A good man is hard to find, and increasingly becoming even more scarce
Where are all the good, marriageable men?
This is a question so ubiquitous to my female peers and me that to justify it seems almost trite. Yet I was asked to do just that after publishing a piece in The Catholic Weekly this month stating a widely held but seldom-heard view of the lack of desirable, moral men in this country, especially in the church.
I can talk to any young woman in my social circle and they will all say the same thing: there just aren’t any men.
What we mean by this is there is a frightening scarcity of men aged 25 to 35 who are churchgoing, single and worldly wise. Most men I meet have two out of three of these qualities, with the last often lacking. If they’re single churchgoers, they’re often in want of basic social awareness (a big turn-off for most women); if they’re more socially adjusted, they’re generally not single or not religious.
Even if they’re not religious, most young Australian men hold views and values that are utterly opposed to our own. As a Christian, trying to find a normal Aussie bloke who is willing to enter a chaste relationship can feel like looking for gold dust.
Some have taken issue with my assessment of the situation, but this is the view held by virtually every female friend I have — not to mentions dozens more, male and female, who reached out to me after my article was published. What we’re asking for really boils down to two things: shared values and mutual attraction.
Yet this reality — what was once the social norm — is becoming less and less common.
We are living in a unique time in history; never have politics been so polarised, moral norms so lacking or churchgoing men so scarce.
This environment has made it uniquely tough for women to find good husbands. While some may dismiss this as a trivial issue when compared with Brexit, abortion on demand or the erosion of free speech, I would contend it is every bit as important, if not more so.
The future of our society depends on good, solid marriages, families and citizens. We need families to produce educated and informed young men and women who will continue fighting the good fight against attacks on free speech and Christian values in the years to come.
Yet for someone like me — a 32-year-old single Catholic — the situation looks bleak indeed.
This is not just the case for women of faith, either. A young agnostic mum told me the issues I raised “transcend faith altogether and speak to a wider problem of good-valued men largely disappearing from society”.
I’m not denying there are good single guys out there. Of course there are. Several of my closest friends have been fortunate enough to meet and marry some wonderful, intelligent, principled men — but many more haven’t been so lucky. I meet them constantly at parties and social events — beautiful, smart, single women who just want to find a good man to love and honour. Yet this pool of women seems to keep getting bigger while the number of marriageable men is swiftly dropping.
In the early 1960s, 87 per cent of Australian men identified as Christian. That figure now has dropped to 49 per cent, with regular churchgoers in even further decline. Just 14 per cent of all Christians in Australia attend church weekly. In Sydney churches, women outnumber men nearly two to one, according to the latest National Church Life Survey data, with the average parishioner in her 50s.
Across the globe, men increasingly are less likely than women to believe in God, pray daily or count religion as an important part of their lives. This should come as no real surprise; the writing has been on the wall for some time.
Radical feminism has played a decisive role in the demonisation of masculinity. Men who attempt to fulfil their natural role as protectors are shamed or, worse, made to feel like oppressors.
This has resulted in absurd programs such as the consent course that the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney rolled out last year that patronisingly lectures students in rules of courtship, such as ensuring an enthusiastic “yes!” is received before attempting to kiss one’s love interest. Apart from being decidedly unsexy, this sort of advice is predicated on the notion that all men are potential predators unless given the right training.
Gillette’s divisive “the best men can be” ad is another example of an organisation peddling this narrative.
To further complicate matters, single-parent families now make up 10 per cent of all Australian families, with the vast majority of these fatherless. Is it any wonder masculinity is increasingly absent in our society, when men are taught that their natural tendencies are potentially wicked and dangerous, and many do not have fathers to guide and demonstrate true masculinity to them?
Modern Western society is rife with these unhelpful, even harmful, messages. So many men seemingly do not understand what it is to be a man any more, which I believe is why figures such as Jordan Peterson have soared in popularity during the past few years.
Peterson is challenging the narrative of toxic masculinity, so-called rape culture and the notion that the patriarchy is responsible for all the world’s ills.
More important, he is actively promoting qualities that are sorely lacking in our society, such as personal responsibility, honesty and integrity.
I’m deeply grateful for the influence people such as Peterson are having on so many men, young and old. We should be doing all we can to help steer men in the right direction and find truth and meaning in their lives. Men who are guided by good principles, who have purpose and direction in life, are not only deeply attractive to women, they are also invaluable assets to society.
Yet many women I see and talk to feel as if their chance is never going to come.
I am now beginning to face the possibility that I may never marry. It makes me squirm with discomfort and anxiety to admit this, but I have to be realistic. On a personal level, my faith teaches me that if I don’t ever marry, it’s because that is God’s will for me.
I may not like it, it may threaten to fill me with dread and despair, but that’s probably how I would have felt if someone had told me 10 years ago that I would still be single now. And while I have experienced some real suffering in my 32 years, I know my life is valuable and meaningful and worth living, despite not looking the way I imagined.
I’ll be honest, I am still mid-struggle when it comes to acceptance because, deep down, I don’t want to accept that this long-cherished dream of mine may never come true. It feels as though accepting the possibility will shackle me to the inevitability.
But I also know, from wisdom and experience, that this isn’t true; that accepting what is and opening myself up to what will be will actually set me free. It may be difficult and painful, but only in the short term. I get the panic; I get the struggle; I understand the fear. I’ve experienced all of it. Like many other young women, I firmly believed I would be married by the time I turned 25. Being so thoroughly convinced all my life that marriage was my vocation, it has come as a painful and frankly humiliating shock to find myself 32 years old and alone.
Yet I also know that neither a man nor a marriage can truly fulfil you in life — they’re just a bonus (if you’re lucky). In our social climate of fragmented relationships, broken families and widespread pornography addiction, it is harder than it has ever been to form wholesome relationships based on common values.
But there is still hope. I hope that speakers such as Peterson catch on with mainstream society; I hope that a return to traditional values is forthcoming; I hope we can stem the tide of radical feminism and promote genuine masculinity. But, in the meantime, I believe the focus for women like me needs to be on perfecting the life you have rather than chasing after the one you imagine.
For where your treasure is, there is your heart also.