“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
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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”.

Huh?

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.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Rose

    hear/not here.

  2. 22
    Cat5

    @Evan – I was married for 15 years, and we both routinely consulted the other about many things —  not only because it is considerate, but it was essential from a monetary standpoint.   When we were first married we were juggling big time, because he was recovering from brain surgery and unable to work for awhile, and I was in graduate school and working.   We set-up parameters for  certain types and amounts of purchases, and if you wanted to go outside those parameters, it required a conclave.   🙂
      
    The reason I asked Karmic Equation the question in #18, was she only mentioned what she did.   I was curious if he did also.

  3. 23
    Karmic Equation

    @Cat5

    No and yes 🙂

    In all honesty, I can’t recall a single time he did anything that required my permission or even consideration. On weekends, he was rarely gone for more than a few hours, and that was to go to the gym. In contrast, my vb tournaments were all day affairs, I’d leave at 730am and sometimes not get home until 10pm.

    However, he did occasionally ask me for permission no man would typically ask his wife…to go to a night club with his friends. And I always gave him permission, even though sometimes I think he would have preferred that I said no. LOL

    The back story is that my ex-hubby is a good looking dude, a boy-next-door, “9”. His friends, in contrast, while good people, were at best 6’s and that’s being generous. Before my husband met me he would go to night clubs frequently with his buds and girls would flock to his chick-magnet-self, and if he wasn’t that into the girl he would say something like “Hey, I’d like you to meet my friend, [name]” and hand the girl(s) off to his friends.

    Once he met me, he stopped going to the clubs and for about 4 years or so after, his friends fended for themselves at the clubs, with apparently very little luck. So finally they caved and asked him to ask me to let him go to the club with them. So he asked and I said yeah, go have fun, you need to get out of the house. I had complete trust and faith in him. As well, I knew the girls in the clubs wouldn’t measure up to me 🙂 I’m sure most of them were hotter, but none could surpass my total package.

    Anyway, the first time he did this, the first thing he said when he got home was, “I am so glad I’m married to you and out of the dating rat-race. You wouldn’t believe the desperate, gold-digging, sleazy women out there!”

    Needless to say, whenever he asked (about once every 6 months), I always said yes. His meeting other “available” women didn’t make him regret his marriage, but instead validated his judgment (that he picked a great woman–me!) and that being married was a whole lot better than being single.

  4. 24
    Jackie Holness

    I don’t even like the title of the book…it’s inflammatory…which is probably the point I guess…

  5. 25
    Rose

    So what happened @cat5 are you still with him?

  6. 26
    Rose

    Apologies @cat5, just noticed you said ex.
    Feel sad to hear that.
    What happened?

  7. 27
    Rose

    Oh dear I need some coffee. That question was to Karmic Equation, my brain is obviously still sleeping.

  8. 28
    Nicole

    Evan
    As you point out, the quibble here is the fact that, despite women are getting more masculine, men haven’t become more traditionally feminine, thus the equation “masculine + masculine” does not work!
    However, I’ve seen that even if women accept to date beta males with less earning power, these guys may still feel emasculated. So even though the woman accepts the more easygoing guy, this same guy may be well attracted to her, but in the end he cannot cope with her being more successful.
    This observation comes from a very “normal” place. I am young professional earning less than 50k. I just like working (like I did when I was at school), I like  learning new things and being rewarded for my time and dedication to work (even though I am not a workaholic). In the past, I dated guys (often older than me) who earned less, deliberately following the principle of choosing a more easy going beta partner who would be supportive. That was hell! These guys supported me in theory, but in practice they sabotaged me, either due to insecurity (they were scared that me moving jobs or having a better position) could menace the relationship or, being themselves not ambitious, they saw my desire to have a better paid and more rewarding position as something foolish.
      
    Another point is that it’s true to say women are more masculine, but it is also true that our ancestors were not necessarily that vulnerable. Many women had to be assertive, practical leaders, since oftentimes their husbands were working far from home. The men was the away from home bread feeder, the woman was the stay at home manager of the household and the person in charge of proper spend of the money (earned by the husband), as well as responsible for the daily upbringing of the children. In that sense women were oftentimes strong and tough women.

