Contrary to what more than a few online reactions would have you believe, in no way does Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men imply that the obliteration of men and the rise of an all-powerful, misandrist matriarchy is imminent. Let’s just get that out of the way right up front. The provocative title stems from an article of the same name that Rosin wrote for The Atlantic magazine; that controversial article was the starting point for the focus of this book.
In straightforward terms, Rosin argues that the gender roles men and women have traditionally played are now undergoing an unprecedented shift. She uses the concepts of the “Cardboard Man” and the “Plastic Woman” — an extremely unfortunate label with plastic surgery connotations — to illustrate her points. While women have broken down countless barriers and have adapted to the different expectations demanded of them (bendable like plastic, get it?), men have been less willing to change. Women are wielding increasing economic power, going to college in higher numbers, and changing the dynamics of the traditional family structure. It’s happening, and it’s happening fast.
This is an intriguing premise for a book, and one that certainly deserves further exploration. When it comes to higher education, women are leaving men behind in many fields, including fields that have been traditionally male. At one point, Rosin dares to expose an “open secret” of higher education admissions offices: by 2009, due to the overwhelming amount of applications by women compared to the smaller amount by men, “American private colleges [which aren’t bound by Title IX] had quietly begun to practice affirmative action…for men.” A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights named Gail Heriot began a government-sanctioned investigation into these practices; in 2011, when the results were beginning to trickle in and starting to confirm Heriot’s suspicions, the investigation was conveniently shut down before any definitive pronouncements could be made. Rosin writes: