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Time to Woman-up and Man-down

January 10, 2012 | Stephanie

Reading the final chapter of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women has Turned Men Into Boys was an interesting experience. For the last six chapters, I felt like I was listening to a frustrated discussion from a woman who had been hurt or betrayed in some way. That tone was nowhere to be found in Chapter 7, which was a more reasoned analysis of the marriage and dating scene. Hymowitz breaks the chapter up into scenarios of how various classes of pre-adults including the Neo-Traditional, the Darwinian Playboy, the Single-and-Loving-it-Woman, the Choice Mother, and the Starter Marriage will approach the relationship market. She concludes that marriage is still the most popular option among educated Americans, though the marriage rates are down since 1980. She recaps the points addressed throughout the book and gives a bit of a fragmented analysis, concluding that men are undervalued by our society, women need to pay more attention to their biological clock, and men need to man up.

The conclusion left me feeling dissatisfied and uncertain as to what both sexes are supposed to be doing to fix the problem. Hymowitz does not seem to have a plausible solution other than bringing attention to the problem. However, after reading the “Acknowledgments” section I finally understood why she is so distraught about the issue. She dedicates the final paragraph to her husband and young adult children and says of the children: “[They] suffered my distractions with minimal eye rolling. They did this knowing that the source of the distraction had the potential to embarrass them since, yet again, my subject matter was uncomfortably close to their own lives. I can’t help it; their lives continue to interest me more than anything else (p. 266).”

Finally, I understood the source of her angst. She’s concerned about her children, something I completely understand as a mother of two young daughters. I’m still not certain what she means by “Manning Up” but I think women definitely need to “Man Down” and spend the time and energy to “Woman Up.” Maybe then men will be encouraged to be men and we’ll regain some sort of equilibrium on the cultural pendulum.

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