foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa at Psychology Today has some, ah, interesting views on feminism:
First, modern feminism is illogical because, as Pinker points out, it is based on the vanilla assumption that, but for lifelong gender socialization and pernicious patriarchy, men and women are on the whole identical. An insurmountable body of evidence by now conclusively demonstrates that the vanilla assumption is false; men and women are inherently, fundamentally, and irreconcilably different.

My, oh, my. Inherently, fundamentally, and irreconcilably different, eh?

Dr. Kanazawa, let me introduce you to what must be your first venture into gender role theory from a scientific perspective: The Gender Similarity Hypothesis by Dr. Janet Shibley Hyde.

Don't let the word 'hypothesis' fool you. The GSH is one bad-ass meta-analysis of more than 2,000 cross-cultural studies of gender differences, and it is quite possibly one of my favorite documents in the known universe. Occasionally you'll hear me bemoan the vast divide between conducting research and actually applying it; not in this case. The GSH speaks for itself.

-At least 78% of all gender differences are so small they don't even matter.

-There were two gender differences with large effect sizes: motor performance (specifically, throwing things) and sexuality (but ONLY in frequency of masturbation and attitudes of casual sex). There was a moderate effect size for physical aggression.

-Y'know that pervasive myth that girls suck at math? Indiscernable difference.

I encourage anyone psychologically or statistically minded to read it. It's not perfect, but it's well executed.

It is also not true that women are the “weaker sex.” Pinker documents the fact that boys are much more fragile, both physically and psychologically, than girls and hence require greater medical and psychiatric care. Men succumb to a larger number of diseases in much greater numbers than women do throughout their lives.

Ah, so now there ARE genetic differences? There's this saying I'm trying to think of... something about having your cake and eating it, too...

It's true that boys are physically weaker than girls at birth. Psychologically? That's a new one. I could dig up some research on this, but I have a feeling the only reason Dr. Kanazawa made this claim is because of an illusory correlation. Us silly feminists know that men are much less likely to seek health care throughout their lives because they are socialized to function independently and not ask for help. Could this large gap of disease-related deaths be because of--gasp!--gender roles, and not genetics?

Finally, modern feminism is evil because it ultimately makes women (and men) unhappy. In a forthcoming article in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania show that American women over the last 35 years have steadily become less and less happy, as they have made more and more money relative to men. Women used to be a lot happier than men despite the fact that they made much less money than men. The sex gap in happiness (in women’s favor) has declined in the past 35 years as the sex gap in pay (in men’s favor) narrowed.
Just a humble guess, but could women's increasing unhappiness have anything to do with the fact that--in addition to all that money women are apparently making now--women still do the majority of housekeeping and taking care of the children?
The feminist insistence that women behave like men and make as much money as men do may not be the sole reason for women’s rising levels of dissatisfaction with life; a greater incidence of divorce and single motherhood may also contribute to it.

And here all this time I thought I was walkin' and talkin' like a human being.

There are multiple reasons why divorce is so much more common these days: Western culture is incredibly individidualistic; sex ratios are lower, which encourages men to be less committed to any one partner; the stigma against divorce isn't nearly what it used to be, etc. I'd also like to note that it takes two to get a divorce. Married couples are still together as long as they've always been. The difference is that, instead of dying at younger ages, they're still alive and kickin' for a good long while. Until recent history, we've never had to adapt to living a monogamous lifestyle for any extravagent length of time.

Tell me, if until recently marriages were typically ended in one partner's death, and men are typically more likely to die at younger ages than women, why is it that divorce is now what makes women oh so unsatisfied?

The underyling notion behind this article is nothing more than misogyny. It's important to keep in mind that Dr. Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist. Ev psych has the amazing ability to connect the dots in ways other fields of psychology can't or don't. However, consider an evolutionary psychologist's motives: traditionally, we have been divided into a male-female world, and this divide has been maintained for thousands of years. It's easy to assume that the gender roles we come to expect in our day-to-day interactions are steeped in genetics simply because some of them may have once supported the human race's survival.

This is a tricky bridge, one I'm personally wary of. It's one thing to say "this is how were once were." It's another thing to say, "this is how we once were, and how we still are."


