Photo: Kelly Sikkema

From early years right through to university  boys are underachieving in education compared to girls. While they started trailing girls as early as the 1980s, the scale of the problem and its implications have been getting progressively worse. There used to be sources of skilled and unskilled employment for less educated men to turn to, but these are less likely to be available. Even when it comes to apprenticeships, young women are outstripping men.

Education is almost the only route to all socially valued resources – employment, health, housing and a family life, so the implications of educational disadvantage are extremely serious for young men. Unfortunately, we live in a society where men are regarded second class citizens so their well-being is in itself never going to be regarded as a serious cause for concern.

However, the docile masses do nonetheless profess to be interested in ‘social’ inequality. If we want to address this, male disadvantage has to take centre stage.

The high demand for soft, people-oriented skills, such as caring and the service industry,  plus flexible employment, combined with our various safety nets means that women have many routes to financial independence. Given the choice of pairing up with an under-employed male, mothers prefer to go it alone. Disadvantaged males may be less likely to marry, but they may be more likely to have children, children who they don’t support.

Single parenthood is the main source of poverty in contemporary society and it is directly related to our complete lack of interest in the well-being of men.

While it is common knowledge that single parenthood breeds educational disadvantage – what is less recognised is that it has a far more adverse impact on young men.

Academics are trying to unpick the channels through which this occurs. There is evidence to suggest that relations between single mothers and their daughters are slightly warmer than their relatationships with their sons. However, the seriousness of this initial small inequality is greatly magnified because, it seems, boys are far more responsive to both positive and negative inputs than girls.

So much for the easily ‘triggered’ female who needs to be wrapped in feminist cotton wool for protection. It is the male of the species who is more affected by the way that parents and teachers treat them. My hunch that males are more sensitive seems to be correct.

As a result, the non-cognitive deficits of poor parenting – externalising behaviour, acting out, lack of impulse control, are far greater among boys and this has been shown to have a negative educational impact later on.

However, the part of the story which still requires development is the direct hit that boys take because of the absence of the same sex parent.

While girls from single parent households know they will grow into creatures who can run a household, nurture a family, and actually give birth, boys have no such reassurance. This is where the provider role comes into its own. For highly educated men, work is a source of status and self-fulfilment. They also play a major role providing for their families but this usually remains utterly unacknowledged both within their families and in society at large. It also takes back stage as a source of  meaning to their work.

For less educated men, whose employment is unlikely to provide intrinsic satisfaction, it is  being able to provide and care for one’s family which gives the incentive and motivation to work.

Prior to the onset of feminism, just as females had some primary responsibility for care towards their offspring – so providing for their young was an essential step for the social integration of young men.

Evidence suggests that the provider role, far from discouraging family involvement is the catalyst for nurturing behaviour by men. Those who are denied this responsibility for family life are far more likely to ‘check out’.

These are the males who feel ‘disposable’. Who see no reason to go to the doctor, address their source of depression. Nor do they see why they shouldn’t pursue a life of crime.

The other major symptom of the disposable male is underachievement in school. Research I conducted with Geoff Dench suggests those boys who believe that men have a central role as providers in families are more likely to show an interest in school.

If we want to tackle poverty and single parenthood we need to address boys’ non-cognitive deficits, their educational underachievement, as well as give specific attention to the employment opportunities of males. However, all this will only be effective if we acknowledge, recognise and reinvigorate the crucial provider role of men.

Belinda Brown will be speaking at the Male Psychology Conference, UCL, 24-25 June.


  1. Your quote about single parenthood being the main source of poverty is true. Yet in some sort of bizarre Orwellian way it cannot be discussed in the mainstream.
    In a recent episode of the Sunday morning ‘big question’ the underperformance of young men was the primary subject. The words ‘single parent’ were never uttered. That said it was basically Martin Daubney against a highly biased audience.

      • Indeed it was. There is some strange world where the toil and toilers that keep it going are invisible. And those that benefit from that toil connive in ignoring this to concentrate on their “issues”. Our lack of attention to the toilers has been alleviated by all those migrants who do the invisible work. But its a stop gap. Eventually all the borrowing to fund a service/consumer economy will unravel. In the process generations will have blighted lives in broken Britain.

