The Thinking 

On Cardboard Men

September 28, 2012


TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL columnist Margaret Wente repeats approvingly Hanna Rosin’s thesis on “The End of Men,” which is that the reason men are lagging in the modern economy is that women are better at everything and men have become, economically speaking, an evolutionary maladaptation. Men are “cardboard” and women, because of their great adaptability, are “plastic.” She writes:

Ms. Rosin’s new book, The End of Men, is a strikingly revealing tour of the ways in which the postindustrial economy is reshaping our culture. Today, the things that women excel at – human contact, interpersonal skills, verbal skills, creativity – are more valuable than brawn and muscle. [Laura writes: Men never did anything but lift and carry.] These skills can’t easily be outsourced. Women are good at interpreting feelings and ideas. [Why has there never been a major female philosopher if women are good at interpreting ideas? Also, it is precisely because women are better at “interpreting feelings,’ that they are better at holding grudges in the workplace, which is why surveys show that workers would rather have a male boss than a female one.] They’re smart, diligent and reliable, and they mostly stay out of trouble. [In other words, men are not smart, diligent and reliable. May I ask, how civilization and modern bureaucracy came to be before the mass entry of women into the workplace? Women, by the way, are much more expensive as long-term employees. They have lower retention and higher absentee rates. They typically need to take off time for birth and at least some child-raising. If not for government-enforced favoritism, there would likely be many fewer female employees. Does Margeret Wente realize it is essentially illegal in America for a company to hire too many men?] On top of that, they’re extraordinarily adaptable. Women have taken on new roles and colonized male realms (pharmacy, veterinary medicine) with astonishing speed, and held on to their old roles and realms as well. [Ah, yes, they’ve held on to their old realms as well. That’s why illegitimacy rates in the U.S. are over 40 percent.]

But the men are stuck. It’s much harder for them to adapt, and a lot don’t even want to try. [The fact that a woman may be promoted ahead of you purely because she is a woman is a motivation-killer. And, it’s true men don’t particularly like working in female-dominated workplaces.] Few men of any age are willing to go back to school, especially if they have to clean toilets for the privilege. Even fewer are interested in “women’s” roles, even though those fields are where most of the employment growth will be. Of the 30 professions projected to add the most jobs over the next decade, women dominate 20. Many of these jobs (home care, child care, food preparation) replace things women used to do at home for free.

So, let’s get this straight. After 60 years of the concerted demonization of the traditional family, with the male provider marginalized and homemaking reduced to a beautiful hobby for wealthy (or stupid) women, after 60 years of the systematic, non-stop glorification of female, multi-tasking brilliance; the creation of a female-oriented education system; and the erection of a vast legal infrastructure to keep companies from favoring male employees, the reason men are lagging is that …. women are better — smarter, more reliable, more diligent — at the jobs in the new economy. It is precisely because women now heavily dominate journalism that such nonsense remains relatively unquestioned.

Margaret Wente


— Comments —-

James N. writes:

I’ve been following the story of an Irish woman, married and living in Melbourne, Australia. She went out drinking with friends, leaving her husband at home, and was abducted, raped, and murdered on the way home from the bar.

If you follow the links back to the beginning of the story, there’s a lot of stuff that’s in your power alley for comment, but I was struck by the juxtaposition of y;our discussion of the “Men are cardboard” trope and this story.

The linked story shows a photo of the dead woman walking past a shop at 1:41am. Witnesses saw her talking on a cell phone.

Walking home, possibly under the influence, distracted by a phone, at 1:41 am, and no man – except the one who raped and killed her. Even her husband, a “cardboard man” as Margaret Wente would have it, would no doubt have demonstrated some functionality had he been accompanying her on her middle of the night walk. He might even have turned out not to be made of cardboard at all.

And how sad that the friends’ only published comment was about the “great career” she had ahead of her. Whether that is editorial judgement at the Irish Times, or paucity of imagination on the part of her friends, we will never know.

James adds:

You will see here that Meagher’s friends are planning a “Reclaim the night” march. RE-claim – the implication is that there was a time, in the past, when it was safe for an unaccompanied woman to walk alone at 1:45 in the morning after drinking in a bar, and that some new aspect of male sexuality has recently appeared, for unstated reasons, and that, therefore, it is necessary for the night to be “taken back” or “reclaimed”.