That said, light the candles! I'm 20!

foreverlasting: (Psych Major)

My current read is The Prize by Brenda Joyce. Considering the epic failure of the last Joyce novel I read (I began an internal, mocking dialogue at about a fourth way through Dark Embrace--"Lookit me! I'm a female and simpering and you are male and thus so hotly tragic and I WILL HEAL YOU WITH MY FEMININE POWER IN THE NAME OF LUUUURVE!") I was hesitant to read another. This one's historical, which hacks off even more points, because by necessity historicals are lathered in gender roles. I really don't understand how any modern woman could even remotely consider historicals to be romantic. Or sexy. Perhaps it requires a suspension of disbelief that I simply don't posess. Whether this is a good or bad thing has yet to be decided.

That said, despite the multitude of improbabilities (young girl travels from America alone and is captured by a lusty pirate yet is not raped or even assaulted, even though his sole reason for capturing her is to stick it to her uncle) and tired/unrealistic plot devices (hello, stockholm syndrome), I'm amused enough by the heroine's antics to continue reading. I like her. Mostly. And I like the 1800s. 

Also: It could be a coincidence, but what's with the trend of Joyce portraying her heroines as previously chaste woman who suddenly cravecravecrave sex from the hero, who wants it just as bad, but continually refuses for unknown reasons and repeatedly turns her own desire against her as an insult? ("You want to have sex with me? You whore! You're not supposed to actually WANT it!")

foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
Jacqueline Carey is quirky and funny. Apparently she was a psych major (!!!) and found that useful for writing. No joke. Among many, many other things, I'm a fan of Holly Lisle's use of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to brainstorm conflict. She read an excerpt from Naamah's Curse, as of yet unpublished sequel to her newly-released Naamah's Kiss, which unfortunately I still don't posess. However, I did recently finish Santa Olivia and she signed that. Written by any other author, I would have found the first couple chapters boring, but her writing style sold it for me. She said during the Q&A that there would be a sequel, though I don't know how I feel about that. I feels more like a one-shot to me.

A friend and I discussed Carey's Kushiel series on the way home. She's written 6 books, 2 trilogies, and has started a third trilogy, all within the same world. Continuing in the universe and sometimes with the same characters is tough. All too often it feels like--and I say this tentatively--authors write more than one book because that's what sells. Particularly within the SF/F realm. If they're smart, they'll leave a couple doors (or windows, as Jacqueline Carey says) open and when it comes down to a three-book deal, they can write more than one book, and the series will be fluidly connected. It's easy to pick out when authors, especially first-time authors, don't think they're going to be writing more than one book in that world or with those characters. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is one example (more on Twilight in another post). I have a strong hunch that Melanie Rawn did not intend for Dragon Prince to evolve into 2 trilogies. Not because the series itself was bad (it's amazing), but because the first book was so self-contained. I could be mistaken, but as it was her first published book I'm guessing she wrote it as a stand-alone, was at some point offered a multi-book deal, and went from there. The smooth transition from stand-alone to series is testimony to her skill as a writer above all.

Trilogies or series are what sell. When readers get hooked in a particular world, that's all they want to read (hence some of the outrage over Jacqueline Carey's switch to writing Santa Olivia, a completely different kind of book from her Kushiel series). Somehow, can Carey write an evocative series without it becoming trite or redundant (see: anything by Laurell K. Hamilton these days). Color me impressed.

Unfortunately, as much as I worship Anne Bishop's writing, I don't think the Black Jewels series needed to be continued past the trilogy timeline-wise.  I appreciated Dreams Made Flesh because it gave some closure and answered some questions, but Tangled Webs (albeit funny) seemed like a... complete tangent. The Shadow Queen seems like more of a return to her style in The Invisible Ring, but because it's after spoiler ), it's not the same world. The desperation that drove the characters in the trilogy and The Invisible Ring isn't there anymore. The characters may still have needs and conflict, but it isn't anywhere near the same scale. I'm still going to buy her books for as long as I can, especially if she switches to writing another, new world (don't touch Tir Alainn. Don't touch it. It's done, it's perfect, leave it alone). I still love her writing style. She's still my favorite author. But I think it's obvious that she didn't plan for these books past the trilogy, and her newer Black Jewels books don't resonate with me in the same way as the originals.

That said, meeting her was a buzz. She signed the copy of Daughter of the Blood I've been carrying around with me everywhere for the past 6 years, and a new copy of The Invisible Ring for a friend who introduced me to the books.

It's been a crazy week.

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foreverlasting

June 2012

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