The Myth of Male Inflexibility

We’ve let go of the silly notion that all women are hardwired to nurture rather than compete. What some of us are still not seeing is that men are every bit as adaptable.

Pundits have labeled it the “mancession,” as manufacturing jobs in male-dominated industries disappear across the country. Articles in national magazines predict the “end of men.” Conservatives and men’s rights activists worry that boys and men are unable to connect with an educational curriculum aimed at encouraging girls, and are falling even further behind in the battle to develop the skills needed to succeed in the new economy.

To believe the media, men are floundering in this confusing and unstable new era. While the effects of the worst economy in 80 years have impacted all of us, the consensus is that men have been hit harder and will have a harder time recovering from that hit. But is that really true? Maybe the real problem isn’t an economy and an educational system that supposedly favors “feminine” skills. Maybe the real problem is our belief that men can’t adapt as easily to change.

Maybe the real problem is the myth of male inflexibility.

Hanna Rosin explains:

What if the modern, postindustrial economy is simply more congenial to women than to men? For a long time, evolutionary psychologists have claimed that we are all imprinted with adaptive imperatives from a distant past: men are faster and stronger and hardwired to fight for scarce resources, and that shows up now as a drive to win on Wall Street; women are programmed to find good providers and to care for their offspring, and that is manifested in more-nurturing and more-flexible behavior, ordaining them to domesticity. This kind of thinking frames our sense of the natural order. But what if men and women were fulfilling not biological imperatives but social roles, based on what was more efficient throughout a long era of human history? What if that era has now come to an end? More to the point, what if the economics of the new era are better suited to women?

(The bold emphasis is mine.) I appreciate that Rosin, unlike many pop psychologists, admits that she’s merely speculating here. As she knows, there is no irrefutable evidence that evolution has rendered men ill-suited for our rapidly transforming economy. But one thing we do know with certainty is that beliefs can shape reality. And if ever there were a self-fulfilling prophecy in American life it just might be the idea that men can’t adapt as quickly to changing circumstances as women can.


Nearly 200 years ago, as the industrial revolution began to transform America from a rural to an urban society, politicians and pastors worried about the impact on men. What would happen, the pundits fretted, to the “heroic artisans” of agrarian society, the shoemakers and the blacksmiths, as their crafts became irrelevant? As so many surnames show, trades were passed from father to son for generations. Nineteenth-century industrialization brought that ancient practice to a rapid end. How could men adapt, some wondered, when their very names and identities were linked to one specific inherited task?

You already know the answer. Men adapted just fine. As Michael Kimmel (who coined the term “heroic artisan”) has shown in his classic Manhood in America, Americans simply created a new ideal: the “self-made man” who made his living with his wits and his creativity rather than careful devotion to the craft of his forefathers. The sons of village shoemakers moved to cities, to factories and offices, and dreamed of climbing to great riches. While few made it to the top, almost all were forced to develop skills (both intellectual and physical) that would have astonished their grandfathers.


If there’s anything exceptional about America, it’s the legendary capacity of its inhabitants for self-reinvention. We’ve seen it most clearly with the women’s movement of the past five decades. Women are now CEOs and war fighters, having moved almost seamlessly into male-dominated professions for which they were presumably unprepared from an evolutionary standpoint. We’ve let go of the silly notion that all women are hardwired to nurture rather than compete, because we’ve seen so many excellent counter-examples. What some of us are still not seeing is that men are every bit as adaptable.

The much-celebrated “slacker dudes” who populate Judd Apatow movies and their mother’s couches aren’t displaced auto workers, confused by the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to China. They’ve famously made it clear that they find traditional masculinity unsatisfying (even if many are hooked on hyper-macho video games like Call of Duty or Black Ops). As their sisters and girlfriends will often attest, these guys are more articulate about their feelings and their passions than men of earlier generations. What they’re missing isn’t the ability to transform—what they’re missing is the inspiration, ambition, and encouragement to go out into the marketplace and match their skills to the changing demands of our transforming economy.

At Pasadena City College, where I’ve taught since 1993, our famous nursing program has seen a slow but steady rise in male applicants. We recently hired our first male professor of early childhood education, and he reports that the number of young men interested in teaching little kids has risen steadily. (This isn’t just anecdotal evidence; it’s backed by data. The number of men teaching pre-school and kindergarten in the U.S. rose by 33 percent between 2004 and 2009, though the overall percentage remains in single digits.)

In her reply to the Hanna Rosin piece in the Atlantic, Ann Friedman wrote at American Prospect:

The best man for the job just might be a woman, or so the 1970s slogan went. It’s long past time we also acknowledge that the best woman for the job might just be a man.

The myth of male inflexibility suggests that unlike women, men are too rigid to adapt to a changing culture. It suggests that extricating oneself from the straitjacket of traditional masculinity is more difficult than escaping the corset of traditional femininity. And whether this incapacity is consciously feigned or sincerely believed, it’s rooted in a myth rather than a reality. If feminism alone can’t get men to develop their own emotional and vocational dexterity, then we can be certain that the inexorable realities of global economic patterns will accomplish the task.

—National Guard photo/Flickr


Read more Men at Work:

Dacus Thompson: Career Changers

Tim Donnelly: In Defense of Dating Your Coworker

Ted Cox: 11 Rules for Working Out of a Coffee Shop

Brian Stuart: Working for the Woman

Hugo Schwyzer: The Myth of Male Inflexibility

Mark Oppenheimer: Life Lessons From My Alcoholic Boss

John Olympic: What It’s Like to Work in Walmart Hell

Tom Matlack: The Illusion of Success

Morra Aarons-Mele: How to Work From Home

Ryan O’Hanlon: Meet America’s Oldest Minor Leaguer


About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website


  1. The whole work debate of how the job market change is impacting men represents the need men have to find a new way to define themselves – it use to be through work – now it is who there are. Men need to find an intrinsic definition or self orientation for themselves. Not so much what we do, but who we are being.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    John D. I think the folks who say the patriarchy hurts men too should try to square that with the NOW move to avoid helping men. Is NOW part of the patriarchy?
    Shouldn’t some feminists who claim to be fair and humane and all the stuff be discussing it? Naw, that’s crazy talk.

    • Change is coming Richard,

      You have to remember that the entertainment industry has to be seen as on the “cutting edge” or the counter-culture. The more feminist organizations are seen to be as part of the “powers that be” the more edgy and counter-culture will men’s issues seem.

      There is already a lot of bleed over into mainstream media of men’s rights issues. Tyra Banks and other daytime shows have had episodes on abusive women. My wife watches Private Practice a show that is (what I see as) a very female-centered show like ER that had an episode about a divorced non-custodial dad breaking the law and taking his son (w/the son’s consent) away from the beating step-dad and non-believing custodial mom. In that episode, the point was specifically made that the father had to do this because he had no realistic way (he was laid off) to fight a months long custody battle since he was broke.

      I think it’s very telling that 50% of father’s rights activists are actually women who have seen the horrible harm that laws passed from feminist lies have done.

      The key is going to be reaching out to women of good morales who call themselves feminist but don’t understand the warped sense of “equality” that feminist leaders practice. It will also involve reaching out to liberal men–as equal parental rights aren’t a liberal or conservative issue. Both parties ignore the real plight millions of dads have in maintaining contact with their kids post-divorce if the mother doesn’t wish it.

      The key is to oppose those who try to twist facts and obscure the concept of truth, justice and equal rights whenever we find them, in whatever that space is.

  3. It probably didn’t help the situation when NOW declared that the government shouldn’t be helping “burly men” and had a closed door meeting with Obama in which he agreed to re-direct 41% of the $800 billion stimulus from manufacturing and construction (which had shed millions of jobs) to education and medicine which was almost unscathed from the recession.

    I thought feminism is here to help men too? Would somebody care to explain how increasing men’s greater unemployment disparity to women’s helps those unemployed men (or their wives/families?).

    Clearly the leaders of NOW thought that they could blatantly broadcast the sentiment that “we’re against helping men EVEN WHEN THEY CLEARLY NEED IT for no greater reason then that they are men” and get away with it.

    You know what? They can…..for now. But the more victories feminists get, the more the main-stream good-hearted women who call themselves feminists become complacent and leave the movement (or even oppose it like Christina Hoff-Sommers, Camille Paglia, Erin Prizzey, Karen Decrow and others). The more victories they put into their bag, the more truly egalitarian minded-people leave with only the radical core remains.

    When that happens, their hate and bigotry (which has at it’s core people like Gwynne S.) be revealed and they will no longer have the ears of presidents.

    Hopefully, by then it won’t be too late and we will be able to salvage something of families and fathers roles in families after the incredible destruction feminism will have caused by then.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Glad. You know what I’m missing? How do you know this? More to the point, who are you that I should believe you?

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    My loss because I do not accept a judgment of me by somebody who has no idea who I am and is adamantly proof against facts?
    You must be somebody important.

  6. Gwynne S. says:

    Hey, I don’t believe there is such a thing as good men. But I do believe men have an obligation to take on other men and clean up the damage worldwide that men do every day— from the oil spills in the Gulf, to the hundreds of thousands of girl children aborted within patriarchy… men change? Are you kidding? They haven’t changed, don’t intend to change and aren’t good. I don’t know what they are, not human for the male dominated damage ecologically, not human as they dominate whole industry that are destroying the planet, not human as they mass armies and nuclear weapons. What should we say about good for this half of the human race that has been so rotten for so long? Words fail me, but “good men” just makes me laugh at the audacity of the species. They have no clue.

    • What a bigoted little pig yopu are, aren’t you?

      Blaming men for the oil that women consume – quite the moral judge aeren’t you?

      Speaking of harm to the planet…
      “But I do believe men have an obligation to take on other men and clean up the damage worldwide that men do every day”…
      what obligation do you you think women have to prevent other women form covering the planet with their consumerist spawn?

      “I don’t know what they are, not human ”

      What a disgusting troll you are, deciding who is and isn’t human. I suppose since men are not human, you feel quite free to just kill us whenver the whim hits. you do have alot of company within your gender as far as that goes, but that makes it more rather than less disgusting.

    • Go crawl back into the radfem hole you came out of. Yuck.

      -Signed, a third wave feminist.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    Glad. As I said, you do your implying without a clue, without even wishing you had a clue, about somebody you’ve never met.
    The question about my wife being a nice lady is that, if I were a butthead or otherwise a trial, her female friends, or her married couple friends, wouldn’t be so willing to visit for a weekend or so. They’d be willing for her to visit them. Without me.
    I resist something you said about me? I think pretty anybody would be wise to resist what you said about them. Are you some kind of mindreader that you know this stuff about people you haven’t met?
    Thing about femfriendly men is that they think they know a good deal about people they’ve never met. Not shy about demonstrating their ignorance, either.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    You imply that most men, the unreconstructed type that form the unenlightened majority, cannot engage, cannot have a verbal conversation, cannot guess reasonably well another’s state of mind, don’t know how to ask for what they want, don’t respect another’s needs and questions, etc.
    Wrong again.
    I get hostile to things with “fem” in the name because they generally include stereotyping guys like me without having, or apparently needing, a clue as to whether or not they’re correct. IOW, hostile right back.
    Come to think of it, you’re only presuming that a friendly-seeming relationship with a woman is actually
    friendly, and not some self-protective mechanism based on the ickiness of some femfriendly guys, or the possibility that they’re faking it. Waste of time, either way.
    Due to good fortune in my retirement location, we have a good many guests. Half or more are female, of one age or another. My wife is a nice lady, but if I were a pain, a threat, a whatever, she’d be going places to see her friends instead of putting them up here. The same goes for my kids’ friends, mostly married whom we see, with kids, one weekend or another. Each summer, we have a crew for a short week of about a dozen adult women–thirty and up–mostly without hubbies, but with kids. Sisters, college friends, mothers of said college friends, nieces of said college friends, and half a dozen toddlers. If I were a butthead, they’d think of someplace else to go. In fact, if I were oozing femininism from every pore, they’d probably worry, too.
    So it would seem to be acceptable to a good many women that a non-feminist man be around. They let me teach the eleven-year old how to kayak. The next year, I wanted to teach her how to use the chain saw and the ax and splitting maul, but her aunt nixed that. Traditional aunt, I guess.
    Point is, if I were going around being feminist, a lot of people would be backing away slowly. Or rapidly.

    • GladToBeInThe21stCentury says:

      “You imply that most men, the unreconstructed type that form the unenlightened majority, cannot engage, cannot have a verbal conversation, cannot guess reasonably well another’s state of mind, don’t know how to ask for what they want, don’t respect another’s needs and questions, etc.”

      No, I don’t imply this of “most men.” I imply that YOU don’t ask questions, listen to the answers, and instead think you can read other people’s thoughts/feelings, etc without asking them about them.

      In two posts now you have resisted acknowledging this about yourself.

      Everything may be fine with your “nice lady” wife and your family, but you need to ask from time to time and not just presume. Who knows what you may get back? Your wife may be from an earlier generation than I and she may have different expectations or programming, and your relationship may have been going on for a while and taken on a certain pattern, but you never know. She might respond with a positive reply or a negative reply or something in between or she might want to think about it before she answers. But you’re a grown-up, you are “flexible” as Hugo points out, and you can deal.

      This is why “femfriendly” men actually have a lot of courage, I think. They put themselves out there.

  9. wellokaythen says:

    I admit to being reactionary to Hugo’s writing usually. I often knee-jerk my way into sarcasm in reponse to his articles, justified or not.

    In this case, I think he’s made a great point. There’s no reason to assume that men are somehow less flexible than women. There’s no reason to assume that men are going through a difficult time today because they are incapable of changing or adapting to new circumstances. If there are ways that recent developments benefit women more than men (assuming for the moment that’s the case), that’s not happening because women are more flexible or open to change.

    As some people have noted elsewhere on the blog, there are areas where women may be less flexible than men. I’m not trying to fan the flames of a gender war, but I see a lot of inflexibility among women when it comes to things like childcare and homemaking. I get the impression that men seem more open to the idea that there is more than one right way to feed kids and keep the house clean. There may be more than one way to load the dishwasher, and maybe French fries are an acceptable substitute for a baked potato on the kid’s plate. These are generalizations from my own anecdotal evidence, I admit, but I feel confident that this is pretty common today.

    Of course there are tyrannical fathers and husbands out there with very exacting demands at home, but I wonder how common that is relative to mothers’ and wives’ exacting standards of homemaking.

    Maybe it’s a question of “traditional workplace expertise” or something like that. Maybe men are less flexible in the world of traditionally masculine industries with paid work and women are less flexible in the traditionally feminine world of unpaid home labor. (I recognize that “traditional” is a very problematic word here, but bear with me.) Maybe this is the “separate spheres” idea still going strong. Just a hypothesis.

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    Can’t be friendly with women without being a feminist? Do you have to explain on an nourly basis that you’re a feminist?
    No, I don’t have to ask. The women seem to be friendly right back. I know, I know, it’s a vital survival technique without which they’d all be murdered.
    Thing is, you need to think about what this all looks like from the outside. Nuts, is what it looks like.

    • GladToBeInThe21stCentury says:

      Yes, you do have to ask to know whether another person sees a relationship as “friendly.”

      It’s JMO (other feminist-identified women or men may disagree) but, no, you don’t have to identify as a “feminist” to be friendly with women. You do, however, need to be able to interact with people and not to be hostile to things with “fem” in the name. You do need to learn to engage in verbal conversation, both learning to ask for what you want, and to respect the answers you get, whatever they are. You have to get out of the fantasy that you can read people’s minds.

      And this is especially important with regard to sex. Check out The Consent Project.

  11. After reading about myself — or those similar to me in age, gender and ethnicity — as a “Beached White Male” in Newsweek the other day, I was delighted to come across someone who sees it a little more my way. Go “the boys”!

