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3.0 out of 5 stars Child-men and the women who shun them, March 2, 2011
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This review is from: Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys (Hardcover)
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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Showing 1-10 of 89 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 8, 2011, 9:19:52 PM PST
D. GERALD says:
This hits the nail on the head. Its funny how Kay believes that for men to have fulfilling lives they need to serve their female masters. That young men in their 20s should find jobs start working and begin having families immediately so women can feel good about themselves.

Posted on Mar 15, 2011, 7:42:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 15, 2011, 7:50:20 PM PDT
eddip82000 says:
The author fails to deal with the roles of men and women. Without roles and functions there is no need for men and women to be together, rise children, or even marry. Men want women and not career women. A women with a degree and career is like a woman with a beard. Do career women even have sex or children?
Maybe if more women stop trying to be men and let men be men then they would have boyfriends or husbands.
Women have forgotten that LIFE is their career. What ever happened to women wanting to be mothers, wanting to care for their sons, and heading families?
Women today believe that competting against men for jobs, careers, and money is the most important thing in the world. It is not.
Men do it (or did it) because they had to provide. But, if a men is not afforded the opporutnity to provide then why bother with this crap? It is not fun, and it is not rewarding (as many women are begining to learn). Let women be women and men be men. Let women marry at
a decent early age instead of waitng until they are frustrated, old, dryed up, and just ugly to be with. Men want women who are young, fun, and kind. We don't want them after they are educated with crap,defiant, and old maids.

Posted on Mar 19, 2011, 7:09:40 AM PDT
Itza says:
Men created the situation be not allowing women before to have these option; they could have developed in harmony. You're pushing the old status quo. Honestly, men that are choosing "not to play the fool" as you say are not evolving essentially. Women have taken advantage of progressing and moving the culture forward in ways that provide more education. It is proven, that developing places get more from trying to develop when they educate women. Therefore, instead of hindering progress and taken advantage of being lazy- they should take heed of the advice from this book and match their women counterparts- it'd be fantastic for things to be level and everyone would be able to move forward for a better future.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2011, 9:13:56 PM PDT
Eric Jackson says:
Whether or not the new way of doing things is better than what you call the status quo is a secondary matter. According to Hymowitz, women are having trouble finding good men. This has far more to do with the actions of women than Hymowitz is willing to admit.

You suggest that men match women; but this will be insufficient because women prefer to date men who have a higher status than they do. Women are well aware of the benefits they gain by pursuing careers. But there is a loss too, in that the pool of datable men shrinks as one's career advances. Far from entailing essential evolution, this strikes me as wildly unsustainable.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2011, 10:05:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 1, 2011, 7:58:37 AM PDT
I am guessing most young women with economic autonomy are not looking to "marry up" but instead are looking for a man who has some means in the economy but also emotional availability and interest in being a parent along with parenting skills. Kay Hymowitz is from a previous generation; she hasn't seen the many men today who are excellent parents and who manage work/parenting conflict well along with their wives (and those wives take their earning power seriously). See for example, Marc & Amy Vachon's "Equally Shared Parenting."

Michael Kimmel's "Guyland" provides a much better explanation for the phenomenon of the "man-child left behind" - to the extent he even exists in great numbers.

William Pollack's "Real Boys" and Michael Thompson's "Raising Cain" can help parents who want to prevent this problem in their sons.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2011, 10:05:57 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 28, 2011, 7:26:43 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2011, 5:02:05 PM PDT
E. Ulf says:
This post hits the nail on the head: a large number of women seem incapable of common sense, let alone objectivity.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 11, 2011, 5:08:37 PM PDT
E. Ulf says:
"Men" had nothing to do with the situation before; it was dynamic capitalism that made it possible for women get out of the kitchen and into the workplace. But capitalism is being destroyed by the socialists that women keep voting into power.
The freedom of women won't survive the final destruction of capitalism in the US.

Posted on Apr 15, 2011, 11:46:30 PM PDT
"How do you write women so well?"

"I think of a man, and then I take away reason and accountability."

--Jack Nicholson, "As Good As It Gets"

Women made this bed, and they can damned well sleep alone in it.

Posted on Apr 27, 2011, 4:03:51 AM PDT
EMC says:
Well said. It is interesting how we characterize the new generation of successful women. Clearly, they are capable workers. But in the grander scheme of things, they are also head-down cogs in the machine of capitalism who end up pouring massive amounts of money back into the system over absolute trivialities (shoes, hair, makeup, handbags... and did you know the average wedding is at $30K? And now girls are spending $3K on prom?). Maybe these go-getters are just finding new ways of feeding the habit... which doesn't seem to make them any more driven or mature than the (less-successful) men their age...
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