The End of Men

February 1, 2011 Michael Kaufman

A terrific new documentary by Marc de Guerre starts with the dramatic drop of full-time employment for men in the United States.

  • Between December 2007 and March of 2010 the United States lost 8.2 million jobs. 80% of these jobs belonged to men.
  • In 2008, the share of men in the United States with a full time job fell to 69%.

Rather than rest with the stories of some hard-hit men, The End of Men uses this moment to examine the crumbling of old ideas of manhood.

These changes have unleashed many questions around what it means to be a man in the 21st century.   We are living in a time when many of the old ways will no longer work, and it is clear that the way forward for men lies in learning to adapt to a world they no longer dominate.  Now men are now facing a choice: embrace and adapt to the place the world is becoming—or live among the ruins of a place that no longer exists.

The End of Men follows several men who are forced to rethink their lives and values.   Along the way, the filmmaker turns to a number of academics and activists (both men and women) to explore the costs of of dominant forms of masculinity to men ourselves.  It charts an optimistic path to the future.

It’s a smart and gorgeous film.   (By way of disclosure, I should say I’m one of the people interviewed in the film, but I won’t claim either the smart or gorgeous descriptions for myself!)

After airing in Canada on CBC, it is now available (at least for those logging in from Canada) at

For those in the rest of the world, the promo is on You Tube: .   It will likely show up on You Tube sometime in February.

I’ll update this post from time to time once international distribution details are available.

(Updated Feb. 5 & 7)

10 Comments on “The End of Men

  1. I’ve just come across this post in looking for an online copy of End of Men for my Men & Masculinities unit here at Monash (a week on class/labour/masculinity).

    I’ve found a direct link to the documentary for those who cannot access the Canadian sites you can add to your blog should anyone else come across it:

  2. Who are the men people mention when speaking in a generalized way about rape, violence, and greed? It is dehumanizing, objectifying, not to mention naive and unsophisticated, to speak of them as amorphous things, stripped of their subjectivity.

  3. Here’s a novel idea, though not so novel in, say, the practice of psychotherapy: empathizing with the men who are the proposed “right target[s]” of anger. Not that anger can’t be productive, but how do we expect the situation to change with anger alone and without desire to understand the experience of men who are violent towards women (and, just as importantly, towards each other) or greedy. I also don’t understand how rape, violence, and greed are the first things that come to mind when some people think of traditional forms of masculinity and how some people think it’s necessary to propose an “alternative” form of masculinity that involves nurturing and caring, when these are not new masculine traits. Masculinity is not inherently violent, greedy, and un-nurturing. Most men are already NOT these things. It is misandric (hateful towards men) to talk as if they are, just as it is misogynist (hateful towards women) to say that women are deceptive, weak, and so on.

    1. Thanks for your comment. It’s critical to distinguish between “masculinity” (a socially-constructed definition of manhood) and “being male.” I totally agree that males are not inherently violent, greedy, or unnurturing. But I believe that our dominant definitions of masculinity/manhood include the ability to use power (including in the form of violence) to dominate women, other men, and the world around us. The work that many of us do is to help men redefine what it means to be a male .. .. On your use of the term “misandry”: True, there are a both some women and some men who have a blanket hatred of men. But we don’t enshrine that hatred into our religious traditions, laws, and social beliefs as we have often enshrined a hatred of women. Thus, I don’t find the term “misandry” very useful. Michael Kimmel and I devoted an entry to it in our book, The Guy’s Guide to Feminism.

  4. Greetings from Colombia. I found out about your documentary on El Tiempo newspaper and I am really really interested in seeing your documentary, since it is really important for my sociology classes at the university. Unfortunately, it’s been a nightmare trying on the net due to the fact that the only full version is available only for Canadians. Would you please make it available for the whole audience or please let me know how to see it in its whole version?
    Anyways, from the few minutes I could see on Youtube I could say that is an awesome documentary that would make us all think about the new roles men have to perform within societies. We have to adapt and understand that we are not superior or inferior to women, we’re just complementary to each other in all senses.
    Thank you very much for your kind attention.

    1. Thanks, Oscar, for your comment. It’s a documentary I was interviewed for but which I didn’t make myself. I’ll contact the filmmaker to ask when it will be available outside of Canada. I’ll let you know what I find out. MK

  5. @Bob: while I empathize with your anger over what has happened to so many men – e.g., the loss of the dignity of work – you’re angry with the wrong group. Feminism is not the enemy (I mean: get a grip, guy!). For one thing, feminism is essentially dead. In fact, I think that the cause of women’s rights and some semblance of equality in society and the workplace has gone backwards in the last two decades. Example: the Maclean’s cover story in 2010: “Outraged Mom’s, Trashy Daughters: How did feminism come to this?” In other words, enlightened, independent mothers (aka feminists from a generation ago), cannot control the effect of popular culture on their own daughters. This is not power, it is subjugation and degradation. And courts have not been the way you describe them for a long time. I got my kids in a divorce, no problem. I am not oppressed by women: I am oppressed by government and big business – both run by men.
    So who should you direct your anger at? Who’s really responsible for the problems you describe? The global capitalist elite, of course. I mean, you don’t really think that women were in charge of the Wall Street meltdown or the billions in bailouts that went to the bankers, do you? Those were all men, Bob. Your gender and mine. The world economy and the world’s governments are all run by men. If you want the truth about the global economic elite, start by reading “Superclass” by Rothkopf. It’s about the global power elite – the roughly 6000 people, men to be specific – who run the world. And it’s written by a guy who actually loves being in touch with these men, who doesn’t support controls over capitalism. In other words, it’s as nice a picture as you’ll ever get of the #$%^&*tards who have created the environment that has made you so angry. And they are all rich men. And they are happy that people like you have somehow come to believe that some other group is to blame: feminism, the elders of Zion, black helicopters, whatever. Anyone but the real perps.
    Direct your anger at the right target. It just might make a difference.

  6. I had very mixed feelings about this film. On the plus side,I found the men who were pulling through the crisis of layoff well to be thoughtful and somewhat hopeful. And I thought that many of the comments about the confining nature of certain ideas of masculinity were right, in general terms, though my problem with our gender system is more about the violent and dominating aspects of a hypermasculine ideal, rather than notions of strength and providing for those we love. Still it was good to see both ‘experts’ like Michaels Kaufman and Kimmel speaking about the constraints and limitations of one-sided masculine roles. HOWEVER — and it’s a big however — I do NOT agree that this protracted, deep economic crisis is an opportunity for most men to transform or liberate themselves. For many men, especially those over 45, but for many young men too, jobs to sustain themselves and their families, whether for them OR for their wives, are simply not returning. As unionized jobs and pensions disappear and as middle-class jobs die or are outsourced, as older men can’t get rehired and young men can’t get a start, feelings of objective — not imagined, or simply emotional — desperation can drive men into profound depression, sometimes violence and abuse. This situation creates tremendous hardship for men, women and children alike. In fact, jobless men become sacrificial lambs in a system of shrinking privilege that has used hypermasculine ideas of ‘competitiveness’ and ‘winning’ — rather than providing and caring — to justify gross anti-social corporate behaviour and unimaginable elite greed. The idea of the crisis being an opportunity for ‘transformation’ echoes corporate propaganda and downsizing language in a very uncomfortable way. And that actually mystifies the nature of the current reality, rather than clarifying it. So for me…nice try, but, to use this metaphor advisedly, no cigar.

    1. Thanks, Varda, for your thoughtful comments. I reacted to Marc’s film differently. I didn’t feel he was, in any way, echoing the mantras of downsizing and greed, or spinning it to say how great an opportunity this is. Rather, I felt he was showing how, in a context of a terrible crisis some men are pushed to question ideas of manhood which, until then, hadn’t felt problematic.
      Most interesting to me was that for one or two of them, this questioning led to a change in their relations with their children: that is, precisely a shift from a notion of masculinity as domination and competition to one that celebrates nurturing. (We know that’s one of the major shifts being experienced by men in their 20s and 30s, but it was interesting to see this portrayed in middle-aged men.)
      Where I know we’d agree (and as reflected in your own writings over the years) we need not only Oprah-esque personal change but changes in our social and economic systems that enables or disables individuals to lead better lives and to escape from the limiting and destructive constraints imposed by our current gender system.

  7. It’s all because of Feminism! Feminism was only allowed and funded by the Rockefeller company and persued by the CIA to downtrod men and rob us to the point that we would have no more fight in us to stand up for our country as the elites steal it from us. Broken, depressed, men.. humiliated and oppressed by women cannot fight a tyranical government. AND THEY KNOW IT!This is why women get everything handed to them today and why in court in a divorce men get robbed and women break the bank.They even take the mans liscense so he can’t make it to a job. We no need an organization to fight government subsidized feminine t3rror.

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