Your Modern Life

A couple good reads over at wsj online:

'Youth Magnet' Cities Hit Midlife Crisis

Few Jobs in Places Like Portland and Austin, but the Hipsters Just Keep on Coming

The worst recession in a generation is disrupting migration patterns and overturning lives across the country. Yet, cities like Portland, along with Austin, Texas, Seattle and others, continue to be draws for the young, educated workers that communities and employers covet. What these cities share is a hard-to-quantify blend of climate, natural beauty, universities and — more than anything else — a reputation as a cool place to live. For now, an excess of young workers is adding to the ranks of the unemployed. But holding on to these people through the downturn will help cities turn around once the economy recovers.


From Patriarch to Patsy

A father of three young children discovers the humiliations of being a modern dad

Jerry Seinfeld once joked that if a Martian landed in New York and saw a bunch of humans following behind their dogs, scooping up poop and placing it in little plastic bags, he would conclude that dogs are in charge on this planet. He would think the same if he observed kids and their dads in any city in America. And unlike in the Seinfeld example, the Martian would be right.

In the most affluent parts of the Western world, a historic transference of power has taken place that is greater than anything achieved by the trade-union movement, the women's movement or the civil-rights movement — and it hasn't even been extended the courtesy of being called a movement. Fathers, who enjoyed absolute authority within the household for several millennia, now find themselves at the beck and call of their wives and children. Indeed, most of my male friends are not fathers in any traditional sense at all; they occupy roughly the same status in their households as the help. They don't guide their children through the moral quandaries of life — they guide them to their extracurricular activities from behind the wheel of a Dodge minivan.

5 thoughts on “Your Modern Life

  1. ‘From Patriarch to Patsy’, now there’s a title that bares all. To the extent (it’s not a very great one) that Western men are being made, forgive my language, the bitch, it’s because they’re behaving the way the bitch is meant to behave, as a type. No doubt there’s a very interesting historically-situated sexual power dynamic at work in the contemporary West (the breakup of hegemony, I’d call it), and the author here is right, it deserves to be documented and reflected upon, but all of this nonsense about men being patsies is laughably absurd. Grow a bloody backbone and quit bitching and moaning is what I say; the whole point of the sexual revolution and the emancipation of women was to allow couples to set their own relationship terms. “Obviously, we’re in the midst of some long unhappy transition between the model of fatherhood as practiced by my father and some ideal model, approved by all, to be practiced with ease by the perfect fathers of the future”, except he doesn’t get it – we’re there, he isn’t. Or, more correctly, we’re getting there, and he isn’t.
    All I hear is a couple (or one, perhaps the author of the article is projecting his own insecurities on to the book itself) of spineless jellies weaned on patriarchy unable or unwilling to accept the fact that neither they nor their partner has to be the bitch of their relationship and pining rather pathetically for the sort of unremittent physical and psychological domination their forebears expected (perhaps unfairly) as a matter of course to be granted to them as the ‘head of the family’. Here we just have a front row seat to a couple of guys who think that “transitioning” to an “ideal model” means bending over and letting their partners transition them up the rear end, and they wonder why they’re getting the raw deal? I’ve never met a single young man of my own generation who has these problems because we understand what it means to be in a healthy, loving, and reciprocal relationship with a partner, or maybe all my friends just had fathers who had it figured out too.
    Looks like little other than yet another sad and completely avoidable case of George Parker syndrome. Tsk tsk tsk.

  2. I agree that it hinges on the backbone. Like, have one! I think that was what the author was getting at, while noticing that the culture at large sets the stage.
    “I’ve never met a single young man of my own generation who has these problems because we understand what it means to be in a healthy, loving, and reciprocal relationship with a partner, or maybe all my friends just had fathers who had it figured out too.”
    That’s quite a statement though. Which planet is it that you live on? Can I come visit?

  3. Canada. We’ve got it all, igloos, dogsleds, Shatner (well, sort of), and surprisingly little cultural angst (at least amongst the twenty-ish leftie university student crowd).
    Seriously though, I guess that’s just why this sort of thing so frustrates me. I cannot wrap my head around what these guys must be thinking/doing to get themselves into this situation where they feel their only outlet is to whine about it in books and articles. And it isn’t that I don’t have friends or relatives (slightly older ones, obviously) who have kids. I know a few, and I just don’t see these problems coming up. I see problems about bills and chores and responsibilities, but I don’t see all this angst or dislocation about being…. what? The ‘man of the house’, or about having to do things their grandfathers wouldn’tve dreamt of doing, or of feeling like the help? Who are these men that, either can’t stomach the thought that they might be equal, or can’t realise they’re in a relationship with a domineering control freak? I just can’t see how the problem isn’t with them rather than the fluid nature of gender roles which seems to be getting the blame.

  4. Yes! “We all make compromises. They’re a necessary part of life with other people. But if you’re the only one making them, then you’re not compromising, you’re just surrendering.” Absolutely, I don’t know about that next sentence, though; I suppose it relies upon a normative prescription of manhood that I don’t subscribe to.
    I largely agree with Vox Day (waiting for the universe to implode here!) on this, although I’d just like to say that it almost sounds like he’s coming perilously close to advocating child abandonment, which I’d like to distance myself from if possible, but really, he’s right. If somebody, man or woman, isn’t prepared to take care of kids, if their relationship isn’t prepared to handle the additional stresses of becoming a parenting relationship, then that choice to parent was a mistake and rather than complaining that it’s turned their lives topsy-turvy and turned their wives into, as Vox Day puts it, overweening bitches, then the least they can to is be serious for a second and do something more constructive than fantasise idly about how family life ought to be.

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