The men are all boys
A strange cultural phenomenon is finally getting the attention it deserves:
In his new book, “Guyland,” [Michael Kimmel] the State University of New York at Stony Brook professor notes that the traditional markers of manhood — leaving home, getting an education, finding a partner, starting work and becoming a father — have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved from “a transitional moment to a whole new stage of life.” In 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached these milestones by the age of 30. Today, less than a third of males that age can say the same.
[The professor sees this as nothing short of a tragedy]:
In almost 400 interviews with mainly white, college-educated twentysomethings, he found that the lockstep march to manhood is often interrupted by a debauched and decadelong odyssey, in which youths buddy together in search of new ways to feel like men. Actually, it's more like all the old ways — drinking, smoking, kidding, carousing — turned up a notch in a world where adolescent demonstrations of manhood have replaced the real thing: responsibility.
[Is this refusal to grow into manhood just a flawed choice, or is it something that has been foisted upon young American males?]
A bad attitude about marriage is not the only thing that’s holding these guys back. A series of social and economic reversals are making it harder than ever to climb the ladder of adulthood. Since 1971, annual salaries for males 25 to 34 with full-time jobs have plummeted almost 20 percent, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. At the same time, women have crashed just about all the old male haunts, and are showing some signs of outpacing their husbands and boyfriends as breadwinners and heads of family, at least in urban centers. Last year, researchers at Queens College in New York determined that women between 21 and 30 in at least five major cities, including Dallas, Chicago and New York, have not only made up the wage gap since 1970 — they now earn upwards of 15 percent more than their male counterparts.
[Whether it’s boys refusing to become men, or a culture that has discouraged male maturity, the results are far from pretty:]
Today’s guys are perhaps the first downwardly mobile — and endlessly adolescent — generation of men in U.S. history. They're also among the most distraught — men between the ages of 16 and 26 have the highest suicide rate for any group except men above 70 — and socially isolated, despite their image as a band of backslapping buddies. According to the General Social Survey, a highly regarded decadeslong University of Chicago project to map changes in American culture, twentysomething guys are bowling alone when compared with the rest of society. They are less likely to read a newspaper, attend church, vote for president or believe that people are basically trustworthy, helpful and fair.
[The solution to all that unhappiness may be found in that very thing American males seem to be running away from]:
A raft of recent studies suggest that married men are happier, more sexually satisfied and less likely to end up in the emergency room than their unmarried counterparts. They also earn more, are promoted ahead of their single counterparts and are more likely to own a home.
“Men benefit from just being married, regardless of the quality of the relationship. It makes them healthier, wealthier and more generous with their relatives," says Scott Coltrane, author of "Gender and Families" and dean of the University of Oregon College of Arts and Science. It accelerates men's journey toward stability and security. "In general, those are the things that lead to happiness," he adds.
— “Why I Am Leaving Guyland,” posted Aug. 30 at newsweek.com