What does Mr. Bennett think is wrong with the American male?
Bennett pointed to the male dropout rate at college. The ratio of women to men at the beginning of college (55 percent female, 45 male) increases by the time of graduation to 62 percent female, 38 percent male, said Bennett. He added that the problem is worse at black colleges, where the graduation ratio can be 70 percent female, and 30 percent male.
“We are raising a lot of great boys into men in this society… but we’re not raising enough,” continued Bennett. He said that young men are exposed to a “dizzying array of confusing signals” from cultural images glorifying “hood culture,” to violence against women, and “the gay culture.”Confusing signals is an understatement. They are not signals at all; they are explicit teachings of skewed social norms that discredit and discount what is good about being masculine. Strong, commanding men are bad; Gentle, mousy, effeminate men are good.
“You have to be taught, you have modeling, you have to have mentors, you have to have men in your lives,” Bennett said to youth who are learning how to become adult men.
A man does not need to engender feminine characteristics in order to be kind and gentle, loving and good. Those are aspects that belong to the male and female persona; they are simply lived out differently in the male and female.
The strength of the male persona must not be lost. Man was meant to be the protector, the provider, the loving head of the family. Christ is his example of what it means to be a man -- holy, sturdy, sure, merciful, loving and just, etc. The Holy Family is the exemplar of what family should aspire to; St. Joseph being the consummate protector and provider for God and the Blessed Mother. Ideally, young men need to see this lived out in their own families. They need to be taught, to have a role model of authentic manhood -- it starts with the protection and renewal of the family.
Bennett suggests that we move away from 'values' education and institute once again the concept of virtue education. The word values has become synonymous with the ideology of subjectivism and relativism, allowing personal interpretation to dictate how it is defined. Virtues, however, are concrete and based on objective truth. There are guides and norms to living a virtuous life, a life that embraces and fosters the unique gifts of the masculine and the feminine.
The problem with American men is not so much that they intrinsically have a problem, but rather that they have been given a burden by society -- fed a wealth of psycho/social nonsense that blurs the gender identity of male.
Bill Bennett, author of the Book of Virtues series, has written a new book, The Book of Man. Its target audience is young men; its aim is to offer solid lessons in what it means to grow into manhood.
If Bennett's book can make an impression on young men, and more particularly, their fathers, this could start a significant movement toward reversing the disorder in which American culture currently operates.