Appeared in Business in Vancouver – September 24, 2013
On the unimpeachable authority of Statistics Canada, the richest Canadians are – roll of drums, the asset statement please – married, middle-aged white men! Hurrah, score one for our side!
Allow the infantile moment. We don’t win many. Or shall I say “they.” Middle age got up on its feet and silently stole away from me some time ago. And I’m a few hundred million or so below membership in that club.
Notwithstanding the foregoing frivolity, the tides of time have worn away some of my jaunty certainties while exposing my painfully durable blunders. Man and woman, oh my God. The fun and the fury. One stares at the glowing wedding pictures. Joy. Wordless dreams. Then the bed-fireworks wink out. Who could have predicted the beefy brute? Or the harmful little armful?
Alas, many could. Experience tells us that the suspicious relations between the sexes, marriage above all, are the oldest business in the world. And also the most endless war, uneasy truces negotiated by love and necessity, animal spirits giving birth to mortgages, usually preceded by giving birth to children. As for the unmarried, one woman I’m familiar with declares that most older women without men go strange. What do I know?
What I have soberly learned is that aging veterans of the feminist transition often are bitter about workplace prejudice that held them and their incomes back. Of course, most men took this for granted as the natural order of things, having practised by being waited on by their mothers.
A woman of long and distinguished accomplishment, you’d know the name, hasn’t forgotten that she wrought good things that her male bosses airily took public credit for. Most such capable women, lacking the necessary grit, suffered in silence.
Slowly it sunk in: Women’s liberation was good for business – driven more by the produce-consume dynamo than by Betty Friedan; nothing seriously changes until money gives permission. For me, a moment of truth was when Moira Farrow, a top Vancouver Sun reporter, was refused a mortgage. Farrow was then mature, long established, respected, but suspected of financial skittishness. Unmarried, you see. Such were bank practices just 40 years ago.
But I hasten to squash any hint of being reformed. Feminism hurt too. It implicitly, sometimes explicitly, scorned mere “housewives.” It doesn’t lack for gender bigots. A screed called Against Our Will argued all male-female intercourse, marital included, is rape. In my trade, in the early 1990s the Southam company announced that it would assess its executives partly by their promotion of women. Surprise! This disadvantaged men – individuals, not patriarchal cut-outs – and undercut women genuinely promoted on merit (I had a couple of those, both excellent).
Our society, abetted by its media handmaidens, plays childish good guys/bad guys games, trades new victims for old, fresh prejudices for ancient, one stereotype for another – there were always bullying wives and “henpecked” husbands, and some studies show women initiate violence more often than the men who overpoweringly end it. There’s rarely discussion about women maybe exploiting women: professionals freed up for careers by their Filipina nannies. As our three-generation household partly was.
Today there are five female premiers among 10 provinces, more women than men at universities, etc., yet the media relentlessly make sex counts after elections. One feminist complained that “at least” half the present Christy Clark cabinet should have been women. “At least.” That’s not equality. It’s the Women’s Supremacy Movement.
Well, all social movements have their fanatics, even the Spanish Inquisition. Little joke there. Best to keep calm and carry on.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013