Have all the good men gone extinct?
Published: Monday, March 7, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
"Where have all the good men gone?" wrote Kay S. Hymowitz, in her new book "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women has Turned Men Into Boys." An excerpt in the Wall Street Journal read, "single men have never been civilization's most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers." The excerpt caused stir across the nation and DePaul students.Hymowitz's book focuses on the 'pre-adulthood' male, whom the author says, "between his lack of responsibilities and an entertainment media devoted to his every pleasure, has no reason to grow up." This generation of 'aging frat boys,' which according to Hymowitz, are a major demographic in society, is supposedly stuck in a stage between adolescence and adulthood. These males focus on hooking up and having fun, rather than settling down with marriage and children.
The author cited economic and educational patterns as support for the creation of the pre-adulthood phenomenon. According to Hymowitz, economic expansion and the digital era have also transformed the job market into a cutthroat competition for the freshest crop of savvy workers. Additionally, women have surpassed men in higher education enrollment and in many areas of the workforce.
"It is important to acknowledge trends in education and society that show women being more driven and motivated in education," said junior Emily Edwards.
However, Edwards only agreed with Hymowitz to a certain extent. "I do believe that our culture has many negative effects on young adults, but it can't be generalized to males only."
"Studies have shown that boys are falling behind in schools because of the gender roles and expectations of society," Edwards said. According to Edwards, these education trends are directly related to the later development and behavior of young men today. "I believe that both genders are affected by today's individualistic and consumerist society."
Drawing on the "radical reversal of the social hierarchy," Hymowitz wrote, "Among pre-adults, women are the first sex." Women graduate from college in greater numbers and have higher GPAs. "As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive," she wrote and added that they are "more likely than men to be in graduate school and make strides in the workplace."
According to Hymowitz, this causes identity uncertainty among pre-adulthood males. Marriage is delayed longer than ever before and the pool of possible spouses continues to grow while career-driven females seek work instead of a family.
Another factor cited was pop culture. A number of media channels promote a carefree, 'live in the moment' attitude, sans career responsibilities, as well as sexual promiscuity without consequences.
"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," Hymowitz wrote.
DePaul students fall into Hymowitz's 'pre-adulthood' generation. Within a week of this essay being printed, several DePaul students posted the article link on social media websites such as Facebook to share their opinion.
"I know guys who read this felt resentful and attacked, which is a reasonable response," said Molly Gudmundson, a junior who said she agreed the career development process has contributed to young men exhibiting irresponsible, adolescent behavior.
"Maintaining a romantic relationship and eventually starting a family is not necessarily a priority for those pursuing career-related goals, or as the author put it, family is not a 'part of the picture,'" she said.
However, Gudmundson said Hymowitz's argument could have been more compelling, had it focused on how this phenomenon is unique to young men of recent generations. "Although, it is not an indication that young men of our time are completely incapable of age appropriate behavior," she added.
Gudmundson was not alone in her ideas. A number of students voiced their concerns online, arguing the author's bias, defending their gender, and pointing to societal factors in relation to pre-adulthood.
"I feel like the entire article is one-sided," said Travis Grandt, a junior. "It's 100 percent factual that people are putting off adulthood as long as possible and many of the reasons cited in the article are valid," he said. "However, I despise the idea that it is only men who are holding back on adulthood."
"It's neither women nor men who are responsible for this, but society as a whole," Grandt said. "I can't deny I know more women who are ready to jump into adulthood than guys, but when you think about little kids, it's the girls who are playing house and trying to imitate adults and boys who are running around playing in the dirt."
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Hymowitz, her article highlights a significant societal pattern of pre-adulthood and a young adults' frustrations in finding the right person.
Hymowitz may have claimed all the good men are gone but Travis Grandt felt this is untrue.
"The article shouldn't be called 'Where Have All the Good Men Gone' because we still exist," he said. "Women who are actually looking for adults and not finding them are probably looking in the wrong places, just like men who are looking for women are likely in the wrong places.