“All that wouldn’t be so bad if we could at least dull the pain with girls.But we’re treated like paedophiles and potential rapists just for showing interest.And he agrees that the current generation of young men find it particularly difficult to engage with women.“Teenage boys always have been useless with girls, but there’s definitely a fear that now being well-intentioned isn’t enough, and you can get into trouble just for being clumsy,” he says.“My generation of boys is f**ked,” says Rupert, a young German video game enthusiast I’ve been getting to know over the past few months. In France, we even have to pay for the kids a wife has through adulterous affairs. And while girls are favoured to fulfil quotas, men are slipping into distant second place. Women have given up on monogamy, which makes them uninteresting to us for any serious relationship or raising a family. Even if we take the risk, chances are the kids won’t be ours. In the US, they force-feed boys Ritalin like Skittles to shut them up.“For example, leaning in for a kiss might see you branded a creep, rather than just inept.” The new rules men are expected to live by are never clearly explained, says Rivlin, leaving boys clueless and neurotic about interacting with girls.
Social commentators, journalists, academics, scientists and young men themselves have all spotted the trend: among men of about 15 to 30 years old, ever-increasing numbers are checking out of society altogether, giving up on women, sex and relationships and retreating into pornography, sexual fetishes, chemical addictions, video games and, in some cases, boorish lad culture, all of which insulate them from a hostile, debilitating social environment created, some argue, by the modern feminist movement. Cruelly derided as man-children and crybabies for objecting to absurdly unfair conditions in college, bars, clubs and beyond, men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t: ridiculed as basement-dwellers for avoiding aggressive, demanding women with unrealistic expectations, or called rapists and misogynists merely for expressing sexual interest.Jack Rivlin is editor-in-chief of student tabloid media start-up The Tab, a runaway success whose current strap-line reads: “We’ll stop writing it when you stop reading it.” As the guiding intelligence behind over 30 student newspapers, Rivlin is perhaps the best-placed person in the country to observe this trend in action.My generation are the beautiful ones,” he sighs, referring to a 1960s experiment on mice that supposedly predicted a grim future for the human race.After overpopulation ran out of control, the female mice in John Calhoun’s “mouse universe” experiment stopped breeding, and the male mice withdrew from the company of others entirely, eating, sleeping, feeding and grooming themselves but doing little else. Never before in history have relations between the sexes been so fraught with anxiety, animosity and misunderstanding.
To radical feminists, who have been the driving force behind many tectonic societal shifts in recent decades, that’s a sign of success: they want to tear down the institutions and power structures that underpin society, never mind the fall-out. But, for the rest of us, the sight of society breaking down, and ordinary men and women being driven into separate but equal misery, thanks to a small but highly organised group of agitators, is distressing.Particularly because, as increasing numbers of social observers are noticing, an entire generation of young people—mostly men—are being left behind in the wreckage of this social engineering project.