We hear a lot about the patriarchy and how women’s fight for real equality is yet to be won. We hear far less about how modern men are struggling – how they are losing ground in the labour market, falling behind in education and increasingly missing out on family life. Two out of three ‘deaths of despair’ are among men, either from suicide or an overdose.
According to bestselling author and former head of Demos Richard Reeves, we need a new model of masculinity, one that allows us to hold two thoughts in our head at once: we can care deeply about women’s rights and be compassionate towards vulnerable boys and men.
As Reeves explained when he came to Intelligence Squared to talk about his new book Of Boys and Men, previous attempts to treat the condition of men have made the same fatal mistake – they have viewed the problems of men as a problem with men. It is not a matter of fixing individual men, he argued, but of addressing the deep structural challenges that are disadvantaging men. And he showed how both sides of the political divide are getting men wrong – the progressive Left because it dismisses legitimate concerns about men and pathologises ’toxic masculinity’, and the populist Right because it weaponises male discontent and promotes the view that the only way to help men is to turn back the clock and restore traditional gender roles.
‘As a feminist who is deeply committed to gender equality and a mother of two young men, I highly recommend Of Boys and Men. Richard Reeves both affirms the experience of so many parents of boys and puts it into broader national and global context’ – Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America and author of Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
‘If you have a son, or might ever want to hire or marry someone else’s son, you should want boys to succeed, and you should read this powerful and important book’ – Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern School of Business
‘Courageous, compelling, and urgently needed’ – Carole Hooven, Harvard University and author of Testosterone: The Story of the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us