No sooner did I put down Hanna Rosin’s insulting piece in Slate about stay-at-home dads (read our response to her story here), than a friend of mine told me I’d better go get a copy of this morning’s Wall Street Journal—and I’d better sit down before reading it. I was also advised to keep firearms, blunt objects, and breakables out of arm’s length as I dug in.
The cover story “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” is adapted from the forthcoming book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys. In it, author Kay S. Hymowitz laments the fact that men today refuse to grow up—and that’s making it difficult for women to find a decent mate.
“Women in their 20s are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace,” she writes. “In a number of cities, they are even outearning their brothers and boyfriends. 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.”
It’s a prisoner’s dilemma of sorts. What are we to do? According to Hymowitz and the WSJ, a key issue of gender in the 21st century is men’s loserdom—and the desperate situation in which they put single women.
Hymowitz seems to have thrown in the towel on guys altogether. Here, the piece ends with this uplifting bit of analysis:
“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.
They might as well just have another beer.”
For the men who are part of the Good Men Project—guys fighting wars in foreign lands, working diligently to be good dads, recovering from economic hardship, striving to be loving spouses, searching their souls trying to figure out what it means to be a good man—the piece is one more example of mainstream media portraying us in an egregiously negative, quasi-sexist light.
Women are often described in the same universal, equally pernicious stereotypes. But combating the media’s outmoded, misogynistic logic doesn’t mean putting up with dreck like this. Why the free pass on a female writer’s conclusion that the opposite sex is a bunch of “aging frat boys, maladroit geeks, or grubby slackers” who “might as well just have another beer”?
None of this is to say that men can’t always be working harder to be better husbands, fathers, workers, and men. But women need to be there for us, just as we need to be there for them. So let’s work on this together—and leave out the stereotyping.