Calling for Curtains on Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men

Journalist Hanna Rosin has become well known for her recent book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (and for her Atlantic article of the same name). Here is the publisher’s description:

Men have been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But Hanna Rosin was the first to notice that this long-held truth is, astonishingly, no longer true. At this unprecedented moment, by almost every measure, women are no longer gaining on men: They have pulled decisively ahead.

Rosin’s assertions have left many of us scratching our heads. Not surprisingly, her book has garnered a lot of feminist critique, including an article titled The Myth of Male Decline by Stephanie Coontz. Rosin has responded by posting an excerpt from the epilogue of her new paperback edition on Slate, calling it “The Patriarchy Is Dead. Feminists, Accept It.” I follow a blog by University of Maryland, College Park, sociologist Philip N. Cohen, and he pointed out a little problem with this excerpt.

For glass-half-empty feminists — like me — eager to obsess over data minutia, and jump on her every mistake, she is very obliging:

The 2012 elections inspired a similar reactionary response in some quarters. A record number of women were elected to Congress, bringing their number to a third of the membership, the level many sociologists cite as a tipping point when a minority becomes normalized and starts to enter the mainstream. In other words, it’s no longer big news when a woman gets elected; it’s the expected.

Actual number of women in Congress: 18.3%. I don’t know any sociologists who think that is a “tipping point when a minority becomes normalized.”

Yes, seriously. That happened.

Anyway, Cohen’s blog post led me an article he wrote last fall that I somehow missed. It was titled The End of Men Is Not True, and catalogued Rosin’s factual inaccuracies and distortions. It seems that Boston University School of Law held an entire conference evaluating Rosin’s claims last October, at which Rosin delivered the keynote address, and then published the entire conference in their journal, and all of these papers are now available online, including Cohen’s. The entire thing slate of papers is incredibly fascinating and rich with information. What I want to call your attention to, is Cohen’s paper, which I just read thoroughly and cannot recommend more highly. You can read it here. It’s not short, but it is extremely readable.

Hanna Rosin has written that she “hesitate[s] to get drawn into data wars” (and suggested my blog to those readers who have “an appetite for them”). Statistics, however, are not mere technical details, academic in the pejorative sense. They are reflections of reality – numbers that represent characteristics of a sample which, if done right, reflect the population from which the sample is drawn. It is in the broad sense of measuring reality, not the narrow sense of quibbling over details at the nth decimal place, that the “end of men” is not true. Rosin’s depiction of reality is not accurate.

While her prominent 2010 article in The Atlantic launched the “end-of-men” phenomenon, it was only later, while watching her TED Talk, that I realized the scale of the problem. Many of the facts offered in that talk were either wrong or misinterpreted to exaggerate the looming approach – or arrival– of female dominance. Since reading her book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, I have come to see Rosin’s tendency toward exaggeration and misrepresentation as fundamental to its narrative and crippling to its credibility. Because the anecdotes that comprise the bulk of the text have little weight without the broader context provided by the statistics, the story cannot survive on its colorful illustrations alone. In Part I of this Essay, I debunk the most prominent of Rosin’s erroneous empirical claims. The book and its surrounding debate, however, have encouraged me to think about framing the current state of gender inequality. I therefore discuss in Part II a few policy approaches to advancing beyond the current stall in progress toward gender equality that require shedding the mistaken “looming-matriarchy” perspective, as well as its less extreme “equality-is-inevitable” cousin.

Seriously. Read the whole thing. Let me offer another excerpts for those who may not have the time to click through, or the desire to read an entire paper:

C. Women’s Power

According to Rosin, the growing economic advantages women enjoy have given them a newfound social dominance outside of families as well, reversing millennia of patriarchy. As one of her laid-off male informants in Alexander City, Alabama, reportedly told her, “Suddenly, it’s us who are relying on the women. Suddenly, we got the women in control.” She quotes a local Southern Baptist leader as saying, “The real issue here is not the end of men, but the disappearance of manhood.” This rising female dominance is the core the “end-of-men” myth.

Alexander City is a small town devastated by the shrinking manufacturing sector, especially the departure of Russell Corporation, an athletic-wear maker. To that description Rosin adds ominously, “This year, Alexander City had its first female mayor.” But what is the model of power behind such a portrayal? A laid-off man’s bitter outburst, a conservative Christian’s apocalyptic pronouncement, a woman as mayor, an economic shift disproportionately affecting men – is this what makes women dominant over men? Is this what makes a matriarchy?

