A recent issue of the ATLANTIC featured a long section on fourteen ideas about our changing world, the last of which was titled "The End of Men." This provocative essay is in three parts. The first sets forth the statistics that show the rising presence of women in what were, two generations ago, almost exclusively masculine arenas. Medical and law schools now graduate more females than males. More college degrees overall are awarded to women. For the first time, the number of female mid-level business managers exceeds that of male managers (although the same is not true of top-level management). Et Cetera.
The second part of the essay examines the recent depiction of male-female relationships in movies, citing film after film featuring a responsible, hard-working wife/girlfriend and a "slacker" male who basically does not want to grow up.
The third section theorizes why all this might be. The theory: Earlier societies, lacking our technology and far more dangerous, favored "masculine" traits of physical strength, competition, and control, which were survival traits. Today's society (in the United States, which is all the essay is concerned with) favors a different, more "feminine" style of management and professional conduct, based on empathy and consensus building. Thus women forge ahead faster -- and are more interested in doing so.
Do I believe all this? The graduation and employment statistics, yes. And I have noticed the slacker-male trend in movies for young people. But when I look around at the young people I actually know, I see just as many ambitious men as women, and also just as many young women who would rather take the path of least resistance. So I don't know. Thoughts, anyone?