How ‘Fine’ are the Boys Actually Doing?

 

Robert Franklin
August 2, 2022

One way to avoid addressing a problem is to pretend it doesn’t exist.  Another is to deflect attention from that problem to another.  Still another is the use of intellectual dishonesty to obscure the problem.  There are all sorts of ways, but the aim of each is the same – to ignore the problem.  Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the chancellor and president of Texas Women’s University, Carine M. Feyten scores a hat trick.

The problem Feyten seeks so desperately to avoid is that of the precipitous decline in achievement and engagement of boys and men in academia and life generally.  She’s an old-guard gender feminist for whom any acknowledgement of the trials and inequalities that beset the male sex are to be buried forever beneath a pile of, shall we say, rubbish.

Rubbish, or perhaps a more scatological word, is a good description of Feyten’s article entitled “The Boys are Doing Just Fine,” written for the sole purpose of convincing readers to ignore the real and urgent problems facing half the population. 

Feyten offers but a single data point in support of her unsupportable thesis – that there’s a higher percentage of men attending college now (36%) than in 1970 (20%).  Very true, but of course the figures for women are 46% and 12% respectively.  Yes, the fact that (a) women outnumber men on college campuses 60%-40% and that (b) 46% of women attend college versus only 36% of men is, to Feyten, a non-issue.  This in a time when we’re repeatedly told that, to have any hope for a decent life, you must have a college degree.

Feyten offers a miraculous explanation for why women’s college enrolment has almost quadrupled in 51 years while men’s has only increased 16 percentage points.  You see, women must get a college degree to make up for – can you guess? –  that hoary and oft-debunked feminist chestnut, the wage gap.  Because women on average earn less than men on average, Feyten, like countless feminists before her, concludes that the economy discriminates against women.  So, what many would call a wonderful opportunity – a college education – Feyten converts into a grievous burden, the result anti-female wage oppression that no one has yet been able to locate.  Of course she does.

Her argument is patent nonsense and has been known to be such for decades.  As long ago as 2009, the U.S. Labor Department surveyed the Current Population Survey plus existing studies of the male-female earnings gap and concluded that discrimination played no measurable part in producing it.  What did?  Men’s and women’s differing choices about how to allocate their time between (mostly) paid work and family time.  That, plus their different choices of employment made up all but about 5 percentage points of the wage gap at a time when it was about 20.4 percentage points overall.

That’s unlikely to change, again because of men’s and women’s different choices.  Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute has reported that, of the 30 best-paying college majors, a majority of graduates were male in 27 of them.  That’s true despite males making up just 40% of college students.

Years ago, even the American Association of University Women admitted that its study of the earnings gap revealed no discrimination against women, but only their differing choices.  As a university woman herself, you’d think Feyten would know.  I guess not.

But Feyten’s intellectual dishonesty doesn’t stop there.  When it comes to women’s earnings, she relies solely on the “equity” argument, i.e., that unequal earnings prove sex discrimination; but when it comes to unequal college enrolment, eh, “the boys are doing fine.”  Nothing to see there.

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The astonishing hypocrisy and dishonesty of a single gender feminist zealot is less news than it is simple repetition.  What’s more important is the fact that she’s simply flat wrong; the boys are in fact not OK and we don’t need to look far to find that out. 

Suicide?  Almost 80% of suicides are men and boys.  In fact, suicide is the number two killer of males under the age of 45. 

Alcoholism?  About 20% of men, but only 5%-6% of women are alcoholics.

Drug addiction?

Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men than for women.

At least some of that stems from 30 years of neo-liberal trade and economic policy that dealt a body blow to millions of blue-collar men by shipping their good manufacturing jobs, on which they relied to support their families, overseas.  (FYI, the single greatest predictor of divorce for a man is the loss of his job.)

Over 93% of prison and jail inmates are male and men are treated far more harshly at every step in the criminal justice system than are women.

About 92% of workplace fatalities are males.

Lower percentages of boys and men graduate from high school, enroll in college and graduate from college than do girls and women.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, fathers are about four times as likely to lose significant or all parenting time with their children following divorce.  Over 70% of divorce actions are filed by women for that very reason according to researchers Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen.

Men are as likely as women to be victims of domestic violence, but there are over 1,500 DV shelters for women and only three for men in the whole United States.

Over 95% of combatants killed in war are men.

Men are required to register with the Selective Service System and make themselves available for wartime combat.  Women aren’t.

Across all 38 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, boys are graded more strictly by teachers than are girls.

Pop culture routinely denigrates and ridicules men and boys.  Girls and women meanwhile are portrayed as either heroic, powerful, courageous and pure or the helpless victims of… guess who.

I could go on and on of course, but the point should be clear: the boys aren’t “doing fine” and deserve our attention, care and empathy, however much Carine Feyten may urge us to ignore them.

