I stumbled on to a couple of blog sites that were discussing the apparent problem of men, and in particular, young men, not reading as much as the authors thought young men should read.
Now that is a bit of a stretch considering that both blog authors saw that they are fiction writers and have written books, albeit self published on their respective blogs. One might remark that from the comments, neither one of the authors knows how to use spell check, pity. Yet each condemn the attachment to twitter and texting and all manner of social media as if blogging wasn’t a member of that set. Ignorance to the left of me, stupidity to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with your blog, sorry Stealers Wheel. Of course the assumption is that if young men do not read they they are not likely to go to college and will not become educated. The second assumptions is that anyone who attends college or university will become, upon the earning of a degree, an educated individual with a piece of paper that attests to such a fact. Somehow that assumption that one cannot become an educated individual without having attended college or university and obtained a degree must be relevant to becoming educated. Can’t say that I agree with such an assertion, no, it must be argued that the possession of a piece of paper or parchment and lambskin is the least likely evidence of an educated individual. I can buy a Macaw to parrot every professors cant and score an “A” in every class. It will not make my Macaw the least bit “educated” a;though he may look and sound the part. Obtaining a PhD in Sociology would be the easiest for “Polly” the parrot since she would be a female and thus under-represented in the universe of sociologists, or some such rubbish. A PhD in Physics might be a tad bit harder since the standards are a bit tougher.
But all that aside, the real question is why boys, young men, and men read so little fiction. I can only offer my own experiences as a source of reasoning. I read very little fiction, outside of the short stories I found in men’s magazines. For the most part, novels were uninteresting, had nothing to say to me, could not speak to my desire to educate myself in the realm of non fiction writing. I’m a man, damn it! I like things, I want to know how stuff works. I don’t care about personal relationships or people. Yes, I wanted to get married because that is what young men do. It is how we play the competitive game. It shows that we have the basic social competence to succeed. Who the hell worries about the details? One is suppose to get some education, either formal or informal, find a job that makes a bit of money, and then apply oneself to advancing on the job and in the company. It’s a basic male competition thing. And if you are good enough, you find that female that believes you are a good competitor and provider and you make a home and have children. I’m sorry, but where is the fiction in that and why should I care to read it?
Oh, but the postmodernist progressive liberal says I’ve got it wrong and by the way, I am anti-social in all manners of my thinking. Humm….I must be missing something. The new social hierarchy is not about competition and competence but about non competition and non male hierarchy or patriarchy. Right, yeah, mean and women are exactly alike and that means I should not compete with other males for the hand of a woman because that is degrading to her. So how are we supposed to distinguish ourselves from others? and we should see women not as prospective mothers of our children for it is not our place, but as our equals in life. So tell me again, then, what would I need a woman for? If I’m just a fifth wheel then what’s so great about fatherhood?
And yet, to be an educated man I must take the time to read not just one or two novels a year, but a dozen or better if I wish to call myself educated. Tell me again, why, in this society, would I want to be know as an educated man? What, exactly does it get me, bragging rights. Oh right, that is a bad masculine value and must be stamped out as toxic masculinity. So tell me just what is this sense of motivation that will psychologically compel me to read more fiction for my own good?