In The Myth of Male Power, I propose a paradigm shift in our assumption chat we have lived in a male-dominated, patriarchal, sexist world. I am proposing that, in Britain as in the United States, we have lived in a world that has been in various ways both male – and female-dominated, both patriarchal and matriarchal, and more bi-sexist than sexist.
Why in virtually every country in which there is an increase in the divorce rate is there also an increase in the tendency of the government to become a substitute husband? Why can a female Prime Minister increase her popularity by sending only males to their deaths while a male Prime Minister would never even think of increasing his popularity by sending only females to their deaths? In each case the propensity to protea women – no matter what the cost to men – runs so deep it is invisible, and thus as a form of sexism it is invisible.
Each chapter in The Myth of Male Power is based on patterns in the male – female dance that are applicable worldwide. Each time 1 give an American example, readers will readily be able to think of a British parallel. For example, in Britain as in the United States, beauty and success may be defined differently but as in almost all countries, the sex objea (female) and the success objea (male) are each other’s first choice.
I find what 1 call a “Stage I versus Stage II" continuum to be a more useful paradigm in understanding the relationship between the sexes than the paradigm of patriarchy versus matriarchy. In Chapter 2 I explain how, in Stage I cultures, both sexes are preoccupied with survival, and when survival-needs dominate, neither sex has power, but roles (her role: raise the children, his role raise the money). In both America and Britain, the first large group of people to be free from preoccupation with survival were women married to men who were successful enough to free their wives from having to focus on survival needs, so that they could focus instead on the goals of self-fulfillment – Stage II goals. Ironically the income that freed the Stage I woman to become a Stage II woman was provided by men so preoccupied with producing that income that they freed their wives without ever freeing themselves.
The Myth of Male Tower explains how it was this female freedom from oppression that led to women having the time to fight for more options, and how this led in turn, in both Britain and the United States, to the era of the Multi-Option Woman and the No-Option Man. For example, the British Equal Opportunities Commission publication Women and Men in Britain: 1993 points out that, during the child-rearing years of their thirties, over 30 percent of women (against 5 percent of men) do not work at all outside the home.1 Of the 69 percent of women who do, more than half work only pantime.2 Of course, the woman does more work inside the home, so the distinction is not in the amount of work they do but in the options open to them. When a successful woman marries a successful man and they plan to have children, she generally contemplates three options.
1) work full time
2) children full time
3) some combination of work and children
I le, however, considers three “slightly different" options:
1) work full time
2) work full time
3) work full time
While these multiple options are most enjoyed by women who have children, the Equal Opportunities Commission also notes that among women who have no dependent children, approximately one-third of those who work do so only pan-time.5 (Overall, 44 percent of all British women who work do so part-time. In comparison to men, British women are over seven times as likely to be part-time workers.4
It is this male-female gap – between women s options and men’s obligations – that creates the male-female power gap of the nineties. A woman’s more varied options allow her to tailor her lifestyle to both her personality and her values, a man’s more rigid options do not allow him to take his personality, his values or his feelings into account – so how can we expea him to be in touch with his feelings? In The Myth of Male Tower I call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of power, explaining that power is control oier one’s life – not the obligation to earn money so that. someone else can spend it.
The female options and the male obligations, while operating in favour of women on the one hand, operate against women on the other. For example, personnel managers tell us that most people dislike working with statistics but like working with people, which is one reason why we are forced to pay engineers more than language teachers. So a boy who begins to understand that he will have the obligation (not the option) to support a family may prepare himself for a career he likes less but that pays more, such as engineering. He becomes, in Britain, eight times as likely as a woman to enter into a career in engineering or technology; a woman, conversely, is twice as likely to major in languages ‘ Now here’s how this backfires against women: by not preparing women to share financial obligations, we encourage them to take a job they like more but that pays less, making mothers even more likely to be the parents who will leave their jobs when children come, and leaving them economically more dependent on men. It also hurts men because while his salary pays her to love, no one pays him to love. Thus in both Britain and the U. S., no one pays men to love.
By not understanding how the expectation to earn more is actually a form of social discrimination against men, the Equal Opportunities Commission sees men’s tendency to choose engineering as a reflection of discrimination against women rather than as a way of also discriminating against men.6 And this larger blindness to discrimination against men also allows the Commission to deem it discrimination when men dominate a given field, but not when women do.
