Hey Guys, Be Careful What You Wish For
By ROBERT SCHEER   Tuesday, October 10, 2000
 

    Why are white men so screwed up?
If you can believe the polls, they identify by a huge margin with Bush as one of them.

What gives with these delusions of grandeur in which Joe Six-Pack puts himself in the
same boat with a pampered son of the super-rich? Did average white males grow up
in the lap of luxury and get to squander funds invested by family friends in failing oil ventures?
Can they fashion a well-greased political career based solely on their fathers' names?

     Obviously not, but what has traditionally bound white males to men like Bush is that they,
too, like to think of themselves as being winners simply as a perk of birth. That way, if they also
got poor grades in college, they could still think of themselves as smart enough to be president,
when even the brightest women couldn't. Not that all white males are actually winners,
but they don't have to feel like losers, since they can still feel superior to women and minorities.

     But now, with equality growing between the sexes and even the races, white males feel their
privilege threatened by the prospect of an even playing field. They blame this on the Democrats for
pushing affirmative action, which started to break up the old-boy network. So they tend to vote for
Republicans in large numbers, thinking that progress can be held back and traditional values restored,
meaning that women will be put  back in their place.

     Such a reversal of white female fortunes would be a disaster for white males, if they would only
stop to think about it, but being white males, they don't. The brute truth of the statistics on the boom in
American family prosperity is that it is based on females entering the work force and obtaining better pay.
Particularly white females, who have been the main beneficiaries of efforts to make the job market
a bit less biased.

     White men are inclined to think that a rise in women's pay means a decline in males' standard of living.
That's because white males have not grasped the fact that women tend to intermarry--with men--meaning
that their incomes are shared with husbands and male offspring and even fathers, whom they occasionally
help support.

     But beyond the economics of equal pay for equal work, there are those other  "women's issues,"
which the Democrats support and to which men are indifferent, most significantly the issue of "choice."
If males would just ponder for a second how women get pregnant, they might not be so quick to
define abortion as a "women's issue."

     Let's say that George W. gets to make good on his expressed desire to pick Supreme Court justices
in the mold of Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who then overturn Roe vs. Wade. Where does
that leave men who have gotten women pregnant and decide they are not ready for fatherhood?
Well, in the bad old days, it left them accompanying fearful women on a trip to Tijuana or some
back-alley abortion mill in this country, in the process not only betraying the health needs of a woman
they claimed to love but incurring legal risks as well.

     It's perplexing how a host of other issues that would seem to affect men equally with women got to
be gender-defined in polls. Why are women more pro-environment, pro-children and pro-health care,
or more concerned about saving Social Security? Is it that Darwinian nesting thing? Women want the
civilizing effect of government to protect the vulnerable. Men see themselves as cowboys at war on the
frontier in need of personal arms and a strong cavalry at the fort to back them up.

     Do men not know that if Social Security gets wrecked with this privatization gamble Bush is hustling,
they will be hurt? Even younger men who might have to cut into their discretionary income to take care
of their aging parents. As for the environment, one has to assume men's lungs are not gender-protected
from the poisonous fumes that now make Houston the pollution capital of the nation. Surely males can
appreciate the wonders of hunting and fishing in the pristine environment of Alaska that is threatened
by the Bush-Cheney team's promise to rape its energy resources and turn it into another Texas.

     If being pro-choice, pro-environment and in favor of the security of older people makes Al Gore a
wimp, shouldn't we men reexamine our macho standards? Remember that limp cigarette in the mouth
of the cowboy in those anti-tobacco ads that link smoking with impotency?
Macho men are a dying breed.

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Robert Scheer Is a Contributing Editor to The Times
 
 
 

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