To see the limited nature of these isolated indicators, consider several facts. To begin with, Alexander City mayor Barbara Young was actually first elected in 2004, and then re-elected in 2008 with 85% of the vote – clearly not a recent takeover of the city’s political power structure by women. The city council also included five men and one woman in 2012. All five contenders to replace Mayor Young in 2012 were men, including the winner, Charles Shaw. In the city government, moreover, just one of the fourteen department heads featured on the city’s website in fall 2012 was a woman – the manager of the Senior Nutrition Program. Far from a matriarchy, this seems like a normal level of male domination in American politics.

Alexander City undoubtedly is a poor place, and men’s earnings are especially low. Forty-three percent of men who work fulltime all year earn less than $30,000, compared with just 24% nationally. And there are, in fact,more women than men with jobs in the $30,000-to-$50,000 earnings range. But at the top of Alexander City’s economic hierarchy, 70% of the people earning more than $75,000 are men (which is where 15% of men are, compared with 7% of women). Men’s fulltime year-round median earnings are about $5,000 more than women’s earnings.

Rosin especially highlights the economic plight of young men with low levels of education, belaboring out an anecdote about a couple in which the woman works two jobs while attending nursing school to support her deadbeat boyfriend and their son. According to Rosin, this man’s situation is so common that when he does the family’s shopping, all he sees are “aisles and aisles of dudes” at the store. But in Alexander City, 77% of the twentysomething men are employed, compared with only 53% of women. In fact, the employment rate is higher for men at all ages, and the employed labor force overall is 53% male.

Down the road from Alexander City, meanwhile, Auburn, Alabama, is Rosin’s flipside, representing the successful response to the “rise of women.” She writes, “Auburn has become the region’s one economic powerhouse by turning itself into a town dominated by women.” 80 Again, the claim of women’s “domination” is very strong, but what is the evidence?

Rosin starts with the relative income of young women, reporting that in the Auburn-Opelika metropolitan area, “it turns out that the median income of the women there is about 140 percent of the median income of the men.” Although she mentions that the source for this data is the Reach Advisors analysis, she does not clarify that “young women” and “young men” here again refer only to single, childless, fulltime and full-year employed workers between the ages of twenty-two and thirty. She describes Auburn as a “perfect reflection of the modern, feminized economy: a combination of university, service, government jobs, with a small share in manufacturing.” But after that, the story relies mainly on anecdotes, such as one about a woman who “works in the female-dominated economic development department”(which is actually directed by a man), and her “three best girlfriends[,] . . . a consultant, a lawyer, and an engineer.”

To consider some other indicators for Auburn, I checked the mayor’s gender (male) and the composition of the city council (100% male), the city government’s department heads (80% male), and the top leadership of Auburn University (the President, Provost, and Executive Vice Provost are all male, and the board of trustees is 86% male). For labor force indicators, Auburn city has a workforce that is 54% male, with women on average earning 71% of men’s earnings, men filling 70% of management occupations, and male managers earning on average 36% more than female managers. And within married couples (with wives between the ages of twenty and fifty-four), the total percentage of families in which the wife earns more than 50% of family income reaches only 20%, little different from the national rate.

In short, I find no indicators of anything approaching equality between men and women in Alexander City or Auburn, Alabama, and even less suggesting systematic domination by women. There may be interesting or important stories to tell about those families or organizations affected by the declining fortunes of men displaced from the manufacturing industry, but the story of female domination is false.

Again, you can read the whole thing here.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Mira

    I always hate that kind of misrepresentation. First of all, pointing out the facts does not make us whiny–it means we demand change! It does a LOT of harm to insist that “everything is totes cool, nothing to see here” in this respect just as much as it does to insist that there’s no such thing as racism or homophobia anymore.
    Maybe in YOUR narrow worldview everything is peachy, but not to the rest of us…

  • http://itsbetterthanyours.blogspot.com/ AndersH

    No wonder that she’s started in on the “well, we have equality now so any differences in income and influence are due to women’s choices”-spiel and willfully misunderstanding feminist critiques, as in her gender gap article a couple of weeks ago.
    She’s a full-fledged defender of the status quo and a typical representative of the line of thought that has far too much political influence today – that systemic factors don’t matter (or are just) and that the presence of “choice” means that it’s everyone’s individual responsibility how the world looks. Increasing tuition and decreasing returns for a degree? Well, this person came from a worse background and she made it! No possibility to feed your children on a minimum wage part-time job? Get a better job! Women not getting an honest chance at management? Be better! Work-life balance doesn’t work because of employer’s expectations and partner’s unwillingness to do domestic work? Get a better job and partner, silly!

