The XX Factor

Kristof Defends Men

In today’s New York Times , Nicholas Kristof writes a response to my ” End of Men ” piece in the Atlantic . He concedes that gender dynamics are rapidly changing but wonders why we have to see them as a zero-sum game. “We exaggerate the degree to which the sexes are mired in conflict,” he writes. Of course, in an ideal world-and no one is an idealist if Kristof is not-the two sexes would boost each other in a happy see-saw of loving support. And in some cases, the shifting gender dynamics have brought this about. Men- even working-class men -are much more likely to help around the house than they used to be, and their full entry into the workforce is giving women an economic independence they never had. But in some cases, this historic gender shift does look like a war, or at least a stand-off. The major change in the working class is that women are not getting married at all, judging men to be unsuitable partners. And men are left seething and feeling abandoned. In many other countries, the rise of women does not sit so easily with men, and they are responding with violence. One of the first steps is to acknowledge that it’s happening and then to urge men to have another response besides anger and disappointment.

Photograph of Nicholas Kristof by Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment.