Peter and Paul respond vociferously to a weekend article in the New York Times entitled Men’s Lib. The article implores men to “become more like women” and that in fact, men “don’t really have a choice.” The article makes several valid points, including the fact that women now exceed men at all levels of education and will continue to take spots away in the highly-paid professional sphere. The dismal scene projected by the article puts Pete off, especially the comment that men must stop thinking about white collar vs blue collar jobs, but rather embrace “pink” collar work, including positions as librarians, elementary school teachers, and nurses. Faced with what the authors call a “feminine future,” men must “adapt or be left behind.” Paul is particularly interested in how these demographic trends affect the marriage market, something he’s discussed before in comments on Date-onomics by Jon Birger. The article contends that many men “with poor job prospects do not see themselves as husband material” because they subscribe to the male-breadwinner model of marriage. This has to change, argue the authors – who, by the way, are a man and a women – and many women will have to “marry down” if they want a committed partner. One of the most provocative lines comes near the end: “More men ought to be doing what women did historically: improving their economic prospects by marrying well.” Peter and Paul envisage a late-night Manhattan bar with men leaning against the railing, coiffing their hair and batting their eyelashes, hoping a rich young woman might just buy them a drink! Next, we consider a very real choice that many people face: Financial Risk v Fulfillment Risk. Most workers accustomed to a steady paycheck fear economic insecurity when they unplug, perhaps having nightmares of park benches and dumpster-diving. Paul makes the case that few people will actually starve, and that the bigger, more profound risk is Fulfillment Risk: staying in something unsatisfying, but comfortable, until it’s too late to pursue your dreams. This, he believes, is the real risk, but hard to quantify or appreciate when we’re young because its power comes in the form of regret in later life.
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