The End Of Man?

Men Are Obsolete

I guess you couldn't come up with a more controversial title than pondering if half the planet is obsolete.
It's kind of strange how this wording and topic is discussed quite openly in academia and the media. Heck even the politically correct Toronto Star didn't mind wading into the issue giving all sides a bit of talk.

Imagine a book entitled:
Are Blacks Obsolete?
Are Women Obsolete?
Are Whites Better?

You get the idea. In any case, I like to look past a title to see the meat of an argument.
In many ways, there are valid points on our society in general. There's also some valid points on the stereotypes of 'masculine' and 'feminine'. But what is pretty clear to me is this kind of argument actually says:

  1. Very little about the vast majority of  men
  2. Very little about the vast majority of women
It tries to take a complex social issues and view it through a single lens. The idea of gender.
It's very much in line with how a white supremacist might look at every issue through the lens of race and come to some conclusion that the white race is superior and blacks are obsolete.

I'd recommend going through the videos here for a bit of background:

Specifically the idea that the driving force behind this form feminism are generally the upper class liberal women. Like it or not, most women are not upper middle class lawyers and writers and doctors. So are the rest of the women in society obsolete? Also, historically and in current times, men are only given value if they are providing and women have worth just by existing or reproducing.

Below, I'll go through the some of the major points in this line of thinking.

Where I agree - The 'Man' is Obsolete

I agree with the idea that the 'man' is obsolete. This 'Man' is characterized in time article as follows:
Are men literally obsolete? Of course not, and if we had to prove that we could never win. For one thing, we haven’t figured out a way to harvest sperm without them being, you know, alive. But in order to win this debate we have to prove that men, quote unquote, as we’ve historically come to define them — entitled to power, destined for leadership, arrogant, confused by anything that isn’t them. As in: “I don’t understand. Is it a guy dressed up like a girl? Or a girl dressed up like a guy?” They are obsolete. 
Whatever man that defines is clearly obsolete. I certainly don't know many men like that. Granted, I'm pretty socially liberal, but even in the culturally conservative Muslim community, this is hardly the view of a 'Man'. I guess you can define 'Man' to be Obsolete if you define 'Man' to be something that doesn't exist and perhaps has never existed.

The irony of course, is you could easily rewrite the same thing about woman. Even the part about reproduction... I'm pretty sure science will grant us test tube babies soon so we won't need woman to create life.
Woman are obsolete as we've historically come to define them -- entitled to be supported, destined to nurture, kind hearted, and yes... confused by anything that isn't them. They are obsolete.

And yes, I have included the 'confused by anything that isn't them' part for woman. Anyone in any religious community will attest to woman being confused by homosexuality or transgender as much as any man.

It seems rather that the idea of the 'Man' is merely one type of man from a 'Bible Belt Conservative Republican' background. And yet of course, men have spanned the vastness of politics. Last I read history, men were amply involved in socialism, communism, and every other political ideology in history.

And yes, back to the idea of the historical man. As Karen Straughan says, this kind of feminism has its root in the upper middle class woman. They might have had a man who was a leader in that sense. Perhaps a business partner or a lawyer or politician or Editor. And so these upper middle class women saw the issue of male dominance as why couldn't they be that business partner or lawyer. Sexism it was. Yet this wasn't the lot of the majority of women. Was this the majority of men? Seriously, in history, most men were not leaders. They were regular mundane workers, soldiers on the front lines, working the fields, working the coal mines, working in the factories. A leader among this lot? Entitled to power? I suppose the man working 16 hours in coal mines or 16 hour days in a factory or a man conscripted into military service to die for some leader was really entitled to power and destined for leadership. I suppose their wife did stay at home most likely, but I guess she'd rather be working in the coal mine, while he stays home and takes care of the child and cooks and cleans?

This world of of the coal mines, conscription, factory jobs... is completely invisible to this kind of feminism. They only see their world and in their world, their husbands could be a lawyer or business partner just because they were men. 

What defined the vast majority of men was simply doing what was needed to keep their family alive and as well off as possible. I don't really see how these qualities would not be useful at any other time, not matter the economy.

The 'Ideal' Man

Another way to look at it would be that is what the 'ideal man' is. A great leader with power. The men working in the coal mines were not real men. They were failures who needed to rise to the top. They lost the competition and the ideal man wins the competition. That's one way to look at it. And there is some truth to this.

And on this point, I think I agree that this kind of man is perhaps obsolete as an 'ideal'.
In a similar way, the ideal nurturing and caring and family oriented woman is perhaps obsolete as an 'ideal' even though the vast majority of woman were/are failures in this respect.

