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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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61 Responses

  1. Hugo
    Hugo February 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |

    I think we can easily dismiss Hymowitz’s concerns about what she sees as the breakdown of the social order. But again, the sense that there’s something amiss with young men is not solely a concern of the right. Michael Kimmel, our leading scholar of masculinity, and Bob Jensen (staunch progressives) both have made the case that we do have a serious problem with “our guys.” Kimmel, on video games and escapism:

    Because, as it turns out, the fantasy world of media is both an escape from reality and an escape to reality — the reality that many of these guys would secretly like to inhabit. Video games, in particular, provide a way for guys to feel empowered. In their daily lives guys often feel that they don’t measure up to the standards of the Guy Code — always be in control, never show weakness, neediness, vulnerability — and so they create ideal versions of themselves in fantasy. The thinking is simple: if somebody messes with your avatar, you blow him away. It’s a fantasy world of Manichean good and evil, a world in which violence is restorative and actions have no consequences whatsoever. (From “Guyland”)

    It’s not feminism that’s the problem. It’s young men’s increasing sense that the masculine ideal is so far beyond their grasp that there’s no point pursuing it save in fantasy.

    Kimmel and Jensen and I get a lot of flack for our worries about “pot, porn, poker, and Playstation.” And indeed, maybe it’s generational — we’re lefty, middle-class academic men over forty who may not always grasp the cultural vocabulary of younger guys. Hymowitz is dead wrong in her caricature of young men as emasculated victims of feminism. But to insist that there is no problem with the lads of “guyland” is just as wrong. Again, Hymowitz is right on the symptoms, but has misdiagnosed the disease.

  2. Jim
    Jim February 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    ““Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children.’

    The whole US economy has been hollowed out, gone from being based on manufacturing and production to ebing based on rent-seeking, and feminsism is the problem. Pull the other one, Kate.

    Hugo, I agree with your whole post. There is something wrong with what is happening to young men. It will amuse you to know that you and quite a number of MRAs agree on that, in fact they are loud and obnoxious on that point (in a good way), and it will further amuse you to know that many of those same MRAs also do not blame feminism. They blame man-hating white knight men mostly.

  3. Clarissa
    Clarissa February 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm |

    I don’t understand why video games are so consistently presented as “a guy thing.” It isn’t. I, for one, love playing video games. Most of my female friends do too. The same goes for porn. This hasn’t prevented us from being very happy with our lives. Neither has it made is any less female.

  4. norbizness
    norbizness February 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |

    “Well, we’ve got plenty of theory, anecdotes and buzzwords… those are KINDS of evidence.”

  5. Hugo
    Hugo February 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    Clarissa, I too know lots of women who look at porn and play video games, including many of my students. But how many hours are they spending at it? Again, I don’t know that we have the research, but what Kimmel found suggests that young men are much more likely to engage in the marathon gaming/porn sessions that damage relationships, sleep, etc.

    It’s not about settling down. It’s about not being a burden to the women in your life. As we keep asking: who pays the rent? Who buys the groceries? Who cooks the food? Who does the laundry? Too often, the answer is mom, girlfriend, sister.

  6. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar February 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm |

    Has anyone tried to relate this to economic measures? My conjecture is that a generation’s average age of marriage will be significantly driven by the availability of stable income with which to support a family. That would explain why now (the new Gilded Age, with vast disparities in wealth) looks more like the old Gilded Age, and the period that followed World War II, the “great levelling” with lower distributional inequality had lower marriage ages.

  7. Clarissa
    Clarissa February 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |

    “It’s not about settling down. It’s about not being a burden to the women in your life. As we keep asking: who pays the rent? Who buys the groceries? Who cooks the food? Who does the laundry? Too often, the answer is mom, girlfriend, sister. ”

    -Is there any evidence that anybody is forcing mom, girlfriend, sister to do any of these things? If not and everybody is happy, who’s to say that these people’s lifestyles are wrong? Who’s to say they are not very happy with their lives and that duties and obligations will make them happier?

  8. Geds
    Geds February 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    Michael Kimmel, our leading scholar of masculinity

    I have two questions.

    1. We have a “leading scholar of masculinity?”

    2. Why do we need a leading scholar of masculinity?

    That’s all I got. I mean, other than the bit where I think the whole thing is BS. There have always been rogues, scoundrels, and layabouts among the male population. They just got themselves killed off doing stupid things or in war. Or they were forced to flee society to become highway robbers or something. Or they simply had no choice but to conform to society’s standards of what they were supposed to be. In short, they either conformed or were cast out and basically ignored.

    The prime difference now is that you don’t have to conform. Guys like that stay in society and live to a ripe old age. Maybe they decide to change in the process and maybe they don’t. The big question, in my mind at least is, “Why do we really need to care?”

    Of course for people like Hymowitz the answer is, “So we can force women in to hysterics over the fact that they’re supposed to define themselves according to the man they’re with and we just can’t seem to find any men that want to help a woman define herself in that way!” And we have to support Hymowitz and her ilk. In this lousy economy single shaming is one of the few growth industries…

  9. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos February 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    Is there any evidence that anybody is forcing mom, girlfriend, sister to do any of these things? If not and everybody is happy, who’s to say that these people’s lifestyles are wrong? Who’s to say they are not very happy with their lives and that duties and obligations will make them happier?

    Are these serious questions? Or did Feministe turn into the Feminism 101 blog?

  10. Cha-Cha
    Cha-Cha February 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    I think this Feministe article was great.

    @ Clarissa – I think your request for empiracal evidence is right on – and I don’t have it. I wish I did.

    What I have had is the following experience in relationships with some men: it goes something like, I’m allowed to be successful and intelligent and the major financial contributor to the household, but I’m also expected to take care of the house work, do all the emotional work in the relationship, and eventually, to take a primary role in raising the babies. This is NOT the same as me saying that I’d rather be back in the kitchen and have him out in the working world, or something. It’s saying, if I’m out all day and all night working, then there is NO WAY that I can also be responsible for all the work at home, in the relationship, and with kids.

    I think this experience gets twisted by conservative writers to say, basically, it’s my fault if my man won’t do any work, because by being successful I’m emasculating him. But I don’t think the rebuttle has to be that this experience isn’t real – I don’t know about it being at epidemic proportions (maybe is, maybe isn’t, idk) but I have experienced it. I think the rebuttle is to say that we need to create equal relationships without a double burden on women. Economics and work distribution in a relationship should be conscious decisions, and they should be negotiated and re-negotiated according to the needs of both partners. I shouldn’t be relegated to a certain role because I’m a woman – but I shouldn’t be expected to do ALL the work, and all the roles, either.

  11. wunderkit(ten)
    wunderkit(ten) February 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    I wonder what effect recessions/pandemics/world wars have on these stats…

  12. Brett K
    Brett K February 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    Yeah, the notion that everyone prior to 1960 got married in their early 20s is nonsense – much like the belief that women never worked outside the home before the 20th century. In western Europe, at least (I can’t speak for the rest of the world), most people in the medieval and early modern periods got married in their mid to late 20s, once they had the economic stability required to maintain a household. Early marriage really only took place in aristocratic families, and in cultures where people lived in extended-family households where having one’s own home wasn’t a prerequisite for marriage and adulthood.

    The whole getting married in one’s early twenties thing has nothing to do with tradition, and everything to do with the economic prosperity of the mid-20th century. And Hymonowitz may well know that, but she’s clearly ignoring it since it doesn’t fit with her bizarre agenda.

  13. Florence
    Florence February 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    Clarissa: Is there any evidence that anybody is forcing mom, girlfriend, sister to do any of these things? If not and everybody is happy, who’s to say that these people’s lifestyles are wrong? Who’s to say they are not very happy with their lives and that duties and obligations will make them happier?  

    When you look at the literature, it is plain that the issue is not “everybody is happy”. In fact, most everyone in the solution is unhappy, including the freeloaders.

  14. Helen
    Helen February 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  15. Florence
    Florence February 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    The original take on the feminist side of this thesis. It’s a series of interviews and case studies. Kimmel has a site where you can peruse his stance in Guyland.

    Both of these should be part of the vocabulary for contemporary feminists, IMO, so we can get away from the “but I like video games!” threadjacks.

  16. PM
    PM February 24, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

    “It’s young men’s increasing sense that the masculine ideal is so far beyond their grasp that there’s no point pursuing it save in fantasy. ”

    You seem to be implying that the “masculine ideal” (to these young men) is a violent one, since your Kimmel quote mentions violent games. In that case, there IS no point in pursuing it, since it leads to lifelong injuries, PTSD, and early death. Most young men nowadays understand that. The demystification of the soldier as the “ultimate man” is a step in the right direction. So we don’t yet have a good, widespread model for masculinity? Fine, it’s better than the violent imperialist dupe we in the States held up as the ultimate man through much of the 20th century.

  17. Cha-Cha
    Cha-Cha February 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm |

    Lots of writers have also pointed out that this is a pretty racist assertion, given slavery, indentured servitude, the effects of racism on which women get which jobs, etc… I seem to remember Angela Davis pointing out something along the lines of (paraphrasing) that while white women fought to not be treated as second class citizens, Black women had to fight to be treated as human beings, period.

  18. Cha-Cha
    Cha-Cha February 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |

    Crap I can’t use blockquote yet… that was in reference to
    Brett K: “…much like the belief that women never worked outside the home before the 20th century. “

  19. Clarissa
    Clarissa February 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm |

    Florence: I’m allowed to be successful and intelligent and the major financial contributor to the household, but I’m also expected to take care of the house work, do all the emotional work in the relationship

    You don’t have to live up to anybody’s expectations, do you? You could, however, ask yourself why you end up with people who don’t see you as a valid human being.

  20. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni February 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    @Hugo – plenty of non-men spend hours gaming. For disabled (and unable to work) types like myself, gaming can be a brilliant distraction and time filler. Hell, even my mother, 56 years old and gimpy herself, can spend hours hunched over her DS. She’d never touched a video game in her life until Boxing Day last year (26th Dec.) Men aren’t the only ‘hardcore’ gamers.

    @Rare Vos – the 101 stuff comes and goes in waves. Sometimes you get a proper “kyriarchal oppression, and elevation of white US males above all others, is the cause of inequality” discussion, other times it’s “Yeah, but the MENZ! What about them?”. C’est la vie feministe…

  21. latinist
    latinist February 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm |

    It’s certainly true that, for some young men in some segments of society, there’s a period of transition between education and “serious adult life,” and that this period can be confusing. But (a) I’m unconvinced that this is a new, weird, or dangerous development, and (b) I’m not sure how much video games have to do with it. I am skeptical that my acquaintances who spent their early twenties playing WoW were more misguided than those who got married (and, often, divorced) at that age; what seems to be left out of these “Guyland” analyses is that, for many (most?) guys, it’s a temporary, transitional period within a society-normal life, not a separate class of unassimilated gamers. And those who do stay in Guyland into adulthood, in my experience, end up eventually doing so on their own dime (if they weren’t doing so from the start).

    A transition between social roles is always confusing, and our age isn’t the first to notice it. The young male characters in most P.G. Wodehouse novels are going through a pretty Guyland-like period, without the benefit of Judd Apatow or Playstation or (as far as I know) marijuana; they do fine with vaudeville and gambling and alcohol. There’s a similar concern with their tendency (when they’re not independently wealthy) to mooch off of parents and friends and (less acceptably, in that time) fiancees; and eventually they’re expected to get married and find work (or inherit from a fabulously wealthy uncle or something).

    It’s certainly true that gender roles are pretty cruelly policed in “Guyland”; but that’s true of Boyland and Manland and Girlland and Womanland and their various provinces as well, and I’m not convinced the policing is unique or especially savage among unemployed gamers compared to, say, high school students or investment bankers.

  22. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable February 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm |

    Whoa, Clarissa. Patriarchy is probably not Florence’s fault (unless I’m missing something).

  23. Astrid Chelonian
    Astrid Chelonian February 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm |

    Yes, yes girls can play video games too. NO ONE CARES. YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT. Unless the kind of “equality” we are after is everyone sitting in the basement playing stupid games, depressed, unemployed, and having given up on life entirely, mooching off their parents.

  24. Frowner
    Frowner February 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    I’m always confused by where people are getting their history. That “what men had learned by the early 20th century” business would have been correct perhaps in the 20s for an urban, assimilated middle class population–or for part of that population, anyway. And anyway, in the twenties there was a similar panic about “flaming youth” and “petting parties” and too many movies.

    Seriously, marriage and courtship vary wildly across national, class, ethnic and regional lines…and there are always outlier populations–urban working class women in the 18th century who were laundresses, prostitutes or in the grey market lived far differently from how we think of 18th century women, for example. It’s very difficult to figure out any kind of consistent truth about what a majority does and how they think about what they do. The only rule is that the past is much less stodgy and respectable than you think–any time someone starts talking about how respectful teenagers were in the fifties, or how before the sexual revolution men were the undisputed heads of the household, you can assume not only that they are wrong but that they have absolutely no ability to read history.

