College no longer helps men to make the transition to adulthood

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

One source of academic corruption, Arnold Kling notes, is our emasculated culture, which Joyce F. Benenson and Henry Markovits discuss in Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes:

She and Roy Baumeister are the rare social scientists who see that (a) men and women differ on average in their behavioral tendencies and (b) male tendencies are not all bad.

Her book is grounded in observations of young boys and girls. My memories of my boyhood align perfectly with her picture of boys, and with the song lyrics above. We played team sports without supervision, put a lot of effort into setting rules, and competed to demonstrate skill. When we weren’t playing sports, we imagined ourselves fighting the “bad guys,” either in the Old West or in World War II.

One of her ideas is that men have a social strategy that works well in war: organize unrelated males, fight other groups overtly according to rules, then reconcile after battle. Women have a social strategy that works well for protecting their individual health and the health of their children: emphasize safety, covertly undermine the status of unrelated females, and exclude rivals rather than reconcile with them.

This leads me to speculate on the consequences of adding a lot of women to formerly male domains. Over the past several decades, a number of important institutions that were formerly almost exclusively male now include many women: academia, journalism, politics, and management positions in organizations. These institutions increasingly are discarding the values that sustained them when the female presence was less.

1. The older culture saw differential rewards as just when based on performance. The newer culture sees differential rewards as unjust.

2. The older culture sought people who demonstrate the most competence. The newer culture seeks to nurture those who are at a disadvantage.

3. The older culture admires those who seek to stand out. The newer culture disdains such people.

4. The older culture uses proportional punishment that is predictable based on known rules. The newer culture suddenly turns against a target and permanently banishes the alleged violator, based on the latest moral fashions.

5. The older culture valued open debate. The newer culture seeks to curtail speech it regards as dangerous.

6. The older culture saw liberty as essential to a good society. The newer culture sees conformity as essential to a good society.

7. The older culture was oriented toward achievement. The newer culture is oriented toward safety. Hence, we cannot complete major construction projects, like bridges, as efficiently as we used to.


College no longer helps men to make the transition to adulthood. It keeps them sheltered and controlled, and after graduation they end up living with their parents.


  1. Hoyos says:

    I mean…just to belabor a point…plus fair warning, I’m going to exaggerate for effect and I may be wrong.

    No men aren’t being failed because colleges “shelter them” exactly. It’s more that the uniparty keeps plundering the economy to hand over to various oligarchs at the top, legal immigrants (and select favored groups) in the middle, and illegal immigrants at the bottom.

    The problems men face aren’t merely psychological or developmental, they are economic and social. Men don’t lack the balls to go out and build a life so much as they’re told to go fuck themselves if they’re not in the top 10% of performers in some very narrow fields. Add onto this that the field of mating has been completely blown up by a multitude of factors, the majority of men are also told to go fuck themselves literally.

    I like to think in more traditional periods in our culture, older men helped mentor younger men into success, it’s also a great way to build loyalty from the younger men that can help the older men down the road as well. Now you’re on your own mate, it “builds character”. Especially if you are a non-minority man, someone will give you that vital first real position as soon as they’ve exhausted literally every other option.

    No propaganda in the world is persuasive enough to convince a starving man that he’s actually full. Young men aren’t “sheltered and weak” now any more than they were all hippies in the 60s and 70s. But I think a lot of authors need that to be the case so they can justify the “tough love”.

  2. LGC says:

    19th amendment, worst mistake ever. Nobody is happy. Men certainly aren’t happy and something like 50% of women are on anti-depressants. It isn’t working and it can’t be fixed.

  3. Goober says:

    *the uniparty keeps plundering the economy to hand over to various oligarchs at the top, legal immigrants (and select favored groups) in the middle, and illegal immigrants at the bottom.*

    I honestly don’t begrudge anyone at the bottom here, they’re all in the same boat, and if you’re in a protected class that gets better treatment, then you’d be a fool to not accept it. It’s the fault of a system that attempts to create “equality of results” instead of “equality of opportunity”.

    I can think of no more destructive goal than to achieve equality of results, and history bears this out. Unfortunately, it “feels good” (another feminine trait, tbh) and so it has wide spread popular support.

