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Where should responsibility lie?

When men consider women — which is more often than not — and try to formulate a response to the perceived threats they pose, a working hypothesis is required.

Without one, they run blind.

Running blind is seldom dissuasive of a manly endeavor, but, when that endeavor involves women, instinctive cautions arise.

So plans are cobbled together based on coordinates whose accuracy is undetermined, much less verified, and men trudge along believing matters are under control.

They aren’t.

Take a look at the numbers:

∫ 70% of high school valedictorians are girls.

∫ 60% of college students in the United States are women, and they earn 58.5% of the master’s degrees granted and 53% of the doctorates.

Only academic? How about real-world toughness?

A recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that a child growing up in a single-parent home is more likely to experience poverty — a disadvantage that significantly decreases the probability of boys attending college.

But there is no similar effect on girls! They continue to attend college at the same rates as those from un-impoverished environments.

Other studies affirm these results, one of which concluded, “It appears girls may be more like dandelions, while boys are more like orchids.”

Have you tried pulling a dandelion out by its roots? I rest my case.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 93.2% of the approximately 185,500 federal inmates are men; only 6.8% are women. This ratio holds up in state prison populations, as well.

You can look at this in two ways.

Either women who commit crimes don’t get caught at the rate men do, or they don’t commit nearly as many crimes. Either way, they’re out — not behind bars — free to walk around and do other things — like becoming valedictorians.

Which leads me to this conclusion: If women committed crimes at the same rate as men, civilization as we know it — or used to know it, before all the hate and nonsense — would come to an end.

But the comparison that settles the matter for me is the one noted in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine. One in four (25%) of female college students will self-administer an available electric shock — out of curiosity — when sitting alone for 15 minutes.

With male students, the ratio rises to two out of five (40%).

I rest my case.

The question then becomes, how have men managed?

A cursory examination indicates by trickery and deceit. Of necessity, they have rigged the game, a rigging that continues.

No women were at the Constitutional Convention. They weren’t allowed to vote until 1919. The Equal Rights Amendment remains outstanding, and white males predominate in both federal and state legislative bodies.

In his recent leaked draft opinion, Justice Samuel Alito reverses the Roe v. Wade constitutional protection for abortion based on the proposition that abortion is not specifically mentioned in our constitution, nor is it “rooted in our country’s history and tradition”.

He proposes that only those rights explicitly mentioned or that have been part of our country’s history and tradition are entitled to constitutional protection.

The question then becomes: What are those unmentioned protected rights that are a part of our history and tradition? And to whose benefit do they inure?

“The English law of illegitimacy was carried to America by the earliest colonists, where it became a part of colonial and state law. While each state has been free to fashion its law, for the most part, the English law has been followed.

“The principal consequences of illegitimacy were three: (1) the illegitimate could not inherit from their parents, (2) they had no right to support from their fathers, and (3) they bore the stigma of bastardy.

“It has been suggested that the harsh law of illegitimacy has its roots in the Christian precept of monogamous and permanent matrimony and the male dominance of the development of our legal institutions.

“The long-continued non-responsibility of the father of an illegitimate child can be attributed to male domination — and perhaps the male desire to be free from legal responsibility for children casually fathered.”

— “The Changing Legal Status of Illegitimate Children,” Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, T.E. Lauer (1973)

The cost of raising a child to maturity is now estimated to be $273,049. A sum a “casual father” may wish to avoid by shifting his parental responsibility to dandelions.

Perceive the benefit? Surprised?

Justice Alito’s draft opinion makes no exception for rape or incest. Moreover, those exceptions are not provided in legislation proposed by many states, so the term “casually fathered” takes on additional pathos.

Could this be where the Supreme Court majority is heading? That states can provide “casually fathered” children are not entitled to support from their fathers as those fathers were relieved of that obligation traditionally and historically?

I’d not dismiss the possibility out of hand — history being what it was and times being what they are.

Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs weekly on Saturdays. He can be reached at pughda@gmail.com.

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