Join 3,420 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The End of Men
June 10, 2010 2:16 PM   Subscribe

The End of Men, in The Atlantic. An article about the rise of women (now over 50% of the U.S. workforce), and implications of the attendant changes for both women and men.
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences
posted by marble (161 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy crap the amount of assumption and handwaving in this article is staggering. Neurological differences between males and females cited? Check. "Dozens" of people interviewed without a revealed methodology or sample demographics, then never referenced again? Check. Seriously, this is a long-form op-ed disguised as a "trend of the times" article.

He’d just signed up for food stamps, which is just about the only social-welfare program a man can easily access.

What the hell does that even mean?
posted by griphus at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2010 [29 favorites]


...and then a vigorous barbarian culture displaces the effete and gentle descendants of the last gang of toughs.

The cycle of fail continues.
posted by codswallop at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2010


What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?

That would have some really unfortunate implications, given that modern, postindustrial America isn't really any good at producing anything, and is largely in an ongoing state of overall economic decline.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Snark aside, it's a compelling article.
Men dominate just two of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most over the next decade: janitor and computer engineer. Women have everything else—nursing, home health assistance, child care, food preparation. Many of the new jobs, says Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress, “replace the things that women used to do in the home for free.” None is especially high-paying. But the steady accumulation of these jobs adds up to an economy that, for the working class, has become more amenable to women than to men.

The list of growing jobs is heavy on nurturing professions, in which women, ironically, seem to benefit from old stereotypes and habits. Theoretically, there is no reason men should not be qualified. But they have proved remarkably unable to adapt. Over the course of the past century, feminism has pushed women to do things once considered against their nature—first enter the workforce as singles, then continue to work while married, then work even with small children at home. Many professions that started out as the province of men are now filled mostly with women—secretary and teacher come to mind. Yet I’m not aware of any that have gone the opposite way. Nursing schools have tried hard to recruit men in the past few years, with minimal success. Teaching schools, eager to recruit male role models, are having a similarly hard time. The range of acceptable masculine roles has changed comparatively little, and has perhaps even narrowed as men have shied away from some careers women have entered. As Jessica Grose wrote in Slate, men seem “fixed in cultural aspic.” And with each passing day, they lag further behind.

posted by zarq at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dunno, it seems like I've read this article before and that it comes up every few years. Yes, there's a big societal change underway. The economics shift from industrial work to service industry work has affected men more than women the same way it affected Pittsburgh more than San Jose. Unless men somehow start physically disappearing these ratios will straighten themselves out. And, as the article also mentions, it's more of a phenomenon in lower-income families and - dare I say it - lower-class families which stick to traditional gender roles differently than middle- or upper-class families. But this too will work itself out as displaced factory workers that don't adapt eventually die and they're not replaced by a new generation of ex-factory workers.

But overall, this article strikes me as a bit of a rehash.
posted by GuyZero at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


To which end of men are they referring? The top end or the bottom end? Oh, wait--is this sexy talk?
posted by mattdidthat at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


As recently as 1985, about half of all women in a national survey said they “must have a son.” That percentage fell slowly until 1991 and then plummeted to just over 15 percent by 2003. Male preference in South Korea “is over,” says Monica Das Gupta, a demographer and Asia expert at the World Bank. “It happened so fast. It’s hard to believe it, but it is.”

If 15% of women prefer sons, then that doesn't mean male preference in South Korea is over. It means it's decreased.

The postindustrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength. The attributes that are most valuable today—social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus—are, at a minimum, not predominantly male.
Um. Wat. Holy disregard of the cultural construction of evolutionary psychology, Batmanwoman.
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Dozens" of people interviewed without a revealed methodology or sample demographics, then never referenced again? Check.

Heh. I read the article the other day and didn't make that connection, but yeah, it's thin attribution.

Reminds me of the "bogus trend" series from Slate, that exposes these breathless trend stories as paper-thin fantasy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ctrl + F "hecession": Phrase not found

It passed my inital test; I might have to read it.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eh. If one truly believes in equality, then the best achievers will come out on top and that's the way it should be. If women really are better adapted or better suited to modern society, then why shouldn't they predominate? It would be better than a society where one sex is held back so the other can prosper. We've already had too much of that.

And I'm not saying I believe anything of this sort. (Men and women are pretty darn equal in just about every way that matters.) Just not getting why the premise of the article is supposed to be such a big deal, even if it was true.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:35 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't read this article, but it's a lot better than I expected before I clicked on it, and I know this because I expected it to be by Caitlin Flanagan.
posted by escabeche at 2:37 PM on June 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


Men and women are pretty darn equal in just about every way that matters.

Except in social opportunity, ability to advance and appropriate compensation for their work. That's why the premise of the article is a big deal.
posted by griphus at 2:40 PM on June 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is all the result of the reduction of the importance of human physical power due to the improvement of machines. Women benefit first and most obviously from this. The question is: what do men do? I would argue that the situation provides men with the opportunity to develop themselves intellectually. I know that both my grandfathers were extremely intelligent, but had limited opportunities for self-development. This is no longer a problem, and it makes me feel that I am honouring their memory every time I read a book or engage in a discussion like this one.
posted by No Robots at 2:41 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously, fuck this zero sum bullshit. Women make a bit of progress and now we're talking about the end of men?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:45 PM on June 10, 2010 [65 favorites]


I may have misread it, griphus, but the premise seems to be fairly alarmist rather than celebratory. Instead of "Women are finally getting their due!" it seems to be saying "Oh no! The women are gonna get us!" So, kind of odd.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:47 PM on June 10, 2010


If the college graduation ratio was 60-40 in favor of men would you say there was a lot of work to be done to achieve equality, or just a bit?

The income gap isn't going to survive this generation taking power, so why are we still worried about it?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the long ago past, when feminism was making aggressive inroads, the male chauvinist great writer Norm Mailer, asked about equal rights, said, simply:
"finally, someone is going to have to do the dishes and it is not going to be me."

But there is hope, despite the fact that now more women go to college than men, and hence
are likely to be bigger earners than men, Globalization!
China has an awful problem looming of too many men to women, a huge batch of hot -blooded young hormonally driven Chinese guys will be seeking women. We can sell off our women if they
get annoyingly out of line! That will fix the budget deficit, reset the balance of male/female here, and at last give us an item we can ship there rather than importing everything .

With their need for woman, they will think twice about going to war with us.
posted by Postroad at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


It would be nice if men read more books, tho.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2010


Two girls for every boy! The Future = Surf City.
posted by grounded at 2:51 PM on June 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


There are some interesting trends described, but the article doesn't explain the foundational tacit assumption that at any given time either men or women, as a group, have to be dominant. I'm just not sure that makes sense.
posted by clockzero at 2:51 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, men are now the other sex -- deviant non-females, inferior for being unable to master the important emotional and nurturing skills needed to make it in today's world. Soon we will be the underclass, enslaved to a master-race of women. You have to admit, we kind of deserve it, and to be fair, we've had a pretty good run up until now!
posted by AlsoMike at 2:52 PM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Men and women are pretty darn equal in just about every way that matters....

Except in social opportunity, ability to advance and appropriate compensation for their work. That's why the premise of the article is a big deal.


I think the original point was equality in terms of ability, not outcome.

And hey, women are mostly preferred for drudgelike, low-paid caring professions!

Yay?

I used to think the Atlantic was a good magazine, but the amount of OMG WIMMENZ WILL DESTROY US ALL articles in the last several years, Flanagan and otherwise, mean I just roll my eyes when I see it mentioned.

Hey Atlantic; call me when we have had more than one woman President, a woman Supreme Court justice, hell, more women than men on the Court, 50% representation of women in Congress, and women's wages achieving parity with men's.

Oh wait. I'll probably be long dead by then. Never mind.
posted by emjaybee at 2:53 PM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


The 20 most prevalent occupations for employed women in 2009 were—

1. Secretaries and administrative assistants, 3,074,000
2. Registered nurses, 2,612,000
3. Elementary and middle school teachers, 2,343,000
4. Cashiers, 2,273,000
5. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, 1,770,000
6. Retail salespersons, 1,650,000
7. First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, 1,459,000
8. Waiters and waitresses, 1,434,000
9. Maids and housekeeping cleaners, 1,282,000
10. Customer service representatives, 1,263,000
11. Child care workers, 1,228,000
12. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, 1,205,000
13. Receptionists and information clerks, 1,168,000
14. First-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers, 1,163,000
15. Managers, all other, 1,106,000
16. Accountants and auditors, 1,084,000
17. Teacher assistants, 921,000
18. Cooks, 831,000
19. Office clerks, general 821,000
20. Personal and home care aides, 789,000
posted by rtha at 2:56 PM on June 10, 2010 [15 favorites]


Soon we will be the underclass, enslaved to a master-race of women.

Speaking as a man, I can't believe I'm the only one here who thinks this sounds kind of awesome. Can I?
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:57 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, I've known a lot of long term, unemployed men in my life.

They generally stayed unemployed because too many jobs were "beneath them". They stayed fed and housed by laying up on family, on girlfriends, on friends. Not for, you know, 3-6 months of time, which would be extended unemployment, but like 3 years and counting.

I suspect the gender imbalance has a lot less to do with gender essentialist "suitability" and a lot more to do with laying off the higher paid men first, and guys deciding it's better to stay unemployed and let the girlfriend pay rent, than accept a shit job at low wages.
posted by yeloson at 2:58 PM on June 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is so missing the woods for the trees. Yes, women are now exploited to perform emotional labour in the work place as well as free household labour in the home. And their "flexibility" (read culturally conditioned docility) is drilled in as a virtue. Well hurrah! Rest assured, the people at the top benefiting remain old men.

I think this is a far more accurate take. And this.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:58 PM on June 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


(Why yes, I did just finish my new copy of Nina Power's One Dimensional Woman).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:59 PM on June 10, 2010


Well it ain't me, it's the people that say men are leading the women astray. But I say it's the women today, smarter than the men in every way.
posted by mattdidthat at 3:02 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. I have a natural suspicion of trend pieces -- they're usually designed to boot pageviews, and not reveal truth. Gender stuff is kinda low-hanging fruit for this sort of thing, since it necessarily affects everyone who has a gender.

But, there are hints of truth to this. Like, I think there are fewer women now who list "must make a lot of money" as a requirement in a mate. In fact, most women I've talked to about this are just happy if the dude has a job.

So if you do have a job AND make good money, that's extra good. Go computer engineers!

(As a sidenote, I can't wait until the computer engineer stereotype is updated. I mean, it's the only field left where men still rule the roost. I think it's time for us to stand up and represent! Let's start using the gym membership a bit more, maybe get one of our female friends to help us buy some decent clothes. We'll be, like, the only men who make money AND look good. "IT" will be the new "it" mate, you just watch us!)
posted by Afroblanco at 3:05 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Per rtha's list, the success of women in the workplace, such as it is, is largely due to an explosion of low-paying clerical/office/health-care jobs that are at the bottom of the ladder. The article very much ignores the fact that the jobs men are losing were better jobs in terms of pay and benefits than the ones women are taking in their stead. Nursers are pretty much the only exception to that in the list.
posted by GuyZero at 3:06 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


This place is such a GirlZone.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:09 PM on June 10, 2010


So my question is... what the hell is up with The Atlantic these days?

I mean, we're talking about a publication with a record that goes back to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendall Holmes, Sr. Boston, 1857.

Then they publish this sort of weak sauce. And it's not the only case. I mean, I like the sound of a lot of what Caitlin Flanagan has to say, but I can also tell that it's drastically un-rigorous projection on her part.

Does anyone really think that asexual conception is going to become commonplace, let alone the dominant means of human procreation? Last time I checked, there were a significant number of people who both thought sex was kind of fun and aren't terribly good at using birth control.
posted by valkyryn at 3:10 PM on June 10, 2010 [6 favorites]




The 20 most prevalent occupations for employed women in 2009 were—


Anyone have the list for men?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:19 PM on June 10, 2010


So it's essentially back to nature, then? The lion doesn't do any work either, the lionesses do all the hunting as well as all the child rearing and so forth. All the lion does is defend the pride, which most of the time actually means fighting off rival males, since very little is stupid enough to attack a pride of lions.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:20 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


drudgelike, low-paid

...is what most jobs have always been like.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:22 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


So it's essentially back to nature, then? The lion doesn't do any work either, the lionesses do all the hunting as well as all the child rearing and so forth. All the lion does is defend the pride, which most of the time actually means fighting off rival males, since very little is stupid enough to attack a pride of lions.



*puffs out chest*
posted by nola at 3:30 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope my enslavement to women includes frequent spankings.
posted by digsrus at 3:32 PM on June 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


The 1999 movie Office Space was maybe the first to capture how alien and dispiriting the office park can be for men.

I don't remember Jennifer Aniston being that thrilled about working at Chotchkie's either.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 3:34 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but she didn't burn the place down or embezzle.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:42 PM on June 10, 2010


Women who wish to enslave me may contact me via Mefi-mail. Submissions will be judged on creativity, originality, and experience.
posted by George Clooney at 3:42 PM on June 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


The guys posting here either see this futre as
Utopia
Dystopia

depends upon one's kink.
warning: just wait till you take your very young child to the park to hang with other guys and exchange recipes and shopping tips.
posted by Postroad at 3:51 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Needs spurious reference to something involving serotonin and 'rewiring'.
posted by tmcw at 3:53 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, all these hilarious jokes about men being "enslaved" or "dominated" by women and liking it! I can't get tired of those kind of comments ever, keep 'em coming you hilarious internet comedian guys.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:58 PM on June 10, 2010 [17 favorites]


just wait till you take your very young child to the park to hang with other guys and exchange recipes and shopping tips.

Meh. I haven't done that for years. Kids are too old for the park now.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on June 10, 2010


furiousxgeorge, I have been looking for one for a looooooonng time. Asked around and everything.
posted by dilettante at 3:59 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the article is being treated with all the seriousness it has proven itself to deserve, Baby_Balrog.
posted by griphus at 4:00 PM on June 10, 2010


Postroad: like this?
posted by epersonae at 4:01 PM on June 10, 2010


Asked around and everything .

*watches video* Hmmm, what do you do for a living? I'm used to a certain lifestyle...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:01 PM on June 10, 2010


This place is such a GirlZone.

Ha! Pull the other one, it's got bells on.
posted by kmz at 4:02 PM on June 10, 2010


This place is such a GirlZone.

Sir, a few hours over in Metachat might be educational, if not particularly edifying, for you.
posted by Danf at 4:15 PM on June 10, 2010


(To be fair, Metafilter is probably better than 99% of Internet forums that aren't feminism-focused or called journalfen in terms of gender issues, but Metafilter is far from a GirlZone, whatever that means.)
posted by kmz at 4:16 PM on June 10, 2010


The guys posting here either see this futre as
Utopia
Dystopia


This guy doesn't see this future as being plausible at all, but as part of a discourse of bullshit that assumes that meeting the needs of global capital better counts as success, while pitting the sexes against one another.

One of the very few facts cited:

It makes some economic sense that women attend community colleges—and in fact, all colleges—in greater numbers than men. Women ages 25 to 34 with only a high-school diploma currently have a median income of $25,474, while men in the same position earn $32,469.

I wish I could find a solid source for the factoid that as women began to outnumber men as doctors in the Soviet Union, owing to the admirable non-sexist policies introduced after the revolution, the pay and prestige of doctors began to decline, as it started to be seen as women's work.

To the extent that this article's prediction of female dominance in white collar work is at all accurate, and I doubt it very much, I would predict that line management will become less well paid and with worse working conditions if women predominate -- indeed women's willingness to accept lower wages and worse conditions might well encourage such a predominance -- and the resulting increased profits will accrue to the very few men who own the enterprises where the work is done. The most senior layers of management will stay male-dominated with a few heroic women held out as examples to remind their female underlings simultaneously that they should do better but are personally not adequate. Most men will meanwhile look down on management as mere administration which is beneath them, like nursing and primary school teaching and cleaning toilets.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:17 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Overladies.