    *Men don’t lack the balls to go out and build a life so much as they’re told to go fuck themselves if they’re not in the top 10% of performers in some very narrow fields*

    Yes, you can see this very clearly just in historical results and opportunities. A man with a high school education in the 60s and 70s could get a job paying enough to buy a house and support a family, with less effort. Now, it’s not nearly so easy. A large part of this is the oligarchs and government, as previously mentioned, creating barriers to entry to good jobs that are generally unobtainable. A good example is licensing requirements for the trades. Look at what it takes to become an electrician or a plumber these days. The requirements are onerous, and there is very little attempt to create levels of certification. A guy wiring up a residential home with gas heat doesn’t need the same certification as a guy wiring up a nuclear aircraft carrier, but the requirements to get the respective certificates aren’t really that dissimilar. In 1970, if you wanted to be a residential electrician, you could do that with a couple years effort. Such a thing is nearing impossible to do now without years and years of effort. It’s not like we’ve seen any benefit from that, either. House prices continue to skyrocket, in large part because of the onerous requirements and barriers, while wages have simply not kept up. A young man with the idea that he’s going to graduate high school, buy a house, and support his family that he started at 22, with a job in the trades and without his wife also working is a fool. It’s simply not an obtainable goal anymore.

    *older men helped mentor younger men into success,*

    As a man who benefitted massively from the input and patronage of multiple mentors in my life, this simply cannot be understated. We older men MUST not forget this, and absolutely MUST pass this on, especially with the incidence of fatherlessness becoming more prevalent.

    *aren’t “sheltered and weak” now any more than they were all hippies in the 60s and 70*

    Even if they are (they aren’t, but stick with me) they are the product of what we raised them to be. If they are more sheltered and weak, then that is OUR FAULT, not theirs. We would be wise to recognize that and find a way to work with them, unless we would like to re-learn the age old lesson that all societies that have created an underclass of young men without hope have learned throughout history. I would suggest we’d be wise to avoid that if at all possible.

  4. David Foster says:

    I don’t buy the idea that women are generally for ‘equality’, any more than the idea that liberals/progressives are really for equality..when it comes to them personally, in both cases.

    As I said in my post about the political flavor:

    “Many people in “progressive” leadership positions are graduates of the Harvard Law School. Do you think these people want to see a society in which the career, status, and income prospects for an HLS grad are no better than those for a graduate of a lesser-known, lower-status (but still very good) law school? C’mon.

    Quite a few “progressive” leaders are members of prominent families. Do you think Teddy Kennedy would have liked to see an environment in which he and certain other members of his family would have had to answer for their actions in the criminal courts in the same way that ordinary individuals would, without benefit from connections, media influence, and expensive lawyers?

    The prevalence of “progressivism” among tenured professors is quite high. How many of these professors would be eager to agree to employment conditions in which their job security and employee benefits were no better than those enjoyed by average Americans? How many of them would take a salary cut in order to provide higher incomes for the poorly-paid adjunct professors at their universities? How many would like to see PhD requirements eliminated so that a wider pool of talented and knowledgeable individuals can participate in university teaching?”

  5. David Foster says:

    And regarding women and desire for equality, Kipling wrote an interesting poem on the subject. The context was an 1890 ‘social justice’ proposal by Kaiser Wilhelm II…envisaged as European-wide, I believe…intended to help the poorest of the working classes, but at the expense (Kipling believed) of incentives and fair rewards for the more successful.

    Translated into modern terminology, Kipling’s line “You can lighten the curse of Adam when you’ve lightened the curse of Eve” says that you can’t establish Equality unless you abolish Hypergamy.

  6. Gavin Longmuir says:

    It seems likely that the blatant discrimination in favor of certain women — credentialed upper middle class daughters of privilege — is simply another element in Gramsci’s Long March Through The Institutions. Certainly, the performance of women in senior roles in business & politics demonstrates that women can screw up just as badly as men.

    Taking the long view, the interesting feature of the current over-promotion of (certain) women is the denigration of women’s vital irreplaceable role as mothers — both to deliver the baby and to civilize the child. There is a reason that historical societies with a very strong women’s role were known as matriarchies, not gynocracies.

    As Mark Steyn has noted — the future belongs to those who show up. If the current focus on women results in Western societies fading away from a lack of mothers, Gramsci would probably be delighted.

  7. Kirk says:

    I have an opinion that the whole thing is a question of adaptation on a societal scale.

    Conditions once obtained wherein there was a huge attrition rate for childbirth. This militated for things that lot of idiots look at now and say “Oh, the patriarchy…”, as if someone sat down and planned on killing off their wives and daughters.

    The reality was, those were the conditions of the time, due to the knowledge and arts of the milieu. Not a lot anyone could do about it–Ignace Semmelweis was a damn hero, but even he was a bit of a nutter that didn’t quite get his facts right, and wound up dying badly.

    Because of the change in survival rates, we’re dealing with the shockwave of change moving through societies. What was it like, when a childbed had a higher mortality rate than the battlefield? What mentalities did you encourage, with that fact? What compensatory behaviors?

    And, now, all that baggage is obsolete, the need and necessity for it gone. We still haven’t figured it out and adapted, and it may well be that there’s a bit of a “golden trap” here, for societies that embrace modernity: You lose all the essentials that made things work in simpler times.

    What we’re going through, right now, is an adaptation to a regime of low mortality and plenty; lots of these transgendered idiots likely would have never been born, in the old days–Their mothers might have spontaneously aborted marginal pregnancies that resulted in such maladaptive performance. We don’t know what the effects are of all these estrogen-like chemicals we’ve dumped into the environment, either…

    All of this crap combines into a massive, nasty cultural whiplash of change, and its one we’re doing a really lousy job of even acknowledging. It isn’t that there’s some vast conspiracy out there, some patriarchy, or some hidden matriarchy, it’s just that people in groups tend to behave in condition-related survival-oriented ways. Cultures that do stupid things don’t survive, under changing conditions, and it may well be that ours is going to be one of them.

    Chesterton’s Fence applies here–One should change nothing until one can really understand what the hell is truly going on, or what the purpose is for some “silly, outdated custom”. They’ve been discarding the bulwarks and props out from under our culture ever since the 1890s, and we’re only starting to see the actual results come cracking through the system.

  8. Paul from Canada says:

    Desmond Morris in his books The Naked Ape and The Human Zoo mentions some of what Kirk is talking about. The books are old, and somewhat outdated, but they were the first real social anthropology I ever read, and much of his stuff is still relevant.

    One of the points he makes is that much of our behavior is a result of literally thousands of years of evolution. During that time, our society hadn’t changed much, and these adaptations served us quite well.

    Now all of a sudden, in what in evolutionary terms is the blink of an eye, we have radically changed our environment and society, and our behavior can’t keep up. We are using behavioral tools designed for a small clan based village where everyone knows everyone, to try and navigate socially in a big city where we know literally nobody when we first arrive.

    We have exchanged the extended family and village for the anonymous city and artificial social groups like the workplace. This has not been good for our mental health, or the health of our society, because we have not yet adapted to it.

  9. The White King says:

    Frazer’s The Golden Bough discusses this — the anthropology and the tremendous changes hitting human society. The prime cause for him is the industrial revolution and the change from a 95% agriculturally employed population to a 95% agriculturally-surplus population, and the failure to anticipate the changes this would have on religion and habits of thought. He wrote it in the 1890s I believe and made a number of predictions which, a century on, were startlingly accurate.

    I have the Oxford Classics edition, which is a condensation of Frazer’s original 3rd edition of fifteen or so volumes. One of these days I might track down the full set of that.

  10. Kirk says:

    Behavioral biology is a part of it, but another is the cultural “software” we all live with, absorbed from birth and probably before.

    I’d love to see what deficiencies there would be from a neonatal process that was entirely artificial and totally ideal in every physical way. Would the child of such an experience be better off, or would they have missed out on key cues picked up from a mother that carried them beneath their heart for nine months?

    I am not really sure we have a good handle on what makes humans human. Where does the process start? We know that fetal development picks up things from the environment from within the womb, sooooo… How much of that is key and essential? If I remember rightly, there was some research that I remember seeing years ago that babies from an entirely Chinese environment were better cued to picking up the nuances of a tonal language than babies who were from one where Chinese was not spoken, but to how much of a degree I don’t remember–The differences were there, but barely above what might be “background noise”.

    There are probably multiple levels to all of it, but I think we can distinguish at least three–One, purely biological, which we could term as being equivalent to “hardware level” on a computer. The second would be that which is hard-coded only into the cultural background, and the third which is down to individual free will. None of this is particularly hard-and-fast, being as it should only be thought of as “predisposition” as opposed to “predestination”. You can always rise above the purely biological and social conditioning, if you so choose, and if you are even aware of it all.

