Backlash

By | July 14, 2008

Note: ST column which features some observations from last week. But one update.

This morning I visited the Third Age group in Summerhill. Many issues there for further discussion but one which came up – the volunteers are mainly women. They have great trouble trying to get men involved even when they identify male pensioners who NEED to be involved – purely for socialisation. They know men who have been widowed and gradually become isolated. It’s so sad. It seems managing old age is something that women can do – perhaps being a bit more resourceful or open minded because they haven’t been as defined by their paid work as men are. And that’s something for which “feminism” cannot be blamed. Women seem to have a practical approach to life which helps them in many respects. So from adolescence to old age, men dig holes for themselves. I don’t really know why, (except that its not the fault of women, its something about men themselves). Anyway…its one of those perpetual questions I’ll be thinking about….

It’s been quite a week for the backlash hasn’t it? Just look where those horrid feminists have landed us. On Monday sexual therapist Mary O’Connor told The Last Word that young men are being forced to take Viagra because of the avaricious demands of sex-mad young women. Next it was revealed that women have robbed all the good jobs in medicine, and then refuse to work full-time thus leaving the old and the sick without proper medical care. For good measure, the Irish Times reminded its readers on Tuesday that since women dominate primary school teaching, young boys have no male role models. And just in case you were in any doubt that it’s all gone horribly wrong, on Wednesday Sharon Collins was convicted for conspiring to kill her husband. No wonder men are feeling a bit threatened.

Talk about the Law of Unintended Consequences. This whole feminist business has gotten totally out of hand. Salem witch trials anyone? The polite term bandied about this week was “rebalancing”. Where shall we start with the “rebalancing” lads? What would you like back? The vote? Juries? Equal pay?

How about the pill? That caused a lot of trouble. Once women could choose when to get pregnant they started stealing men’s jobs. Want to bring back the marriage bar? Oh it’s all terribly difficult isn’t it? How will men get back what’s rightfully theirs without sounding…well, sexist.

Let me help. Let’s start with those poor boys whose nerves are interfering with their hydraulics on a Saturday night. I’m sympathetic of course. I know what it is to be objectified, to be rated on your willingness to put out, or up, in your case. Here’s a tip: try not pouring gallons of drink down your throat and a gram of coke up your nose and you never know, there’s an outside chance you might be able to perform to expectations.

As for the teachers. Well, that’s a bit tricky. 85% of primary school teachers are women. No one is stopping men from entering the profession and in fact, they have a much better chance of promotion when they do : 47% of principals are men. But given these good prospects, why won’t they apply to training college?

Here’s my theory. Teaching has lost status and so men have lost interest. Once upon a time, the garda, the schoolmaster, the priest and the doctor were the big buckos around town. Not anymore. Educational culture has changed profoundly over the past 25 years. In poor times, teachers were powerful. They had secure jobs when many had none. They could hit their pupils and dominate weak parents. The balance has shifted, probably too much.

They are powerless and can hardly expel a pupil even if they burn down the school. The pay is average even if the security and the pension are attractive. But it’s not all about the pay because the salaries of primary teachers and gardai are largely similar. There’s no shortage of men applying to the Gardai, so why snub teaching?

Without power, teaching is seen as a job for nice girls who want to work with children. The ones who are smart enough for the Honours Irish but too conservative to try Marketing. It’s for girls who at 17 plan ahead and recognise that a safe job, with short hours and long holidays is a good job for a mother. Teenage boys don’t plan careers that might allow them to be fathers. They want status and teaching doesn’t provide that.

How can the state persuade boys that teaching is a job good enough for a man? They can’t, because some jobs, like cleaning, nursing and minding small children are for women and men know that. Does anyone seriously want to talk about dropping honours Irish to make it easier for boys to apply? If so they should know that women dominate teaching in precisely the same numbers in Australia where there is no onerous language obstacle. It’s not an Irish problem : but one of developed countries. There is no cure, unless you want to re-introduce the marriage bar, so let’s just move on, shall we?

Now, this business of the part-time female doctors. Between 1997 and 2003 70% of graduates from general practice training schools were women. Once these female doctors start their families they cut back on their hours. Yet again we see women plan ahead and forego career opportunities in favour of family life. The result is that there is a shortage of GPs. How do we fix the problem? Well that depends on your agenda.

If you simply want to supply more doctors, try training more. The caps on entries to medical schools are entirely artificial. The numbers have been increased in recent years. Increase it again, and you’ll have enough doctors. Of course, that only solves the problem if you want enough doctors. If your agenda is to get more male doctors, then it’s a bit more complicated.

Girls outperform boys at the Leaving Cert and so get the points for all those prestigious courses like medicine and law. In fact other than in science and engineering, female graduates outnumber male graduates in every discipline. Of course, there’s no need to panic as within fifteen years the shakedown will have happened. Women pull back leaving the path open for men to have the top jobs. Female lawyers, male judges. Female GPs, male consultants. Female teachers, male principals.

I’m not complaining. Women have great choices these days and as Charlotte famously said in Sex and the City when her friends were disgusted that she gave up her job when she got married, “I choose my choice! I choose my choice!”

But men are complaining because though they climb to the top, they have trouble getting on the ladder.
Usually, class dominates educational opportunities, but this is a gender issue. The speculation is that it’s a question of maturity : girls having a superior work ethic at an earlier age. But from where did this work ethic emerge? Is it simply a question of hormones or did someone drum it into their heads that only hard work and a good qualification would open doors for them? Why are teenage boys under the illusion that they can get by without hard work?

Let’s remember one thing : the standards of entry to professions were never lowered to allow women in. Women are where they are because they did the work and made the grade. To lower them for men is not on.

The other important point is that these statistics ignore the fact that while women chase safe professions like lemmings, men gravitate towards the higher risks and greater rewards of business. Once boys grow up they are well able to outstrip women : check out every board room in Ireland for proof of that. All they need to do is grow up a bit quicker. That’s got less to do with hormones and more to do with facing reality.
Boys don’t need a leg up; they need a dressing down. To get ahead, they have knuckle down. No excuses, no witch trials and no backlash.

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32 thoughts on “Backlash

  1. B

    I think this article is less to do with the law of unintended causes and more to do with the law of connecting unrelated things. Boys need encouragement and it is pretty obvious they are not getting it. A kick in the nuts by wannabe feminists is no help.

    I agree boys need a kick in the arse but unashamed arrogance of Irish women might also need to be kicked into touch.

    It reminds me of the joke;
    Q “How do you know an Irish woman is chatting you up”
    A “When she asks you what your job is, if you own your own home and what car you drive”.

    If women ruled the world we would have had nuclear war by now.

  2. Rob Hickey

    And you get paid to write that bilge Sarah?

    I suddenly remember why I never read the Sunday Times.

  3. The Crewser

    This is woeful stuff but it can be put down to the Marietta biscuits. Back in the Makado days the quality of the output was better. The recession affects everything.

  4. John

    “Boys don’t need a leg up; they need a dressing down. To get ahead, they have knuckle down. No excuses, no witch trials and no backlash.”
    I agree wholeheartedly. The developing recession and resultant scarcity of jobs just might bring some of them to their senses. No pain no gain.
    Irish society is increasingly permeated by an “all rights and no obligations culture”.
    Your article gets to the core of the issue. It is time for some home truths

  5. pete

    >But it’s not all about the pay because the salaries of primary teachers and gardai are largely similar.

    I firmly belive that it’s mostly about pay. The starting salaries for a Garda and a primary teacher are similar (although the teacher has to train for longer to get it), but the Garda has much more opportunity for increasing their income, through career advacement and through overtime/nightshift allowances etc. After a few years in the job, the average Garda is earning alot more than the average primary teacher.

    As for boys being less mature than girls – yes they are, and alot of it probably is hormonal. I believe that there should be course taught in secondary school called “How the world really works!”, which might push the maturing process along a bit – I know that I spent years discovering many very simple but very important things, and wondering why I’d never been told these things? Of course, to be effective the information taught would have to be true, and since the truth is often inconvienient or unpleasant getting a syllabus approved would be very difficult.

  6. B

    Yea Crewser. Even your spelling.

    But I don’t expect you have any idea what the Mikado is because its foreign and therefore evil.

  7. Rob Carry

    “girls having a superior work ethic at an earlier age”

    I think that’s harsh – I don’t think girls are in any way superior to boys or vice-versa. It’s like saying that men have a superior work ethic in middle age as shown by the fact that men hold the bulk of the top-paying positions. Something has been changing in the way we educate our children in recent years which has seen girls increasingly out-perform boys in exams. I’m inclined to think a lack of male teachers might be contributing because boys do a lot better in the classes, like woodwork, construction studies, metal work, engineering etc in which they will generally have a male teacher.

    On the earlier point you made about re-balancing – there are laws in this country which are overtly sexist – areas of family law, for example. If an unmarried couple have a child then guardianship is automatically conferred on the mother but not the father. It means the mother gets to make all the decisions with regard to that child’s upbringing regardless of either her or the father’s suitability for the role. He could be a millionaire rocket scientist with a Noble Peace Prize and she a total deadbeat, but because she’s female it’s automatically assumed that she should be the one who calls the shots. It’s sexist and needs re-balancing.

