“Where Have All the Good Men Gone?” With the Good Women, Ms. Hymowitz.

I typically only write about technology and teaching, but something came across my Google Reader from Geek Dad today that really got me Nerd Raging 🙂

Imagine my surprise today, to read a post on the Wall Street Journal’s web site that contains this phrase:

Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers

I’ll let the initial shock of such a overreaching, stereotyping comment wear off for you before I direct you to read all of Kay S. Hymowitz’s WSJ article titled, Where Have All the Good Men Gone.

Rather than quote this misguided, single-sided rant ad nauseum (I will quote it, but there’s too much to include), I’ll let you read it, then come back here for a rebuttal from a Geek, Husband, and Father (a trinity of traits Hyomwitz claims can never co-exist).

Before we start, let’s make it clear that the only reason for this article’s existence is to drum-up publicity for Hymowitz’s upcoming book release on Monday — Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys — which is a title so blasphemous, that it actually suggests that in order for a woman to be successful, men must in turn devolve into immature, surrogate mother-seeking versions of their potential adult self.  Why must one gender be cut down in order for another to rise?  Nonsense.

As for the actual article, Hymowitz attempts, at one point, to anchor her accusations by throwing out statistics about marriage rates in adults for specific age groups:

In 1970, just 16% of Americans ages 25 to 29 had never been married; today that’s true of an astonishing 55% of the age group. In the U.S., the mean age at first marriage has been climbing toward 30

Now, those are some startling statistics, to be sure.  However, why is it assumed that the “first marriage rate” moving towards the age 30 is the responsibility of the male?  Am I wrong, or do we not live in a time when women are empowered to decide when they want to start families?  Isn’t this what we are always striving for:  both genders having equal say in when families are started?

To further support her accusations, Hymowitz turns to entertainment.  She references Easy Rider, Saturday Night Fever, Wall Street, and even Knocked Up as solid examples of how men are slowly turning into grown children.  Here’s the problem, though: they’re movies!  They’re not real life.

What if I was to write an article for the WSJ detailing how shallow, dumb, slutty, and self-absorbed women have become as they try to emulate their idols on Sex in the City?  What if I was to write an article about how melodramatic, hyper-sensitive, and overly emotional women have become as a result of the Twilight series of books?

Wouldn’t NOW and other feminist organizations be rapping at my door about how this is the stance men have taken on women for decades: that women are a bag of emotions, flighty, and completely incapable of being taken seriously?

I wouldn’t write about that, because I’ve come to realize that both genders have extreme versions of each other, but that more often than not, both genders are exactly the same: responsible, fun-loving humans who want to eventually have a family (whatever variation that may include), while also retaining their pre-relationship identity.

However, to Hymowitz, there is no middle-ground: there is the extreme of social responsibility, and the extreme of drooling, burping, humping immaturity: all examples she culls from our entertainment culture, not real life.

In fact, if she was to look into real-life examples of men doing things that she deplores, e.g. watching Star Wars, playing video games, and reading comics, she would find some pretty amazing examples of adult males who can embrace their Geekdom while also being supporting husbands and nurturing fathers.

I’m a geek.  Spend only two minutes poking around my blog here, and you’ll see that to be true.  But, what you’ll also find is constant, ever-present references to my children, my wife, and the students who I teach (yes, I’m one of those, apparently, rare men who can enjoy Star Wars and also hold down a job).  But, if you were to read further into Hymowitz’s post, you’d think I’m lying, either to you or myself:

Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children.

I have all of those things.  So, that must be me, right?  The kind of “Good Man” she’s looking for?  Oh, not so fast:

In his disregard for domestic life, the playboy was prologue for today’s pre-adult male. Unlike the playboy with his jazz and art-filled pad, however, our boy rebel is a creature of the animal house. In the 1990s, Maxim, the rude, lewd and hugely popular “lad” magazine arrived from England. Its philosophy and tone were so juvenile, so entirely undomesticated, that it made Playboy look like Camus.

At the same time, 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.

Well, damn.  I like those things, too.  You know who else does?  My wife.

We sit down on almost a weekly basis and laugh our heads off at Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim shows (Venture Bros. being our favorite).  We poured out of the theaters two summers ago gasping for breath after the lewd humor of The Hangover.  And you won’t find a single person on this planet who laughed harder at Jackass 1, 2, and 3(d) than my wife.

Does that make my wife one of the “shallow,” “child like,” “pre-adult males?”  I doubt it.  It makes her fun.  It makes her a person who enjoys entertainment and relaxation in the midst of the chaos that is exploding in our home.  To be honest, unless Hymowitz is married and has children, I don’t think her too qualified to speak on whether or not a man (or woman) can be both successfully mature and blissfully immature.

There are nights where I expel so much energy in trying to teach my son how to properly talk with guests, write polite notes requesting favors, and the fiscal responsibility of saving up allowance, that when he finally goes to sleep, all I want to see is someone get kicked in the nuts by a bull.  Does that make me immature?  Perhaps, but dammit if at least one woman out there (my wife) felt as if she was able to answer the question, “Where have all the good men gone?”


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