The first article in this series discussed a major reason so many marriages are failing - many modern men would rather not grow up.
A man has to grow up in order to take on the obligations and responsibilities of marriage. Modern society has taken away the traditional incentives to grow up and put in place many reasons why men would be better off if they didn't grow up.
In casting away the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years of human society, we have arranged our social institutions so that men and women don't have to grow up. We'll shortly explore the uncomfortable subject of forcing people to grow up, but before we do, it's essential to understand that adults who think and behave like juveniles do not just wreak havoc on the dating scene and in their families, intentional or otherwise, they have devastated our politics and national culture as well.
The way a man or woman relates to the opposite sex affects behavior at work - we've all encountered colleagues who were having a bad time in their most intimate relationships and who polluted the entire office atmosphere. Their unhappiness leaks through and splatters all over us. The long-term implications of someone's relationship with the opposite sex affects their politics as well.
Consider a woman who's agreed that she and her husband will live on his income so that their children can have the benefit of a full-time mother. They have jointly decided to grow up enough to take responsibility to maintain themselves and their children instead of leaning on society for support.
This old-fashioned-seeming arrangement used to be the norm. Setting aside all the liberal blather about how children benefit from being raised in day care as opposed to being raised at home, it's clear that a woman has the right to choose to be a stay-at-home mother provided that she has some means of support.
What will such a woman think about a proposed tax increase? Living on one income requires sacrifices, particularly now that so many women work that the increased labor supply has pushed down the price of men's labor. It's hard enough to raise a family on one income, and a tax increase will make it even harder by reducing the value of that one income.
Such a woman will tend to oppose raising taxes, but she will probably be too busy being a mother to do much about it. One of the most astonishing aspects of the "Tea Party" movement is how, for the first time in two centuries, it has managed to turn middle-class American mothers en masse into political activists. Most of the time, homemakers are too busy cooking, cleaning, and driving the kids to soccer practice to get down into the mire of the political scene.
As these people see the increasing army of children who want to be supported out of taxes, however, they have decided to defend their right to support themselves without having to feed a host of welfare free-loaders and useless government employees - and presto! Conservative resurgence!
In contrast, consider another woman who decided to have babies without bothering to find a man to help provide for them first. In "Downfall of a decent clan," the Daily Mail described a family whose grandparents were solid working people but whose current generation are being raised by the government instead of by their parents:
What you see here is a tragic map of social breakdown: families who once stood on their own feet being replaced by single parenthood, multiple partners, reliance on State benefits and, perhaps inevitably, children being looked after by the local authority.
What emerges is a fascinating, if bleak, pattern of gradual social disintegration. It surely resonates with what is happening in many other Northern, white, lower working-class communities. An epoch has passed.
Karen Matthews is a striking figurehead for this generation.
She has never been in regular work yet receives £400 a week benefits, having had seven children by five different men.
What would Ms. Matthews think of a proposed tax increase? It wouldn't bother her in the least: she doesn't pay taxes. If she is politically aware at all, she will favor the tax increase so the government can afford to give her more.
Of course, taxpayer dollars are paying for an army of social workers who do their best to make sure that she is politically aware enough to know that liberal politicians are her meal ticket. Since she has no particular responsibilities, she is available for protests or lefty political activism should the desire strike her. Consider the sort of people you see at lefty protests on both sides of the Atlantic: how many of them look like they hold respectable jobs or fulfill familial responsibilities?
Stable traditional marital relationships or the lack thereof have a profound effect on politics, as follows:
Politics really is that simple - it's an ongoing war between the adults in the society and the children.
Long ago, this didn't matter much because children couldn't vote. Thanks to liberal policies which lower the voting age and increase or eliminate philosophical maturity, the left has created a massive voting block of immature men and women who faithfully follow their policies of spending more and more money for years on end.
It's a vicious cycle: marriages fail, so people avoid getting married, so children are brought up not knowing how to grow up enough to stay married. The resulting voters who depend on government hand-outs move society further in that direction. Stable marriages are essential not just to solid families, but to a stable body politic!
Many reasons have been proposed for the observed decline in the stability and sanctity of marriage relationships. Although it's not politically correct to say so, most of our young ladies are being taught to act like sex toys.
Boys are more than happy to play with them but unfortunately for the women, boys tend to throw toys away when they're tired of playing. This can be rather rough on girls but nobody warns them so they keep crashing and burning by letting more and more men play with them instead of insisting that men stay with them before being allowed to play.