  25. Florence
    Florence February 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Whoa, Clarissa. Patriarchy is probably not Florence’s fault (unless I’m missing something).  

    I certainly hope not! If so, I apologize!

    Also, I think I was misquoted there. :)

  26. Florence
    Florence February 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm |

    Latinist, I hear your criticism and understand what you’re getting at.

    I think sometimes these criticisms of masculinity are alarmist or baseless (see: Kay Hymowitz). The “Guyland” thesis is that boys are raised in a homosocial culture that values bullying and hazing behaviors in order to actively police gender norms. One of the most dangerous policing of said gender norms is that femininity is gross and gay and must be avoided at all costs (unless you’re trying to fuck it?), and that “feminine” things like education and family responsiblity (among others) are more likely to be avoided by generations of boys raised under these conditions. This is Judith Butler in real language with an emphasis on teen and young adult boy culture.

  27. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar February 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    For what it’s worth, I reviewed Guyland at some length.

  28. Hugo
    Hugo February 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |

    And I too have a three-part review of Guyland, which I liked a bit better than Thomas did.

  29. Ens
    Ens February 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm |

    The problem I have with the “pot, porn, poker, and Playstation.” thesis is it defocuses the problems and scapegoats the issue. There is absolutely no problem with people doing this for recreation for any amount of time at all, period (well, porn has its controversial issues, and maybe 24/7 pot for a decade can cause your spine to collapse like they warned in health class, but that’s not the point). That’s basically none of anybody’s business, and applying some strict “too much” standard is enforcing your arbitrary notion of what a person should be on somebody else. I’ve yet to see a convincing position that playing poker or Playstation is even a sign of problem, for all the pontification I see about depression or escapism (is escapism really a problem? Would it be better if the game he was playing wasn’t a Doom-alike?).

    Even if you’re successful in reducing time spent on those four, that in no way means you’ve increased their time doing basic household tasks or employed for money (now they’re watching sports and/or at the bar). Leisure is highly fungible.

    What’s an issue is if a person unfairly subjugates somebody else (parents, girlfriend, the ex-girlfriend who is still doing the laundry for the guy in the other thread, whatever) in order to meet their daily needs instead of negotiating an equitable arrangement according to what each can bring to the table. The goal shouldn’t be “let’s keep people from opting out of taking care of themselves and into x, y, z“, it should just be “let’s keep people from opting out of taking care of themselves” or even better, give it a positive phrasing, “let’s get people to take care of themselves (to a reasonable extent given the full context of that person’s situation and allowing for some negotiated reasonable division of labour with other household members)”.

  30. David
    David February 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm |

    Hugo:
    Clarissa, I too know lots of women who look at porn and play video games, including many of my students.But how many hours are they spending at it?Again, I don’t know that we have the research, but what Kimmel found suggests that young men are much more likely to engage in the marathon gaming/porn sessions that damage relationships, sleep, etc.
    It’s not about settling down.It’s about not being a burden to the women in your life.As we keep asking: who pays the rent?Who buys the groceries?Who cooks the food?Who does the laundry?Too often, the answer is mom, girlfriend, sister.  

    Actually, the answer is often: Ourselves. Thanks Hugo, for trying to fan the flames of stupidity further.

    However, don’t call me sympathetic to people who are lazy. If you are a woman or a man, and find yourself in a relationship where you are doing all the heavy lifting: tell your partner to get their ass off the couch and get to work.

  31. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie February 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm |

    @ Clarissa: You don’t have to live up to anybody’s expectations, do you?

    Ever heard of PATRIARCHY?

    Feminism 101 indeed.

    Also, re: “the masculine ideal” – seems to me some of the masculine ideal includes perpetuating the exploitation and abuse of women, so maybe it’s time to challenge the “ideal.”

  32. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm |

    You know at some point we could have a discussion of masculine gender conformity problems, our complicity in that system and the consequences in for shared endeavors. Or we can just continue to talk about how men who fail to earn are freeloaders.

    Nope women never police gender conformity. We’re a fucking bastion of empathy.

  33. annalouise
    annalouise February 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm |

    What would you call men, who are encouraged by our culture to rely on a woman for their financial, emotional and physical support if not freeloaders? Why on earth should women be expected to have compassion and empathy for men who exploit women?

