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One of the biggest social changes since the 1960s has been the empowerment of women to make personal choices, to control who they date, whether they’re married, and when or if they have children.
While society and popular culture aimed at women seem to have embraced many of these changes, the unfortunate reality is that popular culture aimed at men has not kept pace. Instead of encouraging adaptation and teaching new social and professional skills, cultural influencers who aim for the male media market have mostly been offering the same old advice—which simply doesn’t work in a world in which divorce is common and dating apps have made things easier but also more complicated.
Male friendship has also declined. A 2021 study from the Survey Center on American Life found that 15 of male respondents said they had no close friends. Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic played an important role in this, but there are other factors as well, such as pop culture that encourages men to avoid new friendships or discussing their feelings. As a result, many men have not been able to resolve these struggles. So-called “deaths of despair,” such as drug or alcohol overdoses and deliberate suicides are much higher among men than women.
Further compounding the negative situation has been the proliferation of “men’s rights” activists and other far-right political actors such as the “incel” movement who have been radicalizing millions of young men to blame others for their problems, instead of learning from mistakes or improving their outlook.
Is there a crisis of masculinity in America? In this episode, we’re featuring Brandon Bradford, he’s a political consultant who also serves as a men’s support group leader in his spare time.
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Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield about larger trends and intersections of politics, religion, media, and technology. It's part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.
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Matthew Sheffield on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattsheffield