“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. 61
    Karmic Equation

    @Anita 64
      
    I guess that’s pretty interesting if you’re a farmer or an octopus. But I don’t get how what you’ve read applies to heterosexual women looking for relationships?

  2. 62
    Steve

    EMK writes:
    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.”
      
      
    1. Men do not like many women with those traits.   That is why Evan’s clients are “smart strong successful women”.       Those women don’t know how to stop acting like men once they are off the clock.
      
    2. Men do not want to become feminine.
      
    3.   Women do not want men to become more feminine, including Evan’s “smart strong successful women” clients.     Women want men because they are masculine.   Even the “smart strong successful women” want men who they perceive as masculine.   A number of them, not all, want men who earn as much, if not more then they do.

  3. 63
    Steve

    EMK writes
    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.”
      
    That is why I tell my friends while I have nothing against equality I do not care to support feminism.     When I ask what is in it for me or men in general I can’t think of anything.     True or not, when I see statistics like that quoted, I do not see feminists or women standing up and shouting “OMG, men are falling behind in education, we have to do something about that so everyone is equal”.     Even for women to come up to about 50% of the places in college and for particular jobs means that some men have to lose out.   In the meantime I see portrayals of men being emasculated all over the entertainment industry ( example “The Hunger Games” ).   Additionally, a number of men have problems with having grown up having heard a lot of male bashing messages from feminists.
      
    My attitude is that I am all about equality, I respect people looking out for their interests and I admire people who work at building themselves up.       As far as feminism and an eternal “we only need to help women” position goes, my attitude is “no thanks”
      

  4. 64
    Selena

    There is an old song from back in the 1960’s   that has these lyrics:
      
    “You can’t always get what you want. You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes… you just might find… You get what you need.”

  5. 65
    Anita

    [email protected]: My post is in response to the assertion that biology dictates  mating behavior, as you read in the popular press. I was taking on the very popular assumption that “men do this” and “women do that” so that the species will survive. My biggest problem with these arguments, aside from the simplistic (ignorant)  way the media handle scientific info, is that people start using this media science to justify rude, thoughtless, cruel, or predatory behavior toward members of the opposite sex. Or to justify lifestyle decisions that are human social constructs–not biological ones.

  6. 66
    Anita

    [email protected],67:  If women  make up more than 50% of the population, and  50% of spots in schools are going to  women, how are women taking anything away from men? Men aren’t falling behind in education; they had an unfair advantage before and now that the academic playing field is more level certain men are finding that they cannot compete with certain women, women who in previous generations would have  had their wings clipped. So these men are  going to have to go do something else. The way women have always had  to. But to use the age-old justification for competition–this upping of the ante will make the world stronger and better because the best and the brightest from all walks of life–not just the best and the brightest from the smaller pool of white  males–will have a chance to contribute their talents to the world.

  7. 67
    Karmic Equation

    [email protected]
    Disclaimer: I’m sure that what I say below will have exceptions, but the exceptions don’t disprove the rule.

    Of course biology dictates mating behavior. Most men want to have sex with women and most women want to have sex with men. While some women want to mate with women and some men want to mate with men, even THEN you can often tell which mate is the “masculine” one and which mate is the “feminine” one in the relationship.

    Then there are other things that I can’t help but attribute to something other than social constructs…Like why women LOVE shoes and men LOVE power tools (and not usually the other way around). You also can’t deny that MOST men [who have options] have to suppress their desire for variety when in a committed relationship, while most women don’t have to suppress their desire for variety [of men] when in a committed relationship. In fact MOST women have trouble even THINKING ABOUT another man, never mind dating another man, when she “feels” a connection with one man. Hence all the angst about why a man she was interested in never calls back or disappears. Do most MEN [with options] have this angst? No.

    I would echo Evan and say that while you may WISH that men and women are “the same” and that our dating/mating behaviors are determined by something other than biology, the reality is that our male and female “minds” and “psyches” — or even male/female “collective unconsciousness” (Jung ?) — are different on a level that are NOT based on social constructs or gender-neutral decision-making, but on something that is harder to define. And while the term “biology” can mean specifically DNA, as you have chosen to do, “biology” in the sense that it is used on dating/relationship websites is a more appropriate term to describe those differences not attributable to social constructs.

    Anita #70
    I agree with you on this.

    Steve #66
    Well summarized. I agree.

