I am Child-Man, Hear me Roxor!
I literally can't stop talking about this topic. Kay "Fun-Sponge" Hymowitz wrote an editorial about child-men. In short - we suck. Apparently we are not living up to our "potential" as defined as "high school degree, financial independence, marriage and children." We are apparently wasting our time "hang[ing] out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3 and, in many cases, underachieving." Women are described as "joining an international New Girl Order, hyper-achieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling and dining with friends." Guys are too busy extending their adolescence to worry about committing to a relationship.
Let's just start this off right; I'm a damn proud child-man. Damn proud! I've listened to diatribes against my sex since I was a little boy. We need to grow up, get a job, and put those "childish" things behind us. Why? I never understood. While I was busy collecting comic books, I saw my male role models collecting National Geographic or Popular Science. How is that different? While I would spend all Saturday in front of a TV playing Super Nintendo, they men were off playing golf*. I shook my head. Seems like we are both wasting our time to me.
Ms. Hymowitz is pining over what can only be described as an archaic view of the adult male circa 1960. Let's not forget that men of this bygone era were not surrounded by the "New Girl Order" women. No. That woman couldn't get equal pay for equal work. That woman was still inhibited by social mores. That woman had an unbreakable glass ceiling with which to contend. That man had to support an entire family on one income and jobs available that would allow that to happen. So if they want us to go back to that guy, they might consider what that means for their sex.
Ms. Hymowitz seems to feel that this child-man phenomenon is in some way generated as a backlash against female empowerment, I'm here to say emphatically - NO WAY! What's not to like about female empowerment? Do things for yourself? Contribute as much (if not more) to our family's annual income? Feel confident and resourceful? Heck, those are the things most of us are looking for in a chick anyhow.
The fact is that this is a bad case of have your cake and eat it too. Women asked for more empowerment, responsibility, and all that went with it and they have, to a great extent, received it. But now guys are looking around and they can't help but hear all these messages of empowerment and think to themselves, "You know, I bet I could be empowered too! What might I like to be empowered to do?" Well, number one on that list was not to rush into marriage. Number two was to wear pants less often.
And that's the sad fact - They opened up Pandora's Box when they wanted to change the societal norms of the 40's and 50's. I'm not saying that the change wasn't needed - it certainly was. But you can't expect to change one group without having an affect on all those around you. One of those effects were that men finally got tired of being told that they needed to grow up and give up all those things they liked as a child. They were forced to take on new (and in my opinion substandard) hobbies that didn't give them nearly the pleasure that their childhood loves did.
If anything symbolizes the child-man to me, it is home theater. While I may argue against this often, you can make the case that no one needs a home theater (they do, they really do). A home theater is a decidedly "guy" thing at this time. Are women getting interested? Oh yeah. More and more every day. While guys are inherently drawn to the technology, women need to be introduced to it slowly. But I've found that once they are, they are hooked.
It is the perfect analogy. Home theater is a "guy" thing that a woman "puts up with" until she lives with it long enough and suddenly it becomes OK. Case in point. I have a 42 inch flat panel display. Every time I get a 50 inch in to review, live with it for a few weeks, and have to send it back I get the sad look from my wife. This is the same woman who argued vehemently against replacing the 27" CRT with the 42" LCD in the first place!
As men, or child-men, we have to learn how to balance our hobbies and loves with our responsibility. But the two are not incompatible as Ms. Hymowitz suggests. For some reason, some women feel the need to domesticate their men (Ms. Hymowitz says as much in her editorial) which invariably consists of driving anything fun out of their lives. Woman, let me say this plainly, you'll pry the remote out of my cold dead hands. If your idea of adulthood is that you get to be empowered while I get to forsake anything remotely resembling fun (in exchange for golf) I reject your idea and leave you to it. Enjoy your divorce. I'll wait for a woman that realizes that a man is someone that holds a good job, takes care of his responsibilities, and loves and respects his wife regardless of what he does in his free time.
I'd suggest that everyone take a close look at the headlines. Not a week goes by without someone lamenting that our children are being corrupted by video games or lured onto the Internet or exposed to dangerous ideas through innocent looking comic books. Well, who better to protect a child than a child-man? I can practically guarantee that there is no chance my child will be able to pull the, "But Grand Theft Auto is just a racing game," stunt with me. Not a chance. I'll know more about video games than he/she will!
Ms. Hymowitz suggests that child-men aren't very promising husbands. Well, I can't argue with that… if you try to marry them as child-men. That's like guys trying to marry a high school girl. They just aren't ready. But that child-man will one day want to be an adult (maybe not on your timetable but who made you the boss of him) but I can guarantee that he will continue on in his child-man ways if you try to force him into this archaic mold. If you do manage to shoe-horn him into it, you'll be lucky if all he gives you is resentment.
No, the better solution is to realize that the 22 year old career man on his first steps to earning his pension 33 years later just doesn't exist. Those jobs (much less the men to hold them) don't exist any more. The new adult male doesn't want to give up those interests and hobbies just because you say they aren't fitting an adult. He doesn't care what you think. And he'll keep looking until he finds someone that agrees with him. So feel free to keep complaining about us. Darwin will ensure that we don't have to worry about your daughters hounding our sons.
