Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Is This Really the End of Men and the Rise of Women in America?

Hannah Rosin, senior editor at The Atlantic, has written a forthcoming book entitled, The End of Men, that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. From what I understand, the book isn’t actually so much about the end of men as it is about the recent rise of women. As has been widely reported, more women than men are graduating from college and professional schools, and many are becoming the primary breadwinner in their families. In entertainment, politics, and a range of industries that aren’t as public, women are being heralded more than ever for their achievements and contributions to society.

I haven’t read The End of Men, but it sounds like the world Rosin portrays in it is quite rosy for women in 2012. It’s a world where over 70% of middle and high school girls surveyed reported feeling “satisfied with themselves,” and sexual assault rates have fallen dramatically in the past 20 years and are now “so low in parts of the country — for white women especially — that criminologists can’t plot the numbers on a chart.”

But this article, published by the same publication that Rosin edits, echoes some of the sentiments that I shared in my recent essay, “What it’s Like to be a Woman in America in 2012,” painting a picture that isn’t quite as rosy as Rosin’s:

It’s hard to bear that dramatic drop in sexual violence in mind when you’re harassed five times between your front door and the bus stop. If you’re a college student punishing yourself for dinner with an extra-long, extra hard session at the gym, it’s a struggle to remember that self-esteem boom, especially when you look around and see half a dozen of your classmates doing exactly the same thing. And when you go to work in the morning (assuming you can find a job, of course) it’s difficult to feel triumphant about that view from above when you’re wondering if your male co-workers are being paid more than you are for doing exactly the same job, which is highly likely when the gender wage gap still holds at about 78 percent.

At any rate, it’s an interesting conversation that I’m sure we’ll keep re-visiting as we continue living through this “unprecedented shift in how men and women interact in American culture.” And while it’s certain to sell more magazines and books, I’m not so sure that proclaiming the end of a gender (or even just its dominance) — particularly when that gender still basically runs the country, or at least holds a huge majority of its government seats and highest-level offices — is wise. I’d much rather see us embracing a cultural shift together — one that allows for increasing freedom for both genders, rather than sticking out our tongues at the boys who used to tease us on the playground and saying, “Nyaa, nyaa, nyaa, nyaa, nyaa.”

[via The Atlantic]

39 comments… add one
  • Oldie September 6, 2012, 1:13 pm

    The word assinine comes to mind. Sexual assault is “so low in parts of the country — for white women especially — that criminologists can’t plot the numbers on a chart.”I didn’t realize we had such stupid criminologists. Any number, down to one, is easily plotted on a chart. I don’t have to read more than one or two copies of my local paper to know that rapes and sexual assaults of white women, and white female children, is not zero. In fact, the local headline of today’s paper is “Man gets prison for sexual assault”. Three pre-teen white girls assaulted.

    There is certainly a change in the education and job arenas over the past several decades. We are moving closer to equality, to to female supremacy. Men still earn more than women, of average. This nation has never had a female President, Congress is overwhelmingly male, CEOs are overwhelmingly male, lower level symbols of authority such as the police, military officers, clergy remain overwhelmingly male. In school, there are more female teachers, but more male principals and superintendents.

    This is just a dumb article.

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    • mainer September 6, 2012, 3:55 pm

      It helps if you understand the purpose of crime mapping and what criminologists actually do before you start calling them stupid.

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      • Oldie September 6, 2012, 5:31 pm

        Right! And assaults on white women have most definitely become too rare to map. Gotcha!

      • mainer September 6, 2012, 5:51 pm

        Except that is not what it was saying. At all.

  • TECH September 6, 2012, 1:22 pm

    Women still have a long way to go to be treated as equals in our country. Just a few things off the top of my head to prove the point:
    1. We still haven’t elected a female president
    2. Women are consistently held back in the workplace due to maternity leave and caring for their children. There isn’t even a law in our country for paid maternity leave.
    3. Women still experience discrimination in healthcare. They may lack access or coverage for birth control, annual screenings, etc. Until Obamacare was passed, health insurers were allowed to charge higher premiums to women simply because they are women.
    4. The Libby Ledbetter Act was signed into law in 2012. It took until 2012 for a US President to address fair pay for women? Stunning and sad.

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    • MsMisery September 6, 2012, 1:35 pm

      And the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) was never ratified. That was back in the 70s, so the equal rights concept was just for women (not gays as is the movement now).

      “Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

      Nope, can’t have that, can we?

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    iwannatalktosampson September 6, 2012, 1:29 pm

    I’d much rather see us embracing a cultural shift together — one that allows for increasing freedom for both genders, rather than sticking out our tongues at the boys who used to tease us on the playground and saying, “Nyaa, nyaa, nyaa, nyaa, nyaa.”

    YES. I hate all the women vs men – me vs. them mentality. Why can’t we as a culture work together to be a truly equal society. Where boys can play house and girls can love trucks. You are paid based on experience and how well you do the job. If it’s better for the husband to stay home with the kids he is not ridiculed and people aren’t whispering about him being a bum.

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      JK September 6, 2012, 1:32 pm


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  • ebstarr September 6, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Great post, Wendy! I agree that it’s stupid to declare “The End of Men.” What it sounds like the book is about is the end of the patriarchy — which is also clearly untrue due to all the reasons everyone’s named.

    Every time it seems like women are doing slightly better in areas where they were previously hugely disadvantaged, people wring their hands about what will happen to men. Then the advancement of women becomes this huge negative, where female success = threat to men. Like, boohoo! Men might not automatically be guaranteed to have all the economic power in their households. That sounds just AWFUL for them.

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      CatsMeow September 6, 2012, 1:41 pm


      The “rise of women” =/= the “fall of men”

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      • ebstarr September 6, 2012, 1:50 pm

        Right? But in the popular media, they’re ALWAYS conflated.

        I’d be the last person to say many men aren’t suffering right now. But that’s hardly because women have taken over society.

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        CatsMeow September 6, 2012, 1:54 pm

        And actually, I believe that a lot of the problems men face are a direct result of the patriarchy. So feminism benefits them too!

      • ebstarr September 6, 2012, 1:57 pm

        Yeah! Like being discouraged from entering higher-paid jobs like nursing, which the article mentions.

      • ebstarr September 6, 2012, 1:58 pm

        That was a somewhat unclear sentence, sorry! I meant being discouraged from entering nursing was one of the problems men face as a result of the patriarchy.

  • cporoski September 6, 2012, 1:31 pm

    I am not saying that women don’t have things that still need to be addressed, but I think the women who fought in the 60s and 70s should be very proud of what has happened. Women couldn’t own a home, rent an apartment, or have a credit card without a man cosigning for these things. Now we have major CEOs. I understand that people keep bringing up the president thing but frankly, it will just be a matter of time. For the baby boomers like Hilary Clinton, they had to fight for everything. There is only one qualified woman for every 50 men in that generation because most bowed out of the race. With Gen Y the number is one to one. When Gen Y becomes the leaders, then you will see the fruits of the fight.

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    • MarkD September 7, 2012, 11:36 am

      Your assertions about women owning a home, renting an apartment, or having a credit card are untrue. My great aunt owned a home way before the 1960s and she was never married.

      Were married women with no incomes discriminated against when applying for credit cards in their own names? Yes, but that is tangential to your assertion and more likely a result of lenders wanting to be certain to get their money back.

      There was, however, widespread gender-based discrimination in the 1960s. It was called the draft, and no woman was subjected to it.

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      • Taylor September 8, 2012, 10:15 am

        Read Milla’s response to BGM below. Your aunt owning a home does not negate the bias against women that was rampant in her era (great-aunt, 1950s?).

        Women were kept out of the military in the 60’s as well – also a form of discrimination. Would most women want to be drafted? Probably not. But that’s true of most people.

