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Where Have All The Good Men Gone?
February 20, 2011 9:13 AM   Subscribe


 
Okay before I read this, I'm going to make a bet that the systemic, focused destruction of all the things that made having a job and kids and an education and a house able to be obtained by the majority of the people in the mid-50s isn't mentioned once.
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 AM on February 20, 2011 [145 favorites]


It's an article by an idiot, but she does mention that, Whelk.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:20 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is mentioned! But yes, god the whole "Well it must be a moral failing to live this way" crap is something that needs to be tied to a stake with Reverend Dimmesdale and set on fire.
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 AM on February 20, 2011 [23 favorites]


I may have missed some cites but it seems like the main evidence presented is that fewer people get married and have kids in their 20s and young men are having a hard time getting jobs. Throw in some anecdotes about ex-boyfriends and bam: Men these days are slacker man-children!
posted by ghharr at 9:23 AM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


The article itself is a troll piece, but it is worth looking at how we do not have the same milestones at the same ages anymore. Just without the "you're a failure unless you have a kid by 16" finger-wagging that I'm sure her grandmother once faced.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I would really like to know what leads a self-respecting, well-educated writer like Kay Hymowitz to produce a battle of the sexes book?
posted by honest knave at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I strongly disagree with Hymowitz's implication that women themselves don't experience "pre-adulthood". Where have all the good women gone?
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Damn, it even has all kinds of colorful graphs! That chick is smart!
posted by c13 at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


So is the argument that young women want to get married at 20 and have four kids, a house, a mortgage, and an absentee husband by the age of 24? Because I guess I don't really see that, and I deal with an awful lot of young women.
posted by craichead at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


It seems like comparing the odd ends of two generations. When men were robots, women were doormats.
posted by Brian B. at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Kay Hymowitz previously on MetaFilter. It's basically the same argument as it was three years ago.
posted by jedicus at 9:26 AM on February 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


I would really like to know what leads a self-respecting, well-educated writer like Kay Hymowitz to produce a battle of the sexes book?

... the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy?
posted by joe lisboa at 9:26 AM on February 20, 2011 [20 favorites]


Where Have All The Good Rich Men Gone?

see how gross that sounds?
posted by nathancaswell at 9:27 AM on February 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


It's fairly telling that "adulthood" is conflated with "marry me and provide me with babies." That article is an awful lot of words avoiding her actual question, "Why aren't these guys up for marriage?" in favor of trying to guilt a generation into it by insinuating that the marriage-avoidant guys in question are immature. Then we get the sympathy treat at the end, the little pat that says, "Oh, I understand. It's just that you feel un-needed!"

Unfortunately, the answers to that marriage question might terrify her, so we get this junk instead.
posted by adipocere at 9:27 AM on February 20, 2011 [45 favorites]


Damn, it even has all kinds of colorful graphs! That chick is smart!

God those photos in the WSJ article. You can taste the social norm policing! Careful! Businesslady is going to scold you!

Gah. I hate this so much.
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is true of a lot of men in their twenties that I know. But it's also true of a lot of women in their twenties that I know. This isn't actually about gender.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:28 AM on February 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


Books by Kay Hymowitz:

* Ready or not: why treating children as small adults endangers their future--and ours (1999)
* Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys (2011)

If only there was some kind of middle ground.
posted by ghharr at 9:28 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, the response isn't authored by "WSJ's" Nathan Rabin, but The Onion's.

Spoke too soon. Carry on.
posted by edguardo at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kay Hymowitz previously on MetaFilter. It's basically the same argument as it was three years ago.

I knew it! I knew it had to be the same mindless blowhard as that previous post. She's apparently making a whole career out of this shit.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2011


We've been trolled, people, we've been trolled. Let's just get back to our XBoxes.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2011 [29 favorites]


My dad told me that when he graduated from university with a liberal arts degree, he was offered 4 different career-type jobs and he picked the best one. When I graduated from university, I had to compete to get part-time hours at Starbucks.
posted by monkeymike at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2011 [90 favorites]


Right and the 20s bring out the best in "women"?
posted by spicynuts at 9:30 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Kay Hymowitz previously on MetaFilter. It's basically the same argument as it was three five thousand years ago.

FTFY. Now get off my lawn, you kids these days!
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2011


*throws cat in shower with MetaFilter, runs away*
posted by edguardo at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


I find this quote telling: apparently is all feminism's fault, again. "with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional"
posted by bq at 9:35 AM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I rolled my eyes hard enough to hurt myself reading the post that I don't want to even try the article for fear of blindness.
posted by SansPoint at 9:37 AM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ahh, I've always lamented the fall of adequacy.org, thank goodness wsj.com has picked up the slack.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, I won't marry you. Now go write an article about it.
posted by LordSludge at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


NOT YOU AGAIN
posted by the mad poster! at 9:41 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Husbands and fathers (if we MUST be gendered about it) are so, so not optional with the difficulty of getting and keeping good health insurance, shitty work hours, expensive childcare, and all the other horrendously difficult things about being a single parent that drive so many of them into poverty.

This reads like something off of Urban Baby where the anonymous commenters think that a household income of 200k is "middle class"
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:41 AM on February 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


Why is anyone even bothering to ask this question? You can't start most decent careers without at least a four-year degree and a few years of experience. At best, you could be making enough to help raise kids at 23-24, and that's only for a few select careers (engineers, mostly) and assuming you don't have student loans. If you went for a career that requires a longer education (doctor, lawyer, scientist, etc.), if you muddle around for a while figuring out what you wanted to do, or if you have student loans to pay back, it is quite likely that you aren't financially stable enough for children until you're 30.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:44 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm afraid this is going to piss off some people here, but in all honesty, how in hell a high GPA, drive and confidence and being a good worker bee have anything to do with being a good marriage material?
posted by c13 at 9:44 AM on February 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


I know I should rtfa before commenting on it but do we really need to reread "conservative woman commentator blasts men for not behaving like Ward Cleaver" one more time? It's not like the WSJ is actually dedicated to policies that allow men to support families like Ward Cleaver's (particularly not with only a high school diploma) even if it buys opinion pieces that chastise the proles for not doing so.
posted by immlass at 9:44 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, back in the day, a guy in his early twenties probably had been in a war, which tends to alter one's perpective, I'm told.
posted by jonmc at 9:45 AM on February 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


Ugh.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:47 AM on February 20, 2011


From the article, "Guys talk about 'Star Wars' like it's not a movie made for people half their age."

Welp, I'm a girl in my 20s, and I do too. So I guess what I'm saying is, guys-who-are-not-boys-or-men, let's hang out. We can relive our childhoods and ignore the prequels together.
posted by pemberkins at 9:49 AM on February 20, 2011 [16 favorites]


The people I know who married right out of college are seriously the most boring people in the world.

I won't even begin the rant that getting out of college sees us with major debt, shitty job prospects and housing prices that require a $50k down payment to reach 20% down. But then the people who tell people to "grow up" seem to be the same people who have had their parents pay for everything or "help out" with payments.
posted by geoff. at 9:49 AM on February 20, 2011 [17 favorites]


At best, you could be making enough to help raise kids at 23-24, and that's only for a few select careers (engineers, mostly) and assuming you don't have student loans.

That's gotta be a class thing. I meet people in their early 20's who are raising kids and living on benefits every week.

They might not be living at the standard you aspire to, but they're doing just fine.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:50 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


As someone who spent my 20s... and much of my 30s... fucking around, I fail to understand what's wrong with this. Developing a more mature psyche, doing art of all sorts, being an activist, writing a lot--I'm way glad I didn't have any babies. Sorry mom. *rolls eyes*
posted by RedEmma at 9:50 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


The implicit assumption in her argument that marriage and children are the only valid life goals is really just sad.
posted by ook at 9:51 AM on February 20, 2011 [26 favorites]


I bet a lot of the supposed slacker guys are working damn hard. They might not be one of the lucky ones, or one of the children who correctly guessed what they should be when they grew up, and made it happen. But these guys aren't slackers. They work hard at jobs where they just aren't terribly well rewarded with money, with status, with dignity. It's not an uncommon thing. It is pretty normal. So let's not blame the victim here. It's bad enough that we have a winner take all economy, that's pretty rough on it's own, but there's this really overly broad sense of what it takes to make someone a loser that I think is really corrosive to our culture.
posted by I Foody at 9:52 AM on February 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


The average age at first marriage for English men in 1610-1730 was 27-28. So a bit younger than their 30s, but definitely not 18 or 20. For women in that period, it was 25-26. (citation in my previous comment).

