The article I want to discuss in this post is ‘If you don’t have a beer you’re not a man’ – rural workplaces made more dangerous by drugs and alcohol, by feminist academic Julaine Allan.
The author begins by pointing out the high levels of death/injury that occur in the farming, forestry and mining sectors. These are of course sectors which feature an overwhelmingly male workforce.
The author states that a high level of substance abuse is associated with the relevant employees and workplaces, and that this is a contributing factor in the incidence of workplace death/injury. Further, she notes that the relevant workplaces tend to be harsh, lonely and isolated, and that this might encourage substance abuse by way of people seeking relief.
Well that’s all reasonable enough, but then the author goes further and implies (as is evident from the title) that masculinity is a major factor behind the worrying statistics.
No, not the fact that the work being undertaken is inherently dangerous, and carried out in challenging environments. Nope, she sheets home a significant portion of the blame to men, both individually and collectively.
It’s at this point that I’m thinking, “hey, if this was about deaths/injuries in a female-dominated sector, I think the emphasis might be quite a bit different.” Even assuming female staff also demonstrated behaviour that elevated their level of exposure to risk.
I’m struggling to think of a suitable analogy. Perhaps if we run with the situation of the many women working in nursing or education in isolated areas. For the purpose of this discussion assume are likewise affected by high rates of injury, as indeed might well be the case. Can you imagine a male researcher suggesting that their femininity was a contributing factor to deaths or injuries? Because I can’t.
No, more likely, instead of victim-blaming there would be terms used like gender death gap, and a discussion of broader social forces and how these contributed to the situation. The thing that annoys me most about this article is what seems to be an unstated acceptance that doing this type of work is mens lot in life, and that this somehow renders discussion of the ‘big-picture’ redundant.
But back to men working in farming, forestry and mining. Given that the author has chosen to play the gender card, then why not discuss why the dirty and dangerous jobs are still left to men. And why the men took those jobs, whether it be to support families in the face of very limited employment opportunities for people of the relevant demographic. Note that this problem has been exaccerbated by the feminist push to have more women enter/return to the workforce. And what of the single men? Perhaps working in high-risk roles represents their only chance to accumulate assets needed to attract a wife in a era of rampant hypergamy.
Perhaps if they introduced gender quotas in these sectors then maybe the resultant mixed workforce might ameliorate these factors, at least a little. At the very least it would share the deaths/injuries more evenly between the genders. But heck no, a feminist suggesting gender quotas to encourage women into uncomfortable/unpleasant jobs? As if! A little too much gender equality for that idea to ever fly.
So no, rather than taking an empathetic and holist view of the matter, the author opts to take a free kick for feminism and paints a simplistic ‘boys being boys’ motif.
These are men dying or being maimed, to supply products that create the comfortable environment in which feminists can drink $6 lattes whilst bemoaning invented elements of a mythical patriarchy.
And now these are men dying or being maimed as fodder for the feminist machine. A half page in ‘The Conversation‘, and perhaps a well-paid gig for some ideologically-sound marketing company (think, ‘awareness’ campaign).
This article would have been so much better were the author enough of a professional to either avoid the gratuitous addition of gender politics, or to provide a more complete and unbiased account of men doing the best they can under the circumstances they find themselves in. And with this more fulsome account concluding with a road map to a better place for both the men in question, and their families.