By Tim Goldich
What do you know about gender reality? What are you sure of?
Long ago, Woman and Man, in unconscious collusion, made up a story—a story so deep in psychic resonance it has stood for millennia. It rules to this day. The Story is rich in romance and sentiment, instinct and chivalry. The Story is reinforced by many subtleties, including the powerful effect that mere appearance—male/female physical appearance—plies upon the human psyche. Same goes for our differing vocal characteristics. Logically such matters have little substance, but the psychic impact of rugged looking men vs. angelic looking women, of the baritone voice vs. the dulcet tones of women, is an impact that goes all through us right on down to the very core of our being. I feel it too.
The Story is, in its way, an erotic story. It is the story of powerful Alpha heroes rescuing fair, fragile, innocent “damsels in distress.” The Story verily crackles with poetry, Eros and instinct, which is why it’s infused throughout the myths and the mythos dating all the way back to the mighty Odysseus and the fair Helen of Troy. The Story is endearing; it feels right. Contradicting it feels wrong. As a description of gender reality in its entirety, The Story does not hold up under logical scrutiny. But, against such profound psychic resonances, logic doesn’t stand a chance. It truly is a great story, except . . . it isn’t true.
Men rule and women resent; men swagger and women suffer. In gender-political terms The Story goes: Man has the power and Woman is the victim. It’s the story you get when you compare conditions for the average woman against conditions for the elite male. It’s The Story told everywhere; it’s taught in school. It’s a given throughout social environs and every facet of human culture (except comedy wherein the truths of female power and male victimization are presented for laughs). Even so, it’s only half the full human story and only half the facts and truths support it. The omnipresence (and exaggeration) granted those select facts and truths will make it seem as if our belief in The Story is based on fact and truth. But it’s not. If it were, contradictory facts and truths—no less factual and no less truthful—would not be so rejected. Men have the power/women are the victims: when will society embrace a deeper vision of gender reality?
For every female complaint, there is a mirror-opposite male complaint. The Glass Ceiling is, and always was, profound. But gender reality is mirrored. The mirror-opposite of the Glass Ceiling is something I call the Glass Floor.
The Glass Floor
Throughout history, whenever Woman looked up, she perceived what we now call the Glass Ceiling, a sort of semi-permeable membrane composed of social conditioning, gender roles, tradition, bias, and various legal and sociopolitical structures. In looking down, however, she might have noticed that she was walking on a kind of Glass Floor comprised of all the same stuff.
As seen from the politicized male perspective, parallel to the Glass Ceiling is the Glass Floor. As the Glass Ceiling, in myriad ways both nebulous and concrete, has always tended to thwart Woman’s rise to the top, so the Glass Floor, in myriad ways both nebulous and concrete, has always tended to safeguard her from sinking to the extreme bottom—of mine shafts, prison cells, foxholes. The Glass Floor has acted as partial insulation between women and the dark side of the world and human nature as well as most of life on earth’s most deeply brutal, filthy, arduous, hazardous, and corrupting realities.
Through the Glass Ceiling a woman could view the tip of the success pyramid and see that it was mostly male occupied. In looking down through the Glass Floor, however, she could view the vast base of the pyramid and see that it too has been occupied mostly by men—men who were trained to kill in order to protect being killed or maimed by the thousands and the millions on battlefields (many tortured mercilessly in prisoner-of-war camps for months or years).
Too many of these men end up on the streets to join the 85 percent male street homeless. Less than a third of men are veterans, yet more than half of the imprisoned are veterans. Thus veterans too often join other men—protector/providers corrupted in the pursuit of money (the root of all evil)—to be suffocated and tortured by the thousands and the millions in the penal system.
Consider also men obligated for toughness, strength, and courage who, throughout history, have been killed or maimed by the thousands and the millions through hard labor, the use of heavy machinery, and countless other at-work hazards. In recent decades women have comprised 45 percent of the workforce but a mere 6 percent of all work-related fatalities.[i] In keeping with being more loved, women are better protected.
Moreover, one woman’s floor is another man’s ceiling. A hefty proportion of men have always felt trapped beneath the Glass Floor down at the base of the human pyramid. When the likes of stigmatized prisoners, war-torn soldiers, and disabled laborers look up, the Glass Ceiling they experience is the Glass Floor women walk upon. Woman’s Glass Floor is Man’s Glass Ceiling. Men have always occupied both extremes, the most and the least enviable positions on earth—the latter in far greater numbers than the former. Meanwhile, women have largely occupied the middle ground. In my view, that is neither “oppression” nor “victimization;” that is an even deal.
The Glass Wall
Actor Tim Allen breaks through millennia of male conditioning to express his truth with remarkable candor and vulnerability:
The birth of a child—my wife’s going, “Ohh”—I see them in love in a room, and my eyes are like I’m looking in Macy’s at toys I’ll never own. I’ll never have that! And the two of them: “Ah”—these little coos. . . . And I was like, “Whooo!” I shrank down to this little man. So what I have to do is somehow—I have to get some reason for them to need me.[ii]
The father’s experience of looking at the mother/child nexus as if through a store window, is something I’ve dubbed the Glass Wall.
To understand the Glass Wall, we must understand that the costs of being shut out and/or rendered less than in the world of men is matched in full by the cost of being shut out and/or rendered less than in the world of women . . . the world of love, intimacy, home, family, parenting, social fabric.
For millennia, the realm of human birth was the sole province of women. Midwives officiated and kept their secrets. Eventually, the anesthesiologist could be there; men of practical value could be there. But this Glass Wall was not first cracked till husbands and fathers first gained admittance in the 1970s. Such men were granted a new value, not just as wallets, but for the nurturance they offered their wives. It was a nascent venture into granting men innate value (not as human-doings, but rather as human-beings).
Conditions for women are not normally compared against conditions suffered by men occupying the true bottom rung. These “garbage men” and their sufferings have little presence in our minds and in our hearts. Even so, a world in which the Glass Ceiling is eliminated while the Glass Floor and Glass Wall keep right on going is not a world of gender equality, even if feminism all powerful claims it so.
The opposite of love isn’t hate; it is indifference. As Woman has been given reason to feel intellectually invisible, Man has been given reason to feel invisible with regard to compassion. Only those men who perform, achieve, and succeed rise to respect and visibility. Only the elite male is present enough in our minds to compare against. Naturally, if we only compare conditions for the average woman against conditions for the elite male, women will seem to be the powerless victims every time. But this erroneous conclusion is the standard conclusion only because it sustains a beloved illusion . . . it sustains The Story.
 If a little voice in your head just went, “whaaa,” well . . . there you go.
[i] Farrell, Warren, Ph.D., The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex (New York: Berkley Books, 1993) p.106. “6 percent of all work-related fatalities.” Men comprise 94% of all work-related fatalities due to on-the-job injury (disease-related deaths caused by on-the-job exposure are not included in this figure). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH, (Morgantown, West. Va.), on-line database titled “Basic Information on Workplace Safety and Health in the U.S.”
[ii] Paglia, Camille, “When Camille Met Tim,” Esquire, February 1995, p. 70.