Saturday, December 21, 2013

Campus Sexual Assault Policies in the US. Whom Do They Favor?

Did you read about the MRAs (Men's Rights Activists) who bombed Occidental College with false rape reports Think Progress:

Occidental College has been flooded with over 400 false rape reports this week as internet trolls have attempted to prove a point about the school’s anonymous reporting system, according to college officials. Now, administrators are being forced to weed through the barrage of reports to determine if any real sexual assaults were reported during that time.
Members of the online communities Reddit and 4Chan, many of whom identify themselves as “men’s right activists,” started spamming Occidental after a user complained that it’s too easy to abuse the college’s anonymous reporting system. “Feminists at Occidental College created an online form to anonymously report rape/sexual assault. You just fill out a form and the person is called into the office on a rape charge. The ‘victim’ never has to prove anything or reveal their identity,” a user in the “Men’s Rights” subreddit wrote, and provided a link to the school’s form.


But the Los Angeles Times reports that the anonymous reporting form in question isn’t actually a result of that recent push to hold Occidental accountable for its sexual assault policies. It was first implemented back in 2009 to encourage more victims to come forward. The allegations are reviewed by campus administrators and primarily used to track patterns, since the individuals who commit sexual assaults in college are typically serial rapists.
“The challenge for the college is not false reports,” a spokesperson for Occidental College explained. “Our experience is those are rare. The challenge for the college is getting the survivors to report, either to the college or police or both. Sexual misconduct is underreported everywhere, and we’re interested in providing as many options as possible.”

Despite the fears fueling “men’s rights” supporters, false rape reports are very rare. Just 2 to 8 percent of reported rapes are based on false claims, and the women who file false claims often receive punishments that are far worse than the consequences for actual rapists. For instance, at Occidental College, some students who have been charged with rape have allegedly received punishments as light as being assigned a five-page book report.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Musical Interlude

The a cappella band is called Rajaton (limitless, infinite, without boundaries or borders).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Playing with The Comments

I have changed the default avatar in the comments, so don't be frightened that it's part of a snake.  If you find that bothersome I will change it back.

Camille Paglia: "It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be."

Our old misogynist pal Camille Paglia wrote an article for Time with the fetching title "It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be."  That has been Camilla's schtick from the very beginning.  She is  the only self-avowed feminist whose idea of feminism is the exact reverse of feminism!  Well, hatred of women, in any case. Other than herself.

Her argument, this time, is that feminists argue [sic] that men are obsolete, but that men will never become obsolete, that  the end of men is nowhere near, that men have invented everything worthwhile and do all the shitty and important work in the society, and that when the society once again collapses it is men who will defend women and get food and water.*  It's time for feminists to give them credit for that:

What is troubling in too many books and articles by feminist journalists in the U.S. is, despite their putative leftism, an implicit privileging of bourgeois values and culture. The particular focused, clerical and managerial skills of the upper-middle-class elite are presented as the highest desideratum, the ultimate evolutionary point of humanity. Yes, there has been a gradual transition from an industrial to a service-sector economy in which women, who generally prefer a safe, clean, quiet work environment thrive.

But the triumphalism among some — like Hanna Rosin in her book, The End of Men, about women’s gains — seems startlingly premature. For instance, Rosin says of the sagging fortunes of today’s working-class couples that they and we had “reached the end of a hundred thousand years of human history and the beginning of a new era, and there was no going back.” This sweeping appeal to history somehow overlooks history’s far darker lessons about the cyclic rise and fall of civilizations, which as they become more complex and interconnected also become more vulnerable to collapse. The earth is littered with the ruins of empires that believed they were eternal.
After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf. Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.

That's funny.  Let's take a few bits out of that quote.  How about this one:

After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf.

Hilarious!  I'm not denying the important role of men as roughly half of the human race.  But come on, Camille, have you never read anything about prehistory or more recent nomadic tribes?  The women don't sit cowering in a cave somewhere.  They go out to forage, they trap small animals, they fish.

Fetching water?  That, sweet Camille, is a female job in African tribes.

And that defending of the home turf?  Well, it's unlikely to be against hordes of Amazonian survivalist gals.  Then there's the much deeper point that there never was a time when men weren't needed.  More about that below, but for the time being it suffices to say that Hanna Rosin sewed that "end of men" out of whole cloth.

OK.  Here's another bit worth looking at:

Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.

OOh.  I like that false generalization of men being "absolutely invisible to most feminists."  It really is a silly thing to say.

But I quite agree with Paglia that we should all be thankful for the people who do the hard infrastructure work, including the men she mentions.

Let's add to that list all the women who take care of the sick in nursing homes and the elderly both in those homes and outside them, all the women who cook meals, all the women who sew clothes, all the women who take care of infants and children, all the women who teach at schools so that the next generation has the skills necessary to function, all the women who clean and scrub (in most countries this is a female occupation) etc etc.

And the men who do those things and the women who do the kinds of things Paglia mentions.  She makes her point by distorting facts.  Perhaps certain groups of people are absolutely invisible to her.

The dirty jobs are not solely done by men, either.  Most bottoms, whether belonging to infants, the sick or the frail elderly, are wiped by women, those who wash corpses in funeral homes in many countries are women, the nurses who clean the sores of the sick are mostly women, the people who scrub disgusting toilets and wipe vomit stains are usually also women.

I thank all those workers who do the necessary dirty chores.  But Paglia's list forgets the women who do such work altogether, and people in her comments agree.

What about the dangerous jobs?  Most of the listed ones are predominantly male occupations, but, as I have written before, prostitution is a very dangerous and overwhelmingly female job.  It is not legal in most countries so it is not included in those statistics.  It differs from other types of criminal occupations, however, by being regarded as legal in some countries when there is no trafficking.

And one reason there are not more women in dangerous jobs such as fishing is that women entering into blue-collar male dominated professions face anger and harassment.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Holiday Story: Cecil Williams and His Guide Dog, Orlando.

I love this story, sniff.  It has everything:  miracles, a lovely Labrador retriever, a charming gentleman, kind folks:

Cecil Williams, 61, and his Labrador Orlando both escaped serious injury when train slowed to pass over top of them.

Gallant guide dog Orlando, a black Labrador retriever, bravely leapt on to the tracks at a Manhattan subway platform on Tuesday after his blind owner lost consciousness and tumbled in front of an oncoming train.
Cecil Williams, 61, and Orlando both escaped serious injury when the train passed over top of them – a miraculous end to a harrowing ordeal that began when Williams began to feel faint on his way to the dentist.
“He tried to hold me up,” an emotional Williams said from his hospital bed, his voice breaking at times.
Witnesses said Orlando began barking frantically and tried to stop Williams from falling from the platform. Matthew Martin told the New York Post that Orlando jumped down and tried to rouse Williams even as a train approached.
“He was kissing him, trying to get him to move,” Martin said.
Witnesses called for help and the train’s operator slowed his approach as Williams and Orlando lay in the trench between the rails.
“The dog saved my life,” Williams said.

But wait!  There's more!  Sadly, the day when the accident happened was almost the last day of Orlando's working career.  He is eleven, and expected to retire.  Williams will get a new service dog.  But what will happen to Orlando?  Williams hoped that a good home could be found for him as he himself couldn't afford to keep him.

What happened next?  This:

A blind man who tumbled onto subway tracks in Manhattan with his guide dog declared "there's still good people in this world" after he was told anonymous donations will make it possible for him to keep the animal after it is retired next month.
Cecil Williams, 61, appeared with the black Labrador, Orlando, at the hospital Wednesday, after telling the AP in an interview a day earlier that the beloved pup would be forced to retire due to his age in January. His insurance wouldn't pay for a retired dog, Williams said.

The organization Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which provided the dog to Williams seven years ago, announced at the press conference that donations had covered the cost of the dog for life after his retirement.
An emotional Williams thanked strangers for their kindness.
"Orlando, he is my best buddy, he's my pal," Williams said. "The spirit of giving, Christmas ... it exists here and it's in New York."

Yes, I know I usually write like a robot on crack, and that I'm all opposed to sentimentality and fuzzy thinking and letting any feelings out from under my war helmet.  I even know that a few wonderful and heart-warming stories don't change the balance of the scales on human cruelty and indifference.

But sometimes we need stories which make us renew our faith in humanity, which make us think that there could be a different way if we only tried.  And having a Lab in the story is as good as chocolate.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Speaking of the Douthat Column

You want to read this take on how Ross uses one book to draw his conclusions about women in the society.  The article is called "Welcome to Ross Douthat's Book Club.  It is funny.

On The Trivers-Willard Hypothesis and Ross Douthat. A look at the Conley&Rauscher Article on Party Affiliation And Having Daughters.#

This post is about the study Ross Douthat was so very happy about:  "The Effect of Daughters on Partisanship and Social Attitudes Toward Women" by Dalton Conley and Emily Rauscher.  The article is behind a pay-wall, sadly, though an earlier working paper, available on the net, gives you a flavor of its arguments.

