“Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad.” – George Bernard Shaw
The manosphere has fired on all cylinders this week concerning Kay Hymowitz’s forthcoming book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys and Sunday Wall Street Journal article entitled “Where Have All The Good Men Gone?”
I first saw discussion of the issue at Dr Helen late last week, and by the time Monday rolled around it had been posted on by Whiskey, Captain Capitalism, Crime & Federalism and Ferdinand Bardamu (the latter in spectacular fashion) and obliquely referenced by Roissy.
It is not what you would call a well-constructed argument. Hymowitz complains that young women are having difficulty finding “quality” men to date and marry – hasn’t this topic been done, I don’t know, every generation since Christ? – and that the solution is that men need to change themselves into something the women want, because otherwise the women will be unhappy. There’s an imperative for men to “man up,” but there’s a seemingly-intentional obfuscation of the underlying issues and there’s no concrete advice for what anybody is supposed to do about it – least of all the men at the center of it. To her, manhood is defined as doing what a woman wants.
I hesitated to even respond to the piece, thinking that not giving such nonsense any attention at all might be the best policy; I have decided that such a misguided work deserved a first-class fisking, the mother of all digital examinations.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: MISANDRIST MENDACITY, AND SLOPPY AT THAT
Hymowitz’s “Real Man” shtick is unabashed shaming, highly solipsistic and a case study in collective projection. If you don’t have time to read the rest of the post you can really stop here. It’s Hannah Rosin’s “The End of Men” with extra shaming and some extremely flimsy cultural commentary mixed in, and is completely oriented towards the interests of women with zero concern for what men might want.
In a circumlocutious re-statement of “men are intimidated by strong successful women,” Hymowitz wants us to believe that men are cowering in fear of women’s rise in the workplace and retreating to the basement where they play WoW and jerk off to porn until the wee hours.
She takes anecdotal stories of young urban women who choose to date losers and turns it into a problem with men instead of a profound lack of judgment on the girls’ part. While she does a pedestrian but adequate job of documenting the gains of women and the decline of men in today’s white-collar economy (again, nothing Rosin hasn’t already done) she offers zero evidence that there is any kind of epidemic of “slacker males” refusing to get a job and living in their parents’ basements by choice. (Considering we just had a census, one would think this evidence wouldn’t be difficult to dig up.)
She then asks us to presume that the first issue causes the second, a pretty simple correlation-causation fallacy that wouldn’t be true even if she had given us hard evidence for slacker syndrome.
There’s also a heaping helping of subtextual “men are afraid of commitment.” We know how this story ends; it’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity.
In the end, Hymowitz is telling us that women are entitled to a husband they want to be with, and that if guys don’t “step up” to fit the bill they’re bad men.
Hymowitz is completely clueless about how men work, what they want, what they perceive in society, and the elephant in the room that drives her ilk’s frustration – female hypergamy, the force that makes more and more men unattractive to them.
Put simply, Kay Hymowitz is every beta’s mom, telling men “you just have to work harder, get a better job, show a woman she’s special and be more roMAAAANtic!” If anything she will just create another generation of sucker chumps unable to attract women and the girls will scream even louder.
For the record, an “adult” is someone who pays their bills and obeys the law. Anything else is a lifestyle choice in a free country. Hymowitz’s statements about male culture are breathtakingly arrogant and sexist. For the past few years she has fretted publicly about “child-men,” by which she means guys who aren’t interested in the things women do.
With women, you could argue that adulthood is in fact emergent. Single women in their twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends. Single Young Males, or SYMs, by contrast, often seem to hang out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3, and, in many cases, underachieving. With them, adulthood looks as though it’s receding.
What is this tripe? What kind of world does she live in where shopping, traveling and eating out are expressions of mature adulthood and not consumerist frivolities? How on Earth is the trash marketed to women on TV and in magazines (Cosmopolitan has the highest circulation of any magazine in the country) more mature than homebound diversions like video games? Not to mention that apparently women never drink alcohol. What solipsistic world is this woman living in?
