“Some of these stories are closer to my own life than others are, but not one of them is as close as people seem to think.” Alice Murno, from the intro to Moons of Jupiter

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." Arthur Schopenhauer

“Why does everything you know, and everything you’ve learned, confirm you in what you believed before? Whereas in my case, what I grew up with, and what I thought I believed, is chipped away a little and a little, a fragment then a piece and then a piece more. With every month that passes, the corners are knocked off the certainties of this world: and the next world too. Show me where it says, in the Bible, ‘Purgatory.’ Show me where it says ‘relics, monks, nuns.’ Show me where it says ‘Pope.’” –Thomas Cromwell imagines asking Thomas More—Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

My favorite posts to get started: The Self-Righteousness Instinct, Sabbath Says, Encounters, Inc., and What Makes "Wolf Hall" so Great?.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Is Patriarchy Even a Real Thing?

            One of the definitions of patriarchy is male control of families and government. But what many are referring to when they use the term is a culture and socialization process that privilege men and boys while oppressing, disadvantaging, and subjugating women and girls. In practice, patriarchy often means the simple assumption that males have it better than females and that they work, often deviously, often with the complicity of blinkered females, to maintain their advantage.
 
            I'm skeptical that there even is such a thing as patriarchy, at least in that latter sense of the term. I can imagine my feminist friends reading that line and getting set to unload a barrage of anecdotes and snippets of history lessons. Before you begin your attempts at setting me straight, let me be clear about what exactly I'm suggesting. It's undeniable that the treatment of women in third-world countries is often abysmal. It's undeniable that some cultures—usually the religious sectors in particular—explicitly preach that women are to be submissive to men. Those explicit teachings are rightly called patriarchy.

            There is an important distinction to be made, however, between a system of family hierarchy and social governance on the one hand, and the suggestion on the other hand that an entire culture is biased in favor of men. Keeping score on both sides of the gender divide by adding up all the miseries and subtracting all the privileges to see who has it worst is exactly the type of tribal behavior that makes this sort of politics so divisive and incendiary. So let me just point out that there are a lot more people monitoring the travails of women and not bothering to consider for a second that men might be going through things that are just as bad or worse. Often small groups of men prey on women and other men alike. And women often enjoy certain advantages over men, especially if they're intelligent or attractive or both, even in third-world countries. (The case of third-world countries, incidentally, ought to give feminists pause before they spout off about the evils of civilization.)

            I'm not a Pollyanna. There really are groups who suffer from severe societal and generational disadvantages, even in this first-world country. In fact, their plight offers a helpful template for how we should expect oppression to appear in various measures. Here, for instance, is a graph of how African Americans and whites have responded to surveys investigating their subjective well-being since the early 1970s.
Source: "Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress," by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers
            Two things stand out in this graph. One is that whites have a significant advantage in terms of subjective well-being, just as we might expect. The other is that the gap between the races has been narrowing, albeit at a disconcertingly sluggish pace, over the past forty years. This is probably due in large part to the victories of the civil rights movement, and other deliberate social efforts to right injustices.

            Based on the conventional wisdom regarding the plight of women, we might expect the happiness divide between the sexes to demonstrate pretty much the same trend. But it turns out the two graphs look nothing alike. 
Source: "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfters

            First, men didn't start out with a clear advantage. Second, it seems women have actually gotten slightly less happy over the past forty years.

            Yes, men continue to make more money, men continue to hold more positions of power. So, you could argue that men are still privileged and women are just disappointed that they haven't made much progress. And I bet at least a few of you reading this are wondering how girls might be socialized to claim to be as happy as men even when they're not. But neither of these special pleads really accounts for the pattern anyway.

            We need an alternative hypothesis. Maybe it is human nature to develop different roles for women and men. These roles may even be influenced by regular developmental differences, like the production of hormones, and then over time become somewhat exaggerated through a process of observational learning and norm generation. Insofar as this is the case, it’s simply wrong to point to the different roles and claim their existence is proof of one side’s privilege.

            With each role comes a set of privileges and burdens, and maybe, just maybe the two cancel out pretty well. Many men probably feel the need to make money is a burden. Many women probably feel the greater burden of child-rearing placed on them is a privilege.

            None of this necessarily works as evidence for the superiority of traditional sex roles—and I certainly don’t advocate any enforcement of them. Indeed, we need to do our best to support people who for whatever reason want to step outside the bounds of our common expectations. But we also have to be prepared to accept the conclusion—should it be arrived at with a threshold degree of certainty—that people are happier when they embrace their differences, whether those differences are the product of biology, culture, or both.