Rather shockingly, the Conley-Rauscher paper is not about conservative parents cherishing their daughters or traditional morality, as Douthat interprets it.

It is about evolutionary psychology, my dears!  Specifically, the paper argues that the Trivers-Willard hypothesis should explain US party affiliation by parents who have more daughters than sons or vice versa in one data set, published in 1994.  This data set appears to be the only one on US data which has questions about both political affiliation and the sex of the respondent's children.

What is the Trivers-Willard hypothesis (TWH)?   

In evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, the Trivers–Willard hypothesis,[1] formally proposed by Robert Trivers and Dan Willard, predicts greater parental investment in males by parents in "good conditions" and greater investment in females by parents in "poor conditions" (relative to parents in good condition). The reasoning for this prediction is as follows: assume that parents have information on the sex of their offspring and can influence their survival differentially. While pressures exist to maintain sex ratios at 50%, evolution will favor local deviations from this if one sex has a likely greater reproductive payoff than is usual.
Trivers and Willard also identified a circumstance in which reproducing individuals might experience deviations from expected offspring reproductive value—namely, varying maternal condition. In polygynous species males may mate with multiple females and low-condition males will achieve fewer or no matings. Parents in relatively good condition would then be under selection for mutations causing production and investment in sons (rather than daughters), because of the increased chance of mating experienced by these good-condition sons. Mating with multiple females conveys a large reproductive benefit, whereas daughters could translate their condition into only smaller benefits. An opposite prediction holds for poor-condition parents—selection will favor production and investment in daughters, so long as daughters are likely to be mated, while sons in poor condition are likely to be out-competed by other males and end up with zero mates (i.e., those sons will be a reproductive dead-end).
The hypothesis was used to explain why, for example, Red Deer mothers would produce more sons when they are in good condition, and more daughters when in poor condition. In polyandrous species where some females mate with multiple males (and others get no matings) and males mate with one/few females (i.e., "sex-role reversed" species), these predictions from the Trivers–Willard hypothesis are reversed: parents in good condition will invest in daughters in order to have a daughter that can out-compete other females to attract multiple males, whereas parents in poor condition will avoid investing in daughters who are likely to get out-competed and will instead invest in sons in order to gain at least some grandchildren.

Bolds are mine.

I'm not sure if the interpretation as given here can be directly applied to human mating habits.  That would assume that human men and women are basically part of a polygynous (one male mating with several females) species, and it seems to ignore the alternative theory that very bad conditions (such as a species almost being wiped out) could trigger an excess of female births and fewer male births simply because that is the way for the species to survive.  Once times are better, a larger share of male births offers the benefits of greater genetic variety.

Whatever the case might be, those who apply the TWH to humans seem to argue that social class, say, can stand in for the kinds of conditions that apply to red deer.  Thus, people who belong to higher social classes are theorized to have more sons and daughters and to treat their sons better than daughters (more food for sons, more education for sons etc.).  People who belong to lower social classes are theorized to have more daughters than sons and to treat their daughters better than their sons (more food for daughters, more education for daughters etc.).  This is not what one observes in general, of course.  And whether, say, the low social classes in a western country are in the kind of "bad condition" that the TWH might apply to can be seriously debated.

Never mind.  Conley and Rauscher grab their version of the hypothesis with both hands.  Thus we get (from the article behind the pay-wall):

One such counterargument is the Trivers-Willard hypothesis (TWH), which suggests that parental investment in sons and daughters depends on parental status (Trivers 1972; Trivers and Willard 1973). Specifically, in order to maximize reproductive fitness (i.e., number of grandchildren), higher-status individuals will devote more resources to sons while lower-status individuals will favor daughters. In other words, parents with low status should favor females, whose reproductive chances are less risky and depend less on external conditions (Hopcroft 2005). In contrast, parents with high status should favor males according to this hypothesis, because their sons will have an advantage in competing for mates and should be able to produce more children than high-status daughters. If these strategic preferences manifest in political preferences, the TWH would expect daughters to produce different political responses depending on parental status. 
Because sons can potentially generate high numbers of grandchildren if they have a competitive edge against other men, they may induce preferences for more libertine social norms and policies—ones where paternal investment is low and restraints on male fecundity are minimal. Meanwhile, daughters may elicit grandparental preferences for a world in which male sexuality is constrained and paternal investment in offspring is greater. 
In summary, in contrast to much previous research we hypothesize that daughters may increase preference for conservative policies in the general population. In the United States, because the Republican Party is generally more conservative than the Democratic Party with respect to family values as well as social and fiscal policies, we predict that daughters will increase parental identification with the Republican Party. 
However, according to the TWH, this relationship should be conditional on parental social status. Among low-status parents (and the general population in contrast to Congress members), more daughters should promote Republican identification. Among high-status parents, daughters should yield no effect unless parents have no sons and expect no further children (which is difficult to measure, but could shift their strategy to favor daughters).

