Maggie Gallagher

Far more men are checking out of school, work and marriage than ever before -- or being chucked out by frustrated and angry women. The global economy has been signaling the growing importance of a college degree for decades now. So why are 60 to 65 percent of college students now women? Why is it that nearly 1 in 4 sons of white college-educated parents reads below basic levels, compared to just 7 percent of girls?

Men must eventually start responding to the gender-neutral social status cues in ways that lead to work, love and married happiness in a gender-equal society, mustn't they?

But Rosin's stories suggest the structure of motivation in men and women is different.

Babies are less motivating for men, especially without a strongly gendered identity as husband and father. The successful men, attuned to a status game they believe they can win, will fight harder to beat other men. Men also experience status failures as far more humiliating than women. (Thus their failure to shift from manufacturing to service jobs or into house-husbands.) The less successful men will stop playing a game they think they will lose.

So women with successful husbands have more options than ever before. The vast majority of women work harder than ever to raise their children alone.

Children miss their fathers.

Here's the motivation paradox: We women are objectively more successful, but less happy. Men are doing less well than they ever have, relatively speaking, but honey badger don't care.

We will not solve this problem without taking masculinity seriously.

Because the alternative is a whole generation of men asking themselves: Just exactly how hard do I have to work at school or a job to pay for beer, a video game set and Internet porn?

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.