Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why Feed the Pig When Sausages Are Cheap?

To get this post, you might want to read my earlier one "Why Feed the Cow When Milk is Cheap?" first. This one, too, is based on Mark Regnerus' thesis that what ails America is essentially uppity women and their slutty behavior, but here I wish to pay more attention to his prostitution thesis about heterosexual love. Regnerus:
To better understand what's going on, it's worth a crash course in "sexual economics," an approach best articulated by social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs. As Baumeister, Vohs, and others have repeatedly shown, on average, men want sex more than women do. Call it sexist, call it whatever you want—the evidence shows it's true. In one frequently cited study, attractive young researchers separately approached opposite-sex strangers on Florida State University's campus and proposed casual sex. Three-quarters of the men were game, but not one woman said yes. I know: Women love sex too. But research like this consistently demonstrates that men have a greater and far less discriminating appetite for it. As Baumeister and Vohs note, sex in consensual relationships therefore commences only when women decide it does. And yet despite the fact that women are holding the sexual purse strings, they aren't asking for much in return these days—the market "price" of sex is currently very low.
I have written about that particular study many times before! It consisted of total strangers coming to you in pure daylight and asking for sex, and I pointed out that the dangers of such casual hookups are quite different for women than men, given the greater levels of male sexual violence and given the possible risk of pregnancy (the study didn't control for whether the women asked were on the pill, for example). Others have pointed out that the study arrangements are NOT the way sexual hookups actually happen but almost a red flag for something being weird about the person asking. Combine that with sexual killers and such, and you WOULD predict that women are going to refuse the offers.

But these proximal reasons for refusing sex are not what the evolutionary-psychologists think the experiment shows. They argue that women are inherently less interested in sex with strangers than men, even if all other concerns (violence, the risk of pregnancy) were held constant. The distinction is an important one.

To see how important, consider a recent series of studies which takes off from the experiment described in the above quote:
Would you have casual sex with a stranger? How about a close platonic friend?
How about with Johnny Depp?
Getting more interested, ladies? If so, you’re adding to the evidence that some widely accepted beliefs regarding men, women and short-term sexual encounters may be significantly off-base.
In a newly published paper describing a series of studies, University of Michigan psychologist Terri Conley asserts that “when women are presented with proposers who are equivalent in terms of safety and sexual prowess, they will be equally likely as men to engage in casual sex.”


In an attempt to learn if gender differences toward casual sex can be eliminated, Conley conducted yet another variation on the basic “Will you go to bed with me?” experiment. Only in this case, the scenario featured one very attractive and one unattractive suitor: Depp and Donald Trump for women, Angelina Jolie and Roseanne Barr for men.
The result: Women were just as likely as men to agree to have sex with the attractive celebrity. They were also “about equally likely” to reject the offer from the unattractive but famous individual.
This suggests a problem with the aforementioned Sexual Strategies Theory. If women were attracted at some deep level to men with the resources to care for them and their prospective children, The Donald would be a catch.
It’s worth noting that gender-specific biology, or at least psychology, does play into this equation. Conley notes that women tend to be more concerned about sexual assault, a fear that makes casual encounters more risky. It’s entirely possible that women, on average, get less pleasure out of casual sexual relations because they are more relaxed, and thus more receptive, when they are with partners they know and trust.
Still, it’s fascinating that when you remove that variable and give women the option of a casual encounter that is likely to be both safe and pleasurable, they are just as receptive as men. This research, Conley concludes, “suggests that women are more similar to men in their reactions to casual sex than would have initially been expected.”
It is that last paragraph which is of importance here, both for what it tells about various evolutionary-psychology theories and for what it tells about Regnerus' view of women.

And about his basic theory which equates heterosexual love as a market where women sell sex in exchange for an income and a marriage, pretty much. The real world is much more complicated than Regnerus' worldview.

Why Feed the Cow When Milk Is Cheap?

Yet another article from our favorite Christian evangelist Mark Regnerus, on how all men want from women is sex, how all women want from men is marriage and how the price is set in this prostitution market. I have already written about Regnerus' new book. His basic approach really is that women shouldn't go to college in such great numbers but should marry very young. This is because the only thing men want from women is sex and if you give it without marriage, well, then the men won't marry you!

But Regnerus' most recent article goes even further: He argues that men can't be bothered to work, either, if they can get sex without work:
And yet while young men's failures in life are not penalizing them in the bedroom, their sexual success may, ironically, be hindering their drive to achieve in life. Don't forget your Freud: Civilization is built on blocked, redirected, and channeled sexual impulse, because men will work for sex. Today's young men, however, seldom have to. As the authors of last year's book Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality put it, "Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy." They're right. But then try getting men to do anything.
Get it? Heterosexual women must stop giving away free sex or the sky will fall and they will never be able to get married.

What's the evidence for men's poor performance AS A CONSEQUENCE of a sexually permissive society? According to Regnerus:
We keep hearing that young men are failing to adapt to contemporary life. Their financial prospects are impaired—earnings for 25- to 34-year-old men have fallen by 20 percent since 1971. Their college enrollment numbers trail women's: Only 43 percent of American undergraduates today are men. Last year, women made up the majority of the work force for the first time. And yet there is one area in which men are very much in charge: premarital heterosexual relationships.
How sneaky! He doesn't actually show any causality here. Not that he could do so, given that the drop in young men's earnings has much more to do with globalization of markets and the outsourcing of many previously well-paying blue-collar jobs, and given that the percentage of men in the universities of such countries as Iran was between 35% and 40% until the government decided to limit women's share to a maximum of 50%.

Nevertheless, Regnerus ties the two things together later on, arguing that young American men do poorly because of the behaviors of young American women. This I call a sleight of hand. Also worth pointing out is that Regnerus talks about something he sees as a problem: declining marriage rates, while at the same time talking about the group: the ultimately college-educated, who will have the highest marriage rates of all. Another sleight of hand here.

Regnerus' thesis looks to me like putting the cart before the cow or the pig, and that cliche coleslaw is intended, because that's how he builds his thesis, too. But I still can't get over the misandry of the anti-feminists. They start from a view of men which is insulting to the extreme, then somehow work from that into woman-blaming. And people say feminists hate men!
For more on this topic, read "Why Feed the Pig When Sausages Are Cheap".

Friday, February 25, 2011

Today's Action Alert (Hee)

Remember Bobby Franklin of Georgia and his bill wanting every miscarriage to be investigated as a possible fetal murder?

Here's what you can do to help Bobby police our uteri.
Added later: The original idea came from here.

The Man Behind The Curtain in Wisconsin

Rather surprisingly, Fox News tells us what Nazgul Walker tries to achieve in Wisconsin, and that is the end of the Democratic Party. Out of the ten largest political donor, only three donate to Democrats, the other seven to Republicans, and those three are all unions! So getting rid of unions could mean getting rid of the Democratic Party because politics in this country ultimately is all about money.

Watch it:

Forced-Birth Attacks Against African-American Women

The most recent one consists of a billboard that was placed in SoHo by Life Always. This one:

The billboard has now been removed but supposedly not for the reason that it a) blames African-American women for a genocide or that b) it turns a woman into a locality (the womb is like the dangerous bar or street). It has been removed for safety reasons!

The history of the ways reproductive choice has been denied to African-American women is an ugly one:
Concern in the black community about abortion and what was once referred to as “population control” has authentic roots, grounded in a shameful chapter in the history of welfare policy. Sterilization as a condition of women’s continued eligibility for receiving welfare benefits stirred deep resentment. In response, feminists active in the early abortion reform movement, both white and black, often marched under twin slogans: “Free Abortion on Demand, No Forced Sterilization.”
Their point was that the choice to become a mother was as worthy of protection as the opposite choice.
The coercive policies were dropped, but the damage lingered, and the growing abortion reform movement in the late 1960’s stirred new fears in the black community. In the black press, the equation of abortion with genocide was prominent. “My answer to genocide,” Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist, wrote in Ebony in 1971, “quite simply is eight black kids — and another baby on the way.” That same year, nearly two-thirds of those answering a poll in the black newspaper The Chicago Daily Defender said they feared that abortion posed a genocidal threat to the black community (although, interestingly, only a quarter of those who responded said that they were opposed to abortion.)
Likewise, in the 1990s the "welfare queen" argument was really aimed at poor African-American women who had children. The racial angle in all this cannot be made to go away.

How disgusting to turn it so directly against women again, as is done in the billboard!

A good place to learn more about African-American women and reproductive justice is SisterSong.

Writing as if women mattered (by Suzie)

Two Swedish women, who have been maligned around the world after they accused a celebrity of sex crimes, face more months of virtual imprisonment because the alleged rapist plans to appeal Thursday's judgment that he be returned to Sweden for trial.

You won't see this lede on any mainstream account of the decision by Senior District Judge Howard Riddle. The media, including blogs that comment on news, generally go with the best-known person and how his life will be affected. I say "his" because men hold the great majority of top jobs in politics, government, media, entertainment, etc.

In this case, the two women are keeping quiet, but what's stopping journalists and bloggers from contacting their lawyer to find out all the ways this case has changed their daily lives, their relationships, their futures. Have they moved from their homes? Do they still work? Have they lost friends? Have they gotten death threats?

WikiLeaks is selling a T-shirt that says, "Courage is contagious." I admire the women's courage for sticking it out for six months, but I don't think they caught their courage from him, and I hope they didn't catch anything else.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fire All Wisconsin Public School Teachers

That is the advice of a wingnut at the oh-so-angry Townhall site. Terry Jeffrey makes that recommendation on this basis:
By 2008, Wisconsin was spending $10,791 per pupil in its public primary and secondary schools. Yet, in the 2009 NAEP reading test, Wisconsin public school eighth-graders again scored an average of only 266 out of a possible 500. Only 34 percent earned a rating of "proficient" or better in reading.
When the $7,123 per pupil Wisconsin spent in its public schools in 1998 is adjusted for inflation, it equals $9,408 in 2008 dollars. Thus, even though Wisconsin increased per pupil spending by $1,383 dollars from 1998 to 2008 (from $9,408 to $10,791), it did not gain a single point on its average eighth-grade reading score.
Wisconsin had similar results in math. In 1996, the state's public school eighth-graders scored an average of 283 out of 500 in math. In 2008, they scored an average of 288 out of 500 -- or 1 percent higher than in 1996.
As bad as they are, Wisconsin's tests scores are slightly better than the national average for public-school students.


Does anybody do better with less money? Yes.
In 2009, the eighth-graders in Catholic schools averaged 281 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test -- 19 points higher than the average American public school eighth-grader and 15 points higher than the average eighth-grader in a Wisconsin public schools. On the math test, eighth-graders in Catholic schools averaged 297 out of 500, compared to an average of 282 for eighth-graders in public schools nationwide and 288 for public school eighth-graders in Wisconsin.
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as noted on the archdiocese's website, Catholic elementary school tuitions range from $900 per child at St. Adalberts in Milwaukee to the $5,105 for a non-parishioner child at St. Alphonsus in Greenhdale.
In addition to being less expensive and better than public schools at teaching math and reading, Catholic schools -- like any private schools -- can also teach students that there is a God, that the Ten Commandments are true and must be followed, that the Founding Fathers believed in both and that, ultimately, American freedom depends on fidelity to our Judeo-Christian heritage even more than it depends on proficiency in reading and math.
OOh! We get the guy god and the founding fathers and the fidelity to an Abrahamic religion, too! What fun private schools are, to be sure, especially as Jeffrey also states this:
What every state in the union ought to do is take a look at the public school teachers protesting in Wisconsin, take a look at the test scores for the nation's public school students, take a look at the $10,000 per year it typically takes to keep a child in a public school and pass new laws with three simple provisions: 1) every parent of every child in every school district in the state shall receive an annual voucher equal to the per-pupil cost of maintaining a child in the state's public schools, 2) they shall be entitled to redeem this voucher at any school they like, and 2) the state shall not regulate the private schools, period.
Even more fun! Schools can have asbestos and rats and stuff and cannot be regulated. And note that Jeffrey's private school proposal would certainly make madrasas possible and tax-funded.

But before we get all carried away, it's worth pointing a huge difference between public and private schools: The latter can kick students out if they don't perform sufficiently well, the former cannot. And where do the students go who were kicked out of private schools?

To the public schools which can't refuse them.

Today's Silly Question

Why are dolls almost always female? If the purpose of dolls is as "practice babies or children," why are there so few boy dolls?

The explanation may be trivial. Or it may reveal something much deeper about the meaning of dolls. Note, also, that "action figures" which mean dolls for boys are essentially always male.

The Wall Street Journal: A New Home for Woman-Haters.

Trigger warning for serious woman-hating.

Yes, I was warned not to read the comments attached to the Kay Hymowitz piece but I did. Then I read the commenting policy of the WSJ:
You will not upload, post or submit anything that is obscene or contains profanity or that may be hateful or offensive on racial, ethnic, sexual or any other grounds; is harmful, vulgar or distasteful; or is defamatory, libelous, or invades another person's privacy or proprietary rights.
Here are examples from that thread:


Dead on. women are granted power only through the courts and guise of PC equality. rarely has a male earned his way to the top by fiat of law like modern US women. What a joke.
Why should the males of today grow up? To marry some overachieving harridan and spend their days pushing a stroller to playdates at the park? Why would they when a cold beer, an endless supply of available girlfriends, and the Playstation await.The patriarchy is dead. Nice work, girls. Now stop complaining.
Men adolescence in their 20s? As far as I've seen in my 25 years as an American adult, its US women who are some of the most spoiled, useless people on this earth. Both men and women commit all sorts of horror and irresponsible behavior, its the women who are rarely held responsible for their actions. Who built the things we live in, drive, went to the moon in, defended ourselves with. The latest medical miracles? Overwhelmingly men. If modern society failed it would be men who would by necessity saved the xx chromosome from some pitiful existence until its exitnction. This writer may command the english language but like a lot of overeducated useful fools, she doesn't command an ounce of common sense. But good luck honey, Deal with those PC muslim men!
"The prize for many guys just isn't worth having anymore."

This is THE demotivator for guys that is blindingly obvious but, for some reason, gets ignored. The prospect of getting married to one of the zillions of calculating, emotionally flat women who's been nailed by a hundred different guys and who only cares about money and status is not good. Don't blame guys for reacting logically to the world around them.
Yes, let's try harder to make women's lives easier. Let's sentence ourselves to decades of misery, of infrequent sex from some thickening grouch who does her damndest to control every aspect of our lives. Let's totally ignore the experiences of our peers, our friends, our fathers, & most other men trapped in miserable, one- way "marriages."
As I'm sure has been mentioned ad-nauseum here the legal system coupled the disloyalty, inflexibility, triteness, narcisissm and short attention span of the american female have made marriage a bad deal for men all around. All it really amounts to is a bad contract. 

What was the name of that book??--"I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I've Dated." Well, I don't know what you learned honey--but I learned that your many and sundry dalliances and squirmings have made you into nothing more than an ignorant strumpet and probably infertile as well.
Where have all the thin or normal size women gone?
If women want to know where all the good men have gone, maybe they should just look in the mirror. They have stolen the template. And that sneering, gray-suited, short-haired female-man with the afterthought earrings and the reluctant lipstick at the top of the article really Is the poster girl for the new female-man. She's not attractive, unless you are gay.
As for women now receiving more degrees than men and the related jobs in a more credentialist society, that is is a developing national tragedy. Females get more degrees because females are more passive learners. Professors love them. The don't doubt. They don't fight. They accept, memorize, and regurgitate more readily than male students, who find the passive nature of long education to be stifling. For a nation to remain strong and aggressively creative it cannot have too many passive female position-holders. Passive competent doer-ship is just not enough. Male aggressive creativity may make things more messy, but it is not optional.
99% of the women out there now are just not worth getting too worked up about. The modern woman is for the most part very, very unattractive, regardless of her outward beauty. Like I've said earlier, there isn't much worth fighting for out there any more, just a bunch of needy, attention-mongering wh0res....
Of course, there is the issue of the propagation of the species. However, this may not be a problem for long. Recently, scientists at the M. D. Cancer Center in Texas succeeded in the artificial mating of two male mice, producing viable offspring, both male and female. True, female mice participated in the process, but only as brooders. Further technological innovation could likely remove any female involvement whatsoever. Solutions of what to do with the superflous female progeny are all too obvious.
A recent contributor to Atlantic pronounced “The End of Men”. So instead, now are we going to see ”The End of Women”? Are women necessary? Is Maureen Dowd necessry? Is Kay Hymowitz necessary? I think perhaps not.


G. Richard Johnson
Urbana, Illinois
Exactly. Told they can have it All and delivered by this afternoon, the avg American woman now in their 20's/30's wants to assume both "roles" on demand and when it's convenient. The Mother Superior Queen (bee) or boss, applying edicts with a heavy hand and the little tween girl Princess ready to be part of exciting and dramatic sitcom-like moments in their own lives. As the important song from the '80's tells us: **Girls Just Wanna Have Fun** 

Some guys play along, some don't. eventually, most figure it out and "outsource" their romantic needs to woman raised in Asia or Latina America. It is Not an accident we are having this discussion post -V-Day, the one day a man serves a need greater than a bicycle 
Does anyone believe in exsistence of uncorrupted domestic women anymore?
We don't want to trade our social lives and happiness just to have a consistent sexual partner. It's just not worth it. Women today are obsessed with drama and cattiness. Look at the popularity of the reality shows like Real Housewives or the Kardashians. It's not men who are keeping those shows alive. 

How many women do you know have lost life long friends over backstabbing and talking behind one anothers back. I know many. I have life long male friends that I've been through a ton with. All of them would take a bullet for me, and i for them. 

Women have melt downs over the smallest issues, like what to wear, what other people are going to think of them or plans made at the last minute. If it doesn't matter in 5 years, it doesn't matter now. Everything is not a life changing event. You are not the center of the world. And we have learned we don't have to put up with it. 
Actually, technology enabled women to do work which does not require brains or attention to detail either. Jobs which actually require brains, dedication, sincerity and attention to detail are still done by men.
What is not so clear is why young men today are so silly and passive against this constant attack. Many Black men are angry and violent toward women. Will it be a surprise if many others eventually follow? 
All the best people in engineering I knew were guys. The men absolutely smoked the women, yet the women stuck around like stink on a monkey. Importantly, women would rely on the men to give them answers to problem sets, about which the women knew nothing. Moreover, the women were considered second rate engineers. Honestly, without all these "equality laws" the women would be gladly removed from the positions they have infiltrated. Instead of solving problems, they prefer to have a drawn-out discussion. Women today have achieved their position either by banging their boss or by having organisations' hands tied by legal garbage.
Omar - Absolutely correct. I could not agree more. Females in America worship themselves and each other like gods. It's ridiculous. The egomania and entitlement are on an astronomical scale. One thing women might consider is what a boring drag it is to try to date people like themselves. 

We've had state mandated, state enforced promotion of women and a non-stop attack on men for the last couple of decades and when women receive their state enforced success, what do they say? "I am so-o-o-o massively ama-a-a-zing! OMG! OMG! OMG! And it's incredible how awful and inferior men are." It's absurd but that's life in nitwit, feminized America.
Westernized females are no prize. In fact, I'd say the main reason men don't care and would rather focus on themselves is because of the state of western females. There are 1.2 million abortion annually in the US EVERY YEAR! Those are responsable actors? You can easily change the title of this article to read, 'why do women want to look and act like men so much?' 

On top of all of that, marriage is indentured servitude for men in western societies. Why would anyone, not under the inluence of drugs or alcohol, submit to this. And lastly, females are depreciating assets. As a female ages, her value and looks decline dramatically. A male gets better as he ages. Two ships moving in opposite directions
The women these days are very different from 56 years ago. Back then, women behaved like WOMEN and ladies to boot... these days, women are cheap, money grubbing wh0res, and are very worn out and useless by their mid twenties. Nothing worthy of marriage, mainly only worth dating and having some fun times, but never ever marrying them....
So what? Her resume still doesn't explain why she completely omitted the real cause. Feminism. I'm a very successful 20-something male. I'm the guy you WEREN'T describing in your article. I'm highly educated, very active, blah, blah, blah. I want to get married - just not to any American women. They are horrible. They've bullied their way into masculinity, yet they remain high-maintenance, expensive, catty, and want to hold on to their dating power-plays like withholding sex. The question you should be asking is why all the actually wonderful men (like me) won't date American women. Anyone have a mirror for this b#tch?
Freudian pe nis envy

Get an Asian wife, If your a good man and employed they will be far more loyal then white women

I can barely stand working with these sexist man hating white female coworkers


Enough said? This is only a tiny fraction of the comments. Almost all of them, by the way, blame feminism for pre-adult men, the fall of masculinity and the end of the Western civilization, too. What's extremely hilarious is that only one comment in 800+ got that Hymowitz is a wingnut anti-feminist. Most of these foaming-at-the-mouth rabid creatures took her for a feminazi! Poor Kay.

I know that delving in comments sections is an unhealthy thing to do. But so is letting comments like these through from what looks like an infestation of misogynists from some MRA site. Given the commenting policy.


Added later: Trigger warning for the comments, too. I added a hundred or so there.

What I've learned from blogging (by Suzie)

I came late to blogs. I came because I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008, and the more liberal media seemed biased toward Obama (as opposed to conservative media, who hated them both).

My first post was Feb. 17, 2008. Here are a few things I've learned:

1. Blogging is pretty much like column writing for newspapers, except you can can write OMFG.

2. Too much jargon can make a blog seem like a private club.

3. I love, love, love links. I can provide additional information for readers, without bogging down the post itself.

4. I generally wrote only once a week, but I got so caught up researching topics that I could still miss my deadline. (I now write only sporadically for health reasons.)

5. I love writing for free. When you work for pay, someone owns you. I have never felt so free to express myself. (I get Social Security Disability; I understand that most others need a paycheck.)

6. Wiener Nougat is incredibly delicious. No, this isn't weiners with nuts. Wiener means Viennese, or in the Vienna style. Nougat refers to a sugary paste with nuts -- in this case, almonds in chocolate. Echidne brought me back a box from Finland, and then I found it online. The box is a good conversation-starter, but it can't beat out the Katzenzungen box, or chocolate cat's tongues.

