Extended Adolesence: Two Views

Wall Street Journal has two articles on its website that deal with something that has fascinated me and a lot of my female friends for some time – the notion that most women our age seem to be extremely driven and ambitious, but the men we surround ourselves with, less so.

The first piece is an adaptation from Kay S. Hymowitz’s forthcoming book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys, taking a deep dive into the social and cultural influences which possibly gave birth to this breed of men.

The second is a defense of the 27 year old slacker, written by the Onion A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin, making the point that some of these apparent slackers are really Mark Zuckerbergs in disguise.

Both make interesting and sometimes confluent points. Do I really want my 20 something year old friends who can barely take care of themselves raising kids? Probably not.


Omega Male: The Film Version

Let it be known that on the whole, I like Noah Baumbach’s work. I think The Squid and the Whale is an amazing film mostly because it’s really jarring and really normal at the same time. But, I felt something else when I watched Greenberg. I felt mad.

This trailer presents Ben Stiller’s character as a guy who just wants to “do nothing for awhile” in his 40s. He’s unemployed, he destroys relationships, and he writes cranky letters to every company who gets on his nerves in any capacity. That’s what he does, all the time. It would be funny if I didn’t already know men who were like this.

In her piece for Salon, Jessica Grose writes “While the alpha male wants to dominate and the beta male just wants to get by, the omega male has either opted out or, if he used to try, given up.” As women, we’re usually never allowed to opt out. If you’re a 40 year old woman without kids, you’d better have a career. And if you’re a 40 year old woman without a career, you’d better have kids. Society behooves you. But for men like Greenberg, and the men in real life who choose to just stop contributing altogether, there are no real societal repercussions. Of course, I’d have to think that men of this ilk are miserable, so I take comfort in that.

Have we come to expect less from men as women become more equal? Is the omega male just a defensive response to women seizing more power?