To see into the future, look at 8th grade. If an 8th grader gets As and Bs in school that student will likely earn a college degree. If that same student gets only Bs and Cs college completion is unlikely. That is one of the stunning conclusions from authors Thoma DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann in their report on gender mobility, and college attainment. The implication of their findings are astonishing when correlated with the data that girls do better than boys in school by 8th grade and continue to widen their lead over boys in educational success. Over a life time recent data reveals that a college graduate will earn over $800,000 more than a high school graduate. The educational gender gap suggests that women may become the primary drivers of the US economy. What are the implications for defining one’s masculinity if this prediction becomes reality?
An excellent article by Leonard Pitts, recently published in the Miami Herald reflected on just named most valuable NBA player Kevin Durant’s comments about his mother’s extraordinary efforts that led to him being the man he is today. When it came to remarks about his father, who deserted the family when he was an infant, his words were expectedly brief characterized as an up and down road with the support his father had given “from afar.” Pitts’ point is that the absence of fathers matters. He goes on to say that we have evolved a society wherein we pretend the opposite is true. The disappearance of fathers is now nearly the norm. Almost one in four American children lives in a household without their biological dads. For black kids it’s a little better than half. Pitts describes the new morality that says it’s okay for a man to wander away from his child because he is immature, selfish and young. For a woman her clock is ticking and she really doesn’t need a man for anything more than sperm. If we tell ourselves this new ethic is not a problem, that the disappearance of a father leaves no scar, we are ignoring the statistics showing an increase in poverty, drug use, educational failure and incarceration that correlates with the absence of a father.
It’s time for an honest discussion about the role of men in our current social/cultural climate.