Here are two Facebook messages from the same person. I never saw the first one when she sent it last year, but I read both after she sent the second one a few days ago. I've somewhat condensed and abbreviated them because they're too long to include here verbatim. You get the gist:
Dear Mr. Walsh, Please...I am SO sick of something I wanted to write you... Here’s the problem…the disease that’s overtaken western, Christian culture. There are boys littering our society. They don’t have a job. They can’t even crank out a few pushups. They are content to live with their parents. And they don’t care. Now, I know SO many girls who actually know what the heck they are doing. They work hard, they make themselves attractive every day, they get a job, get a degree, and they want stuff in life. They are beautiful, accomplished, smart, and ready. We want to be mothers and have babies. But we get sick of waiting for men. (Well, boys actually.) Why do guys think they can just sit around and play videos games?... Guys have given us no choice but to be self-sufficient and self- reliant.
... All that ends up happening is we end up playing the man and the women at the same time because guys don’t and won’t. I heard guys want to be needed. Well, if they want to be needed then maybe they should start being able to provide. I am not exaggerating: I know lots of capable guys who don’t have jobs and still live with their parents... The truth is, we girls didn’t want it to be this way. But the boys drive us crazy and we cry about it, but we can’t wait for them any longer. I’m sorry. We’re sorry. But sometimes life sucks and we ladies have to carry on. So this is me and I am respectfully begging you to write a letter to young guys.
Please. Sincerely, Melissa
P.S. I have 4 AWESOME brothers who will never fit into the category of Man-child. I am thankful every day for them. Every day.
[A couple of days ago]
Dear Mr. Walsh,
I like men. I like men a WHOLE lot. But I don't like boys. I really don't like them, unless they are actually 12. When a 26-year-old tells me he doesn't have a job and is sensitive about it—this makes me cry. Literally... I have so many girlfriends who are super smart and educated and driven. When we look around and see boys playing video games and apparently looking at pornography, yes we refer to "man-boys." We don't need a 6-pack ab show, we don't need a millionaire, we don't need plastic surgery sexy---we just want somebody to have drive and soul and character. Apparently that's too much to ask for these days. And so we'll just stop nagging and complaining and carry on with our lives. Because ya. We can't wait around for 20/30 year olds to get a grip.
...Please help us, because we want what's right and we want to respect but we have got nothing to go on. The thing guys don't get is that we WANT to adore them and respect them—but sadly they actually have to give us something to adore and respect.
Thanks for writing. Call me Matt. I'm calling you Melissa because your real name is rather distinct and I'm trying to preserve your privacy. I hope you don't mind this alias. I thought about Bertha or Gertrude, but I settled on Melissa as a compromise.
So you're young, single, and frustrated. I get that. I get the frustration. It's understandable. But I fear you are headed down a dark path, and I want to stop you before it's too late. I don't claim that your cynicism is entirely without basis, but please, please don't start thinking that nagging, scolding, and complaining about men will help your cause. It won't. Trust me. It won't. I know you declared that you'll stop nagging and complaining, but you said it in that passive aggressive way that some wives and girlfriends do when all they really mean is that their men are hopeless. But they don't actually stop nagging and complaining.
You say it's "too much to ask" for a man with character and ambition. You say men are such failures that women have to assume both roles. You say men are lagging behind, and you ladies are sick of waiting around. These are some brutal condemnations, and I concede they aren't entirely unwarranted.
Indeed, some men these days are pathetic, shiftless, effeminate, video game obsessed couch potatoes. No doubt about it. I've known several myself. They're out there. Well, not out there, more like in there, in the living room, playing with toys and trolling Tinder for cheap hook-ups. They're not always unemployed or unproductive, mind you. They might have a job, a girlfriend (which won't necessarily stop them from trolling Tinder), their own apartment, and their very own student loan debt.
