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Brickner: Men are not the problem; ignorance is

Brickner writes, "We need a common education of high quality that includes not only job skills, but history, ethics, and logic to free us from bias and conspiracy theories. For unity and wisdom."

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Joan Brickner, Forum Readers Board
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In some circles I hear people say, “Just imagine how much better off we would be if women ruled the world!”

No. I cannot agree. Women are simply people. No better. No worse.

Do we need to look beyond the current crop of Karens or the rude, gun-toting congresswomen to see this?

Putting women on a pedestal, as some do, is just another form of sexism.

I recall a line from the Winona Ryder version of Jo in “Little Women.” Men asked her opinion about granting women the right to vote, a feat not accomplished until the 1920s. One man argued women should vote because of their moral character. But she responded well:

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"I find it poor logic to say that because women are good, women should vote. Men do not vote because they are good; they vote because they are male, and women should vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country."

Perhaps the main tragedy of history is not the thumbprint of men, but the typical absence of women and other groups – non-whites, non-Christians, the poor. We lost their voices, their skills, their talents. They were denied thumbprints of their own.

This does not mean we don’t need morality or values. A good education is a preservative for our democracy. As Derek Black of “Time” magazine says,

“Even before the United States had a Constitution, its founders were advocating for the creation of public education systems. … James Madison, the father of our Constitution, remarked: 'a popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy.' President Washington…added that expanding education was essential to the perpetuation of [the] nation’s common values and the chance of a 'permanent Union.'”

We need a common education of high quality that includes not only job skills, but history, ethics, and logic to free us from bias and conspiracy theories. For unity and wisdom.

As a former college educator, I recall entire classes without men. Indeed, in 1970, approximately 57% of college graduates were men; now it’s about 40%. Education encompasses more than job skills. I might still believe my mother’s superstitions and old wives’ tales without schooling. And, no, I didn’t need a religious school, despite my parents’ faith. Mama simply prayed over me every morning. Without a strong, common education, we see a descent into emotional manipulation, conspiracy theories, and violence, as seen in the troubling Netflix series “Web of Belief,” or the harassment of Republican and Democratic election workers, as evidenced in the current January 6 hearings. We witness a “toxic masculinity” that includes both men and women.

Education allows us to make choices beyond violence. As Viktor Frankl wrote, “Man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”

The content of our character is not limited to one gender, one race, or one nation. We need a common education to feed the best in us. Men and women, religious or not. Together.

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Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English instructor, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

READ MORE FROM INFORUM COLUMNIST JOAN BRICKNER
Brickner writes, "When I visited the Henry Ford Museum a couple of years ago, one exhibit showed the fight for women’s suffrage. A display case included a signed card by a woman opposed to women voting. This is one of the ironies: Sometimes the worst opponents of women are women themselves."

Opinion by Joan Brickner
Interested in a broad range of issues, including social and faith issues, Joan Brickner serves as a regular contributor to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English instructor, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.

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