Compiled by Anonymous Coward
Male, presumed dangerousDateAugust 18, 2012
Battling stereotypes … preschool worker Craig d'Arcy has set up the Males in Early Childhood Network Group. Photo: Greg Mace
As a young man eager to get into a boom industry with a robust future, Craig d'Arcy spent several years as the only male studying childcare alongside more than 100 women at TAFE and university in Newcastle.
Early in his career, his childcare centre boss told him parents had highlighted in yellow on their child's enrolment form they wanted no male worker to go near their offspring. Two decades on, as founder of the national Males in Early Childhood Network Group, d'Arcy has heard about centres that ban men from changing nappies and is used to people thinking those who want to work with the young are either gay or have evil intent.
So he easily recognised the vein of fear about male contact with children that popped up when two men went public recently about their embarrassment over airline staff moving them away from unaccompanied minors.
''The stereotype is that men are predators who are looking for opportunities to abuse young children,'' says d'Arcy, who is co-ordinator of a Mullumbimby preschool and has six children of his own. ''There seems to be that automatic assumption.''
Most of the 2900 men who make their living caring for under-fives butt up against these assumptions regularly in a way that their 100,000-plus female counterparts do not, he says.
''It's a very common story,'' d'Arcy says.
Most paedophiles are relatives or trusted family friends but, as more perpetrators are caught awareness grows and, with it, a fear that can become out of proportion to the danger.
A Newcastle University lecturer on family issues, Richard Fletcher, knows of a school principal who wanted to cancel a program allowing grandfathers to run playground activities for children when one of the men had too much to drink, spooking the staff.
An underlying attitude that ''men are dangerous and we can't manage them'' also grips staff on some maternity and neonatal wards, where fathers ask to sleep near their partners and newborns, says Fletcher.
Anecdotally, in at least one Sydney babysitting co-operative, parents made it clear that they did not want a father to turn up alone to care for their children.
Predator fear has been woven into numerous airline policies. Virgin Australia's was revealed when a flight attendant asked firefighter Johnny McGirr to move away from two young boys, saying it was policy that men should not sit with unaccompanied minors. McGirr said he felt stripped of respect.
Nurse Daniel McCluskie said he felt he had a sign above his head that said ''child molester'' after he was shifted from his seat on a flight from Wagga Wagga to Sydney because of Qantas policy. He must pass annual checks on his suitability to work with children, but the policy apparently does not take that into account.
When the Herald asked Qantas about the origins of its policy, the company re-issued a statement saying its policy was consistent with those of other airlines around the world, is designed to minimise risk and that it reflects parents' concerns and the need to maximise children's safety.
Virgin Australia, which introduced its policy seven years ago, has now employed an organisational psychologist to conduct a review. It will include, in quaint Virgin-speak, ''researching guest feedback''.
''I understand why airlines have policies, but there is a more subtle way to enforce them than to march up to a guy and make him feel like a paedophile when he just sits in a seat,'' says crime novelist Michael Robotham.
As the father of three daughters aged 12, 15 and 18, he blames the 24-hour news cycle for the heightened perception that males are inherently dangerous to children.
''Only a month ago, I had a pool party for my 12-year-old's birthday. She had all her girlfriends there. There were 11- and 12-year-old girls jumping around the pool in bikinis. I wanted to take photographs, but in the back of my mind I was thinking: Can I take photographs?''
He no longer pulls out the camera at the beach: ''I feel I should be able to but I think society is saying I can't.''
Robotham's latest novel, Say You're Sorry, about two 15-year-old girls who go missing during their summer holidays, connects to deep fears about violated children. But he does not agree with helicopter supervision of children or the men in their lives.
''Even though I write the sort of novels that involve young girls in jeopardy, I am a complete realist when it comes to the crux of the matter. Crime statistics show that per head of the population, there is no marked increase in violent crime, child abuse and other attacks than there was 10 to 20 years ago. When there is an incident where someone tries to pick up a child, there is saturation coverage. Twenty-four hours a day, the stories dominate the headlines and the public has the perception that every second child will be snatched off the street and we have to be ever vigilant [because] our child could be next.''
Thus, when he found a four-year-old girl lost in a shopping mall, he quickly looked around for the first woman who could help because of the possibility that he would be considered a paedophile, he says.
At his Mullumbimby preschool, d'Arcy ensures a colleague is watching while he assists any child who has a toileting accident, or comforts them following a fall.
''Over time, I've learnt how to protect myself. Whenever I meet a new family my standard spiel is: I am married. I have my own children. I'm saying to them: I'm normal. I'm here for the right reasons.
''It's about being aware of that. It's something your female colleagues don't have to think about. You have to prove yourself as a male and build up trust.''
He is lobbying the federal Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs to work on lifting the proportion of men working with very young children above the 2.6 per cent it is now.
It is good for children to see men nurturing, caring, teaching and working with their female colleagues, he says.
And eventually men might be spared the experience of the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, whose account of a past flight was recalled by Forbes magazine writer Joshua Gans this week.
Johnson was delighted when the British Airways flight attendant announced he had to move away from the two restless, difficult children beside him.
''A man cannot sit with children,'' she declared.
Whereupon the children stymied his escape by declaring: ''But he's our father.''
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/male-presumed-dangerous-20120817-24dtz.html#ixzz241K8y6dP
BY Krista (The Femitheist)
Some Feminists have considered this as an option. It is highly controversial.
Allow me to introduce myself...
My name is Krista, otherwise known as "The Femitheist". I am a female, a feminist, and someone who believes strongly in True Equality.
Now, I will begin explaining this entry before I post the actual article... for your discussion, of course.
Women MUST and WILL have equality, and this is the ONLY way to achieve TRUE equality. The testicles of all males, which produce the majority of their testosterone, are the primary cause of their violent behavior. The testicles also attribute greatly to many of the health problems men experience later in life (such as prostate cancer and, of course, testicular cancer).
~:The Solution... International Castration Day.:~
It is my belief (which I consider factual based on my research) that all men SHOULD be castrated. Not only for their own safety, but for the safety of all innocent women and children.
And, to achieve this...
The entire world should have an international holiday known as: "Castration Day"
Males of all ages will be brought to the public squares of their cities nude, to stand together in a circle, as they await castration by a woman known as "The Castrator", who will be a woman chosen from the public much like a juror.
Girls of all ages will attend, lining the streets to cheer and applaud the males as they join the rest of civilized society.
It will be a free vacation for any working woman. And, young girls will be able to leave school to attend this glorious ceremony.
The males will then have one hour to get to know their Castrator. Their female "spouse" will also be able to choose whether or not they would like to milk the male in order to retain a sperm sample.
If the male is too young for a "spouse", their mother or closest female relative will decide.
After this, the men will be given anesthetics. They will be placed on a table, where their Castrator will then slice open their ball-sack, remove their testicles, and the excess skin, stitch them up and clean them up.
They will be given thirty minutes to rest after the procedure.
Once the males have all been castrated, they will be grouped together again for one last look before walking nude back to their homes.
The women will then return to their jobs, schools, et cetera, and rejoice in the completion of yet another successful ceremony.
Any man who tries to evade this holiday, "Castration Day", should be murdered wherever they
are found (treated as a criminal, as it will be a crime not to attend). Or, forced to attend.
Regardless of age.
Any woman who disagrees should be provided therapy in order to free her from misogynistic indoctrination.
This holiday should replace the day known currently as "Father's Day".
If this practice were adopted officially all across the world, all war, crime, and violence would end.
We would have a true Eutopia, where peace reigns, and men do only what they exist for...
Likewise, the change of their hormones would make them less aggressive, and thus less likely to rape. It would also provide them with better health throughout their life, as the testicles are a major cause of health issues in males as they age.
All will profit from this...
And, I believe this will come to be someday soon.
Thanks for your consideration!