New rule: only historical demographers are allowed to write articles lamenting anyone "these days".
posted by jb at 9:53 AM on February 20, 2011 [102 favorites]


That's gotta be a class thing. I meet people in their early 20's who are raising kids and living on benefits every week.
I'm fairly certain that's not what a right-wing writer for the right-wing WSJ would consider success, though. One of her markers of adulthood is "financial independence," and I suspect that living on benefits wouldn't count ad financial independence to her. (And, of course, she's in the US, where "benefits" are pretty bleak.)
posted by craichead at 9:54 AM on February 20, 2011


Silly jb. Don't you know that normal is defined by what went on in the period between 1950 and 1963? Anything that happened before or after that is wholly irrelevant to normal human behavior!
posted by craichead at 9:55 AM on February 20, 2011 [9 favorites]




Also, there are thousands of young American men (of all races) who are currently sitting in a jail cell for having something to do with drugs.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:58 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the paper that brought you the Tiger Mother.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:58 AM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: That's gotta be a class thing. I meet people in their early 20's who are raising kids and living on benefits every week.

They might not be living at the standard you aspire to, but they're doing just fine.


Well, for one thing, it's different in countries with socialized healthcare. In the US, you need to have a pretty healthy income to have children responsibly, in case one of them has a severe illness. If you don't, best-case you are financially ruined (maybe you can declare bankruptcy) and worst-case you can't afford the treatments they need and they die.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:59 AM on February 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


As for the Star Wars thing: the complaint doesn't even make any sense. A New Hope was released in 1977. Anyone who was 7 when it came out is 40 now. 30-year-olds are almost too young for Star Wars.

(Okay, right now my 12 year old niece is all enthusiastic about Clone Wars, and Lego Star Wars, but she also loves the original-- it's so nice to see kids appreciate classical art).
posted by jb at 10:00 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can, in some states at least, get subsidized health insurance that is affordable for kids.

There's a middle point where your income is too high to get those subsidies and yet not high enough to get other health insurance. Huge gap, especially as states lower income requirements to get people off their rolls.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:01 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Slouching Slacker, Hidden Tiger Mother
posted by Frank Grimes at 10:03 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Among the people I know who got married in their twenties, there is a lot of cheating, we-don't-have-sex-anymore-en-ing, drinking-oneself-to-sleep-en-ing, casting-aspersions-upon-people-with-ambitions-that-do-not-involve-settling-down-and-breed-en-ing, and just basically a whole bunch of bullshit. They're miserable, but I am still unmarried and also not exactly jumping for joy. I think there's just a whole fuckton of misery to go around, and it's gonna get you no matter what you do, so you might as well do what you want and not worry about what some dominatrix in a pantsuit who writes for Rupert Murdoch thinks about you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:07 AM on February 20, 2011 [43 favorites]


Men these days are not REAL men. Back in the day, men had five or six testicles, not the paltry two that they have today. My mother actually married my father because he had seven balls, such a man he was. But three fell off fighting Hitler and he sold one to buy the family home. And then two left to become hippies and smoke drugs - we don't talk about them no more. But, as God is my witness, one day I'll find those ungrateful rogue love-prunes and beat some respect into them, for Daddy's sake.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:09 AM on February 20, 2011 [58 favorites]


I like to think that my happily unmarried, livin' in sin, child free lifestyle keeps this woman awake at night. I hope that my personal business really chaps her ass.


HEY KAY I COULD HAVE GOTTEN MARRIED LIKE SIX TIMES BY NOW STARTING WHEN I WAS SIXTEEN AND I NEVER DID AND I DON'T REGRET IT IN FACT IT'S PRETTY SWEET. IS THERE STEAM COMING OUT OF YOUR EARS? COOL.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:10 AM on February 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


I see far more of my ladypeers behaving this same way than I see asking themselves "Where have all the good men gone?" I don't think it requires any justification to be a pre-adult. More people should put off unplanned pregnancies and rushing into marriages in their early 20s, regardless of income. /soapbox
posted by JLovebomb at 10:13 AM on February 20, 2011


I was repeatedly told that marriage in your 20s is a supremely bad idea. I have not found anything to disprove this notion.
posted by parmanparman at 10:14 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is a dumb article and dumb topic. People should do whatever they want.

That being said, I like marriage. I think it gets a bad reputation these days. A lot of men and women are bitter about it. My spouse got the "Married? Why don't you just give your house and money to some woman you already hate? That way you don't have to suffer through it to the same result later" from a former employer. My single women friends would talk openly about divorce rates and how all relationships and marriages are ultimately doomed (while I was engaged, thanks). I grew up being told that love marriages (vs. arranged marriages) were ultimately doomed. I was a mess of anxiety and fear by the time the big day came.

I think both men and women today are afraid of choosing the wrong partner, doing the wrong thing (not unlike being afraid of choosing the wrong major, choosing the wrong job, wrong career, choosing the wrong place to live) and being helpless in the presence of regret. The being helpless part is the real problem. I think a lot of men and women will have regrets regardless of what they choose to do, be it never experiencing married life and family, or getting married at older ages for the first time and having only 30-40 years to spend with their children (if they're lucky enough to be around that long) and never meet their grandchildren, or getting married at 20 and having two kids by 30. It all depends on attitude and feeling confident in the decisions you make for yourself that aren't entirely based on how you feel about other people's mistakes or decisions.
posted by anniecat at 10:14 AM on February 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


feeling confident in the decisions you make for yourself that aren't entirely based on how you feel about other people's mistakes or decisions.

Ugh. That's a Sarah Palin run on. I meant to say that you have to make real decisions about what you want to do and not base those decisions on the experiences of other people.
posted by anniecat at 10:18 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know I been spending a lot of time playing xbox and out drinking, but it's been really stressful at work, with the economy and all. I'm totally going to change though, just beer, no more shots, hit the gym a couple times a week, eat better. You'll see, we should totally move in together once I get a place. C'mon baby you know I love you.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:23 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


My father got married at about 20 years of age, had a couple kids, a stable career, and never left behind that extended adolescence. Much to my mother's (and my) chagrin.

He wasn't alone. That seemed a common theme among everyone where I grew up, across ethnic lines. I remember in my little corner of the world, a common Saturday evening consisted of playing with a bunch of kids my age, as our mothers commiserated about their fates, and our fathers played around, getting intoxicated, slapping around the wife, maybe the kids, tears, yelling, etc. You couldn't really blame him. That's how adults acted. That's what they did.

I think a lot of people in my generation took a little bit of wisdom from our parents example. And postponed marriage for when we really want to be married. This is progress.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:31 AM on February 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


I got married at 22. It's pretty awesome. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with marrying early.

It feels shitty to brag about it when some people aren't legally allowed to get married, though.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:32 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Data point: when they do have free time, all my investment banking friends in their 20s smoke weed and play Xbox games just like everyone else.
posted by atrazine at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Still, for these women, one key question won't go away: Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers

Oh please Kay, I was a 23 year old software developer, graduated from college and had his own $300,000 house in the suburbs. Guess what? Girls were still more interested in the frat boys or the guys with dirt bikes than me, the 30 y.o. in a mid-20s guy. I was considered boring because I didn't go out and party every weekend, or sunbathe poolside all summer.

Maybe I ran in the wrong circles. Maybe I grew up in the wrong town. But the "good men" are there. Were just not interesting enough for contemporary culture.
posted by SirOmega at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


I dunno.


I think George Gilder was right.


