“Contrary to the fears of some pundits, the ascent of women does not portend the end of men. It offers a new beginning for both.” So argues Stephanie Coontz in the New York Times most emailed article (as of this morning), “The Myth of Male Decline.” Though polemics on the tanking of men as a gender abound these says, Coontz has some real talk—and some real data—to suggest there is a lot more to the “end of men” story:
Proponents of the “women as the richer sex” scenario often note that in several metropolitan areas, never-married childless women in their 20s now earn more, on average, than their male age-mates.
But this is because of the demographic anomaly that such areas have exceptionally large percentages of highly educated single white women and young, poorly educated, low-wage Latino men. Earning more than a man with less education is not the same as earning as much as an equally educated man.
BOOM. She adds that, “Among never-married, childless 22- to 30-year-old metropolitan-area workers with the same educational credentials, males out-earn females in every category.” So much for men being “over.”
Coontz also touches on some issues that probably aren’t new to your average feminist, but it’s nice to see them getting some love from the Grey Lady. Namely, that men are socialized to behave a certain way, like macho jerks, and to expect certain things, like male privilege, and that these expectations and gender norms can hinder their progress personally and professionally. *cough*feminism*cough*cough*
Just as the feminine mystique discouraged women in the 1950s and 1960s from improving their education or job prospects, on the assumption that a man would always provide for them, the masculine mystique encourages men to neglect their own self-improvement on the assumption that sooner or later their “manliness” will be rewarded.
Say what? Patriarchy is a bad thing?! Yes, we knew that already, but the more coverage it gets in mainstream media the better. It takes real money to fund studies like the ones Coontz references, and the more traction articles like this one get the more studies can be done in the future—and the more we can break down some of the gender norms that hold back people of all genders in their work and family lives. Who knows? The next most-emailed NYT article on economics and gender norms might present gender as a spectrum instead of a binary and then everyone’s minds can really be blown.
[Image: Wendy MacNaughton via New York Times]