Greg Hampkian has written a grocery-store checkout counter piece for ther NYTimes – entiled Men, Who Needs Them. Rather than exploring the motivation around the piece it is worth doing some PolitiFact-like check of truthiness in the arguments. So lets start out with the premise and first argument.
The central behaviors of mammals revolve around how we bear and raise our young, and humans are the parenting champions of the class. In the United States, for nearly 20 percent of our life span we are considered the legal responsibility of our parents.
With expanding reproductive choices, we can expect to see more women choose to reproduce without men entirely. Fortunately, the data for children raised by only females is encouraging. As the Princeton sociologist Sara S. McLanahan has shown, poverty is what hurts children, not the number or gender of parents
So the bottom line is that for reproduction men are not necessary which is the major theses here.
Fact check 1: Census Bureau data on poverty in 2010, people in single mother families had a poverty rate of 42.2% and an extreme poverty rate of 21.6%
Fact check 2: Ninety percent of single–parent families are headed by females. Not surprisingly, single mothers with dependent children have the highest rate of poverty
The second major conclusion that more women are choosing to do without a permanent male parent is born by the facts. But the implied question of any need for any male parenting is presented with bias.
That’s good, since women are both necessary and sufficient for reproduction, and men are neither. From the production of the first cell (egg) to the development of the fetus and the birth and breast-feeding of the child, fathers can be absent. They can be at work, at home, in prison or at war, living or dead.
This quickly leads to the question of the role and importance of men in parenting. Greg is glib:
Ultimately the question is, does “mankind” really need men? With human cloning technology just around the corner and enough frozen sperm in the world to already populate many generations, perhaps we should perform a cost-benefit analysis.
Meanwhile women live longer, are healthier and are far less likely to commit a violent offense. If men were cars, who would buy the model that doesn’t last as long, is given to lethal incidents and ends up impounded more often?
Fact Check 4: What is the impact of a male figure (father) or female figure (mother) in child-rearing?
As the reference shows in several studies, the role of parents is complex and deeply entrenched in a complex development cycle from age 0 to as late mid 20’s in age.
In sum this piece just lacks substance and credibility of thorough scholarship. Does this mean some of Takethe5th missive has more than an infintesimally small chance of appearing on the NYTimes? Or more realistically – What was the NYTimes editorial staff thinking?