14 September 2023

Do You Actually Need A Father To Raise A Child? - Modern Wisdom with Dr Anna Machin

Dr Anna Machin is an evolutionary anthropologist at Oxford University, a researcher into the role of fatherhood across time and an author.

The modern world has made dads surplus to requirements in many ways. The deadbeat dad is such a meme in sitcoms and cartoons now that it’s no surprise men don’t feel they have a role in child rearing. But just how important are fathers to the development of boys and girls? And what don’t we know about their impact?

Expect to learn how fathers saved the human race when babies heads got too big, whether it’s normal for dads to not feel love for their baby when it’s born, the most important ways dads can bond with their kids, whether dads are more important to girls’ or boys’ development, what pushback Anna got for writing a pro-father book and much more…

Male Inquality - Big Think with Richard Reeves

Boys and men are falling behind. This might seem surprising to some people, and maybe ridiculous to others, considering that discussions on gender disparities tend to focus on the structural challenges faced by girls and women, not boys and men.

But long-term data reveal a clear and alarming trend: In recent decades, American men have been faring increasingly worse in many areas of life, including education, workforce participation, skill acquisition, wages, and fatherhood.

Gender politics is often framed as a zero-sum game: Any effort to help men takes away from women. But in his 2022 book Of Boys and Men, journalist and Brookings Institution scholar Richard V. Reeves argues that the structural problems contributing to male malaise affect everybody, and that shying away from these tough conversations is not a productive path forward.

01:35 Men in education
07:26 Class matters
07:53 Men in the workforce
10:54 Men in the family
13:00 Deaths of despair

Is marriage dying? - Big Think with Richard Reeves

Marriage in the U.S. has fundamentally transformed over the past century. In general, women have far greater legal and economic power in marriages than they did just decades ago, and while it was once difficult for women to file for divorce, today women do so at twice the rate of men. What’s more, gay marriage has been legal in all 50 states since 2015.

Still, other aspects of marriage in the U.S. have remained remarkably unchanged. As journalist and Brookings Institution scholar Richard Reeves points out, a college-educated woman today is about just as likely to get married as her mother was — and even a bit more likely to stay married.

But the same is not true for Americans on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. As Reeves notes in this Big Think video, it’s important for all humans to have strong and meaningful relationships, whether within the context of marriage or not. The question is how to best ensure that the most people can build those relationships.

What the sexual revolution has done to modern families - Big Think with Richard Reeves, Judith Butler and more

How has the sexual revolution reshaped our understanding of relationships and family? After the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s began upending traditional norms, Americans started seeing greater personal freedoms and a more flexible understanding of relationships, sexuality, and family roles. 

One lasting impact is that marriage is now based primarily on choice rather than societal expectations, and men are no longer always expected to be the head of the household. 

But despite the clear benefits of increased egalitarianism and personal liberty, the sexual revolution arguably came with trade-offs. As journalist Louise Perry notes, one example is that far more children are being raised in broken homes today than they were decades ago, even though nearly every conceivable metric shows that it’s better for children to have married parents.