Dr. Helen

Are Men on Strike or Have they Quit?

I get many interesting emails about Men on Strike and a common theme in the feedback is that men are not on strike, they have quit. Here is a recent example:

I have finished reading your book and I liked it but I had to say that I didn’t much care for the title. The way I, a male, see it, men are not on strike, they quit. A strike is what people do when they feel they are being treated unfairly by their employers and want to rectify that (and believe they have a realistic chance of doing so with a strike) so that they can eventually return to work under better, fairer conditions. Men are not seeking to ever go back to the way things were, which you seem to advocate (please correct me if I am wrong), even if the extremely hostile climate were to become more hospitable.

I believe that marriage has become an outdated institution and obsolete concept. It made since during the Bronze Age when people lived in a hunter/gatherer world where you eat what you kill (which requires one to kill to eat). Since hunting was very dangerous and physical strength was critical, it not only would make sense that the physical stronger man, who would clearly have a much better chance of success (and survival), while the female remained in the cave, or village or whatever, are care for the children was really the only viable strategy for survival and propagation of the species. It also made sense during the days of the agrarian economy when farming was labor intensive and multiple children were needed. As long as the average life span was less than forty years and homemaking was a full time job, marriage made sense.

I suppose the word “strike” does give the idea that if marriage were more fair, men would opt back in. Some, like the emailer above, say this is not true, that men have quit trying to get married and found alternate arrangements which are better suited for them. I think some men are on strike from marriage because it is a bad deal and others see marriage as obsolete and have quit trying altogether. Is strike the correct word? I don’t know. Perhaps the emailer is on to something.