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Ending the War

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
In the movie “A Few Good Men,” Jack Nicholson’s character jokes that the Iraqi army was so overwhelmed during the 1991 Gulf War that “some of them surrendered to a camera crew from CNN.” Today, men may be searching for camera crews as well.

“Two dozen Democratic women from the U.S. House of Representatives brought the charge that Republicans are waging a ‘war on women’ to the party’s convention stage on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. The political pressure group EMILY’s List is keeping a calendar tracking day-by-day developments in the “war on women.” And at least one left-wing group calls our country the United States of Misogyny, presumably because of the fallout from this on-going “war.”

Men, let’s wave the white flag. If we have, indeed, been waging a war, we’ve botched it completely. Women have never been better off in any society, anywhere, ever, than they are in the United States in 2012.

For example, “Single young women in their sexual prime—that is, their 20s and early 30s, the same age as the women at the business-¬school party—are for the first time in history more success¬ful, on average, than the single young men around them,” notes Hanna Rosin in The Atlantic magazine. “They are more likely to have a college degree and, in aggregate, they make more money.”

They’re also safer. A paragraph from Rosin’s story is worth quoting in full: “One of the great crime stories of the past 20 years, meanwhile, is the dramatic decline of rape and sexual assault. Between 1993 and 2008, the rate of those crimes against females dropped by 70 percent nationally. When women were financially dependent on men, leaving an abusive situation was much harder for them. But now women who in earlier eras might have stayed in such relationships can leave or, more often, kick men out of the house. Women, argues Mike Males, a criminologist at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, ‘have achieved a great deal more power. And that makes them a lot harder to victimize.’”

The so-called war is falling short on athletic fields as well. Female athletes dominated the headlines at the recently completed Olympics, and seem likely to dominate the celebrity endorsement deals as well.

And there’s more to come. “Timo Lumme, the director of television and marketing for the International Olympic Committee, said the dominance of female athletes has sparked a surge in viewership of the games among American girls, evidence that women's success is already inspiring the next generation,” the Associated Press wrote.

Maybe you’re heard about the glass ceiling? It’s cracking, if not already shattered. “In 1970, men earned 60 percent of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50 percent, by 2006 it was 43 percent,” Bill Bennett notes. “Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women’s earnings grew 44 percent in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6 percent growth for men.”

Even in their “failures,” women are finding success.

Anne-Marie Slaughter recently took to the pages of the Atlantic to explain “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” (Perhaps because of the “war” against them?) But the author
does appear to have it all.

She notes she has a happy family with healthy children. She’s got tenure at Princeton, which means she can’t be fired, sets her own hours and makes a very good salary. Her husband, also an academic with a flexible schedule, is supportive of her career. She was able to spend two years working on foreign policy in the upper levels of an administration that she supports, working for “understanding” female bosses.

Slaughter’s concern seems to be that when she’s at work, she can’t be at home with her family. But that’s not a problem that’s unique to women. It’s always been true for anyone who works outside the home, and it always will be.

There’s no doubt that Slaughter is far better off than, say, my great-grandfather. He worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines in the 1940s, six days a There’s no doubt that Slaughter is far better off than, say, my great-grandfather. He worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines in the 1940s, six days a week, nine hours a day. If we can’t “have it all,” we have far more than he and his contemporaries could have imagined.

“Women today are entering adulthood with more education, more achievements, more property, and, arguably, more money and ambition than their male counterparts. This is a first in human history,”
writes Kay Hymowitz. She warns that it’s really men, not women, who are in danger today.

There’s no war on women. Let’s end the martial language, and instead work together to keep building a better country. For both sexes.

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