    “1. Men do not like many women with those traits.   That is why Evan’s clients are “smart strong successful women”. *Those women don’t know how to stop acting like men once they are off the clock.*

    In the Rachel Greenwald book, Have Him at Hello, there is support for the statement that I highlighted above:

    One man told me that most women he meets today would prefer he “admire their accomplishments rather than their butts … If you’d take professional respect over lust, you might have just lost that second date. I call these Boss Ladies part of “The Cinderella Generation”: They broke the glass ceiling but broke their glass slipper along with it. <snipped>

    While it’s hard to transition from taking charge, focusing on the bottom line, and organizing schedules, it’s imperative to grasp that men say the “image” of the woman they want at 8:00pm isn’t the same image of the woman they want at 8:00am.

    #67
    I agree with you but from a feminine angle 🙂

    I am all for equal pay for equal work, and the all the business and educational benefits that were the results of feminism.

    And while I personally love the sexual liberation that came from the sexual revolution that went with the rise of feminism, that sexual liberation came at a high cost to women, who “biologically” still yearn for committed relationships, but are no longer finding them easy to get. Because while the sexual revolution liberated women to have sex without consequences (i.e., pregnancy), the unintended consequence of that liberation ALSO freed MEN…from committed relationships…and to indulge THEIR biological desire for variety… without consequences.

    I don’t believe that women “won” on the sexual liberation front. Men did, in a big way. And for this reason…and also because I don’t think most men deserve to be bashed…I don’t believe feminism is all it’s cracked up to be.

  8. 68
    Ellen (Rebekah) aka redheadinDixie

    Karmic wrote: I don’t believe that women “won” on the sexual liberation front. Men did, in a big way. And for this reason…and also because I don’t think most men deserve to be bashed…I don’t believe feminism is all it’s cracked up to be.
    Karmic you are YOUNG and have NO idea what we went thru. Spend some time at this site seeing dozens of feminist pioneers interviewed  like Marlo Thomas, the first female marathon runner (yeah, it wasn’t that long ago), Pat Schroeder (one of my heroes I think), Gloria, Hilary,Ellen Degeneres,  Nora Ephron,  etc. as they describe in detail the incredible prejudice, discrimination, insults they endured, really not that long ago kiddo.
    http://www.makers.com/
      
    As Taylor Swift said recently (even she gets it), quoting someone famous whom I cannot recall, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
    Btw, plenty of feminists are married, adore men, etc. One doesn’t preclude the other dear.

  9. 69
    Steve

    @Anita #70
    If men ONLY stand to lose from feminism, why should they support it?
    Why should I vote for things that will take away opportunities for people like me?
      

  10. 70
    Steve

    @Karmic Equation #71
    Men have been dealing with “that problem” for decades on dates.   It used to be called being a bore and those men were advised to talk about something else other than work on a date.

  11. 71
    Lia

    @ Ellen # 72
      
    The thing about feminism that I object to is the vilification of men.   I do believe there are a lot of things to be grateful for.   I am thankful to be living in this time and that things have changed for women.   Yes, it was an uphill struggle to get to the place we are now.   Yes, there were women who spoke out and stood against the prejudice and inequality.   
      
    But men as a group and gender are NOT THE ENEMY.   There is no need to push them down so that we may rise.   There is no need to make them less so that we can be more.   There is no need to shame them because there were men in the past who made it hard for women to live their dreams or just survive.   As women we don’t became the best we can be by turning into the same kind of prejudice, egomaniacal, bullies that many men use to be a generation ago.  

  12. 72
    Lia

    @ Ellen # 72
      
    P.S.   I loved the quote.  

  13. 73
    Karmic Equation

    @Ellen #72

    No. I’m not that young. 45. At the right age and attitude to date well below my age as well as high above it as I wish (which is rarely, LOL).

    I believe in equal pay for equal work, voting, equal opportunity, basically all the rights and privileges that were granted to us in the BUSINESS and EDUCATION world.

    However, in the RELATIONSHIP world, the sexual liberation movement, which many equate with or lump into “feminism”, didn’t ONLY liberate women, it liberated MEN in a way that was unforeseen and UNACKNOWLEDGED by most “feminists.” Freeing women to have sex actually freed men to have MORE sex with MORE women than ever before. How many feminists want to defend this social construct of their making?

    And I think the word “feminists” is a misnomer as modern-day feminists (not the pioneers) don’t believe that there is power in being a woman: harmonious, radiant, receptive. They believe in the masculine counterparts: harsh, somber, aggressive. It would be more accurate to label modern-day feminists “masculinists” because they devalue women’s feminine tendencies in favor of promoting masculine ones to define success.

