We’re going to talk about Boston today, and I will be referring to a lot of pictures, some of which are pretty gory and upsetting and quite possibly NSFW on that account. FYI.
There are a lot of different subjects tangled up in Boston, but I want to narrow in on one very specific aspect of the bombing that I have yet to see covered anywhere in the media. I want to talk about the fact that the majority, by far, of the people who responded to the tragedy in real, practical, tangible ways were men, and how we ignore the incredibly important role that men play in keeping our world safe, despite the evidence for that being overwhelming.
Let’s start with this picture right here. There are almost a hundred people in the foreground of this picture alone. Police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, and a lot of people who look like race organizers. What do they have in common? What is the one feature that unites almost all of them?
There appears to be a medical technician of some sort and a few women who were clearly spectators or race participants and at least one woman who seems to be a victim, and although the uniforms can make it hard to distinguish which police officers are women, most of them are clearly identifiable as men. So are the firefighters. Almost everybody in this picture is unambiguously male.
Not that surprising, really. The Boston Police Force has an active roster of 2170 sworn officers, 13% of whom are women. That’s 282 officers.
http://www.bpdnews.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Annual-report-2010-reduced.pdf (contains the active duty number, but no gender breakdown)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Police_Department#Demographics (gender breakdown here)
At least one female police officer was at the marathon when the bomb went off:
She has her gun drawn and she’s wearing gold button earrings.
I can’t find any evidence that the Boston Police Department actively discriminates against women; indeed, quite the opposite. The first women joined the force in 1921, and in 2004 the force appointed Katie O’Toole as the first female commissioner. Seems like women in Boston who want to be police officers CAN be, and they can rise as far in the department as their skills will allow.
The fact is that women don’t generally want to be police officers. It’s dangerous, physically demanding work that puts you in contact with some pretty vicious, unpleasant people, and women typically don’t like those sorts of jobs. Even when police forces actively try to recruit women, offering them advantages over male applicants, they still find few takers.
Policing is something that appeals to men, and consequently the boys in blue really are mostly boys. No one is keeping the girls out of the club. They don’t want to be there.
Looks like ladies don’t like being paramedics much, either.
Or state troopers.
Or bomb disposal experts.
Or crime scene technicians.
Or FBI agents.
Or SWAT team members.
Or Emergency Medical Technicians
Or Secret Service.
Are you getting the picture here?
A bomb goes off. Shrapnel tears through a crowd taking lives and limbs with it. The world turns into fire and smoke and blood and death, and into that fray run the people who are trained and sworn to save us.
And those people are overwhelmingly men.
Of the 30+ people in this picture, two appear to be women. All the rest are men.
Louis C.K. says that men represent the greatest threat of danger and injury to women. Looks to me like men represent the best safeguard against danger and injury, for other men and women alike.
It’s easy to believe the rah-rah bullshit of the feminist “ladies can do anything” mantra when the world is stable and steady and safe and predictable. Toss a bomb in the mix and reality becomes impossible to ignore.
It’s easy to believe men don’t matter, that it’s the End of Men, until someone packs a pressure cooker full of ball-bearings.
It’s easy to think men are disposable, and irrelevant and useless until the fire comes sweeping down the street.
The reason the world we live in is mostly stable and safe and predictable is BECAUSE men exist, and they take on the job of keeping our world safe and sane. And when bad things happen, it’s men who are there to help, to serve, to shield, to protect.
Let’s honor these men now. Let’s acknowledge their power, their strength, their courage. Let’s acknowledge their authority, their valor, their bravery.
Honor them now. And pray you never need them.
Lots of love,