They call them “America’s Lost Boys.” It’s a bit of a misnomer because they’re men and we know exactly where they are. They’re back in their parents basements, sitting in front of their Macs playing World of Warcraft. It’s a phenomenon that’s being blamed on everything from lack of stimulation in elementary school to movies and television shows that idealize the lazy, oafish, slacker whose mom washes his socks while he lives out his carefree single life with his slacker buddies. It seems that, for some men, transitioning to the traditional idea of adulthood may depend upon being in a serious relationship with a woman.
It also seems that there is no parallel phenomenon among women and, in fact, the trend may be completely reversed. While many men defer to beer, pizza, and a Playstation in absence of a serious relationship, women have no problem growing up regardless of their relationship status.
And we wonder why the desire of women to get married seems to be dropping, as noted by a recent article in The New York Times. It might be that a vegetable-eating, fully-employed woman looks at her beer-guzzling, internet-surfing prospects and has a good long think about whether or not she really wants to be quiet enough during to avoid waking her boyfriend’s parents.
It may also have to do with, as the NYT article notes, changes in education and gender roles. Meanwhile, gender roles are still a tricky area. While a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 40 percent of households with kids are being supported primarily or mainly by mom, another recent article found that, in an effort to seem less threatening to their husbands, bread-winning wives often try to perform more traditional gender roles. In other words, things are changing and it seems that women are not willing to adjust. Why? Because traditionally, men have had more education, made more money and been given more power in marriages—remember that some marriage vows still include the woman promising to "obey!" Some women believe the happiness of their marriage is dependent on these gender roles, despite research suggesting otherwise. Is the notion of “traditional marriage” actually impeding the progress of marriage as an institution and women as a gender?
Perhaps we can all take a lesson from same-sex couples who are rallying, lobbying and fighting for their basic civil right to make a legal lifelong commitment to the person they love. Once we have that, deciding how much gaming time each partner gets becomes much easier to negotiate.
The tides are changing and we must adjust accordingly, ladies. Who has time for these silly games? The trash needs to be taken out and it doesn’t matter who does it. The sooner we realize that, the better it will be for all of us.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.