Bolds are mine.

This is not the same as the TWH which has nothing to say about party affiliation.  It is Conley and Rauscher who argue that the Democratic Party platform makes it easier for men to spread their sperm freely and that the  parts of that party's platform which make it easier for women to bring up their children (more support for single mothers, more access to the job market for women etc.) somehow don't cause the hypothesis to reverse.  After all, IF people were actually (unawares) in the business of maximizing the number of grandchildren  then logic suggests that the party which offers more financial support for child-rearing might be the one parents with many daughters would support.

What Makes Ross Douthat Happy?

That would be finding research results which reinforce his own views.  Don't we all like those findings?  But some of us have a bigger pulpit to popularize the ones they like.  For instance, Ross Douthat does.

This time he uses that persuasion pulpit to tell us not only that he was so pleased to find a study which matches his opinions but also this:

Or the pleasure that I took recently from the headline: “Study: Having daughters makes parents more likely to be Republican.”
Why pleasure? Well, because previous research on this question had suggested the reverse, with parents of daughters leaning left and parents of sons rightward. And those earlier findings dovetailed neatly with liberal talking points about politics and gender: Republicans make war on women, Democrats protect them, so it’s only natural that raising girls would make parents see the wisdom of liberalism ...
But the new study undercuts those talking points. Things are more complicated than you thought, liberals! You can love your daughters, want the best for them, and find yourself drawn to ... conservative ideas! Especially if you’re highly educated, which is where the effect was strongest! Better dust off a different set of talking points — maybe something about the family as the source of all oppression and how deeply internalized patriarchal norms make parents subconsciously inclined to tyrannize their female offspring and then we can argue about that!

The study he mentions here is worth a post on its own, because although its conclusions are those Douthat loves (though a lot messier), the study is not really about what he thinks it is about (love of the daughters as persons).  All that will be covered in a later post right here on this popular blog.  But for the time being it suffices to point out that other studies have found the exact reverse of this study (which uses data collected in 1994*), even quite recently, though not for the US which appears to have no other data on this, and  I'm pretty sure that Douthat didn't popularize those studies.  Because he didn't like their findings.

This aspect of popularizing research is in itself under-researched and popularized.  Guys like Douthat and Brooks, both with Big Pulpits, never popularize a study that goes against their beliefs.  The New York Times should really hire the same number of liberal people to talk about all the studies out there.  And the same goes for all the other newspapers and websites.  If we are going to have bias of this kind, let's have the reverse bias, too.

Where was I?  Oh, Douthat's theory.  This is what he believes explains the findings:  Young (heterosexual) men want all the sex they can get and don't want commitment.  Young (heterosexual) women have a limited fertility window and need commitment earlier. Young men can wait.  The breakdown of traditional morality has made it possible for young men to get all the sex they want without commitment.

This is not good for young women, Douthat believes.  Women should sell sex (yes, that's what demanding commitment for some nookie means) only in exchange for a promise of marriage and support for the future children.  Thus, Douthat believes in the sexual goal-keeping by women as the best solution of how to fix that sexual ice-hockey game where some men are always on the attack and if you leave the goal without the goalie, well, they will score and skate away.  In Douthat's world, all the female players are goalies.

That last paragraph is my interpretation of what Douthat writes.  But that's what he means:

"Traditional" sexual morality means that women must be sexual gate-keepers.  Men can do whatever they wish because their drives are natural and ignored in the Republican telling of the tale.

Because the Republican Party is for banning abortion, discouraging contraception and in general attacking the idea that young women might have sex outside marriage without getting pregnant, that is the best party for anxious parents who have daughters!  The Republican policies raise the cost of extramarital sex for women.

All this is why some educated parents would turn Republican when they have daughters.  I guess the reverse explanation would work for the corresponding finding in the study that some parents seem to turn Democratic when they have sons (or when their first child is a son**):  The parents want their sons out there scattering their seed widely, without any commitments.

But the two parties differ in many other ways, too.  An obvious difference is in the focus on law-and-order, say.

