Men Under 40: J’accuse! (May 8, 2011)

While talking with my good friend who works in the fitness industry this week (a male, it must be noted), we found ourselves concluding that in the everlasting Battle of the Sexes, the female quotient of Generation X and ensuing batches of young people, appears to be winning – and winning handily.

Now I am know I am courting controversy with this post, and I can already read the outraged comments that I will receive, but let me make a couple points before you unleash the hounds:

  1. I am not a hard core feminist. I love men. The world needs them and for the most part, they are still the dominant producers of the world’s ideology and power structure. Whether I like that or not (usually not), I have to respect the facts.
  2. See Paragraph 1 – my indictment of the male character, in this case, is limited to men age 40 and under. I don’t pretend to understand the stolid, silent mien of my grandfather and his generation, or the blue collar gruffness of my uncles, but I’ll never accuse them of being sissies.

For the purposes of this essay, I am referencing with broad strokes (and there are of course many exceptions) the daily evidence I see of physical laziness, avoidance and lying as relationship strategies and a general inability to cope with discomfort of any kind. Don’t believe me? Here are some real world examples offered from my wanderings of the last couple of weeks:

  1. My friend in the fitness industry runs a regular Thursday night strength training class at a popular Chicago gym. On this particular evening, his pupils were all men under the age of 30. As he tried to put the group through its paces, he reported that it was the “saddest, whiniest spectacle of ‘can’t-do’” he had ever witnessed. When he repeated the same program with an all-female class at 6:30 the next morning, hardly the finest hour for most of us, each and every warrior lady made it to the end with no complaint.
  2. Any Amazing Race fans out there? If you want evidence of exactly the kind of shit I am talking about, watch this episode where “Goth” team Kent and Vyxsin continue a season’s worth of self-destruction, driven by Kent’s inability to comprehend that racing is a physical and emotional game requiring endurance and nerves of steel. After enduring his whiny, useless performance for eight weeks, I cannot help but hope that Vyxsin dumps his ass for a more robust Boy George wannabe (Boy George, who been through some adventures, would label Kent a “petulant cow”).
  3. Another man I know, age 37, is about to unleash a storybook marriage proposal on his girlfriend of two years. The moment will be fairytale in every way. The only problem is that the entire relationship is based on lies. The man is a closet smoker, drug user and womanizer, and though the couple cohabitates, he has managed to keep his true self under wraps for their entire courtship. As a woman just exiting her own committed relationship that was built on a foundation of quicksand, I see this bride-to-be’s future and it isn’t pretty.

Now of course women of my generation and beyond, myself included, are not perfect. We tend to suffer from the same type of extended adolescent wish fulfillment that appears to be the hallmark of those born after 1975. BUT (and it’s a big but) we have managed to cultivate a kind of independent cultural savviness that endows ample internal resources in the event that traditional marriage and motherhood elude. We have careers, knitting classes, bike races, girl’s night out, networking, you name it and some woman is doing it. We must deal with pain, of the internal and external variety as we endure men who don’t call, work environments where we continue to make 77 cents on the man’s dollar, and diseases that are specific to our gender (cervical, ovarian and breast cancer among others).

Meanwhile, nearly 50% of single men under 25 live rent-free and 5% percent of bachelors of all ages still call Mom to clean their house. What gives with the enfeebling of the male sex?

Thoughts? Angry missiles you want to throw at me? Let’s discuss.



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