    Unfortunately, the skills that women hone to be successful in the business world are NOT the skills that will help her find the man of her dreams. Because the man of her dreams is NOT dreaming of a woman who acts like a man. They’re dreaming of feminine women, in flowy dresses and lacy lingerie. Accept it.

    And, imo, the more passionately a woman defends her “masculine” powers, the more I tend to believe she doesn’t know how to be feminine. “Methinks thou protesteth too much.”

    There’s a time for everything, INCLUDING being feminine. Be a man at work, you have to be in order to succeed in a male-dominated business world.

    But when you’re away from work, you have to GLORY IN being a woman. If you don’t know how, read books, blogs, ask your most girly-girl girl friend. Ask a guy (but make sure he is not related to you, not gay, and isn’t hoping to get in your pants).

    It is not weak to be a feminine woman. It’s wise, if you’re looking for a masculine man.

    @Lia 75
    Well said. I agree with you.

  14. 74
    Kathleen

    Ellen # 72  
    I couldn’t agree more with your eloquently worded post.   
    There is clearly a lack of understanding of feminism by women younger than I   based on ignorance.   
    Anyone saying feminism is about vilifying men   or becoming men needs to review history.

  15. 75
    Karmic Equation

    @Kathleen 78

    Neither you nor Ellen read my full posts. You see the word feminism and anything negative and you’re blinded by a red haze.

    Unless you and Ellen were in your early 20’s in the 60’s, neither of you are pioneers of feminism, so I would consider you both modern-day feminists, most of whom, unfortunately do bash men. Maybe the two of you don’t, but way too many women out there have taken feminism in a direction the original feminists never intended.

    I have every respect for the pioneers of feminism, even if I don’t agree with the one result that no feminist ever talks about, now or then: The UNINTENDED consequences of the sexual revolution were not what women bargained for. So in this aspect “feminism” failed women.

    It didn’t fail ME. I can have sex without a committed relationship. It’s all the other women who can’t have sex unless their guy commits to exclusivity first who are the most negatively affected.

    There were fewer players pre-sexual revolution. Maybe your cousin’s sister’s best friend was knocked up by a player back then. But now all women have met/dated/banged a player or two in their lifetimes and, god forbid, even pay former players (Sorry, Evan!) to help them find good relationships. There were no books on how to avoid players or how to be players pre-sexual revolution. Do you think that’s a coincidence? Men and women have been having relations since Adam and Eve yet post-sexual revolution, there’s a cottage industry of dating/relationship coaches?

    The business and educational benefits we gained because of feminism are great! I acknowledge that wholeheartedly.

    However, the sexual revolution, which to most feminists is synonymous with feminism, did not help most women when it comes to sex or relationships. It hurt them. It helped men instead. That is what feminists will never acknowledge. But it should be acknowledged. No feminist wants to take the mea culpa for that.

