Feminist Philosophers

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Explaining non-facts August 29, 2007

Filed under: bias,critical thinking,gender,science,sex — Jender @ 2:52 pm

Note: this has been corrected in response to a good point by Anon Ymous.

A few days ago, reader Jeff mailed us a link to recent address by Roy (oh dear) Baumeister to the American Psychological Association, entitled “Is There Anything Good About Men?” , a long tedious paper filled with old standbys about how men have evolved to be the explorers and empire builders and women have evolved to be basically cuddly lumps who reproduce the species. We all looked at it and agreed that we didn’t have the time or energy to bother with it.  After all, it’s basically the same old rot we’d been hearing forever.  And who would care?  

Well, apparently lots of people.  John Tierney has written a column on it for the NY Times, and it’s now one of their most emailed stories.  So we’ve got to deal with it.   

Briefly: Baumeister’s argument is an argument to the best explanation. It gives us a “fact” and then tries to explain that “fact”, by invoking other “facts” and a lot of speculation. There are lots of ways such arguments can go wrong. Baumeister’s goes wrong at the start. The “fact” being explained is that, worldwide, most of the people at both the top and the bottom of the pile (in terms of wealth and power) are men. He “establishes” this by invoking stats on prisons and homelessness, to show that men dominate not just the top but also the bottom of the heap. Unfortunately, this neglects all the data on the feminization of poverty, which shows the claim to be simply false. 

No good will come of an argument to the best explanation attempting to explain something that isn’t even true. But just the same, what a remarkable load of rubbish along the way!

Two examples:

(1) We should expect inequalities of wealth, because men just work harder (Baumeister): 

Likewise, I mentioned the salary difference, but it may have less to do with ability than motivation. High salaries come from working super-long hours. Workaholics are mostly men. (There are some women, just not as many as men.) One study counted that over 80% of the people who work 50-hour weeks are men. That means that if we want to achieve our ideal of equal salaries for men and women, we may need to the principle of equal pay for less work.             

Yeah, that proves it alright. Women are just lazy. Let’s not consider all the work women do in the home, and all the discrimination they face on the job.  Anyone heard of glass ceilings?  Also, one might question the thought that employees who work longer hours are better– one reason for long hours might be inefficiency. Most importantly, perhaps, there’s no attempt to look at why women and men might work different hours– just an assumption that it’s “motivation”.

(2) Baumeister again:

Giving birth is a revealing example. What could be more feminine than giving birth? Throughout most of history and prehistory, giving birth was at the center of the women’s sphere, and men were totally excluded. Men were rarely or never present at childbirth, nor was the knowledge about birthing even shared with them. But not very long ago, men were finally allowed to get involved, and the men were able to figure out ways to make childbirth safer for both mother and baby. Think of it: the most quintessentially female activity, and yet the men were able to improve on it in ways the women had not discovered for thousands and thousands of years.            

Ah, yes, men were *excluded*– terrible discrimination they suffered there.   If only they’d had all the opportunities open to them that women did.  And look how brilliantly things improved when male doctors got involved:  as Digivordig has informed me, death rates in wards staffed by male doctors were much higher than in those staffed by female midwives, until the difference was noticed and doctors improved their hygeine practices. And there’s just a teeny bit of disagreement, still, over such male innovations as stirrups for deliveries, episiotomies, etc etc. (For one dissenting voice among many see here.) Even fans of medicalization (and I’m not really an opponent myself) just might want to consider the idea that the advancement of science was more important than sex differences.

The NY Times should be truly embarrassed to have one of its columnists endorsing such nakedly sexist ranting. Write and tell them so.  (Many thanks to Stoat, JJ and Digivordig for their help on this one.)

 

32 Responses to “Explaining non-facts”

  1. literaryfeminist Says:

    “But not very long ago, men were finally allowed to get involved, and the men were able to figure out ways to make childbirth safer for both mother and baby. Think of it: the most quintessentially female activity, and yet the men were able to improve on it in ways the women had not discovered for thousands and thousands of years.”

    What a classic example of associating men with science (re: ‘Could Feminists Believe Women are Inferior?’ thread). ‘The men’ came along and made it right. ‘The men’?! What, all of them?!

  2. Anon Ymus Says:

    Baumeister and Tierney’s goes wrong at the start. The “fact” being explained is that, worldwide, most of the people at both the top and the bottom of the pile (in terms of wealth and power) are men. They “establish” this by invoking stats on prisons and homelessness, to show that men dominate not just the top but also the bottom of the heap.

    I couldn’t find any such reference in Tierney’s column, did I just miss something? Or are you instead talking only about Baumeister’s paper? I haven’t read it yet.

    The NY Times should be truly embarrassed to have one of its columnists endorsing such nakedly sexist ranting. Write and tell them so.

    Where exactly does Tierney endorse any of Baumeister’s views? It looks more like a report to me, but maybe I misread something.

  3. Jender Says:

    The quotes are from Baumeister. I took phrases like these to constitute endorsements, when combined in one article in the absence of anything critical: “[Baumeister] answered that question and a whole lot of other ones”; “I recommend reading the whole speech”; “[the speech was] a shrewd and provocative look at the motivational differences between men and women”.

  4. Anon Ymus Says:

    I knew that the quotes were from Baumeister. What I was just surprised about was that you seemed to describe the main point of the column (see also the title of your post) as concerning the “explaining” of a “fact” (“that, worldwide, most of the people at both the top and the bottom of the pile (in terms of wealth and power) are men”), where the column does not seem to mention this, but rather focuses on “the ratio of our male to female ancestors.”

    As to the second issue, it looks to me as if you were perhaps employing a particularly weak notion of endorsement, which some might find troublesome in the context of “The NY Times should be truly embarrassed to have one of its columnists endorsing such nakedly sexist ranting. Write and tell them so.”

  5. Jender Says:

    You know, I was just reflecting more on your comment and realising that you’re absolutely right– Tierney does not present himself as explaining that fact, though Baumeister does. Thanks for calling me out on that one: I should have been more careful. However, I don’t think I’m using a weak notion of endorsement. Getting a whole column in the NY Times on your work with no criticism and the positive comments cited above is a pretty serious endorsement.

  6. JJ Says:

    One thing Baumeister reveals is his shocking ignorance of those he seeks to criticize. For example, he says, “[Summers] misdeed was to think thoughts that are not allowed to be thought, namely that there might be more men with high ability. The only permissible explanation for the lack of top women scientists is patriarchy — that men are conspiring to keep women down.”

    It is simple false that all feminists who objected to Summers’ comment hold that men conspire to keep women ‘down’. The US National Science Foundation’s Advance program – which seeks to advance women in science – has explicitly rejected the comspiracy theory. And it’s generated a lot of literature that provides many other kinds of explanation. (See http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5383&from=fund.) One of the first groups funded is led by Virginia Valian, whose work predicts that women also operate against the interests of women as scientists/leaders.

    A second point: One of the things one learns from feminist thought is that academic theorizing can all too easily just reflect the experience of the theorizer, who all too often is a white male without any idea that there are radically different ways of experiencing the world. Consider this comment:

    Baumeister: “The gradual creation of wealth, knowledge, and power in the men’s sphere was the source of gender inequality. Men created the big social structures that comprise society, and men still are mainly responsible for this, even though we now see that women can perform perfectly well in these large systems.”

    They do? When the laws and social practice deny them any right of inheritance, education, the vote, or entitlement to the children if the father decides to take them away? Or is it only recently after several episodes of great effort by various ‘radical feminists’. Is he even aware of the major historical changes?

  7. Richard Says:

    Jender – “The “fact” being explained is that, worldwide, most of the people at both the top and the bottom of the pile (in terms of wealth and power) are men.

    Here’s what Baumeister actually wrote:
    the feminists thought, wow, men dominate everything, so society is set up to favor men. It must be great to be a man.

    The mistake in that way of thinking is to look only at the top. If one were to look downward to the bottom of society instead, one finds mostly men there too. Who’s in prison, all over the world, as criminals or political prisoners? The population on Death Row has never approached 51% female. Who’s homeless? Again, mostly men. Whom does society use for bad or dangerous jobs? US Department of Labor statistics report that 93% of the people killed on the job are men. Likewise, who gets killed in battle? Even in today’s American army, which has made much of integrating the sexes and putting women into combat, the risks aren’t equal. This year we passed the milestone of 3,000 deaths in Iraq, and of those, 2,938 were men, 62 were women.

