By Charles Layton
I’ll tell you when I knew the jig was up. It was two years ago, when Hanna Rosin wrote that article in The Atlantic entitled “The End of Men.”
The article said that in 2010 women had become the majority of the American workforce for the first time in history. Most managers were now women. And three women were getting a college degree for every two men who got one, suggesting that, although women overall still earn less than men, that is apt to change. The average wife already contributes 42 percent of her family’s income — a bigger chunk than ever before.
Hanna Rosin’s article heralded an unprecedented role reversal in American life, and now she has expanded that article into a book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women. She attributes the rise of women in large part to the new service economy, which demands not physical strength but subtler traits many women possess in abundance — “social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus.”
The role reversal lags in the political sphere, due mainly to the endurance of incumbency. If you look down the road, though, you can guess who is going to run things once today’s male legislators get old and conk out. There are already 17 women in the U.S. Senate and 73 in the House of Representatives. Women are also a growing presence in state legislatures.
Last February Forbes asked the question: “Where in our society are women taking over?” And the answer they gave was: “Pretty much everywhere.” Girls get more A’s in school. Boys get more D’s and F’s. Half of all medical and law degrees are being earned by women. And here, for me, was the most telling statistic of all from the Forbes article: Three out of four American couples who use sex-selection services at fertility clinics are hoping to have a girl rather than a boy.
I should have seen this coming back in high school. The boys were the golden athletes and the girls were the worshipful cheerleaders, but that was superficial. The girls were the dominant sex; they actually ran the school. Boys bragged and slouched arrogantly about, but they could no more have organized a senior prom than they could fly. So now, while those bouncy cheerleaders construct the 21st century matriarchy, more and more of us macho heroes are unemployed, depressed and dependent on “breadwinner wives” for support and sustenance.
Guys, there’s not much demand for us. Look around right here in town. Look who runs the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association and the Historical Society of Ocean Grove and the Beautification Project and the HPC and Ocean Grove United. It’s women. Just like in my high school.
And Hanna Rosin’s landmark book is not like so many earlier feminist works. It is not a cry of protest but a declaration of victory.
Maybe all this helps explain why men seem more angry about life these days. When was the last time a frustrated, enraged woman entered a theater or a classroom and sprayed the place with bullets? Women don’t do that. Neither do they waste whole afternoons doping their brains with beer and TV football. They’re upstairs studying for law school exams. Preparing to take over.
Here’s Ray Charles with a musical tribute to Hanna Rosin: