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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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37 Responses

  1. Christine
    Christine February 3, 2008 at 8:16 pm |

    I read this article half-laughing (I witness and have to deal with the men she describes at work), but in fervent agreement with you. With more opportunities women have evolved, yet why are young men remaining in adolescence? There are still jobs out there and apartments to rent, opportunities to grow up. There has been alot of rhetoric out there about the disenfranchisement of boys due to the overwhelming numbers of women in college. Women are outnumbering men in college degrees and even graduate degrees. It could be cyclical and men may pass women in degrees in the future. I have to disagree with you on one note. That women have to be concerned with adulthood due to menopause. One does not need to get married to have children, but biologically there is a timeclock. However, I know both young men and women that have a lack of concern or want to enter traditional adulthood and I think that is what the author’s issue is – the loss of traditional roles and social constraints.

  2. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne February 3, 2008 at 8:20 pm |

    It’s 1965, and you’re a 26-year-old white guy. You have a factory job, or maybe you work for an insurance broker. Either way, you’re married, probably have been for a few years now; you met your wife in high school, where she was in your sister’s class. You’ve already got one kid, with another on the way. For now, you’re renting an apartment in your parents’ two-family house, but you’re saving up for a three-bedroom ranch house in the next town. Yup, you’re an adult!

    Fascinating how she doesn’t continue with the progression, which is when it’s 1975 and you and your wife are divorced and you hardly get to see your kids anymore.

  3. Meowser
    Meowser February 3, 2008 at 8:48 pm |

    No kidding, Mnemosyne. My dad was 24, not 26, in 1965, but otherwise that passage could have described him to a T. He was also absolutely fucking miserable living that life and took out his misery on everyone around him. I may, in fact, never fully recover from his having done so. Would my dad (and by extension, the rest of us) have been a zillion times better off if it had been considered an option for him NOT to get married the second he graduated from high school and start pumping out the kids ready or not? OH FUCK YES.

  4. Anne
    Anne February 3, 2008 at 9:45 pm |

    You forgot to add that even though conservatives think men are idiots that need women to tame them, they’re somehow better than women naturally just because they have a peen. Their man-brains can handle science and math and all creativity.
    Women-brains can’t handle all that stuff so we should shut up and get our baby-making butts back in the kitchen and be submissive to those idiots because that is what makes us fulfilled and happy.

  5. exholt
    exholt February 3, 2008 at 10:24 pm |

    That adds up to tens of millions more young men blissfully free of mortgages, wives and child-care bills.

    If young adults are not ready for them, I would think that postponing these traditional trappings of “adulthood” is the more mature responsible course.

    As an aside, I wonder how long would it be before someone cites “The Decline & The Fall of The Roman Empire” as “evidence” this behavior will usher in a similar fate for our society? It is one thing older more socially conservative ex-neighbors, former co-workers, and some older relatives kept citing endlessly to me whenever they decide to lament the “extended adolescence” of Generation X and the millenials.

  6. Falyne
    Falyne February 3, 2008 at 10:38 pm |

    Exholt,

    I’ve thought we were heading towards the *start* of the Roman Empire, not its end, for a long time, but it wasn’t the behavior of the *citizenry* that’s made me think that….

    Speaking as a 23-year-old undergraduate female who is completely and absolutely more like the stereotypical 20-something-guy, I think it’s an incredibly, incredibly good thing that we have so many options. I want to live on my own, not with someone else, and spend my paycheck on myself, not on someone else, for at least most of the rest of my 20s. Kids? I like kids, and I want to have them someday, but that will *not* be anytime soon. Not until after I finish the small apartment, big city, drunken carousing, constant tabletop/video gaming phase of my existence, which will end when *I* want it to end. :-)

  7. Sycorax
    Sycorax February 3, 2008 at 10:47 pm |

    I love how she includes “massage some product into your hair and face” in the list of activities that marks the New Immature Man. The only explanation I can come up with for that is that she just went up into her mental attic, rummaged through the box marked “Unmanly Behavior”, and tossed everything she could find into that paragraph. Good grooming, if I’m not mistaken, is generally taken as a sign of maturity, yesno?

  8. Nellie
    Nellie February 3, 2008 at 11:07 pm |

    girls of widely varied hues and sizes

    Hahaha, I think if I ever publish a personal ad I will say that I am interested in meeting, “girls of widely varied hues and sizes”.

