The End of Men? Not Quite.

Are Women the New Men?

I’m a big Stephanie Coontz fan. She’s a truth-teller who uses statistics to illustrate reality instead of using it to obscure it.

Her New York Times article from February was a revelation and taught me that the two biggest predictors of marital success were a man’s willingness to pick up on his wife’s emotional cues and his willingness to share in the housework and child rearing. This only went to further my theory that the best husbands were a little more sensitive, feminine and beta, despite many women’s stated preference for manly men.

The best husbands are a little more sensitive, feminine and beta, despite many women’s stated preference for manly men.

Coontz’s latest piece takes on Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men”, which has a central theses that we hear in the comments section below from time to time: men are in crisis. Women are taking over. Except, as Coontz points out, it’s not really true. Women have made great strides in equality and may be better off than at any time in history, but their gains haven’t come at the expense of men, as Rosin has suggested.

Says Coontz, “If the ascent of women has been much exaggerated, so has the descent of men. Men’s irresponsibility and bad behavior is now a stock theme in popular culture. But there has always been a subset of men who engage in crude, coercive and exploitative behavior. What’s different today is that it’s harder for men to get away with such behavior in long-term relationships. Women no longer feel compelled to put up with it and the legal system no longer condones it. The result is that many guys who would have been obnoxious husbands, behaving badly behind closed doors, are now obnoxious singles, trumpeting their bad behavior on YouTube.

Their boorishness may be pathetic, but it’s much less destructive than the masculine misbehavior of yore. Most men are in fact behaving better than ever. Domestic violence rates have been halved since 1993, while rapes and sexual assaults against women have fallen by 70 percent in that time. In recent decades, husbands have doubled their share of housework and tripled their share of child care. And this change is not confined to highly educated men. Among dual-earner couples, husbands with the least education do as much or more housework than their more educated counterparts. Men who have made these adjustments report happier marriages — and better sex lives.

You got that, readers?

Most men are behaving better than ever.
Domestic violence has plummeted.
Rape has plummeted.
Both educated and uneducated husbands are doing more housework and child rearing.

Women are not better than men. Men aren’t all damaged and in perpetual crisis. For those of you who don’t believe this, I am not surprised. Science shows that if you offer facts that contradict your feelings, it makes you believe your feelings even stronger – even though this makes no logical sense.

I’m not saying that there is no longer domestic violence, rape, or selfish husbands. I’m saying that the closer we come to true equality, the less that women are willing to tolerate subpar behavior. This is – and has always been my message. You don’t like how a guy is acting? Dump him. Find a guy who makes you feel safe, heard, and understood. He exists…and lots of other women are happily married to him.

Check out the full article here and share your thoughts on whether you believe that men are the real problem in society – or if we’re truly closer to equal than ever before.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Joe

    Fusee isn’t asking you to settle for a man who isn’t as high-achieving.  She’s telling you to be more accepting of men who aren’t as high-achieving in the area you are high-achieving.  She’s saying: if you’re a high-powered attorney, your man shouldn’t need to also be a high-powered attorney; he could be an auto mechanic who is a champion swing dancer outside of work.  I guess in a nutshell it’s this: don’t turn up your nose at someone else’s achievements just because they don’t match your achievements.

  2. 32
    Fiona

    I don’t think Fusee is saying that either. Lawyers and auto mechanies are not a fit – this is surely common sense. 

  3. 33
    Fusee

    @Joe #31 and Fiona # 32: Auto mechanic + lawyer = why not? ; )
     
    Well, I was indeed not encouraging such an unlikely pairing. Maybe more someone like an excellent computer programmer able to make 100+K while also being quite accomplished in something outside of his trade.
     
    Anyway. Fiona, I think your problem is that you’ve simply been too fortunate in life. I’m happy for you but it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. You’ve got access to very high education and had the drive, intelligence, and opportunities to make an excellent career and a well above-average living for yourself. Congratulations! But now you would like a man to take over and provide that lifestyle to you and your children. It would work out just fine if you could be satisfied with a 100K kind of guy, but it does not look like it will be enough to match your current status and lifestyle.
     
