The End Of The Macho Man? The recession has hit male-dominated fields particularly hard, while women's presence and performance in school and in the workplace continues to increase. As notions of masculinity change, men are redefining themselves, as well. The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin and author Guy Garcia discuss the changing role of men in America.
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The End Of The Macho Man?

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The End Of The Macho Man?

The End Of The Macho Man?

The End Of The Macho Man?

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The recession has hit male-dominated fields particularly hard, while women's presence and performance in school and in the workplace continues to increase. As notions of masculinity change, men are redefining themselves, as well. The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin and author Guy Garcia discuss the changing role of men in America.

NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

On the cover of the current Newsweek, a muscular, shirtless man cradles a puppy-eyed toddler over his shoulder, the headline: "Man Up! The Traditional Male is an Endangered Species." Which may be an exaggeration, but the recession hit male-dominated fields so hard that some people call it the he-cession.

Women's presence and performance in the workplace and in higher education continues to grow, which forces many men to redefine themselves. As earning power shifts more towards women, how has that changed your relationship? How have men's roles changed?

Tell us your story, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the hour, "The Good Wife" is back on TV. We'll talk with the creators. But first, the changing role of men. Hanna Rosin is co-founder of Slate's online women's magazine, Double X, and a contributing editor at the Atlantic, and she joins us here in Studio 3A. Nice to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

Ms. HANNA ROSIN (Double X): Thank you, glad to be here.

CONAN: And the article you wrote for the July issue was titled "The End of Men." Inevitably, it had something to do with the rise of women too.

Ms. ROSIN: Right, exactly. I was basically looking at statistics in different areas: economics statistics, education statistics. And you put all these points together and you get basically a new map of what America looks like, which is really kind of intriguing, and it has to do with a kind of patriarchal dominance that we're used to over all these years seems to be fading, and it's kind of alarming.

CONAN: One of the most important ones, that for the first time ever in America, that the number of women workers outnumbers the men.

Ms. ROSIN: Exactly, and that statistic hovers around 50 percent. It goes from 49 to 51. But it's also changed in high-paying jobs. There are certain professions that are being turned over to women. The higher you go up the ladder, it's flipping. So it's not merely that women are working, but women are working at better and better jobs these days.

CONAN: But some people will say immediately: Wait, there's still a gap, a salary gap, 77 cents on the dollar.

Ms. ROSIN: It's true, and there was a study that came out today about women managers, and as I looked at this, because I've looked at so many of these studies, after a while you begin to see that it just sort of depends on how you slice the numbers.

If you start from the '70s until now, there's been a tremendous amount of progress. If you look at the wage gap, it's been shrinking over the years.

There are still huge numbers of problems - for example, the problem with mothers. There's always a pay gap that's larger between women with children and men with children, and that seems to persist over time.

But I think looking at the problems in terms of progress - women are making progress, they're not making progress, they've stalled in progress - misses the bigger picture, which is that the economy is becoming more amenable to women than it is to men, mostly because women are better educated and because the jobs that are growing are jobs that women tend to do. So that's the kind of big forecasting future picture.

CONAN: But we can't ignore the fact that older women in particular are still amongst the poorest in our society.

Ms. ROSIN: Absolutely, and I think if you go from older to younger, the changes become stark. Another recent interesting study showed that women under 30 are - in 147 out of 150 cities - are making more money than men under 30, and that is really amazing.

I mean, that's kind of a future generation statistic that shows both the earning power of women, their power as consumers. I mean, as it happens, that was a marketing study done to show companies who they should market to in the future.

CONAN: And of the 15 job categories expected to grow the most over the next decade, men dominate just two of those fields: janitorial workers and computer engineers.

Ms. ROSIN: Exactly, exactly. So if you try and project 10, 15, 20 years down the road, it's not just a matter of what the recession did or didn't do, it's a question of the recession having opened up the window on something that economists would have seen coming for some time.

CONAN: And those are the facts. How does that change people's relationships?

Ms. ROSIN: It really does. That's the next question, is then what happens to American marriages? And I think that's different class by class. If you look at the working class, the big story there is that marriage is disappearing, effectively, in the sort of middle and working class, that women are choosing not to get married in the first place.

The number of children born to single women is skyrocketing. And so you have a situation where it's not necessarily a pretty picture for women or a straight female empowerment, but it is that women are dominant and running households, and the men are kind of disappearing.

