Hey, 20-something men, get off the couch!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, in possession of a good fortune, is probably not in the workforce -- or on the market. In all probability, he is sitting on a couch playing Mario Kart.
A book just emerged pronouncing that 20-something men are bound up in a form of extended adolescence, living like slobs, failing to cook, clean or enter the workforce, and generally acting like improperly packaged cheeses and failing to improve with age.
It doesn't seem fair.
The last time I heard about this trend of Twenty-Something Tergiversation or Millennial Malaise or whatever we're calling it nowadays, us girls were included. We all had straggled out of college with no idea what to do with our lives, landing in our parents' basements, where we watched reruns of "Criminal Minds" and kept notebooks labeled "Great Thoughts." They were, by and large, empty, except for the phrase "human piano?" which we'd immediately crossed out. "We're thinking long-term," we would explain, when our parents came downstairs to complain about the fact that all our furnishings consisted of still-unpacked boxes and a painting of Paul McCartney sensually eating a banana. "This generation is all about the long-term, about careers, and, uh, being really educated and fixing, uh, things." We offered them some cold pizza. "It's a shame about -- that place where those things are happening and the people are so angry," we ventured, conversationally. "Madison? Or Libya?" they asked. "Yeah," we said.
But apparently that isn't the case.
Somewhere down the line the men all slipped off on their own to go have fun. It's like the last time I tried to have a barn-raising. We all showed up, but the men suddenly disappeared to smoke behind the building and read particularly moving passages from JUGS.
In the most inspired bait-and-switch of all time, the guys are out of it.
We women have taken over. Thirty-four percent of us have bachelor's degrees, compared to just over a quarter of men. And more of us have jobs. We are working hard to keep a glass ceiling over everyone's heads. We have, as Gloria Steinem said, become the men we once wanted to marry. The archetypal example of this discrepancy is apparently Katherine Heigl's character in "Knocked Up."
Whenever I hear that the archetypal example of something is Katherine Heigl's anything, I become nervous and distrustful. The gap between Katherine Heigl and the average person is roughly analogous to the gap between teddy bears and actual bears, except that if an actual bear watched a movie about teddy bears he probably wouldn't demolish the theater in a Berserker-like rage and leave angry voice mails for everyone responsible.
But Heigl or no Heigl, they might have a point. After all, I am in the workforce! In order to get into the office, I had to cross eight picket lines and wrestle a mountain goat. The effort to understand health-care reform has prematurely aged me, causing people on the street to mistake me for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Meanwhile, my male contemporaries are living the life of Riley. Whoever this Riley guy was, he seems to have played a lot of video games and had poor taste in clothes.
To call this extended adolescence might be a generous term. For example, a male friend of mine spends his time composing original songs about penguins and posting them on YouTube. Another is trying to start a social-media-based health site, which is Millennial Code for jobless. The rest are "committed to improv." Which is universal code for jobless.
Not us girls! First we fought for the right to vote. Then we fought for the right to wear pants. Then we fought for the right to wear pants while voting. Then we fought for the right to work while wearing pants and voting. It was a lot to keep track of! We even went through an uncomfortable phase when our default response to someone's opening a door for us was to spit in his eye.
"Okay, okay," the men said.
While we were fighting for these things, they slunk back home, settled on the couch, and popped in Super Mario. Who do they think they are, Tom Sawyer?
"Look how fun it is to paint this fence," they said. "I'm enjoying being in the workforce so much. I wouldn't give it up for anything! And voting sure is a blast!"
Now they scarcely do it anymore. Women are more employed, more educated, and vote at a higher rate than men. And, due to some strange physiological quirk that I have difficulty explaining, somehow we still have to give birth.
Remember when the saying was that women had to do everything men do, but backwards and in heels? If only! Now the men are sitting on the couch eating Ho Hos and we're waltzing by ourselves.
| February 22, 2011; 2:58 PM ET
Categories: Epic Failures, Petri, Seems Suspect | Tags: kids these days, men, millennials, women
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