Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Two Under-the-Radar Ideas for Improving the World

A book (and then a TV special, column, and radio talk show) called America Talks About Race. Barack Obama is calling for an open dialogue about race. So did Bill Clinton. So does every diversity trainer. Yet, to date, it hasn't really happened. I see the need for a book called America Talks About Race, based both on a survey and perhaps 30 Americans' (white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American and mixed-race) stories about their experiences regarding race and their recommendations for how race-related problems might best be improved.

I might decide to write it but prefer if someone else did: I have more projects I'd like to take on than I could complete in a lifetime.

A lawsuit demanding men's studies programs. Women's studies departments have done much to advance women's causes. It has been said there's no need for men's studies departments because men are hegemonic. I believe that's unfair. With boys doing worse in schools than girls, graduating from college in far fewer numbers, in prison in far greater numbers, with many men of all income levels feeling alienated, and spending their last decade in worse health than women and dying 5.3 years sooner, there is a real need for men's studies programs.

Efforts to start men's studies programs have met with resistance from universities. I believe that advocates of men's studies programs need to take a lesson from women's advocacy groups: When women's groups couldn't get what they wanted using persuasion, they sued. I believe it's time for an equal protection lawsuit: Just as Title IX legislation mandated equalized funding for women's and men's sports in colleges, there should be equal funding for men's and women's studies.

Anyone want to spearhead that suit? Again, I might do that but prefer if someone else did.


Anonymous said...

At this point, I'm not sure it's possible to have a real dialogue, which is sorely needed, because many people are so sensitive about race. Even just having a one-on-one conversation is damn near impossible to do without well-meaning people walking on eggshells around each other.

The PC world has made many white people afraid of saying the wrong thing, and emboldened many people, both white and nonwhite, to say and do completely stupid, often racist, things. Also, there are still people and groups in the world who would rather keep us divided, and race (which should be a minor topic but has been one of the biggest bones of contention among people for centuries) is a very good way to do it.

As for men's studies programs, I don't think that will happen as long as the majority of women, along with many men, believe that women are victims and need extra help to get ahead. If that is the prevailing attitude, how would even the best lawyers be able to convince the courts and public that men are really the ones in need of help now?

Erika Lopez said...

i think both of these are great ideas. i particularly love the men's law suit because it's high time men stop allowing themselves to be disposable punch lines.

--erika (a girl who misses the best things about boys)

Anonymous said...

I'm not clear on how a men's studies major would be different from a classics major or most history majors.

Could you outline the curriculum for the second two years of a men's studies major?

I'm thinking it would heavily emphasize whatever it is that people who [gack] want to be lobbyists study, in terms of tactics?

Marty Nemko said...

Men's studies would include such courses as:

1. Men's biology and their behavior.
2. Men in the workplace
3. Boys 0-5: Influence of parents, peers, pre-school
4. Boys 5-puberty: Influence of parents, peers pre-school.
5. Boys from puberty through college.
6. Media portrayal of males.
7. Male portrayal in literature, from the Ancient Greeks through the present.
8. Men's Health (from both a policy and behavior-change perspective.)

Marty Nemko said...

A woman emailed me this comment in response to my post:

Men's Studies? Seriously? Medicine is (largely) the study of men's biology; men represent the lion's share of CEOs CIOs COOs; men (irrespective of how they fare in higher ed or whatever) still make $1 for every $.70 I make; men are running most of the major media outlets and largely control what we see; men are really to blame for their own lot as they still, by and large, run things world-wide.

Here's my response to her:
Alas, your facts are completely incorrect:
1. A review of Pub Med, which indexes 3,000 medical journals over the past 50+ years, the period of the most substantial medical research, finds 40 articles related to women's health for every one on men's. Previous research was predominantly done on men, but this was mainly to avoid women of childbearing age, where the fetus could be damaged by the experimental drug.

2. Men predominate in Fortune 1000 leadership positions because many fewer women are willing to put in the average 62.4-hour workweeks, move their families across the country to obtain needed promotions (e.g., to Alabama to learn how to run a plant), etc.

3. Women earn 80 cents on the dollar mainly because women avoid the sorts of work that pay more: full-time work, dangerous work, work requiring hard-to-attain skills (physics, calculus, etc.), are less willing to work on commission, etc. For the SAME work, women earn as much as men. And indeed, OVERALL, in major cities, women in their 20s (before the decision to have children makes them less willing to do what's required to advance their career, earn MORE than men do.

4. Women, not men, control most media decisions: book acquisition editors, major TV show producers, etc.