Listening to NPR last week, I was upset by a story about a book called, “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women” by Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic magazine. “Stop dividing women and men!” This is what I want to shout at Hanna Rosin. The title is problematic and so is the content — or at least what the author was telling the reporter on the radio. I do not intend to read the book.
Starting with a provocative title might help sell books but this one won’t do any good to advance our culture or the place of women in it. I don’t want men to “go away” or “come to an end.” I love many men in my life. My father is a good, kind-hearted man who treats all people with equity and respect. My partner, whom I plan to marry, is the most amazing person I know, and is genuinely respectful of all people. He is understanding of the second-class treatment all women experience at times, especially that of women of color or queer women or poor women. The women Rosin talks about are women who are breadwinners and making more than their male counterparts in traditionally male-dominated sectors like business and technology. But she overlooks the fact that men still dominate the highest paying sectors of our economy and that women still make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.
Most obviously, she is not considering how poor women or women of color are left out of the higher wage jobs in our economy. Even if more women are becoming the bread-winners in their households, its still mostly white, middle & upper class women who are doing this with financial success. Depending on your zip code in America, women of color have been single-mothers and heads of households for a very long time because the men in their communities have been held down by lack of economic opportunity, prison or both. We cannot talk about the “place” of women in our society in blanket terms. The experiences of American women differ dramatically based on race, class, place of birth, religion and/or politics. The people of America and our Native brothers and sisters are not homogeneous.
And lastly, women do not want to dominate men. This is not what feminism teaches. Women want to be treated with equality, equity, trust, love and respect. Women want to be listened to just like men have been for eons. When feminism talks about equality for all that is exactly what they mean. And yes, its true, to achieve equality between men and women, men are going to have to let go of some of the power they have held for as long as we have been recording history. Equity requires the balance of power be distributed evenly.