    What an odd form of inter-sectional feminism that is being promoted here. But that, like the phenomenon of an extended adolescence is nothing new. A lot of Second wave feminism started in response to male-dominated counter cultural that talked about things like not defining ourselves by capitalist values, or the ideal of the organization man is terrible or we should all be freer to enjoy ourselves and not measure ourselves by what we produce. And of course, what they really meant is that women should suck their cocks, bear their children, raise their children, clean their house, wash their dishes, make the money to support them, their house and their children and do it all without dragging them down into that oppressive capitalist conformity (by expecting them to clean up after themselves or get a fucking job)
    .
    Obviously, Hymovitz is being ridiculous in suggesting that the 1950s order was somehow good for women, but let’s not forget that the rebellion against that system also sucked for women.

  34. marle
    marle February 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm |

    I agree w/ annalouise that we shouldn’t stand up for men who exploit and take advantage of women. But I think we’re talking about a lot of different situations (or at least Hymowitz is) and not all of them are the same. A man who lives with his girlfriend/wife who’s doing all the cleaning and the breadwinning, etc, is different than a man who lives alone or with male roommates, and takes care of himself but just isn’t ambitious and likes video games a lot. But it’s the latter that Hymowitz really chews out. I think some people are arguing with the idea that men need to be successful careerwise, and other people are arguing that men need to not put all the responsibility on women. Sometimes those two overlap, and sometimes they don’t, and that’s making this conversation go all over the place.

  35. Tony
    Tony February 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm |

    “Freeloading” has its advantages, but it also has its costs. I don’t know of any guys who actually want to be one of these stereotypes being discussed here in this thread, and it’s not because they absolutely couldn’t.

  36. Tony
    Tony February 24, 2011 at 11:24 pm |

    Feminists more than any other should know that being a complete adult-child is no way to live life (regardless of the impact on anyone else). Sorry if that’s judgmental, but it’s hard to believe women would have fought so hard for their rights if they didn’t see the value of realizing their full potential (and by that I obviously mean more broad than just achieving ‘career success’ by traditional measures. But not so broad as to be satisfied spending a decade playing video games and drinking beer.)

  37. Sundown
    Sundown February 24, 2011 at 11:28 pm |

    A man who lives with his girlfriend/wife who’s doing all the cleaning and the breadwinning, etc, is different than a man who lives alone or with male roommates, and takes care of himself but just isn’t ambitious and likes video games a lot.

    You said it much better than I could have, marle.

    The issues of women typically having to contribute more work to a household definitely deserve attention, and men in the former group shouldn’t be let off the hook. At the same time, the men in the latter group are doing nothing wrong.

    I think maybe it’s just easy to forget that many adult men are single and aren’t living with women in their current household.

  38. Sundown
    Sundown February 24, 2011 at 11:28 pm |

    Oops, forgot to close the quote!

  39. Brett K
    Brett K February 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm |

    Cha-Cha: Crap I can’t use blockquote yet… that was in reference to
    Brett K: “…much like the belief that women never worked outside the home before the 20th century. “  

    It’s racist, and it’s classist. Sure, white, upper-class (generally EXTREMELY upper-class) women have often not worked outside the home. Apparently they’re the only women who matter, or something.

  40. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 25, 2011 at 12:25 am |

    @AnnaLouise,

    The same thing I call women who stay at home and do not do any housework. People who want and have a different life. You and others are imputing abuse and attributing it to a large class of people where you have no reason to believe their behavior is abusive. Please tell me how this is different from calling women who don’t wish to work golddiggers? Are those relationships abusive? Are those women freeloaders?

    There is a clear distintion between critiquing a social structure that makes women feel compelled to care for men that they don’t WANT to care for and shaming and insulting people (who may be dealing with their own shit that makes caring for themselves difficult) who may very well be in relationships with people who are okay with taking care of them. Or worse implying (as was done in the last thread) that all dependent relationships are abusive.

  41. latinist
    latinist February 25, 2011 at 1:03 am |

    “But not so broad as to be satisfied spending a decade playing video games and drinking beer.”

    Well, how about spending, say, three years with a relatively easy, low-stress job (or in school, or both), often playing video games and drinking beer in your spare time (with friends)? That honestly doesn’t sound dystopian to me (though of course it’s not for everyone), and I suspect it’s a lot closer to the norm.

  42. latinist
    latinist February 25, 2011 at 1:12 am |

    Florence:
    “The “Guyland” thesis is that boys are raised in a homosocial culture that values bullying and hazing behaviors in order to actively police gender norms.”

