Saturday, August 16, 2008

Why It's Not a Man's World

Grace, one of the regular commenters on my blog, asked me to opine on why it's a man's world.

Grace, it's not.

Yes, more men have leadership positions, but as I'll argue, that doesn't make it a man's world. And the reason more men have leadership positions is overwhelmingly not because of some male-erected glass ceiling. It's primarily because more men than women are willing to trade work/life balance and do what it takes to get and succeed in positions of major influence. They believe that doing so results in a more meaningfully-led life than if they stopped work at 40 hours so they could see their kids' soccer game and play Monopoly with them on a regular basis.

So, these men are, for example, willing to put in the 60+ hour workweeks that typical CEOs and congresspeople put in. They're more often willing to move their family across the country to some god-forsaken place so they can learn how to run a plant. They're more willing to pursue risky business ventures. The book, Why Men Earn More, describes 25 such reasons, which explains the misleading statistic that women earn less than men. For the same work, on average, women earn at least as much.

But just because more men are in leadership positions doesn't mean it's a man's world. Women have much more power than is widely recognized. Women have lifestyle power: Women and their advocacy groups have persuaded society to give women many more choices than men have. Society will not denigrate women for becoming a CEO, doctor, lawyer, holder of a low-level full-time job, part-time job, or no job at all. Most men do not have as wide a range of options.

In addition, many other things ensure women's control. Examples:
  • If a woman fails to use birth control and gets pregnant, the man is on the hook for 18 years of child support. A woman can have an abortion and end any responsibility, but a man cannot force a woman to do so. Therefore, in inserting his penis without a condom in a woman, he takes a far greater risk than she does.
  • If women have a deficit, for example, are "underrepresented" in engineering, there are massive efforts at redress. Yet when men have the deficit, for example, that fewer than 40% of the 2008 college graduates are men, there is little or no redress.
  • Even when men suffer the ultimate deficit--they live 5.3 years shorter than women and spend their last decade in worse health, the vast majority of gender-specific medical research over the last 50 years has been on women. Almost all the gender-specific health-related non-profits are for women. For years, we've been seeing a sea of pink ribbons against breast cancer, but none against sudden heart attack (Think Tim Russert,) which kills many more men, much earlier.
Women's advocacy groups have pushed-through policies that ensure women have all these advantages. In contrast, as co-president of the National Organization for Men, I can say with certitude that nearly all efforts to ensure fair treatment of men have been rebuffed or censored, usually unfairly derided as mere whining by the hegemony.

In reality, it's far from a man's world.


Marty Nemko said...

Thank you, Charles, for pointing out the typos in this post. I've now fixed them.

Anonymous said...

How aware do you think that women in general are of their own power? You'd think that by now, they would know what they have and what they're capable of.

Marty Nemko said...

I think that many women are aware of their power but are too clever to acknowledge it. They realize they gain yet more power by dishonestly claiming that they're the victim of the male hegemony.

Other women, like many men, are insecure, and not aware of how much power they have.

Of course, some women, like some men, if unintelligent, overly fearful, and lazy, do not have much power, but their sex has nothing to do with that.

Grace said...

Women could run the world, but someone has to take care of the kids and while there used to be a time when women had no other choice but to be home, this is not always the case today.

Due to health issues, my husband is the stay at home parent. I work a full time and a part time job, but we both know that if we could switch places, we would. I am NOT a gold digger; my husband and I both agree that the job of homemaker and child-rearer just comes more naturally to me. I get more job satisfaction in taking care of my young children than my husband does. Being a mother is one of my strongest talents and probably one of the best ways I can serve humanity. (Although I don’t really like Monopoly).

For me to get the big bucks, I’d have to live and breathe my work. I love work, but I refuse to give it my full focus at this time in my children’s lives. It’s not about wanting fewer work hours, for I already work 50 hours a week. It’s about commitment. I’m not willing to pull my kids from school to relocate, or miss my child’s birthday party because of an emergency meeting. If I took on a better job that required more responsibility or leadership, I would have to be more flexible. My stifled career is my choice.

