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First Mover: Hanna Rosin

The author of 'The End of Men' says guys don't necessarily need to be like women to do well

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Specs
Age 42
New work Author, The End of Men and the Rise of Women
Day job Co-founder, Slate’s DoubleX blog

Predictably, there’s been a lot of reaction to your new book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women, which argues that the ground has shifted under men. What have been the biggest misperceptions you’ve heard about the book?
It’s been misunderstood as a straightforward feminist manifesto, as if we’ve achieved some kind of victory. There are some good and some less good things for women. Obviously, I like the opportunity for women, but other things are more difficult, like, they’re taking on more. This is not a triumphant, “The ladies have won.” The second thing is, what am I saying men have to become. I don’t want to say men have to become like women to be successful. I wasn’t clear enough about that.

For every argument you make about this shift away from male power, there have been counterarguments: men still dominate certain sectors like technology, and sexual violence is still a big problem, for example.
It’s only been going on for like 40 years, so I couldn’t say females have achieved total domination overnight. It happens in spotty ways. Partly, this is a workplace structure issue. We don’t take into account the fact that women are half of the workforce. We have to stop setting up the workplace as if there’s one parent at home. It doesn’t make any sense.

You’d said that reading about the “mancession” inspired the book. Was there a real-life moment when the idea rang true for you?
There’s a town I’d been vacationing in one year, and I realized there didn’t seem to be any men around. I met a woman named Bethenny in the supermarket, and she had a kid with this guy, Calvin. I spent all this time trying to help Calvin get a job. At some point I realized there was no life for him to go back to. It suddenly occurred to me, the world had changed. By the end of the book, he followed in Bethenny’s footsteps and decided to go to nursing school.

Is the “end of men” a societal trend or a permanent change? 
I don’t know. People talk about the African-American community, where a lot of jobs were lost and a matriarchy was established. Another way of looking at it is that men become more flexible. Maybe they become the underdogs and are willing to take lower-paying jobs.

You’ve debated your husband, David Plotz, at two events to promote the book. What was that like?
It was hard for me to put my game face on. It was like, “Are you my husband or Charlie Rose?” He’s been amazing. He’s the editor of Slate and just came back from a staff retreat, and he’s been my three-day sidekick. On Today, he got described as “the husband of Hanna Rosin.” He was very, very gracious about it.

Do you have debating experience?
I was a star high-school debater. But you don’t want to be too combative on this topic. It hits a nerve.

Were you raised with traditional gender roles? 
My parents were very traditional Israeli parents. My father was a taxi driver and my mother works as a secretary. The difference is, my mom is clearly dominant in the family—she was the head of the tenants’ association—so the idea of female dominance is not unfamiliar to me.

I heard one of your sons took issue with the book.
I have a 9-year-old, and he’s totally outraged about the title of the book. He just thinks it’s a really mean title. I don’t try and fully explain it. I say, the world is better for him if he decides to be a stay-at-home dad or work from home.