Thursday, June 30, 2011

The one in power...

Another feminist citation.

But as we’ve quickly learned with the ascent of women in politics and government, a woman in power does not guarantee a leader who prioritizes the needs of women.

Sure, it is also true that "a man in power does not guarantee a leader who prioritizes the needs of men" and that having mostly men at the very top of the ladder does not mean that men as a class have power at all. Just sayin...

An example of female privilege or who has the upper hand in relationships?

Read this and tell me if you see anything wrong with it?

A few years ago she had a baby – a beautiful strong-minded little girl – and after much toss and turn – she decided that she was not going to return to work as a teacher. So now she is a stay at home mom. [...] This is like the best mom ever, a woman who studies and thinks out all her moves as a mom – what food her daughter should eat, what fabrics should be close to her skin, how much television is too much television – or is she better off with non at all? This woman who washes her own diapers because she’s worried about the earth and yes, she has a partner – who happens to be a man – who works day and night so that she can stay home and raise their daughter in the way she thinks is best. This is a job, and important one, is it not? It is also a job she loves and one that she feels has great meaning for her.

She decides that she stays at home and raises their daughter in a way she thinks is best. A job she loves and has great meaning for her and well, he works day and night to make that happen. Good for her it seems.

I am not saying anything about the relationship at question. I don't know how they came to the conclusion how to live their life. [EDIT: Feministcupcake made it clear in the comments that their friends have an egalitarian relationship] The way the author writes about her friend makes it seem as there is no "we" in this relationship. The role of the father is down-played (she raises their daughter in a way she thinks is best) and it seems he has no say in the matter at all (her decision) and just has to work to make it happen.

When it comes to relationships it seems women have the upper hand, or society expects women to have the upper hand or the final say. This goes beyond stereotypes of nagging women:

Of the 1,260 men and women whom Pew pollsters surveyed over the summer [in 2008], 43% responded that the woman makes most of the major decisions for the family, with 31% saying that the couple makes most decisions together. There was a small difference (within the margin of error) between the control exerted by wives who earn more than their husbands and those who earn less (46% versus 42%). But in both cases, women wielded sole decision-making power far more than men did, indicating that what "father knows best" is when to defer to mom.

Certainly that was what University of Iowa researchers found last year [2007] when they measured how couples negotiate conflict over household decisions. That study not only confirmed that men will usually go along with their wives but found that when couples do disagree, wives are far more persuasive than husbands in changing their spouses' minds.

[... T]he researchers saw that when spouses engaged in debate, the women gained more ground than their husbands did. "[The women] were communicating more powerful messages and men were responding to those messages by agreeing," Mr. Vogel stated in a press release.

The hypothesis that men hold more sway in relationships because they typically make more money didn't play out.

If a bigger paycheck did mean more power in any area of family decision making, the most likely one would be finances. But even there women are in charge, with more women than men in the Pew survey saying that they manage the couple's budget and wives in the Iowa study winning out over husbands in money disagreements. According to Pew, 45% of women said they hold the family purse strings compared to 37% of men.

This despite two-thirds of the couples reporting that the man had the higher income. In fact, in recent years a substantial amount of research has shown that wives lose some of their household decision-making power when they earn more than their husbands, possibly because by spending fewer hours in the home they forfeit claims to certain household "expertise."

[.. A]dvertisers have been tracking the buying habits of American families since the 1940s. What they have found is that women made more of the household purchasing decisions before the advent of the feminist movement and that they make more of the purchasing decisions now, regardless of how big or small their paychecks are. These marketing surveys have been remarkably consistent, and they haven't changed much in the past 60 years.

To be fair, many of the scholarly studies' conclusions include a "final say" contingency -- many husbands claim that they have veto power when they feel very strongly about an issue. But consumer research shows that with the exception of what car to buy and when to buy it, men rarely claim strong enough feelings to override their wives.

"Across all decision-making realms, it tilts to the woman," noted Rich Morin, the Pew study's lead author. "I was surprised by the percentage of men who made none of the decisions in any of the areas. A significant percentage were just bystanders."

[...] The general consensus of sociologists is that, whereas a woman's marital satisfaction is dependent on a combination of economic, emotional and psychological realities, a man's marital satisfaction is most determined by one factor: how happy his wife is. When she is happy, he is. Working within this framework, most husbands are unwilling to dig in their heels on any issue unless they have a tremendous incentive to do so.

