The Book Nook
Le Coin Lecture
Curl up and grab one of these books to help you navigate the work that's ahead.
This list is meant to help, challenge, and encourage discussions around DEI, Anti-Racism and Emerging Leadership practices.
Of Boys and Men by Richard V. Reeves
By: Sas Miller
What's this about?
The social and economic advancements gained by girls and women as a result of the Women’s Movement has led to an identity crisis of sorts for boys and men, as they face a kind of “cultural redundancy” in their academic, family, and professional lives. From poor academic performance and graduation rates to lower levels of participation in the labour market, globally, boys and men are struggling to keep up with changing gender dynamics and the challenges of modern life. Reeves presents research statistics and provides tangible policy solutions to address the “malaise” of the modern male.
About The Author
Richard Reeves is a British born writer, scholar, and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. He is the Director of Brookings’ Future of the Middle Class Initiative, which aims to improve the quality of life and social mobility for America’s middle class through independent analysis and policy development.
Gender, Feminism, Education, Parenting, Sociology, Psychology
What We Liked
Reeves used an intersectional lens to provide a thorough overview of the male experience. In chapters discussing the struggles of working-class white men and Black men specifically, Reeves was able to go in depth and provide a nuanced report of how race and class affect social attitudes, policies, and outcomes.
What we remember: Reeves’ personal anecdotes about his own experiences as a father of three boys, and Godfather to Dwight, who is African-American and grew up in Baltimore. Reeves recounts the story of finding out that Dwight wears non-prescription glasses because it helps white people in particular “relax” around him. The story was a poignant and powerful way for Reeve to articulate a lived experience that is not his own.
What this book is : A thoughtful, scholarly examination of the social, economic, and cultural issues facing boys and men in the 21st century.
What this book isn't : A political agenda arguing for extremes. Throughout the book, Reeves objectively highlights some of the flaws and strengths of liberal and conservative policies aimed at addressing the academic and labour struggles faced by boys and men.
Why Read This Book
Males make up half of the global population, and the repercussions of not addressing their malaise is already being felt in social and political realms. From the vitriolic rhetoric against girls and women spewed by incels and the manosphere, to the rolling back of abortion rights in the U.S., it’s easy for conversations and actions that address male angst to be fueled by extremes, and the desire to undo the progress of the Women’s Movement. Of Boys and Men is a conscientious examination of masculinity and its changing definitions, with policy solutions that acknowledge inherent biological differences, while grounding itself in sociological research.
“Most young women today have it drummed into them how much education matters, and most want to be financially independent. Compared to their male classmates, they see their future in sharper focus…Their appetite for success is just higher. Girls and women have had to fight misogyny without. Boys and men are now struggling for motivation within.” (Reeves, 2022, 00:42:06)
“One of the great revelations of feminism may turn out to be that men need women more than women need men. Wives were economically dependent on their husbands, but men were emotionally dependent on their wives.” (Reeves, 2022, 01:32:27)
Get the Gist
Listen to author Richard Reeves discuss Of Boys and Men on the The Ezra Klein Show podcast.
Read Reeve’s essay Dwight’s Glasses.
How does it fare?
“A thoughtful analysis of alarming evidence of a male malaise avoids the culture wars, arguing for structural and societal change.”
– Andrew Anthony, The Guardian
“…due to the originality of his crisply expressed thesis: that men’s struggles are not reducible to a masculinity that is too toxic or too enfeebled but, rather, reflect the workings of the same structural forces that apply to every other group… Reeves excels in relaying uncomfortable truths to his fellow-liberals…”
– Idrees Kahloon, The New Yorker