On Hanna Rosin’s End of Men
No one is born stupid, he’s merely taken for a fool: Hanna Rosin is confused by debates about the inequality of the sexes and spoiling for a fight
Keen interest in questioning the extent to which gender is a social construct brought progress in some respects but it does have another, very dark side to it. Decades later, whole generations are still wasting their youth with courses in so-called «Gender Studies», where there are seventeen categorized genders but no one is aware of the cloister study. If you search on the Internet for «Judith Butler» and «cloister-study» in January 2013, believe it or not, you still get zero results. This is roughly equivalent to physics being seen as peace studies and researchers being asked about Hiroshima and Nagasaki then shrugging their shoulders, not knowing whether they are perhaps rice dishes at the local snack bar. No academic discipline has ever presented such a declaration of bankruptcy as «Gender Studies».
And you don’t even need to point out that the greatest aberration of all was taken on board: in her book «Der kleine Unterschied» Alice Schwarzer once cited David Reimer, of all people, as evidence of Beauvoir’s thesis that one was not born as a woman but made into one. As a result she based the Women’s Movement on a lie, for the young man whose circumcision failed and who was completely castrated with the help of John Money and brought up as a girl as a consequence had indeed fallen into depression long before. People failed to keep his true gender a secret from him, and later he killed himself.
Hormones Are Responsible for Sympathy
That didn’t deter Schwarzer, and at the end of the nineties she took on the pseudo genetic theory that man was a faulty being. The reason for this, she proposed, lay in the Y-chromosome. The high point of this sexist campaign to date has been a «Spiegel» title page in 2003 with the heading: «A Sickness Known as Man».
In a rather piquant way, some of the evidence presented for this was the shorter life expectancy of the male. The cloister study by Marc Luy was, however, already ten years old at this point. It states that the differences in the life expectancy of men and women are almost disappearing when they share the same way of life. In the real existing social system of the Federal Republic of Germany, by contrast to this the difference had doubled, although at the end of the war it was already three times as high as in the cloister.
Hanna Rosin’s book «The End of Men» fits seamlessly into the tradition of uneasy discourse in which interests are formulated only indirectly and truths not at all. Hanna Rosin is known as a hard-boiled ideologist, who finds breastfeeding inappropriate and holds the hormones produced by it responsible for any sympathy she felt with her sons during their circumcision
Women Earn More than Men
In the introduction to her book she writes: «Personality tests over the decades show men tiptoeing into new territory, while women race into theirs.» As if scales were being lifted from the reader’s eyes, therefore, he or she realizes that the distant end of the Atlantic, the South Pole, the North Pole and the Moon were first walked on by women. They discovered electrodynamics, and infected themselves with cowpox to prove the benefits of inoculation. The first Black president of the United States of America was, we hardly need to mention, a woman.
Rosin completely turns around de Beauvoir, who lamented the fact that woman did not surpass herself in the way that man does. It is not that there is no truth in the observation that something is coming to an end, however. Quite the contrary: we have indeed broken through the frequently conjured glass ceiling. Two years ago, it was established that among unmarried, childless Americans under thirty, women earn twelve to twenty-five per cent more than men. Rosin adds a huge number of similar figures to this one. So, for example, women in the United States now earn 42.2 per cent of the family income. As early as 2008, working class women there had a higher income than their men. In 2009 more women than men were in employment for the first time. In 2011 women held 51.4 per cent of leading positions and jobs in academic professions, whereas it had been only 26.1 per cent in 1980. In Saudi-Arabia women constitute more than half of all students and academics with doctorates.
A Small Town is the Feminist Paradise
Hanna Rosin believes that women are better suited to the post-industrial society than men, as they are more flexible, social and creative, and they show greater endurance. That also explains why most people today wish for a daughter rather than a son. And this tendency actually does exist. It is also well-known that very many more women move away from the new federal states in Germany, while men are more inclined to stay in their home towns and accept the resulting unemployment.
Unfortunately, Rosin never asks about the reasons behind these developments. She does not know that she herself sees the man only as dominating or a failure, as a wet flannel or a superman, as a genius or an idiot. She has no concept of the differing pressures of expectation. And so she ploughs even her most important insight – that women are not prepared to make any concessions in the process of emancipation – right down into a maelstrom of resentment. As if no man had ever practised mathematics, constructed a calculator or played a great game of chess, she is certain that any possessor of a Y-chromosome is incapable of facing the demands of the present day. Her paradise is a small town in which women’s income is «140 per cent above that of men».
The End of Men, or the New Centre?
After decades of gender warfare, Hanna Rosin still does not know the cloister study, either. Her senses have never encountered a new departure for fathers, male health, or equal parenting. She studied literature, but she even glorifies a woman who breaks out of her marriage under the motto «Work like a man. Think like a man. Act like a man» and sets up in business running a bar: she compares her to Flaubert’s Monsieur Homais because the latter, she claims, is a «respected citizen of the city and a kind of mystic healer».
It doesn’t bother Hanna Rosin that Homais is not a kind of mystic healer but entirely shameless and Bovary’s ruin, grasping money and fame, trampling on others’ suffering at every turn. This is also why her book is not about the end of men but the end of feminism. In fact women are no longer, as August Bebel und Friedrich Engels still believed, the good socialist force while men are the evil, capitalist one. Silently and unnoticed by women, men are meanwhile abandoning the icy heights and glass cellars that together represented the patriarchy: a state of over representation at the top as well as the bottom end of the social scale. What Rosin celebrates as the end of men is their conquest of the centre. For they realized long ago that it is easy and pleasant to live there. The difference in life expectancy has already been reduced from six or seven to five years.
Hanna Rosin: Das Ende der Männer und der Aufstieg der Frauen. Translated from the English by Heike Schlatterer and Helmut Dierlamm. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2013. 352 p., hardback 19.99 Euros.
Ralf Bönt, born in 1963 has been a physicist at CERN, Brookhaven and DESY, before becoming a writer. With his wife Nicola Stäglich and two sons he lives in Berlin. Bönt recently published the bestselling novel “Die Entdeckung des Lichts” on the 19th century researcher Michael Faraday and his brain disease as well as the very controversial non-fictional book “Das entehrte Geschlecht” – a Manifesto for Men.
Copyright Ralf Bönt
English translation by Lucinda Rennison.