DELAYED DEVELOPMENT

Posted in Rants on October 6th, 2011 by Ed

Bill Bennett, as you already know, is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. His rhetorical style begins with his predetermined conclusion before devoting far more words than necessary to all types of fallacies of reasoning in an attempt to support it. Most recently he has shared his thoughts on the often bemoaned (but not actually a real thing) "Crisis of Manhood" afflicting young men today.

Long story short, women are now getting more college degrees than men, and their incomes are rising at a dramatically sharper rate. Could that second point have anything to do with the fact that female incomes are basically, you know, still catching up with males, Bill? The thing about growth rates is that they look really high when you start with such a small number. But I digress. Men aren't growing up. It's an extended, and possibly permanent, state of adolescence, as men become slackers in their twenties rather than employees, homeowners, husbands, or fathers.

The sad thing is that there is an important point to be made here, and instead Bennett is trying to twist reality around his "Men aren't manly enough anymore since women cut their balls off" thesis. The real issue, which he hints at while pointing out that 18-24 year old males play more daily hours of video games than 12-17 year olds, is much more compelling: we have entire generations of people who aren't growing up because they are not going through the normal socialization process that is supposed to follow college graduation. When U.S. News estimates that 85% – !!!! – of the Spring 2011 graduating class moved back in with their parents, we have a bigger problem here than 1970s feminists making men feel all butthurt or whatever his point is.

Two real whoppers deserve further comment:

If you don't believe the numbers, just ask young women about men today. You will find them talking about prolonged adolescence and men who refuse to grow up. I've heard too many young women asking, "Where are the decent single men?" There is a maturity deficit among men out there, and men are falling behind.

Classic Bennett, with a dash of Friedmanesque unattributed quotes from strangers for good measure. I may be biased here, but Bill, the absolute last demographic that should be consulted on issues of maturity and adulthood is Twentysomething Women. I deal with men and women in this age group all day, every day, and I have the added benefit of having just been divorced by a 28 year old who spent the majority of the seven years we were acquainted struggling with issues related to direction, motivation, and maturity. I hold this against no one. My point is simply that it's beyond comical to point to 24 year old women for commentary on the state of male maturity. If there is a maturity gap, it isn't very big. The average 24 year old woman may think it is, but part of being immature is being deluded about one's own maturity level. For every young man sitting in mom's basement playing Call of Duty, there is a female counterpart either living with the 'rents or burning through their money living the same kind of extended adolescence Bennett bemoans – spending most of her days starting a dozen new "creative" projects she'll never finish, dressing like a Ugandan refugee, and wondering why no one else is mature like her.

Then, this:

While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families.

Uh, care to cite some stats there, Bill? Women are graduating college and finding…that the job market is shit, just like it is for us grunting cavemen. Setting aside the fact that women are more likely than men to get degrees in fields with little income potential – Again, I don't judge. I have two political science degrees and I earn exactly shit. – how does the fact that they have pulled ahead in degrees granted lead to the assumption that they are "finding good jobs"? Again, what we have here is an economic issue that Bennett is somehow trying to make a gender issue.

It isn't. It's a symptom of a larger problem: that young people are graduating college but continuing to live and act like children. Why wouldn't they? They're not earning anything, so they continue the Broke Undergrad lifestyle to which they are accustomed. They don't have jobs to force them into an "adult" routine of hauling their asses to work and back every day, for better or worse. They fail to become financially or emotionally independent of their families. They lack the means to take on responsibilities like home ownership, marriage, or parenting even if they were motivated to do so. But they lack motivation because they graduate into a world that has nothing for them except "No Vacancy" signs. Twentysomethings are disturbingly immature, perhaps even more so than in past generations, because they cannot get onto the conveyor belt that takes people to the kind of job-kids-spouse-house version of adulthood that Bennett believes they need.

Oh, and despite all that growth, women still earn less than men across the board.

But other than that, great points, Bill.