Men are hemmed in by narratives telling them that stoicism is manly. This isn’t what I want for my son
I am the mother of a boy child, as my Nigerian family would say. Having a boy means not having to worry about what to do with a girl. Here in the UK I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people assert that boys are good because they are emotionally “uncomplicated”. Collectively, we might want to think long and hard about the ways in which our boys will have to pay for these constricted and restricting views of masculinity. What do boys lose when brought up to believe in macho ideals?
This week, the Harvard Business Review published findings on how senior executives manage that thing we all find difficult – the elusive work-life balance. The article, written by Professor Boris Groysberg and Robin Abraham, academics at Harvard Business School, found that both male and female business leaders continue to view family life as the woman’s domain.
In interviews conducted over a five-year period with more than 4,000 participants, they note that “executives of both sexes consider the tension between work and family to be primarily a woman’s problem”. This despite the fact that “88% of the men are married, compared with 70% of the women. And 60% of the men have spouses who don’t work full-time outside the home, compared with only 10% of the women. The men have an average of 2.22 children; the women, 1.67.” The facts speak for themselves: for these high-achieving men, children and/or elderly parents are life problems that wives and girlfriends will have to wrestle with. While they are being honest, we too should admit that more than just a few thousand share this sexist view.
Striking the right balance between work and home life should be tricky for all, not just women. That it isn’t seen as such reveals how we carry on buying into traditional ideas about performing gender. Men continue to be hemmed in by narratives telling them that emotion isn’t their strong point and stoicism is manly. Being stunted emotionally and unable to share meaningfully with family and friends isn’t what I want for my son. Not least because some men who subscribe to this version of masculinity pay with their lives. And that last line, sadly, isn’t journalistic hyperbole but fact: men total 67% of all alcohol-related deaths, are between three and five times more likely to commit suicide, and are more prone to emotional isolation. Some men are trapped in a vicious cycle where emotional honesty and vulnerability cannot be communicated. Notions that our private lives are really only distractions from the real world of work exist as part of a continuum that enables and perpetuates these saddening statistics.
In its 2012 report looking at the reasons behind the gender gap in suicide rates, the Samaritans cites traditional notions of masculinity as a contributing factor. Stating that “men compare themselves against a masculine ‘gold standard’ which prizes power, control and invincibility”, they explain what feminists such as Bell Hooks have been saying for years – that patriarchy hurts men too. Told from a young age that boys don’t cry, many men are restricted by a culture that believes emotional openness and caring for your family are examples of girlishness. Rather than looking to blame feminism for making men feel as though they have lost their way, we need to talk instead of how sexist stereotyping cuts both ways, damaging all.
Boys aren’t easier than girls. Raising someone not to be tempted by the privilege their “winkie” will be given in a society rife with gender inequality will be complicated. It will be worth it if I can raise my child to be free from the confines of traditional masculinity; that which continues to wreak havoc on so many lives, including that of “the man’s man”.
via World news and comment from the Guardian | theguardian.com (Feedly)
The idea of a ‘peace dividend’ is gone – high levels of military spending are an entrenched part of the global landscape
China’s surge in military spending gains headlines, partly because of the ominous implications regarding its regional contest with Japan, but it’s the deeper structures of military spending in general that are far more compelling.
There are few surprises about the distribution of military spending: for all the current focus on China’s growing military outlays – and it is significant that they have embarked on a sequence of double-digit increases as a percentage of GDP – the United States still accounts for 40% of such expenditures. However, the distribution is not the only thing that matters; it’s the sheer scale of such investment – $1.756tn in 2012. The “peace dividend" from the end of the cold war has long since bitten the dust. Global military spending has returned to pre-1989 levels, undoubtedly a legacy of the war on terror and the returning salience of military competition in its context. In fact, by 2011 global military spending was higher than at any year since the end of the second world war.
So, what is the explanation for such huge investments? Is it simply the case that states are power-maximising entities, and that as soon as they have access to enough taxable income they start dreaming war?
In a very general sense, militarisation could be seen as an integral aspect of capitalism. One of the central ambiguities of capitalism is that it is necessarily a global system, with production and exchange extending beyond national boundaries; yet at the same time, units of capital (corporations etc) tend to be concentrated within national states where they are afforded an infrastructure, a labour force, and a great deal of primary investments. Even the process of globalisation presupposes the investment and guidance of national states. The more deeply companies are intertwined with national states, the more they rely on those states to fight their competitive battles on a global stage. Maintaining a military advantage is arguably an intrinsic part of this.
However, once this rather abstract principle is established, the question still remains unanswered. After all, there is no inherent reason why geo-economic competition should lead to defence spending consuming trillions of dollars of value each year. Part of the answer has to be located in the way that high levels of military spending became such an entrenched part of the global landscape in the aftermath of two world wars.
In the context of the second world war, and then in the subsequent cold war, one thing about military spending that became abundantly clear is that it is never just about conflict. As in the conduct of wars themselves, the institutionalisation of military spending quickly becomes entangled in a series of incentives that are entirely tangential to the ostensive motive.
First of all, states that do embark on large scale military investment quickly assume strategic command of core sectors of the economy, allowing for a degree of planning and co-ordination, a level of state capacity that might otherwise be deplored by business as “socialism”. Quite a lot of the major US technological advances made under the rubric of “free enterprise”, including particularly Apple’s innovations, owe themselves originally to state investments organised under the banner of “defence”.
Second, military investment is not just an effect of economic growth, but often a lever in enhancing it. This is a complicated story in itself. Post-war US growth was probably enhanced by arms spending, but the levels of spending required during the Vietnam war sapped too much capital away from other profitable investments. By the same token, it is not clear whether Japan’s rise to becoming a major global economic power would have been possible had its military commitments not been constitutionally limited.
