Time’s Rosin Ignores Data, Conjures Monster Women

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Credit: Graffiti Land/Manuel Faisco on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).

(WOMENSENEWS)–Middle-class America is fast becoming a matriarchy, where women are the major breadwinners and make most family decisions and men are failing economically.

That’s the preposterous thesis of a recent New York Times Magazine cover article, adapted from the book "The End of Men and the Rise of Women" by Hanna Rosin.

This article is part of a sad trend in journalism, where anecdotes are marshaled to present a sexy narrative designed to generate major buzz with little attention to research, including a piece this week from The New York Times’ David Brooks.

Rosin focuses one anecdote on a group who live in one town in Alabama where most of the residents are evangelical Christians and both sexes have a strong attachment to the by-now outmoded idea that the man must be the head of the household. That’s an atypical sampling to say the least.

The main weakness, however, is her inattention to major studies from respected researchers and reliable national statistics.

Not many people are doing economically well right now, but the idea of women surging ahead while men sink is wildly inaccurate.

After the 2008 economic collapse, manufacturing and construction were hit especially hard. More men than women lost jobs in this sector, giving rise to the "Mancession" term.

The National Bureau of Economic Research calculated that from December 2007 to June 2009 a total of 7.5 million jobs vanished, with men losing 5.4 million and women losing 2.1 million.

But in the past two years, as a recovery slowly moved ahead, men fared much better than women. (The Times cover article ignored all the excellent reporting by the papers’ own journalists on the "Mancovery.")

Reversed Situation

Today, it can be argued, the situation has reversed. Women are fast becoming big losers due to the heavy toll of the weak economy on public-sector workers.

"Since August of 2008 state and local governments have shed a total of 647,000 workers, of which 64 percent, or 416,000, were women workers," notes Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress. "We predicted this outcome when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed: Because there was insufficient aid to the states in the legislation, there were high job losses among women workers who predominate state and local employment."

The National Women’s Law Center on Sept. 7 reported an analysis of the latest jobs data showing that public-sector layoffs wiped away 45 percent of job gains for women over the course of the recovery.

Even though women today earn more advanced degrees than ever before–and more than men–women’s earnings still trail far behind. Salary gains that women in management acquired over the 1980s and 1990s have dropped off and men’s salaries are pulling far ahead once again, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Catalyst finds women no closer to closing the gender gap at the top ranks than they were six years ago.

Most Disturbing Aspect

The most disturbing aspect of the Times piece ("Who Wears the Pants in This Economy?") is the notion of a "matriarchy" in which women use their power against men both at home and in the workplace.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that men and women share economic and domestic responsibilities. These "dual-centric" people are sufficiently flexible so that they can respond to economic shifts without the angst and sense of failure reflected in Rosin’s narrative.

In addition, other studies show that when women earn more than their husbands, the women do more domestic labor, exercise less power and use their money for domestic expenses rather than personal purchases.

When The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2008 of 1,260 couples, it found striking equality in decision-making in finances, weekend activities and big-ticket purchases. Women made the decisions 43 percent of the time, men 26 percent of the time and couples made decisions equally in 31 percent of the cases. These findings dovetail with a major study of dual earner couples directed by Rosalind Barnett that found a high degree of collaboration between husbands and wives in bringing home the bacon, raising the kids and managing the household.

As for wrathful women refusing to hire men, research finds just the opposite. Female supervisors hire white men more often than they hire other females or members of minority groups. This "glass escalator" phenomenon was identified by sociologist Ryan Smith at Baruch College, City University of New York.

Rosin’s scenario ignores all this and is based on men who are so rigid that they can’t even consider going into a "female" field such as nursing. But from 2000 to 2010, occupations that are more than 70 percent female accounted for almost a third of all job growth for men, double the share of the previous decade, according to a New York Times analysis.

Forget about the coming matriarchy. It’s not going to happen.

Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers are at work on a new book, "The New Soft War Against Women" for Tarcher-Penguin.

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2 thoughts on “Time’s Rosin Ignores Data, Conjures Monster Women

  1. Wasn’t there a study a few years ago showing that women in management actually increase the number of women hired? Has there been a comparison between that study and the one cited? Great article and I can’t wait to read the book!

  2. Re: Women are Aggressors. Dec. 2011, updated September 26, 2012
    WeNews editors,
    Rivers and Barnett Ignore Facts:
    I don’t understand why Women’s ENews would publish Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett promotion of the views of men’s rights and father’s rights activists who have been designated as a hate group for their attacks on feminists and women’s rights and safety. Their hatred and resentment of women is rationalized with the bogus “research” of misogynists like Murray Straus who’s made a living churning out fabricated statistics to satisfy the delusions of women-haters. * Straus has long been the darling of right-wing male supremacist conferences starring such careerist abuse rationalizers as Don Dutton, Jean-Claude Rochefort and other men’s right’s activists.
    All of these people ignore the bodies of evidence of male violence indicated by the approx. 500 corpses of women cited by the FBI dumped along the US interstate highways (L. A. Times, Scott Glover, April 5, 2009. The growing FBI database includes more than 500 female victims.) or the bodies of women found strewn in Long Island marshes or the mass school shootings of mostly women, numerous massacres of women like George Hennard’s at Luby’s Cafeteria and the global trafficking of women and their children by men. They never mention these facts or the hundreds of millions of women held captive from birth till death all over the world, never able to vote, drive or even leave the house without a male escort, never able to have a sexual relationship of their own choosing. There is no comparable environment for men found in any of the patriarchies all over the globe. Yet the men and women who defend or encourage the status quo ignore the overwhelming stress, fear, overwork and lack of agency many women experience every day as a result of male oppression. In fact, for the first time, in an industrialized country women’s life expectancy in the U.S. has declined since 1990 – now five years shorter.
    I had thought at one time that Rivers was a feminist. We should be debunking this propaganda rather than advancing it. Why give Rivers and Barnett a forum to stoke some men’s sense of paranoid victimization that fuels people like Marc Lepine, George Sodini, George Hennard, Darryl Mack, Robert Rhoades, Vincent Groves, John Floyd Thomas and the thousands of other men who, in varying degrees, make the lives of women fraught with unjust and unacknowledged suffering. I’m sure Rivers and Barnett could find appreciative employment with many of the proliferation of men’s rights blogs, zines and websites without taking up space in one of the few media outlets purported to serve women. Sincerely
    Betsy Warrior

    Men’s rights activists named as hate group
    Posted on 19 March 2012. Tags: fathers4justice, MRAs
    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a US non-profit organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, has named men’s rights activists (MRAs) as a hate group in its latest quarterly publication.
    In an issue entitled The Year in Hate and Extremism, the SPLC, based in Montgomery, Alabama, explores how MRAs spread false claims about women:
    Misogynists in the men’s and fathers’ rights movements have developed a set of claims about women to support their depictions of them as violent liars and manipulators of men.
    Some suggest that women attack men, even sexually, just as much as men attack women. Others claim that vast numbers of reported rapes of women, as much as half or even more, are fabrications designed to destroy men they don’t like or to gain the upper hand in contested custody cases. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).