“Nowadays young men are the ones who are most at risk of ruined lives”
Dear young men of the Twenty-First Century,
After decades of effort promoting courtesy and mannerliness in society, and instructing young women on the need to maintain a spotless reputation, I went to what I believed to be my eternal reward in the year of our Lord, 1960. Rumblings about a “new morality” and rumours about a “sexual revolution” convinced me that a hasty exit was prudent. At the age of 87, I no longer had the energy to stand against the forces preparing to sweep away all I had accomplished.
I took my place at the Eternal Tea Party, where the tea is always the perfect temperature in the porcelain cups and the company is always agreeable. Although I am content to remain, I have been urged to perform a rescue mission. For all my worrying, young women are not suffering as I thought they would. It is the trials and tribulations of young men in the earthly sphere which convince me that they are in urgent need of help.
In my time as arbiter of manners, I spent much energy informing young women about desirable behaviour. For good reason. The penalties which lay in store for young women who did not observe punctilious decorum were disastrous. Loss of reputation as a respectable young woman could result in her rejection as a marriage candidate. As women had few options to earn a living, remaining single could be a calamity. Worse could follow if a young woman were so unfortunate as to find herself in what we used to call, “an interesting condition.” If she was lucky, she might be hustled out of town to give birth in an obscure clinic and then be required to give up her child. Coming back after a long “vacation” rarely fooled anyone.
However, nowadays young men are the ones who are most at risk of ruined lives. Young women have many options; earning a living with or without marriage, deciding whether or not to enter into motherhood, and, even if an “accident” should occur, she alone gets to decide whether the offspring will be born, irrespective of the wishes of the father.
Young men, on the other hand, you are at great risk. If a young woman complains to a college that your behaviour is improper, you can be disgraced and expelled without the protections offered by the law. In fact, as some young men on a university hockey team recently found, you can be disgraced and refused permission to play even if you were not present at the incident in question. Thanks to this strange new phenomenon, the Internet, your name will be forever associated with the events, available to your potential employer at the touch of a button. Worse still, questions about your behaviour can be raised years later, wreaking havoc on your personal life and career.
Hence, my advice to you, young men. Have no fear: you will not be required to improve your grooming or appearance. Young ladies still exert themselves, employing all the artifice available in the form of cosmetics, jewels, and clothing whenever they attend a social occasion, while you, young men, need not even bother to remove unsightly stubble from your faces or select clothing more alluring than the discarded laundry in a gymnasium. Young women are quite ready to accompany you wearing high heels and very short skirts, even in a snowstorm.
My advice is limited to instructing you in behaviour that will protect you from social, financial and emotional ruin. In this free and easy society, you must guard your reputation as women once guarded theirs. Do not accept invitations to intimate behaviour from young women early in a relationship. Take your time. Observe her behaviour in a variety of situations.
Consumption of enough alcohol during an evening sufficient to impair her judgement during the evening and her memory the next day is not a good sign. The resulting foggy memory can change what you thought of as a delightful romp into a crime committed by you.
Find out the kind of person with whom you are dealing. Is she honest, reliable, kind? What is her relationship with her family? Is it one in which she has learned affection and consideration? How does she deal with disappointment? How does she react if you cannot keep a date because of school or work pressures or illness? Does she go off with others to the party or offer help and support? How does she treat children, pets, the elderly, or those less fortunate? Evidence of compassion in her behaviour to others will give you confidence that she will treat you, too, with care and concern.
Young men, do not indulge in alcohol to the point of inebriation. The lapses in judgement that come with that condition will make you unable to make the necessary observations. Social venues where the music is played at full blast will prevent you from being able to have enough conversation to come to any sensible conclusions. Seek out quieter venues and activities which allow you and the young lady to talk without injury to the larynx.
After spending time learning about the character of young women, you may discover one who will give you a lifetime of valuable companionship and loyalty. Someone who will support you in good times and bad. If so, there is an institution you might want to investigate called, “marriage”.
You fear that this cautious approach will reduce your popularity? On the contrary, people always want what they cannot have. You will become irresistible. Best of all, you will not have to wonder which of the young women you naively took to your bed could be the one who will damage your life beyond repair.
What was that? The Eternal Tea Party is not your idea of Heaven? The Eternal Happy Hour can be found two clouds over.