why I think younger males today take so many unnecessary risks, and you are correct about it, Nat: Trying to prove their manhood. That doesn't sound new at all -- I even noted that manhood is something males have always had to earn, while females gained womanhood just be existing. The new part is HOW males today feel they must earn manhood, compared to how males have traditionally earned it. 40, 50 years ago, young males were taught that a respected place was waiting for them as adult males, provided they did the right things and prepared for it. You got your education, chose a career to pursue, courted females, found love and married, had children. You were still "the man of the house", the decision-maker, a pillar of the community, a valued person -- a man! Most young males, even the ones that temporarily "turned on and dropped out" (per Dr. Leary) came back to that ideal they were taught.
In the decades since, part of the ascension of women has included the decline of men and male roles. Men still get educated, but so do women . . even more women now than men. You can select a career to pursue, if there is a job available, and women are now competing for jobs too. You can still court women, so long as you are appropriately wary of not being too pursuing, such as to be accused of harassment or stalking. And the females are actively selecting too, not just fielding offers, so don't ever think she is just waiting around for you to make the moves. By the way, females still ultimately do the choosing, so get used to rejection. You can hope to get married -- at least the first time, it still seems special. But don't assume you will be the bread-winner or head/king of the home or anything. The family is the woman-and-her-children --- you're only around so long as she is OK with that. Chances are, you won't be around too long, as many marriages end in divorce within 5-10 years now. So, expect to be on the out-looking-in on family life and your children's lives. You are the lesser parent . . expendable.
So, if males still want to earn manhood today, how do they do that? I think one way they try is doing foolish stunts that put them at risk for injury . . . or extreme sports, where they could make money and garner a following as well as demonstrate that they are "man enough" to risk injury. I think another way to earn manhood today is violent crime. Black males lost their place in homes and communities before white males, and I think that is one reason we have seen so much more gun play and deaths from gun shot wounds among black males. While it may seem like a waste of life to some, we should look at it from their perspective. When the opportunity to "be a man" within a traditional family setting is limited, and when they don't really have much to lose, life does become cheap and living dangerously while you are alive could be more appealing. I tend to think all males in our society are heading in that direction.