A look at how boys and girls mature
Author Kay S. Hymowitz is once again stirring the pot on gender issues, this time staking a claim in the gender swap discussion. In a Wall Street Journal essay, Hymowitz weighs in on whether girls are now becoming women more quickly than boys are...
Author Kay S. Hymowitz is once again stirring the pot on gender issues, this time staking a claim in the gender swap discussion. In a Wall Street Journal essay, Hymowitz weighs in on whether girls are now becoming women more quickly than boys are becoming men, and placing more of the blame on the XY gender than on the double-x crowd.
She starts out by explaining that women are earning more college degrees with higher grade point averages than men and so have surpassed them in education. She claims young women, "also have more confidence and drive." They are more likely to go to graduate school and climb the corporate ladder, and in some major cities even out-earn their male counterparts.
Rash generalizations are always tricky and Hymowitz's, while artfully put, is no different. Make one and you're asking for others to poke holes in it. Nonetheless, Hymowitz paints a mass portrait of 20-something men getting drunk and sitting in front of their Play Stations, while 20-something women get great jobs and make families on their own.
"Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do."
Whoa, Nellie, or rather, Kay. I'm not going to disagree that generations of Americans have been slacking off when compared with their elders. But that started a long, long time ago. My grandfather, a Russian-Cuban immigrant, worked odd jobs in hard labor (mainly as a painter) seven days per week to support his family. My father, who had the luxury of a college education, which his father did not, worked long hours, too, but in a professional, high-earner field. I worked hard to launch my own business, but put in nothing like the hours my father or grandfather worked. As our economy gets stronger and more tech-oriented, information-based professional jobs are where the money is for the most part, women are still the minority in those positions. What else explains the pay gap between men and women?
What Hymowitz conveniently leaves out is that yes women are out-performing men in liberal arts degrees, but men are still in the majority of high-tech (science, technology, engineering and math or STEM jobs) and high-paid physical labor positions (construction, etc.)
She uses as proof for her argument a genre of movies and TV shows that portray men in arrested development as the norm ("Hollywood started the affair in the early 1990s with movies like "Singles," "Reality Bites," "Single White Female" and "Swingers." Television soon deepened the relationship, giving us the agreeable company of Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross; Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer; Carrie, Miranda, et al.") And while entertainment may mimic reality, it also spoofs it. So to use sitcoms as a basis for one's broad sociological claims seems a bit odd to me.
Yes, professional women do seem to mature more quickly these days than professional men. But working class men don't have that luxury. And if that claim proves true across the masses (which I'm not at all sure it does) than how is that any different than the sixth grade, where girls are clearly more mature than boys?
I agree with her that the trend of young women having families without benefit of marriage is a sad one, and one that I hope will ultimately reverse itself. But to me that's not a sign of maturity on the part of young women, it's a sign of immaturity and it's a decision they will surely live to regret.
Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail her at bonnieerbe@CompuServe.com .