In my bias experience, if women are happy in the home, then they are happier at work. If men are happier at work, then they are happier in the home. While I love working, even working long hours, my home (ie. my children) is where my heart is. Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters”. I don’t believe there is ever a perfect work/life balance.

Last thing: Even in these “enlightened” times, my husband and I often get comments/judgement from women AND men for our reversal of traditional roles. For being in the home, my husband is either seen as a saint or as a lazy bum. In the workplace, I am seen as a martyr or a ambitious b-tch. Sexism should not be tolerated in any form.

Grace said...

Interesting changes in your post, Mr. Nemko. I've also been thinking more about this topic.

If a woman fails to take birth control...? On the hook...? If men are on the hook to pay for 18 years, then women are on the hook to deal with all the never ending stresses of raising children for 18years. Just paying the money is is a lot easier.

News Flash: Sex can lead to babies. And, last time I checked, it took two to make them. Men, have sex with your eyes open (figuratively speaking), and keep control of your future - BYOC! No contraception is 100% effective, so men and women should always be open to the possibility of offspring every time.

Anyway, kidding aside, I feel that although men are often in higher paying positions of leadership, it's not a man's world. Though women have more options than ever before, it's not a woman's world. It's OUR world and we will all muddle through it, each with our own interests in mind. Both men and woman should continue to speak up when there is inequity. I consider myself a strong woman who calls herself a feminist insomuch as it means fighting for reasonable equality of pay/choice/options, etc. But I have never identified with the "man-haters" that blame men for everything from poverty to the bubonic plague.

Mr. Nemko, I value your opinions highly and you share much truth. But please, don't give others cause to disregard your message. If you make heated generalizations based on the minority of women who are manipulative or who want to take advantage of the system, then you come across as a woman hater. No one will listen and no changes will be made, which would be unfortunate.

Continue to fight the good fight.

Marty Nemko said...

I think that my revised post makes clear that a woman's power to choose to abort or not abort a fetus means that a man, merely because he inserted his penis consensually into a woman is the only one who risks--with no control in the matter--whether he will be liable for 18 years of child support. That seems to me a quite legitimate point in responding to the assertion that "it's a man's world."

With regard to my comments being "heated," they are infinitely less so than the angry protests of feminists, who have never been accused of being too angry, for example, in aforementioned books such as "Are Men Necessary?"

Indeed the media covers angry feminists with adulation while censoring even the most measured advocates for the fair treatment of men. That is yet another example of the double standard the media applies to men and women.

I do not hate women. I greatly appreciate many women, including my wife of 36 years. But most of the feminist leaders and media gatekeepers (male and female) who most strongly influence gender-related policy in this country are, at best, indifferent to fairness to men, and it is they to whom I bear antipathy.

Grace said...

Having gone through high-risk pregnancies and watching friends have abortions, I think I am qualified to say that your statement: "a the only one who risks.." is a bit simple. Once she is pregnant, a woman's health is at risk no matter which option she chooses. Knowing that a woman is allowed to have control over what happens in her own body should give the man pause and he should take matters into his own hands with regards to prophylactics. Not doing so could affect his future.

You say, "feminists have never been accused of being too angry". Never? I've seen some radical feminists that have been quickly written off as wackos. Either the media is different in Canada (it is - it's even more liberal), or I'm just not paying enough attention.

Of course you don't hate women, Mr. Nemko. I just don't want you to say things that might make people think that you do. If your ultimate goal is to get your message out, then you cannot stoop to the level of the opposition. Absolute language and sweeping generalizations won't help you to be heard. Continue to state the facts in a rational manner and bring inequity to light.

I appreciate your position and I can understand why you feel so passionate about this issue. When did you first become disillusioned with gender-inequity in society/media?

Marty Nemko said...

It's been accretive. I've grown more concerned as ever more male clients complained of a female-centric workplace in which collaboration and teamwork were extolled and individual achievement and boldness denigrated, in which the new-girls' network was more exclusionary than the ol' boys network was.

I have been saddened by the fact that vast percentages of women who accept vaunted slots in prestigious colleges and graduate schools shirk their responsibility to use that degree to be professionals, and instead are stay-at-home people or at most part-time workers, which, for example, in the case of physicians, causes great harm: people, especially in urban and rural areas, can't get to see doctors.

