Part of the problem is we’ve been encouraging girls at the expense of boys. The language of empowerment we use around girls is absent from how we talk to boys. The expectation that males will succeed just because they are male has been smashed, just like feminists wanted, but now what? To shrug our shoulders and not care what happens to a generation of young men is to produce a generation of Michael Rotondos, adrift and living at home as they enter their 30s.
It doesn’t help that this demographic is also finding it so hard to get, and stay, employed. An Economic Policy Institute report from February found that men are absent from the workforce in large numbers. This is a big change from the past. The report noted that “in 1979, only 6.3 percent of prime-age men did not work at all over the course of a year, but that number nearly doubled to 11.9 percent in 2016.” The telling thing is that there isn’t widespread concern about this; instead there is a celebration that women are outpacing men at school and at work.