Slacker Guys and Striver Girls

When lazy men become projects for career women

Beveridge attributed the rise of women's incomes relative to men's in part to a gap in education. Men, regardless of race or socioeconomic background, are less likely than women to get bachelor's degrees, and generally take longer to finish college, according to Department of Education statistics.

Anecdotally, Beveridge says women make up the majority of his stellar students in the classes he teaches at Queens College. "I really do think there's something weird going on with men," he sighs, adding that during a recent talk r

adio show he was trying to explain the statistics when the male host stopped him and asked, "Are you saying that the minute the patriarchy was dissolved, men just gave up?"

But has the patriarchy actually been dissolved?

I believe the answer is no. After all, while the pay gap is narrowing, it still exists. In addition, UC Berkeley sociology professor Arlie Hochschild points to the country's current patriarch — President George W. Bush — and the massive wave of outsourcing that has taken place under his administration. "I think there is a [portion] of male society that is downwardly-mobile," says Hochschild, whose book The Second Shift explores work and gender roles. "Not because of women, but because of outsourcing."

But, Hochschild says, the media often fall back on an old pattern: blaming women. That could be the neurotic and nagging wife — like Debbie, the slightly scary older sister who seems to hate her husband in Knocked Up — or the ball-busting female boss in movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin. And even many of the romantic comedy heroines — in Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and Failure to Launch, for example — need to lighten up a bit. (Did somebody out there decide that while feminism has helped women have successful careers, it has somehow sucked out their souls and senses of humor in the process?)

Of course, we all know at least one superwoman, if not more. They're the ones kicking ass in their careers, raking in honors at college, juggling activism, extracurricular activities, and jobs while in high school, or raising amazing children. They may be professors, doctors raising triplets, or single women taking care of their families. And contrary to today's romantic comedies, these women aren't all humorless scolds. Plenty of men in the real world will tell you they don't feel oppressed by their striver women.

Take Jeff, a self-described slacker (albeit a "reformed" one) who grew up in Berkeley and now lives in Santa Cruz with his overachieving wife. While Jeff, a techie who telecommutes from home, makes more than his schoolteacher spouse, she's clearly the more active one in the relationship: She runs marathons, and after she gets home from work is often the one who cooks dinner. She also usually takes care of the plumbing, paints the house, and does remodeling work. He tries to be her "helper," but his chosen methods of relaxation generally involve videogames and golfing.

Jeff has talked with his male buddies about their superwomen wives, and he says they've decided that they are pretty comfortable with the current state of affairs. "We kind of joke about how women are taking over, and how maybe that's okay," he says.

Still, he admits to being a bit concerned over the different reactions he and his wife had to the recent spate of striver-slacker movies. Take Knocked Up, for example. Jeff found it hilarious — especially the scene during an earthquake where the lead character grabbed his bong and scurried off to safety, leaving his pregnant girlfriend behind to fend for herself. She was less amused. "My wife's response to it was, 'I just don't understand why she would stick with him,'" he says.


Jeff's wife isn't alone in her opinion. Many women who have seen Knocked Up can't fathom what the hell Katherine Heigl's character is doing with Seth Rogen's. It just doesn't pass the believability test — in real life, no woman that awesome would slum it with such a loser.

Oh, if only life were so black and white. True, Hollywood is creating the false impression that accomplished women are happily dating down in vast numbers. Still, the fact is that nowadays some awesome striver women do stick with losers. Which raises the question: Why would any woman in her right mind want to date them?

It's a tricky question to answer. Many slackers have a certain bad-boy appeal — these may include aloof musicians, men who consider themselves too brilliant to be gainfully employed, or guys who say they were only incarcerated because of the unjust nature of "The Man."

In Amy's case, her slacker guy was no felon — he was simply a lot of fun. She met her snowboarder beau at a ski resort soon after she'd ended a serious relationship with another man, one with whom she'd been planning a cross-country move and marriage. At the time she wasn't looking for a long-term boyfriend, and she enjoyed spending time outdoors with the guy. "I'm a better mountain biker and a better snowboarder because of the time I spent with him," she says with genuine gratitude in her voice.

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2 comments
140seconds
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I've lived in San Francisco for 13 years and the majority of women aren't attracted to intelligent guys. I think they find it intimidating or possibly not masculine.  I was having a really intelligent conversation with a woman at a bar once, she was very smart, she turned to me and said "I can see this doesn't work for you, does it?" Then she went of with a guy who looked homeless. The women in SF are bad, bad, bad, Run the other way, guys. Find a girl in SLO or Sonoma. 

tortue497
tortue497

"any man who's lucky enough to be with you needs to know that he's the luckiest man in the world."

to me thats attitude towards men is the main reason divorce rate are pretty high these days!! girls thinking of themselve as princesses and expect to be treated by a prince.

im a man and hearing that kind of bullshit makes me sad.

 
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