The Media’s One-sided Gender Story
What would we think of a marriage counselor who wanted to hear only, say, the husband's side? Would we think the counselor had any chance at all of being fair, of being capable of rendering an objective, sensible summation of a married couple's relationship? Hardly.
Yet relatively few people complain about – or are even aware of – the media's decades-old practice of hearing virtually only the female side, or feminist side, to the male-female dynamic. That is one reason such groups as the American Association of University Women can say, “Gender equality is 50 years away.”
Top Posts & Pages
- The Doctrinaire Institute For Women's Policy Research: A Comprehensive Look at Gender Equality
- An in-depth look at women's "pay equity"
- The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: Digging Out With True Equality
- Does the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women? (What President Obama and feminist activists don't want you to know.)
- Sometimes, expressing your views elicits nothing but personal attacks: Comments wars with feminists
- A NOW Feminist of the Year unintentionally tells how women oppress men and perpetuate feminist rage against MEN
- "Wives belong at home with the kids"
- A Classic Text on Gender--And It's All Wrong (Or: Michael Kimmel is a fraud)
- Why affirmative action has failed black families
- A Review of Male Matters' Choice for Book of the Year: Tim Goldich's "Loving Men, Respecting Women"
- Gender Politics
- Gender Violence
- Gender Wage Gap
- In-depth commentary for the serious activist
- Male "Power" and "Privilege"
- Media Sexism
- Men Expressing Feelings
- Men's Health
- Sexual Harassment and Economic Harassment
- World of Children/World of Work
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Young exposes yet another feminist fiction created to perpetuate the image of females of all ages as victims. -Male Matters USA
The War on Bossy, led by Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg, has been roundly criticized and even lampooned from left, right, and center. Sandberg’s proposal to banish “the other B-word” because it’s a common and damaging putdown for assertive girls has met with various objections, from “Why not teach girls to be bossy?” to “Why not teach both girls and boys not to be bossy?” to “Why not address real sexist barriers instead of playing language cops?” But the campaign has its supporters too, including famous ones such as singer Beyoncé Knowles and pundit Arianna Huffington. And now there is a backlash against the backlash, with some saying that “Ban Bossy” is based on real evidence both of the word’s sexist use and of a still-strong, pervasive negativity toward female leadership.
Real evidence? Not so fast. A closer look at the research invoked by “Ban Bossy” defenders shows it to be shaky and selective. What’s more, the “facts” cited on the campaign’s own website are such a collection of abused data that it brings to mind another common B-word—the crude synonym for bovine excrement.
Perhaps the most memorable and widely cited of the campaign’s factoids is this:
“Girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles will make them seem ‘bossy.’”
A fact sheet refers to a 2008 study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute (Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez is a co-leader of Sandberg’s campaign). The study, “Change It Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership,” is based on a survey of about 2,500 girls and 1,500 boys eight to 17 years old.
Guess what the study found: Girls and boys were equally likely to say they wanted to be leaders. For both sexes, about 40 percent agreed with the statement “I want to be a leader.” A little over half picked “I don’t mind being a leader, but it’s not that important to me,” and fewer than 10 percent said they did not want to be leaders. Girls and boys were also equally likely to say that “I think of myself as a leader” (61 percent) and to see themselves as smart, talented, and strong. And girls were more likely to see themselves as “responsible” (40 percent vs. 35 percent), “highly motivated” (31 percent vs. 27 percent), “passionate about something” (47 percent vs. 38 percent), and “creative” (50 percent vs. 39 percent).
So what’s this about girls being twice as likely to worry that leadership roles would make them seem bossy? Well, the children who said they did not want to be leaders—again, fewer than one tenth of the total—were asked about the reasons for this lack of interest. In this small subsample, 29 percent of the girls and 13 percent of the boys agreed with the statement, “I do not want to seem bossy.” That’s about 2.5 percent of all girls, compared to just over one percent of boys. Truly, a dreadful scourge of future womanhood that calls for a massive social media campaign.
The Girls Scouts study has other fascinating data about girls and leadership. For instance, girls are somewhat more likely than boys to have actual leadership experience (in every area except sports, where 18 percent of boys and 14 percent of girls had been a captain or co-captain of a team). Thus, 31 percent of girls versus 26 percent of boys reported having been the leader of a team for a school project; 13 percent of girls, compared to 10 percent of boys, had run for a school or class office; and 11 percent of girls but only six percent of boys had been officers in a school club. This fits with what a number of social critics such as Christina Hoff Sommers have been arguing for a while: that right now, boys are the ones falling behind in schools, academically and socially.
Another alarming “fact” from the “Ban Bossy” site:
“The confidence gap starts early. Between elementary and high school, girls’ self–esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys.’”
The source for this is a 1991 study from the American Association of University Women, “Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America,” that amounts to 23-year-old junk science. Writing on the Psychology Today website in 2010, the late Susan Noelen-Hoeksma, a leading psychologist and a Yale University Professor, noted that “the study by the American Association of University Women was refuted by subsequent studies using large samples and better measures of self-esteem.” After reviewing the claims of a crisis in girls’ self-esteem and the relevant research, Noelen-Hoeksma concluded, “The phrase ‘much ado about nothing’ comes to mind.”
And one more factoid:
“By middle school, girls are 25 percent less likely than boys to say they like taking the lead.”
This turns out to be based on a study that tracked a large group of adolescents from 1992 to 1997. Seventy-two percent of sixth-grade boys but 54 percent of girls agreed with the statement, “I like to take the lead when a group does things together.” But is this correlated with the kind of leadership that translates into achievement? Is the gap partly a result of the fact that girls are more likely than boys to interact with friends one-on-one, rather than in groups? Is this replicated in other research? Don’t expect answers from “Ban Bossy.”
Ashe Snow, a columnist for The Washington Examiner, contacted the study’s author and learned that the question was only asked only once over the course of the study, so the wording which implies that girls become more leadership-averse as they get older is misleading. (“Change It Up” demonstrated the opposite.) Snow also demonstrates that another “Ban Bossy” claim—that “parents place a higher value on leadership for boys than for girls”—is based on a single statistic cherry-picked from a survey which, overall, shows that parents value leadership equally for their sons and daughters.
What about the sexist use of the word bossy? In The New Republic, Alice Robb points to recent research by several linguists who say that the word is disproportionately aimed at women and girls. In one text database search, the phrase “he is bossy” appears 131 times; “she is bossy,” 210 times (which falls far short of claims that the term is virtually gender-specific). In another analysis of random samples from various media, the word was used for women or girls almost three times as often as for men or boys.
But text searches can yield complex and contradictory results. In my own simple Google search, I got an estimated 245,000 hits for “he is bossy” and 152,000 for “she is bossy.” “He is too bossy” yields about 139,000 results; “she is too bossy,” 145,000.
On the other hand, “My sister is bossy” gets about twice as many hits as “My brother is bossy” (20,400 to 10,000). “My daughter is bossy” gets nearly 35,000 hits compared to just 700 for “my son is bossy.” But a lot of the results for the former are references to the “Ban Bossy” campaign. Oddly enough, “bossy little boy” gets over 200,000 hits compared to just 92,000 for “bossy little girl.”
A few other qualifiers are needed. “Bossy” is not always pejorative; in fact, two of the four textual examples offered by one of the linguists whose work Robb cites for support are either positive or neutral. A relationship advice site for women features an article titled, “How to be Bossy in Love without being Bitchy.” My search for “bossy little girl” in Google Books yielded such items as the children’s book, Christmas with Rita and Whatsit, the summary for which describes its characters as “an irresistible new duo: Rita, a determined, rather cross and bossy little girl” and her dog. All About April, a collection by “For Better or Worse” cartoonist Lynne Johnston, features a poem about her daughter which includes the lines, “Bold and sassy, cute and short,/Bossy little girl.” And there is, of course, comedienne Tina Fey’s humorous autobiography, Bossypants.
Conversely, the word can and does get used as a pejorative for men. One blogger dug up forty instances of Mitt Romney being called “bossy” during the 2012 campaign—not in a flattering way. And in my own Google search, I came across an article titled “The Drama With Bossy Bosses,” illustrated with a photo of a finger-pointing male boss wearing a pig mask.
One may also ask if “bossy” boys—and men—are sometimes called more pejorative terms than “bossy.” “Jerk,” for instance, is used almost exclusively toward men. “My son is a bully” yields 264,000 Google hits compared to 127,000 for “my daughter is a bully.”
