Another Take on the Gender Wars

I feel that "man-hating" is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.

— Robin Morgan, Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist, p 178.

I am watching, as I write, four separate work crews directly across the street engaged in leveling 237,883 square feet of city block in preparation for extending the local mall, already hugely impressive and soon to become gargantuan. Two great pieces of Caterpillar construction equipment are clawing up acres of earth. Several tractors are scurrying about ploughing and scooping up debris and depositing it in corrugated dumpsters, which are then hauled away on 18-wheel flatbed rigs. A fleet of loaded F150s is delivering materials to every corner of the site. A 120 foot mobile crane is lifting long modular trailers onto the roof of the mall. Two Samvik 1500 tread-mounted Rockline Drivers are drilling through the surface parking lot to house pillars and girders. Water trucks are laying the sand clouds and hosing down the giant Caterpillars. Refueling tankers come and go at regular intervals. Lengths of wide-girth polymer concrete pipe are being lowered into freshly dug trenches.

A troop of men with picks and shovels, filing between the Porta Potties, are busy with the finer details, clearing up rubble and smoothing out the smaller protuberances of gravel and tussock. Others are perched precariously on ladders refurbishing the exposed facades with lattices of grillwork. Still others are dredging pools of liquid silt, hoisting and dragging thick plastic tubing and steel rods and unrolling bolts of rubber sheeting and bales of insulation. The foreman, wearing a mud-bespattered white helmet and carrying a clipboard scored with intricate notations like a page of music, is in earnest conversation with two well-tailored gentlemen, whom I later discover represent the architectural firm that won the tender for the project. This, I can’t help but reflect, is real work -- as are the elaborate drafts and recondite computations which make it possible, demanding true intelligence and the most stringent of educational procedures. No room for fooling around here, especially when one considers that the mall will link to the city’s $2.1 billion light-rail line and will incorporate renovations to existing pedestrian bridges.

Amidst the noise, dust, machinery and general commotion, I detect not a single woman on the site. When I consult the foreman on the ostensible travesty that our academic and professional feminists deplore as manifest gender exclusion, he merely smiles. “Too dangerous,” he says, “and not enough muscle.” But women will be hired, he adds, to do some of the electrical work, where their physical and dextrous capacities fit the job, as well as to quell the indignation of the feminist sorority and the dictates of political correctness. “It’s the culture,” he comments wryly, “but we still have to put up a building.” Unfortunately, not that many women opt to become electricians, although the trade is open to them. Indeed, there are far more academic feminists teaching in the universities, where they earn prodigious salaries for doing comparatively little and are guaranteed tenure for the privilege of sounding off, than there are female electricians.

The foreman’s remarks bring to mind a recent lecture given at the University of Toronto by Miles Groth, a men’s rights advocate, editor of New Male Studies and professor at New York’s Wagner College. As Bruce Bawer reports, in an article titled "Voices of Reason about the Gender Wars," Groth asked: “is there a tribute to the positive contributions average men -- the blokes -- have made and are making? The building we are sitting in, the roads that got us here, the metal fabricated from mined ores that hold up the buildings and span rivers -- these were and are provided almost entirely by the effort and design of men. Who hauled nearly every bit of food from farm to market to the dining halls here at the University of Toronto? And who will lift and empty the overfull trash receptacles? A casual glance outside in the early morning hours and late at night will reveal that it was almost always a man, often a young man.” “A simple point,” Bawer observes, “but a strangely moving one -- and one that is, moreover, rarely acknowledged on campuses awash in feminist rhetoric about female victimhood and male patriarchal power.”