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The reports of man's death are greatly exaggerated

April 11, 2011|Bill Kohler

The End of Men.


A few weeks ago at the gym, I came across that headline on the cover of The Atlantic magazine.


I had arrived at the gym, keep in mind, after starting a load of laundry, eating a responsible breakfast, getting my daughter off to school, running the vacuum and balancing the checkbook.


So I see this eye-grabbing headline in a respected magazine and say this must be some killer satire.
I proceeded to read and seethe for the next 20 minutes. I was not amused.


The End of Men was well-written and looked to be painstakingly researched.


Among the theories shared by writer Hanna Rosin:


• Women were in more management positions than men. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs — up from 26.1 percent in 1980. They make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs.

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• The majority of the work force is now made up of women.


• For every two men who graduate from college this year, three women will do the same.


• The recession has hurt more men than women, considering the hardest-hit areas were construction, real estate and manufacturing. Rosin claims that one in five men of prime working age are not working.


• Men dominate just two of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most over the next decade: janitor and computer engineer. Women have the rest.


• The changing face of our economy is indifferent to a man’s size and strength. The attributes that are most valuable today — social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus — are, at a minimum, not predominantly male, Rosin writes.


• Men are having trouble adjusting to the new economy and are not opening up to new horizons like women have been doing for decades.


• Most amazingly, she claims that the majority of parents going to fertility clinics are saying they want girls instead of boys because, she theorizes, their daughters will have a brighter future than the mother — and a son.


OK, Ms. Rosin, you had your say. You made good points, the article was well-written and I guess your theories are pretty solid from one perspective.


Here’s my take:


This is not the end of man. In fact it could be the golden age of men if we choose to accept it.


First, are there plenty of deadbeat men out there? Of course. But there’s plenty of lousy women out there, too.


Second, when it comes to the work force, the layout of men and women in management positions should be 50-50. Management requires multitasking, patience, organization, thoughtfulness, respect, quick thinking and a backbone.


Last time I checked, we all are born with a backbone, and you can choose to use it as you see fit. Men and women are equally capable of having the other six qualities. It’s just that some have them and some don’t. Gender is not relevant.


My thought is this: Hire the best person for the job. I’ve hired more than a dozen people for reporter and editor positions over the years, and probably 75 percent of them have been women. It wasn’t because they were any different than the men, except they were better qualified for the positions among the candidates available.


Third, many of the jobs lost in the recession will come back. I know there might never be as many construction jobs as there were in the middle of the last decade, but in a few years, as many economists predict, home sales and prices will rise, and the jobless rates will continue to drop as they’ve done the past several months regionally and nationwide.


Now here’s where I really think Rosin missed the boat.


I am a better man than I would have been a generation ago.


I am more well-rounded and I am more compassionate than I was in my 20s.


I am more apt to help with the things my father and grandfathers — all fine men — would not even have on their radar because of the changing times.


The end of men is not inevitable. This change is simply a new chapter in society, and it could have positive effects, not the doom and gloom for males as Rosin and her sources predict.


This is not a brag fest, but simply a statement of fact that follows. (Granted, I know not all men are like this, but more are than you think.)


I cook. I clean. I do laundry. I iron my shirts. I get my daughter ready for school five days a week on about 5 1/2 hours of sleep.


I changed diapers and wiped away tears. I clean up pet stains, pick up after the dog my wife and daughter insisted we get, put my underwear in the hamper and hang up my clothes when I get home.


I do the shopping because I prefer to do it (and because I like to save money — and I’m good at it).


And did I mention I also work a demanding, high-pressure job? And I volunteer at my church and with two local nonprofits? And I work out three times a week, and am a high school and youth soccer referee?


And I kill spiders.

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