Wednesday, June 16, 2010

end of men?

“The End of Men” is the provocative cover story of the new Atlantic magazine. The subtitle of Hanna Rosin’s article is “How Women Are Taking Control—of Everything.” There is data to suggest that 75% of those who choose a sex for their child, choose “female.” In the U.S. workforce, there are now more women than men, for the first time in history (and more female managers). In colleges and graduate schools, there is such a disparity that many schools are relaxing entrance requirements, to make it possible for men to attend. There are still more men in the upper echelons of business; but even there, women out-earned their male counterparts by 43% last year, on average, and earned larger bonuses. Rosin writes that marriage is disappearing because “women are setting the terms—and setting them too high for the men around them to reach.” Many women would prefer to work harder and reach their dreams alone, than compromise and share power with under-accomplished men. In another Atlantic article, Pamela Paul asks "Are Fathers Necessary?"

Yes, they are. Certainly not in every child-rearing scenario, but fathers are important in general. Approximately half of all humans are male (including intersex and transgender persons), so it is important to see good fathers around, as good male role models. We also need mature “yang” role models—of whatever sex. Women can serve as positive yang models (see above) as well as negative (the rates of violence committed by middle-aged women has skyrocketed since the 1980s). Men can provide negative yin models ("Omega males" are directionless and dependent) and positive (today’s fathers spend 75% more time in childcare and related tasks than they did 30 years ago, according to this Parenting article). Biological sex and social gender are becoming de-coupled; I consider that a good thing.

In another article in the same magazine, Sandra Tsing Loh was surprised to find an author of a “heady brand of feminism [and] self-reliance” thanking her husband for the many ways he helps, including working with their children and assisting with her business. Tsing Loh gasps, “that’s what the new radical feminism depends on—a guy.” Behind every great woman is a great man? Well, perhaps behind every great human is another great human, of whatever sex or gender.

Rosin’s story begins with tale of concern about the "future of all women" from 1984, and how that has been turned on its head. These concerns about the "end of men" will also subside. Men will recover from their postmodern role confusion, and all people will be more comfortable with whatever their yang/yin ratio is. This is *not* the "end of men," but may it be the end of judging men with one single restrictive definition.


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