  • kerrycontrary September 6, 2012, 1:34 pm

    I am glad to celebrate the successes of women in the 20th and 21st centuries, but I also believe there is a long way to go for both genders. And why is the fact that less men are graduating from college or professional schools a good thing for women? This is most likely not a good thing for our society overall. I’m in a profession where the majority of employees are women but the majority of directors or heads of institution are still men. There’s a lot of progress to be made, ladies.

    And yeh, I think that sexual assault fact was completely made up. Why does no one address that MOST sexual assaults aren’t even reported?? Or talk about the amount of white girls who go missing from suburbia every day to be sold into sex trafficking? Can we please tell people to research before they write?

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    • ebstarr September 6, 2012, 1:45 pm

      I know none of us have actually read this book, but it totally creeps me out that a book called “The End of Men” cites a decline in sexual violence against women. How could fewer rapes be a bad thing for any group of people… except rapists? Which =/= men as a whole.

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    • Oldie September 6, 2012, 1:52 pm

      I don’t believe it is true that fewer men are going to college. They have decreased as a percentage, because a lot more women are going to college.

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      • j2 September 7, 2012, 11:41 am

        Oldie, you appear to be correct per the data here:


        Looking especially at full time enrollment, male numbers are still rising, though the female numbers well exceed them now, and have since around 1990.

        One note, though, is that the US population rises about 1% or so every year. The male figures roughly track that rise now, but the female ones well exceed it.

        The 2010 (actual) and 2011 (projected) #s, BTW:

        5.837M and 5.932M – males
        7.245M and 7.429M – females

        How many graduate and with what degrees, I do not know.

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    CatsMeow September 6, 2012, 1:37 pm

    **I’d much rather see us embracing a cultural shift together — one that allows for increasing freedom for both genders, rather than sticking out our tongues at the boys who used to tease us on the playground and saying, “Nyaa, nyaa, nyaa, nyaa, nyaa.”**

    That right there, Wendy, is my sentiment exactly.

    I’ve seen “The End of Men” referenced many times, and to be honest I haven’t read the whole thing because the title irks me so much. I know that she just wants attention and exposure for her work, but I think it’s more harmful than good. For one, it perpetuates the misconception that feminism strives not for gender equality, but for female power. It just gives more fodder for MRAs and other folks who misunderstand feminism to continue to believe that the rise of women has to equate to the downfall of men, and that one gender can’t gain rights without taking away the rights of another gender. When we say there’s a war on women, that doesn’t mean it’s women vs. men.

    Also, with all the hype it’s getting, I feel like some people think, “Well, there you have it. You got what you wanted. Now you don’t need feminism. So shut up and stop complaining,” when it’s clear as day to you and me and most of the women and men who read and agreed with your “What It’s Like to Be a Woman in America in 2012” article that it’s sadly not the case.

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    • Oldie September 6, 2012, 1:55 pm

      It’s like proclaiming the End of History, at the conclusion of the cold war. There’s been a lot of history since then. The world he was comfortable playing in may have ended, but there will always be more history, although the same nations may not be the key players.Some view change, even change to more equality, as somehow catastrophic. You mean being white and male is enough to be guaranteed success any longer?

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  • DMR September 6, 2012, 1:58 pm

    In regard the quoted bit in Wendy’s post above from the Atlantic. Being sexually harrassed is not the same thing as going to the gym. It’s also a very long bow to equate going to the gym with victimhood because of one’s low ‘self esteem’ . Women (and men) with low self esteem are the ones staying at home in front of the TV or computer, not pumping iron in public while listening to an ipod.
    and this bit from the article over at the atlantic:

    Even more, 75 percent, said they were satisfied with themselves, Rosin reports. This doesn’t square with the figures on body image and eating disorders in America.

    Um, yes it does, since objectively we have a rise in obesity. More people – men and women – think they’re overweight because more people are, in fact, overweight.

    Women have come a long, long way, and although there’s still a way to go, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that; in fact to not do so and wallow in relentless victimhood is to disrepect the work of women (and men) who fought for change, and for the plight of women who really are oppressed in many parts of the world.

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    bittergaymark September 6, 2012, 6:23 pm

    Honestly, one of the biggest MYTHS of my entire life has been how great and easy it is to be a white man… I’ve always been like — really? Uh, okay. I don’t know about that…

    Seriously, hey, I suppose that it was indeed once VERY true. Yrah, I imagine being a white man in the work force was totally “the bomb” back in the Mad Men era. Hell, all through the 1960s, 1970… and maybe even well into the 1980s… But by the time I entered the work force in 1994? Eh, truthfully I don’t feel that it was that much of a leg up. I just don’t.

    Hell, I know of one, very specific job where I was passed over for a promotion that went to somebody else who was DECIDEDLY less qualified. Not only than me, but by pretty much everybody else who worked there and was in the running for it, too. (Those passed over also included more than a few highly qualified white women…) It was the one moment in my life was where I was like…. Ooooh. Wow. Okay, if this happened to me all the time, I can see how somebody would cry reverse racism. It was a watershed moment for me — as up until then I had always thought reverse racism was 100% pure b.s. Yeah, that was an eye opening life experience. A rare one to be sure, but still memorable. And an interesting lesson.

    I’ve also never been paid more than my female counterparts. Never — hey, I wish. All that extra money would sure come in handy now. And I’ve had a lot of industry jobs where there were both guys and girls all doing pretty much the exact same job — and often, we all knew each other’s salaries as we usually got hired at the same time to work on the show or whatever, meaning the rate was usually stated up front in the job posting or whatever. I suppose, that my experience could be unique due to my career trajectory… But I often wonder how all these other people land these gigs where the men are instantly paid so much more… Seriously, it’d have been helpful to know.

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    • Milla September 7, 2012, 11:23 am

      Your experiences are your own and absolutely valid, but when we talk about things like racism and sexism, we’re talking about them on a cultural level, as institutions and not individual experiences. “Reverse racism” is a thing that can’t happen because on an institutional level, white people are not always promoted over people of color. Racism is an institutional thing— just because your work pulled a shitty move doesn’t mean that white people are suddenly discriminated against.

      You and your female co-worker may get paid for the same job, but the facts remain that white women make about 80 cents on the white man’s dollar. Latina women make about 50 cents on that same dollar, by the way. It’s a system— a system that discourages women, especially women of color, from having access to education, child care, mentoring, etc. One successful woman, or one promotion over you, does not reverse racism make.

      As a queer woman, I haven’t ever really experienced anything shitty happening to me. My work is cool with my partner, my family loves her, my friends were all really supportive. But to take that anecdotal evidence and say there’s no anti-queer movements in America— because I haven’t experienced it— would be incredibly short-sighted.

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      • Taylor September 8, 2012, 10:05 am

        One of the reasons I have a hard time watching campaign speeches (at any level) is that people ignore the statistics of things. Especially on a local level it’s “this is bad, this is good”, not these are the numbers we have about a situation. I’m going to reference this is an above comment now.

  • the other guy September 6, 2012, 11:02 pm

    I call bull$hit whenever I hear women complain that men are paid more. What employer would pay more for person A (male) when person B (female) can do exactly the same job.

    Please provide evidence that females doing exactly the same job with the same quality and experience are paid less. The reason females are paid less overall is that they tend to do jobs that pay less, if males do the same job they are also paid the same low salary.

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    • qm September 6, 2012, 11:06 pm

      Anecdotal: I was paid half as much as every male member of my lab this summer, even the two of them that had LESS experience than I did. I had to fight to get paid in the first place, after I learned that they all were being paid. There are also tons of studies that show women that do the SAME JOB get paid less. It DOES happen. Get your head out of wherever you’ve buried it and start recognizing that sexism is still a real problem in modern society.

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        bittergaymark September 6, 2012, 11:52 pm

        How do you know this? And where are you? The Deep South? These are actually serious questions on my part.