In both Britain and America, our denial of the right of men to equal options blinds us to numerous legal inequities, such as the fact that in Britain widowers with children are deprived of state benefits while widows with children are entitled to state benefits; or that a woman can receive social security’ benefits as a dependent, while a man cannot; or that the 700,000 men who become fathers each year have no legal right to time off from work, while mothers do; or that a man who applies for joint custody of his children has an B0 per cent chance of being denied it.7
Similarly, it is only the male parent who has no legal say in whether or not a fetus is aborted Thus 200,000 fetuses are aborted in Great Britain each year without the father having any right to be informed of the woman’s pregnancy.
In both the U. S. and Britain, another belief – in woman-as-victim – has led us to assume that women are always innocent and men are always perpetrators, which has led us to make our statistics conform to our belief. For example, in the U. S. the most common male style of murdering a spouse is to use a gun to shoot her by himself whilst the most common female style is to hire a contract killer or to poison the husband However, the male style is recorded as "a husband killing his wife"; the female style is, to begin with, less likely to be discovered (the professional specializes in not being caught) and, if it is discovered, is recorded statistically as a “multiple – offender killing" – there is no record of it as a woman killing a man. Similarly, the belief that women are by’ nature innocent allowed a woman to poison her husband, have him die of a heart attack, not be suspected, and the corpse not be checked for traces of poison. In England and Wales, the greatest number of murder victims are children under the age of one year, most of whom arc murdered by their mothers. Yet rather than women becoming part of the murder statistics, these murders are listed in a separate statistical category called "infanticide. ”8
The political correctness I discuss in The Myth of Male Pouer permeates the culture, especially in the universities, in both America and in Britain. In the date rape cases of William Kennedy Smith in the U. S. and Austen Donnellan in Britain, the tabloids ran amok with the man’s name while protecting the anonymity of the accusing woman. In virtually no other criminal investigation is the accuser’s name legally prevented from being revealed even as the name of the accused is revealed. The exception is children – and that, of course, shows up the underlying assumption behind protecting only the woman: she has the same lack of responsibility as a child. Yet she has the right to accuse and the right to be protected by anonymity. We will see in The Myth of Male Power how early feminists (myself included) originally opposed protective legislation for women because we understood that such legislation worked on the concept of woman-as-child.
The belief in the need to protect the woman’s name and expose the man’s name in rape cases is based on the false assumption that a woman could have no motivation for a false accusation of rape, and that therefore exposing her name would be exposing the victim to double victimization. However, as I discuss in The Myth of Male Power with respect to the U. S. Air Force study that found between 27 percent and 60 percent of the accusations of rape to be false, in a culture that makes a woman feel guilty about being sexual there are many motivations for false accusations. Given that, the problem with a law revealing only the man’s name is that it can also ruin an innocent man’s life. And the very purpose of a trial is to not assume ahead of time who is innocent and who is guilty, and therefore not assume ahead of time who needs protection.
The Donnellan case reveals yet another U. S/British problem: the tendency of the university to become a substitute father for women. Thus the woman who accused Austen Donnellan secured a promise from the college to remove Austen from the college prior to their hearing his account or even corroborating her account. The college became a substitute father to her, turning her into the protected sex and Donnellan into the disposable sex. In The Myth of Male Power I explain why this protection of women deprives women of training for equal responsibility in business and in life. Recently, the feminist establishment has had the power to obtain rights for women when it is to a woman’s advantage and to obtain special protection for women if it is to women’s advantage. Equality has taken a back seat.
The subscript of political correctness is woman-as-innocent, man-as – perpetrator, and both rely on the underlying belief that men have all the power, as a justification for men and men alone assuming new burdens, while only women receive new options – even sexually. Thus with date rape and sexual harassment on the agenda many men now feel that there is no such thing as safe sex: they’re still expected to take the sexual initiatives, but if they do it too slowly, they’re a wimp; if they do it too quickly, or with the wrong person, or at the wrong time or place, they’re a date rapist or sexual harasser. Today, a man who puts his penis in a woman’s body puts his life in a woman’s hands. Little did any of us realize that Orwell’s biggest mistake would be his sexism: his portrayal in 1984 of Big Brother, not Big Sister.
In The Myth of Male Pouter I look at how we have taken women’s traditional area of sacrifice – raising children – and called it "sacrifice,” while we have taken men’s area of sacrifice – raising money – and called it “power.” This blindness to male obligations has led to a corresponding blindness to the stress men accumulate in their fear of failing to provide enough money to feed their family – stress that leads to higher rates of heart attacks and shorter life spans, more alcoholism, poorer listening skills, fear of therapy and commitment, divorces and suicides. My attempt, in The Myth of Male /Ъи>ег, is to help both sexes understand how, as long as only one sex wins, both sexes lose.