January 28, 2008

Give men a break

Kay Hymnowitz has an interesting article in the latest issue of City Journal bemoaning the state of today's young men. Apparently, they like half-naked women, football, video games and staying single. Shocking, I know. And apparently this just won't do:

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 twenty-first century what adolescence was to the early twentieth: a momentous sociological development of profound economic and cultural import. Some call this new period “emerging adulthood,” others “extended adolescence”; David Brooks recently took a stab with the “Odyssey Years,” a “decade of wandering.”

But while we grapple with the name, 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 twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends [see “The New Girl Order,” Autumn 2007]. 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.

But why not have an extended adolescence? What, ultimately, is the harm in playing Halo and hanging out with friends?

Hymnowitz continues:

"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"

In 1970 the life expectancy of an American male was 67 years old. Today it is about 76. He's picked up nearly a decade and damn right he's going to use it to have some fun. Why begrudge men that?

Look, I've read Mark Steyn's "America Alone", I understand our need to maintain a certain birth rate. But Hymnowitz, and all the others who pick on people who maintain that 30 is the new 20, don't say that these men will never settle down and outgrow their adolescence. They will get married, have babies, be responsible, and contribute to society. Just not today. And they will always love football and naked women, but so what? Women like tons of brainless crap from celebrity gossip magazines to shoe-shopping. No one calls us infants because we know what Paris Hilton is doing today. No one says we're immature when we spend a week's salary on Manolos. So, no, I have no scolding for the 20-something man who is doing his thing, even if that thing is getting really good at Playstation. His own life situation will cause him to grow up. No article mocking his lifestyle ever will.

Hat-tip CHSW.

Posted by Karol at January 28, 2008 04:02 PM | TrackBack
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The big problem arising from the extended adolescence scenario is that women do not really have an extended period of fertility matching the extended lifespans of both sexes. This jibes with Mark Steyn's demographic focus. It also jibes with the increasing number of births to unmarried women over 30. They are so tired of searching for Mr. Right (or even Mr. OK) that they will settle for a test tube to satisfy their maternal instinct.

Perhaps polygamy would be a solution, whereby some rich guys will take on multiple wives in a legally binding relationship. Who knows?

chsw (who can't even afford the wife he has now)

Posted by: chsw at January 28, 2008 04:54 PM

I think a lot of us who just hit 30 did "that" in some way or another; I think the dangerous thing is that it cultivates an idea of "it's ok not to do these things" that can last a lot longer than 30. Also, not to be selfish or that I'm thinking of myself or anything, but let's not forget that men can marry at 40 or later and not worry about having healthy children, where 35+ becomes high risk pregnancy and your fertility levels shrink like crazy!!!

Also, I have to ask, does this extended adolescence bring something worthwhile to peoples' lives? Are they accomplishing things besides movies watched and bands seen and places visited (I openly admit this has taken up a large part of my 30's)? Are they learning about themselves and world around them?

Or are they just setting themselves up for a scenario where they KNOW they are entitled to great things, including the perfect 10 partner, and they can wait as long as it takes - the older we get the more bacheloresque we get, and that, in neither men nor women, does not make for a good partner.

Posted by: Yana at January 28, 2008 05:08 PM

If this author goes back further in time, she will find that both men and women married at a later age than they did in the last century through the 60's.

So, no story there. Zero. None.

Also, most of the people I know who married in their mid-twenties divorced that spouse long ago.

Posted by: Maurice at January 28, 2008 05:10 PM

women do the stupid things they do to eventually have kids (i.e. impress men with hot shoes). men, on the other hand, do the stupid things they do to not have kids (i.e. play video games).

and therein lies the problem.

Posted by: pn at January 28, 2008 05:13 PM

I am someone who spent the entirety of his 20s and much of his 30s doing almost nothing but buying records and seeing bands. Now, at age 41, I'm just getting my J.D. If I'd done this 10 years ago, I'd be much more employable, better off financially, and better able to support my family. So I definitely don't see the harm in pursuing youthful interests, but one shouldn't retain the myopia and self-centeredness that comes with actual childhood. I'm definitely paying the price now (in student loans alone!).

Posted by: mike at January 28, 2008 05:14 PM

Mike, the key is, do both. I'm a huge video game player but I'm also ravenous in my career, pursuing a successful day job and moonlighting with a small portfolio of clients. I'm not married and I'm living in a bachelor pad. Getting Married and having kids is expensive, I'd rather save up until I can afford to do so.

Posted by: Ed at January 28, 2008 05:31 PM

I was just thinking about this. One past time of mine is watching DVDs of tv sit-coms, I loved and grew up with. For the last several weeks, I have been watching All In The Family on DVD, up to season 4 as I type this. The show at its time was political and controversial. I got lots of laughs out of it but mostly watched it as a child or young adult with less of a world or political consciousness. Hopefully most reading are familiar with the show, perhaps I am showing my age :-)

Watching this, I seen things I never realized over the years. Archie, Edith, Gloria and Mike were a lot younger than they look. I use to think Archie and Edith were about 10+ years older, in their late 50s early 60s and do look it around the early 1970s. Archie was I think 47 in the early part of the series, guess Edith was close to that age, but today they look old. I am close to that age, know lots of people that age and are not as "old" as the character depicted on that tv show. The characters dressed and lived like people we use to think as being old.

There were the Bunker's Daughter and Son-in-law, Gloria and Mike Stivik. Gloria was only 22 years old on the show and married. She did not go to college either. Today among similar people, it would be unheard of. If written today, the Stiviks would be in their 30s and living with the Bunkers.

One episode they found an old man wandering the street. He was 80 years old, and lived in an "old Folks Home", Mr Quigly (sp?) played by an actor who at the time always played old men. Today that would be unheard of such a man in an "old Folks Home" unless he was unfortunately demented. He was saying "old folk" stuff and singing "old folk" songs, being an old man. I know of many who are driving their cars and living way beyond being "old folks."

We can see it all in an almost time capsule of a DVD such as the show All In The Family, these old people are really young by today's standard but looking back they are old then.

Posted by: StuLongIsland at January 28, 2008 05:33 PM

In times past, it was called "sowing wild oats". In my own family (sixties and seventies), my brothers and I called it "Getting our Yahoos out" (See Jonathan Swift). It is a sad fact of nature that although males are shorter lived, they are longer in maturing than females. (See Darwinism, great ape pack structure, genetic biology.) Unfortunately, as previous posters have stated, the age of fertility does not as easily shift upwards with rising female life-expectancy. So, given the advances to humankind brought about by the experiment of civilization, whereby a formal grid of intelligent behavior has been superimposed upon the more natural pack behavior, the situation for females has actually deteriorated in this one aspect. During prime fertility she must look for older and older males to be proper paternalistic models, while knowing a life-long commitment would bring more and more decades without that partner. Of course, the kids aren't getting a very good deal out of this either. Who better to play catch with, or teach you the art of the jump shot? A twenty something male, or a forty something? Is there a solution? None comes to mind short of decreasing life expectancy, or at the very least, standard of living.

Posted by: DPR at January 28, 2008 05:38 PM

Nobody has mentioned the elephant in the room: Feminism and what it has caused: THE MARRIAGE STRIKE. Men are simply responding to an increasingly feminized culture that is increasingly anti-male, anti-father, and anti-family.

Advice to young men: Do not marry, do not have children

Read Mr. Baskerville's book Taken Into Custody. If you can't read the book, at least read the reviews:

Posted by: rick at January 28, 2008 06:10 PM

No one says we're immature when we spend a week's salary on Manolos.

Yes they do, blat.

Posted by: Charles at January 28, 2008 06:15 PM

I'm a conservative thirty something male and, not to female bash, or dredge up some sociobiological statistical argument against against the institution, but I just don't see the benefit of marriage any more. Really, what do I get out of it?

In all the talk about why the marriage age is getting pushed back, I too rarely hear what strikes me as the most obvious reason - boredom. I can imagine in the old days it was a drag to come home to a lonely house without 1) a woman to take care of it, 2) to provide some sort of interaction to relieve the tedium (really, imagine being a settler living alone in your clod-hewn house out on the prarie...)

But video games, internet, and expected and unexpected advances in technology mean that I fill my time more and more with things of my own particular interest. Living alone sucks less and less.

Moreover, given the sexual revolution, when I do want to spend time with a woman, it seems tehy have less leverage to push me into marriage than before (Ok, said I'd stay away from all that, but it's true...). Toss in the whole man-get-screwed-in-divorce thing and really, I completely forget why that's all something I should want.

As a conservative, I know this doesn't bode well for the social-moral trendline of the country where I want to live, and would prefer that more people enetered in marriage (and took the damn thing seriously) and kids were raised in the tradional family, but I just don't have an argument to individual guys as to why they should bother.

Posted by: Ray Midge at January 28, 2008 06:18 PM

But video games, internet, and expected and unexpected advances in technology mean that I fill my time more and more with things of my own particular interest. Living alone sucks less and less.

Moreover, given the sexual revolution, when I do want to spend time with a woman, it seems tehy have less leverage to push me into marriage than before (Ok, said I'd stay away from all that, but it's true...). Toss in the whole man-get-screwed-in-divorce thing and really, I completely forget why that's all something I should want.

Heh. Indeed.

Posted by: Allah at January 28, 2008 06:23 PM

I'm not so sure. I think you saw a bit of an expansion of adolscense in the 20s and 30s which went by the wayside on 12-7-41. I also think you saw one in the 60s which did not go by the wayside (as can be seen in two such Baby Boomer teenagers who have been in the Big White House since 1993). If 9-11 made us all play videogames more and watch the bigscreen....well it's kind of like the Romans cheering on the gladiators, enjoying bread and circuses while the barbarians storm the gates.

Of course this comes from a bachelor who at the age of 33 wasted the whole day after mass yesterday by watching Tiger win the Buick Open on the bigscreen, played Bioshock, watched a replay of the Jones-Trinidad fight and ended up putting off reading Crevecoeur to hang with some pals watching the WWF's Royal Rumble.

Posted by: Von Bek at January 28, 2008 07:04 PM

Woman who isn't committed to a man: Liberated.

Man who isn't committed to a woman: Adolescent.

Let me just say this: Pppppbbbbffft!

Posted by: Pablo at January 28, 2008 07:12 PM

Feh. We get into our thirties without a husband, and by the time they get interested in marriage, we're making $100k a year and don't need them anymore.

And then tools like rick call us "feminazis" for having been pragmatic, instead of quietly sobbing in our tea about how badly we need a maaaaaan.

I'm with Ray. I don't see the allure.

Posted by: Tanya at January 28, 2008 07:16 PM

Hymowitz is wrong, but wrong for reasons she can't understand.

Men by and large still want to get married but can't. Because they cannot afford it.

In the 1970's, the average man in his thirties could buy his own house. Today he can buy cheap electronic consumer goods unimaginable in the 1970's but not a house. His "real" income as relates to marriage is down considerably.

Women when they have freedom will select for mates only those with HIGHER income/status/looks/power or reasonable future expectations of same: an up and coming rocker, actor, X-Games athlete etc. Motocross top competitors earn millions each year, for example.

Joe Average just can't compete with that and so he SUBSTITUTES video games, DVDs, and other adolescent pursuits because the only sex he can get (occasionally) is very casual sex.

How to tell if I am right and Hymowitz is wrong?

Look at Mexican immigrants in the US, legal or otherwise, and their marriage rates compared to second generation children of Mexican immigrants.

First wave Mexican immigrants are married at much higher rates. Their wives are restricted in economic freedom, earning less than their husbands who work in construction and the like. Unlike their children or Anglo college educated women they can't find opportunities for higher-status men and chase them around, or go on welfare and chase the hardest hard boy around.

We are of course entering defacto polygamy, and it's as socially dangerous and destabilizing as that of the Middle East or Africa. Substitution will only go so far for men denied family.

Sex and the City is more the story of young women chasing after the very few high-rollers to the exclusion of Joe Average and finding that these men with many women pursuing them don't really commit. Wow big surprise.

Even in places like Iran or Tunisia you see TFR less than 2.0, due to the same factors. I.E. women with economic freedom spurn peers in social status for a man with higher levels of status. Women are hard-wired to pursue the Alpha Male unless constrained. Something Hymowitz as a woman can't see. Most women don't understand the central fact of men's existence: competition for women.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at January 28, 2008 07:20 PM

I want me some Robert Mitchum!

Defend these two year olds all you like. It's not interesting or sexy. And not at all masculine.

Those are not men, they're little girls uh boys .... whatever.

Posted by: Pamela at January 28, 2008 07:24 PM

Why is it that "Sex and the City" exalted the 40-something single woman as "40 and Fabulous" and single men are considered older adolescents?

Why is it that women in the workplace are expected to receive equal treatment, yet I am constantly told (and constantly tell my staff) to make sure the women don't get dirty nor lift anything heavy?

Why is it that I spent 6 months away from my wife (due to a promotion), and though happily married, didn't miss her that much? I had plenty of interests keeping me engaged and was as happy as I had ever been in my life.

Why am I judged by how much I am providing my wife, and my wife is judged by existing in the things that I provide?

I should have waited ten years, started several businesses (like I'm doing now), played video games, and hung out with my friends. I'm now pushing 40, and if I didn't do something about it, my only friends would be the husbands of my wife's friends. My wife recently agreed that I could meet some friends for cigars and scotch, if I didn't smoke cigars. Who life is this anyway?

Posted by: Earnie at January 28, 2008 07:33 PM

We get into our thirties without a husband, and by the time they get interested in marriage, we're making $100k a year and don't need them anymore.

1. They're not all playing Halo.

2. Did you need them otherwise? Do they need you?

3. Did you get into your thirties without being interested in marriage? And if so, whose doing is that?

Posted by: Pablo at January 28, 2008 07:34 PM

Whose doing is that?

Touchy, touchy. Try not to take it so personally, sweetie.

Posted by: Tanya at January 28, 2008 08:10 PM

Nothing personal by me, Tanya. Hell, I managed to get married twice before I was 30. I was just curious about your complaint. Do women get into that position by choice, or only as victims of circumstance?

Posted by: Pablo at January 28, 2008 08:13 PM

Wait till the babies-rabies kicks in, Tanya. Egads, I have to beat the ladies off with a stick. Then again, I don't play Halo - I play the stock market...

Posted by: Mateo_G at January 28, 2008 08:14 PM

Wow, this topic is popping up a lot lately. Some good discussion over at Ari's

You sure can tell the writer of this article isn't a man - "financial independence, marriage, and children" aren't words that go together.

Oh, and Chew, we have polygamy. We have "serial polygamy", where the rich guys have multiple wives. It's just that they don't live with 'em all at once. As in traditionally polygamous societies, you're expected to provide for your first wife and her children when you take a new wife. Is it really that different?

Posted by: Eric at January 28, 2008 10:11 PM

chsw, I mean. Damn, middle age sucks.

Posted by: Eric at January 28, 2008 10:18 PM

Why get married? Here's why.

Anthony Storr said;
"A happy marriage perhaps represents the ideal of human relationship—a setting in which each partner, while acknowledging the need of the other, feels free to be what he or she by nature is: a relationship in which instinct as well as intellect can find expression; in which giving and taking are equal; in which each accepts the other."

Paul Tournier said;
"It is a lovely thing to have a husband and wife developing together. That is what marriage really means: helping one another to reach the full status of being persons, responsible and autonomous beings who do not run away from life."

Posted by: Jake at January 28, 2008 10:19 PM

Men don't have to be "grown-ups" at 20something because women came "out of the cave, looked around, and said 'This isn't so bad...'", right?
Who cares! we can talk care of ourselves!

(I started a blog, Karol!)

Posted by: Rachel at January 28, 2008 10:22 PM

"Shall I never see a bachelor of three score again?" -Bededict, in Much Ado about Nothing

I don't suppose anyone has really considered that with the modern laws/rules regarding divorce, child custody and child support that it is simply no longer practical, beneficial or wise for men to get married.

Let's see . . . men used to get married for sex . . . but that's easier to get nowadays.

Men used to get married because it helped their career . . . but there is not as much social stigma to bachlorhood anymore.

Men used to get married for the cooking and cleaning . . . there are wonderful new appliances and McDonalds.

Men used to get married so that noone thought that they were gay . . . but now noone cares.

Still looking for a reason to get married other than a severe masochistic streak.


Posted by: Stephen at January 28, 2008 10:45 PM

I just read the whole thing. This struck me as defining:

And that “coolness” points to what may be the deepest existential problem with the child-man—a tendency to avoid not just marriage but any deep attachments.

That's probably correct, and it's because by now our parents and all our married friends have gotten divorced. When the "families" our friends have amount to just another monthly bill plus babysitting every other weekend, what's the attraction?

Jake, if that's really what you have you're a very lucky man.

Posted by: Eric at January 28, 2008 10:48 PM

Be honest. The real problem is that women no longer NEED men. Even if a woman is loving and commited, the society encourages her to consider all options, all the time. Divorce pays handsomely (prettily?) for women.

I wanted to get married in my mid-twenties, and I started looking. I'm not hideous (I'm about as ordinary as can be imagined) but I got rejected by every girl I approached--and I was hardly chasing models. Now I'm 39, I work, I don't even play VGs, I'm not into sports, (I watch too many movies) but I have no prospects--and no prospect of prospects.

It's all well and good that I am still physically capable of having children, but girls don't want older and stable anymore, they want pretty.

Posted by: me at January 28, 2008 10:56 PM

Really pisses me off when a woman tries to define masculinity. Their definition is always nuanced to benefit women.

Read Hemmingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". Read that and you'll know what a man is.

Posted by: at January 28, 2008 11:40 PM

Really pisses me off when a woman tries to define masculinity. Their definition is always nuanced to benefit women.

Read Hemmingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". Read that and you'll know what a man is.

Posted by: zach at January 28, 2008 11:41 PM

There are a lot of lonely woman out there because of this "phenomenon” and the fact is simply this:
• Men have been getting the shaft from the court systems for thirty-plus years
• Women take all of the money in divorce settlements
• They withhold sex and use it as a weapon
• Women take our children without due process. (A woman can take a child at anytime however If a man does he has to prove she is a terrible parent)
• They sleep with tons of men
I ask you, why on earth would a man want to volunteer for that? Take this advice American man…
• Make a woman pay for half, if not all of everything (Then you won’t feel so bad when they take half)
• Have safe sex with as many attractive woman as you can (Woman are doing it so have at it)
• Do not get married, period.
• Hang out with your friends and shoot the bad guys, save the Princess and battle evil doers.
In short, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law"

Posted by: E-Lo at January 29, 2008 12:01 AM

I read a condensed version of the City Journal essay in this weekend's Post. Some of her points about the macro changes impacting men's relationship to women are interesting, but I think she draws the wrong conclusions.

Great critique, Karol!

Posted by: Gerard at January 29, 2008 03:02 AM

The problem is that women don't know how to be married any more. 75% of divorces are instigated by women and women are more likely to have extramarital sex than men.

Women also assume that their 20s are for fun and they are fine to sleep around, and then find themselves infertile and unwanted when they hit 33.

But these women are the 'educated' and 'intelligent' women who if they are lucky get the sperm from a Danish man sent to them in a tube.

Haha - actually the real problem of modern society is what I call 'Unrealistic Expectation'

Everyone wants to marry Scarlett Johanson or Jesse Metcalfe. Everyone thinks they should have a 5 bed house and a BMW. Everyone believes that the grass is greener on the other side - why "settle" for what you have when you CAN get better. Do we really wish to live in a society that devalues humans to being a mere commodity?

Posted by: Geoffrey at January 29, 2008 06:27 AM

But who wants these young men to marry anyway – their mothers?

Remember that half those mothers ruined their husbands in the divorce courts. Why on Earth would they encourage their own sons to suffer the same fate?

Posted by: at January 29, 2008 08:06 AM

This is what happens when all of the focus in our schools is to lift up and empower girls while ignoring or forcing boys into boxes that they don't fit into properly.

The female:male ratio at most colleges these days is 3:1. The rate of suicide for adolescent males is three times higher than it is for females.

Read the tone of the article. Single men in their 20s or early 30s are "immature" and "older adolescents". Women of the same age, who participate in similar activities, are "empowered" or "independent".

Men are constantly remindedin the media that they're supposed to be boorish, immature, drink a lot, and that they're clueless about almost everything. If young men are fed that image as "normal" on a regular basis, how do we expect them to act any different?

Posted by: Pokerwolf at January 29, 2008 08:29 AM

Being married beats being single, but only if you do it right.

However, most men either A. don't trust themselves to do it right, B. see no reason to try (see above commentary on being able to get sex without marriage), and C. have enough of their friends who got brutally a**-raped in divorce court that they have no inkling to try.

Sorry, but as someone who has seen divorce from both sides, men still get screwed unless there's a good judge on the bench. I only know of one judge who was rather ruthless to both sides and she didn't win reelection. On the other hand, I have observed several, however, who seem to be incapable of thinking that maybe, just maybe, that emotionally unstable baby factory just might not be the best mother or, for that matter, best person in a divorce.

In that same vein, I think there is also an unreasonable expectation among women, especially successful women, as to the level that men will "change" for a relationship. Simultaneously, at least from my perch, I've observed many women who "fly a false flag" during dating then are utterly surprised at their new husbands' shock and dismay that what was displayed in the window was _not_ what was in the box when he got home.

Bottom line is that I would say to the article's author that, if she doesn't like her men playing Halo 3 and hanging out together then there are three simple options for her. One, she can look elsewhere. Two, she can pick up a 360 controller and learn the game--she just might be surprised that she likes it. Finally, she can resign herself to the fact that maybe, just maybe, she may have missed the golden chance in her life to find "Mr. Right" and she gets to enjoy the rest of her days alone.

Because, hey, what generally makes guys "good" is their belief that, despite the very likely chance they're playing financial / emotional / physical roulette, that marriage is a worthwhile institution that they'd like to take a part in. However, the ones that tend to believe that are, with a few exceptions, well off the market by the time they hit 30.

Posted by: James at January 29, 2008 10:45 AM

And that “coolness” points to what may be the deepest existential problem with the child-man—a tendency to avoid not just marriage but any deep attachments.

Hey... I am deeply attached to my XBox 360 and my 42" HDTV!

Posted by: Lugo at January 29, 2008 12:08 PM

Yes, people used to get married a lot younger, because that was what you were expected to do at that age -- with very heavy social pressure to conform to that expectation. And back when divorce was even more taboo than extended singlehood, a lot of those people wound up middle-aged and miserable, feeling trapped and resentful. Then divorce became more accepted and commonplace, and while people no longer felt as much of an obligation to stay together when they grew apart after 10 or 20 years, we wound up with broken homes and family forests with multiple step-parents and stepchildren. As the song goes, "I can't decide which is worse."

So yeah, I'm in my late 30s and still single, because I haven't yet been fortunate enough to meet a person whom I could realistically see myself staying with for the rest of my life without one of the above scenarios ultimately coming to pass. This isn't some general "fear of commitment" or one of those other silly rationalizations that some women tell themselves when a guy doesn't want to commit specifically to her; this is the specific knowledge that commitment would not have been a good idea with respect to the specific women that have come into and out of my life so far. When the time comes, I'll know. In the meantime, yeah, I'll pursue my career and hobbies, date casually here and there, and enjoy myself. Plus, I figure that since I'm getting the sports cars and much-younger women out of my system now (and without a wife and family to hurt in the process), my own "midlife crisis" will probably take the form of settling down and accepting middle age and family responsibilities gracefully when the time comes.

I don't think the delay of marriage phenomenon owes as much to "immaturity" (I'm imagining that word delivered in a haughty sniff by someone's priggish teenaged kid sister) as it does to the recognition that we aren't as socially obligated anymore to, as a friend once put it, "just pick someone," and that we do have choices and can afford to choose more carefully, even if it takes a few years longer.

Posted by: Alex at January 29, 2008 01:07 PM

...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.

The same is true of women. We try to remain adolescents as long as we possibly can - even into marriage where we expect to mold men and use them as props in the fantasy world we imagine marriage should be. It's a human predicament and, quite honestly, the only hope I can see comes through such teachings as those found in JPII's Theology of the Body.

Posted by: Drusilla at January 29, 2008 02:09 PM

We're all economically rational beings. Economically, marriage is a lose/lose for men. If you're given to flights of romantic fantasy, it's possible to construct an upside, but that's fantasy. Reality is that you lose your freedom, then you lose your possessions when she decides that you're a bum, for whatever hormone fueled reason of the moment.

Like Chris Rock said vis OJ, "I'm not condoning, but I understand."

For women, marriage is an economic win/win. They get a huge party, that's all about them, followed by a man to take on debt so that she can live in the style she'd like to be accustomed until she decides to pull the plug and take the assets while leaving the debt. No man gets that deal.

Another truth of life is that men are what women make them. Collectively, through the tyranny of feminism, you've made us a bunch of selfish bastards. Me? I'm waiting for the revolution. Viva la revolucion!

