Friday, October 7, 2011

Why "man up" isn't working

By Donald Sensing

William Bennett gazes upon the sorry state of American manhood:

This decline in founding virtues -- work, marriage, and religion -- has caught the eye of social commentators from all corners. In her seminal article, "The End of Men," Hanna Rosin unearthed the unprecedented role reversal that is taking place today. "Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed," writes Rosin. The changes in modern labor -- from backs to brains -- have catapulted women to the top of the work force, leaving men in their dust.

Man's response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?

So what's wrong? Increasingly, the messages to boys about what it means to be a man are confusing. ...

Movies are filled with stories of men who refuse to grow up and refuse to take responsibility in relationships. Men, some obsessed with sex, treat women as toys to be discarded when things get complicated. Through all these different and conflicting signals, our boys must decipher what it means to be a man, and for many of them it is harder to figure out. ...

We need to respond to this culture that sends confusing signals to young men, a culture that is agnostic about what it wants men to be, with a clear and achievable notion of manhood.
The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, "Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married." It's time for men to man up.
Bill, I agree with everything you say but have to point out that telling young men, "man up!" is simply silly. You may as well tell a diabetic, "Make insulin!"

If you look at the economics of male-female relationships today (I don't mean the monetary aspects) there is not going to be a way for men to "man up" until women on the whole culture-change themselves into women worth manning up for. In short, women today are giving away what they should be charging a very high price for, and charging a high price for things that men don't much want at all. And then they look around and wonder what's wrong with this picture.

For more, see my essay, "Sex, marriage and exchange of value."

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