            And, if you are wont to insist on the existence of male privilege, how will you demonstrate it? How can you be sure it isn’t limited to circumscribed domains? How would you convince a reasonable and informed skeptic that patriarchy is a real problem?

30 comments:

gillt said...

"And, if you are wont to insist on the existence of male privilege, how will you demonstrate it?"

Of course it's existed and exists...in third world countries, in circumscribed domains (which is rather significant) as you've admitted.

I think this is an attempt to shift the burden of proof. To wit, do you believe male privilege has ever existed in America? If so, what did it in and when?

Dennis said...

I believe the question of which gender has it better, or which one is favored by the culture, as framed by feminism, is overly simplistic--and frankly just not interesting.

I don't think I should have to shift the burden of proof. If someone posits a force influencing outcomes in a society, then she or he needs to define what that force is and provide evidence that it is in fact operating.

My purpose here isn't to deny male privilege ever existed or went extinct at some point; it's to infuse a bit of skepticism into the discussion, as it seem the assumption of male privilege is too readily, too easily made and too seldom questioned.

I'm not sure how to answer the question you ended with. I'll frame it according to the Rawlsian veil of ignorance and admit there were probably times and places, probably still are places, where I wouldn't want to be born a female. (According to the Atlantic article "The End of Men," more parents say they want daughters today--interesting, but I'm not sure of the source.)

What has changed? I credit the Enlightenment and the ideal of universal human rights.

gillt said...

Are you referring to the American enlightenment or the Age of Enlightenment?

I agree with your 3rd paragraph but am much less interested in the plight of any particular humanities department which seems to be the seat of your criticisms.

This is why I asked for some historical account to your criticism. Is male privilege ascendant or not in China, India, America, Bosnia, South Africa. For instance, is birth rates one good metric?

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-global-war-against-baby-girls

Dennis said...

I meant the Age of Enlightment, and specifically the idea of human rights, which has advanced fitfully I admit, but alongside science it's been the best thing that ever happened to the human race.

I'm not sure why it would help for me to name societies in which an overall trend toward male privilege prevails. To do so, I would have to pretend to much more knowledge than I have of these cultures.

My argument is that privilege in one domain doesn't necessarily mean privilege in general. The case of discriminatory abortion is actually a good example of this. Presumably, girls being aborted at higher rates in some cultures suggests males are valued more by parents. (This might be owing to economic reasons--such as money earned by male children staying in the family but that being made by females going to the husbands' families.)

But the advantage boys enjoy in the early family environment--though it's strange to say they "enjoy" it since they're probably oblivious--is inevitably going to lead increased competition for mates and diminished prospects for marriage and reproduction when they're adults.

Women on the other hand will have more men competing for them, and will thus have the opportunity for upward mobility through marriage.

I'd say conditions of war probably lead to the worst outcomes for women--but then they lead to shitty outcomes for most men too. We're reduced to arguing if it's worse to be maimed, killed, or raped.

I'd be surprised if there weren't societies in which, when you add up all the domains, one gender has it better than the other. China, India, Bosnia, South Africa--I really can't comment knowledgably. But I can say a lot of men have it pretty bad in those places too.

My hypothesis would be that the general well-being of each gender tends to be closely tied to that of the other. Men's fates are tied to mothers and wives and sisters and daughters. Women's fates are tied to fathers (or uncles), husbands... you get the idea.

Dennis said...

Incidentally, The New Atlantis looks like a cool magazine. Nice find.

gillt said...

The article is thorough and attempts to address your single-most-likely-outcome opinion stated here:

Women on the other hand will have more men competing for them, and will thus have the opportunity for upward mobility through marriage.

when they say:

Economists such as Gary Becker and Judge Richard Posner have hypothesized that mass feticide, in making women scarce, will only increase their “value” — but in settings where the legal and personal rights of the individual are not secure and inviolable, the “rising value of women” can have perverse and unexpected consequences, including increased demand for prostitution and an upsurge in the kidnapping and trafficking of women (as is now being witnessed in some women-scarce areas in Asia, as reported by Mara Hvistendahl in her new book Unnatural Selection).

Basically the expectation that sex ratios will stabilize over time as they do with many other species is not necessarily empirically true in human populations.