    Well, I should probably read “Guyland,” before saying anything with much confidence. But at least in the comments on this thread, I see two separate criticisms of the Guylandians being blended. One is, basically, your quote above, and it seems to me valid. The other is something more like “these guys are worthless losers for living with their moms and playing video games.” That seems at best questionable, and I don’t see that it’s really connected to the former point; i.e., there’s no reason (is there?) that these guys couldn’t ease up on the gender-policing while continuing to enjoy WoW and pot. And I don’t think it helps the feminist message to attach it to a general attack on what people enjoy. When we complain about the lack of women in physics departments, we don’t say “physicists are just a bunch of useless nerdy weirdos in lab coats anyway.”

  43. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays February 25, 2011 at 2:16 am |

    Basically all this fuss sounds like it’s about a phenomenon that’s always existed for some young men (a period of time post education where they’re not yet in truly demanding jobs that suck up all their time and energy), and the only real difference is how long it lasts (partially attributable to the shitty economy and the slow painful death of the middle class), and the specific things the people concerned fill their time with. If you look at movies from the 50s there were aimless young men killing time then too, they just didn’t have first person shooter games to play yet.

    The idea that any of this is the fault of women/feminism is, of course, complete nonsense, but what do you expect from someone like Hymowitz? She’ll take any shred of evidence that might vaguely sort of support her pet theory and try the best she can to shoehorn it into an argument that fits. Except it doesn’t, because she’s both wrong and a terrible journalist.

  44. christalijntje
    christalijntje February 25, 2011 at 8:36 am |

    annalouise: “What would you call men, who are encouraged by our culture to rely on a woman for their financial, emotional and physical support if not freeloaders?”

    marle: “A man who lives with his girlfriend/wife who’s doing all the cleaning and the breadwinning, etc, is different than a man who lives alone or with male roommates, and takes care of himself but just isn’t ambitious and likes video games a lot.”

    Kristen J.: “The same thing I call women who stay at home and do not do any housework. People who want and have a different life.”

    It should also be mentioned that “freeloading” isn’t always a choice, the lazy option. It can be impossible to contribute in any material way to a household. And I think it is ableist to ignore that.

    I, for one, felt insulted by annalouise’s and marle’s comments, even though I knew (hoped) they weren’t talking about me and people like me. And I’m not even a man. I just happen to be disabled and can’t contribute to the income of our family. It’s impossible for me to cook or to clean, I just manage the washing and folding of our clothes.

    I know, if it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you. But perhaps every now and again it should be explicitly stated that it isn’t about people with disabilities. Because the way it seems now, is that I should somehow feel guilty that I don’t contribute more.

    And that’s a feeling I really don’t need more of.

  45. Dae
    Dae February 25, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    World of Warcraft was invented in 1890, right?

    Made me giggle.

    I actually have some very good friends who married recently and originally met on WoW. However, having tried the dating-someone-across-the-country-I-met-online thing myself once, I won’t be doing it again…

  46. Li
    Li February 25, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    “Yes, yes girls can play video games too. NO ONE CARES. YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT. Unless the kind of “equality” we are after is everyone sitting in the basement playing stupid games, depressed, unemployed, and having given up on life entirely, mooching off their parents. Astrid Chelonian”

    This is so ableist I want to repeatedly ram my face into my laptop screen.

  47. Lance
    Lance February 25, 2011 at 10:39 am |

    Perhaps I’m an overly defensive nerd, but I’m amused that she criticizes men for playing video games instead of rushing out to make babies. Good modern video games are actually quite intellectually engaging– certainly more complicated and dynamic than more “respected” activities such as crossword puzzles or chess. I find Starcraft significantly more mentally difficult than practicing law. And we’re supposed to be in a rush to trade it so we can… change diapers? Clean up vomit? Hasten the world’s environmental Armageddon? I think I’ll pass, thanks.

  48. Jim
    Jim February 25, 2011 at 10:53 am |

    Brett K: It’s racist, and it’s classist. Sure, white, upper-class (generally EXTREMELY upper-class) women have often not worked outside the home.

    In that era quite a large part of the populatiion, male and female, worked in the home , depending on how you define “in the home”. The majority of the population outside of Britain was still rural. But in that setting “housework” included almost all food production form raw grain, beans, animal carcasses etc.