  8. Niall

    “Let me help. Let’s start with those poor boys whose nerves are interfering with their hydraulics on a Saturday night. I’m sympathetic of course. I know what it is to be objectified, to be rated on your willingness to put out, or up, in your case. Here’s a tip: try not pouring gallons of drink down your throat and a gram of coke up your nose and you never know, there’s an outside chance you might be able to perform to expectations.”

    Jesus Christ. How the fuck did you get away with printing something like that?

    Anymore pearls of wisdom? Perhaps people with IBS should stop drinking so much? I’d not claim that many young people who have problems getting or maintaining an erection might have brought the problem on themselves by overindulging, but such a crass statement does nothing to help the many, many young men who have that problem independent of any drug use. Honestly, you constantly resort to treating men as some sort of single unified group and when that’s for comedic effect, it’s fine, but when you try and do that while making a serious argument, you just make yourself look like an insensitive idiot.

    Bravo Sarah! You’ve just succeeded in making it a little bit more difficult for young men to see their doctors about ED by perpetuating the myth that (so long as they’re not taking drugs) they should be able to have sex whenever, wherever and with whoever. Now, it’s just that bit more likely that men who suffer from ED will not speak out about their problem because they fear their doctors will think they use illegal drugs or have an alcohol problem.

    Myers and O’Doherty had better watch out!

  9. graham

    “girls having a superior work ethic at an earlier age”

    this is over simplifying things. Women mature, both physically and mentally, earlier than boys do and for good reason. Girls tend to enter puberty earlier than boys and the changes they suffer last longer in boys than they do in girls. There is massive cell death in the brain at this time and basically the brain is almost entirely rewired in a mature adult format. It had nothing to do with girls being told they have to fight for their place in college, does that even happen anymore? It’s just a quirk of biology and our evolutionary history.

    As for the eldery men. To be honest, I don’t blame them not wanting to spend their days with a bunch of busybody old women. They’re probably delighted with the peace and quiet, though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind a trip to a men only bar for a pint or two.

  10. brian t

    Articles like this confuse the heck out of me. If you hate the male gender so much, why do you ever get involved with them? Why give up or scale back a promising career, just to breed more of them? In this over-populated, ravaged world, every new human (male or female) is just another straw for the poor camel’s back.

    I know what you can do: there are parts of the world where technology such as ultrasound has led to sex-selective abortion, and huge male-biased population imbalances. When Ireland legalises abortion, you can get your revenge, and avoid dealing with those pesky male children altogether.

  11. Sarah Post author

    I don’t hate men at all! Au contraire, my best friends ARE men :-)

    But I hate the snivelling and the blaming women.

  12. brian t

    You might not use the word “hate”, but you speak about them with such patronising contempt that the effect is the same. I don’t recognise myself, or anyone I know, in any of your column.

  13. B

    Spot the difference;

    “I don’t hate men at all! Au contraire, my best friends ARE men”

    I’m not a racist, some of my best friends are black.

  14. Dan Sullivan

    “Without power, teaching is seen as a job for nice girls who want to work with children. The ones who are smart enough for the Honours Irish but too conservative to try Marketing. It’s for girls who at 17 plan ahead and recognise that a safe job, with short hours and long holidays is a good job for a mother. Teenage boys don’t plan careers that might allow them to be fathers. They want status and teaching doesn’t provide that.”

    Perhaps, the reason that men desire status and power is that women are attracted to men with status and power. Even Kissinger described power as the greatest aphrodisiac and God knows he was no oil painting.
    Perhaps, just perhaps, teenage boys go for the career paths that will lead to prodigious success with the ladies and that involves the sewing of their oats as far and wide as possible; it’s our biological imperative at work and fame, money, status and power are the means to do that. Money means security and protection and women desire those things in order that their children will prosper. Men want status because women find men with status desirable and men find being desirable, well, desirable I guess. Change what it is that women find attractive in a man and you’ll change male behaviour, after all isn’t that exactly the approach the RSA is using for he drives, she dies campaign?

