Saturday, September 22, 2012

The end of men

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 15 September 2012)

There has been much buzz this week about a new book, entitled “The End of Men and the Rise of Women,” by Hanna Rosin. The book, based on her very popular 2010 Atlantic cover story, “The End of Men,” explores the much talked about predicament of why men, who have for millennia dominated every aspect of the human experience (except birthing a child), are now in large part failing to adjust in a society where women are thriving.
In a September 10 column on Rosin’s book, titled “Why Men are Fail,” New York Times writer David Brooks illustrated the dire situation men find themselves in: “In elementary and high school, male academic performance is lagging. Boys earn three-quarters of the D’s and F’s. By college, men are clearly behind. Only 40 percent of bachelor’s degrees go to men, along with 40 percent of master’s degrees. Thanks to their lower skills, men are dropping out of the labor force. In 1954, 96 percent of the American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today, that number is down to 80 percent. In Friday’s jobs report, male labor force participation reached an all-time low.”
The article said Rosin argues that women “…are like immigrants who have moved to a new country. They see a new social context, and they flexibly adapt to new circumstances. Men are like immigrants who have physically moved to a new country but who have kept their minds in the old one. They speak the old language. They follow the old mores. Men are more likely to be rigid; women are more fluid.”
And while some may say that it is just how men are and they cannot help themselves, the article said Rosin’s books posits, “This theory has less to do with innate traits and more to do with social position. When there’s big social change, the people who were on the top of the old order are bound to cling to the old ways. The people who were on the bottom are bound to experience a burst of energy. They’re going to explore their new surroundings more enthusiastically.”
I have long spoken about how men seem to have checked out on life lately and have on numerous occasions written on the need for men to find a way to adjust to this new social structure that includes women in business, religion, politics, education and every other aspect.
In September of 2010, Kaieteur News Editor, Adam Harris, asked me why I thought the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete. I wrote a column in response to his question entitled, “Why women do not want to get married anymore.”
This was my response in part:
“The better question to ask is why on earth the women in Guyana would want to get married at all. Too many Guyanese wives are beaten, chopped, burned, shot and murdered by their husbands. Too many wives are treated like slaves and expected to wait on their husband’s hand and foot. Too many of Guyana’s husbands cheat on their wives – sometimes with several other women – and the wife is expected to accept that vile situation. In short, too many wives in Guyana are incessantly subjected to physical, mental and emotional abuse.
As such, it is not surprising that Guyana’s young women are going to school, getting an education and providing for themselves. These women are driven and they are building great lives for themselves.
Why would they introduce a man into the picture who is going to beat them? Why would they subject themselves to sexually transmitted diseases (because the cheater doesn’t like to use condoms) just to have a man around? Why would they get married just so they can be treated like a slave and have one more person to cook and clean for at the end of a long day at work?
Meanwhile, more and more of Guyana’s men are dropping out of school and spending their days drinking rum instead of getting a steady job. Speaking as a woman, this entire situation is highly undesirable – and there are many women who agree with me.”
According to Brooks, Rosin touches on this phenomenon in her book, too, but from a different perspective. “Rosin reports from college campuses where women are pioneering new social arrangements. The usual story is that men are exploiting the new campus hookup culture in order to get plenty of sex without romantic commitments. Rosin argues that, in fact, women support the hookup culture. It allows them to have sex and fun without any time-consuming distractions from their careers. Like new immigrants, women are desperate to rise, and they embrace social and sexual rules that give them the freedom to focus on their professional lives.”
A September 11 Huffington Post article also addressed Rosin’s book, in an article entitled “The End of Men Is Here? 14 Signs And Consequences Of Male Decline, According To Hanna Rosin,” and explores the fact that feminine style leadership is becoming more valuable in many businesses as the communication aspect brought by female leaders promotes a better and more productive working environment.
According to the article, other consequences of the male decline is that families are now investing more in their daughters than in the sons, since it will be the girls who will have the financial capacity to help support their aging parents later on.
Rosin also notes that Asian women dominate the classroom and “have been unwilling to take on the traditional female role of the subservient homemaker, even as men continue to want wives who fit that mould. ‘In a host of Asian countries, including Korea, the new woman and the same old man have looked each other over and each has deemed the other a wholly unsuitable life partner.’”
Rosin’s book is not news to many of us. We have seen this coming and have bellyached over the situation for a while now. The only real solution I can see is for men to find a way to adjust to the new social structure – and hopefully soon. Because I can guarantee that women have no intention of going back to the dark days of inequality and dependence on men.

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