The Peter Pan Epidemic

There’s a definite stereotype nowadays that guys refuse to grow up. Apparently girls don’t have this problem, but grown men are all still sitting around and playing video games. There’s probably a certain amount of truth to this, and I know I’ve had arguments with Beth along these lines. Nevertheless, I have to object on the grounds that I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with a grown man (or woman) doing things that some people might consider childish. Being an adult is mostly about accepting responsibility, right? So if you go to your job and do your work, what’s so terrible about playing video games in your free time? I think it ties into an unpleasant notion that, for some reason, adults aren’t allowed to do anything fun. I think back to the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin, where the Steve Carrell character sold all his toys before getting married and having sex, in what felt to me like some ham-handed metaphor for growing up. But wasn’t this character already grown up? I mean, he had full-time employment and was able to support himself. So what’s the problem with keeping toys as well? Yeah, I know he made a lot of money by selling them, but that suggests to me he was a rather grown-up child. You know, because he kept his toys in their original packaging rather than playing with them? Now, sure, if you’re too busy playing World of Warcraft to tend to your adult responsibilities, that can be a problem.

Even there, though, you have to remember there’s no magic event that makes a boy into a man. And with jobs difficult to come by, living with your parents and not working isn’t necessarily a sign of laziness. Sometimes it’s just the only viable way of life. A lot of it comes down to money, and how hard it is to make a living wage. Children aren’t growing up? Well, maybe we should blame the employers who refuse to hire them, rather than the kids themselves. Also, why single out men? I think I know just as many girls as guys who are stuck living with their parents and either working low-paying jobs or not working at all.

That actually brings me to another point, which is that this stereotyping of men isn’t exactly nice to women either. Sure, the media mock guys who live with their parents and play video games, but I think there’s still less of a stigma on them as there is on girls, who are still expected to go from maidens to mothers. And while it’s popular for guys to be portrayed as man-children who need to grow up before raising their own children (because of course you don’t have the choice NOT to have kids), they at least HAVE a grace period where they’re allowed to be childish. I feel like women don’t even have that, and are instead supposed to mature overnight. And mothers are always more mature than childish women, at least according to some jerk who wrote an article. Personally, I’m a major proponent of free time. Sure, you have to play your part in society, but if you do that you’re free to do what you want the rest of the time, as long as it’s not harmful. Also, I feel that immaturity isn’t always a sign of contrariness. It CAN be, but in other cases these supposedly lazy people are the victims of the system. That’s my take, anyway.

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4 Responses to The Peter Pan Epidemic

  1. saintfighteraqua says:

    I’ve definitely got a Peter Pan thing where I don’t want to grow up. I still collect things and read Oz books and play video games.
    The sad part is my friends have all grown up so I feel like Peter Pan who has lost not just Wendy but the Lost Boys too.

  2. I actually think there’s a prejudice against video games and other pastimes that were ONCE primarily kid activities, just because they were new technologies or whatever, and now the early generations have grown up and still like to do them. But leisure activities are leisure activities, and SOME leisure activities aren’t REALLY any more grown up than others.

    The question is, are men more likely to indulge in leisure activities PERIOD than women? And in my experience, it seems men are more likely to LET themselves indulge in leisure activities. Women are constantly under pressure to be SUPERWOMEN, to not only have careers outside the home BUT also still raise children AND keep an orderly household AND prepare healthy meals for the family AND shop both ethically and economically AND make cutesy crafty decorative things to show up all the other moms AND always still LOOK flawless AND be a supportive partner for her husband, who meanwhile is pretty much just pressured to have a career, and gee if he’s a progressive modern man he can HELP OUT with all those other things sometimes. Man’s work ends at set of sun, women’s work is never done, as they say. Now, I shouldn’t gripe about my own husband, because he DOES have practically no leisure time, seeing as he works two jobs and EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR, but I also still feel like it’s more acceptable for him to game online every other Saturday afternoon, and come home and veg every evening, while I mostly squeeze in leisure time in little moments or, in the case of internet time, while I’m working on other (often career-related) things (like right now I’m, um, AT WORK). I feel like I’ve left most of my hobbies behind as a grownup, but it’s not because I’ve OUTGROWN them– I just don’t have TIME anymore….

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