Sandberg’s campaign is ostensibly meant to empower little girls and young women. But promoting myths of silenced, discouraged girls promotes grievance, division, and insecurity instead of empowerment—while downplaying boys’ problems.
One “Ban Bossy” video starts out with several young girls talking about their dreams and ambitions. Then, the same girls are shown saying, “Here is where I will start to doubt myself.” “Here is where I will start being interrupted.” “Here is where I will stop raising my hand.” “Here is where my voice will get drowned out.” “Here’s where I was called stubborn … pushy … know-it-all … aggressive … bossy.” Did those girls, who did not look like they were lacking in confidence, ever get any serious discouraging messages before they were selected to appear in the video?
Using children as props for adult activism is always a dubious proposition. Using girls as props for activism that schools them in invented victimhood is not feminist advocacy, it’s feminist malpractice.
This article originally appeared at RealClearPolitics.
These critics — that seems almost too kind a descriptor for them, but alas — don’t seem to understand that a denial of rape culture is not a denial that rape exists or an expression of indifference to the pain it causes its victims. The world is imperfect. Bad or disturbed people commit crimes, including rape; good, well-adjusted people don’t. My heart breaks for children killed by their guardians, and in a perfect world none ever would be, but even 100 children dead at the hands of their parents does not make Canada a child-killing culture, or anyone who’d say so a child-murder denier.
Indeed, the more closely one follows the increasingly hysterical volleys of rhetorical fire back and forth on this issue, the more apparent it becomes that those who speak of a rape culture don’t understand what the word “culture” actually means. To result in a “culture,” a phenomenon must be widely accepted as the norm. It is culturally normal in some countries for women to be virtual chattels, governed by patriarchal standards of honour; to be married against their will; to meet blame from their kinsmen and indifference or even hostility at law enforcement and court levels when reporting sexual assault; to be shunned as unmarriageable — or worse — for the “shame” of having been raped, and so forth. There we can legitimately speak of a “rape culture.”
Here, where women are socially and legally equal to men, official sympathy for rape victims at every institutional level has created a climate so overwhelmingly sympathetic to female victims of sexual abuse that the emerging cultural danger is injustice to falsely alleged perpetrators. We are gripped by a baseless, but pandemic, moral panic in which significant collateral damage is beginning to pile up.
Moral panic fueled by ideology and righteous indignation quickly corrodes the critical faculties and blinds even otherwise intelligent people to objective facts. The numbers on campus rape don’t even come close to the famous “one in four” [women on campus are victims of rape or attempted rape], even taking into consideration unreported rates (i.e. multiplying reported rapes by 10, or even 100).
Where did that figure come from anyway? From bowdlerized research.
It began in 1982, when Mary Koss, then a professor of psychology at Kent State University in Ohio, published an article on rape in which she expressed the orthodox — and remarkably misandric – feminist theory that “rape represents an extreme behavior but one that is on a continuum with normal male behavior within the culture.”
Koss undertook a survey whereby she arrived at the one-in-four figure. To get there, Koss mischaracterized responses. For example, 73% of those she characterized as rape victims said they had not been raped. And 43% of the alleged victims said they had continued to date their alleged rapists. Nevertheless, the one-in-four meme took hold. The survey was published in Ms Magazine in 1987 and “took the universities by storm,” producing what can rightly be termed a rape-culture industry: expensive, over-staffed rape-crisis centres, hotlines, rallies, conferences, sexual-assault procedures consultancies and inter-collegiate sexual-assault networks.
You can produce any culture you like if you dumb deviancy down. If you change “against her will” to “without her consent,” as we have, that is a huge paradigm shift from what we used to think of as rape: i.e. forced sex. And if a drunk woman can’t give her consent, another moved goalpost, she is ipso facto raped.
Last word to brilliant feminist (the kind I like) Camille Paglia: “The feminist obsession with rape as a symbol of male-female relations is irrational and delusional. From the perspective of the future, this period in America will look like a reign of mass psychosis, like that of the Salem witch trials … The fantastic fetishism of rape by mainstream … feminists has in the end trivialized rape, impugned women’s credibility, and reduced the sympathy we should feel for legitimate victims of violent sexual assault.”
Amen to that, sister.
By John Stossel - March 12, 2014
You’ve probably heard that Democratic Party leaders decided that a way to win votes this November is to shout loudly that Republicans wage “war on women.” Politico calls this a “proven, persuasive argument.”
