Manliness in a techno-digital economy
There is a ubiquitous ad on television where a young man whistles for his wife’s Christmas gift, a dog comes running through the snow, and jumps into her arms. The wife then whistles and a new, big, pickup comes bounding out of the snow. The wife nods to the husband, yes, that’s your gift. He wraps himself around the truck in an emotional hug. What’s going on here? The wife is becoming attached to a sentient being. The dog responds to her affection. The husband is hugging a machine. It is a large machine that can enlarge his vision of himself as a man. Driving it will give him prestige and that macho feel of having a large machine at one’s command.
What else is going on in this television ad? The husband is excited to give his gift of a dog to his wife. She, however, can afford to give her husband a very expensive truck. This is becoming more common in contemporary culture and economy. Men’s occupations are disappearing. Some men blame the growth in women’s employment for their predicament, but that does not test out as true. Robotics, globalization, and unregulated monopoly capitalism are the main culprits.
The new society is built on an information economy. Education has become more significant for an individual to become a valuable economic asset. Girls and women are excelling in classes across the years of schooling. Boys, in general, fall behind in elementary schools, and many do not catch up through high school and college. Around sixty percent of our post graduate students are now female. That puts them ahead in an information economy.
We need to get a new emphasis on getting boys off to a good start in school. One suggestion has been to delay boys entrance into school by one year. Maturity and academic levels develop slower in boys, although most do catch up as they grow older. However, many boys fall behind academically, and never catch up. Boys need male academic role models. Teaching is now an overwhelmingly female profession. We need to recruit more male teachers in all levels of school, but especially in the early elementary years. Many boys have an affinity for more technical studies. We need to develop more technical high schools for both boys and girls to capture the imaginations and ambitions of students with those interests and abilities. White men, in our society, are being presented with a dilemma of identity. They have grown accustomed to being racially and gender dominate. Now they fear loss of dominance on both fronts. Women are now often the main breadwinners of a family. Successful single moms have proven that the presence of a man in a family isn’t even necessary. Men’s traditional roles as chief provider, head of household, and superior intellect of a family need drastic revision.
If men are not educationally prepared, they face an uphill battle to succeed in a diverse society where jobs are allocated by open competition based on merit. The problems of young minority men are even more severe in their educational preparation for being valuable members of the new techno-digital society.
Recreating white male dominance over other races and women is not a viable option in the new technodigital society. Anger, and resentment toward others, are counterproductive. Women and minorities are not the problem. The whole basis of economic life has changed, just as it did when industrial work began to predominate over agriculturalists. Men have to find a new vision of masculinity that plays a vital role in the techno-digital economy. That means competing for success with their minds, and nurturing characters, rather than brawn.