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Low-Hanging Fruit: Hanna Rosin

September 12, 2013

Camille Hayes

Full disclosure: I haven’t read Hanna Rosin’s book “The End of Men” in its entirety, nor do I intend to; you can scold me in the comments if you like, but it just ain’t gonna happen. This is principally because I find Hanna Rosin SO BLOODY ANNOYING that I can barely get through one of her short, click-baity excerpts on Slate without a major spike in blood pressure, so I’m certainly not subjecting myself to an entire tome full of her contrarian nattering. So yes, I’m about to criticize a book of which I’ve only read small portions. But I’d also like the record to show that this woman has been irritating me with her flimsy ideas and demagoguery for about three years now, and this is the first time I’m mentioning it. That’s what we grown-ups call forbearance, and it’s widely considered a sign of maturity. But that’s over now, you hear me Rosin? Because what you’re doing sucks.

Some background: Rosin identifies as a feminist and claims her project is to rehabilitate the women’s movement by telling the rest of us misguided ladies some hard truths. Chief among them: the patriarchy is dead and men’s social dominance is over, because something something service industry and women understand how to cooperate. Now, that would all be fine except for the preponderance of social science evidence which tells us that it is totally false. But she’s made her facile, easily debunked claim, and she’s sticking to it.

Rosin is clearly very smart, but the thesis around which she’s  structured her book is untenable so I really don’t have much sympathy because, I don’t know, have better book ideas? But whatever you do stop trying to convince everyone that what you’re saying reflects reality as opposed to your desire to sell a lot of units and get on CNN. The whole “end of the patriarchy” notion is only even marginally plausible if you’re willing to set aside massive boatloads of data regarding poverty, income, professional attainment, rape, partner battery, global wealth distribution . . . what was your point again?

Here is my point: SHUT UP HANNA ROSIN. You are not helping. You are not helping feminism, because you’ve made it the scapegoat upon which you blame any criticism of your shoddy-ass reasoning. You are not helping women, because in order for your argument to be remotely plausible you have to minimize or disregard the actual lived experiences of most of them, especially those with lower incomes. You are not helping readers, because your book doesn’t do what it purports to, which is identify and explain a genuine cultural phenomenon. And you are certainly not helping Slate, because your kind of pointless, counter-intuitive, all-headline-no-story nonsense is what everybody makes fun of Slate for all the time.

Rosin is rapidly morphing into a latter-day Camille Paglia, which . . . Paglia’s sold tons of books so maybe that’s OK with her. In any case, she has absorbed the lesson C.P. learned before her: marketing feminist books may be tough, but there’s no end of book buyers eager to read about what feminists are doing wrong, so if you can market an anti-feminist book while also claiming it’s written by or for feminists, well, then you can have your intellectually dishonest cake and eat it, too. In conclusion, please nobody buy this book (now out in paperback!).

Low-Hanging Fruit is an occasional feature in which I ridicule people who have already been so thoroughly castigated that they really don’t need me piling on to make the point. But then I go ahead and pile on anyway, because I’m just trivial enough to enjoy that sort of thing.

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