ETA: I made a change to indicate how much I like the Katzenzungen box, but I still prefer to eat Wiener Nougat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm Exhausted

Just wanted to share. Send chocolates.

Dearth of Women in Hard Sciences? Women's Fault, Probably. Part II

This post is about the Ceci-Williams meta-study itself. To explain where I am going with this, note that the possible reasons why women, on average, might show different patterns of participation in the so-called hard sciences, can be summarized as follows:

1. Biological explanations

1a. Women cannot learn enough science to work as researchers in the field, on average.

1b. Women are not interested in hard sciences for biological reasons (such as biologically determined focus on people rather than on things)

1c. Women are biologically destined to be the sex which gives birth to children and then takes care of them (as well as of their father). This work conflicts with the long hours necessary in hard science research.

2. Societal explanations

2a. Girls and women are socialized away from hard sciences, probably because their primary future roles are seen as caretakers of children. This can take place inside homes, in schools and in popular culture (Math Is Hard). This, in turn, results in fewer women prepared to enter hard sciences as well as fewer women with expressed interest in hard sciences.

2b. Societal gender roles place the responsibility for childcare and household chores on women. These tasks are time-intensive. That women do them also benefits men in hard sciences who can thereby both dedicate themselves to their careers AND have children. Women in hard sciences may be offered "a choice" between having a family or a career.

3. Discriminatory Explanations

3a. Direct discrimination. This term refers to our usual understanding of the term "discrimination," such as hiring a man over a better qualified woman in a laboratory, making certain that women scientists don't get the best spaces, promoting men over equally qualified women and so on. Note that direct discrimination could happen because the person discriminating believes that women are biologically inferior as scientist, but it could also happen without that belief.

3b. Indirect discrimination. This is a seldom-used term. It refers to discrimination in earlier stages of some process. For instance, if schools discriminated against girls in the teaching of mathematics, the fact that later universities would not do so doesn't mean that discrimination had no role to play in the outcomes. Sometimes it is useful to keep in mind that the overall impact of discrimination on any one particular woman is a cumulative one. To disprove discrimination in the final stages does not mean that it never played a role. Likewise, treating sons and daughters with equal talents and interests differently is also gender discrimination, even if of the indirect kind by the time the daughter would like to be a scientist.

3c. Institutional discrimination. This term is interpreted somewhat differently by different people, but in general it means that the institutions themselves, perhaps in an unintended fashion, discriminate against some group, women in this case. As one popularization of the Ceci-Williams study pointed out, universities in general are set out to "discriminate" against any individual whose fertility declines rapidly after the age 35 because of the way tenure is granted. The tenure process was not invented to keep women out of academia. But its impact on women is far more negative than on men.

It's quite possible for several of these theories to apply at the same time. I like the list because it reminds us that "choice" may mean several different things, even though certain commentators equate it with "free choice" by women. But by the time a woman is ready to "choose", she has already been subjected to a society in which it is women who take care of children and she knows that hard sciences are where the Menz Are.

Armed with this, let's have a closer look at the Ceci-Williams meta-study. They argue that women are no longer directly discriminated against in journal reviewing (a process which one must pass to get published) or in the awarding of research grants, given that we compare men and women with "the same resources" and in those two sections their work is fairly good. They also argue that women are no longer directly discriminated against in hiring.

Their work in that section is less convincing. As the Slate review points out:
Here's what Ceci and Williams show: That women with the same resources as men are just as likely to get their papers, grants, and job applications accepted. While this might appear to mean that women scientists don't face discrimination, in fact, it's quite compatible with the strong experimental evidence that there is bias against women.
In order to understand why, we need to revisit some basic facts about the scientific method. The best scientific way to discover if one factor influences another is to do a controlled experiment. For example, you can give people two identical résumés to evaluate, one with a woman's name and one with a man's name. If people rank the one with man's name higher than the identical one with a woman's name, you know that they are discriminating on the basis of sex, and nothing else, since you've experimentally controlled all the other factors. These experiments, and others like them, have been done. They are described in the PNAS article and the results are clear. Even in fields that are traditionally considered friendly to women, such as psychology and sociology, a woman's name leads to a lower ranking. As Ceci and Williams say, it is extremely unlikely that this bias is limited to the specific fields that were studied in these experiments. If you want to answer the scientific question of whether there is unconscious bias and discrimination against women, these experimental studies are the gold standard.
This quote reminds us, by the way, that unless we happen to experts in this particular field we also have no way of knowing if the studies Ceci and Williams analyzed are an unbiased sample of all the studies in the field. They may well be but it's always good to remain aware of the possibility that a different set of researchers might have covered different studies and emphasized different results.

My major disagreement with the study is not about the hiring section, however, or even the absence of sections on promotions and the "firings" which are created by not getting tenure, but the way the concept of resources are treated in the study.

What do the authors mean by resources? This seems the closest to a definition I could find:
When type of institution, teaching load, funding, and research assistance were factored in, the productivity gap completely disappeared (which is not to say discrimination has not influenced these factors in the real world): “There is very little direct effect of sex on research productivity. . generally have positions superior to those of women, although structural differences by gender have appreciably declined over time.Once sex differences in such positions and resources are taken into account, net differences between men and women in productivity are nil or negligible” (ref. 26, pp. 863–864).
What this quote says is that women are every bit as productive as men who are treated the way women in science are treated! Only most men are not treated that way, but once we control for the fact that women tend to teach larger classes in colleges with less research emphasis and tend to do research with less money and fewer assistants, they do every bit as well!

Oops! I shouldn't have used the word "treated" there, because clearly women chose to have larger classes, less prestigious colleges, less money and fewer assistants.

Humor aside, we don't actually KNOW how resources are allocated. Ceci and Williams take a tremendous leap here:
Given equivalent resources, men and women do equally well in publishing. A key issue, separable from sex discrimination in manuscript evaluation, is why women occupy positions providing fewer resources and what can be done about this situation. This situation is caused mainly by women’s choices, both freely made and constrained by biology and society, such as choices to defer careers to raise children, follow spouses’ career moves, care for elderly parents, limit job searches geographically, and enhance work-home balance. Some of these choices are freely made; others are constrained and could be changed (3).
When I read the above, I prepared for a long review of all the studies which demonstrate how women's choices are the cause of their fewer resources. Pages and pages of them, I thought. But to my surprise the authors move on to discuss grant applications. Thus, it's only that number (3) which is used to refer to the certain-sure evidence that lower resources are mainly caused by women's own choices. It refers to another Ceci&Williams article, called "Sex Differences in Math-Intensive Fields." I haven't had time to get hold of it yet (send money) but surely the above leap is too important, too fundamentally earth-shatteringly important, to stand on just one puny citation? Especially given that this is the take-home message of the whole article?

I am not arguing that women's child-rearing and household responsibilities wouldn't play an important role. Far from it. But note that these responsibilities play the same direct role in all academic disciplines. Their indirect role may be greater in the field of hard sciences, because of the strong gender connotations that field has in the popular imagination and because women in the field are rare enough to perhaps stand out negatively if they ask for longer maternity leaves or more time in the tenure clock. It might look like demanding preferential treatment when most of the guyz don't "need it".

Still, imagine a study which argues that secretaries and bosses are treated exactly the same once we standardize for their available resources! That would never fly but this one seems to. My point is that discrimination, if it exists, is not going to leave the resources available to women unaffected. No way. And yet the whole Ceci and Williams meta-study argues that resources are something completely different from discrimination and all about women's choices.

