Customer Reviews: Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys
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on March 28, 2012
The biggest problem with this book is not its failure to present a problem, but its failure to present it in a way people will take it seriously.

Her thesis breaks down like this:

1. Feminism elevated women to new opportunities they did not have before the 1960s, most notably in the workplace, but also in their ability to hold off on having children.

2. The change in our economy from manufacturing towards a service economy (which the author refers to as a Knowledge Economy) has meant a shift towards an economy that favors women based on their social tendencies and natural abilities. This, combined with a female-centric education system and popular culture, has made American society into a woman's world.

3. Men grow up in this society with little expected of them. And Adam Sandler movies are stupid.

4. Despite their newfound economic independence, women still possess a great desire to marry up, meaning that men in their 20s, unless they have high status, likely will not be able to attract desirable mates until their 30s when the pool of available men begins to dry up. So women don't need men, but still want a man who earns more than hey do.

5. Women love jerks, because jerks are dominant. This is despite the fact that jerks are incapable of ever being anything other than jerks. Modern dating culture, which has always encouraged caddish behavior from men, now encourages women to be equally promiscuous. The rise of Game theory encourages elaborate seduction techniques to trick women into bed. In other words, we're just doing what chimps do.

6. Assuming a modern man overcomes all of this and finds a woman willing to grace him with being married to her, he will still be treated as a stupid, incompetent and potentially dangerous fifth wheel. Although he will be expected to treat his wife as an absolute equal, he will always be viewed as unnecessary and disposable. And if the marriage ends, his ex will probably consume him like a virus. This is why many men are opting out of marriage and family altogether. Society cannot survive without the willingness of men to sacrifice themselves for the, um, greater good.

7. More women are deciding to become mothers on their own, aided by a culture that openly believes fathers to be unnecessary or even harmful.

8. Conclusion- women have no vested interest in giving up their power and privilege, so we're out of luck. Women just need to be more realistic about the cold hard facts of fertility. And men just need to grow up, or something.

Like the blind men with the elephant, Hymowitz gets the problem partially right, particularly in the area of fathers. The simple fact is that generally, large numbers of single mothers have never been good for any society, because historically they have depended on the charity of others to survive. While one might argue that today's educated western woman has fundamental advantages over past generations, no one could seriously argue that it is better, barring abuse or other destructive behavior, to grow up without a father, be it through divorce or illigitimacy. And she rightly states that a man with a family is much more motivated to act responsibly, if for no other reason than a duty to provide for and protect his children.

Unfortunately, she fails to make the case for why single men should care. Assuming that Ms. Hymowitz is correct, and society truly views men with such blatant contempt, then why should any man sacrifice his financial and physical security for the good of those who despise him? And more to the point, why is it the business of Ms. Hymowitz, or any other person, what a grown man chooses to do with his own life? How is it a social ill for an ethical, responsible, law-abiding man to decide he's better off on his own? Such a man hurts no one with his choice; indeed, he simply removes himself, without rancor or malice, from the company of those who consider him an inferior to be exploited.

Only the very religious could reasonably be expected to even aspire to any level of selflessness, or toward an ideal of the altruistic hero. Ironically, it is this very ideal, which drove men of the past to stand against the Persians or write the Declaration of Independence, that now seems to find itself walking into the twilight of a culture built on contempt toward men. And those most able to do anything about it are the ones least willing to change.

If Ms. Hymowitz seriously wants to reverse the decay of the American family, then she will need to do better than accusing men of being babies. Indeed, single men should care about the destruction of the family, because all those fatherless children will bring their issues back on the next generation of citizens. But again, this is just empty talk to the ears of a single man who sees marriage as a parasitic infection into his wallet and his freedom.

If a man is to be convinced that marriage is good for him, American women might try boycotting shows that glorify the sexual injury and mutilation of men as a comic device. They might consider changing the channel when the idiot-man commercial comes on. They might try advocating for family laws that treat the bond between a father and his children like the beautiful, sacred thing it is. They might lobby for the reform of an education system that by all measurable standards favors girls over boys, and as a result creates an ever-shrinking pool of marriageable men. By simply being kind to men, women could make marriage worth it.

