Cultural Phenomenon: From Men to Boys

 

 

Taking a ride on a big jet plane on my way across the pond over the England, I found I was too awake to sleep. Luckily it was one of those Boeing aircrafts that offer movies, TV shows, and music to nurse your need to entertainment on a rather draining 8+ hours on-board. Scrolling through the listings, I found The Intern, a movie I was wanting to see but couldn’t bring myself to spend $10 at the movie theaters to watch it.

The Intern. You know, the little Nancy Meyer’s movie that makes you weep a little during the commercials because Robert DeNiro seems like the sweetest old man you’ve ever seen? This one:

source: imbd.com

ANYWAYS, halfway through the movie, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway’s character) mentions how with all the feminist movements, Girls become women, while somehow Men having reverting back to Boys in their mature years.

Now, without any spoilers, let’s talk about this – because it really hit me in the gut to hear that.

Not only is it something I have seen and experienced through my own personal relationships with the opposite gender, but it’s become such a cultural reality that books are being written on it.

*Ahem* Men to Boys: Making of Modern Immaturity by Gary Cross, anyone?

To give you a general synopsis, Cross explains that the modern man would rather spend his time taking on boyish activities rather than plan his next career move. We see this repeatedly in our media influences: Nick Miller (played by Jake Johnson) from the TV show New Girl, Daniel Cleaver (played by Hugh Grant) in Bridget Jones Diary, and believe it or not, every young adult male in the movie The Intern.

Each of these characters are scared of commitment, have a hard time finishing projects, and always seem a little confused about what they want. They find it difficult to navigate through life and idolize the pleasures of boyhood while forgoing the pleasures and responsibility of adulthood.

Source: imgfave.com
Source: imgfave.com

With all this, the question begs: Who’s the culprit? Who’s to blame for this cultural phenomenon?

Feminists did a great job with young girls teaching them they could be whatever they wanted to be. There’s programs gearing more young women and girls towards careers in math and science, female entrepreneurs are on the rise, and women like Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) are changing how we view female leadership.

All of this has enabled women to handle careers pretty well, but forgot how to teach women how to balance their personal lives.

The gap prevails when we consider that while feminists were set on empowering women, little boys were left in the dark. Men were no longer needed to be the providers of the family with such strong female roles, and the traditional family structure was lost. Young men are faced with a crisis of identity: what does it mean to be a strong man without losing your sense of masculinity in a world where family roles do not seem to be as black and white as they used to be?

On the other hand, the baby boomer wave gave birth to new ideas. The men of this era rejected the expectations of their parents before them. They came to have a distaste for conformity and the mainstream. But most of all, they wanted nothing more than to be the fathers they never had, an understanding buddy to their offspring. This new generation of fathers were cultural rebels – but their well-meaning societal shifts may have left a void for young men. Strong adult male mentors became harder to find.

So, did Feminism fail us? Or was it the workings of our parents and generations before us? Whatever the reason, there has been a serious flight from commitment. It’s as if men rounded off their teenage years and never wanted to leave them: the ultimate Peter Pan syndrome.

Disney's Peter Pan
Source: tumblr.com

 

Have boys lost their value? Men who can be there for the women they love. women’s success should not stunt capable confident and supportive

Youth has become a permanent way of life. Traditional standards of maturity are lost. Adults become nostalgic of their youth and customer and social media exploit this idea that growing up is somehow less desirable.

It’s as if evolution started resembling Benjamin Button.

The longing for perpetual youth has left men in a cycle of thrill-seeking and placing a high value on instant gratification. So with the rise of confident strong women, who will be there to stand next to them? As the saying goes, strong women intimidate boys and excite men. I believe this is what The Intern was getting at.

 

We idolize never growing up. Commitments and obligations ARE yucky. But can one be responsible without abandoning pleasure? I think so.

I don’t believe boys have lost their value, but hopefully there will be rise in men who can be there for the women they love. The success of females should not disable boys from becoming confident and supportive men.

 

 

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