[sharequote align="center"]Men are lectured about their all around suckiness so much that it's practically a national pastime.[/sharequote]
In fact, they might be married (which, again, still Tinder). They're the husbands who sit at home on Sundays and play Call of Duty while their wives take the kids to church. The husbands who lock themselves in their bedrooms and browse internet smut while their wives clean the kitchen and put the kids to bed. The husbands who don't lead, who don't contribute anything to the family other than money, and sometimes not even that. Talk about crying, I know there are many married women who cry themselves to sleep every night because they thought they married a man, only to find out they actually married a vaguely sentient beanbag chair.
Yes, the landscape is littered with men of this sort. Boys, as you call them.
It's a difficult situation, that's the truth. These are all truths. Important truths. So here's the good news: virtually everyone understands these problems and discusses them ad nauseum. Men are lectured about their all around suckiness so much that it's practically become a national pastime -- one that I've certainly participated in. You want me to write something about loafing, deadbeat men? Already have. Everyone has. It's all been said and said again and said again and said again and said again in sign language and French and Spanish and Greek and Pig Latin. The nagging has moved out of the home and now it's pumped into the loudspeakers of society, and men cannot escape it anywhere.
It's one thing to hold men accountable, but it's quite another to berate them with a relentless, toxic barrage of generalized insults; to scapegoat them; to give them absolutely no credit for their positive contributions, and to pretend women are faultless in all of this.
Yes, men who are apathetic lumps deserve to be chastised, but they quite frequently are and yet it hasn't accomplished anything. Besides, the sad reality is that men are chastised no matter what they do. According to deranged feminists, men are boorish pigs even when they're polite and courteous. "Benevolent sexism," they call it, because it's important to ensure that nice and considerate men don't escape reprimand.
It's a classic lose-lose. Dismissive of women? You're a rude, inconsiderate, sexist jerk. Attentive and chivalrous to women? You're a patronizing, condescending, sexist jerk. Don't pay for the meal on a date with a woman? You're a broke, emasculated, sexist jerk. Pay for the meal? You're an arrogant, presumptuous, sexist jerk. Don't have a job and can't provide for your woman? You're a lazy, useless, sexist jerk. Have a job and want to find a woman to provide for and support? You're a paternalistic, pretentious, sexist jerk.
You see how this works? Jerk if you do, jerk if you don't, jerk anywhere in between. This is the world boys are born into. They are branded as guilty, privileged, misogynistic barbarians long before they ever have the opportunity to earn the label. A self-fulfilling prophesy, you might say.
Look, I'm not making excuses, but if you're going to be hyper-focused on the shortcomings of men, you should understand the context.
Meanwhile, do you think a single Christian guy in today's culture feels like he has it easy in his quest to find a "good woman"? I get the same complaints from men. The women they so often encounter are self-absorbed, superficial, rude, cold, vulgar, low character, low integrity. All of the same sorts of gripes, and just as legitimate. You talk about the manboys, well what about the womangirls? No, you don't talk about them because nobody talks about them. Men can be berated, heckled, pestered, and hounded all day long, by anyone, anywhere, but the same does not apply to women.
That's a good thing. I mean, I don't think we should go around harping on the failures and foibles of women, hurling invective at them and lamenting that some severe defect runs through the gender. Such attitudes and statements would be unhelpful, destructive, and most importantly, untrue. They're untrue of women and of men.
Indeed, when you step back for the wider view, you come upon the blessed realization that, though many men are guilty of the high crimes and misdemeanors you listed, many more are out in the world doing important, charitable, perilous, noble things. Remember, it's still mostly men who die in our wars, construct our bridges, operate on our brains, rush into our burning buildings, etc. You want something to adore and respect? There you go.
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Of course, even the contributions of these men are treated like indictments in the Court of Feminism. They're all beneficiaries of privilege and institutionalized sexism, and whatever they've done could have been done better by a woman if only men weren't engaged in a devious conspiracy to oppress the female gender, we're told.
We are, then, castigated for our weaknesses and our strengths, our faults and our virtues, our failures and our successes. It's never ending. Do you see why all of these lectures are so profoundly ineffective? A million gallons of venom constantly spewed at us from every direction, and we're left to sort through it all and decide how much of it was deserved and justified. Some guys just give up and stop caring. Their retreat is cowardly, but understandable in a practical sense.
