A report from the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada speculates on why boys and men in the modern world are lagging behind girls. Using a thesis put forth by scholars such as George Gilder, Margaret Mead, David Popenoe, and David Blankenhorn, the report, “The Status of Men” written by Andrea Mrozek, manager of research and communication at the IMFC, considers “men and boys as the forgotten casualty in gender warfare” and concludes that marriage helps men to flourish.
Gilder, in his seminal Men and Marriage, states that “the crucial process of civilization is the subordination of male sexual impulses and male biology to the long term horizons of female sexuality.” He argues that females are the basis of civilization and that they are the ones responsible for the future that men usually try to escape from. “Once the man marries he can change,” writes Gilder. “He has to change, for his wife will not long have him if he remains in spirit a single man. He must settle his life, and commit it to the needs of raising a family…He must submit…to the values of maternal morality and futurity.” Gilder also argues that women are more confident in their identity than men because of their physical processes. Thus, men, to a large extent, must learn masculine identity.
According to Popenoe, marriage served as “an attempt to tie the man to the mother-child bond.” Gilder argues that marriage was especially civilizing when sex was only permitted in marriage. This encouraged men to become economically productive and establish a household, as was the case in industrial England, when marriage and procreation was often dependent on male economic success.
But modern society has turned its back on this formula for taming men. “Sexual freedom, abortion and the birth control pill have all contributed to a climate in which women are lowered to the short-term sex drives of men,” writes Mrozek. She cites evidence that, as a result of modern feminism and lack of restraint, teenage girls and young women are being harmed by the licentiousness of modern society.
The report finds that married men work harder and boys are better off in the presence of a father. For example, Brian Murray, general manager of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, when asked about the impact of marriage and family on hockey players, replied, “You’re more committed. You have something to go home to … I think these guys start to realize that there are other people depending on what they do with their lives.” And according to the report, Nobel laureate economist George Akerlof found married fathers are “more attached to the labour forces, on average earn higher wages each year they are married, have less substance abuse, commit less crime, are less likely to be the victims of crime, have better physical and psychological health, live longer, and are less likely to be victims of a serious accident.”
The IMFC report says numerous studies show that children with married fathers are less likely to experience poor physical health, depression, poor school performance, and school dropout. Meanwhile, boys with male role models benefit from having their masculinity affirmed. They learn how to use it in positive ways and are more likely to include women in public activities, says Mrozek.
The report concludes that “where feminists believe the institution of marriage oppresses women, a more rational disposition sees marriage as an inclusive force that brings men into closer contact with women and children such that all participants can thrive…Most people desire lifelong marriage, not a series of short-term, fanciful and inevitably superficial pseudo-commitments.” Marriage ties men to the family, which in turn benefits the entire family unit, and by extension, the whole of society.
The report then provides recommendations for communities and individual families. It encourages individuals to “place a higher value on marriage,” “discourage divorce in all but the most severe cases,” “stress cooperation in male/female relationships,” and to “remember the definition of marriage.”