What we are witnessing in this country may be nothing more or less than the death throes of patriarchy, the last desperate gasps of white male privilege.
The old bulls will not let go without a fight, but their grip on power is slipping and not until they do let go will women, children, people of color, minorities and immigrants be able to live in peace, with liberty and justice for all.
It’s probably fitting that the head patriarch is not a man who represents the best and the brightest in America, but the worst and the dimmest. In a government of white nationalist bullies, it is no surprise that the president and several of the men closest to him have faced persistent accusations of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse.
It is also no surprise that women are leading the resistance to the cult of masculinity.
From the Women’s March and the #metoo movement to the recent We Care sit-in in the Senate office building to protest the abusive immigration policies of the Trump administration, women are standing up to macho b.s. as never before. God knows we all would have been so much better off had a woman been elected president in 2016. The USA might then still be a respected world leader, rather than a pariah laughingstock nation.
And we will all be better off in Maine if a woman is elected governor in 2018. Businessmen make poor political leaders, because what nations need are not bosses, but consensus builders.
The tacit assumption of white male supremacy is that white men are in some way superior to women and to men of color. That is demonstrably false.
Women are the equal of and in many ways are superior to men. Though male and female intelligence tends to be equal, women are far more emotionally intelligent, which makes them natural leaders and top performers. Check out the valedictorians of area high schools and you will find a majority are female. And, Mr. Big Deal Businessman, a 2014 study found that hedge funds run by women had a greater rate of return that hedge funds run by men.
When one of my daughters toured a women’s college back in 2000 and the student tour guide touted the desirability of classrooms without men, I had to bite my tongue, believing that women should be able to compete with men on a level playing field. But when I asked my daughter on the drive home whether she thought an all-women classroom would have been an advantage in high school, she was quick to endorse the idea.
“We could have accomplished a lot more without boys in the class,” she said. It was not that boys were not as smart or that they intimidated the girls, it was that boys were disruptive and took time away from teaching and learning. That’s what we are witnessing in 2018 – boys being disruptive on a national scale.
Not only do girls do better than boys in the classroom, the white supremacy myth is also given the lie by Asian-American students. As a 2017 Harvard Graduate School of Education article reported, “On average, Asian-American students obtain higher grades, perform better on standardized tests, and are more likely to finish high school and attend elite colleges than their peers of all other racial backgrounds, regardless of socioeconomic status.”
So how are white men superior again? Not academically or intellectually. Maybe physically? Well, not so much.
In the macho world of professional sports, 74 percent of the players in the National Basketball Association are black, as are 70 percent of the players in the National Football League. Even in the pastoral Great American Pastime, close to one-third of the players decked out in Stars and Stripes for the Fourth of July last week were Latin players.
So, again, how are white men superior? The obvious answer is the hold they have on power in America.
As Rebecca Traister pointed out in a June 29 article on The Cut blog, “White men are at the center, our normative citizen, despite being only around a third of the nation’s population. Their outsize power is measurable by the fact that they still … hold roughly two-thirds of elected offices in federal, state, and local legislatures. We have had 92 presidents and vice presidents. One hundred percent of them have been men, and more than 99 percent white men.”
Trump and his allies will try to hold onto that white male hegemony by any means necessary, from oppressing minorities and packing the courts to outright violence. The only way the good people of America will break that stranglehold on power is at the ballot box and in the streets.
And women must lead us.
Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.