on September 17, 2012
The End of Men boils down to a handful of really significant statistics. Young women hold a 3 to 2 advantage in bachelor's degrees, are outearning men in their twenties, and are beginning to crowd men out of nearly all the major professions. Exactly what this might portend is appropriate to an Atlantic magazine article, which served as the basis for this book, but does not suffice in Rosin's hands to make a thoroughly engaging book. Instead, she creates a dichotomous narrative structure emphasizing Plastic Woman, who is flexible and adaptable to the new economy, and Cardboard Man who manifestly is neither. The examples and interview subjects that she selects never stray outside this arc. The men are universally either sniveling Greenberg-like characters, when not represented as merely stupid and lazy, while the women are described in the most gushing diction as literally, "Katniss-like." The book is riven with pop culture and literary references apparently meant to support the thesis, but Rosin makes only the most half-hearted attempt to get behind what accounts for this role reversal. She simply appears to believe women are by nature innately suited to the service economy, while troglodytic men are not. Furthermore, despite taking a few jabs at class inequality, she positively swoons over the rich and powerful. Her portrayal of most working class people, male and female, smacks of smug condescencion.
Her forecasting models for what this dangerous economic imbalance might entail do not seem in any way systematic. Rather, they are derived from anecdotes, which of course she selects. She claims to be apoltical, merely a faithful chronicler of the "the world as it is," producing a work to transcend the gender wars, a conceit into which many reviewers seem have invested. In its language choice, illustrative examples, and chosen quotations, however, it is a work of considerable misandry. The End of Men looks forward not just to an age in which male supremacy will end; it glories in their approaching humiliation as incompetent, unbending males founder in the new economy while infinitely adaptable women flourish. She never sees fit to examine why boys might be failing, except when, in a remarkably distasteful vignette, she holds up her own son's shortcomings relative to her daughter; she never tires, however, of explaining how women's supposed inherent qualities are bolstering their success. She may well have accurately identified an important social trend, but rather than produce thoughtful social analysis, she has contented herself with a venomous jibe.
on September 21, 2012
The theme of male obsolescence is tiresome, to say the least. It also has a curious quality of seeming fresh no matter how many times, and in how many ways, it is repeated. I remember back in 1999 seeing a "forum" in Harpers called "Who Needs Men?" At the time I thought, Wow - they're still recycling that same article? Almost 15 years later, the same idea is repeated with each month's salvo of junk-nonfiction - and no sign of slowing down.
Some reviewers will no doubt complain that you can't talk this way about women. They're right, but no one cares about the double standard. Similarly, a few will be offended by her snide tone on the subject of men. What, were they born yesterday - it's just the normal tone everyone takes. It's not "misandry" that makes this book bad. It's not the perky, informal writing style. I wasn't expecting her to write like Orwell or Roth. It's bad because the writer doesn't know much about this or any other subject.
To be fair, or fairer, I did learn two things from this book. Firstly, readers love to hear their group praised and never tire of such praise. Secondly, when women are perceived to be failing, people blame it on environmental factors or prejudice. When men come up short, it is blamed on men's inherent shortcomings. Why are there so few female chess grandmasters? Well, little girls aren't encouraged to play chess. Why are there so few men in PR? Well, women have better communication skills. See? It makes perfect sense.
But I can't say the same about this book. Rosin bases most of her theory on the recession. It is a "man-cession" due to men's inherent inability to adapt. (By the way, the story of the human race is one of adaptation, is it not? Economic and otherwise. Men played a small but significant role in this history.) "Cognitive research" shows this (cognitive research about sex differences shows some of the darndest things - see reviews of Louann Brizendine and other junk-science-on-gender authors: also Leonard Sax). But never mind that.
1. "Women in poor parts of India are learning English faster than men." Good God, no. As an Indian I know that knowledge of English is a matter of formal education, pure and simple. But India, according to the government census, has one of the lowest rates of female literacy in the developing world. While the gender gap is decreasing, according the US Department of Commerce, "there continues to be a large gap" in literacy rates favoring men. This is worst among the poor: "in poorer states, the rate of literacy gap has been growing." (You can easily find this on the US census site.)
2. "In the past, men derived their advantage largely from their size and strength..." Seriously? This weary cliche sounds convincing to people who've never thought about the subject. Newton, Mozart, Fischer, and Einstein were not big, strong men.
3. "Women own more than 40 percent of private businesses in China.." I don't know if Rosin reads Foreign Affairs (seems doubtful), but she should know this is ridiculous. Who cares when you don't cite your sources? The sky's the limit! Anyway, China has a woman shortage, so such economic strides on the part of women would be quite remarkable were they true. As it is, Chinese women are doing better than average, with ownership of 8.7% of private businesses. You can find this statistic almost anywhere (try BBC sites or, really, anywhere).
4. The ever-flexible Ms. Rosin, who must do Pilates at Lucille Roberts, makes much of the journalist's favorite statistic: "young women in urban areas - 22-30 year olds - are doing better than young men." Let's do what journalists (used to) do, and look closer. According to US Department of Labor statistics, women's median full-time earnings as a percentage of men's in the first quarter of 2012 for the ages of 20-24 are 88%; for the next age group, 25-34, 91%. Pretty good, right? This means younger women earn about 88% of men's median earnings (MEDIAN earnings: this doesn't mean they're paid less for the same job.)
5. This is where the admirably adaptable Rosin misstates one of the most common factoids around. It's not "young women" who are doing better than their male counterparts - it's "full-time, non-working, childfree women in urban areas." This shouldn't be generalized to "young women," as Rosin does. She extols the virtues of young women like an apparatchik writing a HUD-funded "Girl Power" pamphlet. So, what of these young marvels, so well-adapted to "hook up culture" (with which the anecdote-happy Rosin seems weirdly obsessed)? Most of the difference between the never-married, urban denizens is among Hispanics. 23.7% of this group (urban, unmarried, etc.) are Hispanic men; 15.9% are Latinas, wise or otherwise. And within this group, the median earnings for men (2010 ACS statistics) are $24,000; for women, $25,000. The net advantage among young unmarried female city folk is $1,000, accounted for by the higher incomes of Hispanic women. (Among blacks, men have a slight advantage; among non-Hispanic whites, the sexes are more or less equal.) We should be talking about why Latins earn so little, male or female, but that doesn't sell books or provide fodder for David Brooks editorials.
6. Liza Mundy, Rosin's partner in puerility, makes much of the "women wear the pants" idea so common in our times. But in US marriages only 28% of women earn more than their husbands (US Census). For working women, it's more like 38%. This is misleading, though, because male-centered industries (like construction) are often seasonal (more profitable at certain times of year), and are more subject to ups and downs than female-centered industries like education or health care.
7. These female-centered industries are often subsidized by the government. I come from Washington DC, and I can tell you there is no "he-cession" or "she-cession" there. Why? Because they're papering the walls of the Kennedy Center with all that currency they keep printing or borrowing from the Chinese Politburo. The stimulus may have been a rip-roaring success that prevented a depression, as the president says, but it didn't do much for old school manufacturing jobs. Despite what you've heard, these industries (you know, the ones that make cement or ball bearings) are still a big part of the US economy. Originally Mr. Obama was going to toss a lot of money their way, but lobby groups (such as NOW) complained, calling it a "burly man" bailout. (You can find this in Christina Sommers' essay "No Country for Burly Men.") So - here's my point - much of female economic success is subsidized by tax dollars. Health care can't fail, not because it's too big, but because, like a skinny kid with a smart mouth, it's got a big friend for protection.
8. The language used by NOW - "a burly man bailout" - shows the kind of attitude that gets Hanna rosining up her bow and playing a scratchy tune. Her book drips with this kind of sitcom contempt for men, without even sparing her own son. Maybe she would have rather had another daughter; she gleefully recounts an anecdote of a doctor specializing in sex selection who believes that couples are requesting girls these days. "In the '90s, when Ericsson looked into the numbers for the two dozen or so clinics that use his process, he discovered, to his surprise, that couples were requesting more girls than boys, a gap that has persisted, even though Ericsson advertises the method as more effective for producing boys." The doctor Rosin apparently interviewed hardly invented prenatal sex selection: it's been available for ages. And researchers (remember them?) see evidence that in the United States, as everywhere else, couples are picking boys. A study at the University of CT Health Center looked at the ratio of live births in the U.S. and found evidence that couples were selecting for boys (Prenat Diagn. 2011 Jun;31(6):560-5. doi: 10.1002/pd.2747. Epub 2011 Mar 27). A second study at the Department of Economics, Columbia University looked at the census and found "son-biased sex ratios" (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 15;105(15):5681-2. Epub 2008 Mar 31). This is not to mention the strong bias for sons in China and India which threatens to create a worldwide male majority. AIDS, which disproportionately affects women in Sub-Saharan Africa, may contribute to this male future.