I have a friend who has a 17 year old daughter. She agreed that it would be better for her daughter to be treated as a treasure than to be thought of a throw-away toy, but she pointed out that her daughter would have to wait for a boy to grow into a man.
Any boy can play with her, but it will take a man to stay with her. How long would her daughter have to wait for the men to grow up?
That was a good question, and the first article discussed a number of reasons why modern men might quite logically choose not to grow up. Our society places many burdens on men. Growing up in the sense of taking care of a woman and helping her raise her children makes the burdens worse. Considering the legal, societal, and financial forces tearing families apart, it's no surprise that marriages break up; what's surprising is that so many men are willing to marry in the first place.
This article explores the question of what makes a man grow up to the point where, all practical arguments aside, he decides that he wants to grow up, get married, and care for a family.
The character Peter Pan, invented by James Barrie in 1902, is perhaps the most vivid exploration of the issue of whether a man will grow up or not. The stage play "Peter Pan, or the Boy who Wouldn't Grow Up" opened in 1904, and we've been blessed with many, many interpretations of the story.
In the Disney version, Wendy and her brothers are growing up in Edwardian London. Wendy comes to the nursery and tells her brothers that their parents have decided that for reasons the children can't comprehend, this is her last night in the nursery with them. Her brothers ask to hear the story of Peter Pan and Never Land one final time before her departure to the foreign land of Adults.
As she starts to tell the story, Peter Pan himself knocks on the nursery window and offers to take them to live in Never Land where nobody ever grows up. They agree and, sprinkled with pixie dust from Peter's friend Tinkerbelle, they fly off to join the Lost Boys.
Since time began, Peter has led the Lost Boys in adventures all over Never Land. As with Robin Hood and his Merry Men who did pretty much the same in Sherwood Forest, a man can support himself by hunting and fishing without having to work very hard. Life gets difficult when he also has to support a wife and children.
The girl-woman Wendy enters this masculine paradise and messes everything up, of course. As described in a song from a different source, "Wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine," women by their very presence have a tendency to alter a man's routine.
This is where we're blessed by lapsing copyrights so that writers are free to treat the story in so many different ways. In one version, Tinkerbelle, a very feminine pixie, becomes jealous that Peter is giving Wendy so much attention and betrays her to Captain Hook. In another version, Tink is so depressed from being ignored that Hook is able to catch her and Wendy's captured trying to rescue Tink.
In yet another, Wendy wanders off by herself against advice and gets caught. One way or another, Wendy has to end up in Captain Hook's evil clutches to set up the dramatic sword fight between Peter and Hook which saves Wendy from a Fate Worse than Death.
Although it's treated as a foregone conclusion in the stories, taking on Captain Hook meant that Peter had to grow up, at least for a while. Sword fights between evenly matched opponents often ended up with both parties dying, one being killed in the fight and the other expiring later from blood loss or infection. Peter can fly, which helps, but the Captain is much larger, stronger, and has a longer reach. Without the writer's help, there's no guarantee that Peter would win.
Having realized that hanging around with Wendy means that he'll have to grow up for real, what will Peter do? Gary Larson, author of the Far Side comic strip, drew a cubicle farm with a Robin-Hood hat peeking out the top a cubicle. The caption reads, "Although he never regretted marrying Wendy and spending the rest of his life as an adjuster for Amalgamated Life, there were times when Peter thought fondly of those days in Never Land with the Lost Boys."
Mr. Larsen, at least, believed that Peter grew up and married Wendy; the movie Hook also presented this view.
Peter never grew up in the 1904 musical. The Lost Boys got disgusted by Peter's spending so much time with Wendy instead of thinking of fun things to do; they moved in with Wendy's brothers and let her parents raise them to adulthood. Peter stayed behind in Never Land all by himself, remaining an eternal child. In one version, Peter eventually returned to London to play with Wendy again, only to discover that she'd grown up in the meanwhile and had children of her own, without him.
|Way too many of these in real life.|
Some men never grow up, but some do. Having a child doesn't necessarily make a man grow up, but this story from the Times of London explains what made one man choose maturity. He spent years learning how to pick up girls and claimed great success as a Pick-Up Artist (PUA):
I realized the optimum situation is to make lots of female friends, then choose the ones you want to sleep with. Better than hitting on a girl, I'd just try to talk to her - you don't want to annoy or upset them. I made genuine friends and realized it's about respecting girls.
