For today, I want to talk big picture about the “gender binary”. And as I talk, I am going to make some very specific points — but I am going also ask a lot of questions. And I am really interested in your answers to these questions. I feel like “the world is changing faster than most people can process that change.” And lately that includes me! I feel like the world is changing so quickly it’s hard to process that change. And one of the things I absolutely love about these calls is that your insights help me better understand the ways the world is changing. Every single time.
Anyway, I want to pick up with something we started discussing at the end of one of the calls this week.
We were talking about whether transgender people should be allowed to play sports. There has been a lot in the news about that lately.
But Thaddeus said something that really stuck with me. He said “Maybe sports just have to be re-imagined.”
And while that sinks in, here come some questions!
- What if every sport had both men and women? Think about it — in almost every single occupation, it is NOT ALLOWED to not give both men and women equal opportunities. So why is it allowed in sports?
- Why can’t men and women get paid for the same jobs in sports? You can say, well women’s sports don’t get as much TV time so of course, we can’t pay them as much. But what other profession do we allow that? Do we say “Hospitals don’t want women surgeons because patients would rather see a male surgeon and therefore women surgeons shouldn’t be paid as much?” No, we don’t. (even though only 19% of surgeons are women). But somehow it is ok to pay people unequally.
– You may have heard that last fall, a woman Sarah Fuller last fall was the first woman to play in a college-level Power 5 football game. Do you think fewer people were interested in football because there was a woman placekicker?
It reminds me of a post I wrote years ago for Good Men Project. at the time, I told the story of my daughter, who had played ice hockey all her life, being a part of a club ice hockey league in ice hockey at MIT. And she was the only woman in the entire league. And when I went to watch the game, I noticed something really interesting. She was a very graceful skater, almost like a dancer. So the guys on her team quickly realized that if they gave her the puck at the back end of the rink, she could skate circles around the opposing teammates who were just more like bulldogs on ice. But when she got in front of the goal, she would pass it to a guy who had the physical strength to shot a slap shot right into the goal. So the way her body worked on the ice was different than the way the men’s body’s worked — but the two of them together made a beautiful team. A literally beautiful team that was fun to watch.
But then we look at checking in hockey. Clearly, at 115 pounds it would have been extraordinarily difficult for her to check opponents in hockey. And why would you? Why should you be allowed to hurt someone else physically? Again, would we put up with this in any other profession? Imagine if you worked in a corporation and you were allowed to body slam your colleagues as they walked down the hall, causing them to fall down and get a concussion. It is unimaginable, right? And yet, we allow it in sports.
- If part of it is the violence and aggressiveness and physicality, what if we re-designed sports to be less violent?
- There is an argument about women not stepping up to do dangerous jobs. But what if there were no dangerous jobs?
For example, here are the most dangerous jobs:
- Logging is number one. Reduce the need for logging. Do we really need to cut down more trees?
- Derrick operators in Oil, gas and mining.
- Construction, including roofers — make roofs safer to work on — iron and steelworkers — putting up beams on new construction for example.
Why do we need so much new construction? Do we really need more office buildings?
There is another group of jobs that seem different but the actual cause of death is the same: firefighters, farmers, and trash collectors.
In all of those occupations, most firefighters die from transportation accidents then get killed in actual fires.
Trash collectors–in Pasadena, where I lived for a long time, the trucks are and the barrels are designed so that no one has to lift them up.
We had talked about in some Scandinavian cities set out to have a goal of ZERO traffic fatalities
There is no longer a need for trash collectors to put themselves in situations where they might be killed.
Power lines–if people had solar and other energy so they could get off-grid, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue.
Again — we can make the jobs safer AND create less need for dangerous jobs.
There should be a national groundswell of people saying “ELIMINATE DANGEROUS JOBS”.
Men take dangerous jobs because they are told the most important part of their role as men is to provide for their families.
So they take those jobs cause they think they are not ‘man enough’ if they don’t.
But we should be eliminating those jobs in every way we can.
Ok–now I am going to go to a completely different piece of the gender binary puzzle. Here was a news story I saw today on Twitter: “Demi Lovato identifies as non-binary, changes pronouns to they and them.”
What if actors and actresses weren’t assigned gender when being cast — they just picked the best person for the role?
And finally—one question that has come up — definitely early on in The Good Men Project history, but also more recently on these calls: “Are you trying to make us men into women?” (Why is that a bad thing? Why does it sound like a threat? And what do you think we have, superpowers?)
Ok! I am going to open it up. You can talk about anything I mentioned.
Please listen to the entire recording to see where the conversation went from here!
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This post is republished on Medium.
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