  9. 29
    Helen

    Evan, while I, like Jackie 25, find the book’s title inflammatory, I don’t see that the parts you quoted mean that Rosin is telling men to change. She is being observational, not prescriptive. She isn’t saying that men SHOULD take these new traditionally-female occupations or become more tender; she’s saying that she doesn’t see this happening.
      
    If she had said that men should do these things, then yes, I would agree with you. (Maybe she did say that in the book, but not in the parts you quoted.) Just because we change, it doesn’t mean that we have a right to tell others they must change to accommodate us.

  10. 30
    Karmic Equation

    @Lia 17

    You’re giving me too much credit, I’m afraid. I truly didn’t think I needed to ask as I knew our social schedule, which was non-existent. There was absolutely no reason why he should be angry or upset, because if I had stayed home instead of going to my tournaments, we would have been in separate rooms in the house as we didn’t always like the same TV shows and if I’m not watching TV, I’m on the computer or reading a book. It was better for me to be out exercising and socializing and indulging my competitiveness than to stay at home “watching him watch tv”. In my mind, I was making a compromise to ask him for the sake of a win-win outcome (me happy and him happy).

    @RW 16

    I agree, “having a say” is gender neutral, but being vested in the “outcome” is a more masculine trait; and being more vested in the “process” is a more feminine trait. That’s why guys don’t buy books about how to “relate/communicate” (processes) with women. They buy books for outcomes (e.g., picking up women/getting them to bed). (Not sure, but I think I read this from “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus).

    @Cat5

    I wouldn’t consider anything that affects finances significantly, a “right to do” by either party. For example, if I wanted the whole house re-carpeted, he would of course be consulted and have to be on board 100%. But if we’re not hurting for cash (and we’re both working) and I want to buy a $20 hardcover book, then I don’t need for   him to have a say. I’m using this example, because we did have a disagreement over this. He actually said “What book is worth $20? (He’s not a book lover like me). Why are you spending all MY money on this nonsense.” As I said, we were both working. So my smart, shut-him-up-for-good comeback was said very sweetly, “So if I’m spending all YOUR money, then all the money in our savings must be MY money, right?”

    He never questioned my purchases again. (I’m not extravagant, so he never should have questioned me in the first place.)

  11. 31
    Rose

    I have actually observed a lot more feminine energy men online and out there in real life in general over the years. More so with the younger generation of men being passive in nature. Now I do not know if that is just to do with women becoming more masculine in their energy and behavior, or if it is also to do with female hormones in the water due to female birth control and traces from plastics containers in processed food/ drinks/cosmetic containers for shampoo etc.
    Correlation is not a cause.
    In real life and online I have come across three types of men.
    Men who’s energy is coming at me and towards me in a good way which feels great and just feels wonderful to be around. And I feel safe with. And approach me with genuine enthusiasm and interest about me as a person rather than surface level social chit chat, or gossip about other people.
    Men who’s energy is coming at me and towards me who tell me all about themselves and their relationships, who are usually complaining about women and past relationships with some real horror stories. These men do not feel good to be around deep inside. On the surface they are full of life and energy almost to the point of being manic, busy busy busy. And appear to want me to be their therapist and want help.I feel open on the surface to this but deep inside something doesn’t sit right and I feel scared to be in their company for long and certainly not one to one.
    And then men who’s energy is very passive an inward energy which feels feminine to me who appear shy and the womens energy goes towards them.  Usually appear to be nice natured. But appear to be reluctant to take the lead with women.
    And on an observational level, there does appear to be a decline in the first group.
    And appear to be more go getting masculine energy women out there.
    What anyone draws from this I do not know.
    Draw your own conclusions.
    All I know is I like men out of the first group, that feels yummy and good.
      
