(This is the Tantrum, in which Dadwagon’s writers debate one question over the course of a week. For previous Tantrums, click here.)
I clocked Hanna Rosin’s Atlantic article on The End of Men, which is the subject of this week’s Tantrum, at over 8,600 words. The Constitution of these United States, including all 27 freaking Amendments, doesn’t even hit 8,100 words.
Am I jealous? You bet. I get paid by the word. And given that I work mostly for a magazine that loves listicles, I don’t get to write a lot of words at any one time.
I disagree that it’s not worth reading the piece, though. Rosin is a good writer. She keeps things from getting dreary. But in the end, let me just sweep aside her overbroad arguments (“A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way—and its vast cultural consequences”) as well as Matt’s counterpoint (“Men, let’s embrace our new uselessness!”). I’m more in Theodore’s camp: “There is, really, no such thing as Men,” he wrote. “There are specific men in specific places doing specific things.”
As Theodore pointed out, there’s a tendency for moms to push fathers aside—even beyond the natural limitations of what fathers can offer an infant.
So let me rephrase this whole conversation: If you’re worried that men are useless, or that you are useless, then make yourself useful. Push the wife out of the way, be there first with the diaper. Or if you need a manlier contribution, build a crib or treefort, paint the walls of the nursery. The individual men who are useless—at home, work, or anywhere else—shouldn’t have anyone else to blame for it besides themselves. Women may have passed us in education and other metrics, but we are far from being oppressed by them. So if you’re not contributing, look in your man-mirror.
Side note: I’ve got no beef with the length of this article, but there is something that needs more editing: The video with Rosin and her family (including husband David Plotz, whose writing about Barry Scheck I quoted in my most recent TIME article, because he’s that good). Plotz and Rosin and their kids don’t prove much about the gender wars (although the daughter does get points for using more concrete examples in her arguments). They do prove that my people (yes, the Chosen ones) might be a bit overly analytical/argumentative, even from a young age. And that the Atlantic needs to hire a couple more video editors. Nevertheless, here’s the video, if you’ve got more than five minutes: