Stop Playing Video Games! Get A Job! Get Married! Be A Man!

Look, I'd just as soon avoid getting too heated up about this latest mainstream diss on video games. But CNN's William Bennett has forced my hand, penning a new article about the decline of the American male titled "Why men are in trouble." Leading the article is a stock image of a gray-flecked adult holding up a PS3 controller, presumably to show it to someone in the room. Because no one actually holds a controller like that.

In the piece, Bennett (who was US Secretary of Education under Reagan) says that women are claiming a growing percentage of the job market, and are outpacing men earning university degrees and improving their salaries. (Let's leave aside the fact that the findings are relative and track changes from 1970 to 2006, where much of the change was due to women finally righting the scales after decades of imbalance in pay and educational opportunities.)

Halfway through the article comes the money quote. When pondering man's response to our presumed decline, Bennett says the following:

Man's response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?

For starters, "Man's response?" He says it as though we're organised! Men aren't activating the secret emergency network or calling late-night Man-Club meetings. We don't have a phone-tree. We're way too busy playing video games to organise that kind of thing. Also, we are busy enjoying the company of women and not plotting against them.

Anyway. Once again, we've got an unfair and lazy maligning of video games based on the assumption that they are only proper entertainment for children, and that grown-ups should, presumably, only watch TV and read books. As to that final question, anyone who has ever read Y: The Last Man can say with certainty, "Yes! We do need men! Seriously, otherwise shit gets crazy."

The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, "Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married." It's time for men to man up.

Sigh. I'm all for encouraging people so step up and get a job (Look ma, I'm blogging), but can we leave the cheap video game slams out of it? I get that it's an easy shortcut to illustrating the kind of social maladjustment that the article describes, but it's just so lazy. Furthermore, abstractly invoking video games does little to actually illustrate Bennett's broader point, which may very well be something worth talking about. All I get from this is "These numbers say that men play video games, so of course that is part of the problem here." Specific examples, please!

Hrmph. Maybe Bennett should just stick to going on talk radio and saying that if we were to abort all black babies it would lower the crime rate.

Why Men Are in Trouble [CNN]

Top photo: Sanzhar Murzin/Shutterstock

Comments

    Love the ad hominem at the end there, adds a nice touch of professionalism.

      Calling the guy a whiney douche would be ad-hominem.

      Calling him out on a previous bigoted statement, even if snarkily, is not ad-hominem. It's attacking the guy's idea/statement, not the guy himself.

      lrn2latin

        Sounds like you just got ad pwnedinem, Trjn.

      No note about the rise of women gamers?

      Seems Kirk's bashing the article could have gone into a little more details about why it's wrong.

    I play games. A lot. At my full time job at the moment and I had a wife and two kids when I left the house I own this morning. So not too sure where this guy is coming from.

      Hahaaaaa! Touché to you, sir! :) That this chap was part of the Regan administration really sums it all up, right?

      Same. I'm married with one kid, am paying off a mortgage, and am writign this from my desk at my full time job, which I put a lot of hours into.

      I still play lots of video games.

      Bad article is bad?

      Yep. I'm married, I have a degree, I have a job *looks down pants* and I'm a man. And I play videogames.

      Anecdotes = data.

        You can make this response only after the guy who wrote the completely bullshit article shows some data on how video games are the devil.

        His old boss has a much higher likelihood of being The Worst Thing that happened to humanity in the last 50 years than video games.

          Two wrongs = a right.

    I'm 37, not married, not religious, no kids and my favorite pastime is gaming... I'm also one of the happiest guys I know. Just thought I'd throw that out there ;) Viva la independence, fellas!

    "Stop Playing Video Games! Get A Job! Get Married! Be A Man!" in other words be a miserable corporate slave like the rest of us.

      Sounds like the aspirations of middle class white America right there.

      The 50's are over...

    I know what'll upset Bennett even more - I'm 30 years old, in a defacto relationship with neither of us having any plans for children! Or marriage! I play videogames and read comics! I also work 40 hours a week in a well paid job, I'm educated, qualified, and most of all, happier than a lot of people I know who are married and/or have kids.

    Pish to your theories, good sir. Pish.

    Men, stop wasting your time playing those damn videogames. You should all spend your spare time watching television instead, because thats what the rest of the adults do when they are not at work! Silly videogames.

      I believe you mean "what REAL adults do when they are not at work"

    Im 30, have a wife and a kid. I game about 10-20 hours a week...

    I also have a good full time job and I have an MBA...

    So im married, have a family,
    im edu-ma-cated and employed...

    what was your point again?

    For the last two afternoons I have been grinding my way to the Demon's Souls platinum, before Dark Souls comes out. Tonight should be my night (fingers crossed). In total around 12 hours gameplay.

    I am also happily married to a beautiful woman, whom I've been with since high school (I'm 28). I have a one year old son, own my own home and have a full time job of 40+ hours per week.

    William Bennett can eat shit and die. He has absolutely no fucking clue what he's talking about and obviously has some issue with woman, blaming video games (the scape goat of today's problems) just like every other wanker with an opinion worth shit all.

    I wonder I'd he has ever played a computer game?

    Married? Check.
    Children? Check.
    Mortgage? Check.
    Full-time job? Check.
    (Corporate wage slave? Check.)
    Second, unpaid, passion job? Check.
    Video gamer? Check.

    Hmm, guess I've got some growing up to do.

      You need your..
      Knives. Check
      Rope. Check
      Dagger. Check
      Chains. Check
      Rocks. Check
      Laser beams. Check
      Acid. Check
      Body bag. Check

      Sorry, I had to

        Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider

        Dethklok rules. Awesome comment I had to reply made me lol :)

        On subject, Currently on disability due to mental health problems but finally found the right medication and going to Tafe next year with plans to start my own business.

        Game alot, Engaged, have an almost 3 year old son and both my wife and son game with me.

        Anyway what is a "man" someone who works all day? Someone who has no fun? Hell work is important to support your family and I will be as soon as i am mentally able but why can't a "man" play games and enjoy his family and not be a working class zombie like most of the sad saps i see going to work who think work is everything and constantly have a depressed look on their face but a big bank account, because they don't want to fun because fun is bad and you are seen as less of a man. It's pathetic.

        Stupid guy is stupid, have a job but have fun too and be whatever man you bloody well want to.

    This is probably dumbest because it tries to link gaming as the problem - and yet he specifies two other key facts:

    A) higher participation of women in higher education and the workforce
    B) marriage and raising a family as key indicators of manhood

    Given that the majority of the world won't let men marry men, perhaps a more significant contributor to the lack of marriage and babies is that women also are doing other things with their time?

    Or, given the country the article originates from, the horrendous state of the US job market?

    As a full time employee gamer woman, with a full time employee fiance, gaming is a significantly more fun and economical form of entertainment than marriage and babies.

      You need to stop gaming and start enjoying having more babies.

      And not in a 'Harvest Moon' lets-make-a-baby-to-help-with-the-chores kind of way...
      more a 'Monster Rancher' keep-pushing-them-out-till-they-grow-up-and-combine type of way.

    The only thing that his view represents is a corporate economy based around productivity and the bottom line. A viewpoint that I have nothing but contempt for.

    My wife and I are very happy together. She's 23, I'm 25, and we've been happily married for 3 and a half years. Thus far we've resisted our socially and biologically programmed urges to have kids, and pressures from our relative families, because we'd much rather have fun being young together.

    As for religion being a cornerstone? That's not a rant that this anti-theist is going to get into on Kotaku...

    I'd like to know why William Bennett thinks being religious matters.

      simple - it conditions you to doing what you are told by a "higher party", be it boss, the state, or what ever spaghetti cult you belong to. Hell - even Fox commentators telling you how you are "doing it wrong"

      Once you stop questioning that which surrounds and your existence, happiness is immediately forthcoming.

      Ignorance is Bliss anyone?

    I'm married, work 9-5 and I play video games as my main past time. But so does my wife and son. We play together!

    I'll join the chorus of my above commentators and also confirm the following:
    - I game up to 20hrs a week
    - I have a full time, high paying job
    - I have a uni degree, with no HECS debt because I paid it off with the money i earn from my job
    - I own a house
    - Single, but dating again.

    I'm not sure who he is describing, but its not me or my friends...

    I also noticed his implication that women are successful because the men have been slacking off. Nice modern perspective there douchestick - why are we caring what this guy thinks again?

