Kay Hymowitz, Charlie Sheen, and Ashley Wilkes

Posted on March 2, 2011 by


Since its publication on February 19th, Kay Hymowitz’s “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” has deftly managed to draw criticism and mockery from both sexes. Feminists responded to the op-ed by protesting that women’s liberation shouldn’t be held to blame for the decline of the male sex; while men generally reacted with something like, “We’re not that bad—or maybe we are, but that’s only because women are worse.”

On Monday, Hymowitz decided that the best way to respond to male criticism would be to publish a follow-up column in The Daily Beast, titled, “Why Are Men So Angry?”. According to Hymowitz, young men are angry at women for two reasons. First, there’s the “gender bait-and-switch”:

By the time they reach their twenties, [men] have years of experience with women as equal competitors—in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. They very reasonably assume that the women they are meeting at a bar or café or gym are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex.

That’s the bait; here comes the switch. Women may want equality at the conference table and treadmill. But when it comes to sex and dating, they aren’t so sure. The might hook up as freely as a Duke athlete. Or, they might want men to play Greatest Generation gentleman. Yes, they want men to pay for dinner, call for dates—a writer at the popular dating website The Frisky titled a recent piece “Call me and ask me out for a damn date!”—and open doors for them. A lot of men wonder: “WTF??!”

But that’s not all:

Far worse in the bait and switch category is women’s stated preference for nice guys and actual attraction to bad boys. Now, clearly this is not true for all women. Many, maybe even most, want a guy with the sweetness of a Jimmy Stewart and sensitivity of Ashley Wilkes. But enough of them are partial to the Charlie Sheens of this world that one popular dating guru, David DeAngleo, lists “Being Too Much of a Nice Guy” as No. 1 in his “Ten Most Dangerous Mistakes Men Make With Women.”

If you’re a little confused, I don’t blame you: Hymowitz seems to be saying that men are angry at women (1) because women secretly want old-fashioned gentlemen who “pay for dinner and call for dates” and (2) because a lot of women want the “Charlie Sheens of the world.” Hymowitz could have saved this column by concluding that today’s women want different things in men (since economic independence has enabled women to decide for themselves what they need)—-but Hymowitz doesn’t do that. Instead, she ends the piece thusly:

PlayStations and Internet porn? For a lot of guys, they seem like the better way.

So what’s the valuable takeaway from “Why Are Men So Angry?” To the extent that there is one, I think it’s this: Kay Hymowitz thinks Ashley Wilkes and Jimmy Stewart are prime examples of sweet, sensitive men. Ashley Wilkes, the weak-kneed Gone with the Wind character who loved the virtuous Melanie but still lusted after Scarlett O’Hara, leading her on until she’d destroyed her own marriage—is that really Hymowitz’s idea of a good man? If it is, no wonder she thinks women’s independence is responsible for man’s “decline.” And as for Jimmy Stewart—sure, he may have played the “sweet” romantic lead in the 1940s and 50s, and he may even have been a sweet guy; but when I think of Jimmy Stewart and women, all I can think of is this:

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