Last week, Fox News published an op-ed by Suzanne Venker claiming that white men are second-class citizens in this country, which certainly came as news to me.
After doing a spit-take at the title, I went through the first point in her supporting evidence:
She claims men are constantly the butt of jokes in sitcoms and commercials. What she doesn’t mention is that they are also almost always the title characters of these sitcoms, leading casts usually dominated by male comedians who have caught their lucky break in episodes almost always created and produced by men.
Don’t believe me? Last week’s Nielsen Ratings featured two sitcoms in the top ten: The Big Bang Theory and Two-and-a-Half Men. The former features four male nerd/geek friends and their foil, a socially-aware (but broke and low-educated) female friend. The latter stars two male friends, one of whom has a son, and features four women in supporting roles: a housekeeper, a self-absorbed mother/grandmother, a vindictive ex-wife, and a stalker. Yes, women really are getting the better end of the deal on this one.
Both shows were created by Chuck Lorre, and of the combined 12 executive producers of the programs, just two are women.
If you’re surprised (and I doubt you are), don’t be. Venker doesn’t mention that men are behind (and star-in and mostly profit from) almost every supposedly “male-bashing” sitcom because it wouldn’t be convenient to her larger point, which she astoundingly describes as:
“...the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence. His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced. Unlike women, however, men don’t organize and form groups when they’ve been persecuted. They just bow out of the game.”When I read this part, my jaw practically hit the floor. Aside from claiming white, American men are an oppressed group (as one, I can tell you we are not), her claim that men don’t “form groups or organize” is laughable.
It’s humorous because any educated, aware adult would call that Congress, you know, where men make up 82% of the House and 80% of the Senate?
Or how about the Supreme Court? 66% men.
Fortune 500 CEOs? 96% men.
Tenured professors at baccalaurate colleges? Around 66% men.
Four-star military generals (confirmed by the Senate)? 37 men, 1 woman.
Presidents and Vice Presidents? Ha.
What about equal pay? Overall, men typically earn 23% more than women on average, across the board. Critics of this figure like to point out that this doesn’t account for education, experience, and other factors, most notably childcare.
But actually, even when broken down, for those jobs in which data is available, women earn less than men, on average, in 107 of 111 occupations.
And why is this? Because, as a society, we tend to underestimate women (and all oppressed groups, really). Numerous studies have found that from workplace confidence to customer satisfaction surveys, we heavily-favor white men as more competent and friendlier.
The most ridiculous bias, of course, is pregnancy. Setting aside cultural factors about how women are valued based on whether or not they have children, we literally expect women to churn out the future of the human race and to take a hit to their professional careers for it, as well.
The United States is one of four countries (along with Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Papua New Guinea) that don’t mandate the right to paid maternal leave and one of four (with Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea) that don’t include similar provisions for paternal leave (which would make it far easier for the father to stay home if the couple decides the mother should continue in her career).
But hey, enough about the real world. Let’s look at Fox News. Of the five primetime (6-11 pm) programs, four are hosted by white men, one by a white woman.
What about CNN and MSNBC, the supposed vanguards of the “media liberal elite”? CNN has four primetime programs, three of which are hosted by white men, and MSNBC has five primetime programs hosted by three white men, a black man, and a white woman.
CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Comedy Central, HBO, and nearly all film studios? All owned and operated by white men.
Forgive me if I’m more than a bit amused that Suzanne Venker honestly believes white men are an oppressed group, that the White American Male is an endangered species that needs coddling while we commiserate over the thought of losing less than 95% of total power as Venker wipes the tears from our eyes with stock options, election ballots, and a complete lack of worldly-awareness.