Wait, I thought feminists were supposed to hate men

dumb-neanderthal.jpg
What Kay Hymowitz thinks 20-something men look like.

Yet another reminder that it’s conservatives, not feminists, who think that men are inherently stupid Neanderthals who need women to control them. They’re also happy to remind you (if you are a woman) that while men are hard-wired to be stupid jerks, it is somehow your fault when they act like stupid jerks.

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!

Now meet the 21st-century you, also 26. You’ve finished college and work in a cubicle in a large Chicago financial-services firm. You live in an apartment with a few single guy friends. In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face – and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes. Wife? Kids? House? Are you kidding?

…and this is somehow supposed to convince men and women that the current state of things is bad for all involved.

I date guys in their mid-20s, like the 26-year-old Hymowitz paints. And while there is nothing wrong with going straight from high school to the factory job and living in your parents’ basement with your wife and a couple of kids and dreaming of the suburban ranch-style home, the very description of that lifestyle makes me feel all claustrophobic and twitchy. You will not in a million years convince me that that version of adulthood is ideal for everyone; you will surely not convince me that that version of adulthood is what all women secretly want in men.

I’ll also point out here that Hymowitz is very specific in talking about white men — that’s because she has serious issues with black people, and I suspect that she thinks black men in 1965 (and now) were busy impregnating black women and then leaving them to irresponsibly raise crack-addicted babies on welfare.

Not only is Hymowitz a racist asshole, but she’s a misogynist (and misandrist, much as that word grates on me) one, too.

Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones – high school degree, financial independence, marriage and children. These days, he lingers – happily – in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. Decades in unfolding, this limbo may not seem like news to many, but in fact it is to the early 21st century what adolescence was to the early 20th: a momentous sociological development of profound economic and cultural import.

It’s time to state what is now obvious to legions of frustrated young women: The limbo doesn’t bring out the best in young men.

With women, you could argue that adulthood is in fact emergent. Single women in their 20s and early 30s are joining an international New Girl Order, hyper-achieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling and dining with friends. Single young males, or SYMs, by contrast, often seem to hang out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3 and, in many cases, underachieving. With them, adulthood looks as though it’s receding.

I really fail to understand why conservatives are so concerned with men and women delaying marriage and family life. Life is long! Most Americans live into their 70s; many live much longer than that. God forbid people should spend a few years of adulthood having some fun and figuring out who they are and what they enjoy before seeking out a life partner.

Consider: In 1970, 69 percent of 25-year-old and 85 percent of 30-year-old white men were married; in 2000, only 33 percent and 58 percent were, respectively. And the percentage of young guys tying the knot is declining as you read this. Census Bureau data show that the median age of marriage among men rose from 26.8 in 2000 to 27.5 in 2006 – a dramatic demographic shift for such a short time period.

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

Again: …so?

If young men don’t want or aren’t ready for mortgages, wives and child-care bills, then it’s probably not a good idea for them to be buying houses, getting married or having kids. Feminism has brought a whole lot of good to a whole lot of people, and one thing it’s done has been to free men from some of their traditional obligations. Now that women can work, support themselves and choose to delay marriage, men can also have time to be single, and can pursue things that the enjoy rather than having to be the sole person who is financially responsible for an entire family at a very young age. Traditional male roles are huge burdens on men. And while I’m certainly not suggesting that fathers or partners should have no responsibilities, I am saying that it’s good when men can make the choice to delay marriage or child-rearing if they aren’t ready for it. It’s good that men have greater flexibility in their career choices.

But Hymowitz doesn’t agree — in part because she thinks all young single men are the be-penised equivalent to those oft-discussed, supposedly hyper-selfish and irresponsible Sex & the City ladies:

A signal cultural moment came in April 1997, when Maxim, a popular British “lad magazine,” hit American shores. Maxim plastered covers and features with pouty-lipped, tousled-haired pinups in lacy underwear and, in case that didn’t do the trick, block-lettered promises of sex! lust! naughty! And it worked.

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. Maxim asked the SYM what he wanted and learned that he didn’t want to grow up. And now the Maxim child-man voice has gone mainstream. You’re that 26-year-old who wants sophomoric fun and macho action? Now the culture has a groaning table of entertainment with your name on it.

I hate Maxim as much as the next feminist, but I don’t think it’s been all that instrumental in getting young men to forgo marriage. I think it’s yet another magazine in a long, long line that sells well because it has pictures of hot, half-naked chicks, because it’s occasionally funny, and because it’s brain-candy. In other words, it sells for the same reasons that Cosmo does.

That sound you hear is women not laughing. Oh, some women get a kick out of child-men and their frat/fart jokes. But for many, the child-man is either an irritating mystery or a source of heartbreak. In contemporary female writing and conversation, the words “immature” and “men” seem united in perpetuity.

