IChangeTenses: Thanks for doing this AMA. I have a long list of questions:
1) What inspired you to investigate “the end of men?”
2) What do you think should be done to help men?
3) What are your thoughts on the men’s rights movement and feminism?
Hanna Rosin: So many subquestions here! I think the general gist is, why, if women are doing so well, aren’t we reaching out and helping men? I think the answer is that we as a society think that’s weird. We have a hard time thinking of men as people who need help. So, for example, in my education chapter, I write about the open secret among admissions officers at private colleges that men get affirmative action, but also about how we are so squeamish about acknowledging that. So there are a ton of things we could do to help men, but maybe men have to band together and advocate for some of those things, and not solely in the context of divorce and the law.
NUMBERS2357: What do you think can/should be done to eliminate the gender gap in higher education?
Related, Obama recently made some comments about applying Title IX to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields … do you think this is a good idea, and if so, what do you hope to see the administration do?
Hanna Rosin: I’m fine with targeted affirmative action. You can fine tune affirmative action programs to pull in different kinds of people to different fields where they are underrepresented—so, men to teaching, women to engineering. Seems OK to me.
OuiCrudites: In “Boys on the Side” you speak positively of hookup culture as a sign of female empowerment. However, the first generation of women to embrace hookup culture in their late teens and early 20s, are now in their late 20s and early 30s. Many of them are regretful, desirous of a long-term commitment, and feel there are sparse few good options of available men left on the market. Are you concerned that enthusiastic promotion of hookup culture will lead to more regretful and lonely women?
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today.
Hanna Rosin: I think it’s really easy to tune into the heartbreak of a 35-year-old woman or man for whom a good relationship has been elusive. I think no matter what we say we all want to love and be loved. But if you think of the hookup culture as something that happens in college the fact is most college graduates end up married and in stable and relatively happy marriages. So I don’t think there is much evidence that hookup culture leads to loneliness. One other thing: I don’t “endorse” it. I just get tired of hearing how it destroys women. Joan Didion once complained about certain strains of the feminist movement perpetuating a vision of women as “creatures too ‘tender’ for the abrasiveness of daily life, too fragile for the streets … too ‘sensitive’ for the difficulties and ambiguities of adult life.”
So, yes, there is heartbreak but there is also a lot women gain from their independence. _______________________
Tossnear: Hanna, why is it that more than 90 percent of STEM college students are male?
You make a big deal about the amount of women pursuing post-secondary education in your article “The End of Men,” but you don’t address this issue. The discrepancies between a STEM degree and, let’s say, a women’s studies degree, are huge.
Hanna Rosin: Excellent point, but I don’t think it’s a choice between STEM or feminist studies. The good news for men is STEM fields are hugely important, and men dominate those fields. When I wrote about the men in Alabama, a few of them remade themselves as networks analysts, which is a great job and doesn’t violate anyone’s sense of manliness. So that’s all good. But for women the dominant fields include: accounting, medicine, law, health care.
Mambypambyland: Hi, Hanna. A recent news story is that women will be allowed to serve on the front lines alongside men in wars for America. My question is:
Do you believe that women should serve on the front line beside men? And if so, should they be required to have the same physical standards to join as men?
Hanna Rosin: Yes and yes. The fact is, women have been fighting and dying alongside men, so this is merely an official acknowledgment of that. Fire departments went through this transition some years ago. They were reluctant to admit women but insisted they meet the same standards. Then they kept upping the standards for physical strength. Fire departments are still mostly male, you will notice. But why shouldn’t the women who do meet the standards be allowed in? Ideas about cohesion and bonding no longer seem all that relevant, because we live in a world where men and women work on teams together all the time.
Suzpalindromesuz: Hi, and thank you :) What’s your take, in brief, on Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” article?
Hanna Rosin: My personal mission after reading that story was to try and train the American workplace to understand that workers are full human beings with full lives and that robots don’t take kids to the doctor. So if I had a kid thing to do, I started being more honest about that and not saying I had to go to a “meeting.” Slaughter says she makes sure when she speaks that they introduce her as someone with children, and I copied her on that one. I think the next step is to talk about how men can’t have it all either, and maybe that “having it all” is a stupid idea and we should aim for less and have what we have and feel grateful for it.
Nerdologist: Hi, Hanna! Woman in a STEM field here :)
I am a big listener of the DoubleX podcast; I’ve heard every episode. I am a woman in a STEM field that is very intense (working most of my waking hours) and where I have almost no female colleagues at or above my level. So, getting some gal talk in my ears is necessary for my mental survival. Thanks!
I would love it, though, if you guys could talk a little more to women like me who are still in these sort of refugia where feminism never really made it that far—we are still fighting for small things that others take for granted. One thing that comes to mind was your show about older mothers, how women put off motherhood too long. But many women in science don’t feel like we have a choice. My male colleagues here, almost without exception, have wives but one-career households where their partners take care of most of the domestic stuff, and women rarely have partners like that. I felt you characterized older women who want to be mothers as sort of dimwits who don’t understand how things really are, who think that because they look good and have “toned arms” they should be magically entitled to have babies any time they want and are shocked when they can’t. You three seem to have been fortunate in your workplaces and partners—not everyone has those advantages. I guess my question is: Would you be willing to have discussion about something like this?
I just want to add that I am such a fan and have been burning to ask you guys about this for so long that I planned my whole work day around just being able to submit this question.
Hanna Rosin: Hi, and I’ so glad you listen and keep listening even though we annoy you sometimes. We are so guilty of that. It’s kind of like the Anne-Marie Slaughter article. As a professor at Princeton—and as a journalist—we have a certain amount of flexibility that someone who works at the White House or in a male-dominated field just doesn’t have. Not to mention a nurse or a teacher or someone who doesn’t have control over her own time. This is a mistake writers make a lot (or maybe people make a lot)—assume that their lives are like other people’s lives. But we will be aware of it and invite in more people whose realities are different from ours. Question is: Would someone in your situation have any time to come on our podcast?
Shifty_sam: What have you seen in marriages where partners try really hard to have everything “equal” (equal time with kids, housework, equal career opportunities, etc.), but the wife makes a lot more money? That’s a variable that cannot be changed.
Hanna Rosin: I did a survey in Slate of couples where the woman earns more and reported some of my results here. When I interviewed couples I came across the whole range of reactions—resentful husbands, delighted husbands, and ditto for wives. One thing I found to be consistently true is that the wife almost never totally cedes the domestic sphere to the husband, even if she is making a lot more and the guy is a stay-at-home dad. What does that mean? Women are control freaks? Society judges women harshly if they’re not domestic enough? Not sure.
LucasTrask: Do you defend the 77 cents to $1 “wage gap” numbers that are often cited? Or do you agree that when comparing equal work, equal hours, and equal risk, then the number is more nearly 95 cents to $1?
Hanna Rosin: The real number is somewhere in between those. The often cited 77 cents generally compares fewer work hours, and I’m not sure where you got 95 cents or what you mean by “equal risk.” But I think the real interesting debate is WHY women work fewer hours or get funneled to lower-paying jobs. If it’s because they want to construct a life where they work less and live more, then fine. But if it’s because a disproportionate share of the child work falls on them or they are being made to think that they aren’t qualified to become a surgeon instead of a nurse, then that’s less fine.
Gryphonlord: Why do you claim feminism is about equality when you’re actively advocating that women are superior?
Hanna Rosin: Here, fine I will answer this one since so many of you seem interested, and this person is at least succinct. I am not arguing that women are superior. I am merely saying that what schools and many segments of the economy reward now happen to play up to the natural strengths of women. Not the biological gifts of women, but their natural strengths—the way they’ve been socialized to be. This could change any moment. Technology could make obsolete all jobs that require a human touch, and the world could be run by robots and the people programming them, which might be mostly men. Or, another future scenario: Men tune in and get the skills and education they need to succeed, and we all stop being hard on men who take jobs that were once considered “unmanly.” Or, as I describe in my chapter about women and violence, women in power start committing the same sins as men. Lots of things could happen. I am only describing a moment in time, not a permanent hierarchy.
BaduRainsDestruction: I just want to let you know that I love the amount of man-rage you inspire.
Hanna Rosin: I’m getting the feeling that it is definitely NOT the end of men at Reddit—that this is like the 21 Club (or maybe the Hooters) of online communities, one of those places where men still feel free to let loose.
Totallynotbb: I’m kind of surprised that nobody clued you into this ugly aspect of Reddit before proposing you do this AMA. In case you’re curious, Reddit’s resident angry dudebros have been planning to ambush you since last night.
Eliaspowers: Meta question: Did you expect this degree of hostility coming into the AMA? I assumed (correctly) that MRA would ambush the thread, but is that something you were prepared for?
I’d be interested in your thoughts on how things are going so far.
Also, I don’t know how familiar you are with Reddit, but please keep in mind that you are being besieged by a small subset of highly ideological Redditors rather than the Reddit population in general, where there is more ideological diversity.
Hanna Rosin: I knew in advance they’d be interested but, uh, not that interested.
UVdogastrophe: I asked David this last week, and I wanted to give you a chance to answer: Other than your fellow Gabfest panelists and your husband, who is the most enjoyable person at Slate with which to argue/discuss political and societal issues?
Hanna Rosin: I really, really love working at Slate largely because people there are open-minded and so fun to talk to. I just had a great email exchange with Dan Engber on a point of statistics he corrected me on, and he was so right! I loved having Will Saletan and Seth Stevenson on the podcast. Last week I was in the D.C. office talking to Dan Kois about his piece on karaoke, and Emily Bazelon about her new book, and Josh Levin about sports scandals and… I could go on.
Dankois: Do you think that black cherry Fresca is gross, like your completely wrong husband? Or do you have normal taste buds?
Hanna Rosin: Did not even know that such a vile thing existed. But I did once drink Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda and enjoy it. So am I abnormal?
Hanna Rosin: Thanks all, would love to stay and chat but time for me to go order David around and yell at him about the laundry.