The end of patriarchy?

Two weeks ago Hanna Rosin, famed journalist controversial for claiming that patriarchy is dead, came to UWT to give a lecture on her new book “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women.” In the book, Rosin paints a picture of gender relations in America, claiming that we are living in a time when patriarchy is diminishing and women are coming out on top.

Back in September, Rosin published “Patriarchy is Dead,” which may have been her most controversial article to date. The piece, which was published in Slate, criticizes feminist writers and successful women such as Stephanie Coontz (who penned an op-ed in the The New York Times about “The Myth of Male Decline”)  for “bean counting.” By spending so much time hunting down every occurrence of misogyny, big or small, these feminists have missed the big picture: paradigms are shifting and patriarchy is dying.

Rosin is a journalist whose theories are supported by solid evidence. For example, women comprise almost half of the workforce and earn 2 out of every 3 degrees.

Her argument is not about which sex is better, but about how women are more flexible within the current economic climate. In her lecture she stated that “being the underdog” for centuries has made women more adaptable than men. So while men who were laid off from their manufacturing jobs in 2009 are still searching for other manufacturing jobs, women are going to school and becoming educated for the jobs that are being created in our modern economy (e.g. nursing).

As much as I wanted to revel in Rosin’s pro-woman assertions, which evoked chuckles from the men in the audience and “it’s about time” applause from the women, I disagree that patriarchy has disappeared.

Women in higher economic brackets, the main subjects of Rosin’s lecture, may be doing better than ever, but they still struggle with issues such as lower pay, statistically receiving 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.  

What is most misleading about Rosin’s claims, and the title of her book, is that it does little  to address the plight of women on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, many of whom are single mothers working several low-paying jobs just to provide basic needs for their families.

When asked about the plight of “single motherhood” and what affect it would have on our country, Rosin faltered and said there should be a way to get men to step up and take responsibility. I wasn’t satisfied with this answer. Instead of focusing on two-parent homes as an absolute must,which undermines all of the diverse situations of families out there, we should be offering single mothers more support, more programs, andI don’t knowpaid maternity leave. (The U.S. is one of only four countries that does not provide paid leave for new parents. The others are Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.)

Rosin is a journalist whose job is to  write about what is happening now, therefore I did not go to her lecture expecting solutions to the problems that feminists still face. But when she makes the claim that patriarchy is dead based solely on the experiences of women at the top, it gives a false sense of security, leading people to believe that sexism has disappeared when it has not.