Dearth of Women in "Hard" Sciences? Women's Fault, Probably. Part I

Here is where reading the two posts below comes in handy! You can see How It Is Done in this society, meaning how we can talk out of two sides of the mouth at the same time when it comes to women: Women's lower participation in sciences is their own choice, either free or societally constrained, but nobody EVER tells them what they should choose! So pay attention, my sweeties, because Auntie Echidne has just shown you here, on this very blog, how it is done to make women "choose" family over careers of all times.

This post is about a new meta-study looking at the reasons why women are scarce in mathematics and hard sciences. By "meta" I mean that the new study doesn't actually carry out new research but goes over research already published. The conclusions of this study, by Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams, called "Understanding Current Causes of Women's Underrepresentation in Science" have spread like a wildfire in the popular media. Here is the study summary:
Explanations for women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields of science often focus on sex discrimination in grant and manuscript reviewing, interviewing, and hiring. Claims that women scientists suffer discrimination in these arenas rest on a set of studies undergirding policies and programs aimed at remediation. More
recent and robust empiricism, however, fails to support assertions of discrimination in these domains. To better understand women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields and its causes, we reprise claims of discrimination and their evidentiary bases. Based on a review of the past 20 y of data, we suggest that some of these claims are no longer valid and, if uncritically accepted as current causes of women’s lack of progress, can delay or prevent understanding
of contemporary determinants of women’s underrepresentation. We conclude that differential gendered outcomes in the real world result from differences in resources attributable to choices, whether free or constrained, and that such choices could be influenced and better informed through education if resources
were so directed. Thus, the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort: Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics careers today. Addressing today’s causes of underrepresentation requires focusing on education and policy changes that will make institutions responsive to differing biological realities of the sexes. Finally, we suggest potential avenues of intervention to increase gender fairness that accord with current, as opposed to historical, findings.

A translation: Ceci and Williams argue that women in sciences used to face direct discrimination in hiring, in getting grants and in getting their papers published in the past, but that this is no longer the case. When women and men with the same resources are compared, there is no consistent gender difference in either hiring, grants or the refereeing process. I will come back to the actual study in Part II but first, let's see what the media coverage of it has been:

This treatment has varied from really bad (by people who can't write):
As the 21st century unfolds, if even one woman does not get a job, there will be claims of discrimination.   And some will believe discrimination occurs institutionally despite the evidence, and insist any action by individuals is proof of sexism.   That's the nature of humans being humans.

But it's good to know the issue is still being addressed.   In a new study, "Understanding Current Causes of Women's Underrepresentation in Science" in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (freely available to read -, Cornell University social scientists, at least one who risks being immediately saddled with "white, male privilege" smears for daring to study the topic,  say institutional sexism is just not there any more.

to John Tierney (you know what he is going to say: it's women's bad biology):
Instead, the taboo against discussing sex differences was reinforced, so universities and the National Science Foundation went on spending tens of millions of dollars on research and programs based on the assumption that female scientists faced discrimination and various forms of unconscious bias. But that assumption has been repeatedly contradicted, most recently in a study published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by two Cornell psychologists, Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams. After reviewing two decades of research, they report that a woman in academic science typically fares as well as, if not better than, a comparable man when it comes to being interviewed, hired, promoted, financed and published.
“Thus,” they conclude, “the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort. Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past.” Instead of presuming discrimination in science or expecting the sexes to show equal interest in every discipline, the Cornell researchers say, universities should make it easier for women in any field to combine scholarship with family responsibilities.
to quite interesting takes:
Ceci and Williams did not show, or claim to show, that there was no discrimination or unconscious bias against women scientists. Instead, they tried to untangle the complicated causal factors that influence success. They found that when you factor in women's circumstances—for example, what kinds of teaching loads they have, whether they are at research universities, whether they have young children, and so on—then the correlation between sex and success goes away. Overall, female scientists have fewer resources than male scientists, just as poor people have less access to health care. But if you compare male and female scientists with identical resources you find that the women are just as likely to be successful. Ceci and Williams put it this way in their discussion of the number of journal articles women published: "The primary factor affecting women's productivity was structural position. When type of institution, teaching load, funding, and research assistance were factored in, the productivity gap completely disappeared (which is not to say discrimination has not influenced these factors in the real world)."
Concluding from this that gender doesn't influence scientific success, however, would be like concluding that poverty doesn't influence health in the study I described before. It's much more likely that gender causes the unequal resources, which causes the different outcomes.

finally, to this one:
Two thoughts before you use the comments to discuss whether women choose different paths, or whether systems are designed to “choose for them.”
First, the authors of the study are the co-authors of “The Mathematics of Sex: How Biology and Society Conspire to Limit Talented Women and Girls.” They are also, not incidentally, married to each other and the parents of three daughters. And, also not incidentally, he has an endowed chair at Cornell, while she does not.
The crucial finding of the Ceci-Williams meta-study has to do with the "similar resources" argument. That's also where their analysis lets them down as I shall show in Part II. But for the time being it's enough to note that we skip from the fact that women in science, on average, have fewer resources than men in science to the assumption that this is the outcome of female choice without addressing the question how resources in fact are allocated and to what extent that allocation process depends on the female scientists vs. the institutions which employ them.

Mostly, however, I wanted to juxtapose this post with the two below, for the enlightenment of all those who argue that women are these cumbersome creatures who keep choosing the wrong things. It's always the wrong things, by the way.

Divorce: The Fault of Feminists and Uppity Women

Reading Phyllis Schlafly is a weird exercise. Here is this woman who has certainly made it in the public sphere, and made it by telling other women not to make it in the public sphere! Not too sure about what that might mean, but I think she would have suffocated to death in the kind of world she advocates to other women.

Yes, we are still covering the recent "it's women's fault" fashion. More is to come, by the way, but this particular post is about how feminism destroyed the family. Mmm.

Us feminists are incredibly powerful people, despite not having any money and despite probably being the most hated liberation group of all times! We can't get a voice in the mainstream media, we don't have armies, we have hairy armpits (except if we are naturally scaly snakes) and we are otherwise not f***able or appealing. Still, we destroy civilizations.

I kinda like that. Anyone who is moronic enough to pretend to goddesshood must like that. But Schlafly doesn't like feminists at all. She and Suzanne Venker have co-authored a book entitled The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know - And Men Can't Say:
"If there's one thing feminists love, it's divorce - they consider it liberating." That's just one of the claims Phyllis Schlafly and her co-author Suzanne Venker make in their new book, The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know - And Men Can't Say, to be released this March. Schlafly--political activist, bestselling author, syndicated columnist, radio personality--is often called the grande dame of the conservative movement (she is perhaps best known for her successful campaign to stop passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and founding of the national volunteer organization known as the Eagle Forum). Venker, a.k.a. "No Bull Mom," is author of 7 Myths of Working Mothers and a regular contributor to NewsReal.
In a series of e-mails and telephone conversations over the last few weeks from their offices in St. Louis, Missouri, they weighed in on marriage, divorce and feminism in our society:
Why do you claim feminists love divorce?

Phyllis: Their own writings reveal that feminists sought liberation from home, husband, family, childbirth, children, and the role of fulltime homemaker. They wanted to be independent of men and liberated from the duties of marriage and motherhood. So, their first legislative goal was the adoption of easy-to-get divorce. They were behind California's adoption of unilateral divorce, which then spread across the country.

