The Wall Street Journal has an article complaining about the age of the men-child, with the sensationalistic title: "Where have all the good men gone?" The demographic in question was the 25-34 age group, in which 34% women with a Bachelor's degree were held up against the boys in the limbo state of what the article called pre-adulthood, an extension of the adolescent age. To illustrate the new(ish) gender divide, the author Kay S. Hymowitz tossed up this interpretation of Knocked up (Apatow,2007):
They say we are the chosen few
But we're wasted
And that's why we're still waiting
On a number from the modern man
Maybe when you're older you will understand
Why you don't feel right
Why you can't sleep at night now
In line for a number but you don't understand
Like a modern man. (Modern Man, Arcade Fire, The Suburbs, 2010)
The story's hero is 23-year-old Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who has a drunken fling with Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and gets her pregnant. Ben lives in a Los Angeles crash pad with a group of grubby friends who spend their days playing videogames, smoking pot and unsuccessfully planning to launch a porn website. Allison, by contrast, is on her way up as a television reporter and lives in a neatly kept apartment with what appear to be clean sheets and towels. Once she decides to have the baby, she figures out what needs to be done and does it. Ben can only stumble his way toward being a responsible grownup.I'm not all that surprised that this is true for some part of the population - a less defined career role for men and a growing disparity in higher education may lead to feelings of uncertainty about having to commit to or be responsible for anything (which is a hallmark of adulthood). I was particularly intrigued by the conclusion of the article, as the author assumed these men's inner voice in stating "Why should [I] grow up? No one needs [me] anyway. There's nothing [I] have to do." Indeed, clearly defined expectations can help shape identity. That is, if you assume these men have no inherent, willful desire to forge their identity. And that's a big assumption on the author's part.
Something struck me while I was reading the article though: I have heard complaints about the men-boys from these presumably more ambitious women, but what about these women's fun times? They are often portrayed as some sort of a super woman, juggling home and work like some skilled Cirque du Soleil performer. These ambitious go-getters with their eye on the prize, what do they do for fun? It would seem from what is perpetuated by the media that men have all the fun and women are left to do all the work. I seriously doubt that to be the case, even amongst the selected demographic of certain SES. It makes me wonder though: how come we don't talk about these young women having fun? How do they unwind? I'm not saying they need to find similar things fun, but other than shopping, what else is supposedly fun? Why are these women hanging out with the men they supposedly detest? Could it be that they are having vicarious fun? I'm going to have to investigate this. To be continued?