Until the 2016 Presidential election, it was safe to say women were making strides toward equality. Some hurdles remain Women are barred from the priesthood in the Catholic Church and still lag behind men in equal pay. (“Noted,” The Week, November 11, 2016,pg. 16,). Whether or not they can continue to control their bodies is in question.
I’m happy for the progress women have made, but I also realize that throughout history, men have faced challenges, too, not because of gender but because of class. We learned in school how a majority of men in the Middle Ages were forced to do their master’s bidding or serve as cannon fodder in foreign wars.
To be honest, not much has changed. The poor still fight our wars. We wave them off with flags flying, then leave them to shiver on the streets when they return, struggling with war disabilities both mental and physical. As homeless people, they become a public nuisance. Men, after all, are expected to fend for themselves. I struggled against this prejudice throughout my political life. I could raise money for a women and children’s shelter but not a dime to house men.
Veterans of World War II were luckier than most. They returned to a booming economy and the dignity of work. (“America’s Missing Male Workers”, Ibid pg. 11) But today, free trade, globalization and technology have altered the landscape. Unable to find jobs, those without education or skills turn to drugs and crime for solace. The result is an exploding prison population. Nearly 70% of unemployed young males in our society live with their parents. (Ibid pg. 11) It’s a dismal life without hope.
Our new president believes rebuilding the infrastructure will create jobs. President Obama held the same belief 8 years ago. Congress buried his plan. Donald Trump says he doesn’t need Congress. He will shift the jobs to the private sector. Unfortunately, in the private sector only the most profitable projects will go forward and few jobs will be generated.
People who are angry with their government forget why it exists. It’s aim is to redistribute wealth so that no man or women or child is captive to the excesses of the wealthy – so that no one lives as a serf. Yet the new president and the Congress have plans to do away with wealth redistribution: health care, social security, Medicare and fair labor laws. To be sure, the disenfranchised male spoke loudly in this last election. I wonder if they knew what they were saying.