Come to think of it, why don’t we examine that question right now.
KAY HYMOWITZ’S AMERICA
I am fairly certain, as has been discussed on the Dr Helen thread, that Hymowitz is living in her own fishbowl. A quick look at Hymowitz’s resume reveals a uniform pattern. Bachelor’s from Brandeis, Master’s in English from Tufts, aborted an English doctoral program at Columbia, teaching posts at Brooklyn College and Parsons, and now writing for City Journal and working at something called the Manhattan Institute. She’s spent her entire adult life in highly-educated Boston and New York humanities sectors – which means a general dearth of men, a preponderance of soft beta guys, and continuous exposure to hordes of young women writing and editing by day and living the “city life” and dating for the tingle by night. In short, her cross-generational coffee klatch covers the very thin demographic of educated middle-upper class East Coast urban women. Wannabe Carrie Bradshaws.
Her whole life has probably involved watching well-educated, reasonably attractive women date bad boys and losers, then complaining they won’t “commit,” then complaining they can’t find a good man, then later complaining they’ve “settled.” (As she gets older she gets the stories from assistants and mentees instead of direct colleagues but the profiles are the same).
She can’t possibly turn against the sisterhood, so the only people left to blame are men, and she probably has little if any contact with young men in a way that might open her mind to their concerns.
This should really end the discussion right now; Hymowitz is not qualified to make a social-science argument about the issue, and she lacks the perspective to make a humanistic one. The point is not whether she’s right or wrong; it’s that she quite literally doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
My suspicions of Hymowitz’s myopia were all but confirmed with her galactically stupid decision to cite a book about riding the cock carousel in the second paragraph of her WSJ story. But that she does, approvingly quoting Julie Klausner’s “I Don’t Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I’ve Dated” – a documentation of the pervasive depravity of young urban women’s sexual decision-making.
Klausner says “we are sick of hooking up with guys,” but like Hymowitz, acts as if these men passed through a membrane into her bed and that she had nothing to do with who she chooses to date and who she decides to screw. Amazingly, one woman’s decade of slutting it up indicates a crisis of American masculinity.
Klausner is an idiot, and unfortunately all too typical in today’s SMP, falling in with the strangest of characters for the slightest of reasons and apparently expecting they will magically transform into suburban family men on her whim. (You didn’t have to buy Klausner’s book, though – a good review of field reports from game websites will tell you the same thing.)
By citing this book, I can only think Hymowitz accepts the worldview that a woman should ride the carousel, “have her fun,” when she’s young, and then expect a willing “commitment man” to appear on cue when her eggs begin to get overripe. (She’d probably say that’s what men do so men should be OK with women doing it too).
Aunt Kay is embarrassing herself giving into not just anecdotalism as hysteria, but also into the contradictory and one-sided expectations of the young women who surround her. If there ever was a halcyon “back in the day” for marital relations, a woman of Hymowitz’s age and stature would have told these entitled princesses “girl, you better chill out and show some respect for yourself or no man worth his salt is going to want to marry you.”
Fast-forward to today, and instead they define what the women want as “right” (of course reserving the right to change their minds) and pen books about how bad men are when they can’t get what they want.
THE BIG LIE
Hymowitz agitates that male indolence is due to “uncertainty about the role of men.” That’s a very clever sidestep of what’s really going on. Aunt Kay seems to think that if we issued a pamphlet dictating the terms of manliness (like Joycelyn Elders wanted to do with masturbation) they would hop, skip and jump into meeting the checklist. In effect, men aren’t “men” because we aren’t demanding enough of them.
Collective nagging as social policy – what a crock. Some nebulous “uncertainty” is not the core problem. Hymowitz and her ilk’s hamsters can’t bear to admit the real truth: men know what is expected of them, think it sucks, don’t find it rewarding (it certainly isn’t getting them laid) and have turned away from fulfilling other people’s (i.e. women’s) laundry lists of what they are “supposed” to do to win the imprimatur of “manhood.”
