… Some Lessons, Learning Tasks (and Opportunities?) for Us
(c) 2017, Davd
Women outnumber men in the Canadian population, and have for decades. I recently wrote arguing that rather than replace “he / him” as the generic human pronoun, with an awkward plural1, “she / her” should be employed where men are a small minority and women, a dominant majority2. “They / them” should refer to plural humans; it is worth knowing if one has heard or read reference to one person, or more than one.
Feminism has won, at least for the present, its battle for a gynocentric view of human nature. Schools have been gynocentric environments through the first 8-12 grades, for decades; in this century, universities are as well. Women dominate Government and financial bureaucracies. There remain areas of work which are predominately male, such as commercial fishing, garbage collection, and logging, but the image of a government official as male, is now quite false empirically. “The garbage man” as an expression, still fits the demographics of the work; “The tax man” is now false.
Men and women can rather reliably be distinguished by sight and by voice. Much as some members of racial minorities “passed for white” in the 20th Century, some men could “pass for women”, and some women could “pass for men”, today—but only with effort. As surely as “Afro” and “Asian” minorities are visible—so also are men.
Referring to ourselves, to men, as a visible minority, will i believe, help us understand our true present social condition, and adapt to it. It will “out” women’s advantages and privileges, not entirely but substantially.
With Government bureaucracies in particular, and bureaucracies generally, being women’s domains rather than men’s, we should give up, quickly!, any notion that the bureaucratic personality is masculine. Indeed, we should give up any notion that it is “gender neutral”. A commanding majority of bureaucrats, and of occupants of the feeder positions for all the most senior jobs in government, are women. Most of those women have menstrual cycles3. Other women are likely sensitive to those cycles; many men are not4.
Menstrual synchrony, the phenomenon of women who live together having a common menstrual cycle, is fairly well known to occur in women’s residences. What of women who work together and do not live with other women, or with only one or two in their household? Might there be menstrual synchrony in offices where mostly women work? Might bureaucracies have common menstrual cycles, such that one could predict when in those cycles a request is most and least likely to succeed?
Imaginably — and referring to bureaucrats as she [etc.] will help us menstrually unequipped men, to be attentive to the subtle indications of the menstrual cycle’s progress, and adapt our conduct to it.
Should we have to do this?
Should Afro-Americans have had to be attentive to the subtle indications of “white” receptiveness or hostility to their truths and their requests? Morally, no. Politically and at work, “to get by”, yes. Our situation is now more like that of Afro-America 60 years ago, than like that of an “equal” ethnic group such as Irish- or German-Canadians….
… and like Afro-America 60 years ago, we are more visible than Irish- or German-Canadians. It is easier to see that the Premier of Saskatchewan is male, than that his ancestry is substantially Germanic. It is obvious that the Premier of Ontario is female; i don’t know what her ethnic ancestry is.
The political usage of “visible minority” does not include us. The factual truth is that men constitute a visible minority of government officials, of newly designated lawyers, of bureaucrats generally, of medical students and newly licensed physicians… as well as of the general population.
For all this century and more than a few years at the conclusion of the last, it has been advantageous to be born a girl rather than a boy in Canada, the USA, much of Europe, … in the “developed world” other perhaps than Japan and Russia. We are a minority in social prospects, as well as in number.
Failing to acknowledge that truth, failing to treat us men as a visible minority that overlaps racial minorities, will not improve our situation. Acknowledging our disadvantaged situation may not quickly improve it, but it offers better hope in the medium and long term, than living a lie.
1. To use “they / them” as a generic singular pronoun, destroys the useful information that a plural pronoun contained: That it refers to two or more people. Contriving a gender neutral singular pronoun would seem to have merit. Until a gender neutral singular pronoun be accepted, “she /her” is the most appropriate generic pronoun for members of cohorts where men are a small minority and women, a dominant majority.
2. To quantity the clause, “men are a small minority and women, a dominant majority”, i use a 2:1 criterion: If women outnumber men by more than 2:1 in an occupation, the proper generic pronoun in referring to that occupation, is she (her, hers, etc.) Reverse it, and the proper generic pronoun in referring to an occupation in which men outnumber women by more than 2:1, is he (him, his, etc.) Indeed, many people refer generically to nurses and schoolteachers as she, and to loggers and garbage collectors as he.
This criterion, however, fails to provide generic pronouns for occupations (and hobbies, sports, consumer stereotypes, etc.) which are neither predominately male nor predominately female.
3. Presently, women in government bureaucracy average young enough, that probably most have menstrual cycles; as the workers age, more will be menopausal and post menopausal.
4. I may be less sensitive than most men, since my Mother had “surgical menopause” for medical treatment of some ovarian irregularity, when i was very young, and my sister’s puberty occurred a fairly short time before i completed regular school and moved away to attend university.