      
      
      

  12. 32
    Michelle

    #15, Lia

    Very well said, exactly.   I would also add assertive, in other words, if there is something that’s bothering us as women, to speak up.   I know that sounds easy, but often is challenging.   Basically, our happiness is most important, so we can give partner
    Karmic

    Totally agree with what you’re saying.  
    RW
    Sounds like you get it!   As time goes on and challenges occur and life changes, keep your wise words of wisdom in mind.

  13. 33
    Rose

      
    Karmic Equation
    “What book is worth $20? (He’s not a book lover like me). Why are you spending all MY money on this nonsense.”
    I feel curious about this and would like to explore.
    So what about a stay at home mum who is looking after THEIR children.
    Do you think it is only the mans money in those circumstances and the women should get permission on if she wants to buy herself a book? make up? lunch out?
    It is still their money in my eyes and the eyes of the law they are married.
    If I do not question what he is spending our money on I would want the same respect.
      And if either of us had a problem over not liking what OUR money was being spent on I would expect us to discuss it and resolve the conflict.
      

  14. 34
    Rose

    I would want to discuss it openly, although to me if someone used the words “What book is worth $20? (He’s not a book lover like me). Why are you spending all MY money on this nonsense.” It would pretty much tell me they were not open to discussing this is a loving respectful way.
    I would be feel happy to talk about the issue if later they felt open to discussing it in an open and loving way, until then I would be out of there and not discuss it.

  15. 35
    Lia

    I have a friend who was married to a man that I hesitate to call a “beta man”.   He was tall, handsome, strong, loved to hunt, very outdoors type guy.   He was charming and funny but he was NOT career driven.    She started a business and used his credit to do so.   Initially he helped her get it up and going but then she found that she preferred to run it, for the most part, without him.   He had a couple of jobs very short term in the time they were together (10 years) but most of the time he just did what he wanted.   
      
    What he did bring to the relationship was companionship. He went grocery shopping with her, went on errands with her, they went out to eat, to movies, and four wheeling together.   He did guy stuff around the house as well as help with cooking and dishes.   He just wasn’t motivated to get a job.   There was plenty of money coming in and so they did play a lot together and, according to her, had a lot of sex.
      
    It didn’t bother him that she was the “bread winner” and frankly she would not have had the business at all if not for him.   (She readily acknowledges this.)   But it really started to bother her that he was not “supporting her”.    Though he always backed her up when it came to the kids (she had five, he had one).   He always made the trip over the mountain to pick up or drop off her kids at their father’s house, sometimes without her going along. (This was a two hour drive.)   So he did support her but not financially.
      
    They have been divorced many years now and she has told me that looking back she realizes that he was a much better husband than she ever gave him credit for.   She says that he is the one that taught her how to play.   She had always been very serious even as a child and he showed her how to enjoy just being silly.   She said that she used to laugh until she could hardly breathe.   She didn’t see the gifts that he brought with him until long after he was gone.   

  16. 36
    Jenna

    When a man has the confidence to pursue a woman in the way that Evan describes on this blog we should be expecting, I consider that masculine and alpha behavior, even if he’s got less money and less ambition. But I rarely find that combination of traits. Can’t tell you how many beta guys I know who have had a crush on me (that I heard about through the grapevine) who were too timid to ask me out or follow through. I don’t care how nice these people may be, I have a very reasonable standard that a guy ask me on dates and take the steps necessary to be my bf, then husband. It seems like usually the more traditionally successful guys are the ones who tend to do this, but if some cool blue collar guy came around who could properly pursue me I’d be into that.  

  17. 37
    Karmic Equation

    Rose #35:
    “I would want to discuss it openly, although to me if someone used the words “What book is worth $20? (He’s not a book lover like me). Why are you spending all MY money on this nonsense.” It would pretty much tell me they were not open to discussing this is a loving respectful way.”

    I think one of the reasons men are so open to having relationships with me is because I don’t judge them. So when my ex said the words he said, I didn’t judge his openness or loving intention (or lack thereof)…I just took it at face value that he simply didn’t like me spending $20 on a book. I have to admit, even I didn’t like spending $20 on the book (until that day, I only bought paperbacks) but this particular book only came in hardcover, so I understood his consternation. I didn’t take it to mean that he was trying to control my behavior or that I was not entitled to buying any book without his permission, but rather why did it have to be a TWENTY-DOLLAR book.

