The Pre-Adult Male: Listless And Confused

Mar 5th, 2011 | By | Category: Christian Life

One of my favorite authors is Kay M. Hymowitz.  Her written works have helped me in developing one of the major themes of Issues in Perspective?an analysis of cultural trends, especially the growing confusion of young men in American culture.  She uses the term ?pre-adult? to define a new cultural development or even a new stage in human development between the teen years and adulthood.  [Other sociologists, such as Christian Smith, have called this stage, emerging adulthood.]  Here are some of Hymowitz?s observations about pre-adulthood, based on her new book, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has turned Men into Boys.

  1. Among pre-adults, women are the first sex.  They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25-34) and 34% of women now have a bachelor?s degree compared with 27% of men.  They also have higher GPAs.
  2. Pre-adults do not know what is to come next.  For them, marriage and parenthood come in many forms, or can be skipped altogether.  In 1970, just 16% of Americans ages 25 to 29 had never been married; today an astonishing 55% have never been married in this age group.  In America, the mean age for the first marriage is now 30.
  3. ?Pre-adulthood has also confounded the primordial search for a mate.  It has delayed a stable sense of identity, dramatically expanded the pool of possible spouses, mystified courtship routines and helped to throw into doubt the very meaning of marriage.?
  4. Meanwhile, men go on struggling with an acceptable adult identity.  Women are moving ahead in an advanced economy where husbands and fathers are now optional.  The qualities of men that are needed for them to fulfill their role?fortitude, stoicism, courage and fidelity?are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.  This healthy role has now been substituted with the likes of Hollywood characters such as Jim Carrey, Will Farrell, Adam Sandler and Owen Wilson:  Frat boys who have never grown up and are enthralled with sex, NASCAR and beer.
  5. The number of single men is therefore growing in our culture.  They are ?more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers.  So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with ?Star Wars? posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we should not be surprised.?

God has given humanity clear teaching on the respective roles of a man and a woman.  When that teaching is ignored, dysfunction and catastrophe follow?a perfect description of much of America culture in 2011.

See Hymowitz?s essay in the Wall Street Journal (19-20 February 2011).

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