    I understand that you do not want to be the man in the relationship, but by becoming a very high-achiever you became the man of your own relationship with yourself. Now, wanting someone “at your very high level” means eliminating 95% of the population while it does not even make sense since you explain wanting to stay home with your kids once you have them. At that point it would not matter to be with “another attorney” since you will not be one any longer. Sure, you want to be able to relate with someone at a compatible intellectual level. For that you sure need someone relatively educated, but a Bachelor’s coupled with some good critical thinking skills and an interest in what’s going on in the world is plenty.
     
    If you grew accustomed to an extremely high-income lifestyle thanks to your own achievement, it’s awesome. But it’s only fair to either decrease your needs in order to allow a “normal high-income” man to take care of you with his 100-150K/year, or continue working – maybe even just part-time – to supplement the family income and maintain your extremely high-income lifestyle.
     
    To some degree I can relate to your desires and needs, but I gravitate at a lower level and allows men to be slightly below my own accomplishments. It makes things so much easier on me and on men. If I were to have children I would also want to raise them at home, at least for the first few years of their lives. I would therefore need my husband to support a whole family, and for that he would have to be a high-earner so that we could live decently on his income. The difference with you is that I did not grow accustomed to a really expensive lifestyle. A man would not have to make half a million dollars to support me and our two kids. A solid 100-150K would do just fine. Surprise surprise: my boyfriend is totally on board with such scenario, and it has even an encouraging effect on him to seek better employement opportunities. Everybody wins: the man is the man, and the woman is the woman. But he does not have to face the grueling prospect of having to over-achieve to pay for unnecessary massages, facials, and expensive clothes.
     
    In terms of accomplishments, I’m more excited by his willingness and ability to build a great relationship with me than by his degrees. A Master’s and solid work ethics are good enough : ) Fiona, I’d suggest you stop longing for what your other high-achiever friends have. They got hitched when they were younger and they contributed to their husband’s success. You’re at a different place and it requires some flexibility. There really is no need for you to be single.

  4. 34
    K

    @Fiona I’m right with you.  Being a lawyer myself I understand what you are saying. 

  5. 35
    Fiona

    Fusee I don’t disageee what you say. I would be happy with someone with a university degree and a half decent salary. I am not looking for a CEO on half a million. However, these men seem to very thin on the ground. 

  6. 36
    K

    @Fusee, I agree with you on many points.  I like Fiona also am not looking for a 500k CEO.  At this point I may only have one child and I’d like to be married to someone who could have reasonable time to spend with the family.  When I was growing up with very little money and a poor grad student, the last thing I was thinking of was where my success would take me in the dating world (or not take me).  If I was with a very high achieving spouse I would love to stay home with our children for a few years.  Unfortunately where I live a 100k definitely does not allow that.  I have chosen a high earning, but flexible and family friendly job within my field.  As such if someone earned about 100k we could afford a home and child care and I’d be more than happy with that.  A bachelor’s degree is totally fine with me.  I’m more about having drive and ambition than a fancy degree. The last few men I really liked were actually in sales and did not have a graduate degree like myself.  I can also do my job nearly anywhere, so if the right person would come along I’d be happy to move to a less expensive place where our money would go further.  So looking for love outside my city and up to 10 years older is how I’m being flexible.   Dating a teacher with a heart of gold likely would only be a suitable pairing in a Lifetime movie (at least for me).

