Debating Claims About the “End of Men”: An Online Symposium

This online symposium marks the launch of the new Boston University Law Review website and will complement the live conference taking place at Boston University School of Law on October 12-13, 2012.  In an attempt to expand the number of voices participating in the conversation on this timely and significant topic, the editorial board and staff of the Law Review, in consultation with conference organizers Professors Linda McClain, Khiara Bridges, and Katharine Silbaugh, have decided to invite a group of distinguished legal scholars to contribute pieces relating to the “end of men” topic and, thus, to participate in this launch of our new website.

The online symposium will provide a space beyond the live conference for additional commentary on claims about “the end of men” and the implications of such claims for law and policy. Do the claims survive critical examination when one looks at the comparative status of men and women in concrete domains, such as education, the workplace, and the family?  How do claims about the decline of men and the progress of women look once they are differentiated by class, race, region, and other categories?  How do such claims look in historical perspective: what do we learn from earlier times when there were anxieties about imbalances between the relative power, opportunities, and status of men and women?  And are claims about “the end of men” distinctive to the United States?  How do they look in comparative perspective?  These are some examples of aspects of the online symposium topic, “Debating Claims about ‘the End of Men.’”  Our goal is to publish a broad range of approaches to the topic that sustain an ongoing dialogue.


Anti-Stereotyping and “The End of Men”

Barbara Stark — 92 B.U. L. Rev. Annex 1 (2012)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early anti-stereotyping work has been re-discovered by a new generation of scholars.  This Essay compares Justice Ginsburg’s notion of prohibited stereotypes with the much broader ban set out in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  The Essay analyzes the limitations of the Constitution in the context of gender stereotypes, specifically its failure to recognize women’s rights.  The Essay further shows how CEDAW does effectively address gender stereotypes, and explains why CEDAW is as necessary for men as it is for women.  The Essay also describes the “economic and cultural power shift from men to women” documented by Hannah Rosin in The End of Men, which makes gender stereotypes increasingly outdated.

Sex as a Team Sport: A Reaction to Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men

Libby Adler — 93 B.U. L. Rev. Annex 1 (2013)

Surely any proclamation that the “End of Men” is upon us is an overstatement. The idea that men are over, at least insofar as they are defined by their economic superiority, is a notion with which to toy, not one to observe as an empirical truth, despite the tenor of empiricism that pervades both the essay and the book. This Essay asserts that perhaps, however, we can derive some fresh value by stepping back and considering the framework Hanna Rosin constructs through her title and larger analysis: that of a transcultural, transhistorical match up – boys versus girls, brawn versus brains, gander versus goose – not because team sports is the best way to understand sex, but because viewing sex through the lens of team sports might shed some light on the rules of the game as well as on the arenas of play.

Sex and Equality

Katharine K. Baker — 93 B.U. L. Rev. Annex 11 (2013)

In “Hearts of Steel,” a chapter of Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men devoted to hookup culture, Rosin highlights the rise of casual sexual relationships as an empowering prospect, allowing young women to explore academic, professional, and sexual interests without the commitment attendant serious relationships. This Essay delves more deeply into this claim, ultimately questioning whether Rosin’s conclusion holds true for only a few very elite women such as those profiled in Rosin’s book.  Evaluating the studies which Rosin claims are “the most patient and thorough” on the subject of sex on college campuses, Professor Baker reveals a broad array of ways that hooking up may impact the lives of both women and men.  Baker emphasizes the danger of sexual assault on modern campuses and questions a sexual culture that perpetuates power inequalities through casting young women in sexually submissive roles.  She also explores themes of economic dependency within marriage and reveals that delaying marriage may not dissolve, but only delay, relationship inequalities. Ultimately, Baker concludes that accepting the hookup culture and celebrating it as a manifestation of feminism perpetuates as legitimate enduring sexual double standards, downplays the class effects of the hookup status game, condones the cultivation of selfish male behavior, and ignores lasting difficulties facing men and women as they attempt to construct relationships of equality.

The End of Men, Again

Kara W. Swanson — 93 B.U. L. Rev. Annex 26 (2013)

The current attention to the “end of men” is occurring as men’s role as biological fathers is becoming radically deemphasized through assisted reproductive technologies and alternative family formation.   As other historians have noted, since the nineteenth century there have been serial crises of masculinity in the United States, in which the perceived loss of power by white middle class heterosexual men has been decried.   This essay considers the current crisis in the context of earlier explorations of the biological end of men, from early twentieth century feminist utopian fiction to lesbian dreams of virgin birth in the 1970s.

Underneath Her Pantsuit: A Reflection on Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men

Aziza Ahmed — 93 B.U. L. Rev. Annex 37 (2013)

This Essay offers two related but distinct reflections on Rosin’s line of argumentation with regard to women and violence. First, it argues that Rosin offers an account of women’s relationship to violence, which can be used as a lens to critique assumptions about women that appear in international law and development. Second, the Essay argues that despite the usefulness of her argument there is a danger in its presentation: she is heavily reliant on race, class, and religion tropes. Rosin’s deployment of these tropes does the work of making her claim more believable to an audience that may be sympathetic to such stereotypes. In doing so she further entrenches negative ideas of the groups represented in her book.