In about fifty years the rest of you might agree with me.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2011


I'm just going to be over here in my totally man-free relationship playing video games and being unmarried and still in school despite being nearly 30.

Not being able to depend on somebody else to support me has only made me a better person in the long run... but you can pry my extended youth out of my cold, dead fingers.
posted by gracedissolved at 10:39 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


only historical demographers are allowed to write articles lamenting anyone "these days".

In WSJ ideology, the version of the 50s that involved the Cleavers but didn't involve a high marginal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans is the only time that counts. The article is all about sort of a rich-folks Calvinism: live in a way that doesn't offend the (financial) elect in the hopes of joining them.
posted by immlass at 10:40 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh please Kay, I was a 23 year old software developer, graduated from college and had his own $300,000 house in the suburbs. Guess what? Girls were still more interested in the frat boys or the guys with dirt bikes than me, the 30 y.o. in a mid-20s guy. I was considered boring because I didn't go out and party every weekend, or sunbathe poolside all summer.

Why did you only want the girls who didn't want you?
posted by anniecat at 10:44 AM on February 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think George Gilder was right.

Let's all please not go there, okay?
posted by ook at 10:46 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, it seems that people really just forget that the 70s happened, when me and quite literally ALL my friends had divorced parents, and the notion that parents didn't get divorced seemed rather quaint.

So, hooray for extended adolescence if I means you get it all out of your system before you have kids.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:51 AM on February 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


I know a lot of men and women who married in their 20s. All but one are now divorced. And most have a lot of baggage associated with that divorce. And those that produced children now have children with baggage, which is good if you're Louis Vuitton, but maybe not as good for anybody else.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:53 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got married in my 20's, divorced in my 30's. We had some good times, but we changed too much between our early 20's and early 30's for it to work. In our case, I was basically what the author wants (had a stable well-paid job as an engineer starting at 20 -- of course in the middle of the dot-com boom that was a lot easier than today), while my ex-wife took most of her 20's to figure out what she really wanted (which ended up being incompatible with me).

Still, I hope to get married again. I'm not bitter about marriage, although having had an amicable divorce probably helps.

Not everything in life lasts until you die, and that doesn't mean it was worthless. Divorce is not necessarily some horrible failure, any more than a breakup is (at least assuming no kids, like my situation). I mean, is every relationship that doesn't last until death worthless? Avoiding marriage because of the possibility of divorce is no different to me than avoiding relationships because you might break up. Of course, that's a fairly "modern" view of marriage, I suppose.

But yeah, the author is either naive or willfully ignorant about the economic/workplace realities of today.
posted by wildcrdj at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


When my parents got married, my mother was 18 and my father was 21.

They've told me many times not to get married as young as they did. Even though they've been married for 32 years. (I'm 27 now, so they don't need to worry.) I think they have a sense that they got lucky, and that usually marriages between people that young don't work out.

I kind of know why they did it, though; my mother's father was not exactly someone that you'd want to live in the same house as, if you could help it.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:56 AM on February 20, 2011


The idea that to me, an underemployed 20-something this article describes, people my age had a house and children and a job that could support that blows my mind. It seems like a fantasy land where the rivers where made of chocolate, it rained money, and you had a pension that didn't get looted.

At least I have youtube.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 10:59 AM on February 20, 2011 [26 favorites]


At least I have youtube.

This is why we haven't had a revolution yet.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:00 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a thoughtless and intellectually irresponsible article. The writing is full of logical/rhetorical gaps, and loaded with value judgments. It is not possible to communicate any deep meaning if you write like that. Most offensive is how the author would explain a societal problem from a sociological perspective, then in conclusion disparage one class out of all the classes of people involved in the phenomenon.
posted by polymodus at 11:01 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why did you only want the girls who didn't want you?

Because they were the only ones around? The only ones I knew? Like I said, maybe I ran in the wrong social circles. My social circles didn't change throughout college and the rest of my 20s - the same core people for the most part. Maybe I made the mistake of not seeking out new friends that were more like me. I've done that lately, and met interesting people, but I still haven't found a woman interested in me.
posted by SirOmega at 11:05 AM on February 20, 2011


she went to Brandis University
commentator with a deadline
are they all look the same.

so here comes Kay now
saying hey now
what happened to maturity
shes a writer with a deadline
and they all look the same.
posted by clavdivs at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not being able to depend on somebody else to support me has only made me a better person in the long run.

I think being able to depend on my husband and him being able to depend on me (emotionally, financially, etc) has made us happier, more secure, and better people in the long run. It's given us more opportunities to consider changing careers, etc. Because there's no safety net in this country, and neither of us have to be totally dependent on our employers until one of us is out of a job.
posted by anniecat at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


This again? What, did Judd Apatow make a new movie or something?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:08 AM on February 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


Not being able to depend on somebody else to support me has only made me a better person in the long run.

And it's not true that someone can be totally independent. You have to depend on someone, be it your parents, your friends, your spouse, and even your employer. The employer can be the worst kind of person to depend on, since you end up wedded to their whims.

You just have to pick your poison, unless you're in a career where you can actually pick and choose and totally command money. But everyone is dependent on someone. It's impossible to be totally independent.
posted by anniecat at 11:09 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I got married at 22. It's pretty awesome.

Me too!

It feels shitty to brag about it when some people aren't legally allowed to get married, though.

Also this, and I may have put off the marriage for ethical reasons, but... health insurance.

I think the author of this article is an idiot, but I also think it is ridiculously judgmental to say things like getting married in your 20s is always a bad idea no matter what and you silly 20-somethings, you are far too stupid to understand what is best for you so just shut up and be 30 already.
posted by Lobster Garden at 11:09 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Quoting from the article
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.
Exactly the era in which to be a "real man" guys were required to fuck, or try fucking as many women as possible, to prove their maleness, or be ridiculed. Did I mention the "rite of passage" of visting a brothel at least once?

But she gladly "forgets" to mention that, duh, probably because this side of regressing to the "real male" would turn many men into the affectively disfunctional type many women loathe (except extremely insecure ones, for which any attention is still better than no attention).
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.
Non sequitur. More women working don't imply these qualities are not appreciated any longer. But she "forgets" to explain why. And "moving ahead" , what the hell is that supposed to mean? Ahead of the cue? Oh I see, it's like saying "it's a leading company" , which means exactly nothing.
For women, the central task usually involved the day-to-day rearing of the next generation; for men, it involved protecting and providing for their wives and children.
Me man, me fighter! BUNGA BUNGA! She's stuck in a fantasy world of her own.
posted by elpapacito at 11:12 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I met my husband when I was twenty and married him when I was 28. We had our first kid when I was 31. I will say this -- having children for the first time in my early thirties gave me a lot of respect for the idea of having them in my early twenties. I was a lot more put-together for the up-all-night business at 22 than at 32.

The SAHM business is cool, but it's stressful on my husband being the only wage-earner in this economy. He lost his job when I was 29 weeks pregnant with our second kid, was extremely fortunate to get a contract job 3 weeks later that pays enough to pay the bills. . . but we're out $700 a month for private-pay health care. Good health-care options would make a world of difference to people's family planning, I bet.
posted by KathrynT at 11:14 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd comment, but I rolled my eyes so hard reading this I'm still looking for them.

It has made typing this a bitch, let me tell you.
posted by HostBryan at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


For most of us, the cultural habitat of pre-adulthood no longer seems noteworthy. After all, popular culture has been crowded with pre-adults for almost two decades. Hollywood started the affair in the early 1990s with movies like "Singles," "Reality Bites," "Single White Female" and "Swingers." Television soon deepened the relationship, giving us the agreeable company of Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross; Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer; Carrie, Miranda, et al.

Worth noting that the Seinfeld gang were all in their 30s and existed in a sort of gleefully nihilistic existential hell in which not just family but all else everyone does with their time was intended to be seen as meaningless, and that this is almost certainly the first pop theorization ever to draw a direct lifestyle link between Swingers and Single White Female. Which is almost admirable in its desperately-grasping-at-straws-ness.