    Oh, an unprofessional hissy-fit giving attention to a guy who clearly doesn't deserve it?
    Fantastic.
    Wish I hadn't clicked this link.

    Religion. Hmm going to church every sunday seems like just a much of a waste of time as video games.

    Marriage, What's the point these days most of them don't last.

    It seems like what he's really saying is that hey you have freedom, no bad men, Go and get a wife that in today's age has a high chance of leaving you.

    Have kid's so they can waste your time by making you an unpaid taxi driver.

    As for get a challenging job, Buddy i'd take a bloody job right now. It seems no one want's to hire me while i'm at university, video games or not

    Kotaku AU wasn't loading for me earlier so I already posted on the US version of this article, but I feel like sharing my thoughts here - though I'll alter it to remove some of my swearing.

    Like I said when I reposted this travesty of an article (the CCN article, that is) on Twitter, when men would rather play video games than raise a family, why do women ask "do we need men?" and never "why don't men need us?". People put forth the relevancy of men argument like it's going to matter to anyone, and spur men into action lest they be shamed as, what? Willing to recognise women as equals? This seems to assume we shouldn't be already.

    If men were working hard specifically to maintain their dominance in the workforce and the education they'd be called misogynists by the same people who are telling them to grow up now.

    Women have been working hard to bridge a gap but still complain they never get the top jobs, get paid less for doing the same work, etc. The thing about having a large market share is that there is less room for growth. Why are "men" losing ground to "women"? Because we should be! It has nothing to do with gaming habits! Besides which, haven't recent studies shown that females play just as many games and spend an equivalent time playing as males anyway?

    Man, I put in my 40 hours, bring home a decent wage to support myself and my wife and we play video games - often together. I don't have a degree - I never finished university. But I'm ambitious, and hard work has me in a job alongside people with law degrees.

    I'm nearly 29, and gaming is my sole leisure activity. What else am I supposed to be doing? Working overtime? Curing cancer? I really don't give a shit if some twerp blogging about society thinks I'm not good enough.

    educated, money to burn, a job i love, not tied down to anyone else and enjoying my perfect life as a gamer.
    Bollocks to your definition of "man".

    Woah woah woah. He seriously wrote that between 1970 and 2006 women's earnings grew? He's blaming this fact on videogames and not that the fact that women we're socially suppressed?

      yep. It also sounds like a bizarre competition. "Hey men! Those womens are actually earning money! We have to show our dominance!"

      Ridiculous.

    To Be a man)
    We must be swift as the coursing river
    (To Be a man)
    With all the force of a great typhoon
    (To Be a man)
    With all the strength of a raging fire
    Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

    Time is racing toward us till the Huns arrive
    Heed my every order and you might survive
    You're unsuited for the rage of war
    So pack up, go home, you're through
    How could I make a man out of you?

      I love Mulan, does that make me less of a man?

        It actually makes you 10x more of a man. Can you feel that hair growing on your chest son. That's Mulan Man Hair.

          sweet, because i have the DVD and like to sing along to the songs.

            ^^ +1 Manly men above me ;)

    Sounds more like he's scared about the number of successful women, and then blames it on video games.

    On the flipside of that coin all those "go-getting, business/money focused" types out there (which he would probably pat on the back and want to play a round of gold with) are what led to all the financial industry crashes across the globe; banks that have destroyed the economy of entire countries and their people, but still make a profit for the bankers.

    The majority of environmental issues facing the world, both long and short term, can be aimed squarely at expanding corporate greed/power/money. The current state of the exploding lower-middle & lower classes (outdated I know, but the closest point of reference) across the 1st & 3rd world; those can all be laid at the feet of the type of men who put the pursuit of power and money as their major goal.

    Or you end up being some poor schmuck working for them, grinding away your limited time on the earth just to keep up.

    While I am glossing over the grey areas, I am just pointing out the same extreme that this Bennett twat is, but on the flipside.

    I'd prefer there were more gamers in the world than; bankers, corporate executives, oligarchs, financial traders, etc.
    It'd be better if there were less mouthy, opinionated TV celebs/pseudo politicians that are bigoted, racist, sexist, and staunchly uphold out-dated and ill-informed catholic idiocy, like Bennett.

    /rant

    Well... that turned into a spiel without me realising.

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