But there's the irony- women, who would actually benefit from a culture that values men, don't seem all that interested in doing anything different. Or at least, not enough of them have made their vioces heard. Even though man-haters comprise such a tiny percent of the female population, their ideals have permeated our culture for the last 40 years, and will continue to do so until the good women of this country break their silence, and decide that they want their husbands and sons to have some worth. The modern American woman has a choice to make between standing up for the men in her life, or respecting their decision to be left alone. Or, as Huey Lewis put it, "Let me go... Or make me want to stay."
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on July 14, 2013
Kay seems to believe that women are entitled to a man who will support them in marriage and after divorce. Women are entitled to take a man's children and demand that he hand over his paycheck until they're grown. Women are entitled to men who are willing to go die for them. Women are also entitled to reject men entirely if they so choose. But men are entitled to none of it.

Instead, men should be happy to find a promiscuous tart who already has a couple of kids for him to support and who will live with him just long enough to produce a couple more before leaving him and claiming that she is now entitled to half his stuff and lifelong support payments under threat of allegations that he was abusive.

Sorry Kay, men don't want the nightmare offered by the modern, liberated women. Men are finding that shucking to role of provider and protector is quite liberating. They don't have to grow up as fast. They don't have to work as hard. They can actually enjoy life. Not only that, but because young women have become such promiscuous sluts, men can "hook up" with as many or as few as they like and the kept woman and all the baggage that comes with her is just as irrelevant to the young man as a bicycle to a fish.
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on March 2, 2011
Manning Up is the latest addition to the seemingly endless stream of books which examines the inadequacy of men. What sets it apart from the typical feminist screed is a tone that is neither triumphalist nor bitter. It's not at all surprising that Hymowitz is married and has children; even when criticizing man for his childish ways, she's cognizant of the precarious position in which he finds himself. That her book fails to convince is a point against it but it contains enough truth to be mined by the attentive reader. In a future effort, the author herself may buttress her inadequate solution by offering advice for women, who have created their own misfortune.

Hymowitz provides a good sketch of how we have arrived at the present predicament. In her writings on the successes of feminism, she deserves special credit for singling out the role played by "nineteenth- and twentieth-century market capitalism" in building "foundations of the New Girl Order." She notes that, increasingly, women are succeeding in the "knowledge economy", while men are falling behind--opting out as they either lack the skills or the ambition to compete. Such women are not inclined to notice--let alone date--those men who prefer bumming around in basements. These trends are disconcerting because of female preferences: women tend to date men of higher status. Success, then, seems to reduce the pool of available men. But--and this is important--this occurs only because women are reluctant to alter their preferences to date a less desirable man.

Although Hymowitz focuses on the alienation men have experienced, and rightly notes that the trend goes back more than a century, she doesn't seem to recognize its fundamental importance. If a boy is reasonably smart, he soon realizes that school is dull--college, too. His job may be no better, but at least it provides him with a paycheck. If he is married, he will work hard to provide for his wife and kids. Since he is not married, he takes to video games. The reason for his situation is important: the women his age are excitedly embarking on their own careers which provide "glamor, passion, and a life fully lived" and have no interest in settling down just yet.

Men have trouble relating to this passion for one's career. It's not that men cannot succeed; it's that he can see little reason to do so. The highly structured world women have created is, to put it mildly, frustrating for men. Contrary to Hymowitz's assertions, there is little room for genuine creativity, only the contrived and useless kind that allows one to decide which colors to use in a PowerPoint layout. If Hymowitz is disappointed that child-men are opting out, men are flabbergasted that anyone would consider something so transient as a "career" to be fulfilling. As Lester Freamon puts it, "The job will not save you."

In this vein, it remains unclear why the way of woman is superior to the way of men. Granted that drinking beer and reading Maxim is not the summum bonum, is it any worse than lighting scented candles and reading chick lit? It's one thing to set aside marriage prospects to work as a doctor in the third world, another entirely to work as a "diversity administrator" or a "compensation consultant" so that one can acquire another pair of shoes. That men do not need to work themselves ragged to achieve their goals might merely demonstrate resourcefulness and contentedness.

Hymowitz wants the child-men to man up so that women don't have to become spinsters or "choice mothers" at the expense of their careers. Might women alter their own behavior? "[T]he economic and cultural changes are too embedded, and, for women especially, too beneficial to reverse." So the answer is no. Although it is women who are becoming disenchanted with the way things are, and although it is women who have created this situation, it is men who ought to change.

