If The Genders Be Reversed:

… a Test for Equal Treatment
(c) 2012,* Davd, lightly edited 2014, 2015

Even when we know intuitively or from reading that something “is so” or “isn’t so”, it helps to have a measure, or at least an indicator of the fact. When arguing over gender [in]equality, a good indicator is all-the-more needed, because one side’s intuitions aren’t likely to be honoured by the opposition. Here’s a test, an indicator if you prefer that word, for Gender Equality: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? Methinks it will unmask most Feminist claims that “gender equality” requires giving more to women; and become a valuable tool for men seeking fair (equal-opportunity) treatment. A few examples may help readers see how to apply this “Gender-Reversal test”; using double standards of violence, accusation, sexual consent, and child custody that should all be familiar to most men.

Gerry and Leslie are names given to both boys and girls. Suppose there is a domestic fight involving the heterosexual couple Gerry and Leslie. Each is being equally violent. The police want to break up the fight, and the power they have available to use, is arrest. Who will the police arrest and take away to jail?

I’d be willing to bet—if i could be assured of a true answer—that as you read this, most of you who answered, thought or said “him”. I might lose a few bets, but i’d win many more—and there would probably be many who wouldn’t answer, just because you didn’t know which one of them was the male…

.. and “him” is the correct answer.

When i talked with people involved with law-enforcement, from criminal lawyers to pastors who counsel inmates and Salvation Army officers, in 2010 and 2011; they agreed that with equal violence on both sides, the male will be arrested 90% or more of the time anyone is arrested. (I live in Canada and arrests are not mandatory, or weren’t until very recently.)

This is especially unfair if—as seems more likely than not—equal violence on both sides, means the man is restraining himself more than the woman is restraining herself! The poor man is fighting back just enough to defend himself—and he’s the one that gets hauled off to jail?

If instead of male and female, the categories involved were “Native” and “white” and both combatants were of the same gender, such systematic favouritism would be called “racism” and would be forbidden by law.

This stereotypical example is almost comical, but it is no joke. I begin with it because it is an obvious, extreme negative answer to the “Gender-Reversal1 test” question: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? If they would not be the same, there is inequality. Think about that: If there were gender-equality in the legal treatment of domestic fights, as many women as men would be hauled off to jail, when police responded to he-she battles with equal violence on both sides. Obviously, that’s not true: Women are privileged—privileged to do violence to men they live with.

To stay with violence as subject-matter for two more examples, let’s consider pre-pubertal children and opposite-sex pairs of adults who do not “have a sexual relationship.”

About 60 years ago, my boyhood playmates and i would occasionally get kicked-in-the-shins, hard, by a girl who then danced away chanting “Can’t hit a gir-rul, can’t hit a gir-rul”. Many parents discouraged their daughters from this kind of aggression (some mothers seemed to believe that such aggression was a legitimate way for girls to respond to merely verbal insults); but boys who fought-back after being attacked were generally punished more harshly than girls who attacked. I have not seen this happen lately; but then, old men hanging around playgrounds are sometimes treated as potential “perverts”, so i am “prudently intimidated” from going to observe where i might most likely see it.

Can you even imagine a boy aged 8-10 kicking a girl of the same age in-the-shins, hard, and dancing away chanting “Can’t hit a bow-ee, can’t hit a bow-ee”?

The double standard of childhood verbal insulting was less clear, but again, favoured girls.

That small-child double standard i experienced, existed at a time when most girls expected to grow up to be housewives and mothers. Those were the Diefenbaker-Eisenhower years; and the girls who kicked me in the shins represented the first “Baby Boomers” and their older sisters. Many of their mothers had waited through World War II to be able to marry and have children. (In the 1950s, having children outside marriage was shameful.) The daughters saw mothers and housewives as positive examples partly because most of those older mothers2 were very glad to be stay-home mothers rather than Depression girls or spinsters, and wartime workers, such as they had been before marriage.

“The protection of the home” was then the normal milieu of women and girls; adventure and violence were male business to which only a small fraction of women aspired3. Most homes were protected, not only by the law and the Police, but first and foremost by a husband-father. If the home protected a few female privileges, they were plausibly “balanced” by men’s greater access to the wider world, and by the practice, then common, of brides vowing to obey their husbands.

Today, girls and women still have their privileges, including the privilege of violence without the violent response that same-sex violence often provokes—but men’s privileges are gone.