Another point brought up elsewhere, we have a good idea of what to expect in China with a glut of young men by looking at patterns in countries with similar imbalances, such as South Korea and India. Millions of women migrating from poor societies to the lower rungs of wealthier societies. Besides increased human trafficking (mainly a woman problem) this leaves marginalized men in SE Asia with fewer options outside of sex partners.

I don't have any moral issue with gendered abortion, but I think on epidemic levels the collateral effects are negative from a human rights standpoint.

Dennis said...

Yeah, I actually pondered that line too. I'm not sure if it undermines the point or supports it. Prostitution as a path to greater economic prosperity isn't necessarily a bad thing (I don't think--interesting question).

But obviously sex slavery is deplorable. And I agree measures to end selective abortion are called for--though I'm far too ignorant of the circumstances to comment insightfully on how to address the problem.

gillt said...

There is an important distinction to be made, however, between a system of family hierarchy and social governance on the one hand, and the suggestion on the other hand that an entire culture is biased in favor of men.Keeping score on both sides of the gender divide by adding up all the miseries and subtracting all the privileges to see who has it worst is exactly the type of tribal behavior that makes this sort of politics so divisive and incendiary.

What's the solution? Not calling male privilege when you see it patriarchy seems too much like a semantic argument. Personally, I think the term is a cliche and rife with baggage, so I mostly avoid it.

Also, religion bleeds into family, and the work place, and government. These sectors or systems belong in a venn diagram, not as separate domains. I think this is obvious and the distinction between them becomes trivial in regard to male privilege by answering the next obvious thing: who are the traditional and largely current heads of households, of religious institutions, businesses and governments? What accounts for this enduring bias? Genes and hormones are unconvincing and incomplete reasons. The only way to begin to address this is to look at modern societies where the hierarchies are reversed or equitable. Some scandinavian countries where religion is on the wane might be a good place to look.

This is not to say The Patriarchy is impossibly intertwined in our culture or that a few people (stereotyping all of feminism is a double-standard. Be specific and name names) have politicized the term for personal gain, or we haven't made any progress since the bad old days.

Dennis said...

You ask “What’s the solution?” it seems, every time I’m inclined to ask, “What’s the problem?” The point of the post was not that male privilege doesn’t exist; it was rather, as you point out, that the word’s “baggage” can make it misleading. As for saying specifically who it is I’m taking to task for misusing the term, I simply don’t see why it’s necessary when I made a point of defining the misuse I was referring to. It’s one I frequently encounter—yes, in the humanities department I work in—but I suspect it has currency far beyond my own personal experiences. And, since my argument was that people should be more precise and skeptical when they point to patriarchy as a problem, and—again—not that patriarchy doesn’t exist in any domain, ever, or that the term is somehow always inaccurate or inappropriate, I didn’t feel it necessary to name names. (Some true believers are eager to charge skeptics with instigating witch hunts—I won’t name names.)

I’ll turn it back to you—where exactly did you see me “stereotyping all of feminism”? Seems to me I only used the word feminism once to describe a group of my friends.

Your question about the “heads” of various institutions really gets at the heart of an important distinction I had hoped to make with the post. On the one hand, there’s being in change. On the other, there’s having it better. I agree with you that men tend to be in charge in most domains, but does that necessarily mean they have it better? I’d say absolutely not because 1. In many of those institutions there’s one or a few men in charge and many more who are subordinate and 2. Being in charge isn’t an absolute good—especially if you don’t care about being in charge. This is why to see who really has it better I don’t think we should look at who’s in charge at all; we should rather look at variables like education outcomes (females win), health outcomes (females win again—though it’s more complicated and I don’t profess to be enough of an expert to be sure), and subjective well-being or happiness (no clear victor).

What accounts for the tendency for men to be in charge more often? To me, your claim that “Genes and hormones are unconvincing and incomplete reasons” borders on absurd—only borders because of course biological factors don’t offer a complete explanation. But greater competitiveness and a greater concern for hierarchy and institutional ranking strike me as exactly the types of differences hormones are reliable predictors of. And you can say what you will about the evidence of these effects, but where’s the evidence for this notional impact of culture? Do women really run more businesses than men in Scandinavia? The gender ratios in leadership are variable across cultures, I admit, but they stick within a pretty limited range.

If men are better represented in STEM or in leadership positions because more men tend to be more motivated to pursue STEM careers or to pursue leadership positions, what exactly is the problem?

gillt said...

I simply don’t see why it’s necessary when I made a point of defining the misuse I was referring to. It’s one I frequently encounter—yes, in the humanities department I work in—but I suspect it has currency far beyond my own personal experiences.

