Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She’s a contributor to the books The Church and New Media and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion, and is writing a book based on her personal blog, ConversionDiary.com. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their five young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. You can follow her on Twitter at @conversiondiary.
This weekend the Wall Street Journal ran an article by Kay S. Hymowitz in which she asked: “Where have all the good men gone?” She wrote:
Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This “pre-adulthood” has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it’s time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn’t bring out the best in men.
“We are sick of hooking up with guys,” writes the comedian Julie Klausner… 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?”
Boy, did she touch a nerve. Only hours after it was posted, it had 300 comments, most of them from men who basically said: “Right back at’cha.” They wanted to know where all the good women have gone.
A variety of theories were presented in the comments, many of them dripping with animosity. One man wrote:
Where have the good men gone? The feminists can find us enjoying a good beer and watching golf after a tough week at work. We’d rather clear our head and enjoy the free time we have on our terms instead of trying to pursue women who keep telling us that they don’t need our partnership to buy a home or have a child.
Feminism’s goal was to make men irrelevant. Now feminists are complaining that men are irrelevant. Sorry ladies, but you get what you pay for.
I’ve seen debates like this before, and they usually degenerate into chicken-and-egg arguments about which gender’s bad behavior sparked the bad behavior of the other. Each side has some valid points, but I think that the entire debate is centered on the wrong question. I suspect that it was not the behavior of one gender that ignited this current animosity between the sexes; rather, I think it started when we, together as a society, started redefining marriage and sexual morality.
When sex meant marriage, people got married earlier. When sex and marriage meant children, young men worked harder at younger ages to prepare to provide for a family. If a young man wasted his early 20s on inane pursuits, there were real consequences: he’d be viewed as irresponsible and a bad provider, and thus his opportunities for marriage (and therefore intimacy with a woman) would be drastically limited. Young women held men to higher standards. For them, a boyfriend wasn’t just someone to “hook up” with (to use Klausner’s parlance), but the potential future father of their children — and they expected him to act accordingly. And young women were motivated to shape up their behavior as well: a woman who didn’t show any interest in the self-sacrifice and maturity required for marriage would have a hard time getting dates.
God knew what he was doing when he designed marriage. This system takes the worst tendencies of men and women and orders them so that serving one another in love benefits both ourselves and others. I fear that these “Where have all the good (wo)men gone?” debates will continue to be fruitless until we take a hard look at what we as a society have done to the millennia-old institution for uniting the sexes.