Giving "equal" time to the natural truth
ERA = Early Return (to) Ashes?
I was catching up on my topical reading recently when a Washington Post article from March 27th grabbed my attention. Its headline screamed:
"New Drive Afoot to Pass Equal Rights Amendment"
For those of you who have forgotten (or are too young to remember it), the Equal Rights Amendment was the cause celebre` of young American idealists in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. For women, it represented the ultimate validation and fulfillment of their sex. For men, it was a way to get validation of their own - through sex they connived by giving lip service to the woeful plight of those unfulfilled, yet emancipated women.
Relax - I'm just kidding. Sort of. But let's not forget I was THERE, you know. I'm digressing, though
The Post article recaps the final days of the push for ERA, which fell just 3 states shy of enactment in 1982 (it needed the ratification of 38 out of 50 states, a 3/4ths majority). But in the wake of the dramatic left turn both the House and Senate took in the November 2006 mid-term elections, the Democrats have re-introduced the measure - now called the Women's Equality Amendment - and are promising a vote during this current session of Congress.
Now, regardless of what the ratification of this long-awaited Amendment may or may not mean politically here in America (activists against the measure say it opens the door to women in combat roles, same-sex public restrooms, the toughening of sexual harassment standards, and the denial of Social Security benefits to widowed housewives), here's my question:
Would American women really WANT true equality if it meant giving up their nearly 6-year edge in life span over men?
Don't laugh - it's a serious question. I ask it because some new research indicates that this may indeed be exactly what happens were men and women to find themselves equal in every way possible without surgery or genetic alteration. According to some recent research from Sweden - considered by many feminists to be one of the most egalitarian nations on Earth, mind you (80% of Swede women have jobs, women comprise half of the Swedish Parliament) - true gender equality carries some deadly downsides
Using nine indicators of equality (including job title, income, and others considered important to ERA advocates), the scientists from the Swedish Institute of Public Health examined both public and private sector employees in all 290 of their home nation's municipal zones. Their conclusions, after comparing local data for life expectancy, disabilities, work absences, and other factors:
- Where women earn the same as men for performing the same jobs at the same level, workers of BOTH sexes suffer poorer health and greater disability than where unequal
- Where other, non-vocational measures of equality are most closely matched, men and women BOTH get sicker and suffer disability more often - and presumably die younger
- Both men and women in management positions died younger than those with lower pressure lifestyles
In other words, as equality increases between the sexes, it increases in both its benefits AND its liabilities. The Swedish researchers theorize that one reason men's life spans and resiliency actually decrease as women around them achieve greater equality is that their health may be adversely affected by the loss of traditional male sexual identifiers - things like hard labor or the pride of being the provider for a family
Conversely, they suggest that women's health deterioration with greater equality may be due to the greater opportunities for risky or damaging behavior that goes hand-in-hand with greater income and more power
Whatever the reasons are, one seems (remains) clear to me:
No matter how you dress it up or socially engineer it, men are men and women are women. And both of them are a lot healthier when everyone realizes it - and acts accordingly
P.S. In case you now think I'm a chauvinist pig, know this: I've always thought that women lived longer than men because they're emotionally stronger than us. Generally, a woman can survive the loss of her man - but a man falls to pieces at the loss of a woman. Seen it time and again. I know I would