  12. Richard Aubrey says:

    Sorry about “femfriendly”. I took that to mean “friendly with feminists”.
    Most guys I know are friendly with women without agreeing with feminists.
    In fact, your last paragraph describes nearly every man I know. So I guess this is not only redundant, superfluous, unnecessary, but ‘way late to the party.
    A useful discussion does not create a straw man or haul out a stereotype, demolish it, and then claim to have accomplished something.

    • GladToBeInThe21stCentury says:

      I guess you’d have to ask the women whether they consider these men you know “friendly” with them, not just the men.

  13. One of the greatest articles about masculinity and their way of being. Thank you so much for sharing.

  14. Gwynne S. says:

    Women wanted change. We got sick of being treated like sex objects and slaves in the work place. We didn’t want to rely on men for anything. We worked to change the world, and we moved into jobs where men attacked us, sexually harassed us, raped us and treated us like dirt…. Walmart is facing the biggest sex discrimination lawsuit in the history of the U.S. this year 2011. The male dominated Supreme Court (there has never been any other kind in this country) will probably rule in favor of white male christian patriarchy – Walmart.

    What do I see in men that has changed? Well nothing actually. They seem to be worse than ever before, have contaminated the Internet with violent woman hating porn, rape is still rampant, sex abuse of children headline news. My company has about 5% of women at the higher levels, and 95% of men, again mostly white, emotionally dead beings. What’s good about my job? My wonderful women clients. What do I hate about my job– the 95% sexist male pigs who still run everything and are still as bad as ever.

    Male domination is a global curse. And I believe men can’t change. I believe they are the oppressors of women, and have been this for thousands of years. Since the earth is facing ecological disaster, I think we should stop the fiction of men being able to change. They can’t, and I’ve come to believe, after dealing with them year after year in the work place, that they might be a lower form of life. I believe it is time for women to take over, and for men to shut up and get out of our way. And the penalty for men raping? Well, the death penalty for all sex crimes against women, the end of a male controlled supreme court, the end of men in congress… there is no hope for them. Just shut up men, you have made the world a cesspool.

  15. Richard Aubrey says:

    Danny. Somebody has to provide. Or not, depending on whether you’ve got an in with the government.
    Men have had the tools, physically speaking, to do pre-mechanical providing better than women. Reading Brokaw’s autobio. Seems the women’s help with the physical stuff didn’t annoy the menz. But the belief that men should provide did not mean they were not allowed to do other things or were emotionally incapable of doing them. That’s the myth. The myth of the nearly-fatally-flawed, the damaged man, who needs the insights of femfriendly men. How’s irrelevant, unnecessary, redundant, and superfluous sound?

    Just found it. Heinlein: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”

    Note, “human being”. Includes men, strangely enough. Never met a person, man or not, who disagreed with the idea. Of course, those who can’t write sonnets and whose education did not include Annapolis, and maybe feel themselves techtards, or a little put off by Heinlein’s constant references to calc and upwards in his stories might be a little uncomfortable with the requirements. But that doesn’t mean they disagree.

    • GladToBeInThe21stCentury says:

      “femfriendly men”

      That’s the whole point; if you can’t be friendly with women then you are still caught in the myth, no?

      There is an alternative: That you need not be so hostile to women and can even be friendly with women. Can learn to share earning and parenting not “somONE has to provide.” Can learn to empathize. Can learn to dialogue rather than argue, demean and condescend to others. Can learn from men whom women like. Can learn from women.

    • Danny. Somebody has to provide.
      Yes somebody has to do the providing and for ages its been the belief that men are supposed to do the external providing and women are supposed to do the internal providing.

      But the belief that men should provide did not mean they were not allowed to do other things or were emotionally incapable of doing them. That’s the myth.
      And as Hugo as much says that myth is an active force that manisfests in the form of people thinking that a man has his place and woman has her place. As in some of the same forces that kept women out of the boardroom kept men out of nursery.

