Everyone knows by now that men and boys are in decline. Count it as a dubious achievement. Those who have been conducting a war on men might not have wished it, but it is the outcome of their efforts. Since they broke it, they own it.
Such is the case in the West, especially in America. Some will naturally blame it on technology. At first, that appears to be the conclusion famed psychologist Philip Zimbardo draws in his new book, co-authored by Nikita Coulombe: Man (Dis)connected: How technology has sabotaged what it means to be male.
And yet, video games and online porn are instruments not causes. Between them, Zimbardo notes, they have debilitated young males. Lured and seduced by games and porn boys do not develop the skills required, for example, to have an actual relationship with an actual woman. If stimulation is all that is required, images on a computer screen are always ready, always excited and far easier to deal with. Images will not accuse you of rape, abuse or sexism.
The Daily Telegraph discusses the research:
Zimbardo refers to research by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam which demonstrated that men usually have what they term “single-cue arousability”. Give a man the image of a pair of attractive breasts or a curvy backside and they are half-way to happiness, where women need multiple cues: they are aroused by men who are “attractive and nice to children and self-confident [his italics]”.
And then, what about pheromones? In other words, what happens when men whose arousal mechanism is geared only to images and sounds are exposed to female pheromones?
We are not talking about young adult males here. The Daily Telegraph reports that the 35th most visited website for children aged 6 to 13 in the United Kingdom was… PornHub.
But, the games and the porn are signs of a deeper problem, one that comes from the culture. Boys who do not have access to a culture of manliness in the real world find one in the virtual worlds of video games and porn.
As you read down the Daily Telegraph article on Zimbardo’s research you find the true cause:
… to understand our increased use of technology, Zimbardo argues, we have to take into account other trends that are radically altering male identity, such as absent fathers, unemployment, lack of exercise and lack of positive male role models.
A few decades ago, boys had not only dads but also uncles, grandfathers, older cousins, male family friends and next-door neighbours who provided an extended, tribal family system that was often an informal source of social support. These days he’s more likely to turn to the mass media, where he learns to associate success and popularity with vacuous presenters, aggressive car-drivers, angry chefs and millionaire footballers with low IQ
Even the men the culture proposes as role models for manly behavior seem more to be cartoonish figures, caricatures… not the real thing.
No one should have any doubts about the cause. It was produced by contemporary feminism. Feminists are winning the war on men; their sons and husbands are paying the price. One understands that this was not the feminist goal, but that does not really matter. The goal was an illusion, a fantasy designed to sell a bad idea. Here, as is always the case with policy, the truth lies in the outcome.
Feminists have declared war on martial cultures, and especially the military. They have constantly denigrated the values associated with fatherhood or manliness, to the point where they have promoted the notion that all men are incipient rapists and child molesters. They have undermined the role of the male breadwinner, have turned the school system into a place that is unfriendly to boys, and have replaced the work ethic with amoral decadence.
Together, these fronts in the culture war have decimated the male psyche, turning it into a caricature of itself:
Zimbardo also points to profound and sweeping changes in Western society. There has, he believes, been an erosion of the Protestant work ethic, and with it the old ideals of responsibility and self-respect. The concept of the male breadwinner has gone – sometimes heralded as a triumph of feminism – but it has not, from men’s point of view, been replaced by anything equally motivating and centring.
The Telegraph concludes:
It’s when you combine absent fathers, staying at home into early adulthood, video gaming, overreliance on internet porn, obesity (with its associated decline in testosterone and increase in oestrogen) and lack of physical activity, educational failure, joblessness and lack of opportunities for interaction – plus a women’s movement that continues to empower that gender and thrust positive female role models into economic and political arenas – that you have the makings of a screwed-up masculinity with all the wider social consequences that implies.
Computers give children enhanced hand-coordination. They allow boys to control sexual stimulants and female willingness with the click of a mouse. On the other hand, if a boy is shy and reserved computers do not offer him lessons in how to develop social skills. The allow him to believe that he does not need to have them:
A shy boy or man might prefer to be online than out and about. At school or in the street, he is weak, weedy, or just ordinary. In his computer he can kill machine-gun-wielding soldiers and have sex with tall, perfect-looking women.
The more he finds gratification online the less the boy will be likely to interact with other people and develop his social skills:
Shyness leads to staying in more, and that in turn leads to the stunted development of social skills, which leads to more debilitating shyness.
There’s more to it than shyness.
The Telegraph continues:
The consequences of the new dependence on technology are myriad. As well as shyness and social isolation, Zimbardo illustrates the risk of memory slippages as we rely on the net for information and calendars and other prompts; a loss of capacity for sustained attention; a decreased ability to enjoy long-form reading; and even behavioural changes such as the loss of facial expressions (why use them if no one sees them?).
Apparently, Zimbardo does not address the question of whether or not children and others are addicted to their technological gadgets. Surely, it seems correct to say that more time online means less time with human beings. This produces changes in behavior. Among them the loss of facial expressions must count among the most intriguing. And other forms of mental capacity seem also to diminish.
If you do not use the different mental capacities that are required for face-to-face conversation with other human being, you lose them.
Perhaps Zimbardo mentions this in his book—I have not yet read it—but we should also emphasize that when boys do not have positive role models of traditional masculine behavior they also tend to idolize negative role models by joining gangs and engaging in criminal enterprise.