That’s what Hanna Rosin’s young son, Jacob, asks her everyday about her recent book The End of Men: And the Rise of Women.
I am reading Rosin’s book for additional research for my forthcoming book on why men are going on strike in marriage, fatherhood and in the culture. One reason I put forth in my book for men’s negative attitudes towards marriage, women and the society is the denigrating and damaging way that boys and young men are treated in our society and a book with a title like this sure doesn’t help. To her credit, Rosin at least offers up a lame explanation to Jacob that “I want to convince people that some men out there need our help, since it’s not so easy for them to ask for it.” “He doesn’t quite believe me yet, but maybe one day he will.” Yet as I read the pages of her book, I am not sure what type of help she thinks men need and as Christina Hoff Summers said to me about men’s centers that try to convince men to be more like woman: “I don’t think that’s the kind of help men want.”
Rosin points out the ways in which girls are seen as better than boys. Rosin describes a shift in the US whereby parents, both men and women, prefer a girl when asked. It took two hypothetical daughters for people to say they would prefer the third child to be a boy. Rosin goes on to say:
Women are not just catching up anymore; they are becoming the standard by which success is measured. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” is a phrase that resonates with many parents of school-age sons and daughters, even if they don’t always say it out loud. As parents imagine the pride of watching a child grow and develop and succeed as an adult, it is more often a girl than a boy that they see in their mind’s eye.
Did Rosin ever stop to think that with men are just responding to the culture around them. “The End of Men,” “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them,” Girl Power, and parents who want them to be girls–these are damaging messages to send to our young men. Boys and men keep many of their thoughts and feelings to themselves but don’t think that they don’t hear and respond to what is happening around them. Books declaring “the end of men” are contributing to the problem, not trying to find a solution to the reasons that boys and men are not faring as well in our society.