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THE MUNK DEBATES

Men: Are they obsolete? Add to ...

Friday November 15, 2013, in Toronto, 3,500 citizens will gather to participate in something that appears to be conspicuously absent in Canada’s largest city: civil and substantive public debate.

The two teams of high-powered debaters will have their work cut out bringing a savvy audience around to their view that the “end of men” is either upon us or that men and “maleness” are anything but a spent cultural force. As the evening’s moderator, here is my quick take on the key issue each side is going to need to tackle to win over the assembled group.

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For Hanna Rosin and Maureen Dowd, the debate could pivot on their successfully arguing that the rise of women in the white-collar workforce, in politics and society at large is a broad and accelerating trend. The counterpoints abound from four per cent of Fortune’ 500 companies having women CEOs to entire professions remaining male dominated for generations (think airline pilots) to the consistently low percentage of female heads of state. Ms. Rosin and Ms. Dowd will need to show why women are destined to storm still entrenched male bastions of influence and exclusion.

Catlin Moran and Camille Paglia need to answer an equally challenging question: What is happening to men? From educational attainment to the workplace to family life, men – by all most any measurement – are falling behind women. Specifically, men have had millennia to create social and cultural system that benefit their sex so why the sudden collapse in male performance? Ms. Moran and Ms. Paglia will have to explain why the decline of men, as opposed to the rise of women, isn’t set to transform society.

Rudyard Griffiths is the organizer and moderator of the Munk Debates.

THE DEBATERS

Caitlin Moran is a British broadcaster and TV critic who has been writing for The Times since she was 18. She was named Columnist of the Year in 2010 by the British Press Awards and won the BPA’s Critic of the Year and Interviewer of the Year awards in 2011. Her book How to Be a Woman won the Galaxy British Book Awards Book of the Year award in 2011 and was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.

Maureen Dowd is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and the author of Are Men Necessary? She has been a New York Times op-ed columnist since 1995, after serving as a correspondent in the paper’s Washington bureau since 1986. She has covered four presidential campaigns and served as White House correspondent. Ms. Dowd also wrote a column, “On Washington,” for the New York Times Magazine.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of Double X, a women’s website connected to the online magazine Slate, and is the author of The End of Men, which presents a new world order of female dominance. Ms. Rosin gave a TED talk on the subject in 2010. She is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she writes broadly about American culture, is a writer and editor for Slate, and has written regularly for GQ and New Yorker magazines.

Camille Paglia is a professor of humanities and media sudies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984. Her six books are: Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson; Sex, Art, and American Culture; Vamps & Tramps: New Essays; The Birds, a study of Alfred Hitchcock published in 1998 by the British Film Institute in its Film Classics Series; Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems and Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. Her third essay collection is under contract to Pantheon.

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