  7. 37
    marymary

    At 37 I was dating a lawyer and a part time model. women were constantly throwing themselves at him.  But he encouraged them too. I learned that looks and status are not so important to me as integrity, fidelity, character.
    the current beau earns a decent living but is not wealthy, and is attractive but probably not model material. He also enjoys public speaking, is somewhat admired by men of all ages for his ability to graciously assert himself in debates, is funny, intelligent though possibly not as well educated as i am. i havent bothered to find out what he achieved in the education sphere but i recognise his curiosity, maturity and presence of mind. he is very kind, and protective of me. It,s not the case that he has to be high status to be the man. I  don’t see that I have settled by going  from model lawyer to who I have now.
    he is not my normal  type but my type was not helping me at all.
    l gotta add that he is tall and sporty so my compromising wasn’t exactly a hardship. I’m not saying date someone you can’t respect, just be more flexible.  
    and tis true, many of the high achieving men I know who were minded to marry met their wives at university. I work in the city of London though, so it may be a uk thing.

  8. 38
    Fiona

    Marymary you don’t explain what it is that you do but you can’t base your views on an entire profession on one individual. As a UK lawyer that spent years in London myself it is not unreasonable for me to be interested in dating other lawyers.  I think that your experience is unfortunate but atypical. I don’t know any lawyers that have the time to be part time models. I would suggest that dating male models is in any event unwise.

  9. 39
    Henriette

    Question for all you ladies who want to someday stay home with kids but not take a hit to your lifestyle: why not make sure you save and invest a large portion of your income, now?  That way, 1) your lifestyle isn’t so grand that a guy has to make huge bucks to keep you at the same level 2) your savings will be able to supplement what he earns.  If you want to stay home for 10 years and need a household income of $150K minimum to do so, having $500K stashed away would allow you to widen your search to include guys who earn $100K… 
    As an aside, in my experience, guys who earn big bucks aren’t always great at saving big bucks.   A friend thought she’d hit the jackpot when she wed a mid-40s man who earns about $500k/ year: was sure he’d have at least a million or two or tucked away.  She wasn’t happy to learn that years of living a fun bachelor lifestyle – renting cool apartments, drinking fine wines, holidaying in 5* hotels – had left him with a few $100K and no real estate holdings.

  10. 40
    Joe

    I don’t get why a lawyer and an auto mechanic would necessarily be an unlikely pairing.  Being a mechanic doesn’t make someone stupid.

    Besides, since you’re a lawyer, you should know how much time lawyers spend on the job.

    Sounds to me like it all boils down to MONEY…

  11. 41
    Mickey

    I’ve seen professional guys cut down at the knees also. So, I’m disinclined to believe
    that what a guy does for a living is relevant in the current man-hating culture.

    P.S. I’m a law school graduate, also.    

  12. 42
    Fiona

    Joe, that is not entirely true. While earning potential is important to some degree and it is no use pretending otherwise what it all really boils down to having something in common and whatever people say about that being irrelevant, it does actually matter, at least to me. I would rather spend my time with someone who understands what I am talking about and likes doing the same type of things. Maybe there is an opera loving bookwork mechanic out there that likes going to museums on the one hand and skiing on the other but I haven’t met any.

    Mickey, no idea why you are having so much trouble but find it hard to believe that being a law graduate is the issue.

  13. 43
    Mickey

    Fiona:

    I’m not at all suggesting that being a law graduate is the problem. I’m only saying that based on what I’ve seen (and experienced), one’s occupation is hardly the problem. Politically correct male bashing is the problem.  

  14. 44
    marymary

    fiona
    i don’t feel unfortunate. I met someone ten times better.
    good luck with finding the opera afficianado, high income, attractive, museum loving, top five percent educated, alpha ski-er who is also caring and loving.

  15. 45
    Fiona

    marymary, I clearly meant that your experience with the lawyer was unfortunate as opposed to normal lawyer behaviour. Great that you have found someone that you are happy with. My point was that I don’t need someone to share all my interests – I do need someone to share some of them. Being loving and caring is not enough in itself if that person is not even close to being on the same wavelength. I’m intelligent, I have no desire to be with a man who isn’t. This is no more than common sense but some people just like to take the unrealistic moral high ground for the sake of it.