I, for one, welcome our new Overladies.
posted by eclectist at 4:18 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The guys posting here either see this future as
Utopia
Dystopia


Or maybe it will be a femocracy, in place of the current dicktatership.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:19 PM on June 10, 2010


Have you any idea how it feels to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:24 PM on June 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


I would predict that line management will become less well paid and with worse working conditions if women predominate -- indeed women's willingness to accept lower wages and worse conditions might well encourage such a predominance

That's some interesting circular logic you've got there.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:24 PM on June 10, 2010


Well, you'd think they just might keep a few of us around for comic relief. Or maybe in cozy safe zoo? Authentic environment with a big screen tv and fridge by the easy boy? Hmm. Nudge, nudge?
posted by sammyo at 4:29 PM on June 10, 2010


It's not looking so rosy in other countries, including China and India.
posted by meowzilla at 4:39 PM on June 10, 2010


Ubu: I'm trying to describe a vicious circularity or feedback loop. The profession as a whole, including male and female workers, becomes badly paid as it becomes identified with women, and at the same time, women become preferred (or self-select) because they accept that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:39 PM on June 10, 2010


Ubu: I'm trying to describe a vicious circularity or feedback loop. The profession as a whole, including male and female workers, becomes badly paid as it becomes identified with women, and at the same time, women become preferred (or self-select) because they accept that.

i_am_joe's_spleen, you might have something there -- the Freakonomics people pointed out that the drift for names is unidirectional: men names slide towards being women's names and then stay there.
posted by ntartifex at 4:51 PM on June 10, 2010


Maybe when you double the potential labor pool you don't have to pay people as much.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:53 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The 1999 movie Office Space was maybe the first to capture how alien and dispiriting the office park can be for men.

I don't remember Jennifer Aniston being that thrilled about working at Chotchkie's either.


That reminds me...

Peter Gibbons: Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday and you're not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, "Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays?"

Lawrence: No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man.


So, you're telling me that a lame, innocuous comment can get me a literal beat-down? And this is a good thing? Thanks, Mr. Authentic Work Man. I think I'll just stay in my safe little office.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:55 PM on June 10, 2010


Most men will meanwhile look down on management as mere administration which is beneath them, like nursing and primary school teaching and cleaning toilets.

Really? I'm a little confused here; men are going to look down on their bosses?
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:57 PM on June 10, 2010


I've been sitting in on a screenwriting class this week, and so far the male-female ratio has been 10:1, 13:3, 12:2. Obviously, creative women somehow didn't get the memo about the end of men, and so they all stayed home.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:02 PM on June 10, 2010


Does anyone really think that asexual conception is going to become commonplace, let alone the dominant means of human procreation? Last time I checked, there were a significant number of people who both thought sex was kind of fun and aren't terribly good at using birth control.

In fairness, that doesn't seem to be something the article is talking about.

The article itself seems to argue that American society is being changed as a result of women coming into power (or vice versa?) -- a "coming into power" that requires actual work, in that it entails women, often single mothers with full time jobs, to achieve higher education (hard for anyone, and sometimes very expensive) and attain work in related fields and mitigate the responsibilities of said work and and and and -- and men are seemingly falling behind, failing to achieve higher education, failing to adapt to a world that no longer wants them to do the kinds of work they have "always" done. I don't think the article is suggesting that women's success is coming at the expense of men so much as it is that American society is just turning into something else, the way it does, and women are getting that more than men are.

Is all of this -- the world as sketched out by the article -- stuff that's really happening? I mean, I don't know, but more women are finishing college, and look to be much more employable in a country where unskilled labor isn't in anything like high demand. Anecdotally, I sure know of successful women possessed of jobless baby-daddies (not the stay-at-home kind) and/or lovers/couch-dwellers whose careers are generally dude-in-band-that-may-or-may-not-exist. Do these people exist in statistically significant numbers? It beats me -- but I don't see how they can't, when you need a real education to get most good jobs, and fewer and fewer men have that. Does that make women the big bad? No. If men are falling behind, that's on men, not women.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:05 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Two girls for every boy! The Future = Surf City.

Dude, at my pool party the ratio of girls to guys is five to one!
posted by Evilspork at 5:06 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, all these hilarious jokes about men being "enslaved" or "dominated" by women and liking it! I can't get tired of those kind of comments ever, keep 'em coming you hilarious internet comedian guys.

Thank you. These are gross. The gradual advancement of half of humanity does not call for jokes about your creepy fantasies, kids. As someone who went to a women's college, I heard quite enough of that. Most of the guys who came to our campus had a solid academic or personal reason for being there, and they were fine, but some guys who oozed up from Villanova acted like we were supposed to be interrupting sweaty pillow fights and breathy stiletto-heeled discipline sessions in order to rejoice in the presence of their genitals. Then as now: we're just trying to take our lives seriously here, people.

I am not excited about the kind of male victimology in articles like this, either, particularly the "trouble with boys" meme. The basic model of schooling -- a class full of children listening to one adult teacher -- was developed almost four thousand years ago* for the exclusive use of boys. Only in the past couple of centuries was it opened to girls, and only in the past fifty years have most girls been encouraged to excel. Now that they have? Oh no those poor boys, there must be something wrong with the school.

-----
* S'true. A line from an ancient Egyptian script lesson: "A boy's ear is on his back; he listens when he is beaten."
posted by Countess Elena at 5:09 PM on June 10, 2010 [26 favorites]


particularly the "trouble with boys" meme

This is not a meme. There are numerous rigorous studies that show boys consistently underperforming in academics. The causes of this are varied and complex, but this isn't victimology any more than suffrage or a lack of female CEOs is victimology.
posted by GuyZero at 5:19 PM on June 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


"A boy's ear is on his back; he listens when he is beaten."

These sound like great people to take educational advice from.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:26 PM on June 10, 2010


Soon we will be the underclass, enslaved to a master-race of women.

Stop it, you're turning me on!
posted by jonmc at 5:29 PM on June 10, 2010


related?
posted by redbeard at 5:33 PM on June 10, 2010


Apart from the general ickiness noted above wrt enslavement jokes, let me be a complete buzzkill by pointing out that the sexual charge in fantasy or play is precisely reliant on it being fantasy or play, and that you can surrender control. In actual slavery, there is no control to surrender and no choice to enter it. It won't be great when it's not pretend.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:36 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Per rtha's list, the success of women in the workplace, such as it is, is largely due to an explosion of low-paying clerical/office/health-care jobs that are at the bottom of the ladder.

Anecdata: I've had one manager in the last ten years who wasn't a woman -- the one I have right now (and his boss is a woman). Now, that argues for a lot of women in middle-management, but don't try to tell me it's all cashiers at Zellers.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:36 PM on June 10, 2010


It's my understanding that there is very little pay disparity for men and women of similar experience and education in the same jobs if none of them have children. But what kills the same-job statistics is that mothers are paid radically less than childless men or fathers. In fact, fathers are often paid more than childless men even.

While the fundamental root of this problem certainly comes from a sexist inequality in child-raising duties, it isn't rooted in direct sexism. Rather, it comes from employers assuming (rightly or wrongly) that they will not be able to exploit a mother as extensively as they can a man due to an to women prioritizing their children over their employers.

Frankly, for me (as a dude), the problem seems to be that employers expect their needs to come before the needs of their employees. This is an ongoing trend in American society, with the workplace replacing the family (or even the self) as the primary focus of ones attention and energy.

I actually read a piece a while back that mentioned, in passing, that this trend is why we're seeing more workplace-based TV shows and fewer family-based ones.

Really? I'm a little confused here; men are going to look down on their bosses?

As an engineer, I've often looked down on my non-engineering bosses.

Incidentally, I really can't believe that it's purely sexism that keeps women out of the engineering fields. At the same time that other highly-demanding fields are becoming more and more equal, engineering continues to be dominated by men.

