Men Are Finished… Does this mean total world domination by women, the end of men in power positions, or a surge toward gender equality? Recently the group Intelligence Squared held a debate, “Men Are Finished,” in N.Y.C. to argue all of this out. The debate was far from a simple battle of the sexes; it was more of a battle of feminist ideologies. Certainly an interesting title, the debaters spent most of the debate defining what “Men Are Finished” truly meant to them.
The teams were journalist Hanna Rosin and Dan Abrams for the motion, while feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers and Men’s Health Editor in Chief Dave Zinczenko opposed the motion. Essentially, what they were arguing was whether or not society was at a tipping point in terms of gender roles and power. As we know, throughout history women have been considered the second sex and have fought hard for equality in a battle that still continues today. Now that fight may be over, depending on whether you agree or disagree with the motion, that women have now surpassed men and the men are “finished.”
The team for the motion argued that the idea “men are finished” meant that people finding success in society because of male dominance and male traits is over. Rosin argued that in our postmodern economy, we place higher value on what are traditionally women’s attributes, like empathy, communication skills, and social intelligence. She argued that men don’t have these similar qualities, and that there’s, “some special formula required for succeeding today that women seem to have in greater abundance.” Rosin followed this with statistics showing that more women are managers, etc., while more men are unemployed than ever before. She also added that the future of men looks something like the men of Judd Apatow’s movies: dudes looking and acting like overgrown teenagers, probably sitting around playing video games with their buddies, unemployed, and without a plan. She claimed that because this character has begun to infiltrate many movies and television shows, “We’d like you to think of this as the writing on the wall, the sign that points to an inevitable future.” Already there seemed to be faults inherent in her argument, as traits and attributes of men and women can obviously be fluid. It’s hard to say that men are always more aggressive and that women are more socially intelligent. She seemed to be coming from a standpoint where men and women are opposites, which is arguably not true.
Christina Hoff Sommers countered Rosin’s arguments by saying that the trends she cited were signs of gender equality coming closer, rather than signs of women’s dominance. She claimed, “Women are joining men, or even catching up to them, as partners in running the world. They are not surpassing them.” Then she and Zinczenko brought up Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg who are clearly the reigning leaders of the technology world today. Zinczenko also commented on the trends that Rosin pointed out saying that, “Women are beginning to catch up to men, but the pace of that progress is inexorably slow.” Then he reminded the audience that women still do two-thirds of the world’s work while earning a fraction less income than men. There are also still more male CEOs leading big corporations and in positions of power. Lots of opinions stood out, and I encourage you to check out the whole debate online. But this quote from David Zinczenko pretty much summed everything up for me:
“…Now, the first point, consider this: Gender equality is something we can all agree on, as an ideal. But if we are approaching gender equality, why are there fewer women in government today than there were 10 years ago? Why is it so much easier for men to hold onto their gun rights than it is for women to hold onto their reproductive rights? Not only aren’t men finished, but women haven’t even begun. Let’s at least get to the point where the game is tied before we start writing all the men off…”
I found fault with both sides of the debate, as well as the fact that so many other factors like age, race, sexual orientation, and economic status were left out of the hypothetical women and men being discussed. Still, the audience was swayed significantly by the team for the motion, making Abrams and Rosin the winners. Before the debate, 20 percent of the audience voted for the motion, 54 percent against, and 26 percent were undecided. After the debate, the results shifted dramatically with 66 percent for the motion, 29 percent against the motion, and 5 percent still undecided. Apparently, most people believe that men are finished.
The group that produced the debate, Intelligence Squared, is “based on the highly successful debate program based in London, and has presented over 50 debates on a wide range of provocative and timely topics. From global warming and the financial crisis, to Afghanistan/Pakistan and the death of mainstream media, Intelligence Squared brings together the world’s leading authorities on the day’s most important issues.” Be sure to check out their future debates!
Image from intelligencesquaredus.org