Warren Farrell wrote about this, too. From "Women can´t hear what men don´t say" [p.21-22]:

Researchers find that when only one sex expresses argument-provoking feelings, it is likely to be the wife - by a ratio of almost six to one (85 percent vs 15 percent). When both sexes participate but one dominates, women are about twice as likely to dominate. Overall, women are more willing to initiate conflict, no willing to escalate conflict, better able to handle it when it occurs, and, when they have initiated it, are quicker to get over it.

These findings come from numerous sources. They are found among couples of high, medium, and low socio-economic status. They are found using a variety of methodologies: the couples at themselves acknowledge the gap, and, much more reliably, researchers who systematically observe couples verify the couple's own assessments.

Probably the most respected researcher in the field is John Gottman at the University of Washington. He records pulse rates, heart output, skin conductance, and other indicators of stress. Then he videotapes the couples to observe facial expressions and body language. He does not ask the couples to fight, since that would be artificial. Instead, he basically works with the couple and when a major air are of disagreement naturally even though this, he asks them to discuss it and attempts to resolve it. When a fight naturally occurs, the equipment is there to record it.

Gottman found that men are more intimidated by angry women than women are by angry men. Men are more stressed by marital arguments, while women are more comfortable with emotional confrontation and are better at it.

Even in the feminist movement, the medium is the message: feminists express anger even as the message is that women cannot express anger; men repress anger even as they are judged to be the sex that has no problem expressing it! We often hear we have a battle of the sexes when, in fact, we have a war in which only one side has shown up. (Men put their heads into the sand and hope the bullets will miss!)

Withdrawal is not the way men do battle with men. It is the way men do battle with women. Because the purpose of doing battle with men was to prepare men to protect women from conflict, not to be the source of conflict.

It is kind of funny when you realize that the titel of the first post I linked was "Social Justice is about everyone, isn’t it?". Yes, it is. One day this might include a more egalitarian view of relationships.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Officially ignored

While reading the entry on gender equality on Wiki I was a tad annoyed to find links in it that are via definition not about gender equality (feminism maybe, but not gender equality).

Kind of annoying. Apparently it is assumed that gender equality means caring about women but forgetting men.

For instance we have the Global Gender Gap Report (didn't I blog about this before?)

The Report’s Gender Gap Index ranks economies according to their gender gaps and their scores can be interpreted as the percentage of the inequality between women and men that has been closed. Information about gender imbalances to the advantage of women is explicitly prevented from affecting the score.

Or the Gender Parity Index:

UNESCO describes attempts to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education and emphasizes the plight of girls in unequal access in third world countries. However, the GPI ignores the gender disparity that benefits first-world women in tertiary education as in Iceland, for example, where 65% of students enrolling in tertiary education are female.

And of course the Gender-related Development Index:

The UN uses a different standard for male and female life expectancy, basically assuming that it is natural that women should live about 5 years longer than men.

That is so egalitarian....anyhow linked via the last one, I came across this:

A "fair innings" between the sexes: are men being treated inequitably?

In most modern developed communities, women are known to live longer than men. A less known fact is that in many statistics reporting differences in life expectancy between socio-economic classes, on average women in the worst-off social class live as long as men in the best-off social class, if not longer. It is true that women tend to have higher morbidity, or lower health-related quality of life, especially at advanced age, but this female disadvantage does not offset the life expectancy advantage sufficiently to lead to the conclusion that men and women enjoy comparable lifetime health prospects in these communities. Although there is much public and policy discussion about the inequity of health inequalities between the social classes, there is relatively little discussion about such inequalities between the sexes. The paper first discusses the applicability of the fair innings argument to the issue of inequality in health between the sexes. It critically examines six arguments concerning why inequality in health between the sexes may or may not be an inequity. Next, special attention is given to the argument that it is wrong to judge the fairness or unfairness of health inequalities in isolation, but that this judgement should be made only after considering other inequalities relevant to overall human well-being, many of which are believed to work to the disadvantage of women. An analytical framework based on the Gender-related Development Index (a supplementary index to the Human Development Index) is taken as a starting point, to address the issue of health and overall well-being. But this is found wanting, and suggestions are made as to how its conceptual and empirical properties could be improved. Meanwhile we conclude that a prima facie case has been made that the current distribution of health in most countries does not give men a "fair innings", but the broader question about general well-being remains unresolved.

Hear, hear. And as I was not able to get the complete article as a source, there are some citations which can be taken from other articles.