      • qm September 7, 2012, 12:28 am

        The guys assumed I would be getting paid the same (or at all), so they started talking about HR paperwork with me. I had no clue what they were talking about, so I asked them exactly how they had come into the arrangement (our advisor offered) and what they were being paid. This then prompted me to ask our advisor why I was the only one not being paid, so he offered to try to “find some grant money” which turned out to be half of what they were earning. I’m in Oklahoma, but a lot of the sciences have this happening all over the country. Of course it’s not JUST sciences, but it’s pretty heavily ingrained into the culture from all of the people I’ve talked to that came here for grad school.

      • the other guy September 7, 2012, 3:59 am

        So a claim is made about women’s pay and I ask if they can quote any evidence to support their case and all your only response is ‘anecdotal’ and tell me ‘Get your head out of wherever you’ve buried’.

        Your example is a job you took for no pay and then complained that others were getting paid. You set the benchmark on your worth when you accepted unpaid work, while the males only accepted paid work.

        I have read previously that one factor were women do get less money than men is that they are more ready to accept getting paid less money. Your anecdotal story seems to confirm that fact.

        I get paid more than just about every woman I know for doing the same job, but I also get paid more than most males as well, why? Because I am very good at selling to my boss that I am worth paying more. Some males I know and most females just accept the money on offer, if you don’t ask then don’t blame others.

        Time to put on your ‘big girl’ pants.

      • Lydia September 7, 2012, 5:46 am

        Yes, one of the (many) reasons that women often get paid less for the same work, is that they don’t bargain as aggressively for higher pay than men do. You can say that, because of this, it’s the women’s own fault for not fighting harder for more pay.

        But if you do that, you ignore a lot of cultural baggage that women have. From a very young age, women are taught not to be aggressive, not to flaunt their capabilities and achievements and to not speak up, because it’s unladylike or whatever.

        If we do any of these things regardless of the culture, we are told that we are shrill, or hysterical. We are to lighten up and not to be such a bitch.

        You could say that we should ignore these labels and fight anyway. And many of us do. And then our (male) bosses think we are being hysterical bitches too, and don’t give us that same pay.

        It really isn’t as easy as just putting on your big girl pants.

      • qm September 7, 2012, 8:41 am

        Actually, it was supposed to be no pay for ALL of us, as non-graduate researchers. Until my boss went behind my back to offer the men pay while trying to keep me out of the loop. So I DID “put on [my] big girl pants” and get at least some pay. And I’m sorry I get upset when you expressly deny sexism that has personally affected me. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe I’m just a shrill and hysterical woman that needs to put on my big girl pants.

      • the other guy September 8, 2012, 7:38 am

        “Maybe I’m just a shrill and hysterical woman that needs to put on my big girl pants. ” – OK if you say so

      • qm September 7, 2012, 8:55 am

        Also, here’s a study from the London Business School that shows even at the exact same job, women are paid significantly less.

      • Taylor September 8, 2012, 10:10 am

        The other guy – check the wiki, and the references to the wiki:

        In particular: “…in 2010, an economist testified to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee that studies “always find that some portion of the wage gap is unexplained” even after controlling for measurable factors that are assumed to influence earnings. The unexplained portion of the wage gap is attributed to gender discrimination.”

  • stilgar666 September 7, 2012, 11:46 am

    Don’t worry ladies, I will overcome this misandry and continue the fight for male equality!

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    KKZ September 7, 2012, 4:38 pm

    I am so so happy to see so many women on here decrying Rosin’s claims as exaggerated and biased B.S.

    The only other online community I’m involved in as much as DW is The Good Men Project (goodmenproject dot com in case you’re interested) and this is a perennial topic over there. And I think a lot of my friends there would be gratified to see so many women joining them in debunking Rosin’s “End of Men” theory. Some of them are so jaded by feminism and feminists that I think they’ve resigned to believing that all women, or at least feminist-leaning women, would take up Rosin’s banner and gleefully declare an end to Men, so on their behalf I’m gratified to see the support here. 🙂

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