Occasionally I ask myself the question WWBD?
Or: What Would Beyoncé Do?
Would Beyoncé wear yellow rain boots? …Of course she would. Would Beyoncé wait around for a guy to call her? …Hell no! Would Beyoncé do yoga while wearing lingerie? I should hope so… but maybe that’s just me.
I have an admittedly weird reverence for Beyoncé. Not only is she beautiful, because my goodness she really is, but she’s powerful, talented, smart and overall a really goshdarn good person. I’ve been known to be brought to tears by the occasional Beyoncé video, but last years “Girls” music video inspired me. After watching, I felt empowered, tough, sassy and independent. I was all, Yeah B, we DO run the world! Shortly afterwards though, I came across another video completely trashing the “Girls” music video. It was basically an internet rant by a grown woman counteracting every fact that Beyoncé sings about. It was snarky, negative and dripping with spiteful language. And of course everything she said was absolutely true.
The way I see it is that there’s two ways to look at feminism: positively and negatively. As for me, I’m by nature a negative Nancy. I tend to side with the more pessimistic approach and I focus on the setbacks rather than revel in the small victories. However I applaud anyone who can try to see the positive side of anything. This is exactly how I felt after reading “The End of Men” by Hanna Rosin. Rosin wholeheartedly takes on every negative struggle of women and tries her darndest to prove that it’s improved itself over time or disappeared entirely.
Here are some really encouraging truths from the book:
-In the Recession, 75% of jobs lost were by men in male-centric industries.
-For every two men who receive a Bachelor’s degree, three women will do the same.
-Women dominate colleges on every continent (exception: Africa) and account for up to 60% of the student body in some state schools.
-Women earn 60% of masters degrees, 44% of business degrees and about half of all medical and law degrees. They’re also beginning to take over male dominated fields like engineering, math and computer science.
Though at times Rosin’s argument of female dominance feels weak and forced, her strength is when discarding the idea of masculinity. She addresses that the notion of “man-hood” has become so foreign that it’s actually become ironic. In a time of the “man boy” and “bromance”, what do we see hipsters wearing? Plaid flannel shirts reminiscent of a lumberjack, a macho mustache and sturdy boots that seem far too substantial for a job at a coffee shop or thrift store. Men seem to be reminiscing the cowboy outlook of a hard days work.
And though the “man boy” doesn’t like to admit it, the traditional notion of marriage is something that most men still strive for. I would love to see the day that the slogan “Marriage is Actually GOOD for You” appears on the cover of every men’s magazine in America. The average wife in America contributes 42.2% of the family income and it’s proven that when a wife works, the marriage tends to be more stable and less likely for divorce. At retirement age, the average married couple has saved $410,000, while single people have saved $167,000 and divorcees only garner $154,000. Married men are happier, healthier, have more sexual satisfaction and live longer than single men. Married male heart attack victims even get to the hospital on average a half an hour earlier than single men. Men obviously thrive in marriages, but it’s women who seem to want out.
For me, the most fascinating section was the focus on the cultural shift for women. I had read an article a few months ago about how men in some Asian countries are suffering because they can’t find a wife. Birthrates are plummeting and women are shipped in from other countries to supply men with female counterparts. At the time, I wrongly assumed that this was affected by the Asian male-ideal and preference for baby gender. After reading Rosin’s findings though, I’ve begun to realize that this need is caused intentionally by women. Nearly 20% of men in Spain marry a woman who was born out of the country and typically from Latin America or Eastern Europe (regions that retain more traditional husband and wife roles). South Korea, a country not lacking in a female population, has one of the lower birth rates in the world and the average age for marriage in South Korea is 32. In Japan, 1 out of every 3 women in their 30’s is single (in the United States it’s something close to 1 in 5). Women are having fewer babies, getting married less and asserting their independence on a global scale.
Rosin addresses the common statistic of female demographics: Women comprise 3-6% of the Fortune 500 CEO’s, 17% of the congressional seats and only 20 of 180 heads of state. But she fights hard to prove that the way of life is improving for women worldwide. Her argument is scattered, inconsistent and downright weak at times, but I also understand it. She’s taken a negative situation and was determined to frame it in a positive light.
And isn’t that what Beyoncé was doing all along?