Men: Do We Really Think They Can Be 'Over'? and What Are They, Anyway?

Valerie Isakova, Shine Parenting Editor
Love + Sex

Are men 'over'? This is really a question being debated, in new books like The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, by Slate editor Hanna Rosin. "Who wears the pants in this economy?" The New York Times Magazine asks this weekend, in a story adapated from Rosin's book that focuses on female bread-winners who have been forced into the workplace by their partners losing their jobs. In the shifting American economy, higher-paying jobs traditionally held by middle class men have disappeared and job-creation has been in lower-paid but female-dominated sectors, where the hiring bias may even be against men. Rosin writes, "It's not hard to imagine a time when the prevailing dynamic in town might be female bosses shutting men out of the only open jobs."

Rosin's work focuses on men and women who have a traditional, religion-based definition of 'man' as a breadwinner, head of the household and authority figure to whom a woman is supposed to be submissive. The men in the story want to be able to take care of their women financially and practically, in case of a home invasion or other danger-scenario. The women by and large grew up accepting that type of role, and still insist that their men, even if they aren't breadwinners, are the protector and head of household. Rosin shows this mentality shifting and vanishing in the younger generations, even in these traditional households.

It remains to be seen if these demographic shifts will result in the kind of dystopian future that Rosin seems to imagine, where females replace males as the head of the household and discriminate against them at work, and males find themselves unable to succeed at non-manly jobs. An equally likely, and more hopeful scenario, is that the breadwinner model may disappear, replaced by a society in which both parties expect to work (and both parties expect to participate in the formerly female domestic sphere). In other words, there may be enough pants to go around. Or, considering the state of the economy, we'll all wear shorts and not feel too badly about ourselves.

Do Shine readers think it's possible for 'men' and 'women' to be over? Are people attached to the idea that men and women should have different roles? Do ladies in this day and age still want to be protected? Is 'the end of men' a possible thing, or a good thing? What does your husband or boyfriend do that's a particularly 'man's job'? Discuss.