And they are to change precisely when women are ready. Supposing men, many of whom are more or less invisible to women, set aside any resentment and dutifully marry the first woman who deigns to notice him in accordance with the ticking of her biological clock, would manning up thus set society to rights? Or would it merely reinforce the behavior of women? It's possible that the growing population of cat ladies will serve as a reminder to their younger sisters that beauty fades, and that it is often foolish to string along good men in the hopes of attaining a better one. Absent the spinsters, women will continue to behave irrationally, confident that men will save them from their duplicity. It's hard to fault the man who does not wish to play the fool.
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on May 22, 2011
Kay Hymowitz's piece for the Wall Street Journal, titled "Where Have The Good Men Gone?" drew a lot of criticism from men and women alike. It's old news now, but I just got around to reading her book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys.

With either help or direction from her publishers, Hymowitz baited readers with a yellow op-ed, insulting cover art and a goading thesis. At least Micheal Kimmel deigned to call his frat-boy scapegoats "guys." Hymowitz refers to those guys as "child-men" and the book cover shows a baby dressed as a man. It was a sensationalistic and trashy move, but we live in a sensationalistic, trashy culture.

The real problem is that this belittling detracted from the more measured -- and often sympathetic -- tone of the book itself.

Hymowitz knows that the 20-something, Gen-Y guys she is talking about aren't children. Her argument is that they are stuck in an extended adolescence -- what she calls "preadulthood" -- that was a necessary byproduct of the knowledge economy.

My paternal grandfather never graduated from high school. He went straight to work. After spending WWII in the Navy, he ended up working for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and stayed on there until he retired.

Jobs like that are few and far between these days. Kids raised in the 80s, 90s and aughts were raised to go to college and "find themselves" in some fulfilling career, working with their heads instead of their backs. The stable lunch pail jobs were often outsourced, and replaced with job growth in more creative, exciting jobs. These jobs require education and many offer no linear career path, so if young people want to be "fulfilled" by their careers, they often have to put off having getting married and having children. This is true of males and females alike, and while Hymowitz makes much of the "New Girl Order," she acknowledges that those successful girls are also stuck in a kind of pre-adulthood, too. However, they hear their biological clocks ticking, and they are up against a pressure to get things underway that simply isn't as pressing for males.

Hymowitz overplays the size and importance of the creative class -- while those jobs abound in major metropolitan areas (like New York -- Hymowitz lives in Brooklyn), there are too many graphic designers, web designers, script writers and photographers everywhere else. She also seems to inhabit a mental world where everyone went to Brown or Wesleyan or some posh east coast school, and one wonders if she is writing about the sexes in America, or just Sex in the City. She is correct, though, that the knowledge and service economies demanded skills which matched female tendencies. Hymowitz acknowledges that whether nature or nurture is to blame -- she's not sure herself -- "manufacturing's loss has been women's gain" She also notes that while males aged 13-34 have eluded marketers, young females buy a lot of stuff, and it made sense for employers to look for women to help them create designs and promotions that appealed to their target demographics. This is easy enough to verify. I've noted for years that design seems to be getting "cuter" and virtually all of the new businesses in a neighborhood near to me were created by and for women. My favorite is "branch and birdie : retail catering to the modern home, woman and child." (Notice who is missing...) She writes of the "Bridget Jones economy":

"the uncomfortable truth is that youthful female careerism is closely intertwined with the growth of consumption for two reasons. First, working women make and spend a lot of money. Second, women can find satisfying (passion-filled?) careers centered around the sorts of products on which women like to spend money."

Refreshingly, the author doesn't blame the ad agencies or the media for pandering to women or to her child-men; she understands that most successful marketing trends exploit an existing demand.

When it comes to feminist heroes and doctrine, Hymowitz is not afraid to criticize Betty Friedan, who she portrays as being a bit spoiled and delusional, or Micheal Kimmel. She dismisses Kimmel's tired 1970s neo-Marxist race and gender "entitlement" narrative tidily:

"The college-educated inhabitants of Kimmel's Guyland never knew a world where women weren't lawyers and managers or where slayers named Buffy didn't take care of the vampires."