So why do so many marriages fail, not just those of feminists?
Suzanne: Living in a culture in which people break vows easily makes it difficult to keep one's own vows. The modern generation was groomed for an independent life. Marriage and motherhood are not something to which young women have been taught to aspire. Instead the women in their lives tell them to focus solely on their career. The result is women don't think of marriage and motherhood as fulfilling in and of itself. It's silly to think there's something wrong with being in the kitchen--everybody has to eat! Sandra Bullock's claim marriage is the end of who you are is indicative of the modern generation's defeatist attitude toward marriage.

To sum: Divorce is the fault of feminists because not getting divorced requires a woman to be a full-time homemaker, and besides, feminists LOVE divorce. It gives them multiple orgasms and such.

Wouldn't it be interesting to do an actual study of the marriages of feminists? To see if they actually have higher or lower divorce rates than the marriages of anti-feminists? But then we would have some actual data and that is a lot less interesting than attacking feminists.

I can't take these women quite seriously though I know that they mean business and that many people do take them seriously. But honestly, to argue that feminists love divorce for its own sake! Not to define what one means by the "duties of marriage and motherhood!" And so on. I get that Schlafly and Venker hate women, pure souls. But the rest of it is not very interesting.

But do pay attention to this post and the one below because the next post in this "it's the fault of women" will show you how the tables are turned.

Do You Know What Is Women's Fault: Pre-Adult Men

This has been one of those periods when we are told how many things are the fault of uppity women. These periods come and go, quite regularly (though not every 28 days), and they mostly follow any advances in women's independence, and the usual plot is to show how that advance for women in fact makes them unhappy!

Thus, education has always made women unhappy, from the era when the womb would start wandering about because of the excess pressure on the feeble brain, to the era when no upstanding man would marry an educated woman (librarians!) to the current era when getting educated will let your eggs wither away (what with the apparent impossibility of using both ends of your body at the same time).

Greater sexual equality also makes women unhappy. The more women hook up in their twenties the unhappier they will get, I read. Women are simply not made that way and if women don't cross their legs men won't bother marrying them. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk free?

These stories NEVER ask if women should care for the pig when sausages are plentiful in the marketplace. This is because they are conservative anti-feminist views of how the world should be structured. In those views women don't matter except as providers of more soldiers and more workers, and women should do that job with the minimum hassle and cost to anyone else. Paradoxically, while women don't matter much at all, they are also extremely important: It is their job to uphold the civilization by domesticating men, by somehow gate-keeping sex outside the marriage and by providing the negative mirror in which masculinity is ultimately reflected: Men become men ONLY if women act like women: tending to children at home while being provided for and protected by men.

This is the argument of Kay Hymowitz in her new book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys. Hers is the extreme definition of masculinity as subtractive: Men can only be men if women remain girls, ultimately. Or so I think, based on the piece Hymowitz has written based on her book.

It focuses on the idea of pre-adulthood, a period when a person is no longer an adolescent but for various reasons unable or unwilling to become fully adult. And what does adulthood mean for Hymowitz? Here's a hint
Sociologists use the term "life script" to describe a particular society's ordering of life's large events and stages. Though such scripts vary across cultures, the archetypal plot is deeply rooted in our biological nature. The invention of adolescence did not change the large Roman numerals of the American script. Adults continued to be those who took over the primary tasks of the economy and culture. For women, the central task usually involved the day-to-day rearing of the next generation; for men, it involved protecting and providing for their wives and children. If you followed the script, you became an adult, a temporary custodian of the social order until your own old age and demise.


What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.
Today's pre-adult male is like an actor in a drama in which he only knows what he shouldn't say. He has to compete in a fierce job market, but he can't act too bossy or self-confident. He should be sensitive but not paternalistic, smart but not cocky. To deepen his predicament, because he is single, his advisers and confidants are generally undomesticated guys just like him.
Single men have never been civilization's most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers. So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with "Star Wars" posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn't be surprised.
Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do.
Bolds are mine.

There you have it! No-one needs men, and that is women's fault. Women haven't stuck to their proper biological role as nurturers of the next generation so that men can provide for them and protect them. Protect from what? Could it possibly be...from men? Hmm. Note also that women have always worked on the farms, all day long. The nurturing of the next generation has been but one of their many tasks.

Hymowitz replaces real history with her ideological summaries. Doing that makes writing real easy but gets you into all sorts of other problems. For instance, if women who do well in labor markets are to blame for the pre-adulthood of men, isn't Kay Hymowitz herself one of the guilty ones?

There's something utterly sexist about all of this, and in a bizarre way it is men who get the roughest deal. They are portrayed as pretty much imbeciles who must be forced to let go of their toys, forced into marriage and the role of a provider, forced into acting like adults in the conservative worldview.

What is the solution Hymowitz offers for this new "man-crisis"? The article gives us no hints, though I bet it has something to do with women not getting so educated or so pushy or doing so well at school. Because men's problems are women's fault, caused by women stepping out of line.

Hymowitz's piece is really quite silly. The age at first marriage in the United States has varied widely over time (and what once was registered as marriage may today consist of cohabitation), and her anecdotal evidence is all about men and women with college degrees and parents who are affluent enough to let them continue living at home after college, say.

This doesn't mean that the whole topic would be as silly, however. There are valid reasons (other than uppity women's perfidy) for the reasons why young adults cannot leave home and set up their own households very easily, but those are largely about economics, about outsourcing, about the recession and about the fact that we may now live in an era when the next generation is not automatically better off than the previous one.

While thinking about Hymowitz's piece my brain ran on the usual squirrel wheel about how women-bashing women get published so very easily, about what it is that might make a woman hate her own sex so very much and how she reconciles her beliefs about the proper biological place for women (the kitchen) with her own life and so on. But mostly I was thinking about the way the conservatives hate gender equality so much that they cannot see the other solutions to the problems they bemoan.

All their writing aims at women changing their behavior. Whatever bad-boy behavior they ascribe to men is also the women's fault. Men cannot change, cannot be asked to change and should not change. Only women are expected to do the changing and always in the direction of what might benefit the conservative society on the whole. That many men are eminently marriageable, not because of their earning power or their ability to fight saber-toothed tigers with their own tiny teeth, but because they are going to be good husbands and good hands-on fathers and great mates altogether is simply not something a conservative writer ever considers.

That's why I think the contempt of women they demonstrate is matched by their more hidden contempt for men.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Miscarriage: A Possible Crime Scene in Georgia?

A Georgian whackadoodle politician, one Bobby Franklin, is proposing a new law about the murder of prenatal Americans. I raise my helmet for Mr. Franklin, because he is very logical in his defense of the zygote Americans against murder.

Part of his proposal covers the obvious need to find out if any zygote Americans are at risk. Because they make their living inside structures sometimes called women, it is necessary to police those structures:
2) 'Prenatal murder' means the intentional removal of a fetus from a woman with an
115 intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus; provided, however,
116 that if a physician makes a medically justified effort to save the lives of both the mother
117 and the fetus and the fetus does not survive, such action shall not be prenatal murder.


