Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NPR - The End Of The Macho Man?

Add NPR to the list of media outlets taking a look at men and masculinity - Most recently Newsweek, and most annoyingly The Atlantic (the author of which article is today's guest). Today's discussion is spurred by the Newsweek article(s) and the perpetuation of the "decline of men" meme so popular these days.

Here is the show, with the beginning of the transcript. I find this whole meme a bit frustrating . . . . A good take-down of the Newsweek piece can be found at Mediaite.

September 28, 2010

The recession has hit male-dominated fields particularly hard, while women's presence and performance in school and in the workplace continues to increase. As notions of masculinity change, men are redefining themselves, as well. The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin and author Guy Garcia discuss the changing role of men in America.

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

On the cover of the current Newsweek, a muscular, shirtless man cradles a puppy-eyed toddler over his shoulder, the headline: "Man Up! The Traditional Male is an Endangered Species." Which may be an exaggeration, but the recession hit male-dominated fields so hard that some people call it the he-cession.

Women's presence and performance in the workplace and in higher education continues to grow, which forces many men to redefine themselves. As earning power shifts more towards women, how has that changed your relationship? How have men's roles changed?

Tell us your story, 800-989-8255. Email us, You can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the hour, "The Good Wife" is back on TV. We'll talk with the creators. But first, the changing role of men. Hanna Rosin is co-founder of Slate's online women's magazine, Double X, and a contributing editor at the Atlantic, and she joins us here in Studio 3A. Nice to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

Ms. HANNA ROSIN (Double X): Thank you, glad to be here.

CONAN: And the article you wrote for the July issue was titled "The End of Men." Inevitably, it had something to do with the rise of women too.

Ms. ROSIN: Right, exactly. I was basically looking at statistics in different areas: economics statistics, education statistics. And you put all these points together and you get basically a new map of what America looks like, which is really kind of intriguing, and it has to do with a kind of patriarchal dominance that we're used to over all these years seems to be fading, and it's kind of alarming.

CONAN: One of the most important ones, that for the first time ever in America, that the number of women workers outnumbers the men.

Ms. ROSIN: Exactly, and that statistic hovers around 50 percent. It goes from 49 to 51. But it's also changed in high-paying jobs. There are certain professions that are being turned over to women. The higher you go up the ladder, it's flipping. So it's not merely that women are working, but women are working at better and better jobs these days.

CONAN: But some people will say immediately: Wait, there's still a gap, a salary gap, 77 cents on the dollar.

Ms. ROSIN: It's true, and there was a study that came out today about women managers, and as I looked at this, because I've looked at so many of these studies, after a while you begin to see that it just sort of depends on how you slice the numbers.

If you start from the '70s until now, there's been a tremendous amount of progress. If you look at the wage gap, it's been shrinking over the years.

There are still huge numbers of problems - for example, the problem with mothers. There's always a pay gap that's larger between women with children and men with children, and that seems to persist over time.

But I think looking at the problems in terms of progress - women are making progress, they're not making progress, they've stalled in progress - misses the bigger picture, which is that the economy is becoming more amenable to women than it is to men, mostly because women are better educated and because the jobs that are growing are jobs that women tend to do. So that's the kind of big forecasting future picture.

CONAN: But we can't ignore the fact that older women in particular are still amongst the poorest in our society.

Ms. ROSIN: Absolutely, and I think if you go from older to younger, the changes become stark. Another recent interesting study showed that women under 30 are - in 147 out of 150 cities - are making more money than men under 30, and that is really amazing.

I mean, that's kind of a future generation statistic that shows both the earning power of women, their power as consumers. I mean, as it happens, that was a marketing study done to show companies who they should market to in the future.

CONAN: And of the 15 job categories expected to grow the most over the next decade, men dominate just two of those fields: janitorial workers and computer engineers.

Ms. ROSIN: Exactly, exactly. So if you try and project 10, 15, 20 years down the road, it's not just a matter of what the recession did or didn't do, it's a question of the recession having opened up the window on something that economists would have seen coming for some time.

CONAN: And those are the facts. How does that change people's relationships?

Ms. ROSIN: It really does. That's the next question, is then what happens to American marriages? And I think that's different class by class. If you look at the working class, the big story there is that marriage is disappearing, effectively, in the sort of middle and working class, that women are choosing not to get married in the first place.

The number of children born to single women is skyrocketing. And so you have a situation where it's not necessarily a pretty picture for women or a straight female empowerment, but it is that women are dominant and running households, and the men are kind of disappearing.

And then in the upper classes you have a slightly different picture, where you have a lot more marriages where women are out-earning men, but there is more equality.

CONAN: Is the playing field leveled in any significant way?

Ms. ROSIN: In the middle classes the playing field is leveling. In education, women are surpassing men. And then you have the final question to talk about, which is why does the top still seem so male-dominated? Is that arcane? Is that something in the past? All this pressure coming up from the bottom of women doing better and better and surpassing men in all these professions, the legal profession being the classic example.

There are just as many women graduating from law school, just as many women, almost, as first-year associates, but not as many women who are, you know, at the end of the road partners.

Is that something that's dying? Is that something that's an anachronism and that we'll see fade over time, or is that something endemic to child-rearing and all these other questions that we haven't quite worked out in our families?

Read the whole transcript.

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