Really, my brethren, we are going to have to step up our game. Women are leaving us in a cloud of dust — perfumed dust, but dust nevertheless. The “little woman” is the “little woman” no more. The barriers are falling like so many 10 pins in one of those championship bowling tournaments. (Do they still televise those things?) The last, but certainly not the highest, hurdle to be cleared was the ban on women in combat.
Not being the courageous type, I have always been against men serving in combat. It is in that spirit I celebrate those females who have fought long and hard for the privilege to fight for their country. The whole ban was a sham anyway. American women have been dying in combat for a long time without that fact being recognized when it came time for promotions. What does it mean to prohibit women from serving on the “front lines” when there are no front lines in modern warfare? The real present danger to women in the military (and at military academies) is from their own male colleagues, some of whom still believe females should be on the ready as sexual targets. But that is a column for another day.
Perhaps most men always have perceived female equality as a threat, and that is why it has taken so long. In days gone by (not to be mistaken as “the good old days” by women), men withheld education from women, much the same as white masters feared their slaves would learn to read and write. Despite such flowery documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it took until 1919 for us to grant women the right to vote. Our little homilies, such as “a woman’s place is in the home,” was the polite way of saying “keep them barefoot and pregnant.” The changes have come much more rapidly for women in the last decade, so fast some folks still don’t realize they are not living in their old world anymore. Those changes are having a profound effect, not only in America, but around the world.
Without boring you with a lot statistics, know that women are becoming (if they aren’t already) the dominant sex in our culture. Women do better than men in school, which has led to more women graduating college than men. While men still dominate the boardroom, CBS commentator Bob Schieffer recently pointed out female-run companies outperform their male counterparts.
As women have become better educated than men, they have become less dependent on them. Freed from financial dependence on men, women are choosing to marry later, and, in increasing numbers, choosing not to get married at all. Women do not always see marriage as necessary, even when it comes to raising a family. In an ironic twist, college-educated women are finding men — perhaps in their insecurity — are tending to avoid them.
Such cultural changes have moved into the political arena on social issues, such as abortion, single-parent adoption, equal pay for equal work and most recently, the removal of the ban on women serving in combat roles. Change does not come without push back from those (both men and women) resistant to it.
We have seen a spate of states propose or enact laws to make abortion more difficult — the most outrageous from a female legislator in New Mexico who wants rape victims to be forced to carry the baby to term under the ruse that to abort the fetus would be to “tamper with evidence.”
Around the world, the rise of women has been less dramatic, and the fight at the most basic levels of equality. There are still countries where a wife is her husband’s property, where adultery by a woman is punished by being stoned to death. Here, too, women are, on average, better educated than their male counterparts. There wouldn’t be an “Arab Spring” without the revolt of women against their male oppressors.
The challenge for American men is not to sulk about gender equality, but to meet the challenge by becoming equal partners. On average, boys are not doing well in school, which inevitably leads to unemployment in today’s world, and bitter men blaming women for their failures. Maybe a society where men got the best jobs because they were men, bred the idea that males did not have to earn excellence. Some men have reacted by becoming more macho in their attitudes, taking refuge in the phony idea that they are the only “real men.” They yearn for a lost world where women knew their place, one that pretty much exists only in country music, where Tammy Wynette will forever stand by her man, or in rap, where “bitch” is often a synonym for female.
I think there is a big upside for men in the rise of women. Admittedly this is from a 74-year-old male perspective, one you might charge colored by my wife donating me a kidney and saving me from a life tethered to a machine three times a week. But say what you will, I view women, not as competitors, but as more interesting people today. Rejoice in that, my brothers.
Work harder, and take your own future more seriously. If not, get over it.
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