Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
Subscribe   Subscribe   MI on Facebook Find us on Twitter Find us on Instagram      

Ask Men


Why Men Need Women

March 04, 2011

By Kay S. Hymowitz

I'm guessing he won’t be happy to hear this, but Ian Lang and I agree about quite a lot. I, too, think that economic shifts have made it sensible and even desirable to delay marriage; I have a long section in my book on this topic—far longer, I should point out, than the single paragraph on video games. We also agree that the media has been on an anti-male binge for a long time now; I have a section about this as well in my book. Though he doesn’t say it in his article, I suspect we would also agree that the divorce industrial complex can be unfair to men and that women often want it both ways—equality and alpha males at the same time. The excerpt from my book that appeared in the Wall Street Journal does not mention any of this because, well, it was an excerpt.

But Lang and I do part company on certain fundamental premises. If I’m reading him correctly, he believes that the only good women are those who make the traditional bargain: "You earn the money, and I’ll take care of you, the house and the kids." He’s probably right that there are not many of those women around. Women are in the work force to stay for both economic and existential reasons. Most of you probably know the economic reasons, but they bear repeating since Lang seems to forget them: The large majority of men don’t make the kind of money that would fully support a family these days, and even college-educated men in their 20s and 30s will have a tough time pulling in the cash to pay for the house, two cars and nursery school. The simple truth is that most couples need two incomes just to maintain a middle-class life.

So, no, it is not the "new luxury" for women to go out and get a career; it is a new necessity. True: Many—perhaps even most—college-educated women enjoy work. They may even be pretty ambitious. I agree that hyper-ambition can be a bad foundation for coupledom. (This is true for both men and women, by the way; think of the John Edwardses and Newt Gingriches in the headlines.) Equally, if not more importantly, in a divorce culture, women have to be prepared to manage on their own.

Women may initiate the majority of divorces, but there are millions of them who watch in despair as their husbands pack their bags and walk out the door for a younger woman, leaving them with the kids and little source of income. Sure, the courts will see to it that these men pay child support, but that’s generally not going to pay the household bills. Woe to such a woman who has no work skills or experience.

We would probably also disagree about what role marriage and children play in the lives of men and women. Lang, and maybe many readers, seems to subscribe to the Playboy philosophy that marriage is a kind of male slavery dreamt up by women and "society." It’s true that society—actually, every society in human history—has had a stake in getting men to commit. That wasn’t a conspiracy against men. It was necessary to ensure the survival of children and their mothers—in other words, to the continuation of the group.

Does this ancient truth have any relevance today? I think so, though the issue may no longer be basic survival. First of all, even if their mothers are financially independent, kids like to have their dads around and do a lot better in life when they are. Second, men are more productive and less anti-social when they are tied to families. This is not "hate-mongering." It is anthropological fact that a large population of single men is a recipe for social unrest. The research is also pretty definitive that married men earn more, work harder, are healthier, less prone to alcoholism and drug use, and live longer.

Look, I’m happy to be living in a society that allows so much individual choice. Some men and women prefer never to marry and rear children; that’s just hunky dory. But surveys are pretty consistent in finding that the large majority of women and men say they want to have a family at some point. That’s a good thing; imagine if it weren’t true.

For better or worse, we’re stuck with each other. So can’t we figure out a way to all just get along?

Original Source:



America's Legal Order Begins to Fray
Heather Mac Donald, 09-14-15

Ray Kelly, Gotham's Guardian
Stephen Eide, 09-14-15

Time to Trade in the 'Cadillac Tax' on Health Insurance
Paul Howard, 09-14-15

Hillary Charts the Wrong Path on Wage Inequality
Scott Winship, 09-11-15

Women Would Be Helped the Most By an End to the 'Marriage Penalty'
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 09-11-15

A Smarter Way to Raise Paychecks
Oren Cass, 09-10-15

Gambling with New York's Pension Funds
E. J. McMahon, 09-10-15

Vets Who Still Serve: After Disasters, Team Rubicon Picks Up the Pieces
Howard Husock, 09-10-15


The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Copyright © 2015 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved.

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
phone (212) 599-7000 / fax (212) 599-3494