Sure, guys who cover their walls with Maxim pages and refer to other men as “bro” are probably not the most mature people. They definitely aren’t my type. But you know, I would much rather let them hang out with their former frat brothers making fart jokes* than force them to be husbands and fathers. And there are a whole lot of young men who shockingly don’t fit the frat boy stereotype, and who are young and single and yet still mature and thoughtful and interesting. There are men (and women) who understand that a wedding ring is not a reflection of one’s cognitive development.

Naturally, women wonder: How did this perverse creature come to be? The most prevalent theory comes from feminist-influenced academics and cultural critics, who view dude media as symptoms of backlash, a masculinity crisis. Men feel threatened by female empowerment, these thinkers argue, and in their anxiety, they cling to outdated roles.

Well, yeah, because this “perverse creature” has always existed. There has always been fear-mongering about immature men needing women to trick them into marriage — isn’t that one of the central messages of abstinence-only education? That girls should preserve their virginity so that they can exchange it for a nice shiny diamond, like they did in the good old days?

Immaturity in 20-something men isn’t uncommon because immaturity in 20-something people isn’t all that uncommon. Titty mags are not new inventions. Complaints about guys acting like assholes are not new — because, surprise, some people are assholes. A whole lot of people continue to be assholes after they hit 30 and 40 and beyond. Marriage is hardly the best way to turn a selfish jerk into a selfless provider.

I’m not trying to disregard concerns about young men acting like self-centered pricks or perpetual adolescents. That’s certainly a fair criticism of some young men, and I’d agree that there is a greater cultural shift towards accepting it. But it’s not new, and “boys will be boys” certainly wasn’t a feminist slogan. If some of the behaviors that men exhibit are problematic, then let’s deal with that — but it’s not really fair or accurate to blame women for not properly brow-beating them into marriage. And it’s not fair or accurate to paint young single men as selfish, childish jerks just because they aren’t ready for marriage at 25.

But this history suggests an uncomfortable fact about the new SYM: He’s immature because he can be. We can argue endlessly about whether “masculinity” is natural or constructed – whether men are innately promiscuous, restless and slobby or socialized to be that way – but there’s no denying the lesson of today’s media marketplace: 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.

For whatever reason, adolescence appears to be the young man’s default state, proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere: It is marriage and children that turn boys into men. 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.

In other words, the problem is that we’ve simply given young men too many choices.

The superficiality, indolence and passionlessness evoked in Mr. Hornby’s novels haven’t triggered any kind of cultural transformation. The SYM doesn’t read much, remember, and he certainly doesn’t read anything prescribing personal transformation. The child-man may be into self-mockery; self-reflection is something else entirely.

That’s too bad. Young men especially need a culture that can help them define worthy aspirations.

Adults don’t emerge. They’re made.

Made, apparently, by women.

I do agree with Hymowitz that there’s a crisis of masculinity going on, especially after the second wave of feminism. Women have internalized much of the feminist message, but a whole lot of men aren’t there yet, and so there are serious disconnects. Part of the problem is that feminism challenged the central tenant of American masculinity: That to be a man was to be a provider. There are a lot of different ways masculinity is constructed, but the provider model tends to cross over into almost all of them. Women, as economic actors, don’t need men to the same degree that we did before. Instead, we can freely choose to be with them (and it’s worth noting that most heterosexual women do choose to be in romantic relationships with men). But the power dynamic has shifted, and men still have a lot of catching up to do — what it means to be an American woman has been re-defined and expanded, but how one lives as an American man is in flux. The perpetual adolescent model has, for some men, filled the gap.

The problem, for me, isn’t simply that the model itself is problematic (though it is) — it’s that acceptable forms of masculinity remain limited. And it’s that masculine roles continue to depend on somehow controlling or insulting women — or in simply being “not-women.” If conservatives were genuinely interested in helping American men, they’d be 100% behind breaking down gender roles and stereotypes so that men could be individuals, not caricatures of masculinity. They would want men to seek out personal happiness and fulfillment, not be forced or coerced into a particular mold.

But, despite all their anti-feminism and their cowboy posturing, they don’t care all that much about men as individuals. They care about upholding a particular social system that privileges some men above all others. To do that, they rely on claims of biology and the “natural” state of humanity, wherein men are barely a step above monkeys, naturally selfish and disgusting, occasionally violent but slightly dumb, and desperately in need of a nurturing, kind (but nagging when necessary) women to civilize them.

Feminists, on the other hand, believe that men are human beings, subject to all of the same socializing forces as the rest of us. And because men are human beings who are fully capable of reason and thought, and who are not brutes or Neanderthals, we expect them to act like human beings.

That, apparently, makes us man-haters, and it makes conservatives like Kay Hymowitz great defenders of American manhood. Go figure.

___________________________
*Which, as a genre, are hilarious.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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37 Responses to Wait, I thought feminists were supposed to hate men

  1. Christine says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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. says:

    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 says:

    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. 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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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. says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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. says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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. says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

  31. Marie says:

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

  32. Roy says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

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