Femitheist Divine, The New Era of Feminism 599 Comments [6/14/2012 3:32:39 AM]
The Femitheist is a 22-year-old criminology student with a three-year-old. One angry day in 2012 she took to the Internet to outline the brutal concept of International Castration Day. After posting it on YouTube she stepped out for a coffee. Returning home a few hours later, she found that all gnashing male hell had broken loose.
Her argument was that only through the reduction of the male population to between 1 and 10 percent of their current number we can approach “true equality”.
While she now derides International Castration day as silly, the internet had met The Femitheist. Two years later she is an emergent cult leader, a ball-stepping villainess, or clear-thinking realist—depending who you ask. Today she continues to support the reduction of the male population and generally courts outrage and devotion through her website and YouTube channel. She’s also 200 pages into what she’s hoping will be her 700 page manifesto outlining the philosophy of Femitheism. It’s tentatively titled The Ratio.
VICE: I assume The Ratio refers to your belief the male population should be reduced to between by 90 percent.
The Femitheist: I believe that conventional equality, with a 50/50 female-to-male ratio, is an inferior system. Essentially my ideas lead to men being made a special class—a far more valued class—having choice of a myriad of women due to the difference in sex ratio. That is my intention. Men would be made more valuable, and their quality of life would be dramatically improved. They would have a subsidised existence if you will, akin to going on an all-expenses paid vacation that lasts from birth to death.
Assuming people are down for that, how could you reduce the male population by that much? Are you talking culling or selective breeding over years?
Obviously men comprise a substantial portion of the victims of violent crime and participate heavily in war, so there will always be deaths there—but certainly not culling. I don't advocate selective slaughter or brutal processes.
So how would you achieve it?
Further research into designer babies will be necessary: manipulating gender or sex, prenatal sex discernment, sex-selective abortions, development of dual-female progeny (babies created from two mothers), and numerous other mechanisms will be utilised in order to achieve these aspirations. They won’t be enforced or mandated to achieve the goal in the short-term, but merely heavily encouraged in the early stages. Unless one opposes abortion, there's little ethical reason to find that too outrageous a proposition. The maths has already been done on all of the genetic and population-sustainment-related issues: population bottleneck, inbreeding, mutations, et cetera. Everything works out in favour of my ideas. I've been meticulous and cautious. I've had the work reviewed by people who are experts—or at least extremely knowledgeable—in biology and genetics, and I've received confirmation that it all works out.
That’s in theory, what about in practice?
It'll require the re-teaching of everyone—female and male—in classrooms, homes, through literature, media, art, and networks. It is a process that would take decades, generations, and perhaps even a few centuries. Nevertheless, these are things that should be done to forge a new and vastly superior world. My mission is to devise and describe a framework for the carrying out and success of such objectives.
What kind of men would you choose for breeding? Dou you base selection on physical or mental characteristics?
The most suitable men would simply be those who are fit in both body and mind. This is also related to genetic modification.
Genetic engineering is already taking place by way of tests given to couples when they marry to prevent the passing of dangerous genetic material. There is no doubt such concepts will expand as we understand more about how the genome actually works. Healthy and fit men will always be ideal, but not "brutes," which has more to do with mental attributes than physical. Anyone can lift weights. Any criteria decided upon as the quintessential grade would have to be extensively defined and revised as time goes on, or as science advances and the human species and its needs evolve.
Would men be kept in isolation like stud horses?
I believe we must remove men from the community and place them in their own specific sections of society, akin to subsidised or state-funded reservations, so they can be redefined. We can make not only men safer, but women as well. By subsidising said reservations through the state we can provide men with activities, healthcare, entertainment, shelter, protection, and everything that one could ever require in life. This will remove conventional inequality from society. By reducing the number of men to 10 percent of the total population, their socio-biovalue will be raised. They will live out their lives happily and safely, and male disposability will be a thing of the past.
But don’t men have value beyond breeding?
If technology has not advanced to a point where labour can be done without men, the few men that are necessary for said labour will be allowed to work on the outside of the reservations to complete whatever tasks necessary—if they wish.
