Saturday, July 20, 2013

Men On Strike

Men On Strike by Helen Smith, PhD. Encounter Books $23.99, 216 pages

If you're a guy, you need to read this book. Finally -- a smart, trustworthy and honest woman has the courage to say what a lot of guys are thinking: there is a bias against us. We're not crazy, guys. What has happened to us over the past thirty years is not all our fault.

The jacket of the book is beautifully done - something that you would want to have on the coffee table of your home for visitors to peruse. Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensics and men's issues. Her credentials are impressive - Montel Williams, E!, Fox, Discovery, Biography and Oxygen, and she's written for the L.A. Times. She's recently been on KRLA with Dennis Prager and Michael Medved, two of the intellectual giants of talk-radio.

The prologue is brutally honest. "If you are a wimp, this book is not for you," she warns. Although what lies ahead is disturbing, being honest and forthright with one's self is the only way to handle it. Her putative audience is "the man who knows that something in today's twenty-first century is amiss. He can't put his finger on it exactly but feels deeply that modern society has turned its back on the average male."

In the Introduction, she talks about a general consensus within her client base that they feel like "wimps for having problems."

But the severity of the crisis is deadly. Suicide statistics for the latest year available (2010) show that of the 38,364 who killed themselves, 30,277 were men.

The feminist movement, anti-male attitudes on college campuses and the pop culture are causing men to recoil. However, the most egregious assault on men is being carried out in the legal system. Ms. Smith cites numerous examples:

*A man named Carnell Smith discovered that a child he thought was his son was fathered by another man. The courts did not speak of restitution nor of assigning responsibility to the biological father after hearing that the child's mother knowingly and willfully withheld the truth from him. Instead, the courts told Carnell Smith it was his fault for not discovering the truth and ordered him to pay child support.

**In California, a 34 year-old woman named Ricci had sex with a 15 year-old boy named Nathaniel. The woman got pregnant and had the baby. Even though under California law a minor cannot consent to sex, the court forced Nathaniel to pay child support to the woman who committed statutory rape against him.

***A man named Emile was visiting sick parents in a Louisiana hospital, when he was seduced by a nurse who gave him oral sex. After the act was complete, she darted away and impregnated herself. Nine months later Emile was a father and was forced to pay child support.

The premise of Men On Strike is that men are not really immature. Men are not really afraid of commitment. Men are not afraid of getting married and raising a family. And men are not shirking their responsibilities to society by refusing to form households. Men are running for cover.

And running for cover is a rational response to an assault.

Men are acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands and providers, according to Ms. Smith.

or, "like the characters in Atlas Shrugged," she writes, "going on strike."

British Airways has a policy that bans men from sitting next to children who are not theirs, even if the parents are seated nearby. Businessman Mirko Fischer is suing the airline for discrimination. "This policy is branding men as perverts for no reason," he says.

"The negative stereotype of men as predators and perverts has harmed young boys who are not around any real live men," writes Helen Smith. If men keep withdrawing from society and have no interactions with boys, who will teach boys how to grow up and be men?

The most important Chapter in the book is "Why it Matters," where she writes, "Men are both being forced out and dropping out of the workforce in spades and our society doesn't care. Maybe when there are no more men working, people will start to notice, until then, they will just continue to discuss the "war on women" until there are no men anywhere."

Her point is that, for instance, when terrorists sliced through the Twin Towers on September 11,2001, it was men who ran into the burning buildings to rescue people. And it was men who went into Afghanistan a month later to topple the Taliban.

It was a team of men that stormed into a fortified compound in Abbottabad Pakistan to finally rid the world Osama bin Laden. And it is men who are risking their lives on our southern border everyday protecting us from drug cartels who want to poison school children.

One of Ms. Smith's rather astute volunteers exhorted, "In every traditional society men are the protectors against external and internal enemies. Since men no longer enjoy full and equal citizenship in our society, it's time society reap the crop they've planted. I will encourage, and I urge all other men in western societies who work with and train boys and young men to likewise encourage the males they encounter to NOT join the military, NOT to become a firefighter, EMT or Paramedic." His point here is that it will be interesting to see what happens someday when women dial 911 and no one answers.

The most prestigious review of Men on Strike thus far is by Charlotte Allen of The Wall Street Journal. Ms. Allen, however, complains that Men on Strike "contains surprisingly few references to actual studies."

This is irrelevant, because as Ms. Smith explains on page 143: "It is beyond the scope of this book (which is meant to be a call to action rather than a research study) to address every area of discrimination against men." Men On Strike is not about academic studies -- it's about moral clarity.

Charlotte Allen also contends that the posts to Dr. Helen's blog are from men that may have exercised poor judgment, like in the case of Emile. A man's poor judgement notwithstanding, the nurse's actions in this case are reprehensible, and must be condemned.

Men on Strike is well-documented; each chapter has over 25 references to anecdotes, incidents, sources and publications described in the book.

Congratulation to Helen Smith - well done.