  2. “If we want to tackle poverty and single parenthood…”

    Isn’t that the problem though, Belinda? All evidence suggests that we as a society don’t want to address theses issues. In fact, we actively encourage them.

    From the destruction of the nuclear family to the encouragement of teenage pregnancy via welfare benefits to the adoption of mass immigration to drive down wages, all government policies of the last twenty-odd years have been specifically targetted at increasing poverty and single parenthood.

    This is not accidental. It is the result of the disproportionate infuence of feminism (masquerading as equality) in government and institutions.

    May I respectfully suggest that the solution to these problems lies not in highlighting shortcomings in policies that are pretending to be well-intentioned but mistaken, but instead calling out feminism as the evil that it is and examining how it achieved such power without any democratic mandate.

    I know that TCW is no friend to feminism, but it still seems to labour under the assumption that feminism itself is based on good intentions. It isn’t and the results of feminist policies show precisely this.

    • As you know I do think feminism is evil and doesn’t have a democratic mandate – but I do think that some feminism has to some degree been based on good intentions. I am a believer in “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and think it is more important to look at what we do and achieve that what our intentions are – I just wish feminists would look at that too. There are lots of questions about the politics of bringing about change and precisely how this is done which your comment taps into.

      • Unfortunately, that approach leads to leaders like Tony Blair. He excuses everything he did with his innocent-faced “I believed it was the right thing to do at the time”.

        However, if you look at things he did – e.g. lying to parliament in order to go to war – they are clearly very bad things, done with very bad intent.

        This is imporant, Belinda, because believing that something was done with good intent leaves you looking just at the results (as you say), which means that we will never be able to overcome the problem.

        We will forever be chasing the symptoms, not the disease.

  3. I think you’re very right about boys (and men) actually being more sensitive than girls (and women). Because women are more emotionally sensitive than men, and react to lesser slights, we imagine that men are unaffected. Whereas the converse is more likely to be correct – because women move hither and thither in the emotional flow their base equilibrium is less affected. Men have less of the emotional give and take, and are less used to the way emotion affects them. Thus something that a woman would shrug off in a few days or weeks may scar a man for years or even life. Its the ‘Willow tree vs the oak tree in storm’ idea – the willow tree moves at the slightest breeze, and is unaffected by a storm, the oak tree is firm against almost all gales, but when the storm is too strong the consequences are massive – loss of a limb or the whole tree.

    Thus it is with men – they withstand the day to day emotional turmoil that affects women openly, but will be cut to the core by severe emotional stress, and may never fully recover.

    Edit: there’s a reason that love songs are written by men!

      • I think boys are often more sensitive souls than girls but even when small they are told to man up. This continues with girls and women allowed to let it all out, plus they are often more sociable animals and spend time with friends talking about feelings as opposed to playing football or whatever.

        • Man up is now a big part of the problem as it’s tossed around like toffee and often used to manipulate blokes/boys into rising to the demands to the person (usually female) who said it.

          • You may well be right. I should have added to my earlier post that bottling things up is not good but sadly something males often do, partly I am sure because it is not seen as manly to admit to feelings.

          • I didn’t bottle it up. I asked for help. And the female nurses and the teachers treated me with contempt

        • I think they are told to man up because it is harder work for mothers dealing with their sensitive souls.

        • And it’s “women suffer”, “women bleed”, “we want an equal wage”
          But it’s “Be a man” and “grow a pair” when a fire begins to rage

          A fire begins to rage, girls, a fire begins to rage
          When it’s “Be a man” and “grow a pair”, a fire begins to rage

    • Maybe women cope better with stress because their feelings are indulged and accommodated, whilst men’s are ignored?

      Maybe people are willing to acknowledge that women’s sadness is valid whilst they sneer at men’s sadness?

      Maybe society supports women in distress whilst openly laughing at men in distress (vide Jess Phillips laughing at male suicide rates), and that is what helps women to recover faster?

