A feminist talking point that is growing in popular usage holds that women are discriminated against in health care because scientific experimentation that leads to new practices, procedures, drugs, and other theraputic tool advancement has traditionally used mostly or exclusively male subjects.
The argument is that biological differences between men and women such as bone density, hormone balance, sex organs and their affect on other abdominal organ placement, and so on make research done using only male subjects insufficient to determine these medical tools’ effects on female patients. This, we are told, creates a risk to women where information gathered from this research may not provide enough guidance to anticipate women’s medical needs or how new therapies and advice may impact women’s health. This potential disadvantage, we are told, is a result of women being disregarded as a demographic.
But is it?
One does not have to look very far into ethical considerations for medical research to realize this isn’t an issue of disregarding women, but of protectiveness toward women, or conversely, of male disposability. One factor involved is the issue of potential pregnancy, which doesn’t occur with men. This is a serious consideration when testing new drugs and supplements, dietary changes, exercises, or any other therapy that can affect the wellbeing or development of a gestating baby. To protect a gestating baby you must protect the mother upon whose body the baby’s welfare depends. Biological females can get pregnant, and the condition has historically been at least somewhat unpredictable. Biological males cannot, so, the condition isn’t a consideration when experimenting on men, while it can present an ethical dilemma in the use of female test subjects. Historically, that has resulted in women of childbearing age being excluded from some testing.
That isn’t discrimination against women. It’s placing a higher value on the protection of women’s bodies in deference to a very special use any given woman might have for hers.
Another factor is the level of personal risk to the test subject himself. We didn’t always have the technology we have today that can be used to carefully monitor the subject’s systems, organs, and vital signs, nor the knowledge to interpret subtle changes with as much accuracy as we can today.
While feminists see the end effect on women – the possibility of lower accuracy in predictions or descriptions of how medical tools will work in patient treatment when the patient is female – there were primary effects on the men who historically were used as test subjects, such as James S. Leedom, an 18 year old freshman honors student at Seattle University who participated in a study on the safety of blood storage, and died of sepsis after receiving a transfusion of blood that was contaminated with bacteria. Leedom’s death was treated as more of an inconvenience to the goals of the research than a tragedy.
Leedom’s case and many others like it were highlighted in the mid-1960s by Henry K. Beecher’s article, “Ethics and Clinical Research” in the New England Journal of Medicine. Susan E. Lederer, writing for the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics more recently, labeled that report “the single most influential paper ever written about experimentation involving human subjects.”Its influence, along with public awareness following WWII and the Nuremberg trials led to advancements in considerations like informed consent and safety protocols.
Medical experimentation has not become risk-free for test subjects, but it is done more carefully, and with far more emphasis those considerations.
Much of the remaining risk in modern human drug trials is mitigated by test subject screening for health conditions that could predictably result in bad reactions or injury, as well as the ability to identify many dangerous side effects before they get out of hand or cause permanent damage or death. When that was not the case, it would be understood that in many if not most cases, medical test subject was a moderate to high risk job.
Who is society comfortable subjecting to high risk jobs?
And men are more willing to take on high levels of risk to achieve important goals than women are, often with one factor being a sense of obligation to prove themselves beneficial to their communities through service, and to their families through breadwinning. It’s one of the factors in the so-called wage or pay gap, which is actually an earnings gap. Look at jobs that earn hazard pay, and you are more likely to find male workers than female, with some jobs exclusively or almost exclusively done by men.
And now that the risk involved in acting as a medical test subject has been reduced through ethics and informed consent protocols, feminists are pushing for more test subject positions to be filled by female subjects instead of males. They see a disadvantage for women in the historically more prevalent use of men in medical research, and so consider it an anti-woman slight, but the real underlying factor, even if women are disadvantaged as a side effect, is male disposability. So is the underlying factor in the feminist response, which isn’t unique to the field of medical science.
