How many of them are out there? We don't quite know, but here are two figures that pack some wallop. First the social marker: "a third of men ages 22-34 are still living at home with their parents—a hundred percent increase in the past twenty years." Next, a biological marker: these boys have a sperm count half as high as their grandfathers', and their bones are considerably more brittle.
Why are more and more boys unable to get started in life? Sax, a family doctor who holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a compelling speaker on the lecture circuit, gives five reasons for the crisis among them:
Teaching Methods: Girls develop up to two years earlier, but boys are expected to sit still and learn to read and write along with them; their hyperkinetic energy has no outlet in the current classroom structure.
Video Games: Boys formerly played outside, but now they're plugged into their addicting, indoor gaming consoles.
Prescription Drugs: AD/HD medication "may be causing irreversible damage to the motivational centers in boys' brains" and showing up years later, even after they've come off the meds.
Endocrine Disruptors: Environmental estrogens from plastic bottles and food linings may be lowering boys' testosterone levels and disrupting their endocrine systems.
Devaluation of Masculinity: Boys no longer have any real models for what it means to be a man. Jim Anderson, the idealized paterfamilias of the 1950s sitcom Father Knows Best, has been replaced by dopey Homer Simpson.
Sax doesn't just sound the alarm bell; he offers solutions: start boys later at school (Finns start children at 7 rather than 5); create schools that accommodate more rambunctious boys, or even better, teach boys and girls separately; cut back drastically on video games; throw out plastic bottles; and build a new, masculinity-affirming culture.
It's possible we could go on a big, national "detox" program, throwing away our plastic bottles and curbing meds and computer games, but building a new masculine identity may be tougher. In fact, it's such a huge issue that addressing it is almost beyond the scope of any short book.