Former New Hampshire state Senator, Jim Rubens (R-Hanover), announced on Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate, hoping to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. While Rubens is not a strict conservative ideologue, he is raising a lot of eyebrows, especially among women, for past writings in which he blamed gun violence on the fact that women work.
Rubens will likely never garner the support of the Tea Party. He’s pro-choice. He’s pro-marriage equality and he believes in man-made climate change. However, a 2009 website post, which is now password protected, blames the increase in gun violence on the loss of blue-collar jobs and the fact that there are more women in the workplace.
“The collaborative, flexible, amorphously-hierarchical American economy is shutting out ordinary men who were once the nation’s breadwinners in living-wage labor and manufacturing jobs,” Rubens wrote. “Because status success is more vital to the male psychology, males are falling over the edge in increasing numbers.”
A “collaborative” and “flexible” economy is one that has opened the door to more women working, Rubens wrote. And the nature of the changing economy has had a detrimental effect on men, including an increase in violence.
“The collapsing number of male jobs in the increasingly female-centric economy just adds to the already harsher impact of OverSuccess on males,” he wrote, referring to the title of his 2008 book.
In an interview on Wednesday, Rubens elaborated, saying that both men and women need jobs but that “men are more sensitive than women to external indicators of status.” He also stated that manufacturing jobs are being replaced by “collaborative” jobs that favor women.
“It’s a tiny fraction of males that become stressed for whatever reason and engage in acts of extreme violence,” he said. “If you look through individual psychology of mass shooters over the past 10-20 years, you can see that in the profile. Often its a person who has been subjected to extreme stress in the form of social rejection, job loss and associated mental health issues.”
While the lack of manufacturing jobs is a real and serious problem, blaming it on women instead of on corporate outsourcing is like – to quote Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) – blaming spoons for obesity, but Rubens isn’t the only person to have connected the economy to mass shootings. In the wake of the shooting in Aurora, CO, Salon’s Lynne Parramore asked the same question, only this time without blaming women. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), suggested in 2010 that domestic violence has increased along with the rising unemployment rate.
The other fact is that while women did fare slightly better during the Great Recession (speculatively because women generally work cheaper than men), men are recovering nearly as quickly as women and at higher wages.
But men may not be suffering economically as acutely as Rubens claims. While they lost more jobs during the recession, they have steadily gained them back during the recovery period, which has been much more rocky for women. In fact, the so-called “mancession,” when the unemployment gap between men and women peaked at 2.7 percent in August of 2009, effectively ended in February of 2012, when men’s and women’s unemployment rates converged at 7.7 percent. Men have held steady at that rate, while women have seen a slight improvement to 6.8 percent. Even so, men have consistently outnumbered women in the workforce. In 2012, 59 million men worked full-time, compared to 44 million women.
And even if men were being forced more and more out of traditionally male jobs like manufacturing into softer female-dominated jobs, there’s little reason to think they will suffer from the transition. Men are increasingly entering these jobs, as occupations that are more than 70 percent female accounted for nearly a third of men’s overall job growth from 2000 to 2010, double than the share in the previous decade. Those who enter these roles will succeed faster than women. They earn more and are more quickly promoted into higher-paying and higher-status positions. (Overall, men earn more than women in nearly any occupation or industry.)
Interestingly, statistics in Europe seem to indicate that male unemployment can actually have a positive effect on violence – at least domestic violence. Europe is also experiencing a “mancession.” In Ireland, for example, almost twice as many men are unemployed as women. While the rest of the European Union isn’t so dramatic, men have definitely been hit hard.
Surprisingly, though, they aren’t hitting back. On the home front, it seems, there are lower incidents of domestic violence if men are unemployed, but there are higher incidences of domestic violence if women are unemployed.
The results showed that the 3.7 percentage point increase in male unemployment during the time caused a decline in the incidence of domestic abuse by 12 percent. Meanwhile, the 3 percentage point increase in female unemployment increased domestic violence by 10 percent. The correlation held for all kinds of abuse, but it was stronger for physical violence.
Though it’s not proven, the theory that Jonathan Wadsworth, a University of London economist and study co-author, suggested to explain the phenomenon is that when male unemployment in an area is high, more men — having either lost their jobs or fearing job loss — are likely to try to stick with their partners in order to ensure some semblance of income stability. And to keep their partners from leaving them, those that have abusive tendencies are more likely to abstain from violent behavior. Meanwhile, when female unemployment is high, women might similarly be less likely to leave men who are predisposed to abuse, and so reports of domestic violence would rise.
To be clear, it’s not that the abusive person is lashing out specifically because their partner is unemployed — just that an area’s job prospects alter the likelihood that one of the partners will stay in the relationship.
Source: The Atlantic