Saturday, March 26, 2011

Farewell to Dilbert. Part Two.

(The first part of this post can be found here.)

Let's jump straight into Adams' theories about discrimination against women. The short version: It does not exist. The long version:
Women will counter with their own list of wrongs, starting with the well-known statistic that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar, on average, compared to what men earn for the same jobs. My readers will argue that if any two groups of people act differently, on average, one group is likely to get better results. On average, men negotiate pay differently and approach risk differently than women.

Women will point out that few females are in top management jobs. Men will argue that if you ask a sample group of young men and young women if they would be willing to take the personal sacrifices needed to someday achieve such power, men are far more likely to say yes. In my personal non-scientific polling, men are about ten times more likely than women to trade family time for the highest level of career success.
Mmm. I so envy people who can interpret evidence quickly and decisively, even without evidence. I also envy people who see one set of data, figure out one possible reason for that data and then conclude that it must be that reason which explains the data! I also envy people who have at least eleven people to interview in their non-scientific samples, with not a single one of them wondering what "family time" might mean and if it involves being responsible for the children and the vacuuming and the cooking and the laundry and the grocery shopping and the scheduling of everyone's day and if any of that could be moved to the person asking the question.

I'm not making fun of Adams, or of him alone. Everyone and their great-step-granduncle know the real reason for the earnings difference and it's whatever they want it to be! I come across this All. The. Time, especially with right-wingers and MRAs.

That I myself had to study the question fairly intensively and over a long period of time humbles me. Others know the answer without needing to do the work! Or without needing any detailed data or regression analyses or anything! Still, for those who are interested in the longer explanation I offer my three-part series on the gender gap in earnings. It's a little out of date in terms of numbers but all the theory still applies. And the answer is that it's complicated, but discrimination certainly plays some role. That Adams doesn't see it is probably because he only thought about all this for a few minutes and he's not a girl after all, thank god.

Back to the Adams post. Things get really fun now, because the MRAs are going to get called names! Yessss:
Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights:

Get over it, you bunch of pussies.

The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

How many times do we men suppress our natural instincts for sex and aggression just to get something better in the long run? It’s called a strategy. Sometimes you sacrifice a pawn to nail the queen. If you’re still crying about your pawn when you’re having your way with the queen, there’s something wrong with you and it isn’t men’s rights.

The bolds above are italics in the original where the rest is not in italics.

The term "pussy" has several meanings:
1. Informal A cat.
2. Botany A fuzzy catkin, especially of the pussy willow.
3. Vulgar Slang
a. The vulva.
b. Sexual intercourse with a woman.
4. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a woman.
5. Slang A man regarded as weak, timid, or unmanly

My take would be that Adams uses "pussy" in the last sense. He calls the men who care about men's rights weak, timid or unmanly. Sorta like women, I guess. His advice to these pussies is to keep their eyes on the prize which just might be to get laid.

Adams then explains that the society treats women differently for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently.

There's nothing I can add to that sentence because it stands on its own, though later Adams qualifies it some:
I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he’s smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people.  A man only digs in for a good fight on the few issues that matter to him, and for which he has some chance of winning. This is a strategy that men are uniquely suited for because, on average, we genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us.
Which doesn't really qualify it at all.

The rest of Adams' post explains to us his joy in belonging to the team guyz, with all its special advantages. He also explains why women living longer, on average, isn't such a great thing:
Fairness is an illusion. It’s unobtainable in the real world. I’m happy that I can open jars with my bare hands. I like being able to lift heavy objects. And I don’t mind that women get served first in restaurants because I don’t like staring at food that I can’t yet eat.

If you’re feeling unfairly treated because women outlive men, try visiting an Assisted Living facility and see how delighted the old ladies are about the extra ten years of pushing the walker around.  It makes dying look like a bargain.

I don’t like the fact that the legal system treats men more harshly than women. But part of being male is the automatic feeling of team. If someone on the team screws up, we all take the hit. Don’t kid yourself that men haven’t earned some harsh treatment from the legal system. On the plus side, if I’m trapped in a burning car someday, a man will be the one pulling me out. That’s the team I want to be on.

I'm not quite sure what to make of that last bit. It sounds as if Adams argues for a male supremacist position. Being a guy is just better because of the ability to open jars, to lift heavy objects and to pull people from burning cars.

On the other hand, he sees men as a team, perhaps playing ball against women? Pun not intended. And he prefers to be on the winning team, even if that team gets more penalty calls (to mix my sports metaphors).

But how does he see women? That's what troubled me after first reading the post. He certainly thinks that women (and the mentally handicapped) are emotion-driven creatures incapable of logical arguments, and he also sees them as not being on his team. They are among the "others."

Of course I may have gotten the whole post wrong. It could be humor for the Vogons. Also, as some commentators argued, the post bashes both Men's Rights Activists and feminists. Except that the former group gets a tap on the head and the latter group gets steamrolled, together with all women. Other than that, yes, everybody gets bashed equally. Well, save men in general.

Do you wonder why I spent three or four hours of my divine time on a two-week old vanished post? I wondered about that myself. The reason is similar to those nightmares I have had where a person you know and love suddenly peels the face off and something truly ghastly appears and attacks you.

Experiences like that need to be exorcised, to be brought into the bright light of the day. Writing does that for me.