I finished reading The End of Men by Hanna Rosin Saturday. It’s one of those books that takes everything which we know is already happening and puts it into words, and by doing so at just the right moment, becomes a monumental event.
I’ve certainly been seeing the changing roles of men and women in my everyday life. Of course, I’m in a somewhat unique position. I meet with and receive emails from a whole lot of people going through family law problems. Ten and fifteen years ago, there would be one or two men who had been the stay at home dad’s in their marriages to a doctor or other high wage earner. These men would ask if there was a possibility of them getting custody, and perhaps having the court order their wives to pay alimony. The answer of course was, yes.
In recent years these numbers are increasing. But they are not really a full indication of the phenomenon that’s occurring. A family break up for most people will be years down the road from the point where they actually agree to their roles in the new family order.
More to the point is the daily lives of people around me. There’s been a tidal wave of marriages where the woman is older than the man, in many cases significantly older by ten to twenty years. And in marriage after marriage, the woman is the main breadwinner. In many instances, the man stays at home taking care of the kids. In fact, of the marriages of people I’m personally acquainted with, far more fit this new mode than the so called traditional marriage.
I was surprised to see that Hanna Rosin was taking so much flak from feminists. I guess it’s understandable. They feel that women are not yet fully equal to men and they need to keep pressing on with the fight. True enough. But that doesn’t detract from what is really happening in the changing roles we are seeing before our eyes right now.
In her book, Hanna Rosin says one of the women critical about The End of Men has been Stephanie Coontz. I happen to be a fan of Stephanie Coontz, and think that her Marriage, a History was at the time it was written, a monumental accomplishment in its own right. But from my personal observations, I’d have to go with Hanna Rosin on this one. It’s true that women have a long way to go, especially at the top. But unless there is a swing of major and epic proportions in the path the world economy is headed, it’s a foregone conclusion that women will soon not only be holding top positions in business and government, but women will be dominating those positions. And if the two main political parties in the United States don’t run women as presidential candidates in 2016, they will each do so at their own peril.
Hanna Rosin didn’t say that the changing role of women is a train roaring at us at full speed. But it is. There is always the possibility it might be derailed. But it’s highly unlikely. As most of us common folk who have not been involved in the long feminist struggle know, there’s no sense in continuing to wage a bitter battle when the war has already been won. There is a quiet revolution occurring in homes and families throughout the world, not because of ideology but because of simple necessity. This is a change that’s taken place because the old economic model is no longer available to the masses. Most of the people actually living in the new family order have no connection to the feminist movement. They have begun structuring their family in the way that makes the most sense to them, whether they are in single parent households, or women selecting male partners who will best fit into the new male role as a more fully participating member of a family with children. The stay at home dad is likely to become less of an exception and much more the general rule as women literally take over educational institutions and workplaces. It’s as simple as that.
Closer to home, here in Utah, the President and counselors of the LDS church should take a few hours out of their busy lives and read The End of Men. Perhaps the natural change that’s occurring is a message from higher authority. It’s time that women were given full equality. The church is bleeding members at a pace not seen since the Kirtland Bank fiasco. The church leadership needs to be asking themselves how it is that a family with a woman as the main force and breadwinner will last when the church continues to teach and in every way support the ideology that the man is the single important member of that family structure. If they want to save the church from its rapid decline, it’s time to rethink the entire concept of patriarchy.
But I digress. I highly recommend The End of Men for everyone who, as with me, sees this vast sweeping change in the roles of men and women which is occurring throughout every aspect of our lives. Hanna Rosin has put words to this implosion of long held beliefs, and the rapid onset of a new world which we are experiencing right in front of our eyes.
Written by Waine Riches