Let’s Hear it for the Boys

Hanna Rosin’s article “The End of Men” in this month’s Atlantic Monthly points to troubling statistics.
  • Three-quarters of the 8 million jobs lost during this recession were lost by men.
  • The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male: construction, manufacturing and high finance.
  • Men earn only 40% of bachelor degrees and 40% of graduate degrees.

The trend of male underachievement is bleak but not new.  Policy wonks have been talking about this phenomenon for a decade.  What is most troubling to me and others like Anne Friedman is Rosin’s stereotypical treatment of men.  For Rosin, men are brutes.  She claims that they lack emotional intelligence and communication skills.  They are unfit for emerging economic trends.  Their masculinity is threatened and they are angry about it.

While men are negotiating shifting gender dynamics, they are not all reacting with the negativity Rosin depicts.  You have to look no further than Spark to see this.   Members of Spark invest our time, money and personal and professional connections to advance women’s human rights.  Men make up 40% of our 5,000 member network.  They are not threatened by the evolving status of women.  On the contrary, they are actively engaged in the global advancement of women.

Spark Members

Now, Rosin is not completely off-base, as certainly, some men are frustrated.  However, there is a generational blind spot in Rosin’s article.  The notion that men are outwitted by modern dynamics does not take into account Millennial men.  These guys have grown up with single moms and alpha girls in their classrooms and cube banks.  They embrace and even celebrate the shifting power dynamic of women’s global positioning.  They express outrange at the vast global inequities women experience.

The data Rosin points to is bleak, but not because traditional conceptions of masculinity are challenged, it is bleak, because a sector of the population is falling behind.  History shows us, if we progress, without addressing the disparities, we may have some disastrous results.  When a large sector of the population is left behind, political and economic instability fill in its wake.

The women’s movement has been trying to progress without men for years.  That strategy is not working.  Women still make 25% less than men and their salaries are not increasing as men are loosing jobs.  No body is winning.  If we do not embrace our male counterparts as partners in this movement, true equity cannot be achieved.


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