  16. 46
    marymary

    Fiona 
    im not stalking you but your dilemma is not uncommon so it’s worth some examination. I think most dating coaches, including our dear
    Evan, say the same. ditch the list, or at least revise it.
    you yourself state the man you want may not exist. many here agree. We suggest widening the pool. you’re not keen. We share that we have met non alphas who turned out to be better than the alphas but that is not for you either.
    so what are you going to do?
    it’s not so gloomy. When you meet the right person they may not tick all the boxes but they will very very likely have other qualities that more than compensate. things not even on our radar. that,s the surprise and wonder of love.
    as for loving and caring,that’s possibly something to bump way up the list. it seems rarer and more valuable than intelligence, to me anyway.
    as for the moral high ground I have been in relationships that burnt up my youth and one that almost left me dead. it’s not for nothing if I can warn off others. But yeah I expect it’s irritating to hear.
    just my tuppence

  17. 47
    Fiona

    Marymary, where I fail to see your logic or anyone else’s is that people who don’t achieve are more loving and caring. That simply isn’t true. There are plenty of non-achieving abusers and wife beaters so we have to drop the pretence that all the non-achievers are really nice – they aren’t and the chances of a non-achiever and an achiever being nice are pretty equal. There are just less achievers out there – that is all.

  18. 48
    henriette

    Fiona, I certainly have found that the percentage of high-earners who are nice is equal to – if not greater than – the percentage of low-achievers who are nice.  I agree with you that it’s stuff & nonsense to imagine that a man will necessarily be kinder just because he earns less money. 

    However, as you point out, there are far fewer high-achievers “out there” so that stacks the deck.  Add to that, the fact that this relatively small number of men who are nice, high-achieving and not-yet-married tend to have their choice of an almost endless supply of women.  And among the numerous (albeit statistically insignificant number of) men that I know who fit this criteria, none cares about being with a woman who is has reached great heights in her career.  Generally, these guys want slim, easy-going, young, good-looking-enough that they can be sure other men in the room will be jealous, athletic, happy girlfriends.  These men I know don’t give a rat’s a$$ if she’s his intellectual equal; they don’t want stupid but most of them get enough brain stimulation elsewhere that they want to kick back, relax and not think too hard in their romantic lives.  And if anything, having a “serious” job will be a mark against her as it means she’ll be less available to fit into his jam-packed schedule.

    Trust me, many of us women posting here empathise with you and I certainly don’t want to dismiss your dreams and/or concerns.  However, know that the “numbers game” is not stacked in your (our) favour and adjust your expectations, if not your desires, accordingly.  If it came down to remaining single forever or falling in love an opera-loving, bookworm professor who earns $85k/annum, which would you pick?  There’s no “right” answer.

  19. 49
    marymary

    thanks henriette you put it better than I did.
    another option is to consider the older divorced men with kids. younger women may not want that responsibility.
    friend of mine married a mega achiever. He gets driven to his London office in a limo. He was divorced with with one child when they met. They’ve gone on to have children of their own. They have homes in several countries. He’s also a little overweight, older and losing his hair. Heck, i know men in their twenties losing theirs. she is very happy.
    female partner I know in an amlaw one hundred firm is indeed married to a university professor. 
    it,s about flexibility. no one is saying date a loser cos he,ll be nicer. If i gave that impression i certainly didn’t mean to. I’m not saying intelligence is not important either. I tend to take that for granted in the circles i move in. Kind and caring I certainly do not.

  20. 50
    Fiona

    Henriette, I have nothing against professors if they are in my age range. I don’t meet many though. The way I see it there is either an intellectual equal out there for me or there isn’t. If it is meant to be, it will be. If it isn’t, it won’t. I am not going to compromise on the things that really do matter to me just because I’ll end up alone if I don’t because being alone, painful as it is, is infinitely preferable to me that being with someone who I can’t relate to. My experience to date has been that unintelligent men appreciate me less than intelligent men anyway, not vice versa. They will try it on because I’m blonde and I have a glamour model type figure but long lasting relationships aren’t built on men’s lust. Better actually have some things in common.

