The End of Men
And the Rise of Women
Men have been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But Hanna Rosin was the first to notice that this long-held truth is, astonishingly, no longer true. At this unprecedented moment, by almost every measure, women are no longer gaining on men: They have pulled decisively ahead. And “the end of men”—the title of Rosin’s Atlantic cover story on the subject—has entered the lexicon as dramatically as Betty Friedan’s “feminine mystique,” Simone de Beauvoir’s “second sex,” Susan Faludi’s “backlash,” and Naomi Wolf’s “beauty myth” once did.
In this landmark book, Rosin reveals how this new state of affairs is radically shifting the power dynamics between men and women at every level of society, with profound implications for marriage, sex, children, work, and more. With wide-ranging curiosity and insight unhampered by assumptions or ideology, Rosin shows how the radically different ways men and women today earn, learn, spend, couple up—even kill—has turned the big picture upside down. And in The End of Men she helps us see how, regardless of gender, we can adapt to the new reality and channel it for a better future.
Throughout my reporting, a certain imaginary comic book duo kept presenting themselves to me: Plastic Woman and Cardboard Man. Plastic Woman has during the last century performed superhuman feats of flexibility. She has gone from barely working at all to working only until she got married to working while married and then working with children, even babies. If a space opens up for her to make more money than her husband, she grabs it. If she is no longer required by ladylike standards to restrain her temper, she starts a brawl at the bar. If she can get away with staying unmarried and living as she pleases deep into her thirties, she will do that too. And if the era calls for sexual adventurousness, she is game.
She is Napoleonic in her appetites. As she gobbles up new territories she hangs on to the old, creating a whole new set of existential dilemmas (too much work and too much domestic responsibility, too much power and too much vulnerability, too much niceness and not enough happiness). Studies that track women after they get their MBAs have even uncovered a superbreed of Plastic Women: They earn more than single women and just as much as the men. They are the women who have children but choose to take no time off work. They are the mutant creature our society now rewards the most— the one who can simultaneously handle the old male and female responsibilities without missing a beat.
Cardboard Man, meanwhile, hardly changes at all. A century can go by and his lifestyle and ambitions remain largely the same. There are many professions that have gone from all- male to female, and almost none that have gone the other way. For most of the century men derived their sense of manliness from their work, or their role as head of the family. A “coalminer” or “rigger” used to be a complete identity, connecting a man to a long lineage of men. Implicit in the title was his role as anchor of a domestic existence.
Some decades into the twentieth century, those obvious forms of social utility started to fade. Most men were no longer doing physically demanding labor of the traditional kind, and if they were, it was not a job for life. They were working in offices or not working at all, and instead taking out their frustration on the microwave at the 7-Eleven. And as fewer people got married, men were no longer acting as domestic providers, either. They lost the old architecture of manliness, but they have not replaced it with any obvious new one. What’s left now are the accessories, maybe the “mancessories”— jeans and pickup trucks and designer switchblades, superheroes and
thugs who rant and rave on TV and, at the end of the season, fade back into obscurity. This is what critic Susan Faludi in the late 1990s defined as the new “ornamental masculinity,” and it has not yet evolved into anything more solid.
As a result men are stuck, or “fixed in cultural aspic,” as critic Jessica Grose puts it. They could move more quickly into new roles now open to them—college graduate, nurse, teacher, full- time father— but for some reason, they hesitate. Personality tests over the decades show men tiptoeing into new territory, while women race into theirs. Men do a tiny bit more housework and child care than they did forty years ago, while women do vastly more paid work. The working mother is now the norm. The stay-at-home father is still a front- page anomaly.
The Bem test is the standard psychological tool used to rate people on how strongly they conform to a variety of measures considered stereotypically male or female: “ self- reliant,” “yielding,” “helpful,” “ambitious,” “tender,” “dominant.” Since the test started being administered in the mid- 1970s, women have been encroaching into what the test rates as male territory, stereotypically defining themselves as “assertive,” “independent,” “willing to take a stand.” A typical Bem woman these days is “compassionate” and “ self-sufficient,” “individualistic,” and “adaptable.” Men, however, have not met them halfway, and are hardly more likely to define themselves as “tender” or “gentle” than they were in 1974. In fact, by some measures men have been retreating into an ever- narrower space, backing away from what were traditionally feminine traits as women take over more masculine ones.
For a long time, evolutionary psychologists have attributed this rigidity to our being ruled by adaptive imperatives from a distant past: Men are faster and stronger and hardwired to fight for scarce resources, a trait that shows up in contemporary life as a drive to either murder or win on Wall Street. Women are more nurturing and compliant, suiting them perfectly to raise children and create harmony among neighbors. This kind of thinking frames our sense of the natural order.
But for women, it seems as if those fixed roles are more fungible than we ever imagined. A more female- dominated society does not necessarily translate into a soft feminine utopia. Women are becoming more aggressive and even violent in ways we once thought were exclusively reserved for men. This drive shows up in a new breed of female murderers, and also in a rising class of young female “killers” on Wall Street. Whether the shift can be attributed to women now being socialized differently, or whether it’s simply an artifact of our having misunderstood how women are “hardwired” in the first place, is at this point unanswerable, and makes no difference. Difficult as it is to conceive, the very rigid story we believed about ourselves is obviously no longer true. There is no “natural” order, only the way things are.
"Rosin is a gifted storyteller with a talent for ferreting out volumes of illustrative data, and she paints a compelling picture of the ways women are ascendant." –Time
"A fascinating new book." –David Brooks, The New York Times
"Pinpoints the precise trajectory and velocity of the culture... Rosin’s book, anchored by data and aromatized by anecdotes, concludes that women are gaining the upper hand." –The Washington Post
"A persuasive, research-grounded argument... The most interesting sections in The End of Men show that in the portions of the country where, through culture and money, something like equality between the sexes is being achieved, the differences between them collapse." –Esquire
"Heralds the ways current economic and societal power shifts are bringing 'the age of testosterone' to a close and the consequences." –Vanity Fair
"Refreshing... Rosin's book may be the most insightful and readable cultural analysis of the year, bringing together findings from different fields to show that economic shifts and cultural pressures mean that in many ways, men are being left behind... The End of Men is buttressed by numbers, but it's a fascinating read because it transcends them... Rosin's genius was to connect these dots in ways no one else has for an unexpected portrait of our moment. The End of Men is not really about a crisis for men; it's a crisis of American opportunity." –The Los Angeles Times
"Especially timely... Rosin has her finger squarely on the pulse of contemporary culture... fresh and compelling." –USA Today
"[Rosin's] thorough research and engaging writing style form a solid foundation for a thoughtful dialogue that has only just begun... It's not the final word on gender roles in the 21st century, but it's a notable starting point for a fascinating conversation." –The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Ambitious and surprising... [The End of Men is] solidly researched and should interest readers who care about feminist history and how gender issues play out in the culture... A nuanced, sensitively reported account of how cultural and economic forces are challenging traditional gender norms and behavior." –The Boston Globe
"Backed by workforce stats, [Rosin's] stories forge a convincing case that modern female aptitudes give women the advantage." –Mother Jones
"Makes us see the larger picture... this provocative book is not so much about the end of men but the end of male supremacy... The great strength of Ms. Rosin's argument is that she shows how these changes in sex, love, ambition and work have little or nothing to do with hard-wired brain differences or supposed evolutionary destiny. They occur as a result of economic patterns, the unavailability of marriageable men, and a global transformation in the nature of work." –The Wall Street Journal
"In this bold and inspired dispatch, Rosin upends the common platitudes of contemporary sexual politics with a deeply reported meditation from the unexpected frontiers of our rapidly changing culture." –Katie Roiphe, author of The Morning After and Uncommon Arrangements
"The End of Men describes a new paradigm that can, finally, take us beyond ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in an endless ‘gender war.’ What a relief! Ultimately, Rosin's vision is both hope-filled and creative, allowing both sexes to become far more authentic: as workers, partners, parents... and people.” –Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter and Schoolgirls
PRAISE FOR HANNA ROSIN'S GOD HARVARD
"God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America, is a rare accomplishment for many reasons - perhaps most of all because Rosin is a journalist who not only reports but also observes deeply." –San Francisco Chronicle
"A superb work of extended reportage." –Chicago Sun-Times
"Nuanced and highly readable." –The Washington Post
“[Rosin] covers an impressive amount of ground about women… A great starting point for readers interested in exploring the intersecting issues of gender, family and employment.” –Kirkus Reviews