On Jan. 13, 2012, an Italian cruise ship (the Costa Concordia) partially sank off the coast of Tuscany. There were 4,252 people on board. Thirty people died and 64 people were injured.
However, the big story about this event was when the captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino — and much of his crew — abandoned the ship without much thought to the women and children on board.
In other words, it was not a Titanic-type situation where the women and children were offered the lifeboats first.
It was every person for themselves and yet there were documented complaints from women on board that the men fended for themselves without thought to the women or children first.
Is it the man’s responsibility to think of the women and children first or have times changed in the wake of feminism?
I can’t claim to know the answer to that question. After all, it’s a pretty big question, and I’m not a pro on gender issues.
But Helen Smith, a forensic psychologist from Knoxville, Tenn., attempts in her 2013 book, “Men on Strike,” to at least look at the issue of men’s rights and to show how we need to be paying more attention to them.
She detailed multiple reasons as to why men and women alike should be standing up for the rights of each other — yes, even for the rights of men.
Smith proposes that men’s rights have been infringed on by misguided feminism in multiple ways. One of those ways is paternity fraud.
In her book, Smith quotes the organization of Fathers and Families to say, “tens of thousands of men have been wrongly assigned paternity and are compelled by law to pay years of child support for children whom DNA tests have shown are not theirs.”
A major talking point today has been about a woman’s body and her right to choose. Smith argues that men should be considered too.
Michael Higdon, director of legal writing and associate professor of law at the University of Tennessee, said, in Smith’s book, that men have few options when it comes to combating paternity fraud.
“One, don’t have sex, two get a vasectomy, three, use protection, four, keep said protection and destroy it when you are finished. Flush a condom and make sure it went down. There have been cases where women fished condoms out of the garbage or took the condom and used it to impregnate themselves,” Higdon said.
This is for real.
“Men’s rights are very much dependent on how honest she chooses to be,” Higdon said.
Smith’s book goes on to note a specific case in which a woman kept a condom after sex and took it to a fertility clinic to be impregnated. It worked. She then sued him for child support. This is not the only case of this, as she notes further in her book.
Men need rights too and this is an issue both men and women should care about.
We have laws and rules about the rights of a woman’s body. At the very least, shouldn’t there be laws to protect men in similar situations as well?
Another war Smith says men are fighting is the war against men and boys in educational institutions.
She said that a boy’s masculine traits and needs are often “frowned upon” and that boys are somehow seen as “defective girls” in need of a major overhaul, simply because they learn differently.
In Christina Sommers’ book, “The War Against Boys,” she reports there is a movement underway.
“The belief that boys are being wrongly ‘masculinized’ is inspiring a movement to ‘construct boyhood’ in ways that will render boys less competitive, more emotionally expressive, more nurturing — more, in short, like girls,” Sommers said.
Smith said this puts boys at risk in schools.
“Boys are the gender most at risk in the U.S. educational system, yet little help is forthcoming,” she said.
Is there an answer to how to fix these issues and sustain true equality for all genders? Maybe, maybe not. It certainly isn’t a simple fix.
I simply propose that we think about the men too.
Women should have rights but so should men and neither one should be at an advantage or taken for granted.
The laws of this country are for men and women and justice is a right of both genders.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
And in our country’s very own Pledge of Allegiance we recite, “with liberty and justice for all.”
Indeed, for all.