I certainly don't think there's an organic difference that predisposes women against the field, but I do wonder if there's a socialized difference. My wife and I have hypothesized that girls are largely discouraged from spending the hours and hours alone in a room, tinkering, that leads to a career in engineering. And I think there's something to be said for the boy toys/girl toys split.
posted by Netzapper at 5:37 PM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


particularly the "trouble with boys" meme

This is not a meme. There are numerous rigorous studies that show boys consistently underperforming in academics. The causes of this are varied and complex, but this isn't victimology any more than suffrage or a lack of female CEOs is victimology.


Respectfully disagree. I've seen numerous occasions of evaluations of academically underperforming boys starting from the premise: What is wrong with these boys? While the bedrock assumption in the past for girls underperforming had always been: How is the system that measures them biased?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:38 PM on June 10, 2010


OK, it was unfair of me to speak without acknowledging that the problem is not an invented one, and that boys are in fact underperforming in comparison to girls. But the rash of Christina Hoff Sommers-y articles I used to see, blaming feminist educators for boys' problems, has made me touchy about the subject.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:38 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now, that argues for a lot of women in middle-management, but don't try to tell me it's all cashiers at Zellers.

Middle management in what industry? At the risk of being kind of a jerk about it I sort of lump the entire world of retail sales into "the bottom of the ladder" which I suppose isn't fair. But I don't have any knowledge at all of the breakdown of the industry. I think there are gender trends that vary by industry which isn't really saying much, but it could be the field you're in.
posted by GuyZero at 5:41 PM on June 10, 2010


blaming feminist educators for boys' problems, has made me touchy about the subject

Sure. We all have our thing. Do you have a son? Shepherd a son through the modern elementary educational system and my guess is you'll feel a lot more sympathy for the kid and care a little bit less about whose specific fault it is. If you are over 30 it is surprising how much grade school has changed since you went through it.
posted by GuyZero at 5:43 PM on June 10, 2010


Middle management in what industry?

Law and government.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:45 PM on June 10, 2010


@i_am_joe's_spleen: In actual slavery, there is no control to surrender and no choice to enter it. It won't be great when it's not pretend.

You make a good point, the absolute and certainly oncoming enslavement of the male gender will not at all be pleasant.

We must do our best to prepare, to resist.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:49 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, and I (obviously) misread your previous comment. It is both a meme, and fact (and the manifestation of the meme I find troublesome, given the different starting points and conclusions people bring to the table).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:56 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind."

RESEARCH MOAR
posted by hermitosis at 5:58 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


the manifestation of the meme I find troublesome, given the different starting points and conclusions people bring to the table

Certainly a fair point. babies, bathwater, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 5:58 PM on June 10, 2010


Hmmm, what do you do for a living? I'm used to a certain lifestyle...

Complain and find fault, mainly.
posted by dilettante at 6:06 PM on June 10, 2010


Ohhh, I have plenty of faults. We are made for each other.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:10 PM on June 10, 2010


Really? I'm a little confused here; men are going to look down on their bosses?

Bear in mind I'm not a real expert with a fund of proofy anecdotes like Hanna Rosin, but...

Sure. Right now, middle managers don't really have much power anyway, they just pretend to. In my imaginary future where women predominate in that role, the pretence will be dropped and we will all despise them as combination administration clerks and duckspeakers for the real bosses at the top of the hierarchy.

Have you never had a labouring job in your life? Of course men can look down on their incapable, soft, clueless bosses, whose power appears to be a result of accident rather than merit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:20 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's the Eloi and Morlocks all over again! Grar!
posted by mecran01 at 6:24 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am thrilled to see that Sandra Tsing Loh has an article in this issue of the Atlantic, and can't wait to read it this evening. She's got a beautiful style and writes about gender issues as well as anyone. When I read her articles I feel that I'm listening to someone who really cares about telling the truth, and who is witty enough to keep almost anyone's interest. So if the Rosin article causes you pain, consider reading Loh.
posted by ferdydurke at 6:28 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also immediately thought about the male surplus in China and India, and how that might add into the mix of female dominance in the West. It actually sounds like an excellent and discrete way to further break down the nation state and the traditional / sexist cultural norms in those places.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:31 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What, really? Did you happen to read her unspeakably dreadful article about her divorce?

I will be amused if your point is to read her articles for more pain, though. That would be well-played indeed.
posted by elizardbits at 6:32 PM on June 10, 2010


"So it's essentially back to nature, then? The lion doesn't do any work either, the lionesses do all the hunting as well as all the child rearing and so forth. All the lion does is defend the pride, which most of the time actually means fighting off rival males, since very little is stupid enough to attack a pride of lions."

I can see the future now. The army has about 150 million guys, all with great hair and no urge to do real work. Meanwhile, the women keep civilization running.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:33 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


That would have some really unfortunate implications, given that modern, postindustrial America isn't really any good at producing anything, and is largely in an ongoing state of overall economic decline.
Ugh, that's such total nonsense. America isn't even "postindustrial" in any sense except that our industries are highly automated and don't require a lot of people. This stupid notion that we don't "make stuff" is a misunderstanding caused by the fact that most of the stuff we made is made with industrial robots, and the fact that most of the consumer goods we buy are made in china, and before that Japan.

But the dollar value of the stuff manufactured in the U.S. was higher then ever in the past decade, just dipping recently because of the recession.
Sure. We all have our thing. Do you have a son? Shepherd a son through the modern elementary educational system and my guess is you'll feel a lot more sympathy for the kid and care a little bit less about whose specific fault it is. If you are over 30 it is surprising how much grade school has changed since you went through it.
Do you have a daughter? I mean, it's not all peaches and cream I don't think. I mean I don't have any kids, but my understanding is that most parents worry about their kids.
posted by delmoi at 6:35 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


@ferdydurke: The article seems to suggest falling in love with real estate instead of a man. That is just...so unbelievably stupid. At least a man can come with you if you have to move across the country for your job.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:38 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure, I've had plenty of laboring jobs, and sure "my boss is a lazy know-nothing dumbass" is a near-universal sentiment, but I'm not sure how that's a gender issue exactly. That's an authority issue, and it's the case already whether the "boss" role is male or female. Middle managers will still be making more money and have more power enjoy more benefits than their underlings, right? They'll have a direct line of communication to senior management and the ability to promote or demote or fire you (or at least recommend it to the higher-ups). I seriously doubt any man in my position would turn their nose up at a raise and a promotion to middle management because it's considered "woman's work" or somesuch. I'm open to the possibility that some people might, but it's no one I know.
posted by Kirk Grim at 6:38 PM on June 10, 2010


But who's going to open this jar of peanut butter for me?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:39 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am thrilled to see that Sandra Tsing Loh has an article in this issue of the Atlantic, and can't wait to read it this evening. She's got a beautiful style and writes about gender issues as well as anyone.

Are you being sarcastic?
posted by Afroblanco at 6:39 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hm.

I think I'm going to wait until the prospect of a pregnancy, in my profession, doesn't mean becoming unemployed and having almost no chance at a future career to call in the dawn of woman's era.
posted by meese at 6:49 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Indeed, the U.S. economy is in some ways becoming a kind of traveling sisterhood: upper-class women leave home and enter the workforce, creating domestic jobs for other women to fill.

Oh, yes, a traveling sisterhood where the rich white women kindly make room for poor, immigrant women to care for their kids and clean their floors at minimum wage. Win win!
posted by zoomorphic at 6:52 PM on June 10, 2010


Good point, those women should just stay in the house with their OWN kids.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:56 PM on June 10, 2010


The article assumes that it's a race between women and men.

It's not.
posted by polymodus at 7:05 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


The lion doesn't do any work either, the lionesses do all the hunting as well as all the child rearing and so forth. All the lion does is defend the pride, which most of the time actually means fighting off rival males, since very little is stupid enough to attack a pride of lions.

Huh. Switch out "defend the pride" for "making assemblage art" and you've got my attempt at a nuclear family pretty much nailed.
posted by jokeefe at 7:05 PM on June 10, 2010


Anyone have the list for men?