Worth noting, in other words, that Ms. Hymowitz knows about as much about pop culture as she does about applied demographics.

Also worth noting that a family man (in his 20s or otherwise) in these lauded previous generations could reasonably expect to execute the jobs of fatherhood and husbandhood without ever changing a diaper, cooking a meal or washing a shirt. The job's more involved now; we modern dads and husbands trade youthful energy (which admittedly would be great around the toddlers) for wisdom, patience and commitment to the job and - ideally - the time at home to actually, you know, do it. Times change, and reasonable expectations about age and gender roles change with them.
posted by gompa at 11:20 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reason your Dad didn't smoke weed and play videogames in his 20s is because there weren't any video games. And TV says people used to be able to drink at work and even sometimes have drinks over lunch. Also I saw Craig T Nelson in Poltergeist and he totally smoked weed despite having kids and a suburban home and this was made in 1982, but then his family was terrorized by ghosts so that's kind of a cautionary tale I guess. Am I even making sense right now? Man, I love Sunday wake n bakes.
posted by Hoopo at 11:23 AM on February 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


When you look at surveys that ask questions like "are you happy" and "are you satisfied with your life" the trend since 1970 is that more and more men have been answering "yes".

Modern men say they are getting happier. So it's worth isolating what Hymowitz identifies as the drawbacks of modern maleness in the article:
- "young men were tuning in to cable channels ... whose shows reflected... puerile shallowness"

- "Single men... continue to be more troubled and less successful "

- "treat women like disposable estrogen toys"

- "... We are sick of hooking up with guys"

- "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"
This seems to be it. The first problem-- crude culture-- isn't well justified. Crude humor doesn't hurt anyone. Its popularity makes life slightly more annoying for people that don't like it, but a proper zeitgeist imposes the same costs on crude people. It's best to acknowledge up front a selfish motive for caring, but that's just vain whining more than sociological critique. Get a blog.

The second problem-- troubled men-- is the most important, but men are happier and are riding a decades long trend in lower crime. She could argue that men would be even happier and less criminal if they got married younger like they used to, but that kind of question begging simply doesn't come off as persuasive when the trends are moving in a desirable direction.

The third problem-- sexism and promiscuity-- are not synonymous. Men are becoming less sexist, and the article does not demonstrate a widening gap between male and female desires for children and committed relationships. And, as with fart jokes, individual preferences for long term relationships and children can't be taken as good or bad. Lots of people who want relationships and kids impose search costs on the minority who just want to fuck like animals, and lots of people who want to fuck like animals impose search costs on the minority who want relationships and kids.
posted by dgaicun at 11:24 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


When me and all my single lady friends were enjoying our own extended adolescences, I don't recall any of us lamenting the shortage of 1950's dudes looking to knock us up and take care of us.
posted by Mavri at 11:27 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


What happens if you were married in your 20s and had a grown-up responsible job and STILL played video games and watched Cartoon Network?

WHAT THEN??!!?!?!
posted by jscalzi at 11:29 AM on February 20, 2011 [17 favorites]


I have to wonder if so many more of us having been raised by divorced parents has had an effect on the desirability of getting married young. It certainly took a lot of the romance out of the idea of marriage for me, I wanted to be damned sure before I made a decision like that. It made the idea of being single and figuring things out for myself in my 20s make a lot of sense.
posted by Hoopo at 11:31 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clearly the answer is that women should embrace lesbianism and form early-marrying, high-status triple-A platinum power couples with matching towels. They can use the leftover men for reproduction and sport.
posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on February 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


This again? What, did Judd Apatow make a new movie or something?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:08 PM on February 20


You, sir, owe me a new monitor. Good show.
posted by spoobnooble at 11:34 AM on February 20, 2011


the whole "Well it must be a moral failing to live this way" crap is something that needs to be tied to a stake with Reverend Dimmesdale and set on fire

But then why would the WSJ even continue to exist? If it can't ideologize poverty as a moral and psychological failure or a deserved punishment, then it's just a bundle of stock prices and ads for $100,000 wristwatches.
posted by RogerB at 11:35 AM on February 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


dgaicun brings up a good point. It's not exactly as if the US is really falling apart. Plenty of indicators show higher degree of prosperity and satisfaction now more than ever before, for a wider array of people across ethnic and sexual lines. This is not a bad thing.

Also, as Hymowitz herself points out, carving out a meaningful career often takes much longer, initially entailing less stability. Is it really a bad thing when a male on this track postpones a family during this turbulent time for when he can really be a better mate/parent? That would seem to indicate a greater degree of maturity and thoughtfulness. Not less.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


What I got out of this is that the journalistic barrier to entry for declaring a social trend is now down to being able to cite an example from a Judd Apatow movie.
posted by nanojath at 11:41 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


As one of the older people posting here, I have to say that about half my friends fucked around in various fruitless endeavors in their 20's (that would be the 70's or so) and had kids when they were older; the other half got married and had kids earlier and fucked around - in a more responsible way, perhaps, traveling etc. - at a later age. I see no moral difference between the two groups. Playing the Shame Game on young males is silly, although, as some of you have pointed out, it makes for a nice little featurette you can run every few months that writes itself. "Just look at these guys in the movies," points out every last one of these phoned-in travesties.
posted by kozad at 11:43 AM on February 20, 2011


OK, I know a way to put an end to these goofy laments . . .

Hello, Ms. Hymowitz, my name is Jason. I am a reasonably bright, eyefriendly fellow. Gainfully employed and self-supporting. Mature. I have never played a videogame in my life.

*gets down on one knee*

Will you marry me? Will you carry my babies?

There.

I just took one for the team.

You geeks had better be fucking grateful.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:47 AM on February 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


What happens if you were married in your 20s and had a grown-up responsible job and STILL played video games and watched Cartoon Network?

WHAT THEN??!!?!?!


They'd be me. I don't think I'm that dimwit's idea of an ideal man. She's sure as hell not my idea of the ideal woman.

Clearly the answer is that women should embrace lesbianism and form early-marrying, high-status triple-A platinum power couples with matching towels. They can use the leftover men for reproduction and sport.

Inside voice for your fantasies, Whelk. Inside voice!
posted by rodgerd at 11:54 AM on February 20, 2011


Still waiting for people to realize the '50s were a complete anomaly in human history. A bad one, in fact, that probably set us all back for 30 years.
posted by Nixy at 12:01 PM on February 20, 2011 [16 favorites]


Will you marry me? Will you carry my babies?

You know, I agree 300% that this writer is a fucking clueless dimwit who knows nothing about people and that her contentions are offensive and insulting. Every "adolescent" behavior she ascribes to current young men was illustrated equally well to all the 30s married couples whose kids I babysat in the 1970s. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and plenty of young folks like them did a fine job of acting like irresponsible teenagers in the 1920s despite having married and reproduced. Etc.

But that doesn't mean it's OK to assail Hymowitz with the trite, revolting, and equally offensive "She's just mad because she's a dried-up old maid who can't get a MAN to MARRY her" hooey.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:04 PM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm forty-one now, and part of me does wish I had settled down and raised a family. My brother was looking for a wife pretty much since Grade Ten; recently he celebrated his fifteenth wedding anniversary, and he and his wife two kids just entering high school. On the other hand, I slept in this morning, and I'm going to bed when I feel like it tonight. It's a trade-off. Not everyone is meant to have kids.

I also happen to be in career re-training with a class of twenty-year-old guys, and I have to admit that, like the author, I wonder why they lack any sense of maturity or responsibility. Most of them live with their parents and they treat the course like a joke, unlike us older guys who don't have that sort of leeway. OTOH, the girls these guys hang out with seem just as directionless and clueless as they are. It's not a case of women frustrated with men not growing up: no one wants to grow up these days.

One thing I can tell you: neither the men nor the women can spell worth shit. Forget getting these kids married and in careers; first make sure they can write an actual sentence and know the difference between "to" and "too".
posted by spoobnooble at 12:08 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


But that doesn't mean it's OK to assail Hymowitz with the trite, revolting, and equally offensive "She's just mad because she's a dried-up old maid who can't get a MAN to MARRY her" hooey.