Nonetheless, there is some complex evidence of arms spending increasing growth. Barry Rundquist and Thomas Carsey’s study of military procurement in the United States demonstrates that this has a distributive aspect. Such spending in the US helps already wealthy, booming locales become even wealthier, but it does not tend to make poor areas wealthier and nor does it reduce unemployment. This is quite significant, because one of the major arguments governments offer for protecting military spending is that it protects jobs – the one situation in which governments almost always feign an interest in employment. There is actually little evidence for this claim.
That brings us to a final point. There is no way to discuss the real dimensions of military competition without looking at how this is represented for particular audiences. One thinks of the way in which struggles over arms spending in the US become inflected with evocations of external threats, which help consolidate domestic power blocs. The Reaganite-era neo-conservative bloc was impossible without an elevated Russian “threat”. So, particularly in states with an imperialist role, military spending can become complexly bound up not only with state-building strategies and agendas for regional economic growth, but also with domestic hegemonic strategies in which the legitimacy of governments hinges upon their ability to project violence.
To this extent, to really understand world arms spending it is necessary to penetrate beneath the generalities about sui generis state behaviour, as power-maximisers and so on, and delve into the messy politics of militarism in each society.
Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre, spotlights the economic crisis that emerging economies find themselves in.
The post New Economic Crisis Engulfing Developing Countries appeared first on Inter Press Service.via Inter Press Service » Headlines (Feedly)
Promises (2001) / Faris Odeh was shot to death by an Israeli soldier on November 9, 2000 in Gaza during the Second Intifada as he crouched down to pick up another stone.
I sometimes wonder what effect (affect?) writing in my journals using ‘he’ rather than ‘I’ would have. But I’m too much of a coward to do so.
Around half of the vacancies on official job search website may be bogus, falsely promoted or against the rules, says Frank Field MP
The key word here is ‘giggling’ (or in some versions of the quotation, ‘sniggering’). Of the four Beyond the Fringe members, it’s always Peter Cook who is described as the comic genius, and like any genius he fully (if not always consciously) understood the limitations of his own medium. He understood laughter, in other words – and certainly understood that it is anything but a force for change. Famously, when opening his club, The Establishment, in Soho in 1961, Cook remarked that he was modelling it on ‘those wonderful Berlin cabarets which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War’. And his comment about giggling (or sniggering) as we sink beneath the sea was developed in a Beyond the Fringe sketch called ‘The Sadder and Wiser Beaver’,4 about a bunch of young, would-be radical journalists who won’t admit they have sold their soul to a rapacious newspaper proprietor:
COOK: Whenever the old man has a cocktail party, there’s about ten of us – young, progressive people – we all gather up the far end of the room and … quite openly, behind our hands, we snigger at him.
BENNETT: Well, I don’t know, that doesn’t seem very much to me.
COOK: A snigger here, a snigger there – it all adds up.
The sketch makes it clear that laughter is not just ineffectual as a form of protest, but that it actually replaces protest – a point also developed by Frayn in his introduction. Ruminating on where the sudden public appetite for satire might have come from, he wrote:
Conceivably the demand arose because after ten years of stable Conservative government, with no prospect in 1961 of its ever ending, the middle classes felt some vague guilt accumulating for the discrepancy between their prosperous security and the continuing misery of those who persisted in failing to conform, by being black, or queer, or mad, or old. Conceivably they felt the need to disclaim with laughter any responsibility for this situation, and so relieve their consciences without actually voting for anything which might have reduced their privileges.
Black people have been present in Britain since its early history. A troop stationed at Hadrian’s Wall in the third century AD was reported to include black soldiers and, in medieval times, black musicians were a common feature of Britain’s courts. In the 18th century Britain’s increasing mastery of transatlantic trade, particularly its dominant role in the trade in enslaved Africans, brought about a significant increase in its black population. By 1770 this population is estimated to have numbered around 15,000 people, based largely in London and around ports involved in transatlantic trade such as Bristol and Liverpool.
Black Britons worked in a variety of professions; as sailors, shopkeepers, artisans, labourers, peddlers and street musicians, amongst others. The biggest employment sector for both white and black populations was domestic service and a large number of black people worked as servants, butlers, valets and other domestic helps. Unlike their white counterparts it is probable that black domestic workers were largely unpaid and unable to voluntarily leave their employer. The social and legal position of black people in Britain remained precarious throughout the 18th century and, as Norma Myers has noted, ‘as late as 1785 black people continued to be regarded and indeed, treated as property’.
Some Africans were able to resist the anonymity and oppression of domestic service and attain a profile for themselves. Examples include Francis Barber (ca. 1735-1801), the Jamaican-born valet, secretary and later heir of Samuel Johnson, also Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), born on a ship transporting slaves from Africa to the West Indies, butler to the Montagu family, later owner of a Westminster grocery shop and best-selling author of a collection of letters, published in 1782. The records of other African lives marked by slavery have been lost to us but are likely to be as varied as a racist society permitted.
Despite the diversity of black people in Britain and the occupations they held, in the visual culture of the period they appear most frequently in the role of domestic servant. The black servant is typically depicted as a boy or young man wearing a form of orientalised dress (or, at the very least, a feathered turban) in an affluent urban domestic environment. He is rarely pictured at the centre of the scene, which is usually dominated by white subjects, but is generally positioned at its margins. He is often associated with new commodities made available through transatlantic trade, such as tobacco, coffee, chocolate or tea (drunk with sugar from West Indies plantations).
An analysis of 18th century images of Black Britons as (indentured and not) servants in art history in the 18th Century from the Victoria and Albert Museum. I like that it stresses the fact that the images of Black people as marginal figures don’t reflect the actual diversity in the lives of real people in that area during that time.