DECRYPTION – Toxic, violent, barbecue lovers, polluters, it is easier to paint men as culprits than as victims. Yet they too are affected by worrying inequalities.Source: © In the West, these inequalities of which men are victims
DECRYPTION – Toxic, violent, barbecue lovers, polluters, men are more easily painted as culprits than as victims. Yet they too are affected by worrying inequalities.
This question seems absurd today: are men victims of discrimination? In fact, the inequalities affecting women are regularly at the center of the news, while those affecting men pass under the media radar. Toxic, violent, barbecue lovers, polluters, men are more easily painted as culprits than as victims. Admittedly, women remain the main victims of sexist and sexual violence, both outside and within the couple. But, in this first half of the XNUMXst century, it seems that a deep malaise haunts the male condition.
This is the thesis of Richard V. Reeves in a test, Of boys and men (Swift Press, 2022), published last September in the United Kingdom. Anglo-Saxon centrist, senior fellow of the American think-tank La Brookings, former adviser to the British liberal Nick Clegg, first deputy prime minister of David Cameron's government from 2010 to 2015, Reeves is not to be sidelined masculinists. The author questions the structural challenges facing men in a society that is unsuited to them.
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Many studies focus on discrimination in hiring women and pay gaps. Recently, the " Sexism Barometer 2023 ", carried out by the Viavoice Institute for the High Council for Equality between Women and Men, pointed to the injustices that more than a third of women would have suffered in their choice of professional orientation and equal position or skills. . In the United States, the National Partnership for Women and Families explained in 2016 that for every dollar earned by an American, his colleague received only eighty cents. But are we paying enough attention to the inequalities that affect men in the labor market?
While women's employability rates are rising, men's are falling, especially among young people between the ages of 25 and 34, Reeves reports. In 1979, in the United States, 60% of women earned $20 an hour or less, compared to 30-32% of men. In 2019, this gap is narrowing, with 42-43% of women earning $20 an hour or less, compared to 36-37% of men. The real wage difference is now elsewhere: it is no longer sexist, but socio-economic; it widens between the richest and the poorest in society, whether they are women or men. In France, men represent 51,8% of the unemployed. And although the activity rate of women remains lower than that of men, the share of unemployed people, relative to the entire population aged 15 to 64, remains lower for women: 5,4 % in 2020, compared to 6,1% for men.
Although the majority of men hold managerial positions, they also perform all the arduous jobs. They represent 97% of truck drivers, 98,5% of construction workers, and 97% of loaders, 92% of platform deliverers, 87% of crane operators, 98% of deep-sea fishermen, etc. jobs related to security or maintaining order: 84% of municipal police officers, 73% of national police officers, 82% of gendarmes, 97% of CRS, 84,5% of soldiers, 80% of sappers- firefighters.
Girls better educated than boys
Men are even less able to get by as the gap widens from their formative years, at school and then in higher education. Let us first emphasize that these data relate to Western countries, in which access to school is guaranteed for both sexes. Because in the world, millions of girls are still deprived of education. Top of the PISA ranking in 2009 (carried out every three years by the OECD, it makes it possible to measure student achievement and the performance of the education systems of member and non-member countries), Finland has remained in the top 2013 since 10. Its results make people pale envy of its neighbours, starting with France. Nevertheless, on closer inspection, differences in results emerge according to gender: 20% of Finnish women have a higher reading level on the test, compared to only 9% of boys. Among the worst scores, the results are reversed: 20% of boys have the worst results, against 9% of girls. Within OECD countries, boys are 50% more likely to fail in the three key subjects of education, namely mathematics, reading and science.
In the USA, " girls have been the stronger sex for decades writes Reeves. The share of girls being ready to go to school at age 5 is 14 points higher than the share of boys. The chasm widens further between rich and poor, white and black children, and between those who have been to kindergarten and those who have not. This gap continues in higher education as well. Since 1977, there have been more women than men graduates with the equivalent of bac +2. We have to wait until 1981 to see this female advantage appear for bachelors (five years post-baccalaureate) and 1991 for postgraduate degrees. The rate of women who obtained a doctorate in dentistry, medicine, or law jumped from 7% in 1972 to 50% in 2019, specifies the liberal essayist.The dechristianization of our societies would have taken with it the great rites of passage from childhood to adulthood. While menstruation indicates to young girls that they have become women, adolescents no longer know how to situate themselves.
According to Jean-Louis Auduc, specialist in educational sciences and teacher, in France, " school failure has a sex and it is masculine: 46,2% of boys have very poor reading skills, while 66,4% of girls have very good skills. The results of PISA 2012 clearly indicate that in France, the performance gap in reading comprehension between the sexes has widened since the PISA 2000 cycle, going from 29 to 44 points of difference in favor of girls.. Girls, during their schooling, therefore read faster and better than boys, repeat a year much less than boys at all levels of the education system, fail less in obtaining qualifications, have more marks in all exams and diplomas , of the second degree as well as of the superior, specifies the author of The sexual divide (Decitre, 2016) at Figaro. 83% of girls and 73% of boys have the baccalaureate, among them a majority of girls hold a general baccalaureate and the majority of boys a professional baccalaureate. In 2019, in the 24-34 age group, 52% of women in France had long-term studies, compared to 44% of men, reported Emmanuel Todd in an interview with Figaro .