Not as slaves, simply as workers performing a duty, in the same way workers today do. Only without the need for monetary reimbursement as they would have no need for such a thing. This would be highly monitored and regulated.
What about the ambitions of the individual? Some men may aspire to more than luxury breeding pens.
Some would argue it would be a dystopian world because it wouldn't be free in the present conventional sense. However that is misguided. It will be utopian because it will be a world almost without conflict where people cooperate and are treated properly within a well-engineered and long-forged system. If everything is great for almost everyone the point is null. Survival and socio-organic wellbeing are the most important elements in life. Diversity of principles and standards is only necessary in a world of multiple nations, cultures, societies, and religions due to fear of oppression. So, how is this world any better? Because some people have potential opportunities to do certain things?
That’s kind of depressing.
The purpose of living is merely to persist and perpetuate our species. If someone is willing to give you all you require to survive and live comfortably, simply because you exist, then you have already achieved all that truly matters.
Doesn’t all this dismiss the notion of companionship and the family unit?
Heterosexual companionship and the nuclear family model, yes.
What do you propose as alternatives?
Children should be raised communally and by the state. The nuclear family model is a breeding ground of deceptions, mediocrities, treacheries, hypocrisy, and violence. It needs to be abolished. Bigotry, prejudice, and antiquated convictions are passed down through each generation. The conventional family unit indoctrinates our youth and drains them of their potential. My solution would be to assign children caretakers whose task would simply be to provide shelter, food, clothing, and protection for each child—all of which would be yielded by the state. Perfect girls will be conceived, developed, and engineered in state-owned breeding centers. They will be bound together in a communal venue under the instruction and control of female savants.
But realistically that’s not what’s best for the kids.
Children must be provided a proper education, a sex-separated education that will focus on developing real-world skills and capacities for concept building. They will be taught the reality of true equality, production, labour, and will be provided a better understanding of sexuality, science, culture and ethnicity. If children are made wards of the state with assigned caretakers, not only will it be easier to undo the constraints of bigotry and the other archaic beliefs that are passed down from parents to their children, but children can be used to monitor the older generations in regard to the propagation of bigoted and antediluvian values. It is about creating a unified perception.
Does this assume all women would automatically form lesbian relationships?
Relationships between females and males have been different throughout all of history. Associations between women and men differ with the time and popular socialisation. Today that is not common or normalised, but as time passes more women are interested in other women or are willing to indulge and experiment.
Then you think sexual orientation can be designed?
Absolutely. I believe sexual orientation, like most but not all things, comes from socialisation as well as genetics—with a heavier influence from genetics. Anyone who contends that sexual orientation is purely genetic is either disingenuous or foolish. Eventually, we will be able to engineer people to a greater preference for their own sex. It seems to me that a lot of women are far more open to homosexuality than men, or at least are more willing to experiment, and why is that?
I’m not sure, you think it’s genetic?
Perhaps it's partially genetic, but it's also due to an ingrained fear that men have of appearing homosexual because that isn't what a “man” is supposed to be. With the combined forces of social and genetic engineering, we can easily reshape and mold human sexuality into whatever we desire.
BY Grayson Perry
Paddle your canoe up the River Thames and you will come round the bend and see a forest of huge totems jutting into the sky. Great shiny monoliths in various phallic shapes, they are the wondrous cultural artefacts of a remarkable tribe. We all know someone from this powerful tribe but we very rarely, if ever, ascribe their power to the fact that they have a particular tribal identity.
I think this tribe, a small minority of our native population, needs closer examination. In the UK, its members probably make up about 10 percent of the population (see infographic below); globally, probably less than 1 percent. In a phrase used more often in association with Operation Yewtree, they are among us and hide in plain sight.
They dominate the upper echelons of our society, imposing, unconsciously or otherwise, their values and preferences on the rest of the population. With their colourful textile phalluses hanging round their necks, they make up an overwhelming majority in government, in boardrooms, and also in the media.
