Whatever happened to gender equity? Men are now relegated to lifting heavy things, being blamed when the toilet seat is left up and are a convenient excuse when our corporate partners want to opt out of social engagements.
Career days now display feminine icons in our schools. This is the result of our seemingly enlightened anti-gender stereotyping approach. We see motivational posters of women doctors, lawyers (as if we need more of them!), and engineers.
What we end up with however, are not more doctors, lawyers and engineers but sex-change operations paid for by a government run by a woman.
We have a Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the National Council of Women but no male equivalent of either. Despite the closing of the gender gap Women’s Affairs Ministry head Shenagh Gleisner isn’t thrilled. Why? We pursue breast screening and pap smears – expecting men to contribute financially with their taxes - but do nothing to set up a similar scheme for prostate cancer. It is a strange irony that we spend millions of dollars on women’s pre-emptive health issues yet remain silent on equally serious male concerns. There should not be a competition for resources or public support; these are inclusive and legitimate public health concerns.
The New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) has released a document entitled ‘Creating a Culture of Non-Violence’; this of course, is a fine and noble ideal we should all aspire to. But there is a “but”…On the inside cover is a quotation from none other than the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, “Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation. And it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace”.
The first sentence of the Executive Summary begins , “Violence against women…” Oh oh! And on page 12 we have a list of risk factors associated with violent behaviour by men (according to the Davies submission) which includes the observation that “men who behave aggressively on the sports field are more likely to beat their partners.”
Now I have done some research of my own (Justice with Both Eyes Open – Hazard Press); I am no apologist for the inescapable fact that men are disproportionately responsible for most of the crime and violence in society. A Law and Order Select Committee briefing on Vote: Corrections tells us in black and white that while there are 425 women prison inmates, that figure is dwarfed by a total of 6,383 male prisoners.
Don’t get me wrong, we men should take responsibility for what we do wrong. It is a terrible testament that Women’s Refuges exist because of men’s anti-social and abusive behaviour. But men should not be tarred and feathered because they are men. We have created a generation that is close to assuming that all males are just a testosterone hint away from causing all the ills of society. Men are being stealthily emasculated by an ideology that seeks to replace the natural order of things. No longer do we take for granted that children need both their mothers and their fathers. For example, the taxpayer becomes the breadwinner through the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB). A daycare centre takes over the role a stay-at-home spouse used to assume. Valid choices have been eroded. Even marriage has been challenged! Not content with Civil Unions as an option, the extreme feminist agenda wants nothing less than gay marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman is the last remaining bastion of civil society that clearly identifies a historically enduring male-female relationship. How do I know about this challenge? People who went along to the 2005 United Women’s Convention say they witnessed Marilyn Waring break down and lament my colleague Larry Baldocks’ Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill, as being a ‘filthy little amendment’.
The first such convention back in 1975 highlighted some real discrimination; women were economically discriminated against; rape was hard to prove; and battered wife syndrome was a concept that was laughed at. Trouble is…we have not dealt with the inequalities but have moved to punish men for being men. We have forgotten the cause and gone after the symptoms…as long as it plays rugby, drinks beer by the bucket load and whistles at young women.
We have tried to get rid of score keeping on our sons’ sports fields, we have; replaced the six o’clock swill with dainty designer ales or, better still, a sauv blanc, and we call men’s hormonal outbursts sexual harassment.
Some changes were needed. We needed balance. But balance has been discarded even ignored, and now it is all about advancing a well coordinated women’s agenda that implicitly renders men impotent. It is not necessary for women to achieve their potential by denying men theirs. No wonder we are having trouble asking for help with our marriages, our role as fathers, and our prostates.
Feminism may be a nice idea…that is, if the idea is to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of both genders and to blend them for the benefit of both. The so-called feminist agenda has been captured by those who do not perceive a productive mutually beneficial synergy but a war in which for women to get ahead, men must be conquered. The idea seems to be that ‘man’ and ‘masculinity’ has become separated concepts; that we can legitimately talk of one without the other.
If a man speaks in the forest, and there’s no woman around to hear him, is he still at fault?