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The End of Men. Also, the Beginning.

By KJ Dell'Antonia |

The demographic arguments laid out in Atlantic magazine’s The End of Men are powerful. Women outnumber men in college. Men are losing jobs in far greater numbers than women. Women, alone, raise families, work and form communities. Men, alone, struggle to do any of those things–and, in far greater numbers, drop out of school, become homeless or are imprisoned.

Those are obviously generalizations–generalizations backed by statistical research, and lined up together to form part of the underpinning for Hanna Rosin’s piece. Rosin doesn’t exactly say that men are “over.” But if you are an actual man, reading this, you might want to resign yourself to the fact that the world is no longer set up to naturally favor your son in ways both social and biological. Male dominance, in areas from education to careers to family, is waning (even in countries like China and Korea). Women aren’t just poised to pick up the slack, they already have. Girls rule, boys drool.

Men–the way we see them, and the way they see themselves–are due for a change. Fortunately, when it comes to gender-societal overhauls, there’s what you might call precedent to follow. Do men need their own Betty Friedan to blaze the trail?

Probably the most interesting aspect of The End of Men is that no one seems to want it to be the “end”–except the men themselves. Most of the people Rosin spoke to–from the women graduating with their hard-earned degrees to the administrators of the colleges–wanted nothing more than to see men return and succeed in new ways. Traditional union and manufacturing jobs that value brawn over skill have largely disappeared, but professions with growing opportunities like nursing actively recruit men. It’s the men who aren’t interested. The president of Kansas City’s Metropolitan Community College (70% female)–a man–boils his efforts to mentor and maintain male students down into one typical example, a “really smart guy” who was ashamed to show that he had anything to learn in front of women students, who was teased by his friends for studying and who chose playing “ball” over class in the spring. “He didn’t make it.”

The women students at the school worry that they won’t find men to share their lives with (and, statistically, they won’t). “I’m putting myself in a really small pool,” says one, about to graduate with a doctorate in pharmacology, and she doesn’t sound happy about the prospect of a life of swimming alone. But there’s nothing real keeping men from joining her in the water. The male problem–boys who don’t manage the process of college applications the way women do, who “high-five” each other over a C grade, who play video games instead of studying, who don’t thrive in school because they can’t sit still or they’re not interested in the traditional verbal presentation of the material–sounds, to this beneficiary of the women’s movement, awfully easy to overcome. They’re not legally barred from the classrooms, disenfranchised or even corseted. They’re just not willing to do what needs to be done.

It sounds, in other words, like time for a change–for someone to draft “The Male Mystique” and for young men, all over, to look at those statistics of women dominated classrooms, colleges and professions and vow silently to do it anyway. To push aside supposed studies showing their inferiority in a classroom setting or claiming that they just don’t have the necessary biological imperatives to motivate others or find creative solutions in order to achieve at high levels in the workplace. It sounds, in short, a little familiar. Men, don’t worry–you can be anything you want to be. You can have it all. You can bring home the bacon, and fry it up in a pan. You’re just going to have to try twice as hard as women, and  prove yourselves again and again.

And it would be really cool if you did it all backwards, and in high heels. It’s your turn to follow our lead.

Photo courtesy Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons License.

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About KJ Dell'Antonia

kjda

KJ Dell'Antonia

KJ Dell'Antonia is a regular contributor to Slate's DoubleX, a contributing editor for Kiwi Magazine and the co-author of Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos. She lives in New Hampshire with four kids, two dogs, one husband and a bad coffee habit and blogs about family bonds, balance, and blend at RaisingDevils.com.

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17 thoughts on “The End of Men. Also, the Beginning.

  1. Anon says:

    The media, especially shows like these half hour sitcoms, tends to show a strong, beautiful woman and an immiture childlike unfit man as the typical couple. The bar has been lowered and men are no longer expected to be adults on their own, they need a woman to take care of them. They remain in a perpetual state of boyhood.

  2. M. Sherman says:

    Comments
    kjda writes, “Rosin doesn’t exactly say that men are “over.” But if you are an actual man, reading this, you might want to resign yourself to the fact that the world is no longer set up to naturally favor your son in ways both social and biological.”

    The same is true of your son if you are a woman. There is where this issue should hit women most directly: It is your sons who are the ones who are well on their way to becoming second-class citizens.
    It amazes me that mothers and grandmothers of boys aren’t more upset about what is happening to young males in America (and much of the rest of the industrialized world).

  3. Courtney says:

    This is an interesting piece, but I’m a little tired of the “women no longer need men and their paychecks, so what is a poor disenfranchised man to do?” schtick. Instead of lamenting “The End of Men,”how about an article on how men can embrace their changing roles, or why they haven’t and how they can be convinced to. The spate of “poor little men can’t make it by themselves” articles isn’t helping anyone.