For a third example of violence between the sexes, let’s be conventionally old-fashioned, and recall a “standard movie scene”, which can happen in ordinary life, of a woman slapping a man’s face, hard, for using “naughty words”, impugning her virtue [sexual or otherwise], or showing affection in a way she finds offensive. Men were and are expected to take such violence without complaint, much less even think of hitting back… though few if any men would dare slap another man in like manner unless he were inviting a fight4. If a man who a woman slapped were to call the Police, and if they both told the exact truth about the incident, she would be vanishingly unlikely to be arrested, far less punished as a criminal. Few if any men would be fool enough to try dialling 9-1-1 because a woman slapped their faces, even several times, no matter how hard.

Now imagine that a man slaps a woman’s face, only half-hard, for using “naughty words”, impugning his virtue, or showing affection in a way he finds offencive. She can call the Police, and if they both tell the exact truth about the incident, he is rather likely to be arrested and punished as a criminal.

There is a Double Standard of violence displayed in each of these three examples: Women’s acts of violence against men are tolerated when, if the genders were reversed, the same acts would be punished with vigour and severity.

The obvious, logical test for gender equality, to repeat, is: If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? For violence, the answer is often, perhaps always, no. The sexes are not equal; women and girls are privileged. To achieve gender equality, either girls’ and women’s violence against men and boys must be punished more severely, and condemned more, morally; and-or boys’ and men’s violence against women and girls must be punished less severely, and condemned less, morally.

Men have the moral right to demand that, in the name of “Gender equality”.

Now on to a very non-violent kind of Double Standard: Accusation:
Over 20 years ago now, i criticized something a woman had done and she responded with “Why do you hate us?” It wasn’t logical, it wasn’t true, it wasn’t fair—but because she was a she and i was a he, she got away with it. If she had criticized me the same way—complained, for instance, that i had made her wait two hours after saying i’d show up at a particular time—and i had replied, “Why do you hate us?”—do you think i would have got away with it? If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same?

For accusing the opposite-sex of hate, the answer between 1980 and 2010, was almost always no. The sexes were not equal; women and girls were [and apparently still are] privileged. To achieve gender equality, either girls’ and women’s [untrue] accusations against men and boys must be punished more severely, and condemned more, morally; or boys’ and men’s accusations against women and girls must be punished less severely, and condemned less, morally.

Sexual Freedom”:
If women’s privileges to do violence to men without suffering consequences, are hold-overs from when women were usually sheltered in the home, their present-day sexual privileges constitute reversals of the restrictions that sheltered women were supposed to accept “back then.” In the 1950s, there was said to be a double standard of sexual freedom: Men were considered to have more license to “screw around” than women. Since 19-sixty-somewhen, the “conventional wisdom” says, women have had about the same license as men—but is there perhaps a different double standard emerging?

Suppose a different Gerry and a different Leslie meet at a party. Alcohol is freely available. They get quite intoxicated and “have sex” by mutual agreement. Next morning both regret their mutual decision to “do it”. Who is guilty of what?

Again, as in the violence examples, “he” is deemed guilty in legal systems influenced by Feminism. Specifically, by a crime-reporting re-definition recently promulgated by the famous United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, he is guilty of raping her (though as yet, most US State laws differ from this recent redefinition.) This is not a logical attribution of guilt; it is ideological5 It blames men for consensual sexual relations between intoxicated partners—and in so doing, nearly reverses the Double Standard of the mid-20th Century. If the genders were reversed, obviously, the outcome would not be the same: Women are privileged. To achieve gender equality, women must reach equal probability of being found guilty of rape [and other sexual misconduct] in such non-violent encounters, either by reducing the number of men deemed guilty or increasing the number of women.

Someone from another intelligent species, free of the influences of Feminism (and of other earthly ideologies), would probably say that Gerry and Leslie are both and equally guilty of lack of discipline with respect to alcoholic beverages. The event wasn’t a rape at all—and the regrets should be directed at the face in the mirror, not the sex-partner.

For the final example of this little essay, let me refer to the subject that is most painful for many men: Child custody and fatherhood. If in the case of conflict involving equal violence, the poltically correct answer to “who will be punished” is he; in the case of conflict in court over custody of children, involving equal merit, the politically correct answer to “who will be given the children” is she. If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? Obviously not. The sexes are not equal; women are privileged. To achieve gender equality, men must reach equal probability of winning custody.