Since virtually every country in the world with birth rates above replacement levels is Muslim, one might look at the evidence and worry about the end of women. "Hooking up" is punishable by death in some countries.
But who cares about evidence when you can interview a small, all-female sample, throw around some anecdotes and get more hype than, well, a real journalist? Credulous Amazon buyers will praise this because it's familiar and makes them feel good. It keeps them vaguely amused and pleased until next month's book about male obsolescence (or maybe a musical?).
And why? Because readers like to hear their group praised.
Hanna Rosin's "The End of Men" is an interesting but not fully satisfying look at the economic progress of women, the relative economic decline of men, and the societal effects of both. While the book treats the first two subjects quite thoughtfully, Rosin doesn't do as well when she explores the broader implications of this shift. A troubling and repeated tendency towards sample bias weakens many of her arguments, and even the author admits that her initial thesis probably isn't correct. Still, it's an interesting read, but not nearly the landmark work that has been suggested in some quarters. 3 stars.
Despite the claims of the well-oiled marketing push behind the book, many of the topics here aren't novel. Goldberg's The Hazards of Being Male was among the first to notice a relative decline for men back in the 1970s, Faludi's Stiffed was referenced by Rosin as motivation for her Atlantic article of the same title (although oddly, that controversial reference nearly disappears in the book), and Save the Males and Manning Up have been more recent, albeit openly polemic, entries. On the economic rise of women, the far-less hyped The Richer Sex is a recent general release covering much the same territory, and there is a wealth of academic material on many of the subjects.
The originality of "The End of Men" is in how it combines the overt economic and social gains made by women with the contrast of the relative economic decline of men. Summarizing much of her book in a sentence, women are at parity in many professions, have moved ahead in education, and the younger generation of men are falling further and further behind. Rosin's work on this is insightful, and had she stayed on this topic this would have been a much shorter, 5 star review.
Unfortunately, the author goes off track during her projection of societal changes caused by this economic shift. Many of her guesses appear reasonable, but in the course of trying to make her points the author repeatedly cherry picks data. The result is a far weaker book.
One instance where this makes a chapter miss badly is on how economic parity has affected mate selection and sexual choices. Much as Stepp does in Unhooked and Bogle does in Hooking Up, Rosin notes that many young women play the hookup culture just as viciously as their male counterparts. Building off Baumeister and Vohs' theory of "sexual economics", Rosin then adds a reasonable and interesting twist to the debate: perhaps women's new found academic and economic equality may have a role in their sexual behavior.
However, as she attempts to advance "may have" to "does", Rosin loses the objective reader as she ignores arguments that might not fit her point. For instance, there is nary a mention of what both epidemiologists and economists believe is a major factor in the rise of casual sex: the perception of lower consequences for acquiring STIs versus a generation ago. A pithy but accurate cultural snapshot of this view are Nirvana's "I'm so horny, but that's ok, my will is good" versus Girls' "All adventurous women (have a couple different strains of HPV)".
In a strange turn, although Rosin has hired controversial sociologist Mark Regnerus to write several Slate articles on the subject, she doesn't address one of his main conclusions in what is the most robust work on the sex lives of young Americans, Premarital Sex in America. To Regnerus, the data suggest that the "hookup culture" is less prevalent in overall society and more a function of limited time and potential mates at elite schools rather than a massive societal change. As it turns out, the most egregious practitioners of this culture are neither elite nor particularly concerned with education and economic equality. Instead, they're young Americans who aren't college educated, and he pointedly warns about Stepp's results being biased by her selection of elite university students.
Despite this, Rosin is undeterred and proceeds directly to Yale for interviews. Her focus group for the dating behavior of "hard hearted" professional women becomes Wall Street traders, a curious choice as even their colleagues in finance consider that group as rather spectacular (to put it mildly) outliers of social behavior regardless of their gender. The dating behavior of men is largely ignored save for their desire for sex. As such, they are summarily divided into "player" and "loser" classes, which allows Rosin to conclude that the "free agents" of the player class are uninterested in relationships. To the author, the combination of their interests combined with women "dominating campuses" clearly result in the "Girls Gone Wild culture". This disappoints on both the practical level - an exploration of her later observation that women have continued to use traditional criteria like income and career prospects for selecting their partners and have firmly resisted "marrying down" would have been far more relevant to the overall picture she's painting - and is disturbingly poor scholarship.
As she continues exploring the new cultural landscape, the problematic trend of selection bias continues and becomes especially troubling during her discussion of dysfunctional men and their even more dysfunctional relationships in Alexander City, a former mill town that has seen better days. Troy spends his days sitting around in a trailer with a child while his stripper girlfriend Shannon pays the bills and complains she has "two babies at home", Charles files his unemployment claim with two of his former subordinates while his executive wife complains about his "brooding" and tells him to "get over it", and in a broad swath of stereotyping seemingly all Japanese men are more enamored with virtual girls than real ones.
It's easy to believe that social structures in places like Alexander City have been upended in the debris trail of economic displacement, and that it's entirely possible more women than men have adapted to the new reality of what jobs are actually available locally (as the author notably doesn't explore the lives of the ex-Russell employees nicknamed "transients" who commute to jobs elsewhere.) However, Rosin's repeated selection of interview subjects that seem to be bottom-of-the-barrel brings up the suspicion that perhaps one reason they were chosen was because a more representative sample wouldn't have produced quite the results she wants.
One of the most egregious examples of this arises in her chapter on the "balanced" see-saw marriage of the educated class. Steven, the male half of the example, is still trying to figure out how to complete law school in his late 30s and is a stay-at-home-dad - and his interpretation of the latter role seems to include letting his child smear feces on the wall until his wife comes home to clean it up. There are tens of millions of alternating dual-career couples who have been a lot more successful in balancing things out, millions of stay at home dads who raise children more conventionally, and a decent amount of academic work on how they do so; surely one or two of them could have been found to be brought into her narrative. Rosin's choices repeatedly smack of selection bias for even those otherwise sympathetic to her overall point, and it's a real disappointment.
This is probably linked with the book's final problem. As Rosin admits in the introduction, she began her work with the belief that "womanly" traits were becoming more important in this new era than "manly" ones, but found this answer wasn't supported by what she'd researched. Despite this, the author clearly struggles with the temptation to try to push her original thesis. Many problems arise as a result; the weak chapter on the rise of female violence and the odd claim that changes in a factory she visits are from the adoption of non-patriarchal values rather than 30 years of refining industrial management are but two of several examples where the book gets sidetracked. Rosin is certainly within her rights to choose how to raise her children as she sees fit - she concludes the real problem here is that males aren't "flexible" enough and that she should be raising her sons with the "womanly" trait of "bending" - but as a writer she would have been far better off if she'd employed a little flexibility of her own in giving more leeway to an editor to clean this up.
All this is a shame, because even some of Rosin's more controversial points are worth considering. 3 stars. Worth a read, but not nearly worth the hype.
on December 14, 2012
I first became aware of Hanna Rosin when a member of a group I belong to posted a link to Ms. Rosin's lecture about the same subject matter. I had my doubts even about the title of the lecture and the book, but persevered because I am aware of the fact that middle and upper middle class women, based purely on grades, are now occupying more seats in college and the professional schools and was curious to see what was being made of this phenomenon. I will merely point out, that the gains Rosin mentions are limited to a very narrow segment of the middle to upper middle class and completely ignore working class and poor women and leave the economic interpretation of that to the readers of this review.
Based on Hanna Rosin's lecture and her book I can only conclude that Hanna Rosin hates men and doesn't wish for the human race to actually evolve, but for hatred, aggression and misunderstanding to prevail. One of her first comments in the lecture, was that she wasn't against men, after all, "she herself owned three." I am not kidding, this is an exact quote. Imagine Rosin's ire if her husband had said the same about her and her daughter. Or insert black person or Jew for man and see how offensive the comment really is if it isn't apparent already.
I think that the recent up tick in women in the professions could be a good thing for society - we might actually be able to figure out how to best take advantage of everybody's talents and strengths at different times in their life cycle and do things that are good for everybody and increase human productivity and happiness. Ms. Rosin seems intent upon taking a very small portion of the middle and upper middle class, applying this sample across the board whether it fits the facts or not and exacting revenge for millennia of male oppression and aggression by replacing it with female aggression. In one portion of the book, Rosin, as another reviewer mentioned, extols the wonderful new female aggression and its benefits by citing an instance where a group of black girls pushed a white middle-aged man around a subway platform and bullied him. This is admirable? This is what we as women should emulate? Really? Again, imagine the roles reversed with a group of men harrowing a young black woman on a subway platform. Those men would be looking at a discussion with the law at the very least and the women should be too. Equality also means responsibility, it doesn't just mean that more rich white girls get to go to college.
Finally, Rosin seems so privileged that she is unaware that the world required physical upkeep, especially the complex world of technological civilization. Rosin dismisses the need for the applied engineering and practicality of many blue collar jobs, traditionally and still done by men as being done by "robot" in the future. Really. Men still do a lot of the thankless, hard and dangerous tasks that keep this world running for the rest of us and rubbing their nose in the s*** they shovel is not going to make things better for anyone.
Channeling male aggression that is the result of testosterone and training has always been a challenge for civilization. I don't deny that and finding positive outlets for natural male behavior in a late technological society has proven difficult just at the moment. But, we are facing huge challenges as a species and a planet and it will take the combined will and work of men and women to meet the coming challenges. We will probably be stupid and repeat our history of war and violence, which will make men even more valuable. No doubt Ms. Rosin will be the first to seek protection in a dangerous situation, but if she had her way in this book men would be what exterminated? Disappeared? Spontaneously vanish?
Women, it turns out, when given a level playing field are smarter than they have previously been given credit for and can excel in the trades and professions given a chance. I don't think this is news and any woman in history could have privately told you this even when it was socially unacceptable. But this fact doesn't in turn make men useless or stupid themselves. What it could do is open up new ways for women and men to work together for the good of all - instead she is spreading hatred. Rosin also dismisses a fact of life that feminism has been ignoring for forty years. Women are physically weaker than men, yes there are a few examples of athletes, but for the most part this is an across the board fact. Male aggression has often used this fact against us, combined with the fact that women are more vulnerable while pregnant and when they have small children.
A wrongheaded, poison penned diatribe that causes trouble for everyone, doesn't explore how the gains of a small number of women could be folded into a different kind of cooperation between the sexes, ignores poor women and those not meant for the white collar professions completely and seems to consider men vermin. Just nasty and I would be offended if any man wrote of women this way and they have. This is not progress, this is the same kind of mistakes people have been making forever in promulgating hatred.
on September 21, 2012
In this book Rosin argues that women are better suited to the new economy which has followed the great recession. Drawing from cherry-picked examples, Rosin has surveyed the damage after the great recession and sketches how these changes have been positive for American women living in the new post-Industrial American economy.
Since the seventies, the middle class has been shrinking due to structural changes in the economy. Middle and lower class men have been the losers and have faced flat wages and job losses in American manufacturing for decades.
Rosin views this from afar and uses this as evidence of the failure of men to adapt to the new surroundings we now see in post-Industrial America. To Rosin, this is the new normal and quite acceptable state of affairs and men should have seen this coming.
In the first chapter, Rosin has profiled selected successful business women and promiscuous college co-eds. To Rosin, the average promiscuous college student is quite flexible, ergo well suited to the new economy. This is actually her argument.
Rosin cherry picks examples of successful women working as strippers, lawyers, and service sector drones. Since these women are treading water in the low-wage low growth economy, they are winners.
Rosin cherry picks examples of men come from the now dead manufacturing sector, frat boys and video game addicts, ergo men are useless.
This book is terrible and full of self selection bias, i was expecting better.
on November 15, 2012
I've gone through the book, read several reviews (pro & con) on it and watched the authors PBS interview. This reads like an racist screed except that her minorities are men. It celebrates the triumph of the superior gender over these inferior creatures that are now overwhelmed and overtaken by clever and artful females who will have no mercy. This kind of contempt would be instantly recognized for what it was if it were directed toward any race or religion, but directed toward men it gets a complete pass, not to mention lots of very good reviews by radical feminists.
