Women vs. the Man-Child

Trying to date in New York is extremely exhausting. Anyone who lives here and is single will attest to that. Especially in the twenty-something range, where, frequently, prospects fall into undesirable categories of arrogant bro, douchey hipster, intellectual snob, or an even-worse hybrid. And these are not stereotypical labels. What I and so many of my female friends find is that the men in this city are repulsively condescending, aloof and noncommittal, or at times outright sexist—at least, until confronted about it, when we become either a) crazy, b) unable to take a “joke”, or c) overly sensitive. Or d) all of the above. Everything was said in jest. No one was serious about anything. Unless they are; the meaning of underhanded insults whose base lies in playground, “But you’re a girl” logic is contingent upon the male speaker’s unspoken intentions—not his tone. Didn’t you know?

This is part of the subject of a recent article in The New Inquiry by Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern entitled Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child, a redress of sorts to an article originally published in French radical philosophy journal Tiqquen. Though more workplace-themed and political in nature than my Williamsburg dating scene analogy, it’s an excellent long read if you take the time to sit down and power through. Among the gems, including an acknowledgement that women today are more frequently found in power packs of lady friends than on a date with someone who uses their gender as irony, is this paragraph, which struck a particular chord with a slightly disillusioned, working-too-young woman as myself:

Women’s long history of performing work without its even being acknowledged as work, much less compensated fairly, may account for their relative success in today’s white-collar economy. This is, at least, the story of the heroine that the new Mancession Lit has created. Call her the Grown Woman. A perpetual-motion machine of uncomplaining labor, shuttling between her job and household tasks, the Grown Woman could not be more different from either fat-year brats like Carrie Bradshaw, or Judd Apatow’s lady Man-Children. The Grown Woman holds down her job and pays for her own dinner. The Grown Woman feels like a bad mom when she sees the crafts and organic snacks that other moms are posting on Pinterest. She wonders whether feminism lied to her, but knows she will inherit the earth. Could this be because she is better than the Man-Child at performing what current economic conditions demand? She is certainly more practiced. Who among us hasn’t faked it, if only to make him stop asking?

I wonder if feminism lied to me. I will inherit the Earth. Say it with me now, ladies.

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