In her article in the Wall Street Journal, Kay S. Hymowitz comments that not so long ago, most young men by their late 20s had accomplished the milestones of adulthood by being married, having children and being financially independent. Many young men today still live with their parents well into their 20s if not their 30s. They are often irresponsible, lack ambition, and sit around playing video games or looking at online porn for significant parts of their day. 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. This has caused many young women wonder, “Where have all the good men gone?”
While American men have been searching for new identities for a number of years only recently has the male gender sunk beneath the weight of its own self-centeredness, and our culture is happy to help them sink. As Hymowitz puts it, “…young men were tuning in to cable channels like Comedy Central, the Cartoon Network and Spike, whose shows reflected the adolescent male preferences of its targeted male audiences. They watched movies with overgrown boy actors like Steve Carell, Luke and Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Will Farrell and Seth Rogen, cheering their awesome car crashes, fart jokes, breast and crotch shots, beer pong competitions and other frat-boy pranks.”
We have done a disservice to our young men by not teaching them the value of work. Hymowitz expounds further, “What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. 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.”
While I don’t agree with Hymowitz’s supposition that husbands and fathers are optional, nor that the character traits of fortitude, stoicism, courage, and fidelity are embarrassing, she nevertheless makes a compelling case about some of the struggles facing young males in our culture today. It’s the subject of jokes and even movies that young men today are of the “slacker” generation and suffer from “failure to launch” syndrome where they end up sleeping in their parents basement well into adulthood.
What about you? Do you think young men today are less motivated, passionate and ambitious than males of previous generations? Is it difficult to find good men today ladies?