What is life without women

"Why would a man want to have a family?" a young man asked recently in the Berlin city magazine Zitty. That was just meant rhetorically. Men can "live wonderfully" without a family, "explained the man," the media and women have told men for decades that they are superfluous, violent, dull and anyway an error of nature. So it is no wonder that they are no pillars of society Why should they? Many have noticed that being superfluous brings a lot of freedom with it. You don't want to miss it anymore. "

That is not the opinion of an eccentric from the capital, it is a trend. The Federal Statistical Office recently presented its report "People living alone in Germany". According to the report, one in five lives alone in this country. Twenty years ago the rate was 14 percent. It is noteworthy that for many single women this way of life seems to be a model for success - at least professionally; they work much more often in management positions than women with families. The media have quoted this fact the most. In accordance with the zeitgeist, which is focused on the female gender, those data that concern men are only mentioned as incidentally.

The numbers indicate a refusal to commit

It is precisely these numbers that are explosive. Not only that; they are actually dramatic. While the quota of women living alone has risen by 16 percent since 1991, that of men has soared by 81 percent. This development mainly affects young men of marriageable age. 27 percent of 18 to 34 year olds live alone.

Even in the so-called middle age - from 35 to 64 years - the proportion of men living alone was significantly higher than that of women living alone. 60 percent of single men between the ages of 35 and 64 have never been married; the Federal Statistical Office describes them as "real bachelors". While young women are rapidly fledging today, it is the other way around for men. 39 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds live in the "Hotel Mama"; of the thirty-year-olds there are still 14 percent. And even after that, a notable minority doesn't feel like moving out of their parents' and mother's house: after all, five percent of forty-year-old men still live at home.

These are amazing numbers. They point to a part of the future, but in any case a refusal to commit. In the past four decades, about 75 percent of separations and divorces have occurred among women. Now men take precautions by not even getting involved in a relationship - especially not one that is cemented by the state and civil registry.

Entire districts that are shaped by "losers"

As relieving as living alone may be for younger men, the whole thing is not necessarily a success model in the long run. In addition to the fact that family men have a much higher life expectancy than bachelors, single men are more likely to have social problems than men in relationships. Almost 17 percent of "middle-aged" men living alone - as the study by the Federal Statistical Office shows - earn their living with government support. The share of social assistance is three times as high as for those who do not live alone.

This development will only intensify. For some time now, the economy has been tending towards the "female" service sector and towards the gradual shrinking of "male" industrial work. Accordingly, female employment is increasing, while male employment is also continuously decreasing. For some years now, the unemployment rate has been higher for men than for women. In the USA, people no longer speak of recession, but of "hecession": the losers in the education and labor markets are men. Young men are increasingly refusing or dropping out of an apprenticeship - meanwhile one in four. The vast majority of early school leavers are also male.

Far-sighted sociologists like Ralf Dahrendorf warned against this trend twenty years ago. While Dahrendorf had described manageable groupings, there are now entire city districts in Great Britain that are shaped by these "losers". The development is also increasingly affecting the big cities in Germany. In its study "Not am Mann", the Berlin Institute for Population and Development identified "a stratum of predominantly male people", primarily based on the situation in the new federal states, "who settle down with minimal needs and hardly participate in general social life take part".

"Women write the script"

The refusal, especially of younger men, goes even deeper. A Sinus study on life plans, role models and attitudes towards equality between 20-year-old women and men, which the German government commissioned in 2007, shows that young men are much more afraid of the future than young women. Young men are ascribed "a clear suffering from the complexity, confusion and dynamism of society". The role expectations of masculinity for these young men are contradicting and ambivalent, in any case no longer clear. "Men today fear that in truth it is women who make the important decisions and that they, the men, no longer need them."

The men recognize that women have changed in a positive way, that a lot is being done politically and economically for women. They also respect that by and large. However, this change had no positive aspects for men, according to the study. On the contrary: "Today young men are no longer confused only about career choices and the job market, they have also lost all security in their private lives." They recognize themselves as neglected, pushed back, no longer taken seriously. "The men suffer in their subjective sensitivities and feel on the defensive: the women write the script," it says. So the young men today are shaken by the fear that they will soon become superfluous. This fits in with diagnoses of the "end of men", as the American sociologist Hanna Rosin put it.

That has explosive power for society. Politicians are not innocent of this development. For four decades she only sponsored girls and women. She has forgotten the supposedly strong male sex.

Walter Hollstein, 73, is a Council of Europe expert on men's issues. Until 2006 he was professor for political sociology in Berlin. Today he lives as an author in Basel and wrote, among other things, "What was left of the man".

© SZ from 07/08/2013 / sks / rus