Thursday, February 21, 2008

Man Child

As a man writing about gender issues, I always feel required to state that I am a huge supporter of the feminist movement in that I believe in equality for all, and that women should be on equal ground with men in the workforce, schools, etc. This article talks about the 'man child' or 'child man' idea. She attacks the state of modern "single young men", and I wanted to draft up an awesome response to it. Someone beat me to the punch by using brilliant arguments and refutes pretty much all of her points. This fellow nails just about every counterpoint I could come up with on the head. There are a couple of things he leaves out that I wanted to bring up.

In her first couple of paragraphs, the author compares a 26 yo male from 1965 to one of modern times. She contrast how the 1965 youngin' would be married to his HS sweetheart, have a kid and be saving up for a house while the modern 26 yo isn't doing any of those things and therefore isn't an adult. What defines an adult? I would say working a job and paying bills is adult. Not all adults pay their bills, but I consider that adult. Is the author so blind that she only considers a man an adult when he is married and a father. That is sexist, and I am offended. Joking. One convenient point she is avoiding in that comparison is that the man in 1965 did not go to college, while the man of today to achieve financial comfort, most likely has to go to college. That is a 4 year period of buffer that delays a lot of different things because a rational person might think "jeez I am in college, getting married or having a kid right now might be a bad idea". That's a pretty adult choice. To not give this any thought is a rather dumb way to handle the idea of people (not just men) seeming to take a longer time to grow up. After all, the average female age for firt time wives has gone up rather quickly in the last 20 years, hmmmmm.


My second big gripe was this: what do you put as a value of spending your adult time and when a man spends his adult free time hooking up isn't he hooking up with an adult woman? Jeez, I guess the author never thought of that. Here's a direct quote...


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.


This author has a very good point on women achieving in school & the workplace. Yah equality! I do think there is something at work here that a different author, Christina Hoff Sommers, has discussed in her book "The War Against Boys". Somewhere in time we forgot to tell boys it was good to do well in school. Plus, eggheads don't normally get laid a lot. That is for another blog post. What I find horrible in the above paragraph is that men who drink, hook up, hang out with friends while playing video games are considered underachieving while women who shop, travel with friends (if they have any), hook up and dining with friends are considered adult. She never says it, but these men are obviously hooking up with these same women unless they are gay, so the women are hooking up, she just chooses not to write it in. This author has written that shopping, eating dinner with friends and traveling is adult, but if you want to drink, play pickup basketball games, and play video games with friends, it is immature. What she fails to consider is that men and women use different activites as the backdrop for socializing with their peers. I'm not discussing needs shopping here, I am discussing young woman, let's go girls shopping. I consider shopping as a social activity to be the ultimate lame-o act in our consumerist society. I associate shopping with empty headed girls using credit cards to buy outfits and girl things while drinking mocha-frappa-frosty-chinos. If a guy friend said "Let's go shopping", I'd stare at him for a few seconds and say "you need something". I know the men going shopping thing was explored during the metrosexual discussion, and once again, that was considered bad for men. I do not know about you but shopping and dining with friends do not give a person the adult stamp of approval. It just means that you like to spend money on yourself.


The author fails to consider that playing video games is an arbitrary setting for guy time that in days of yore were spent hunting or at the American Legion or Elks Club playing cards. The author also comments on how these men are commitment-phobes. Is this such a fucking news flash? Men has always been accused of beign afraid to commit. It is a natural "problem" with men. Do I think men have become a bit more immature in the 20s. Sure, I do. Do I think the fact that 60% or more of youngsters go to college has a hand in it? Yes. Do I think women getting married later, being hypersexual in their behavior, and wanting to have a career first so they put off motherhood and marriage has a bit to do with it? Yes. Do I think that women view men as an accessory at times that they display for social approval from their circle of friends and others just as much as men view young women as sexual 'devices'? Hell yes. Did the author want to just rip on young men and how they are letting down young women? Sure. Do I think that the ascent of the cult of youth culture has made huge portions of society regress? Yes. That all sounds just about right.
To consider men only adults if married and a father is like in olden days when childless mothers or spinsters were looked down on socially. It is wrong. There are many different variations of adult. I have met teenagers that I consider more adult than 40 year olds. I have met grandparents who are pretty darn childish. I am a bit more spiritual in this view and think that we never stop growing, we never stop changing. To say a 26 year old man making 60K annually that is unmarried, childless and plays vidego games is immature is a block headed statement. That is someone living life and figuring out everything about themselves before they rush into marriage or fatherhood and later find out their true wants and leave, fucking up someone else's life.


***I think the funniest bit in the whole article (and if you read it there are many ironic funny sentences) is when she said "Sex and the City" was about 4 30-somethings and like they were positive role models. I thought Kristin Davis' character was the only 30-something & only decent character, and I thought all of them just wanted to have as much sex as possible and never settle down. They were horrible characters. I personally loved how a sentence in this woman's article read that a woman was frustrated by being the breadwinner. Hahahahaha, welcome to the club; how the times have changed!!!!

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