If there were an award given to “Most Written About Cultural Shift of the Year,” this year the winner would be a shoo-in: The Decline of the American Male. It seems like every week I read another treatise on this subject du jour from a prominent female writer.
To summarize: there is a growing consensus that the number of “quality” men in America is in steady decline. By conventional standards, this is certainly true. Economically, men are in tough times. Despite everything you’ve been taught about gender inequality, women now make up the majority of the work force. They get more bachelor and graduate degrees than men, and hold over 50% of all professional positions in the country. Three-fourths of the 7.5 million jobs lost since 2008 were lost by men, and those construction and factory jobs are not coming back. In other words, American men are now second to women in access to jobs, and thus, money. In increasingly large numbers, men are giving up on growing up: Careers and marriage are being postponed, leading to a semi-employed state of being that economists now refer to as “just sort of fucking around.” Men used to be worthless until about age 30. For the upcoming Facebook generation, go ahead and push that back to 40.
That’s a tectonic shift, from an evolutionary point of view. Healthy young human males have controlled access to food and resources since time immemorial. What are the ramifications of this shift for modern men and women?
Well, a lot. The most important result, at least from the point of view of annoyed single women, has been a shift in mating norms. Good successful men, it seems, are now harder and harder to come by. And when they do come your way, they are less interested in monogamy than ever. Consider this example:
There are ten men and ten women in a group of single people. The most desirable guy is Justin Timberlake. The most desirable girl is Mila Kunis. In normal times, we would expect Justin and Mila to end up together and eventually get married. Justin may play the field for a while, but Mila is the hottest girl available, and her Grade A womb is the most desired resource in town. If he wants exclusive grabbing rights to her sumptuous funbags, he’ll need to make a commitment. If he doesn’t, she might settle for the second hottest guy. The other men and women will pair up accordingly as well, and if Justin doesn’t want to get left out of the mating game, he better take the plunge with Mila. That’s basically how mating works, and has always worked.
But what if you take five of the ten single guys out of the equation? Now you have ten girls competing for five guys. Mila is still the hottest girl, Justin still the hottest guy…but everything has changed. Not only is Justin up to his ears in babes…all the guys are. They can screw around as long as they want without fear of being left mateless. And poor Mila…she has lost all her leverage. She can’t wait forever; she needs to have babies with someone. Justin’s sperm, not Mila’s womb, is now the number one resource in this group, and he’s doling it out on his terms, vis a vis casual encounters, not commitment.
That’s America today. The male herd has been thinned. Unemployed, moneyless, living with their parents…many of these men are, to single women, undateable. That makes the dateable ones infinitely more attractive. Thus they are waiting longer and longer to get married and have kids, enjoying the unfettered access to multiple women the landscape affords them. There’s an accepted rule that in general, about 20% of men are sleeping with about 80% of women. These days, that disparity is even more pronounced. Suffice to say, it is a good time to be a decent looking guy with a six figure income. Even the losers benefit from the winner’s scraps: When the hot guys keep putting off commitment, girls end up settling for men they would never have considered previously.
SO LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT. For generations, women struggle to achieve economic equality with men. Men resist this obvious challenge to their supremacy. Then, in the past decade, the economy falls apart and women finally supplant men in access to resources. The result? Women are getting married later, if at all, to less desirable men; Men are having more casual sex, with more and hotter women, an activity which helps them fill the hours between getting drunk and playing their Xbox since they don’t have to work anymore.
There is only one word to describe this: Hilarious.
Look, I come from a family of successful professional women, and have the utmost respect for the contributions of women in the workplace. But you gotta admit, in getting caught up in the whole women’s lib movement, somebody didn’t do the math. Ever have a job where you got a “promotion,” but all it meant was a lot more work for very little more pay? That’s what women signed up for. A lot more work, and not a lot of reward to show for it.
This isn’t a unique phenomenon, by the way. In nature, this happens all the time. Be it mice, baboons or humans, when access to quality males decreases, sperm value goes up and the system falls out of whack. It’s supply and demand. The only difference is that historically, quality males have usually been lost through things like war. And when that happens (as in post World War II Russia, for instance) women are forced to work harder, have more babies out of wedlock, and rely more on family and friends for parental support than the biological fathers, who are too in demand for their babymaking abilities to worry much about actually raising the lil’ bastards. What’s different this time? Quality American men didn’t die fighting in a war. Women demanded this gender reversal.
Well, be careful what you wish for. Every double standard is about to be turned on its head. All those years of women fighting for the right to work? Get ready for men fighting for the right to stay home. Cooking, cleaning, and occasionally putting out? Sounds like a pretty sweet gig to me. To make matters worse, men are lazy. Once we get comfortable in the role of housewife, we’re not going to be too amped on picking up part-time work to help pay the bills. We’ll lie and say we were sending out resumes while you were at work, when really we’ll just be sitting on the couch, smoking weed and making fantasy football trades.
I think this social experiment might have had a chance in a better economy, with enough good jobs for the majority of men and women to be employed. But a couple decades of deregulation, outsourcing, and wealth redistribution out of the middle class has ensured the worst is yet to come. But really, nature was against this role-reversal from the start. Aside from a couple vestigial nipples, male mammals just don’t have the plumbing to give birth. So even if we agree to this job swap, women are still going to get screwed, figuratively and literally, since they have to carry the babies for 9 ½ months regardless. Women can never really be liberated from the rigors of motherhood (nor do they want to be).
By the way, it ain’t all peaches and cream for men either. Men liked having jobs. We liked having to compete for women’s affections. This is no fun anymore. Getting laid has gotten too easy, because women are desperate, and breaking up has gotten too hard, also because women are desperate. And who can blame the ladies? Women in today’s pitiful male meat market are like starving orphans, and any guy with decent credit and a job at Best Buy is looking like filet mignon. Plus, men need relationships as much as women. There is no stronger predictor of success in men than marriage and fatherhood. Fathers and committed men make more money, live longer, and are happier than their single peers. So while the lifetime bachelor lifestyle may look good on paper, in reality, it’s not in men’s best interest any more than it is in women’s.
Oh, America. What did we think would happen? Why the need to tamper with hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection? Everything was working so well. Now, I’m afraid the clock can’t be turned back. Are women simply going to give up their gains and go back to the kitchen? Doubt it. Would we men let them even if they wanted to? Impossible…they’re more important to the workforce now than we are.
The only way forward, it seems, is to redefine the expectations we have in partners. We must overpower our primitive brains and squeeze them into this modern, gender-bent world. Men don’t need to be physically strong any more; it serves little or no purpose. Apparently, our incomes aren’t important either, since women are more than capable of earning their own dough. So women, quit chasing muscular men…those sexy abs are useless. Quit dating guys with nice cars…you can buy your own. Instead, just target the men who will help you raise the most successful daughters possible, as these daughters will be ruling the world in 30 years. I’d start by seeking men who are loyal and interested in raising kids, and not afraid to take on the litany of responsibilities that used to fall to women. Potential PTA presidents and soccer dads are the smart mate choice for today’s professional women. And if he can cook, that’s nice too. Other than our sperm, I’m not sure we’ve got much else to contribute these days.