Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Chris Port Blog #137. The Suicide Sex

Chris Port, 2011

Source: At the moment, this is just some basic notes and sketches cribbed from Warren Farrell’s The Myth Of Male Power: Why Men Are The Disposable Sex (Fourth Estate Limited, London 1994).

Enter two men, opposing political candidates: CAMSHRON and BRONSTEIN. CAMSHRON is a traditional, low taxes, family values conservative. BRONSTEIN is a progessive, higher taxes, affirmative action liberal. They set up stalls on either side of the stage. We cross-cut between them.

CAMSHRON: Married women! Vote for me!

BRONSTEIN: Unmarried women! Vote for me!

CAMSHRON: Married women! Stay at home! Your children need you! You need your husband’s pay cheque! I promise not to tax his hard-earned earnings!

BRONSTEIN: Unmarried women! Go to work! You don’t need a husband! You need financial independence! I promise you more government protection! Higher taxes for more affirmative action! The government will be your substitute husband. The government will be your substitute protector!

CAMSHRON: I promise to protect your husband’s ability to protect you!

BRONSTEIN: I promise to protect your ability to protect yourself!

CAMSHRON/BRONSTEIN (Together):  Either way, we both love women! In our own sweet way, we want to protect you! Vote for us! Vote for men!

Enter a SINGLE MUM with several feral children.

SINGLE MUM: Men! All my kids’ fathers were useless losers! They all ran out on me! Men! Don’t trust them! I need more benefits and I need them now!

Enter an aspiring FEMALE EXEC who has hit the glass ceiling.

FEMALE EXEC: Men! All my bosses are sexist pigs! They all went to the same school, they all wear the same ties, they all drink in the same bars and sweat in the same strip joints. I’ve hit the glass ceiling and can’t get any higher. I need affirmative action and I need it now!


GOLD-DIGGER: Men! They’re so simple-minded, like putty in my hands! They only want one thing, and if you string them along you can get anything you want out of them! I want to marry a nice rich doctor or lawyer or businessman. I want him to give me a nice home so I don’t have to do a day’s work in my life. And I don’t want some spendthrift do-gooder government spending all my… I mean his… I mean our hard-earned cash on single mums! What’s the use of a woman who can’t keep a man… or at least half the house when you divorce him? I need a rich man and I need one now!


CONFUSED WOMAN: I don’t know what I want! I don’t want to be a slave to the home. I don’t want to be a slave to work. I don’t want to be slave to a man. I just want options! Men have all the power. It’s all their fault! They need to change.

Enter a NEW MAN.

NEW MAN: You’re so right! And I have changed! Men need to understand women’s point of view.

WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE: My partner doesn’t understand me!

CHORUS: What courage! What insight!

MAN’S PERSPECTIVE: My partner doesn’t understand me.

CHORUS: What selfishness! What sexism!

MAN’S PERSPECTIVE: Sorry. I’ll shut up then.

CHORUS: Typical man! Won’t express his feelings!

NEW MAN: Women! Express yourselves! Tell us why you feel powerless!

WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE: I’m scared of walking into a bar. I’m scared of getting raped. I’m scared of getting old. I’m scared of getting a job. I’m scared of getting married. I’m scared of getting pregnant. I’m scared of sacrificing my career for children.

NEW MAN: You see! Women have the problem! Men are the problem! Men! You need to change! And the first step to change is honesty. You need to open up! Learn from women! Express yourselves!

MAN’S PERSPECTIVE: My marriage became alimony. My house became her house. My children never see me. I spend my whole life working to support people who hate me. I’d love to fall in love again. But it’s too expensive. And they call me ‘commitment-phobic’. I try to keep up with payments by working overtime.


MAN’S PERSPECTIVE: I try to handle the stress by drinking.


MAN’S PERSPECTIVE: I don’t feel powerful. I feel powerless. Please… help me…

WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE: Stop whining. Be a man.

MAN’S PERSPECTIVE: Please… hear me…

WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE: Yes, but. Be a man.

