The End of Men? Not Quite.

Are Women the New Men?
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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.

Join our conversation (78 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 21
    Mickey

    @Marie, you are quite right in everything you said. I’m also secure enough to admit that I lost hope in all this a very long time ago. Thus, I don’t put myself out there anymore. For better or worse, when you don’t expect anything, you can never be disappointed.

  2. 22
    Karmic Equation

    @Mickey

    I know in speaking to some guy friends that women over the age of 40 without emotional baggage are hard to find. They tell me I’m the only one they’ve met like that. No baggage, no drama…just a good person who makes you happy to around her. I genuinely love men. Every man I meet, I look for the spirit of the little boy he used to be, the one who wanted to give an apple to the teacher he liked, before life and puberty happened to him. LOL. Basically I see men as overgrown boys with manly responsibilities and manly voices. Some are more responsible than others, but inside even the most responsible of men there is the spirit of that little boy. I learn to find and love that spirit. And men love me for recognizing and appreciating that part of them.

    I would suggest expanding your interests and then look to join groups or go to places to experience those interests and have fun developing yourself and learning to enjoy your own company. When you are happy, you’ll be more open to what life has to offer. And you may find your gem. But giving up will ensure you never find her.

    Good women without baggage or drama, who appreciate me, do exist. You just have to look harder for them in non-traditional places.

    Be happy and good things happen.

  3. 23
    Karmic Equation

    @Peter

    For the most part, women care less about a man’s looks than about his earning potential when it comes to LTRs. Probably an evolution psychology thing. Anyway, if a man earns an average wage and is average looking, he my not be prized by the prettier women, sad to say, because, again, evolution, either the guy has good genes or has to be a good provider. If you’re neither, it’s going to be harder for you to make the grade with the prettier women. If you go after the average woman, you’ll probably stand a chance, but likely average to you may be a “6 or 7” when in fact you may need to go after 4s or 5s.

    That said, in some blogs I’ve read, its been pointed out that when women decide to marry, they will often marry men who are not as good looking as they are. So it might just be a waiting game for you to find the woman that you may be looking for. You just have to wait until she’s ready for marriage.

    ************
    Also, I typoed in #21, should read “…who appreciate MEN…” Sorry.

    ************
    @Fiona 12

    Doesn’t surprise me. The men you’re looking for: educated, good earners, well traveled, don’t need to get married. There are lots of women out there willing to give them what they want without marriage (although I’m sure they’re hoping for that). Your only hope to change these men’s minds is to be a unique woman they can’t get out of their minds. From your posts, though, you appear to be the typical woman (nothing wrong with that! — I’m speaking about emotionally/psychologically — not your achievements, unfortunately, men really don’t care as much about our achievements as we do) — but a *typical* older woman, no matter how beautiful (well maybe if you’re Raquel Welch you could), isn’t going to get that well-traveled, good earning, attractive alpha male down the aisle. If you were a typical *younger* woman you might have a shot, but not if you’re older. Maybe in fairy tales.

  4. 24
    Mickey

    @Karmic:
      

    Admittedly, I’m too cynical well into middle age to believe that finding that special person is even possible anymore. That said, it’s not as if I go through every day perpetually dressed in black, either. I love my job, I love relaxing when I’m not working, and I enjoy going to ballgames and shooting pool. In that respect I think I’m reasonably normal.

    Thus, I have no problem flying solo.  I just don’t believe  in trying to go for something that just isn’t there.    
        

  5. 25
    Joe

    @  Karmic #23: Actually, from some of Fiona’s previous posts, it seems  as though  she feels her achievements entitle her to a man with similar achievements.

  6. 26
    Fiona

    Karmic, Joe,

    I don’t feel “entitled” to anything. I do however know that I don’t like dating men who don’t have similar levels of achievement or ambition. I have been there and tried it and it isn’t for me. Beta men didn’t like my get up and go which they would try to stifle out of me and I didn’t like their lack of ambition which I knew I couldn’t change. I felt as though I constantly had to play the strong male role in the relationship when I wanted to play the softer female role to a stronger man and that is the crux of the issue not only for me but for a lot of my female peers who are going through the same thing.  

    As a 37 year old woman, it is now perfectly clear to me that what women look for in men is not what men look for in women and that the minority of men that are still single at my age who have a similar background to me are not generally looking for me. That is their prerogative. Unless I am  lucky, I know that I am not now going to find a compatible partner. This is very hard to accept but if it isn’t meant to be then I just have to accept it.

  7. 27
    Fusee

    Hi Fiona @26,
      
    You may not feel entitled but your attraction wiring is obviously not serving you and your life goals very well. You certainly can choose between your wish list as it now stands and staying single, but you have another choice and it would be the purposeful rewiring of your brain and heart to make yourself able to feel attracted and interested in a larger pool of the male population.
      