They are, of course, white, middle-class, heterosexual men, usually middle-aged. And every component of that description has historically played a part in making this tribe a group that punches far, far above its weight. I have struggled to find a name for this identity that will trip off the tongue, or that doesn’t clutter the page with unpronounceable acronyms such as WMCMAHM. “The White Blob” was a strong contender but in the end I opted to call him Default Man. I like the word “default,” for not only does it mean “the result of not making an active choice,” but two of its synonyms are “failure to pay” and “evasion,” which seems incredibly appropriate, considering the group I wish to talk about.
Today, in politically correct 21st-century Britain, you might think things would have changed but somehow the Great White Male has thrived and continues to colonize the high-status, high-earning, high-power roles (93 percent of executive directors in the UK are white men; 77 percent of parliament is male). The Great White Male’s combination of good education, manners, charm, confidence, and sexual attractiveness (or “money,” as I like to call it) means he has a strong grip on the keys to power. Of course, the main reason he has those qualities in the first place is what he is, not what he has achieved. John Scalzi, in his blog Whatever, thought that being a straight white male was like playing the computer game called Life with the difficulty setting on “Easy.” If you are a Default Man you look like power.
I must confess that I qualify in many ways to be a Default Man myself but I feel that by coming from a working-class background and being an artist and a transvestite, I have enough cultural distance from the towers of power. I have space to turn round and get a fairly good look at the edifice.
In the course of making my documentary series about identity, Who Are You?, for Channel 4, the identity I found hardest to talk about, the most elusive, was Default Man’s. Somehow, his world-view, his take on society, now so overlaps with the dominant narrative that it is like a Death Star hiding behind the moon. We cannot unpick his thoughts and feelings from the “proper, right-thinking” attitudes of our society. It is like in the past, when people who spoke in cut-glass, RP, BBC tones would insist they did not have an accent, only northerners and poor people had one of those. We live and breathe in a Default Male world: no wonder he succeeds, for much of our society operates on his terms.
Chris Huhne (60, Westminster, PPE Magdalen, self-destructively heterosexual), the Default Man we chose to interview for our series, pooh-poohed any suggestion when asked if he benefited from membership or if he represented this group. Lone Default Man will never admit to, or be fully aware of, the tribal advantages of his identity. They are, naturally, full subscribers to that glorious capitalist project, they are individuals!
This adherence to being individuals is the nub of the matter. Being “individual” means that if they achieve something good, it is down to their own efforts. They got the job because they are brilliant, not because they are a Default Man, and they are also presumed more competent by other Default Men. If they do something bad it is also down to the individual and not to do with their gender, race or class. If a Default Man commits a crime it is not because fraud or sexual harassment, say, are endemic in his tribe (coughs), it is because he is a wrong ’un. If a Default Man gets emotional it is because he is a “passionate” individual, whereas if he were a woman it would often be blamed on her sex.
When we talk of identity, we often think of groups such as black Muslim lesbians in wheelchairs. This is because identity only seems to become an issue when it is challenged or under threat. Our classic Default Man is rarely under existential threat; consequently, his identity remains unexamined. It ambles along blithely, never having to stand up for its rights or to defend its homeland.
When talking about identity groups, the word “community” often crops up. The working class, gay people, black people or Muslims are always represented by a “community leader.” We rarely, if ever, hear of the white middle-class community. “Communities” are defined in the eye of Default Man. Community seems to be a euphemism for the vulnerable lower orders. Community is “other.” Communities usually seem to be embattled, separate from society. “Society” is what Default Man belongs to.
In news stories such as the alleged “Trojan Horse” plot in Birmingham schools and the recent child-abuse scandal in Rotherham, the central involvement of an ethnic or faith “community” skews the attitudes of police, social services, and the media. The Muslim or Pakistani heritage of those accused becomes the focus. I’m not saying that faith and ethnic groups don’t have their particular problems but the recipe for such trouble is made up of more than one spicy, foreign ingredient. I would say it involves more than a few handfuls of common-or-garden education/class issues, poor mental health and, of course, the essential ingredient in nearly all nasty or violent problems, men. Yeah, men--bit like them Default Men but without suits on.
