'Irrelevant' men are social blight

October 09, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

Editor's Note: Tim Rowland is on vacation this week. In his absence, The Morning Herald is publishing some of his previous columns. This one was first published on Oct. 21, 1996.

I got the horrible news about two weeks ago - and from a source no less authoritative than the Economist magazine: Men are becoming increasingly irrelevant in today's world.

Under a survey entitled "The trouble with men," the Economist has this to say about the male/female comparison:

"Apart from being more violent, more prone to disease, more likely to succumb to drugs, bad diet or suicide - more sociably undesirable from almost every point of view, in fact - men, it seems, are also slightly more stupid than women."

Hmm. They say that like it's a bad thing.

"In terms of cultural evolution," the article continues, "men may well have done their job: They have pretty much set up modern civilizations and technologies; they may not be needed to keep them going. Knowledge-based societies, with their stress on brain, not brawn, may be safer in women's hands."


Safer? Are you kidding me? Safer? I can think of a million reasons why it wouldn't be safer, most having to do with Hillary Clinton.

I mean if the world is fully run by Little Miss Know-It-Alls, who do you think is going to ... going to - OK, I'll get back to you on that.

The article states that "women's work" such as word processing and day care is taking the place of traditional "men's work" in the factories and mines. Men either can't or refuse to do "women's work" so they're being forced out of the job market, particularly at the lower ends of the social ladder.

"As their jobs have declined, so have their prospects for marriage, for who wants to link their lot to a jobless deadbeat?" Aside from Dick Morris' wife, I assume they mean.

But then the story really takes a leap:

"And as work and marriage have declined together, so everyone has suffered, for these two, since time immemorial, have been the twin responsibilities that have persuaded men to stay with women and children, obey the law and behave as social animals."

Humph. Not to break up the Economists' nice, tidy little theory, but I present myself as proof to the contrary. I'm not married and I don't have much of a job, unless you call writing goofball columns work - and have I failed to behave within the norms of society? Have I failed to be a good, quote-unquote, social animal? All right, there was that unfortunate episode with the calf, the parfait glasses and the teachers' lounge, but I prefer to look at that as a learning experience.

"Men learn social behavior through work and marriage, rather than grasp it by instinct," says the Economist.

Oh? Marriage? How is wanting to open a vein considered to be among the social graces? All right, true. If every man has a wife, you'll have a nation of people who do not drink orange juice out of cartons and every toilet seat in America will be down. But how's that gonna help?

Work and a woman may be the salvation for some men, but I'd happily opt out for money. Give me a few million in an interest-bearing account and just see what a wonderfully tame, unthreatening social animal I can be.

Anyway, with more and more men out of work, the magazine suggests a dangerous, downward spiral is created. "Areas of male idleness are often places of deterioration, disorder and danger. Non-working women are mothers; non-working men a blight."

A blight? I thought it was a state highways department.

This is indeed a distressing commentary, but I am trying to greet my downfall with dignity. Besides, if women want to do all the work, let it be so. It might turn out we've had them right where we want them all along.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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