I agree, but I'm pretty sure she's married with kids which to me makes her screed even more condescending and insulting.
posted by Hoopo at 12:12 PM on February 20, 2011


Why is anyone even bothering to ask this question? You can't start most decent careers without at least a four-year degree and a few years of experience. At best, you could be making enough to help raise kids at 23-24, and that's only for a few select careers (engineers, mostly) and assuming you don't have student loans. If you went for a career that requires a longer education (doctor, lawyer, scientist, etc.), if you muddle around for a while figuring out what you wanted to do, or if you have student loans to pay back, it is quite likely that you aren't financially stable enough for children until you're 30.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:44 AM


Well put. Additionally, it also seems that if you're a keener sort of kid or under a lot of parental pressure and bow down and go to school for a long, long time for one of those professional jobs, foregoing a lot of teenage and twenties fun in the process, reserving your going out years for after, once you've done everything you're supposed to, only by now you're so much older than the other people in the bar, not only are you 'that guy' in the bar, you're also now described as a slacker-dude because you're only now doing things which everyone else has by now already given up, even though you were the one being responsible and grown up in the first place doing all your work first and playing later like a good boy, and who, me, bitter, why do you ask?

posted by Capt. Renault at 12:28 PM on February 20, 2011 [19 favorites]



But that doesn't mean it's OK to assail Hymowitz with the trite, revolting, and equally offensive "She's just mad because she's a dried-up old maid who can't get a MAN to MARRY her" hooey.

All is fair in internetz and war.
posted by jason's_planet at 12:39 PM on February 20, 2011


Still waiting for people to realize the '50s were a complete anomaly in human history. A bad one, in fact, that probably set us all back for 30 years.

Rather, the 50s that everyone thinks happened ... The one with Richie, Fonzie, Rizzo and Danny Zuko ... didn't.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:42 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


the '50s were a complete anomaly in human history. A bad one, in fact, that probably set us all back for 30 years

So you're saying after the fifties we repeated the thirties, and right now we're actually experiencing the re-eighties.

I am intrigued by your premise, though I'm not sure where it's telling us to go from here.
posted by nanojath at 12:54 PM on February 20, 2011


I've done that lately, and met interesting people, but I still haven't found a woman interested in me.

Have you considered an arranged marriage? Lots of nice, good-looking Indian girls out there. You're probably not Indian, but there are non-Indian people on these sites, so get your biodata up on Shaadi.com. Pretty sure someone will snap you up.
posted by anniecat at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood"

Not too long ago, men went to work when they were 8-10-12 years old. None of that education gettin in the way of valuable life skills there! And women weren't allowed to work outside the home. Ahhhh ... good ol days.

Not too long before that, men put in 2-3 hours a day of work to support themselves and their family (look it up) ... and then they did whatever they felt like, because there were no streets, no houses, no government (except the rest of the clan), no booze and life lasted 25 years.

I 'spect you'll find that "good men" aren't looking for a collar to wear.
posted by Twang at 12:55 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've applied at over 300 places in the past year.

Only two of those places granted me an interview. Only one of those two offered a living wage (the other offered $16,000 per year for maybe as much as seventy hours of work every week).

The other? Not in America. So I'll have to emigrate, if I land that job. I'll gladly emigrate.

I'm over thirty. I spent a lot of time getting an education.

I won't ever own a house.

I will probably never be out of student debt.

I know dozens of men just like me. We're not children.
posted by chanology at 1:00 PM on February 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


THIS OLDER SOCIAL NORM THAT I THINK IS BETTER IS DIFFERENT THAN THIS NEW SOCIAL NORM THAT OTHERS THINK IS BETTER. SINCE MINE IS BETTER I CAN ONLY CRITIQUE THIS NEW SOCIAL NORM AND ALL THOSE WHO ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF IT. NO, OF COURSE I DON'T HAVE COMPARATIVE OR CROSS-CULTURAL RESEARCH TO BACK UP ANY OF THESE BELIEFS I HOLD TO BE SELF-EVIDENT.

END RHETORICAL SCREE INTENDED TO PAD OUT ONLINE CONTENT IN THE HOPES WE CAN CONTINUE TO DRIVE THE PRECIOUS 18-35 DEMOGRAPHIC TO OUR SITE IN THE HOPES WE CAN SELL MORE ADVERTISING.

.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:01 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Twang: women have never been forbidden to work outside of the home. that some didn't in the past was a sign of privilege.

Also, the starting work at 8-10-12 things is a bit simplistic. In the medieval and early modern periods, children did work, but often as part of a family, as children and not as little adults. Indeed, even as they might leave their birth family to become apprentices or farm servants (boys and girls), their place in their employers family was that similar to child -- they were still under strong adult authority. And they would continue this way into their twenties -- full adulthood could not be achieved in western Europe until you established your own household. In places with multi-generational households, such as eastern Europe, perhaps one could argue that adulthood really came with middle age, as one moved into the position of being the head of the household. As I've cited here before, in 18th century France, a man was not considered adult enough to get married without his parents permission until he was 25, even if his parents lived on the other side of the Atlantic. (Real case from a court case in Loiusbourg, Nova Scotia).
posted by jb at 1:08 PM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Where have all the good men gone?

The clever female WSJ staff ran off with them.
posted by Segundus at 1:15 PM on February 20, 2011


I think George Gilder was right.

no, he's wrong for the same reason kay is wrong - men should not just be defined by their relationship to women and children

kay is treating us as objects that have no other purpose but to marry women and provide them with the things they want
posted by pyramid termite at 1:17 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


As someone who just turned 30, I look forward to extending my adolescence at least another decade.
posted by brundlefly at 1:22 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm 25. I feel too old and too young. I've got no degree, a fun job, and a shitty apartment. My plans for the year involve seeing so much live music I go deaf and playing so much XBox I go blind. I'm smart but unmotivated and I can live kinda comfortably. Half my friends are getting married and the other half live with their parents
I haven't seen any art that represents my life
I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:38 PM on February 20, 2011 [24 favorites]


What happens if you were married in your 20s and had a grown-up responsible job and STILL played video games and watched Cartoon Network?

Well, if you're in San Francisco or Seattle, you'll tell acquaintances, school and work colleagues you have kids and they'll look at you like horns have grown out of your head. And next time you see them, they'll be just a tiny bit more distant. After you had kids, some of your friends returned your phone calls less frequently and eventually stopped altogether. But strangely, your best friend on the extreme end of extended-adolescence who was most vocally anti-kids and anti-marriage stayed with you. With some friends, it will be a sticking point in the relationship, almost as if they don't approve of your lifestyle but for the sake of the friendship, they're willing to ignore it because they are open-minded people. When you're out with your girls without mom, you stick out and people will sometimes stare at you, and at the playground, your kids will play with other kids whose parents seem more like your parents than like you. These parents also do not approve of you, your chuck taylors or your irresponsible inability to afford 2 Audis, but they are willing to give you parenting advice even though their kids are younger than yours.

This is because waiting until your late 30s or 40s to have kids is a mark of class, intelligence and superior status; having them earlier is understood as an enormous mistake, squandering your potential, missing out on opportunities, reducing your earning potential and limiting your choices. When you do see other young fathers, you will look at them, they will look back and there will be a glint of recognition and solidarity, because at least in this world, young fatherhood is a secret fraternity, which is disproportionately Asian, Hispanic, Black, Jewish, guys raised by hippies, third culture kids, immigrants, guys who came from the wrong side of the tracks, religious people who wandered too far from their insular communities and other people who didn't absorb the white, upper-middle class script of how and when to procreate for whatever reason, but now live among them.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2011 [26 favorites]


No one would suggest that the antihero of "Knocked Up" is the apogee of masculinity, but he does possess an admirable quality shared by many members of his generation: He creates. He creates because he's too young and naïve to realize that the odds are stacked against him. He's also too green to realize that he's creating something (a database of celebrity nudity) that has already been created (a website called Mr. Skin), but that doesn't change the fact that he's showing real initiative.

As usual, Nabin gets it. Everyone i know has a project or two going
(and Nabin in the WSJ? WTF?)
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2011


I kinda wish I'd got married young. When I meet somebody I need to avoid getting too serious. I feel like I'd like someone stable but I also love staying out on Thursday at a gig
My shrink told me my rootless, random life is normal for people my age. It kinda cheered me up but also kinda depressed me
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:53 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, is she basing all her observations on television shows and movies? So life imitates TV? Or TV imitates life?
posted by anniecat at 1:54 PM on February 20, 2011


2N2222: "dgaicun brings up a good point. It's not exactly as if the US is really falling apart. Plenty of indicators show higher degree of prosperity and satisfaction now more than ever before, for a wider array of people across ethnic and sexual lines. This is not a bad thing.

You might want to look at this chart:
Empire at the End of Decadence - Charles Blow

posted by psyche7 at 2:01 PM on February 20, 2011


I wish to add that I don't like the phase "man up", its emasculating and usually directed at someone who's in distress, placing further burden on them to live up to someone elses standard. It does have the benifit of making the person who's telling it look like they got it figured out, in the grand illusion that is contemporary masculenity.

Well that's enough five dollar words for now.
posted by hellojed at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm in my 20s and cannot imagine supporting a family. It seems about as likely as me becoming an astronaut in the near future. It is mind boggling to me that at my age my dad had not one but two young boys and a wife to support. The possibility is so remote it's not even on my radar. I'm a responsible, self-employed guy with a growing business despite the economy and most of my (college educated, hard working) friends consider themselves lucky to be working part time at Trader Joe's.

The people I know who got married and bought houses straight out of college are very religious, live in places with low costs of living, and came from families who had the expectations and the means to make this moral righteous path possible for their kids. Many of these guys are already divorced and seem to spend their days posting bitter, misogynist musings about life and relationships on Facebook while they clock in at stable yet painfully boring jobs they hate.

If that's adulthood, then no thank you.
posted by bradbane at 2:13 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


alright,

I thought that I was on a career path that would lead to lateral movements, promotions, experience, money for grad school, and money for my fucking student loans BUT I GOT LAID OFF! I feel like in this economy with around 9-10% unemployment my experience is not unique. Furthermore, I feel like my age cohort (the 20s) is getting raped up the ass at the moment because all the baby boomers who were set to retire lost a lot of their retirement savings in the crash a couple years ago and now have to work for several more years to make up for it.

So in short, go to hell wsj. I am enjoying my forced unemployment. My days of video games, drunkenness, and metafilter are pretty awesome actually.
posted by Glibpaxman at 2:21 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm reminded of something someone may have said about The Replacements:
"Being a drunken fuck up with a heart of gold is endearing in your 20s, but not in your 30s"
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:24 PM on February 20, 2011


"When I meet somebody I need to avoid getting too serious. I feel like I'd like someone stable but I also love staying out on Thursday at a gig"

Not mutually exclusive
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:30 PM on February 20, 2011


Nobody knows HOW to grow up these days. Seriously. If you can't get a 10-hour-a-week job at Starbucks when you have a college degree, how are you going to move out of your mom's house, much less find a wife, pay for a wedding, pay for a house, pay for children? This state of affairs is probably not going to get a lot better in the next 5 years either, so the 20somethings these days, if they get lucky, might get married (i.e. elope) within the next 10 years. Houses and children? Uh... who knows. I know of two guys who have managed to pull off the early-marriage thing, but one of them is a computer sort and the other does one of those jobs that most sane people wouldn't want to do, so I assume that's where their money for it comes from. Also, they probably got lucky. Most guys I know under 30 are moving home with their parents, not because they want to.

"Grown up" stuff has to be put off until you can at least support yourself. Duh.

Welcome to the new adulthood. Please, explain to me how the 20something dudes are going to pull this off under these circumstances.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:32 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


My parents -- who both spent the late '60s on liberal college campuses stoned, one of whom dropped out, the other of whom went to law school, worked for the government for a year before quitting, both of whom worked in bars until they were almost 40 and I was born and then went and got respectable careers -- would be really interested to hear of this new phenomenon.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 2:37 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its interesting how true Rabin's article is for me. Post college I have poured my free time into making stuff (since, Hooray I can spend the night messing with flash game libraries instead of writing an essay!)

I'm actually too busy making video games to play them. Irony.
posted by hellojed at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2011


I don't know if it's relevant but the second article is by a man who is literally paid to write about old episodes of The Simpsons.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:42 PM on February 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


wait i am 30, and HAVE a well paying job, but also DON'T HAVE a wife, kids, house, or car. to further complicate things i DO HAVE a male roommate, we DO talk about Star Wars but we DON'T HAVE any video game systems. i also DO HAVE investments in the stock market but DON'T HAVE health insurance. DID I JUST BLOW YOUR FUCKING MIND OR WHAT???
posted by nathancaswell at 2:43 PM on February 20, 2011


We gave up manufacturing to other countries. Young, not-so-bright people, lost hope of employment. A high-school diploma means nothing anymore. Invest more years in college and beg for those few years of "experience" that makes your CV worth something. And, now, college is becoming more and more out of reach for ordinary folks.

Here is the harsh truth: not everyone is cut out to be a PhD. My own parents were very happy on the assembly line, until the assembly line shut down. No, they weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. Just the children of farmers. But goddammit, why isn't there a place in this world for small people like this?!
posted by SPrintF at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


I haven't seen any art that represents my life
I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going


You sound about the same as a Gen-Xer ten years older than you. Welcome to the party, pal. Up for some CoD?
posted by Justinian at 2:59 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I might object to Hymowitz's reasoning if I didn't think her anecdata are empirically wrong.

I'm quite sure that an OKCupid or Craigslist ad in any major city that said "attractive 23-year-old graduate of Univ. of Wherever, looking for 26 to 29 year old on-his-way-to-success lawyer / banker / doctor / management consultant, ready for serious commitment" would get 50 qualified responses in about 24 hours. Heck, in lower-cost housing markets, half of them would alreday own 4 bedroom houses, or downtown condos they could swap for one in a second.
posted by MattD at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2011


Well, I guess I'm just a female version of what she's talking about except that now I am married. I'm 32, have an advanced degree, a crushingly low-paying part-time job in academia which I will gladly abandon the minute something that pays a living wage comes along. No kids, no real interest in them right now. Spend my free time watching those crude cartoons or writing blog posts about music that hasn't been around since 1990 or making stuff. I'm not driven to have an academic career and jump through all the flaming hoops for the puny prize at the end but now I'm learning that some money every once in while would be nice.

I am a child compared to lots of other people my age but I wanted to be "an artist" blah blah and this lady would surely consider me a failure but I have time to read books which is what I really need for my mental health.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:03 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear 20-something Australian boys:

Are you playing baseball? Are you on your way to a baseball game? Have you ever, ever seen a game played by the team whose logo you have on your hat? Do you even know how to play baseball?

THEN STOP WEARING THAT FUCKING BASEBALL HAT, and move out of your aunt's garage

Regards
Your uncle
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:10 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where have all the good men gone?

.
posted by MattMangels at 3:28 PM on February 20, 2011


Adulthood - behaving like an adult, is about social status. Someone who behaves like a serious adult is seen as believing in the importance of status signifiers and, by association, being of high status themselves. Retaining child-like interests or behaviours is seen as being of low status, traditionally, but as a society becomes less formal and less hierarchical, people are more likely to do what they really want to, which may very well involve playing videogames into their old age, rather than obeying the empty ritual behaviours and meaningless observances that serve as indicators of high social status.