How are these learning difficulties for boys explained? Three hypotheses are in dispute. On the one hand, some specialists believe that expectations of boys are lower than of girls. Little stimulated, they gradually drop out during their school career, analyze researchers Nicole M. Fortin, Philip Oreopoulos and Shelley Phipps in their article "Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement" published in the Journal of Human Resources. Other experts, like Benjamin Zablotsky, who studied the development of American children between 2009 and 2017, worry that there may be a bias among teachers, three-quarters of whom are women, against male students. . A last hypothesis, finally, studied in particular by the American academic, specialized in the psychological development of adolescents, Laurence Steinberg, postulates that the brain of boys would develop more slowly than that of girls, which would be detrimental to their learning. in secondary school. According to her, the teaching would therefore not be adapted to their psycho-cognitive abilities. For Jean Louis Auduc, the explanation lies elsewhere. The dechristianization of our societies would have taken with it the great rites of passage from childhood to adulthood. While menstruation indicates to young girls that they have become women, adolescents no longer know how to situate themselves. They can then adopt disruptive behaviors during their youth, explains the education specialist, which are revealed by dropping out of school, or by risky behaviors, such as excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs.
Useless men in the life of the home
If we can congratulate ourselves on the academic and professional success of women, the feminization of the labor market is partly at the origin of the crisis that the traditional family is undergoing. Indeed, until the 1960s and 70s, mothers were responsible for taking care of their children and the home, while fathers had to provide the household with a living wage. According to Reeves, this clear division of labor on which the traditional family was based - and this, in addition to the defects that this model included - made it “an effective social institution because it made both men and women necessary.»
Today, like the husband, the father is no longer indispensable. According to the OECD, in France, the number of marriages per 1000 people has been almost halved since 1960. At the same time, divorces have become common. Thus, in 1960, there were 10 marriages for a divorce against 1,76 marriages for a divorce, in 2011. The phenomenon is ambiguous for fathers, analysis Laetitia Strauch-Bonart, in a very comprehensive essay Are men obsolete (Fayard, 2018). If they are more and more involved in the education of children, their symbolic role has changed. Evidenced, according to her, the increase in births outside marriage, which have increased by nearly 30% since 1970. " The father may be there in flesh and blood, his estrangement is made possible by a weaker formalization of the bond between the two parents: in fact, free unions are easier to undo than marriages. “says the journalist and essayist.The most economically and socially disadvantaged fathers are those who are most often deprived of custody of their child. 40% left school on leaving high school, and only 7% graduated from higher education.
The most economically and socially disadvantaged fathers are those who are most often deprived of custody of their child. 40% left school on leaving high school, and only 7% graduated from higher education. In 2020, 1 in 5 children (21%) in the United States lived with their mother only, this was half as many in 1968. Within six years of the separation of their parents, one in three children has never seen his father, and in similar proportions saw him only once a month.
The rates are comparable in France. According to INSEE, 76% of children of divorced parents live only with their mother, against 9% with their father and 15% in alternating residence. However, fathers remain a minority to claim custody of their child. According to figures from the Collectif Onze, bringing together forty-eight sociologists, in about two thirds of the cases, the parents jointly request that the residence of the children be fixed with the mother. In a quarter of the files, they ask for an alternating residence. Whether or not the parents agree on the separation procedures, they mostly agree that the place of residence of the children should be fixed with the mother. Moreover, given the same parental occupation, men are less quick to make professional concessions than a woman in order to devote themselves to their offspring. Within families, this disparity remains. Although men are increasingly taking part in the upbringing of childrens, mothers devote between 71% and 81% of their available time to it, and between 53% and 65% for fathers, according to a DARES study dating from 2017.
The transformation of the economic relationship between the two sexes, which took place over a few decades, did not allow men to find their place. More and more alone, they are recovering less and less well from their divorce. They suffer from emotional and relational loneliness: 15% of men say they have no close friends in 2020 – they were 3% in 1990, reports Reeves. In 2017, life expectancy for men in the United States fell by two years for the first time in a Western country since World War II. And this, in particular in the deindustrialized states, among this white and downgraded middle class, which will mainly vote Trump. “Violent deaths” are also responsible for this drop in life expectancy: homicides, suicides, overdoses. Nobel laureate in economics Angus Deaton and economist Anne Case called these cases " dead of despair ". In France, the average difference in life expectancy between women and men is six years. Men commit suicide three times more than women. They are also those who suffer the most from extreme poverty: 80% of homeless people in France are isolated men.
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According to Lætitia Strauch-Bonart: “ There is this vague feeling, among some, of having lost their raison d'être, because the world of today shows them, in a subliminal way, that they no longer bring much to it. ». Awarded at Cannes in 2022 and nominated for the Oscars 2023 in the best foreign film category, the film by Belgian director Lukas Dhont, "Close", evokes this Western crisis of masculinity. The bonds of friendship that unite Léo and Rémi are tested when they enter college. In order not to suffer the suspicion of homosexuality, young boys isolate themselves and embrace masculine stereotypes, until their fraternal intimacy disappears. The evocation of male malaise, still rare in cinema, is very present in literature, from the novels of Michel Houellebecq to those of Patrice Jean. " Nowadays everyone inevitably has, at one time or another in their life, the impression of being a failure. “, writes the author of Extension of the domain of the fight. Perhaps he summed up the feeling that is gradually winning over our fathers, our husbands, our brothers and our sons?