I know I just posted yesterday but I was forwarded this article by my parents and thought it was so interesting. (To my facebook friends forgive me for reposting my thoughts on this subject). I also thought it was well written and very witty.
It is called Where Have the Good Men Gone by Kay S. Hymowitz (evidently it is an excerpt from her book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, which I am very excited to read). In the article, she discusses the new problem of ‘pre-adult’ men in America. These are the types of men that are often profiled in movies starring Will Farrell, Seth Rogan and Owen Wilson. Some women find this type of silly ‘frat boy’ behavior charming but it has always driven me crazy.
Unfortunately, even in the church there are very few single men over 25 that I would not describe as ‘pre-adult juvenile men’. I could give you a ton of examples. For most of them it is not like they are doing anything specifically wrong or sinful (that I’m aware of at least) but they don’t seem to have any motivation in their life. No motivation in their careers, schooling, not to mention marriage or family. (There was a whole crew of them in an old ward I used to call ‘The Ferris Bueller Boys’ because of their immature and annoying antics!).
I think there are 2 problems that Hymowitz doesn’t really mention. The first is what I call the epiphany complex. Many men are expecting to be struck with an ‘ah ha’ moment when it comes to major decisions. For instance, they aren’t content to find a job, it must be ‘the job’. They are expecting to find something that is ‘meant for me’. Until they find that job they move from sales or other work that is beneath them, so when it inevitably doesn’t work they can say ‘oh it wasn’t the job for me’. This is also true with some men when deciding a major. Its like every class has to be perfectly suited for them or they can’t tough it out.
Of course the epiphany complex is most seen with men in dating. Sometimes, especially in the church, if a girl isn’t perfect and scream out ‘this is the girl I’m going to marry’ then they don’t pursue a relationship. A lot of guys miss out on great girls because they don’t get that epiphany they are hoping for and never ask them out.
The other problem is the possibly mistaken cultural tradition that making it in our society is harder for girls. Clearly this was true in the past when women could do little more than teaching and nursing. However, now there are more women graduate degree and law students then men. I think girls are still taught that you will have to work harder to get paid what men get paid. Single motherhood is also frequently portrayed in movies and on television and many women almost plan on it. When I was going to grad school it was always, with a few rare exceptions, the female students who worked harder than the men. In addition, if there were any students that we had to babysit it was the men. I hated being in group projects with certain men. It was a near-guarantee they would flake out, and I’d be forced doing the work for two people. Women are taught to expect such behavior and to plow through it to get ahead. We understand that things like education and a career will be tough and that we will have to fight for any position we gain in life. I do think this leads to a lot of overworked, stressed out, female professionals that only look to their girlfriends for companionship. At least girlfriends seem to understand.
The other ironic thing is that some guys feel intimidated by women who are successful but what is our alternative? Sit at home and knit? I don’t think so. (no disrespect for knitting intended 🙂 ) The women of the world are not going to wait around for men to be motivated. We all just have to live the best life we can and hope to find someone who will love us.
It’s all kind of depressing when you think about it but what can be done to fix the situation? All I can do is pray that one of the ‘exception to the rules’ is out there. After all, I only need one!
4 thoughts on “Good Men?”
You are completely right. What amazes me is that young men can go on missions then come home and become pre-adults. I guarantee you I was an adult after my mission.
Our society has created the absurd notion that a person’s greatest passion in life should and will be a pursuit that will earn a living for themselves and a family if they ever choose to have one. This simply cannot happen for most people as there is not an alignment between jobs to be filled and people’s personal interests. Not even close. I can tell you right now that it isn’t happening for over 90% of the people in China. This idea was brought to its ultimate expression when the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pellosi, popped off something to the effect that everyone should have the right to make a living pursuing their passion whether it was poetry, playing the guitar, being an artist, etc. Truly this sort of thinking is in la la land.
Your thought about ‘everyone being allowed to do their passion’ reminds me of a philosopher we studied in college named John Rawles. Its complicated but he believed that social justice would exist if everyone was given a ‘veil of ignorance’ and then each allowed to pursue his or her passions. He says that once people are equal then justice will occur. The examples he uses is that if someone wanted to play tennis then they could play tennis, if someone wanted to grow carrots they could grow carrots. As a whole everything would get done and everyone would be happy because they would be doing their passions. That’s a simplistic description of Rawls but the general idea.
Here’s the rub…who would handle the trash? I think there are going to be a lot more people with passion for tennis then being sanitation workers. Do we only let prisoners do that work? Also, what if passions lead to unjust, criminal behavior? Who’s to say that one person following their passion is wrong and another is right? What is someone has a passion for smoking pot or any number of things?
Plus, who is to say that we all can find such a passion anyway? As you say there are not enough jobs for tennis players as probably want to be tennis players.
Rawls also has this idea that ‘justice is fairness’ (fairness meaning the equal distribution of assets).
The funny thing is that Rawls is not considered a socialist. In fact, President Clinton said he ‘helped a whole generation of learned Americans revive their faith in democracy itself’. Strange?
The irony is its ideas like Rawls and Pelosi’s that make people feel more adrift and confused- constantly grappling for the next great experience, not wanting to settle for the traditional or the boring.
Great article. I’ve read a few others like this in recent months, too. It’s totally true. And it’s not like these articles are talking about high school grads sitting around supporting their video game and beer habits with pizza delivery jobs. These are college-educated guys with impressive jobs. Andrew knows many of them and I think their existence almost makes him feel foolish for being married and having a family at his age. But I obviously find him even more attractive for being a responsible adult. Of course it sounds fun to go on vacations with your college roomies and have only yourself to take care of.
I thought this author’s analysis was a good one. It’s because men almost don’t have a sociological role anymore, except as sperm donors. This is what happens when we insists that the sexes are exactly the same aside from their anatomical differences. We’ve insisted for a couple decades that women can do everything men can do, so I guess their unconscious response is: “Then why bother showing up?” So they just don’t show up.
For the record, it disgusts me. Men in their mid- to late-twenties who are still partying, playing video games, etc. Grow up, boys.
Great points. Particularly about the evaporating sociological roles. Its interesting that this trend shows up everywhere- New York, Utah, DC, everywhere.
Its sad when guys like Andrew are exceptions to the rule but unfortunately I think you are right. Oh well. At least a few good ones are out there. Somewhere?