Are there any good men left?

March 20, 2008

by Mandy Thomas

f you had asked me a year ago if there were any good men left, I would have said yes with little hesitation. I was dating one.

He was perfect. Tall and dark with incredible arms. Great taste in music and movies. He didn’t say much, but when he did, it was with a dry humor he had adopted from his hard-working father, the high school principal. He came from a small Midwestern town where his mother and church family instilled in him a respect for all people, especially women.

He thought I had hung the moon and I was in no position to argue.

So when my teacher, Ralph Whitehead, brought his wife, Barbara, to our Writing for Pop Culture class to discuss her book, Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman, I was slightly annoyed. Couldn’t we talk about the overwhelming impact of the Internet on the music industry or the abundance of college-aged self-prescribed Adderall addicts? Must we really talk about boys? And are they really so easily distinguishable as either good or bad? Is it possible women are being too dramatic and cynical?

Wife and author, Barbara Defoe Whitehead, says there’s a new young, single woman in America, and she’s not overreacting.

With more women in college than men, higher and more powerful corporate positions being held by women and a postponing of marriage until their late twenties and early thirties, young women of today are having several semi-serious relationships before marrying, and they are happening at the woman’s emotional pace.

She says a transition is occurring in a girl’s rearing that recognizes the important aspects of a successful adult life as being “economic self-sufficiency, social independence and sexual liberation.” In her book, she compares today’s single women to a specimen orchid, stating “they’ve been bred to win prizes.” And not just in their professional lives but in their love lives too.

Does this mean just aren’t capable of keeping up with these new determined and independent women? Truthfully, have women become too much for men to handle?

Whitehead says, “Women are no more ready than their male peers to make serious commitments in the years immediately following college.” By this point in their life, Whitehead says women have had two or three semi-serious relationships, and they’ve also had their hearts broken.

This sounds just like what my roommate says to me now – now that I’ve had my heart broken by the aforementioned perfect boy and as a result, have spent this entire school year trying to replace him with some other single and emotionally bruised college-aged man.

“At our age,” my roommate says, “people have already been through a bad breakup and nobody wants gets to hurt again.”
So what – we just wait? Wait until we are older and more mature? Wait to attempt a romantic relationship until we are better able to handle our feelings? Always keep one foot out the door so we can bail at the slightest hint of emotionally intimacy?

Why can’t we just lay it all out there? Unabashedly say how we feel while knowing we risk rejection?

My literary therapist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, states in his essay, “Self-Reliance,” that people must be true to themselves.
“If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier,” Emerson says. “If you cannot, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions.”

While this was written with good intentions, Emerson’s outlook passes with this jaded college student as idealistic, optimistic at best.

It must be that today’s romance is in transition along with new single woman. Romance is honing in on the experience rather than the result. Whether it’s good or bad, intimately involved or emotionally detached, complicated or completely straight forward – it’s an experience in human connection. Romance isn’t dead; it’s just confused along with every other college-aged adult in America.

Mandy Thomas is a senior journalism major from Shreveport who serves as associate editor for The Tech Talk. E-mail comments to ajt008@latech .edu.