By David Futrelle
Men’s Rights activists like to pat themselves, and their fellow men, on the back for doing the hard work that keeps civilization going. It’s overwhelmingly men, they point out, who mine the coal, who cut down the trees, who build the houses, who put out these houses when they catch on fire, and who do any number of other Really Manly Man things that the world needs, or thinks it needs, done. (I’m pretty sure that we could do without the coal.)
Men’s jobs are essential, MRAs love to say, while women’s jobs are basically pointless make-work.
You might think that the coronavirus would crack a little hole in this crackpot theory. The people on the real front lines in fighting this deadly virus are healthcare workers — doctors, nurses, and others who are literally risking their lives to treat the exponentially increasing number of victims.
And healthcare workers, as anyone who ever visits a hospital surely notices almost at once, are overwhelmingly female. Indeed, nearly 80 percent of those in healthcare are women, and women make up more than 90 percent of nurses. And while the majority of doctors are men, that’s beginning to change: some 60 percent of doctors under the age of 35 in the US are women.
At this point in my life, for what it’s worth, virtually all the medical care I get comes from women. My primary care physician is a woman. My psychiatrist is a woman. My therapist is a woman. The nurses that check my vitals and draw my blood are almost always women. When I had to go to the emergency room several months back everyone who treated me was a woman.
MRAs would rather celebrate garbagemen than acknowledge that women are out there doing literally lifesaving work. Indeed, a recent post in the Men’s Rights subreddit focuses on a viral tweet by a garbageman who’s proud of the essential work he’s doing in this crisis (as he should be; he is indeed doing vital work that benefits us all, though maybe he shouldn’t be so noisy with the cans).
The trouble is that the OP uses the garbageman’s tweet as some sort of “proof” that “[m]en keep society running, especially in times of crisis.” And most of the discussion involves a lot of jokes about the reluctance of women to enter this particular profession — which is roughly 99% male — without acknowledging that women have been systematically discriminated against in this and in pretty much all of the predominantly male professions that MRAs like to celebrate.
Here are the top comments in this scintillating conversation.
Another fellow had these thoughts about garbage collection and teaching.
Perhaps a teacher could have taught him that “shown” is the proper word here, not “show.”
There are some commenters, thankfully, who point out that women, too, contribute to the world in many ways. There’s even a mention of nurses. So not all MRAs are quite so hermetically sealed off from reality as out OP here. But it’s unfortunate that so many of them are.
I wonder how many of the commenters in this Men’s Rights subreddit thread work as garbagemen, or lumberjacks, or firefighters or indeed at anything that might require them to stand up from time to time. They can’t be doing much in the way of heroic work if they have so much time to peruse the Men’s Rights subreddit. Unless maybe they’re firemen, who do indeed have a lot of down time. But somehow I’m thinking not, because we’d never hear the end of their bragging if they were. Like most MRAs, they’re happy to claim personal credit for anything heroic done by any man in history, while taking blame for nothing. They are the very definition of non-essential.
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