Feminism has been presented as an uprising against the tyrannical forces of male domination. Indeed, little else can seemingly be expected from putting a naturally more powerful and forceful sex in the positions of familial and political authority. It is an oft-repeated maxim that power corrupts and those that seek power degrade more easily. How then can the “weak” be protected? 1 This is an extremely important question. Many women fear even to walk alone at night. This seemingly simple and unobtrusive action has potential for horrific consequences. A girl is taught from a young age to distrust strange men, and so she should. As the world now stands, an unknown man is not worth the risk of trust. The public figure of masculinity is an ugly picture. The dramatic portrayal of fatherhood shows a man disinterested, strict, without love, without morals. Why? And what can be done?
The sad truth is that these men exist in large quantities. The stereotypical father who does no help around the house or with the children; who goes to work and then does nothing but play videogames and watch sports; little interest in his family; no support other than financial. This or worse is the modern portrayal of man, and unfortunately it is an extremely common sight. Perhaps the cause and effect of reality and portrayal are really in reverse. Perhaps calling this normal is what validates these men. A person lives to what is expected of him. Call a man a gentleman, and he will attempt to maintain that image. Call a man a failure, and he resigns to his post. Call it normal, and there is no reason to change. Let’s not call this normal, then. Let’s not say that a man who makes women fear him, who contributes to the fear women have for all men is a model of typical man. Let us not shrug our shoulders and move on. To call men an abominable species does injustice to some and serves no justice to those needing it. Rather, condemn those who are condemnable. As a man, I deny these people. They are male, but they are not men.
To look at the classic ideas of ladies and gentlemen, then. Perhaps the concept itself is not at fault. If men were gentleman; if women were ladies, it could be an acceptable form. Let us envision then for a moment a world that accepts these as good and worthy; a world where men aspire to be loving husbands, providers, caring fathers; where woman are supportive wives, nurturers, loving mothers. There are many who would view that as a portrait of a beautiful and happy life. However, there are also many who would object in outrage that I just placed men and women into these separate, distinct roles. Why should women be humbled to be inferior and subservient? A woman is just as good as a man and can easily take on the responsibilities and privileges of that role. While there are many men who would rather shrink and be subservient, and there are many women with the drive and force to be the dominant power, this should not be the norm. A man who respects himself can rise to the position, and a woman who respects her husband can honor his position there. Before I am accused of representing a marriage as a master and a slave, I should clarify.
Marriage is a union between two people. It is a partnership, and in any combination of separate people, there is the potential for disagreement. As a married couple, the two become one. Decisions are not one or the other; they are of the union itself. When the two are disagreed, there must be one decision. And this is what necessitates a method of resolution. A well-built, respectful, and loving marriage can resolve these disagreements and in most cases remove them to find that balance of mutual agreement. But there will be those cases when such an agreement is not reached. The “dominant” and “subservient” roles are not master and slave; they are the tie-breakers.
To call the man the “superior” rank leaves open some very dangerous potential, and a man who abuses that potential is a disgrace to his title. There are exceptions to every rule, and I do not wish to encourage an abused wife to follow blindly wherever she is lead. To put the blame where blame belongs, I condemn the man who abuses the system, not the system itself. The potential for abuse necessitates a very, very careful choice in partner. Those men who necessitate a change in the fundamentals of marriage are quite simply the wrong choice. A woman who cannot respect and trust a man must move on before binding herself to him. A man who cannot love and cherish a woman must also move on before binding himself to her.
To call the woman the “inferior” rank then opens the easy criticism of value. If the man is “superior”, that implies “better” in some way. This, I do not agree to. Man and woman are very different, fundamentally. To say all non-biological differences are caused only by cultural pressure is … not even worth it to argue. Men are typically more logical, more confident, more ambitious; all things advantageous to the workforce life. Women are typically more emotional, more caring, more artistic, more everything that’s advantageous to building a home life. There are always exceptions. 1 There are those from both sexes that do admirably in a field dominated by the opposite sex. This is merely a demonstration of the reasoning behind the traditional roles. One role is not superior to another. They are both necessary and valuable. Someone who values a position in the workforce as the ultimate goal in life is someone who will be lonely. Rather, work is the necessary burden to accomplish the goal of a happy home.
To put the home as the center piece of life now demonstrates the necessity and value in both husband and wife. The man is an oyster, and the woman is his pearl. He endures the beating and pain of the world to protect his precious gem. His life may sound more glamorous, more adventurous; he may have more freedom of movement; he may be envied by those who feel stifled; but noone will say the oyster is of more value than the pearl.
To those who feel stifled, then; what for them? I hold no grudge to those women who wish to make it to the “top”, but I offer them no crutch either. Many will show the numbers, that women make less money than men doing the same job; that there are far fewer women in any field than men. There is always potential for bias; there is always the chance that “being a woman” is the only reason, but I find that less common than we may be lead to believe. There are some areas such as secretarial or doctoral in which women excel and are often far beyond men. This is not a slight to men; it is merely a demonstration of the ability women have for customer relations and other forms of caring for other people. In the same way, blue collar jobs and many high-stress white collar jobs are better suited for men than women. The average pay in any given job is also a matter to be considered. Mathematical rules demand that every dollar above average pay for one person has another dollar below average for someone else. A woman being paid “below average” does not mean that men are all paid more. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that most men are paid more. There could be a high proportion of men paid less than the woman, but if one man makes a lot more, she is still below average. All this to say, those numbers do not tell the whole story. Beyond that, wages are designed, not to imply a person’s worth, but rather the value of that person’s work to the employer. No employer wants to pay more than he needs to. No worker wants to get paid less than he can. And a balance is reached. The worth of someone’s work is what he can get for it, not some emotional number that someone reached. If there are other workers who will do it for the price you scorn, there is no reason to pay you more rather than just pay someone else. In a free market, wages are fair. They determine themselves. To say that a woman’s work is worth more than the wages she gets simply because she is a woman is ironic. Men and women have different strengths and different weaknesses. And that’s okay. Politics cannot change that.
In conclusion, I believe in a free market; the ability for employers and workers to determine wages without the interference of social and political rules. I believe in a marriage built from traditional principles and foundations of love, trust, and respect. I believe neither man nor woman is superior, but rather they are both necessary and complementary; working together toward a solid and well-built future and a contented, functioning present. All these are my opinions. I do not claim them as fact; all is open for debate; and I will write again, likely on the subject of the minimum wage. Until we meet again.
Stereotypes exist as a general trend, but they do not in any sense tell the full story. The stereotypical person is himself an outlier. The numerous inconsistencies and abnormalities are the true norm. There will always be many members of any group that will radically depart from certain stereotypes that exist for that group, but the stereotypes do exist for a reason. They describe a group, not an individual, so those who depart from it do not alone disprove it. ↩︎