News / 

Women rule! But is that a good thing?

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Just because we make our own money, have independence, are flexing our testosterone instead of our estrogen, does that mean the guys have to curl up and blow away?

What about asserting some male ego? And when did a midlife crisis become sexual competition?

Case in point, news that a recent study found a substantial drop in U.S. men's testosterone levels since the 1980s.

The average levels have dropped by 1 percent a year, says the study. Since testosterone is important to the male libido, a drop in the hormone could be a boon to Viagra sales, but that's about all.

Another case in point, The New York Times quotes Michael J. Silverstein of the Boston Consulting Group as saying, "We are perhaps on the first step to a matriarchal society; women will earn more money than men if current trends continue by 2028. The trend has been escalating in the last 10 years as there has been a gradual, slow erosion of the power balance in the family, a psychic rebalancing."

OK, women do feel a greater sense of independence now than their mothers did. That's why 60 percent of divorces after 50 are initiated by women. But what is going on here? Are women becoming the heads of the households at midlife?

"No, that's kind of simplistic," says Jed Diamond, author of "Male Menopause" and other studies of male ego and psyche.

"But there needs to be a real recognition that the male role in the 21st century is changing. Trying to hold on to the old role may no longer be relevant. It's like riding a sinking ship."

Diamond ( points out men have led the way since the hunter-gatherer times. He says the world is changing now and it's time to move to a new hunting ground. He believes the new male role will be to understand and lead the way in an era of global warming and environmental change.

"The current economic system increasingly favors women," he says.

"Our agriculture and economic system is doomed," Diamond says. "Men need to find new positions of power and then their testosterone levels will go up."

Pat Gaudette, who writes about men and women at midlife, disagrees. She believes as men age, they get in touch with their softer, feminine side.

"In the beginning, they have so much responsibility to be the man, the provider, the person who makes the whole household stick together. But at a certain point, people in my forum tell me there is really this little guy inside who wants to come out and say `I'm in here. Hug me. Squeeze me. Let me come out and play.'"

Gaudette ( says the opposite is going on with women.

"We've been doing everything they expected of us and now it's `Hell, no, I won't go there.' A reverse role is happening: women get tougher and men get softer. Neither is wrong, but both are hard for the other to accept."

Historically, probably none of this is revolutionary - except the economic independence of women. That shift, which began with the women's movement in the 1970s, apparently is thwarting the ability of both sexes to age together in 21st century peace.

Economic independence, even economic equality, seems to be the burr under the saddle when it comes to men and women living together. Economic equality often doesn't work in relationships, these midlife experts are saying.

Do we need each other? Of course we do. Will we accept each other? As Gaudette points out: Men with money are always going to be attractive to women of all ages. But women, unless they stand on a few million, are not that attractive to men when they get older. I'm reluctant to believe all our relationships turn into economic competition. What - oh what - happened to love, commitment and sharing? Or is that so 20th century?


(Jane Glenn Haas writes for The Orange County (Calif.) Register. E-mail her at


(c) 2006, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.). Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast