The Wall Street Journal has asked society a very important question: Where have the good men gone? Writer Kay S. Hymowitz describes our current generation as being inundated with a type of man-baby—a guy who delays the growing up process in their 20s by living off their parents, having less ambition, and generally being an emotional retard. Hymowiitz points to an inequity in education as being one of the major factors. She writes:
Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor’s degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.
Meanwhile, men are taking longer to acquire their degrees and settle into a career. This article paints a picture of women finishing before men in this “life race” and checking their watches impatiently while men slump to the finish line. In many ways, this could be true and I think it has a lot to do with this new definition of masculinity. In the last decade especially, men have no longer been expected to be the strong topic type who provide for their family financially. There are more options now. They can be super sensitive like Michael Cera, quietly smart and sexy like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or aimless like Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites. It’s a whole new world out there for men! Society’s expectations have changed and with it, birthed the kind of man that the WSJ is talking about.
This is obviously a good and bad thing. As a male, it’s nice to know that we don’t have to be emotionally unavailable and physically strong in order to be perceived as “real” men. On the other hand, it’s not cute living in a prolonged pre-adulthood period a la any male character in a Judd Apatow film. It’s important to note, however, that the media has always presented men as being inept and hopeless. The image of a dopey male saying the wrong thing to an emotionally intelligent female has been engrained in our culture for decades. Men are portrayed like dogs; we piss on the rug, you get mad and then we make up because you figure we just can’t help it.
Dating in a metropolitan city might increase your chances of encountering shitty men, seeing as they seem to attract selfish people. People move to heavily-populated urban areas typically for the career opportunities. It’s not uncommon for someone to be in school for a decade to obtain a PHD and not even think about starting a family until their mid-thirties. Maybe the good men are the ones in Arkansas who are procreating with their teenage girlfriends. They are usually the ones who cling to the old idea of masculinity and want to be the breadwinner for their families.
The answer to “Where have the good men gone?” is complex. It has a lot to do with simple geography and society’s ever-evolving attitudes toward gender, most of which is for the better. But what we have to realize is that women will always be frustrated with men and vice versa. No matter what economical changes come about or breakthroughs in gender studies, some women will always perceive men as being from another planet. It may be difficult but that’s what happens when you’re sexually attracted to a gender. They’ll excite you, confuse you, and above all, make you question if any good ones still exist.