Ever since the Industrial Revolution, when boys no longer stood next to their fathers working in the fields, boys have had more and more trouble learning what it is to be a man. Without the rites of initiation of primitive cultures, we fail as a society to provide the structure and challenge boys need in order to become a complete man.
The end of traditional gender based structure caused by the rise of feminism in the 60’s combined with wage stagnation since 1979 have only increased the confusion, frustration and loss of purpose experience by young men. (NOTE: The point here is to find a new paradigm for becoming a man, not returning women to subservient roles as housewives or secretaries. Just in case anyone is firing off an angry feminist response.)
In the 90’s, Robert Bly, leading the mythopoetic men’s movement, attempted to address men’s issues. Obviously, they only had limited success in turning past generations of boys to men, because the problems have only grown worse, as digital entertainment, virtual relationships, and remote work have made it even easier for young men to retreat into their parents’ basement and avoid the world.
I certainly suffered from the lack of a modern form of initiation — it’s a lot easier to go through positive disintegration as a teenager too dumb to know fear than being a 34 year old father of two seeing every element of his life on the verge of collapse. And even though I got through it, I struggled with these issues, trying to help my sons on their journey.
Thanks for reintroducing these issues to this generation.