Men Stuck In Adolescence: Why It's Everyone's Problem

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A man plays video games
One author says the man-child trend isn't just material for Seth Rogen, it's a nationwide epidemic.

Has the rise of powerful women turned men into boys? This is the question author Kay Hymowitz asks in her provocative new book, Manning Up. Hymowitz argues that men today are free from the traditional tests of manhood—marrying and providing for children—and this freedom comes at a price: an increasing number of men are stuck in a state of permanent adolescence.

The statistics are shocking. Colleges are reducing the standards for male applicants to balance out the majority of incoming women. Among Americans 25 to 34, 34 percent of women have bachelor's degrees compared to 27 percent of men. Young women in major cities earn more than fifteen times more than their male peers. And before you think this is good news for women, it also means that the field of eligible bachelors is dwindling while the demand for Seth Rogen comedies is exploding. Are College Students Failing At Love?

So, why are men failing to grow up? Is it the fault of radical feminists? Is it the fault of the media? ...Should we blame Canada?

Hymowitz argues that the real problem is our changing culture, which has become detrimental to men. Fifty years ago, men in their mid-to-late twenties were expected to be financially independent, married, and well on their way to starting families. Society expected men to grow up—so they did.

The "knowledge economy" has changed all that. The modern world encourages people to stay in school well into their twenties, all the while accumulating debt that makes it even harder to become financially independent and start a family. Plus, the skills required by a knowledge economy are skills that come more naturally to women. Jobs like those in the design and communication fields emphasize traditionally feminine skill sets. Even the traditional male bastions of law and management are becoming increasingly dominated by women.

Instead, today's men are tending to live lives free of most responsibility. Hymowitz criticizes the empty male culture of Maxim magazine, Spike TV, and lives lived with frat-boy abandon. Instead of shouldering responsibility, many American males have become experts at shirking it. Taking Responsibility: A Guy's View

It's easy for women to say that the turnabout is fair play, but the fact is this: our economy and our culture are not well-served by a lost generation of American men. A healthy society needs a mix of masculine and feminine values. It was stereotypically masculine daring that invented the Internet and landed men on the moon, and women have reasons of self-interest to want a change in affairs, not the least being the desire for a responsible, dependable romantic partner.

Hymowitz observes how many women are finding the dating scene filled with men who are far from marriageable material. Biology and culture have conspired to make women naturally want to seek higher-status males—a natural biological imperative to find mates that can take care of future offspring. In other words, women don't usually want to "marry down." But what happens when the supply of marriageable men is incredibly low? We are about to find out.

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