For women who regard social status as a serious business and who are looking for partners who will boost their social status, the tendency towards informal behaviour is unwanted and undesirable. I shed a tear for them, and play an imaginary sad song on a little violin that I made out of LEGO.
posted by chrisgregory at 3:29 PM on February 20, 2011 [35 favorites]


Through years of personal experience and dedication, I discovered an important fact that's overlooked in that WSJ article: Women can be manchildren too.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:41 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Women can be manchildren too.

Absolutely, and thank the gods for it.

/Married 10 years; no children; no house; 2 console gaming systems.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:47 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


My 70 year old retired professional father of 3 plays the hell out of video games, and my step-mom is probably stoned right now.
posted by Mick at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear 20-something Australian boys:

Are you playing baseball? Are you on your way to a baseball game? Have you ever, ever seen a game played by the team whose logo you have on your hat? Do you even know how to play baseball?

THEN STOP WEARING THAT FUCKING BASEBALL HAT, and move out of your aunt's garage


When we first moved back here my dad tried talking to people with Yankees caps about baseball. It didn't go over well. I saw someone wear a Yankees jersey to a Dropkick Murphies show here... hope they went easy on me

If you see a 20 something Aussie with a Mets cap it might be me wearing it because they were My Team
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:57 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is nothing more revolting, more gonad-withering, than the phrase "Man up." Seriously, if you're going to address me in that tone, go ahead and just castrate me and feed it to the stock traders. They're always hungry.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 4:16 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brian B.: "It seems like comparing the odd ends of two generations. When men were robots, women were doormats"

Don Draper, is that you?
posted by bwg at 4:18 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lifestyle articles support, and are supported by, advertising. Cui bono? Who benefits from this retrograde vision of domestic bliss?

Without the rosy vision of domestic bliss, people wouldn't buy 10,000 square foot houses, expensive furniture, window treatments, kitchen ware, or at least buy subscriptions to home-decorating magazines. Of course, this doesn't rule out gay couples with puggles instead of kiddies who buy sofas and home-decorating magazines.

Suppose Ms. Attention Whore Journalist gets her wish and marries... Don Draper? A man so self-made that everything he tells you may be a lie. Or, if he works in finance, a younger, better looking version of Bernie Madoff.

Ms. K. probably has her prenuptial agreement drafted, with full indemnification should prince prove to be frog. She's unwilling to kiss any of the froggy guys and find out if they are princes.
posted by bad grammar at 4:42 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, it seems that people really just forget that the 70s happened, when me and quite literally ALL my friends had divorced parents, and the notion that parents didn't get divorced seemed rather quaint.

All? Literally? Weird. I fit the same age demographic and I and the great majority of my friends and relatives did not have divorced parents. The notion that parents didn't get divorced seemed run of the mill. Many yes, but nowhere near all or even fifty percent. (And no, I did not grow up in a red state, or even near one.)

Retaining child-like interests or behaviours is seen as being of low status, traditionally, but as a society becomes less formal and less hierarchical, people are more likely to do what they really want to, which may very well involve playing videogames into their old age, rather than obeying the empty ritual behaviours and meaningless observances that serve as indicators of high social status.

On the other hand - there's wisdom in the old ways. I am by no means religious, but the admonition to put away childish things resonates with me. I get it, not everyone has a taste for Shakespeare or Mozart, but to swill exclusively at the trough of popular culture and imagine that you'll be looking back fifty years later at a life well spent, well, call me doubtful. Mark Twain (talk about pop culture!) once noted that he was grateful to his father who forced Latin into him (even if it was not what young Mark "really" wanted) because in old age old Mark finally got the value of Horace. Snob me if you like, but you've got a hard case if you're suggesting that a lifetime of Duke Nukem is going to bring the same order of satisfaction to one's old age.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:53 PM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Man, I hate when MetaFilter goes into reruns.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:55 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm 38 and long ago decided that I wasn't going to let *anyone* other than me decide what "being an adult" or "growing up" meant for me. Apparently I have decided this includes both watching My Little Pony cartoons and writing rhyming verse musicals for Hawaiian strippers.

My life, my rules.
posted by kyrademon at 5:03 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have a terrifyingly stupid job, but I make enough- not a lot, but enough that it would be difficult to replace- and I am fearful of quitting my job. I can't guarantee I could replace it and still have a just-about-living-wage. I live at home and own my own used car, but I have student loans and car insurance payments and my car is a pit in which I throw my money. I also am saving as best I can for retirement, because I am fearful of the future, but this means I am living a half-life in the present.

And so I go into work gritting my teeth, and I am so stressed that when I get home I spend my time zoning out because I do not have the energy to work my awful job and improve my life.

I don't know anyone my age who is genuinely happy.
posted by jenlovesponies at 5:13 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


kay is treating us as objects that have no other purpose but to marry women and provide them with the things they want

When, in fact, our true purpose is to keep cats and provide them with the things they want. Mainly food and backrubs.
posted by acb at 5:34 PM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


What happens if you were married in your 20s and had a grown-up responsible job and STILL played video games and watched Cartoon Network?

WHAT THEN??!!?!?!


IS THIS SCIENCE FICTION????
posted by ersatz at 5:40 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm 38 and long ago decided that I wasn't going to let *anyone* other than me decide what "being an adult" or "growing up" meant for me. Apparently I have decided this includes both watching My Little Pony cartoons and writing rhyming verse musicals for Hawaiian strippers.

Hymowitz could learn a few things from Pinkie Pie.
posted by mendel at 5:56 PM on February 20, 2011


Some people want to get married and have children early. Some people want to get married and have children later. Some people don't want to do one or both of those things ever. None of these groups of people are more or less mature than the other. Yeah?

The old days discriminated pretty hard against people in the last two groups and the present social framework for the middle and upper class pushes back a medium amount against the first - I suspect mostly because boomers are hoarding most of the social wealth and responsibility. While without any doubt the old days were worse, the present isn't perfect on this issue, and leaves a whole mess of people feeling kinda shitty and purposeless a lot.

Like with lots of social problems, the solution here is probably letting people have the kind of romantic relationships they want to, using our social resources to support costly enterprises like raising children and minding our own damn business otherwise.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:06 PM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk for president!
posted by Kwine at 6:08 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


writing rhyming verse musicals for Hawaiian strippers.

I likea you, you likea me, oh come, sit and see my Waikiki.
posted by The Whelk at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2011


I hate the fucking WSJ so much. Rag of the robber barons, it is.

A person choosing to forgo marriage and children is not a problem. A person unable to realize their full potential, and having truncated life choices because eighteen years of education won't get them a job with a living wage, that's not a moral or lifestyle problem, it's an economic one.
posted by Leta at 6:19 PM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hi. I have a genetically-based crippling disease. If me not wanting to potentially pass that on to my offspring makes me an immature childgirl, then I'm the biggest baby on all of MeFi.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:19 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the same time, young men women were tuning in to cable channels like Comedy Central WE, the Cartoon Network TLC and Spike OWN, whose shows reflected the adolescent (fe)male preferences of its targeted (fe)male audiences. They watched movies with overgrown boy actors like Steve Carell, Luke and Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Will Farrell and Seth Rogen television shows with overgrown girl brides-to-be, cheering their awesome car crashes, fart jokes, breast and crotch shots, beer pong competitions and other frat-boy pranks tantrums, put-downs, knock-down drag out fights, self-esteem issues, outrageous spending and other princess-girl students. Americans had always struck foreigners as youthful, even childlike, in their energy and optimism. But this was too much.

SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!?!?!1111????
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:24 PM on February 20, 2011


car crashes, fart jokes, breast and crotch shots, beer pong competitions and other frat-boy pranks tantrums, put-downs, knock-down drag out fights, self-esteem issues, outrageous spending and other princess-girl students. Americans had always struck foreigners as youthful, even childlike, in their energy and optimism. But this was too much.

SEE, I CAN WORK HTML!!!111!!!

posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:28 PM on February 20, 2011


huh. I read the stupid article, and while it is bullshit, I do wonder what somebody with decent psych credentials would have made out of some of these trends (which apply to both genders, as far as I can tell) related to not being able to leave home till lateish.
.
I was without parental guidance from 17- on. Whereas today, at age 40, I can say that perhaps my independence developed some good shit like stoicism, I also was insecure as hell for a looooong time, and I was getting advice from dubious sources like wrongish boyfriends.

