by Hanna Rosin
Barring some sort of nuclear catastrophe, in which case all of those post-apocalyptic movies will come true and Denzel Washington will rule the Earth, it looks as though Rosin is correct: The end of male dominance as an economic and social force is nearly here. Rosin makes a convincing argument that the future belongs to the gender more able to adapt to a health and service-oriented economy – and that ain’t Denzel. But if she thinks men will cede all that power with a whimper and not a bang, I think she’s mistaken. Here are a few of this lowly dinosaur’s gripes about her (well-written) book:
1) While cheering the advances women have made over the past 40 years, Rosin tells us, numerous times, that she is “mystified” by men’s reluctance or resistance to conform to the new, estrogen-fueled world order. But I’m mystified why she is mystified. Is it really so hard to grasp that any human being, regardless of sex, will be unhappy to relinquish money and power in exchange for … well, not much? If a man is passed over for promotion, subject to stagnant wages, and required to attend touchy-feely seminars in the workplace, should he really consider it an upside that he is also expected to go home and do more housework and change more diapers? That might sound like feminist nirvana, but it’s not exactly a brave new world for most men.
2) The title of the book is misleading. Rosin does address the “demise” of men, but she seems more interested in adding to the canon of literature about our new “you go girl” society and the hurdles that remain – for women. One chapter is devoted to women’s struggle to crash through the glass ceiling, a topic we’ve all heard about once or twice: “I’m sick of hearing how far we’ve come. I’m sick of hearing how much better situated we are now than before …. The fact is that so far as leadership is concerned, women in nearly every realm are nearly nowhere.” This is the lament of a female Harvard professor. I, for one, am “sick of hearing” people who are quite privileged whine about their world not being perfect.
3) Rosin is generally fair but doesn’t always contain her female bias. A passage about highly paid professional women dropping out of the workforce is described as a “tragedy,” and the blame for this tragedy is laid squarely on evil, equally high-paid husbands. Apparently, even at the top of the economic ladder, women reserve the right to play the victim card.
4) Rosin’s prescription for men is depressing. She is not pleased with the current state of gender relations, in which many couples have a sort of Ma and Pa Kettle arrangement, with Ma running everything and Pa playing video games. Can’t blame a girl for resenting that. But, dear lord, I can’t help but feel for boys in the future, because Rosin, a mother of two boys herself, draws inspiration from this Korean woman’s child-rearing example: “Stephanie Lee is doing her part to make sure the next generation of men will make a clean break. She has taught her son to speak softly, and she buys him pink stuffed animals and enrolls him in cooking and ballet instead of tae kwan do, even if he’s the only boy in the class, even if the teachers object.” Says Lee, “He needs a more feminine side.” And I need a drink.
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