Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Descent of the Child-Man

America is changing. Yesterday's majority is today's minority, so get used to it.

But it came as a surprise to me to learn recently (though I should have seen it coming) that the adult is a disappearing demographic. There's said to be only about 100 left of them. It is reported:

According to alarming new figures released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation's population of mature adults has been pushed to the brink of extinction, with only 104 grown-ups remaining in the country today.

This people group is usually distinguished by traits such as, "foresight, rationality, understanding of how to obtain and pay for a mortgage, personal responsibility, and the ability to enter a store without immediately purchasing whatever items they see and desire."

How did this environmental(?) disaster develop so unnoticed? "[P]erhaps because of this group's unusual capacity to endure hardships with quiet dignity instead of whining loudly to draw attention to themselves."

Citing many social scientists who have studied this dwindling group, "Future generations, they soberly note, will likely go their whole lives never knowing a grown-up person."

Growing up seems to be a problem particularly (though not exclusively) among men, that is, among male human beings. For example, can you legitimately call the people in this Geico commercial "men?" Remember, the joke works only because there are so many of these guys out there. There are lots of guys in the viewing audience with cars that need insurance saying, "Yeah, really! Awesome, dude."

This has become a source of great frustration to women in search of men to take as husbands. They can't find any! They won't commit. They're goofy. They're more like boys. They'

This has been a theme for Kay Hymowitz these last few years. She began with an article in City Journal, "Child-Man in the Promised Land: Today’s single young men hang out in a hormonal limbo between adolescence and adulthood." She has now followed up with a book-length account of the problem, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys (Basic Books). You can read the Wall Street Journal article adapted from the book, "Where Have The Good Men Gone? Kay S. Hymowitz argues that too many men in their 20s are living in a new kind of extended adolescence."

In the 2008 article, Hymowitz described the all-too-familiar subject of study this way:

You’ve finished college and work in a cubicle in a large Chicago financial-services firm. You live in an apartment with a few single guy friends. In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face—and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes. They come from everywhere: California, Tokyo, Alaska, Australia. Wife? Kids? House? Are you kidding?...Some call this new period “emerging adulthood,” others “extended adolescence”...

You're 26, and you're all these things. And you are useless to women. Hymowitz argues (do child-men listen to arguments?) that this way of life does not bring out the best in men. What do women want? Though they may take them to bed (stop doing that!), "aging frat boys, maladroit geeks [and] grubby slackers" are not it.

So where did this happen? How do we come to have men between the ages of 18 and 34 with lots of money and no inclination to grow up, shoulder responsibility, and do hard things? Hymowitz's answer is in the subtitle to her book: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys. Men will fight wars, but they won't fight women. When women step forward and become men, men sit back and become boys. The feminist egalitarian utopia of women and men working side-by-side in freely chosen, asexual pursuits (politics, business, fighting fires, combat--you know, what you see everywhere on TV, but nowhere near as often in real life) is a fantasy with no foundation in human nature.

But on we go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such a sad phenomenon -- for the guys, of course, but also for women (most women still want to get married, no matter how successful) and for the children of non-marital relationships (or hookups, or whatever) who are less likely to have present / involved fathers. Society as a whole (i.e. we) suffers.

I haven't read Hymowitz's book, but it was curious to me from these 2 essays that she doesn't seem to put much blame on the sexual revolution. Does anyone outside of Christian circles ever consider that women should stop having non-marital sex? I think this is a much bigger factor than women's education & career success . . . successful women don't prevent (serious) Christian men from exercising self-restraint / virtue and abstaining until marriage. In my experience, they are less likely to be guys, more likely to be men.

I would love to see someone like Hymowitz urge women to just say no -- a modern Lysistrata. I know it's unlikely -- is it also too simplistic?