      • Yes and no – women’s feelings are indulged more than mens for sure, but men rarely let on about their emotional vulnerability, and women constantly do, so the comparison isn’t that equal. A squeaky wheel gets the most oil and all that.

        But equally I think men learn very early (often as boys) that emotional vulnerability is not to be shown, that its a weakness. And to be honest it is in evolutionary terms. Being able to blot out emotions and concentrate on the practical matters of life are strengths when food has to be put on the table, wild beasts conquered, enemies defeated, or one dies.

        That is not to say that men don’t feel emotional hurt or that it doesn’t affect them, it does, often deeply and as I said, they may never fully recover from it. They just know they there are more important things in life than emotions, and they get on with them.

  4. It’s not only working class men – the benefits ‘system’ is designed to preferentially enable mothers to set up home and raise kids without their father. Our law / courts / child welfare system are designed to ensure the father is kept a bay and without influence on their children if this is the wish of the mother. Fathers can and do waste a great deal of time, effort, money wading through the mire, battling through escalating levels of courts, only to find that if/when they eventually are granted an access order, they still get denied access. No effective or punitive sanctions are suffered by the mother, except in extremely rare cases. This in England. However there are child-oriented regimes in place across the world, spanning Sweden, California, Australia, where the role a father plays in child development is valued. Such countries have enshrined child protection together with fathers’ protection into law as enforceable presumptive rights except in exceptionable circumstances where it can be proven beyond doubt that there is a (real) threat of (actual) harm to children resulting.

  5. I’m very pessimistic about the injustices in the comparative welfare of the sexes being corrected. Feminist values have become institutionalised in Western societies. And it will be very difficult to modify let alone reverse the social trends which have produced huge numbers of “superfluous” men, and will result in a lonely old age for countless women.

  6. A checklist of my local primary schools shows that two out of three of them with 28 out of the 29 teachers as female.
    Then there is the fact that the educational system is now run by women, with tests designed so girls can be top. We have a system in which boys being boys, is called ADHD or learning difficulties and heavy tranquillisers are administered to keep the boys sedate as the girls.
    We have Marxist-Feminist that seeks greater disadvantage for men, so any attempts to address this are laughed off and ridiculed.
    Then we ask why boys with a consistent and constant father figure are such failures- in school and in life. With no father to conteract the discrimination against boys and lack of positive male models, most of these boys have no chance.

  7. Several commentators here have remarked that male IQ generally differs to female, in that there are more men reaching the top of the scale (which measures a particular way of thinking), and more mean reaching the bottom for IQ. Add in globalisation and the EEC, the loss of hard industry abroad and all the low skilled jobs that went with it. Those men suffering most from loss of self esteem and depression, are the men trying to follow their fathers footsteps. Those left in sole charge of the family , with no support or back up, are first at risk when there are dire financial problems or loss of employment. First at risk when it comes to stress and disease..

    • Had women been losing their jobs en masse as men did with Mrs Thatcher’s demolition of industry a lot more fuss would have been made of it and more done about it. As it was Thatcher knew women’s employment would go up keeping feminists and the economy happy in one go. There is evidence that men who have more traditional are more affected by unemployment and certainly carrying the whole family is probably very stressful – but I suspect in the majority of working class families women have always contributed financially. I think the main point still stands – we need to pay a lot more attention to the education and employment of men. One programme in the states where they focussed on male employment – those who had been through it greatly increased their employment and rates of marriage and being with their children.

      • I made something like a similar comment above. As you say in the working classes it was indeed the norm for both partners to work for money. One must remember that for both men and women work for money could involve “taking in” work or piece work. The uncertainties now described “zero hours” or “homeworking” are not new. As recently as 2008 a local council ended the practice of day labourers waiting at the depot gates to see if there was a days work. It was and is a Labour Council.
        With such uncertainty of course families needed all of working age to “put in”.
        The growth in female paid work is surprisingly small. What is notable is the growth of full time work and a huge expansion into the professions. Of course the “stalled” social mobility is simply a reflection of middle class women entering the professions in large numbers.

