“The End of Men: & the Rise of Women” by H. Rosin, part 1
Required classes are over for me now — apparently I am now officially EBTD (Everything But The Dissertation) or ABD (All But Dissertation), depending on who you ask. Lucky me — as if I didn’t have enough alphabet soup after my name already! Let’s see, just off the top of my head, I can currently claim the following: AS, AoA, Vtss, GE (magna cum laude), BAs both major (which was with honors) and minor, MA, and now EBTD. Woohoo! Insert official pointless haughtiness here! :)
So anyway, now I have two semesters before me where I get to demonstrate breadth of knowledge in two of the chosen fields of endeavor which will apply to my dissertation. This semester it’s “Feminist & Ecofeminist Philosophies & Activism,” while next semester I’ll be covering “Women’s Mysteries, Sacred Arts, & Healing.” To do so, each semester I will be writing an extensive essay (30 to 50 pages) on a minimum of 30 books which are noteworthy in these fields. In an effort to not forget the relevant points of books I read three months ago, I’m going to try writing a review on each book I read. Also, since we’re only starting the second week of class now, my professor and I are still finalizing the book list. In the interim I read one of the books which is really for next semester, which I’d been quite intrigued by when I first heard about it.
Here’s the report, with page numbers in brackets after quotes or references. However, I read an electronic version of the book, so please forgive me if these numbers are off by one — though I’m pretty sure they won’t be off by more than that. Just flip forward or back one page, if you’re following along with a print copy — and enjoy!
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I’ve just finished a fascinating and disturbing book called The End of Men & the Rise of Women. Fascinating, because it appears that socially, women are now actually “winning”: they’re holding slightly more than 50% of the jobs in the US (10). They’re easily a third of the breadwinners in the nation (47), and that number is growing. They’re having temporary relationships when they want – or choosing not to get married at all (19, 24, 47). They’re having kids and working and spending more time with the children than their mothers did (51) and handling the traditionally male responsibilities within a household (14). They’re voting out ignorant male dinosaurs who still see women as property (44). They’re easily 60% of the college graduates, and dramatically outnumber men in school – and, astonishingly, doing so worldwide everywhere but in Africa, the one continent in the world where the numbers of women in university aren’t dramatically higher than those of men (10).
These women are smart, educated, confident, determined, and hustling… and many of the boys and men are falling behind into a sort of perpetual childhood – one where they can’t hold down a job (52), or they have a “candy store” attitude about sex and relationships (39), or they play games all day and/or drop out of college (38-39), or refuse to help out around the house or with the kids but don’t bring in any money (26, 52), or blah blah blah…
There’s a guy in the book who perfectly reflects this “mighty struggle where the men, although they have nothing material or concrete to complain about, seem to be haunted by the specter of a coming gender apocalypse” (57). When he’s asked why he cares so much about it — why he’s so uneasy at seeing other men doing helpful and family-oriented things like taking the kids to and from school, or watching over them at the playground – after some hemming and hawing the man said something I found very curious: “It’s because our team is losing. All the things we need to be good at to thrive in the world we imagine existing ten or twenty or even fifty years from now are things that my female friends and competitors are better at than me. Than us.” (57)
I thought this was absurdist avoidance… until I heard of an acquaintance on Facebook frothing in impotent fury about women being allowed in combat – because that apparently means the physical requirements must be lowered, “and lowering the requirements means we lose. I don’t want to lose.” I was dismayed at the level of… let’s be nice and just call it insular prejudice — which is revealed by these comments. More importantly, I was astonished to discover there really are men who think like this! When I first heard about this sort of ridiculous “man-team against woman-team” thinking, I thought it was a bad joke that was being tastelessly mean to men.
How wrong I was. Weirdly though, in both cases, neither of these men are performing on the level of their fantasy team: the man quoted in Rosin’s book has a good, comfortable job but his wife is making more than he is. He professes to be okay with this – and yet he’s willing to lose out on the purchase of the house of their dreams because he’s so busy arguing with her about money? She’s perfectly willing to own the house with her husband, just as he would were he the primary breadwinner. He, on the other hand, actually stooped at one point to attempting to finagle a deal with his wife whereby, despite her making more of the payments, the house was in his name only?! Quite rightfully, I believe, she indignantly turned that down.
Similarly, the fellow “doom-wailing” about women in combat is someone who does not keep himself in physical shape, and has never been in the armed forces. He lives comfortably and safely in the US, but apparently still somehow feels he personally is decimated by women being allowed to help defend their country, within the armed forces? Perhaps most absurd of all to me is his griefing about not wanting to “lose,” whatever that means. What, like we didn’t lose in Vietnam? Like we’re supposedly not losing in Afghanistan and Iraq right now?
As best I can tell, men like this have some peculiar fixation on a starry-eyed and antiquated fantasy of what manhood is – but they aren’t willing to actually work to be part of it. Apparently they feel they have some make-believe “right” to act superior – along with the “home team” – due to their gonads. Personally, I cannot think of an organ less suited to calm, rational thought… which, admittedly, these two examples seem to bear out in spades. The illogical nonsense being perpetrated by these two men is just another example, for me, of why I found this book so disturbing.
Thanks for commenting, Jonathan! It has been my experience that, when faced with a loss of previous power — whether actual or perceived — the upset former oppressors do not always respond with logic. Looks like it’s your experience also. :)
I have of late heard men (always men) speak without irony of a ‘war on men.’ There is also a sizable ‘men’s rights movement’ who are… of dubious rationality. Fred Clark made the observation that these ‘man-children’ are simply helpless in the face of gender roles becoming more equitable, but it seems more like a good chunk of them (especially the laughable MRM) are falling into the same trap of some nostalgic wistfulness for a Golden Age… the difference being, their particular Golden Age was all too real, and good riddance to it.
As for the other points you make… backseat warfighting and armchair generals have always been present and have about as much of an effect on reality as the improvements they make to Robert E. Lee’s strategies — an old saw in full about about ‘sound and fury’ comes to mind. Test for the requirements of the job. If they can do the job, they should.
I also hear ‘Well, women should be subject to the draft, too!’ as some sort of… I don’t know, reason why they shouldn’t be allowed in combat units? Seriously, that makes no sense.