Weekly Digest: Of Boys and Men
Welcome to my weekly digest for November 18, 2022.
For new subscribers, this contains a roundup of my recent writings and podcasts, as well as links to the best articles from around the web this week. You can control what emails you get from me by visiting your account page.
For new paid Subscribers - thank you! - click over for instructions for accessing the Knowledge Base.
There will be no digest next week in honor of the US Thanksgiving holiday
Movies for Men
I’m excited to be able to announce today another free new resource for you: Movies for Men.
Movies for Men is a list of high quality films looking at what it means to be a man, or at the human condition as experienced by men with all its triumphs, tragedies, dilemmas, and failings.
There’s a wide a range of films, from dramas to documentaries, foreign to domestic, art house to mainstream. I put together a list of my top recommendations, and our paid subscriber group added a lot of their own suggestions. There are a lot of great films on this list. Whatever your tastes, I’m confident any man could find a number of great films to watch here.
You can also let people know what you think of these films by adding your own rating or review. Just click on the movie you want to review, then click the “Add Review” button in the upper right corner of the page for that film.
So please check out the movies for men list. Thanks to all the great subscriber submissions, I’m planning to use this to pick films to watch myself.
To encourage you to check this out, I have a special offer for you. If you leave a rating/review for three films on the site, I’ll give you a free 90 day trial subscription to my Substack. Just email me at email@example.com with the three films you reviewed, and I’ll get you set up. This offer will end in two or three weeks.
Thanks so much to those of you who are Subscribers for adding so many great film suggestions. If you would like to be able to add movies to the database, please become a Subscriber today. You also get access to exclusive content, podcast transcripts, commenting privileges, full access to the knowledge base, and occasional webinars.
Of Boys and Men
Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Richard Reeves’ new book Of Boys and Men, which is about the troubles facing men and boys in our society, has been getting a lot of attention. If you’ve been a reader of my work, then you probably already know most of what’s in his book. But it’s a great, very readable introduction to the issue for a mainstream audience.
I reviewed the book for the Institute for Family Studies. I thought the presentation of the facts was excellent, but more work is needed on recommendations for what to do about it. Here’s an excerpt:
But he is influenced by a second wave feminist style orientation reminiscent of Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs). In my review of Cassie Jaye’s documentary about MRAs, I noted that their goal appears to be the completion of the gender equalitarian vision of second wave feminism. They just want to address areas of statistical disparity and legal inequalities that disfavor men and to free men from traditional gender role expectations that they view as overly restrictive and socially constructed.
While not an MRA himself, Reeves’ work seems to be heavily inflected with this sort of thinking. He accepts the feminist egalitarian agenda, and simply wants a similar agenda to help men where they are struggling or underserved. While acknowledging the biological basis of some sex differences, he appears to believe most of our sex roles are socially constructed—and should be reconstructed. Just as feminists wanted women to have access to traditionally male domains, he, like the MRAs, wants men to not be constrained to traditionally-male occupations and roles, and to have access to domains like caregiving. In fact, Reeves calls for policies pushing men into female-dominated professions—Health Care, Education, Administration, Literacy (or HEAL). In his world, society would have less gender polarity. More women would be engineers. More men would be nurses. It’s especially notable that the one area where he does offer a potentially controversial challenge to the status quo is in child custody and support laws—calling for a presumption of equal parenting time in cases of divorce, for example—also the central concern of MRAs.
Click through to read the whole thing.
In October, Reeves wrote a piece about Andrew Tate that does a better job of making the case for a more compelling vision of men’s roles in society today. I also wrote about Andrew Tate back in August.
You can also read reviews of Tate’s book by Patrick Brown and my former colleague Scott Winship.
Related from the NY Post: Sperm counts worldwide have plunged 62% in under 50 years - men’s problems aren’t just psychological they are biological.
Best of the Web
WSJ: What Do Single People Want Now? Deeper Connections, More Substance - I take these kinds of articles with a grain of salt, but they are still interesting.
Just like everyone else, single people have been rethinking their priorities over the past few years. Many say they are more eager to find a partner than they were in the past—and that they’re dating more deliberately, according to the results of the latest Singles in America study, conducted by researchers at the Kinsey Institute and funded by Match, the dating app. They’re also adjusting to political and social issues. They’re even (a little) less interested in looks.
WSJ: The Men of Bravo Company - veterans of the war in Afghanistan carry it with them physically and psychologically
Unherd: Germany is Europe’s bordello - prostitution is legal, and there are an estimated 400,000 prostitutes in the country.
Rob Henderson: Psychological games people play
NYT: The Bike Thieves of Burlington, VT - Like many cities who implemented a depolicing policy, Burlington saw a crime spike. Bike theft is epidemic, and the police won’t do anything about it so citizens have organized into patrols to locate stolen bikes. This is remarkably similar to what happened in Portland with stolen cars. Ironically, it is the most progressive cities in the country that are implementing a type of privatized policing by citizens that somebody like Grover Norquist might have touted in times past.
New Content and Media Mentions
Ross Douthat cited my election analysis in his New York Times column last Sunday. So did Vox magazine. So did Rod Dreher. David Goodwin referred to it in his election analysis.
Lots of mentions of my three worlds of evangelicalism framework this week. Alan Jacobs wrote about it. Derek Rishmawy responded to him. And Jacobs wrote about it again. Rod Dreher also referenced Jacobs’ piece, and also my three worlds framework in a different post.
Kirsten Sanders wrote a follow-up to Tim Keller’s take at Mere Orthodoxy. R. Scott Clark also weighed in.
New this week:
My monthly newsletter was about how online debates can change people’s politics. Don’t let this happen to you.
I also wrote about the multi-billion dollar FTX scandal, and what it says about the illusion of American meritocracy.
At American Reformer, Scott Yenor wrote about teaching sex and gender.
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"Ironically, it is the most progressive cities in the country that are implementing a type of privatized policing by citizens that somebody like Grover Norquist might have touted in times past."
In a way, it is ironic, but from an economics standpoint it is predictable. It is not unlike the observation of those living under the Soviet economy having to rely on black markets to get what they needed - if you can't find a good or service through the official channels, some entrepreneur will provide it. Since progressive cities essentially want to end policing, people will seek it through other means.
Perhaps you'd consider doing a "Movie of the Month" to talk about a movie you learned about and watched via the database? Can even talk about a movie you didn't like. I'd find it interesting.
On the Three Worlds discussion, a little while ago I was wondering if David French thought that the transition of Christianity from the Great Persecution in the early third century to Constantine's Edict of Milan was a transition worth noting. It's clarifying to me Alan Jacobs, who seems to take a tack very similar to David French, comes right out and says "the Edict of Milan was irrelevant." Which from now on is probably the sentence I'll use to categorize this sort of take.
And I see what he's saying. I agree with him on some level, but for the most part, I find this argument annoying and obtuse. In the grand scheme of eternity, whether a faithful Christian is fed to a lion or dies peacefully in bed is of little importance, and yet maybe we all just need to come back to Earth for a minute if we're going to have any sort of productive discussion about adapting to social change.