Apparently when I was in Hong Kong, men became a lot more dangerous.
First, we have Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon — whose work is often very good, including defending men against unfair stereotypes — uncritically repeating an insinuation that Chinese men are all sex criminals in waiting.
Second, we have the San Francisco Chronicle uncritically repeating a claim that “a disproportionate number of unattached, unmarried men is a recipe for all kinds of violence.” I’m not trying to argue against what is a demographic reality — single men are much more likely to commit violent crime than women or married men. But the argument that single men are inherently criminal, or that violence is the inevitable result of a rise in single men in a population, is false and discriminatory. An abundance of men does not automatically lead to “all kinds of violence,” as cultures have resolved population imbalances in many different ways. In the US, the delaying of marriage has increased the proportion of unmarried men in the population, without a correlating spike in crime (though it could be argued that unmarried young men are skill likely to be attached, even in less committed relationships).
Finally, Newsweek, in a thoughtful and well-informed piece on how demographics intersect with unemployment, worries that “Obama and Congress could face millions of angry and disillusioned, unemployed men.”
The third example, of course, is not in the same category as the first two; suggesting that men might be angered to the point of voting politicians out of office is very different from suggesting they are all violent, sex-starved thugs who will attack if given the opportunity. But seriously, what gives? When did men become such a problem?
Apparently the question of what to do with unmarried men elicits fear far beyond China. Author Kay Hymowitz (who, I should note, wrote a book to which I gave a mostly good review some time ago) has lamented that even in the US, young men are “lingering in a hormonal limbo between adolescence and adulthood, shunning marriage and children, and whiling away their leisure hours with South Park reruns.”
Are single men really such a problem? Is Hymowitz’s picture — if it were true, which I think is debatable — something to be feared? As a single man, I’m trying to avoid an overrun of countertransference here; I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments.
Update: Another suggestion that men are simply failing: this CNN story is a perfect candidate for Slate’s Bogus Trend Watch, as it provides no reliable statistics or other actual evidence of a sociological trend. It suggests that women, seeking emotional connections they are not finding with men, are leaving men to enter relationships with other women.