Mancession: A Generation of Receding Manhood
Recently, everywhere we turn, a headline, dejected former bond trader, or homeless bum is screaming about the recession. It’s the ubiquitous polysyllabic answer to the four letter word. It’s the buzz kill of fancy cocktail parties across the country. It’s the subject of clueless style section pieces about thrift shopping in our most prominent print publications. The recession is the new black, black is the new white, and white is the color of blood-drained Wall Street mugs as they watch the Dow close each day.
What is getting less attention is another phenomenon, equally as prevalent: the mancession. The mancession is not, as those of blunter intellects might believe, a lack of eligible bachelors. It’s not the self-pitying, whining single girl’s lament that “All the good one’s are gay or taken.” No, no, it is another thing entirely, and it applies to men and women, though I’ll discuss it using male pronouns for simplicity.
To truly understand the term “mancession,” we must consider the rather vague (thanks a lot NBER) definition of recession, that is, “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” Similarly, we must also consider two of the many definitions of man (not the one referring to the white establishment), as designated by my dear friends over at Merriam Webster:
“the individual who can fulfill or who has been chosen to fulfill one’s requirements ”
“one extremely fond of or devoted to something specified .”
Combine these definitions and you’ve got a mancession: the real and visible decline of the gross domestic production of individuals who fulfill their emotional requirements and are devoted to something specified. In simpler terms, we aren’t popping out guys with balls enough to be happy with someone else.
Sure there are plenty of guys out there who flaunt a distorted sense of maverick manhood. They’ve gotten numbers from ninety drunk girls at the bar in the last month alone, have had so many one night stands they require two black books, and have even taken a stripper named Candy out on the town. Instead of buying up one risky but potentially hugely successful stock option, many men today hedge, making several small investments in a number of social situations to offset the risks of each other. Many of these examples of purported manhood are really nothing but ego-driven short selling, i.e. obtaining assets to later resell at a higher value than their original worth. Lure an inebriated sorority girl to your bed, climb on for some sloppy in-and-out, then regale friends later with inflated tales of wild sexual giddyup. Look, you’re socially shortselling!
We’re raised by a generation of capitalists that extolled the old marketplace adage that “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.” Meanwhile, more than one self-styled “maverick” can’t tell his best female friend that he has feelings for her, break up with his safe bore of a girlfriend, move to a new city to be with someone, or make any other number of the countless emotional risks presented by relationships. These are the romantic equivalents of Depression Era dollar-under-the-mattress savers. They hope that somehow, with no investment, they will become rich. Yes, there is the occasional lottery winner, but they too have to at least purchase their ticket.
Ultimately, many blame the economic recession on the illogical, short-sighted belief that we, whether homeowners, traders, or bigwig execs, can continue to borrow indefinitely without ever paying back our debt. We are borrowing, broke credit addicts with fat heads and skinny wallets. And when it comes to relationships, there are only so many times that we can let the moment to go balls out and say “I love you” pass by silently, there are only so many nights at home we can share a bed unhappily, there are only so many chances we get to sign the lease before the buddy meets a man, the girlfriend gets knocked up and American Judeo-Christian values tie the knot around your miserable relationship, or the girl-not-next-door rolls out the welcome mat for a new boyfriend.
Only when we begin to make the calculated risks of saying what we want and who we love will we truly possess the quality of manliness, fulfill our requirements, and devote ourselves to something specified. Only then will we have manned up, whether male or female. Only then will we pull ourselves out of the mancession and the barren Hooverville that is emotional dissatisfaction; there’s no WPA for the heart and as Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
About TracyOneill Tracy is a freelance writer based out of Brooklyn obsessed with nutritional supplements, mediocre music, audacious (to put it politely) apparel, literary giants, and perfecting the fine art of the Sunday Bloody Mary.