I’ve got lots to do today, but if you don’t, go read this definitive takedown by Echidne of Hanna Rosin’s silly article on “The End of Men,” in which she argues that woman domination is just around the corner because women outnumber men in the workforce and in college these days, and because a certain demographic of prospective parents actually prefer daughters to sons. ((Yawn.)) It’s too bad–I thought she had a pretty great radical feminist critique of the cult of breastfeeding last year. I wonder what happened to the writer who was asking what had happened to all of her professional, well-educated women friends, when their husbands seem to be doing just fine and running the world as usual?
Here’s a little flava both of Rosin’s article (in italics) and Echidne’s critique. Apparently, women are running the world now:
Next comes the major thesis which is written so that even the simplest misogynist can get its relevance;
What if the modern, postindustrial economy is simply more congenial to women than to men? For a long time, evolutionary psychologists have claimed that we are all imprinted with adaptive imperatives from a distant past: men are faster and stronger and hardwired to fight for scarce resources, and that shows up now as a drive to win on Wall Street; women are programmed to find good providers and to care for their offspring, and that is manifested in more- nurturing and more-flexible behavior, ordaining them to domesticity. This kind of thinking frames our sense of the natural order. But what if men and women were fulfilling not biological imperatives but social roles, based on what was more efficient throughout a long era of human history? What if that era has now come to an end? More to the point, what if the economics of the new era are better suited to women?
I hate this shit. I hate it, and having to go bang my head against the garage door. Women in the past could not specialize in flexibility and nurturing behavior. They were first fucking gatherers/hunters and then fucking farmers who worked from dawn to dusk and past it. They were not prehistoric Victorian housewives and men were not prehistoric Rambos or whatever the newest killer hero is called: They, too, worked their asses off all day long, most of the history. I hate intellectual laziness and nastiness.
Pardon me for that outbreak of my nurturing flexibility. Let’s look at that paragraph just a little more: If this new era is better suited to women, were all those prior eras better suited for men? And exactly why and how? Is the only thing that has changed technology? No legal changes, say?
. . . . .
What is this “profound economic shift” she talks about? She doesn’t quite define it so we are left with guesses. Mine would be that she talks about women’s increasing entry into the labor force in the 1970s and into higher education during the same time period. That women were in the labor force in larger numbers before 1950s goes unnoticed. That women actually entered higher education in large numbers in the 1920s and got pushed back in the next decade gets unreported. History is simplified, made simple, made to support the idea of the dawn of matriarchy.
There’s lots to be annoyed by, but Echidne is correct in that Rosin’s article is unimaginable without a steaming plateful of historical amnesia. We could also point to the “New Woman” emerging at the end of the nineteenth century, or the arguments made byMary Wollstonecraft and Judith Sargent Murray in favor of equal education for men and women at the end of the eighteenth century. (But that would only highlight how *those* “revolutions” in women’s education didn’t end in “matriarchal rule.”) It’s almost as if “serious” magazines don’t want real American history or real women’s history remembered and recorded, so that they can pretend that there’s something shiny and new here! It’s almost as if a “serious” magazine is just baiting MRA’s and misogynists to benefit from their gender panic, or something.