20-Something Men Acting Badly
Not so long ago, the average mid-twentysomething had achieved most of adulthood's milestones - high school degree, financial independence, marriage, and children. These days, he lingers - happily - in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. Decades in unfolding, this limbo may not seem like news to many, but in fact it is to the early twenty-first century what adolescence was to the early twentieth: a momentous sociological development of profound economic and cultural import. Some call this new period "emerging adulthood," others "extended adolescence"; David Brooks recently took a stab with the "Odyssey Years," a "decade of wandering."
But while we grapple with the name, it's time to state what is now obvious to legions of frustrated young women: the limbo doesn't bring out the best in young men. With women, you could argue that adulthood is in fact emergent. Single women in their twenties and early thirties are joining an international New Girl Order, hyperachieving in both school and an increasingly female-friendly workplace, while packing leisure hours with shopping, traveling, and dining with friends [see "The New Girl Order," Autumn 2007]. Single Young Males, or SYMs, by contrast, often seem to hang out in a playground of drinking, hooking up, playing Halo 3, and, in many cases, underachieving. With them, adulthood looks as though it's receding.
So begins an article by Kay S. Hymowitz, "Child-Man in the Promised Land: Today's single young men hang out in a hormonal limbo between adolescence and adulthood," published in City Journal.
I've had a few conversations recently with 20-something women about 20-something men. The women, to say the least, are not impressed with their counterparts. This article explains, in part, why that might be so–even in the Christian community. While some of the behavior described does not fit the Christian subculture, the larger picture seems to.
I'm not sure what "the answer" is, but Hymowitz does us a service by simply naming the problem.
(Cross posted on Galliblog)