It is obvious that women’s rights are important, and that there are societies that lag far behind in basic rights for women. In some societies women are treated as chattel, beaten, sold into slavery, sold into marriage at young ages, subjected to genital mutilation, and are unheard, uneducated, and unfulfilled. Women’s rights should have a basic bottom line — the right to vote, to make free choice in one’s own life, to have access to education, to be heard in court, to be able to magnify personal gifts and talents and create beauty — these are a foundation still unestablished in many societies across the globe. Everyone should be militant in trying to win these human freedoms for women.
This article is about something else, however. The women’s liberation movement in America beginning in the 1970’s was meant to enhance women’s rights past the foundational level. Women had the vote, access to education, access to careers, birth control, and the like. This new movement was meant to make them “equal” with men in the workplace. Culturally, an attitude developed that viewed men as unnecessary, then as sex-objects, then as objects of ridicule. Family responsibilities were looked at as a ball and chain, limiting the heights a woman could reach. The leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke out against the Women’s liberation movement. Many outside the Church, and even a few inside the Church, thought the leaders seemed old fashioned and out-of-touch. However, the Mormon Church is lead by prophets, and that means they can see into the future. They know that just because something looks timely and logical, that doesn’t mean it’s for our best good. Looking into the future, they saw the destruction of marriage and the family, and a real threat to societal norms.
Now we have a can of worms spilling itself into our laps, because we refused to listen. The negative results are there in plain view. A recent article in Slate Magazine, called “Sex is Cheap,” cites study after study showing that men have become like boys, lingering in pre-adulthood. Women have more ambition, are becoming better educated than men, and are career-oriented. Because of the availability of pornography and the pill, and relaxed sexual mores, and because of the higher population of women in cities and on college campuses, women are falling into bed with men who are boys — they are lazy and uncommitted underachievers. Women end up without the committed relationships they have always wanted — no marriage and no parenthood. Because of a greater tolerance for promiscuity, women easily fall into bed with men who offer them nothing.
In an article by Rich Lowry for National Review Online, Lowry calls men the “weaker sex.”
The context for the “child-man” is changes in society — primarily the premium put on education, which delays marriage — that have created a new phase of life Hymowitz refers to as “pre-adulthood.” Pre-adults are college-educated singles in their 20s and 30s living predominantly in cities.
From time immemorial, manhood has been defined by fatherhood. As a matter of sheer numbers, this ideal can’t have the same purchase. Eighty percent of men aged 25 to 29 were married in 1970; only 40 percent were in 2007. The rest of them are liberated from what would ordinarily represent the most pressing need to grow up.
The subtext of the culture’s permissiveness toward the “child-man” is that he isn’t that important. “With women moving ahead in an advanced economy,” Hymowitz writes, “provider husbands and fathers are now optional, and the character qualities men had needed to play their role — fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity — are obsolete and even a little embarrassing.”
And from Slate magazine:
…yet while young men’s failures in life are not penalizing them in the bedroom, their sexual success may, ironically, be hindering their drive to achieve in life. Don’t forget your Freud: Civilization is built on blocked, redirected, and channeled sexual impulse, because men will work for sex. Today’s young men, however, seldom have to. As the authors of last year’s book Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality put it, “Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy.” They’re right. But then try getting men to do anything.