  9. Mold
    Mold February 3, 2008 at 11:16 pm |

    Gosh,

    I tell my students that the 20s are great for being single, exploratory, and young. Why waste the groovy years with sprats and diapers? Isn’t that why the 30s were invented?

  10. Dianne
    Dianne February 3, 2008 at 11:38 pm |

    In 1965 the average life expectancy was around 70. Now it is close to 80. Why shouldn’t people take that extra 10 years to mature and figure out what they want instead of doing the marry and breed thing because people tell them to?

  11. Dan S.
    Dan S. February 3, 2008 at 11:44 pm |

    It’s 1965, and you’re a 26-year-old white guy. You have a factory job, or maybe you work for an insurance broker. Either way, you’re married, probably have been for a few years now; . . . You’ve already got one kid, with another on the way. For now, you’re renting an apartment in your parents’ two-family house, but you’re saving up for a three-bedroom ranch house in the next town. Yup, you’re an adult!

    Of course, one of the factors (among many) was that that factory job often paid well enough that marriage, 2 kids, and saving up for a ranch house in a hs grad mid-20s actually made sense/was possible. Now that job got sent to some other country, and . . . etc. Which is not to say that our hypothetical 20-something might not be better off delaying such life changes, but . . .

    Give young men a choice between serious drama on the one hand . . . and the NFL on the other, and it’s . . . football by a mile.

    Of course, as her own piece points out, this hasn’t actually changed any time recently – certainly not from the halcyon days in her head.

    proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere: It is marriage and children that turn boys into men.

    Actually, what they discovered in (many) cultures is that it is initiation rituals often elaborate, generally involving male age mates and older men and tending to very specifically exclude girls and women, to the extent of symbolically tearing the boys away from their mothers, and bringing them out into the ‘undomesticated’ bush, that turn boys into men.

    What really set Maxim apart from other men’s mags was its voice. It was the sound of guys hanging around the Animal House living room.
    - referencing a movie that came out in 1978.

    You know, I don’t think the emotional-reflex-masquerading-as-ideology behind this piece is just that all men are stupid, lazy jerks who need to be managed. It’s also, maybe, that marriage, child-rearing, etc. are inherently somewhat unpleasant duties that people need to be maneuvered into as quickly as possible via social pressure, lest they escape and start enjoying themselves, because they’ll be no way to convince them to shoulder such burdensomeness then. Reminds me of some of the anti-gay marriage arguments, where it ends up coming across like marriage is some dull or even distasteful duty that one must commit to in order to perpetuate the society and species . . .

    girls of widely varied hues
    You can tell that really makes her twitch, and not in a good way . . .

    and sizes
    Oh, give me a break!

  12. Thlayli
    Thlayli February 3, 2008 at 11:45 pm |

    I love how she includes “massage some product into your hair and face” in the list of activities that marks the New Immature Man.

    I guess Aqua Velva and Brylcreem don’t count as “product”.

  13. jessilikewhoa
    jessilikewhoa February 4, 2008 at 12:16 am |

    y’kno, i actually just got engaged, and i’m going to be 27 in a few months, the fiance will be 25. and if i left it there im sure the author of the original piece would jump for joy. except, its going to be a verrrrrrrrrrry long engagement. we both just went back to school, my freshman year of college and hes finishing his sophomore, as we both took quite a few years off to do all the tawdry things the writer decried (and in my case, to wait til i could get financial aid as an independent student, so i could actually afford school). now, we both have undergrad and grad school ahead of us, and theres no way in hell were planning a wedding amidst all of that mess, we arent even thinking of setting a date til were both completely done with school, for now, we continue happily living in sin.

    as to our lack of a house in the burbs and secure employment, has this woman examined the economy lately? the way things are going, one of our favorite jokes is we may never afford that, and will continue renting an apartment from my mother in bufu til the end of time.

    when the american dream of security and a middle class lifestyle has in large part gone up in a poof of smoke, i would say us 20-somethings are quite right to do as we do, instead of working ourselves to death for a very very very small hill of beans, rotten depreciating beans. fuck, my mom is 60 and worries frequently that since she refinanced her house a few years ago, what with the current housing market problems she has zero equity in her home. i for one am damn glad i dont have that worry.

  14. Laura
    Laura February 4, 2008 at 12:22 am |

    Dan S. says:

    it ends up coming across like marriage is some dull or even distasteful duty that one must commit to in order to perpetuate the society and species . . .

    You’re absolutely right about this. One of the things that drives me batty about these articles, in a very personal way, is that they write my marriage out of existence. My husband and I got married at 23 (traditional big white wedding), but continue to live happily in our shitty one-bedroom urban apartment, getting high and playing video games, going to weekend-long music festivals, and having awesomely raucous sex. We used go to parties, and although everyone always knew we were a couple, they were shocked to learn were were married (there’s been less surprise as we’ve moved into our late twenties).

    Now, nearly six years later, I’m starting to wish we had a nicer house with a dishwasher, and we’d like a baby before the biological clock really starts ticking at 35, but these are separate questions from marriage. Knowing who you’ll love for the rest of your life doesn’t mean you’re ready for a minivan.

  15. pb
    pb February 4, 2008 at 12:22 am |

    It’s 1665, and you’re a 26-year-old white guy. You’re an indentured servant in Virginia, or maybe you work on your father’s land in Massachusetts. Either way, you’re not married because you aren’t independent yet. For now, you’re sleeping on a pallet in the kitchen in your master’s/parents’ house, but you’re saving up for a few acres of your own in the next town. Yup, you’re an adult!

    Sorry – as an aspiring history professor, I couldn’t resist. The fact is, the 1950s and 1960s saw historic lows in average age of marriage, even when compared to the 17th century. This may be tangential to the issue at hand, but I just wanted to stick my nose in and not that the average 17th-century New England man didn’t get married until age 26, and the average 17th-century Virginian had a pretty poor chance of getting married at all. Given that their life expectancies were much lower than ours, our forefathers spent a much greater part of their lives single, dependent, and living with other bachelors than do today’s 20-somethings.

  16. Gina
    Gina February 4, 2008 at 12:57 am |

    This may be tangential to the issue at hand, but I just wanted to stick my nose in and not that the average 17th-century New England man didn’t get married until age 26, and the average 17th-century Virginian had a pretty poor chance of getting married at all. Given that their life expectancies were much lower than ours, our forefathers spent a much greater part of their lives single, dependent, and living with other bachelors than do today’s 20-somethings.

    Great point! It’s nice to read people who know what they’re talking about. I think I just recovered a few of the brain cells I lost reading that article.

  17. Heather
    Heather February 4, 2008 at 1:26 am |

    Give young men a choice between serious drama on the one hand, and Victoria’s Secret models, battling cyborgs, exploding toilets and the NFL on the other, and it’s the models, cyborgs, toilets and football by a mile.

    I just had a conversation with my roommate about male and female stereotypes, how most girls aren’t ‘typical’ girls, and how guys need to wake up and realize this fact. Personally, I like low drama in my life, although TV/book/movie drama is really interesting. However, I spend large portions of my time watching the NFL on the weekend. And have you seen Transformers? That movie was sweet. So, yes, anti-feminists, if I have the choice between bitching about one of my friends or chilling with one of my friends in front of a TV, I’d rather take the latter option.

  18. exholt
    exholt February 4, 2008 at 1:29 am |

    Sorry – as an aspiring history professor, I couldn’t resist. The fact is, the 1950s and 1960s saw historic lows in average age of marriage, even when compared to the 17th century.

    As a fellow history student, I also recall that one’s rights as an “adult” are determined by the prevailing social and cultural context.

    In Late Imperial China, a man could be 26 years old, married, and well on his way to a promising career*, yet he and his family would be far more constrained in many ways than our present day “adolescents.” Unless by some remote chance he is the most senior male in the most senior generation in his clan/extended family, he and his family will always be beholden to the male head of the clan/extended family unless he somehow becomes senior enough to take over as that head**….or if the head approves splitting the clan/extended family up into separate independent households in a process known as Fengjia (“Splitting of a household”). This head controls nearly everything in his and his family’s existence…to the extent of controlling the basic necessities as money, clothing, and other necessities are owned by the clan/family, not individual members. This means a married man and his family in his 60′s with a decent career may still be dependent on his family for financial support with more restrictions than Kay Hymowitz’s stereotyped “adolescents”.

    * The most prestigious of these being an official in the Chinese Imperial Civil Service.
    ** The position of clan/extended family head is usually determined by seniority: one must be the oldest male from the seniormost generation of that particular clan/extended family.

  19. Hector B.
    Hector B. February 4, 2008 at 2:01 am |

    In the latest episode of What About the Menz, science has found a link between cunnilingus and oral cancer in men. The culprit is HPV — the vaccine for which is alarmingly only now being tested on the thoughtful, considerate male of the species.

  20. Jovan1984
    Jovan1984 February 4, 2008 at 3:34 am |

    The link between men and the 13 most serious types of HPVs — the 13 types of HPV (16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, and 68) that causes cervical cancer in women — is nothing more than propaganda concoted by MRAs and other anti-feminists. Men can’t get those 13 types of high-risk HPV.

  21. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth February 4, 2008 at 7:54 am |

    She forgot all of us twenty somethings who can’t afford to party OR get married because we are paying off student loans while living in our parents basement. One day I’m going to make a t-shirt that says “Boomerang Generation and proud of it!” Because if it wasn’t for these years living at home indentured to Sallie Mae, I’d still be paying them when I’m 39. Yuck.

  22. Dan S.
    Dan S. February 4, 2008 at 8:05 am |

    pb and exholt, that was awesome. Like gina says, I can feel the brain cells growing back . . .

    the vaccine for which is alarmingly only now being tested on the thoughtful, considerate male of the species.

    Wait, what about all the other guys? Sounds like some Gate to Women’s Country scenario . . . : )

  23. wriggles
    wriggles February 4, 2008 at 8:22 am |

    Eurrgh! I don’t know how men can stand to read themselves represented in this manner. I’m so glad you mentioned how much typical roles are such a burden on men, when I was a girl I decided I must be a feminist, ‘I’m not going to kill my husband!’ I thought (amongst other things).
    Anyhow, I agree that feminism is about being a human being as opposed to a convenient construct and I think that goes for men too.

  24. roses
    roses February 4, 2008 at 11:30 am |

    Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones – high school degree, financial independence, marriage and children.

    She’s (deliberately?) leaving something out – between 1965 and now, college degree has been added to the list of milestones, between high school degree and financial independence. That necessarily pushes back those other milestones by four years (more if he pursues a postgrad education or if he spends a few years before college saving up to avoid being crippled by student loans).

  25. Hector B.
    Hector B. February 4, 2008 at 11:56 am |

    That necessarily pushes back those other milestones by four years

    Not as far as you might think. The prospect of a draft deferment motivated thousands more guys to go to college in the mid-sixties, where many found what they hoped was a life partner. Several guys I know met their (first) wives in college, and married the same month as the younger partner’s graduation.

  26. Dianne
    Dianne February 4, 2008 at 12:02 pm |

    Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones

    Not so long ago (on an evolutionary time scale), the average 15 year old had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones. So? We live longer now and our lives are more complicated: we simply need to know more to be adults. Even people who get “factory jobs” or the modern equivalent need to know how to use computers, understand basic mechanics, and ideally have a reasonable grasp on economics and current events to avoid finding themselves suddenly out of a job when their current skill set becomes obsolete. All that takes time. It’s not reasonable to ask people to be independent adults when you haven’t given them the time they need to develop the ability to be independent adults. Life is different now than in 1965, for better or worse, so give it up.

  27. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne February 4, 2008 at 12:14 pm |

    Sorry – as an aspiring history professor, I couldn’t resist. The fact is, the 1950s and 1960s saw historic lows in average age of marriage, even when compared to the 17th century.

    Back in the 1920s, my grandparents married when my grandmother was 25 and my grandfather was 28. It wasn’t considered unusually late by any means.

  28. W. Kiernan
    W. Kiernan February 4, 2008 at 12:50 pm |

    pb: Sorry – as an aspiring history professor, I couldn’t resist. The fact is, the 1950s and 1960s saw historic lows in average age of marriage, even when compared to the 17th century.

    Exactly. Kay Hymowitz, have you met my friend The Facts? No? Well then, Kay, Facts. Facts, Kay.

  29. zuzu
    zuzu February 4, 2008 at 1:12 pm | *

    I can’t decide if I liked this better when Kathryn Jean Lopez did it last week, though she tied it into Juno.

    It’s always fun to watch the new memes coming out of the factory.

  30. Professor Fate
    Professor Fate February 4, 2008 at 2:00 pm |

    She doesn’t hate men, she doesn’t hate women – she hates people.

  31. Marie
    Marie February 4, 2008 at 3:10 pm |

    That was a very long article that can be summarized like this:
    I want grandchildren, damn it!

  32. Roy
    Roy February 4, 2008 at 3:18 pm |

    Now that the SYM can put off family into the hazily distant future, he can – and will – try to stay a child-man. Not only is no one asking that today’s twenty- or thirtysomething become a responsible husband and father – that is, grow up – but a freewheeling marketplace gives him everything he needs to settle down in pig’s heaven indefinitely.

    I love it.
    The entire thing is founded on the idea that the sole marker of adulthood is getting married and having children. So, necessarily, anyone who refuses to do those things isn’t an adult. It’s a self-defining problem- “Men aren’t growing up- look at how they’re staying single longer and not having children as early!” Well, what do you count as growing up? Oh, right, having children and getting married.

    Nevermind that they’ve got a steady job or are financially independent, or actively pursuing education, or succeeding in any number of other areas- they’re not producing offspring or getting in debt over their eyeballs on a house they can’t afford, or getting married when they’re not ready!

  33. julia colon
    julia colon February 4, 2008 at 3:20 pm |

    Men can, indeed, get HPV, including 16 and 18, which are most strongly linked to cervical cancer (how do you think all those straight women pick it up?) and it should further be noted that those strains of HPV have also been linked to anal cancer, which is gender-neutral in its victims, and which you do not want. For both reasons — transmission to women and avoidance of anal cancer — men ought by rights to be considered for vaccinatio. I have no idea why the hell they aren’t yet.

  34. exholt
    exholt February 4, 2008 at 5:38 pm |

    I wonder how much this fear relates to the idea that married adults, especially those with families are the bulwarks of social stability because their responsibilities not only act as social constraints, but also tie them closer to older generations due to the commonality of having those responsibilities.

    Without any responsibilities or families acting as social constraints or supposedly positioning them into having a stake in the community they do not want to risk, the single person is seen as someone whose freedom of action and agency due to an absence/reduction of such responsibilities and thus, much less controllable by the powers that be.

    This is an idea I’ve commonly come across while living in the Boston area…especially when older socially conservative neighbors lament the displacement of families by wealthy single college students who they see as having no real stake in the community because they tend to be disrespectful of their older neighbors with noise, drunken behavior, and outright vandalism and leave once they graduate. Though their motives was one of mere politeness, they told me they preferred young professionals like myself as they felt that the responsibilities of my job and maintaining myself acted as a social constraint as opposed to the college kids whom they saw as still living freely under their parents’ dime. When I attempted to get them to consider that there were many college students who, like myself, were on scholarship and working their way through school without any parental assistance, they stated we were the lamentably few exceptions and took that as a cue to change the conversation topic. :roll:

  35. Mike F
    Mike F February 4, 2008 at 8:08 pm |

    As the chart I found on Wkipedia shows, until recently most of us did not live much past our 30′s, if that.

    Humans by Era Average Lifespan at Birth (years)
    Neanderthal 20
    Upper Paleolithic 33
    Neolithic 20
    Bronze Age 18
    Classical Greece 20-30
    Classical Rome 20-30
    Pre-Colombian North America 25-35
    Medieval Britain 20-30
    Early 20th Century 30-40
    Current world average 67

    My point being, Men died at a young age from many causes. War, sickness, over work, bad diets. You name it. One in four women died in child birth. I wonder what halcyon age the auther was refering to? As a wise woman once said, “Life is uncertain. Eat desert first.”

  36. Ugly In Pink
    Ugly In Pink February 5, 2008 at 2:22 pm |

    Mike F,

    I was under the impression that most of that early lifespan was because of high childhood mortality rates, and if you managed to make it to ten or so you would probably live to see fifty or sixty. Just academic nitpicking.

  37. bunny214
    bunny214 February 5, 2008 at 2:43 pm |

    holy crap that was sexist! ill have to show this to my bf…

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