Is America Finally Waking Up To Our Boy Crisis?

Two years ago, I wrote the article “America Has a Boy Crisis” for Evie Magazine. At the time, I was beyond frustrated with our collective refusal to acknowledge and address the many issues that our nation’s boys and young men are facing.

By Lisa Britton4 min read
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Shutterstock/Anna Zhuk

The term "boy crisis" comes from Dr. Warren Farrell’s book The Boy Crisis, which extensively describes the perilous decline of young men in today’s society. For years, I was one of many who were advocating for boys and men, getting dragged through the trenches by raging online haters, misinformed people, and, well, even family and friends. During that time, President Biden had unveiled his new White House Gender Policy Council, which, to no one’s surprise, only stood for addressing issues negatively affecting girls and women, while ignoring the many issues negatively affecting boys and men. Those of us bringing attention to the new administration’s error were scoffed at or attacked by armies of trolls. 

After years of passionate advocacy for true equality, harmony, and inclusion, my hope for positive change dwindled. I took some time off social media to find more balance in my own life, and contemplated if, as many had suggested in my tweet replies for years, I was just wasting my precious time. 

I’m delighted to share with you that over the past year, things are looking up! It seems like America is finally waking up to our boy crisis, and the topic is gaining traction at the national level. The reality of our boy crisis has become so apparent that even the biggest naysayer can’t dismiss what’s happening: We’ve put our boys on the back burner for too long, and we’ve ignored their issues to our own detriment. In the battle of the sexes, it appears everyone is losing, and the mainstream is finally beginning to talk about it. 

A Tweet Thread

The first bit of hope came in early 2022. One morning, my phone began buzzing with notification alerts. My first instinct was “uh oh,” but I quickly saw it was my followers tagging me in a tweet from former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Busily shaping his new Forward Party and announcing its direction, Andrew had bravely released a tweet thread taking a stand for America’s boys and men. This was soon followed by an op-ed in the Washington Post. So many influential people from across the political spectrum began sharing both the tweet thread and the article. I could tell their own fear about taking such a controversial stand became alleviated thanks to Andrew’s bravery. Just like that, it became a little less taboo to speak up about how we are failing our boys and young men. 

The mainstream press’s rush to jump on Andrew’s train soon fizzled out, and everyone moved on to the next topic du jour, but we have taken a giant leap forward thanks to Andrew. 

Addressing the Fatherlessness Crisis

Next came advancements to address our boy crisis in several states around the country, specifically in Florida and Washington State. The Sunshine State stepped up to lead the nation with regard to our fatherlessness crisis. In spring 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill providing $70 million for programs aimed at equipping dads with parenting resources. HB 7065 received bipartisan support and passed unanimously in the House and the Senate. Florida Democrats and Republicans both know how important fathers are, and they are putting their money where their mouth is.

What’s happening today in the Evergreen State is also very exciting. The creation of commissions for boys and men at state and federal levels has long been a goal of many fellow advocates, and Washington State is on the cusp of doing just that! A bill, HB 1270, has been filed with bipartisan sponsorship with the hope of establishing such a committee which, should it pass, will address the many issues negatively affecting boys, men and fathers, such as the drug epidemic, which has been hitting males in Washington State especially hard, and suicide, where 77% of the state’s deaths by suicide are male.

Florida is providing $70 million for programs aimed at equipping dads with parenting resources.

If Washington creates a commission like this, they would be the first state in the country to do so. This would set an important precedent, making them a leader for more states to follow. If you have friends or family in Washington State, encourage them to get involved by writing letters and making calls to their representatives to show there is public interest in such a commission. There are similar commissions for girls and women in most states. 39 currently have a statutory body focused on their issues. Is it wrong to suggest we need equality here, when boys and men are struggling so? 

Of Boys and Men

By far, the biggest step forward has been the fall 2022 release of Of Boys and Men by Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. This book lays out the problems (backed by data) that our boys and men are facing today and what we must do about it. The book wasn’t written by “an angry, bitter, misogynistic man in a basement somewhere,” as naysayers often suggest of anyone standing up for these issues (I myself have been accused of being an angry, bitter, misogynistic man in a basement somewhere!), but by Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at arguably the most prestigious, centrist, reputable, and influential think tank in the country.

The mainstream media jumped on the opportunity to discuss his book, with pieces soon appearing in outlets such as The New York Times. Richard was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. The book was named one of The Economist’s best books of 2022. You can hear Mr. Reeves interviewed on tv, the radio, podcasts – everyone wants to talk to him right now! The exposure has been far and wide. 

Friends and family are now excitedly reaching out to me, telling me they heard ‘here!’ and ‘there!’ discussions of Mr. Reeves's book, and wanting to discuss the issues. Yes, the topic is coming out into the light. It feels like a completely different climate than even just a few years ago. 

But this is not the time to sit back! I encourage all parents reading this to pick up a copy of Of Boys and Men. Share it with your children’s educators and your political representatives. Share this viral Big Think YouTube video with Mr. Reeves on social media and with your friends. It’s more important now than ever for advocates and parents to become involved so we can help steer this ship.

Closing Thoughts 

A new day is rising where more and more people are aware that we must do more for our boys and men, that we must have compassion for our boys and men, and I am all for it! As Richard Reeves states, “We can hold two thoughts in our head at once. We can be passionate about women’s rights and compassionate toward vulnerable boys and men…It is not a zero-sum game.” Addressing the issues affecting boys and men is not a “one side” issue, it is a human issue. 

These are the positive strides forward at a time when we don’t often hear encouraging news. Remember, if we allow our boys to fail, we will all fail. If we only root for one sex to win, both sexes will lose. The future is everyone!

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