It’s not every day that a prominent conservative columnist discusses a university press book, so it is worth mentioning the lengthy references by George Will in his Newsweek column to Gary Cross’s Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity.
In the column, Will talks about what he sees as a “a culture of immaturity among the many young men who are reluctant to grow up.” Will discusses this phenomenon in the context of various socioeconomic trends, including the growing educational disparity between women and men (women are better educated these days) and the preponderance of men who have lost jobs during this current recession.
Will very selectively draws on Cross’s book to explore some of the historical developments that have led to a culture of immaturity among young men. In particular, Will cites various explanations offered by Cross, including more permissive parenting, changes in popular culture, consumerism, the entry of women into the workforce, and the radical movements of the 1960s.
Gary Cross, a Penn State University historian, wonders, “Where have all the men gone?” His book, Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity, argues that “the culture of the boy-men today is less a life stage than a lifestyle.” If you wonder what has become of manliness, he says, note the differences between Cary Grant and Hugh Grant, the former, dapper and debonair, the latter, a perpetually befuddled boy.
To read portions of and to get a truer sense of Men to Boys please click here.