Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where Have The Good Women Gone?

Among the links at Instapundit discussing Kay S Hymowitz's book Manning Up; How The Women's Movement Has Turned Men Into Boys and her WSJ article this weekend "Where Have All The Good Men Gone?" was one to The Art of Manliness site, a personal favorite of mine. An excellent short take on the topic.

The topic of boys becoming men, and whether particular individuals are on schedule, has occupied much of my thought these past 30+ years, especially the last 10 (and the next 5, I'll bet), and I have shared the worrying concern that the grim statistics reveal. Yet might I mention that because of the boys and their friends, I have also had a fair bit of exposure to young women, and their behavior is uh, not uniformly encouraging either. Apparently it is impolite to mention this.

Also, any reading of history suggests that young men and young women have always presented much the same difficulty. There is a narrative, much beloved of sentimentalists and conservatives - I'm not implying any particular correlation there; it might be negative - that in the Good Old Days young people knew that life was hard and grew up quickly, taking responsibility for repairing the pigs or darning the buckboard or whatever, so that papa and mama would be able to work 30 hours a day at the vegetable mines and make some money.

This is certainly true in comparison to the present day, for if there is anything we know about history, it is that people mostly starved, were exploited, and died young. Working hard was not a matter of good character, but mere survival. But most of the stories today of folks remembering their own childhood and the stories of their parent's are subject to selective bias. People who became successful enough to write for a national audience, remembering themselves and their circle, portray a society of industrious, responsible young people - not like you slacking whippersnappers today, dammit.

But the historical record is also full of bastardy and abandonment, murder, robbery - all those things mentioned in the folk songs, actually.

Well, I do social histories on people as part of my job and have been doing so for thirty years. A psychiatric facility is very much a restricted sample of another sort, but not so much as you'd think. There have been 18,000 separate individuals admitted to our facility over that time, and we get a fair bit of information about their families as well. So perhaps 5% of the population have something of themselves in our records - which is part of why confidentiality is such a big deal to us. That 5% is certainly slanted toward those homes your mother wouldn't let you visit, which had forgotten until I just reminded you, but we also know a fair bit about the dark underside of some of the prominent attorneys, physicians, college professors, business owners, and other respectable people. And I don't just mean that they happened to have a child or a spouse who hit a bad patch in the genetic lottery and have some sad condition. The full display of incest, violence, addiction, and criminality of even the elite runs through our histories.

From those data bases, let me assure you that youthful irresponsibility, in more than a Disney sense of stealing muskmelons or putting glue on Miss McDonald's chair, is not confined to the present age. Nor is it confined to young men. Women may have some different pathologies - perhaps, sadly, complementary pathologies - but they can be just as damaging.

I sometimes point out that the most economical explanation of societal change since the 1950's is that teenagers had discretionary income for the first time in history. Most pathologies could be at least theoretically explained by that - even the sexual ones. And we note that the few individuals in history who also had discretionary income as teenagers acted just about as irresponsibly as anyone we've got now. When I consider the lives of my grandfathers, I doubt I could endure it. Yet clearly, I could have. There is nothing they had genetically that I don't have. The need brings such responsibilities forth.

Which suggests the lack of need suppresses them as less necessary, but they are there if the need arises.


Anna said...

I love Art of Manliness!

In parallel, I really wish some women out there would start a fad of tackling women's inherent issues, like cattiness, backstabbing, passive aggression, selfishness, and abject shallowness. Of course most girls are taught that nothing is wrong with them, ever.

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation but then I have to remind myself that people always were this awful and always will be.

Dubbahdee said...

Regarding growing up. A recent conversation with my oldest daughter about drivers license (3 years away):

D: When you get your license, our auto insurance costs will increase dramatically.

E: Why?

D: Because 16 year olds are stupid.

E: Thanks Dad.

D: Nothing personal. All 16 year olds are stupid. I was stupid when I was 16. It's just the nature of things.

E: Nothing personal?

D: No. And it may be small comfort to know that older people are also stupid. People are just stupid generally. The difference is that as you get older, the kind of stupidity changes. It tends to be less immediately life-threatening, and tends more toward the kind of stupidity that merely ruins your life -- or what's left of it. Insurance companies don't care about that.

That gave her something to chew on.

Sam L. said...

Dubbahdee, You picked the right words of wisdom to get her attention, pique her interest, and explain that life may not get much better, just different.

I salute you!

Michael said...

When it comes to young women, I have some anecdotal evidence of a behavioral shift. I have worked at suspending driver's licenses for 13 years now. When I started this work, young women comprised about 20% of our customers. I believe it has increased to about 35%. That would indicate a disposition to riskier behaviors by those young women over that time frame. I'm not certain how that applies to life in general, but the lower insurance rates for young women vs. young men seems to have less statistical basis than it used to. And, Dubbahdee, based on my day to day contact with teenagers, you are right: they are stupid!

Anonymous said...

A couple years ago, my husband and I could no longer avoid it and found ourselves having to go into the local mall. We went into the closest entrance to the store we needed to visit and stepped onto the escalator. What's the first thing people do when they step onto an escalator? Look up, of course. And so I did. I saw it a fraction of a second before my husband and was able to warn him not to look up. What was there? A teen girl and her mother at the top, about to step off. The girl was wearing a small piece of cloth that may have been sold as a skirt but really wasn't. Even more, she was sporting a hot pink thong. Soo, not only did her skirt not cover her butt but the thong allowed her cheeks free rein. I'm sure her mother was very proud.
Anyway, my immediate concern was to keep my husband from looking up, lest the mother look down and see him and yell that he was visually molesting her innocent-young-thang daughter.
Every time I hear some studly father talk about polishing his shotgun when his precious baby girl's boyfrined stops by, I think of that girl. And that is why I insist on meeting the girls that my sons go out with, just in case. Not every teenaged boy is after Bambi's virginity but not every young girl is guarding it either.

JKB said...

There is also the flip side, this is the first time in history that adults have had the discretion to take over and do whatever the older kid is trying to do, i.e., remove responsibility. Same coin, different side, the kid isn't permitted to fail, which means he/she cannot be permitted to try hard. Which means they don't know real, unguided accomplishment.

I had babies sent to me, some with Master's degrees. It was frustrating being forced to raise other people's kids, but I'm happy to say that when left with a standard they were to meet, but provide the tools and instruction in how to meet it, they stepped up. Even on, I was on the verge of grinding into the deck plates but finally produced for another.

When childhood ends at 30 and so many, now old people, early baby boomers are eager to do for them instead of teach them, why are people surprised at the current state of youth?

Anonymous said...

it seems all the decent women left out there have been taken. as a straight man that was married twice, i was a very caring and loving husband that never cheated on them. however, they did cheat on me. this made me very upset, because i was a very happily married man at the time. now that i go out a lot again, i seem to meet all the very nasty ones and never the good ones. a lot of them out there now, will dress and act like pigs which makes it worse. are there any decent women left out there for us good men? i would like to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

a lot of women out there now have a very bad attitude towards us men. they dress and act like pigs now more than ever. as a straight man, trying to meet decent women has become a challenge for me. they are very disrespectful,when i try to start a conversation with them. then again, i see it happening to other men as well. years ago, they were much more friendlier and they were a lot easier to meet. the problem now is that there are much more women that are lesbians today.