Andrew Yang Is Wrong About Boys and Men

Check your math, Andrew. Men feel wounded because they’re not prepared to navigate a culture that’s actively shedding its old sexist inclinations.

Jordan Shapiro

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Andrew Yang speaking in Newton, Iowa. Photo by Gage Skidmore

Andrew Yang is the latest high-profile addition to a long list of folks who think that it’s an especially hard time to be a man. In a recent opinion piece for the Washington Post, he cites familiar statistics. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and they’re dwindling as a percentage of college students. Men face declining wages and unemployment. Likewise, the suicide, overdose, and alcoholism rates are highest among middle-aged white men. Certainly, these trends should concern us, but Yang writes as if the problem were social progress. His solution is a move backward toward old sexist and homophobic attitudes.

“Helping boys and men succeed should be a priority for all our society’s institutions,” Yang says. But it’s hard to take him seriously when he also derides the serious efforts that have already been undertaken. When the American Psychological Association (APA) published its Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men in 2018 and thereby cemented the term “toxic masculinity” into our popular discourse, they weren’t trying to devalue masculinity. Instead, they wanted to address exactly the issues Yang claims to be worried about — plus, a few more: cardiovascular problems, violence, incarceration, and early mortality.

“Helping boys and men succeed should be a priority for all our society’s institutions,” Yang says. But it’s hard to take him seriously when he also derides the serious efforts that have already been undertaken.

Yang seems to misunderstand the term “toxic masculinity.” He thinks it’s meant to denote that there’s a problem with men and boys themselves. It’s probably because, like most American men, he has been socialized to experience anything short of praise as a threat to his manhood. Therefore, he responds like an entitled teenage boy who needs constructive criticism to be sandwiched between ego-boosting compliments. Yang pleads for less condemnation of problems…

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Jordan Shapiro

Author of Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad (www.FeministDadBook.com) Twitter: @jordosh