So what do I recommend you do with all of this? First, realize men aren't the enemy. Some of them individually are apathetic oafs, but don't fall into the trap of demonizing all of us outright. The real enemies are the cultural forces that create this resentment and division between the sexes. That's been the goal of feminists and progressives for a long time; what you're witnessing is their handy work.
Second, when men email me with these kinds of troubles, I tell them to stop worrying about the whole of womankind. After all, they aren't looking to start a relationship with women, generally, but with a woman, specifically. Therefore, it's rather pointless to fret about the state of the collective demographic. Especially because, as I would say to men, there are so many wonderful, graceful, honest, patient, intelligent, kind, loving, strong, passionate, feminine women out there. So many. I'm not speaking theoretically here; I found one and married her. And I didn't have to travel up the highest mountain or into the darkest jungle to locate her, either. Actually, I just opened up an eHarmony account.
I'd say the same to you. Stop worrying about all of mankind. Sure, there are a lot of duds among the dude ranks, but that's simply a problem you can't fix. And the more you focus on it, the more bitter and jaded you will become. At our age, we have no excuse to be bitter and jaded (take it from one of the more bitter and jaded 20-somethings you'll ever meet).
Try to be gracious and understanding. Don't go around demanding that the men you date earn your respect. Give them respect at the beginning, whether they've earned it or not, and see if they live up to it. Try to lift men up, not tear them down. Realize that your experiences are real, but not universal. When you say it's "too much to ask" for a good man, you're saying that good men don't exist, or are such a rare breed that you wouldn't dare fantasize about meeting one. But you're wrong. There are men of virtue, talent, and integrity all around. It's just that they might be clouded from your view by this fog of cynicism that surrounds your heart.
One other thing: I don't know you, but I bet you're a good and sincere person. Still, you're not perfect, nobody is. In your lamentations about all the terrible guys in the world, have you stopped to examine yourself? I mean really examine yourself? Maybe you have. I can tell you that I didn't when I was dating. Not for a long time, anyway. I burned through several failed relationships, blamed the girl every time, and spoke, much like you did, about how hard it was to find a suitable partner "these days." Except I never really paused to consider my own suitability.
When I did, man, it was ugly. When I actually conducted that personal audit, I found that I was severely lacking in many areas: reliability, selflessness, integrity, you name it. I spent all that time screaming at the universe demanding that it deliver me a woman who meets and exceeds my lofty standards, yet I forgot that first I should probably make sure I meet and exceed them myself. And it wasn't until I turned that critical insight inward, and began the rather brutal process of self-improvement, that I finally ended up in a relationship with potential, which is the relationship that eventually turned into my marriage.
The process isn't over, of course. I'm still not always the man I should be, but I'm trying. It's hard and exhausting, especially for someone with such an overflowing surplus of personal flaws and weaknesses, but I'm trying.
Take a breath, OK? Crack a smile. Try to cut us guys some slack. I'm not telling you to tolerate and accept intolerable and unacceptable things, just to understand that we live in a broken world made up of broken people. Men don't have it easy in our culture. Women don't have it easy, either, but you are a woman so I'm sure you don't need to be convinced of that.
[sharequote align="center"]Men don't have it easy in our culture. Women don't have it easy, either.[/sharequote]
I can tell you for sure that nothing will be accomplished by nagging and scolding and complaining and talking about us like we're children. We get enough of that already. We really do. It's not a path to a solution, it's part of the problem. A big part. A very big part.
So work on yourself. Pray. Don't lower your standards, but open your heart and don't take the failures of some men as a means to cast us all as the villains in this play. There are a lot of great men out there. You'll end up with one soon enough.
I know this wasn't the kind of response you were expecting, but sometimes I like to switch it up and get all positive and heartwarming for a change. This is my version of positive and heartwarming, and yes, it includes me calling people "deranged" and "vaguely sentient beanbag chairs."
Hey, I never claimed to be Mr. Rogers, alright?
Anyway, good luck. You'll be fine. Trust me.
Take it easy,
Listen to Matt's latest podcast here. Contact him with general comments and inquiries about speaking engagements at MattWalsh@TheMattWalshBlog.com.
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