Men Acting Like Boys…..It’s Everyone’s Problem

By Jay Reding

Has the rise of powerful women turned men into boys? This is the question author Kay Hymowitz asks in her provocative new book, Manning Up. Hymowitz argues that men today are free from the traditional tests of manhood—marrying and providing for children—and this freedom comes at a price: an increasing number of men are stuck in a state of permanent adolescence.

The statistics are shocking. Colleges are reducing the standards for male applicants to balance out the majority of incoming women. Among Americans 25 to 34, 34 percent of women have bachelor’s degrees compared to 27 percent of men. Young women in major cities earn more than fifteen times more than their male peers. And before you think this is good news for women, it also means that the field of eligible bachelors is dwindling.

So, why are men failing to grow up? Is it the fault of radical feminists? Is it the fault of the media? …Should we blame Canada?

Hymowitz argues that the real problem is our changing culture, which has become detrimental to men. Fifty years ago, men in their mid-to-late twenties were expected to be financially independent, married, and well on their way to starting families. Society expected men to grow up—so they did.

The “knowledge economy” has changed all that. The modern world encourages people to stay in school well into their twenties, all the while accumulating debt that makes it even harder to become financially independent and start a family. Plus, the skills required by a knowledge economy are skills that come more naturally to women. Jobs like those in the design and communication fields emphasize traditionally feminine skill sets. Even the traditional male bastions of law and management are becoming increasingly dominated by women.

It’s easy for women to say that the turnabout is fair play, but the fact is this: our economy and our culture are not well-served by a lost generation of American men. A healthy society needs a mix of masculine and feminine values. It was stereotypically masculine daring that invented the Internet and landed men on the moon, and women have reasons of self-interest to want a change in affairs, not the least being the desire for a responsible, dependable romantic partner.

Hymowitz observes how many women are finding the dating scene filled with men who are far from marriageable material. Biology and culture have conspired to make women naturally want to seek higher-status males—a natural biological imperative to find mates that can take care of future offspring. In other words, women don’t usually want to “marry down”.  But what happens when the supply of marriageable men is incredibly low? We are about to find out.

Instead, today’s men are tending to live lives free of most responsibility. Hymowitz criticizes the empty male culture of Maxim magazine, Spike TV, and lives lived with frat-boy abandon. Instead of shouldering responsibility, many American males have become experts at shirking it.

What may well happen is a vicious cycle: as the supply of marriageable college-educated men dwindles, more and more women will decide that they just don’t need men in their lives. This is already starting to happen. There is an increasing trend of women choosing to become single mothers. And the more women who opt out of marriage, the more it encourages men to do the same.

What can we do to arrest these trends? Firstly, we need to fix our educational system. Right now, 60 percent of new college entrants are women, and men are falling further and further behind. This is not a tolerable outcome. Our education system is failing American men in the same way that it once failed women. Secondly, we need a cultural shift. Popular culture may not be the driving reason men are falling behind, but it certainly doesn’t help. Culture needs to put more value on men as husbands and fathers rather than man-children.

People in today’s society are marrying and having children later than ever before, and we don’t really understand the effect that has on society as a whole. Hymowitz’s warnings may be overblown, but leaving an entire generation of American males in a state of semi-adolescence serves neither men nor women.

Jay Reding is a contributing writer on the relationship site YourTango To view more of his work CLICK HERE

11 replies
  1. Jose
    Jose says:

    I want a woman who is a partner, a co-conspirator in life, a team-mate that’s can count on when things get hard. I want someone who can lift the heavy load just in case I can’t do it. I don’t want to get married to a dead weight, a dependent or a baby who is looking for me do the things that father did for them when they were young. Woman are often belittling the men they have because the guy won’t do every single thing they say, won’t be bullied in a marriage.

    I say go look for a man with whatever characteristic you believe to be a man and I am sure you will be happier for it. I am looking for a woman with their own life and and independence with enough self confidence not to put their lacking qualities onto a man.

  2. Susan
    Susan says:

    Okay. I'm female. Married a boy. Divorced a boy. Am now with a MAN. Here's what we talk about: He's not threatened by a strong woman, he knows who he is, what he can do, where his "lines in the sand" are. He is not embarrassed or weakened by what people think when he chooses to save a bird in the road. He cooks (well), he does dishes, laundry, mows the lawn, but then, SO DO I. (We do the chore we stand closest to that needs doing.) He will not back down in a discussion just to keep the peace and we've been known to go toe-to-toe on differences of opinion, but I respect him greatly. He's been to war, real war, hand-to-hand combat war. He believes that MEN must teach boys how to be men, or BOYS will teach boys how to be boys. He states women cannot teach boys how to be MEN. I agree. We can teach them to be partners to us, but not to be men.
    I don't think it's culture, I think it's a lack of MEN who are willing to pass on beliefs, attitudes, skills, knowledge, responsibility, consequences, and insist that boys grow into these life skills so they can teach them too.
    Those males out there that don't want to grow up will find that they simply won't have women in their lives, except perhaps mothers, and miss a lot of great things. Those of you males that are MEN, you never have to worry, you'll be good fathers, providers, partners (though you, too, may get stuck, but with a girl, not a woman), earn respect and be valued.
    Hats off to you men. As for you boys, your mother loves you, enjoy.

