The short answer is No.
Every day, there are new signs and signals that men are struggling.
The news is full of reports of them flailing and floundering:
A 21% increase in suicides among boys and men between 2000 and 2016, from 17.7 to 21.4 per 100,000—over 3.5x the rate for women.
While unemployment is at its lowest level in many years, the percentage of men who are neither working nor looking for work has soared over the past several decades, almost tripling from 4% in the 1950s to 11% now.
Men outnumber women two to one in opioid overdose deaths.
Look at how women are rising and changing the tempo of our society: Running for office (especially President) in record numbers; pushing back against the patriarchy; out-earning men in some key sectors; and demonstrating in real time with real results how communication, empathy, passion and compassion—the most human of qualities—can lift our culture. Women possess more emotion and intuition than men and are raising their voices to make our world a better, kinder place for all.
The story is very different and quite the opposite for men in our culture. They are hitting depths of fear, anger, resentment and hopelessness. Their identity no longer works because it is often formed around pathetic 1950s thinking about sexual prowess, a successful career at any cost, dominating to feel in control – and being free from the burdens of daily family life and child care. Going back centuries, millennia even, we know their mindset and heartset is about hunting—not gathering their loved ones around them.
So we have to ask: Do men have a future, and if so—is it a good one? How can men evolve to save themselves? How can businesses and brands help them?
Based on thousands of conversations with men, women and non-binaries, as well as our many TalentBank futurists, it’s clear that for men to thrive, they must evolve radically. And fast. They need guidance, support—they require the tools to explore the fresh possibilities of what being a modern man can mean.
Navigating New Territory
We see a “feminization” on their horizon—not to weaken men, but to let them express themselves in honest and empowering ways. And survive the dire downward spiral currently enveloping them. Look at this blueprint, from small to sweeping changes that are rocking the culture now:
Plastic surgery: No longer taboo but a badge. Men are and will be in increasing numbers making themselves over; first the body, then the face. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), male cosmetic surgery has jumped up 28% since 2000. There’s a phenomenal opportunity to give men the power to transform themselves. AI and VR will be deeply integrated into these reinventions to enable these males to have exactly the appearance they crave. And the women in their lives will be more than happy to pay for it.
A new moment is emerging in which men will increasingly focus on their appearance. Remember: When women were denied societal power, they used their beauty, their bodies and their charm to glean power and get their needs fulfilled. Women enjoy the biggest transfer of wealth in history (with $30M changes hands over the next decade with women getting the majority—about $21M), males will vie for the female gaze with new alpha-courtesan behaviors and wardrobes to match. As sexuality becomes digitized and AI-driven, men will become charmingly dandified to entice women and complete with other men, women, gender-frees and the bots. Competition is the mother of invention.
A little future-casting: Men’s personal-care market is expected to hit $166 billion in 2022 from a current valuation of $122 billion. Nearly 40% of Gen Zers has shown interest in gender-neutral beauty products, according to NPD’s iGen Beauty Consumer report—a huge signal that men are ready to experiment and express themselves in ways that challenge “macho’’ tradition. It’s about time! Men in India have worn eye makeup for eons. Already, disruptors are entering the marketplace: www.forhims.com offers up skincare, hair loss products, and erectile dysfunction medications with a clever, cool Millennial vibe. Soon they will be educated the finer points of being great lovers with online courses in advanced sexiness.
We expect fashion to evolve as well, not just with the shift to gender-fluid garb, but a movement that allows men to be the peacocks they will need to be in order to attract a partner. As men experiment with new looks, a team of AR- and VR-fueled advisors will spring up, ready to help them express never-before-seen personas. RuPaul was just the beginning.
Men are seeking permission to pursue high-EQ careers—the exact ones usually thought of as the province of women. They are infiltrating pink-collar jobs in increasing numbers, new research shows. Right now, it's men who are “already disadvantaged in the labor market; black, Hispanic, less educated, poor and immigrant” according to The New York Times. But soon all men will gravitate toward “female” jobs because they are the ones that are valued and command higher wages in our society. The pink-collar jobs of tomorrow: Techno-healer, AI therapy engineer, VR architect.
Families will morph dramatically. As scientific advances make it possible for two women or two men to have biological children via IVG (in vitro gametogenesis) and babies can grow outside the uterus in birthing tanks, the notion of females being more connected to offspring will dissipate. Men will be primed to be as or more “maternal” as women, in part because they will have more time. Already, young men say they want to be uber-involved fathers, but workplaces don’t make that possible. For example, paternity leave is still reluctantly given. And there are few on-premise childcare centers. Even when supports are available, social stigma still pushes men to head back to work ASAP after their babies are born. A huge multi-national company that shows what the future could look like will attract the cream of the workers—especially vital as gender fluidity erases the boundaries of binary identity and families take on new forms.
Educationally, we are beginning to raise our boys not to be programmed into a role that has such negative outcomes for them. Consider this from Mark Sherman Ph.D. in Psychology Today, “If evolutionary psychology means anything at all—and there is much evidence that it does—will our independent, strong, and confident daughters ultimately want men who don’t share these traits?” Probably not. They will want men who complement them and support them, not compete and demean them. Men need relief from their frustration and anguish. The growing numbers of men lost to substance abuse and suicide is a stunning, saddening signal of their mental state. Culture and innate chemistry are conspiring against males. Who will lead them out of this dark place? Will science and wellness brands listen to men and create exactly what they urgently need to feel calm and in control, whether that means AI-engineered cannabis strains or a subscription box of monthly micro-doses or psychedelics that sync with their newly understood hormonal rhythms?
Will CRISPR tinker with their genetic blueprint to give them a more optimistic, less addiction-prone outlook? The biotech disruptors are wrapping their brilliant minds to tackle that—and soon. Men in their current incarnation can’t wait much longer. They are losing their advantages, their place in society, their meaning, their confidence—and fast.