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'End of Men' author: Women are just more flexible

Journalist Hanna Rosin brought male backup to her appearance on TODAY to discuss her controversial new book “The End of Men.”

The book argues that traditional gender roles are outmoded and that families are relying on working women more than ever. But are men really becoming obsolete? Savannah Guthrie asked Rosin.

“Here’s my husband, he’s not obsolete, and I have two sons, so I hope they’re not going to be obsolete either,” answered Rosin, seated beside her husband, fellow journalist David Plotz.

But, she said, women are having an easier time adapting to the changes in the economy than men.

“Men are frankly having a harder time these days,” Rosin said. “What the book does is explain these changes and how they affect marriages, work, sex, the way we raise our children and how to navigate this new world.”

The book describes the situation as a time of the “plastic woman” and “cardboard man.”

“If you look over the century, women have just adapted to new ways being in the public sphere,” Rosin said. “They take over jobs that used to be exclusively male jobs while men don’t do the opposite. They have a harder time doing things that we may think of as feminine. Once women enter a job, men tend to flee the job, whereas women just seem to be more flexible.”

And while Plotz said he tries not to take the book title personally, he agreed with Rosin that women are more adaptive than men, although that's less so among college-educated men.

“When I look at the most productive and adaptive people who I work with, they do tend to be women,” said Plotz, editor of Slate.

With so many men losing manufacturing jobs in the recession, Guthrie asked Rosin if she wasn’t blaming men for their hardships.

“I think a lot of this is circumstantial,” Rosin allowed. “We’re asking a lot of men when we ask them to be flexible because essentially they’ve been used to making a lot money, say in a manufacturing job, whereas women can start at the bottom. They don’t have a lot of breadwinner expectations.”

If it’s truly “The Rise of Women,” as the book’s subtitle suggests, how does Rosin explain the wage gap? The book, Rosin said, discusses how society remains uncomfortable with “female power," and offers tips “over how to get over this and move to the other side.”

“Women are climbing up but there are issues,” Rosin said. “There are issues having to do with the structure of the workplace, child care and our feelings about powerful women.”

Despite any issues, 62 percent of those who voted on TODAY.com agreed that women are surpassing men, while 38 percent disagreed.

Plotz said he feels the book shows that the world will ultimately be a better place for everyone. That’s something Rosin hopes their 9-year-old son, who objected to the book’s title, will some day understand too.

“I dedicated the book to him because he’s very offended by the title but I hope when he’s older I’ll be able to explain to him that this is actually a better, easier world for him I’m describing.”

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