In one chapter, entitled appropriately "A More Perfect Poison," she rhapsodizes about female aggression and hatred. In discussing the existence of what she calls "a new style of female violence" she refers to a video in which a gang of black girls shove a middle-aged white man around at a metro stop. She equates this new hate and violence with empowerment. Imagine if a group of middle-aged white men shoved a black girl around in an analogous situation -- it would be national news and they would probably be looking at prison time under hate crime laws. The double standard prevails.
Although I rate this book at only a "two" I think anyone who wonders how bad things can get should read it. You will learn that liberation really means revenge and that women can be as overbearing as men. The feminist movement did not put an end to sexual victimization; it merely shifted the roles of the victims and the victimizers.
on September 17, 2012
Ugh. I stopped reading Slate XX because I hated Hanna Rosin's writing. Ditto with some of the writers at Salon Broadsheet.
I always felt that they wrote from the position of an upper white middle class woman who had the ideal job -- and could afford a nanny -- or woman married to a man who earned enough and she could do whatever she wanted with her career. If only most women were this lucky.
This hits close to home. In my circle are single African American and Latina moms who rely HEAVILY on family members -- er free help -- to help raise their families. They are broke and their lives are very hard. It is HARD to be a single woman something that folks like Rosin non-chalantly brush off.
Not everyone can work the $100K a year job at the pharmacy. In fact, those jobs are a dime a dozen. My issue with today's economy is not the lack of jobs -- it's the lack of jobs that pay a living wage. You can't raise a family on Wal-Mart, yet you should see some women who are trying to do so.
Until Hanna Rosin writes about them -- and not the Facebook CEO -- I plan to tune out.
on October 6, 2012
The book begins by looking at interesting points backed by statistics, but as one progresses it becomes increasingly painful and explicit in its desire for the "end of men." Nonetheless, there are many worthwhile believable observations that beg for more exploration.
In talking about the non-college educated social segment, she states "The rise of women is associated with the slow erosion of marriage and even a growing cynicism about love." Why are women rising? "It's largely because woman dominate colleges that they are taking over the middle class." But it is more than that. It is women "who can simultaneously handle the old male and female responsibilities without missing a beat." Men, it seems, simply have nothing to offer women.
In Rosin's world, a consequence of the woman's liberation movement in the 60's and 70's is that woman are moving into what used to be a man's space and "men have been retreating into an ever-narrower space, backing away from what were traditionally feminine traits as women take over more masculine ones." In other words, a man does not want to work in a profession in which there are women, and thus as women move into most professions, there is little room left for men in the economy. "Professions have gone from all-male to all-female, and almost none the other way."
Rosin states "There is no `natural' order, only the way things are" and now that men are obsolete because of their innate qualities, "the centuries-old preference for sons is eroding--even reversing" such that now "the still-striving middle class is putting its best bet on its daughters." In business, she proclaims "innovative, successful firms are the ones that promote women" and "more women around (in business) means fewer pointless risks."
What does she have to say about the most successful men and how they treat their wives? "The surest way for a man to exhibit his social status is to find the most highly paid woman you can, working in the most high-profile job, and shut her down." It is hard to imagine that any highly paid successful women long to find a husband who will shut her career down. Are men really that bad? Rosin offers a quote from Sheryl Sandberg, "If you can be a lesbian, definitely do it."
So what does society do? She offers "hopeful" stories where "a woman slowly and slyly (is) teaching her husband" how to be a good man--the domestication of men by women--"the effort to reengineer masculinity." She quotes a man that "admitted" that "a man is a man when he can think like a woman ... knowing when to laugh and when to cry."
And what does this mean for Ms. Rosin's own family? "My research has caused me to start raising my two sons differently. Even if it's against their `nature'." In her conclusion, she describes Calvin, a man who is finally trying to lift himself out of that terrible "male" state and enroll to become a nurse, but "twice he'd gone home to get a new envelope because he noticed a crease in the one he was about to turn in."
On reaching Rosin's concluding chapter, I turned the page in relief that the toasting of men was finally over. But not yet! In another chapter with acknowledgements, she begins, "Now it's time to thank all the good men who have helped me to trumpet their demise."
I find a confusion in Rosin's writing regarding whether there are such extreme innate differences between men and women and thus there is and has always been a basis for separating the sexes into a dominant and subservient group (and she is just making the case now that the traditional roles should be reversed) or whether in many aspects of life, given the same situation, men and women will tend to act similarly. In the chapter "A More Perfect Poison", the case is made that as women gain power, "changes in women's violence patterns can ... shake up our notions about whether men are in fact the more `naturally' dominate sex." She quotes research finding that violence for some girls is a "source of pleasure, self-esteem, and cultural capital ... enjoy physically dominating others and take pleasure in inflicting pain and emerging victorious."
Rosin does make various interesting observations. On sex, for example, "women benefit greatly from living in a world where they can have sexual adventure without commitment or all that much shame, and where they can enter into temporary relationships that don't derail their careers." Is it possible that women acting like stereotypical men in satisfying their sexual needs actually allows women to better focus on their careers? We are told, "It's no accident that the girls-gone-wild culture rose up at the same time women started to dominate college campuses." How could this be? "Now women no longer need men ... so they have no urgent incentive to keep the price of sex high." This is in contrast to the old days when "women traded sex for security."
On marriage, Rosin points out numerous examples where women are "having babies first, no marriage on the horizon and what's more, they seemed unembarrassed about it." There is no doubt that many women are better educated today and thus now able head families with no fathers. If it is true that women don't want to marry less successful and educated men then we have a self-feeding loop in that males not completing college "is especially pronounced in families where there is no father." Has social and economic structure moved to a point whereby empowered women by simply existing are destroying traditional roles instead of taking us to "equal opportunity and no discrimination"? Are we living with unstable and unsustainable traditional families so badly affected by "the disappearance of manhood"? Rosin presents evidence to suggest this.
Could it be true that yesterday women needed marriage to survive, but today "men need marriage more than women do"? I would hope that innate in our human existence is a need for men and women to share close synergistic relationships; symbiotic relationships where roles adjust to fit economic times, but that there is something complementary about us, if to begin with, to create children.
I am left with a sense that Rosin envisions a future where men learn to accept a lower status to the more capable, flexible, and independent female. She documents and points out that it appears the non-college educated white male is going the way of the non-college educated black male--less successful in life and not worth or compatible with the expectations of a successful female.
However, I would think that we have learned that when one group is materially judged better than another, when such is used to support separation (exclusion) and discrimination, whether on the basis of race or sex, awful things follow. Rosin is not pointing out a problem to fix but presenting "research" wrapped in an insidious anti-male agenda.
Afterthought--we met a couple tonight for dinner who talked wonderfully about the young woman their son, a college senior, had met. She had multiple degrees from top universities and they had fallen in love. I quietly reflected on my own sons and hoped they would have the good fortune to find such a woman, and I could see my wife was also contemplating this pleasant thought. The world that I see is very different than Rosin, but no doubt, if we were able in the past to enslave and systematically exclude, her world is also a possibility. It's society's choice, and an on-going choice, as one is reminded by "The End of Men".
on October 21, 2012
For the older folks... If you remember the cold war with the Soviet Union, you'll remember pictures of long lines of people waiting to buy food in stores with empty shelves and poverty abounding everywhere. At the same time, in the Soviet Union, they would show photos of America's ghettos as examples of the real America. Both sides were reporting the truth, but neither side showed the true state of affairs of either country. Hanna's book is no different. Rather than base her examples and stories on normal people acting normally, she takes the worse of the lot (men) and bases her conclusions on that.
Where this books fall short, in an extreme fashion, is it lacks any explanations of why things are changing or have changed. For example, it doesn't explain why boys aren't doing well in school, when in the past this wasn't true. Omissions of this sort permeates throughout the entire writing.
If you want to read a biased and inaccurate report of the state of things, then this book is for you. For the more intelligent folks that require more than superficial reporting, look elsewhere.
At best, this book is propaganda.
Many years ago, blacks were painted as naturally less intelligent than whites and this was believed by a certain portion of white society. Once given a chance, blacks have proved this to be very incorrect. They were equal in every respect of the word. Why Rosin wants to perpetrate this type of bigotry is beyond my understanding.
It seems to me that there was another group of people that used to spout on about their superiority, round about the 1940's in a land across the ocean...
Point is... The whole message that this book is trying to put forth is wrong on so many levels.
As a feminist and the mother of a son, I was very interested in reading this book. However, I had a hard time connecting with it because of the clear bias I read in her comments about the male gender. Feminism isn't about being better than men. Feminism is about men and women being equal. Too much finger pointing and not enough concrete ideas about how to make concrete changes in how boys learn and relate to the world to help prepare them for the world.