September 5, 2012 / Safety

The End of Nothing

by

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

“Men have been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But Hanna Rosin was the first to notice that this long-held truth is, astonishingly, no longer true. At this unprecedented moment, by almost every measure, women are no longer gaining on men: They have pulled decisively ahead.”

This is the description at Amazon of Hanna Rosin’s highly-anticipated new book, The End of Men, due for release this month. One reviewer wrote she was pleased to see that women’s empowerment has led to them fighting back against assailants, and to being financially able to leave abusive relationships, though she was dismayed at the rising violence being perpetrated by women. Empowerment has nothing to do with whether or not a woman is able to fight off an attacker.  An excerpt, Boys on the Siderecently appeared in The Atlantic, explaining this view. In it, Rosin writes

One of the great crime stories of the past 20 years, meanwhile, is the dramatic decline of rape and sexual assault. Between 1993 and 2008, the rate of those crimes against females dropped by 70 percent nationally. When women were financially dependent on men, leaving an abusive situation was much harder for them. But now women who in earlier eras might have stayed in such relationships can leave or, more often, kick men out of the house. Women, argues Mike Males, a criminologist at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, “have achieved a great deal more power. And that makes them a lot harder to victimize.”


In December, 2011, the CDC released the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report, and the media quickly reported horrifying results: in their lifetimes, 1 in 5 women have been raped, 1 in 6 women have been victims of stalking, and more than 1 in 3 women have been victims of intimate partner violence. In cases of rape or sexual assault, the majority of victims – female and male – reported a male perpetrator. Over 85% of women were stalked by men, and about half of male victims were stalked by men.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Criminal Victimization Survey from 2010 shows a slight dip in crimes, such as rape and domestic violence. However, the report also clearly states, “The decline in the rate of simple assault accounted for about 82% of the total decrease in the rate of violent victimization in 2010.” Even if victimization of women was half what it was ten or twenty years ago, the numbers are still staggering. Millions of women each year would hardly agree there has been a major shift in a positive direction.

Rosin fails to take into account two things: the number of these crimes unreported by victims, and the number of rapes reported to local law enforcement, but not accepted by the FBI because, as the DOJ survey points out, they didn’t fit the 85-year-old definition of rape. If anything, we will likely see a surge in FBI data, as acts like statutory rape will be counted as rape.

It’s true that women who are empowered financially are more likely to have the means to leave an abusive relationship if necessary. But lack of access to finances isn’t the only reason women stay. It’s easy for anyone who has never been in that position to judge, but women choose not to leave for a variety of very complex reasons, and the most dangerous time for an abused woman is during the time she is attempting to leave. The Domestic Abuse Shelter of the Florida Keys reports that in domestic violence homicides, about 75% of them occurred when the women were attempting to leave.

Here’s a quote from the original End of Men article:

“…All you are is a paycheck, and now you ain’t even that. And if you try to exercise your authority, she’ll call 911. How does that make you feel? You’re supposed to be the authority, and she says, ‘Get out of the house, bitch.’ She’s calling you ‘bitch’!”

So, a man whining about no longer being able to “exercise (his) authority” is an indication that women now have a firm grasp on the upper hand? The man quoted above was attending a fathering class as an alternative to jail for failure to pay child support. It certainly doesn’t seem as though his ex’s leaving cured his violent behavior.

Unfortunately, Boys ignores the plight of millions of women worldwide. Rosin uses the sexual behavior of a small number of women in a handful of college towns who barely have a toe on this side of adulthood as proof of the disappearance of men’s sexually aggressive behavior. There’s nothing wrong with being in charge of your sex life, but the article makes it appear as though young women these days are faced with only two choices: hookups or early marriage. It is largely an attempt to convince readers that the “hookup culture” is really evidence of college women’s empowerment, that by casually sleeping around – or deciding not to – they avoid the distraction of relationships. By embracing the hookup culture, women are able to finish their college degrees and get “real” careers, instead of being forced into the doldrums of life as a Stepford Wife. This is about prevention: an MBA instead of an “MRS” will save women from sexual aggression and domestic violence later, and this marks the beginning of the end of the violent behavior all men are predisposed to. This is nothing more than front-end victim-blaming wrapped in the justification of accepting being used, and the mental gymnastics required must be exhausting.

This article also unfairly assumes all men use sex to exert power and control over women, and to say that a dip in the number of men who are violent predators means the “end of men” is to assume that being a sexually aggressive, violent predator is a mark of true manhood. Real men don’t hurt women, and there are a lot of men who would be insulted to hear this makes them any less masculine.

The decline of men who perpetrate domestic and/or sexual violence will begin

  • when men no longer make up the majority of rapists;
  • when men no longer believe rape is okay if the woman asked him out or if he paid for the date;
  • when human sex trafficking of women and little girls (as young as 4-years-old) is no longer a $9.5 billion industry world-wide, and it is no longer the 3rd largest criminal enterprise in the world;
  • when the statistic that 95% of all campus rapes and sexual assaults go unreported and only 5% are reported is reversed;
  • when teenaged girls like Savannah Dietrich who do find the strength to report their rapes and go through the trauma of a trial are no longer left out of the plea bargaining process that gives their rapists lesser sentences;
  • when women and girls like Savannah Dietrich are no longer accused of trying to ruin their attackers’ lives by speaking out about what happened to them;
  • when there are an equal number of rape prevention posters targeting men as there are women;
  • when women and girls are no longer subjected to catcalls;
  • when women and girls no longer have to worry about being sexually assaulted in broad daylight, only to have the crime compared with trespassing on someone else’s lawn;
  • when the court of public opinion stops pontificating on whether or not a sexual or domestic violence victim invited or deserved it, and stops acting as if they could or would do better if they were in the victims’ shoes;
  • when rape is no longer used as a weapon of war;
  • when rape is no longer viewed as the spoils of war;
  • when young girls are no long forced to marry their rapists to help the rapist avoid jail;
  • when young girls no longer feel suicide is the only alternative to being forced to marry their rapists;
  • when “Widow Cleansing” as a means of exorcising the spirit of a woman’s dead husband is no longer legal;
  • when the iPhone app Circle of 6 is no longer a necessity;
  • when the responsibility to prevent rape falls on men, rather than women;
  • when girls and women who are raped are no longer murdered in order to restore the family honor;
  • when articles like the one you are reading are no longer necessary.

Join Our Email List

Be the first to know the latest initiatives from The New Agenda to improve the lives of women and girls.

Thank you for joining our list! Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.