However, I also started having a lot of sex. Girls hate lying, so I told them I didn't want a relationship, but that I wanted to go to parties and have crazy sex. Every girl knew the deal. [emphasis added]
Women enjoy attention from men, those who didn't were bred out of the gene pool long ago. Traditional American morality realized held that it was wrong for men to "take advantage" of women's desire for attention and have sex with them without marriage. Now that such ideas have been cast aside, if a man honestly and frankly explains that he's totally uninterested in growing up or in having a relationship beyond "crazy sex," nobody seems to blame him for doing exactly as advertised, having sex and moving on.
For most men, having so much sex sounds like paradise, and for a while it was. Eventually, however, sex with woman after woman became empty and our PUA wanted something more from a relationship than a mere frolic:
I met my wife, Amanda, in a nightclub through friends. We started hanging out and everything clicked, but she knew I was a pick-up artist. It took me a year to convince her that I was genuine. I still had girls knocking down my door at 2am, asking for sex, but I was completely faithful to her. It made me jealous, but that was the penalty. I moved to America to be with her last year and got married this summer aged 28 - a first in the PUA [Pick-Up Artists] community. [emphasis added]
The former pick-up artist decided to grow up and commit himself to one woman. He had to work hard to convince Amanda that he was serious about giving up his inherent right to pursue all the women in the world and focusing his attentions on her and her alone. He had to pay the penalty of being faithful to her before she'd marry him. Note, too, that he was 28 when he finally decided to grow up enough to convince a woman to get married.
He grew up when he wanted one specific woman badly enough to be worth the effort of growing up and she insisted. He had to spend a year proving that he'd treat her as a treasure and that he'd grow up and be hers and hers alone before she would let him marry her and have her as his very own treasure.
The PUA didn't discuss his politics in the article, but he did touch on his work history:
I became obsessed with learning how to pick up chicks, and I studied the psychology to the extreme - I would practise seven days a week and even got fired from two jobs for not concentrating. [emphasis added]
How much is such a "man" likely to contribute to the economy - new scientific discoveries, useful new inventions, a successful new business, or even just reliable productivity at the job? No, he says it himself: his mind was fixed on daily pleasures rather than on building anything of lasting value. The only economic benefits he created were for purveyors of condoms, liquor, and antibiotics.
If Peter Pan had not had a Never Land, he would have found life as a pick-up artist at least fundamentally similar in terms of lack of responsibility.
Was Peter Pan politically active? Did he have a job? Of course not - he had no need for either work or politics. His food grew on trees; his clothes in the Disney version appeared magically from the animator's brush or from the skins of animals caught by the Lost Boys.
He had no thought nor care for the future, confident in his ability to evade Captain Hook tomorrow much as he did yesterday. There was no need to plan ahead because every day would be much like today.
With the coming of Wendy, things changed in a most uncomfortable fashion. She started caring about cleanliness and pointed out there were no rugs or curtains. She cared about the quality of the provisions for forthcoming social events like special birthday dinners. She disapproved of the Lost Boys letting their clothes get wrinkled and insisted that they keep the fur on their coats combed all the time.
Never Land did not really lend itself to that lifestyle; you can tart up a hollow tree only so much. London was a much better environment for adult behavior.
Civilization brought not only civilized comforts, but civilized problems: crime, infrastructure, and, yes, taxes, jobs, and politics. London was necessarily far larger and more complex than Never Land, in large part because of the pressure of London's women; as Ronald Reagan once observed,
...If it wasn't for women, us men would still be walking around in skin suits and carrying clubs.
Living successfully in London required an increased degree of education along with advanced planning and foresight - in a word, maturity. An older Peter Pan, as in Hook, would have to become a lawyer or other similar highly-educated professional to provide for his dependents. In the musical, not even Wendy and Tinkerbelle working together could make Peter grow up when he didn't want to.
It has been said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality; nothing shrieks "reality" like a mortgage, a wife, and bills for diapers and formula. The longer voters can be kept from encountering the true costs of taking care of their children as duties they must fulfill instead of fobbing the costs of child-raising off onto others, the longer they'll keep voting for liberals.
Given the availability of so many public subsidies for childish behavior, how can people be induced to grow up when they don't really want to, and in fact, when everything in the public culture encourages them not to? That's what we'll discuss in the next article in this series.