Indeed, Hymowitz is a lot more sympathetic to the plight of young men than Kimmel. She acknowledges that there are demographic, economic, technological, cultural and hormonal reasons why young men haven't "evolved" into "postfeminist mensches." Despite the fact that she hysterically called Roissy an "evil" misogynist, she recognizes that the guys who she calls "Darwinians" have "the preponderance of evidence in their corner." Males and females, according to Hymowitz, have biological clocks running at different speeds, and due to feminism, technology and changes in the economy, males and females alike have little motivation to marry early or produce a population-sustaining brood.

Hymowitz matches Kimmel's bitterness, sublimated envy and ideological blindness with a schoolmarmish, obsessive horror of crude boyish humor -- which is I imagine how she justifies the "child-man" moniker. But when she's not wagging her finger or harrumphing about Maxim or Adam Sandler movies, she seems to understand that our society has made it clear that men are expendable as fathers and even in the workplace -- so they sometimes act accordingly. Hymowitz believes that most men want families, albeit after the age when women want them, and she says that men will have to "man up" if they want to have those families. This feels like an afterthought, because while she spends the entire book outlining the problems young men and women face she offers no solutions whatsoever. She admits that the modern young man is "free as men have never been free before," but gives no suggestions as to changes that could be made to encourage men to invest in families and careers before they've had their fill of beer and sluts.

Perhaps she realizes the kind of changes that would be necessary, and doesn't dare.

(Originally published at [...])
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on October 26, 2012
Why should men really care? Women got what they wanted, even though it is antithetical to what they still really want. I am supposed to man up and marry her? Naaaahhhh...never again.

As guys start to see through the facade that women have created for themselves, the relationships will become very utilitarian, if you know what I mean. Because why, why on earth??? would a man want to subject himself to the whining and selfishness of the new liberated woman?
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on January 11, 2015
Boo hoo. Are the fish having a hard time finding good bicycles? They don't approve of the 'man-child'? Then maybe the 'man-girls' should 'woman up'. Why should any man live his life the way women think he should? If women have the right to live the lives they want to live (and they certainly do), then men have the right to live the lives they want to live - whether some women like it or not. Besides, in a world of fabulous women surrounded loser child-men, these goddesses would be pelted every day by engagement rings from unworthies. But that's not the scenario Kay describes. These women aren't drowning in Tiffany rings from losers; it's just the opposite - no one's ASKING. Kay ranges all over the culture and tortures every trend and statistic and TV show she can lay her hands on but she seems to be trying to interpret the true picture with one eye tied behind her back. If women want to attract a better grade of men, then maybe they should work on becoming a better grade of women. Either way, with all the rending of garments going on among Kay's New Girls, men don't seem to be losing any sleep over it. I gave it two stars because it usefully illustrates the ridiculous thinking churning inside some of the heads out there. Woman Up.
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on March 30, 2012
Give me a f****** break. This book is a disgrace. Hymowitz makes many, unfactual and biased statements. Here are some examples:
"Once they (women) are in college, women work harder and outperform men." I have a hard time believing women work harder than men. She sites no studies for this absurd "fact."

"After they graduate, young women stay on the fast track"

"The men come into class with their backward baseball caps and the 'word processor ate my homework' excuses. Meanwhile, the women are checking their day planners and asking for recommendations for law school."

There are several more but it would take too much time and space to list them all.

Shame on you Ms. Hymowitz
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on August 21, 2011
I think this is a good book for the most part but like most books of this type the blame is laid on men unfairly and unequally. For example on the back of the book we have this blurb from Caitlin Flanagan.
"In her fascinating, brutally honest new book, Kay Hymowitz describes an unintended consequence of the successes of feminism: the creation of a huge generation of aging frat boys, men who have discovered--in the spray tanned, bikini-waxed wonderland of post-feminism--a shangrila they are only too happy to inhabit. Freed from the old tests of manhood, such as the ability to marry and provide for a woman and children, they are biding their time, and leaving many of the best and brightest young women wondering, `where did all the good men go?'

A Shangrila? Really? Men are being passed over in jobs dominated by females, Colleges give preferential treatment to women not to mention all the government programs just for women like in small business. Take a look at all the help and support women get in our society compared to men and tell me we men are living in paradise. I am a divorced father of two kids and I pretty much have to go it alone where if I were a woman....Women win 80% of the time in contested child custody issues. And "provide for a woman and children" ?? Why the hell should I provide for a woman who probably has a better paying job than I do and initiates most of the divorces??? What happened to equality? Best and brightest women??? what about the men. I guess we are all just dumb cavemen. Caitlin is a typical feminist male basher and it's women like her who created this situation and now they want to blame it on the men.
Where did the good men go? There are plenty out there but the "best and brightest" women go for the douche bags which doesn't seem so bright.
Read a couple of books by Warren Farrell to get a more balanced look. Also any book by Christina Hoff Sommers.
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on March 16, 2011
Hymowitz wrote a well researched thought provoking book. There are three interconnected topics.

