09/20/2012 12:25 pm ET

The Rise Of The Needy Man

By now, the basic claim — that men's aspirations seem to have diminished as women's ambition has increased –- is familiar. What's less obvious is another byproduct of the man crisis: the frustrating degree to which so many young men increasingly turn to the women in their lives not merely for emotional reassurance, but for direction, order, and stability. While there's nothing new about women nurturing their boyfriends and husbands, in the past -– at least among the American middle class -– that emotional encouragement was part of an explicit quid pro quo. However imperfectly the ideal was lived out in practice, the goal was usually the same: men provided, women soothed. For a host of reasons, guys are providing less financially than ever before. At the same time, men's yearning for comfort, reassurance, and direction from women seems to be getting louder and more urgent.

If the "guy crisis" wasn't already placed at the center of the national conversation, Hanna Rosin's Atlantic article-turned-strangely-punctuated bestseller The End of Men: And the Rise of Women has certainly done the trick. Pundits across the political spectrum have embraced Rosin's basic thesis: boys and men are falling behind academically and professionally because guys are less "flexible" than women, less capable of adapting rapidly to an economy that's increasingly "indifferent to brawn."

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