I’m going to need you guys to explain something for me. We’ve talked about this topic before on the blog, the propagation of the idea that the advancement of women comes at the expense of men and that there is some sort of power struggle happening in our society and any success or promotion of issues that impact women more directly is negative for men.
I just don’t understand the value of promoting this type of thinking. The author of the article The End of Men, which we’ve talked about here and caused a lot of controversy when it was released last year, was featured in Slate Magazine lately in order to discuss this issue and promote a debate that she will be having on this topic later this month. To remind us, Rosin explains that men are falling behind is the job market because they have failed to adapt to the more stereotypically feminine skill set that is become valuable in our postindustrial economy, skills such communication, empathy, social intelligence and consensus building. For Rosin, there has been a shift in society that is seeing women advancing and men falling behind. Now women have become the dominant gender.
This might be a slightly simplistic presentation of Rosin’s ideas but I’m less interested in the specifics of her arguments right now but rather the underlying assumptions she’s making about human behavior and human interaction. She is very much working within the framework of competition—that success looks a certain way and that there can only be a limited number of people who will be able to achieve this success. She’s not making a case on whether the end of men and the dominance of women is a good thing or a bad thing necessarily but just that it’s a fact; it’s the reality of our current economic order.
What I struggle to understand, however, is the value of engaging in this sort of conversation about interactions between men and women. What’s the conversation hoping to achieve? Why are we seeing these interactions as a zero sum game in which there are winners and losers? This thinking is premised in an understanding that there will always be those at the top and those are the bottom, that the success of one sector of society will necessarily come at the expense of the other. But that type of thinking has gotten us into the inherently competitive social reality in which we now exist. I think we’re all losers now, trapped in a reality that tells us that because of how we look, where we live, and what we do, we have act in a certain way.
Our understanding of our social reality should be advancing, should be building on itself and should recognize the inherent interconnectedness of the well being and welfare of all human beings that is an inescapable fact of reality. Yet continually working within frameworks and thinking that espousing competition and zero sum games doesn’t allow us to advance. It’s the same thinking that has shaped our social reality for years and has allowed for the perpetuation of the same broken systems and institutions which promote sexism, racism, classism, war and violence.
So I just have to ask, why?