- Men are 3.5 to 7 times more likely than women to commit suicide (Suicide and suicidal behavior), the seventh leading cause of death for all males and the second leading cause of death for males aged 10-24 (CDC).
- Out of all enrolled college students, only 43% are men (US Department of Education).
- When convicted of the same crime, men receive 63% longer sentences on average than women do (University of Michigan).
- Women initiate divorce in 69% of all cases (Harvard).
- Yet men are likely to lose custody; women win 84% of the time (US Census Bureau).
In the middle of class one day, one of my professors, a male, started ranting about the patriarchy. At a liberal arts school, this isn’t uncommon. The topic didn’t really have anything to do with what we were studying, but it was the last semester before that particular professor’s retirement, so we were used to him going off on tangents. The class was primarily made up of females, so he went around and asked them if they saw examples of the patriarchy in their everyday lives. One girl raised her hand and said, “I went to the grocery store the other day to buy some razors, and I noticed that the pink razors — which aren’t any different from the blue razors — cost a dollar more.”
To be honest, at the time, I barely cared.
But I remember that particular story. I remember rolling my eyes and thinking, just buy the damn blue razors.
There were other examples — good examples — of women who run into sexism every day, namely catcalling. Still, a lot of them seemed to foster a little bit of hatred for men. As the class went on, each girl mentioned, “men,” with a little more bite than the last. They talked a lot about “mansplaining” and “toxic masculinity.”
No one male — not even me — said anything at all.
We just sat there and took it, because what could we do? It’s a lose/lose.
The whole experience struck me as odd: You couldn’t have this discussion — if you can call it that — about any other group in America. Why men? Because of a perceived over-representation of leadership? Take this quote from Roy Baumeister’s book Is There Anything Good About Men? as an example to the contrary:
The mistake in that way of thinking is to look only at the top. If one were to look downward to the bottom of society instead, one finds mostly men there too. Who’s in prison, all over the world, as criminals or political prisoners? The population on Death Row has never approached 51% female. Who’s homeless? Again, mostly men. Whom does society use for bad or dangerous jobs? US Department of Labor statistics report that 93% of the people killed on the job are men. Likewise, who gets killed in battle? Even in today’s American army, which has made much of integrating the sexes and putting women into combat, the risks aren’t equal. This year we passed the milestone of 3,000 deaths in Iraq, and of those, 2,938 were men, 62 were women.
If you look at two bell curves of the cognitive ability of men and women, you’ll find that men have much greater variance, captured in the phrase, “more geniuses, more idiots.” That’s not to say that women haven’t faced particularly tough battles in the professional world, but it does help explain why those social systems were created in the first place. Culture exploits the different sexes in different ways.
Even more than that, it would be stupid to denigrate one sex’s contributions to society in favor of the other’s, and I don’t know why it’s becoming so common nowadays.
Take, for example, the statue of the Fearless Girl. On the one hand, she seems to be a feminist symbol of strength and perseverance; she signifies women’s ability to stand up to the patriarchy, specifically in male-dominated financial firms, no matter how much power they wield. She evokes comparisons to historical images like Tank Man and Flower Power, the little guy/girl standing in innocent opposition to his/her superiors. Take a second to consider, though, that just like all art, her meaning is open to interpretation. That meaning, if it isn’t being forced down our throats by corporate fat-cats with an agenda, can actually be very disheartening. She could be seen as an obstacle, standing in the way of a thriving bull-market and threatening the economy into a standstill.
More than that, because she’s portrayed as a little girl — rather than a more dominant Rosie-the-Riveter type — she isn’t even a formidable obstacle. Not only is she physically unable to “take the bull by the horns,” but she’s going to get run over and killed if someone doesn’t save her from her own hardheadedness.
The same could be said of Tank Man and Flower Power, so what’s the difference? Well, Fearless Girl is standing in the way of something that’s good. The bull isn’t a feminist antagonist; he’s a hero of the free market.
If, instead, the girl was riding the bull (steering it by the horns, say, to indicate female leadership), the intended meaning might be clearer and more effective. As it stands, though, I think it’s ridiculous.
A couple artists in particular didn’t like the Fearless Girl: Arturo Di Modica, the original sculptor of the bull, who is now suing State Street Global Advisors for copyright infringement; and Alex Gardega, who placed a badly-carved “Pissing Pug” next to the Fearless Girl’s feet.
This constant desire for artists to one-up another (regardless of their narcissistic patrons, which is as much a part of art as the artwork itself) is mostly driven by an unnecessary desire for conflict between the sexes.
Regardless of whether or not “equality” will be reached, this conflict shows no signs of going away.
There will always be differences between men and women just as there will always be differences between any two groups. You could draw two circles on a map, aggregate statistics for every person in each circle, and find data that supports any conclusion you want to make about either group. The question is: Is it significant? Are women really any less likely to succeed than men? Are men any less likely to succeed than women?
If men are more likely to achieve than women, at what point do we reach parity?
If women greatly outnumber men in college (which will have a huge effect on the future workforce), have we reached a point where men and women are equal? If women out-earn men in part-time jobs, what do we do, if anything, to combat that? Should we work to get men and women to commit crimes at equal rates? Do we want a 50-50 incarceration rate (right now it’s about 93-7, male-female)? Are all differences between men and women solely based on cultural factors?
Men are told from the time they’re born that they have it easier than any other group in America, but that doesn’t mean they have it easy.
A quick Google search of “men are idiots,” garners these results:
Reports on scientific data from news sources as far-reaching and reputable as NPR and NBC.
If you do the same search for women, you won’t find anything other than anecdotal rants from fringe groups.
From the moment they can walk to the moment they lie down for good, men are told that they’re dumber than women, that a woman can do anything a man can do — except better, that they shouldn’t express how they feel because “that’s gay,” or, if they don’t want to express themselves, they’re emotionally stunted. Men are told that they’re “children” because they failed to graduate from college, secure a high-paying job, and start a family, and that those decisions are damaging society.
But worst of all: Because men are the privileged group, their problems don’t matter.
Men feel this on an individual level. No one cares about you until you’re someone worth caring about. The common advice: “Man up.”
And, to be fair, I’m not saying that life as a woman isn’t difficult.
I do believe, however, that feminism needs to focus on both genders if its followers want to maximize public good.
Young men are struggling today because they know that the world at large doesn’t care about them or their problems, and they’ve been told this repeatedly through the media.
Personally, I know that I’ll succeed. I could make the argument that I already am. It’s not a question of “if”; it’s a question of “how much.” I can’t say the same for a lot of my peers — especially the ones who are skipping out on college. Society isn’t failing people like me, it’s failing people like them.
Notice that not once throughout this article did I say that women’s issues — other than the razors — are unimportant, that they should take a backseat to men’s issues. In a world with almost 7.5 billion people, no single issue has to take a backseat. You can fight for whatever you want to fight for.
Free speech belongs to those who take it.
Everyone has problems. If you think that feminism is a cause worth fighting for, then good! Fight for it.
But don’t actively tear one group down in favor of the other. The bull isn’t a symbol of oppression. He doesn’t want to fight you.
Run with the bull, not against.