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All Boys, No Men

Vivia Chen

February 24, 2011

Slacker Ladies: Is the supply of decent, marginally mature  men hitting rock bottom? Maybe the inventory has always been slim. But after reading Kay Hymowitz's essay, "Where Have the Good Men Gone," in The Wall Street Journal, I must say the situation sounds quite dire.

Of course, it's an old, tired joke that accomplished women have a tough time in the dating market. Go to any law firm, and you'll find plenty of smart, attractive women lamenting the sorry state of their personal lives.

But Hymowitz insists that the trend has gotten worse--and women have themselves to blame. One problem, she says, is that women keep outshining men academically and at work, resulting in a "radical reversal of the sexual hierarchy":

[Women] graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34 percent of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27 percent 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.

In a way, Hymowitz is rehashing Hanna Rosin's essay, "End of Men," in the Atlantic. You might recall that Rosin wrote about how women will reign supreme because brains rather than brawn will rule the future. But Hymowitz puts her focus on how this new order is creating a class of immature, unmotivated men.

So what's up with Hymowitz's essay (which is excerpted from her recent book, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys)? Is she saying that women should retreat on the workfront so that those beer-drinking fratties can clean up their acts? Or is she saying that men are wimps for not keeping up with the "weaker" sex?

In any case, you have to feel a bit sorry for the menfolks as Hymowitz describes them: "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."

Maybe this is the positive side of Hymowitz's message: If you can't find a grown-up guy to share your nest, maybe you don't really need him to keep it feathered. Women, she writes, will put up with the boy-man for only so long, "but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man."

Readers, do you think women professionals have turned men into a bunch of wusses? And women lawyers, are the men out there really that lame?

Related post: Meet the Househubby

 Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Photo: Fololia

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Women may not be aware of how the traits that make them successful in business are wholly unattractive qualities in a mate. A successful career women requires tenacity, assertiveness, and leadership, not to mention a little ruthlessness and backstabbing from time to time. As a man, I see these characteristics in my female coworkers and know that it is only a matter of time until those traits are used against me. Furthermore, mostly because of women's urging, we have a series of harassment laws which could result in a lawsuit for a man making an ill-received invitation for coffee. An invitation to socialize could become a career terminating move and is best avoided. If women are sincere about looking for a date, boyfriend, or husband, do the right thing and look outside the office.

1) Being "smart" and "attractive" does not mean mature. There are plenty of "smart" and "attractive" people who are completely immature and incapable of sustaining meaningful relationships.

2) When did GPAs translate into "maturity?" (The same question might be asked about degrees and earnings). This so-called "study" seems to equate academic and/or business accomplishments with life in general. Frankly, if the only thing you're good at is getting good grades you're probably not a very interesting person. And, I really don't know why anyone would want to date an uninteresting person.

3) Any argument that women are "more intellectual" or otherwise arguing that one gender is superior in "brains" is ridiculous. It's just a sad hearkening back to the early 20th Century when "science" was busy trying to prove that blacks had smaller brains then whites and were, therefore, dumber. Nowadays, no credible scientist would ever put forth such an argument. Such arguments are based not in any kind of scientific research but the fantasy land of pseudo-science where poorly designed studies are crafted to result in certain outcomes, outcomes which are more often then not motivated by some biased on the part of the "scientists." So, you'll have to excuse me if I call anyone who says such ridiculous things about a gender moronic.

4) Why is everyone obsessed with "keeping up?" Aren't we lawyers (well, most of us anyway)? Shouldn't we be more concerned about the equal application of the law? So long as the law is applied to everyone equally won't personal preferences sort out the difference? Whatever economic reality that comes out of that choice is not our concern. Our concern is only the existence of that choice.

5) "Husbands and fathers are now optional?" Sure, because the stats we have on single parenthood clearly show that single parents (and the children of single parents) live the most glorious of lives.

6) In terms of virtues (which you term "qualities of character" "fortitude" and "courage" are widely discussed as being equivalent so you're point is a little redundant. See #7 for a general point on virtue.

7) What is a man if not prudent, just, temperate, and courageous? If these (and other) virtues are obsolete then what is there for a man to strive towards? Should we aim purely at obtaining material goods? Would that make us happy? Or, ought we to ignore the advice that would deprive our existence of virtue and strive ever forward, attempting to be those things which you both admit you want us to be (for those are the characters that make a man) and think "obsolete" (implying you have some unspoken standard of what makes a man far superior to any human virtue).

8) "[Have] women professionals turned men into a bunch of wusses?" That's kind of an absurd question. It implies too much. The assumption behind it seems to be that professional women are the dominatrices of all men. But we know this isn't true.

