The Antidote to International Womens’ Day

On a day when we are asked to consider the disadvantages of being female in the world today, would it be unreasonable of me to point out, for the sake of balance, that in the pandemic currently ravaging the world population, men are far more likely to suffer serious symptoms, and indeed death, than women?

You know, I almost wonder why we have IWD at all, when hardly a day goes by without the media banging on about how badly done by women are (perhaps I should stop reading the Guardian). I know that women do still suffer unfair treatment, ranging from minor disadvantage all the way up to extreme cruelty and death. Do the feminist elites that run our media have any conception that it works both ways? I could regale you of examples (many on a huge scale) of the unfair treatment dished out to men (ranging from minor disadvantage all the way up to extreme cruelty and death). But for today at least, perhaps I should restrict myself to my own field – writing.

From bloggers to publishers, from awards, to resources for authors, I see mostly women’s faces. It’s acknowledged that there are far more women writing than men, but where are the incentives to correct this imbalance – the mentorships, the gender-specific awards, and so on? In fact, all of those resources are available to women, even though they already have the upper hand. I’ve followed a number of female writers, through their blogs, from obscurity to being successfully published (and been happy for them). But no men.

Dare I suggest the reason there are so many more women writing than men is that, contrary to the picture painted by the media of women being over-burdened with work/child-care/housekeeping responsibilities, in many cases they’ve got more time on their hands? I still remember one blogger’s statement that the one thing she did have, as a ‘stay at home Mom’, was plenty of time. Perhaps most men are too busy working overtime to make ends meet to find the time to write? The women controlling the industry seem happy to write (pardon the pun) it off as simply down to a difference in character, and to ignore it as irrelevant. How do we think it would play out if it was the other way around?

But back to Covid. We know it’s having a disproportionate effect on ethnic minorities too. The media is making quite a fuss about that (though perhaps not as much as they should be). But the imbalance between the genders gets different treatment. It’s barely mentioned, and when it is, it’s reported as a simple statement of fact; among the reasons given, the bald statement that men are less robust than women (their immune systems aren’t as good, apparently; something to do with that missing chromosome). Oh, and they smoke more, apparently, which means they’re more likely to have an underlying respiratory illness. No mention of the fact that men are far more likely to spend their whole lives working in dangerous environments, where they get to breath in harmful substances all day. Think of all those miners dying of emphysema. The next time you hear a builder coughing their guts up, and catch sight of them through a cloud of concrete/brick/plaster dust, take note of their gender.

So there you go. Rant over. Happy International Womens’ Day ;¬]

Text © Graham Wright 2021
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

About literarylad

Graham Wright is a freelance writer and author. His first novel, Single Point Perspective, is set in and around the city of Manchester, where he lived and worked for more than fifteen years. His second, Moojara, is set in and around the world, but mostly centres on Perth, Western Australia. Both are works of dramatic literary fiction - imaginative, serious and thoughtful, but with a sense of humour. Graham is currently living in north Shropshire, where he is busy working on novel number three.
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5 Responses to The Antidote to International Womens’ Day

  1. Great post! A lot to think about there. I believe environment, e.g. housework, childcare, paid employment, volunteering, etc, does not have a bearing on literary output. If a writer wants to write they will – regardless of circumstances. In my opinion, women understand complex vulnerabilities, they are more able to express their thoughts than men and blogging is a more accessible medium than publishing a novel.

    With regard to men working in dangerous environments, I have actually spoken to Workplace Health and Safety officers in various fields who say most accidents and long-term problems stem from men who do not use, nor wear, the protective gear due to the macho culture which surrounds manual labour and hazardous work. Who wants to be thought a sissy? Have a beer after work and forget that persistent pain.

    In our multifaceted world, equality is still being begrudgingly accepted in areas other than women but, hey, happy International Women’s Day!

    • literarylad says:

      You’re right about the macho culture. But at the same time, I know from experience that when you’re doing tough, physical work in confined spaces, in a stiflingly hot environment, wearing a mask all day often isn’t practical.
      Some of the best writers in the past were men, and many wrote incredibly complex, emotionally sensitive text. Isn’t it society’s stereotypical attitudes to gender that cause men to be so buttoned up? And should we not be trying to change this (in fact, I think a lot of progress has been made)?
      In most western countries we’re prepared to turn our societies inside out to overturn the stereotypical limitations that have applied to women (and I’m glad). But it seems to me we do very little for men, preferring rather to denigrate them for the attitudes and behaviour they’ve been conditioned into.

  2. True. You’re right about denigrating men for the attitudes and behaviour they’ve been conditioned into, but at the same time those changes have to come from men themselves. Countless times I have seen fathers saying to sons “toughen up” or “stop sniveling” and “get out there and hammer ’em” with no concern for the son’s thoughts and feelings on the matter. A family member who works in the veterinary field sees this during euthanasia of a beloved family pet. The children are allowed to be present if they wish and most fathers take it as read that the girl will cry but admonish the boy to “be strong”. I think this sends an unfair and unclear message from an early age and perpetuates the cycle which no organisation or campaigner will alter unless men’s own core behaviour changes towards what it means to be male.

    • literarylad says:

      Yes, but aren’t mothers guilty of encouraging the same stereotypical behaviours? It does depend on the community, and perhaps on class, too. Liberal-minded parents in cosmopolitan city areas often work hard to counter gender stereotypes, opening up opportunities for their children that those in less forward-thinking (often rural) areas don’t have access to. You’re right that men should be doing much more to look after their own interests. The trouble is, any attempts to do this tend to result in the men in question being accused of being misogynists, or ‘woke’ (whatever that ridiculous term means).

  3. Strangely I have seen mothers go in the opposite direction, too protective. And I agree, it does depend on the social status of the parents, their own education, how their children are educated and a good set of life skills which are sorely lacking in this age of being glued to a screen, viewing instead of doing. I have seen ‘woke’ used as a derogatory term, there again hinting that the person is less than male, but since it is often racially related it is probably how that male responds which makes all the difference. With regard to ‘misogynist’ it seems to be a blanket word now. When I was young, the grumpy old man down the street was named a misogynist because he shouted at women as they passed by. I think this word is often used incorrectly in the battle for equality. Just because a woman didn’t get the job, that doesn’t mean the man is a misogynist. I think I am getting off the track of men helping each other emotionally and guiding each other to make better decisions in their lives and those of their sons.

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