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Labor Day and 9/11: Glass Ceilings and Glass Cellars
August 27, 2002
by Warren Farrell, Ph.D.

For the past 40 years Labor Day has included celebration of the change in the labor force -- the addition of women. The first Labor Day after 9/11, though, reminds us that one aspect of the labor force has experienced no more change than the "Glass Ceiling". That might be called the "Glass Cellar": the predictability that virtually 100% of the firefighters and police officers who gave their lives at the World Trade Center would be men; that 100% of the recently trapped coal miners were men; that in the Gulf War men were killed at a 27 to 1 ratio over women (even though women constituted 11% of the military); that, overall, 93% of the people who are killed at work are men, a figure that has remained stable. To this day, the more a profession is a "Death Profession", the more it is comprised of men: construction; lumberjacking; welder; cab driver; garbage collector; coal miner; trucking; firefighter. Virtually no large office building or bridge is built without a man dying in its construction, whether as a coal miner, lumberjack, trucker, welder, roofer, or construction worker.

The psychology that perpetuates this Glass Cellar includes calling our firefighters and police officers "heroes". "Heroes" comes from the Greek word "serow", from which we get our words "servant" and "slave".

We think of someone who is a hero as someone who has power. In fact, a servant and slave possess the psychology of disposability, not the psychology of power. Many men have learned to define power as "feeling obligated to earn money that someone else spends while he dies sooner". Real power is best defined as "control over our own lives".

Why do we praise men as heroes when they compete to be disposable? Virtually all societies that have survived have done so by preparing women to be disposable in childbirth and men to be disposable in war and work. By teaching men to call it "glory", "duty" and "honor" to die in war we, in essence, "bribed" men to think of themselves as more of a man by being more disposable.

The question this Labor Day is whether the incentives and laws that produce male labor are producing the men most capable of loving. I think not. To be successful in war, or as a CEO, it helps to repress feelings, not to express feelings. But to be successful in love it helps to express feelings, not repress feelings. To be successful as a dad, it helps to be with children, but the Father's "Catch-22" has been to receive the love of his family by being away from the love of his family (whether at work or at war).

The more a man values himself the less he wants to die. To teach a man to value himself by dying -- to give him promotions to risk death, to tell him he's powerful, he's a hero, he's loved, he's a "real man" -- is to "bribe" a man to value himself more by valuing himself less.

It was part of our genetic heritage to socialize both sexes for disposability. Women have questioned that genetic heritage; but neither sex has questioned that genetic heritage in men. The result is that women are still falling in love with a sex that is less well socialized to love. Is that good for our children's genetic future?

Warren Farrell, Ph.D. is the author of the international bestsellers, The Myth of Male Power and Why Men Are The Way They Are, as well as Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say and Father and Child Reunion. He is the only man in the US ever elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in New York City. He has taught at the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and currently resides in Carlsbad, CA. He can be visited virtually at http://www.warrenfarrell.com.

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