Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men:And the Rise of Women started as an epic article, and has become a conversation-changing book. I’ve touched on her work before, but pick up on one tangential thread in my Genderal Interest column at Jezebel today The Rise of the Needy Man.
Rosin writes that men “theoretically can be anything these days.” What they lack, she argues, are qualities that they once had –- and that women now seem at least more likely to possess: “flexibility, hustle, and an expansive sense of identity.” Chloe Angyal is surely right that Rosin oversells the expansiveness of that self-confidence among young women. Even so, one key missing piece of the “end of men” narrative is not just the degree to which men have ceded “flexibility” and “hustle” to the women in their lives, but the extent to which men now turn to women not merely for partnership, but for mentoring, inspiration, and direction. What makes characters like Charlie, Dean, and the subjects of Rosin’s book so recognizable is that mix of people-pleasing and passivity that is designed to force young women to take the initiative and give instruction to the men they love.
Men, writes Matlack, are filled with yearning: to talk, to be understood, to be accepted. Men, he suggests, have more emotional depth than we give them credit for having. What he doesn’t say is that guys today have so much less emotional resilience than we need them to possess. The contemporary female version of “male yearning” isn’t just ambition, it’s exhaustion. Part of that exhaustion may be due to the “feminization of success” that Hanna Rosin describes. But surely a hefty chunk of that weariness comes from the reality that even as many women do surpass men educationally and financially, they’re still expected to play the traditionally feminine roles of sympathetic listener and constant encourager. Pay the rent. Make him feel safe. Tell him what to do and how to be. And make it all look hot.
Read the whole thing here.