9) On Klausner's quote in the WSJ - I find it a comic statement that she's "tired of hooking up with guys" and then the focus turns on whether men are immature. I'm fairly certain mature women don't "hook up." If anything her statement simply supports the proposition that the problem of immaturity runs the gambit. Neither men nor women are maturing at the same rate as in the past. Maybe this is good - we don't really need 6 year olds to sweep chimneys and 13 year olds to can good. Maybe this is bad - we can't seriously expect those in their 20s who act like children to one day run the country can we? Maybe we should focus on developing school programs which develop children in mature adults.

10) When did marriage become the ultimate "milestone" of maturity? Sure it's important but when making points about people getting married later remember than many of those who are getting married in their 30s, rather than 20s, saw their parents marriage dissolve sometime during their lifetime. Marriage isn't a bedrock of stability for them. It is something which can and, apparently, often does go horribly wrong. Risk aversion, when it comes to marriage, seems like the most reasonable route for those in their 20s to take.

Blaming women for men not bothering to be their best selves is the same old wrong of blaming the victim.

Parents' responsibility is to rear strong, healthy people - and there comes a point in time when people need to wise up on their own.

There definitely are mature and immature men (and women) but I don't think it reasonable to make generalizations about the relative maturity level men based on relationship and career trends. The fact that men are making less money and are less educated relative to women than they used to be does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with them. Perhaps the presence of women in the workplace has simply taken the pressure off of men to be breadwinners and they are now free to engage in other pursuits.

I find this whole topic comical. There are party boys out there and there are mature men out there. The fact is that many men are dissuaded from the historical male role due to unfair policies in divorce, custody, and general perception. Many men who went down this road see single party guys with more fun and more money getting more women. What is the incentive?
Also, although many women want a mature person, many don't want to meet them that way. They want to "fix" the exciting guy into the mature guy. They want the best of both worlds. I am not bashing women; men are the same. It is just that women are more vocal about it.

This is the most ridiculous article I have ever read. You have got to be kidding me. These aren't real people, these are caricatures of people. Developing relationships is about being true to yourself and connecting with others. The ideas expressed in this article do nothing more than perpetuate negative stereotypes of both men and women.

I'll let two articles respond to this for me:

From the HuffPo:
"Both sexes know the drill: After the Average American Woman searches in vain for her modern prince, she and her "girls" will go out Friday to blow off steam by dancing at a club, usually in one of those bizarre and impenetrable Circles of Five Women; hapless and tipsy men will queue up and attack the Dancing Circle like sperm; she will coolly dispatch the responsible, career-minded ones with mixed signals and a caution that she's "still getting over a real jerk"; she will hook up with a felonious, faux-sensitive pornographer who is starting his own rock band; she will take a long, hot shower; and she will write a bestselling memoir titled, All Men Are Douchebags, whose royalties will fund her trip to the sperm bank."

Found at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rob-asghar/where-are-the-good-men-pe_b_826250.html

From Roissy, including a lot of good comments: http://roissy.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/game-and-life-trajectory/#respond

So, ajoy3, men need to step it up? For what? I'm 48, still single, slept with a hot 24 year-old on the first date the weekend before last, have plenty more on speed dial, and I'm doing just fine, thank you.

So, BTW, is Charlie Sheen.


Candidly, the whole enterprise of claiming that men are acting like boys, or that women are facilitating it by devaluing the the characteristics they once perceived as paramount is laughable.


Moreover, to pontificate as the Hymowitz or Rosin are described as doing above does, in and of itself, exacerbate the perceived problem.


Personally, I was raised by women, devoid of a male role-model in my life. And, through-out college, and law school, and into my professional career, it was not a question of embodying the traits described above... Rather, it was a question of who was more aggressive, ambitious, and dedicated to their goals (despite ANY set-backs) that, in reality, had nothing to do with the sex of the individual.


So, frankly, it appears to me that, even engaging in the enterprise of claiming that there is a lack of "good men" or "mature men" is wide of the mark.


People are people, and as my tribe has said for a long time, there is a mate for every soul out there (their other half); and, it is just a matter of finding that individual. In the end, we are all simply just grappling with our higher-level intellectual functions as they interact with our more primal urges, like procreation.


Finally, speaking in general-commentary of the above-referenced texts (my turn to pontificate), another phrase of my tribe comes to mind: one should never beg for worry.


That is what, in my opinion, what those texts are doing is... kvetching about something that is not a problem, unless it is treated as one.

Yeah, we are getting kinda lazy. Next time we have a team meeting, I'll try to stop eating pizza and drinking beer for a second to encourage the rest of the boys to step up their game.


The absurd generality with which this speaks about the male sex blows my mind. Wait - I'm a pre-adult male, I don't have one.

Who said this wasn't still a male-dominated culture? The writer of this article is complaining about them! I don't think that's a lawyer's office in the photo.

It's not women's fault if men don't keep up. Men had the upper hand for so long they took it for granted and just got lazy. In the meantime women caught up with them. Men need to step it up!

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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