Said title is further amended by revising subsection (a) of Code Section 31-10-18, relating
198 to registration of spontaneous fetal deaths, as follows:
199 "(a) A report of spontaneous fetal death for each spontaneous fetal death which occurs in
200 this state shall be filed with the local registrar of the county in which the delivery occurred
201 within 72 hours after such delivery in accordance with this Code section unless the place
202 of fetal death is unknown, in which case a fetal death certificate shall be filed in the county
203 in which the dead fetus was found within 72 hours after such occurrence. All induced
204 terminations of pregnancy shall be reported in the manner prescribed in Code Section
205 31-10-19. Preparation and filing of reports of spontaneous fetal death shall be as follows:
206 (1) When a dead fetus is delivered in an institution, the person in charge of the institution
207 or that person's designated representative shall prepare and file the report;
208 (2) When a dead fetus is delivered outside an institution, the physician in attendance at
209 or immediately after delivery shall prepare and file the report;
210 (3) When a spontaneous fetal death required to be reported by this Code section occurs
211 without medical attendance at or immediately after the delivery or when inquiry is
212 required by Article 2 of Chapter 16 of Title 45, the 'Georgia Death Investigation Act,' the
213 proper investigating official shall investigate the cause of fetal death and shall prepare
214 and file the report within 30 days; and
215 (4) When a spontaneous fetal death occurs in a moving conveyance and the fetus is first
216 removed from the conveyance in this state or when a dead fetus is found in this state and
217 the place of fetal death is unknown, the fetal death shall be reported in this state. The
218 place where the fetus was first removed from the conveyance or the dead fetus was found
219 shall be considered the place of fetal death."
Amanda Marcotte noticed that it's hard to think of a better term for all this than Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, an imaginary world where all women had their fertility policed.

This proposal will not become law in Georgia. I'm fairly convinced of that. But may I draw your attention to the fact that when I once wrote about the logical consequences to women of proposals to turn abortion into murder, I did describe this very thing. And then I got called for being ridiculously extreme. Mmm.

It goes without saying that having every miscarriage policed in this way would make the lives of women who already are undergoing hell more hellish. Our Bobby doesn't care about that at all.

My New Hat

A snake in a cloche hat!

This post is to prove you that I'm indeed one of those feeble-minded critters with no testicles to support them. Also, the hat is THE HAT! The best hat ever. And I have it.

The Womancession

This recession has been called a mancession because the jobs lost tended to be first in traditionally male industries and because therefore more men than women lost jobs in the first round. I kept reading Men's Rights Activists ranting about this.

Now it seems that we have a mancovery, meaning a recovery of the jobs men lost:
The Great Recession has been called the "mancession" because men absorbed 7 of 10 job losses during the downturn.
Male-dominated industries such as manufacturing, transportation and wholesale trade shed millions of jobs. Even in fields where men weren't a majority of workers, they still got hit harder, said Heather Boushey, senior economist at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group.
So as these and other industries slowly rebound, Boushey said it's hardly a surprise that men have landed more than 95 percent of new jobs in the recovery, or "mancovery" as it's playing out.
"If I get hit harder than you do, it does make sense that my recovery should be more dramatic. That's just logical," Boushey said. "The way this recession played out, there was this gendered impact across a wide variety of industries, and I think that's what you're seeing coming back.
That quote is about the only good one in the whole article. In general I love McClatchky, but this piece is a numbers coleslaw. Take this, for example:
It was job gains by men that fueled January's steep decline in the national unemployment rate from 9.4 percent to 9 percent.
In fact, men have gained 438,000 jobs since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, while women have lost 366,000 over the same period, according to Labor Department figures.
And the 984,000 new jobs created from January 2010 to January 2011? Only 47,000 went to women.
That's less than 1 of every 20 new job openings.
These numbers would barely draw a second look in the aftermath of past recessions, when women made up a much smaller share of the labor force. But women now account for nearly half of all U.S. workers, so the great disparity is all the more startling.

Are these net figures? In other words, did women since June 2009 gain some jobs and lose some jobs so that the result is a net loss of 366,000 jobs? And did men since June 2009 gain some jobs and lose some jobs so that the result is a net gain of 438,000 jobs? Or are we comparing the gains by men to the losses by women while ignoring the losses by men and the gains by women? And do women now have a higher unemployment rate than men have?

I cannot tell from the article. I may go and study the question. But the article should have made this clearer, because the consequences under one interpretation are humongously important, while under the other interpretation not so much. This problem could have been easily solved by reporting the overall unemployment rates for men and women in June 2009 and now.

Never mind. Maybe I'm the only one who finds all that confusing. But the end of the article is the usual stuff about why it's women's own fault if they become unemployed:
Stacy Ethun, the president and CEO of MRINetwork, an international executive search firm, said she's noticed two things that work against job-seeking women: a lack of aggressiveness and limited use of professional networking options.
"Those are the two areas where women are lagging, and it's impacting their eligibility for employment," Ethun said. "Having the courage and conviction to get out there, call on people that you don't know personally, brag on yourself and compete for a job, those are all things, I think, that men in general are naturally stronger at than women."
Compare this and the way the "mancession" was treated: Men became unemployed through no fault of their own. They were just in the wrong industries. But women! They are unemployed because they are not that good at looking for jobs.

Now, the article does point out that the reason for the "womancession" is the industries which are now suffering from layoffs by local and state governments. So why add that woman-blaming piece at the end? Note that if women are not as good at bragging and so on, that would have an impact not only during recessions but all the time. Adding that bit sounds like woman-bashing to me, an attempt to blame women for their own unemployment in a way which was not done with the "mancession." After all, one could have argued that the men who were unemployed then caused that situation by picking the wrong industries to work in and by refusing to get more educated and so on.

I'm writing about this because otherwise it might be invisible, once again.

Magical Thinking in American Elections

It must be magical thinking. The rule is that under poor economic times the voters "throw the bums out" as the old saying goes. But in a two-party system this means that the old bums are voted in. What if they caused or at least contributed to the poor economic times, as is the case in the most recent election debacle?

They don't get punished at all! But that "throwing of the bums out" IS all about punishment. Or if not punishment, then it must be magical thinking.

I've decided on the magical thinking bit. Granted, Obama has squandered opportunity after opportunity, to be friends with the right-wingers. But he still isn't a right-winger. So how could so many voters think that right-wingers would better run an economy to get jobs? Given that they never have bothered about jobs before, and that they immediately started with attacks on abortions and on the teachers' unions?

In any case, the conservative platform is openly about giving more tax cuts to the rich and cutting back on all kinds of public spending, whether it's for the environment or for the payment of civil servants or for new bridges or roads. The idea is that those tax cuts to the rich will make them suddenly excited about creating more jobs and that somehow the fact that fewer people can now afford to buy anything doesn't matter. But those second-level effects are NOT what conservatives desire. That, my friends, is simply for the rich to have much more money and the rest to have so little that pool boys and nannies and personal guards go cheaply.

So why would the average not-so-rich person wish to vote for that? But they have, all over the country.

Magical thinking or sheer stupidity. Or utter hatred of everyone else. Take your pick. I have decided on magical thinking, because there was a time when I played solitaire and decided that if I beat myself in a certain game I'd get an A+ in an exam.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meanwhile, in Frederick County, Maryland, Mothers Should Not Work For Money

The Board of County Commissioners in Frederick County, Maryland, has voted to cut the Head Start program by fifty percent. The Head Start program is: a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
Two County Commissioners explain why this cut is perfectly fine:
County Commissioner Paul Smith said, ‘As many of you know, I had a lot of kids and my wife stayed home at a significant sacrifice in those early years, because she knew she had to be with those kids. I know everybody isn't able to survive doing that, but clearly if we can strengthen marriage, we can decrease the number of children we have to reach.'
Commissioner Kirby Delauter added, according to the newspaper, 'My wife is college educated and could go out and get a very good job. She gave that up for 18 years, so she could stay home with our kids and we gave up a lot to do that. I agree with commissioner smith. The marriage thing is very important.’
When the predictable reactions came in (including a vigil by women of Frederick County), Commissioner Smith clarified his stance:
"I think the ideal situation is for parents to take care of their own children," Smith told The Baltimore Sun. "The mother is the one to be the best situated to take care of small children. I believe that."
Note that neither Commissioner Smith nor Commissioner Delauter has taken care of his own kids.

