The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Men are Powerless, Part 2

ITEM. In 1920 women in the United States lived one year longer than men. Today women live seven years longer. The male-female life-span gap increased 600 percent.

We acknowledge that blacks dying six years sooner than whites reflects the powerlessness of blacks in American society. Yet men dying seven years sooner than women is rarely seen as a reflection of the powerlessness of men in American society.

Is the seven-year gap biological? If it is, it wouldn't have been just a one-year gap in 1920.

If men lived seven years longer than women, feminists would have helped us understand that life expectancy was the best measure of who had the power. And they would be right. Power is the ability to control one's life. Death tends to reduce control. Life expectancy is the bottom line--the ratio of our life's stresses to our life's rewards.


The Catholic church is often quoted as acknowledging, "Give us a child the first five years and we will shape its life." We acknowledge the influence power of the church over its youth; we often ignore the influence power of a mother over her children--including her sons. But it is the mother who can make the child's bedtime earlier, take away desserts, or ground the child if it doesn't obey. It is the hand that rocks the cradle that creates the child's everyday heaven or hell.

Few men have a comparable amount of influence. While theoretically the man was "the master of the house," most men felt they were visitors in their wives' castles in the same way a woman would have felt like a visitor had she entered her husband's place of work. From a woman's perspective, a man's home is his castle; from a man's perspective, a woman's home is his mortgage.

Almost every woman had a primary role in the "female-dominated" family structure; only a small percentage of men had a primary role in the "male-dominated" governmental and religious structures. Many mothers were, in a sense, the chair of the board of a small company--their family. Even in Japan, women are in charge of the family finances--a fact that was revealed to the average American only after the Japanese stock market crashed in 1992 and thousands of women lost billions of dollars that their husbands never knew they had invested. Conversely, most men were on their company's assembly line--either its physical assembly line or its psychological assembly line.

Influence power, though, is not real power. If we told mothers, "The more children you have, the more power you will have," they would laugh. If we then said, "The more children you have, the more everyone will love you and respect you," the mother would feel pressured, not empowered. But when we tell men, "The more people you supervise, the more power you will have," they buy it. Real power does not come from caving in to pressure to expand obligations, it comes from controlling our own life.

Historically, a husband spent the bulk of his day under the eye of his boss--his source of income; a wife did not spend the bulk of her day under the eye of her husband--her source of income. She had more control over her work life than he had over his.

- The Myth of Male Power


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