Sunday, 28 September 2014

Gender Studies: Exam Time

Ms Dworkin's class finally get to debate a real life anti-feminist (with special mystery guest star!). The ending is priceless.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

An Open Letter to Emma Watson

Dear Emma Watson,

I was not raised a celebrity. I can say that my life has been very different from yours. I am a woman living in America. I have not attended a fine University like Brown as you did. I have known abuse, I have been molested. I have known hardship and depression. But there is something you should know. I don’t need feminism.

Maybe you can’t understand why this might be so. How someone like me who has in the past been suicidal and faced such turmoil could say that I do not need something that is supposed to help the whole world.

I want you to know that I am neither religious nor someone politically conservative, and I say this because many have accused me of this stance for merely disagreeing with feminism. Your idea of feminism is certainly beautiful, but it is not the reality of the woman’s movement today nor was it the reality of the past.

That is what saddens me. When I was younger I got it into my head that I needed to be strong and empowered and eventually I got there, but when I finally met other feminists I did not see a group of strong self-reliant women infront of me. I saw women who wanted others to do the work for them.

They did not understand that empowerment is something that only you can bring to yourself. People can talk all day about women doing great things. People can give them thousands of dollars of grant money, but it all means nothing if these women won’t do the work themselves. Therein lies the problem of the feminist ideology. It preaches that we must empower women but never asks women to empower themselves or demands that they become capable and self-reliant.

I don’t think that many in the west disagree that women are deserving of all the rights and privileges of men. The truth is far more sinister. I don’t often hear men say that women don’t deserve these things by any stretch of the imagination. The majority of people I hear saying that women are oppressed are feminists.

I don’t see it in the actions of men in the population save for the percentage of the population that engages in violent crime. There will always be meanspirited people. There will always be some people that commit violent acts against their fellow humans, and that is not gendered. Feminism can not fix these things.

You can not fix the portion of humanity that does not care about others and do not care if people are harmed. They are not people that can be persuaded.

The reason that women detach themselves from the label of feminist, has nothing to do with the idea of women’s rights being radical. It isn’t, it makes logical sense. The problem lies with the actions of feminists and actions going beyond achieving the privileges men have. There are man-hating feminists and the narrative that men can stop things like sexual assault is what starts it.

When you say that men can stop sexual assault on their own you are imagining men as one big group that congregates together and can stop the socipathic individuals that predate on others. Sexual assault is not a mistake, or a lapse in judgment. It is not something learned or taught to rapists by society. It is instead a rejection of society. It persists in spite of those who preach equal treatment.

This narrative erases victims of female predators who operate like male sexual predators and exist in greater numbers than you would expect. The problem is that because feminism preaches that men are the abusers that can stop rape, it erases men and women who are victimized by women. Even worse, these women do not face jail time equal to that of their male counterparts. That is not equal treatment and that is not justice.

Painting women as victims does not help them to be seen as the equals of men. It makes them appear weak which is contrary to that which feminism says it wants to accomplish. Because of that you have female predators out of jail after only a few months ready to prey on their next victim.

This is not the story that modern feminism wishes to tell. It is not the story that it wishes to acknowledge. It won’t mention women in “oppressed” countries rising to the occasion in spite of everything. It won’t mention that women in these “oppressed” countries enter STEM fields in greater number to those of the west or that many of them are strong in their own right. Feminism didn’t make them so.

Instead feminism preaches, Look at those women, they are victims, we have to get men to save them. Is that not the worst thing you could do? Are you not continuing gender stereotypes in assuming that men need to be the ones to empower women? Is it not harmful to tell a woman that she is not strong enough on her own, and that she needs all these other women to empower her?

Women won’t identify as feminists because the women within feminism rely so much on the sisterhood that they do not pursue self-reliance. These women do not heal when they’ve been victimized because the sisterhood tells them that it’s fine to live as a perpetual victim instead of a survivor.

These feminists do not live up to your lofty ideals. The feminists who govern these groups are often corrupt and profit directly from keeping women victims. They profit from the narrative that men are the aggressors and women are victims.

If you are looking for gender equality in them you will not find it. This is the problem. The majority of women feel alienated from modern feminism because it is not providing the equality that many of them so desperately crave and it ignores the women who use this ideology to further their own ends.

Instead it is the cause for much of the disparity. Policies meant to help women, fail in one major respect. Because they often assume women in general to have a kind of moral superiority. It does not assume that women can act immorally in ways that are equivalient to men. Laws like the Violence against women act in the United States presume men to be the aggressor even when men are calling to report violence against them by their partners.

If you want to help women to be seen as equal to men, we must acknowledge that they are just as capable of vice as their male counterparts and must face equal consequences. If you want real equality, you must dismantle gender bias against men and benevolent sexism against women perpetuated by the legal system.

Women must be willing to take the higher paying dangerous jobs men take. They must be willing to be held accountable and we must be willing to hold them accountable in the way we hold men to be accountable.
We must acknowledge that the disparity mentioned most often by feminists can be accounted for, by things like life choices and economic mobility. Poverty accounts for much of the problems of third world countries. War brings poverty and violence to these countries, harming men and women in different, but equally horrific ways. Yet women are the ones most likely to receive money and aid.

Child brides arise out of necessity first in impoverished countries. Families can not afford to feed all of their children and as a result are married off young to keep families afloat. In the minds of those parents they are making certain that she is fed and clothed. You want to help women? Then acknowledge that the problem is a toxic mix of ignorance, tradition, and crippling poverty in countries that are often war-torn that drive these problems and not a lack of chivalry.

It is difficult for women to even dream of a future when their families can barely afford to feed them. How can women get ahead when their clothes are rotting off their bodies and their brothers are being drawn into war because it’s their only hope of making some kind of change.

Feminism can not put food on their tables or stop those wars. Because it is attempting to treat the symptoms of these problems and not the disease. You want to help people? Then wake up! We don’t need chivary! We need honesty! Life is hell for the impoverished, it cultivates victims and criminal behavior.

Those people are in pain, and the discussion as to how to help them begins when we have honest discussions about how men and women both suffer in equal degrees, but the source is this toxic mix of human problems that we’ve yet to solve. Some of which we may never solve. Treating the symptoms is failing.

We must approach the source and come to creative solutions, because as it stands people are dividing themselves over the belief that everyone can be an oppressor or that people are being oppressed in the first world. The wage gap has long since been debunked. Single childless women often out earn men because they make different choices now. They can wait longer to have children due to technological advances, so they make career orientated decisions that allow them to get ahead.

The greatest determination of poverty for a woman is how many children she has and when she has them. Women often make work decisions based upon wanting to spend time with her children. So she’s more likely to take time off to tend to her sick children, to leave work early to pick up the kids, or to get them to things like soccer practice.

This all adds up and that is a major contributor to the disparity in the wage gap and not gender discrimination. When you compare many of the well paying jobs men take to something like being a kindergarten teacher, there is an obvious difference in pay. The studies speaking of a massive pay gap rely on lifetime studies which don’t account for differences in job, whether these women have children, or choose careers that pay less but make them happy.

The key to aiding this problem may well be in making birth control available to men and women and allowing them to choose when to be parents. That will also reduce the population in many problem areas and make it possible for people to do better with the same amount of resources. But it will be difficult and many religious groups simply will not allow it.

But you will likely find the key to aiding poverty stricken people is in advancing science and technology overall, and in safe, effective, affordable, and readily available birth control methods for men and women. The recognition of science and it’s continued progression is the only thing that can move us in that direction.

So I ask that instead of funding campaigns to promote chivalrous behavior in men, that you fund the people that will make that line of reasoning obsolete. I ask that you fund science and technology.
Thank you for your time and I hope that you will consider what I have written.

Rachel Marie Edwards

This piece originally appears at 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

TIME Magazine: 5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die

by Christina Hoff Sommers

If we're genuinely committed to improving the circumstances of women, we need to get the facts straight

Much of what we hear about the plight of American women is false. Some faux facts have been repeated so often they are almost beyond the reach of critical analysis. Though they are baseless, these canards have become the foundation of Congressional debates, the inspiration for new legislation and the focus of college programs. Here are five of the most popular myths that should be rejected by all who are genuinely committed to improving the circumstances of women:
MYTH 1: Women are half the world’s population, working two-thirds of the world’s working hours, receiving 10% of the world’s income, owning less than 1% of the world’s property.
FACTS: This injustice confection is routinely quoted by advocacy groups, the World Bank, Oxfam and the United Nations. It is sheer fabrication. More than 15 years ago, Sussex University experts on gender and development Sally Baden and Anne Marie Goetz, repudiated the claim: “The figure was made up by someone working at the UN because it seemed to her to represent the scale of gender-based inequality at the time.” But there is no evidence that it was ever accurate, and it certainly is not today.

Precise figures do not exist, but no serious economist believes women earn only 10% of the world’s income or own only 1% of property. As one critic noted in an excellent debunking in The Atlantic, “U.S. women alone earn 5.4 percent of world income today.” Moreover, in African countries, where women have made far less progress than their Western and Asian counterparts, Yale economist Cheryl Doss found female land ownership ranged from 11% in Senegal to 54% in Rwanda and Burundi. Doss warns that “using unsubstantiated statistics for advocacy is counterproductive.” Bad data not only undermine credibility, they obstruct progress by making it impossible to measure change.