Perhaps it is a generational thing or that I live in Toronto, but this hardly seems a point worth mentioning. It's already reality on the ground and doesn't really need a controversial title.

A constant theme I will talk about more and is talked about heavily by Rosin is that as productive jobs like manufacturing are automated or not needed as much, there will be less and less a need for such ideal manly traits. That is probably true and it is something I have talked about on this blog and many others have written about.

ONE: It’s the end of men because men are failing in the workplace.

As the manufacturing economy gets replaced by a service and information economy, men are failing to adjust or get the skill they need to succeed.

It’s the end of men because men are failing in schools and women are succeeding. In nearly every country, on all but one continent, women are getting 60 percent of college degrees, which is what you need to succeed these days. Many boys start falling behind as early as first grade, and they fail to catch up. Many men, meanwhile, still see school as a waste of time, a girl thing.

This is a two pronged issue, but more importantly, does the author really think that employment is solely an issue for men? Everywhere around the world, unemployment is an issue. There's been a million articles written about how automation and computing and taking away productive jobs. Leaving, but a few highly paid creative jobs. Women are finding it hard to find work as well.

I'm pretty sure there's a million waitresses, women with social studies degrees, even teachers who are struggling to find good work.

But again, this goes back to an economic problem I've talked about. Education does not magically create jobs. Degrees don't create jobs. There's only so many educated jobs to go around. You're not employing 7 billion people on Earth to be engineers and lawyers and doctors :P

What does create jobs are:
1. An actual need/want (housing, food, water, entertainment)
2. Government creating or fulfilling a need or want of the people based on government decree(healthcare, education, police, transit, legal).

Where most of the growth in women's jobs has occurred is in the government sector. Either directly as in healthcare or education. But also indirectly via the legal/banking system and others. But only so many women can be employed here as well. But of course, being a government created job, why doesn't the government create jobs for everyone? At that point, these feminists are basically saying the government decided 'their industries' (if we can even call it that) should be funded while transit, construction, R&D, manufacturing... should not.

To top it off, she is basically ignoring the vast majority of women who are 'failing' in her eyes working menial jobs, staying at home...
She is also ignoring the men in the professional careers that are also government funded/aided (lawyers, doctors...). These men are certainly not failing.

There's also a strong merging of progressiveness with feminism in these respects. The two narratives intertwine to such a degree. They do not see their own position of privilege by government funding/law/decree and then apply a blame failure model to the rest of society

Contrast the Service Sector 'Economy'

There's also this notion of the transition to a service sector economy that Rosin points out 'men' are not changing to. But let's understand one thing. Most of the world doesn't care about services. If you gave everyone all the things Rosin thinks are part of the 'male/manufacturing' economy, most of the world would be perfectly content if you gave them
  1. A house built and maintained
  2. Food
  3. Running water
  4. Car/transportation
  5. A communication system
  6. Some green space
  7. Clothing 
  8. Various widgets
  9. ...
Most people really wouldn't care if you gave them things from the service economy. You could have a virtual utopia if these things manufactured or industrial things were magically provided to people. Don't get me wrong, the service economy is nice, but give people the goods/services from the manufacturing/industrial economy and most would be perfectly comfortable. They would do most of the services on their own, be it teaching their kids or taking care of their parents.

In any case, this is changing vastly as well. More and more men are taking on other roles like nursing and education or wherever the job market might take them.
Not to mention that men are still heavily employed and successful in service industries like law and medicine.

Education doesn't create jobs.

More importantly though, we're far from that idealized futuristic society where we don't need productive jobs. Robots can't replace everyone yet. It's going to be a very interesting transition.

And perhaps the greatest point here is that if you're talking about automation and computing taking the jobs of men... I'm afraid she should have pondered the concept if All People Are Obsolete.

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses… it’s progressing,” Gates said. “Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set… 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

TWO: It’s the end of men because the traditional household, propped up by the male breadwinner, is vanishing. 

For the first time in history women all over the world are marrying down, meaning marrying men with worse prospects than they have. We have a new global type, for example, called the alpha wife, a woman who makes more money than her husband or boyfriend. Not that long ago she was exceedingly rare. Now she’s part of about 40 percent of couples in the US. 

This one is more true. And again, see point One above about government created jobs. And yes, many upper middle class women are having great jobs. I think most people agree that women can be very capable in any field they choose; the same as any man. Add to the fact that most studies show that marriage is in decline among the working class, and you quickly see the picture a bit clearer. 