  4. JZ says:

    I think another factor is women are finally getting credit for doing everything men do.
    And what is with the beautiful wife with the dumb husband thing happening on tv shows anyway?

  5. anon says:

    This is why I love Mad Men…I like men the old way, to some extent, minus the cheating. My grandparents and my dad didn’t cheat. They didn’t cook (much) or do laundry either and they knew how to fix stuff. But, even my grandad watched my mom and her brother while my grama worked the second shift at a factory. Love it. I think these cultural “trends” about men are about as accurate and valid as they are about women. We are all individuals.

  6. bob says:

    This is a calamitous trend, and nothing to gloat about. First, there’s the lack of acceptable mates. But worse is the coming glut of uneducated, unhappy, unmarried, unemployed men with lots of time on their hands. They won’t be busy raising babies like women were in 1954; they’ll be thieving, drug dealing, teabagging, gangbanging, meth-labbing, imprisoned, drinking, fighting, killing and causing all kinds of problems for their families and society. It’s the problem on black inner city males on a grand scale.

  7. anon says:

    Mothers and grandmothers should be worried on behalf of their sons, but please, let’s not go down the road of feeling like women need to save them. This is the problem. They’ve been babied too much; too little is expected of them. And yes, we should all boycott the movies and tv shows that depict inept moronic infantile men as charming and attractive. I care about this country, and we need American men to step away from the Play Station and act like men.

  8. anon says:

    yep, yep, yep…and I blame feminism

  9. leahsmom says:

    I’m with Courtney. For our entire country’s history, it’s been accepted that men don’t need women for anything – we couldn’t earn paychecks until recently – and no one was suggesting women were disappearing. To me, this is just the same old tired fear of women being more empowered and responsible.

  10. UncleBob Martin says:

    The poster who cites sitcom role models seems unaware that the stereotype began ages ago with Chic Young’s Blondie comic strip, which was also a popular series of films starting in 1938, fitting the mold he describes quite precisely. Worth noting, the lead actress Penny Singleton, was the first woman to head an AFL/CIO union, the Variety Artists Guild.

  11. anon says:

    “For our entire country’s history, it’s been accepted that men don’t need women for anything…”

    oh come on! they would never deny they want us for sex and then there’s the archetype of the inept bachelor who can only make himself a bowl or cereal to eat and who lives in squalor…and they need us to nurture them…those of us that still do those sorts of things

  12. JEssica says:

    Men need to accept responsibilty for their actions instead of blaming women for their problems. Historically men have been doing this since the beginning (remember Adam and Eve). Anon, don’t blame feminism, blame yourself and those like you for nuturing them into incompetent idoits.

  13. [...] about the role men play in our lives.  In her piece on Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men, KJ says, “Male dominance, in areas from education to careers to family, is waning,” and in Who [...]

  14. anon says:

    well, my husband is competent enough to earn a sufficient salary, with benefits, so that I don’t have to work, so there’s that…

  15. jenny tries too hard says:

    Straw man, or straw feminist, anon. Long before feminism took hold, women whose families needed them to work DID work. Both of my grandmothers, for example. Now, I do think the pendulum may well have swung too far into misandry in some cases, but I am beyond tired of seeing feminism blamed for so much.

  16. Bill says:

    There is an education gap because feminist educators have attacked or neglected the educational needs of boys. The gender gap in education begins before third grade. It occurs because there is an over emphasis on the skills that girls develop early, namely language skills. Recent studies by MIT in cognetive development suggest boys develop spatial reasoning abilities before they develop language skills, but those abilities are completely neglected in early education.

    Speaking from personal experience in the classroom, female teachers play favorites with female students and routinely disparage male students for the social grievances of previous generations of women. I experienced this over and over all the way through college, and every time the end result was a hostile learning environment where the girls are showered with ego stroking and the boys are made to feel unwelcome in the classroom and afraid to speak up.

    Articles like this don’t help. This article is not about equality and shifting roles. This article is about privilege and superiority for women. What’s to prevent men from taking over many of the growing job sectors women are going into? Nothing, other than the author stereotyping men, insinuating that the only useful qualities men who have lost their jobs possess is physical strength. The author reduces men to stereotypes of their sex, which is something feminists have complained about men doing for generations.

    Shame on you feminists. Of all demographics, you should know better.

  17. jack says:

    So… let me see if I get this straight… girls were doing poorly in education, so it was decided that the education system needed to be changed. So it was, education was made more female-friendly. But now, boys are doing poorly in school… does anybody bother to see if maybe the way we’re teaching them is at fault? No, it’s decided that boys are just lazy.

    Have I got that right?

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