Friday, January 03, 2014

Hanna Rosin: why men are obsolete

Hanna Rosin is at it again. She's now written a piece for Time titled "Men are obsolete" (which must be fun reading for her husband and son).

She has a view of the world in which masculine men are defined in very negative terms:
But in order to win this debate we have to prove that men, quote unquote, as we’ve historically come to define them — entitled to power, destined for leadership, arrogant, confused by anything that isn’t them. As in: “I don’t understand. Is it a guy dressed up like a girl? Or a girl dressed up like a guy?” They are obsolete.

She is defining men through her own agenda. Her agenda is a feminist one of having women in positions of power. Therefore, she sees traditional manhood in terms of whatever hinders this, i.e. as men being "entitled to power, destined for leadership, arrogant" (she wants this mantle to pass to women).

She's not exactly looking at the big picture here. If men historically were protectors and providers, that meant a life of labour in the service of wives, children and communities. It meant leadership for a purpose rather than to satisfy a political agenda or an egoistic assertion of self.

Nor is she taking masculinity seriously on its own terms. What happens when a man is successful in fully developing toward his adult being? Won't he then express certain masculine qualities in his behaviour? Won't this influence his role within a family, a community and a society?

Hanna Rosin doesn't consider this. She just sees masculine men as holding back women from positions of power. And she believes that society has developed in a way that has undercut the position of these masculine men.

First, she believes that there are signs that men's position in the workplace has declined. Their incomes are falling and one in five men has dropped out of the workforce. Young women now have a higher income than men and they are getting 60% of university degrees. Rosin writes:
As one sorority girl put it to me — remember, I said sorority, not someone from the women’s study center — “Men are the new ball and chain.”

(Note the arrogance: this is something Rosin looks on positively as a sign of the power that is passing from men to women.)

Rosin is right that the economic position of men has declined relative to women, but she is greatly exaggerating the extent to which this makes men obsolete. I work with some very passionately feminist women, few of whom work full-time. They rely on their husbands to work full-time in order to give them the work/life balance they seek.

Rosin is wrong to think that work means the same thing for her as it does for all women. She has a comfortable and creative high status job as a successful freelance writer. For other women, work is not going to be quite so glamorous.

Rosin then claims that men are obsolete because the male breadwinner family is declining. She's right about the decline, though she gets the statistics wrong (she claims that 40% of families now have a female breadwinner excluding single mothers, but the 40% figure includes single mums. For partnered women the figure is a bit over 20%. So in 80% of couple households the man is still the primary breadwinner).

It's the next argument that's the most revealing. Rosin uses the destruction of the lower-class family to prove her point that men have become obsolete:
The working class feels the end of men the most, as men lose their jobs and lose their will to be fathers, and women do everything alone, creating a virtual matriarchy in the parts of the country that used to be bastions of good old macho country music style values. Why don’t these women marry or live with the fathers of their children? As many a woman told me, “He’d be just another mouth to feed.”

I really have to shake my head at this. Are we supposed to cheer on as a progressive outcome the destruction of family life amongst the working and middle classes? Are we supposed to think that those women going it alone now have more "power" relative to men? It seems to me that they are just living more difficult lives in a more dysfunctional social setting. No wonder that average life expectancy for poorer white women in the US is significantly decreasing.

This doesn't prove that men are obsolete at all - it shows what happens when a society fails to uphold the role of men within the family.

Rosin continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel when she gives her next reason for men being obsolete:
It’s the end of men because men have lost their monopoly on violence and aggression...Women are becoming more sexually confident, and something Camille Paglia has been waiting for, more aggressive and violent.

Again, it's as if Rosin is taking a crude model of masculinity and wanting women to be its new standard-bearer. It is a sign of female "power," thinks Rosin, that they are becoming more aggressive and violent.

But it doesn't help women much to make this a sign of social position. After all, most men could easily overpower women in a physical confrontation. The fact that more women are fighting in the street is usually just a sign of drunken vulgarity - it points to social decline amongst women not to social advancement.

Rosin finishes her piece by talking about what life might be like for obsolete males, like her son, in the future:
When I think of the world after the end of men, I think of the world my son will inherit, where, if he chooses to take his kids to a playground at 3 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, no one will look at him funny, no one will wonder if he’s out of work, no one will think, “What a loser,” and no one will think he’s from Portland or Toronto, they will just walk on by and not think anything of it at all. He can be his own lovely obnoxious self and also be at home in a new world.

The future man is allowed to go to the playground with his children. That's all we get out of Rosin.

Did Rosin herself marry a man whose role is limited to playground time with the children? No, she married the editor of Slate magazine.

Will she really bring up her son to be "his own lovely obnoxious self" without any concern for his status in the marriage market? Well, I'll believe it when I see it. That's not how Rosin's social class generally operates.

