Kay Hymowitz has an excellent article in the current City Journal, "Child-Man in the Promised Land," on the spread of educated, employed, socially retarded young men. These are the men that society has made a huge investment in, in hopes that they would become responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens. But they remain in gadget-strewn arrested development. Hymowitz notes that these guys, with the resources to make a social contribution, spend their time and money on proudly immature self-indulgence.
The punchline, though, is that all this self-pleasuring doesn't fill them with pleasure. It makes them numb and apathetic.
Hymowitz cites two successful "lad lit" authors, Nick Hornsby and Benjamin Kunkel, in naming the source of slacker apathy: the easy availability of sex.
I think Hymowitz buries the lead. She set out to chronicle this new social type, the happily immature Single Young Man. As a sociobiologist and a Calvinist, I do not need any convincing that most men, left to their own devices, would live for the sense pleasures of the moment.
I am more interested in what turns boys into men. The great lever that civilization has is the intense, passionate interest of most men in sex with women. I think Hymowitz, and other promoters of civilization, should put that in the lead of each marriage article. If men could only get sex in marriage, the vast majority of SYMs would straighten up within a year.
It is a free country. Men don't have to be responsible. Neither do women. But there is great wisdom in the near-universal social custom of women strictly limiting sex outside of marriage. And without some responsible men, society itself will fall apart. Women can't do everything by themselves.