Feminism has enjoyed considerable success over the last 50 years. Many are surprised by this. How could a group of people who were not “in power” sway the mighty male dominated legislatures so powerfully and so quickly. The answer is actually very simple: Their requests are in harmony with the age-old cultural defaults. The default of our system is the disposability of men and the protection and elevation of women. Maybe another way to put it would be to say putting women on pedestals and men in graveyards. Put men to work, dangerous work or war in order to get things done and put women in a safe place or even on a pedestal. All of our lawmakers are either aware of this or are unconsciously following these edicts like little puppy dogs. Anything that smacks of men needing to be restricted and women getting special treatment stands a good chance of getting passed.
Just look at all the legislation that has been passed that is solely for women, the VAWA Violence Against WOMEN Act, Rape Shield laws, sexual harassment laws, affirmative action for women in business and in the workplace, Title IX laws that create athletic opportunities for women while dismantling the same for men, reproductive rights for women and none for men, we could go on and on but I think the point is made. We have a great deal in place that is helpful to women but is there a similar set of laws for men? Absolutely not.
I learned this the hard way. About 15 years ago I saw the inequity in some of our laws that strove to help women and forgot the needs of men. I went to my congresswoman and female senator and pointed out these inequities. I assumed that they would note the problem and then work towards fixing it. I didn’t expect an immediate and active response. I just expected that I would be heard and a conversation would start over these issues. What I got was silence. They simply ignored me. At first I was dumbfounded. Didn’t our country hold the needs of both men and women as important? I learned very quickly that they didn’t. I kept writing letters, making calls, pointing out the inequities and I kept getting ignored. I was in shock. The shock was never greater than in 2005 when I was involved in a group that was trying to change the Violence Against Women Act to include male victims and offer services for the men.
Members of our group met with then Senator Biden and his staff and were treated very well. We were told that our group would have a place at the hearings and could voice our concerns for all to hear. We had gathered an impressive group of authors, researchers, academes and clinicians who were prepared to share their understanding of the ways the law could be amended to make things more fair to men and boys. The day for the hearings came and guess what? Not one of our experts was given a place at the hearings. Not one. The only ones given slots to speak were the same people who were mouthing the same story that had left men out of the picture for the last 11 years. I thought I was in North Korea. It was obvious that Biden had planned to keep us happy and quiet until the day of the hearing and then to ignore us and present the same dog and pony show that had been seen for the last 10 years. He is aware of the need to help men who are victims and is very happy to remain silent.
It was that event that helped me see the truth about what is happening. The bottom line is that doing things for females will get you elected and doing things for males will get you fired. You see, it’s not just politicians that think like this, almost everyone in the US is under the same spell. Men are disposable, women are to be protected. When constituents see a lawmaker helping women and making women safe they are much more likely to cast their vote in their direction. But what happens to politicians who do special things for men?
In 2006 the Maryland General Assembly voted to create a Maryland Commission for Men’s Health. The man who had pushed to make this happen was a Maryland Delegate from Takoma Park. He went out on a limb to make this happen and guess what? The next election he lost. This was a popular liberal black male psychologist who was considered a shoe in. Somehow he lost? Why? Because he did somehting that was male positive and this pissed off the status quo womanitarians who become furious if men’s needs become an interest. Of course this is easy to do since the culture default elevates those who work towards furthering the needs of women and denigrates those who do the same for men. No wonder my senator and congresswoman ignored me. Their jobs depended on it. Just look at your congressman’s areas of intnerest. You better bet that one is women’s issues. But do you ever see men’s issues? Absolutely not. That is the kiss of death.
The saddest part of this story is that this bigotry is likely to continue. There is nothing in its way and nothing that seems able to stop it in its tracks outside of a major cataclysm where male physical strength is needed for survival. Barring that, I don’t think we will see much change to this in the near future. Sadly, we are locked into a bigoted and hateful system and almost no one knows it.
I wish I didn’t know it.
Tom Golden is the author or three books, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, The Way Men Heal, and Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons: UnderStanding the Unique World of Boys. Tom was the creator of the youtube channel Men Are Good and served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health. He has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years.