A bad time for lovers
Hymowitz first looked at the scene from the point view of women's complaints in the Winter 2008 issue, Child-Man in the Promised Land here: http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_1_single_young_men.html
"Now meet the twenty-first-century you, also 26. You’ve finished college and work in a cubicle in a large Chicago financial-services firm. You live in an apartment with a few single guy friends. In your spare time, you play basketball with your buddies, download the latest indie songs from iTunes, have some fun with the Xbox 360, take a leisurely shower, massage some product into your hair and face—and then it’s off to bars and parties, where you meet, and often bed, girls of widely varied hues and sizes. They come from everywhere: California, Tokyo, Alaska, Australia. Wife? Kids? House? Are you kidding?
Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood’s milestones—high school degree, financial independence, marriage, and children. These days, he lingers—happily—in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. Decades in unfolding, this limbo may not seem like news to many, but in fact it is to the early twenty-first century what adolescence was to the early twentieth: a momentous sociological development of profound economic and cultural import. Some call this new period “emerging adulthood,” others “extended adolescence.”
Then evidently she received a deluge of mail from angry, resentful men, and had another look - from the point of view of twenty-something men, in the Autumn, 2008 issue, Love in the Time of Darwinism, see here: http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_4_darwinist_dating.html
"It would be easy enough to hold up some of the callow ranting that the piece inspired as proof positive of the child-man’s existence. But the truth is that my correspondents’ objections gave me pause. Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM (Single Young Male) is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.
Here’s Jeff from Middleburg, Florida: “I am not going to hitch my wagon to a woman . . . who is more into her abs, thighs, triceps, and plastic surgery. A woman who seems to have forgotten that she did graduate high school and that it’s time to act accordingly.” Jeff, meet another of my respondents, Alex: “Maybe we turn to video games not because we are trying to run away from the responsibilities of a ‘grown-up life’ but because they are a better companion than some disease-ridden bar tramp who is only after money and a free ride.” Care for one more? This is from Dean in California: “Men are finally waking up to the ever-present fact that traditional marriage, or a committed relationship, with its accompanying socially imposed requirements of being wallets with legs for women, is an empty and meaningless drudgery.” You can find the same themes posted throughout websites like AmericanWomenSuck, NoMarriage, MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), and Eternal Bachelor (“Give modern women the husband they deserve. None”)."
I have to say, I think it's admirable of Hymowitz to turn around and consider that there is, after all, another side to the problem.
Perhaps I'm not well-qualified to speak to this issue. For one, I haven't dated an American woman in about twenty years. For another, I've been married for eight years - a new personal best in relationship longevity for me.
When I was last single in America, my experience was not good. I wrote in a previous post, 'Have some free relationship advice' here: http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/12/have-some-free-relationship-advice.html
I'm a survivor of two really bad long-term relationships. I won't go into the details because, 1) they're really not relevant, and 2) in spite of the Oprah-age, let-it-all-hang-out culture we live in, I think it's vulgar. Suffice it to say, together they consumed a total of ten years of my life and had repercussions that echo to this day.
It wasn't until the end of the second disaster (nice word that, it means "evil star"), that I realized I had made the same mistake as the first. The first was excusable, I was young and new to the serious relationship scene. The second time, I thought I'd hooked up with a partner who was different in every way from the first - physically, intellectually and personality-wise.
What I realized too late was that they had both had something in common that overrode all their basic differences - they were unhappy people.
I have had no personal contact with either of these former partners for many years. I have heard of them though, and the evidence would seem to indicate they are both still unhappy people. (One is married with two grown children and still cruises bars, less and less successfully as she ages. The other had divorced husband number five when I last heard of her. That game isn't going to get easier as she approaches 60 either.)
Slightly better were relationships with single mothers raising children with zero help from the fathers, financial or otherwise. Yes they wanted a meal ticket, but at least showed evidence of being willing to show gratitude for it.
In that whole period of my life, the best relationship I had before I left for Poland was a purely utilitarian one. I was working on finishing my Master's, she was in the middle of a divorce and neither of us had time for complications. We were introduced by mutual friends, and used to meet for conversation and physical release, no strings attached.
Understand, I liked her just fine, she was good company. And she probably liked me too. But we walked away without a backward glance, in spite of some good times together. I remember her quite fondly, but I probably think of her least often - and I suspect the same is true of her.