Squirbled from here:
1. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: 2,987,148
2. Managers, all other: 2,144,340
3. Retail salespersons: 1,533,724
4. Janitors and building cleaners: 1,457,022
5. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand: 1,413,396
6. Construction laborers: 1,388,471
7. Carpenters: 1,243,776
8. Chief executives: 1,223,250
9. Cooks: 1,172,340
10. Grounds maintenance workers: 1,115,566
11. Construction managers: 1,034,159
12. Sales representatives: 956,142
13. First-line supervisors/managers of non-retail sales workers: 929,520
14. Stock clerks and order fillers : 888,492
15. Automotive service technicians and mechanics: 784,618
16. Cashiers: 782,336
17. Computer software engineers: 759,696
18. Electricians: 758,928
19. Security guards and gaming surveillance officers: 735,702
20. First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers: 707,805
posted by fleacircus at 7:15 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, I've known a lot of long term, unemployed men in my life...

And I've known a lot of long term, unemployed women in my life. You and I are hanging out with the wrong people.


From the article: But they have proved remarkably unable to adapt.

Unable, or unwilling? There's a huge social cost for men to take a non-manly job, and if there are more socially appropriate jobs to be found -- and presumably desirable ones, which is why women work so hard to get access to those same jobs -- why would men go for the other ones?
posted by davejay at 7:15 PM on June 10, 2010


Hah! I've had two jobs from the men's list and two from the women's list, and one job in each list is on both. Obviously I must be [insert your favorite femme-guy putdown here.]

@ferdydurke: The article seems to suggest falling in love with real estate instead of a man. That is just...so unbelievably stupid. At least a man can come with you if you have to move across the country for your job.

This is why I keep saying that mobile homes are the answer to all our problems.
posted by davejay at 7:18 PM on June 10, 2010


Wow, if the number two job for all men is manager... (and several other in the top 20 are variations on manager) we have way too many fucking managers in this country.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:30 PM on June 10, 2010


> So my question is... what the hell is up with The Atlantic these days?

It has something to do with the End of Magazines.
posted by jfuller at 7:35 PM on June 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow, if the number two job for all men is manager... (and several other in the top 20 are variations on manager) we have way too many fucking managers in this country.

Wait, you're just figuring this out?
posted by Netzapper at 8:28 PM on June 10, 2010


Good point, those women should just stay in the house with their OWN kids.

There is a pretty well-established socioeconomic study that the beneficiaries of first world feminism (educated, white middle-class American women) could not have the freedom of choice without the global economy of third world women who often leave their children behind in their native countries so they can get minimum wage jobs in the U.S. caring for other people's kids. The care industry first evolved during the second wave feminist movement, when white American feminists hired African-American maids and nannies to watch the kids while they protested, got hired, and sought fulfillment outside their domestic duties. I'm certainly not suggesting that the solution is to push American women back into the domestic sphere, but Rosin's glib rendering of an international "sisterhood" is euphemistic and false.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:32 PM on June 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


I AM THE ΩMEGA MALE! APATHETICALLY REFRAIN FROM BOWING DOWN BEFORE ME! INDEED, PAY ME NOT THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF ATTENTION!
posted by XMLicious at 8:49 PM on June 10, 2010


Ok ok...Women around the world...attain simultaneous economic equality....NOW!

...

Ok, it seems like people moving slowly up the ladder is still the only way they eventually attain equality. A job caring for a kid in the US is better than most jobs around the world, or living in a country where you can't have a job and have no rights.

I know it sucks, but there is no other way to do it so I don't see the use in hand wringing about it. There is more of a sisterhood here, in the eventual promise of economic equality, than there is in the hopeless situation many women face around the world.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:50 PM on June 10, 2010


There are plenty of beneficiaries of first-world feminism who are not American women, and whose freedom does not depend on American women using migrant maids & child carers.

As far as I know, that model is quite uncommon in the rest of the first world, possibly because our socialistic governments subsidise childcare out of taxes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:02 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


1. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: 2,987,148
2. Managers, all other: 2,144,340
3. Retail salespersons: 1,533,724
4. Janitors and building cleaners: 1,457,022
5. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand: 1,413,396
6. Construction laborers: 1,388,471
7. Carpenters: 1,243,776
8. Chief executives: 1,223,250
9. Cooks: 1,172,340
10. Grounds maintenance workers: 1,115,566
11. Construction managers: 1,034,159
12. Sales representatives: 956,142
13. First-line supervisors/managers of non-retail sales workers: 929,520
14. Stock clerks and order fillers : 888,492
15. Automotive service technicians and mechanics: 784,618
16. Cashiers: 782,336
17. Computer software engineers: 759,696
18. Electricians: 758,928
19. Security guards and gaming surveillance officers: 735,702
20. First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers: 707,805


The funny thing about this list is that there are precious few job categories here that actually make something. It seems that the top 20 jobs for American males basically boils down to transporting, guarding, stocking, cleaning and managing things that other people have made.
posted by Avenger at 9:07 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gaming surveillance officers? There are enough of them to be a thing?

What a weird culture we live in.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:19 PM on June 10, 2010


sounds like fatherhood, to me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:19 PM on June 10, 2010


damn, that was in response to Avenger.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2010


The funny thing about this list is that there are precious few job categories here that actually make something. It seems that the top 20 jobs for American males basically boils down to transporting, guarding, stocking, cleaning and managing things that other people have made.

Yeah, welcome to the "post-industrial" economy. The "information economy", if you will.

While people above have mentioned that the US does make stuff, the number of people employed physically making that stuff is relatively small. What we mostly make here are financial transactions, and ideas.

In order to make either transactions or ideas, you actually have to be pretty well educated. Not only do you have to be educated, to get through that education you often need to have some talent at the task. The number of people mentally equipped to be, say, mechanical engineers is much lower than the number of people physically equipped to be, say, shovel operators.

Likewise, these are not industries where increased revenue requires increased production. A software team can be six people, and if the marketing is done well enough, that can make billions of dollars of revenue. Assuming that the software team is doing well, adding more software people (the makers) is probably a poorer investment than adding more salespeople.

Contrast this to manufacturing, where, if you want to sell more, you also have to physically produce more... which means hiring more people to produce it.
posted by Netzapper at 9:43 PM on June 10, 2010


If women are attending college in greater numbers than men and outperforming them, why is the majority of the elected officials in our representative democracy male? Where are all the female CEOs, university presidents, cancer center directors, billionaires?

The author has acknowledged the issue without explanation. It's a valid rhetorical technique for deflecting criticism, but it's a dodge nonetheless.

Men tend to assert themselves in a controlling manner, while women tend to take into account the rights of others, but both styles are equally effective, write the psychologists Alice Eagly and Linda Carli, in their 2007 book, Through the Labyrinth.

Show me the proof in numbers. If so-called masculine and so-called feminine leadership styles are equally effective, and there are more women with advanced degrees and other professional qualifications, why is the upper tier of leadership still so heavily male?
posted by desuetude at 10:11 PM on June 10, 2010


Show me the proof in numbers. If so-called masculine and so-called feminine leadership styles are equally effective, and there are more women with advanced degrees and other professional qualifications, why is the upper tier of leadership still so heavily male?

Because women bear children. And then, subsequently, bear much of the responsibility of raising those children.

Based on my own experience, I really do not think that people in charge of promotions or top-tier hiring are thinking "she's a woman, so she's incompetent." I admit that I'm relatively new to the workforce, but I have never heard anybody express any sincere belief in a difference in competence between men and women outside of a few physically demanding or dangerous jobs (firefighter, cop, construction, etc.).

Rather, what I hypothesize happening is that when women have children, they're forced to choose between prioritizing their careers or their kids. Most of them choose the reasonable option and dial back their careers so that they have time for their children. In doing that, they miss out on their opportunities to advance. Eight years later, when the kid's safely stored away at school during the day, the woman has lost eight years of her career. Those eight years of top-performance experience then make the difference between high-level manager and CEO.

