Why do so many men feel left out of modern American life? That is the question Andrew Yarrow seeks to answer in his new book, “Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life.”
In the book, Mr. Yarrow, who is a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and former New York Times reporter, Labor Department speechwriter, and United States history professor at American University, explores the complicated interplay between economics and culture that has contributed to a crisis among American men. While rejecting the black-and-white notion that these men are either victims or culprits, he draws on empirical data and anecdotal interviews in communities across the country to unearth the reasons why so many men are disconnected from family, work, and civic and community life.
In one chapter, Mr. Yarrow interviews Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph Cordell about how the family court system has failed to catch up to modern views of masculinity and how fathers should contribute to the family. The result is that many dads are being relegated to a secondary parent role.
“We regard it as a basic truth that the father-child relationship is as important as the mother-child relationship and that gender-based discrimination in family court is unconscionable,” Mr. Cordell said. “You’re up against the stereotype that women are the primary caregivers and men are the primary breadwinners. Today those stereotypes have more exceptions than they did twenty years ago.”
Mr. Cordell goes on to frame the issue as a matter of civil rights that is largely ignored.
“This is a civil rights issue,” he said. “What civil right is more important than the role that a parent plays in a child’s life? But this civil right is in the dark corner of the room. It’s an orphan. Most people are not particularly disturbed by it. There are no powerful voices.”
Mr. Yarrow explains how politics tend to color perceptions of this issue. Progressives tend to focus on how the modern American economy has resulted in stagnant wages for many men and how formerly incarcerated men are left with few job prospects. Conservatives, on the other hand, see a culture that is more tolerant of laziness, loss of work ethic, and skirting parental responsibilities.
“Labels like ‘progressive’ or ‘conservative’ don’t really characterize this debate,” Mr. Yarrow said in a press release. “Both sets of factors are at play and they interact – if not cause – each other.”
While exploring the root causes of these complex issues, Mr. Yarrow also outlines a path forward. He suggests changes at the national and local levels that could impact education, job opportunities, criminal justice, and public health and cultural improvements that would focus on values like responsibility and hard work, and attacks the misogyny and toxic masculinity fueling the “angry white man.”
The book will be released on September 11. Click here to pre-order.