Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday News Roundup: Where Have The Good Men Gone?

We’ll let that one sink in for a second.

The point is basically that young adults are settling down later and later and that women tend to be more mature than men of the same age.

Profundity aside, the article finds its way to a scary answer to the question it lays out in the title. Today’s young men, the article argues, are lazy, immature, and directionless because their female counterparts are too successful.

It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.

This conclusion comes after the author spends half the article arguing that today’s middle-class, college educated men and women spend their 20s adrift, trying to find their lives’ callings. Men, she argues, get stuck because of things like Comedy Central, which appeal to their childish urges and prevent them from moving on.

Sure, there’s no female equivalent of Judd Apatow. But to argue that his movies are creating an ethos rather than reflecting one is a little far-fetched. Her argument, taken to its logical conclusion, seems to suggest that the only reason women aren’t investing in 40-foot bongs is that pop culture has yet to idolize the character of the lazy woman.

Somehow, we doubt that’s all there is to it.

It’s hard to argue that the average 26-year-old man is as serious and career-oriented as a woman of his age. But what does that mean for the women?

The WSJ doesn’t offer an answer. The most obvious would probably be to encourage women to date older men. But guys don’t have a magical settle-down hormone that kicks in when they hit 30. And even if they did, it’s not always easy to know what maturity looks like.

A lot of otherwise smart, career-oriented men love movies like Stepbrothers, despite the fact the “best” scene is no more (or less) than a pair of balls.

And there are some fratty bros who can talk your ear off about Cormac McCarthy in a way that makes it seem like they’ve got more figured out than they actually do.

The fact of the matter is, a guy isn’t going to “settle down” until he finds a woman who behaves in a way that makes him want to lock it down. And if we could teach you how to do that in one blog post, we’d be rich.

But maturity is more than just buying a ring. It’s about remembering to call and engaging in interesting conversation and maintaining friendships that don’t revolve around sex and/or partying. And these are things you can—and should—screen for.

A big indication, as much as we hate to say it, is how he spends his free time.

Guys who live for getting wasted on Friday and Saturday nights might be fun to be around, but they’re probably not as mature as the ones who get up for Sunday morning tennis lessons. And while there’s nothing wrong with the occasional Big Lebowski game, guys with daily drug habits probably have some growing up to do.

Excessive boys nights are a bad sign. Platonic female friends are a good one.

Part of it depends on where you are too. If you have a season pass to the Opera and he measures seasons in kickball, you’re probably on different developmental levels.

But the solution definitely isn’t for women to take a step backwards. It’s for us to keep an eye out for the men who have less growing up to do.


  1. Given your conclusion, are we looking for a needle in the haystack? Go back to the title of the WSJ article, where are these guys?

  2. Probably on okcupid

  3. Long time reader, first time commenter.

    As a 27 year old guy, it's somewhat tiring to read that 20-something year old guys are grossly immature commitment-phobes, who want nothing more than free sex and time to play video games.

    Within my close circle of friends, there are at least a handful of emotionally mature, financially stable guys who would love to find that someone. Unfortunately, between our careers, grad school, and a variety of other commitments, we have neither the time nor the emotional energy to go looking for you. Bummer, I know.

    However, if you want to, you can find us. We're the friend of a friend you just haven't been introduced to yet. Ask around, we do exist.