"Young children—even toddlers—are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development?" Read Hanna's cover story for The Atlantic's April 2013 issue. ➜
I was born in Israel, but when I was five, my parents moved to a working-class immigrant neighborhood in Queens, New York. It seemed like the traditional setup. My dad went to work every day as a taxi driver, and my mother took care of me and my brother.
Still, it was very clear who was in charge, and who made every last decision. I come from a long line of matriarchs, women who either ruled over their husbands, or ran away from them. My mother is an intimidating figure. She has always served as the neighborhood watchdog, taking on bullies and running the co-op board with an iron fist. If you met her, it would be obvious why I was open to possibility of female dominance, because she embodied it long before it became the defining trend of our era.
In 2009, I was living in Washington D.C. with my husband, Slate editor David Plotz and my three children, when I co-founded DoubleX, Slate’s site for women. As I began to closely follow the trends about women I noticed something surprising. In many disparate areas–college graduation rates, workforce participation, crime victimization rates, marriage patterns, fertility choices, South Korean son preference–the signs were pointing towards female dominance. I’d certainly read about how men were in trouble. Susan Faludi’s 1991 book Stiffed had had a great impact on me, and I had also been struck by much of the work about boys struggling in school.
But this seemed to be a different moment, further along. After a series of recessions and cultural changes, it seemed as if women were not just catching up to men–they had decisively pulled ahead.
I became fascinated with trying to imagine what a world dominated by women might look like. When I was in college my friends and I had a vague concept in mind of an egalitarian marriage, husband and wife raising children and working together. But in this new era of female dominance, couples are dividing the balance of power in ways I had never imagined. It’s become much more common for the wife, for example, to be the main breadwinner. The emotional landscape of such marriages is a mystery to me, and I wanted to find out more about them.
My husband David is slightly baffled by my latest obsession. Here is what he writes:
“As Hanna’s husband, I find this book – how to put this charitably? A mixed blessing? It’s very nice for our checking account that she has been paid to write The End of Men. But really: What part of our life together has prompted her to predict doom for me and my half the human race? Do I load the dishwasher incorrectly? Have I botched the repair on the downstairs toilet one too many times? Do I not talk about my feelings enough? And how is Hanna going to explain this book to our two sons, when they get old enough to read it?”
All excellent questions. But this is my bio, so I will get back to talking about myself. I spent my whole childhood in Queens, but went to high school at Stuyvesant in Manhattan, where I was a serious debater. I studied Comp Lit at Stanford, and, after a year in Israel and a brief stint at a legal newspaper in New Jersey, I lucked into an internship at The New Republic. I ended up staying there for five years, first as Michael Kinsley’s assistant, then as a staff writer under editors Andrew Sullivan and Michael Kelly. (I played a minor, but memorable and painful, role in the Stephen Glass affair.) I also wrote regularly for GQ and New York magazines. I moved over to the Washington Post to cover religion. In 2005, I came back to magazines with a New Yorker story about a Christian college, a piece that turned into my first book, God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America.
My major writing home these days is the Atlantic, where I am a senior editor and write broadly about American culture. That’s where I wrote the story, “The End of Men,” which launched this book. After that story, I headlined the first TED women’s conference, held in Washington, D.C. I also write and edit for Slate, and do a biweekly DoubleX podcast. In 2009 I was nominated for a National Magazine Award for my Atlantic story about transgendered children, “A Boy’s Life.” In 2010 I shared the award as part of a package of stories in New York magazine about circumcision. My stories have also been included in anthologies of Best American Magazine Writing 2009 and Best American Crime Reporting 2009. I have appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report and the Today Show.
I live in Washington, DC with my husband David, our daughter and our two sons.