But despite that, the two gentlemen hold firm opinions about the proper role of women as well as about who it is who should ultimately bear the financial burdens for child-rearing: Women. Because it is the women who stay at home for several years this way who are left with lower retirement income. It is also these same women who are especially vulnerable in the case of a divorce. I'm willing to bet quite a lot that neither Mr. Smith nor Mr. Delauter finds any of that problematic.

Then how about that classism? Do you know how poor a family must be to qualify for Head Start in Frederick County, Maryland? How many poor families can afford for one parent to stay at home? And what about the goals of the Head Start program? It's not really intended as just a daycare program, you know.

Were these two men born this asinine or did they have to work at it? Not that I really care.
Thanks for the tip go to vjs in the comments.

On The Straw-Feminist in Scientific Critiques

Cordelia Fine (whose book, Delusions of Gender , I discussed extensively in January) has written a nice post responding to some of the criticisms her book has caused. The gist of Fine's piece is this:
In the interminable sex differences debate it always seems to be those who are critical of scientific claims of essential differences who are accused of allowing political desires to blinker them to the facts of the case. A century ago a medical professional commented in the New York Times that “the dear women are ‘obsessed’ with their fitness for all things masculine which blinds them to a sane view of their biological limitations.” Today’s admonishments, sometimes only a little less condescending, suggest a way of thinking about the relationship between politics and science that is inspired by stereotypes: the agenda-driven feminist who requires everyone to ignore what does not fit her ideology; and the detached spokesperson of science.
And so, in the aftermath of the Summers controversy Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker suggested that the “taboo” of innate sex differences drove a “refusal to glance at the scientific literature”. In a more recent commentary, entitled “Daring to discuss women in science”, New York Times columnist John Tierney quipped that the evidence presented in his article put him at “risk of being shipped off” to a gender equity workshop (a hellish fate, indeed), and asked whether it would be “safe” in such a workshop “for someone to mention the new evidence supporting Dr. Summers’s controversial hypothesis about differences in the sexes’ aptitude for math and science”.
A similar theme emerged when The Sexual Paradox author Susan Pinker was asked to comment on my book, which argues that we don’t yet know whether, on average, males and females are born differently predisposed to understanding the world versus understanding people. Pinker responded that the results of scientific investigations of sex differences “describe what is, not what we might choose if we were designing a perfect world. These are compelling studies that add to our understanding of human development. Why would we ignore them?” And while a review of my book by The Essential Difference author and Cambridge psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen generously acknowledged its scholarship, the instantly recognizable stereotype was nonetheless lurking in all its unalluring glory: I was “strident”; in pursuit of a “barely veiled agenda”; and guilty of the “mistaken blurring of science with politics.”
Again and again, the target is a familiar one and should be recognized for what it is: a straw-feminist.
Fine does a fine and gentle take on all these arguments which essentially (hah!) boil down to the assumption that to have a null hypothesis of "no biological gender difference" is biased but to have as null hypothesis "a biological gender difference exists and most likely is to the advantage of men" is not biased but doing cold-blooded and unbiased science.

For that is what I see happening in the literature of those who criticize Fine for bringing politics into science. As I have written before, the very field of "gender differences" is already loaded with the assumption that one looks for differences. Naturally one will be awfully sad when one finds them as one would much prefer a world where they don't exist but facts are facts.

Once the "facts" are criticized (as was done in all the three books I discussed in my January series), that, too, somehow turns into politicking. Miraculous.

Simon Baron-Cohen is one of the people who criticized Cordelia Fine for mixing politics with science. Baron-Cohen's own theory (in Essential Difference) argues that people have either a female brain (strong on empathizing, low on systematizing ability which really means analytical ability), a male brain (strong on systematizing, low on empathizing) or a balanced brain (equal in both skills). That only about 40% of women in his tests appear to possess a female brain has not stopped this particular pattern of naming.

The roots of Baron-Cohen's theory can be found in autism. He believes that autistic individuals have extreme male brains, high on systematizing and very low on the ability to empathize. At the end of the book Essential Difference, he speculates what might happen if we ever found an extreme female brain, one high on empathizing but very low on systematizing ability. I quote:
When we find someone with the extreme female brain, my guess is that we also find that society has made it easy for them to find a niche and a value, without that person having to feel they must in some way hide their systemblindness.

I hope that at least one benefit of this book is that society might become more accepting of essential sex differences in the mind, and make it easier for someone with the extreme male brain to find their niche and for us to acknowledge their value. They should not feel the need to hide their mindblindness (as many currently do).

Remember that this is pure speculation. Nobody has met a person with "an extreme female brain," but Baron-Cohen believes that we would treat that person much better than we treat people with autism. This is not science but an opinion.

Baron-Cohen continues:
A central tenet of this book is that the male and female brains differ from each other, but that overall one is no better or worse than the other. Hopefully, in reading this book, men will also experience a resurgence of pride at the things they can do well, things like being able to work out confidently how to program a new appliance in the home, being able quickly to discover how to use a new piece of software, or how to fix something with whatever available tools and materials are around. All these need good systematizing skills.
Hmm. It sounds like Baron-Cohen thinks men can't currently feel pride in their technical skills. In fact, that whole bit sounds like gender politics. But Baron-Cohen can still criticize Fine for the same.

By the way, the test Baron-Cohen uses to MEASURE systematizing abilities has the following questions, all of them biased or tilted towards not systematizing per se (after all, there are all sorts of systems), but towards tasks which gender role division assigns to men or towards traditionally male interests (collecting coins or stamps, following football scores, anything to do with machines):

5. If I were buying a car, I would want to obtain specific information about its engine capacity.
7. If there was a problem with the electrical wiring in my home, I'd be able to fix it myself.
11. I rarely read articles or Web pages about new technology.
13. I am fascinated by how machines work.
18. I find it difficult to understand instruction manuals for putting appliances together.
25. If I had a collection (e.g. CDs, coins, stamps), it would be highly organized.
26. When I look at a piece of furniture, I do not notice the details of how it was constructed.
29. When I read the newspaper, I am drawn to tables of information, such as football scores or stock market indices.
37. When I look at a building, I am curious about the precise way it was constructed.


What about Stephen Pinker? Is he as unbiased as he insists? His book The Blank Slate has a whole chapter on gender. That chapter sets out to prove that though feminism is of course a wonderful thing (wonderful!), women have both innately different abilities and innately different interests than men and THIS is the reason why so few women can be found in the hard sciences.

The economics references in that chapter omit 90% of the actually relevant studies in economics but borrow liberally from polemic pieces by members of the Independent Women's Forum, a right-wing gal's hit squad against feminists. But that's not my main problem with the book and its treatment of gender. It's the omission of differences in violence and crime rates from the gender chapter. Violence is treated elsewhere, as a general human problem.

It's a very subtle thing, sure, but a book which puts all the gender differences which appear to benefit men into one chapter about gender and then discusses those gender differences which appear to benefit women elsewhere is not exactly neutrally scientific. In my humble view.

I hope you read Fine's much more careful take and then come back to re-read mine.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bela Bartok


Angelica Leánykar Városmajori High School (Budapest, Hungary)
Conductor: Zsuzsanna GRÁF