This makes me furious, since it is possible that uninformed and poorly taught young girls and women might imagine that it has EVER been true that unaccompanied perambulations in the middle of the night could possibly be safe.

I have elected not to comment on Mrs. Meagher’s attire, which is visible in the first linked news photo.

Diana M. writes:

I had Horrible Hanna in mind as I snapped these random pics ’round town. Apologiies for the bad quality – I have an antiquated camera phone.

 The guys who are on their backs and knees are working on complicated lighting, which spells out names of the various features of Lincoln Center. This is hard and intricate labor. You can’t just hire any old slob to do this.

The boy on the scaffolding was, on the other hand, probably an illegal. Oops, undocumented.

Maybe Hanna’s daughter can do this work? Just asking.

Hurricane Betsy writes:

Seems Margaret Wente, that beauteous writer who agrees that men are pretty much useless, is in some trouble in Canada. The Toronto Globe and Mail, for which she writes, is Canada’s premier, major newspaper. If a TG&M writer plagiarizes, that’s seen as pretty embarrassing. They are even talking about it in the U.S.A. I know they sure aren’t shutting up about it in Canuckistan. It’s major news, at least amongst the intelligentsia.

John writes:

And just what makes Rosin think that this corrupt and dysfunctional social order is going to last indefinitely?

George writes:

I submit that Ayn Rand was a significant and noteworthy philosopher.

Laura writes:

That is arguably true. However, the point stands. The idea that women are better than men at interpreting ideas is patently false.

Terry Morris writes:

First of all, Ayn Rand may have been a major female philosopher (a debatable point, as Laura says), but up against the male greats she pales into insignificance. Which is probably more the point. But as I’ve said of her many times before, she did have the uncanny ability to cram into five and six paragraphs what most of us average folk can write in one or two. But anyway…

 To the point of the article I would simply point out that a society of dependents who largely rely on government to feed, clothe, shelter, educate, provide with jobs and businesses (there are “private” companies and whole industries that do nothing but government work), pensions and retirements, medical and dental care, and on and on and on from cradle to grave, is just the kind of society – the only kind of society – in which women will outdo men in the “workforce.” In other words, women can’t out-perform men unless government props them up, stacking the deck in their favor.

Reduce the size and scope of government (which would require a reduction in government dependency), and you will see a corresponding reduction in the “need” for and influence of women in the workplace.

The exact opposite is true of men.

 Laura writes:


 Mr. Morris writes:

 All of that said, there’s no way in Hades that empowered women will voluntarily give up an inch of ground they’ve illegitimately acquired with the assistance of government. And I see no concerted effort on the part men to even impede their progress, much less roll it back. So government will continue to grow and women will continue to make strides in the same direction as a result. But ultimately the whole apparatus will collapse under its own weight because you still have to have men to create real wealth and pay actual taxes no matter how much borrowing and printing you do. And the sooner it collapses the better. Though I should imagine empowered women aren’t going to like it too much. Not to mention the “men” who’ve been behind the whole thing all along.

Buck writes:

This is a battle of ideas and a test of wills, both of which can be enforced. But beyond an increasingly qualified self-defense, brawn and muscle, or the threat of force, is now the exclusive purview of the state. The state seizes and commands by force or by its certain threat. Willfully defy the state’s authority and you risk your freedom and well-being. Who is more aligned and allied with the state right now, women or men?

Laura writes:


Jesse Powell writes:

Mr. Powell writes:


Mr. Morris said, “And I see no concerted effort on the part men to even impede their progress, much less roll it back.”

On this point I have to disagree. Look at Christian men, more specifically Christian men in the context of churches teaching a complementarian or patriarchal message. Some of these churches are growing very fast, they have explicitly male leadership, and they attract an unusually high proportion of men as members of their congregation. Looking at the drive, purpose, and success of these men is very inspiring and gives me great hope for the future. In addition not everything is going the feminist’s way. The work force participation rate of women has been declining since the year 2000 after at least 130 years of continuous increase. Furthermore the proportion of white women having 5 or more children in their lifetimes has been steadily increasing since 1995 again reversing a long period of decline in that measure. The beginnings of a new society to replace the old crumbling edifice of feminism is already emerging. The patriarchal revolution has already begun, it is already winning successes, and its expression is Christian revival.

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