Spin and the art of reporting about gender

A recent burst of data has been made available about the gender makeup of universities in the UK. Reading through some of the statistics, what I found most striking is that while women significantly outnumber men in terms of the overall number of people attending universities, this discrepancy starts to disappear when you look at the most elite universities. And even more strikingly, men still significantly outnumber women at both Oxford and Cambridge. There seems to be some sort of “glass ceiling” effect – at least from looking at the numbers – when it comes to women in UK higher education.

But that’s not the way these numbers are getting reported, obviously. These numbers are getting reported as: Men! Where are the men?!?! Good heavens, what have we done to the poor men? How can we help the men??? [clutches pearls]

The Guardian has the full spread of numbers, if you’re curious.

Man accused of fraud for taking wife’s name

After Lazaro Sopena and Hanh Dinh got married, Sopena decided to change his name to Lazaro Dinh to honor his wife’s Vietnamese family surname.

“It was an act of love. I have no particular emotional ties to my last name,” Dinh (né Sopena) told Reuters.

Dinh obtained a new passport and Social Security card, and changed his bank account and credit cards before going to the DMV to get a new driver’s license.

That’s when things got ridiculous.

More than a year later, he received a letter from Florida’s DMV accusing him of “obtaining a driving license by fraud,” and letting him know his license would soon be suspended.

Why? Because the state of Florida thinks that only women should change their last names after marriage.

Dinh called the DMV office in Tallahassee to correct what he thought was a mistake, and was told he had to go to court first in order to change his name legally. When he explained he was changing his name because he got married, he was told “that only works for women,” he told Reuters.

It looks to me like Florida doesn’t actually ban men from taking their wives names– anyone can change their name, after all. But it requires a much more laborious procedure than the one that women have access to via marriage. For more, go here.

Who is Notre Dame?

More on the Notre Dame lawsuit regarding the federal contraceptive coverage rule from Kathryn Pogin and Bridgette Dunlap at the Huffington Post.

The claim to RFRA’s protections for “persons” would seem to rest on one of two theories: either that the term “person” should be read to include a corporation, or, that the corporation represents as-of-yet unidentified human persons, as when a church sues on behalf of parishioners. Notre Dame’s court submissions exhibit confusion on this point, referring to Notre Dame both as having a “conscience” in the singular (suggesting the former), and as having plural “consciences” (suggesting the latter). . .

Regardless of who the lawsuit envisions as the protected belief-holder(s), we believe the proposition that Notre Dame can hold one unified religious belief is antithetical to the very purpose of a university. Notre Dame’s administration appears to disagree. Should it appeal the dismissal of the lawsuit or refile once the contraceptive coverage rule is finalized, the plaintiff should plead who or what is the person that holds the beliefs alleged. Perhaps more importantly, it should inform the members of the Notre Dame community, and those considering joining it, who can rightly claim “We Are ND.”

Teenage girl blossoms into beautiful object

Calling the transformation both delightful and stunning, friends and family members confirmed Tuesday that 17-year-old Ashley Parker was blossoming into an absolutely gorgeous object.

According to Parker’s relatives, in the span of 14 months, the high school junior underwent a staggering metamorphosis from a young girl with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations into a truly stunning commodity.

Ah, The Onion.

(Thanks, J!)

Feminism Fizzles !?!

It’s the CHE again. The author, Rachel Shteir, maintains that Friedan’s book was wonderful, energizing, liberating, etc, but few people read it today, and contemporary stuff is uninspired and narcissistic.

A taste of now and then:

Friedan wades into women’s lives, painting a picture of how myriad forces created the feminine mystique. It is as though she is reworking one of the great reform classics of the early 20th century, like The Pit or The Jungle. You believe completely in the vortex sucking women under: In the first few pages, the reader is swept into birthrates, education, India, kitchen design, and diets.

Compared with Friedan’s 1963 book, the new W(orks)onW(women) also fall short as works of writing. They seem to either chirp or thunder rather than evoke, as Friedan does. They do not offer her sweeping take on women and society, and not only do they reject psychology, but they seem not to understand it. Slaughter is outraged when some female assistant professors asked her to stop talking about her children in public, telling her that it detracted from her “gravitas.” She reflects: “It is interesting that parenthood and gravitas don’t go together.” She goes on to insist that her colleagues add her children to her bio when they introduce her.

The article seems to me to be a mishmash of ideas. She writes as though a revolutionary book must be followed by revolutionary books, and does not seeem to realize that the next step will likly be the details, with lots of mistakes, etc. And there is no mention of vibrant feminism outside the US borders.

I think the article is available to all.