It would be easy for a man to blame this on American women - and some do. (See: http://www.americanwomensuck.com/)
I recently had a conversation with a friend in Texas who is getting his doctorate in Mathematics, so his income prospects are pretty good. He's good-looking, well-travelled, cultured - and single.
He told me, "If a woman expresses an interest, about half the time I've found she's setting you up for humiliation."
If I'd had time though, there are a couple of women I could have introduced him to. Both in their 30s, intelligent, great personalities (I've known both of them since they were kids), real lookers - and single.
I could even have introduced him to another academic (not American), who is highly intelligent and goddam gorgeous. You'd think she'd have to beat off potential suitors with a club.
I've never seen her at a social function with a date.
What the heck is going on?
Well, women are delaying marriage for career reasons. This is actually not new, Thomas Sowell pointed out that this was actually more common in the early 20th century than it became in the 1950s - so perhaps this is the upswing of another one of those cycle things.
And yet something is different this time around. A woman may have married later back then, but she was expected to arrive without the baggage of kids with no father in sight (unless she was a respectable widow), and any sexual history was supposed to be discretely buried.
Some conservatives blame the Sexual Revolution and Women's Liberation.
Well, the Sexual Revolution deserves a re-thinking for sure. Birth control, and antibiotics, delivered us (for a while at least) from our biology - but not from our nature.
“Sexual liberation ought logically to have brought in a time of ‘naturalness,’ ease, and candor between men and women. It has, on the contrary, filled the country with sexual self-consciousness, uncertainty, and fear.” - Wendell Berry
People who sleep together regularly, tend to fall in love, get possessive, sexually jealous and all that old-fashioned stuff. Unless they are emotionally retarded, or deliberately, by a conscious act of will, shut off a part of themselves from their partners.
(Or unless they are sleeping with someone they are at least adequately attracted to - and don't like. And believe me, there is something enormously liberating about that -in a thoroughly soul-corrupting sort of way.)
And what we kept running into was, young girls who become sexually active, on a level below rational thought, want to get pregnant. It's one of those basic biological drives that extreme environmentalists (like Marxists) don't want to believe in.
Can there be any other explanation for the combination of readily available, effective birth control and the skyrocketing rate of out-of-wedlock births?
For nearly two generations, newly-discovered antibiotics could handle nearly all common STDs. Then our vacation from history was over with, first herpes - then AIDS. In essence, we were thrown back to our grandparents' world of incurable STDs. AIDS, was the new syphilis.
Women's lib started as a righteous demand for women to be let into the work force and judged on their competence like anyone else, and for men to stop patronizing them.
Watch some of those TV commercials from the '50s and early '60s if you don't think that last was a valid complaint. They are absolutely cringe-making in the patronizing attitudes towards women they display.
Then it got hijacked by lunatics. Now whatever it's about, it's not equality. The Larry Summers affair at Harvard demonstrates that with certainty. Women on colleges across the country demanded the right to punish a man - not even for an opinion, but for a tentative speculation based on a demonstrable truth. For Thoughtcrime in fact.
But who started this? Anthropologist Lionel Tiger (what a wonderful name!) speculated that Women's Lib was a response to men abandoning their responsibilities of support for partners and children. Which for women is scary enough to drive them pretty crazy.
My generation's contribution to Men's Lib, "Like wow, this fatherhood trip isn't my thing. See ya."
Tiger speculated the implicit message of Women's Lib was, "If you won't support us, then give us your damn jobs!"
I could speculate forever, but won't here, yet. I'm getting too far from what I'm really sure of.
I will venture one guess, two things are different from previous times of great social change.
One is that while previous codes of morality and behavior may have been harsh, they were at least based on a generally good understanding of what human nature is, and formulated rules accordingly to control the excesses of behavior that we are prone to by nature.
They didn't know about evolutionary biology, back in Old Testament times, but they had what I call a "pre-scientific intuition" of its consequences.
In these times, the lingering legacy of the extreme environmentalist position has it that there is no fixed human nature, or that "human nature is infinitely plastic" (Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who really ought to know better) and can be molded to whatever form we desire.
The other piece of philosophical lunacy is that there is no fixed reality and that truth can always be redefined contextually.
The consequences of this are far-reaching and show up in unexpected places. One of which I suspect may be the youth suicide rate. The notion that there is no place to plant your feet is terrifying for young people.
What all this adds up to is, here and now, it's a bad time for lovers.