Opinion

How to stop 'the end of men' – bring it on

My buddies and I are stifling a laugh. We don’t read much. But we hear the buzz about books like 'The Decline of Men' or 'Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys.' And we're cool with the experts’ solutions to our problems. In fact, we're delighted.

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    Cincinnati Bengals fans watch the fourth round of the NFL football draft at Radio City Music Hall, April 28 in New York. Op-ed contributor Peter Mandel writes of the 'demise' of men: 'Even though we’re fawned over and favored by moms, zip up the ladder at our jobs, get paid more, and society accepts the trend that we trade in wives for younger trophies, you’d be crazy to think that we’re in charge.'
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Let’s get it out on the table, right up front. I am a guy, and not apologetic about this. I’m a person with a paunch, with bristly whiskers that my wife wants shaved (I won’t), and a tendency to talk about myself. A lot. And I can be loud.

But here’s the thing: Now and then I listen, too. I catch the ads between baseball innings. I glance at the headlines. I see the handwriting on the wall.

I’m breaking ranks by telling you about this, but my buddies and I are stifling a laugh over the news. We’re elbowing each other over the words of current experts that make it sound like we’ve been suffering more than we thought.

We don’t read much. But we hear the buzz about articles like The Atlantic’s “The End of Men.” And we can see the covers of recent books on shelves. “The Decline of Men” by Guy Garcia, “Guyland:The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men” by Michael Kimmel, “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care” by Kathleen Parker, and “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys” by Kay Hymowitz. Books about us! About our fumbles in school, in college, and even as adults.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of women ages 18 to 34 rated career high on their list of life priorities, compared with only 59 percent of young men. And all of a sudden there are more chicks in higher ed than us dudes. Now, 36 percent of women ages 25 to 29 have a bachelor's degree, says Pew, compared with just 28 percent of guys in the same age group.

Census data from 2000 shows that 46 percent of women under 30 had ticked off basic markers of adulthood: leaving home, finishing their education, starting work, marrying, and having kids. Only 31 percent of us dudes could say the same.

So our recent track record of achievement is remarkably lame. But I want you to know that my fellow guys and I are cool with the experts’ solutions to our problems. In fact we’re delighted. We are passing the chips, cracking a cold one. Here are a few of the experts’ hot-off-the-press ideas:

1) Guys need extra attention and understanding.

Bingo. Right on target. Our sisters and moms and wives seem way too busy with all of their jobs and chores. They bustle around, doing more housework and volunteering than we do, hardly noticing that our blank expressions and belly-up positions on the couch hide truly sensitive natures.

2) We need even more freedom in school to squirm around and to just be boys.

Um, sure. We agree. Though in stricter times we guys learned how to sit at desks, absorb books, and pay respectful attention, it was a drag. Teachers and parents simply expected us to put in the quiet time we needed to learn stuff, and if we didn’t, we lost a privilege or two. Didn’t they realize how unpleasant this was for us? Didn’t they get it? We guys prefer fishing or kicking a ball or just hanging loose to being stuck in a classroom!

3) Men are being punished by a feminized, girl-focused culture.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Even though we’re fawned over and favored by moms, zip up the ladder at our jobs, get paid more, and society accepts the trend that we trade in wives for younger trophies, you’d be crazy to think that we’re in charge.

And sure, though our daughters now play guy-style sports and still say they’re “Daddy’s girls,” we are the ones really feeling the pain. Anyone can tell you.

4) Trying to civilize us guys is really just an attempt to turn us into women with whiskers.

My favorite expert suggestion of all. That sticker that we slap on our trucks – the one of an angry, urinating boy – that’s our flag, our Guyland coat of arms.

So stop expecting us to behave or clean up our act. It may be kind of weird that we had none of these guy problems back in the day. When we were supposed to be responsible and at least a little bit polite. But it’s a new day now.

It’ll be way more relaxing for us when we can give up the little socializing and parenting we do and be couch potatoes full time. I’m glad to say we’re almost there.

When was the last time you saw us take off our backwards ball-caps indoors, or stand up when someone approached a table? When was the last time you saw us take a front-line stand and say, “No, you cannot” to a child?

The age of total guy emancipation is approaching.

My buddies and I are flicking channels. We are belching.

We say: Bring it on.

Peter Mandel is an author of books for kids including the new “Zoo Ah-Choooo” (Holiday House) and “Jackhammer Sam” (Macmillan/Roaring Brook).

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