    As Evan says, individual features do not only come in black and white options. They are many shades of ambition, accomplishment, etc. You might want a 8, 9, or 10 in ambition, and it might have to look like some specific level of education, type of job, income level, but thinking outside the box could be helpful in your situation even if this would require a lot of inner work. True ambition can look like an easy-going high school teacher that dedicates a large chuck of his free time to a volunteer group that he is passionate about supporting. Being accomplished can look like having completed a bachelor despite all kinds of hardships in youth. It can also look like the ability to balance life to perfection, despite not having reached “10” in any area.
      
    Again, like Evan says, I’m not telling you to give a chance to blue-collar men who are 20 years older than you and out of shape. I’m simply suggesting to work at making yourself more accepting of in-between people, and focus on finding someone who would be equally accepting of your non-traditional female qualities. How about placing Acceptance at the top of your requirement list for a change? Because what you offer and what you do not offer are going to be equally tough to accept from a man.
      
    On the topic of education and accomplishment: it’s already hard for me to find “peers” at the age of 34 and only in the top 10% in education level… I can only imagine what it must be like for you being in the top 5% and 37 of age : ) Men like you simply do not exist or they are already paired up. Widen your pool, Fiona!
      
    Good luck to you!

  8. 28
    Fiona

    Fusee, therein lies the problem. Men like me don’t exist or are paired up. I accept it. I did widen my pool and it hasn’t worked because truthfully in a relationship I want to step back and be a homemaker and not a breadwinner and most men appear to want that too.  

  9. 29
    marymary

    Fiona, fusee
    you got me thinking

    The problem with the list is there isn’t a man or woman alive who will meet all requirements . That person exists only in the imagination. Everyone will fall short. And if by chance we do meet that one person in a thousand who does, and is single, and wants us, he or she will have some fatal flaw that makes them incapable of a relationship with anyone. Cos when we focus on education, looks, wealth, ambition, job, dress sense, cultural finesse, popularity, charm,   achievement etc we miss what really counts. that stuff won’t help you when the baby is sick, or you get cancer, or when your parents are dying.  
    Also, I can’t imagine that two high achievers working seventy hours a week have got time for a relationship, never mind kids if that’s what they want. you couldnt even keep a dog without help. I don’t think male or female alphas want to go home and continue with the alpha . They want to kick back and relax. Relationships aren’t about wowing someone or impressing someone. It’s building love which takes time and comfort and compromise. can two high achievers do that? Job and education smarts are not relationship smarts and maybe they are even in conflict,
    Thats not to say date someone useless   and stupid but at least be comfortable that you’re choosing life time singledom for the right reasons.
    and let’s not forget we aren’t perfect either, and even if we are, that state is temporary. a few years, tops.  

  10. 30
    Fiona

    Marymary my only two requirements are be on a similar level as me and not be unattractive to me – that’s it.

    As for two high achievers not being able to have relationships that is just nonsense. We don’t stop being human beings with feelings just because we worked hard at school and university and got decent jobs. Being successful at work is not incompatible with being emotionally intelligent either. There may be some high achievers who are emotionally unintelligent in the same way that there are also plenty of betas that are emotionally unintelligent. There is no correlation between intellect and emotional intelligence. In fact these days the most successful people are both intellectually and emotionally intelligent. I don’t see why so many people assume that high achievers are always in conflict either. It simply isn’t true. We aren’t in conflict at work for the most part so much as trying to reach consensus where there are differing viewpoints and we don’t for the most part want conflict in our friendships and relationships any more than anyone else does.

    As a woman I can’t speak for alpha males but I assure you that most successful women I know do want to be with successful men. After all, we’re still women! Most of us don’t like working 70 hour weeks (although we will do it to support ourselves and provide as good a lifestyle as we can afford to compensate for being single). I have observed that among the high achievers of my friends who married other high achievers, when children come along, the woman usually gives up work completely or substantially reduces work to look after the children because they want to. There are of course exceptions that want to have the career over the family but that is really the exception. It is not the rule.  I would want to do the same. I would not want to be forced out to work all hours because I am the higher earner while the man gets to play the female role. I do not want to be a man any more than a beta woman does.

    You are right that success at work does not mean that someone is going to be a great support when someone has cancer etc. However lack of success at work doesn’t mean that they will be any better because one really has nothing to do with the other.

    So in conclusion, I think that high achieving women are getting tired of being told to settle for a man that is not high achieving because a) we relate better to men from similar backgrounds which shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone as we have similar experiences and outlook of life and b) we don’t usually want to take on a traditional male role in a relationship.

    Obviously it goes without saying that relationships are based on kindness and caring but I have tried dating beta men and I didn’t find that they were any more kind or caring which is not a big surprise to me because I don’t believe those qualities are solely attributable to non-high achievers.

  11. 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.

  12. 32
    Fiona

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

  13. 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.

  14. 34
    K

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

  15. 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.  

  16. 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).

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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…

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