Friday, March 4, 2011

Warren Farrell - Proposal for a White House Council on Boys to Men

I have mixed feelings about Warren Farrell's place in the world of men and masculinities. He has done a great deal to bring awareness to the ways in which boys and men have been betrayed by society. He has exposed some of the dark realities of men's jobs, the lack of men's rights in divorce and child custody, and the vulnerabilities men face in health and suicide.

On the other hand, he has seemingly dismissed nearly all feminism and feminists as evil (even when he has not, many of his "followers" have assumed that stance), and his books have spawned a men's right movement (MRA) that pretty much hates women (while apparently preferring females who think, feel, and act more like girls). Even so, he can't be held responsible for how others read his books.

But on this effort, I am grateful that he has been asked to assemble this excellent proposal (even while there are places I am not in full agreement). I hope Obama chooses to fund it - although even if he does, the House will never fund it. So in some sense it's a non-starter - but the proposal should be widely read and circulated.

Here are the members of the committee:
Roland C. Warren, Peg Tyre, Dr. Lionel Tiger, Dr. Michael Thompson, Kathy Stevens, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, Sanders Shiver, Dr Leonard Sax, Gavin Samms, Glenn Sacks, Dr. William S. Pollack, Dr. Marty Nemko, Peter Moore, Michael McCormick, Skip Mason, Dr. Calvin Mackie, Dr. Judith Kleinfeld, Jack Kammer, Dr Norman Johnson, Willie Iles, Dr. Ned Holstein, Ronald K. Henry, Michael Gurian, Dr. John Guidubaldi, Dr. John Gray, Tom Golden, Philip Cook, Armin Brott, Dr. Sanford Braver, Dr. Warren Farrell -- CHAIR

I'm sorry, John Gray? The guy has made a mess of relationships with his planetary nonsense? That is strange choice, at best.

WH Council on Boys to Men. Dr. Warren Farrell (July 2010), 415-­‐259-­‐6343; p. 1-93.

Executive Summary

After President Obama created a White House Council on Women and Girls, the White House asked Warren Farrell to submit a proposal for a White House Council on Boys to Men. Dr. Farrell created a blueribbon Commission to investigate the status of boys and men, and create a blueprint toward solutions.

The Commission identified five major components of a crisis: education; emotional health; physical health; fatherlessness, and work.


Boys are more medicated and less educated. They are considerably ahead of girls on ritalin intake, and behind girls in reading and writing, motivation, grades, and standardized test scores. More boys are dropouts and expelled. In higher education, as this graph reveals, males have gone from 61% of graduates to a projected 39%.

Among Hispanics and African-Americans, the male-female gap is greater. As for consequences, by his mid-30's, the African-American boy who drops out of high school has a 60% chance of having spent time in prison.

Solutions a Council might explore include more male teachers; updated teacher education; boy-friendly teaching, testing and schools; and incentives for children having both parents.

Emotional Health

Boys' suicide rate goes from equal to girls' prior to adolescence to five times girls' between 20 and 24. Among the elderly, men over 85 have a suicide rate 1300% higher than their female peers. Other symptoms of male emotional challenges range from ADHD to violence, crime and the 5 D's: depression, drinking, drugs, disobedience and delinquency. A Council might proffer such solutions as parent and professional education, communication and relationship-skill training, and encouraging mentoring and two-parent families.

With one out of three children in the U.S. living in father-absent homes, the Commission examined the potential benefits of more involved dads to single mothers, and to our children's emotional stability, academic achievement, social maturity, physical safety, and future marital success. It examines the possible impact of fathers on the reduction of social problems from poverty to unwed births and crime. It considers solutions ranging from examining the impact of paternity leave (e.g., in Sweden, 85% of fathers take paternity leave) to the potential of a male birth control pill; from legislation to create incentives for father involvement in unwed and divorced families to training boys in school as to their value as future dads.

