Beware the apocalyptic book title. It’s a great marketing device, but the forcefulness and flash with which a title states a book’s theme virtually ensures that the author’s more measured conclusions will be overlooked. Hanna Rosin, who previewed the thesis for The End of Men in a 2010 cover story for the Atlantic, doesn’t use the word “end” to mean “termination” or even “destination.” She’s essentially arguing that men, particularly in the lower and middle classes, are losing ground economically to their female counterparts.
To illustrate this point, Rosin peers into the day-to-day lives and evolving motivations of several groups, including college girls and post-grads who embrace their sexuality as a career tool, upper-class couples who have made their marriages work to their mutual advantage (as opposed to lower-class ones who haven’t), men left idle or underemployed after a textile mill leaves town and women who are inundating the once primarily male profession of pharmacy.
Rosin also investigates the little publicized fact that women are so outpacing men in college enrollment and completion that some schools have quietly instituted “affirmative action” programs to recruit more men by lowering or re-structuring admission standards.
As Rosin demonstrates, women are getting ahead on the economic front in no small part because they work for less money and fewer benefits. In addition, many of them are too occupied in their off hours by children and unemployed or underemployed mates to demand more from their employers.
Don’t look for any Norma Rae unionizers or 9 to 5 score-settlers here. The men Rosin shadows are not out of work because there’s no work to be done but because companies can make more money and pay less taxes by shifting the work elsewhere. It’s not a pretty picture to see women and men forced to compete with each other for economic success and happiness.