You're admitting your entire criticism is one of suspicion stemming from personal anecdotes of a perceived enemy. I see little rationale then for extending this criticism outside your own domain of subjective experience. And yet here we are.

gillt said...

1. In many of those institutions there’s one or a few men in charge and many more who are subordinate

Not the case in any of the major and minor religions. And this is not applicable to a family hierarchy of two. That leaves the private and government sector.

In the US women hold only 15% of congressional seats while they represent slightly more than half of the electorate. This, I think, is the strongest argument for gender equity as it has a direct impact on democratic representation.

http://www.albany.edu/news/releases/2006/feb2006/women_leadership_report.shtml

2. Being in charge isn’t an absolute good—especially if you don’t care about being in charge.

How does that work when women are filling middle-management positions at a greater rate than top-level positions? In 2008, in management, women accounted for about a third of MBA classes but only 14% percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, and 8 percent of top leadership positions. When you compare managerial positions to pools of candidates men have higher odds of being a manager.

Catalyst, Women In the Fortune 500 (2011); Glass Ceilings: The Status of Women as Officials and Managers in the Private Sector (2002)

This is why to see who really has it better I don’t think we should look at who’s in charge at all; we should rather look at variables like education outcomes (females win)

This is not clear at all. Most people would say education qua education is less important than economic stability.

As of 2009, undergrad enrollment was 57% women. 51% go on to get PhDs and 28% reach full-time professors, while only a fifth of women are college presidents. What's the point of investing a huge amount of time in a PhD when you never intend to use it? It doesn't add up.

While we see greater gender representation in all fields, there is a gradual decline throughout followed by two sharp declines at the highest levels. Do hormones account for the overall trend or do they account for the sharp decline among university presidents? What other explanations are there?

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d10/tables/dt10_260.asp
National Center for Education Statistics: Table 260: Full-time instructional faculty in degree-granting institutions, by race/ethnicity, sex, and academic rank; The Chronicle Survey of Presidents of 4-Year Colleges, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 4, 2005.

Dennis said...

I'll let Catherine Hakim field both of those comments:
"However, many feminist scholars insist that there are no ‘natural’ differences between men and women, and that sex discrimination (direct and structural) is the primary reason for differences between men and women in labour market outcomes(see, for example, Bryson, 1992; Phillips, 2004). One consequence, unfortunately, is that political correctness now impedes rigorous research on the extent of sex differences in abilities, social attitudes, values, life goals and behaviour, and renders such research polemical and contentious (Eagly, 1995; Ginn et al., 1996; Hakim,1995, 2004a). Nonetheless, there is solid evidence that men and women continue to differ, on average, in their work orientations and labour market behaviour, and that these differences are linked to broader differences in life goals, the relative importance of competitiveness versus consensus-seeking values, and the relative
importance of family life and careers (Hakim, 2000, 2003a, 2004a). These differences persist long after the equal opportunities revolution of the 1960s and
1970s gave women equal right to access higher education and all positions and careers in the labour force."

"The country with the lowest level of occupational segregation in the world is China, not Sweden, as so many believe. Many countries in the Far East have lower levels of occupational segregation than in western Europe. The lowest pay gap in the world is not found in Sweden, as so many claim, but in Swaziland where women earn more than men, on average, followed closely by Sri Lanka."

Here's that link: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/puot0002/3004/Women,%20careers,%20and%20work-life%20preferences.pdf

You can have the religious counterexample--the point about a few men holding outsized power stands.

The rest of your argument here, and throughout our debate rests on a logical fallacy. I posed the question, What's the problem if differential representation is the result of differential preferences? And you respond, again and again, with evidence of differential representation.

Women may be filling up middle management rather than going on to become CEOs because they care less about money and prefer not to take on the added hours and responsibility.

You have to consider too that a possible reason for women pursuing educations in STEM but not careers is that they received external pressure to go into those fields only to discover they don't like them.

There are any number of alternative explanations to differetial represenation but you seem fixated on assuming it's patriarchy or discrimination.

"What other explanations are there?" You have to realize that's a classic appeal to ignorance. You need to provide positive evidence of discrimination if that's the conclusion you want to prove.

And if there's all this horrible curtailing of opportunity and representation for women why aren't they significantly less happy than men?

Dennis said...

On including education as a criterion for "doing better." Since my theory--and as far as I can tell the ascendant theory among people who study the issue without an ideological bent--is that career outcomes are mostly determined by preferences, education "qua education" is important because it allows people to have more choices.