Rosin is right about the social trends, though she tends to exaggerate them. She is wrong, though, that these trends have much of a future to them. If her social class were to raise their sons to be non-masculine, then her social class would fall away. And if men lose their work ethic, and their connection to family life, then a society will devolve rather than progress to something better.

The future belongs to those communities which can hold together and resist the trends described by Rosin.


  1. It's the new year and Hanna Rosin is already ruining the festive season with her sick, twisted ramblings. She really knows how to pick it. Sheesh.

  2. Once again, Hanna Rosin is essentially "for thee, but not for me" plus Orwellian double-speak/double-think. Her text is also defacto class warfare, since it's the lower and middle classes which suffer the most from her "advice".

  3. The thing is by the time Rosin's kid grows up, he won't be taking his kids (if any) to a playground because Western society will have since degenerated into a hellish "war of all against all" dystopia straight out of the Mad Max series, thanks in large part to "the end of men."

  4. weeellllll, were I to play devil's advocate, I'd go about it this way:
    1) men are obsolete, their provider capabilities replaced by a functional if frequently inept government welfare system
    2) men are obsolete, their contributions to parenting minimized by a legal regime that favors women and trivialized by a popular culture that assigns no value to masculinity
    3) Men are obsolete, their commercial potential for achievement is having to overcome ever higher barriers as the process-oriented, overly-litigious regulatory regime continues to make those who disagree, work hard, express opinions, or want to run their own shops their own way, persona non grata. (not sure about the comma use there, help a brother out...)
    4) Men are obsolete, their behavior according rationally to the complete set of incentives set out for them, and refusing to fit into the pigeonholes that pop zeitgeist--itself enabled and built upon millennia of male toil--has set for it.
    5) Men are obsolete, because the cultural pendulum has swung so far toward valuing women that no one can see that men are invaluable.

    so the argument is not so much one of error as sophism in presentation.

    1. I agree with all but your last statement. The culture doesn't value women at all. It goes under the cloak of valuing women, but it certainly has the exact opposite effect. Men and women should both be viewed as invaluable, both having certain roles that must be done for society to run smoothly. Feminism creates a culture in which chaos rules and warfare between every class is encouraged and expected.

  5. As you know, feminism is an ideology that serves the interest of the elite, while spreading misery everywhere else. Rosin herself doesn't mix with women who are more prone to violence, or whose promiscuity includes aggressive attempts to seduce Rosin's husband. Nor has she attempted to sustain erotic attraction with a house-husband who has nothing to talk of apart from laundry, ear aches, and visits to the playground. Our elites are either very stupid or very wicked because they do not understand that their lifestyles do not scale down to the middle class. What works up there (sort of) does not work down here. The traditional social structure, with its gender roles and institutions such as marriage, made it possible for folks in the middle to lead decent lives. Notice that the worst that Rosin can imagine for her son is that he might be sunning himself on a park bench at three in the afternoon while her grandchildren (grandchild?) cavort about the playground. Maybe she should try imagining her son sitting in his cubicle completing the sexual harassment module on his computer and wondering why his high-flying wife is spending so many evenings with her high-flying colleagues. Or maybe she should imagine him without a high-flying wife, just a beaten-down washout, sitting in a trailer, married (for now) to a hairdresser who looks upon him as "another mouth to feed."

  6. Time is the one who is obsolete. Hence why they allow this garbage as a way to entice morons to purchase subscriptions. And it'll end up with the same fate as the other weekly mags. Gone from the racks in irrelevance.

  7. Rosin is busy cutting away at the limb that holds her up.......

    This is the evil and decadence of liberalism.

    1. It's the attitude: "destroy the cosmic enemy and paradise will break out".

  8. Nice fisk. Great comment also from JSmith; worth repeating:

    "Rosin herself doesn't mix with women who are more prone to violence, or whose promiscuity includes aggressive attempts to seduce Rosin's husband. Nor has she attempted to sustain erotic attraction with a house-husband who has nothing to talk of apart from laundry, ear aches, and visits to the playground. Our elites are either very stupid or very wicked... "

  9. Rosin herself is obsolete. Husbands like hers only stay with her for comfort.

  10. 'His own lovely obnoxious self.' Obnoxious isn't generally a trait that's thought to be of value. In fact, people tend to gravitate towards non-obnoxious people, and away from the annoying ones. So is she raising her son to be obnoxious? Or just allowing him to be that way without trying to make him a pleasant person?
    I also think it's interesting that she says that women are becoming more violent and aggressive. As if that's a good thing? How is it a good thing for anyone to be violent or aggressive? Aren't liberals all for peace and kumbaya? I'd prefer to walk down the street without worrying about drunken, trouble making men OR women threatening me. It's the liberal, feminist system that makes more people more violent. There aren't as many punishments, and the penalties themselves are much less severe than they should be.