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March 18, 2013

How Come Both Sexes Are Now So Effed Up?

Well, I mean, apart from the obvious answers.

A lot of men are in a state of arrested development and indulgence.

We’ve been lowering expectations on young men for decades. The only reason we’re still calling it progress is because we lost the direction–the vision–of what manhood (and life itself) is really all about. Even the adjectives that the men in their twenties living half a century ago wanted associated with their name and character–sacrificial, honorable, resourceful, diligent–have been replaced with such lackluster descriptors as “progressive,” “open-minded,” or “stylish.”

The problem here is that these are not, broadly speaking, manly things. By this I mean that there are manly things. We just don’t seem to prize them anymore, and this is, in part, because they are not easy to obtain and require hard work to maintain.

And meanwhile, women aren't happy campers. On this last point, though, one might object that "happiness" per se isn't really the goal in life, anyway.

But the best criticism of Stevenson and Wolfers’s study sharpens the implied critique of contemporary life rather than weakening it. This criticism is that there’s a difference between happiness and meaning. We’ve all seen the studies which find that parents report less happiness than non-parents, and yet very few of us actually consider this a “case against parenting.” We consider it a case against happiness research.

The good life includes suffering as well as contentment. And most of the important choices in our lives are choices for more stress, for pushing ourselves, refusing to be satisfied with whatever comes easiest.


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posted by Ace at 06:21 PM

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