Hanna Rosin wants to point out, right from the start of the interview, that her latest book, The End of Men, is not — as many have claimed — a feminist manifesto for the 21st century.
“Maybe it’s the cover,” she suggests, “which is yellow-and-pink. But it’s really not about that. In the United States, and other countries, large sections of society are becoming matriarchies. Nobody wants that. Men and women do need each other.”
Rosin was born in Israel in 1970 and moved with her family to New York four years later. She studied comparative literature at Stanford University and became a journalist soon afterwards, writing for a number of publications, including The New Republic, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, where she is currently a senior editor. She now lives in Washington DC with her husband David Plotz — the editor of Slate — and their three children.
“We celebrate all Jewish holidays and my children attend Hebrew school. Although we are not what you would call Orthodox, Judaism is very important to us as a family,” says Rosin.
Her current book was conceived when, in 2010, while writing an article for Atlantic Monthly, she began to see a narrative unfold from the revelation that women — for the first time in American history — were becoming the predominant sex in the overall work-force. As Rosin began interviewing hundreds of men and women across America, she realised that what initially had seemed a question of economics, had significant cultural implications.
She argues that the decline in manufacturing jobs in the West since the 1970s has meant that men — principally within working-class communities— have lost their social and economic status in society: “This is highly dysfunctional, because when the men don’t work, they tend to commit crimes, and go to prison,” she argues.
Even in some Muslim countries, where women’s rights are often way down the agenda, Rosin says females are proving they have the ability to make progress, albeit not on the same level as their western counterparts.
“Iranian women are getting educated, and this threatens the men in society. Does this mean the end of patriarchy in the Middle East? No, but it suggests that this subject is not just a western phenomenon.” In Israel, Rosin says the IDF has been paramount in shaping gender roles in society:
“The army has held the society in a place that still values traditional male roles. However, women have made great strides in the IDF over the past decade. Women officers with the rank of colonel grew by 100 per cent in the last 13 years, and the share of female officers with the rank of lieutenant-colonel has grown by 70 per cent in the last decade.”
So, does all this really spell the End of Men? “Women pay a social price for behaving in an aggressive manner. In the same way that we are uncomfortable with the overly domesticated man, we are also uncomfortable with the overly aggressive woman. Such a woman exists today but I don’t think we have adjusted to her presence.”