    To summarize that kind of magical, infuriating thinking: “if everyone just made an effort they could ALL be in the top quintile!” (ignoring, of course, that there will always be a bottom quintile/a certain level of unemployment, and their quality of life and level of income is a systemic issue). The people who use their privileged position to spread that kind of message do nothing but putting a fine veneer on a social order where anyone who’s not on top has to shove past their fellows to reach the best scraps from their table.

    • Miss_Beara

      No possibility to feed your children on a minimum wage part-time job? Get a better job!

      AHHHH I hate when people say/type this! I see it oftentimes when there is discussion about part and full time jobs that don’t provide health care for their employees. In their bizarre little world there is a Better Job Tree where people just have to go to so they can have health care and a living wage.

      Other “No possibility to feed your children on a minimum wage part-time job?” pathetic “advice”

      * should have kept your legs closed
      * should have multiple jobs to feed yourself and your kids
      * should pull yourself up by your bootstraps so one day you can be a millionaire.

      • http://itsbetterthanyours.blogspot.com/ AndersH

        Exactly. It’s really annoying. And makes me want to throw their “personal responsibility” excuse back in their faces. Where is their sense of responsibility for the policies they advocate? We can measure the effect of them; we know what the level of social mobility is, we know the number of people who need Medicaid, we know how many people are on SNAP, we know the male/female ratio in boardrooms and congress, and we know the effects of a labour market that does not work for betterment of people or family, to take a few examples. Changing that is not as easy as flipping a switch, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t promote policies that could improve things and change those policies when it turns out that they aren’t working out. But no, instead our Top Men wonder mournfully why not all poor people can be the top 10% in talent, drive and ambition. I’d call it wishful thinking, but I rather think it’s more about them being disingenuous douchebags.

      • Lizzie

        * should pull yourself up by your bootstraps so one day you can be a millionaire.

        I HATE THIS ONE! It seems to be to be rampant in the right wing republican voting pool. Lower middle/middle class people who people like George W. Bush never cared about even a little and they worshipped him. They vote in the best interest of millionaires because hey one day they could be a millionaire too!

      • CarysBirch

        A member of my family recently let loose on my Facebook wall about how aid to low income people is CRUEL and spirit breaking. He somehow genuinely believes that helping people have a good life harms them somehow. I just can’t fathom it.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I’m speechless. I don’t understand that at all. Having food to put on the table is worse than not having food? What?

      • CarysBirch

        “I believe like Ben Franklin that the worst thing we can do for the poor is make them comfortable in their poverty. It is a way to control them and keep power. It destroys the Human Spirit.”

        Words not my own. Nor sentiments.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Also not found on the Google. I find it unlikely any of Ben Franklin’s works aren’t on the Internet, so someone paraphrased or just plain old made things up on that one.

        EDIT: I did find something similar, though. “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” That’s probably the quote paraphrased. It doesn’t say anything about controlling anyone, keeping power, or destroying the human spirit, unless that comes later.

        Franklin was also in favor of giving people a helping hand when they needed it, even through the auspices of the state or private charity. He knew how hard poverty was, and he wasn’t super-impressed with the wealthy either.

        “But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue: ’tis hard for an empty bag to stand upright.”

        “The Poor have little, Beggars none; the Rich too much, enough not one.”

        “The church the state, and the poor, are 3 daughters which we should maintain, but not portion off.”

      • CarysBirch

        I don’t think my relative intended it to be a direct quote, but just a paraphrase. But yeah I’m not sure how destroying the human spirit comes in. I can’t really talk to him, I think I might drop his full quote into the chatter thread just to get it off my chest, since I’m not “out” enough on Facebook to dissect it there. I find it highly unlikely that any of my family will neglect the Blaze and the Drudge Report long enough to find me here.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Nodnod. It sucks that you can’t be out to your family about your political views. I like seeing what you have to say, though, so vent away!

      • CarysBirch

        I’ve only just moved out of my parents’ house (and done them the deep deep trauma of moving in with my boyfriend, which admittedly happened fast) so while I was living there it was dangerous to admit this stuff, and now that I’ve traumatized them, I want to give them some time to let it wear off before I do it all over again. OR I’m terrified. Probably both. Heh.

      • smrnda

        At Franklin’s time, economics wasn’t understood well enough for his thoughts on poverty to be worth much in the present day. People’s speculations on poverty at that time are a lot like their speculations on disease and such – perhaps not totally useless, but we have a better understanding of these things now.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Oh yeah. We were still at what, mercantilism, at the time?

      • abra11

        Grrr… I think ol’ Ben was a pretty bright guy with a gift for distilling (or gathering) words of wisdom. However, to use a founding father’s words to determine policy is to assert that the accumulation of social science and the development of ethics in the intervene 200+ years is worthless (at least as far as public policy goes), that the fundamental transformation of the economy from agrarian to industrial to post industrial is irrelevant, and that the transition of our society from rural to urban has no bearing on how we negotiate how to live together via the body politic.

        That, and marshaling quotes is like using scripture to proof text. Particularly with someone as prolific at BF, you can find something you agree with if you look long enough and chop it, right?

      • guest

        This may be the most boring title of any book I enthusiastically recommend, but:

        http://www.amazon.com/Work-Ethic-Industrial-America-1850-1920/dp/0226723526/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1379227226&sr=8-5&keywords=work+industrial+america

        The author points out that we still believe four things about work that were in fact true in Franklin’s time, but are no longer true:

        Everyone has a God-given calling, and we serve God and our higher selves by exercising it.
        All must work for the common good–the community cannot survive unless everyone works to his/her fullest extent.
        Idleness is dangerous.
        The harder you work, the more successful you will be (true in an economy of small independent producers, not of people who work for wages).

        So Franklin may have been justified in his view of the unemployed, based on what he saw around him, but (as with Adam Smith, who I write about a lot) these ‘great thinkers’ were thinking and writing about their world, not ours.

      • CarysBirch

        I’m not sure those things were ever true. They were always said by a person of relative wealth and privilege in his culture (and education). The poor may not have a great voice now, but they had even less then, so there are no real contemporary criticisms (that I know of, someone please correct me if I’m wrong here) from people lower on the social ladder. It’s easy to say something was true when nobody spoke to contradict it.

      • guest

        What I and the author of the book I cited are referring to is not what poor people thought (and yes, there are plenty of contemporary criticisms of 18th-19th century economics from poor people affected by the actions of the rich and powerful, though my field is England and I couldn’t give you American sources) but rather how society was structured and functioned. In colonial America, for example, population was low, goods were scarce, and labour was desperately valuable–hence truth no. 2; in this physical, social and economic environment if even one person in a small community did not contribute his/her labour to his/her fullest extent it could put the entire community at risk.

      • Renee

        They don’t wanna rock the boat, because they think they are going to climb aboard….

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      I encountered someone on Facebook recently who, no joke, said that he was against welfare because all the welfare people he sees own iPhones, and therefore they are all scammers. He knew this, he said, because he saw them while submitting his own application.

      *headsmack*

      I provided him a list of ways an impoverished person might have a fancy smart phone:
      -Bought it before getting laid off, now needs a phone (for job search purposes, for example) more than the amount of money they could get for selling it.
      -Got it free with a plan contract (this is how my husband got his first smart phone – the contract was no more expensive than plans that didn’t come with a phone, the only difference was that he was locked in the plan for a certain amount of time).
      -Got it as a gift.
      -Got it by saving up small amounts of money over a long period of time (you can get a really nice phone in two years by putting $20 aside per month).

      His response was that he knew that they were getting their phones from welfare. How did he know? He knows because he knows, and why was I being so liberal-biased?

      *smack head, withdraw from discussion*

      • smrnda

        The phone often comes *free when you sign up for service* and without a phone, you won’t get a job.

      • Karen

        To find a hypocrite, one need look no further than a right-wing Republican friend or acquaintance.

      • TLC

        Or some people keep their smartphones when they’re unemployed because it’s the only computer they have, and therefore the only way they can apply for jobs.

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        Indeed. His argument was that computers can be used for free at local libraries and employment centres. Of course, I’ve gone that route in the past. I was applying for my first “real grownup” job while I didn’t have a computer with an internet connection.

        Waiting in line for the library computer, only getting it for 20 minutes at a time, not being guaranteed a spot and having to just hope that the library isn’t very crowded, only being able to use it during library business hours, etc while waiting for an e-mail callback is not only frustrating, it makes job searching nearly impossible. As it happened, the interview scheduling e-mail was sent to me after my library had closed, and I didn’t get it until the next day – less than an hour before the time they were proposing.

        It was a nightmare. And if I didn’t already have a relationship with the company, it probably would have meant not getting the job.

        Access to a computer and a phone are not luxuries any more. They are necessities.

      • Renee

        And forget that most people have to GET to the library. If you need to take the bus or drive there daily, the cost will easily equal or outweigh just having a smart phone or other web enabled device. The bus is 1.75 per ride, or 3.50 per day, which adds up quick.

    • Renee

      And it is THIS attitude that is driving our economy into the ground. So long as you can blame a persons problems on choices alone, you don’t have to worry that YOU could be next.

  • Christine

    How on earth can anyone be taken seriously when they admit that they don’t care about what actually exists, that if you want real facts you should go elsewhere?