We have a job crises in general. It is a minor blip if some upper middle class women now makes more than her upper middle class husband. Sure, there's some new power struggles at the top of society I guess. But it's not the big problems we face a society.

However, I agree that this point is more visible as the traditional structure of the male being the head of the household vanishes if both people are working. Both must have a say in the running of the household and things like compatiblity and common goals matter a lot more.

By the same account, many men don't want to support women and this adds another complexity into the whole social system.

THREE: It’s the end of men because we can see it in the working and middle class. 

 Well, I think I discussed this a plenty in the previous points. We have a general jobs crises. Not just for men, but for women.

FOUR: It’s the end of men because men have lost their monopoly on violence and aggression.  

Women are becoming more sexually confident, and something Camille Paglia has been waiting for, more aggressive and violent in both good ways and bad — that is, going to war, going to jail, and in the case of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, beating up anyone who knocks a drink out of their hand. 
I think this speaks a lot more to the end of 'woman' than the end of 'man'. But it is true, woman have become more violent and aggressive and its more socially acceptable. I guess it is the end of the 'man' who would never hit a 'woman' as she is acting as aggressively as a 'man'.

FIVE: It’s the end of men because men, too, are now obsessed with their body hair.

No comment :) I'm guilty!

The ending comments

I dedicated my book to my son because he is one of those boys who gets in trouble a lot, who thinks the institutions are rigged against him. I see my job as accepting him as he is, and teaching him how to adapt to the world as it is.
When I think of the world after the end of men, I think of the world my son will inherit, where, if he chooses to take his kids to a playground at 3 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, no one will look at him funny, no one will wonder if he’s out of work, no one will think, “What a loser,” and no one will think he’s from Portland or Toronto, they will just walk on by and not think anything of it at all. He can be his own lovely obnoxious self and also be at home in a new world.
On this we fully agree and I think most of society is already moving this way.
I suppose one needs a provocative title as a writer even though it has little to do with the actual substantive argument being made. Hey, I'm probably guilty of that as well.

To me, this all seems like a fight that doesn't even exist. It's almost like trying to impose a 'feminist' overlay on something just to show a victory for women. Perhaps, she is someone who bought into this whole idea of the patriarchy and that men were scheming against women in history. Hint, men have never schemed against woman as a group. Men are too competitive and if women have been oppressed by some men, I can guarantee you those men have no issues oppressing other men. I'm no stranger to rules that have held back woman in the workplace. Sure many men traditionally might have invoked their right to be obeyed and lead and just as many women have invoked their right to be supported. Who is oppressing who is a matter of opinion for the average person. Or maybe for the average person it was a good working arrangement. In any case, what I want to emphasize here is there has been no grand conspiracy to hold back woman on the part of men. Sure religions and cultures might have emphasized woman at home and princesses. But these have been oppressive to all people, men included. If those in power wanted to control society, they used religion/culture to control society (including men) and other subgroups. They didn't use it just to 'control' women. We thankfully have moved on past those laws and cultures have changed. But are we any less 'man' or are females are less 'woman'?

Now she has a son, and it hits home that perhaps men are people too. But of course, she can't let go on this single lens she views the world through, that of gender.

I wonder how her son would feel knowing his mother wrote a book saying he is less of a 'man'.
Even though the end message is a pretty good one. The economy is changing. Needs are changing. There's nothing wrong with not financially supporting your household or having a more relaxed lifestyle or not being a workaholic corporate drone or even a stay at home dad.

The gender lines are blurring and that is a good thing for all. More ambitious women can be more like a 'man' and more nurturing men can be more like a 'woman' without societal judgment. Those quotes almost seem silly, but I guess only a modern feminist really clings so strongly to gender roles.

But the idea that you are less of a 'man' because you're not earning the most money. Well sadly, I wonder how Rosin would feel if people said that about woman. They're less of a woman if they work or don't get married and plop out 10 kids.

Yes, I'll agree to the idea that the alpha-male competitive hard-driving leader is probably not the ideal 'man' that men should look up to anymore. It is almost economically infeasible at this point.

Yet, I hate to break it to Rosin. I'll continue to be a 'man' even if my work takes me into nursing or education. I'll continue to be a 'man' even when I'm not working. What makes me a 'man' is being responsible, thinking about the welfare of my family, handling whatever business comes my way...
And yes, I will use the quotes around the words 'man' as she does as it stereotypes masculine.


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