Book Review: "Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life"

J. Steven Svoboda has reviewed "Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life" by Andrew L. Yarrow. Download the review here. Excerpt:

'Andrew L. Yarrow, a former New York Times reporter and current senior fellow for the Progressive Policy Institute, has written an important book on a topic that somewhat surprisingly does not seem to have previously been centrally addressed among the current onslaught of books on gender and masculinity. The subject of Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life is the large number of men who are sidelined in various ways from what at least used to be considered fundamental building blocks of the life of a man—marriage, children, and gainful employment.

What is the matter with men? Yarrow poses important questions. Even the questions have questions, as it were: In the book’s opening sentences, the author seems to grapple with the same issues that may trouble a thoughtful reader: “[W]e know these sidelined men are out there. But they don’t fit old stereotypes of failure.… Why is this happening? What can we do?” The author notes that many seemingly separate problems may be interrelated and part of this same topic, like “white men not working… black men whose lives don’t seem to matter… adult boys living in their parents’ basements… men struggling with relationships and marriage…” Finally Yarrow concludes, “But we don’t see a single larger story.” The larger story is, in the author’s estimate, that American males who are in various forms “men out” of the American mainstream. “Between one in four and one in five men between their early 20’s and mid- to late 60s … aren’t working, three to four times the proportion during the 1950s…” So we have a United States now in which “less than half the nation’s children live with two married parents who are in their first marriage.”

One problem with having so many “men out” is simple: Men who are in the best health are the opposite of “men out,” namely, they are working, married, and have working spouses. Unfortunately, men also have a much harder time than women bouncing back from divorce and suffer from depression that is less acknowledged by society and by the men themselves relative to women (and in any event women tend to initiate the great majority of divorces). Suicide is growing especially among white men, having risen by 59 percent from 1999 to 2015.'

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