    • NeaDods

      Ah, but then she provides the anecdata that people want to use for their talking points. Actual facts? Those are for elitists! (/sarcasm)

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      “Why would I trust some researcher with biases when I can see plainly what’s going on by looking around me at the people I know?”

      • Christine

        And this is the problem with no one taking higher level science classes. I don’t want to encourage the “we need more STEM-trained people” myth, but some basic science understanding would help. I’m not going to pretend that the researcher bias has no effect, but in a well-designed scientific study it is minimized. But if the only post-secondary classes you take are ones in which any well-argued theory has the same weight (because either the facts are ambiguous, or you can’t trust them), you aren’t going to necessarily get that the facts alone can falsify one theory or another, and the minority view will remain that way, because there isn’t data to back it up. (See also, anti-vaxxers)

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        The scientific method isn’t complicated. There is absolutely no reason why children shouldn’t be introduced to it in a serious and systematic way starting with Kindergarten.

        They already touch on things like data management in grade school by, for example, charting frequencies. Why no take an extra few minutes to talk about what statistics *means.* There are ways to explain it in ways that preschoolers, let alone grade 1 kids, might understand. Add to that discussions of the scientific method (hypothesis>experiment>questions>hypothesis>…) and the sheer repetition of doing it every single year in science class should make it second nature.

        The value of science class is not in memorizing the elements on the periodic table or the names of all the parts of a volcano. The value is in learning to think scientifically. If a science class isn’t doing that, it’s failing in a much bigger way than if they don’t have time to cover bees in their unit on insects.

      • Christine

        Totally. And math is the same – it’s not being able to do math, it’s being able to think in math that matters most. I also think that liberal arts degrees have just as much need for complementary studies requirements are STEM ones do, to balance out the “this is what I learned in elementary school, this is what I learned as an adult” problem.

      • Antigone10

        I taught it to 3 year olds. Simplified scientific method (Look, question, ask, guess, test, check) but they picked it up pretty quick. So we’d take something like “why is the sky blue?” and go through the steps until they could figure it out. Mind you, they answer they remember is “because the sky is like a prism that makes blue instead of rainbows” but we did experiments to prove things like “the water reflects it blue” and because “god painted it blue” (that one was tricky, we had to do things like “Is the sky ALWAYS blue? What changes when it isn’t blue?” ‘The sun isn’t in the same spot/ behind clouds’” more leading questions until they got it.

        And I’m a horrible teacher. I haven’t the patience to deal with lots of small children for long stretches of time, which is why I quit. And I even managed to get them to learn basic science stuff.

      • Antigone10

        I once had a conservative-minded friend say “Arguing with you is pointless because you always have some book or study and I don’t have time to waste looking at that crap”.

        Say what?

      • Christine

        Heh. My government got rid of most of our census. They claimed privacy reasons, but then backed an internet surveillance bill. I think my husband’s comment that they don’t want data, because then it’s easier to claim that their policies make sense, is more on the money.

      • Renee

        I get this all of the time.

    • TLC

      Does she do research for Debi? Maybe they collaborate on their “anecdote techniques” as well?

  • ako

    Hanna Rosin has written that she “hesitate[s] to get drawn into data wars”

    But her entire argument is that women are becoming increasingly dominant in certain areas, and that’s an argument that depends on evidence! Data! Statistics! Look at the actual documentation establishing what commonly happens! If her argument was “Some women face relatively little discrimination and are in a good position to succeed”, she’s be in a much better position to rely on her anecdotes*, but fewer people would have any reason to care. Without the statistics, she’s got a bunch of stories of privileged women not being massively oppressed, and a dismissive “Patriarchy isn’t a thing, because there’s no one specific patriarch who’s running around going ‘I oppress you!’ at women” argument.

    *If you can document that an anecdote is true, then you’ve got good evidence that the particular situation happens at all ever. It’s terrible evidence of a trend, but a great way to refute always/never claims. Basically, I have strong opinions about the appropriateness of anecdotes as evidence.

    • luckyducky

      I’ve wondered how much of Rosin’s take on this is influence by the fact that she grew up in NYC and now lives in the rarefied air of Washington DC — they are very unique cities that have their own socioeconomic dynamics. Her work definitely illustrates the problems of journalists — who are trained to look for the compelling narratives of individuals — trying to do/replace/compete with sociological/policy research — disciplines in which one is trained to look past the very compelling narratives of the individuals to discern patterns based on data that is collected to minimize bias. David Brooks is a serial offender.

      As far as anecdotes, particularly anecdotes that seem to contradict established research and or indicate change, they are worthwhile if you look at them with a critical eye as to why they might be different.

      If we have an individual who falls way outside of the 95% CI, why? This is often to see if there is a credible reason to exclude that person (he/she isn’t actually part of the population in the study), or to improve a model (discover there is another variable that should be controlled for, bringing the outlier into line). Or, if a given set of women are out-preforming a given set of men in a particular city, is there something about that city, those given, etc. that can explain why that set is different from all other sets. If so, is there any indication that will persist over time for that and future sets and why?

      But ultimately, it is called a 95% CI for a reason, there are always going to be some portion of your population that doesn’t “fit” with the model but we shouldn’t make policy based on the exceptions unless we’re trying to address the condition of being an exception.

      • LizBert

        I think maybe it’s a combination of location and career path. I have a friend in chemical engineering who experiences very frequent sexual harassment and just general unwelcoming workplace issues because she is a woman in a very male dominated field.

    • Gillianren

      In the scientific community, the saying is “the plural of ‘anecdote’ isn’t ‘data.’”

      • Rilian Sharp

        Why isn’t it? If someone says X is rare, and you find a bunch of examples, that would refute their claim, wouldn’t it?

      • Gillianren

        If you are specifically documenting and measuring them, you’re doing science. If you’re just telling stories, you aren’t. In order for it to be science, you can’t just list a bunch of things. You have to look at how it fits into the broader picture. How many is “a bunch of examples”? How many is it relative to all the others?

      • jjramsey

        If someone says that “X is rare” in a population numbering in the hundreds of thousands or millions, and your “bunch of examples” is say, ten or fifteen, then, no, you haven’t refuted the claim.

      • Christine

        If X occurs 1% of the time, it’s rare. However, if you ask 1000 people if X happened to them, 10 will say that it did. 10 examples is “a bunch”, but clearly isn’t enough to refute the claim. It’s not entirely intuitive, which is why there is such a strict procedure for determining what is an isn’t significant – our brains aren’t really wired for it.

        Now, if someone says that X never happens, then anecdotes are a valid counter-example. This is part of why scientists so rarely use descriptors like “never” and “always”. (Which is a huge contributing factor in popular misrepresentations of science, but that’s another story).

      • luckyducky

        That and, if your agenda is to show that X isn’t rare or is important even if rare, and you are not “interested in data wars,” it is incredibly likely that your anecdotes will suffer from confirmation bias. You will not, in fact, be interviewing 1,000 random people. Instead, you are probably asking far fewer than 1,000 and drawing them from places where the counter-examples you seek are most likely to occur.

        It is like trying argue that back-to-school spending is up by asking people coming out of a high-end mall rather than collecting data on store revenue at all clothing, big box, and office supply stores during the back-to-school shopping time period or conducting a random telephone survey (including cell phones) of 1,000+ randomly selected individuals across the country about their back-to-school spending decisions.

      • Christine

        I was giving 1000 as the population, not as the sample. I like to use small numbers for the examples, because they’re ones that people can conceptualize. I should have been more clear about the fact that people would be specifically looking for those 10 though.

      • smrnda

        The main problem is referred to as ‘self-selection bias.’ It’s kind of how the people who choose to write letters to the newspapers might not be representative of what most people think; they may just represent angry people who love to write to newspapers.

        Another issue is that anecdotes are often poorly documented – they’re the beginning of research, not the end of it.

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        Finding a bunch of people with X doesn’t necessarily negate the claim that X is rare, though. For example, let’s say that rare means less than 1% of the population. You find 200 people with X. That’s pretty convincing! Until you find out that there’s 5,000,000 people in the population. Suddenly, those 200 anecdotes don’t actually say what you’re claiming they say.

        The problem with anecdotes is that they are prone to bias. In the “X is rare” problem, you’re going out and trying to find people with X – those are the people you are talking to, which could quickly give you the illusion that *everyone* has X, since everyone you talk to has it.

        What you have to do is take a random sampling of the population and collect their anecdotes. Do they have X or not? That gives you data.

        So it’s not just anecdotes that make data. You need the magic ingredient of sampling (and other scientific method stuff).

  • Saraquill

    “Men have been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind.”

    This is what a quick wikipedia search gave me:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_matrilineal_or_matrilocal_societies
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchy#History

    • Gillianren

      I read an interesting book recently called The Invisible Sex about what we do and don’t know about the roles of men and women in prehistoric societies. Turns out we don’t know as much as some people think we do, but there’s no reason to assume perfect male dominance based on either archaeological evidence or extrapolations from modern hunter-gatherer societies.

    • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      Anyone read the Clan of the Cave Bear series?

