“The End of Men” by Hanna Rosin – review by Evan Marc Katz

The End of Men and the Rise of Women book by Hanna Rosin

I know, I’m a little late to the game in reviewing Hanna Rosin’s “The End of Men”, which came out on September 11, 2012. That’s what happens when your day job is coaching smart, strong, successful women and your night job is being a good husband and father. And so it goes.

As you may know, I’m a big reader, but tend to only read books for pleasure. If they feel too much like homework, I’m not going to bother. Which is generally why I have a lot of trouble reading most relationship books. Too close to home. But when it comes to accessible, scientifically researched, mainstream nonfiction, I’m a sucker. I’ve read most of the seminal books on behavioral economics like “Predictably Irrational”, “Nudge”, “How We Decide” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. And I really enjoy books that talk about larger societal issues revolving around gender and relationships: “Marry Him” by Lori Gottlieb, “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Unhooked Generation” by Jillian Straus. Which brings me to “The End of Men”.

Women have become more traditionally masculine. Men haven’t become more traditionally feminine.

Rosin starts with some unassailable premises: women are gaining ground in education and the workplace, gender roles are fluid, and both genders are confused about what this means.

So is the author, I would suggest.

“Men could move more quickly into new roles now open to them — college graduate, nurse, teacher, full-time father — but for some reason, they hesitate…Men do a tiny bit more housework and child care than they did 40 years ago, while women do vastly more paid work. The working mother is now the norm. The stay at home father is still a front page anomaly”.

This is true. But Rosin’s built-in suggestion to men is a bit one-sided: the answer to these dilemmas is for men to change. Rosin points out that “women have become more masculine in their traits — assertive, independent, willing to take a stand. Men have not come towards the center, seeing themselves as tender or gentle.”

Yes, and that’s my point. Women have become more traditionally masculine. Men haven’t become more traditionally feminine. And so we find ourselves at an impasse – one that we’ve broached many times on this blog. Women’s answer to men: you need to change. Men’s reply to women: we like the way we are! Accept us.

Screaming back and forth at each other – as we often do – doesn’t serve a purpose. In a perfect world, we’ll try to meet in the middle. But Rosin spends a lot more time reflecting – on how men are falling behind than she does telling women how to adjust to the new world order. To be fair, this new world order, with women at the top, is the central premise of the book. And, to be fair, Rosin does a good job weaving a narrative based on anecdotes and statistics that support her case. Except they don’t entirely do so.

For example, “Among college graduates 25-39, women make up 45.9%.” Women earn 60% of masters, half of all law and medical degrees, and 44% of all business degrees.”

I find this information to be amazing. Inspiring. Heartwarming. Groundbreaking. Yet Rosin is arguing that these statistics represent not just the rise of women but the “end of men”.


That’s not the end of men. It’s the BEGINNING of true equality! Now, for the first time, there will be just as many women who will be able to choose men because they are cute, kind, and loyal, not because simply because they’re educated and wealthy. Now, for the first time, a woman who makes $300K/year will have no trouble picking up the tab for a lavish European vacation with her boyfriend who makes $50K, just as men have been doing for their wives for a hundred years. This is good news, and it requires two shifts:

1) Men have to not feel emasculated when there are many women are smarter or wealthier.

2) Women have to not look down on men who are less educated or less successful. Just as men (like me) don’t look down on our stay-at-home mom wives; we cherish them for what they DO bring to the table – kindness, generosity, warmth, laughter, companionship, love, sex, and 100 other things that don’t involve money.

The author continues much of the book on this path, “The number of women with six figure incomes is rising at a faster pace than it is for men. 1 in 18 women working full time earn 100K or more in 2009, a jump of 14 percent over 2 years.”

The hard-driving businesswoman may mute her natural tenderness and vulnerability, two traits that men find both attractive and accessible.

Rosin calls this “the last gasp of a vanishing age” — when men had all the top jobs and wealth. But this is progress. This is as it should be. The number of women with six figure incomes SHOULD be rising at a faster rate because there’s a lot further for women to come to break thru the glass ceiling. Again, this doesn’t represent the end of men. It represents the closest we’ve come yet to a gender-blind work environment – and even that is far away.

Of course, I’m leading with my criticisms, not my praise, but Rosin does take an even hand – not just talking about the “end of men” but shining the light on the contradictions of the modern, smart, strong, successful woman – who makes $200K, but still wants a man to make more. Not only is this a challenging crossroads for women, but Rosin points out another dilemma that comes with equality: the hard-driving businesswoman persona may mute her natural tenderness and vulnerability, two traits that men find both attractive and accessible.