In her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” published in 1975, Laura Mulvey coined the term “the male gaze.” She was writing about how the gaze of the movie camera reflected the heterosexual male viewpoint of the directors (a viewpoint very much still with us, considering that only 9 percent of the top 250 Hollywood films in 2012 were directed by women and only 2 percent of the cinematographers were female).
The Default Male gaze does not just dominate cinema, it looks down on society like the eye on Sauron’s tower in The Lord of the Rings. Every other identity group is “othered” by it. It is the gaze of the expensively nondescript corporate leader watching consumers adorn themselves with his company’s products the better to get his attention.
Default Man feels he is the reference point from which all other values and cultures are judged. Default Man is the zero longitude of identities.
He has forged a society very much in his own image, to the point where now much of what other groups think and feel is the same. They take on the attitudes of Default Man because they are the attitudes of our elders, our education, our government, our media. If Default Men approve of something it must be good, and if they disapprove it must be bad, so people end up hating themselves, because their internalized Default Man is berating them for being female, gay, black, silly or wild.
I often hear women approvingly describe themselves or other women as feisty. Feisty, I feel, has sexist implications, as if standing up for yourself was exceptional in a woman. It sounds like a word that a raffish Lothario would use about a difficult conquest.
I once gave a talk on kinky sex and during the questions afterwards a gay woman floated an interesting thought: “Is the legalizing of gay marriage an attempt to neutralize the otherness of homosexuals?” she asked. Was the subversive alternative being neutered by allowing gays to marry and ape a hetero lifestyle? Many gay people might have enjoyed their dangerous outsider status. Had Default Man implanted a desire to be just like him?
Is the fact that we think like Default Man the reason why a black female Doctor Who has not happened, that it might seem “wrong” or clunky? In my experience, when I go to the doctor I am more likely to see a non-white woman than a Default Man.
It is difficult to tweezer out the effect of Default Man on our culture, so ingrained is it after centuries of their rules. A friend was once on a flight from Egypt. As it came in to land at Heathrow he looked down at the rows of mock-Tudor stockbroker-belt houses in west London. Pointing them out, he said to the Egyptian man sitting next to him: “Oh well, back to boring old England.” The Egyptian replied, “Ah, but to me this is very exotic.” And he was right. To much of the world the Default Englishman is a funny foreign folk icon, with his bowler hat, his Savile Row suit, and Hugh Grant accent, living like Reggie Perrin in one of those polite suburban semis. All the same, his tribal costume and rituals have probably clothed and informed the global power elite more than any other culture. Leaders wear his clothes, talk his language, and subscribe to some version of his model of how society “should be.”
When I was at art college in the late Seventies/early Eighties, one of the slogans the feminists used was: “Objectivity is Male Subjectivity.” This brilliantly encapsulates how male power nestles in our very language, exerting influence at the most fundamental level. Men, especially Default Men, have put forward their biased, highly emotional views as somehow “rational,” more considered, more “calm down, dear.” Women and “exotic” minorities are framed as “passionate” or “emotional” as if they, the Default Men, had this unique ability to somehow look round the side of that most interior lens, the lens that is always distorted by our feelings. Default Man somehow had a dispassionate, empirical, objective vision of the world as a birthright, and everyone else was at the mercy of turbulent, uncontrolled feelings. That, of course, explained why the “others” often held views that were at such odds with their supposedly cool, analytic vision of the world.
Recently, footage of the UN spokesman Chris Gunness breaking down in tears as he spoke of the horrors occurring in Gaza went viral. It was newsworthy because reporters and such spokespeople are supposed to be dispassionate and impartial. To show such feelings was to be “unprofessional.” And lo! The inherited mental health issues of Default Man are cast as a necessity for serious employment.
