Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men shouldn’t be read as a cast-iron prediction of a newly gendered future, but rather as the raiser of important questions about the crisis of masculinity.
Nancy McDermott, spiked
Ignore the hyperbolic title. Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men and the Rise of Women is filled with worthwhile insights and raises serious questions about the meaning and implications of shifting gender roles. Rosin, an editor at the Atlantic and founder of Slate’s ‘DoubleX’, has emerged as one of only a handful of American writers who has understood the centrality of so-called ‘women’s issues’ to American culture.
Her thesis goes something like this: our society is in the midst of a whole host of social and economic changes that women are benefiting from more than men, and perhaps at the expense of men. It’s a compelling idea, not least because it seems to confirm what many people have observed in the course of their own experiences.
It is not simply that men have lost their jobs, or even that those jobs are gone for good, or that it is mainly women doing the jobs that are now being created. It is more a sense of creeping demoralisation and ambivalence about the future that is as much in evidence in Charles Murray’s discussion of the decline of marriage, in his book Coming Apart, as it is in ‘The Myth of Work/Life Balance’ debate that appeared in the Atlantic last summer.
Rosin intuitively understands that discussions like these are related to, and have been shaped by, changes in women’s status over the past 30 years. What isn’t so clear is whether the current situation is the inevitable consequence of a shifting balance between men and women or a symptom of something else. Whatever the underlying cause, Rosin has made gender relations the focus of her investigation and she follows it through to the bitter end. The result is an engaging exploration of how life has altered for all sections of society, but perhaps most startlingly for America’s working and middle classes.
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Are we witnessing the decline and fall of men?