I have a coworker with a grad degree who lives at home. His relationship with his parents sounds rockin'. He gets good advice and guidance from them, still.

Maybe I'm just jealous. However, there's something to be said about being completely out on your own, no support. Nobody will feed you unless you take care of it. A month or two where yes, you have to raid all the loose change around the house in order to get by. Being scared because you're not sure if you have enough money for the rent.
posted by angrycat at 6:38 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The recent indie hit Blue Valentine tells a poignant story about the profound consequences of rushing into marriage. I'm no slacker dude, but marriage is not some rite of passage to prove your maturity. You marry a person, a companion, not a societal expectation. I'm not sure what exactly the author expects of men? I think it's important for a person to have ambitions, but labeling this as "settling down" is imposing the same model on everyone.
posted by stroke_count at 6:46 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is that the author confuses competence with the appearance of competence. It's the same reason actors get elected. Rather than being attracted to a person who is dependable, the author wants a man who has adopted the trappings of dependability. These are very different things.
posted by chrisgregory at 7:26 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I should note that the social services in Australia make it easier to delay adulthood.

I dunno... this year is looking massive, but maybe next year i'll start to grow up
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:33 PM on February 20, 2011


On the other hand - there's wisdom in the old ways. I am by no means religious, but the admonition to put away childish things resonates with me. I get it, not everyone has a taste for Shakespeare or Mozart, but to swill exclusively at the trough of popular culture and imagine that you'll be looking back fifty years later at a life well spent, well, call me doubtful.... but you've got a hard case if you're suggesting that a lifetime of Duke Nukem is going to bring the same order of satisfaction to one's old age.

I don't think anyone goes through life without being exposed to culture at all, a lot of people just choose the fun stuff. My granddad laughed at fart jokes until the day he died. My grandmother listened to tapes of music and comedians that were popular in her youth. They didn't sit around in their studies in their smoking jackets discussing the classics. You know what happened in the retirement homes that housed the Greatest Generation? Bingo. Scrabble. Puzzles. Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I highly doubt when I'm in their place, I'll be thinking "what a waste, I wish I'd read more Shakespeare." It's never too late to start if you feel like you've missed out on the classic literature, but some of us have had our fill by the time we're done school and personally I can't pass judgment on anyone deciding they'd prefer reading Tom Clancy to Charles Dickens, or getting stoned and watching cartoons over going to the Opera.
posted by Hoopo at 7:45 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Philofacts at 7:46 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


30ish American professional male seeking arranged marriage on Indian web site.

There's a rom-com script waiting to be written.
posted by marsha56 at 8:15 PM on February 20, 2011


It's true, I think, that the lens being used here is ultimately an economic one. Many marvel at the stock market and how it continues to rise against a bearish backdrop of unemployment, debt, bankruptcy, bank failures, and financial lethargy. It is most striking when the unemployment numbers come out... 9.6, 9.4, 9.1% unemployment. Improving, but glacially slow. I would say that a fairly large cohort of that demographic is represented here--this age range, this detachment. If you're in the market and participating you have to give some consideration to these kinds of economic numbers and what they mean, how they may affect the market. And then I came to the conclusion. The market doesn't care about these people. In the day-to-day economic reality, these people - although perhaps creative, morally kosher, or not - are expendable. If you trade the market and unemployment numbers are coming out, and these folks are a part of that number, the hard reality is... they don't matter (at least now).
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:46 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


In an earlier era in western society, you may well have never married, either because you died while fighting a war or drowned at sea or because you entered a monastery.

Cultures have always had outlets for/expectations that a certain group of people were never going to marry.

I don't think there's a shortage of people marrying at all. We still seem to be marrying, having children, and all those things, just maybe in the precise manner and timing that Ms. Hymowitz would prefer as a "cultural norm."
posted by deanc at 9:26 PM on February 20, 2011


There's a rom-com script waiting to be written.

Heh, I already had a rom-com script idea called "The Bounty", close to the arranged marriage idea.

I don't know if I'd entertained the arranged marriage idea (my boss at work is Indian, and so is the guy next to me, both of their marriages arranged, don't know if its a good idea, but Indians seem to be so pragmatic).
posted by SirOmega at 9:46 PM on February 20, 2011


Piew! Piew! Piew!
posted by newdaddy at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2011


Arranged marriage seems pretty handy, actually. Parents tend to like me more than their kids do, what with my old, old taste in music
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:06 PM on February 20, 2011


The article speaks to one of the symptoms of how we raise our kids.

The problem is not with men or women; the problem is with our society not encouraging or allowing our children to mature in to complete adults. It is also expecting young adults to behave like older adults.

I thought my generation, now the older adults fought to be understood for who we were, not for who weren’t – our parents.

Some of what I read I felt was true. What I didn’t like was how the article furthers the split between the sexes. I thought we were healing that.

Owen Marcus
posted by northwoods at 10:58 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, is she basing all her observations on television shows and movies? So life imitates TV? Or TV imitates life?

Yes, apparently constructed versions of 'reality' are forms of statistical analysis.


And as usual for this kinds of tripe, the article is feeding the gender backlash phenomenon, accentuating gender 'differences' for cheap copy and dramatics.
posted by honey-barbara at 11:36 PM on February 20, 2011


I don't know if I'd entertained the arranged marriage idea (my boss at work is Indian, and so is the guy next to me, both of their marriages arranged, don't know if its a good idea, but Indians seem to be so pragmatic).

Mostly driven by certain Hindi movies (read: "Hum Aapke Hain Koun") here's this stereotype that Indian weddings are often big, brash, colourful and elaborate. To an extent, they obviously are, but here's another alternate reality: in this age, they're also efficient and quick. Most of my friends (male and female) got married within a month of being engaged to a match they liked.

The thing about arranged marriage, IMHO, though, is this: it works best in a small-town sort of a setting, where social networks in themselves would ensure you're getting a "good" match. That is not how it works now; now it's all driven by the Internet, through profiles in sites like shaadi.com and BharatMatrimony.com Works well for a lot of people, but personally, I see no difference between this and, say, craigslist.com or something, except that in craigslist, you get to "decide" after a few dates and perhaps, some involved period of dating.

With shaadi.com, you read what is affectively half a profile, mostly because it would be written by the parents and not the person in question, with the result that you get to read what the parents want their boy/girl to be, not what the person in question would describe themselves. That, to me, was a massive drawback with the process.
posted by the cydonian at 11:44 PM on February 20, 2011


In an earlier era in western society, you may well have never married, either because you died while fighting a war or drowned at sea or because you entered a monastery.

Or you didn't get married because you never had enough "prospects" to satisfy some woman's father. This wasn't unheard of for e.g. Victorian men.
posted by rodgerd at 12:43 AM on February 21, 2011


Where have all the good men gone?

loo-oong time passing...
posted by primer_dimer at 2:44 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, good men tend to prefer to date other good men... :P
posted by TrinsicWS at 4:02 AM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


But I thought the media had a frenzy a few years ago about how the new generation was getting married earlier and having "starter marriages." And what about all that horrible teen pregnancy? Make up your damn minds, people.

(That being said, I was married at 21 and am approaching my 10 year anniversary. I do think there are serious relationship benefits to committing at a young age and maturing together, but YMMV.)
posted by threeturtles at 6:31 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


In about fifty years the rest of you might agree with me.

In fifty years we'll all be dead you yammering kallikak.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:39 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


kallikak

Now there would be a topic worthy of a wellresearched front page post....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:04 PM on February 21, 2011


I'm 43, have no children and will keep it that way, and just this weekend bought about 4 lbs. of dice and a knee-high stack of role-playing game books. I'm crushed that some right-wing think-tanker taking a polemical position to hawk a book wouldn't count me as a good man.

Wait, no I'm not.
posted by Zed at 12:31 PM on February 22, 2011


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