      He pushes it home right here:
      As she knows, there is no irrefutable evidence that evolution has rendered men ill-suited for our rapidly transforming economy. But one thing we do know with certainty is that beliefs can shape reality.
      Yes its a myth that men are incapable of working in the nursery just as its a myth that women are incapable of working the boardroom. However both of these myths have shaped reality for a long time.

      But considering you used “menz” I get the feeling your mind is already made up on this.

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Calling something a “myth” implies that a lot of people believed it.
    That needs to be demonstrated.
    But it does allow the writer to pretend to be addressing something nobody else thought of.
    Frequently, very few people believed it, whatever it was.
    Lousy technique.

    • Its demonstrated by the fact that for ages men have been expected to fill the role of the provider.

      And I have to disagree that only a few people believe.

  17. What they’re missing isn’t the ability to transform—what they’re missing is the inspiration, ambition, and encouragement to go out into the marketplace and match their skills to the changing demands of our transforming economy.

    And calling them slackers and mocking their interests and hobbies does not inspire or encourage them. It is understandable that feminist position is to put men down, however, that does not resolve the problem. If men want to work in labor, I do not think the solution to the problem of shrinking construction jobs is to tell men to teach 5-year-olds. That kind of simplistic perspective also ignores that many of the men who lose these jobs have worked for decades, so it is easy for them to throw away the last twenty years, go back to school with no money, and get a cushy communications job. We have people will skill sets that are still needed, but are undervalued, sent oversees, or given to people who will work for less.

    The problem is much bigger than a faux myth about male inflexibility. It is about how our economy allows businesses to make profits and how those business’s choices leave US workers, particularly male workers, in a terrible position with few options.

    • GladToBeInThe21stCentury says:

      I think the idea is that US businesses will no longer be able to disrespect men who follow through on work/family balance issues when there is a critical mass of men who are engaged with the economy and their families. For men who are unfamiliar with them, learning self-awareness, relational skills, negotiation skills, parenting/nurturing/mentoring skills, will add to any other marketable skills the man has and will not only serve him in getting to have and be part of a family but also in the workplace.

      Motivation comes in part from self-awareness and emotional availability.

      • A cushy job. How laughable. I find my job as a writing center tutor more exhausting than I found my job working at a dog kennel! Unlike my job here, I didn’t have to think so hard at the kennels. I had a task list I needed to do, got it done, and didn’t have to use much of my brain to think about what to do next. But my job as a writing center tutor requires me to think through various scenarios and how to fix those scenarios, of which there is no formula for. I don’t have to do physical work, but mental work is just as taxing, if not more, than physical labor. Physical labor didn’t give me a headache. Physical labor released a lot of stress. But mental labor adds stress and exhausts me to the point of snapping sometimes, while giving me a headache in the process. When people call jobs like mine cushy, I’m led to believe they’re envious they don’t have the mental capacity to do what I do.

        • The majority of men who lost their jobs in the last two years did not work in dog kennels. Many of them worked in factories or in the construction industries. Those jobs require a lot of mental work along with physical work. Those jobs also require years of experience, which is actually the major contention for men. They learned a set of skills that are now useless. It is ridiculous to assume anyone could easily pick up a new set of skills in a few months and go back to work. The other contention is that the skills are useless only because the jobs are no longer here. People still need cars. We just are not building them in the US.

          So it is a double frustration these older men do not have the money or time to go back to school and land a secure job, and no one cares enough about this problem to actually try to keep jobs in the country. We are not even willing create new jobs that could use those men’s skills, such as creating green energy programs or rebuilding our infrastructure.

          Granted, it is much more satisfying for people to claim men are lazy or that they should become nurses or teach pre-school (as if people can jump right into that in a couple of months or as if everyone wants to be a nurse or pre-school teacher or that men would not be called sexual predators for becoming nurses or teaching pre-school). It is more realistic to acknowledge that the problem is not that men cannot adapt, but that men literally have few options.

        • Dog kennel? Headaches? Really? Those are your barometers for a “hard job”? Come back when you face a realistic threat of ending up in a wheelchair just for going to work.

          So yes. Your job is cushy.