Men are actually faced with a similar dilemma, except that they aren't really given a choice. Men are expected to prioritize their employer's needs above all else, or be passed over for advancement. And they aren't given a pass because they have children. The man who leaves his kid's game to come in on a Saturday is a "hero", while the dude who refuses to go drinking with the vendor on Wednesday night "isn't a team player".

Anyway, I actually know several female CEOs and many female professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.). The thread that connects all of them is that they either did not have children, had other childcare options, or simply ignored their children.
posted by Netzapper at 10:24 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


And then the end of the article is just pathetic:

Susan Sarandon and Demi Moore have boy toys, and Aaron Johnson, the 19-year-old star of Kick-Ass, is a proud boy toy for a woman 24 years his senior.

Ew. Boy toy? Way to keep it classy.

A character played by George Clooney is called too old to be attractive by his younger female colleague and is later rejected by an older woman whom he falls in love with after she sleeps with him—and who turns out to be married. George Clooney! If the sexiest man alive can get twice rejected (and sexually played) in a movie, what hope is there for anyone else?

For fuck's sake, it's a movie. A lot of unrealistic things happen in movies.

High-profile female killers have been showing up regularly in the news: Amy Bishop, the homicidal Alabama professor; Jihad Jane and her sidekick, Jihad Jamie; the latest generation of Black Widows, responsible for suicide bombings in Russia.


Perhaps because they make good sensationalistic news stories?

In Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, the traditional political wife is rewritten as a cold-blooded killer at the heart of an evil conspiracy. In her recent video Telephone, Lady Gaga, with her infallible radar for the cultural edge, rewrites Thelma and Louise as a story not about elusive female empowerment but about sheer, ruthless power. Instead of killing themselves, she and her girlfriend (played by Beyoncé) kill a bad boyfriend and random others in a homicidal spree and then escape in their yellow pickup truck, Gaga bragging, “We did it, Honey B.”

For fuck's sake, it's a movie. For fuck's sake, it's a MUSIC VIDEO.

Why is this writer citing this as evidence? Fantasy is not reality.
posted by desuetude at 10:26 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Based on my own experience, I really do not think that people in charge of promotions or top-tier hiring are thinking "she's a woman, so she's incompetent."

They don't, I agree. But the ingrained sexism runs deep, and yes, women practice it too. It's amazing how easy it is for people to fall into the trap of similar behavior being considered assertive in men and bitchy in women.

It's not just childcare that's an issue, either. Childless women hit the glass ceiling too.
posted by desuetude at 10:30 PM on June 10, 2010


Sorry, I should say this:

My point about men experiencing similar issues isn't to argue that they have it as bad. Clearly, there's lots of privilege that men have maintained--especially in the personal and domestic spheres.

But, my overall point (as I've been harping on in other threads) is that the real problem lies with how American employers view their employees. I used to think the Japanese cliche of the salariman was bizarre. But, more and more, that seems to be the way American business is headed. You join a company, and you're expected to give your life and soul to that company. Any time that you choose to do something other than work, that's "lost productivity".

The disparity that women face in the workplace isn't coming, I don't think, from a simple sexist sentiment on anybody's part. But, instead, women are making rational, healthy choices, and those choices are being perceived as disloyalty to their companies.

The biggest single change that would help everybody would be doing away with the overtime exempt category for salaried workers. Suddenly the extra productivity employers have come to take for granted starts costing them something. Work-life balance swings back to equilibrium. And suddenly men no longer have the opportunity to outperform women at the expense of their families.
posted by Netzapper at 10:31 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not just childcare that's an issue, either. Childless women hit the glass ceiling too.

I'm sorry, I just haven't seen this. Of the two companies I've been employed full time by, one has had a woman in the CxO strata of management. Of the half dozen places I've contracted for, three of them have had women in various CxO roles. One of them was owned by a woman, and all of the executives were women--only their tech folks were male.

Perhaps it's the software industry. But, it strikes me as odd that software companies would be at the leading edge of equality, given how few female programmers there are.

I actually tried really, really hard to find statistics that break down childless women versus mothers. But, I couldn't find anything. Everything I see just gives the standard 70 cents on the dollar statistic, maybe broken down by ethnicity and education. Do you have some statistics?
posted by Netzapper at 10:37 PM on June 10, 2010


it strikes me as odd that software companies would be at the leading edge of equality, given how few female programmers there are

I don't think programmers are a good measure of anything other than programming. It's a very different skillset to what's required to be a CIO / CEO.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:51 PM on June 10, 2010


If one truly believes in equality, then the best achievers will come out on top and that's the way it should be. If women really are better adapted or better suited to modern society, then why shouldn't they predominate? It would be better than a society where one sex is held back so the other can prosper.

Boy, you don't sound like someone took a 19th century man rationalising the inherent inferiority of women and changed the sexes around at all.
posted by rodgerd at 1:53 AM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's funny, Marx probably hadn't imagined women happily taking up so many low-status jobs and putting up with so much bullshit that men would rather be unemployed than deal with. So the revolution was squelched by equality, and the rich win again.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:44 AM on June 11, 2010


there's prejudice against women? oh dear
posted by infini at 2:56 AM on June 11, 2010


The End of Men

The sooner we all become super smart hermaphrodites who can survive in space, the better.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:24 AM on June 11, 2010


furiousxgeorge, did you read the link? Your argument is analogous to the "any job is better than no job lol let's pay mexican laborers $5 a day to pick tomatoes because they can't get jobs back home" argument.

The guiding point of that article is that white American women are often assuming the exploitative faces of Ye Olde white colonialist men. As a nanny who works in NYC, I can't tell you how many rich mothers have told me confidentially (ah, the trust circle of white people!) that my employers must be so nice to pay me high wages when they could just get some poor Sri Lankan woman for half my salary. "We'd rather just hire a Jamaican for $300 a week," one mom told me at the playground. And that's really the overall feeling towards the new era of nannies and cleaning ladies: they're cheap and plentiful and will often work for far less money than a white nanny, but they're not really valued or trusted employees. It's not a sisterhood when you get creepy, quasi-racist vigilante packs (like the bloggers on like I Saw Your Nanny) gripe about the quality of work from underpaid, overworked, undervalued caregivers, conveniently ignoring the overarching socioeconomic exploitation at play.
posted by zoomorphic at 4:28 AM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


or the plight of Filipino maids, many with master's degrees, everywhere
posted by infini at 4:43 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems that the top 20 jobs for American males basically boils down to transporting, guarding, stocking, cleaning and managing things that other people have made.

I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:15 AM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


or the plight of Filipino maids, many with master's degrees

Engineer cab drivers aren't exactly rare, either. (or, in my experience, lawyer interpreters) Foreign accreditation is an issue for everyone.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:49 AM on June 11, 2010


I lost all interest thanks to the title alone. If men aren't more than 50 percent of the workforce it is "The END of Men"? Really? THE END?
posted by thekilgore at 6:50 AM on June 11, 2010


Eh, whites were a minority in South Africa. Took a bit of time before that sussed out. I predict more of the same.
posted by Mooski at 6:51 AM on June 11, 2010


It's not just childcare that's an issue, either. Childless women hit the glass ceiling too.

I'm sorry, I just haven't seen this.


You're lookin' at it, and it's a common complaint among the women I know of my vintage (mid-thirties.) It is apparently difficult for single/childless women to attain the lofty status of "grownup" in many people's eyes.

(Yes, even those of us who wear suits every day and are careful not to make our lives sound too exciting.)
posted by desuetude at 7:00 AM on June 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is apparently difficult for single/childless women to attain the lofty status of "grownup" in many people's eyes.

*wipes tears of laughter from eyes*

Think this is gender-specific, do you? Do get back to me when scores of articles are written about the "woman-child" problem.

Again, may be an industry-specific thing, but at least in the law offices I've worked in, childless women advance as quickly as the men -- and men who choose to work part-time or take paternity leave appear to be punished equally. (there are two people in my office who seem to be frozen at their current level indefinitely -- both men -- both take one day off a week (ie: they work "part-time" though you know they're working extra hours other times to make up for it) to spend with their kids. And again, all of my managers but one have been women (and his boss is a woman; actually, replacing his former boss, who is a woman, who moved up from there...).

But yes, truly, the "end of men" is spectacularly ham-fisted trollbait.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:15 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


or the plight of Filipino maids, many with master's degrees

Engineer cab drivers aren't exactly rare, either. (or, in my experience, lawyer interpreters) Foreign accreditation is an issue for everyone.


Less the issue of foreign accreditation in the case of The Philippines and more about the total lack of jobs coupled with almost 100% literacy and great (contextually) higher educational system
posted by infini at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2010


I propose we randomly start injecting women with testosterone and men with estrogen, selected lottery-style, just to shake the 21st century up a bit.
posted by Theta States at 7:23 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is apparently difficult for single/childless women to attain the lofty status of "grownup" in many people's eyes.

Actually, I suspect it's more "She COULD get pregnant all that time spent training her goes to waste".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 AM on June 11, 2010


The gradual advancement of half of humanity does not call for jokes about your creepy fantasies, kids.

Ooops, sorry. Damn. Really?
posted by Theta States at 7:39 AM on June 11, 2010


Durn Bronzefist, I realize it's not an entirely gender-specific issue. I was addressing that the issue with the advancement of women is not JUST that of childcare. The typical article about why women aren't moving up into the top tier tends to get bogged down in "duh, they take time off for the babies," as if it's solely a logistical matter, ignoring other aspects of sexism that are pretty blazingly obvious in the trenches, here.
posted by desuetude at 7:40 AM on June 11, 2010


Acknowledged.

I wonder how it does break down by industry, if it does. And even sub-industry (I suspect ligitation offices are very different from transactional/other types of law).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:10 AM on June 11, 2010



For fuck's sake, it's a movie. For fuck's sake, it's a MUSIC VIDEO.

Why is this writer citing this as evidence? Fantasy is not reality.


It's not "evidence" in a legal sense and I don't think the author is using these examples as such. The pop culture examples are references to trends in the society in which they are produced. They show what is engaging or deemed acceptable by the people who produce and consume these entertainments. In the past a movie like Up In the Air would be considered a farce, today it is well within the boundaries of realism. I don't particularly put a lot of faith in Lady Gaga for determining social trends, but the contrast with Thelma and Louise, which was fairly controversial when it came out, is interesting. Compare these pictures to something like Mildred Pierce and you get an idea of what the article is about.
posted by Locobot at 8:11 AM on June 11, 2010


In the past a movie like Up In the Air would be considered a farce, today it is well within the boundaries of realism.

Well, there is that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:15 AM on June 11, 2010


Ooops, sorry. Damn. Really?

Yes. Really.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:54 AM on June 11, 2010


It's funny, Marx probably hadn't imagined women happily taking up so many low-status jobs and putting up with so much bullshit that men would rather be unemployed than deal with.

Happily? No. But I can tell you from personal experience that when we demand more money, we're turned down more often (and we're often offered less to start) and there are numerous studies on both these phenomena, not to mention related phenomena of mothers being considered less qualified for certain jobs, or of course, outright discriminated against.

When my mother started working in the 60s, want ads still specified the preferred genders of applicants, and there were no protections against any type of gender-based discrimination. A blink of the eye historically speaking, and we really haven't come that far yet, as the Lily Leadbetter case showed us very recently.

And yet, women have to eat. We have to work. So we put up with what we cannot change, because refusing to do so comes with an insanely high cost. To us, and of course because we are the ones carrying the reproductive responsibility, to our children.

It is hard to be a revolutionary when it means you and your kids don't get to eat. And though the right to limit reproduction helps immensely, oddly enough, many women actually desire to have children and care for them as a pleasurable and fulfilling (and societally necessary, if you want humanity to continue) thing to do.

And here's something I've often thought about; the great male figures of history were often supported during their struggles by their families--by the privilege of family wealth and education, and by women. Mothers, wives, and other relatives giving them shelter, giving them space, feeding them, nursing them while they were sick, having and raising their children for them, going without so they had time to write tracts and hold rallies. Even Jesus appeared to have relied on a network of propertied widows to feed him and support him while he preached.

Women, on the other hand, have no such default support network most of the time. The costs of demanding change are simply much higher, while the rewards remain equally uncertain.
posted by emjaybee at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


furiousxgeorge, did you read the link? Your argument is analogous to the "any job is better than no job lol let's pay mexican laborers $5 a day to pick tomatoes because they can't get jobs back home" argument.

Ok then, as I said before. Fuck it, women stay at home and take care of your own kids instead of getting jobs! Right?

SOMEONE HAS TO TAKE CARE OF THE KIDS. I'm not making a political statement here, that is how it is. A middle class family is never going to be able to pay $50,000 plus benefits for a fucking nanny.

This isn't at all like the economic pain of paying 50 cents more for a tomato.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:26 AM on June 11, 2010



If women are attending college in greater numbers than men and outperforming them, why is the majority of the elected officials in our representative democracy male? Where are all the female CEOs, university presidents, cancer center directors, billionaires?


The old school guys are still at the top. They will retire and die at some point and there will be more and more qualified women to take the places considering their greater education levels.

This isn't a policy problem anymore, just a matter of time.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:31 AM on June 11, 2010


Seriously, fuck this zero sum bullshit. Women make a bit of progress and now we're talking about the end of men?

Which article were you reading? This one's about instances where women surpass or are expected to surpass men. It's not "a bit of progress"; it's "wild success."

No need to get hysterical.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:50 AM on June 11, 2010


I don't know who they're interviewing, or where, but I'm betting the 'who' and 'where' are making a huge difference. Down here in Texas, many females are still housewives while men are out there busting their balls in go-nowhere construction/agriculture (type) jobs.
posted by Malice at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2010


Ok then, as I said before. Fuck it, women stay at home and take care of your own kids instead of getting jobs! Right?

Once again, no one is saying American woman should to go back to prozac and housework, but thanks for the lazy conclusion-jumping. I'm pointing out that there's very little sisterhood in the nanny-mother relationships that I see, despite Hanna Rosin's glossy little throwaway description. Non-white nannies often have terrible working conditions--not just extremely low pay, but long hours, no sick days, abusive employers, covert and overt racism, and absolutely no HR or job-protection like even the lowliest McDonald's employee--partly because they are not educated white American citizens like their employers. And sure, not everyone can afford a $50,000/year nanny, but that doesn't make it okay to exploit another woman's labor just because she's an illegal immigrant with limited options. Luckily, NY State also thinks the rampant exploitation of nannies is unfair and just this week passed a law to protect immigrant caregivers from unfair working conditions.

But hey, if you want to keep casting my arguments as anti-working woman rather than critical of the the status quo, be my guest.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:22 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]



The author was pointing out that women taking jobs in the US created even more jobs for women. There was no commentary on the quality of the jobs, just pointing out that jobs exist where none did before. With women out of the home for good these jobs will be needed forever. The fact that they are shitty now does not change the fact that it is a very good thing to create more jobs.

As time goes by the conditions for these workers will get better and their daughters who will one day be the ones who need to pay for care themselves.

Immigrants in general always have it shitty and have to work up the ladder, there is no way around it. You are making the perfect the enemy of the good.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:47 PM on June 11, 2010


The author was pointing out that women taking jobs in the US created even more jobs for women. There was no commentary on the quality of the jobs, just pointing out that jobs exist where none did before.

From the article: "Indeed, the U.S. economy is in some ways becoming a kind of traveling sisterhood: upper-class women leave home and enter the workforce, creating domestic jobs for other women to fill."

Oh boy, a "traveling sisterhood" ! You mean, like, a healthy relationship between two women that signifies equality and good vibes? Again, I'm disputing the connotation of "sisterhood" with evidence to the contrary. It's highly disingenuous of Rosin to use the term sisterhood and, frankly, to even use the global caregiving economy in the first place because this new exploitation is part of first world feminism's ugly underbelly. It ain't no sisterhood for the grand majority of non-white nannies in NYC, and Rosin's description--blithely listed among all the heartening evidence of women's radical social gains--strongly suggests that this process is fluid and healthy.

