The editor of The Spectator magazine, Fraser Nelson, has become the latest high profile commentator to speak out on the problems that men and boys face. Writing in the Daily Telegraph this week, Nelson observed “there is no male equivalent of the Fawcett Society to moan for men, no Harriet Harman equivalent to spy discrimination”.
The Spectator takes a conservative view of politics and has generally been less concerned with gender issues than its left-wing cousin, The New Statesman, which ran a series called “Let’s Talk About Men” last year, so it’s interesting to get a sense on Fraser’s views on the problems men and boys face.
Fortunately we’ll have perspectives on men and gender from across the political spectrum at the Thinking Men event which opens the Third National Conference for Men and Boys on Thursday 26th September.
In summary, Fraser says that boys—and particularly poorer boys—are falling behind their female counterparts in terms of education and employment. He says there is an emasculation of the economy that is disadvantaging men collectively, particularly younger men who face a gender pay gap and as a result our sons our more likely to end up unmarriageable or financially dependent. We provide a summary of his key points below.
On boys facing inequality in education:
“Some 58 per cent of graduates are women, and the ratio is even higher in the big-buck professions like law and medicine. Girls have been outperforming boys in A-levels for some time, and now score better in IQ tests. This has obvious implications for how we work, live and bring up our children.
On the emasculation of the economy to men’s disadvantage:
“The economy is changing shape, in a way that is to men’s collective disadvantage. Occupations requiring physical strength are rapidly disappearing; a quarter of manufacturing jobs have vanished in the past 10 years. In their place come posts where “work” means grabbing a coffee, heading to the office and getting along with people. The qualities of social intelligence, communication skills and multi-tasking are not ones where men have any innate advantage.
“There is no reason why the progress should stop at equality: in field after field, women are starting to dominate. In the recession, four out of five British jobs lost were held by men. The recession has simply accelerated the emasculation of the economy.”
On the male gender pay gap
“Anyone genuinely concerned about gender equality in Britain should be worried about the boys. For those aged between 22 and 30, “pay gap” refers to the fact that the average man is now paid less than his female equivalent – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that girls are better-educated. For every four university applications by girls, just three are submitted by boys. Male horizons are narrowing in Britain, and no one seems worried.”
On poor boys facing greater inequality
“Gender equality is a very real concept among the rich, who now live in a world where young men and women do as well as each other. But among poor families, boys are falling further and further behind – and are 30 per cent less likely to apply for university than girls. The Labour MP Frank Field has long pointed out how deindustrialisation (which happened even faster under Blair than under Thatcher) has robbed these young men of life options. Yes, office jobs may replace factory jobs, so the economy ticks over. But what about teenagers not cut out for university, who used to go straight into a trade? They struggle to find a role in society.”
On the rise of the ineligible bachelor
“Study after study shows that men without steady employment are regarded as unsound marital bets. If Bridget Jones’s Diary were to be rewritten for the 2020s, she’d be poorer – and male. The phrase “purse-whipped” would be used in his diary. He might wish he had studied harder, the better to impress the high-flying Miss Darcy. But it may take until the next decade for that book to be written. Things are changing so fast that the idea of men being left “on the shelf” still sounds like fiction. But the market value of testosterone has never been lower.”
On young men failing to launch
“My daughter, Nicola, was born last week – and no one made jokes about dowries or costly weddings. In Britain, the idea of a daughter being a financial liability died in the last century. It’s my two boys who, statistically, I ought to be more worried about. Where I live, in Twickenham, cafés are full of kept men buying breakfast because they could not be bothered to make it – sometimes pushing prams with one hand and holding toast in the other. Teenagers are not the only ones responsible for record pre-order sales of PlayStation 4.”
To read Nelson Fraser’s full article see Boris Johnson wasn’t joking – work is becoming a woman’s world
To take part in the Thinking Men event at this year’s Third National Conference for Men and Boys buy your ticket online today here.