Indeed, a worry about how boys and men are being treated in the news media and society has spurred All Things Considered itself to do a series that has been running all summer on “Men in America.” The producer of the series, Melissa Gray, told me that it “developed out of a kitchen-table concern that popped into my mind last fall: How can I help my two young boys grow into men?” I think that most of us as listeners understand.
Gray further explained:
I’d been engaging in a private on-line mothers forum, and the subject had to do with a sexting case involving teenage boys in Fairfax County [Virginia]. An issue raised in that forum was how to teach your sons how to behave like men in the best of ways, and the more I thought about it off-line, the more I realized I had no clue about what it meant to even be a man in this country these days: my default notions of manhood had more to do with the experience of my father’s and my husband’s generations (the so-called “silent generation” and the baby boomer generation), and less about what’s going on, now.
As I kept mulling this idea around, I started noticing articles here and there about boys falling behind in education, men struggling with their roles when they were out of work and their wives were now supporting the family, men’s involvement with their children, confusion with young men on how to navigate relationships in an era where women were equal under the law and increasingly outstripping them in education and employment. And yet – I hadn’t seen much of this reported comprehensively.
Which is why I pitched it to the show. As a network, we have done so much reporting on women’s roles, and as a society those roles have changed so much over the last 50 years, I felt it was a good time to take a look at how men’s roles had changed as well, and how that was playing out in the lives and minds of men. [executive producer] Christopher Turpin was game, [host] Audie Cornish was very interested, and [senior supervising producer] Matt Martinez thought it was worth pursing, and so we did and so we are.