The first one is how young adults take longer to figure out their career path and defer marriage and children until later. This is due to the ever changing knowledge economy that requires more education and expertise. Here she leverages Richard Florida's work as depicted in his excellent book: The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life.

Her second and third topics are how differently women and men have reacted to this situation. Women acquire as much education and professional experience as quickly as possible to reach their career peak by 35 when their biological clock rings. Men having no biological clock have less urgency and are more often flailing.

In the first half of the book, Hymowitz focuses on women. The superior performance of girls in primary education is well known. They dominate the honors, valedictorian, and AP class rolls. They graduate from high school with higher GPAs and SAT scores. But, their continuing over performing in college, grad school, and the job market is a shocking trend. Between 1975 - 2006 women with a college degree rose from 18.6% to 34.2% passing right by men whose percentage barely budged from 26.8% to 27.9%. In 1960, women made up 6% of doctors and 3% of lawyers. Today, it is 49% and 47%. Some project it will be 70% and 60% by 2050. In 2007 women earned 60% of master's degrees and more than 50% of PhDs.

Colleges now run a stealthy affirmative action to recruit enough boys so the gender ratio does not get bent beyond 60/40. They do that so they can recruit the stronger girl candidates who are turned off by gender imbalance. An admission officer at the College of William and Mary confessed that the acceptance rate for boys was 42% vs only 29% for girls. He justified himself by stating, we are not the College of Mary and Mary.

The foundation of women's successes include: 1) the pill (to eliminate enslavement to procreation); 2) the feminist movement empowering women; 3) change in laws eliminating discrimination; 4) emergence of convenience appliances (microwave oven, etc...); 5) Title IX pouring a huge amount of funds into women's sports and college programs; 6) "The Girl Project" reflecting a cultural shift preparing girls for professional success undertaken by schools, institutions, and parents; and 7) a growing knowledge economy providing an abundance of job opportunities for women in media, design, law, health care, and education. Women make up 77% of the staff in those last two sectors. Also, 70% of PR jobs go to women.

In the second half of the book, Hymowitz focuses on men. Men have lost their groove for several reasons. Formerly, manhood was crossed by marrying early, starting a family soon after, and being responsible for providing and protecting the family nest. Now, this role has evaporated. Women are deferring marriage till their mid to late twenties to achieve their career goals first. And, they typically marry with an older man. This leaves young men without responsibility for over a decade. Women achieving greater control for their own financial independence have reduced the role of the male as provider. Gender equality in seeking pleasurable casual encounters has further dimmed men's incentive to succeed and marry to obtain mating privileges.

In the last chapter, Hymowitz foresees that traditional marriages will still remain the preferred lifestyle for several reasons. People marry much later and closer to the time when women want to start a family. Being older, the mates have more financial and psychological resources at their disposal. Such marriages are more successful (lower divorce rate). And, both sexes recognize that raising children is a challenge that is more easily undertaken with two parents. Thus, young adults getting longer to figure out their career path and who to mate with is a good thing. It beats the alternative when women had fewer opportunities as is still the case in much of the developing World.

Hymowitz sees a dark side to deferring marriage. Birth rates among the educated have dropped below the natural replacement rate. This guarantees the dwindling of this society segment. This has not only demographic but also economic and fiscal implications (a topic covered in The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America's Economic Future. Also, the rise of single motherhood among the highly educated may cause men to further drift away from responsibilities.
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on October 27, 2012
Hymnowitz refuses to get that feminism elevated women by trashing men in the process. Men face deliberate discrimination in employment, in divorce courts, in male-only military draft requirements, in female-only reproductive rights, etc. - yet Hymnowitz refuses to acknowledge these effects. So, men choose to opt out - and that has Hymnowitz ticked off. Hymnowitz is the one who needs to grow up, and realize that men are human beings who have needs and wants, as well.
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