    I’m not sure how pointing to the preponderance of poor women in the third world is any response to this. Sure, men are not at the bottom of every possible heap. You’ve found one exception. But it could still be a fact that along most significant dimensions in our society, Baumeister’s assumption holds. (Well, it’s not just an assumption – he gives all those statistics on premature deaths that you conveniently ignore. What did you make of his section on “The Disposable Male”?)

    Also, your responses to the two examples of “rubbish” seem to be similarly misunderstand what he’s getting at.

    (1) “Workaholics are mostly men” does not mean “Women are just lazy.” C’mon, this is just ridiculous demonizing. Recall the context: Baumeister is suggesting that male “success” in the workplace may be due more to increased motivation (read: desperation) than any kind of innate superiority of talent. His evidence: men work longer hours in the workplace. This would, in fact, seem sufficient to explain why they earn more from said workplaces. Ceteris paribus, longer hours = more work = more pay. (No doubt in some cases “one reason for long hours might be inefficiency”, but it’s clutching at straws to suggest this in general.)

    Now, it’s an important point you raise that we also need to look at why men work longer hours. It might be wholly explicable by contingent factors — in which case his suggestion that “we may need to legislate the principle of equal pay for less work” could be avoided after all. (We could remedy those other factors instead.) So his brief discussion here is importantly incomplete, but I don’t think that makes it “a remarkable load of rubbish”.

    And your response to (2) is just bizarre. Snide mockery aside, you don’t actually seem to be disputing the truth of Baumeister’s claims in that passage. It’s a simple fact that childbirth is safer now (for all involved) than when it was kept purely within “the women’s sphere”.

    Again: let’s not lose sight of context. You suggest that “the advancement of science was more important than sex differences”, but that is Baumeister’s entire point! The institution of science and culture developed from the network of shallower relationships that males tended to favour. While the intimate sphere did “what was vital for the survival of the species”, the broader networks that men favoured began as “more optional luxuries” but eventually “create[d] large amounts of wealth, knowledge, and power”. It’s at this point in the dialectic that he brings up childbirth practices to illustrate. Your response doesn’t engage with this at all.

    P.S. For a more charitable reading of Baumeister’s article, see my post: Gender as Cultural Specialization.

  8. JJ Says:

    Richard,

    Your comments make me aware of how difficult it is to get to some common point of agreement. We could see the debate building here as one that makes us aware of the many different perspective one can hold. Hence, I’m puzzled that you seem to think Baumeister’s address has, as you say in your blog, ” a relatively balanced and apolitical tone.”

    Let me take up two points. One is in my comment above: his characterization of the discussion about Summers, with its very negative description of the objections to Summers, is radically out of touch with feminist discussions. Despite its attempt to characterize feminist discussion.

    A second one is one you pick up. Baumeister claims that when men were finally ‘allowed’ into child birthing scenes, they were able to do something women couldn’t: make childbirth safer. The problem here for some is that this blanket picture leaves out the ways in which childbirth has – in too many cases – become much more damaging to women’s bodies and women’s experiences. BUT, let’s grant your point that it is generally safer. Does that underwrite Baumeisters claims that men were able to do something women couldn’t? It certainly doesn’t because neither Baumeister nor you seem to realize that women were generally disallowed access to modern science and the resulting modern medicine until very recently.

  9. Richard Says:

    The basic problem is that you seem to be responding to phantom sexist arguments, rather than the arguments Baumeister actually made. The fact that women have only recently been welcomed into the scientific community is good grounds for rejecting any inference from the childbirth example to the conclusion that men are essentially more able than women. But neither Baumeister nor I ever suggested such an inference, so I don’t know why you’re talking about that. It doesn’t address the claim being made, which is that shallow social networks (as men were disposed towards) ultimately improved on the practices of the intimate sphere (the social networks in which women traditionally specialized). This is an interesting sociological observation in its own right. There’s no need to conflate it with some stronger (more pernicious and implausible) claim.

  10. JJ Says:

    Richard,

    Baumeister says – at the beginning of the childbirth discussion – that giving birth is a revealing example. Example of what? The following:

    Thus, the reason for the emergence of gender inequality may have little to do with men pushing women down in some dubious patriarchal conspiracy. Rather, it came from the fact that wealth, knowledge, and power were created in the men’s sphere. This is what pushed the men’s sphere ahead. Not oppression.

