• SumoMe

Mindy Kaling is an Emmy-nominated writer and best known as Kelly on NBC's "The Office."

Recently, comedy writer Mindy Kaling wrote a piece for Glamour magazine in which she talks about her experience/bad habit of dating boys rather than men. While the piece was written for mostly comedy, she makes some interesting differentials between the two:

Until I was 30, I dated only boys. I’ll tell you why: Men scared the sh*t out of me. Men know what they want. Men own alarm clocks. Men sleep on a mattress that isn’t on the floor. Men buy new shampoo instead of adding water to a nearly empty bottle of shampoo. Men make reservations. Men go in for a kiss without giving you some long preamble about how they’re thinking of kissing you. Men wear clothes that have never been worn by anyone else before.

OK, maybe men aren’t exactly like this. But this is what I’ve cobbled together from the handful of men I know or know of, ranging from Heathcliff Huxtable to Theodore Roosevelt to my dad. The point: Men know what they want, and that is scary.

What I was used to was boys.

Boys are adorable. Boys trail off their sentences in an appealing way. Boys get haircuts from their roommate, who “totally knows how to cut hair.” Boys can pack up their whole life and move to Brooklyn for a gig if they need to. Boys have “gigs.” Boys are broke. And when they do have money, they spend it on a trip to Colorado to see a music festival…

…At this point you might want to smack me and say: “Are you seriously just another grown woman talking about how she wants a man who isn’t afraid of commitment?” Let me explain! I’m not talking about commitment to romantic relationships. I’m talking about commitment to things—houses, jobs, neighborhoods. Paying a mortgage. When men hear women want a commitment, they think it means commitment to a romantic relationship, but that’s not it. It’s a commitment to not floating around anymore. I want a guy who is entrenched in his own life. Entrenched is awesome…

What is most poignant about this was the commitment bit. She calls it “commitment to things” where I would call it commitment to life. This is not to equate “things” with “life,” but I tend to take the view that things aren’t as important as life. We can replace things, but we can’t get a do-over on our youth–30 year old us will never have the ability to say to 20 year old us: “Hey, you should help me out and start building a foundation for your career and set yourself up to be a father because nothing is more important than fatherhood.”

Additionally, I’d like to add a third tier to Mindy’s classification. I view true fathers as a step above men. Some men are good at the things part, but seriously lack the ability to commit to (or even welcome) a family. I would argue this is perhaps the biggest source of problems in the world right now–too many boys, not enough fathers. Motherhood happens by biology, and this is a completely natural and powerful response to having a child. Fatherhood, on the other hand, is a choice. True, there’s some biological motivation there; but overall, it is far too easy for most men to walk away from their children. As such, the choice to be a father to a child should raise someone to a higher tier for their sacrifice.

Now, I know that Mindy’s article is not an ethnography by any means, but it does serve as an interesting starting point for further discussion. What do you think?