The Burdens Men Must Bear
February 1994 Crisis
The Myth of Male Power
By Walter Farrell
Simon & Schuster, 446 pages, $23
HAGAR THE HORRIBLE—a libel
upon the noble Vikings who, in
the spirit of modern liberalism, sought
only a more just distribution of the
EEC's wealth—stands between his
wife and a storm of arrows, telling
her, "Quick, get behind me." She responds, "There you are, ordering me
around again." Le plus ca change, as
the Gauls say. Men continue to protect women, and get small thanks for
it. Such is the theme of Walter Farrell
in The Myth of Male Power.
Farrell has studied his anthropology and looked closely at statistics
about modern American society.
Men have been socialized to be protectors and providers, women to be
mothers. Both sexes have sacrificed
themselves to the next generation, or
else there would be no human race.
Because of male protection and provision, since the Second World War
many women in prosperous societies
have been able to choose whether or
not to accept the feminine role. That
is, women can stay home to take care
of the children, or work, or do some
combination of the two; men can . . .
work. If need arises, society compels
men to fight and die. Men continue
to bear the burden of the masculine
role, while women can accept or reject
the burden of motherhood.
Some of the statistics that Farrell
has collected are surprising, but he
assures us that they have all been carefully verified. Men continue to bear
the burdens of society by occupying
all the dangerous jobs. Of the 25
worst (i.e., most dangerous) jobs in
society, 24 are 95 to 100 percent
male. (The twenty-fifth, professional
dancing, is half-female.) Industrial
accidents are six times more prevalent in American than in Japan, and
94 percent of the victims are male.
Garbage collectors die at a rate
two-and-a-half times that of policemen; garbage collectors not only have
to dodge traffic and rats, they are set
on fire by chemicals and deluged with
contaminated blood. These male-dominated jobs pay better than secretary and receptionist, not because of
a masculine conspiracy, but because
they are harder and more dangerous;
as Farrell puts it, there is a death premium in the pay. "Every day, almost
as many men are killed at work as
were killed on an average day in Vietnam."
Both sexes have sacrificed themselves to
the next generation,
or else there would be
no human race. But
now men continue to
bear the burden of
the masculine role,
while women can accept or reject the burden of motherhood.
Men take these jobs to support
their families. Even when pay is not a
question, men still take the dangerous
jobs. Of the one million volunteer
firemen, 99 percent are men. Men still
bear the overwhelming burden of
war; if the draft were reactivated, men
would be drafted, not women. The
gap between men's and women's life
expectancies has grown since 1920. In
1920, women lived one year longer
than men; they now live seven years
longer. In the past decade the gap has
decreased slightly as women move
into the work world and suffer some
of the same hazards as men, but it is
The concept of comparable worth
is also pernicious. A secretary is paid
less than a fireman because a fireman
has a much better chance of being injured or killed. Women want safe,
easy work with the same pay as hard,
dangerous work. What Farrell’s statistics suggest, although he does not
say this, is that the increasing gap between male and female life expectancy
since 1920 has been caused by the
movement of women into the work
force, where women have taken the
safer, easier jobs. Thus the entry of
women into the work force bumps
men down the occupational ladder.
We forget that secretary was a male
position in the nineteenth century. A
man who might have been a secretary
is now a courier; a man who might
have been a courier is now a rent collector; a man who would have been a
rent collector is now a garbage man.
The expansion of the work force also
lowered wages and weakened unions,
forcing men to work longer hours in
more dangerous jobs to support their
YET FEMINISTS in their anti-male diatribes distort history and ignore
the fact that, until recently, both sexes
had to sacrifice their self-fulfillment to
ensure the existence of the family.
Feminists also create a victim mentality in which women do not have to
take responsibility for their own sexuality, but can scream "date rape"
when the lover of the previous night
doesn't call back. Feminist-inspired
laws and court decisions are remarkable. In Australia a husband and wife
were making love; she asked him to
stop, and she said it took him 30 seconds (he said he stopped immediately). On her word, he was convicted
and sentenced to four years in prison.
A woman can engage in premeditated
murder and collect the insurance on
her late husband if she alleges (without any proof) that he had at some
time battered her. In general, women
criminals receive light sentences or no
jail time at all for crimes for which
men spend long times in prison.
Military and civilian studies of
rape allegations show that 30 to 60
percent are false. Yet in California juries are instructed that they can convict a man of rape on the basis of a
woman's uncorroborated testimony.
Women manipulate the justice system
by pretending to be helpless victims.
The daughters of Eve are as subject as
men are to the cruel, selfish, and
vengeful impulses of our fallen race.
Not even in domestic violence are
men the chief offenders. "The only
two-sex surveys that have been done .
. . find women and men to be equally
as likely to initiate domestic violence
at every level of severity."
FARRELL WANTS women to assume
the responsibilities of men if they
want the rights and privileges of men.
He thinks it grossly unjust that a predominantly (54 percent) female electorate should choose leaders who are
allowed to send only men, willing or
not, to their deaths in war. Farrell
does not state the obverse of his conclusion. Women, he says, should assume the same responsibilities that
men have. If they will not or cannot
do so, he does not say but clearly implies, they should not demand the
same rights and privileges. This implication is what has so angered the
feminists that they refuse even to debate with Farrell. Switzerland until recently restricted the franchise to men.
Switzerland has universal and nearly
lifetime military service for all men.
Swiss men, unlike Swiss women,
must serve in the military in order to
vote. Since men will do the dying in
war, men, the Swiss reasonably
thought, should decide whether to go
to war. Switzerland has not gone to
war since Napoleonic times.
Like the controversial feminist
Camille Paglia, Farrell argues that
women are backing away from taking full responsibilities for their lives.
Women have discovered that paternalism was protecting them from real
hazards and dangers; women want
the freedom that men have, but none
of the inescapable dangers. Feminists,
in pandering to this inconsistent desire, are making women into spoiled,
over-privileged children. Farrell wants
women to be both free and responsible; this involves shouldering the hazards of life and sexuality that are now
almost entirely male burdens. But the
reaction of the feminists who want
Big Daddy Bureaucracy to protect
them from all those nasty men with
the pin-up calendars and crude language may not be simply self-indulgent; it may be a sign that the
liberation of women has hit the hard
wall of reality. Men and women are
different, and whatever Farrell and
Paglia want, it may not be possible for
a society to perpetuate itself and to
allow or to force the mass of women
to accept their share of the roles that
men have always been forced to play.
Radical changes in sex roles, such
as Farrell calls for, could destroy our
society. Still, his analysis of sex roles
is intelligent, and therefore Farrell
may perform a valuable service by
stopping mindless anti-male rants.
Men are almost always cast as the villains of society, as abusers of children
and rapers of women. Paglia and Farrell will do feminism a favor if they
can get it to tone down its criticism of
men, to see the positive aspects of
masculinity, and to cultivate sympathy for the burdens men, especially
those in the working classes, must
bear. What we need is men who can,
without becoming self-destructive, develop the spirit of self-sacrifice and
the willingness to risk danger to save