MAN’S PERSPECTIVE: Suicide attempts. A cry for help. I’m past crying. A real man doesn’t cry. A real man doesn’t attempt suicide. A real man just does it.

He hangs himself with his tie.

RADIO ANNOUNCER: We interrupt this programme to bring you a special announcement from the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Since 1.3 million British men have been killed in wars over the last century, as part of my new initiative for sexual equality, we will conscript only women until 1.3 million women have been killed in war.

NARRATOR: That’s sexism.

Enter GENERAL KITCHENER. He points an accusing finger at the audience.

KITCHENER: Your country needs you.

Enter a modern army RECRUITMENT POSTER.

RECRUITMENT POSTER: A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.


PREGNANT POSTER:  A woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do.

NARRATOR: Only men are conscripted to fight in times of war. If any other group were singled out to be killed, based on their characteristics at birth, Blacks, Jews, women or gays, we would call that genocide. But when men are singled out, we call it power.


FEMINIST: Power is having control over your life!

NARRATOR: If power is having control over your life, let’s have a look at life expectancy.

Enter 1920s WOMAN and 1920s MAN.

1920s WOMAN: It’s 1920. On average, I live one year longer than him.

The 1920s MAN falls down dead.

FEMINIST: That’s just a biological gap.


MODERN WOMAN: It’s 2011. On average, I live seven years longer than him.

The MODERN MAN falls down dead.

NARRATOR: So why is the biological gap getting wider?

Enter WHITE FEMALE, BLACK FEMALE, WHITE MALE and BLACK MALE. They form a line, in descending order of life expectancy.

NARRATOR: What’s your average life expectancy?

WHITE FEMALE: White female. Seventy-nine years.

BLACK FEMALE: Black female. Seventy-four years.

WHITE MALE: White male. Seventy-two years.

BLACK MALE: Black male. Sixty-five years.

ALL: Racism!

NARRATOR: Not sexism?

WHITE FEMALE: I outlive the black male by fourteen years.


NARRATOR: Let’s juggle the figures.


FEMINIST: A woman dying fourteen years sooner than a man? Clearly an example of women being worked to death by the patriarchy.

NARRATOR: Power is having control over your life. Life expectancy is a good measure of power. Let’s look at suicide as a measure of not having power.

Enter BOYS and GIRLS. They form increasingly uneven lines as the NARRATOR gives the figures.

NARRATOR: Until boys and girls are 9, their suicide rates are identical.

From 10 to 14, the boys’ rate is twice as high as the girls’.

From 15 to 19, four times as high.

From 20 to 24, six times as high.

As boys experience the pressures of the male role, their suicide rate increases by 25,000 percent.

The suicide rate for men over 85 is 1,350 percent higher than for women of the same age group.

Some POLICE enter and start to beat up a BLACK MAN.

BLACK MAN: Is it ‘cause I is black?

NARRATOR: Or is it ‘cause you is a man?

An ELDERLY WOMAN is beaten up by MUGGERS. After being mugged, she rises.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Actually, I’m least likely to be the victim of violent crime.


BEATEN UP MAN: Men are twice as likely as women to be the victim of violent crime.

FEMINIST: What about rape?

NARRATOR: Even when the figures for rape are included.

BEATEN UP MAN: Men are three times more likely to be victims of murder.


MAGAZINE: The victims of violent crime are usually the most vulnerable members of our society. The poor. The young. The abandoned. The ill. The elderly. Look at our front cover.

Project picture of a beaten and bruised elderly woman.

NARRATOR: Terrible, isn’t it? However, if you count all the pictures, you’ll find that 84 percent of the faces are actually those of men or boys. But we don’t feel quite as sorry for them as we do for women. Why is that?

Enter a SHOPPER.

SHOPPER: Let’s go shopping!

The women buzz around imaginary aisles, filling their trolleys. The men brood, sulky and disinterested.

