As usual, it’s all our fault. Men that is.
The media tells us we’re not manly enough and so do women. While the machismo and misogyny of something like Miller Lite’s “Man up” ads are arcane and neanderthalish at best (offensive at worst), they speak to the perception of what it means to be a man.
William Bennett penned a thought-provoking article for CNN.com about the decline of men in society and how it relates to a similar structural decline in personal responsibility across genders.
His point is that the modern man is less responsible, less loyal, and less a “man” in the archetypal sense, as our fathers and especially our grandfathers.
Divorce rates are at an all-time high. There are now more women in college than men for the first time in American history. Being a single mother is more a point of pride than a reason to be a social outcast.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 18.6% of U.S. men between ages 25 and 34 live with their parents, the highest level since at least 1960.
The feminism movement, often blasted for its outright disdain of anything male, is not to blame, although it had a role to play.
Most feminists don’t dismiss the important role of men in life, but rather move to show women they don’t need a man. That doesn’t mean relationships inherently demean what it means to be a strong woman.
What feminists truly hate are women who feel like they need to be with a man just to be with a man.
Empower women to believe they should be in relationships that make both parties better, where they are treated as equals.
A half century ago, women went to college to get an “MRS” degree, now they go to get their PhD’s. They don’t marry men because they have to, they marry them because they want to.
The irony here is that when men had to be sole, or at least primary providers for the family, it was a point of pride. Men were responsible, ambitious.
William Bennett speaks to the earnest of the male maturation process over the last century.
A mere hundred years ago, man couldn’t afford to dawdle in limbo between adolescence and manhood; manhood was thrust upon him for survival. Today, more opportunity lies at his feet than ever. Yet with this increased opportunity comes increased confusion, and the response on the part of some men has not been encouraging.
He goes on to site the sort of entitlement and dereliction of personal responsibility shown by a young generation of men that has spawned movements like Occupy Wall Street and a burgeoning support for the Welfare State.
To further this point, I asked a few of my female friends to tell me what they saw out of men our age. The response was not surprising.
One described her male peers as “lacking a sense of maturity and a desire to grow up and make commitments to not just me but things. They are selfish and self-centered. Thoughtless. Childish. Emotionally immature.”
Another echoed those sentiments, “I think my problem with finding the right guy lies in the lack of ambition that most men today have. Laziness is such a huge turnoff… especially when they get mad because I ‘don’t have time for them’ because of my job. Spending time together is important, but I want both of us to be successful separately as well.”
Essentially, men haven’t risen to the challenge offered by the feminist movement, basically “Ok guys, we don’t need you anymore, now show us how much you deserve us.”
Men, unfortunately, haven’t risen to this challenge.
“This ties in to what I think is the bigger problem: a lack of respect. No one should be with someone whom they don’t inherently respect… no matter how nice or rich they are,” one girl told me.
“For me to respect someone, they need to be hardworking. It is as simple as that.”
These girls come from a diverse set of backgrounds, political leanings, and economic situations. All of them say men in their 20’s, an age when our fathers and grandfathers were married, lack the wherewithal to attractive a strong, independent woman.
I didn’t tell them why I was asking these questions, yet they offered me answers that I couldn’t have written more appropriately to fit my argument.
Bennett wisely points out the media as part of the problem. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in life: no male role models in the media.
I asked my guy friends when was the last time they saw a male character in a television show or in a movie where they honestly said, “Wow, I want to be just like him.”
The most common responses were Don Draper from AMC’s “Mad Men” and Ari Gold from HBO’s “Entourage.”
So, I get to pick between a womanizing, alcoholic, workaholic, or a misogynistic, workaholic whose marriage is constantly on the verge of collapse.
They have style, they have power, they have money. Do they have stable relationships? No, of course not. Are they good husbands or fathers? Not even close.
Phil Dunphy on ABC’s “Modern Family,” maybe the most favorable of patriarchal characters on TV, is a good role model strictly by accident and is portrayed as a bumbling fool, a 14 year-old trapped in a 40 year-old’s body.
There’s no inherent wrong in flipping the patriarchal system on its head. Women still make less than men for the same job and equality is still a work in progress.
On the other hand,the decline in personal responsibility, particularly from men is startling and disconcerting. It’s part and parcel of a shift in cultural norms regarding the way we view the world.
Responsibility of the individual is waning, and the desire for the Nanny State growing (Wonderfully coincidental given the inherent female connotation of the word “Nanny”).
It would be like us (and liberals) to shirk personal responsibility for our short-coming. Blame the feminists, blame the media, blame Don Draper and Ari Gold.
But that’s the problem. It’s on you. It’s on me.
Drive, ambition, and responsibility are what made America what it is. Losing that means losing our identity.
Men in modern America are already undergoing this identity crisis and if its not reversed, America is next.