    My point is that his claim that it was men who created knowledge doesn’t mention that women were prevented from participating. “Conspiracy” does not seem to me the right description, but the fact remains. Baumeister seems unaware that what he claims is innately men’s sphere was made so by very explicit and nearly complete exclusion.

  11. Jared Says:

    The “child birthing” point reminds me of “Tristam Shandy”, the film version, where then men bungle around while the woman is giving birth.

    Anyway, I’ve read the Baumeister article several times, and I still have trouble finding anything socially significant about it. All his examples are completely myopic. The war deaths example is especially nutty; I mean, what do you expect when the DoD and every other military in the world promotes an image of the soldier as an uber-masculine killing machine. (Except, remember the involvement of women in the Vietcong.) The example also omits civilian war dead; if we are going to go that far, how about rape during wartime?

    I also observed that only men were commenting on this article for the first few days it was made public, and (I don’t mean to brag) with the exception of my self the comments were very much, “See! Feminism is unfair and evil!”

  12. Richard Says:

    Jared – didn’t we cover the war deaths example back on my blog? I’m not sure why you think it is “myopic”. In particular, I don’t know what you interpret Baumeister as saying, such that the cultural promotion of warfare as masculine is somehow meant to count against his claims. Really, I haven’t a clue. Could you be more explicit?

    JJ – Exclusion is different from oppression. (Note especially that exclusion is insufficient to explain the emergence of inequality. So it is not a rival to Baumeister’s hypothesis.) I would expect Baumeister to agree that the generally male networks were reinforced by cultural norms to become more nearly exclusively male. Is that really incompatible with anything else he said?

  13. Jender Says:

    Richard– Sorry I don’t have time to get into more of this. But I can manage a couple quick points: (1) I chose data on worldwide female poverty because Baumeister was making very general claims. You can get similar data on e.g. US female poverty: . (2) Exclusion is arguably a part of oppression. And while “generally male networks were reinforced by cultural norms” may be a true description of situations in which women were legally denied access to many sorts of education and professions, it really doesn’t do a very good job of capturing the full picture. (3) To be honest, I really almost didn’t post on this topic becase Baumeister’s ignorance was so wide and so deep that I didn’t know where to start. And really, I still don’t. I’d have to write a book to deal with it properly, and I’ve already got another one I’m supposed to be doing. So apologies, but I can’t do a whole lot more here. However, it is perhaps noting that one important sort of thing Baumeister is ignoring is an important phenomenon with the technical name ‘Dominance’ (it’s a big mistake to import intuitions from ordinary language). There’s a nice description of this in Will Kymlicka’s chapter on feminism in his _Contemporary Political Theory_. There he’s concerned with the way that a bunch of apparently gender-neutral laws in an imaginary society could give rise to a systematic disadvantagement of women (including many things Baumeister discusses, like lack of acheivement in the workplace) . In thinking about all of human history, things are hugely more complex and include extremely long periods in which laws have been (and in some places still are) nothing like apparently gender-neutral. Part of the reason it’s hard to know where to start! The main thing, though, is that Baumeister is leaping straight to biological explanations without any attention to alternatives except a straw-feminist “conspiracy theory”. (4) There is nothing apolitical about arguments that we should give up on equal pay. OK, got to get back to some other work now.

  14. Jender Says:

    Oops, Kymlicka’s book is Contemporary Political Philosophy.

  15. Richard Says:

    Yes, I’m familiar with that. (Was never too impressed with those arguments though.)

    For the record, Baumeister did not argue that “we should give up on equal pay”. Rather, he suggested that the empirical facts mean that gender equality could only be achieved by the more radical means of equal pay for less work, which he then endorsed!

  16. counterfnord Says:

    Richard, I noticed his endorsement, and I take exception to it. I only speak for myself, but I aim for equal pay for equal work, period. And I don’t mean quantity. If some people want or need to spend more time at work than others, I’d like to know why. Which is not the same as taking it as a convenient “proof” of whatever thesis I was going to hold anyway.

    Again, I can only speak for myself, but I’m familiar with long hours, and my motives were not what Baumeister assumes. I know that my experience is irrelevant, but so is his opinion unless he comes up with some facts to support it.

