A “Quiet catastrophe” is what Nicholas Eberstadt in “Men Without Work” calls the deterioration of work rates for American men. “Almost one out of four men of prime working age (25-54) are not working. Since 1948, the percentage of men aged 20 to 64 who aren’t working has doubled. Fewer working-age men are working today than in 1930, in the heart of the Great Depression.” Most of this decline has taken place since 1965. Between 1965 and 2015, the share of working-men who are jobless more than doubled, from 10 percent to 22 percent. This decline of men in the work force has gone unnoticed because men, “are invisible in public discourse in part because we have defined our social goal as getting more women to work.” Yet between 1948 and 2015, the proportion of women between 25 to 64 in the workforce doubled for 34 percent to 70 percent, while men continued to retreat from the work place..
Even more significant is the fact that, “ever-greater numbers of working-age men simply have dropped out – some for a while and some forever – from the competition for jobs. These men have established a new and alternative lifestyle to the age-old male quest for a paying job.” Their choice is largely voluntary. The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. Even more disturbing they seem to be happy with their choices. “Happiness surveys actually indicate that they are quite content compared to their peers.” Not working does not seem to be a negative factor in their lives.
Derek Thompson has written, “The economy is not simply leaving men behind. It is leaving manliness behind. Machines are replacing the brawn that powered the 20th century economy, clearing way for work that requires a softer human touch.” The future of work in America will be more biased against the traditional idea of manliness. Herein lies the problem. “The connections between work, marriage, fatherhood, and manhood,” observed Maggie Gallagher, “unleased enormous social energy.” Being a husband and a father has traditionally reinforced masculine identity. A good husband and father worked. In this way masculinity was achieved and not given. There was less thought given to dependence on government or charity. This is now being called into question in our day.
Today masculinity is seen as an liability unless it conforms to the idea that gender doesn’t matter. But redefining of masculinity has not produced a generation of men who thrive in a genderless culture. Rather many adult men are retreating to the world of video games where their aggressive impulses can be expressed and not questioned. In this world there is neither risk nor reward.. It is the fury of “GamerGate.” Here men can enter a fantasy world of rage free from the threat of feminism.
Men today are suffering from “genderphobia,” which sees the basic realities of gender and gender difference as a crime against women. Work is being redefined as genderless, assuming that much of male work is the source of unfair privilege. Yet all though human history men have been the primary providers for their families. The New Testament reminds men of this reality. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Tim. 5:8). Paul warns of being idle in II Thess. 3:11-13, “We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy, they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat…never tire of doing what is right.”