The biggest problem with this book is not its failure to present a problem, but its failure to present it in a way people will take it seriously.
Her thesis breaks down like this:
1. Feminism elevated women to new opportunities they did not have before the 1960s, most notably in the workplace, but also in their ability to hold off on having children.
2. The change in our economy from manufacturing towards a service economy (which the author refers to as a Knowledge Economy) has meant a shift towards an economy that favors women based on their social tendencies and natural abilities. This, combined with a female-centric education system and popular culture, has made American society into a woman's world.
3. Men grow up in this society with little expected of them. And Adam Sandler movies are stupid.
4. Despite their newfound economic independence, women still possess a great desire to marry up, meaning that men in their 20s, unless they have high status, likely will not be able to attract desirable mates until their 30s when the pool of available men begins to dry up. So women don't need men, but still want a man who earns more than hey do.
5. Women love jerks, because jerks are dominant. This is despite the fact that jerks are incapable of ever being anything other than jerks. Modern dating culture, which has always encouraged caddish behavior from men, now encourages women to be equally promiscuous. The rise of Game theory encourages elaborate seduction techniques to trick women into bed. In other words, we're just doing what chimps do.
6. Assuming a modern man overcomes all of this and finds a woman willing to grace him with being married to her, he will still be treated as a stupid, incompetent and potentially dangerous fifth wheel. Although he will be expected to treat his wife as an absolute equal, he will always be viewed as unnecessary and disposable. And if the marriage ends, his ex will probably consume him like a virus. This is why many men are opting out of marriage and family altogether. Society cannot survive without the willingness of men to sacrifice themselves for the, um, greater good.
7. More women are deciding to become mothers on their own, aided by a culture that openly believes fathers to be unnecessary or even harmful.
8. Conclusion- women have no vested interest in giving up their power and privilege, so we're out of luck. Women just need to be more realistic about the cold hard facts of fertility. And men just need to grow up, or something.
Like the blind men with the elephant, Hymowitz gets the problem partially right, particularly in the area of fathers. The simple fact is that generally, large numbers of single mothers have never been good for any society, because historically they have depended on the charity of others to survive. While one might argue that today's educated western woman has fundamental advantages over past generations, no one could seriously argue that it is better, barring abuse or other destructive behavior, to grow up without a father, be it through divorce or illigitimacy. And she rightly states that a man with a family is much more motivated to act responsibly, if for no other reason than a duty to provide for and protect his children.
Unfortunately, she fails to make the case for why single men should care. Assuming that Ms. Hymowitz is correct, and society truly views men with such blatant contempt, then why should any man sacrifice his financial and physical security for the good of those who despise him? And more to the point, why is it the business of Ms. Hymowitz, or any other person, what a grown man chooses to do with his own life? How is it a social ill for an ethical, responsible, law-abiding man to decide he's better off on his own? Such a man hurts no one with his choice; indeed, he simply removes himself, without rancor or malice, from the company of those who consider him an inferior to be exploited.
Only the very religious could reasonably be expected to even aspire to any level of selflessness, or toward an ideal of the altruistic hero. Ironically, it is this very ideal, which drove men of the past to stand against the Persians or write the Declaration of Independence, that now seems to find itself walking into the twilight of a culture built on contempt toward men. And those most able to do anything about it are the ones least willing to change.
If Ms. Hymowitz seriously wants to reverse the decay of the American family, then she will need to do better than accusing men of being babies. Indeed, single men should care about the destruction of the family, because all those fatherless children will bring their issues back on the next generation of citizens. But again, this is just empty talk to the ears of a single man who sees marriage as a parasitic infection into his wallet and his freedom.
If a man is to be convinced that marriage is good for him, American women might try boycotting shows that glorify the sexual injury and mutilation of men as a comic device. They might consider changing the channel when the idiot-man commercial comes on. They might try advocating for family laws that treat the bond between a father and his children like the beautiful, sacred thing it is. They might lobby for the reform of an education system that by all measurable standards favors girls over boys, and as a result creates an ever-shrinking pool of marriageable men. By simply being kind to men, women could make marriage worth it.
But there's the irony- women, who would actually benefit from a culture that values men, don't seem all that interested in doing anything different. Or at least, not enough of them have made their vioces heard. Even though man-haters comprise such a tiny percent of the female population, their ideals have permeated our culture for the last 40 years, and will continue to do so until the good women of this country break their silence, and decide that they want their husbands and sons to have some worth. The modern American woman has a choice to make between standing up for the men in her life, or respecting their decision to be left alone. Or, as Huey Lewis put it, "Let me go... Or make me want to stay."