“With sex, as with most areas of life, women tend to preserve a core of their old selves — romantic, tender, vulnerable — even while taking on new sexual personas. The women at business school no longer needed a man to support them, but that didn’t mean they didn’t want one. And years of practice putting up their guard made it hard for them to know when to let it down. As Meghan Daum writes in My Misspent Youth, “the worst sin imaginable was not cruelty or bitchiness or even professional failure but vulnerability.”

Such shifts have only made the already murky dating world even murkier, as gender roles get blurry. And women who choose to put career first do quite well. Reports Rosin, “There is hardly any earning gap between women who don’t have children and men. Mostly, what happens is obvious: women with children start cutting back hours or seeking out situations that are more family friendly.”

So, if you’re a woman who chooses to go all-in on your career, no one’s judging you – certainly not on this blog. I would just hope that you follow the wisdom of the men who do the same; choose a partner who puts the relationship first. The high-power women interviewed in the book came to the same conclusion; a less ambitious husband enables a successful partnership. Writes Rosin, “The powerful women I spoke to all admitted being utterly dependent on their husbands. All described this as the first rule of success: “Choose your spouse carefully…”

Rosin and I both agree that the rise of women necessitates change. And while I disagree that this signals “The End of Men”, I do agree that men have to come to terms with a new world in which, potentially, 50% of the women they meet will make more money. But since this blog is for women, my directive isn’t to tell men how they need to change; it’s to remind you that you can only control your own actions and reactions. Thus, the onus is on you to adjust to the new world order that you’ve created.

Concludes Rosin, “If diversity is good in the workplace, then it’s also good at home. In a massive Dept of Education study, a child’s grades were more closely correlated to how many times the dad showed up at a school event than any other factor. Children with involved fathers measure as having higher IQs by age three, higher self esteem and in the case of daughters, grow up to be less promiscuous.”

And if you’re a woman working 60-hour weeks and pulling in a half million a year, you know what kind of Dad will be a perfect fit? Not the high-powered brain surgeon/marathon runner, but the high-school English teacher who makes $60K, gets home at 4:30, has summers off and pulls in a generous pension.

That’s the model for success. Which means no more clamoring for the male version of yourself.

Do what successful men have done for eons; marry “down” a little bit and find a happy marriage with complementary (not necessarily “equal”) roles.

Join our conversation (190 Comments).
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  1. 1

    And here is where the biology kicks in. Most of women still want a man who they can look up to. Who still makes more than they do. And who will take them on those european vacations.

  2. 2

    eh, this all seems a little out of touch to me. Talking about women making $200k to $300k a year needing men who make more. What we are talking about is an extreme minority, probably less than 1% of working women. So as for the rest of us, people who will likely need two incomes to have a family in this world, finding a man who make about what we make or a bit more or less is important. I will never be able to carry a starving artist as a husband but if he makes about what I do, I am going to need someone who is willing to be an actual partner and help in child raising and taking care of the home. Women have  achieved  a lot but MOST of those women and men achieving undergrad and graduate degrees will never make the kind of money that you are writing about here. So to me all of this seems null.

  3. 3

    The BEST scenario is women are taking on masculine traits like assertiveness, independence & willing to take a stand.   Unfortunately, it seems like the reality is women are more aggresssive, fiercely indepedent (discount men’s role, purpose & function) and overbearing.   Unfortunatey as well, women have accepted the notion they can have it all, act like a man, have men be attracted to them, a demanding career and raise children.   We know that’s not reality as well.   And I know you see this first hand Evan as women age and get more realistic/mature about what they are really built for and desiring:   to have babies in a secure safe environment (ie. a partner)  so they can raise those babies.

    Just another book about how men should be more like women.

  4. 4

    Most of the studies saying the women do more around the house typically only count traditional female homemaker tasks and do not include the things men typically do like auto repair and other maintenance and lawn work or remodeling. We had a water softener as a kid and I don’t ever remember my Mom toting the 50lb bags of salt for instance as one example. Men also tend to spend more hours at paid employment so this gap between ‘who’s doing all the work’ is not as wide as gender feminists would like folks to believe.
    Most stay at home dads end up that way out of necessity or because they can/do already work from home. Women as far as I can tell do not seek/date/marry men who expect to be stay at home husbands. As an experiment you could throw up a few reasonably attractive photos with the same generic profiles one male and one female expressing a desire to get married and become a homemaker. Any wagers on which profile would get the fewest messages?
    I’ve said if before here and I’ll say it again, feminism freed women from their traditional sex role. It did not free men.

  5. 5

    Why is it that when a woman does act more assertively and independently, she’s considered overly aggressive, over-bearing, and the old standard, “bitchy”? The best scenario is MEN feeling like it’s okay to take on “feminine” traits, but those that have the most power are reluctant to relinquish that power, or to take on the traits of those who have less.
    Women making 300k/year? First-world problems I wouldn’t mind having. Sigh.

    1. 5.1

      But they ARE changing. They ARE taking on more feminine qualities.Maybe not the high-powered alpha types, but the rest of the men are shifting in that direction.

  6. 6
    Evan Marc Katz

    Aw, Ruby. I never would have guessed after all these years of reading my blog that you would make the mistake of telling me that the answer to the world’s problems is for men to change. I stand corrected.

    Most men don’t like women who are that assertive, independent, and opinionated.

    You’re pretty much saying that we SHOULD.

    Good luck with that.

  7. 7

    EMK #6
    I’m not sure what you mean by women acting “that” assertively, etc. How much assertiveness and independence is acceptable? In any case, men have changed. So have women. Would I like to see more change? Yes, but it happens slowly. Both the women and men of my parents’ generation are noticeably different from my peers today. Change, however slowly it happens, is inevitable.

  8. 8
    Evan Marc Katz

    Change is inevitable. Just notice that in #5, you said that MEN were the ones who had to do it. In fact, WOMEN who are assertive and independent need to start valuing men with more feminine qualities. As of yet, most of them don’t.

    This is why I have a job.

  9. 9

    I’d like to clarify something, I am an assertive and independent woman, and I have NO problems dating and relating to men (I’m in a relationship now with a great guy, who enjoys being the man and loves that I speak my mind and don’t NEED him, but want him).   What I am not is AGGRESSIVE and have an attitude of no need of men or desire him to be a hairy woman.    
    There is more than one intepretation of power. For some reason, there are people who believe being a woman in her femininity is weak, a victim & being taking advange of–with NO power. The truth is, a women who understands femininity understands how much power she wields.  

    I also agree with Frimmel, why don’t the traditionally male tasks done around the house count?

  10. 10

    EMK #8
    What I meant was that it’s still more acceptable for women to take on masculine traits than vice verse. Even so, women still get chastised when they do. I agree, we should value the positive characteristics we find in each other, rather than simply label them too masculine or too feminine.
    But I’d also have to agree with Julia (#2), for the vast majority of us who aren’t in the upper echelons of wealth, we’ll just be looking for a man who makes a decent income and wants an equal relationship.

  11. 11
    Evan Marc Katz

    The really good news, then, Ruby, is that there are just as many men who make decent incomes and want equal relationships as women.

    Unless you’re going to intimate that there are a lot more qualified women out there. 🙂

    I would think that the 50 million married couples out there would indicate that men want to get married. And I would think that the fact that men still make more than women would indicate that many of them make decent incomes.

    Problem solved.

  12. 12

    Oh Evan women DO value men with more feminine qualities those are the gay guys they occasionally “hang out” with to go shopping and complain about ……what else?………..MEN
    On a daily basis I really wish this blog could change the way women thought but like someone above me said in the first post no matter how much they earn or how alpha they are they want someone higher than them or at least equal.  What they don’t understand (especially if they’re not physically attractive) is that they can’t attract those men. Those men have no interest in alpha women and can care less how much money a woman makes. The thing I have to deal with on daily basis at my age (50) is not only how much a woman makes but how much their ex husband MADE when they were married. I have to be “better” than that!

  13. 13
    Karmic Equation

    @Michelle 9

    “The truth is, a women who understands femininity understands how much power she wields.”

    1000% agreed.

    I think that’s the problem with most “smart, strong, successful” women struggling to find a happy relationship. They’ve been conditioned to believe that masculine powers are the “true” powers. They’re not wrong, because their success in the business world IS based on having strong masculine powers. Dialing that down and “glorying” in their femininity in their relationships lives may seem like a betrayal of that part of themselves they consider admirable and worthy of respect.

    To give up control, when you like to be in control is difficult. But if they can swallow their egos, and be outcome-oriented (a masculine trait, btw) instead of process-oriented (a feminine trait), they might fare better in finding or being successful in a relationship.

    I used to play in a lot of volleyball tournaments before I was married. I continued to do so after I was married. People would ask if I could play and I would say yes when I knew my hubby and I didn’t have any plans. Then I’d just tell my husband I was going to play vb on X day, etc. However I noticed my hubby would get all quiet and sullen when I told him this. Finally instead of of TELLING him I was playing, I decided to ASK him if he would mind if I played. He ALWAYS said “No problem, sure.” — and he STOPPED being quiet and sullen and instead became moderately interested in whether my team won or not when I came home.

