In a great piece for the New York Observer, fellow Columbia grad Alex Symonds (hi!) chronicles a trend she noticed among the male unemployed: jobless and aimless, they are turning into the reverse June Cleavers of 2010: buying groceries for their wives, taking care of their kids, and meticulously cleaning smudgy surfaces all over the house.
We’ve noticed this domesticated male epidemic already. And once or twice before. It’s not very new, but Symonds brings a deeper level of sophistication to the stats and notices that men are not only taking over all the housework, but also feeling a similar sense of ennui Betty Friedan chronicled among the ’50s women chained to their kitchens in The Feminine Mystique.
One common thread? What a waste their pricey schooling was: (Again something we’ve heard before, but a trend is a trend dammit).
Like the middle-class women who populated Friedan’s opus, this new mystified class expresses a dissatisfaction more existential than financial. Mr. Elrod has health insurance through his wife’s job. Mr. Biddle is getting by on savings and help from his parents. Mr. Barr can, well, afford to shop at Whole Foods.
But they keenly feel the unfulfilled promise of their expensive educations.
“Part of the frustration is this incredibly long build-up to nothing,” Brad said. “Like, ‘Why did I spend 22 years getting A’s and studying for the chance to eat canned chili?’ … I was in the airport watching people move bags from the curb to the curbside check-in, thinking, ‘At least they do something all day long, and I have $450,000 in education and fancy everything, and I’m sitting around all day and watching 2.5 movies a day?'”
Given all this recent resentment towards hefty college price tags, maybe universities should now throw in a clause in very fine print in all of their brochures: “This institution will not be held responsible for your hundreds of thousands of loans if you graduate unemployed. We repeat, our diploma will never guarantee you a job. In fact, maybe you should just quit now and enroll online elsewhere.”