And then in the upper classes you have a slightly different picture, where you have a lot more marriages where women are out-earning men, but there is more equality.

CONAN: Is the playing field leveled in any significant way?

Ms. ROSIN: In the middle classes the playing field is leveling. In education, women are surpassing men. And then you have the final question to talk about, which is why does the top still seem so male-dominated? Is that arcane? Is that something in the past? All this pressure coming up from the bottom of women doing better and better and surpassing men in all these professions, the legal profession being the classic example.

There are just as many women graduating from law school, just as many women, almost, as first-year associates, but not as many women who are, you know, at the end of the road partners.

Is that something that's dying? Is that something that's an anachronism and that we'll see fade over time, or is that something endemic to child-rearing and all these other questions that we haven't quite worked out in our families?

CONAN: Well, we want to hear from our listeners today how this is changing their roles in their relationships, 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. And we'll start with Dave(ph). Dave is with us from Charleston.

DAVE (Caller): Hi. I'd just like to say it's about time. My wife and I, we first met 10 years ago - now we've crisscrossed who's made more money. When I first met her, she made a lot more money than I did. When we had our daughter, I kind of stepped up and made more money, and now she's kind of back making more money than me now because of the recession.

It's great, though, because it allows me an opportunity to spend more time with my family and be more of a father than just a breadwinner. So I love it. It's created balance in our lives, and I'm proud of her for what she's done, and if it switches back the other way because of whatever circumstances are out there, that's fine too.

CONAN: So the sunny side of the role change.

Ms. ROSIN: That's great, Dave. That's what we want to hear - I mean basically, when people can't - have a hard time imagining what this future looks like. On the other hand, everybody knows a family like yours in which the man and the woman have kind of traded places over time.

I just, I was just editing a story by a man from Sweden who writes about the Swedish paternity leave. The country is trying to force men to take these longer and longer paternity leaves, essentially to change the notion of masculinity, as the Time magazine cover showed, to make men feel more connected and responsible to their children, the idea being that once it's an inherent part of masculinity, people will naturally trade roles rather than having it be forced from above.

CONAN: Dave, how old are your kids?

DAVE: I think it's great.

CONAN: How old are your kids?

DAVE: Oh, I just have one daughter. She's 10 years old. As a matter of fact, I'm leaving work early to pick her up because my wife's got a meeting.

And I do all the grocery shopping. I do all the clothes shopping for all three of us. And it's been great for since we've been married. So I love the way it goes.

CONAN: Dave, good luck.

DAVE: Hey, thanks, man. You all have a great day.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Guy Garcia is the author of the 2008 book "The Decline of Men." He's also the CEO of the research and marketing company Mentametrix and joins us from our bureau in New York. Nice to have you with us.

Mr. GUY GARCIA (Mentametrix): Thanks, thanks for having me.

CONAN: And your subtitle is "How the American Male is Getting Axed, Giving Up and Flipping Off his Future." In part, you say, well, yes, this is the rise of women, and things are changing in that direction too, but men are participating by, well, not paying as much attention to their future as they should.

Mr. GARCIA: Well, what I identify, and of course it was interesting to me that in two years we had gone from the decline of men to the end of men.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GARCIA: But I think it is a reflection of how fast things are changing. Between the hardcover and the paperback edition, I had projected eight years by the time women would overtake men in the workforce. It happened in two years.

So these trends are accelerating very quickly, and definitely what we're seeing is what I call a fragmentation of male identity. Guys are not really sure who they're supposed to be. We just heard an example of one way the guys are adapting to the change, but there are a lot of other ways that are not so healthy or compatible with what's happening.

There are a lot of guys who are resentful. I've talked to many, many women who are making more money than their spouses or boyfriends or are more educated, and the relationships fall apart because the guys can't take it.

CONAN: And that is a phenomenon that does exist, and it's hard to quantify though.

Mr. GARCIA: It's hard to quantify, but you know for a fact if you look at the numbers that, you know, men's incomes have been shrinking while women's and other groups' have been growing.

And meanwhile, sort of the image of men, we're hearing some interesting beginnings of change, but the fact is, guys are still expected in some way to be the patriarch. They still feel bad if they can't support a family.

And this is a huge change. And I don't think society has even come close to saying, well, gee, if women are going to take over the roles that men used to have, now guys are free to be flight attendants and nurses and housewives - isn't that great, guys? Well, you know, most nine out of 10 guys are not so thrilled about that.

And I've talked to women who said, well, of course, you know, that's why would they be happy? Those are the jobs we're happy to escape now.

So it's not like, you know, trading apples for apples here. It's really kind of a switching of roles, and nobody knows where it's going. And then meanwhile, you have different categories of guys. Some of them are just giving up and they're saying men in their 20s and 30s tell me, you know, I know I'll never - in this economy, I look at the future, I know I'll never be able to support a family. I'm not even sure I can hole my own in a relationship. So I'm just going to check out and play video games.

Ms. ROSIN: I saw an interesting psychological study recently titled Slackers or Superheroes, which talked about the different masculine role, the different roles available to men. And that's essentially the point they were making: Your option is, you know, drop out or be like an uber-guy, you know, just sort of take your models from video games. And that seems to be the two prevailing cultural archetypes right now for men.

Mr. GARCIA: Right, and then sorry and then there's this other aspect of it, where there's an exaggeration of the outer masculinity, right? You know, guys pump up at the gym.

There was an interesting study that showed that the dimensions of GI Joes and toys for male kids had grown from normal to extra-normal to someone would work out constantly to someone who was on steroids to someone that would have to have surgical implants to have those dimensions.

Ms. ROSIN: Which if you think about it is what happened to Barbie. So maybe that is...

CONAN: From the start though, yeah.

Ms. ROSIN: Exactly.

Mr. GARCIA: Well, Barbie grew in other places. But you know, at least Barbie has a better job now.

Ms. ROSIN: Right.

CONAN: Here's an email we have from Luke(ph): Maybe I'm biased, but I think women in the workplace are willing to work more hours with cut benefits, conditions men wouldn't accept without a lot of backlash. Do statistics reflect this?

Does it have something to do with what was traditionally expected in the role of the woman in the home - i.e., working basically 24 hours with children and cleaning for no pay? From what I've seen, this explains the fact of stagnant wages, fewer health care benefits and the decline of unions.

Ms. ROSIN: Well, this is a long conversation: Why are women hustlers? Why are they able to adapt to the economy better than men? You know, some people say, oh, it's genetics, or women have this and that quality. It might also have to do with having been the underdog for so long so that women kind of scrabble in these different jobs.

You know, they make do with less pay. They do the childcare and they do the work. It's just something that they feel that they've had to do all these years. So it's not necessarily that they're, you know, genetically engineered to, you know, be more successful in this economy and this education system.

Mr. GARCIA: But you could make the case that - I mean I talked to generals in the Army, and they said, look, you know, 10 or 20 years ago the physicality, the additional strength of being a man, was critical in warfare. So there's no way women could ever have an equal part.

Nowadays if you can push a button or move a mouse, you can fight a battle in the modern army. So there's definitely been a huge change in the amount of - the requisites of kind of the inherent skills and abilities of men and women. The game has definitely changed.

CONAN: More in a moment about the changing roles of men and women as earning power changes, and more of your calls. How has that changed your relationship? How have men's roles changed? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Being a man isn't what it used to be. From the classroom to the office to the kitchen, the roles of men and women have changed dramatically. In some cases women now out-perform and earn more than men.

If you look back to 1970, women contributed only a small percentage of the family's income. Now it's just under half, 42 percent. As earning power shifts more towards women, how does that change relationships? How have men's roles changed?

Tell us your story, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website, at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Our guests are Hanna Rosin, a contributing editor at the Atlantic, and she wrote the cover story of their July issue, "The End of Men," now working on a book of the same name.

And Guy Garcia wrote the book "The Decline of Men." He's president and CEO of Mentametrix, Incorporated, a research, marketing and consulting company. And let's go to another caller. This is Patrick, Patrick with us from Detroit.

PATRICK (Caller): Hi. I have two degrees. My wife has three degrees. She's always made more than I. And after being laid off in 2007, I went into my own business and have not made nearly the same kind of wages, and I think now I'm faced with divorce because she can't see that I'm carrying my weight, or she feels as though she's carrying the load of the entire family on her wages and and that I don't measure up to her model of male in the relationship, as did her father.

And with that kind of image, I don't know, I think the divorce rates are going to be spiking pretty soon.

CONAN: Patrick, we can hear the pain in your voice. Obviously this is very disturbing. Do you have children?

PATRICK: They're grown and gone. I'm an older partner. My wife is 10 years younger than I am. And it's distressing.

CONAN: Guy Garcia, this is what you were talking about before the break, that sometimes Patrick's situation does occur - well, more than occasionally.

