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 soundingâ€¦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.