When Men Lose, Women Lose Too
According to Christina Hoff Sommers' recent interview with Tucker Carlson on the final installment of his program’s “Men in America” series, Sommers notes that the economist Larry Summers has projected that by mid-century, one-third of American men will be unemployed or “disengaged” from the workforce.
There’s been ample coverage about the plight of boys and men as of late. They are falling behind women in every conceivable way -- and it begins with their education, or lack thereof. Today, women receive 62% of associates degrees, 57% of bachelor's degrees, 60% of master's degrees and 52% of doctorates.
Hooray, people say! Finally, women and girls are competing at the same level as boys and men!
Not so fast. For one thing, women aren’t competing with men at the same levels -- women are surpassing men. Which brings us to an interesting question Sommers asked Carlson: “If boys are failing, what’s going to happen to girls?”
What, indeed? Naturally, the men are in dire straits. But if that is true, it is true for women as well. Because unless women plan to join a convent or swear off men altogether, they’re going to be stuck with men who are no longer near their “equals.”
Men they will neither respect nor want.
My husband and I have a college-bound daughter and a son who has just begun high school. Like most parents, we want our children to get an education, to find work they enjoy, and to get married and have families of their own. Now, let’s flesh out what’s likely to happen given the culture we live in today.
Both our son and our daughter are A students. Our daughter was recently awarded a full scholarship to a private co-ed institution, and being a girl didn’t hurt. There is boundless support and camaraderie today for women and girls. But our son, despite being a good student, may very well be penalized for being a white male. We have friends with sons to whom this has already happened.
Either way, women becoming more successful than men is nothing to celebrate. What do you think happens to relationships in which the men flounder but the women don’t? They end up in the trash -- that’s what happens.
Let me tell you about Lynn. Lynn has a college degree but married a man who does not. He was a retail store manager when they met but fancied himself a professional race car driver and snowboarder.
Lynn has worked full-time, nonstop for the 14 years they’ve been together. (They’ve been married for eight of those years and have two children together.) Her husband has worked far less consistently and with bouts of unemployment. He does, on occasion, take care of the children while Lynn works; but Lynn has found the overall marital dynamic to be nothing short of a nightmare.
Her respect and sexual desire for her husband has waned considerably, for one thing; and their current arrangement is not what she envisioned for them. It happened solely as a result of her husband’s retreat from the professional world.
If Larry Summers is right, America will be saturated in men like Lynn’s husband.
Now you can say, “Well, that’s terrible she no longer respects her husband if he’s picking up the slack at home.” And I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But the point is, it is that way. Men and women are not interchangeable. We can’t switch the roles so dramatically and expect the same results.
Lynn’s husband is not being a full-time dad the way Lynn would be a full-time mom. As many men would (there are still only two million stay-at-home fathers in the U.S.), he’s doing the bare minimum: enough to keep the kids alive and to keep the house from burning down. He is not, in other words, relishing in his role at home. But Lynn would -- and wants to. But she can’t. She literally can’t because her husband doesn’t have a steady income.
While there are some couples who can and who will make a role reversal work, particularly if the wife’s job is lucrative, on average and for the most part, this arrangement is a disaster. To be sure, there can be overlap. But a complete reversal, no. Women’s standards for what they want in a man haven’t changed as a result of their rise in power. On the contrary, upwardly mobile women raise their socioeconomic standards for partners.
The smarter and richer women are, they smarter and richer they want their man to be. But men are in the process of becoming less smart and less rich. This does not bode well for the future of love, families and society.
As for Lynn, you might wonder why she married her husband in the first place. But that’s my point: At the rate we’re going, more and more women will have no other alternative but to marry a man like him.
Either that or be smart, rich, and alone with a house full of cats.