Men & Work

The work men do, the jobs we work, the tools men create to do the jobs we work, the homes and skyscrapers, bridges and tunnels, sewers, dams, concert halls and moon missiles men build, the entire infrastructure that men construct, staggers me.

Some men work jobs where they constantly face danger or death. A University of Delaware study detailed the twenty-five most lethal jobs in America. All are either solely or predominantly men’s jobs, from lumberjacking – the most dangerous, with 56 deaths in 2018 alone – through mining machine operators, the 25th most dangerous.

But the work men uniquely do, dangerous or not, is rarely seen or appreciated. I hope with this section to bring men’s work to the foreground.

The first story in Men & Work, John Laue’s “Totem Manufacturing,” describes the life- and health-threatening work of one man’s manufacturing job. I imagine most men have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes working on the car, as the home handyman, or on the job. Bumping hard into work – dying on the job, dying from the job, being injured on the job – is a hazard of being male. Laue’s experience at Totem Manufacturing was in a high orbit of danger to health and life.