A Gentleman’s Ode to Women on International Women’s Day

Steven Knipp

 

Opinion:

 

Through the ages, men have sworn their adoration for the weaker sex, in paintings and poems, in songs and books and movies. But it has probably in the last century that men have openly admitted that women are better than men in far more ways.

 

China’s Mao said: “Women hold up half of heaven,” while the Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev acknowledged that “It is the men who do the administrating, and the women who do [the actual] work.” And even that arch-capitalist billionaire, Aristotle Onassis, said: “If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.”

 

As International Women’s Day fell this month— on March 8th, let’s face it, women are not just kinder and more gentle, which are often considered feminine traits, they’re also almost always more honest, less sexist, less racist and less ageist. They are just plain better human beings than men.

 

Quick, think of 10 individuals who have ruined, just in the last 70 years alone, the lives of countless millions of people: Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Bashar al-Assad ... well, you get the idea.

 

 

Police statistics worldwide confirm that men commit virtually 10 times as many crimes as women, both violent and commercial.

 

When was the last time you heard about a gang of women holding up a bank and pistol-whipping an elderly guard, whose only defense was a newspaper and a coffee cup?

 

How many professional female assassins have you read about?

 

Or hijackers?

 

Or female mass murderers?

 

Janet the Ripper?  Adele Hitler?

 

I don’t think so.

 

 

Women are not only far less likely to whack you over the head for your watch, or juggle the account books in your office, they are also harder-working and more responsible.

 

In interviews with scores of factory managers, corporate presidents, restaurant managers and industrial bosses in places as far afield as Tokyo and Tashkent, Northern Ireland and South Africa, Sydney and Shanghai, I have been told repeatedly that women report on time, stay later and are more quality-conscious than men.

 

It’s no fluke that the only person to survive with any honor from the Enron scandal happened to wear high heels.

 

Of course, women do have some minor, irritating traits. Like almost always being right: “Put on a sweater or you’ll catch a cold…. Don’t get drunk at the office party.... I think we should turn left here....”

 

 

Yet, compared to the myriad venal and stupid habits of men, everything from murder to walking with muddy shoes on a new carpet, women are virtually divine creatures.

 

But if women really are such earthly angels, why have men always given them the short end of the stick?

 

The reason is simple: because we could. For as long as man has walked upright, physical strength and speed were the key requisites for survival.

 

But it is becoming evident to everyone that muscles don’t matter much anymore. It will be brainpower that brings home the bacon. And this means that one of two things will probably happen.

 

 

Either females will finally, at long last, take their rightful position as real equals with males, in which case, the world will be a far better place. Women will bring more compassion and compromise to world relations, and probably a lot more common sense, too.

 

Or women will slowly begin to take on all the worst traits of men—and I don’t mean potbellies and beer breath. They will begin to get heart attacks and high blood pressure. They will drink more, and shout more, and suffer from stress more. They will cut corners more, and may develop a cruel streak in the climb to the top.

 

But what I’m more afraid of is that we men will miss this opportunity to share the weight with our women. Americans in particular are far, far, far behind much of the rest of the world in this regard.

 

Despite all our backslapping about our cherished America being the land of equality, it is still a fact that on average women are paid significantly less than men.

 

 

Since 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed, the closing of the wage gap between men and women has progressed at a painfully slow rate. Already there have been women presidents and prime ministers all across the globe— from India and Pakistan, to the Philippines, Turkey, Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Israel and Germany, and New Zealand. And Argentina and Iceland, and Indonesia. And Australia and South Korea.

 

Instead of real sustained progress for women, we in the United States offer political correctness.

 

Yes, like cosmetic surgery for an aging face, it has some value, I suppose. But it does absolutely nothing for anybody’s well-being. Like plastic surgery, political correctness is a semantic nonsense that goes only skin-deep.

 

This kind of thinking has given us words like “chairperson” and “humankind” but, really, what has it done for the welfare of women anywhere?

 

Is it possible, though, to be a genuine, heartfelt feminist and still refuse to pander to political correctness?

 

 

Is it really so terrible to believe that women should have the same rights, salaries, opportunities and benefits as men – yet still feel comfortable, even compelled, to give up your seat for a woman carrying too many bags on a bus?

 

Is it really so gauche to admire the professional skills and talents of a female boss or colleague, and still compliment them on the fragrance of their perfume?

 

Where is it written that giving a woman a compliment – a sincere one – is some kind of belittlement?

 

Certainly, this can’t be true if it is genuine praise, for the difference between a sincere compliment and manufactured flattery is the chasm between a wooden leg and a real one.

 

Abraham Lincoln once said: “A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.” I cannot recall ever once being censured by a woman for holding open a door or even saying that she looked really smashing in that little black dress at the Christmas party.

 

But now I’m told that here in the United States appreciating a woman with an admiring smile or a kind word constitutes some form of sexual harassment. How sad for them. How sad for us.

 

Several months ago, in Hong Kong, I was sitting in on a round-table meeting with a dozen people of both sexes. The discussion dragged on. The room was stuffy. I grew listless. Glancing across the table, I caught the eye of an attractive woman just as she stifled a yawn. I shrugged my shoulders and winked.

 

Without the slightest hesitation, she shrugged her shoulders and winked right back. There was no indecent suggestion, no illicit proposal. It was simply a human contact between two people, both bored at the same moment. Now, however, I have been told that if I had had the same exchange in the land of my birth, I would be risking a possible lawsuit.

 

If that is true, then women may have paid too high a price for their alleged equality. In recent years, it sometimes seems that some women are not so much equal to men but are now no different. And if that is the way of the future, it is not only sad, but also a step backward.

 

Author Bio:

 

Steven Knipp is a longtime journalist who has worked as an international writer and editor and reported from all corners of the globe. He is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.

 

 Photos 1 - 6 by Steven Knipp; Google Images; Max Pixel (Creative Commons).

 

For Highbrow Magazine

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Steven Knipp (photos 1-6); and Google Images; Max Pixel (Creative Commons)
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