MYTH 2: Between 100,000 and 300,000 girls are pressed into sexual slavery each year in the United States.

FACTS: This sensational claim is a favorite of politicians, celebrities and journalists. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore turned it into a cause célèbre. Both conservatives and liberal reformers deploy it. Former President Jimmy Carter recently said that the sexual enslavement of girls in the U.S. today is worse than American slavery in the 19th century.

The source for the figure is a 2001 report on child sexual exploitation by University of Pennsylvania sociologists Richard Estes and Neil Alan Weiner. But their 100,000–300,000 estimate referred to children at risk for exploitation—not actual victims. When three reporters from the Village Voice questioned Estes on the number of children who are abducted and pressed into sexual slavery each year, he replied, “We’re talking about a few hundred people.” And this number is likely to include a lot of boys: According to a 2008 census of underage prostitutes in New York City, nearly half turned out to be male. A few hundred children is still a few hundred too many, but they will not be helped by thousand-fold inflation of their numbers.

MYTH 3: In the United States, 22%–35% of women who visit hospital emergency rooms do so because of domestic violence.

FACTS: This claim has appeared in countless fact sheets, books and articles—for example, in the leading textbook on family violence, Domestic Violence Law, and in the Penguin Atlas of Women in the World. The Penguin Atlas uses the emergency room figure to justify placing the U.S. on par with Uganda and Haiti for intimate violence.

What is the provenance? The Atlas provides no primary source, but the editor of Domestic Violence Law cites a 1997 Justice Department study, as well as a 2009 post on the Centers for Disease Control website. But the Justice Department and the CDC are not referring to the 40 million women who annually visit emergency rooms, but to women, numbering about 550,000 annually, who come to emergency rooms “for violence-related injuries.” Of these, approximately 37% were attacked by intimates. So, it’s not the case that 22%-35% of women who visit emergency rooms are there for domestic violence. The correct figure is less than half of 1%.

MYTH 4: One in five in college women will be sexually assaulted.

FACTS: This incendiary figure is everywhere in the media today. Journalists, senators and even President Obama cite it routinely. Can it be true that the American college campus is one of the most dangerous places on earth for women?

The one-in-five figure is based on the Campus Sexual Assault Study, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and conducted from 2005 to 2007. Two prominent criminologists, Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox and Mount Holyoke College’s Richard Moran, have noted its weaknesses:

“The estimated 19% sexual assault rate among college women is based on a survey at two large four-year universities, which might not accurately reflect our nation’s colleges overall. In addition, the survey had a large non-response rate, with the clear possibility that those who had been victimized were more apt to have completed the questionnaire, resulting in an inflated prevalence figure.”

Fox and Moran also point out that the study used an overly broad definition of sexual assault. Respondents were counted as sexual assault victims if they had been subject to “attempted forced kissing” or engaged in intimate encounters while intoxicated.

Defenders of the one-in-five figure will reply that the finding has been replicated by other studies. But these studies suffer from some or all of the same flaws. Campus sexual assault is a serious problem and will not be solved by statistical hijinks.

MYTH 5: Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for doing the same work.

FACTS: No matter how many times this wage gap claim is decisively refuted by economists, it always comes back. The bottom line: the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.

Wage gap activists say women with identical backgrounds and jobs as men still earn less. But they always fail to take into account critical variables. Activist groups like the National Organization for Women have a fallback position: that women’s education and career choices are not truly free—they are driven by powerful sexist stereotypes. In this view, women’s tendency to retreat from the workplace to raise children or to enter fields like early childhood education and psychology, rather than better paying professions like petroleum engineering, is evidence of continued social coercion. Here is the problem: American women are among the best informed and most self-determining human beings in the world. To say that they are manipulated into their life choices by forces beyond their control is divorced from reality and demeaning, to boot.

Why do these reckless claims have so much appeal and staying power? For one thing, there is a lot of statistical illiteracy among journalists, feminist academics and political leaders. There is also an admirable human tendency to be protective of women—stories of female exploitation are readily believed, and vocal skeptics risk appearing indifferent to women’s suffering. Finally, armies of advocates depend on “killer stats” to galvanize their cause. But killer stats obliterate distinctions between more and less serious problems and send scarce resources in the wrong directions. They also promote bigotry. The idea that American men are annually enslaving more than 100,000 girls, sending millions of women to emergency rooms, sustaining a rape culture and cheating women out of their rightful salary creates rancor in true believers and disdain in those who would otherwise be sympathetic allies.

My advice to women’s advocates: Take back the truth.

Christina Hoff Sommers, a former philosophy professor, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the author of several books, including Who Stole Feminism and The War Against Boys, and is the host of a weekly video blog, The Factual Feminist. Follow her @CHSommers.