Reading notes: Of Boys and Men


  1. It is a book about men, but only a shortsighted reader would miss the lessons about (specifically) Black men, Black women, the middle and lower classes generally, and so on. I have long suspected that intersectionality and related concepts would be used by groups concerned with men's interests. This is the first sustained effort I've read in that direction (in book form, at least).
  2. And this is, in its way, one of the most compelling discussions of income and wealth inequality I've seen. Many of Reeves' arguments can be seen as versions of: "The disproportionate money and power that flows to a small and mostly male group masks big problems with men, which are problems for everyone."
  3. There are many and diverse citations. Evaluating them would be a major project. Reeves certainly presents a lot of reasonable-seeming evidence for his views, but might not always present the strongest evidence against those views.
  4. One particularly interesting body of evidence Reeves collects is that various kinds of interventions help women more than they help men. This has drawn some blogosophere attention. One explanation here is that non-male groups suffer discrimination that makes certain kinds of interventions particularly effective for them (again, I don't think one can read this book properly without thinking about how much we're doing wrong with respect to other groups). I hope more work is done to figure out how robust this phenomenon is and what its causes are.
  5. Some of Reeves' policy proposals seem interesting: e.g., to work to get men into "HEAL" (health, education, administration, and literacy) jobs. Others seem like political and practical non-starters to such a degree that it's hard even to begin to contemplate their full impact: e.g., to fund an extra year of pre-K for (only) boys so that they can be redshirted. (This is to compensate for the features of male brain development that Reeves argues make boys less well suited to academic success if age is held constant.)
  6. I expect a lot of low-quality commentary on this book. It's not that long, but most people won't read it.

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