I commented very briefly on Kay Hymowitz’s not-so-pleasing account of the “new girl order“—the Way Young Women Are Now. Now she’s come out with an even less flattering account of today’s single young men. Guys will be guyz it seems. The positive part of the KH essay is that “How to make your girlfriend think her cat died naturally” actually is a good title for a slightly shocking fake-advice-mag humor piece. The less positive part is that you can’t base your life on an endless diet of that kind of thing. And you certainly can’t base it on an hours-a-day videogame habit or calling female insecurity “the gift that keeps on giving.”
So what’s happened? And how real are the pop culture depictions on which Hymowitz bases much of her piece? Life goes on, and image isn’t reality, but trends even in magazine sales must relate to something that exists to some extent. Also, she does refer to a few statistics on what young men actually do. My basic impression is that the official abolition of sex roles has had samewhat the same effect the abolition of legal order would have. Everything’s up for grabs, which means nothing can be relied on, so you avoid entanglements, follow impulse, go for what you can get, give as little as possible, and engage in a lot of mindless assertiveness. You also reject with contempt the attempt of those who have abolished traditional standards in favor of equal freedom to limit your freedom to do what you feel like doing in favor of their own preferred scale of values. Or such is the tendency.