Introduction: Men are abandoning the rat race. They are dropping out of the labor force and avoiding marriage (see here and here). The great and wise explain this without bothering to ask men. They say that these young men are pawns of economic and social forces, and neurotic Peter Pans that refuse to grow up. But men are rationally responding to changes in our society. We should learn from them because this trend has just begun. The effect on society will be immense, unpredictable, and probably bad.
“Work is the grand cure of all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind – honest work, which you intend getting done.”
— The Inaugural Address of Thomas Carlyle as Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh (1866). This belief changed the West. The West will change again when we no longer believe it.
Why most men worked so hard, and fewer do so now
Men work most often to obtain social status, to get money, to get women, and to support a family. Economically independent women have radically changed every aspect of that game, especially for the men at the rear of the pack.
(1) Women’s added participation in the workforce increases competition for good jobs and depresses wages. This makes running the rat race more difficult for men.
(2) Sex is now more easily available outside marriage, often without expensive dating rituals. This makes running the rat race less necessary for men.
(3) Increasingly liberated from the need for male providers, women increasingly select for dark triad traits (i.e., entertaining jerks, often treating them badly). Some of Taylor Swift’s songs clearly describe how this works. For betas (most of us are betas), success with women increases by learning to imitate dark triad behaviors). Why should men marry these women when they’re over 28 and ready to “settle”?
(4) Patriarchy was a benefit to men to offset the burdens of marriage. Now women need men only to get legitimate children and pay child support after the divorce. Patriarchy is evil; its remnants are being liquidated.
(5) Roughly half of marriages end in divorce. Roughly 80% are filed by women, getting both independence and cash. Divorce courts are biased against men. Only 18% of custodial parents are fathers (26% of US children live with only one parent). For more information see the 2013 Census report on Custodial Parents.
(6) We have more ways to take vacations from reality. Gin was the cheap drink of choice for people in 18th century London seeking alternatives to reality. Technology has given today’s rat race dropouts more and better alternatives: great booze, designer drugs, rock music, a thousand channels on TV, and computer games (which push the same buttons in the brain as addictive drugs). Marriage now has more competition for a role in men’s lives.
The bottom line: many men are “going Galt”, but not like in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. They are abandoning both work and marriage. See the details here. And more destabilizers are coming, such as sexbots.
Lifting the veil to see what I won. Oh, it’s toil & trouble.
Marriage in the new world
We can only guess what society will look like after 10 or 20 more years of these changes. But even the changes so far make marriage – and even working hard to get a woman – look as anachronistic as serenading girls in the evening to earn their love.
Feminists considered unsex a utopian goal in 1970. Now it is here, radically changing male-female dynamics. Men and women dress alike, talk alike, and have similar careers.
The literature that encouraged marriage for centuries has lost much of its force (obvious to anyone watching Hollywood’s pitiful attempts to make romantic comedies; see here and here). As Allan Bloom explained in Closing of the American Mind …
“All the romantic novels with their depictions of highly differentiated men and women, their steamy, sublimated sensuality and their insistence on the sacredness of the marriage bond just do not speak to any reality that concerns today’s young people. …”
Hollywood’s stories depict this new world. For example, the hit series “Castle” (2009 – 2016) described the romance between NYPD detective Kate Beckett and rich playboy Rick Castle – showing how it eroded his character from alpha into a pudgy contemptable beta (as in the Book of Job, the writers tacked on a happy ending). It is a cautionary tale showing how traditional romance has become toxic to men in modern America (see the details here).
A modern woman looking for a husband.
Social and economic trends have made marriage has less attractive to men while new alternatives have arisen. Men have responded rationally by prioritizing other aspects of life over the accumulation of material goods and pursuit of good women (aka the “rat race”).
By dropping, out these men act against society’s norms – proving that they have agency, the ability to act independently and exercise free choice. As usual, the establishment’s analysts condemn this new counterculture as immoral.
We are seeing the first wave of these phenomena. Time will make them impossible to ignore as the men of Generation Z, and the next generations now in school, will show us its full force. Born into this world, they see it with greater clarity than their parents – without preconceptions from the America-that-once-was. We will see how these men react to the incentives we have set for them.