October 17th, 2008

ozarque figure

Men are in decline???

I won't be renewing my subscription to Fortune, because its standard pattern is a couple of solid articles surrounded by vast expanses of ads -- plus, it's more expensive than those two solid articles are worth. But the 10/13/08 issue had a brief piece that caught my attention. [I'd give you a link to it, but everything I've tried at Google so far has given me only trouble; I hope you have better luck on your own.]

The article, on pp. 185-186, is a teaser excerpt from Guy Garcia's new book The Decline of Men, coming out this month from Harper. It claims, on page 186, that although the gender gap in wages hasn't disappeared, there are some demographics where it has reversed itself: Women in their 20s living in large cities are making more money than "their male counterparts," and the incomes of men "have stalled or declined."

Plus, it says that "Among American men in their prime working years -- between the ages of 30 and 55 -- 13% are not working, up from 5% during the 1960s" and a growing number of those men aren't blue-collar workers whose jobs have disappeared overseas, they're "college-educated professionals in their 30s and 40s who have been out of a job for years."

The explanation offered in the excerpt, if I'm following it correctly, is that today's global markets should be described as "increasingly feminine" and unless men adapt to that they "may find their next position is at the end of an unemployment line."

Here's the subtitle blurb:
"Are guys cut out for the womanized workplace of the 21st century? In an excerpt from a new book, The Decline of Men, the author explores why many males are tuning out and giving up."

I don't know what to make of this -- perhaps because I'm a woman in my 70s living way out in the country.

Over to you...
ozarque figure

Men are in decline???; afternote...

My thanks -- and my sincere apologies -- to all of you who have posted comments, and to everyone who has stopped by to read what I posted this morning.

The thanks are because I very much appreciate the comments and responses and discussion; there are other things you could have been doing with your time and your energy that would have been a lot more fun. The apologies are because I should not have given in to the temptation to post about that book excerpt; I should have read the whole cottonpicking book first, so I would have at least halfway known what I was talking about. I was just so baffled by the material .... especially the part about the "womanized workplace" ... and so interested in what you might have to say. But that's no excuse.

Suppose I set that aside for the moment, and focus just on the excerpt: It seems to me that it's unfair both to men and to women. It doesn't make a case, it doesn't provide adequate information, it just makes fog. Well-marketed fog, but fog all the same.

What does it mean to say that somebody -- of either gender -- doesn't work? From the excerpt, all I can tell is that it means the person isn't on a payroll at some workplace. That doesn't tell us much. How do we know the person isn't taking care of the household? How do we know the person isn't caretaking an elderly or disabled family member? How do we know the person isn't freelancing? How do we know the person isn't consulting? How do we know the person isn't writing a book or creating a painting or composing a symphony or choreographing a ballet or doing scientific research or laying the groundwork for a small business .... all of which most surely are work? How do we know the person isn't ill?

We don't know any of those things. I know how I felt the day one of the clerks checking me out at our local Wal-Mart said, "It must be so wonderful to be like you and not have to work!" I work so hard; that really hurt. But I knew what she meant. I don't have to get up every morning and tear around decking myself out for public viewing and go drive into town and punch a timeclock. I don't have to put up with a boss. I don't have to do the same boring thing over and over and over again for the entire day no matter how miserable I am doing it. If I decide I don't feel well enough to work on a given day, that's up to me; I don't have to drag myself somewhere and stand on my feet and hope I'll make it through that day somehow. I just said to her, "I know how blessed I am," and let it go at that. And that was the truth; I do know.

What I don't know, however, is how many of those people who aren't on the job rolls right now -- whatever their biological gender -- are working just as hard, or harder, than I am.

All I did was spread the fog. I'm sorry.