  17. JJ Says:

    Does Baumeister really support equal pay for less work? I don’t know whether to take someone seriously who has had such a cursory look at the situation. Perhaps he forms serious opinions on so little thought or evidence – his article would suggest indeed he does – but I wouldn’t count on much support from him on this, since he also sees it isn’t likely to happen.

    Compare his discussion with a Harvard Business Review review article, “Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce (Dec. 2006; not available on the web outside of restricted libraries). For them, extreme jobs require more than 60 hours of work a week:

    Why aren’t more extreme workers women? Part of the answer emerges from finer cuts of the data. In the global companies survey, we found that young, talented women are well represented in jobs that have reasonable hours (fewer than 60 a week) but high performance requirements (fast pace with tight deadlines, 24/7 client demands, and so on). Of the respondents holding these jobs, 39% are women. By contrast, of those meeting high performance requirements and putting in longer hours, only 30% are women. The data suggest that women are not afraid of the pressure or responsibility of extreme jobs – they just can’t pony up the hours.

    The U.S. survey, too, demonstrates that the number of hours worked is where women fall short. … Only 2% of the women in our sample work long hours in positions with few extreme-job responsibilities. Men are somewhat more tolerant of such jobs.

    Perhaps women are less tolerant of high-hours, low-impact work because they are more aware of the “opportunity costs.” They seem particularly tuned into – and pained by – the fallout on their children. They see a direct link between their long workweeks and a variety of distressing behaviors in their children. As the research literature attests, it’s extremely rare for parents to admit to having problems with their children. … That women worry about the implications for their children is probably not because mothers are more caring than fathers but because, as our survey data show, more men in extreme jobs (25%) than women (12%) have the support of an at-home spouse or partner. (My stress.)

  18. JJ Says:

    My attempts at stress in the comment above failed, so let me single out the sentences that seem particularly important to me in response to RB:

    … young, talented women are well represented in jobs that have reasonable hours (fewer than 60 a week) but high performance requirements (fast pace with tight deadlines, 24/7 client demands, and so on). Of the respondents holding these jobs, 39% are women.

    Only 2% of the women in our sample work long hours in positions with **few** extreme-job responsibilities. Men are somewhat more tolerant of such jobs.

    more men in extreme jobs (25%) than women (12%) have the support of an at-home spouse or partner.

    So women avoid long hours that have uninteresting responsibilities and the relative lack of representation of women in the other extreme jobs appears correlated with lack of at-home support. So the issues of who is the workaholic seems to fall out of the question of pay equity.

  19. Jender Says:

    I thought Baumeister was joking about the equal pay for less work thing. I didn’t actually consider a reading where he wasn’t, but I still don’t think it’s very likely.

  20. Richard Says:

    I’m not sure which part of that article you expect Baumeister to disagree with? (Also, can you explain how your last sentence follows? I’m not seeing it.)

  21. Richard Says:

    Jender – it doesn’t read much like a joke. At least, I don’t see any reason not to take his assertion (‘Personally, I support that principle.’) at face value.

    JJ – I’m not sure which part of that article you expect Baumeister to disagree with? (Also, can you explain how your last sentence follows? I’m not seeing it.)

  22. JJ Says:

    Richard,

    I agree with Jender that RB’s comment looks like a joke. It is not a sensible social policy for the reason he says – it won’t get enacted. If he really thinks there is a real problem that needs a real solution, he surely could do better than that. Although, as I commented, the whole address seems so full of misrepresentations, that really it is hard to say what is serious. It occurred to me that the whole thing was a send up – until, that is, I search through some of his other work.

    Here’s what RB says that is put in question by the article:

    Likewise, I mentioned the salary difference, but it may have less to do with ability than motivation. High salaries come from working super-long hours. Workaholics are mostly men. (There are some women, just not as many as men.) One study counted that over 80% of the people who work 50-hour weeks are men.

    The comment suggests that the difference in pay is due to the fact that men are workaholics and dominate the over 50-hours jobs. The harvard article, in contrast, sees a lot of women in the highly demanding under 60-hours jobs (almost twice the percentage RB has). Further, women do drop to 30% at 60 hours and above, but the explanation appears to be a matter of who has someone at home who can help. So women seem to do nicely as highly motivated workers capable of undertaking long and stressful jobs, unless their home lives put them under an extra time crunch.

