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: (Dangerous)

I got into an interesting discussion with my Romantic Relationships prof during break today, but first, a flashback to a Washington Post article from 2008. It was published shortly after the final Twilight book hit the shelves. 

"Yet on some level, it seems that children may know human nature better than grown-ups do. Consider: The fascination that romance holds for many girls is not a mere social construct..."

Yes. Yes it is. 

"...it derives from something deeper. In my research on youth and gender issues, I have found that despite all the indoctrination they've received to the contrary, most of the hundreds of teenage girls I have interviewed in the United States, Australia and New Zealand nevertheless believe that human nature is gendered to the core..."

No. No it isn't. I don't care if thousands of uneducated, hormone-driven teenage girls tell you it is; it's still not gonna be.

And for the record, would someone like to point me in the direction of the big flashing sign that says, "GENDER IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, YOU ARE WHO YOU WANT TO BE"? No? What do you mean it doesn't exist, and so this mythological indoctrination of anti-gendered ideals couldn't possibly exist either?

More to the point: If teenage girls haven't been subjected to social norms depicting more than two possibilities for gender, or told that gender doesn't actually exist, how could they ever believe otherwise?

"...They are hungry for books that reflect that sensibility. Three decades of adults pretending that gender doesn't matter haven't created a generation of feminists who don't need men; they have instead created a horde of girls who adore the traditional male and female roles and relationships in the "Twilight" saga."

They seek out books that reflect gender roles because we teach them from birth that women and men are opposites and can only function when divided into separate boxes. They adore these roles because our media tells them exactly what they need to look like, be like, and act like. People like to laugh when I tell them that our media is teaching young girls that they should grow up to be saved by men, and then I point out shit like Twilight. Throughout the entire series, Bella doesn't do a damn thing for herself. Meanwhile, Edward controls her, operantly conditions her be with him, renders her utterly dependent on him, and Meyer portrays this as love. Teenage girls think this is love.

Let me state this simply.

ABUSE IS NOT LOVE.

Taking advantage of someone due to an inbalance of power IS NOT LOVE.

Now to get to what my professor was saying: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is the perfect reflection of the average teenage girl's romantic fantasy.

It's natural to obsess over a partner in a new relationship and part of the process. It's self-serving, because we constantly think about them, constantly want to be with them, which protects and promotes the relationship. This is fine, in and of itself. Where it becomes dangerous is when we combine this obsession with gender roles and effectively give the male-identified individual in the relationship more power than the female-identified individual.

We teach girls to obsess, to focus all their energy on being in a relationship. We. Teach. Them. We do this to them, we tell them that this is who they should be. And we tell them over and over and over again. Obsession might not be inherently negative, but when a girl/woman trades in her identity and free choice for a boy/man's and does so because society has been telling her she should since she could walk, we have a gender-based problem. Brushing it off the table by saying "Look here! Proof that this is what they want!" does nothing to address the issue.

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foreverlasting

June 2012

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