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February 23, 2011

Why You’re All Mistaken About What’s Wrong With Today’s Men

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/whats_wrong_with_todays_men_20110223/

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My last post was about what’s wrong with women. This one is about what’s wrong with men. Two articles have been atop everyone’s cocktail party conversation this past week.  In the first, Day of the Lout which appeared in the LA Times, Neal Gabler suggests in his own words that “unsophisticated, lazy, misogynist males may be the primary model for today’s young American men” which he attributes to a complete rejection of the subjugation they supposedly saw their fathers succumb to in an attempt to play the feminist driven sensitivity game.  The second, from Kay Hymowitz in the Wall Street Journal, suggests that most twenty/thirty-something males are stuck in this slacker-worshipping prolonged adolescence because feminism has so drastically upended the role of men that this slap-stick pre-adulthood is an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men.

Both articles are good and I strongly recommend the read. And in fact, both are supported by another trend setting article in the Atlantic last year by Hanna Rosin called The End of Men where she essentially argues that modern society is better suited for women than men. But I remain unconvinced by Hymowitz and Gabler. These are elaborate theories to make successful women feel better about the emerging societal norm that there are more better educated women who are successful at younger ages and most importantly to absolve them of any culpability in this phenomenon.

But I don’t believe this a result of either a backlash against female success or confusion about the future role of men. I’d like to suggest another theory for what’s wrong with men today. They’re just lazy. That’s it, pure and simple. America values laziness and we’ve finally created a world where it’s possible to be lazier than we ever imagined. We don’t have to leave the house to learn anything, to do anything, or to get anything. In fact, we’ve created a society that puts a high premium on being lazy. We like to know that our Presidents sit on the couch, drinking beer and watching sports. We are constantly coming up with technological devices so that we can move less than we already were (ie – remote controls, sound operated light switches, voice controlled everything, electronic tablets). It seems like the goal of modern science is to create enough devices so that we can live life without ever moving more than an eyelid. Vacations are taken on cruise ships or at all inclusive resorts so that you never have to go anywhere. You can buy anything from almost anywhere and have it arrive at your doorstep. Men are just as likely to get together to sit on a couch and watch sports on a huge screen while drinking beer as they were thirty years ago, but there’s much more incentive to do it now since the plasma screens are in HD and there are 500 channels to choose from.

Now laziness is not a male dominated trait by any means and I in no way mean to imply that this is more inherent in men than women. Women would be just as lazy if we could. But we are constantly being made aware of our shorter shelf life for child bearing so to greatly over simplify, we push ourselves a little harder to speed life along because we’re afraid our time is going to run out. But if women were suddenly told they could easily get pregnant with healthy babies until they were fifty, you’d find the same rampant laziness among young women. Women would be on their couches surfing shoe sales like it was porn instead of forcing themselves to get out there and meet men. Or women would be willing to take a few more years traveling or living at home and starting that reversible lingerie line instead of being so career oriented. But most women want families and that means at some point, they’re going to have cut back on focusing on their education or jobs so if they want a career at all, the time to focus on it is now. Women just can’t afford to be as lazy as men.

One of the reasons that men have become so successful at cultivating this Peter Pan syndrome so prevalently is that women reward men for this behavior. Women are constantly afraid of emasculating men so every time these guys luxuriate in their anti-intellectual crude behavior, women say to themselves, boys will be boys like we dare not presume to tell a real man how to act. 

This is most obvious of course when it comes to hooking up. There was a time when women rewarded gentlemanly behavior by accepting dates with and only with to men who acted chivalrous and abided by the cultural standards of decency. Likewise, the basest of men on the lower rungs of society were punished – they couldn’t find good mates or any woman at all to even lose their virginity with. But this is no longer true. Girls are constantly hooking up with complete wastes-of-space losers so what’s the incentive for them to change?

I was just on the phone last night with a girlfriend, who recently hooked up with a guy who has consistently blown her off. I kept begging her to delete his number from her phone. They’ll hook up, he won’t return her texts, and then a few weeks later, she’ll text him again. Then she’ll show up at 11pm at his house and the next day she’ll leave knowing that he’s probably going to ignore her for months again. Why oh Why? 

Women have to take some of the responsibility for this behavior and it’s not because we’re all just so damned successful it’s intimidating men. I have another friend who financially supported her boyfriend on a waitressing salary so that he could start and run a “business” for years. I am guilty of this myself. A year or two ago, I dated this guy whom at the time I really liked. But he never wanted to do much of anything except sit around watch TV and play video games. At the time, I never said anything to him because I wanted to support his outside interests.  But now when I think about it, I don’t understand why I didn’t tell him to get off his lazy drug-addicted a$$ and do something.

The other reason younger generations have been able to get away with this laziness for so long is our obsession with individualism and good old fashioned American pride. We need to “discover our unique talents and cultivate our specialness” by finding a job where we can let our inner light shine instead of just working for The Man. This idea, which is immortalized in movies like Office Space and even Weeds when it used to be good, that no one wants to be a cog in a wheel has allowed men to say “No! I won’t put on your monkey suit and work 9 to 5. I will stay in my pajamas all day and work from home developing useless software so that people can watch angry birds peck at each other.” The idea that this guy is doing what he loves is something we have come to overvalue to the point that a lawyer with a great salary is seen as a beaten down pushover who can’t stand up for himself, regardless of whether or not he likes his job. We as women are again rewarding this behavior every time we date some loser with no job who’s pursuing his dream. At the time, I thought I was dating a filmmaker, a musician, an actor, and an entrepreneur. But really I was dating a waiter, a telemarketer, a trust fund baby, and a guy with a lot of debt. Why would these guys go out and find real jobs in their twenties? They don’t have to work hard and girls keep having sex with them while they pursue their dream on their couch. Who would grow-up and leave that behind?

Lastly, the reason this generation of foolish lazy men has become an epidemic has to do with bravery. Women, going back for centuries, have been drawn to courageous men. The problem is that up until very recently, that used to mean something. Bravery used to mean being brave in a situation that called for it – fighting the draft, fighting for our country, standing up to other men in fights, risking your neck at your job in dangerous working conditions. But now, no one has to be brave anymore. We’ve created a world that has eliminated all risk and when there’s no risk, why would you ever need to face fear? So how can men show they are brave now? By going on Jackass! Technically I mean the show, but really if you’re just willing to act like one, that’s good enough for us. Get kicked out of a club, bully the weak, talk like Beavis and Butthead, imitate Jim Carey, revel in being fat, steal Stop signs. Floutting social conventions is one of the few ways left for a man to demonstrate courage. Which basically means, the stupider you act, the more your buddies will high five you, and the more women will buy into this notion that you are doing something manly. It seems so outrageous but I’ve seen it with my own eyes so many times; guys act stupid and girls mistake this for machismo and encourage the behavior. If you think this isn’t true, take a trip to any frat house in this country.

So now that there’s all this attention surrounding the retarded development of younger male generations, you’d think men might do something about it. But nothing will change unless women stop rewarding this behavior first. Knowing that this male inhibited-adulthood is really just driven by laziness and misguided buffoonery, you’d think that women would be turned off by this. But I’m not holding out hope. Until we start rewarding men for being anti-loutish, we best not criticize them for being louts. To answer Hymowitz’s question about where have all the good men gone, I’ll tell you where – they stopped showing up when we stopped asking for them.


Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.

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