"We are sick of hooking up with guys," writes the comedian Julie Klausner, author of a touchingly funny 2010 book. . . . What Ms. Klausner means by "guys" is males who are not boys or men but something in between. "Guys talk about 'Star Wars' like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home." One female reviewer of Ms. Kausner's book wrote, "I had to stop several times while reading and think: Wait, did I date this same guy?"Later on Hymowitz contemplates the culture of Comedy Central and Cartoon Network and asks, "What explains this puerile shallowness?"
Actually Hymowitz has some answers to this question that are not ridiculous -- the years of education and internships needed to secure a good job in many fields, the expense of housing -- and she even glances at the point I am going to get back to at the end:
American men have been struggling with finding an acceptable adult identity since at least the mid-19th century. We often hear about the miseries of women confined to the domestic sphere once men began to work in offices and factories away from home. But it seems that men didn't much like the arrangement either.Nonetheless, Hymowitz still exudes contempt for anyone who doesn't man up, get a job and get married.
Given the rigors of contemporary career-building, pre-adults who do marry and start families do so later than ever before in human history. Husbands, wives and children are a drag on the footloose life required for the early career track and identity search. Pre-adulthood has also confounded the primordial search for a mate. It has delayed a stable sense of identity, dramatically expanded the pool of possible spouses, mystified courtship routines and helped to throw into doubt the very meaning of marriage. In 1970, to cite just one of many numbers proving the point, nearly seven in 10 25-year-olds were married; by 2000, only one-third had reached that milestone.To which the obvious retort is, so what? Why should we hurry into marriage and parenthood? Where is it written that 25-year-olds should act like 40-year-olds? If you ask me, the reason many young Americans, male and female, aren't rushing to get steady jobs is that the rewards offered for low-level, white collar work are nowhere near worth the price it exacts. Nobody is impressed that you are a manager or even a junior vice president, and your salary is only 2% of the CEO's, so why bother? Personally I can't see any reason at all, unless you really want to buy a house and raise children. That can be put off until you are over 30. So why rush into it? The weird thing is, Hymowitz doesn't eve try to explain why, puerile shallowness aside, young marriage is better than extended adolescence. It just bothers her somehow that men aren't more serious and responsible. Too bad for her.