  21. 51
    Barry

    Fiona, there are men out there who are intelligent, charismatic and interested in the arts. They just may not have a high salary.
    This really is just about the money.

    Its like men only going out with women with large breasts, because that’s what they are attracted to. I do not know too many men like that because probably they are aware that irrespective of their desires, it drastically limits their choices.
    In addition such women may well be in high demand from the men you are interested in, so chances of rejection are high.

    Its a shame that your unrealistic expectations will result in you remaining single, and effectively a great man losing out.
     

  22. 52
    Henriette

    @Barry51, Fiona stated that she would be happy with a professor who earns  $85K and is looking for an intellectual equal so I don’t think it’s fair to say that her choices are “just about the money.”
     

  23. 53
    Joe

    What about a(n adjunct) prof who only makes $50k?

  24. 54
    K

    @joe I was previously an adjunct professor.  Typically they teach in addition to their profession.  So not the best example.  Someone who makes 50k in a very pricey city likely wouldn’t have a lot in common with me.  Even if I wanted to date a guy who made that likely they wouldn’t want to date me as I think in my social circle we tend to engage in pricier adtivities.

  25. 55
    marymary

    Fiona
    as a lawyer you must be constantly invited to networking and marketing events. Dont just delete. Go. Even if its outside your field. Especially if it,s outside your field. Widen the net. Get there early. ride up and down the lift and smile at everyone who gets in. When you’re there, chat to everyone. Including the men.
    next time you’re picking up your cpd points, do the same. Get there early etc.
    choose venues in buildings with multiple law firms.
    offer to speak when your firm is hosting. Look pretty afterwards and wait for the men to tell you how much they enjoyed your presentation.
    man the stand at next exhibition. Hand out the freebies. And your business card.
    Go to the lunchtime talks at the City churches. Only churches ive been to where men out number the women.

    It,s coming up to Christmas, law firms are throwing open their doors. Free drinks.
    a certain City law firm just outside the magic circle that’s big in intellectual property hosts a famous annual drinks party. Wangle an invite. Those IP lawyers are seriously smart and a bit geeky. So not so slick with the women and many still single.

    be approachable. Smile. not many men, even the super high achievers want to approach a beautiful woman who looks as though she will knock him back.

    I had to date a committed evangelical christian who isnt nutty, that was my requirement. an even smaller pool than the intelligent I think. I gave up too but then I met someone.
    good luck.

  26. 56
    Fiona

    Joe, these questions are largely irrelevant as people aren’t paid in dollars in Great Britain and the cost of iiving is very different. That would not be a great amount for an educated person to be earning here and you certainly couldn’t support a family on it so I’d have to assume that such a man wasn’t too bothered about having a family because he hasn’t made much of an effort to put himself in a position to be able to support one.

  27. 57
    Fiona

    Thanks Mary. I don’t work for a law firm but have spent the last year working in-house for the same multinational that I was working for in Switzerland previously so I work from home which makes it all rather tricky to meet people. I am pretty active on the social circuit but haven’t been too impressed with what I have seen in the South West. Lots of great women…I am going to be travelling for most of December in Asia so I have more or less decided not to torture myself thinking about relationships until 2013.

  28. 58
    Mickey

    What is so wrong with a guy enjoying what he does for a living, but his job might not be as lucrative as others?

  29. 59
    Fiona

    Absolutely nothing so long as he isn’t looking for someone like me to subsidise his life. I don’t love what I do for a living but I do it because I’m a financially responsible grown up.

  30. 60
    Mickey

    Fiona:

    Therein lies the problem: the presumption that a guy is looking for a woman to subsidize his lifestyle. This in turn, seems to suggest that as soon as a woman disapproves if what a guy does for a living, he’s immediately out of the running as a potential dating prospect. This is just one more reason most guys don’t have a prayer when it comes to meeting women.

    Believe it or not, there are plenty of guys, myself included, who are educated professionals who enjoy what they do for a living, AND are self-supporting. Contrary to popular belief, not all guys are video game playing, beer-swilling frat boys.

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