Mr. GARCIA: Yes, well, there are many examples of this, and unfortunately there often are younger children in the family, often growing up without fathers. And this is the most disturbing thing about this to me, is that if you add it all up, you know, the education gap, the growing disparity in the workforce - I interviewed Harvard professors who see a gap in the initiative and ambition of their male and female students.

So this literally and of course you see that - you know, I say this goes from Harvard to Harlem because it affects every man, even Harvard students. So one of the results of this, as Ms. Rosen pointed out, is that there's a breakup and disintegration of the family. You're going to have more and more young men growing up without role models, growing up in an environment where they're either superheroes or they're slackers or they're losers, or their role models are on steroids.

Or - there were studies in the '50s that showed that males, young males, defined themselves by realizing what they are not. So they would decide they are not mommy. I'm daddy. So then their identity would coalesce around the father.

What happens in a world where mommy is the key wage-earner, where mommy is the one that went to - got two degrees at college, where mommy is the one who is basically the head of the household, and they grow up saying I am not that?

CONAN: Hmm. Hanna Rosin, the statistics on divorce?

Ms. ROSIN: Well, the most startling statistics are really about lack of marriage. The divorce rate is fluctuating. It's true. The problem with the statistics on divorce is that upper classes are getting divorced much, much less than they used to. The working class is getting married much, much less than it used to.

In general, the picture is that marriage is kind of falling apart, but that's mostly due to the fact that women are deciding that women are not suitable partners.

Mr. GARCIA: True.

Mr. ROSIN: So it's kind of happening even before the story that this gentleman described.

And when I was writing my story, I visited Kansas City, a pretty working-class crowd, and I talked to a lot of men who had been in arrears in child support. And in this kind of support group they basically all expressed the same thing that this caller expressed.

You know, there's this image of man, man as head of family, and I'm not meeting that image. And their response to that was incredibly angry and frustrated, because here they had these wives who were kind of hustling, getting ahead, taking care of the kids, making more money, and they were labeled the deadbeats, and I think that's what has created essentially the men's movement in the U.S., which is partly angry, partly a legitimate response to changes in child support payment laws, and all kinds of things are adding into this brew.

CONAN: Patrick, we wish you the best of luck.

PATRICK: Well, thank you.

CONAN: Thanks for the call. Let's go next to Jennifer, Jennifer's with us from San Antonio.

JENNIFER (Caller): Hi, good afternoon. How are you guys doing?

CONAN: Good, thanks.

JENNIFER: Good. Well, thanks for taking my call. I've been an electrician for 10 years, working in the union with predominately men. And it's only until the last few years, since the economy has sort of taken its slope, that I've seen a real change in their I guess attitude towards me, where at one time it was, you know, we were all buddies working together, and now it's sort of like I'm a threat because I can do their job. And when times were good, that wasn't really what was obvious or stood out.

But another thing I'd like to inquire about that hasn't been brought up yet is the use of hormones these days. And I'm always hearing how, you know, girls are growing faster, we'll say. But in the same hand, does that work with men?

You know, if there's a ton of estrogen in the water, what's happening with our men? And I'll take my answer off the air.

CONAN: Okay, Jennifer, thanks for the question. Any evidence from either of you?

Ms. ROSIN: Well, there's a lot of studies done on testosterone and what happens to testosterone, and does it decrease when men are in diminished positions? Is there literally a chemical response to, say, joblessness and things like that, and does it kind of feed on each other?

Now, I don't I haven't looked into these studies deeply enough to know how legitimate they are, because there's but it does seem like at least culturally speaking, testosterone is the new estrogen. Testosterone is what people talk about as sort of affecting moods, causing the crash, the stock market, you know, all sorts of things.

CONAN: Guy Garcia?

Mr. GARCIA: Yeah, there are two aspects to that. One is, you know, huge amounts of estrogen in the water supply. I mean, you've heard cases already of young women growing breasts at a way too early age. There's soy, which has a lot of estrogen in it, in 50 percent of all products that people eat. That's one dimension that's worth looking at.

The other one is that how men now actually see themselves, and there was a study at Duke that show that chimps that were lowered(ph) in the social hierarchy actually had dropped levels of testosterone. So it wasn't some kind of harebrained rumor. It actually has been studied. So it does exist.

And also, the study I did with Fortune magazine and OTX, based on my book, showed that younger men, while they were much more okay with having a woman as an equal or a boss, they were less optimistic and sure about their own future.

CONAN: Here's an email from Jeff(ph) in Pueblo West in Colorado: Male identity, I agree wholeheartedly that male roles are changing rapidly and radically.

My wife is a teacher, works very hard every day. I make more than she does but work out of the house. As a result, I do much of the cooking and cleaning and child management. We have three boys.

I like and cherish the role and know that it can and likely will change, the fact that traditional and stereotypical roles are gone and all of us have to be willing to adapt.

And he's right about that, but there's no way back from what's going on, is there, Hanna?

Ms. ROSIN: It does not seem like there's any way back. Statistics about men doing more housework, doing more childcare - they still don't do nearly as much as women - but that really is the plus side.

I mean, the darker side is the kind of frustrated masculinity and men who end up in a situation with no outlet, no job, no identity to cling to. The positive way out, and I think the Time magazine story talked about this a little bit, is if you can somehow embrace the new role, which is slightly more equal, and not be threatened by it, then that's the best possible solution.

CONAN: There's another email, this from Cameron(ph) in St. Louis: I'm a married father of two, an electrical engineer by profession, married to a physician. I am supportive of women in the workplace.

However, men are being unfairly discriminated against by affirmative action. For men to be happy, they need to provide. If women take that from their husbands, they undermine the success of the family. And there is a lack of positive role models, family leaders, providers, for males in the media. Instead, we have men being portrayed as less intelligent and subservient. Ray Romano and Homer Simpson come to mind.

I'm not sure anybody takes Homer Simpson too seriously as a male role model.

Ms. ROSIN: But that is an interesting point he makes. I had a large response to my story from the Christian community. It was debated a lot in churches and sort of on online Christian sites, essentially trying to defend the traditional role of masculinity.

It's the old notion of wives submitting to their husbands but more broadly this idea that, you know, there is a traditional role for men, there is a traditional role for women, and it's extremely threatening when that's upended. So I think that's a common response to this.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go to one other caller. Let's go to Matthew, Matthew with us from Grand Rapids.

MATTHEW (Caller): Hi. Yeah, I'm actually part of a family. We've kind of embraced the female breadwinner. For a couple years I've been a stay-at-home dad. And our ideal goal is to both be breadwinners, but we don't really care who makes more.

But I actually find it very difficult to be a stay-at-home dad because I feel like a lot of the modern, like, periodicals kind of treat us like we're not equals in the parenting partnership. Parenting magazine actually comes to mind. They had articles about what's wrong with dad and the problem with dad. And I just find it kind of offensive, and I feel like society needs to accept fully that children have two parents, and then we can move more towards an equality in the workplace, outside of the home too.

CONAN: So, Matthew, you seem to have identified a marketing niche for a magazine.

MATTHEW: I think so.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: There's a job opportunity for you.

Ms. ROSIN: Exactly. I mean, it is true that stay-at-home dads are still pretty rare, but it's also true that the culture is changing in terms of who does what in the household and that the media hasn't really adapted yet. And I would say even schools haven't. We still have schools which will send the emails only to the moms or only, you know, expect that the moms do something, and really families don't really work that way anymore.

Mr. GARCIA: Well, guys are definitely not being rewarded overall in our society at all for taking the roles traditionally held by women. I mean, no matter, you know, you use to hear the stories about it. People talk about it. There are some evolved men who are obviously leading the way, but that's not where most guys are. And I see it every day. I hear and get feedback from guys all over the world that they feel like they're being punished when they do that. There - you know, there's that, oh, you know, that's so gay, or you know, why can't you be a real man.

So, you know, again, this is not just a man's problem. I point this out more and more. In the beginning, when I started doing stuff related to the book, women - and I would point out that women in many ways are not just caught up but were now leaving men behind. They'd say, well, what's the problem? And the problem is that when you have a whole generation of men who are losing their way or losing their initiative, you know, these are their brothers, their sons, their daughters, future husbands, if they're going to get married at all, so that, you know - and I was delighted, actually, when I saw Ms. Rosin's piece because I was attacked for being - for writing a book that was anti-feminist just by the concept of it.

So when I saw the article in The Atlantic, I was like, well, great -now, you know, now it's validated in the sense that people might realize that everybody - both genders have something at stake here. There's even, you know, evidence that males who feel threatened, disenfranchised, powerless, economically feckless, can become very dangerous. And if you look at the profiles of even the al-Qaida terrorists, it's eerily similar.

Meanwhile, in Japan you have a whole generation of men who have just dropped out of society, who no longer buy things, are not interested in raising families or building a career. You know, there's some really dangerous undercurrents here if we don't figure out where we're going.

CONAN: Matthew, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it. We're talking with Guy Garcia, who wrote "The Decline of Men" a couple of years ago, president and CEO of Mentametrix, which is a research, marketing and consulting company. He's with us from our bureau in New York. Here in Studio 3A, Hanna Rosin, contributing editor for The Atlantic, where she wrote the cover story in July, "The End of Men," writing a book by the same name. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And to stay sort of on the same subject, here's an email from Kathy(ph): Look at any TV show; the role of the father is usually the silly goofy dad. Mom is usually the strong, smart, sarcastic one. Dads are usually made fun of by their own kids. Why does the media do that? Is it because mom has the staying power of those of us old enough to remember "Ozzie and Harriet" to know this is not a new phenomenon. But nevertheless, Hanna Rosin, I think Kathy has a point.

Ms. ROSIN: She does have a point. And now she makes me want to look at this more systematically, because in the '50s sitcoms, maybe the dad was kind of the solid one but not really there, not necessarily involved. Whereas now the idea is that you make fun of the dad is kind of a fairly new phenomenon.

CONAN: Let's go next to Pam, Pam with us from New Baden - Baden is it?

PAM (Caller): New Baden, Illinois.

CONAN: Okay. Go ahead, please.

PAM: Thanks for taking my call. We have a very unique situation, I think, in that I make more than double what my husband makes, and I have two grown children. And my daughter is getting ready to make(ph) a man who makes less than she does and will always make less than she does. And I have a son who's dating a woman who makes almost twice of what he makes. And the relationships are very good. They're very solid. And I think part of that is because we look at money as all going into one pot. And it's, you know, what you bring into the household, it all goes into one pot. And you know, it's for the benefit of the whole house and not just one person or the other. So one person's identity is not wrapped up in, well, I make less than she does. It's, oh, I bring in and we all share, and it's all part of the same - it contributes to the same relationship.

CONAN: I always - when people say that, I remember Lady Bird Johnson, who said I would not share a bank account with Jesus Christ.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PAM: And my husband and I have always shared a bank account, and both of my kids share bank accounts with their loved ones. And it just makes sense for us, and it's always been something that helps us to be open with our finances so there's no secrets and everybody shares in it, because it's one house. You know, you pay for everything together.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Pam, thanks very much. And we wish your daughter the best of luck.

PAM: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Here's an email from Virginia in Sacramento. I've been single for years and have given up on meeting a man. I'm so glad you're having this discussion because this is going unreported. I think relationships between men and women, especially middle aged, are in breakdown. The reasons my relationships fall apart invariably is because I appear to be more of a man than the man, the men I date. I can paint my own home. I fix things. I play golf. I need to find a man who is more of a man than I am and not intimidated by a self-sufficient and smart woman. I think men want their moms. So...

Ms. ROSIN: That's a very interesting thing. I mean, again, when I reported the story, I remember the guy saying to the men, the guy leading the group, you know, who's the man now? She's the man. You know, and that was a very, very threatening idea to the men, that she had become the man. So I think it's not that easy to incorporate that. And you know, psychological research still shows that the expectation of women, even when they're in extremely powerful positions, is that there be some element of them that's maternal and nurturing. It doesn't matter if they're the CEO. That's just what people expect from women, and people find it strange when women don't behave that way. And we all know not all women are that way. Some women are and some women aren't. So...

CONAN: It's all on a long spectrum, yeah.

Ms. ROSIN: Exactly. So that really hasn't changed very much. So I think it is hard to be a woman and just completely embrace this newfound dominance.

Mr. GARCIA: This is one of the questions, is - as women take over the roles in structures that were built by men, do they then change the structures as well, instead of just trying to fit into them? I think that's the next level of where this is going.

CONAN: We'll find out in your next book perhaps, Guy Garcia. Thank you very much for your time today.

Mr. GARCIA: Thank you.

CONAN: Guy Garcia's book is "The Decline of Men," published a couple of years ago. He joined us from our bureau in New York. Our thanks as well to Hannah Rosin, a contributing editor for The Atlantic and now writing a book called "The End of Men," which will come out next year, also a founding editor of Slate's DoubleX, an online women's magazine. She joined us here in Studio 3A. Thanks very much.

Ms. ROSIN: Thank you.

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