        • I would agree with all of that except that the growth of female paid work is surprisingly small. I agree women have always worked but a look at stats suggest really big increases in female employment (and reductions in male). I think it is to do with women working from when their kids are very much younger and women working till they are a lot older so although in the past women worked there are now more women in work at any one time.

          • Which is why I laugh when people complain about immigrants taking all the jobs. It’s forbidden to acknowledge that it was women who actually took the jobs because that’s female ’empowerment’ ; and when can that ever be wrong eh (rhetorical). One genders gain is another genders loss – this is not a zero sum game. Consequences people.

          • I should have been clearer. The proportion of economically active females hasn’t changed that much (apart from during the post wartime austerity boom) . Prior to welfare and high male wages in that boom women were working. However this was of course a different pattern of work frequently part time near or in the home. Dr. Hakim has done some interesting work on this. I think we forget how very small the “middle class” was numerically prior to the prolonged boom of the latter half of the last century. One can see this in the EU. The more rural and producer economies are in some senses much more “equal” that the more developed simply to make ends meet. The particular formulation that feminists are so fond of, the “bored housewife”, could not exist without considerable prosperity! Now of course it is difficult to count things in the past as they had other concerns however Economist’s time use data sets pick up this clearly in developing nations. Of course this is why such overtly “patriarchal” societies have so many female entrepreneurs etc. putting the likes of Sweden to shame. As you say there have been reductions in male economic activity and weak wage growth. Both of which are concerning even on the level of economics as they reflect the lack of progress in growing the productive parts of our economy. The growth in services has been funded for well over a decade by borrowing, private and public. Even on a point of economics it makes sense to do more to harness under employed males.
            Finally may I say how important it is that female voices like yours are raised. For all the reasons rehearsed in articles and comments, effectively males are peripheral to the actual debate. This may be wrong but it is so. For good or ill the battle is female led.

  8. Lets rephrase all this drivel and make it clearer.

    The slaves are not slaving for my Vagina, and that is a bad thing, so we will lie about the slaves and try and get them back on the plantation to slave away for my vagina.

    What the slaves don’t want to………I have nothing to offer……..Vagina…vagina……No…..What…..something must be done!

  9. When driver-less cars are rolled out, if they work, automation will put many out of work, prompting the prospect of a job-less economy. More power to statism.

    • Exactly more power to the state being the father to more children by paying more to mother’s than your average yearly salary of a man.
      If things go on this way much longer we could appoint a legal state guardian in charge of all kids, like Scotland has. I mean we might as well go the whole way and not do things in half measures (sarcastic)

  10. There is something inherently damaging to ignore the most energetic restless and competitive members of society. From anthropology and history we know societies have taken particular pains to mould their young men to useful purposes. It was women’s lot that their destiny was set and men’s was more plastic (though usually closely controlled). Longer lives and reliable birth control “liberated” women. In deliberate vandalism (to achieve a mythical classless sexless society) an existing “mission” for men has been trashed, yet with nothing coherent to replace it. The result is “broken Britain” something that in truth that most acutely affects the poorer sections of society. Of course the irony is that as I grew up in a working class suburb, and was indeed constantly reminded at school as elsewhere that one day I would support a family financially and emotionally (it seems these days we forget courage, persistence , competitiveness, stoicism are emotions too) : it was in the context that almost no family could afford wives not to work. I was genuinely surprised and perplexed when I reached University and dabbled in social studies, to find so widely assumed a pattern of women not working Even on this basis the feminist havoc has broken most precisely the classes of society least like the “patriarchy”.

  11. This – men just need to be better providers ‘solution’ – is toxic. The legal and cultural zeitgeist for men taking on this provider ole is extremely dangerous. They will live under the gun of the woman who can pull the divorce/child support/alimony trigger at any time; and she knows it.

    The author basically states that men that are not providers for women have no legitimate role in life. This is what needs to be changed.

    • They won’t if men have completely equal rights in relation to children which is something I also believe in. It is utter nonsense to say that i think that if men aren’t providers for women they have no legitimate role in life – I wouldn’t think that anymore than I would think women who didn’t have children had no legitimate role in life. In fact I find the whole insistence on having children really silly. What I do think is that for those men who do want to have children it would be much better to have those children in the context of marriage and if they are unemployed that is a lot less likely to happen. I think the stay at home dad thing might work in certain contexts (middle class) . The fact is when you have male unemployment you have loads of single parenthood and the relationship is very direct.

      • Hi Belinda – thanks for your reply. You state: “Given the choice of pairing up with an under-employed male, mothers prefer to go it alone”.

        The stay at home dad is not an option to men without the approval of a woman -which we both agree would be very rare. ‘Family and friends’ is the meaning of life and men ought to be allowed access without the approval of a woman – which we agree would be rare – unless he is a provider – thus removed from friends and family in order to provide.

        The problem is that although you say “They won’t if men have completely equal rights in relation to children… ” you advocate that they do become providers whilst they do not have these rights – thus encouraging them to put their head in the lion’s mouth before the system is reformed.

        Wouldn’t it be better to reform the system first rather than encouraging men to enter a system designed to screw them over? It does seem that your first concern is not for men and boys – but for disposable providers for women. I’m sorry if I have misunderstood.

        • I believe that we should be fighting for men’s access to employment and education. It is hard to get women to pay any attention to what happens to men unless it affects women themselves. The issue I am talking about only affects ‘working’ class women – but they are still women so maybe it is a way in to getting the powers that be to take notice. Perhaps that is compromising too much (I should just argue for equal education for men for its own sake) but I do also actually care about what happens to working class families. I lived on a council estate for 17 years and just saw this all the time. As for orders of argument I do personally believe that men should have equal rights in relation to children and argue for both things at the same time.

          • As you say – “It is hard to get women to pay any attention to what happens to men unless it affects women themselves.”

            It’s not just women – it’s many men too. This IS the problem – the huge ’empathy gap’ between men and women.This the first and final problem – most if not all of the real solutions to societies problems would fall into place easily if we could come to grips with this awful truth.

            Feminism is a fraud – it’s not women who are second class citizens – it’s men. This empathy gap is, I believe, not just instinctual but culturally encouraged. Just because it’s instinctual doesn’t mean it’s right.

            It could be said that racism is also instinctual so as to preserve tribes in hominid times. We all can now agree that baseless racism has no place in modern societies but we can’t yet conceive not to revert back to our primitive brain’s prejudice against males.

            IMO, until we do so, we are an uncivilized bunch of cavemen and cavewomen just pretending we are intelligent and compassionate human beings with any answers to our problems.

          • Kind of misses the cause of working class men no longer being needed.
            The welfare state.
            Your average man needs to earn alteast £10,000 more than the average yearly wage of £25,000 to be of greater benefit to your average and below average women on benefits, single and with kids.

            If the state stops playing a distant father to the majority of kids I am sure these single women will magically find the need to be more virtuous and have kids with one man, and keep that one man constantly in the kids lives.

          • I do so agree with the education(and the rights and responsibilities as men should have both). Just breezing through the “Social Mobility” latest publication. One success has been the big effort to address “black boys” in London education. The results beteween London broughs and other areas with no such policy push are stark compared to a decade ago. I take this as an indication that such effort and resources would not be wasted on black or white WK boys.

          • Belinda Brown wrote:

            I believe that we should be fighting for men’s access to employment and education.

            There is no need to ‘fight’ for such things, it is necessary only to eliminate the institutional discrimination against men and boys that has been deliberately created by a gynocentric establishment for the problems to solve themselves. We should work for the repeal of equality, diversity, anti-discrimination and ‘hate crime’ legislation; we emphatically do not need more initiatives and more legislation to return to sanity.

            We must also dismantle the socially and economically destructive welfare state.

          • I would sign up to all of that except for dismantling the welfare state which I have very mixed feelings about (I used to be a carer and now I have care supplied by the NHS and now I can’t imagine managing without it).

          • I sympathise with you. I too am a carer, for my 90 year old father who suffers from dementia. He lives in the south, while I and my wife live in the north, which means that I must travel, something we cannot afford and for which we are entitled to precisely nothing by way of help, not a single penny in benefits, even carer’s benefit.

            Happily, in this context only, I’m unable to work so I can provide my father with the care he needs without troubling the tax payer. There’s nothing wrong with me, it’s just that no-one wants to employ a 60 year old white man with a university education and I cannot afford to start my own business. I don’t receive a penny in benefits for that either.

            I’m not complaining, I’d rather stand on my own two feet, albeit with my devoted wife’s uncomplaining support and I’d rather my father was helped to live in his own home by his own family, without official interference. I accept that there are some people who really do need the help of the tax payer but there are far too many receiving it who do not.

            We can never have a completely fair world and someone is always going to suffer. The aim can only ever be to perpetrate the least injustice on the fewest. For me that means dismantling the welfare state.

          • It is a very tricky issue – I live with the my dad (alzheimers) and husband (psp), We moved in with my dad because he is in a bungalow (we used to be 2nd floor flat with wheelchair and no lift) and the savings of doing so have been really good. So I feel very in favour of family solutions myself. I confess that we still get various allowances and actually we could now manage without them. And actually I loved caring for my husband and put off carers as long as possible and it does create a distance having carers. It really does. But social services intervened and actually there is no way one person could look after him. None. But had I not stopped working to become a carer I wouldn’t have started writing for TCW – being a dependent housewife gave me the financial independence to say what I think… which is trickier with an employer!

        • Russell wrote:

          It does seem that your first concern is not for men and boys – but for
          disposable providers for women. I’m sorry if I have misunderstood.

          You haven’t misunderstood: the tenor of this site is wholly gynocentric, its ‘anti-feminism’ prompted by nothing more than the realisation that feminists have killed the ancient goose that laid the gender golden egg and the fear that women will have to unblock their own drains.

  12. Men need respect and women need love. St Paul got it right 2000 years ago.

    Men are told to “man up” because they will lose respect and this is the damaging part. Let it all out men are told it is OK to act like a woman. Except what men are not told anymore, is that we are hardwired as men and (especially) women to despise them for doing so.

    If you want men engaged then you will need to give them back their role in the family. If you do not they will find other ways to find respect and these are often incredibly harmful to society, and especially women.

  13. At the risk of adding another bundle of pessimism to the bonfire, no one has yet discussed the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Men who find themselves in these straits today, undereducated, under skilled, and laughed at are effectively ‘sidelining’ themselves because, gen X, gen Y, and milennials are still ‘conditioned’ not to confront women. When confronted with an angry woman men of these generations just walk away. That conditioning is breaking down. Younger men have zero attachment to western society, a society that is actively discriminating against them. Do you think in the future these men will just walk away? ‘Girl power’, the resident feminist here is fond of posting links about arrogant and chauvinistic women bragging about ‘househusbands’. Do you think that these men will put up with that in the future? The western states are all but bankrupt. Military recruitment is way down and dropping fast. Will the western states turn to conscription? Will we take disenfranchised young men and teach them war? When enrollment in higher Ed. Is 80% female and men are effectively shut out of life, do you think they’ll lay down their lives to defend such a society? Remember, the first shots of the French Revolution were fired at the Bastille by French soldiers sent to quell an uprising not support it. The men of today’s generations are content to watch porn and play video games when they’ve been shut out. I don’t think the men of the future will feel the same.

    • Mazrick wrote:

      Will the western states turn to conscription? Will we take disenfranchised young men and teach them war?

      You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

      GirlPower is a figment of her own insane imagination and should the day ever come when we need good old fashioned, ‘risk be damned, we must protect the women at all costs’ male soldiers, as I’m sure it will, she, and those of her ilk, are going to have a nasty shock. Unfortunately we must all suffer with them.

  14. There are many men of my generation who truly have lost interest in the creatures that run around in western society and call themselves women. You only have to look at the majority of female MPs at Westminster to see that something has seriously gone awry with our society. Take for example the opinons of this imbecile.
    or those of Caroline Lucas , a right fruit-cake. She wouldn’t be out of place hectoring passers-by at Speaker’s Corner. Yet the opinions of these idiots are not only tolerated but respected and admired. Even if the Leave campaign wins this referendum, I still feel the UK is f******.

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