Is Society Fairer To Men Or Women?

A Father’s Day cover story in The Atlantic was The End of Men. Its core contention: men are better suited for the Neanderthal Era: “Maybe they’re (men) are like those frogs–they’re more vulnerable or something, so they’ve gotten deformed.”
And colleges are rejecting we frogs. In 1960: college degree holders were 61% men, 39% women.. Today, it’s 60% women, 40% men. Yet where’s the affirmative action for men? Nowhere. Worse, countless scholarships are set aside for women, few for men. And student groups are funded for women, for example, future businesswoman groups, far fewer for men.
So it’s not surprising that men’s unemployment rate is higher than women’s. So many young men are back living with their parents, stoned and/or playing video games while the young women are launching their careers.
“But women earn 77 cents on the dollar!” A most misleading statistic
There are fair reasons why men are paid more. For example, among people claiming to work full time, men work six hours a week longer and work more continuous years and so are paid more. Ninety-two percent of workplace deaths and severe workplace injuries (e.g., amputations, black lung disease) occur to men, so they get paid more for choosing dangerous work.
Even when men earn more than women in the same profession, there are reasons other than sexism. For example, men physicians earn more but that’s because men are more likely to choose specialties such as surgery or cardiology which are higher-stress, have more irregular hours, and require longer residencies, while women are more likely to choose pediatrics and general practice.
A rich research literature documents that for the same work, women earn virtually the same as men, for example, THIS from the New York Times, THIS from the Wall Street Journal, THIS from Compensation Cafe, and THIS from City Journal. Alas, the media chooses to ignore all that in favor of the broadbrush, “Women earn 77 cents on the dollar.”
Today’s unfair policies and practices
The government deliberately exacerbates men’s unemployment deficit. For example, government pressures businesses to have “targets,” virtual quotas, for women, a “protected class.” Women-owned businesses receive preference in landing government contracts: See THIS.
The government protects women in the military–they can’t serve in direct combat. Thus 97.5 percent of the Iraq and Afghanistan war deaths have been men. Perhaps that’s surprising in light of the media’s hiding that by saying “the men and women serving in Afghanistan .” And is it fair that only men must register for the draft?
In workplaces, women but not men are encouraged to form committees to advance their sex, often at men’s expense. Examples: mentor programs for women only, special training for women only, fast-track-to-executive position for women only
Despite unemployment higher for men than for women, “Sisters help Sisters” is not deemed sexist or grieveable, but laudatory. For example, former U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” A Google search reveals 97,700 references to it. All ten first-page results were neutral or laudatory.
Men’s efforts to organize into groups have typically been ridiculed, for example, as troglodytes tromping into the woods to beat tom-toms. And men’s organizations have been pressured to admit women, for example, Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions, while the long-female-only Soroptomists remains that way. Further limiting men’s ability to organize, men’s groups don’t get the enormous free advertising the media gives to women’s groups.
We’re in our seventh decade of man-as-oaf media: from Ralph Kramden to Homer Simpson. Lest you think I’m cherry-picking, turn on the TV: How often is the man portrayed as superior to the woman?
Unfairness to men extends well beyond the media and workplace. For example, if a man makes the momentary error of impregnating a woman, even if she falsely claimed to be on birth control, unless she chooses to abort, he’s stuck with 18 years of financial and parenting responsibility.
And what about men who need social services? Countless programs focus on women, far fewer on men, even though, for example, men’s suicide rate is four times as high.
And in the worst unfairness to men, when women have a deficit, for example, they’re “underrepresented” in science, we see massive redress despite the two-decade study reported in the New York Times that found that women in academic science fare as well or better than men. Yet when men have the ultimate deficit– they live 5.2 years shorter–a search of PubMed, which indexes 3,000 medical journals for the last 60 years, on the terms “women’s health” and men’s health,” revealed 43 times(!) as many studies using the term “women’s health.” And there’s a sea of pink breast-cancer ribbons but only a trickle for prostate cancer and even less for sudden heart attack, which kills many more men and earlier. There are seven federal agencies on women’s health, none for men. 39 states have offices of Women’s Health, none for men.  As a result, since 1920, the average lifespan advantage of women has grown 400%! 
It’s simply wrong to assert that today, men, on balance, have an unfair advantage.

A plan for fairness to both sexes

It’s time to:
  • End the gender-bashing, male or female, in the schools, colleges, and media.
  • End the intentional discrimination against both women and men as documented in the examples above.
  • Pay due homage to men, who do so many dangerous jobs women won’t do, from roofer to rodent remover, and invent the countless things women hadn’t invented. And as fathers, men often provide needed counterbalance to mom’s protectiveness, for example, encouraging reasonable (okay, occasionally not so reasonable) risk-taking.
  • Establish Men’s Studies programs at universities that don’t merely parrot male-bashing women’s studies programs.
  • Revere hard-working men as societal contributors, not pathologize them as “workaholics.”
The ultimate irony
Despite all of the above, America is making yet more efforts to exacerbate the anti-male sexism. Last year, President Obama created a well-funded Council on Women and Girls but rejected one on men and boys. Here is that rejected proposal. (Bias alert: I am a member of the commission that created that proposal.) And in Obama’s April 6, 2012 speech at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy, he reiterated his desire to focus yet more on women: “(I) look forward to continuing the important work we are doing to promote the interests of women.” After all, women earn 77 cents on the dollar.
America will be better if our goal is merit-based treatment of both men and women.

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