NARRATOR: Seven times as much floor space is devoted to women’s personal items as to men’s. Both sexes buy more for women. The key to wealth is not in what someone earns. It is in what is spent on ourselves, at our discretion. Or what is spent on us, at our hint.

Enter a TV EXECUTIVE with scurrying RESEARCHERS.

TV EXEC: Who controls consumer spending? Men or women?

RESEARCHERS: Tapping their hand-held PCs. Women!

TV EXEC: So who should we aim most of our adverts at?

RESEARCHERS: Tapping their hand-held PCs. Women!

TV EXEC: So who should we aim most of our programmes at?

RESEARCHERS: Tapping their hand-held PCs. Women!

TV EXEC: Who watches more TV?

RESEARCHERS: Tapping their hand-held PCs. Women!

TV EXEC: So, in our need to please the consumer, who has control over TV programmes?

RESEARCHERS: Tapping their hand-held PCs. Women!

TV EXEC: And how should we represent our most important demographic?

RESEARCHERS: Tapping their hand-held PCs. Victims!

TV EXEC: Put a picture of a beaten up elderly woman on the cover.

Enter a HUSBAND.

HUSBAND: Every day, I go home to have lunch with my wife.

Across the stage, his wife is being attacked by a man with a knife. She screams.

WIFE: Help!

The husband runs in. He starts to fight the man with the knife. He starts to get stabbed.

HUSBAND: To wife. Run! Call the police!

The wife runs off. The husband falls to the floor. The attacker runs off.

NARRATOR: What would you pay someone who agreed that, if ever he was with you when you were attacked, he would intervene? He would try to get himself killed slowly enough to give you time to escape. What is the hourly wage of a bodyguard? You know that is your job, as a man, every time you are with a woman. Any woman, not just your wife.

A split scene. We cross-cut. On one side, nineteenth century BLACK SLAVES, toiling and dying in the cotton fields of the Deep South. On the other side, TWENTIETH CENTURY MEN, toiling and dying on the batlefield.

NARRATOR: Here we have the nineteenth century. Black men as slaves, wasting their lives in the cotton fields. They die prematurely so the whites can benefit economically.

Here we have the twentieth century. Men as soldiers, wasting their lives on the battlefields. They die prematurely so the women can benefit economically.

A BLACK SLAVE subserviently gives up his seat to a WHITE MASTER.

BLACK SLAVE: Please sit here, boss.

A MAN politely gives up his seat to a WOMAN.

MAN: Please sit here, miss.

BLACK SLAVES stand up and bow their heads subserviently when their MASTER enters the room.

MEN stand up and bow their heads politely when a WOMAN enters the room.

BLACK SLAVES bow subserviently before their MASTER.

MEN bow politely before a WOMAN.

A SLAVE helps the MASTER put his coat on.

A MAN helps a WOMAN put her coat on.

WHITE SLAVE MASTER: Get out into the fields to work!

The SLAVES go out into the fields.

HUSBAND: I’m off to work dear. He kisses his wife goodbye.

WIFE: After HUSBAND has left. I’m a house-slave.

NARRATOR: It would be hard to find a single example in history in which a group that cast more than 50 percent of the vote got away with calling itself the victim. Or an example of an oppressed group which chooses to vote for their oppressors more than it chooses to have its own members take responsibility for running. Women are the only minority group that is a majority, the only group that calls itself oppressed that is able to control who is elected to every office in virtually every community in the country. Power is not in who holds the office. Power is in who chooses who holds the office.

FEMINIST: Marriage is slavery.

NARRATOR: Millions of women read books and magazines every month with the fantasy of marriage. Are these enslavement fantasies? Did slaves reads books and magazines that told them “How to Get a Slavemaster to Commit”? Either marriage is something very different from slavery or women are not very intelligent.


STAGE ONE WOMAN: I love you. You’re a good provider and a good protector.

STAGE ONE MAN: I love you. You’re beautiful and take care of the home and children.

