Saturday, February 19, 2011

Those beer commercials are not a joke

Today's WSJ includes excerpts from Kay Hymowitz's Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men to Boys. The piece is titled "Where Have the Good Men Gone?" and will surely work its way up the Journal's most-emailed list.

"The guys we find, says one woman are 'more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home.'" And "What explains the peurile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, 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."

Perhaps. And this is the time to insert that there are no unmixed blessings. Most of us like the modern world, but modernity has always had a downside. Affluence brought the option of adolescence. That has now become extended adolescence. Many politicians had given up on reforming our high schools and suggested that it's time to send everybody to a two-year college. Governments' budget troubles may have put that one on hold, but it was brilliant. Do not mess with the education establishment, but grow it instead.

What matters most is that finally tapping into the female talent pool is a wonderful thing. Some of the most talented students and colleagues that I encounter at my university and other places that I pass through are now female. Seeing them at work makes one wonder how we ever managed to get by without them.

Back to Hymowitz and the men. "Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven -- and often does. Women put up with them for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up any idea of a husband and kids or just go to the sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sandbox. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do. They might as well just have another beer."

Have you looked at the beer commercials on TV? You have to assume that the producers know their audience.