It's likely that some of you will take offense at the title of this post. But if you read through the post, it'll certainly make more sense in the larger context. But for what it's worth, I was intending to entitle this post, "Fortunate to Have a Penis" and maybe I should have, but ultimately, I just didn't want to receive too many rebukes and tense emails. Seriously, who wants emails about genitals?
Seriously, it's not my intent to be sensational or even controversial but simply to make an important point. So, what is my point?
I am fortunate to be a man. Or to put it in other words, I'm fortunate to have a penis.
As I recently preached at my church, there's great privilege and power in simply being a man. This is why I contend that the treatment of women is the oldest injustice in human history. We can talk equality and equity all day long and while we can acknowledge how far we've come, we still clearly live -- even in 2011 -- where there's great advantage in simply being a man.
How fortunate? Consider this statistic from UNICEF and United Nations:
Women do 66 percent of world's work, produce 50 percent of world's food, but earn 10 percent of world's income & only own 1 percent of world's property.
If the average distance to the moon is 394,400 km, South African women together walk the equivalent of a trip to the moon and back 16 times a day to supply their households with water.
But it's not just situations in the developing world; it's also here in the home front.
Case in point: compensation. While these numbers need to be taken in light of context and factors such as industry, maternity leave, expectations, etc., the inequity in compensation still needs to examined:
That's because U.S. women still earned only 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008, according to the latest census statistics. (That number drops to 68 percent for African-American women and 58 percent for Latinas.)
But industry doesn't tell the whole story. Women earned less than men in all 20 industries and 25 occupation groups surveyed by the Census Bureau in 2007 -- even in fields in which their numbers are overwhelming. Female secretaries, for instance, earn just 83.4 percent as much as male ones. And those who pick male-dominated fields earn less than men too: female truck drivers, for instance, earn just 76.5 percent of the weekly pay of their male counterparts. Perhaps the most compelling -- and potentially damning -- data of all to suggest that gender has an influence comes from a 2008 study in which University of Chicago sociologist Kristen Schilt and NYU economist Matthew Wiswall examined the wage trajectories of people who underwent a sex change. Their results: even when controlling for factors like education, men who transitioned to women earned, on average, 32 percent less after the surgery. Women who became men, on the other hand, earned 1.5 percent more. (Time magazine)
My point: I'm fortunate to be a man, or, to put it anatomically, to have a penis.
The mechanisms, systems, institutions -- the whole matrix -- gives clear advantage to men. Just consider some of the recent destructive news and controversy surrounding men like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (the ex-chief of the IMF), Bishop Eddie Long, and Congressman Anthony Weiner.
It's not my intent to condemn these fellow men to eternal judgment. Nope. Not at all. But I do have a point: What would have happened to these individuals had they been women? What if we were talking about Anne Schwarzenegger, Diana Trump, Dominique (?) Strauss-Kahn, Bishop Ellen Long, and Congresswoman Angelie Weiner?
Jim Wallis nailed it in one of his recent posts, titled "Zero Tolerance," about this inequity and injustice:
It's a constant storyline in the media involving powerful men in politics, sports, business, and even religion: Men behave with utter disregard for the dignity and humanity of women -- using and abusing them at will, and somehow believing that they are entitled to do so. These men seem to think that the ordinary rules of decent behavior do not apply to them. We have a never-ending cavalcade of disgusting stories about men cheating on their wives and mothers of their children; abandoning old wives for new ones; serial philandering as a way of life; sexually harassing and assaulting women; and even committing rape. But when all is said and done, the perpetrators are still playing basketball, football, and golf; they are still running for political office, and are still at the helm of the institutions of the economy, and even the church