Things I would like to give SdeB

Apart from a clue that is. Although it is not good for my blood pressure, I read the lastest from Sam de Brito (look him up on the SMH website if you like, not giving him linkjuice). He argues that an average 8% greater pay for men than women does not compensate men for the things they lose out on by being men. These things include dying, on average, 5 years earlier; being more at risk of violence; being more likely to get screwed over in the family court and being the ones who have to investigate scary noises in the night.

Okay, so the dying thing – it is genetic, according to the latest study, and it is also an average. Most of us would love to live longer but you just never know when your time is up, unless you choose for yourself. Generally the timing of our own death is not something we can control. Also, those women living 5 years longer are more likely to be doing so in poverty, especially if they have been divorced. Still want to be a woman?

Men are at more risk of violence. Sort of if you squint a bit. Yes, men are more at risk of violence from other men. How about you guys stop hitting each other and trying to prove who has a bigger dick? Get out the rulers and get on with it. Women are more likely to die from intimate partner violence and be victims of domestic violence. Still think being a woman is better?

Men are more likely to get screwed over by the family court? I’ve never been through the process but I do know that many men are bitter after their experience of it. That doesn’t mean that women are responsible for it though, nor does it change the fact that a woman’s chances of having a comfortable retirement plummet after divorce whereas a man’s are pretty much unchanged. Yep, women really come out on top don’t we?

Seeing what that noise is in the dark: what, you signed the form that said the husband must investigate all scary noises at night and now you are whingeing? What, there is no such form? Well if there is no such form then who is forcing you to do it, apart from you? His argument gets really thin here.

So here are some of the things I would like to give SdeB:
– debilitating menstral cramps and/or flooding. Not all women suffer from these of course, but a day or two of them might make him think twice;
– harrassment on the street for being too: fat, sexy, unsexy, obviously female etc.;
– hassles from breastfeeding including sore nipples, mastitis, people giving you conflicting advice, or openly harrassing you for feeding your baby in public or simply being out in public with a child who may or may not act in an age appropriate manner;
– pressure to wear makeup, remove every scrap of body hair unless it is eyebrows, which must be plucked to an acceptable shape, or head hair which must be shiny and glossy and well styled at all times, have a body which conforms to whatever is fashionable from one year to the next, curvy to lanky to willowy, to full busted to flat chested;
– pressure to be super mum and super career woman;
– the ‘Mommy’ wars.

So if you think SdeB could benefit from a few more experiences before deciding women have it better please feel free to mention them in comments. Over a lifetime, 8% difference in pay really does add up.

But maybe I’m being too harsh. Afterall what is a man who is a blogger, published author and writer of a column in a major metropolitan newspaper to do? Who will hear his lonely cry in the wilderness? Where is his cookie for spending three days a week with his child?



Categories: gender & feminism, Life, media, parenting, work and family

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25 replies

  1. I forgot to add ‘Mummy/Mommy’ porn. It’s about a willing but naive virgin meeting a wealthy, handsome, damaged man with a large penis and this is for women? Whose fantasy is this again?

  2. Okay, so the dying thing – it is genetic, according to the latest study

    This isn’t precisely true. The study found that when social factors were eliminated there remained a gap that could be explained by differences in mutation levels in mitochondrial DNA. That doesn’t mean that social factors have no role, just that we’ve pinned down one genetic part of the difference.

  3. Thanks Li, my understanding of the science is a bit sketchy.

    • Li, I also wonder about how much of the life expectancy difference is down to the size disparity associated with sexual dimorphism? In most mammal species I’m aware of, the larger animals have a shorter life expectancy than the smaller animals (the most obvious example most people would be familiar with is the life expectancy of big dogs vs little dogs). I’m pretty sure too that most of the human tribes who have a far higher rate of centenarians than most other populations are tribes that are below average in stature.

  4. He’s welcome to have the joyful experience of being instantly recognisable in lectures and tutorials because you’re the one with tits. I’m quite willing to cede unto Sam that wonderful little facet of being a woman in STEM. I’m also willing to hand over to him without even the slightest flicker of an eyelid’s worth of trauma the joy of being the sole representative of your visible gender, and therefore having your entire gender being judged on what you can or can’t do.
    He’s also welcome to the mild period cramps I’m having at present. No, they’re not killers. Yes, they are uncomfortable enough that if I don’t take some Nurofen before I go to bed tonight, it’s going to be hard to sleep. He can also have the three days of painfully tender tits that preceded it, and the bowels which aren’t so much irritable as downright cranky. Oh, and the irregular cycle – gotta give him that one (because that one just adds to the fun in so many different ways).
    He’s also more than welcome to being prejudged by any GP he sees (even if he’s been seeing them for years) and having any illness he brings in for treatment blamed on either his weight, his age, or his imagination.

  5. I don’t want to overstate my expertise, I’m certainly not a scientist.
    As far as I know, the stature stuff is very complicated and I’m not sure we can draw easy conclusions about causation. Human beings have been generally increasing in both stature and life expectancy over the last 100 years, for instance, due to both increased nutrition and access to medical technologies.
    The point of this study is that it’s identified a particular and clear cause for some of the mortality difference: mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother and this makes male children more susceptible to any mutations in it.

  6. And despite all the evidence, women don’t actually live longer than men… it just feels like it some days. Those extra five years we get at the end of our lives? That’s the time we’re owed for dealing with everyone else’s crap.

  7. Size is not directly related to life expectancy, and if it is it’s likely to be going the other way – think about the life expectancy of mice versus elephants, say. But then most apes live for less time than humans (it’s believed that one of the evolutionary steps we took away from apes was to stretch out and slow down our lives, so we mature more slowly and live longer). There are a number of causes for male lesser life expectancy. One is the mitochondria thing, another is the low levels of oestrogen, which is a protective hormone against various illnesses. A third is the greater likelihood of boys to be born with congenital diseases. And another is a greater tendency to risk-taking which leads to more likelihood of accident and early death. In a normal human population (in good health and unaffected by war or natural disaster) humans are slightly more likely to give birth to male children, but the impact of the second two factors is such that by the time any given cohort is in mid to late twenties the sexes will be at more or less equal numbers.
    There are, of course, illnesses that are more likely to effect women, and in fact, if a man has a long life (say into his eighties) he is less likely to be disabled than a woman who lives the same length of time (the illnesses that affect men tend to kill them while those that affect women are just debilitating).

  8. Seeing what that noise is in the dark … His argument gets really thin here.
    It’s also dependent on an assumption of coupledom. Women who live alone – or even women with a guy, but sleeping alone because one of them is away – have to investigate their own scary noises.
    And the same body of assumption would have women investigating the baby noises – some of which can pretty scary too if they imply anything is wrong.
    Speaking of which, pregnancy and pregnancy complications might be another pair of shoes for him to walk a mile in.

  9. Good point Sunless Nick. It also assumes that if you do live with a male partner, he is able to go off and investigate those noises.

  10. And despite all the evidence, women don’t actually live longer than men… it just feels like it some days.

    heh, that’s my kind of attitude to studies showing that very low calorie diets lead to a longer lifespan 😉

    Men are at more risk of violence. Sort of if you squint a bit. Yes, men are more at risk of violence from other men.

    I don’t think you need to squint a bit. The stats are pretty clear. And I don’t have much sympathy for the viewpoint that its just men vs men violence. In many cases (if not the majority) the perpetrators of the violence are quite separate from the victims. They may not be physically distinguishable from each other but they are in different groups. And as someone who has been physically assaulted but never been a perpetrator I don’t think that a physical assault on me should be considered any less significant because it was done to me by someone of the same gender, race or nationality.

    Men are more likely to get screwed over by the family court? I’ve never been through the process but I do know that many men are bitter after their experience of it. That doesn’t mean that women are responsible for it though, nor does it change the fact that a woman’s chances of having a comfortable retirement plummet after divorce whereas a man’s are pretty much unchanged. Yep, women really come out on top don’t we?

    In general everyone is significantly financially worse off after divorce. Assets are divided and its simply just more expensive to live separately than together. I do wonder whether a lot of the more extreme outcomes when it comes to financial settlements is due to how fast someone sees a lawyer (and with more women than men initiating divorce they are likely to see them sooner). Divorce law has some rather interesting oddities and getting advice early in the separation process (or before) can make a huge difference.

    Okay, so the dying thing – it is genetic, according to the latest study,

    If you exclude genetic influences then some of the downsides you mention later are also excluded.
    But overall a comparison like Sam makes is pretty pointless and presumably just a topic to attract clicks. If it was just a straight income sacrifice for extra years of life then its a no brainer. But as you point out its much more complex than that. And a discussion about averages clouds the issues – there’s a lot more male super rich CEOs, but then there’s also more men homeless than women. On average men may be better off, but that’s not much comfort to the homeless man.

  11. It’s not quite as clear-cut as more men are homeless than women – at least not in Australia. More women seek assistance from homeless services each year than men, for example. Link.

  12. @Chris – my point was more that SdeB was ignoring his own privilege and pretending that he has no recourse to change things for the better for everyone. If a blogger/published author with a large following can’t write a column telling blokes to wake up to themselves and stop hitting other people (not all blokes, but probably a few of the kind who might read his stuff regularly) then who will? I wasn’t meaning to denigrate male on male violence, but to highlight the lack of agency in the SdeB piece, as if somehow the violence fairy visits men more often rather than violence being perpetrated mainly by a certain subset of men due in part to how those men are socialised.

