Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama's New Council On Women and Girls: A Man's Perspective

Yesterday, President Obama announced a new Council on Women and Girls. Its mandate is to address these areas: violence against women, women’s health, economic security for women, and balance between work and family. Each of those will exacerbate the already unfair treatment of men:

Women 's health. When women have a deficit, for example, they're underrepresented in engineering, massive redress programs are initiated but when men have the deficit, even the ultimate deficit--they die 5.3 years younger and live their last decade in worse physical and mental health--all we see is yet more focus on women's health. Countless nonprofits and government agencies address women's health, few address men's.

Violence against women.
What about violence against men? The research clearly indicates that 25% to 45% of severe domestic violence is initiated by women. Yet Obama ignores that.

Economic security.
In announcing the Council, Obama said, "Women still earn just 78 cents for every dollar men make." Few statistics are more misleading: As is well documented, for the same work and same level of expertise, women earn at least as much as men. But the Council, using such profoundly misleading statistics, will likely demand legislation hurting men further--raising women's pay but not men's. And in a tight economy, tight budgets will often mean that if women's pay must be raised, men's will be decreased.

Balance between work and family. The Council on Women and Girls will, for example, likely urge employers to provide paid family leave, which more women than men will use, thereby saddling men with the work those women leave behind.

If President Obama were to be fair, he would institute a Council on Men and Boys. Its mandates would include:
  • Reducing the life-expectancy gap between men and women.
  • Helping to ensure that men and women receive equal pay for truly equal work.
  • Reducing domestic violence against men and women.
  • Ensuring fairness to men and women in divorce and custody cases.
  • Ensuring fairness to men and women in college admissions, hiring and promotion. (For example, among this year's college graduates, almost 60% will be women, only 40% men. Society didn't tolerate it when, decades ago, the situation was the reverse and society shouldn't tolerate it now.)
  • Ensuring that the curriculum and the media doesn't unfairly demonize boys and men. Today, textbooks focus on women's accomplishments and men's evils. Boys are falling further and further behind girls in student achievement. Movies and television programs disproportionately portray women as smart and efficacious, men as boors, idiots, dishonest, and/or violent. Men have contributed mightily to society: from the transformative (inventing everything from refrigeration to penicillin to Google) to the mundane (from building our homes to policing our streets to digging our graves.)
Obama claims to be a president for all Americans. He needs to prove it.


Anonymous said...

You know that this month is Women's History Month, right? Probably not a coincidence.

I don't think it will really matter what he does toward these ends. Women that have made it a habit or career to complain about perceived unfair treatment, justified or not, will continue to complain. And that squeaky wheel will continue to get that grease for years.

This reminds me of a short video I saw last month:

It's Morgan Freeman, talking about Black History Month (doesn't want one) and racism (his solution: "stop talking about it").

Could it be that simple? Could things like racism and sexism go away over the years and decades if enough of us simply stopped making them issues?

Not long ago, I asked a friend of mine, who's white, what's he's learned about being black for me, who's black. He answered, "I don't think of you as black. I think of you as my friend who happens to have more melanin."

If we were all seen in such a way, as people first and not society's labels first, there may not be a need for things like the "Council on Women & Girls." But I don't think that will happen in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't N.O.W. back Sara Palin?

Marty Nemko said...

I do think that whatever benefits accrue from race consciousness are outweighed by the liabilities.


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