*I know some of you truly love golf. Fine. Replace the word "golf" with something else that you're supposed to do as an adult that seems a poor substitution for comics, video games, etc.
I guess we really are a nontraditional couple. My wife was the one who wanted to get a home theater system.
A TV/VCR combo served me well for years and I did not see the point in spending all that much money when I rarely watch movies. But I got make the buying decisions simply because I understand the technology better.
I have to admit I do like the HDTV picture, and the Tivo was my idea originally.
Now she is pining for a projector...
Poor Kay, she wanted a world full of Ken-doll cutouts but found that real men tend to be a little more independant.
She and my ex can commiserate while I go and play with my toys .
Most younger men and women I talk to who have avoided divorce did so because of the mess their parents made of their lives, not a lack of responsibility or maturity.
Marriage, career, kids and houses are not signs of maturity, they are things and markers. Having kids does not make one mature, growing up with them for 15 or 20 years does tend to mature one though.
I think that spending a year in someplace like Iraq and seeing the level of depravity which human kind is capable of is a much more sobering and maturing experience than graduating from school and spending a few years working at some 'career'.
Kay completely misses the point on so many levels.
Now, 'scuse me while I climb back to the top of my little hill, roar a little and play with my toys before I have to go back to work.
I'm 23, I have a daughter, but no marriage. I have a home theatre, I rent out one of the rooms in my house to a co-worker. I work for the military.
I consider myself a child-man, by many of the standards Kay has used to define one. I'll tell you what childmen are doing from my perspective as one, and one who works with many others and socializes with many others on a daily basis.
We are fighting the wars Kay's "Men" have started. Her oh so great and responsible golf playing men who created conflicts overseas have us child-men fighting and dying on a near daily basis overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. While they are "responsibly" educated, married, family orientated, and guiding our nations into combat operations overseas it is us "child-men" who are being employed there and executing combat operations.
I never finished high-school, I never had any interest. I did however have an interest in the military from a young age, I was naive and bought into the idea of camaraderie with fellow young men by working in a tough job. I was disillusioned of that notion real quick, and it started in battle school for the infantry. It became painfully obvious once I was settled in a battalion after awhile as well. What became obvious was that I had volunteered to work ridiculously hard for another mans benefit, with very little compensation for it to boot. I'm not saying I regret my choices, far from it, nor am I saying that the military is a bad place or job. I'm saying that its a type of tool being used by these so-called "men" to play their own games with, on a larger and more fearsome scale then any xbox360 game.
Child-men employed in the military come back from their tours overseas and have done more "growing-up" then any marriage and child will give you. The quick and haunting realization that any neglect on your part in any responsibility you have while overseas could easily lead to fatal consequences for yourself and others will make you responsible, or dead if you can't handle it. The fact is, this so-called "growing up" doesn't make you any better of a person then one who hasn't had this sort of responsibilty placed on their shoulders. Nor does having a wife, and children make child-men into men, and by virtue of this miraculous transformation you become somehow a better person.
Kay is venting a frustration with society on men, or as she sees some of them. With no regard for cultural changes in the last 50 years that Tom and others here have pointed out. Frankly, it disgusts me. I have no care to answer for my actions to someone who blatantly chooses to ignore the bigger picture. When I train all day to employ "speed, aggression, and violence in a controlled manner" and to "close with, and destroy the enemy" at the end of the day, if I want to sit down in my living room, in my house that I pay for with my hard earned money. If I want to pop open a beer, sit back and play some xbox, or blast some songs on my speakers, again, all of which I payed for with my own money, then I damn well will. And if Kay really has a problem with this, I'll be more then happy to place a rifle in her hands and bring her along with me to Afghanistan the next time my unit gets the go-ahead. Afterwards, I'll be happy to look her in the eye, provided she has lived through the ordeal, and ask her if all she wants to do now is slave all hours of the day and night to provide for her family, or if just maybe she wants to spend a few hours of her day taking it easy. Even for those guys that don't have the responsibility of family yet, I can't blame those guys for wanting nothing but some peace and quiet and some careless entertainment at the end of the day.
Never presume to judge our frivolties, its our choice, our free-will, and our damned right to do it. I sure as hell don't judge hers, nor do I care what she does.
To quote the writer:
"It is marriage and children that turn boys into men."
-And what turns girls into women?
Just being a responsible adult who is courteous and respectful doesn't make a man a man?
A very biased article that only spews half or less of the actual issues with her statistics that are used:
" Consider: In 1970, 69 percent of 25-year-old and 85 percent of 30-year-old white men were married; in 2000, only 33 percent and 58 percent were, respectively. And the percentage of young guys tying the knot is declining as you read this. Census Bureau data show that the median age of marriage among men rose from 26.8 in 2000 to 27.5 in 2006 a dramatic demographic shift for such a short time period."
Might the fact that the numbers shifted so much be that it is the WOMEN who are postponing marriage so they can have a career and have stopped feeling that women have to be married to be considered a "woman"? So, for a man to be a man we have to be married and sired children, but not so for a woman?