Immigrants in general always have it shitty and have to work up the ladder, there is no way around it. You are making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Again with the solipsism. Perhaps you should read any of the links before you determine that the current state of many nannies, cleaning ladies and other caregivers is "good." Just because their working conditions are (barely) legal and part of the norm among immigrant women doesn't make it an ethically sound practice.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Boy, you don't sound like someone took a 19th century man rationalising the inherent inferiority of women and changed the sexes around at all."

Only because you didn't quote the second paragraph. The part you quoted was my attempt to understand Hanna Rosin's mindset when she wrote this article. "The End of Men" seems to be all about competition between the sexes and how one or the other gender must benefit while the other loses.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:23 PM on June 11, 2010



Oh boy, a "traveling sisterhood" !



Jesus Christ, I read the article. If you seriously think it is a bad thing to create more jobs for women because they don't meet your standards of perfection that is fine, some people disagree.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:49 PM on June 11, 2010


desuetude : Show me the proof in numbers. If so-called masculine and so-called feminine leadership styles are equally effective, and there are more women with advanced degrees and other professional qualifications, why is the upper tier of leadership still so heavily male?

Netzapper: Because women bear children. And then, subsequently, bear much of the responsibility of raising those children.


This is exactly my experience. I know one case is not data (I'm a statistician!), but is pretty much what has happened to me, or did I choose it?

I had been working in my full time position for 3 years when I became pregnant. About a month before my positive pregnancy test, I was given management responsibilities in addition to my regular duties. For all my of pregnancy, I did both.

After the birth of my son in November, I took 6 months parental leave. During my leave one of my (male) coworkers took over my management duties.

A month and a half ago, I returned to work, 3 days a week, and I no longer have those management duties as much of my time would be spent on those tasks rather than my "job". My male full-time coworker (who is a great guy and worker) remains the manager.

I was lucky enough to be able to take 6 months of leave with full pay. I would have been stupid not to do that. However, my male partner was given almost no leave. There was no option to share the leave responsibilities. So did I really choose not to work for 6 months?

When I returned to work, it was at 60%. Again, I am lucky to have this option. But again, my partner's job does not permit him to work part time. (We're in Australia, so there's no health insurance stuff to be worried about.) In order for my son not to be in child care 5 days per week, I chose to work part time.

So, while I did have almost a year of management experience, I no longer have the opportunity to learn those skills or about how my organisation works. Instead, the full-time worker, who has much less training than I do and who will remain a full-time worker, gains this experience.

I have no resentment against the people involved; I love my boss and coworkers and job. I do have an understanding of what millions of middle class educated women in this (US, Aus, etc.) society have realised for a long time. The system often makes it extremely difficult for either a woman or her partner to make non-traditional choices. And these traditional choices lead to women forgoing career advancement.

So, I wonder, did I choose it?
posted by naturesgreatestmiracle at 2:41 PM on June 11, 2010


Ooops, sorry. Damn. Really?

Yes. Really.
No. Not really.

You can characterize my fantasy as "creepy", but that says more about your bigotry than it does about my fantasy.

Also, the men making these remarks are using humor to cope with a nightmarish scenario. Which means that they think it's something they have to endure. You really don't want to foreclose their coping mechanisms, because if you do, they might start to think that maybe it's not something to be endured, but something that really must be changed.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:55 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lots of good, intelligent discussion here -- I wanted to comment on emjaybee, who makes an excellent point that historically gets overlooked:

And here's something I've often thought about; the great male figures of history were often supported during their struggles by their families--by the privilege of family wealth and education, and by women. Mothers, wives, and other relatives giving them shelter, giving them space, feeding them, nursing them while they were sick, having and raising their children for them, going without so they had time to write tracts and hold rallies.

Although this might be more appropriate in those discussions of "Where are all the female discoverers?", it is historically RIGHT. ON. TARGET. One of the examples that struck me most forcefully was from an article I read on Charles Darwin. The article non-ironically stated that he had married heiress Emma Wedgwood and thus was independently wealthy. I realize that is how British law saw women's property at the time (i.e. as men's), but if a woman had married an heir to a fortune, then as well as now, she would never be described as "independently wealthy", but "living off her spouse's wealth".

Where are all the female explorers/discoverers indeed? Overwhelmed by the minutiae of everyday life that nobody else is doing, I'd guess.
posted by lleachie at 4:15 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s great cause is women’s liberation. Unfortunately for her, the women she wants to liberate are Muslim, so she gets minimal support and indeed a ton of hostility from Western feminists who have reconciled themselves, consciously or otherwise, to the two-tier sisterhood: when it comes to clitoridectomies, forced marriages, honour killings, etc., multiculturalism trumps feminism.

And economics of course, back to your home country if you can't negotiate good benefits! Sorry about the lost human rights!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:07 PM on June 11, 2010


furiousxgeorge, I'm not sure where exactly you're getting the idea that zoomorphic's argument is that women shouldn't have jobs, or shouldn't emigrate for work. Where you seem to see some kind of anti-women's work reactionary stance, I see a critique of the status quo. As naturesgreatestmiracle points out in her comment, even with generous maternal leave, the option to work part time, and no concerns about health insurance, the system is stacked against the equal participation of men and women in the formal workforce because domestic labor and caregiving is still, by and large, considered women's work. Despite strides in equality, we aren't anywhere near parity in valuing, expecting, and achieving equal parenting, caregiving, and other domestic roles for men. This means that when women go to work full-time, unless all adults in household are willing and able to cover all domestic needs, something has to give.

What "gives" is very likely to become an opportunity for a migrant woman to make more money than she would at home. But the conditions she has to deal with to get that money can range from general run-of-the-mill economic exploitation in only being paid the bare minimum the market will bear (and, domestic work, as with most "women's work" isn't very highly valued) to gross abuse. Part of zoomorphic's is argument that these women have little recourse to claim their full rights and protections in the society they migrate to because they're in an undervalued and unregulated market. This despite the fact that their work is essential to the functioning of that society.

Nobody here is arguing that women need to go back home, whether it's formally employed women or women who have migrated for domestic labor. But to call this arrangement a "sisterhood" and pretend that it's great for everybody involved is to misrepresent the situation entirely. It's the reality we have. That doesn't make it right or just. About the only place where I see the need to deviate substantially from zoomorphic's argument is to point less to individual women's choices as the problem, and more at an economic, political and social structure that creates an environment that encourages or even demands that people give over massive portions of their time and energy to work, grossly undervalues the economic importance of caregiving and domestic labor, and really doesn't have a great track record of protecting workers.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:50 PM on June 11, 2010


Your Op-Ed is a bunch of conservative crap that indicts liberals, the "media left," and conveniently nameless feminists for "multiculturalism" that in no way resembles a qualified view of third wave feminism, nor does it address the issue at hand. You're leaning on a false dichotomy: exploit poor immigrant women for cheap labor OR make them return to their country. Surely there's no middle ground that might involve humane working conditions on US soil!

But obviously my observation that a sisterhood between rich American women and poor immigrant women warrants giving the latter better wages and standardized workers' rights is a mark of my liberal multiculturalism. Clitoridectomies for everyone!

Seriously, grow up.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:08 PM on June 11, 2010


SOMEONE HAS TO TAKE CARE OF THE KIDS. I'm not making a political statement here, that is how it is. A middle class family is never going to be able to pay $50,000 plus benefits for a fucking nanny.

Another thing to keep in mind, which rarely gets as much treatment as it should: a father could be an at-home parent just as well as a mother. A huge part of gender equality will be making it socially acceptable and common for men to be the ones who choose to raise the children instead of bring home the bacon.
posted by meese at 11:01 PM on June 11, 2010


« Older Ephemera Magica: A Daily Offering of Vintage Magic...  |  "Reading 'Our tribute to a bra... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments