The End of Men

I listened to an interview with Hanna Rosin, the author of The End of Men, and the Rise of Women, and found some of her ideas intriguing, but ultimately insufficient to support her over-all argument. Still, if you think about the big picture and not get bogged down in the real-world evidence, it makes a lot of sense.

Basically, I see Hannah Rosen recognizing that a strong impetus of the male-dominated culture grew out of the need for a big, strong, hairy man to kill the bison, fight off the tigers, move the rocks, put up the storm windows, and kill the big spider in the bathtub. Business negotiation once involved roaring, beating the chest, and throwing rocks, but nowadays there is more finesse involved and as we enter the new world of the future, women may actually be better designed to take-over the dominant positions, relegating men to childcare and beer. Fascinating.

But today I read a review of the book by Jennifer Homans in the New York Times which presented many facts to spoil the premise of the book:

“The End of Men”? This is not a title; it is a sound bite. But Hanna Rosin means it. The revolution feminists have been waiting for, she says, is happening now, before our very eyes. Men are losing their grip, patriarchy is crumbling and we are reaching “the end of 200,000 years of human history and the beginning of a new era” in which women — and womanly skills and traits — are on the rise. Women around the world, she reports, are increasingly dominant in work, education, households; even in love and marriage. The stubborn fact that in most countries women remain underrepresented in the higher precincts of power and still don’t get equal pay for equal work seems to her a quaint holdover, “the last artifacts of a vanishing age rather than a permanent configuration.”

And to whom do we owe this astonishing revolution? If there is a hero in Rosin’s story, it is not women or men or progressive politics: it is the new service economy, which doesn’t care about physical strength but instead apparently favors “social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus” — things that “are, at a minimum, not predominantly the province of men” and “seem to come easily to women.” And so, “for the first time in history, the global economy is becoming a place where women are finding more success than men.”

I don’t see women having more success than men in this service economy but I do see the roles and levels of power expanding for women and it might be the dawn of a new, improved culture. However, two considerations intrude in my mind:  first, this service economy is not uniform throughout the globe:  in some countries the suggestion that women are taking over will result in more, not less oppression of women and even a strategic stoning or two; and second, men are too much in power at this moment to let women have total control of their own lives and futures:  in the United States the Republican Party has presumably recognized this threat and is working diligently to rein in women (and blacks and latinos and gays and anything that doesn’t look like a rich white-man in charge).

So the obstacles are many and they generally deal with men not wanting to give up their dominate roles rather than with women not being capable or ready to assume more those dominate roles themselves. I acknowledge that if we have put up with a male dominated society for 200,000 years, it’s reasonable to assume is may take some time to turn things around and put women in charge. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen and that doesn’t mean it won’t improve society and the longevity of the human population.

Of course with men in charge, we may never survive long enough to give the women their turn … wait … it will never work … women were not made in God’s image … unless …



This comment was taken from the Newsweek weblog and it points out a problem I hadn’t considered, but now I see the insidiousness that can be read into the book, even if the book itself was not intending such a response:

Rosin is gifted at crafting a narrative, but her message that women are now on top is false. It encourages those who say we live in a gender blind society, so we can abandon efforts to help women advance.


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