  18. Adapt or die, right? And why shouldn’t men adapt to professions like nursing, pre-school teaching. But for some odd reason people sometimes look at them askance. But why? If a man can pass an RN program, he can deal with women’s parts. It’s a no brainer to me. Yet I’m glad you address it and reinvigorate the conversation. Status, wealth, where we live and how we form families: it’s all changing. And for the better. Great piece of writing, Hugo.

    • Here in Norway, which came second on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index in 2010 ( it turns out that the labour marked is very gender segregated. Men and suprisingly too a larger degree women choose traditionally careers in fields dominated by their gender.

      Men at a higher rate than women educate themselves on fields which are currently domminated by the other gender. I.e. there has been a larger change in how many men educate themselves in the health and social science sector than women who educate themselves in for instance construction. The latter have only minute changes in the last couple of decades – despite most of the visible effort/propaganda by the state have been a push for women to choose non-traditional careers.

      60% of those who applied for higher education in Norway last year were women. Of these 62.000 women did 700 apply to engineer. Of the 42.000 male applicants did 1.000 apply for nurse and 500 for kindergarden teacher (for children aged 1 to 5).

      So men are adapting, as also Hugo Schwyzer points out when he notes that the nurse program where he teaches has seen a slow, but steady increase in male students. He also notes that there has been a 33% increase in the number of men teaching pre-schhol and kindergarden children.
      However, it turns out that women are not so willing to choose untraditionally – the number of female recepients of Bachelor degree in engineering has not changed at all between 2002 and 2008 ( although I think it is safe to say that there has been a significant push and a lot of programs to get more women into STEM.

      A survey of 2500 workers in Norway showed that 60% of women would prefer to be economically provided for by their partner and stay at home with their children. In particular women younger than 35 years old would step down their own career ambitions if they could get their partner/husband to provide for them.

      So men are adapting, at least where I live. Women seems to be adapting to a lesser degree though…

  19. GladToBeInThe21stCentury says:

    Good article.

    I was very annoyed with Rosin’s article, which was both inarticulate (I think the title should have been “The End of Patriarchal Men”) and somewhat snarky, vindictive and revenge-oriented, as the quote above indicates.

    The last forty years have indeed seen a remarkable shift to sex/gender equality. Yet, the “status quo” reinforcers of evolutionary psychology, with its simplistic conjectures and attempts to reinforce the past, religion, and politicians of both parties (the GOP by patronizing and exploiting in the home, failing to acknowledge work/family balance issues and overvaluing the military and undervaluing education and health care; the Dems like Bill Clinton, by patronizing and exploiting through sexual harassment, welfare programs that don’t hold men accountable, male leaders failing to act as good 50% responsible-for-unpaid-work-of-parents themselves etc) have all placed enormous pressures on those of us working for sex/gender equality.

    Rosin’s desire for revenge is understandable, and her desire for female dominance in order to prevent these often petty, but inisidious, forces from blocking sex/gender quality, is also understandable. Not sure she’s shown that “female leadership” is better, however, by just trading tit for tat. Unfortunately since many men remain homosocial (preferring the company of other men and defining themselves by what other men want, rather than what they want and what female partners ask of them), Rosin may feel she had little choice but to be stinging in her article.

    Hugo’s article here and the GMP’s efforts in general, are very helpful in providing an alternative of male leadership that can work with female leadership and need not be dominated or generalized into “the end of men.”

    • Catullus says:

      I was not suprised by Rosin’s article. She opined in an earlier piece that breast feeding holds a woman back professionally. In the Atlantic’s online edition, she’s in a video accompanying the end-of-men piece in which she proudly states her belief that “girls rule.” She clearly thinks the only thing wrong with winner-take-all capitalism is that the typical winner isn’t a woman.

      I’m all for men and women branching into work that was heretofore done by the opposite sex. But that won’t stop the growing employment crisis of the former First World. “Hit the books and make a plan,” is what Katha Pollitt recently advised men in her Nation column. I say do that and while you’re at it, hit a capitalist. Hard enough for him or her not to get back up.


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