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© 2022 Robert Franklin
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104
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Posted in Boys falling behind, Discrimination, Hot Topics, War on Men | Leave a comment

Sexist attacks on men won’t advance gender equality

The Australian

Sexist attacks on men won’t advance gender equality (theaustralian.com.au)

We can get to equality of outcome only by eliminating all differences between men and women that contribute to different pay outcomes.
We can get to equality of outcome only by eliminating all differences between men and women that contribute to different pay outcomes.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with one of the best pieces of advice for everyone from old-style academic feminists to corporate board members: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Sadly, many women routinely indulge themselves in such juvenile stereotyping of men that they succeed only in making fools of themselves. They line up to make sexist attacks that if made by a man would be derided, rightly, as prehistoric chauvinism. Sometimes they pretend humour, but these fig leaves of comedy that are manifestly just camouflage for spleen-venting disappear as quickly as they appeared.

A prime example of this genre is Jenna Price’s screed in The Sydney Morning Herald last week headed “Men: Talk less, smile more to help fix equality deficit”. Her thesis is that by talking too much, men snaffle more money and promotions. If only men would talk less, the gender pay gap would disappear.

What followed was a collection of all the gender stereotypes some women utter about men in their private moments but would usually be wise enough to keep hidden in mixed company.

“Men aren’t active listeners,” said one woman described by Price as “extremely, extremely senior”. Diane Smith-Gander was quoted bragging that “I am a serial interrupter. I can give a masterclass in it and actually do when I speak to young women. I tell them to learn the art of the elegant interruption, or they will spend their life listening to men.”

At this point some would have expected a few jokes about nagging women or garrulous wives or bossy mothers-in-law that male comedians used to make but that went out of style, and acceptability, with Benny Hill.

Undeterred, Price ploughed on. Even those old favourites “mansplaining, manterrupting, bropropriating” got a run, though mainly to complain that these words trivialised “damaging behaviour” by men. It’s a shame Henry Higgins’s famous lament in My Fair Lady – “why can’t a woman be more like a man?” – wasn’t updated as a role reversal.

At least Professor Higgins was joking. Price was not. Anyone who has spent time in board meetings, or in business generally, or among people for that matter, will know there is no natural connection between a big talker and a big brain. Often those people who talk the most, in meetings and in life, have the least to say. And, for the record, many women talk a lot, including in board meetings and, like big-talking men, they frequently have little to say of relevance or importance. Less is often more.

One would think Price, an old-school feminist, would notice the hypocrisy of women making this kind of crass generalisation about men. This stuff also is potentially an own goal for women. Once you start acting on these sorts of characterisations about men, you admit the legitimacy of generalisations about women. When generalisation is permitted as a basis for action, women will suffer as much as men. As we all know there are plenty of unhelpful generalisations about women that, if accepted, would set women’s cause back decades.

Not all the culprits are women. Australia’s Male Champions of Change accepted so many feeble generalisations so willingly, the group’s name became a byword for gullibility – so much so that it had to change its name. Alas, a name change hasn’t altered its adoration for generalisations.

Boris Johnson would get an invitation to join the Male Champions of Change if he were an Australian business leader. Johnson recently told German broadcaster ZDF, “If Putin was a woman … I really don’t think he would’ve embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has.” Now, while there may be some truth in saying Vladimir Putin’s personality and upbringing contribute to his bad-boy approach to geopolitics, it’s too simplistic and unhelpful to reduce the war in Ukraine to pop psychology. Putting the war down to whether Putin has “mummy issues” does no service to analysis. It ignores the deep questions of history, security and economics that are undoubtedly relevant. Has Boris heard of Catherine the Great, another expansionist Russian ruler?

All this over-reliance on cardboard cut-outs in lieu of analysis obscures the question overlooked in Price’s column. Anthony Albanese has come to power claiming the ALP will bring gender equity. The teals are similarly evangelical in their desire to rectify what they see as gender injustice. At the heart of this is the so-called gender pay gap. However, when this bunch and others talk about gender pay gaps or gender equity, they almost invariably ignore all the difficult components of the issue in favour of a simplistic focus on aggregate pay.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, “The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce.” The comparison is unadjusted for anything that happens in the real world to explain the difference. It is a bogus measurement used to drive a bogus agenda. If the WGEA used a more sophisticated measurement that factored in different choices women make, its agenda and relevance would be in ruins.

Since when do we prefer equality of outcome to equality of opportunity? Since when is individual choice irrelevant? We can get to equality of outcome only by eliminating all differences between men and women that contribute to different pay outcomes.

That means effectively mandating that men and women must be 50-50 in all jobs (not just the nice cushy jobs but garbos and grave diggers too), that men and women must be 50-50 in all university or training courses, that men and women must split 50-50 all domestic and childminding work and must share all holidays or absences from work 50-50. Only through this social engineering can we make men and women statistically the same in an aggregate sense.

Finally, we would need to eliminate differences in choices and attitudes to life, work and family between men and women. Only then could we have equality of pay outcomes.

Oops, now I see Price’s point. To borrow from Professor Higgins again, we just want women to be more like men. And vice-versa. Problem solved.

COLUMNIST
Janet Albrechtsen is an opinion columnist with The Australian. She has worked as a solicitor in commercial law, and attained a Doctorate of Juridical Studies from the University of Sydney. She has written for n… 
Posted in Discrimination, Hot Topics, Social Commentary | Leave a comment