A Rebuttal to Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

I got a great reflection from a friend that I would like to share when I emailed them a recent article from the Wall Street Journal. The article, titled Where Have All the Good Men Gone is an argument by author Kay S. Hymowitz who argues that too many men in their 20s (such as myself) are living in a new kind of extended adolescence. Check out my friend’s reflection / response below.

Before the intricacy of the argument is attacked, I must first admit I agree the premise of the article is correct.  Today’s generation of males would disappoint both your mother and my mother if they had met them back when they met our fathers.  There is a deep arrested development within the 21st century male.  Males in their 20s are not settling down and beginning their family lives as our fathers had once done.  Many reasons can be given for this evolution, including longer life expectancy, access to a larger pool of potential mates, and increased levels of education.  At the end of the article the author touches on something that is key to her premise, yet left undeveloped.

The author focuses on how the male has little drive to become mature and sophisticated in today’s society.  Statistics are shown how this pre-adulthood has shaped males into what the author believes is under-performing compared to females.  She cites the higher education figures as examples of how women are forcing themselves to accept responsibility at younger ages.  It may be easy for an educated woman to forget, but a vast amount of the jobs in America that women don’t want to do are done by men with little education.  It would seem those men are accepting responsibility in their careers much sooner than women who go to college, even if that means they make less over their lifetimes.

While it is important to focus on the mental state of the male to understand why we remain in pre-adulthood so much longer than women, we should also focus on what motivating factors are present/lacking.  More attention should be paid in the article to what social cues women send men from a young age and why that has prolonged adolescence in males, creating the pre-adulthood.

Most males have the desire built into them to settle down with a girl and have a family, the same as their parents did.  Today, it is all about motivation.  If I go out and project that image to the world, I may attract a few women who are my age and at that point as well.  However, in a metropolitan area with women who are making enough money to support themselves in an expensive market, they no longer need a guy to take care of them, and therefore look for a guy with other qualities.

Women look to many different indicators in a single man to determine whether he is a suitable candidate for them to give their time and interest to.  Many times this comes in the form of attractiveness, popularity, wealth (parents usually), among others.  While these qualities are valuable when mixed with maturity, drive, and family orientation, alone they will leave women feeling unsatisfied and longing for the qualities they have driven out of men by lack of demand.  A market will only produce as many “men” that is required.

Her example of the male who remains fascinated with Star Wars is a confusing example of what is wrong with pre-adult males.  Her view is that such interests are not condusive to settling down.  In reality, those Star Wars fans have the potential to be better mates than most of the men women date.  The Star Wars fan she describes is passionate, loyal, and analytical.  He has probably turned his passion towards the saga and away from women because they could not understand his interests, and subsequently shunned him.  The fantasy within the story ultimately became better than the reality he faced daily.

If women were taught at younger ages to demand the qualities the author suggest males lack, then maybe there would be a chivalrous renaissance.  The head cheerleader should want to date the guy who will compliment her personality the best; society says the position in life she holds deserves that in addition to other vain and superficial considerations.  Girls are convinced from a young age that they deserve to have the best of all qualities in the guy they settle down with, and that it is admirable to not settle unless a perfect specimen is located.  This would explain the fascination by women with Sex and the City:  a glorification to the endless search for a man that will satisfy your every need.

Every guy will tell you such an outlook is futile.  There is no such thing as a perfect man, and the same can be said for women.  If women are finding it so hard to locate a man, then I suggest they take a look at themselves first before turning to ask what is wrong with males.  Are you really filtering those in your personal life to those modeled after your father?

Women are uniquely positioned to have a conflict with the time period that pre-adulthood arises.  Nature works against them by starting the biological clock at the same time their appearance begins to wane.  While guys can relax during this time period knowing that their 30s will not be much different from their 20s, women are faced with a looming drop-off of interest from the opposite sex.  They are not afforded the luxury of the pre-adulthood, and are right to be jealous of males who allow themselves to slip into this state.

That is not to say that there are not those males who already have the qualities the author complains are sorely lacking, it is just they will not voluntarily make themselves apparent.  Men who have responsible tendencies will remain hidden for the time being, again, because of a lack of motivation.  They are aware they are catches in today’s society, and articles such as this only reinforce that thought.  They can float in their pre-adulthood for the time being, taking a relaxed approach to the search for their mate.  Revealing their true selves will only occur when they know it benefits them.  Until it is universally advantageous to acknowledge we want our father’s life, guys will be required to hide those longings for responsibility and maturity from women.


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