Give me a break. The idea of a conservative “war on women” is as silly as propaganda I was taught in college: Aside from sex organs, genders are exactly equal, said my leftist professors, and any admission of differences between men and women is oppressive.
I was taught that the only reason boys and girls behave differently is because we’re raised differently. If society and parents were to treat genders the same, behavior differences would vanish. I believed it.
Then I had kids, and spent more time with kids, and learned what a fool I’d been.
Back in my ABC News days, I did a TV show about the differences. A typical mom said, “We gave them each trucks.
She just wouldn’t play with trucks. We wouldn’t let him play with guns, so he pretended carrots were guns.”
There were exceptions, of course. But it turns out that there’s plenty of science documenting that men and women are just programmed differently.
Yet when I reported on that, feminist icon Gloria Steinem told me that gender differences shouldn’t even be studied. She sneered, it’s “anti-American, crazy thinking to do this kind of research.”
At the time, fire departments had dropped strength tests to avoid being accused of sex discrimination. When I told Steinem that one of my interviewees complained that instead of being carried during a fire, now she would be dragged downstairs, with her head hitting each stair, Steinem retorted, “It’s better to drag them out … there’s less smoke down there.”
Such mindless egalitarianism appeals to politicians, so governments push more of it. President Barack Obama and his supporters brag that Obamacare forces health insurance companies to sell men and women health insurance for the exact same price. On my TV show this week, Democratic activist Jehmu Greene asks indignantly, “Do you want to live in a country where you charge women more than men?”
Well, yes, I do. Insurance should account for costs. Women go to doctors much more often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, even if you exclude pregnancy visits, women are 33 percent more likely to visit a doctor.
Insurance companies used to reflect that in prices. That isn’t bigotry — it’s just math.
Insurance companies still charge men more for car and life insurance. A survey of car insurance companies found that the cheapest policy for a woman cost 39 percent less than for a man. A 60-year-old woman pays 20 percent less than a man for a 10-year life insurance policy. Seventy-year-old women pay half as much as men.
That’s just math, too, because most women live longer than men and, despite the “woman-driver” stereotype, we men get into more car accidents.
I don’t hear activists complaining about men paying too much. The “victim” propaganda works only when women pay more.
The sexes are simply different. Yet government demands that colleges have gender-equal sports participation. It’s fine if dance and art groups are mostly women, but if athletic teams are too male, lawsuits follow.
Obama even cynically repeats the misleading claim that women make 77 cents for every dollar men make, although his own Department of Labor says the difference evaporates once you control for experience and other choices.
Government once even claimed that Hooters discriminates against men because it hires big-breasted female waiters. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only dropped its complaint after Hooters ran a commercial showing a hairy male server wearing Hooters’ skimpy uniform. Good for Hooters for mocking the bureaucrats; most companies just cringe and pay.
Liberal social engineers may dream of a society where genders are exactly equal, but that’s nonsense. Men and women are different. We should celebrate that difference instead of claiming that women are victims.
In 1841 Scottish journalist Charles Mackay published a history of popular folly called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, a rather sensationalistic overview of the irrationality that occasionally seizes an entire society or nation. Most famous are his economic examples, like the 1840s “Railway Mania,” as well as the notorious South Sea Bubble (1711-20) and the Dutch “tulip mania” of the early 17th century.
Common to all the delusions Mackay cited was the enormous disparity between the confident enthusiasm these commodities evoked as the path to wealth and the lack of reliable evidence to support such an assumption.
If Mackay were living today, he would doubtless add “rape culture” to his long list of popular delusions. On campus after campus, with virtually no statistical evidence to support their claims, feminists have promoted the idea that a woman runs a far higher risk of being sexually assaulted on a North American university campus (one in four or five, depending on the source) than a lifelong smoker has of getting cancer (one in 11 for men, one in 15 for women).
At University of Pittsburgh, with 14,800 female students, four sexual assaults were reported.
Health-conscious people do not smoke for fear of getting lung cancer. It would be pretty stupid to take the attitude that smoking is a pleasurable activity, so should not cause cancer, and therefore it is fine to take the risk. Likewise, if the risk of sexual assault on campus were truly one in five – to take the “conservative” estimate – no parent in their right mind would send their daughter to coed universities. But they do. And on campus after campus, we are seeing action being taken to prevent rape, in the form, for example, of McGill’s new “Forum of Consent,” the purpose of which is apparently to transmogrify sexual foreplay into a Stasi-level interrogation of intention, without which the sex act to follow is ipso facto sexual assault.
