Outlines: Attitudes to masculinity in crisis

Part 1 in the exam question requires you to provide an outline of the various attitudes to masculinity in crisis in the three texts. Text 1 acknowledges the existence of a male/manhood crisis and presents some of its causes, while text 2 denies the crisis of the modern men and text 3 focuses on boys and the way their development as men is affected by the educational system.

In what follows, we will look at each text at a time and outline which types of attitudes to masculinity they convey.

“The Demise of Guys”

Text 1 is an article written by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan and published on Psychology Today website in 2012.

The authors of the article begin by offering a depiction of how a man in crisis looks like, indicating that they have a sympathetic attitude towards the issue of masculinity in crisis and perceive it as a genuine problem: “Everyone knows a young man who is struggling. Maybe he’s undermotivated in school, has emotional disturbances, doesn’t get along with others, has few real friends or no girl friends, or is in a gang.” (ll. 1-5)

Furthermore, by talking of “record numbers” (l. 8) of men who fail academically, socially or in romantic relationships, the authors indicate that they view masculinity in crisis as a big, important problem in society. 

But the authors do not consider masculinity in crisis a problem of men who lack motivation, but a problem of society who fails to motivate men in the right direction.


“The Myth of Male Decline”

Text 2 is an article written by Stephanie Coontz and published in The New York Times in 2012.

In the article, the author deconstructs the idea of masculinity in crisis and argues that most modern men are not undergoing any real crisis or decline.

The author has a very sarcastic attitude with regards to those claiming men are in a crisis or overthrown by the rise of women: “Scroll through the titles and subtitles of recent books, and you will read that women have become “The Richer Sex,” that “The Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys,” and that we may even be seeing “The End of Men.”” (ll. 1-6)

In fact, the writer considers such statements exaggerations and shows by factual examples that men are actually still in a position of power:


“Why schools are failing our boys”

Text 3 is an article by Jennifer Fink, published in The Washington Post in 2015, and it represents the personal opinion of a blogger mom.

The author, who has four boys, argues that young men have a masculinity crisis because the school system is not addressing the issue of boys’ education properly.

Fink argues that schools block boys’ natural inclination for physical exercise, practical learning and their desire to be of help (to be providers – a classical male role): “So while my son still needs movement, still craves real-world learning, physical labor and ways to contribute to his family and his world, he’s expected to spend most of his time in a desk…” (ll. 35-40)


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