Posts concerning gender

Too Few Good Men?

00:03 19 Mar 2012

I don’t usually comment on vapid “lifestyle” articles, particularly when they’re also year-old Wall Street Journal op-ed pieces, but Kay Hymowitz’s “Where Have The Good Men Gone?” has recently been shared by at least two friends and appears to need refutation.

Unfortunately, while it annoyed me greatly on first reading, further readings exposed a lot of difficulty in discerning what arguments it was making—mostly it’s composed of cultural buzzwords, snobbery, socially conservative hankering for the mores of yore, and the anecdata-driven slandering of an entire generation of males.

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Nurture, not Nature

22:54 22 Aug 2010. Updated: 10:54 22 Oct 2014

I’m posting a link to this article primarily because the article agrees with me: “Male and female ability differences down to socialisation, not genetics”—I’ve believed for years that behavioral differences between genders (or between other sets of people, really) are due to cultural and social factors, not differences that are somehow “innate”. That article is a good summary of scientific findings that back up my belief.

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Kate Harding Talks Sense on “Hook-up Culture”

23:55 28 Feb 2010

Articles bewailing “these kids today” (or especially “these girls today”) seem disturbingly frequent at the moment, and it’s not clear to me whether there’s a real problem of some kind or it’s just pundits waxing wroth about the next generation Doing It All Wrong. I suspect it’s both: the sexual culture out there is problematic, although not necessarily for the reasons you hear about, and most of the pundits are really talking not to the next generation but to the next generation’s parents. This article by Rachel Simmons is an earnest but fairly typical example; this response by Kate Harding is worth reading. I don’t think Harding says anything revolutionary—she just says a lot of things that seem like common sense to me but which often get lost in the noise.

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Confidence, Status, and Women Undermining Women

23:20 01 Feb 2010. Updated: 23:31 03 Nov 2010

Recently Clay Shirky wrote “A Rant About Women”, a piece essentially claiming that women needed to act more confidently, even or especially in situations where confidence would be unwarranted, in order to be more successful. There’s more to it than that, but that was what I took as the core message. I think there are some valid points in there, but I also think that Shirky radically underestimates the ways in which women are frequently punished for acting confident, and that he appears to assume that a system which promotes self-aggrandizers is something that we all (not just women) should accept as the natural way of things.

I might write up a longer response to “A Rant About Women” at some point, but right now I want to bring some attention to a piece that’s probably more important than my response.

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Rape and “Compulsive Heterosexuality”

21:26 18 Jan 2010. Updated: 14:14 25 Jan 2010

This post at Yes Means Yes! is an excellent overview of how the profoundly unhealthy culture of American high schools socializes boys to have negative and domineering attitudes towards women. The post is a review of Dude, You’re a Fag, an academic study of student ethnography and behavior at a Northern California high school. While the degree to which the behavior in the school is typical can be debated, it certainly seems to me that it’s certainly not a total aberration. I think a key paragraph is this one:

[Male sexual aggression in this context] has little to do with sexual orientation or desire and everything to do with a gender performance that positions the boys in relation to other boys.

I don’t think this is all that controversial, but I do think it’s important.

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Bullying: Just a Hunch

15:39 03 Dec 2009

I’ve come across what feels like another wave of articles related to bullying recently. I previously wrote about my thoughts on institutional responses, but this time my focus is on some of the causes, as well as how technical rules are unlikely to eliminate the problem.

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Three Articles by Hanna Rosin

12:37 15 Mar 2009

I’d never heard of Hanna Rosin before this morning, when some random tweet-following led me to three of her articles for The Atlantic. This is not an endorsement of The Atlantic, or Hanna Rosin, or the articles, but rather my noting that I found each of them rather interesting and that I don’t quite know what to think about some of the questions raised in them.

The Case Against Breastfeeding.

A Boy’s Life.

American Murder Mystery.

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Race, Gender, Presidential Campaigns

23:56 09 Sep 2008. Updated: 17:48 28 Jan 2009

Race and gender are both deeply significant in this election, but the narratives covered by the media don’t deal with what’s really going on. I certainly don’t believe that Barack Obama’s election would mean that America has taken much of a step towards eliminating racism in reality—it means something, and is potent symbolically, but the true effects of this country’s endemic prejudice would remain, and might face even fewer challenges given the symbolism. (The “we have a black president so there’s obviously no race problem” attitude would be prevalent, I suspect.) Similarly, I doubt very much that Palin’s ascension to the Vice Presidency, or even the Presidency itself, would truly challenge the dominant gender roles in this culture. As precedent I cite Margaret Thatcher, who as far as I can tell did almost exactly nothing positive in that regard for the UK. In any case, Arthur Silber once again delivers, dissecting the current operation of both race and gender.

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Oh, That’s Okay Then

14:34 03 Aug 2008. Updated: 12:37 15 Mar 2009

The West is still quite awful about gender equality in many ways, but it seems that post-Soviet Russia is far, far worse. A 22-year-old St. Petersburg executive had her sexual harassment case thrown out because, according to the judge, “[i]f we had no sexual harassment we would have no children”.

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