  3. ruleyourwife
    ruleyourwife says:

    As a brother who has dedicated the last 10 years of my life challenging men, holding them accountable and encouraging them to change their paradim on life, what I have gathered from the writer (based on this article) is that Mrs. Hymowitz took a truth and adorned it with a large dose of half-truths and as usual we have women in the amen corner.

    I will read the book before I comment any further, but based on what as been penned in this article, this is yet another talking head disseminating mistruths that will continue to divide black men and black women.
    My recent post Geometry

    • Patricia Knight
      Patricia Knight says:

      My brother, you'll be dedicating much more than 10 years to the process of challenging men and holding them accountable. It's a long and tedious road that you're traveling, so I pray that you're ready for the fight and that you're "no ways tired".

      All anyone has to do is take a look around to see that growing up is hard for the brothers to do these days. It's not all the brother's fault, either. Lots of things contribute to it; their mothers, the lack of responsible fatherhood, their family members who encourage loving boys, instead of raising them, etc. However, the brothers themselves contribute to it by just going along with the flow of irresponsibility.

      What's required is a strong swim against the tide of selfishness, immaturity, irresponsibility and the other tendencies that keep men boys way past their time. Note: Ladies, a good woman can help this process along; but you'd better know what you're doing. It takes a woman, not a girl to change a boy to a man.

    • tisa
      tisa says:

      this in not about BLACK MEN …. BUT IF THE SHOE FITS!
      As it regards YOUR WORK ….you have a WHOLE lot more to go I'm afraid! i'm a female and I KNOW what is said in this article to be true. If there are VERY few WHITE MALES worthy of marriage …THAT IS NOTHING NEW IN OUR COMMUNITIES!

      • ruleyourwife
        ruleyourwife says:

        You are right, the book speaks of men and not necessarily Black men. But that does not change what i said, "truths adorned in half-truths, And I am a male and I KNOW what is said in this article to be based on half-truth. What is it about what you know that renders your truth the position of authority.

        You stated, "BUT IF THE SHOE FITS," well sister I say this to you and believe me I'm saying it in love — "If you keep attracting those brothers to the point that you know that what's in the article is true, then my concern for you is what spirit are you despoting in the world to continue to attract those kind of brothers. Know this is a truth, Light attract so light, so if you keep attracting brother with a shadow . . . (i'll refrain from sharing the end of that statement.

        But at any rate you be blessed.
        My recent post A commentary on the Royal Wedding

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      You said: As a brother who has dedicated the last 10 years of my life challenging men, holding them accountable and encouraging them to change their paradim on life, what I have gathered from the writer (based on this article) is that Mrs. Hymowitz took a truth and adorned it with a large dose of half-truths and as usual we have women in the amen corner.

      What the author stated was the TRUTH and unless you want to be a WOMAN you will not understand in your limited thinking as a man. I don't know what men you are couseling but it sounds like you could stand to do a little listening yourself.

  4. Jocelyn Bowden
    Jocelyn Bowden says:

    this is sad,but true..smh

  5. Vicky Ponds
    Vicky Ponds says:

    The man I married was raised out of guilt by a single mother. She didn't make him do anything other than be her son. She didn't hold him accountable for his mistakes. Now I'm legally bound to a man who runs when things get hard, only thinks of himself and believes he has no fault in anything and his mother still comes to his rescue and tries to "make it all better". I'm not blaming his mother, but he didn't have a chance in hell of being the man I really need and want. Just my luck.

  6. Tonya Charles
    Tonya Charles says:

    I've been blowing this horn for some time. We have lowered expectations so much that mediocre has become average and average has become outstanding. And this issue is FAR more prevalent in the black community than others…at least in my

  7. Patricia Knight
    Patricia Knight says:

    This article is the truth that very few people want to admit. I have often thought on these same things, and wondered about the marriage prospects for my husband's and my 14 year old, honor student, child prodigy violinist daughter. She works hard in school and on her instrument and is already intolerant of people who fail to take personal responsibility.

    God help us all if we don't begin to raise boys to be men who consider it their responsibility to honor a woman, hold a job, and take care of his kids.

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