Sunday, March 25, 2012

Response: Why Guys Won’t Grow Up

( @phillymag, #guys )



The cover story of the March issue of Philadelphia magazine "researches the problem” of Why Guys Won’t Grow Up. This post is my response to the article. If you haven’t read it, please click on the link and then come back here.

Did you read it?

Ok fine, I will give you a short summary. Author Sandy Hingston lays out the lives of local young men who want sex with no relationships, plays video games all day, and of course have no jobs (or no careers). So what is my take on the article? Sandy Hingston is an alarmist trying to sell magazines.

This is the second time I have found issue with one of her articles (and it wasn’t like I opened the magazine seeking her out; I read the article, found it to be distasteful and then checked the last time I wrote a response to a Philly magazine article and behold... it is the same author!). It is just shitty journalism. She has an angle (guys are immature) and finds lame examples that support her claims. Allow me break down her examples:

1. 24-year-old Conner works part time as a blogger and lives with mom and dad. He doesn’t want to give up on his dream to be a journalist (and he is portrayed as arrogant because of this).

Conner is $100,000 in debt for his degree. His profession of choice is dying. Yet he manages to find a job working in this field 30 hours a week. I don’t think this is a shining example of failure or lack of motivation. Could he work another part time job to supplement his income? Yes. But if he went out and got an apartment that difference would be a wash.

So is Conner a loser for living with his parents at 24? Interesting question. I lived with my parents when I was 24. I worked 80-120 hours a week and opened a side business. I basically slept there and it was a place for my stuff until things calmed down. I also felt that renting was wasting money and the housing market was on a high that would crash (I was right about that, so I didn’t strap myself into a house that I overpaid for). I was able to save up enough money for a down payment and buy a car outright.

So is it wrong for a kid to come home from college after they incurred a massive amount of tuition debt and have slim employment options? I don’t think so. Going home for a few years to save some money is smart, and I know plenty of girls who are in exactly the same situation. I think making kids feel like failures for going home is setting them up for years of financial frustration. And if someone pulls the “in my day, once you left the house, you don’t come back” line - I would like to point out that the cost of college has proportionally increased 375% since 1980.

2. Hingston then mentions how it is a bad thing that men are getting married later and having milestones later in life.

First I would like to point out that men have to get married to another person, if men are getting married later, it is reasonable to assume that women are also doing so? Why is there an assumption that men are at fault? Factor in that the divorce rate is at 40.7% and the trends are only expected to increase, wouldn’t that give anyone a moment to really think about getting married?

This generation is the generation raised on divorce. Perhaps young adults just don’t want to make the same mistakes their parents did. Walking into a marriage with $150,000 in combined college debt is not a great way to start a life together. This is the accepted reality: you go to school, get in debt, get married (borrowing money for a nice wedding), and then strap yourself down to even more debt with a house and big fat mortgage.

PS: Considering that women also spend all this money on school, I can't imagine the first thing they want to do once they graduate is get married and start having babies.

3. Women are surpassing men in many success indicators

The statistics have to show this, there is nowhere to go but up. In the 1950’s, women made up about 16% of the workforce. Women currently make up 47.6%. So yeah - women are making a push to get what they deserve, and statistically that has to come at the expense at the other side of the pie chart.... which is men.

4. The example of James, 31, unemployed and living with his parents.

James is a self-centered ass (which I am sure Sandy encouraged to get gems like "I guess I am a catch"). Congratulations, you found someone to prove your point. I know three 30-year-old+ women who are currently unemployed and living with their parents.

5. This whole end section where it seems that decent men are so rare they should be studied (the typo is from the website and I am keeping it in):

Shaun Harper’s had a smart idea. There are young men out there, he says, who manage somehow to navigate the harrowing voyage through American culture and come out as “good guys”—men who drink responsibly, respect women, and behave in anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-homophobic ways. So he’s studying them: “We have a national study of mostly white, heterosexual men at large, mostly white universities with large fraternity systems”—schools like Penn State. He’s looking at how these “good men” develop and perform their masculinities in a culture where bad behavior is rewarded and admired. If he can identify what they share, he says, we can work to replicate it.
Really? Out of the hundreds of people that I know, I can count the degenerates with one hand. Once again Hingston twists quotes and “facts” to make it seem that there is some epidemic and actual “intellectuals” are looking into the “problem”.

The bottom line is that the unspoken social pact in America has been broken. The dream of going to college for four years, getting a decent job with benefits and a pension, and moving up the ranks to that corner office is dead and gone... boy or girl, it doesn’t matter. Our reality is that jobs are disappearing and will continue to do so, not just because of a bad economy but also due to innovation and automation.

The women that Hingson interviewed in this article talk about men being “immature” and “not wanting relationships” but the truth is that these kids can’t afford to be in relationships (hence free internet porn). I guess saying you spent the weekend watching every episode of "Lost" on Netflix eating a giant bag of generic brand popcorn because you can afford your cell bill isn't very attractive, but that is reality.



Sandy gets into this sour section towards the end of the article about the “downfall of men” - to quote Fight Club: “We are a generation of men raised by women.” I have written about this in the past, but once again I read about how women are lamenting the passing of a “real man” yet the iconic brute is held up as an example of what not to do. Schools are developing all kinds of policies to prevent “boys from being boys” (or actually exhibiting any kind of emotion). Sandy my dear - if you don’t like the way boys are acting, perhaps you should turn your critical lense on your own gender and document what exactly is an ideal sustainable lifestyle today.

NOTE: I am fully aware that by bringing attention to this article, I am giving Hingston and the magazine exactly what they want. However, I think that Philadelphia Magazine is losing the long term game because I am not sure who the hell they are writing this magazine for. I don't think it is people my age...

One would assume it is for young-ish people who have disposable income that will read the mag's articles about local attractions and make the ad space worth something. Instead they ignore those readers and court older people who go to Park on Sundays for brunch hoping to see former Mayor Rendell stare at some nouveau-riche divorcee's breasts and read articles about leaving the city to spend money somewhere else (pgs 76-81).


One more thing: If you agree with my response, do me a favor and retweet this article and please include @phillymag, I would love to see if I can get a response.