A fiend of mine tweeted this article about imperatives in UK universities to increase the number of working class and BME (Black, Minority, Ethnic) students attending and succeeding in post-secondary education. This is story is quite positive and sounds like several steps in the right direction but before I read beyond the headline, I was skeptical because I have recently been mulling over what America’s change in college student demographics might be missing.
Loosely knit and poorly cited, this is what talk radio, and some salient articles over the years have made me think about (white) men in the United States of America today.
- New Yorker article from the late 90s with the thesis boys are like whites, girls are like Blacks. And the whiteness/blackness had to do with intragroup variability. That is Whites and boys are more similar to each other or express a smaller range or characteristics than Blacks/girls. The racial variabilities were supported by genetic studies; the gender variabilities were supported by educational studies and went on to talk about why no single solution for promoting girls’ success in school would reliably work.
- 2015 Economist article – Examines a number of trails of evidence, the trend that stuck in my mind is middle- and low-income men are not adapting to either the new tech-skills/innovation economy nor the new social milieu of successful women. Therefore, they neither get a job, nor marry, a social construct which might help them adapt.
- Sometime last year I heard someone cite a study showing that as men age their preferences for porn/erotica remain static, while women’s preferences change and expand. I can’t find the study but this and this both speak to the way women are more variable sexually than men.
- A recent discussion on some NPR show discussed the growth of women in the financial industry, but also pointed out an interesting trend. Wherever the women go the men leave. Women became stock traders, so men started investment banking. Women started doing that so men started hedge funds.
- The changing demographics of colleges and universities are not as sudden nor as drastic as reported when you look at real numbers –race/ethnicity measured and projected; gender measured and projected – women overtook the men in total aggregated enrollment a long time ago. Ethnic students do not yet out number white students, but the point there is less civilization’s bronze-skinned future and more that the fairer male students seem increasingly to be opting out of post-secondary education, at the same time as non-skilled work options are precipitously declining.
So where does that leave us? To me it looks like men are generally less adaptable than women, in many areas of life. And when the women do start to compete and/or exceed them a major response is to retreat. In the financial industry that retreat has been to higher-risk, more-exclusive niche work. But what about the young men, of every social class, who are now retreating from acquiring the skills which make them contributors to society? I’m going for an easy gag here, but I think it’s true, among other outcomes, you get Martin Shkreli.
I’m not ramping up for a “Save the Men!” campaign, though I think the UK has cleverly designed just such a program (first link in article) and I think it’s exactly the right idea. Rather I’m just acknowledging that, an equal humanity is more than women’s equal pay and representation; more than everyone being the same complexion in three more generations; more than gender identity and sexuality becoming moot.
Those who can easily adapt to the changing world have to make provisions for (or defenses against) the rigid and fearful. Everything we are experiencing today is the carrion-laden battlefield of 4000 years of underestimating small groups of hell-bent oppressors…
Okay, that took a bit of a wide conspiracy-theorist swing. In less hyperbole: I believe that some people I have assigned to the category ‘won’t change’ probably belong to the category ‘can’t change.’ This is a perspective, and thus a group of people, I am at a complete loss to understand, some of whom have one or more of: wealth, power, arsenals, or extremist training camps. And it only takes a handful of such folks to make life very unpleasant for everyone.
No surrender. No chance of defeat. Women, people of color, we are in it to even it! Yet, water wears the rock, but does not drown the suicide bomber. So what are our tactics to uproot the violent might of charismatic rigidity?