To celebrate women’s history month, let's take a look at what men are currently doing
To celebrate Women’s History Month, I thought it would be instructive to look at what men are about, what men are doing, sort of like looking at the negative space in a painting. Think of it as learning about the thesis by spending a moment with the antithesis.
The following are headlines taken from the front section of the Wall Street Journal, March 12, here is the score:
- Major U.S. banks barely passed the Federal reserve’s “stress tests,” suggesting that they are operating very close to the edge. All of the banks in question are led by men.
- Warring factions – Iraqi, Islamic State – kill each other over Tikrit. The combatants are men.
- The Russian Foreign Minister denied spying on Ukraine. He is a man.
- The Ferguson Mo police chief stepped down. Previously the city manager and judge quit. Their resignations came after an expose of racist policing. They are all men.
- Various Members of Congress have decided to investigate Hillary Clinton’s emails. Rep. Trey Gowdy and Rep. Jason Chaffetz have stepped into the limelight, They are men.
- The leadership of Israel will be determined in the coming general election. Two men are grappling for it, Netanyahu and Herzog.
- The Chinese president Xi Jinxing has fired 30 generals for buying and selling ranks. All parties involved are men.
- Pakistani forces raided a political headquarters in Karachi, shooting three and killing one. All involved were men.
- Canadian authorities arrested Jahanzab Malik for attempting to blow up the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. Malik is a man.
- The suspects in the killing of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov say they confessed “under duress.” Outside observers say they were probably tortured. All parties involved are men.
- The president of Colombia says a permanent cease-fire with FARC, the opposition, is a possibility. Conflict has been going on for 51 years. All involved in the situation are men.
- Two Secret Service agents allegedly crashed a car into the White House security barrier “after a night of drinking.” The two are men.
So the score thus far: risky business. . .war and killing. . .spying. . .racism. . .political posturing. . .power struggles. . .corruption. . .war and killing. . .terrorism. . .killing and torture. . .an attempt at a cease-fire. . .drunk driving. 10 to 1, bad to good.
I decided to continue my investigation, so over my second cup of coffee, I went through every story in the front section to find women, any women, and what they were doing. Here is the score:
- Hillary Clinton and her emails are front-page news. She will defend her actions and there will be probes (see Gowdy and Chaffetz, above).
- Katrina Spade has proposed the Urban Death Project to allow us to turn our remains into compost.
- In the opinion of Gregory McGinty, the former head of the New York-based United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten was clearly implicated in the failure of the UFT’s charter school.
- In the opinion of Joshua Hochschild, Beatrix Potter provided an unintentional cautionary tale with the story of Ginger and Pickles, a cat and a dog selling a lot of things on credit – a lot of credit. Their shop fails.
You were expecting maybe a longer list? I might have missed some women buried deeper in some stories (a spokesperson here, a scientist there) but the score is one chronic political kerfuffle. . .a truly outside-the-box ecological proposal. . .partial blame for a failed school. . .and an accidental lesson in economics. Bad to good? Hard to say. More like “meh.”
I believe that there are men out there doing good work, saving lives, creating exciting new machines that will help us, men we count on every day, fathers who suck it up and head off to work, good cops and good public officials.
And I believe that there are women doing exciting things, women leading companies without resorting to cliffhanger strategies, women saving lives and trying to get the fifth graders to sit still and do the assignment.
Here’s the thing and there’s no getting around it. The optics are bad. Men dominate the headlines as they dominate the affairs of the world. Such domination consistently brings peril, pain and loss. It is men who do the beheading and burning alive. It is men who rape and batter and abuse and corrupt and take sledgehammers to ancient artifacts.
So maybe it’s time to turn March into Women’s Future Month. The history (save a handful of exceptional women we remember and honor) is pretty clear and pretty harsh. The future might offer better material for celebration, a new vision of women in the world.
And to my fellow men, I have to ask us to ponder the question: what the hell is the matter with us?