One way to effect gender equality in child custody, would be to give each parent custody of same-sex children. There is much to be said for such a rule: Children do grow up; and boys become men while girls become women. Much of our social learning involves imitation. Boys, therefore, have more need of men than women as “role models”; while girls have more need of women than men.

Such a simple rule can also be attacked as “too crude”. A wise judge, whether in a courtroom, a family circle, a tribal circle, or the gates of Paradise, might well take into consideration the moral conduct of both parents and what kind of precepts each would offer for guidance, and what examples for imitation. A good father might raise even a girl, better than a bad mother. An athletic father might raise a child with athletic talent, even a girl, better than a “couch potato” mother.

The test remains the same: If the genders[of the parents] were reversed, would the outcome be the same? When child custody decisions reach equality by that standard, children as well as fathers will benefit.

All the above examples, turn out to show women and girls to be privileged over men and boys. If we were to consider publicly funded education, women and girls would be seen to be privileged there as well. It is difficult in the second decade of the 21st Century, to find an aspect of social life in Europe and North America, that exhibits male privilege,6 but banally easy to find examples of female privilege. The “Gender-Reversal test” looks to be a powerful way to bring that excess of female privilege to wide public attention.

My purpose in writing is not to “say the last word” on the subject. (These days, as two generations ago, women usually claim the last word.) My purpose is to invite and encourage men, and women who truly value gender-equality, to take up the Gender-Reversal test, and apply it often.

If the genders were reversed, would the outcome be the same? If not, how shall we fix the situation so that male and female humans have the equality of opportunities that led many men to support “women’s liberation” fifty years ago? I recall my own first reaction to that phrase, “women’s liberation”, was “Why not? I value liberation for people, and women are people.”

Of couse, my intention was that both sexes would benefit—that liberating women would further liberate men, rather than alter men’s condition in the direction of confinement and slavery. More recently, i have become convinced that total liberation of any population, in an interdependent milieu, necessarily entails the abuse of others with which it shares the space. The “Gender-Reversal test” may yet help us move things toward what mutual liberation is practicable, and equal opportunity.

If not, then “society”, in failing such an important test, may be on the way to flunking out completely.


* This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in February 2012, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2012”; though a very few more recent hyperlinks have been added, the text itself does not take account of more recent events or writings. It is posted here on everyman now, because access to the Spearhead site has recently been unreliable.

1. Some readers may be inclined to “quibble”, that the word gender should read sex. However, “sex reversal” can have a connotation of “sex-change”; so idiomatically, “gender-reversal” seems preferable.

2. (Older relative to the age of their daughters)

3. A rather small minority of men aspired to violence, perhaps a majority, to adventure. But during World War II, the Korean War, and to some extent in Vietnam, many American and a few Canadian men were sent to do violence for reasons quite outside their natures.

4. One formulation of “Chivalry” states that a man who slaps another, often with an empty glove, is challenging the man slapped to a duel to the death.

5. The re-definition specifies that rape constitutes “penetration without consent”, and that one who is intoxicated cannot lawfully consent. The male genital organ “sticks out” while the female genital organ is inside the body outline, and thus the word “penetration” specifies that females who initiate intercourse, do not commit rape however drunk or unwilling the man with whom they copulate—indeed, a man on whom a drunken woman forces intercourse, could be defined to have raped her. (A woman could, by this tendentious “definition”, commit rape by “goosing” a man (or another woman) with her thumb, a trowel handle, etc..)

6. Two examples did occur to me: Senior executive office in business and politics, and competitive spectator sports. Elite leaders and elite “commercial athletes” are mostly male. (The easiest explanation of this, is the “flatter distribution curve” of male than of female ability.) Top leadership and big-league sports are both elite-only “areas of work”, to which ordinary men and women cannot realistically aspire—and if male predominance there reflects a larger number of men of extremely high [and extremely low] capability, then it may well derive from fair competition for the top spots, and not from any gender inequality of opportunity.

I do not regard military service as a privilege—it is more nearly a burdensome obligation, and obviously carries a far higher risk of death and maiming, than any work voluntarily taken up or sought by a majority of women.


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About Davd

Davd (PhD, 1966) has been a professor, a single father keeping a small commercial herb garden so as to have flexible time for his sons, and editor of _Ecoforestry_. He is a practicing Christian, and in particular an advocate of ecoforestry, self-sufficiency horticulture, and men of all faiths living together "in peace and brotherhood" for the fellowship, the efficiency, and the goodwill that sharing work so often brings.
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