The fact is that “rape culture” is a form of popular mania like so many others before it. It does not exist. Or if it does, nobody has yet brought forward evidence of it. What we have seen is ideology attached to a great deal of personal narrative regarding unwanted or regretted sex. Some of those narratives have been compelling, but unsupported by evidence. Some have been compelling and found to be false allegations. Many of the narratives are based in recollection hazed over by alcoholic smog. And most of them would not stand up for two minutes in a criminal court of law.
Many observers have become more, not less skeptical with the mounting hysteria. One such observer has done something useful to validate our skepticism. Chad Hermann, a writer and management communication professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, has published an article in communityvoices.post-gazette.com assessing both the claims and the actual statistical evidence for rape culture, in which he illuminates some glaring contradictions.
Hermann set the typical projected figure of 20-25% of women as victims of forced sex against the reported sexual assault offenses over three years at Pittsburgh’s three largest residential universities: the University of Pittsburgh (UP), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Duquesne University (DU). In 2009: At UP, with 14,800 female students, four sexual assaults were reported. At CMU, with about 3,900 female students, six sexual assaults were reported (a three-year high). At DU, with 5,700 females, three were reported. [And it's possible, if not probable, that on each campus one of the reports was false. -Male Matters]
But wait: We “know” (we don’t really) that 90% of rapes go unreported! Okay, Hermann adjusts the numbers to reflect that, giving UP 40 assaults, CMU 60 and DU 30. Are we at one-in-four yet? Hardly. We’re at one-in-185 (average of the three). That was in 2009. Over three years, 2007-9, women’s chances of being sexually assaulted average out for the reported cases to one in 1,877. If you factor in the 90% allegedly unreported, you get a maximum of only one in 188.
So relax, ladies. Although there should never be sexual assaults on any woman on campus, there is no need to panic. Moreover, it is fair comment to observe that those women students who do not drink to excess, who are prudent about the kind of parties they attend, and who are selective about their sexual partners in general will doubtless reduce their odds much further, down to statistically nugatory levels.
If these statistics do not convince you, then I suggest you are in the grip of a serious ideological virus. There is a remedy for it, called critical thinking. If on the other hand, you rather like the febrile effects of delusion, then perhaps I could interest you in some bitcoins going cheap, and sure to make you a fortune!
Feminist activists ignore the unequivocal truth: Cardiovascular disease hits men at a higher rate until after age 75, their average age at death of the other 12 leading causes of death.
“The incidence of stroke is higher in men up to age 75, similar in the 75-84 age group, and higher in women in the age group greater than 85. Despite the higher risk in men, the lifetime risk of stroke is higher in women. This may be attributed to the longer life span in women. [May be?] Mean age of stroke death was 79.6 years, but men had a younger age at stroke death than women. Although mortality may not be higher in women, functional outcome may be. Di Carlo et al. found in a large registry that 3-month disability and handicap were higher in women after adjusting for age. In this group, women were significantly older when presenting with first stroke (74 years as compared to 69).” -Medscape,Geriatrics and Aging. 2007 (Emphasis by Male Matters.)
For Go Red supporters:
A lot of young, healthy men may nix Obamacare when they learn this:
Young men will see higher premium increases than their female counterparts. This is true despite these two facts:
Young men go to the doctor far less and cost their insurers far less than do young women, even factoring out women’s reproductive-related visits.
With Obamacare, young women will have more nonreproductive-related preventive services than young men.
In short, men will get fewer benefits than women after being forced to pay a bigger premium increase. That’s how Obama will uphold his promise to eliminate “premium discrimination against women.”
The crafters of Obamacare saw real discrimination against men as the safest way (because “men don’t protest and they don’t matter anyway”) to largely pay for their healthcare program. See “Women should pay more for health care.”
If a law required women to pay the same as men for auto insurance, the streets would be over-run with angry protesters of both sexes.
And if women had been paying lower medical insurance premiums than men, and were now required to pay the same as men, the same streets would be over-run with the same angry protesters of both sexes.
Democrats always know which gender of the bovine to gore.