Why Testosterone Is the New Estrogen

Females have been called the second sex, but in the 21st century, they just might become the first. Here, the first in our three-part series on the sources of women's new power—from the vagina to the voting booth. Hanna Rosin talks a new generation of female leaders.

by Hanna Rosin
Hanna Rosin The End of Men
Photograph: Phil Toledano

A recent Pew Research Center study titled “Men or Women: Who’s the Better Leader?” perfectly captured our conflicted instincts at this moment. Researchers asked the survey participants to list the traits they thought most relevant to being a leader. The top choices were: honest, intelligent, hardworking, decisive, ambitious, compassionate, outgoing and creative. They then asked which gender better embodied each trait. Women tied or bested men on every trait except decisiveness. (On half the measures, the male and female respondents favored their own sex.) Nonetheless, when asked outright, only 6 percent said women are better political leaders than men. That doesn’t make any sense except psychologically, as the kind of confusion and cognitive dissonance that precedes a massive paradigm change. If women have more leadership traits, why aren’t there more women political leaders? A majority of the respondents (56 of the females, 46 of the males) said Americans simply “aren’t ready” to elect a woman to higher office. In other words, we aren’t ready for a woman because we aren’t ready.

In years past, respondents might have said that women were unqualified, or that they should stay home and take care of their children, or that they would break down crying if there was a national crisis. Now they are just saying that psychologically, the nation has not accepted a truth that is empirically obvious. But that’s like a man or woman standing on a diving board, closing his or her eyes and repeating, “I’m not ready! I’m not ready!” It’s a resistance that can last only a little bit longer—a decade, a generation—before we dive in.

HANNA ROSIN's new book is The End of Men—and the Rise of Women, out this month (see review on page 42). She is a senior editor at The Atlantic and a cofounder of Slate’s DoubleX.


Part 2: Vaginas Rule

Part 3: Women as Masters of the New "Better-Off"

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"...what drove the right to keep fighting was not the usual fear of female sexuality but fear of burgeoning female power."
Um, no, you're completely and absolutely wrong on this point. We're trying to protect the unborn. Everyone has the right to live. Yes, it is that simple. Why don't pro-abortionists ever finish their statement: Freedom to Choose. Choose what? The right to have your baby? Obviously not; if that were the case there wouldn't be an argument. They want the freedom to choose to kill their baby. How can there be such a disconnect between a woman's right and a baby's right? They'll go to hell and back to protect their own bodies, but not their baby's. And the conservative view has nothing to do with suppressing 'female power'. And free birth control? No, thank you, if you're going to have sex then pay for your own contraception. All choices have consequences. I am conservative and I will be voting for Romney-Ryan.

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