LAURA’S WORLD: July 05, AU Edition

Big boys should stop crying
Many of my male friends, colleagues and contemporaries are of the opinion that the women’s movement has gone too far. An opinion shared, it seems, by a majority of males.
The gist of it is, men are not free to be men any more. The male spirit has been gradually eroded away by the disapproval of women and replaced with a neutered, domesticated, femme-friendly New Age model of manliness. Real men feel ripped off, as if they have to apologize for simply being blokes.
These frustrating emotions are behind men’s revival movements such as Australia’s Promise Keepers who claim much of society’s problems relate to the displacement of men. Restore the male to his position of leadership and authority and you will reassert his sense of pride and responsibility. Crime will fall as a result, says this theory.
If men’s roles are not restored, crime, violence, war, and a host of other horrors will continue to rise. The responsibility for this horrible scenario rests squarely on the shoulders of those feminists who upset the order of things by breaking out of their traditional role and stealing men’s thunder.
An astonishing piece of blackmail really. Essentially, if women don’t give men what they want, men will wreck the planet and blame women. So what do men want? I have asked this question of my disgruntled friends and I can only describe the response as elusive. Men only know that they feel vaguely threatened and undermined in subtle ways, but they don’t know how to fix it. Some comments I’ve heard cited by challenged men are: women’s wants never end, you give them some ground and they want more. Women have gone way beyond 50/50; they are at about 70/30 now and won’t stop until they have it all. Men are sexual beings; sex is a physical requirement and if women continue to deny men then rapes will logically increase. Divorce courts favour women by giving them automatic rights to children and to half the husband’s assets regardless of whether she helped earn them.

Some of these examples of discrimination, such as the parental-rights issue, do appear real. But there are glaring omissions in this summary of women’s power and territory. I have my own way of assessing gender equality and it is quite a simple formula. Power is associated with voice. Who gets heard, who gets published, written about, who stars in movies, who gets radio airplay, who runs businesses, who leads countries.
Applying this formula shows women at best account for 20% of who gets heard, seen, reported on, and who holds power. All it takes is one day of observing to come to this conclusion. Listen to the radio, read the paper, watch TV news and check out what’s on at the box office. Roughly 80% of all that is newsworthy, all radio singers, all movie top-billers, all movers and shakers are male.
How this equates with women having gone too far in the minds of men is a little scary. Women have a long way to go before they are anywhere near equal to the actual wealth, earning power and overall status of men, and yet men feel robbed.
The hue and cry over boy’s second-rate performance in schools is a fine example. No complaints were heard when girls came second, as it was expected of them. Now that girls have caught up, there is a feverish scramble to overhaul education. Why don’t boys simply do what girls did: try harder?