  16. 76
    Ellen (Rebekah) aka redheadinDixie

    Karmic wrote: “But when you’re away from work, you have to GLORY IN being a woman. If you don’t know how, read books, blogs, ask your most girly-girl girl friend. Ask a guy (but make sure he is not related to you, not gay, and isn’t hoping to get in your pants).”
    Karmic, the inability for  many  here to read posts carefully is the reason I seldom come on here anymore. Tired of pulling my hair out. Uh, is this advice for me whom you’ve never met? ‘Cause I try not to make any sort of mental leaps here with anyone. “Never assume” is also a great quote. I would advise everyone to give the POV without lecturing and making insane assumptions about posters they’ve never met.
    But I’ll get back to that.
    On a different note, maybe, as you declare, present-day feminists are more radical than in the past. I  wouldn’t know, ’cause I haven’t investigated it or read the recent literature much except for Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Trap, I think it’s called. I doubt you have either, frankly. Actually the one modern sorta feminist I have read a little- Paglia- is both a “dissident” feminist and big supporter of males, but I digress..(from what I understand she is a feminist but has a LOT to say that is very anti-feminism. It’s complicated but I think she has been a bit of a publicity hound about it in the past so I don’t take her that seriously).
    Maybe present day feminists, to a woman (see how illogical your argument is ?), secretly all HATE  the eternal womanly qualities  as you so blithely declare. If they do, ok, yes, that is wrong, but why lump them all together?
    Re your unasked for advice, regarding being womanly, uh, I’ve got that covered- in spades Karmic. In earlier posts, going back months though,  I have described myself as an alpha female, as girly but not super girly-girl, as a kind of cerebral sorta Southern Belle, etc. I am opening myself up to ridicule, but really, if I had to describe myself honestly that is how I would describe myself. And I say it with as much humility as I can muster. I am, in short, who I want to be and nothing less (thanks in part to feminism and the influence of my late father  I might add).
    ….  Now, the alpha part I slowly reveal to guys to see if they can handle it. My current boyfriend of 15 months is VERY alpha and he’s ok with it ’cause he admires me. He is always telling me proudly how strong I am emotionally, how butch I can be emotionally…..And as I still wear 3 and 4 inch heels on occasion and fairly tight fitting clothing ’cause I can (ok not during the winter ’cause that’s when I gain), I am living proof you can be smart, successful, cerebral (even an intellectual), alpha (with all that delicious male energy and confidence)  AND girly. All at once. It’s all in how you present yourself to the world. I am all that without dominating any conversation. I am all that without being a bore. I am all that without being smug or hopelessly opinionated (most people never catch on I’m an intellectual til they’ve known me a while). I am all that while showing intense interest and love for others. See how complicated and gray the world/life can be if you would just stop hiding behind your agenda/dogma/simple, facile generalizations?
    I am proof you can embrace your femininity without letting go of the rest- even for a damn second,  at home and at work and on a date. So stop assuming many of us who comment here are clueless that way (you have a habit of that).
    And Lia I think we still need feminism or something similar given the abysmal tendency of the male psyche to want to regress and conveniently forget (unless we persist) how capable we are. The Republicans proved that in the recent election. They want to return the US and females back to 1950. So Lia and Karmic, uh, YEAH, we need to be vigilant at least. And I won’t even go into  how underrepresented we are in Congress and on corporate boards of directors.
    Kathleen @78- thanks for the support. Glad someone gets it here today.
      
      

  17. 77
    Lia

    @ Kathleen #78
      
    “Anyone saying feminism is about vilifying men or becoming men needs to review history.”   
      
    With all due respect I am cognizant of what has come before.   But if you are always looking back instead of what is NOW then I believe that is ignorance.   Ignorance of what the repercussions have been.   Change of that magnitude always has repercussions.   To think otherwise is foolish.   There have been changes in every area of our lives and we need to address these changes.  
      
    @ Karmic Equation # 79
      
    YES!
      

  18. 78
    Selena

    @Karmic
      
    I consider feminism a cultural shift at a period in history. I identify as a person, not as a feminist. And while the sexual revolution perhaps freed up men not have to commit in order to get sex, they still are committing all over the place. The wedding business is gigantic. The stats for people who choose not to marry, but cohabitate are large and seemingly growing. So I don’t feel the need to  acknowledge that the revolution hurt women while it helped men instead.   I see it as helping both genders to make their own choices instead of being into choices they perhaps weren’t suited to.
      
    And that would apply to ‘players’ as well. Better a single guy to not commit than to become a cheating husband.

  19. 79
    Ruby

    karmic
      
    I see the rise in relationship coaching as just another aspect of the self-help and therapy movements. In my mother’s day, people didn’t go to therapy the way they do today, they didn’t consult relationship advisors or life coaches. Maybe they read Dear Abby or Ann Landers, but many problems were just swept under the rug. If a girl had sex, she’d become the town tramp. If she got pregnant, she had to have the baby, and was sent away. If there was access to abortion, she was lucky if she didn’t die during the procedure. If you got married and your marriage was horrible (for both men & women), you just sucked it up, because divorce was frowned upon. Sex is much more out in the open today. Is it all perfect? Obviously not, but I cannot imagine going back to a time when women couldn’t acknowledge that they are sexual beings, so let’s not romanticize “the good old days”.
      
    The rules have changed and many of us make it up as we go along. Karmic, I can have sex without a committed relationship if I’m not in love with the guy. Sometimes i don’t know if he’s someone I’ll fall in love with right away. Sometimes I’ve thought I was in love, but realize after a few months that i’ve misjudged him. I may want a committed relationship and to be in love, but I am not a slave to my feelings (or my hormones) just because I’m female.
      
    Ellen, I get it, and I thank you for your posts.

  20. 80
    Selena

    Well put Ruby. Same here.

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