CONFUSING THINGS TO MAKE A POINT (WHO SAID CONSISTENCY WAS A VIRTUE?)
Hymowitz can’t keep straight three distinct groups of men.
- Alphas: attractive men who “won’t commit” (women fight over them)
- Betas: stable, employed men women find unattractive and don’t want to date (they are all but invisible to women)
- Omegas: men without hope, truly unemployed and living in someone else’s house, sometimes for sloth but often because they cannot find a job in today’s economy (punchlines for jokes about “failure to launch” and how men are losers)
She discusses at length the falling economic prospects for betas and omegas, but when she talks about “manning up” she and all the other girls really want the alphas to “commit.” In this manner there’s a conflation, a blurring, of the three groups that ensures the message is as muddled as possible.
Hymowitz also mixes up two female mental processes:
- Female commitment-phobia and choice addiction: “I want to try out all my options but there aren’t enough quality men to choose from!”
- Dating men who are not selected for marital potential (following the tingle)
The first is something a young woman is going to have to get accustomed to if she truly wants a good man, because they do not grow on trees. The second is why making more “good men” will not solve the problem of the Klausners of the world – if you aren’t in the market for the product, more supply makes no difference to you.
DR HELEN AND TOM LEYKIS CLIPS
When Kay Hymowitz penned her original “Child-Man” article in 2008, Dr. Helen Smith took the article apart on Pajamas Media, calling out its blatant misandry, insulting tone and complete lack of actual contact with men. The comment thread saw over 250 posts. Helen posted an update that Kay Hymowitz had emailed her:
“Given the hundreds of messages I’ve gotten from men concerning my recent City Journal article, I wasn’t surprised to see your post. And I have to say, while I stand by my description of the child man culture and still believe that young women’s complaints about the guys out there are based on some truth, I made a mistake in not exploring the male view.
At any rate, my next piece will be about exactly that. (Your comments section will probably help me.) I knew some men were angry, but I didn’t understand the depth and extent of their rage. I don’t think many people do.
A Chastened Kay Hymowitz “
Who does she think she’s kidding with this non-apology apology? Notice the double-down on shaming – it’s not that men are passionately responding to being baselessly attacked; they have deep and extensive irrational “rage.” Note also her primary deference to “young women’s complaints” as they are the only ones that matter. Unreal.
A more animated exchange took place between Hymowitz and male-interest radio host Tom Leykis.
Hymowitz reaffirmed that all of her sources about young men are the complaints of young women. She admits that men are getting a raw deal in family courts, but blames it on a “self-perpetuating cycle of men who are not appealing to women as possible husbands” – in other words, it’s their fault the women divorce them. Are women accountable for anything in this woman’s paradigm?
An erstwhile defender of the single male lifestyle, Leykis pressed her on why men who have jobs and pay their bills should be concerned about what other people think of their leisure pursuits. She could only respond, with a nervous chuckle, “well women are pretty unhappy with it…they’re looking for husbands and where are you?” That reveals everything.
A DISPATCH FROM THE TRENCHES
I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t cite the input of men myself. Here’s a comment left on the Wall Street Journal article by a man identifying himself as one Stephen Boswell:
“I can only speak for myself. But I’m in my early 40s, I’m unmarried, and I doubt I’ll ever marry, given that no woman has ever shown any interest in my good qualities.
One big reason seems to be the fallout of the “women’s liberation” movement. I have nothing at all against women wanting to assert themselves and not be servants to domineering men. I can totally see that point of view. But in practice, it seems to have gone far beyond “liberation” and straight into “vengeance”. Wanting to be equal is one thing; hating men for merely existing is something entirely different.
Another big reason seems to be the lack of successful career paths for college-educated middle-class males (like myself). I got my degree in Computer Science, had a career for about eight years, and then the dot-com bubble burst, followed quickly by the whole “outsourcing” phenomenon. I’ve been scrounging ever since. These days, there are very few middle-class careers that can’t be outsourced, and most of them have, and the few remaining that can’t be (e.g. government service) are being attacked as the problem (witness what’s happing in Wisconsin right now). In short, I couldn’t support a wife and family with my crappy excuse for a career, and I have no idea what I should do instead of what I’m doing now.
