"You there! Marry somebody!"

William Bennett argues that “men are in trouble”.   He argues that young men are not achieving like women are, and he places a great deal of emphasis on the need for young men to spend less time playing video games. His closing statement:

 “The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, ‘Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married.” It’s time for men to man up.'” 

Of course, there is such a thing as too many video games. Is five hours a day too much time? Well, I suppose it depends on the person, and on the games. And I will say that I don’t think my playing Fallout: New Vegas has hurt my career so far, unlike the fallout from his playing in old Vegas hurt Bennett’s.

As for “getting a challenging job”, getting any job is easier said then done in this period of low aggregate demand. And why “challenging”? I would have said “lucrative” or “rewarding”, but that’s just me.

But my real problem with this article is his command to “get married”. I have no problem with marriage. In fact, I think marriage is a fine and wonderful thing. But I don’t think you should flatly order people to go “get married” just on principle. At least he ought to say something like “find a nice girl and” first. Otherwise, it sounds like getting married, no matter to whom, is good enough for Bennett.

It seems to me that people shouldn’t treat “getting married” like a goal, except in the sense of getting married to some particular person. If you treat it like getting an achievement in a video game, you–and your spouse–are probably in for a bad time of it.

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