  13. It’s not quite as clear-cut as more men are homeless than women – at least not in Australia. More women seek assistance from homeless services each year than men, for example. Link.

    Yes, that’s true, though the numbers I’ve seen for homelessness overall (all definitions of) in Australia are that there are more men than women homeless. More men sleeping rough than women, and more women than men who get assistance from homeless services. I don’t think that’s contradictory.
    Possibly because more women have dependent children with them or are fleeing domestic violence and there are specific homeless services setup for those situations.

    If a blogger/published author with a large following can’t write a column telling blokes to wake up to themselves and stop hitting other people (not all blokes, but probably a few of the kind who might read his stuff regularly) then who will?

    That’s true, though I’m a bit skeptical of how effective that would be. Perhaps drink driving campaigns are an example of where telling people not to do things they already know are illegal works, but then they came in at a time where they also introduced/increased random breath testing so there was a much bigger chance of being caught. I rather doubt the former would have had much effect without the latter.
    Newscorp is currently running a very high profile campaign against random violence across both papers and associated websites. I’d really be quite surprised if we see any changes in the crime stats.
    And whilst Sam is in a reasonably privileged position your average man who is not violent has about as much agency in advocating stopping male on male violence as your average woman does advocating stopping male on female violence.

  14. Maybe he could sift through the layers of resistance for women’s equality starting with, say, representation in parliament and some Qld ministers’ opinions about why it is the way it is.
    Or the way we’re payed, represented and questioned in sport.
    Or how we’re responsible for assault against us, whereas as guys seem to just ‘get into’ a fight, apparently.

  15. your average man who is not violent has about as much agency in advocating stopping male on male violence as your average woman does advocating stopping male on female violence.

    That is a horrible untruth. Non-violent men can, collectively, make it unacceptable for others within their social group to behave violently. There is a possibility that a violent man will listen to a man he respects, or a number of men speaking with one voice; there is no way he will listen to a woman. Women’s voices, particularly on topics like this, are routinely marginalized and belittled; men have an advantage right there, what they lack is the will.

  16. Non-violent men can, collectively, make it unacceptable for others within their social group to behave violently.

    You’re assuming that non violent men are commonly knowingly within a social group of people that behave violently and are actually around when the violence occurs. When it comes to random street violence I know I certainly am not. And I wouldn’t stay in a social group that did.
    I think its more common that violent men (especially of the random violence type) associate in social groups that accept and participate in violent behaviour.

  17. I worked with people I wouldn’t socialise with, and challenged them on some of the things they said.
    I’ve been to a mate’s gathering and sat next to a rape apologist all night, that was no fun at all.
    My brother has said some things I disagree with. I don’t consider myself uncommon in that I come into contact with people who have a different idea about violence, or different ideas about many things.

  18. What I would like to give Sammy is the experience of working in the creative arts (any field, he can have his pick; I’m generous that way) and discovering that whatever work you produce you will never be the person picked out as the potential genius, the auteur manque, the bright young thing who just needs to be given support and resources, and sure that last piece was awful, but that’s because he’s developing his talent.
    I would like to give him the chance to experience not having his voice valued, because it looks as if he could really use that.

  19. I’d like him to know what it’s like to live with the constant subtext of can I trust this person not to rape me? – whether it’s subliminal or conscious – and the knowledge that whatever he does, whatever precautions he takes, however he restricts his life, if he gets attacked it will be his fault. And if he doesn’t get attacked, he’ll be told he’s paranoid and unfriendly and shouldn’t treat menz that way.

  20. I’d like to give him a morning after pill.
    Although I’ve heard they’ve improved a lot in the last few years, so maybe instead I’d give him the experience of being held wholly responsible for any contraceptive failure.

  21. The recent deaths of men protecting their women during the Batman shooting in the US suggests Sam is on the money.

    yours gallantly,

    A bloke

  22. “Protecting their women” So not just any woman who happened to be there, but their woman. Hmm. But anyway, you know what I would want MyNigel to do? Hide with me so we both had a chance of getting out alive.
    Sorry, A bloke, I think SdeB is still full of shit.

    • The men who literally took a bullet to protect others were indeed brave and gallant, and deserve honouring. But what about the man who ran out and drove away, leaving his wife to fend for their child alone? Is that mother who shielded her child with her body less noble than the men who died just because she was fortunate enough to not actually get hit by a bullet?
      People can be brave and noble. People can be cowardly and selfish. People can freeze in shock and horror. There’s a whole range of responses to danger and difficulties that people display. Neither sex has a monopoly on any one of these behaviours.

  23. I now want to give him a library card, to encourage him to read some writing that isn’t his own. In his Aug 22 piece, he quotes himself. Yes, a sentence he felt was particularly witty and apt, from one of his recent columns. How did he get this job? If he were a woman I could suggest he slept with someone to get it, but as he’s a man, he’s immune from that kind of slur.

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