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Why Little Girls Swoon for Troy
Tonight four friends took our four daughters to see High School Musical on Ice in Kingston, Ontario.

I was worried it would be lame, but was actually very impressed. A good time had by all, including my 10-year-old daughter who loves skating and enjoys practising her axels on the kitchen floor.

A few random thoughts from the evening, though. About five girls sitting behind us were at least fifteen. These weren't little girls like the ones we brought; they were honest to goodness teenagers. And throughout the evening they kept shouting: "We Love You Troy!". And they meant it. They wore homemade High School Musical shirts. They bought the bona fide junk at the junk stands. They were groupies.

What is it about the show that resonates so much? It has to be the clean-cut romance. No sexual overtones, really. Just sweet stuff. All they're waiting for is that one kiss. That's the culmination of all their dreams. And the fact that he's dreamy and he treats Gabriella well is all part of the whole package.

Our girls are romance junkies, because that's the way God made us. We yearn to be treated like ladies: to be cherished, even put up on a bit of a pedestal. Deep inside, I'm not so sure that we yearn for all this equality as much as we do for someone to hold the door open for us.

I remember when I was first married and right out of university I was so into the 50-50 marriage. He had to do half of everything, and he should never ever act sexist.

After being married for 16 years, I'm really into sexist. You hold the door. You shovel the snow. You kill the bugs. And I'll make the bed. I really don't mind. That doesn't mean that I should always do all the housework (read To Love, Honor and Vacuum for ways to get the kids to help and to get him involved when it's necessary); just that I like being a lady. We are not the same.

So if that's what girls intrinsically yearn for, what is our culture doing to promote it, other than producing these fairy-tale movies? Turns out very little. Our girls want romance, but they're in a hook up culture. Even those inside Christian circles still give in to the dating scene a little bit too much, rather than waiting for the more chivalrous idea of courtship.

And girls' readiness to hook up means boys don't have to be men and don't have to be romantic anymore. Kay Hymowitz says this:

For whatever reason, adolescence appears to be the young man’s default state, proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere: it is marriage and children that turn boys into men. Now that the SYM can put off family into the hazily distant future, he can—and will—try to stay a child-man.

Yesterday’s paterfamilias or Levittown dad may have sought to escape the duties of manhood through fantasies of adventures at sea, pinups, or sublimated war on the football field, but there was considerable social pressure for him to be a mensch. Not only is no one asking that today’s twenty- or thirtysomething become a responsible husband and father—that is, grow up—but a freewheeling marketplace gives him everything that he needs to settle down in pig’s heaven indefinitely.

I wrote a column about this a couple of years ago, and this is what I said:

If you think of basic economics, it’s easy to see how this works. The nature of supply and demand says that if there is a large supply of women who are willing to enter into relationships without any commitment tied to it, then the number of men who are willing to commit will correspondingly drop, because men have not historically yearned for commitment in the same way that women have.

As the lack of commitment in relationship becomes the norm, women who want commitment may think they have to settle for lack of commitment in the hopes that they can win the men over. When surveys of cohabiting couples are taken, for instance, the biggest conflict is often between those who want the relationship to progress and those who simply want it to go on as it is. Yet once you have entered into that kind of a relationship, you give up all your cards.
It's sad, isn't it? We need to teach our daughters that romance is worth waiting for and that the only way to get it is to stop the hook up culture. Look to Jesus. He cared about the heart. Anyone you're with should treat you with that kind of respect, too. That's what these girls yearn for. It's our jobs, as moms, to train them to become the kind of women who will attract the right kind of attention.

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At 11:07 AM , Blogger Ken said…

Wow! I've been tracking response to Hymowitz's commentary, and so I came across your blog. I think you have earned a new reader.

I'm a married father to a little girl, who spent all of my 20s as a bachelor, and carefully thought through whether or not I wanted to marry and have children.

That being said...

The child-man is largely a reaction to the easy hook-up culture. That is a HUGE part of it. But there are other factors, too.

More men these days have been raised in a home without a father who is happily married to their mother. Men have also lost most "male-only" institutions. Responsible masculinity has been mocked in the media, and attacked in academia. And thus, they do not have a model of a happy, lasting marriage and are not socialized to be marriage and family-minded AND masculine in the traditional sense.

Many men also see marriage, due to the legal and social climate, as now having little benefit to them and too many serious risks and limitations. These men see their fathers, uncles, brothers, co-workers, and friends who are either miserably married or have been emotionally and financially devestated by divorce and the loss of access to their children.

Men also have even less incentive to marry once they decide they do not want to have children. We no longer live on the family farm or work in the family shop, where having children meant having help with the work. Also due to the legal and social climates, we're making children more of a liability than an asset.

So, when you combine the pitfalls of marriage and fatherhood with easy access to cheap casual sex that is decreasingly shamed by the church and that does not create a child who makes it to birth, some men refuse to stay "old-school".

Now, a man can be a responsibble real man and an adult without being a husband and father. But if you add "the government as daddy" into the mix, he has even less incentive to be self-sufficient.

This is all bad for society. If a man (or woman, for that matter) really doesn't want a spouse or children, I do not want them to marry or reproduce. But the problem for society is, more people are leaning that way than before.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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