The last reason sounds darker, but after being unemployed for a few years, I believe I can back it up with experience….I really think that modern women prefer to date losers. I’ve received nothing but mocking ridicule in response to most of my romantic overtures. However, during the years where I was unemployed, living in my mother’s spare room, working as a handyman (and anything else I could find) just to live…I received more romantic interest than during the rest of my life put together. Maybe women deliberately date losers in order to foster their superior “liberated” attitude…I really don’t know. But the difference in the way women treated me when I was an unemployed loser was like night and day.
In summary…women can’t find good men because women don’t want good men, and aren’t honest enough with themselves to admit it.”
Does this sound like a “child-man” to you, a guy running from commitment and family, a guy who is driven to regressive despair because he can’t bear the idea he might have to report to a woman at the office?
Hardly. This is a guy beaten down for decades by the system, who did everything his elders told him he’d have to do to secure a reasonably happy life of financial security and the comforts of a mutually loving partner.
Any one of thousands – millions, probably – of compliant, hard-working beta men who have come up losers in modern society could have written this comment.
So if women want to ask where the good men are, they’re working hard for the money while you’re blowing the bass player.
AN UNINTENDED CALL TO ACTION
Hymowitz’s argument, with its one-sided perspective, disregard for the realities of the sexual marketplace, and blame-shifting to men is, both personally and intellectually, deeply insulting. But it’s something more.
What if they had a gender war, and the men actually showed up? What if Lysistrata was played out in reverse, with the men saying “you girls are not worth our time, let alone our investment; we’re not going to deal with you at all”?
The WSJ article has 1200 comments on it to date, and based on my skimming, I’d say 80% of respondents are men and 90% of them (male or female) are critical of the male-bashing. As Ferdinand Bardamu said:
This is momentous. As recently as a couple of years ago, an article like this would have gone unnoticed by men, part of the white noise of misandry blasted into our ears all the time. Now, whenever women like Hymowitz rear their ugly faces to condescend and blame us for the country’s ills, there’s a horde of angry men to descend upon them and drop truth bombs until they cry. A sea change is occurring, with the ideas of the manosphere leaking out into the public at large. It’s men – on strike!
It’s hard for me to believe Hymowitz’s book is going to lead to the change she wants. The most likely scenario is a huge backfire and further alienation of young adults across gender lines.
- The young middle-upper class women to whom the book speaks will read it as a confirmation of their status quo: “she’s right, I’m AWESOME, it’s the men who need to change to meet my demands! It’s their fault I haven’t found Mr Right!”
- Manosphere readers and red-pillers will react with even more contempt towards society and distrust towards women.
- Some betas (chumps) will be convinced they aren’t doing enough supplicating, and double down on their betatude with predictable tingle-free results.
- The rest of the betas will get fed up with women giving them advice that doesn’t work to attract women, give it up and go ghost. Or follow in Mystery and Roissy’s footsteps and become the alphas women complain about but sleep with beforehand.
PRETENDING YOU’RE NOT THE PROBLEM
A real effort at this very complex issue of the young adult SMP would include, among other things, toning down misandrist advertising, re-valorizing masculinity at the expense of “you go girl” gender feminism, disincentivizing credentialization so that young people get out of school and begin their real lives earlier, cutting down middle-class material expectations and control-freaking, and discouraging sexual madness (no more “have your fun”).
It’s doubtful much if any of this would be put into place, but Hymowitz doesn’t even want to try. Instead, she would rather pray to Tinkerbell and Jiminy Cricket. If she just wishes hard enough and writes enough articles about it, she won’t have to give up the goodies of the revolution or repudiate the disgusting excesses of the free-sex culture – good and ready men will simply appear out of the ether into Central Park, marry all of her young friends and protect them from their hypergamously-imposed twin prisons of Settling and Spinterism.