What is success? Does it reside in cognitive, physical, emotional, social or spiritual satisfaction? Is it dependent upon gender traits? Is it rooted in cultural constructs or the rule of law? Is it apolitical or totally akin to political doctrines today?
The New York Times has printed a thought provoking review about a controversial new book, THE END OF MEN And the Rise of Women, by Hanna Rosin in this Sunday’s book-review section.
Jennifer Homans, the reviewer states: “a new matriarchy is emerging, run by young, ambitious, capable women who — faced with men who can’t or won’t be full partners — are taking matters into their own hands.” But the crux of the matter is how differently class reflects the newly emerging matriarchal America.
“Rosin’s chapter on women at ‘the top’ indulges the soul-searching of educated women trying to ‘have it all.’ She gives us Silicon Valley as today’s mecca, insisting that companies like Google and Facebook — flexible, new-economy places — are (in spite of their notorious frat-house cultures) solving the problems of women and children and work.”
The ideal of women reaching the top and then turning around to reach down and pull others up behind them is still a rarity: “…women aren’t always, or even usually, looking out for other women — or even being nice to them. Many prefer to work with men; and some are willing to put in the long hours it takes to wrest their way up the chain of command.”
Putting the book’s provocative title aside, it is a fact that men in the upper-class positions are not going anywhere soon! However, the dynamic of a more matriarchal economy is occurring in the middle and lower classes. Among men who lost jobs in manufacturing, many are still unemployed. Many more have simply dropped out of the labor market altogether as the women in their lives and government subsidies keep them functioning. The statistics are almost unfathomable: “…since 2000 the manufacturing economy has lost six million jobs, a third of its total work force — much of it male. In 1950, 1 in 20 men in their prime were not working; today the number is a terrifying 1 in 5.”
The new global economy has down-shifted America into a service economy. Rosin posits that interpersonal skills, emotional I.Q., willingness to communicate and ability to focus favor women’s strengths. She presents forceful statistics: “By 2009 there were as many women as men in the work force, and today the average wife contributes some 42.2 percent of her family’s income — up sharply from the 2 percent to 6 percent that women contributed in 1970. For every two men who will get a bachelor’s degree this year, there will be three women graduates.”
Even as women grow more dominant in the world of work, pursue more education, and take more command of household decisions, love and marriage still call fetchingly and smear logic with enchanting emotional-and-physical reverberations.
One thing is certain. The past keeps flowing into the present. Consider how prominently access to birth control, abortion and equal pay for equal work have repeatedly surfaced in campaigns at every level.
See “Worth Considering Carefully” posted on September 11, 2012, for David Brooks’ take on the same book.