Fine Young Men, Where Have You Gone?S

While it's unwise to take the rants of Britain's gem columnist Liz Jones at face value, we worry that she might have a point when it comes to men under 40.

In her latest column — "Is there a man left under 40 who isn't a rude, ignorant pig?" — Jones has no hesitation in ascribing the aforementioned rudeness, ignorance and porcine qualities to an entire generation, and falls back on the old saw that it's because these men have "lost their masculinity" (doubtless a not-so-backhanded swipe at the feminist movement) and presumably with it, their chivalry. (No need to read it, by the way: that's the gist.) Which is too bad, because before she started dipping into the inkwell of hyperbolic crazy, I was sort of ready to, well, in a qualified sort of way, agree with her.

I'm not talking about men not giving up seats to women or opening car doors — the kind of thing Jones seems preoccupied with. No, I'm talking about the fact that (purely based on unscientific observation) it's almost always women I see giving up their seats to the elderly or pregnant; ditto helping people with strollers or luggage; and the same goes for holding doors. I'm not saying men need to assume these duties — but this isn't a "gentleman" thing, it's a basic humanity situation.

I'm more than willing to believe this is some urban phenomenon, maybe even a New York thing — we're not exactly known for our shortage of jerks. But it is something I have not just observed but, on a recent subway ride when I'd forgotten my book, kept a tally of. The one dude I saw offer his seat did so for an attractive young woman whom he then attempted to engage in conversation, so his tally mark got a decided asterisk. Another guy got up when a pregnant woman asked him to, but that didn't count either.

I polled a group of male friends — all basically decent guys — about the pregnant woman issue. Two said they were just too unobservant to notice other people on the train. One, though, had this to say: "no one wants to be the guy assuming a woman's pregnant."

"Well, okay," I said, "but worst case scenario, she's not and you've offered her a seat. Isn't that better than risking making the pregnant woman stand?"

They all said no.

Liz Jones Moans [Daily Mail]