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Thoughts About Self-Sacrifice On Remembrance Day

Amidst the well-deserved recognition of war heroism among men, I’ve always had an irritation like a sand grain in my eye. Small in one sense, and yet overwhelming.

Consider, for instance, this headline last week: Virtual schooling has largely forced moms, not dads, to quit work. It will hurt the economy for years [1].

Why? Why has it forced mothers to quit paying work more than fathers? Yes, there’s more social humiliation for men in not having paying work. But the single biggest reason is women’s unwillingness to see their children suffer. Women pay any price to avoid that, including the destruction of their own futures.

Fathers also self-sacrifice, of course, but the threshold for most men is a higher level of suffering in their kids, judging by the points at which they take action.

The sand grain I contend with is that when men sacrifice they get a great deal of remembrance and recognition and statuary. Women get taken for granted.

It’s uncommon for women to fight their way through Benavidez [2] levels of sudden injury. (It’s exceedingly uncommon for men too.) But just because it’s not the same kind of pain, it’s a mistake to ignore women’s superhuman endurance of harm. (I’m being polite calling it a mistake. Mostly it looks like intentional ignorance.) And many women fight for their children against huge odds and massive pain for more than months or years on a battlefield. They endure for their whole lives, without support or recognition.

It reminds me of the research showing that in hunter-gatherer societies women provide about 65% of the calories [3] [see Results in pdf], including a similar proportion of the protein calories by consistently trapping small game and fish. But when men lay the occasional wildebeest low, it’s a big deal. The societies are even called hunter-gatherer instead of gatherer-hunter. (Yes, there’s recent research showing that women also hunted big game [4]. That’s not my point. The point is the lack of recognition for women’s larger, continual, and consistent supply of food.)

We need remembrance for the selfless service women provide. We need recognition of its scale. I’d bet it’s probably about two thirds of the glue that holds civilization together. To say nothing of the sacrifices required to produce the actual people without whom a human world can’t exist.

women rebuilding Berlin, brick by brick, after enduring bombing for years
Women rebuilding Berlin, brick by brick, after enduring bombing for years
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5 Comments To "Thoughts About Self-Sacrifice On Remembrance Day"

#1 Comment By Earlynerd On 05 Dec, 2020 @ 14:59


Well, this is a bit awkward. COVID-19 may cause long-term erectile dysfunction in men. Yet another reason to heed public health advice as the coronavirus continues to spread. [5]

Looks like natural selection just got a li’l ole burr under its saddle 🙂


#2 Comment By quixote On 05 Dec, 2020 @ 19:01

Yup. That actually came out in mid-July. [7]. I figured it’d be all over the media in minutes (I mean, some things are important), but it took weirdly long for them to catch up.

Now we can start our countdown timers for mask-wearing in 3… 2… 1…

#3 Comment By Earlynerd On 06 Dec, 2020 @ 23:23

July? Huh. Thanks for that info – I’ve just started seeing it on Twitter.

Yep, gonna be a whole lotta mask wearers once that gets around. Guess the media figures it’s time to play up the REALLY scary stuff, now that cases are spiking again.

(Oh, and just to note this tRump-country’s cultural temperature – most of the tRump flags were gone from the RV’s, off-road vehicles, houses, etc, about a week and a half to two weeks ago. There are still one or two die-hards with waving tRump silhouettes in their picture windows and enormous pick-up truck tRump flags, but most of the herd seems not to want to identify with a known loser.)

#4 Comment By Earlynerd On 15 Dec, 2020 @ 02:12

Have to ask…

am I the only one who’s noticed that the chairwoman of the Republican party is actually named Ronna? As in the hip net name for the virus, “The ‘Rona”?

I feel we’ve blasted past Onion territory, straight through Kafka and landed squarely in the land of Gogol.

#5 Comment By quixote On 07 Jan, 2021 @ 21:33

Well, yes and no 😆 As someone whose mother was a Russian literature prof, I may take up the cudgels on behalf of Gogol!

Seriously, he made a LOT more sense than this un-funhouse movie were living in.