STAGE ONE WOMAN: This is love. We’ve divided the labour.

STAGE ONE MAN: And divided our interests.

STAGE ONE WOMAN: But now, I wonder what our common interests are?


TRANSITION WOMAN: I’ve married a successful man. Why should I be married to a man who can show me his wallet but not his love? Who am I? Why am I always serving him, deferring to his opinions? When the children are grown, will my life have meaning? I’m scared my husband doesn’t really respect me. Why am I so preoccupied with what he thinks, anyway?

TRANSITION MAN: My wife seems more interested in the children, in shopping, and in herself than in me. She criticizes me for working late rather than appreciating me for working late. To me, my wife defines communication as her expressing her negative feelings but not me expressing mine. She seems to avoid sex more than enjoy it. She pays less attention to keeping weight off. She dresses sloppily unless she’s meeting other people. What am I getting from this marriage? Restaurants cook food better. They give me a whole menu to choose from. Housekeepers don’t ask for half my income. My secretary is more attractive. She has more respect for me. She’s more in tune with my work. And besides, selling Product X is hardly what I call identity.

TRANSITION WOMAN: That’s just your male midlife crisis.

NARRATOR: Essentially, women’s liberation and the male midlife crisis are the same search – for personal fulfilment, common values, mutual respect, love. But while women’s liberation is seen as promoting identity, the male midlife crisis is seen as an identity crisis. Women’s liberation is called insight, self-discovery and self-improvement – akin to maturity. The male midlife crisis is called playboy time and selfishness – akin to immaturity.

TRANSITION WOMAN: My mother used to say, “When the money stops coming in the door, the love starts going out the window.”

TRANSITION MAN jumps off the window sill.

And so on…

Suicide rates in the United Kingdom, 2000–2009

"There are more suicides among males than females. During the 2000–2009 period, the male suicide rate was highest in 2000 at 19.9 per 100,000. The rate continually declined to 16.8 per 100,000 in 2007 but increased to 17.7 per 100,000 in 2008. In 2009 the rate was similar to the previous year at 17.5 per 100,000.

Suicide rates for women have been consistently much lower than rates for men and have shown a steadily downwards trend. The rate was highest at the beginning of the period at 6.2 per 100,000 in 2000 and was lowest in 2007 at 5.0 per 100,000. The rate increased to 5.4 per 100,000 in 2008 and remained similar in 2009 at 5.2 per 100,000."

“The truth of any statement depends upon its purpose.”
[Bertolt Brecht].

“Everybody knows what’s going wrong with the world
But I don’t even know what’s going on in myself.”
[Matt Johnson, 1992, Slow Emotion Replay].

“The weakness of men is the façade of strength;
the strength of women is the façade of weakness.”
[Laurence Diggs, 1990, Transitions].

The protection of women
- no matter what the cost to men
- runs so deep it is invisible.
As a form of sexism it is invisible.
[Warren Farrell, 1994, The Myth of Male Power].

The gap between women’s options
and men’s obligations
creates the male-female power gap…
[Warren Farrell, 1994, The Myth of Male Power].

Power is control over one’s life,
not the obligation to earn money
so that someone else can spend it.
[Warren Farrell, 1994, The Myth of Male Power].

‘Woman-as-victim’ assumes that
women are always innocent
and men are always perpetrators.
[Warren Farrell, 1994, The Myth of Male Power].

Suicide is one of the best indicators of powerlessness.
[Warren Farrell, 1994, The Myth of Male Power].

The Suicide Sex:
If Men Have the Power
Why Do They Commit Suicide More?
[Warren Farrell, 1994, The Myth of Male Power].

As boys experience the pressures
of the male role
their suicide rate increases
25,000 percent.
[extrapolated from U.S. Bureau of Health and Human Services, 1988].

All men are rapists
and that’s all they are.
[Marilyn French, 1983, author of The Women’s Room].

When only one sex wins, both sexes lose.
[Warren Farrell, 1994, The Myth of Male Power].

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