    Part of the problem with the whole package of what makes us “human” is that most of us do not have the introspection to ever step outside themselves, and examine what is going on in purely mechanistic terms–”Why am I doing this thing” and “Why is that person doing that other thing”. This requires a rare sort of autism, in that most people simply do not ever bother to analyze their own environment that way, or try to work out the relationships and drives making things happen around them. It’s also very difficult to do on the fly, as things are happening for these people, although they can usually figure it all out later on. Sometimes, much much later on…

    The lag as the cultural firmware modifies itself to meet changing conditions is often measured in generations, which means that as long as we’re going through a rapid sequence of conditional changes, everything is going to be in flux. Contemporary “change” rates are probably uniquely high in human history, and may only be matched by the period during which we shifted from pure hunter-gatherer tribal bands to agriculture and permanent settlements. As such, we can probably anticipate a lot more angst and a lot more confusion at things work themselves out. I think we have to look at a lot of the weird stuff going on in society as being part of this process, because the root conditions that obtained even a few generations ago do not exist today, and may never exist again. Consider the impact of the shift from peasant-based agriculture to what we have going today, where most humans don’t need to be out there farming to feed the vast majority that do not work in agriculture. That shift alone is more massive than anyone can really comprehend, and it wasn’t that long ago that it happened. Life in the cities and urbanized areas is brand-new, as is the disconnection from the land. Wonder why there are so many allergies and immune disorders, today? Look at that shift, right there–We’re a species that evolved in nature, and now have removed ourselves from contact from 90% or more of it.

    It will be interesting to see if we survive the transition.

  11. Paul from Canada says:

    “Part of the problem with the whole package of what makes us “human” is that most of us do not have the introspection to ever step outside themselves, and examine what is going on in purely mechanistic terms–”Why am I doing this thing” and “Why is that person doing that other thing”. This requires a rare sort of autism, in that most people simply do not ever bother to analyze their own environment that way, or try to work out the relationships and drives making things happen around them.”

    And even when we do manage this (at a certain level), we still do that behavior anyway.

    We know “Love” is at some level, a matter of hormones, pheromones and social signalling, designed by evolution to cause us to reproduce, yet we fall in love anyway.

    I knew intellectually, the psychological manipulation that is military basic training, yet it still worked on me to a large extent.

    Shrinks know some of the causes of various mental illnesses and complexes, yet most of them are just as batshit as their clients.

    The more I look at this sort of stuff, the more I think it is biological, hardwired, even if it started out as cultural. And the rate of change is not supportable

  12. Kirk says:

    “The more I look at this sort of stuff, the more I think it is biological, hardwired, even if it started out as cultural. And the rate of change is not supportable”

    I have to agree. Mostly. I think there’s an epigenetic feedback loop, with regards to rewarded behavior in society. In Mongol times, it wasn’t a societal “norm” to question the idea of mass-murdering the occupants of an enemy city, so lining the victims up and killing them by hand wasn’t necessarily a big deal–You were a Mongol trooper, you didn’t see them as other human beings like yourself, so killing them and exploring their entrails for swallowed wealth wasn’t the sort of thing you’d be agonizing over on your death-sleeping mat. Guilt? LOL… Not a thing, for those men. And, some women…

    Likewise, the vast difference between Ancient Rome and the present day. The norms were things we’d consider signs of utter depravity and mental illness, but the Romans saw it as the norm. Pater familias having the power of life over death for his children and wife? Totally a thing.

    I’d further argue that the feedback loop rewards success–Hard-wired behavioral traits that work well in near-feral societies like you find in the transition zone between the stone-age hunter-gatherer stage and modern civilization have to be worked over and pushed out of the populations involved before they’ll effectively be able to work and exist in the cooperative milieu that is a modern civilization. This process is why the Chinese and other Asian civilizations are somewhat ahead of the rest of us–The selection and feedback for “civilized” has been going on longer. It’s also why the Chinese are at a disadvantage in certain environments (or, at least, some of them are…) that militate against “civilized” behavior.

    I don’t think that there has ever really been a reason for the ideas behind “racism”. What it is is simply a question of adaptation to the environment, and whether or not you’re innately adapted to it. If you aren’t, there are things you can do to alleviate the issues, corrective measures to be taken in that zone of what makes us human that is amenable to self-actuated choice and behavior. You don’t have a predestined fate; it’s predisposition. Free will and choice still makes a difference; you don’t have to be that tribal bastard out for himself and his “own kind”.

    Of course, as Ronald Reagan put it, “Trust, but verify…”. Nothing says you have to be a chump–If the reciprocity ain’t there, then f**k ‘em.

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