What does the Republican Party do to bring back "traditional" sexual morality?  I see Purity Balls, mostly for daughters, where the daughter agrees to be a virgin until marriage.  I see "courting." based on parental permission among the extreme fringe of that party.  I see no focus on changing the behavior of young men. I see strong attempts to ban abortion altogether and some attempts to reduce women's access to contraceptives. And I have read many, many Republican pundits warning young women of their soon-withering ovaries and telling female college undergraduates that they would really be better off if more of them gave their college places to men because that way they could marry.

Indeed, the Republican Party is a busy beaver when it comes to various plans to restrict the lives of women.  Whether that goes under protection depends on how you regard the pretty much complete absence of anything which would discourage those men from predatory behavior who wish to engage in it.  But in any case, the study Douthat leans on didn't argue for that particular explanation.

To put this particular study into a wider framework, another study found that boys who have sisters are more likely to become Republicans than boys who don't.  I haven't looked at that particular study (only so many hours in a day even for goddesses), but this write-up gives rather different reasons for that finding:
So why are boys with sisters more inclined to identify with the GOP as young men? Researchers have found that sisters are more likely than their brothers to help wash the dishes, sweep the floor and do other traditionally gender-stereotyped tasks around the house.  For example, in the data they examined, about 60% of boys but 82% of girls 10 and older with younger siblings told interviewers they were expected to help with the dishes. 
This early exposure to gender stereotyping, the researchers argue, translates into more socially conservative views in later life.
It's unlikely that the same explanation would apply to parents whose first child is a daughter, say, or so I fervently hope.  What could explain that (if an explanation is needed) remains a mystery, I believe***.  But note that all of Douthat's talk about daughters can be reversed for sons, because what we are looking at here is a difference in political affiliation based on the sex of the first child or the mix of children. The authors of the study Douthat uses chose to look at daughters, but the treatment could easily be reversed.  Then the study would be about what makes parents of sons more likely to choose the Democratic label.   Think how Douthat would explain that.

*This data set appears to be the only US one which asked questions both about the sex and birth order of children and about the parent's political views.  That can be problematic in two ways:  First, it would be good to see data from different sources before making permanent conclusions, just in case this particular data set is a fluke, caused by bad sampling luck.  Second, the two parties were not what they are today in 1994, though that date is close to the start of the Republican Party as the American Taliban.
**Or rather, the study argues, for example,  that in 1994 a higher percentage of parents declared their party affiliation Democratic when their first child was a son and a higher percentage of parents declared their party affiliation Republican when their first child was a daughter.

***My top two guesses are a) bad luck in sampling (more about that in the next post) and b) the law-and-order hypothesis:  Having daughters might make parents more likely to worry about crime (rape etc.), having sons would not have that effect.  The Republican Party is seen as the law-and-order party.  The sexual protection motive is not impossible, of course, only the Republican Party does nothing to keep the foxes away from the chicken-coop, but just argues for a stronger coop.  Then there is the whole question how people thought about the two parties in 1994 and what they stood for then.  


Monday, December 16, 2013

The Weird Research Glut. What I have Covered in The Last Month.

I deserve a break.  In the last month I have written on the bitchy women stuff (which has already seeped into all the comments threads everywhere, while my posts on it have no impact), the Girl Brainz and Boy Brainz stuff, how medical research assumes that procreation is only about women, how sexual regret differs by sex because of evolution.  

And I still have this piece waiting, all about how a great evolutionary adaptation for women is to present themselves as sexually exploitable, to appeal to those men who have evolutionary adaptations for exploiting such women.  Just a liiittle bit like explaining rape as a shared adventure.

And now Ross Douthat has dug up one particular piece of research and pontificates on what it tells us.  The sad thing (VERY sad thing) about me is that I then had to go backwards and backwards in the links to the original study.  And then I had to read it!   Now I have gastritis.  It's like battle wounds from all the stress and it is crap.  So send money or chocolate (which I can't eat right now).

I also have a plan of a wonderful "look-back-in-time" piece about one famous popularizer of research who has for at least ten years picked out all the research which shows how terrible women are.  I made files of all those pieces!  That was a lot of work, and intended to be presented here so that your holidays would be less joyous but more clear-sighted.

Of course I don't have to write about any of that.  It's all internalized bullshit and that stern librarian I have residing in my brain, the one with pinched lips and hair in a bun, the one who climbs up and down library ladders all day long and brings me stuff to cover, with stern advice about how I'm avoiding my duty if I watch "Miss Miller Investigates."

And neither do I have to complain about this to you.  But what's a personal blog for?

Sigh.  I will try to write more about our dear Russ and his concern for daughters everywhere and the evolutionary psychology study which lit his fire.