Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rosin: "Onslaught" of Women in Lucrative Careers Explains Why Men Died in Aurora

 [TW/content note: violence]

I've read several dozen articles about the Colorado shooting, but Hanna Rosin's in Slate is the grossest so far.

In it, Rosin somehow links the "man crisis" to this incident:
"The families in Aurora, like the families in most once-prosperous middle-class American towns, no longer look like they did. After a series of recessions, the men aren’t working as steadily, and far fewer people are married. Several women were at the midnight showing with infants and toddlers, presumably because there was no one else at home to watch them. The woman who took her 6-year-old to the movie–the 6-year-old who died–was living with her own father, the girl’s grandfather. Jonathan Blunk has an ex-wife and two children in Nevada. His ex, Chantel, was also speaking on the morning shows. On the Today show interview, Jansen Young, the girlfriend Blunk saved, mentioned that Jonathan was thinking about re-enlisting in the Navy. She attributed that to his undying heroism, but it may also have to do with the fact that he, like a few guys in the theater, was working at Target and surely not making enough money to support one family, much less two. Young, meanwhile, had just finished getting her veterinarian degree, becoming the latest in an onslaught of women who have taken over that lucrative profession, which was not very long ago dominated by men.

None of these life details are meant to detract from the men's heroism. They are only meant to make it more poignant, and even beautiful. As I’ve traveled to different middle-class towns that are struggling after the recession to report my book The End of Men, I’ve found a strained and touching effort to redefine the roles of men. They are often not the breadwinners because in that slice of America, women are often financially better off than the men....
Throwing your body in front of your girlfriend when people all around you are getting shot is an instinct that's basic, and deeper. It’s the same reason these Batman and Spider-Man franchises endure: Because whatever else is fading away, women still seem to want their superhero, and men still seem to want to be him." [emphasis added; link removed to Amazon listing of Rosen's book. Because really, isn't the important thing here how people can make a buck off this tragedy, promote their books, and improve their Amazon ranking?]
Er...  what?

The framing of "the men" (which men? all men? some men?) as deeply and essentially heroic and "the women" (which women? all women? some women?) as deeply and essentially frail victims in want and need of male protection, along with the article's title ""In the Aurora Theater the Men Protected the Women. What Does that Mean?", invisibilizes the reality that these types of mass shootings are almost always committed by members of the "hero class" - men.

It also invisibilizes the reality that women, too, often have "basic" and "deep" heroic instincts to protect and defend others, and that self-sacrifice has, also, long been defined as essential to womanhood. (Not many people, women and men, come out winning when it comes those who tell us what Real Men and Real Women are like.)

Notice too Rosin's word choice in describing one of the female victims who had just gotten her veterinarian degree as representing part of the "onslaught" of women who "have taken over" a profession that once belonged to men.


Yes, really. She said onslaught.

The only time that word can accurately be used, a word that by the way means "a violent attack," about the Aurora incident is to describe the actions of the man who engaged in the violent attack.

This inapt word choice of Rosin's, which she chose to describe, not an actual violent attack, but the act of women entering into a profession, suggests that women, with their uppity rights and career choices are actually violent aggressors against "the men," usurping man's station in life.

As though People Now Have It Coming because women have attacked men and stolen their lucrative careers, and now, well... now the only way "the men" know how to be men these days is for them to Protect Their Women. Nevermind the fact that women and girls died in this attack, so there's an interesting question, what does that mean? Is Rosin saying that, geez, men have exactly one role left in life and some of them can't even do that right?

And, pssssssst, [whispering] even though we pretend to be all independent and liberated, what we really want is a man to be our hero. Even if we're gay, I guess. And even if we want to be the superheroes. Yay for the lady monolith! (After all, this article is in Slate's special, confessional, segregated-from-the-regular-news "XX Factor: What Women Really Think" section!)

The subtext? And all of this is due to feminism and women's empowerment, of course.

And then she ends with something something mumble this incident is exactly why people are so into superhero movies featuring men. (I guess Rosin missed The Hunger Games boat?)

It's truly a reprehensible article, and a great example of that American tendency of making tragic incidents mean whatever the hell "pundits" want them to mean.

It's time for people who care so very much about this "man crisis" to start thinking of ways to make men feel okay with women's progress without (a) suggesting that women's progress is "unfair" to men and (b) suggesting that the only way left to be a Real Man is to throw oneself in front of bullets so other people can live.

If this generation of "the men" are truly unable to grow up (which I don't believe, but many "man crisis" proponents do) it's because of people like Rosin who coddle them with the entitlement to believe they've been Big-Time Wronged by women's increased entry into the workforce.

1 comment:

ironhans said...


I enjoyed your post, agreed with many of your points, and do think it was crass to draw parallels to the shift in male/female roles with the tragedy, especially so soon.
But that isn't to discount the real point that a shift is taking place. My wife put me through college while I cared for our little one & upon graduation found low-pay & unemployment to be the norm. So I'm the stay-at-home dad/aspiring writer while mom works. Coming to accept this new norm has not been without challenges; the pain of paradigm-shifts & the reassessing of the self. For some, especially those entrenched in parochial thinking, the inflexibility can lead to a snap. Even someone like me, with high elasticity, contemplated suicide until I fully shifted my thinking.
I think it's ridiculous to blame anything on an 'onslaught' of women. Women are only starting to make up for past (& current) inequalities. I'm proud of my wife & her accomplishments and instill that in my daughter. For now that is my role and it's an important one.
Hunger Games was a good story, but I'm not convinced of Katniss as a good role model. For a very interesting analysis see:



Onslaught was a poor WC, but a kick-ass Marvel comics character.