  15. Andrew

    Nobody chooses to become a teacher because of security or a pension. You spend years trying to get a full time job at the start and the pension ( 40/80ths of final salary) isn’t that wonderful – it only seems good when viewed through the prism of defined contribution schemes. I’d be thinking an architect or a journalist chooses his/her profession because that’s what gives meaning to his/her working life. Teachers the same. I’d bet you’d interview many of the incoming year in St Pat’s before you’d hear a mention of pensions or maternity leave.
    Here’s a couple of questions I don’t think are covered in your article. a. Australia may have a shortage of male teachers but not all developed countries – yep, Scandinavia again, I’m afraid – and what’s their secret? Pay and conditions – in Finland education is a full university vocational degree and people struggle to get in to it like they do for law or pharmacy here .
    b. What about the feminisation of education? I don’t mean that women teachers consciously indoctrinate their pupils. My sister showed me her 12 year old son’s English book and I was struck by the lack of content that might interest a boy.Nothing in the way of adventure of course – not pc – but no mention of sport or cars in 300 pages and the whole thing palpably touchy-feely and frankly rather wet. Not suggesting that kids’ textbooks should be junior versions of ‘Nuts’ magazine, but the ‘hidden curriculum’ as they used to call it is not boy-friendly.

  16. Sarah Post author

    here’s what I’m thinking

    Dan is right. (and its what I said in the article)

    Men seek jobs with power, status and lots of money.
    Women seek jobs that are safe and have hours and holidays that suit motherhood.

    So we are just reverting/conforming to type.

    SO, is there anything wrong with that? And if not, why seek to change it? I believe in equality of opportunity. Give people equal choice and let them at it. If women want to be nurses and teachers. fine. Stop complaining! If men want to be soldiers and tycoons. Fine! You’ve never heard me complain about that.

    I don’t talk about men with contempt. I have contempt for people who seek to blame others for perceived problems and hijack a statistic (like women applying to be teachers) for their own agenda (boo hoo my life is miserable it must be a woman’s/man’s fault).

    And I do NOT apologise for the alcohol/viagra link. Remember that Mary O’Connor SPECIFICALLY talked about was NOT men in relationships but the casual saturday night sexual encounter. GIVE ME A BREAK. No drink involved? Pulleaase.

  17. B

    Sure. I’ll give you a break. And the Sunday Times too.

    15 years without a break till now.

    Cheers!

  18. Niall

    “And I do NOT apologise for the alcohol/viagra link. Remember that Mary O’Connor SPECIFICALLY talked about was NOT men in relationships but the casual saturday night sexual encounter. GIVE ME A BREAK. No drink involved? Pulleaase.”

    And your experience talking to young men about their sexual problems is…

    I don’t have the same amount of experience that Mary O’Connor has when it comes to dealing with people experiencing difficulties in that area, but I have had some experience dealing with people who have such problems in a couple of difference capacities.

    There are pretty ridiculous expectations of men when it comes to sex, and it contributes significantly to depression, suicide and a shitload of other mental conditions. Mary O’Connor deals with a very specific segment of the population, and that segment is far from insignificant. Now what’s the ratio of brewer’s droop inspired instances of failing to get an erection versus instances related to stress or biological issues? Frankly, I don’t have a notion. But I know that if you were to take Sarah’s article as gospel, you’d think that there was only one reason why a young men couldn’t live up to the expectations society puts on him when it comes to sex. I also know that many of those men who might have a problem performing in a one-night stand scenario, would not have the same problem in a relationship where they were comfortable or even if they were just having a goddam wank.

    In other news, I’m sick of women complaining about being barren. If they’d just stop having abortions, they wouldn’t have that problem. And how those girls who get raped after nightclubs? Who the hell do they think they are? They’re always bitching about the fact. Don’t they realise that if they’d just dressed more conservatively and stayed at home more often, they probably wouldn’t have been raped? God I hate those whiners!

  19. Elizabeth

    “Men seek jobs with power, status and lots of money.
    Women seek jobs that are safe and have hours and holidays that suit motherhood.”

    This analysis is very simplistic. I cannot believe that most 18 year olds, be they men or women, choose college courses based on their future parenthood requirements. And not all women are destined for motherhood.

    I am a woman. I am member of a profession which is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as extremely high status. It is also full of risk and stress. As it happens, I am childless so far. However, that is just how life turned out – it’s not what I wanted and I certainly didn’t plan it when I was in Trinity. It is also most definitely not related to my work.

    As a rule, the men in my profession are more successful than the women – who now outnumber them and many of whom are single and/or childless. There are many other factors at play here, largely related to the self belief and confidence of the men (sometimes misplaced!), how they view their place in the world and their networking skills. Another important factor is that, in my experience, men make much better colleagues and are willing to help others progress, be they men or women. Many women, however, seem very threatened by other women, no matter how junior they are to them, and are reluctant to extend a helping hand to the “competition”.