Workplace safety protocols improved throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, parallelled by technological improvements in devices used to perform tasks involved in homemaking, both strides that were made by a mostly male workforce and a mostly male engineering force. Homemakers gained something that had previously not been possible for anyone who could not afford hired help: With their tasks simplified and sped up by the devices available to them, they began to have time left over after their tasks for the day were completed.
During this same time, the labor movement fought to restrict child labor, and wartime drafts removed men from many workplaces (now less dangerous after the implementation of rules and standards by the Occupational Safety and Health administration, worker’s unions, and professional guilds.) In this environment, more middle and upper class women began to take jobs… and ever since then, they’ve been competing with men for positions in the safer and more visibly prestigious end of the work force, pushing more men into jobs that are less desirable – those that are hazardous, dirty, disgusting, or dismal without a lot of visible prestige. In short, with women’s encouragement and their society’s respectful support, men built our entire civilization. Now, our society has withdrawn that encouragement and support, and we are actively tearing down our civilization’s builders.
What do you get when you displace or quash cooperative and constructive risk-takers in fields of discovery, creation, and cultural advancement, demonize them as having wrongfully monopolized these workplaces, and reshape their work environment to suit replacements who are risk averse and self-centered? What happens in those fields?
You replace innovation with dysfunction and badly maintained stagnation, make the workplace hell for the remaining innovators, and deprive future generations of the benefits of their work… all because the importance of their characteristics and their contributions to society has been vastly underrated. You create a population demographic with a growing list of reasons to feel disadvantaged, aimless, insignificant, and disenfranchised.
Have you wondered why so many young men were available and open to participating in the occupy protests and the riots of 2020? Guess what most of them were not doing, and how most of them were not gaining recognition within their communities and families! Might they have chosen differently if they had valued roles they had to abandon in order to partake in those activities?
If the balance went in the other direction, our gynocentric society would have a conniption fit. We would be hearing about the terrible issue of female disposability. Feminists would lament the risks that we as a society would have accepted as normal to impose on women just because they are women.
They would decry men’s displacement of women from their professions whenever male interest in a field of work increased. We would have noted that the women who had historically received recognition or at least a modicum of respect as the risk-taking innovators, developers, builders and backbone of our civilization were being “rewarded” in modern times with only damage and sacrifice, dismissal, and when they engaged in any self-advocacy, with defamation as greedy, selfish, or sexist. We would even be hearing how treating women in this manner harms everyone, including children.
Since those things are happening to men, instead, we never hear about it from outside of the community that the gynocentric media has not so-affectionately labeled “The Manosphere,” and when we talk about it, we are accused of painting men as victims of progress.
Throwing half of humanity under the bus to the detriment of everyone… discrimination when it happens to women… progress when it happens to men for women’s purported, but not effective benefit. And the attitude behind that is a huge barrier to fixing the problem.
This week, HBR talk will begin discussing three ways in which male disposability is destroying civilization and why we must restore regard for men, beginning with how disposability impacts men as the drivers and foundation of our cultural advancement. You can find a link to the stream, running at 7:30PM EST, at honeybadgerbrigade.com.
Opening Monologue transcript
Support the badgers: http://www.feedthebadger.com
Patreon us on patreon: http://www.patreon.com/honeybadgerradio
Subscribe to us on minds https://www.minds.com/HoneyBadgerRadio
Follow us on twitter! https://twitter.com/HoneyBadgerBite
Join our Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/honeybadgerradio
Watch us on twitch! https://streamlabs.com/honeybadgerradio
Prim Reaper – https://www.youtube.com/user/Aceticacidplease
Deborah Powney – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3DOT_N7Ib0Pwi4m4XbX04A
- How did Women’s Studies rely on men? | HBR Talk 297 - February 22, 2024
- The accountability gap in reproductive choice | HBR Talk 296 - February 15, 2024
- Who do they think we are? | HBR Talk 294 - February 1, 2024