Obligation is an interesting thing.
Because I work with so many men, I get a very serious insight into their thought processes. I've never wanted to be just "one of the guys," and I much prefer the company of women, in most circumstances. Men without direction, inspiration, and leadership are very base creatures, I think. (I know that I, in the year I've been surrounded by men who, mostly, don't take religion very seriously, have not only lowered my expectations for men, but also for myself... I'm working on it.) Maybe women are too, I'm not sure. On the other hand, the baseness of men without purpose is equally replaced by the beauty of men who know the Lord. I don't think that the holiest woman could ever change the culture the way that an equally holy man could.
Men have it very hard in this world. They have so many responsibilities, so many people with expectations. One one hand, they're expected to be leaders and on the other, expected to defer to women, of course so that the women in their lives don't become offended by not having a say. In Christ-like marriages, they have both the responsibility to lead their spouse to Heaven, and also to allow themselves to be led by the Lord. Women have it easier I think: to submit to the will of God and to submit to the mission of their husbands.
I can't imagine the pressure of a young man in this culture. While the idea of supporting a family may be made slightly easier with the cultural norm of a two income household, I still think that deep in the subconscious of man is the desire and feeling of obligation that they ought to be able to support their wife and children alone. With student loan debt being another norm, its no wonder that most men wait until they're in their late 20's or even 30's to marry. It actually makes sense that the pressure would be so much as to help their reversion to the "man-children" that our culture seems to be full of.
Man-children or not, I respect the men I work with a great deal. Sure, they often use crass language and talk about things I'd rather never hear, objectify women, and have a few too many drinks on the weekend. In short, they're sinners. But they come to work every single day, no matter how rough it may be, and they work hard. I've got to believe that they, even/especially the single ones, aren't doing it just for themselves. They're doing it so that they can provide for their families and they work 50+ hours per week now, so that later, when they have children, they won't have to. And that is beautiful.
These men have long and grueling careers ahead of them; they know this is just the beginning. Meanwhile, I'm counting down the days until I can stay home with children, read, make a house a home, and use my little brain to solve the world's problems.
The reason I go to work each day is pretty simple: I have this degree, I want to use it, I need the money to pay off student loans. When my student loans are paid off in just a few short years, will I work in finance? Maybe. Will I do the job I do now? Definitely not. Do I do my current job without complaining and dreaming of the day when I can be free to do what I want? You're outside your mind if you think the answer is yes.
That being said, I still have a responsibility to them: to inspire greatness. Although not as daunting as providing financially, spiritually, and emotionally for a family, this is a difficult task, and one that I can only accomplish with the help of the Lord. So I suppose, I'm starting with the (wo)man in the mirror.
St. Joseph, pray for us.