22 February 2011

Where Do You Think?

Kay S. Hymowitz asks where all the good men have gone:

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. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.

And yet her answer is largely unsatisfactory.  Consider the following:
"We are sick of hooking up with guys," writes the comedian Julie Klausner, author of a touchingly funny 2010 book, "I Don't Care About Your Band."

Really?  Women are now getting sick of hooking up?  The evidence suggests otherwise.  (In case you’re stupid or a feminist (but I repeat myself) statistical evidence trumps anecdote every time, in terms of proof.) 

And since women who are inclined to hook up reward this sort of behavior, it should come as no surprise that this sort of behavior not only exists, but has become more prevalent.

But for all its familiarity, pre-adulthood represents a momentous sociological development. It's no exaggeration to say that having large numbers of single young men and women living independently, while also having enough disposable income to avoid ever messing up their kitchens, is something entirely new in human experience. Yes, at other points in Western history young people have waited well into their 20s to marry, and yes, office girls and bachelor lawyers have been working and finding amusement in cities for more than a century. But their numbers and their money supply were always relatively small. Today's pre-adults are a different matter. They are a major demographic event.

The one problem with this analogy is that the “office girl,” as popularly envisaged, does not exist anymore.  Women are now holding jobs that were once generally reserved for men.  Instead of being support staff or having largely clerical duties, today’s women are now in management, in engineering (though not to an overwhelming extent), and other jobs that require college degrees.  As such, they are now on largely equal, and in many cases superior footing with men. In fact, what’s left of the wage gap can be entirely explained by self-imposed labor factors, a few minor exceptions notwithstanding.   

Women, in general, do not like being with men they consider their inferiors.   At the same time, women have done what they could to attain equality with men.  How, then, is it a surprise that women now have higher standards that fewer men meet?  One of the reasons why there are fewer good men is simply due to the fact that fewer men meet women’s standards, and this is a direct result of women trying to become equal to men.
What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.

Actually, nihilism explains the puerile shallowness rather well.  Most men simply do not see much purpose in life, other than to eat, drink, be entertained, and get laid.  Some might argue that this is a reflection of a broader rejection of religion, but this explanation is unsatisfactory because women are still deeply religious.

A better explanation for male nihilism is better summed up in Gloria Steinem’s incomparable aphorism:  “women need men like a fish needs a bicycle.”  Perhaps the reason why men today exhibit generally worthless behavioral traits is due to the fact that men have been called worthless for around forty years.  Maybe, just maybe, that message is beginning to sink in.  And if that message has sunk in, can anyone really be surprised that there are behavioral consequences to it?  To ask the question is to answer it.

It is truly astonishing that there some people who think that calling men worthless will not have any effect on how men behave.  Even more astonishing is how they are unable to still grasp this lesson in spite of ten+ years of consequences.

Today's pre-adult male is like an actor in a drama in which he only knows what he shouldn't say. He has to compete in a fierce job market, but he can't act too bossy or self-confident. He should be sensitive but not paternalistic, smart but not cocky. To deepen his predicament, because he is single, his advisers and confidants are generally undomesticated guys just like him.

So, feminists have done their damnedest to stamp out all traces of masculinity in society and are surprised that men don’t want to be a part of it.  Why would that be, I wonder?  Men can’t lead, can’t take risks, can’t be men, and so they go away.  How is this not easily predicted?
Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do.  [Emphasis added.]

So, Ms. Hymowitz finally answers her own question.  The good men have gone away because feminism has called them worthless and made it clear they’re unwanted.  Women will still shag the bad boys, so the good men see no need to return.  Feminists have told men that they are worthless, and they have responded rationally.

Where have all the good men gone?  They’ve gone to where they’re wanted.


  1. "In fact, what’s left of the wage gap can be entirely explained by"...

    Unfinished sentence?

    Your point about nihilism strikes a chord with me. As religion fails to convince, and women fail to keep their hypergamous natures in check, there is little to convince men to make the extra effort.

    "entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure"

    This would be an example of why I criticize the free-market-will-save-the-culture fetishists. The men want diversion, and the market gives it to them, rather than helping push them toward a place where they can be enfranchised once again.

  2. @EW- fixed, thanks.

    "This would be an example of why I criticize the free-market-will-save-the-culture fetishists."

    At the very least, though, a truly free market would stop wrecking the culture. Though I'm sympathetic to conservatives on social issues, I don't think anyone can correctly assert one way or the other just how much would or would not change under a free market, since such a prognostication would require an inhuman amount of knowledge. The best way to handle the situation, then, would be to have a completely free market first, and then make incremental legal adjustments as necessary.

  3. A truly free market is just as impossible as a truly anarchist utopia.

    At any rate, the worldwide economy is going to hit a rocky patch for at least a year, probably longer. (In some countries, the last five years have been rocky already.)

    First figure out how to give the peasants enough bread so that they don't eat next year's seeds. If possible, raise them up from peasant status. The planet has a lot of serfs and peasants and very few free yeoman farmers.

  4. "A truly free market is just as impossible as a truly anarchist utopia."

    Not exactly. There have been some instances where a stateless society not only existed, but flourished. I would agree that most people wouldn't want to live in one, because most people are not fond of bearing unmitigated risk, nor are most fond of living with the consequences of their choices. But some are quite willing to bear risk and take responsibility, and would not someone else to tell them how to live responsibly, making them ideal candidates for living in a stateless society.

    Now if only we could find an island on which to live...