Physical Health

The Commission examines why the male-female life expectancy gap has grown from one year in 1920 to more than five years today. And why boys and men die earlier than girls and women from nine of the 10 leading causes of death.

The proposal cites the economic costs of neglecting boys and men's health, from the cost of emergency room use to the cost to women (e.g., half of elderly poor women were not poor before their husband's death).

The Commission applauds the progress of the many federal offices of women's health, and suggests parallel offices for boys and men's health. Their mission might range from boys' physical health (e.g., testicular cancer; safer football) to male emotional health (e.g., military men's transition home).


One of every five men 25 to 54 is not working. Half of African-American young men ages 20-24 are jobless. The areas of future job growth (e.g., health; education) are areas our daughters are preparing for; the areas for which uneducated boys have typically found jobs (e.g.,manufacturing; agriculture; construction) are in decline. And the mostly male jobs requiring more education are being outsourced overseas.

A White House Council on Boys to Men would examine the potential for restoring vocation to education, and for developing our sons' (and daughters') skills to match employers' future needs. It can expand the concept of a "man's work;" and study other countries' successes. And when men do work, it can recommend ways to increase safety (92% of workplace deaths are men).

In Conclusion

The Commission concludes that our sons face a profound crisis in education, work, and their physical and emotional health. Respected publications such as The Atlantic have seen the symptoms and predict "The End of Men." If the symptoms are ignored, and our sons see the"end of men" as their future, they will have little inspiration for life's journey.

Solutions may need to go beyond more fathers, mentors and male teachers. They may require a fundamental reconsideration of what it means to be a man. In the past, we taught our sons to consider themselves "real men" if they did what was healthy for society's survival--whether to risk death in war, or to build a railroad. Calling our sons heroes if they risked being disposable was often healthy for the society, but it is unhealthy for our sons.

The Council can provide leadership to sustain the respect for firefighters and soldiers that allows us to recruit protectors for our homes and country, even as we also encourage alternative paths to becoming a valued man. Leadership for the future must both question and honor traditional masculinity.

As our history of male-as-sole-breadwinner fades as downsizing and outsourcing burgeon, both sexes will need to be prepared to raise money and raise children. Our daughters have learned to do both; our sons have not.

A White House Council on Boys to Men can co-ordinate the nation's best efforts to parent, mentor, and teach each of our sons to discover who he is. It can end the era of boys and men as a national afterthought. It can provide leadership to raise young men that our daughters are proud to love.
Read the whole proposal - and yes, it's very long and detailed, although much will be familiar to those who have read Farrell's books.


EQmatters said...

Hey Bill - I agree with your concern about Dr. Farrell - and with the need to have a conscious and mature shift in the way boys become men in the USA. Thanks for sharing this. I will share it as well.

Sage said...

Farrell's book, "The Myth of Male Power" continues to be the book that is most responsible for my own path toward liberation in understanding so much about male grief, depression and male suffering in the world. I continue to be eternally grateful to him, more than anyone else, in helping me understand so many things about myself and men in general. How he has reacted toward women in general, seemingly as a response to his own personal romantic struggles is sad and disheartening. Some of his followers are way too bitter and clearly unhinged. Some of the responsibility for not redirecting them, I believe, does fall to Farrell. Still, I have managed to keep that all in relative perspective because I believe his contributions to men's studies and men's lives are so singular and important.

I like the fact that he has come up with this proposal. I honestly don't know if he is the best to head it up. No, make that, I know he is not the best one to head it up. And the choice of John Gray would simply be humorous if it wasn't such an affront to mature men and women everywhere. One of these days we'll get all of this kind of stuff right...

Renzo said...

ehm theres 's another john gray then the guy with mars./venus. that guy is no doctor.

I think:

is mentioned..

william harryman said...

Renzo - If you go to the bottom of the document and look at the members of the committee, it is indeed the "Men Are From Mars" John Gray, not the highly respected philosopher you linked to.