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Ending the Zero-Sum Game

The New Statesman had an excellent series on gender issues in the UK this past week. Unfortunately, the cover design conspired to polarize men and women, rather than engage them with questions that are increasingly important to all of us.  The cover shows the male biological symbol with a drooping arrow–clearly implying emasculation–and the headline shouts, “The Weaker Sex.”  The subtitle elaborates:  “Did feminism really ruin life for men?”


New Statesman Cover for the Week of March 12, 201"


All the data at hand today suggest that humanity has a great deal to gain–around the world, North and South, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, male and female–by closing the gender gap.  It is unfortunate to see the push for equality being represented in these threadbare 1970s terms. It is as if Mad Men had been hired to design this cover.

Inside the issue are articulate and candid essays by both men and women about the challenges ahead and the need to come together to resolve issues that affect all of us.  Unfortunately, the opportunity to have a fresh dialog will be wasted as people walk past newsstands lined with a zero-sum proposition in which women can only win by men losing.

The truth is that the growth that will come from the productive and positive employment of all the world’s talent–especially by educating and caring for all the world’s children–will add to more than zero.  A great deal more.  And the horrors committed in the service of gender inequality–human trafficking, bride burnings, honor killings–are crimes that appall good and decent men everywhere, just as they sadden good and decent women.  If the media (and right-wing American politicians) would stop trying to play the same old-fashioned games, we might be able to forge an alliance between the sexes that would solve our very 21st century problems instead of continuing to struggle against each other.

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