Then there's the relentless male-bashing in the media, so unfair to men's relative merit.

In the 60s, I was a feminist, because I believe that women did not have equal opportunity then. But I am convinced that the feminist activists with the liberal media's assistance has now made our schools, colleges, workplace, and divorce laws, etc., terribly unfair to men.

Grace said...

I have a young son and he has two younger sisters. He's a sensitive boy, an introverted artist. I find that I constantly have to remind myself to reward his rough-and-tumble, risk-taking side. My son's teachers adore him because he is quiet. He has not been encouraged to speak up and he has become timid and unsure of himself. It is true that boys are not enthusiastically encouraged to be boys anymore.

I still find inequity in my workplace - the women are still paid less than the men. The women are expected to be more flexible in their hours and duties. It's not a woman's world.

Women may "shirk their responsibilities" because children need to be taken care of. Someone has to do it, and few men are willing to make that sacrifice. Perhaps we should get all men and women who accept high positions to sign contracts saying that they won't have children,at least not for a while. Oh, that would go over well! By the way, the Apostle Paul encouraged church leaders NOT to get married because he knew that a spouse and child would take away precious hours from the important work of ministry.

Do your female clients ever complain of sexism in the workplace?

Marty Nemko said...

I deeply believe that while one can always find individual workplaces in which women are paid less than men, on average, FOR THE SAME QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF WORK, women are paid equally to men, which is the conclusion of a book based on exhaustive research, Why Men Earn More.

And with regard to the child care issue, if it's one thing that environmentalists agree on is that the greatest threat to the environment is overpopulation. The last thing the workplace needs to do is to subsidize women (or men) who want to get paid the same even though they work less than childless people.

Anonymous said...

I think we have the kind of world we have right now because the average person and group looks out for only their own interests. As long as we continue to do so, it'll never be a balanced world.

Debate can be a great tool to get differing views out into the open. The debate that Grace and Mr. Nemko are having might help the two of them, and the rest of us reading along, to see this issue in a light that we hadn't before.

But debate has largely stopped on this issue, and so the world, or at least America, is largely unbalanced, sometimes in men's favor and more often in women's favor. I know that Mr. Nemko often suggests that men need to organize to ask for what they want (hence the existence of the National Organization For Men). If men's groups successfully did things exactly as feminist groups did, the pendulum would swing over to the men's side, leaving women and girls in the lurch. Men would have what they wanted, but America would remain very unbalanced.

It will remain unbalanced if we don't start bringing different ideas about solving this problem into the open and act to make the most beneficial changes based on those ideas.

Grace said...

I wholeheartedly agree that people shouldn't expect exceptional professional status or compensation if they are not able to commit to the hours/duties required to do the job exceptionally. If I choose to devote my time to my family (or any other outside pursuits), I may jeopardize my professional future. This is fair.

And, yes, overpopulation is an enormous problem, and we shouldn't reward people just because they think they deserve to "have it all".

But, you bring the up the "stay at home" thing as a woman's issue, when I think there is more to it. There are millions of women who want to devote MORE time to their vibrant careers, but because their husbands are not willing to (a) take on more of the household/childcare responsibilities, or (b) postpone or sacrifice some of their own career aspirations (i.e. work hours), they feel like they cannot. This is a tremendous problem that women in my circle are facing.

Marty Nemko said...

On average, it's the women who want the children more and, for biological and cultural reasons, are more motivated to and more capable of being their primary caretaker.

In addition, men, on average, work far more hours outside the home and on more stressful work than homemaking.

For those reasons, men should not be expected to be equally involved in parenting or homemaking.

Grace said...

Let's not get down on qualified people (women or men) who seemingly drop the ball in the workplace if they are expected to be the ones to pick it up in the home.

If the man works more outside hours, the woman should do more parenting/chores. If the woman works more, give more of the household duties to the man.

We don't need a completely equal division of labour - my husband is a better cook, so he cooks more. I do more laundry. And there are many things he can't do because of health issues. An equal partnership is one where no matter how the duties are split, both parties are in agreement.