People with degrees are much less likely to be poverty-stricken, so, again, if women are opting out of advanced degrees it's probably because they simply prefer not to pursue them--not because they're in danger of going hungry.

Educational attainment is correlated with life satisfaction (which means it might be redundant to emphasize it in my argument), voting (there's your representation for women), and, even better, positive attitudes toward women.
http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/fulltext/9611051ec020.pdf?expires=1327155738&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=9CF605A054D13DD56B099AC71D464BFA

gillt said...

The rest of your argument here, and throughout our debate rests on a logical fallacy. I posed the question, What's the problem if differential representation is the result of differential preferences? And you respond, again and again, with evidence of differential representation.

Hardly posed it as a question, more like a conclusion supported by attempts at biological evidence, which I've always said are there, but which you failed to distinguish between cultural influences.

gillt said...

Women may be filling up middle management rather than going on to become CEOs because they care less about money and prefer not to take on the added hours and responsibility.

Where's the rationale for the assumption that middle-management positions incur fewer hours and less responsibility? Maybe relatively less responsibility, but many CEOs have a higher turn-over rate than middle-management. Obviously top management makes more money and holds more power in a hierarchical business structure so you have to factor likelihood of discrimination.

gillt said...

You have to consider too that a possible reason for women pursuing educations in STEM but not careers is that they received external pressure to go into those fields only to discover they don't like them.

You mean have I considered that women are irrational decision-makers or that even the career decision-making process is complicated? With your overly-simplistic biological rationalizations, that's what I've been trying to get you to appreciate this whole time.

Now why would anyone spend years on an advanced degree with the intention of not entering the field? That's implausible. More likely is that once they enter the field they are turned off by a sexist culture. I'm too lazy to track them down, but plenty of studies support the notion that women put a greater emphasis on gender diversity in companies as part of their job search.

gillt said...

So, you could argue that men are still privileged and women are just disappointed that they haven't made much progress. And I bet at least a few of you reading this are wondering how girls might be socialized to claim to be as happy as men even when they're not. But neither of these special pleads really accounts for the pattern anyway.

You haven't even made an argument here. Why are they special pleads and why don't they account for the pattern? You blithely discount them and carry on with your assumptions.

gillt said...

Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfters:

Trends in job satisfaction among women and men engaged in market work have remained roughly constant, although the point estimates suggest
a decline in satisfaction among women. Throughout the period women “keeping house” report lower job satisfaction compared with women who are employed in the market.


This is what we would expect if gender roles are largely imposed rather than innate.

And if there's all this horrible curtailing of opportunity and representation for women why aren't they significantly less happy than men?

Because the reality isn't an oversimplified factor x causes outcome y.

All told, job satisfaction can do little to explain the overall happiness patterns observed as women, unconditional on their choice of market versus home production, remain similarly satisfied with their work when compared with both the past, and with men

They go one to point out a decline in women's financial satisfaction, further calling into question the generalization that women don't care about making money relative to men.

Dennis said...

You've set up a false dichotomy between biological influences on the one hand and discrimination on the other. Your suggestion is that if differential representation isn't all biological there must be some discrimination. That is simply not true. You still need to provide positive evidence of discrimination. Culture does not equal discrimination.

When, in any of my posts, have I suggested that career prefernces were simple or purely based on biology? Again, your suggestion is simply not true. I began with the assumption, and stated explicitly, that biology only accounts for a portion of the variance. Seriously, what gives? Why are you misrepresenting my argument?

On why women might pursue an education in a topic but not a degree, well, I have degrees in pychology and anthropology but don't work in either field. Professional environments are not the same as educational ones. And life circumstances change as people age--biological clocks and all. Anyway, see my post on earnings and the evidence that women get hired in greater, not less, proportion to their applications.

On the special pleads, women have made progress over the past 40 years, obviously, so saying the slight dip in happiness is owing to disappointment is a stretch. Plus, what proportion of women are actively engaged in the effort to get women into more positions of power? It's a lame argument.

And girls being socialized to claim to be happy when they're not--I might have guessed boys would be more encouraged to thus misrepresent their feelings.

A special plead is an effort to rescue a prediction that has failed by casting about for possible new hypotheses that might explain the failure. I suppose disappoint or socialization could be partial answers, but I'm not aware of any evidence on either front.

And women not entering a field because there aren't enough other women in the workplaces, which I agree is likely, is not discrimination. And there's no simple solution to it.

gillt said...

Characteristics of women in IT:

1. minority status
2. Parental support, especially mothers
3. use of computers at an early age
4. positive view of IT professionals
5. have not discussed career options with others.

It's not clear which if any are free choices.

"Women in Information Technology: Pivotal Transitions from School to Careers"

Even Cici and Williams admit, as you do, that women may be presented with non-optimal choices, as with the burden of childbearing. Why are more women in academia childless than men? There is undoubtedly an assumption in society that conflates child-bearing with child-rearing and this a female-specific burden.

Children are a career killer unless you have a stay-at-home spouse or can afford a full-time nanny.

Dennis said...

I guess I'll just keep repeating and you can keep mischaracterizing. I posed no absolutes.

"This is what we would expect if gender roles are largely imposed rather than innate." What? Just as likely that women are less satifisfied with their homekeeping because they have to work too. Anyway, that's pretty paltry.

"Because the reality isn't an oversimplified factor x causes outcome y." But you're positing an epidemic of women having roles "imposed" on them. Where's the evidence?

Dennis said...

Please read the Catherine Hakim link regarding choices surrounding child rearing.

gillt said...

When, in any of my posts, have I suggested that career prefernces were simple or purely based on biology?

I've only pointed out that you heap much undue emphasis on biological determinants.

I have degrees in pychology and anthropology but don't work in either field. Professional environments are not the same as educational ones.

What were your reasons, job prospects and some form of disillusionment (curiously, are you worried you're making the same mistake twice)? you can imagine different reasons for disillusionment, such as explicit and implicit sexism in the workplace as opposed to the safe confines of a degree program. Although in Engineering and CS it often starts in the college departments.

gillt said...

Just as likely that women are less satifisfied with their homekeeping because they have to work too

So you're assuming homemakers thought they were getting off easy or something? I suppose more anecdotes and speculation await.

gillt said...

I'm pointing out hiring gaps between middle-management and CEOs (as well as attendant pay gaps) and you refute with country based overal employment segregation?

This is what I'm talking about
http://www.haygroup.com/ww/press/details.aspx?id=31685

Dennis said...

When you point to a correlation and suggest what can be the only possible cause, all I have to do is offer another equally plausible explanation to refute your argument. So, when I say maybe women are less happy with homemaking because they have to work now too, I'm merely pointing out that your assessment is one of many possible ones.

I place no more undue emphasis on biological factors than you do on implicit and explicit (whatever that means) sexism. There's positive evidence for one. The other is only assumed from the gaps you keep showing me evidence of.

I'm not sure what the Hay Group is exactly, but the study it describes doesn't justify the title. In order to prove discrimination you have to compare applications to hires. You can't simply count heads in board rooms. And this evidence, if reliable, doesn't rule out the possibility that pay differences are based on behavior differences. How often to women ask for raises? How often do they ask to be put on big projects that might get them noticed by higher ups? All this study is is another correlational survey asking us to assume the gaps are proof of sexism--which is in fact just one of innumerable possible explanations.

I have to admit, though, I wouldn't be surprised if Italians live up to their sexist reputation. Who knows?

Dennis said...

And yes I am very worried I'm making the same mistake twice--though I'm not sure I'd call it a mistake without qualifications.

Dennis said...

You can take the last word on this. Some trusted advisors have warned me to stop debating feminism because it's affecting my daily interactions.

I think I'll go back to taking on religion. Or maybe review some novels.

gillt said...

"According to a survey, one in four of us have regretted posting something on a social media site, mainly because it was inappropriate or upset someone. Around 40 per cent of 2,000 polled said they used websites such as Twitter and Facebook to speak up on an issue they felt passionate about. Almost half believed that what they said had made a difference."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2092447/A-quarter-regret-tweets--say-Twitter-say-persons-face.html

Dennis said...

Ha. Yeah, public stances on controversial issues. I do think there's a huge danger of being mistaken as endorsing a cruder position than you do. I, for instance, am guilty of assuming I know the reasons someone may have for being a republican--and assuming they're wrong.

While I don't regret expressing my reservations about feminism, I do worry some people won't read beyond the title and just think I'm a sexist.

The more immediate concern I have is all the time and attention I devoted to debating and researching the posts. And once you get some momentum it's hard to stop thinking about it. It's hard too to get out of debate-mode, which of course I enjoy in moderation but I'm afraid I can be a bear if I'm really amped up.