    I think most women here would chafe at “asking” their husband for permission to do something they knew they had a right to do. But I was more interested in playing vb and keeping him in a good mood than asserting my independence. So I always thought of my “asking” as a smart way to get what I wanted, instead of seeing it as some sort of negative on me, or him, or the relationship. However, if he ever had said “No” — that might have elicited some assertiveness on my part, but he never did. He just wanted to have a say. It would have been petty of me not to give that to him.

  14. 14

    I would rather my intellectual abilities not be used as evidence for how women are rising and men are falling.   That is just ludicrous.   In an equal society, people succeed and fail on their own accord, not based on their gender.
    And just because women are acquiring more masculine qualities does not mean men should acquire more feminine qualities.   Since when did our emotions become shades of black and white?
    I don’t go around telling men or women that they are pretentious or loud and that they should change that.   If you don’t like your environment, change your environment or change yourself.   You can’t ask people to change for you.   That’s selfish and irrational.   You can’t survive by refusing to adapt to adversity, if one should call it that.

  15. 15

    @ Michelle # 9
    I’d like to clarify something,I am an assertive and independent woman and I have No problem dating and relating to men.”
    I think that I finally got the difference between being independent and being emotionally unavailable (thanks to Some other guy’s post #20 under “Why Does Evan Coach Smart Strong, Successful Women?”).
    I thought that somehow being strong and independent was a personality trait that I was expected to hide or get rid of, but that is not it.   It is good to be strong (thank goodness) but guarded and distrustful, not so much. 🙂 What I understood from that post (and yours as well) is that I don’t need to be “weak” or pretend to be small and needy to be feminine but I do need to be open and vulnerable.  
    Michelle # 9 “The truth is a woman who understands femininity understands how much power she wields.”

  16. 16

    @Julia #2
    Yes, 100% agreed.
    >>  feminism freed women from their traditional sex role. It did not free men
    Yes, you are correct.   But do men want to be freed?   Isn’t that what this is all about?   You could also argue that women do not want them to be freed (while wishing to be free themselves) but that’s a different ball of wax.
    @Karmic #13
    Great story and true for so many of us.   You are absolutely correct: asking instead of telling makes all the difference.   It’s not really asking and both parties probably know that.   It’s just a simple matter of showing consideration for your partner.   
    I think this desire to “have a say” is gender neutral though.   I haven’t been married that long (almost 9 months) and for various reasons it took us a while to begin living together so we’re still growing into each other.   The other day he called me at lunch to say that a friend wanted to go out for drinks after work and did we have any plans that day?   He knew we didn’t at that point and that he didn’t need my permission but it was a very sweet thing to do and I was very appreciative.
    This is one of the biggest lessons I’m learning about marriage.   Sometimes it’s more important to make your partner happy than to be right.   Sometimes there’s a cost to your pride but it’s often worth it.   Whatever other lessons there are to be learned as women trying to navigate our way through relationships, I think this one is gender neutral.

  17. 17

    @ Karmic Equation # 13
    Thank you for sharing that.   The way I see it, you were not really asking permission, but rather you seemed to simply be acknowledging that he was your partner and that his input was of value.   It may have been worded as if you were asking permission but to me seemed as though you were, in some small way, including him in your decision instead of leaving him out entirely.  

  18. 18

    Karmic Equation @ 13 – Did your husband ever ask you for permission to do  things he had a right to do?

    1. 18.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Cat5 – I routinely ask my wife permission for things I have a right to do. It’s called “being considerate”.

      1. 18.1.1


  19. 19

    I do not understand why marrying a high school English teacher would be a step down from marrying a brain surgeon because I don’t think career success, or salary is a measurement of person’s worth. Actually that’s a bit unfair. I think I’m simply coming at it from a slightly different angle.
    I wonder how the author’s observations would apply in a less success-driven society; or why she is declaring the ‘end of men’ but only talking about one cultural context? Sure maybe you might see it as the beginning of the end if men are largely valued only for their success but I’m a bit edgy about that.  

  20. 20

    I can see both points of view, although have not read the book.
    The problem as I see it is if the woman marries down so is the higher wage earner and she then becomes the stay at home Mum, how does that work when they are then trying to live on the lower wage earners income?
    Or if she goes back to work according to the author the men in question do not want to take on the main househusband role. so how does that work?
    And if they both work, the author then appears to be saying that doesn’t work either, well not very well for the woman as she is doing just as much outside work as the man and more in the house and more childcare So how does that work? haha well I can see that would be the best option for the man. 😉
    How many women really want to have children to go back to a full time career and not actually be there for their children?
    Would love to here thoughts on what the best option is.
    Another problem is disconnection from our family support network now people move away from their families.
    I believe divorce rate has gone up hasn’t it?And second and third time around even less chance of lasting.
    Not good news. something isn’t working.

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