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Have We Given Up on Good Men?


Jun 21 2013
Sexism and the stereotype of a lazy, childish generation of guys.

At a recent cookout, I uncomfortably listened to a quartet of women lambast their husbands while we all worked together in the kitchen. Their fellas were outside with mine, laughing and savoring the heavenly scent of roasting pork—totally unaware of the disdain being dropped on their heads.

"He decides to throw a meat party and doesn't think about side dishes or even cleaning the house," one wife said as she whipped a bowl of egg salad into submission. "He's an idiot. That's all there is to it."

It continued: "He plays with his grill, his guns, his camera equipment…and I'm the one left doing all the grown-up work." The rest of the women joined in, cataloging their husbands' faults, casually using words like "stupid," "moronic," and even "retarded," dicing up their spouses as effortlessly as they did the celery.

These kinds of conversations happen again and again, to the point that lazy husbands have become an inevitable, universal truth.

A recent survey commissioned by Nickelodeon UK revealed that men and women agree that men remain "immature" well into their late 30s and early 40s. What's worse, 8 out of 10 women believe that men "will never stop being childish," and 3 in 10 women have ended a relationship because they lost patience with the guy for being too immature.

Hold on. If the high heel was on the other pedicured foot, and women were seen as perennial boneheads in need of rescue, we'd cry sexism. Yet, we openly criticize our own "lazy, immature" husbands and fuel a stunted characterization of men in the media and pop culture.

I'm not sure when father stopped knowing best, but the first "dumb dude" I remember is Homer Simpson. With his trademark "D'oh!" and monomaniacal desire for donuts, he was the perfect caricature—an over-the-top example of laziness, stupidity, and gluttony. But he was soon joined by a host of "real world" men who embodied many of the same qualities: Ray Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond), Tim Taylor (Home Improvement), Greg Warner (Yes, Dear), Doug Heffernan (King of Queens), Hal (Malcolm in the Middle), and the father/son-in-law combo of Jay Pritchett and Phil Dunphy (Modern Family).

For the most part, they're harmless. I mean, you'd feel okay leaving your kids alone with them—at least until the first commercial break—but each constantly serves as the butt of a joke. They're the clowns, the buffoons, the victims of their own immature stupidity, boys who have to be rescued by episode's end by their smarter, more attractive, and endlessly patient (or shrewish) wives. The men of commercials are even worse, bumbling, forgetful lunkheads.

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Have We Given Up on Good Men?