Many people were shocked, and many were not, by Julie Anne Genter’s comments this week about old white men. Speaking to Cobham Intermediate School pupils, Genter made the point that some of these old white men “need to move on and allow for diversity and new talent.” These statements were made in her capacity as Minister for Women, but if you look at the statistics, it seems like there’s more need for a Minister for Men.
The reason for a Ministry of Women’s Affairs was ostensibly to close the gaps between the well-being of women and men. Since the advent of Abrahamic religion in the West, women have been forced into a subservient role, being forced to take the blame for the fall of man as well as for invoking the horror of Nature. Biblical passages such as Timothy 2:12 instructed Christendom that “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet.”
Ever since these male supremacist religious cults invaded the West, our women have been forced to endure structural abuse. Divorce was banned, forcing women to endure permanent relationships with violent men. Prostitution was banned, denying women natural opportunity for economic advancement. Abortion was banned, forcing women to carry unwanted children to term or else risk a back-alley abortion from a “doctor” with no licence.
By any objective measurement, women had the worst of it for a very long time, and, when we realised this, we tried to make up for it with things like feminism and Ministries for Women’s Affairs. What we’ve been slow to realise is that, now that advantage is mostly a matter of obedience to the political, educational and commerical authorities, women have it better than men in many regards.
Most obviously, women have a much easier time of things in academic settings. Page 38 of the document linked in this paragraph demonstrates that women get better grades in literacy, and page 42 shows that they also get better grades in numeracy. This disparity is even worse for men at university level, which New Zealand women are 40% more likely to participate in.
When men had higher university participation rates than women, the media couldn’t keep quiet about how sexist and evil this state of affairs was. Indeed, this was one of the stated reasons for bringing in a Ministry of Women’s Affairs in the first place. An inequality of outcome in terms of education and gender was simply impermissible, immoral, outrageous.
In 2015, 527 New Zealanders killed themselves, of who 384 were men (72.8%). That means for every Kiwi woman who feels so rejected by society that she is compelled to take her own life, there are almost three Kiwi men who feel the same way. This is greater than the gap between Maori and non-Maori suicide rates, which is itself considered a large enough gap to be a national tragedy that demands immediate action (indeed, there is a Ministry of Maori Development).
So if society is so bad for Maori people that they need their own Ministry, as evidenced by suicide rates, and if society was so bad for women that they needed their own Ministry, as evidenced by tertiary participation rates, then surely there is sufficient cause to say that New Zealand men need someone looking out for them as well?
It’s absurd to claim that women are disadvantaged compared to men because men earn 20% more, when at the same time men are killing themselves at almost 300% the rate of women. It’s doubly absurd when it’s considered that women are benefitting immensely from the way that the pension system is set up, at the expense of predominantly male workers.
If the experience of being a man in New Zealand is so much less pleasant than the experience of being a woman that it carries triple the risk of suicide, it’s time to take steps to redress the balance by instituting a Ministry of Men’s Affairs to make up for all the privilege that women hold.
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