      • Anat

        Yes. Alas Auel got tired of her own story in the end and failed to do it justice.

      • http://www.carpescriptura.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        No spoilers! I’m still reading the last book!

        (But yes, there are a lot of things that deserve an “alas” in that series, but it’s an extremely good representation of what these societies might actually have looked like. And it very plausibly presents relatively egalitarian cultures, including Auel-esque lengthy lectures about how egalitarian social structures would actually confer survival advantages.)

      • Lyric

        Everything but the last book, a long time ago. This was in my early teen years, so I started it for the archeology porn, and stayed for the . . . er, porn porn. I thought she ran on a bit sometimes, but I adored the attention to detail. (For instance, someone actually found a Neandertal skeleton with the injuries she described her shaman having; that was the skeleton that proved that Neandertals cared for their sick and elderly, since there was no way for that man to survive to a ripe old age without people looking after him.)

      • Christine

        She’s one of the few authors who has detailed sex scene that aren’t gratuitous sex. Well, you could argue that they are (the level of detail really doesn’t advance the plot at all), but given that she includes a lot of gratuitous botany, gratuitous archeology, gratuitous geology, etc, it’s a little unfair to single out the sex.

        I didn’t find her example of the culture to be great, but it wasn’t too over-the-top, as a lot of authors do when they’re trying to create an egalitarian culture (especially ones who contradict readily available evidence to the contrary.)

      • Lyric

        I think she may have been working with some outdated theories, tbh. IIRC, the whole, “Neandertals couldn’t have been verbally fluent because of their throat structure,” has been debunked, and might have been on the way out when she was writing. (And heaven only knows where she got the Neandertal racial memory thing.) But she put her all into the world-building, or world-reconstructing, and I do enjoy that a great deal.

        Also, as you say, if she’s going to spend five pages telling us how to carve a mammoth bone, I probably shouldn’t bat an eye when she spends two pages describing a peen. But I was thirteen, and I was used to books going all vague at that point, so it was something of an eye-opening experience.

      • Christine

        I agree, she put a lot into it. My issues were more that every h. sapiens sapiens culture seemed to be identical, they just changed the name. (Also the level to which sex was mystical was odd.)

        Well I was quite shocked at the descriptions of sex myself (I only read the first book in my teens), but then I compared it to the rest of the descriptions, and realised it fit right in.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I did the same. I have the first 4, I think? I only got them at Half-Price, and so it was hard to build up the collection because it’s so random if you can find anything at a smaller location.

        But yes, as a 14 year old, they are very eye-opening indeed!

  • InvertIntrovert

    Rosin especially highlights the economic plight of young men with low levels of education, belaboring out an anecdote about a couple in which the woman works two jobs while attending nursing school to support her deadbeat boyfriend and their son.

    Yeah, Ladies, you’re the masters of the universe now! Working multiple low-paying jobs while working your ass off to get an education so that one day you’ll wield the same earning power as a man with a lesser degree than you, while still taking care of the house and the kids and making sure everyone goes to doctor appointments, because it’s not like we still have a gendered breakdown of housework.

    When will the matriarchal madness end?

  • InvertIntrovert

    As an aside, it’s also really annoying that so many smart, well-researched feminist writers still get no platform, but news journals and newspapers always seem to find room for every tiresome female provocateur with a daring post-feminist message. See, for example, the entire life’s work of Camille Paglia and Katie Roiphe.

    • http://bodycrimes.wordpress.com/ Chloe Dawson

      It’s amazing, isn’t it, that anybody who writes anything that supports the status quo, whether saying feminism is dead, or fat people need to stop costing tax payers money, or poor people need to step up and get a work ethic, is called “brave”.

  • http://bodycrimes.wordpress.com/ Chloe Dawson

    Rosin’s basic argument – that feminism is mission accomplished – is a classic silencing technique: http://wp.me/2DU6X

  • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

    The argument that I find most convincing is that there are basically two types of societies: patriarchal and egalitarian. From the point of view of a patriarchal society, shifting more towards an egalitarian social structure looks as though matriarchy is about to happen. Europeans labeled some Native American tribes matriarchal because women had a kind of influence unknown in Europe, but more athropological work showed that these societies shared power between the genders. But the patriarchal mindset assumes unequal power, of one dominent gender and one subordinate. If men are not dominating women, well then women must have flipped the situation and will begin to boss men around, emansculate them, make them wear house dresses and get full body waxes.
    I think our society is in a shift between patriarchy and slowly emerging egalitarianism. And it scares those of the patriarchal mindset, because they see only two options for society: domination of one group to keep order, or chaos.

