The big gender story this week, was Kay S. Hymowitz’s excerpt from her upcoming book “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys“, on the Wall Street Journal. The title of the article was “Where Have The Good Men Gone?” Kay states the modern young man lives an extended childhood, pre-adulthood she dubs, due to the rise of the professional young women. The cities examples such as men’s college graduations rates in their 20′s and early 30′s as compared to women and the ages men and women are getting married are older than in the past. Her shining example of the differences between the young modern man and woman, is the movie Knocked Up. In the movie Seth Rogan’s character is more of a slacker, continuing to enjoy an extended adolescence, compared to Katherine Heigl’s character who’s on her way up in the business world.
Kay Hymowitz’s point, as titled by the book, is that men are lost. They don’t know what to do with their lives, because women are becoming more prominent forces professionally and socially. This point, like this article, is another bomb in the continued gender war between man and women. While there are some legitimate points made by Hymowitz’s, I strongly disagree that the rise of women are keeping men in a pre-childhood status.
I want to discuss the notion that the young, modern male is lost. Personally, I believe the young, modern person of both genders, are lost. Today’s modern world provides opportunities that haven’t existed, ever, in our lifetime. In the early 90′s a professional blogger didn’t exist, there wasn’t anything close to a Twitter or Facebook, and the pace at which the world was changing then, was relatively slow. Because of today’s opportunities and required knowledge, today’s professional world has new standards. When a bachelor’s degree often marked the end of one’s college career, today’s world requires a master’s degree to succeed. In many ways the goal posts for what constitutes as a “professional” person are pushed back. The ever evolving landscape requires more time, effort and education while attempting to fit into the hyper-speed of the modern adult environment. What was a 4 years of post high school education, has become 8 to 10 years.
Let’s address the lost male, specifically. If more men were becoming lost, engaged in video games, opposed to professional work; then how do you explain young men like Mark Zuckerberg? It could be argued that he is a unique case, but then list of young entrepreneurs (mostly men) like this one from Business Week need to be explained. The article was published 5 years ago, and most of those men hovered around the age of 28. The continued young male entrepreneurs like Josh Springer (28), founder of the Bottoms Up Beer Dispenser, would also need some explanation. If the modern male was as lost as Hymowitz’s suggesting, there would be glaring differences between the two genders, especially when you consider entrepreneurship, and the creating of a successful business. These differences don’t exist, if they did the lead of The Social Network would have been a woman.
What most upsets me about the article is the misguided notion of assessing adulthood, simply by using education rates, marriage ages, and GPA scores in complete vacuum. The reality is, today’s modern world isn’t based solely on the attainment of a college degree. Take your pick of the many people in the tech industry who’ve created multi-million dollar corporations without a single piece of a post high-school diploma. For those not named Bill Gates, degree’s are necessary for today’s professional life, but that idea fails to explain today’s want for experience, and not a piece of paper. Above I’ve mentioned that the modern world has a requirement of a master’s degree. The master’s degree is required, because today’s professional world is based on experience, than education. Today’s reality is, someone can become very successful, professionally, without a degree. I’m not suggesting everyone quit their college education, I’m merely stating it’s not the only track to professional, adult development.
Similar argument are made about using marriage rates and ages as a form of determining one’s adulthood. To quote Jay-Z “30 is the new 20.” The reason this is true, has nothing to do with women, and more to do with modern medicine. The average life expectancy in America is 78. Unlike the 1960′s (where it was 69), people can afford to explore their lives before settling down. Add the increased life expectancy with extremely high divorce rates, especially among those in their 20′s, and you have an indicator that doesn’t tell you much. Hymowitz compares marriage and family to that of the 1960′s, but we’re fooling ourselves if we believe that marriage and “the family” was perfect then. It wasn’t perfect and it’s not perfect now. Our thoughts and feelings about marriage are completely in that 50 year span.
I’m not going to discredit a change in the modern man who may promote an extended pre-adulthood. I have some friends who will forever remain 20, and that’s fine. Pointing the finger to women as the cause ignores many other factors that aren’t based on gender. It also ignores the rise of an extended pre-adulthood for women. To say that the rise of women have turned men into boys gives too much credit to women, and not enough credit to men. To continue to state that men are children for enjoying Star Wars well into their adulthood, ignores the many flaws of women enjoying childhood things well into their adulthood. Visit any science fiction convention, and you’ll realize that there’s plenty of Star Wars loving women, as men.
This article comes from a point of view that’s out of touch with today’s modern world and today’s young male. It reeks of, yet another article that berates men for being themselves. The Art of Manliness, in their response, stated it best:
These kinds of articles also always frame the issue in a way that makes all modern men seem like boobs, with the implication that all modern women are paragons of maturity and success (just look at the picture above that ran with the article!). Are men the only ones who need work? You would never see an article called, “Where Have All the Good Women Gone?”
While women are important, but they aren’t the center to the male adult cycle. Men don’t become “men” because a woman tells us that we can grow up. Asking the question “Where Have The Good Men Gone?” and pointing the cause for the change of the modern man due to women is childish. I’m ready for any debate about gender and the differences between men and women, and how one affects the other. Those are healthy, educated, adult debates. To insinuate that the rise of the professional woman are causing guys to become kids isn’t an adult conversation. It’s reminiscent of playground fingerprinting that often occurs in kindergarten.