Spoiler alert! I am sorry to say, but the Weather Girls were wrong. It is not raining men! In her work, Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead talks about the 21st century young woman’s move into a career-oriented, youthfully-liberated, professional world and its complications for traditional dating. Through personal anecdotes of women in this complicated balancing act, Whitehead presents the stats of what this unprecedented, revolutionizing change means for economic independence and empowerment. 

Reflecting on the read, my biggest critique of the book is that is fails to adequately address religion as a foundational principle for morality and behavior, which I will further explain in this article. As a conservative woman, I am very ‘woke’ to the idea that strong family foundations are the sole criterion of enabling a life of success and happiness. Without giving this the explanation it deserves, we can understand single-handedly why this dating doomsday is ensuing. This book is displeasing in that it does not address the underlying question it seeks out to answer in its title. What actually is it about society and these changing social norms that is resulting in a lack of virtuous, but ambitious twenty-something men? I think the answer can be found by first reflecting with ourselves and our own behavior.

Why There Are No Good Men Left begins with explaining contemporary issues unique to the rising generation regarding relationships and juggling a work-life balance. Barbara Whitehead explains that women are entering professional institutions at incredibly high rates. In fact, women are out-schooling men and rejecting the biological clock of womanhood for a sense of never-ending liberation. Cohabitation is a central theme to the book. It is slightly overemphasized in my opinion. I could not help but note the consistent mention of living together as a scapegoat for the inefficiencies of modern work-heavy, travel-heavy schedules. Whitehead also spends quite a bit of time discussing elite universities and their ‘dating pools,’ which now are being transferred from campus to online, ‘smart’ dating sites. Whitehead opines that the new single woman is plighted because of this combination of convenience and a ‘do it all’ mentality; it is in opposition to the traditional sense of courtship. The latter system is facing upheaval and is losing out to this new mating system which has high rates of divorce, unwed childbearing, matchmaking technologies, and the decline of college-based courtships. 

Progressing through this book page by page made me more and more curious as to when I was going to read about the root of the problem, obviously a culture confusing free will and responsibility. I am incredibly disheartened that Whitehead seems to ignore the hugely important factor at play – a generation-wide, lack of esteem for the traditional, building blocks of society, religion and family. Was Whitehead ever going to discuss the increasing cultural disregard for the family unit? When was she going to discuss the immoral and quite frankly, animalistic behavior promoted through higher education? Maybe even a subtle mention of lack of religious foundations and respect would provide some answer to the title’s question. 

If society is dramatically revolutionizing in the blink of an eye, as is the rather accepted narrative, should we not look to the past for any set of tested values that have proved time and again to establish modes of prosperity? The government has reason to promote monogamous marriage, not only for economic reasons of the individuals involved, but to ensure the health, stability, and happiness of future generations. Historically, families have modeled themselves around moral teachings from local communities, often through religious institutions. What we often forget is that merely a few generations ago, today’s college-aged women would have typically been married and starting families. This was by the time they were at what is today’s age to move to the big city and build a career, diploma and Mr. Not Ready in hand. 

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So, I’m sure we are all wondering, why are there really no good men left? Barbara Whitehead does not give a fair voice to any men throughout her book. It leaves the audience to speculate on their own answers to where all the good men go to hide away. My argument is that these good men have to hide under society’s pressures to shame some “patriarchy” out of existence and to take traditionalism out of pop culture in the name of postmodernism. “Good” men are not seeking a convenient relationship that defies human nature nor recognizes their partner as a mere means to their end. As a critical audience, we too must also question where the goodness is within ourselves. 

I have friends that want to be housewives. But, I also have friends that want to change and travel the world. I, however, am unaware of how to take over the world from the kitchen. “You’re only 20!” I often hear in response to my outspoken aspiration to marriage, motherhood, and also to a law firm corner office overlooking Capitol Hill. Sure, the definition of success is subjective, until it is biologically not. Perhaps this is the beauty of the 21st century, though. Maybe we can create a counter cultural solution to the new mating system we are facing. Ivanka Trump’s, Women Who Work, even sets forth the notion that no such work-life balance exists, but can be worked at throughout life alongside one’s spouse. I do think that good men exist, but in a silent minority. From my experience, a set of really high standards is the antidote to mediocre men. “The answer,” Whitehead explains in the final chapter, “will likely be found in the ability of the society and the culture and the market to come up with innovative practices that fit the new realities of young women’s lives and timetables.”

Get your copy of Why There Are No Good Men Left here.

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Kelly H