Sunday, November 30, 2008

White Men: Disposable

In previous posts, I've provided many examples of men's perceived disposability, for example, 
  • Only men are required to register with Selective Service (in case of a future military draft.)
  • Only men are allowed to serve in direct combat, which is why 99% of the Iraq War deaths occurred to men. Yet the media always uses obfuscatory phrases such as "the men and women serving in Iraq."
  • 92% of workplace deaths occur to men, yet you never hear of reverse discrimination efforts to help improve workplace safety for men. Yet when women suffer a less critical deficit, e.g., they're "underrepresented" in engineering, massive redress efforts are initiated.
  • Men die 5.2 years younger than women and earlier of all the top 10 causes of death, yet all we see is a sea of pink ribbons for breast cancer.
  • Books on the disposability of men such as New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? and Bill Clinton's press secretary Dee Dee Myers' Why Women Should Rule the World became bestsellers while books decrying today's unfair treatment of men go unpublished or ignored. Even books on boys' and young men's struggles languish. 
Here is the latest example of the accelerating perceived disposability of men, especially white men. It was reported by the CBC, Canada's equivalent of National Public Radio. Each year, the students of Canada's Carleton University raise $1 million for a cause. This year, its student association chose cystic fibrosis...until a rumor started that it mainly affected white men (untrue,) whereupon, the students voted overwhelmingly to find another charity.

The next assault on white men: President-elect Obama's promises to focus on education and health care "for all" is code for "focusing on all but white men." 


Anonymous said...

We still have a draft?

Marty Nemko said...

Anonymous, the registration is for use in case of a reinstitution of draft.

Anonymous said...

Ah, glad to see the Fear of the Other is back.

What I find most amusing is that except your CF example, all of the other factual examples you give are examples which, if looked at through the lens of race rather than gender, white folks would do better at:

- combat duty, especially as v officer duty;
- there is no registration for the draft, but if there were, how would it disproportionately affect white men?
- workplace safety largely maps across pay scales, with a secondary mapping for race. I don't know where to get numbers for injury and ethnicity broken out (OSHA surely has them, but they didn't google right out at me)
- more men die 5.2 years younger overall... This is one I do know off the top of my head, and African-American men have many years' lower life expectancy than Anglo men do.

The books you don't like could only be said to be about disposing of white men if you agreed to the argument that white men rule the world. My impressions are that a) we do and b) you don't want to admit this is true.

Anonymous said...

If you're a white male and not a member of the thinly sliced elite strata (e.g., Fortune 500 CEOs), the barrier to gainful employment is palpable. Even in law enforcement, a former bastion of white male masculinity, white men are definitely at the bottom of the hiring list these days.

In southern California, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department has numerous "now hiring" freeway billboards showing four very attractive women (three minorities and one white). Not a man among them. The message is clear: Men Need Not Apply. Minority Women Preferred.

This epitomizes the message society sends about white men.

Anonymous said...

I found the following today on a blog called "Bayou Renaissance Man," a post about this day being the anniversary of Rosa Parks' bus protest:

"Friends, if anyone tries to tell you that someone is (or is not) good (or bad), harmless (or dangerous), positive (or negative), or whatever, solely on the basis of his or her group identity - however that group is defined - then you may be sure they're lying to you."

"The only thing that counts, in the end, is the individual."

This came from a white man who grew up in South Africa. And I agree with him.

If we judge white men in any way solely because they are white men, then we will be no better than the white men who judged blacks and women so harshly and deprived them of basic rights not too long ago.

By the way, Carleton College just voted to to reinstate their support for cystic fibrosis:

What a shame that it was public pressure that got them to change their tune rather than personal realization that they made a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Marty, just wondering if you'd seen last month's cover of The Atlantic magazine: "Should women rule?"

I think this is a link to the article:

Marty Nemko said...

Thanks to you, Anonymous, I've now read that edgily written article.

I wish more women actually were willing to put the work in to be great leaders. Sooooh many talented women would rather strive for "work life balance." For time immemorial, society's greatest contributors eschewed balance in favor of a driving passion to lead and to create. The potential for greatness could, of course, reside in a person with an XX rather than an XY chromosome. Some of it boils down to a willingness to be committed to being world-class.

Sam said...

I believe that the scale has been tipped in the favor of women (a simplistic description, perhaps)because for centuries the scale was tipped so heavily in favor of men. Men used to have almost all the power in society- women did not have the right to vote, the right to have property, the right to say what happened to their bodies, etc. In the last few decades, our society has attempted to correct these mistakes.

Although I do not advocate anyone living parasitically, I cannot help but feel no sympathy for the males you state are being shortchanged throughout your work.

For the man who marries a parasitic SAHM, didn't you realize what you were getting yourself into? It's usually quite clear whether someone has an incentive to work hard or not. For the man who finds a woman having his child despite his wishes for her not to: don't have sex with someone if you're not sure what they will do in the case of pregnancy. For the man who has a dangerous occupation, couldn't you just have easily chosen to do something else? And as for women not being potentially drafted or in combat positions, wasn't this idea primarily instituted by the conservative right who feel that women have no place on the battlefield or in many other spheres? As a woman, I can honestly say that there are biological differences in body type that make having the average woman in a combat position or in a job requiring maual labor just plain stupid.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in men's equality just as much as I believe in women's equality. But playing the victim is not attractive (for either sex!) Eventually, society will probably even out the imbalance between privileges bestowed on men and women. For now, women seem to be on top, but maybe that is because we have been on the bottom (no pun intended) for so long. So many of your complaints are the responsibility of men and women on an individual level. It seems unfounded that there is some big societal conspiracy going on to dispose of white males.... besides, since white males are heading (as you say, deservedly, since they work harder and longer) the major institutions of the media, government, military, etc. who exactly is promoting this anti-white male agenda?

Marty Nemko said...

Responses to Sam:

-- For most of those centuries you refer to, women have had the crucial advantage of being able to live a life free of work except for homemaking. That is not trivial when you consider how odious much of men's work is: from roofer to quota-driven salesperson. They've always lived longer. Women, through the centuries have also acknowledged that while men have the overt power, women have tremendous, behind-the-scenes power in relationships. It is unfair to justify today's terribly unfair treatment men by vaguely claiming that men had it much better than women previously.

-- No, countless men do NOT know what they're getting into when they marry. As I wrote in the post, while many women remain hard-working, those who demonstrate the parasite syndrome (not an inconsiderable number) after the wedding, for example, changing their mind about willingness to work full-time, and instead pull out all the stops to contribute to family income in favor of being a stay-at-home woman, even without children. And on a more base level, look at pictures of women before getting married and five years later, and it's amazing how many of them have let themselves go--flat, slovenly, etc.

-- No, many men could not choose less dangerous occupations and still make enough money to support these parasitic wives. (Again, I stress I am not talking about all wives. My post specifically was about the women (and men) who demonstrate what I call "The Parasite Syndrome."

-- Women's bodies are certainly strong enough to be a soldier, for example, endure long hikes and shoot a weapon. That is a feeble excuse for their being excluded from direct combat. And intelligence is an important part of being a good soldier, and women certainly have their fair share of that.

-- The feminist movement began as the appropriate protest against unfair treatment of women. No responsible people called them victims. I am merely saying that the pendulum has swung very far and is hitting men in the face. Calling for men to get fair treatment is no more playing the victim than women's calling for fair treatment.

Sam said...

Well argued, Marty. Even when I do not agree exactly with the points that you make, I understand and respect your argument. I noticed that you did not respond to my comment about who is responsible for the anti-male agenda...would you say that it is the liberal media or that it is coming from somewhere else?

Marty Nemko said...

The anti-male agenda comes from society's major mind molders: the colleges and the media, both of which are wildly biased toward the Left.


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