I think Default Man should be made aware of the costs and increasing obsolescence of this trait, celebrated as “a stiff upper lip.” This habit of denying, recasting or suppressing emotion may give him the veneer of “professionalism” but, as David Hume put it: “Reason is a slave of the passions.” To be unaware of or unwilling to examine feelings means those feelings have free rein to influence behavior unconsciously. Unchecked, they can motivate Default Man covertly, unacknowledged, often wreaking havoc. Even if rooted in long-past events in the deep unconscious, these emotions still fester, churning in the dark at the bottom of the well. Who knows what unconscious, screwed-up “personal journeys” are being played out on the nation by emotionally illiterate Default Men?
Being male and middle class and being from a generation that still valued the stiff upper lip means our Default Man is an ideal candidate for low emotional awareness. He sits in a gender/class/age nexus marked “Unexploded Emotional Time Bomb.”
These people have been in charge of our world for a long time.
Things may be changing.
Women are often stereotyped as the emotional ones, and men as rational. But, after the 2008 crash, the picture looked different, as Hanna Rosin wrote in an article in the Atlantic titled “The End of Men”:
Researchers have started looking into the relationship between testosterone and excessive risk, and wondering if groups of men, in some basic hormonal way, spur each other to make reckless decisions. The picture emerging is a mirror image of the traditional gender map: men and markets on the side of the irrational and overemotional, and women on the side of the cool and level-headed.
Over the centuries, empirical, clear thinking has become branded with the image of Default Men. They were the ones granted the opportunity, the education, the leisure, the power to put their thoughts out into the world. In people’s minds, what do professors look like? What do judges look like? What do leaders look like? The very aesthetic of seriousness has been monopolized by Default Man. Practically every person on the globe who wants to be taken seriously in politics, business, and the media dresses up in some way like a Default Man, in a grey, western, two-piece business suit. Not for nothing is it referred to as “power dressing.” We’ve all seen those photo ops of world leaders: color and pattern shriek out as anachronistic. Consequently, many women have adopted this armor of the unremarkable. Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world, wears a predictable unfussy, feminized version of the male look. Hillary Clinton has adopted a similar style. Some businesswomen describe this need to tone down their feminine appearance as “taking on the third gender.”
Peter Jones on Dragons’ Den was once referred to as “eccentric” for wearing brightly colored stripy socks. So rigid is the Default Man look that men’s suit fashions pivot on tiny changes of detail at a glacial pace. U.S. politicians wear such a narrow version of the Default Man look that you rarely see one wearing a tie that is not plain or striped.
One tactic that men use to disguise their subjectively restricted clothing choices is the justification of spurious function. As if they need a watch that splits lap times and works 300 feet underwater, or a Himalayan mountaineer’s jacket for a walk in the park. The rufty-tufty army/hunter camouflage pattern is now to boys as pink is to girls. Curiously, I think the real function of the sober business suit is not to look smart but as camouflage. A person in a grey suit is invisible, in the way burglars often wear hi-vis jackets to pass as unremarkable “workmen.” The business suit is the uniform of those who do the looking, the appraising. It rebuffs comment by its sheer ubiquity. Many office workers loathe dress-down Fridays because they can no longer hide behind a suit. They might have to expose something of their messy selves through their “casual” clothes. Modern, overprofessionalized politicians, having spent too long in the besuited tribal compound, find casual dress very difficult to get right convincingly. David Cameron, while ruining Converse basketball shoes for the rest of us, never seemed to me as if he belonged in a pair.
When I am out and about in an eye-catching frock, men often remark to me, “Oh, I wish I could dress like you and did not have to wear a boring suit.” Haveto! The male role is heavily policed from birth, by parents, peers, and bosses. Politicians in particular are harshly kept in line by a media that seems to uphold more bizarrely rigid standards of conformity than those held by any citizen. Each component of the Default Male role--his gender, his class, his age, and his sexuality--confines him to an ever narrower set of behaviors, until riding a bicycle or growing a beard, having messy hair or enjoying a pint are seen as ker-azy eccentricity. The fashionable members’ club Shoreditch House, the kind of place where “creatives” with two iPhones and three bicycles hang out, has a “No Suits” rule. How much of this is a pseudo-rebellious pose and how much is in recognition of the pernicious effect of the overgrown schoolboy’s uniform, I do not know.