  • CarysBirch

    That article just snowballed into a “Wah wah I’m taking my ball and going home!” rant by the end. Almost every example of “female dominance” that she gave was more of an example of men seeing women have actual agency and getting huffy about it. That’s not women pushing out men, that’s men refusing to function if they can’t be solely in charge. It makes me feel gross like I have to go wash.

    Also, this paragraph was incredibly creepy: “What are the four kinds of paternal authority? Moral, emotional, social, and physical. “But you ain’t none of those in that house. All you are is a paycheck, and now you ain’t even that. And if you try to exercise your authority, she’ll call 911. How does that make you feel? You’re supposed to be the authority, and she says, ‘Get out of the house, bitch.’ She’s calling you ‘bitch’!””

    Hello fear of privilege loss? Damn straight she won’t let you make her ethical decisions for her, tell her how she should feel, who she can see or where she can go, and don’t you dare violate my person without my consent. Nobody has moral, emotional, social or physical authority over me except me! I’m a fucking person in my own right and you can learn to work WITH me (none of this exercising authority crap) or you can get out of the house, bitch.

    Sorry for the potty mouth. It was necessary.

  • morecoffeeplease

    I am so done with Hanna Rosin.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    Would you expect anything less from Phyllis Schlafly’s niece?

    • Karen

      I couldn’t find anything via Google referring to Rosin as Schlafly’s niece. That would be most interesting…
      I do see that she lives in Washington, DC, however. Living in DC might allow one to think that women “dominate,” at least in terms of jobs. It’s probably one of the best places in the country for women to work, earn decent pay, and get ahead. I think a large part of this may be due to the huge number of government jobs, as well as non-profits, lobbying firms, etc. I worked in DC for many years, and at the large non-profit where I worked there were many women at top jobs. Never the very top, though. And now I work at a hospital in San Diego, and again, women dominate because nurses (traditionally women) have the opportunity to rise to management (seldom the very top, though). Still, that does not excuse Rosin for extrapolating a bird’s-eye view in DC to the rest of the country, which is very, very different and women do not have those opportunities. And I should add, many, if not most, of the women I know in DC and in San Diego who do excel are single or at least child-free.

      • InvertIntrovert

        And I mean, I know DC is more than Capitol Hill, but the executive, legislative, and judicial rosters tell a different story than what Rosin’s singing too. If she’s in DC you’d think she’d notice that.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        I made a mistake. Susan Venker (sp?) Is her niece. Their writing style and sloppy research are similar, hence the confusion.

    • kisarita

      yes. who her aunt is has nothing to do with anything. do you parrot your aunts on every issue?

  • Leigha7

    Most of what I got from the Rosin article was, “Men are having difficulty adjusting to women being allowed to do stuff now, and they get depressed when there are women in their classes or their wives out-earn them.” I don’t think that’s proof of female domination. There were also a lot of random anecdotal stories that just barely matched her claims, with nothing to suggest they were the norm in any way. Oh, and single moms are the primary breadwinners in their home (well, obviously), which is proof that women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in two-parent homes. Somehow.

    I don’t even want to touch the “white women are going to be single moms like black women” issue.

    Then I made the mistake of reading the comments. Apparently, women have never, in all of history, been more oppressed or abused than men, and the majority of rape and murder victims are and have always been men. I don’t even know how to respond to that. Arguably, poor people of both genders have been pretty equally oppressed throughout large periods of history, but it doesn’t hold for the upper class, or for American history.

  • Nancy Shrew

    Maybe it’s plain as day and I’m just not braining well at the moment, but I’m confused about her position. She’s ostensibly anti-feminist, but what exactly is her argument and what does she gain from presenting this “information”? In other words: I understand what she is saying, but I don’t quite understand why.

  • jhlee

    I wonder if even Rosin believes in what she’s selling here. The whole thing stinks of a writer selling books and making a name through controversy and sensationalism–basically clickbait writ large. I have some distaste for this kind of careerism, but I have no moral issue with ambition on its own.

    But I do take issue when careerism crosses the line into dishonesty that hurts actual people. Rosin’s “End of Men” nonsense certainly does that. Do we need to pay attention to boys who are falling behind, and make sure they are equipped for the changing economy? Absolutely. Does that justify cherry-picking and distorting facts to feed into anti-feminist paranoia and misogyny? Hell no.

    That’s why the fact-based pushback from Cohen and others is so important–it exposes the disingenuousness of Rosin’s premise and supposed proof. Clickbaiting the argument might work for a while, but does not stand up against cold, hard facts.

  • Renee

    Let me guess- men aren’t 100% in charge now, only 99%, so we women should give up fighting.
    Nice bunch of lies.


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