    Lance: Good modern video games are actually quite intellectually engaging– certainly more complicated and dynamic than more “respected” activities such as crossword puzzles or chess.

    …or writing masturbatory, preening mean-spirited little magazine articles…

  49. Natalia
    Natalia February 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |

    Video games vs. children is a false dichotomy! But thanks for implying that people who have kids are anti-intellectual dumbasses, Lance. (Just to add to the general level of outrage and rancour on a thread about a very stupid article that just keeps on giving, of course)

    As for dependency – it’s complicated. It can be hard to be the dependent party, and equally hard to be the one responsible for a particular household’s material well-being. Especially in an economy as crappy as this one. I’d really like to be one of those “freeloaders” right about now – I’m exhausted. But I also get bored and restless without work, so whatever. I just hate the constant politicization of it all – if I was the one unable to fully earn a living right now and my husband was busting his ass, I’d be a “gold digger”. As such, he’s “mooching” off of me, and I’m too stupid to realize it (or something). Whatever, fuck that, life is not always that simple.

  50. Marle
    Marle February 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |

    christalijntje, I’m really very sorry that my comment sounded ableist. To me, situations where one person doesn’t do either breadwinning or housework are complicated. Sometimes it’s because the person is an asshole, and somethings the situation is just complicated, and I didn’t feel like going into that distiction and so I made it sound like I think that all people who don’t either make money or clean house are assholes and I really don’t believe that and I should have made that clear.

    Right now, my husband does 0% of the housework and he brings very little money in. He’s an insurance agent, has been for about a year, and he works about 80 hours a week and makes a small and inconsistant amount of money. I know the goal with something like that is to make a lot of money later on, but I don’t have my hopes set on him doing that. Am I completely happy doing all the housework? No. (I was about to add to that sentence if I was happy paying all the bills, and then I realized that yes, I am). But, he really likes his job, and when he’s home and I’m home I’d rather we spend time together than watch him do housework, and he is rarely home when I’m not there. I work from home and take online classes, so doing housework here and there is really easy for me. He does do most of his own laundry and he cooks for himself – I’m a vegan and he hates vegetables so we never eat together anyways. And he does things like grocery shopping and calling utilities, etc, because they really stress me out because of my social anxiety. So it works for us.

    I didn’t want to go into my personal life because I didn’t want to get complained at by people who’d judge that. Like Clarissa with “You don’t have to live up to anybody’s expectations, do you? You could, however, ask yourself why you end up with people who don’t see you as a valid human being.” But I guess I’d rather be judged by jerks than be confused for one.

  51. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 25, 2011 at 11:19 am |

    christalijntje: I know, if it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you. But perhaps every now and again it should be explicitly stated that it isn’t about people with disabilities. Because the way it seems now, is that I should somehow feel guilty that I don’t contribute more.

    I apologize for contributing. That sentence should have had an “or” rather than an “and” to distinguish between people who want to live that way and people who don’t. Clumsy drafting on my part. I’ve been dependent while being temporarily disabled and I remember feeling so incredibly guilty for just wanting a drink of water. I did not mean to add to any feelings of guilt you might have.

  52. Jennie
    Jennie February 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    I know this is only part of the problem in the article, but I really can. not. stand it when people say that video games are for children. (Any gamer that’s played anything in the last, oh, decade or more will tell you otherwise) But, what REALLY gets me is that implication that a)only guys play video games and b)women don’t like video games, and won’t date guys who do. I mean, how sexist can you possibly be? Not only does it completely ignore an entire segment of the gaming world, it furthers the myth that there is only one type of acceptable woman who is only attracted to one type of acceptable man. I’m a big nerd. I game, I like comic books. I watch anime. So why would I be unattracted to men who like those things? Some women don’t like geeky guys and that’s ok. But assuming that all women don’t like gaming AND don’t like guys who do it is just pure sexism.

  53. Lance
    Lance February 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    Natalia– I made no comment on the intellect of those who choose to be parents. People far smarter than me have chosen to make that lifestyle choice, and I may do it myself someday. I merely pointed out the irony in simultaneously criticizing the intellect of men (or, at least, her cartoon version of men) for spending their time on an engaging, dynamic activity like modern video games instead of committing to a choice that will inherently entail a lot of drudgery. Regardless of the merits and rewards of parenthood, I’ve never heard anybody deny that it seriously cuts into free time, and a lot of that time is taken up by repetitive, unrewarding tasks. Perhaps men realize that, if they ultimately become a parent, they won’t have the same amount of free time for intellectual pursuits and are getting their fill now?

  54. Marle
    Marle February 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm |

    I also want to say that I’ve always suspected that “lazyness” is often (maybe always) untreated mental illness. I have a friend who’s 30 and living with her parents and I think she’s close to holding down the same job for a year for the first time in her life. I know a lot of people who think she’s lazy, stupid, etc, but I’ve known her since high school, and I’ve felt that if my mental illness was more severe like hers and if I hadn’t had the support that I had and she didn’t (dad bought me a car when I graduated, etc) then I think I would have ended up a lot like she has. So I always give the benefit of the doubt to those who just look “lazy.”

  55. groggette
    groggette February 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm |

    Marle: I also want to say that I’ve always suspected that “lazyness” is often (maybe always) untreated mental illness.

    Seriously, can we not go down this road again?

  56. Marle
    Marle February 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    Sorry, Goggette, I didn’t read all the discussion from the last thread.

    I wasn’t referring to lack of ambition, I was referring to situations that are actually a problem. I’m referring to people who seem to not be able to get their lives together, and everyone just assumes they’re lazy. I’ve been there, and I’ve seen other people there, and others just assumed that I made bad choices or I was lazy, and I wasn’t and it was really hard. I’m not talking about people who choose to be less ambitious and are happy with that. I’m talking about the people who aren’t happy and yet always get judged negatively, because I’ve been there and so I give others the benefit of the doubt.

  57. Brett K
    Brett K February 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    Jim:
    In that era quite a large part of the populatiion, male and female, worked in the home , depending on how you define “in the home”. The majority of the population outside of Britain was still rural. But in that setting “housework” included almost all food production form raw grain, beans, animal carcasses etc.

    Trufax. I probably should have said “economically productive work” rather than “work outside the home”, since the home itself was often an economic unit up until the Industrial Revolution, in both urban and rural areas (though obviously plenty of men and women had jobs outside the home as well). Ultimately, I’m just taking issue with the misconception that men were the sole breadwinners in pre-1960s families. In actual fact, that would have been impossible for the vast majority of people, and it’s really just another way for ill-informed conservatives to argue that feminism ruined everything.

    It’s not a derail if only a couple of people are participating, right?

  58. Stoner with a Boner
    Stoner with a Boner February 25, 2011 at 10:51 pm |

    I’m not sure if maybe when people are talking about “Laziness” they mean Learned Helplessness.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness
    see the Extensions section, it briefly mentions culture as opposed to an individual…

    I think in the original article, she was referring more to Charlie from Two and a Half Men even though she didn’t mention that show specifically. (She mentioned Seth Rogan.)

  59. Natalia
    Natalia February 26, 2011 at 3:51 am |

    Regardless of the merits and rewards of parenthood, I’ve never heard anybody deny that it seriously cuts into free time, and a lot of that time is taken up by repetitive, unrewarding tasks. Perhaps men realize that, if they ultimately become a parent, they won’t have the same amount of free time for intellectual pursuits and are getting their fill now?

    The thing about being a decent person (regardless of whether or not one winds up having kids – Hymowitz may not think so, but there are numerous ways to contribute to society and the fact that people like her still do not get it really chaps my hide), I believe, is that we all learn at a certain point that certain sacrifices must be made and/or strides be taken. Whether it means helping out a sick relative or, I don’t know, doing something like buckling down and writing a book when you’d rather watch cartoons at night, or something. Very few people achieve a sense of balance to their lives if they don’t get the chance to, speaking simply, do some stuff. And what “doing” translates into for people is wildly different across the board. But yet, we inevitably get this false dichotomy of a “useful” existence vs. a “useless” one, or else a dichotomy of “fun” vs. “a boring life spent doing being responsible”. That’s what I ultimately object to.

  60. Florence
    Florence February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am |

    Also, slagging on parenthood inevitably means slagging on women.

  61. Albert Ciuksza Jr.
    Albert Ciuksza Jr. February 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm |

    I genuinely believe this is as much a Gen Y thing as it is a men/women thing. There seems to be a real generational disconnect here — Hymowitz is not the first to make the slacker argument for 20-somethings. That she made it so gender-specific, and so one-sided, makes her look like an agitator, not a leading scholar for a think-tank.

    I make this (among other arguments) in an essay to her at http://abcjr.me/4i.

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