Maggie Gallagher marshalls up some more evidence in support of this growing thesis that men are suffering setbacks in education (particularly higher education) and marriage these days. In the course of her writing, I think she hits upon two important insights. First: Men dont marry because they dont have to. And second: The decline in marriage comes with a weakened inclination to work.
One of the guys she discusses has failed in two marriages, worked his way onto a third (a wife who--surprise--collects disability payments), and now spends the bulk of his time playing classical piano, reading history books and writing reviews for Amazon.com. Whats wrong with this picture?
Plenty. First, it appears that despite setbacks in "formal" education, some of these guys still have plenty of mental energy. The guy mentioned above argued that he found all available work to be either "demeaning" or "underpaid." I dont know what kind of work the guy was looking to do, but Im sure that whatever it was, collecting his wifes disability check is alot easier. After all, like all philosophical sorts, he places a high value on his leisure.
Thats all very nice, in its way, but I doubt the federal government can sustain very many of these Amazon.com philosophers. I further doubt that there are enough disabled women to support this emerging leisure class.
Yet another emerging trend is that of middle-aged single men who have very little inclination to change their situation--even if it does mean a disability check. These guys, according to Gallaghers account, fear marriage and also doubt their capacity to be faithful in a world where uncomitted free sex is a smorgasboard for guys willing to take it. Gallagher titles her column: The Trouble With Men but I wonder if "the trouble with men" might better examined in looking at "the trouble with women." The sad fact is that men are capable of all kinds of wonderful things when properly inspired. But they have very little interest in doing those wonderful things if they dont get the proper kudos for doing them. Remember, as Mansfield said in his book Manliness, men NEED to feel important.