    Given the harvard article also says that the 50 hour work week is in the past for the really ambitious, one wonders where RB’s facts are coming from. The harvard article is a recent, peer-reviewed article and, as such, reasonably believable.

  23. Richard Says:

    (1) men are workaholics and dominate the over 50-hours jobs

    (2) a lot of women [work] in the highly demanding under 60-hours jobs

    These claims are perfectly consistent. (An under-60 job may also be under-50, but even if not, we don’t know what fraction of over-50 hour jobs are “highly demanding”.) The Harvard article adds that men – besides dominating the over-60 hour jobs – are also far more likely to work long hours in boring jobs. Note also their summary: “The data suggest that women are not afraid of the pressure or responsibility of extreme jobs – they just can’t pony up the hours.” (Just what Baumeister said: the difference lies in the motivation to work ridiculous hours, not capability.)

    Now, the more interesting question concerns how to interpret the facts that (a) men are more likely to work extreme hours and (b) of those who do, the men are more likely than the women to have at-home support.

    Your latest comment claims that (b) causes (a), but that’s questionable. The vast majority of extreme workers (of either gender) do so without at-home support. So it doesn’t seem to be anything like a necessary condition, at least for those who currently do choose to work extreme hours. What about those who don’t? Assuming that the inequality of at-home support extends to them, this may be one factor explaining why more women choose to remain in this sub-extreme group. But it still wouldn’t show that there are no other motivational differences in play. (One also has to ask: why are women more likely to be at-home partners in the first place?)

    So the Harvard article is all very interesting, but it doesn’t really contradict RB’s claims. (I do think it’s revealing, though, that you would take him to dispute that “women seem to do nicely as highly motivated workers capable of undertaking long and stressful jobs, unless their home lives put them under an extra time crunch.” Comes back to that ‘demonizing’ point I was making upthread. I think you’re probably interpreting his article in a more extreme way than I would.)

  24. JJ Says:

    Richard,

    I also agree with Jender that this is taking too much time. So I’ll reply with a note, and then invite you to have the last word, at least as far as I am concerned.

    A few small points: You say, “Just what Baumeister said: the difference lies in the motivation to work ridiculous hours, not capability.” It is an assumption that the women who decide not to work outside the home for over 60 hours have less motivation to work. The article clearly suggests that they feel demands to work at home. But whatever the truth, Baumeister is assuming a very great deal, and that is really my main point. I think it is very irresponsible to use the invitation to speak at the APA to give a speech so empirically unsupported, when the conclusions are so very large, and obviously appealing to some people.

    In addition, the literature on the topic is full of a much more nuanced discussion and data, so his assumptions mean either he is ignorant of the data or is just ignoring it. In either case, hardly good scholarly behavior.

    In addition, it is true that under 60 hours could be under fifty hours, but the article is about people who are working extremely hard in any case, and getting the really high salaries, so if they include part-timers in their data, they are misleading us and using premises that don’t support their conclusions. They conclude that the difference between men and women is not willingness and/or motivation to work very hard.

    Despite the fact that Baumeister does this shoddy stuff, it really isn’t likely that misleading premises would get through the peer-review system of the Harvard Business Report. They really have a sharp eye for puff and don’t publish it.

    Finally, it does seem that the women who can get the high responsibility, high paying jobs are not willing to accept the mindless jobs. We have no idea what percentage that is, so it really isn’t possible to say whether this helps Baumeister. But if he is willing to say that what he means is that men are highly motivated by money, while women insist that the work also be highly demanding and intensely meaningful, I’ll be very surprised. Most of his article works against such a picture.

  25. Jams Says:

    He “establishes” this by invoking stats on prisons and homelessness, to show that men dominate not just the top but also the bottom of the heap. Unfortunately, this neglects all the data on the feminization of poverty, which shows the claim to be simply false. – jender

    ..including the link http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/followup/session/presskit/fs1.htm

    The linked page seems to support his thesis. For example… “The majority of the 1.5 billion people living on 1 dollar a day or less are women.” …while the majority of murders were committed against men last year (a much higher number by the way). Did they count those murdered men as earning zero dollars?

    That aside, claims that women in North America are poorer than men are fallacious. You can step into any soup kitchen and see that – and those are the men whose poverty is unhidden.

    So much for “simply false”.

  26. JJ Says:

    Jams, I’m not getting your figures at all. Let’s suppose women are just barely in the majority of the 1.5 billion poor. That would give us just over .75 billion women in poverty. Are you saying that the figure for the murders of men is much higher?

    Just to be clear, it was not. If it were much higher, then we should expect at least 1 billion men were murdered, and even that is hardly “much higher.” But if 1 billion men were murdered, the murder rate would for the world of 6.6 billion would be vastly higher than it actually is. Even for the country with the most murders, Colombia, murders per 100 are .063, not 15.

    Perhaps you mean that the percentage of men murdered is much higher than the percentage of women in poverty. A quick look at the stats suggests you are right, but given that the number of poor persons is orders of magnitude higher than the number of murdered people, the figure doesn’t seem to support Baumeister.

    I’m afraid we’re back at “obviously false.”

    As far as poverty in the States goes, Baumeister was talking about what’s in men’s and women’s “nature,” and so he is committed to having the world facts in his favor.

  27. Jender Says:

    Despite the power of anecdotal soup kitchen evidence, the stats show something different re male and female poverty in the US. There are in fact more homeless men than women in the US, but (a) homelessness is not the only poverty; (b) the rates aren’t all that dramatically different: women are 43% of the homeless.

  28. Jams Says:

    “Jams, I’m not getting your figures at all” – JJ

    You’re right. That was my fault. In an effort to be brief, I skipped some steps.

    If you adjust the number of people earning less than 1 dollar a day to include people earning nothing, enslaved, forced into militias, killed or murdered (remember, a person murdered this year will earn 0 dollars for the rest of what could have reasonably been expected to be his/her life), and imprisoned, you’ll notice the gender divide not only disappears, but leans toward males making up the majority of heads of the household earning under 1 dollar a day.

    There’s a reason why the “village full of women” is a common cliche, and they certainly deserve our sympathy, I can’t say they deserve it any more than that village’s dead males. Something to think about.

    “Despite the power of anecdotal soup kitchen evidence [...]” – Jender

    Counting heads in a soup kitchen is hardly anecdotal. To date, it’s the best and only way to count homeless people (including shelters, if I need to mention that).

    “There are in fact more homeless men than women in the US” – Jender

    What’s important about the link you posted is that women make up the majority of people with an “income in 1999 at or above poverty level”. But hold on, there are also more women under the poverty line than men. There must be more women in the United States than men. But wait, there are consistently higher birth rates for men in the United States than for women. Where are all the missing men? It looks like there are around 8 million missing men in America.

    Certainly, the above-the-poverty-line numbers are much more reliable. People with homes and incomes tend to more often fill out census information. We should conclude that the missing men have gone missing into to under-the-poverty-line sector. The numbers seem to indicate that women under the poverty line are more visible than men under the poverty line.

    I wont speculate on the “Los Angeles Homeless services coalition”, but as far as I know, that majority of homeless studies place single males at about %70 percent of homeless (that number is from a study conducted across Canada, but falls in line with studies in the U.S.).

    “43% of the homeless population are women” – LAHSC

    Sorry. They’re lying. The vast majority of studies put families at around a quarter or at around a third of the homeless population, and the smallest number I’ve ever seen for single males alone is 45% – that’s the smallest. Single females usually come in around 11% to 15%.

    LAHSC is pulling numbers out of their ass to get donations.

  29. Roy Says:

    If you adjust the number of people earning less than 1 dollar a day to include people earning nothing, enslaved, forced into militias, killed or murdered (remember, a person murdered this year will earn 0 dollars for the rest of what could have reasonably been expected to be his/her life), and imprisoned, you’ll notice the gender divide not only disappears, but leans toward males making up the majority of heads of the household earning under 1 dollar a day.

    If you’re discussing poverty and homelessness, I don’t see the value in adding in murder victims. A murder victim isn’t poor or homeless, a murder victim is dead. In theory, we can help people who are homeless or living below the poverty line. We can do nothing to help someone who is already dead.

  30. Richard C Says:

    Roy – While the question of ‘who we can help’ is important in its own right, the issue being discussed above is “[whether] society is set up to favor men.” The experiences of all those dead males are surely relevant to this question.

  31. JJ Says:

    Jams, I’d love to see some sort of documentation to back your claims. The homicides rates are orders of magnitide lower than the figures regarding poverty.

    t


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