking for their place in this world. This is creating disaffected youth that can grow apathetic and sometimes violent. What is causing these young lost boys to become so dissociated with society and how do we fix this?
Changes in Society
One of the most significant contributions to these lost boys is changes in society. For a long time, America had a gender-polarized society. Masculinity and femininity were treated as opposites, affecting the way institutions and society saw them. Socially constructed roles, behaviors, attributes, and activities were separated by the polarization.
For men, they were always expected to be in charge. They needed to be breadwinners and heads of their households. Men had to hide their emotions, be aggressive, and have other associated masculine traits. Likewise, women were homemakers and mothers, who were expected to be gentle and nurturing. However, these rigid standards were broken.
Over the years, America’s gender-polarized society changed to one where men and women share and exchange roles. There was no longer a division between what men and women were allowed to do. This change was amazing, especially for women, who in some real ways, were marginalized for years. However, there have been other changes, particularly in the roles of men that have consequences.
Stigma of Masculinity
In the midst of these societal changes, masculinity has gained a stigma. In the process of society accepting sharing and exchanging roles, they have demonized traditional masculine traits. Traits like protectiveness, competitiveness, assertiveness, deference to truth over feeling, and more are now considered toxic. Men expressing these traits now get pushback from society.
Men are pushed more and more to discard traditional masculinity and adopted a redefined version of it. Young men can’t escape this as it has bled into every aspect of their lives. TV shows, video games, and even their activities. Mentors are one of the best ways to help young men with their own identities. Most of these mentors come from
The Disappearance of Boys Clubs
For a long time, youth clubs have been supporting young children and their growth. These clubs provide mentorship that help guide children in life. Amongst these youth clubs, some are exclusive to boys or girls. However, many are changing. One of the biggest losses was the Boy Scouts of America. Since 1910, the Boy Scouts mentored young men to “help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
However, the Boy Scouts were hit with controversy after controversy in the 2010s. The scouts, which were exclusive to boys and young men, were no longer allowed to be for just boys. By 2017, the Boy Scouts for America no longer existed. Instead, they were just scouts as girls were now accepted into the club. There is nothing wrong with co-ed organizations. Yet, these co-ed organizations are being created at the expense of removing boy-oriented clubs; A place where boys can explore and figure out their place and role in society.
Again, something had to be done in the case of the Boy Scouts with its rampant abuse. Now, we don’t know enough to debate its current curriculum, but there still is a Girls Scouts that is exclusive to girls. So, isn’t it fair to wonder what is being lost in the transition?
In society’s misguided attempt at one-size-fits-all equality, many boys are left with no mentorship about what it means to be a good man. With the combination of society demonizing masculinity and the removal of male-oriented organizations and mentorship, young men are becoming disaffected and the consequences of this are horrifying.
The Disaffected Youth
The alienation of young men is having a catastrophic effect. In the United States, this is leading young men towards “deaths from despair.” Drug overdoses, alcoholism, and suicides are at an all-time high among men. Suicides rates for men are 3x higher than for women, noting loneliness and a sense of alienation. Young men are feeling no longer welcomed as they are.
The number of murders and crime rates is also rising. It has gotten to the point that the demographic profile for mass shooters and terrorists is men between the ages of 20-30. Social isolation is fueling youth crime rates, especially among young men.
In addition, 2 to 4x the number of trans-women (MTF) than trans-men (FTM). In our research, comments on transitioning trends were highly censored according to other comments. However, we think it's fair to ask if some of the growth and disparity might be related to them being disaffected youth.
Helping Young Men
Something has to change. There needs to be a correction to these notions of masculinity being toxic. Although people argue otherwise, it is important to allow children to socialize with their own sex and gender. Teaching traditional roles to young men like being a good father and husband needs to be encouraged. They need better mentorship and role models to help them establish their place in this world.
Society (and common sense) tells us that young women should learn to be strong and independent. In the same vein, we shouldn’t assume young men are born that way. Too many appear lost and left to their own devices.