Men read far fewer books than women today. That’s a documented fact, and the gap is becoming bigger. Particularly weak is men’s reading of fiction. It’s pretty much women’s domain these days, while men, when they do read, gravitate toward history and biography.
Why this is, nobody seems to know. Men used to read books, but today we are unusually reluctant to do so.
National Public Radio suggests that there’s something in men’s brains making them dislike reading. You can read it for yourself here, but I’m entirely unconvinced. Instead of blaming men directly, NPR blames their genes. As I just noted, however, men used to read extensively, and many still do today.
I think that men are probably reading huge amounts of news and opinion on the Web, in addition to the nonfiction materials they read. So there’s surely something wrong with what they’re being offered in the realm of fiction. Briefly stated, I think that the publishing industry has become overly feminized and as a result does not serve men very well.
I think another element is equally important and will become even more so over time unless it is changed. As Christina Hoff-Sommers documented thoroughly in her 2001 book The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, America’s public schools are set up to destroy all that is masculine and to inculcate femininity as the human norm:
This book tells the story of how it has become fashionable to attribute pathology to millions of healthy male children. It is a story of how we are turning against boys and forgetting a simple truth: that the energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal, decent males is responsible for much of what is right in the world. No one denies that boys’ aggressive tendencies must be checked and channeled in constructive ways. Boys need discipline, respect, and moral guidance. Boys need love and tolerant understanding. They do not need to be pathologized.
As Sommers notes, "It’s a bad time to be a boy in America." She points out that, "Routinely regarded as protosexists, potential harassers and perpetuators of gender inequity, boys live under a cloud of censure."
The school curricula are skewed toward girls’ strengths and away from those of boys. That’s why classes emphasize word problems in math class and writing essays in science class.
Little wonder, then, that boys brought up in such an environment don’t like to read. The schools have done the very best they can not only to destroy their masculinity (and failing utterly at that, as it simply comes out in pathological behavior as boys seek to prove their mettle wherever they can get away with it) but also to remove any interest they might otherwise have in their education, which is what reading, after all, is all about.
Am I blaming the schools?