    Using humor, I was able to defuse the “who’s money is who’s” without having to make a big issue of it. Humor can go a long way to stabilize a rocky situation.

    “I would be feel happy to talk about the issue if later they felt open to discussing it in an open and loving way, until then I would be out of there and not discuss it.”

    If I had actually tried to resolve this issue by communicating with him as you would have, I don’t think we would have solved anything because (1) You’re trying to control HIM as in “Talk to me the way I like to be talked to or don’t talk to me at all” and (2) You would have made the issue a bigger issue than it was because you inferred he was trying to control you, when he was just trying to express unhappiness about your behavior.

    Rose #34
    “So what about a stay at home mum who is looking after THEIR children. Do you think it is only the mans money in those circumstances and the women should get permission on if she wants to buy herself a book? make up? lunch out?”

    Well, men aren’t often detail oriented. If you went out grocery shopping and purchased a book and makeup with the grocery money, how would he ever know? If the children aren’t going to go hungry if you did this, then no-harm no-foul and ignorance is bliss for him. He’s not going to scrutinize your itemized grocery bill. But if you’re having trouble making ends meet, yet you feel a $20 book or makeup are necessary, I would say he would be within his rights to question you. Just as you would be within your rights if he decided to buy an equivalent male luxury if money were tight.

  18. 38
    Selena

    My son is a stay-at-home parent of 3 little boys. This was not his ‘life plan’ when he was younger. He had his own business at one time with a partner and it  tanked the year his first child was born.   His wife had a job and they decided they would rather have him take care of the baby instead of putting him in daycare. At the time…I think they both thought the situation would be temporary.  
      
    As it turned out, they decided this was the best way for their family. My daughter-in -law says “J has more patience than I do. He is also better when it comes to correction. I cave too easily!” I told my son I was proud of him for making the choice to be a SAHP. I know it isn’t an easy job for anyone.   I think it  might be even harder for males given some of the long-held expectations society put on them.
      
    The end of men? Nah. Some of us, both men and women, just might need to do a bit of adjusting.

  19. 39
    Greg

    I agree with Jackie, above, that the title of the book is offensive.   I find it   grandiose and pretentious, actually.   Unfortunately, the need for some sort of “edge” with regard to a title is endemic in literature today – one has to draw the buyer’s eye, obviously – consequently it stands to reason the author would draw more attention with “The End of Men” than with “The Ascent of Women.”   The latter would be more sensible, but less compelling.   And by the way, men are not “ending” at all.   Making that claim engenders polarity rather than reciprocal and shared attitudes regarding change.  

  20. 40
    Helen

    Selena 39, God bless your son. Your D-I-L is one fortunate woman. Being a stay-at-home parent is not for everyone, so it’s great that between the two of them, they worked out which would be better suited for it, if indeed anyone were to stay at home.  
      
    At the time my husband and I had our children, we were very socially conservative, so it was taken for granted that I would be the one to stay home with them.   Selena, it was hell on earth.   I can’t tell you how angry I was that the stay-at-home life is so  romanticized in American culture, when in fact it  can be  such a tedious, exhausting, and mindblowingly frustrating job with newborns and toddlers.   And it felt endless: day after day, usually 24 hours a day (you never knew which hours you got to sleep).   Eventually we put our kids in daycare, and it felt like a sheer blessing to go back to work, have adult conversations, and enjoy  8 straight hours each day  in which I didn’t have to raise  my voice once.
      
    That’s why I had to smile when reading what Evan quoted above from Rosin’s book, about how not too many men  are moving into the roles of stay-at-home fathers.   I couldn’t help thinking: well, duh.   Some people ARE cut out to be stay-at-home parents, like your son most likely – but not that many overall, I would guess.   There’s no reason to force men to take a position traditionally held by women that they don’t want.   This is why outsourcing some things, including child care for  at least part of the day,  is such a great option. No need to blame either gender now that we have many more options available to us.

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