Tracy Clark-Flory weighs in on the question of perpetual adolescence among young men (as raised by Kay S. Hymowitz’s Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys) in Salon today, and she nails it:
There is certainly some truth here — but, unfortunately, she relies on oblique statistics and pop culture observations instead of talking to the men she’s writing about. So, I turned to some male friends to see what they thought about her argument — and then after they stopped cussing, I asked them to repeat themselves. …
Men are quick to point out that they are not alone in this protracted adolescence. Kristopher suspects that women who complain about the lack of good guys—as Hymowitz claims is common—are actually seeking out the “bad” ones. He explains, “There are plenty of people in their 20s and it’s a wide spectrum of success, maturity and commitment. These girls seem to be wrapped up in what they’re complaining about or just plain looking in the wrong spot.” It’s a fair point: I’ve heard complaint after complaint from single women that I know about the non-committal guy that they’re seeing at the moment—a bartender, an artist, a hipster musician—but they aren’t going after men who are emotionally and financially stable. When they talk about those men, they wrinkle their noses: Bor-ing.
Consider a guy like Tim, 27, who feels that the “child-men” that Hymowitz writes about are the ones who get all the girls. From his perspective, women go after the “guys” who are “aloof” and “ultra casual,” and men, like himself, who are available and ready for commitment scare them off. This dynamic leaves many men feeling confused, as Steve, a 32-year-old musician and painter, admits—“but women are lost too,” he says. We’re all trying to rewrite the romantic script: Who pays? Who tries to initiate sex, who withholds it? Who starts the relationship talk? Who says “I love you” first? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my friends in their 20s—guys and girls, men and women—debate these questions.
Meanwhile, cultural commentators from our parents’ generation continue to tell us that we’re getting it all wrong. But—from the attack on hookup culture to the call for guys to “man up”—the generational response is: Did you get it so right?
Read the full article here.
From the rest of us dilettantes and ne’er-do-wells, here at GMPM and around the country: thanks, Tracy, for actually talking to some of the people you write about—and for challenging the tired Apatow Syndrome diagnosis that’s so fashionable these days.