If current trends hold, 2011 may be the “Year of the Inflammatory Book.” In January, Chinese-American mom and Yale professor, Amy Chua, ignited a firestorm with her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Therein, she explained why Chinese moms are superior to their western counterparts, and the angry tornado of response drove her book up to #1 on the Amazon best-seller list. Tomorrow, author, Kay S. Hymowitz will hope to take over the role of provocateur with her book, Manning Up – How the Rise of Women has Turned Men into Boys. Her premise seems to be that many men have chosen permanent pre-adolescence over real adulthood and real relationships, and mostly because they are fed up with women.
A pre-release excerpt published by the New York Times has caused an avalanche of angry retort from men of all stripes. On today’s Daily Beast, Hymowitz responds, revealing some of the email messages she’s received. i.e. “Sorry Ladies, In the age of Play Station 3′s, 24-hour-a-day sport channels, and free Internet porn, you are now obsolete.”
She focuses on the extreme male bitterness she has seen through her research. Men who are finding most of their dating pool to be entitled, dishonest, self-involved, manipulative, etc. She mentions several websites that have grown up to give voice to these men, like eternalbachelor.com. She wonders, is this immaturity? It is rebellion against political correctness? Is it misogyny?
Hymowitz looks at how women like equality, when they like it — at work, for instance; and how in other realms they aren’t so sure, like dating and relationships. She believes that the main source of male anger isn’t that no women will pick up the check and take the lead sexually. Rather, women have a choice on whether to do these things, and men have no choice. Men have to ask if they want a life. Men have to take the lead on sex or suffer the consequences.
While these are valid issues for discussion, the fact that Hymowitz seems to have glanced over is that men have more power than they think. The notion that he has no choice when it comes to dating and relationships is simply fiction. He can wait to be asked out. He may not like who does the asking, or waiting for it to happen, but women have been dealing with that for years. The fiction that men have no choice, no power, and can be “turned into” something by women certainly isn’t the only word on the subject.
There’s an interesting article on Slate.com today called, “Sex is Cheap” that smartly outlines the opposite side of the coin. In a world where young men are failing to thrive at a rate higher than most women (the article points out that only 43% of American undergrads are men) in the arena of premarital heterosexual relationships, men are completely in control. There is research afoot that explains how we can know that most young men are less interested in a committed relationship than most young women. If you can accept the notion, it’s easy to agree with the author Mark Regnerus’ conclusion:
“If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we’d be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on. Instead, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (which collects data well into adulthood); none of these things is occurring. Not one.”
So, which is it? Are men a bullied and angry gender who have lost any real say in their relationships or are they an extremely satisfied gender benefiting from the “sexual economics” of the modern age?