Posted by: Casca at January 29, 2008 03:06 PM


I don't know, I think marriage can work and the loss of freedom is more than outweighed by the personal gains. Sorry, you may have the freedom to do whatever you want, but come talk to me when it turns out that those symptoms you have been ignoring / didn't notice put you in the hospital or in the ground. Not to mention, provided you actually marry someone who has the same interests as you, there's a regular partner for said pursuits. Just sayin'.
I also disagree with your financial theory. Financially I'm much better off than when I got married. Having one income is good. Having two is better. This little ditty works out just as long as you don't procreate, of course, but if you're doing that then, well, it's partially your fault anyway. (James Rule of Marriage #25--If your wife is anywhere over 25 and mentions rugrats, this means you're now in charge of birth control. Act accordingly, as the reason you hear that ticking sound is not because you suddenly have super senses.)
Lastly, the key to not getting brutally beaten in divorce court is to set the conditions before you get married, nevermind divorced. While I am reasonably certain that the Mrs. and I won't end up in such a situation, she understands that while I am a simple man, I am a vengeful one--and that divorcing me would probably be an unpleasant exercise. I take the Nat Turner view to slavery and, to me, spousal support bears a marked resemblance to that institution.

Posted by: James at January 29, 2008 03:49 PM

u guys suck. This is not much of a discussion because women are the only ones trying to make a point. Most guys I know play video games and make much more time with their friends than their parents did but a bunch of those men are married or in long and strong relationships. Some have kids(more than 1 so Steyn should feel ok) and make plenty of money and some of the women also play video games and poker and their kids go to good schools and get scolded when they dont do great in school. I have also found that the very people I thought would be retarded parents when we were younger are actually excellent parents and their kids get good grades. I think most of you are just talking jive about something you know very little about. Life is life and stop driving yourself crazy trying to put everyone into neat categories. Women who work are less likely to get married early. A good marriage more often than not needs someone to mind the house and the kids. It's called motherly instinct for a reason. Dads of old(Robert Mitchum) spent very little time with their kids and drank alot. They may be sexy in the movies but you gotta sit home, take the occasional slap, raise the kids and have dinner ready. He will likely bang the secretary. Stop fantasizing and deal with the reality that there are just more choices now and one is'nt always better than the other. The other option is get invitro and show how angry u are by holding your breath till you turn blue.

Posted by: Pheeleepok at February 9, 2008 11:42 PM

You know, if an email adress is so vital then that should be made clear before I write 2 paragraphs.

Posted by: Pheeleepok at February 9, 2008 11:45 PM

I'm amazed at the caliber of conversation here. Contrary to Pheeleepok's observation/accusation (i.e.--"u guys suck"), I think that this is an amazingly thoughtful and unvarnished collection of male responses to this issue. There's a wide diversity in reasons as to why this is happening, and almost all of it seems to be represented here.

One other male observation that I'd like to make is how there are some things common to culture both past and present that now carry titles, without necessarily deserving the hoped-for prestige. If you look at the wording in those surveys about guys marrying women who are "smarter" than them, etc., they're often culturally loaded questions. I have an undergrad business degree, did extensive grad work in history and English, and now teach secondary social studies overseas; I believe that my fiance is much smarter than me in many ways. I'm not at all intimidated by that because she's a warm, loving, nurturing woman.

But if you asked me in a survey, "Would you want to marry a woman who has a more advanced degree than you do?" I'd probably say, "No," unless I was thinking specifically of my fiance. It's not a matter of being intimidated by a smart/smarter woman, it's that a lot of the corollaries of an advanced degree woman are NOT what I'd look for in a wife and mother. Who would *I* rather have raising my children, a Ph.D. in Women's Studies or a nurse/elementary teacher/other caregiver? I'd pick any of the latter, not because the degree or the brains scare me, but the virulent male-bashing, and insecure/immature femininity (that masquerades as "liberation") are NOT the types of qualities for which I'd look to build a marriage and family.

Posted by: SD Farmboy at February 21, 2008 02:04 PM

I see I am months behind on this topic, but I'm looking for some advice. I have been living with the love of my life for about 4 months now and as of two days ago he is not happy and is scared of the future. He tells me that this is too soon for him and that he needs to live alone while still keeping our relationship going. Set aside the lease and bills that we have together and think about the weight on my heart right now. I am in hell and I'm so afraid of loosing the person who means the most to me. I want him to be happy and I want him to have what he wants. I feel this is just some kind of commitment scare. He is 21 and I am 23 we are meant for each other. We've known each other for a very long time and have basically grown up together. I just don't want to take a step backwards and loose what we have. I want to hold on but I don't want to squeeze too tight.

Posted by: S at June 28, 2008 08:00 PM

Marriage is a parasitic relationship, and women are the parasites.

Posted by: Dave at February 9, 2009 03:56 AM
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