I dwell on the suit because I feel it exemplifies how the upholders of Default Male values hide in plain sight. Imagine if, by democratic decree, the business suit was banned, like certain items of Islamic dress have been banned in some countries. Default Men would flounder and complain that they were not being treated with “respect.”
The most pervasive aspect of the Default Man identity is that it masquerades very efficiently as “normal”--and “normal,” along with “natural,” is a dangerous word, often at the root of hateful prejudice. As Sherrie Bourg Carter, author of High-Octane Women, writes:
Women in today’s workforce ... are experiencing a much more camouflaged foe--second-generation gender biases ... “work cultures and practices that appear neutral and natural on their face”, yet they reflect masculine values and life situations of men.
Personally, working in the arts, I do not often encounter Default Man en masse, but when I do it is a shock. I occasionally get invited to formal dinners in the City of London and on arrival, I am met, in my lurid cocktail dress, with a sea of dinner jackets; perhaps harshly, my expectations of a satisfying conversation drop. I feel rude mentioning the black-clad elephant in the room. I sense that I am the anthropologist allowed in to the tribal ritual.
Of course, this weird minority, these curiously dominant white males, are anything but normal. “Normal,” as Carl Jung said, “is the ideal aim for the unsuccessful.” They like to keep their abnormal power low-key: the higher the power, the duller the suit and tie, a Mercedes rather than a Rolls, just another old man chatting casually to prime ministers at the wedding of a tabloid editor.
Revolution is happening. I am loath to use the R word because bearded young men usually characterize it as sudden and violent. But that is just another unhelpful cliché. I feel real revolutions happen thoughtfully in peacetime. A move away from the dominance of Default Man is happening, but way too slowly. Such changes in society seem to happen at a pace set by incremental shifts in the animal spirits of the population. I have heard many of the “rational” (i.e., male) arguments against quotas and positive discrimination but I feel it is a necessary fudge to enable just change to happen in the foreseeable future. At the present rate of change it will take more than a hundred years before the UK parliament is 50 percent female.
The outcry against positive discrimination is the wail of someone who is having their privilege taken away. For talented black, female, and working-class people to take their just place in the limited seats of power, some of those Default Men are going to have to give up their seats.
Perhaps Default Man needs to step down from some of his most celebrated roles. I’d happily watch a gay black James Bond and an all-female Top Gear, QI or Have I Got News for You. Jeremy Paxman should have been replaced by a woman on Newsnight. More importantly, we need a quota of MPs who (shock) have not been to university but have worked on the shop floor of key industries; have had life experiences that reflect their constituents’; who actually represent the country rather than just a narrow idea of what a politician looks like. The ridiculousness of objections to quotas would become clear if you were to suggest that, instead of calling it affirmative action, we adopted “Proportionate Default Man Quotas” for government and business. We are wasting talent. Women make up a majority of graduates in such relevant fields as law.
Default Man seems to be the embodiment of George Bernard Shaw’s unreasonable man: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to make the world adapt to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Default Man’s days may be numbered; a lot of his habits are seen at best as old-fashioned or quaint and at worst as redundant, dangerous or criminal. He carries a raft of unhelpful habits and attitudes gifted to him from history--adrenalin addiction, a need for certainty, snobbery, emotional constipation, and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement--which have often proved disastrous for society and can also stop poor Default Man from leading a fulfilling life.
Earlier this year, at the Being A Man festival at the Southbank Centre in London, I gave a talk on masculinity called: “Men, Sit Down for your Rights!”. A jokey title, yes, but one making a serious point: that perhaps, if men were to loosen their grip on power, there might be some benefits for them. The straitjacket of the Default Man identity is not necessarily one happily donned by all members of the tribe: many struggle with the bad fit of being leader, provider, status hunter, sexual predator, respectable, and dignified symbol of straight achievement. Maybe the “invisible weightless backpack” that the U.S. feminist Peggy McIntosh uses to describe white privilege, full of “special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks,” does weigh rather a lot after all.
This piece was originally published by the New Statesman.