Tuesday, February 22, 2011

OUCH that hurt! My take on "Where Have The Good Men Gone?" by Kay S. Hymowitz

After reading the Wall Street Journal's article from Saturday February 19, 2011 called "Where Have all the Good Men Gone?" by Kay S. Hymowitz, there are a couple quotes that I thought were interesting.

 "Guys talk about 'Star Wars' like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home." 

Ouch.  That one hurt.  At least the one about Star Wars.  The other two things, Playstation and trips to Vegas, were not things that I ever did.  Thankfully my mom and dad were somewhat against the whole video game thing though I got into computer games a bit but we never did have a video game system.  I am convinced that if I had a video game system I would ruin my life.  I wouldn't be able to stop playing.  I have made a pact with myself that when I'm retired and have nothing to do then I'll play video games.  But at that point the video game world will have expanded leaps and bounds from what it is today.  There might even be a sector of the business that caters to seniors like I will be when I can start playing.  I mean after all, the vast majority of the elderly at that point of time will have had video games all of our lives so it would be understood that we would need video games when we're old.

I am annoyed that this article mentions Hollywood so much but I guess it is true that the behavior that the author abhors is a perfect example of what you see on the silver screen.

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.

Well, that one didn't hurt.  Kind of.  I haven't seen any of those movies mentioned therefore I have not been shaped by the ideas and issues pushed by those movies.  But unfortunately I do know each of those people's first names at the end of the quote.  Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross all refer to FRIENDS which I used to watch when I was in high school with my friends at our weekly "Friends and Seinfeld" nights.  (Seinfeld is also cited with the names Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer.)  Carrie and Miranda, I'm sad to know this, refers to Sex in the City.  Each of these TV shows constantly conveyed men in a way that did bother me.  Jerry was not a hero in any sense of the word.  George was a total loser and Kramer was a wacko.  In Friends, Joey, Ross and the other guys were losers who couldn't hold jobs and were promiscuous.  The women of course in all those shows were worse, sleeping with everything they could but it wasn't considered such a bad thing I guess.  I'm convinced that if Friends and Seinfeld and Sex in the City were remotely realistic, everyone of them would have STDs and all living in a hospital ward.  That had to have been a MAD Magazine spoof at some point.

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—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie "Knocked Up." The story's hero is 23-year-old Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who has a drunken fling with Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and gets her pregnant. Ben lives in a Los Angeles crash pad with a group of grubby friends who spend their days playing videogames, smoking pot and unsuccessfully planning to launch a porn website. Allison, by contrast, is on her way up as a television reporter and lives in a neatly kept apartment with what appear to be clean sheets and towels. Once she decides to have the baby, she figures out what needs to be done and does it. Ben can only stumble his way toward being a responsible grownup.

This one didn't hurt either because I somehow missed this movie.  But the story is all too familiar.  Once the guy's fulfillment of 2 minutes of pleasure becomes his worst nightmare he is forced to be a halfway decent person who now has offspring.  Besides the fact that a guy who is responsible, doesn't have a drunken fling with a girl he just met and actually plans on being a father, not having it foisted on him by a pregnancy test, isn't Hollywood material, I think women today would be suspicious of a guy like that.  Take that classic Red Sox movie from a couple years ago called FEVER PITCH when the girl in the movie tells her friends about this school teacher guy who is perfect.  
They don't believe her and even after meeting him and getting really impressed with him they still think there is something wrong with him.  Nobody is that perfect.  Of course he was obsessed with the Red Sox which isn't really a problem.  But you get my point, he was funny, responsible (even though after they started dating they slept together which then crosses responsible off the list) smart and that's about it.  When confronted with the possibility that the girl was pregnant we find that he had gone and purchased a Red Sox "onesie" for the infant as if he was planning on having a baby the whole time.  Confusing.  A guy who is in the relationship clearly for "guy" reasons suddenly seems responsible when the inevitable happens. Very confusing.

Unlike adolescents, however, pre-adults don't know what is supposed to come next. For them, marriage and parenthood come in many forms, or can be skipped altogether. In 1970, just 16% of Americans ages 25 to 29 had never been married; today that's true of an astonishing 55% of the age group. In the U.S., the mean age at first marriage has been climbing toward 30 (a point past which it has already gone in much of Europe). It is no wonder that so many young Americans suffer through a "quarter-life crisis," a period of depression and worry over their future.

This is just sad.  But I would have to say that a lot of this is due to the school loans and the need for a job to pay said school loans back.  If Government would get out of the school loan business and allow schools to compete with ever lowering tuition costs then and only then would we get back to a more reasonable age for people to get married.  But at this point, only my Christian college is where I heard of people getting married right out of school.  I waited almost 10 years to get married while I globe hopped and squeaked out a living in Boston and Shanghai, China which is beside the point.

Most guys today think of marriage and married life in these exact words from the article:
Husbands, wives and children are a drag on the footloose life required for the early career track and identity search. 

I found this quote though to be quite troublesome:

It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.

Troublesome because where in today's world does a boy learn how to pass the test of courage, physical prowess and the skills?  Where can a boy learn how to play their roles of fortitude, stoicism, courage and fidelity?  Where can we find people who don't find these things to be embarrassing?  Where can we find a woman who thinks men should be this way!?  Let me go ahead and define those last words: 

1.  fortitude: strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity with courage
2.  stoicism: an indifference to pleasure or pain
3.  courage: a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger or pain without showing fear
4.  fidelity: the quality of being faithful

Perhaps the issue isn't that men have changed but that women have changed as the last quote has mentioned.  "Husbands and Fathers are optional."  For men, women will always be essential.  But even the idea that "for women, men are essential too" is almost certain to get women in a tizzy over how sexist you sound.  If for a generation you've communicated that men are optional, you can't blame a boy for acting like he's optional.

The last paragraph sums it up nicely.

Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do.

This really hits home about my own life and about my 3 year old little boy.  I'll let him have fun for a few years but when it comes time for responsibility he'll have to take the bull by the horns and lead with courage and fortitude while being stoic and faithful.  I have some work to do myself!

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