  20. Sarah Post author

    I agree with that. The above conversation is about the domination of women in professions like teaching and sectors of medicine like general practice. Or say, I’d be interested to see the stats for law graduates. Far more are women, but where do they go on graduation? I’d bet anything women gravitate towards Blackhall place and men towards the Law Library….
    That’s a confidence issue – do I want to a safe job in a legal firm or try and make it on my own down at the courts? (not that being in a law firm is less onerous – I know there are long hours involved – though my single female friends bitch heartily about having to cover for the married with children female colleagues in such firms – I say to them..but why are you working such long hours? That’s not work that’s exploitation..ANYWAY another story…) However, the point is that a barrister is self-employed and requires his/her own resources to succeed but a solicitor is an employee.

    I think confidence is responsible for the pay gap between men and women. Where pay is negotiated one-on-one (as it is in most private sector jobs) then women aren’t as successful as men in negotiating the maximum salary. It’s not quite as simple as the male employer consciously choosing to pay a woman less than her male colleague. He’ll try and pay each the minimum he can get away with.

  21. graham

    I think Elizabeth hit the nail on the head. Your analysis Sarah is far too simplistic and is more like a post hoc rationalisation of the situation as it turns out to be.

    Having worked closely with roughly a thousand students in their first year of 3rd level over the last few years, I can say that with the exception of one or two, they didn’t have any clear idea of their future career path, despite many of them achieving top points in the LC and just starting out in medicine or pharmacy. Most were ‘encouraged’ into those courses by their parents and even at that stage it was plainly obvious than many of them would not continue to practice after completing their courses.

    With respect to your assertion that you just want eqality Sarah, it would appear that you want equality, but that you think men should suffer the same way that women have suffered in the past from expectations of them. You cannot say that expectations of women to have sex were wrong yet tell the men that they should shut up and deal with it because women have had to. Either the expectations are wrong or they’re not.

  22. Sarah Post author

    gah!

    ok two things.

    1. My article is about primary school teachers and GPs and I was responding to the concern expressed by others that the “domination” of women in these areas was a bad thing and something should be done. My response is: why is it bad? why should we do anything and what would you do anyway? If people make choices for different reasons then so what? What DO you want? Men can choose to become primary school teachers. THEY CHOOSE NOT TO. For whatever set of reasons! I speculated on one. What do you want Graham. FORCE them to apply?

    2. I don’t think men should suffer anything!!!! But what they should do is not complain that when faced with equal competition from women is specific areas they come second.

  23. Anna

    >Many women, however, seem very threatened by other women, no matter how junior they are to them, and are reluctant to extend a helping hand to the “competition”.

    Couldn’t agree more Elizabeth.

  24. mairead

    Thats a fairly horrific set of opinions there Niall. Please tell me you lost the head in the heat of the moment and that you don’t rationally carry those thoughts around with you. Upsetting to think that someone would.

  25. Portlairge

    Niall……..are you serious? Surely not. Surely you can’t think that any woman deserves to get raped.

  26. Niall

    Mairead/Portlairge, I’m pretty alarmed that anyone could have taken those comments at face value! I just constructed a couple of examples that were similar to Sarah’s original comments relating to young men who have problems with erectile dysfunction.

    “Let me help. Let’s start with those poor boys whose nerves are interfering with their hydraulics on a Saturday night. I’m sympathetic of course. I know what it is to be objectified, to be rated on your willingness to put out, or up, in your case. Here’s a tip: try not pouring gallons of drink down your throat and a gram of coke up your nose and you never know, there’s an outside chance you might be able to perform to expectations.”

    Based on her article, it seems Sarah’s attitude is to young men with ED is that it’s all their own fault. If they’d only just stop messing around with drugs, they’d be fine. She wishes they’d just shut up. (Of course, it’s interesting that it wasn’t even a man who made the claim that societal expectations of male’s bedroom abilities were harmful, but a female expert in the area, but let’s ignore that).

    This argument is similar in kind to the assertion that women wouldn’t be raped, if they’d just stop dressing like sluts and hanging out in dangerous places. Obviously, it’s not identical – in most respects, rape is a far more serious matter and there is a wrong-doer involved – but only a moron would suggest that the way in which society often objectives women does not play a role in rape. Also, it’s idiotic to suggest that even if some women are raped when drunkenly falling down a back-alley while wearing next to nothing, that all women who are raped do so because they are drunk or scantily clad.

    Treating rape as though all instances of rape are identical or as though societal expectations and media representations don’t play an important role is ludicrous. No doubt Sarah would agree, but she thinks that in the case of ED, all that men need to do is stop snorting coke and drinking too much.

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