Archive for July, 2010

It’s Time to Start Negotiating

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

For thousands and thousands of years gender roles have been more or less fixed. In tribes, empires, feudal states and early nation states, men and women knew exactly what part to play. But in postmodern Western societies, the rules no longer apply, and if you haven’t already – it’s time for you to start adapting.

The story of humanity is one where collective negotiation between the sexes has always been the norm. Tribes didn’t succeed by having each man and woman quarrel about what tasks to perform. Men and women simply did what needed to be done in order to survive and to secure the wellbeing of their offspring. In traditional nation states men would support and protect the family, while women would give birth to children and work in the home. Roles were simple, efficient and clear-cut, with each sex respecting the other for the important role they fulfilled. However, the social fabric of the past is very much in the past, and it’s a new day with a completely new set of rules.

You may not have learned it in school, and your parents may not have taught you, but relying on traditional gender roles to get you where you want is uncertain at best. In this day and age we need to turn to individual negotiation, something that men especially need to start becoming aware of. Women have already made this transition to a much greater extent, thanks to the women’s movement. Women are more aware of their choices, and evolutionary speaking women have always had to think about how good a deal they can get when interacting with men.

Men, on the other hand, still believe that they need to perform their traditional duties in every area of life, and are rarely fully conscious of what they offer and what they get in return. If you are a man reading this, I therefore offer you this checklist of things to become aware of in your everyday life:

  • Do you help your female friend repair stuff or do you help her move or carry things that she finds heavy? If you do, then you should fully expect her to come to your house to cook and clean every now and then.
  • Do you buy drinks or dinners for women when dating? If you do, then what are you getting in return, financially? If the answer is nothing, then why are you doing it?
  • Do you really want to spend $10,000-100,000 on a fantasy wedding? Or is that her fantasy, and her wish? Would she let you buy something of equal value from money that she has brought into the marriage?
  • As long as family courts regularly award custody to the mother, it makes sense for every man to have a prenuptial agreement, so that you have the financial power after a divorce to compensate for her having power over the children.
  • Do you even want to get married? Do you need to get married to satisfy what you’re after? Or is it enough for you to live with a woman and raise kids together?

My take on individual negotiation is that nothing is off limits. You can certainly marry a woman, give her the wedding of her dreams, and then support her for the rest of your life. The question is: What are you getting in return? Are you getting your money’s worth? If you feel that this way of thinking is crass and unromantic, then you are the one to stand corrected. Love is free. Romance is free. No money is needed for two people to talk, kiss or make love. Everything that we have been made to believe is necessary for romance (flowers, expensive dinners, an expensive car, an expensive wedding) has no natural connection to either romance or love. And by the way, have you noticed what gender has decided what to call romantic?

Again, nothing is off limits. You can do anything you want, including traditional romantic gestures. But start by asking yourself why you are doing it, and what you are getting in return. Becoming conscious in this ways is not unromantic, it simply means leveling the playing field with women, and having the chance to face women as their equal.

Workplace Equality

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I found this cartoon on another blog about gender issues:

workplace-equality

BBC Launches Series for Men

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Read about it here and here.

Men’s Hour, as the new series is called, is put on the air 64 years after the launch of Women’s Hour. I’d say that is a good measure of the lead that feminism has over men’s issues.

Overall though, great news for men in the UK.

UN Women: Discrimination at Its Finest

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Last week the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to create the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. When reading about these developments the first question that springs to mind is whether this body will primarily work towards gender equality or the empowerment of women, since these two goals can range from being fully compatible to mutually exclusive, depending on the issue at hand. Luckily, the UN is very honest and upfront about the purpose of its new organization, since its everyday name will simply be UN Women. We are thus dealing with an organization that has been formed to help women, and not primarily to promote gender equality–a distinction that politicians and the media alike would do well to embrace.

So what will UN Women actually do? Even though their website confuses women’s issues with gender issues time and again, as if the word “gender” were equivalent to “women”, it’s evident that they simply want to help the women of the world through working with women’s issues in a variety of settings. Focus areas listed include:

  • Poverty and the Economy
  • Education and Training
  • Health
  • Violence against Women
  • Armed Conflict
  • Power and Decision-Making
  • Institutional Mechanisms
  • Human Rights
  • Media
  • Environment
  • Girls

On the one hand I think it’s great that they want to help women in all of these areas. I certainly do not want to see women’s human rights violated or women dying in armed conflicts. On the other hand, where on earth did they get the belief that these issues only pertain to women? Men’s health are worse than that of women, and men die several years before women do (due to stress and not biology). Armed conflicts primarily kill men, and men are the primary targets of violence even in peacetime. In the Western world it is boys and young men who are falling behind in the educational system, and the collapse of the economy has primarily led to male unemployment. Human rights issues pertain to men just as much as women, perhaps more, since men are usually the ones who are imprisoned by corrupt, non-democratic governments. The negative media image of men has been carefully mapped in books and research reports about misandry.

In other words, the very focus areas of UN Women are just as relevant for men, and yet I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath waiting for UN Men to be formed. Currently there seems to be a broad international political consensus that gender issues are about women only, which is what has led to UN Women and frightening reports that ignore the very existence of men.

In the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects, the arrested Verbal says about the legendary criminal Keyser Soze: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. Well, the greatest trick that feminism ever pulled was convincing the world that men’s issues didn’t exist.


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