The implication [...] is that men do not get a “fair innings” in a publicly financed health care system in which they subsidize women’s health care use [Tsuchiya and Williams (2004)].

The importance of men’s health is not simply a utilitarian matter of the greater good in relation to the economic health of the country. If health inequalities between social and occupational classes or ethnic groups are considered to be a major issue of equity—or intrinsic fairness—then the poorer health status of men poses a similar challenge. It is difficult to diminish the importance of men’s health on the basis of either riskier/unhealthy behaviours, or as a function of occupational roles, when such issues are seen as being important factors to be addressed when confronting other forms of health inequality.

[...]The international literature has identified that men tend to have higher mortality rates, but that women tend to have higher morbidity rates, especially at advanced age. However the reduced quantity of life on the part of men does not appear to be offset by the reduced quality of life on the part of women. Rather, the emerging international literature on quality-adjusted life expectancy and disability adjusted life expectancy in developed countries indicates a persisting inequality of poorer lifetime health outcomes among men compared to women in the same community.

A summary by the same author:

Equitable development towards the abolition of gender will most likely involve two moves. The first is the one where women move into spheres that have traditionally been regarded as male, and as a result, expose themselves to higher levels of health risks. The second is one where men move into spheres that have traditionally been regarded as female. If men are to benefit from the lower health risks traditionally enjoyed by women, they will also have to reduce their labour market activities at the same time. In this respect, a re-assessment of what constitutes “masculinity” would be good for men’s health, and, to the extent that this is in line with what women want, it will be good for women’s well-being as well, if not their health.

[...]For men, the issue is relatively straightforward: they get to engage more with their children, they get to work less, they bear less responsibility for generating cash income, and as a result they get better health. The fact that more men do not currently make choices along these lines (“because the man should put the bread on the table”) is indirect proof that the genderless society is yet to come. On the other hand, for women, the picture is more complicated: they see less of their children, they get to work harder, they bear more responsibility for financing the family, and as a result their health will be worse. So, why would women want to do it? What does “development” mean to women in this context? It is crucial to note that it has been predominantly women, not men, who have struggled for changes in the traditional gender system. Women have wanted to escape an exclusive occupancy in the domestic sphere because it is lonely, repetitive and boring, involving hard work, associated with low nor no social status, under-rewarded and un-paid, etc., whereas men have not valued the prospect of entering closer relationships with their children for the very same reasons. With more
information regarding the health consequences for men, there may be some increased interest amongst men towards gender abolition. However, unless the current conceptualisation of masculinity changes, this is unlikely to lead to a major movement, since the very essence of conventional masculinity is that “real” men should not be affected by concerns over their own health and safety. Furthermore, the public sphere of resources, independence, and politics has
traditionally been valued more highly than the domestic, private sphere of caring. The asymmetric power dimension of the gender system, which links the male with the public (and therefore to superiority) and the female with the private (and therefore to subordination), is highly
relevant in this context.

In gendered societies, women and men have been subjected to different behavioural and aspirational norms, which seem to have long term health effects. We have pointed out that equitable development towards a genderless society will probably have a negative impact on women’s ELQ relative to men’s. An interesting question is, if health and longevity are key elements of well-being, then what does it mean, when improving well-being beyond a certain
point by removing an asymmetric and inequitable social system seems to result in their reduction? It is possible that certain forms of the patriarch gender system have in effect allowed women to exploit men so that they do not have to shoulder the fair share of the health risks
associated with human/social life. The breaking up of the gender system will mean women giving up the undue advantages regarding life time health they have so far enjoyed.

[...]Insofar as the current gender system works to the advantage of female ELQ, equitable development towards abolishing this will imply women having to give up the excess health advantage, just like men having to give up their excess socio-economic advantages. Assuming full information and rational choice, if a significant proportion of women do make choices that imply reducing their own ELQ, it will mean these women do not regard mere ELQ as an absolute
good: they will be better off with less health and more choices/control. Sen (2002) argues “health is among the most important conditions of human life and a critically significant constituent of human capabilities” (p660 l). We agree, but we will also like to point out that health alone is no
good if there are no socio-economic opportunities to pursue. Health and longevity are not absolute, but is something that can be traded off with other opportunities in life.

Eye Tracking, we are a strange species.

Came up via reddit, found it kind of interesting so looked it up some more:

When shown a photo of baseball-player George Brett, womens' eyes focused on his face. By contrast, when men were shown the same photo, they focused also on his crotch. The researchers noted, "Men tend to fixate more on areas of private anatomy on animals as well, as evidenced when users were directed to browse the American Kennel Club site." - from here

However when we look at porn, there is a difference:

The finding, reported in Hormones and Behavior, confirmed the hypothesis of a previous study (Stephen Hamann and Kim Wallen, et al., 2004) that reported men and women showed different patterns of brain activity when viewing sexual stimuli. The present study examined sex differences in attention by employing eye-tracking technology that pinpoints individual attention to different elements of each picture such as the face or body parts.

"Men looked at the female face much more than women, and both looked at the genitals comparably,"

[...]"The eye-tracking data suggested what women paid most attention to was dependent upon their hormonal state. Women using hormonal contraceptives looked more at the genitals, while women who were not using hormonal contraceptives paid more attention to contextual elements of the photographs,"

Fits great in my previous post about biology and different working male and female brains:

The answer may lie within a small section of the brain called the amygdala, which is important in the processing of emotional information. In Dr. Hamann and Wallen's previous fMRI study, men showed more activation in the amygdala in response to sexual vs. neutral stimuli than did women. From the fMRI study alone, the cause of the increased activity was unclear, but Rupp and Wallen's study suggests the possibility that higher amygdala activation in men may be related to their increased attention to faces in sexual photographs.

Another study:

Men and women did not differ in their overall interest in the stimuli, indicated by equal subjective ratings and viewing times, although there were preferences for specific types of pictures. Pictures of the opposite sex receiving oral sex were rated as least sexually attractive by all participants and they looked longer at pictures showing the female actor’s body. Women rated pictures in which the female actor was looking indirectly at the camera as more attractive, while men did not discriminate by female gaze. Participants did not look as long at close-ups of genitals, and men and women on oral contraceptives rated genital images as less sexually attractive. Together, these data demonstrate sex-specific preferences for specific types of stimuli even when, across stimuli, overall interest was comparable

Pretty interesting stuff:

Generally, heterosexual men subjectively rate stimuli depicting nude males or male–male sexual behavior as less sexually arousing or attractive than stimuli including women (Costa, Braun, & Birbaumer, 2003; Schmidt, 1975; Steinman et al., 1981). In contrast, women generally rate photos of both males and females comparably attractive or arousing (Costa et al., 2003; Schmidt, 1975; Steinman et al., 1981). Genital measurement to same and opposite-sex stimuli shows the same pattern for men and women with men showing highest genital responding to their preferred sex while women show comparable genital arousal independent of the sex of the actors (Chivers, Rieger, Latty, & Bailey, 2004).

[...]Generally, eye-tracking studies find more same-sex viewing interest in women than men (Lykins et al., 2006, 2008; Rupp & Wallen, 2007a). However, despite differences in gaze patterns, there were no sex differences in subjective ratings of the stimuli (Lykins et al., 2006; Rupp & Wallen, 2007a). Because men and women did not differ in subjective ratings, but had different patterns of attention, it is possible that men and women have different cognitive processing strategies when viewing sexual stimuli, and the different strategies produce equal levels of arousal though the aspects of the images visualized were different.

[...]In addition to eye-tracking studies demonstrating sex differences in attention to visual sexual stimuli, recent neuroimaging work also suggests that men and women’s brains may respond
differently to visual sexual stimuli (reviewed in Rupp & Wallen, 2008) even in the absence of sex differences in subjective ratings (Hamann, Herman, Nolan, & Wallen, 2004). This further suggests that subjective ratings may not capture possible sex difference in initial interest in and cognitive processing of visual sexualstimuli. We do notyet know the exact relationship
between neural activation, reflecting changes in cognitive processing, and subjective and conscious evaluations of sexualstimuli.

In 2011 really?

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a gender-based discrimination law that treats men and women differently when it comes to citizenship [...] Currently, children born overseas who have one U.S.-citizen parent can obtain U.S. citizenship if the citizen parent had been physically present in the U.S. for a certain period of time before the child’s birth, according to the Supreme Court's blog.

If the citizen parent is the father, the period is five years; if it is the mother, the period is one year. - from here

Parental leave

A pretty cool site where you could create an interactive map of the world and compare, policies regarding paid leave, working hours and paid leave for fathers and mothers. The Us doesn't look that good compared to other countries (it is one of the few countries that doesn't have paid leave for mothers). For fathers, well look for yourself.

Education Fails Boys

An interesting take from NSWATM on education, which is absolutely worth a read. It presents an interesting study where children are given the task assign a statement to a male or female figure. The results:

The statements posed were about behaviour, intelligence and success in school, such as “This child is really clever”, or “This child always finishes their work”. More than 200 children of various ages were tested, and the results were:

At age 4, girls consistently pick the girl picture as being cleverer, better-performing, more focused and better behaved than boys.

The boys continue to hold no gender bias for about 2-3 years, but by around the age of 7 or 8 they start to exhibit gender bias… in favour of girls, at their own expense. Their views start to conform to that of the girls, and this continues throughout the older age groups.

The girls continue to hold the same views throughout.
I’d love to know more about what’s giving those 4-year-old girls such strong anti-male prejudices. I’d like to also draw attention to the fact that the questions didn’t just cover the children’s own views, but also asked the children what adults believed.

The conclusion:

It’s a question of the current system essentially comprising a female-dominated workplace, one which Ms Hartley’s research suggests is distinctly misandrist — particularly at the primary-school level where children are learning what school is and how they fit within it. In an employment context, we’d call that a hostile working environment.

My belief is that to improve boys education, it’s not necessary to pair each boy with a male teacher (or each girl with a female teacher). Instead, it’s necessary to change those fundamental attitudes that are telling boys, before they even reach the age of 7, that they are inferior.

Now read it is a great article.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free exercise rights end where another’s body begins

Spot on Mr Flynn:

Leave aside the question whether it should be described as mutilation; leave aside the question whether circumcision has incidental health benefits or risks. It’s a surgical procedure whose mark the recipient will carry for life, but had no meaningful chance to opt in to or out of. In other words, infant circumcision is something a secular society would never allow if it weren’t associated with religious traditions.

[...]Banning circumcision raises church-state issues, to be sure, as it forces society into the declaring certain sacred practices illegal. To me, however, aggrieved believers’ free-exercise rights end where another person’s health of bodily integrity begins.

Fathers and mothers....some demographics

Not sure why, but this comes up in discussions every once in a while:

Percent distribution of women 40-44 years of age in 2002 by number of children ever born: No children: 15.0%

Percent distribution of men 40-44 years of age in 2002 by number of children ever fathered: No children: 22.4% -from CDC

From a slightly different source (which is also the CDC):

At every educational level, higher percentages of women than men have had a child and the gender difference is more pronounced for those with less than a high school diploma (73 percent of men,  versus 91 percent of women).

Biology, men and women....a summary (shamelessly stolen)

I came across this from an egalitarian (?) blog:

If the scientific evidence comes in that proves systematic, cross-cultural differences between men and women-- not "95% overlapping bell curves," but "the vast majority of men are more X than the vast majority of women"-- then that would destroy my feminism. If the 95% overlapping bell curves apply not to a few traits but to every trait from the Big Five to cooking ability, then that would also destroy my feminism.

Because that means that the social pressure is not the result of arbitrary stereotypes and fear of the different: it's an attempt to mold people so they will actually be similar to most people of their gender, which would aid their social and romantic life. Because that means the lack of stay-at-home dads and female CEOs is not the result of sexism, but of nature.

And wondered, is there evidence? Well, let us see:

Time to steal from a recent Pelle Billing post (hehe):

It appears that while men and women have the same average IQ, the level of cognitive function is achieved in very different ways. Not only do women and men employ different brain regions, there is also a vast difference in the emphasis on gray and white matter.

[...]Functional brain imaging studies have reported a number of sex differences (Cahill et al., 2001; Gur et al., 2000; Haier and Benbow, 1995; Mansour et al., 1996; Neubauer et al., 2002; Shaywitz et al., 1995, 2001), but task-specific demands on cognitive resources with functional studies must always be considered as the task itself could affect interpretation of functional imaging results. Structural imaging correlated with off-line analyses of various cognitive performance measures and traits, on the other hand, can identify those differences in neuroanatomy which may underlie the cognitive measure of interest, irrespective of any task design constraints.

[...]With respect to voxel types, men had roughly 6.5 times the number of GM [gray matter] voxels identified as related to intellectual functioning as did women, and women had roughly nine times more WM [white matter] voxels than did men.

[...]The current results contribute to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that, although the sexes do not differ in general intellectual ability, the neural substrates of general intelligence are different. Whether similar neuroanatomical differences are associated with specific mental abilities (assessed for example by WAIS subtests) remains to be determined; our VIQ and PIQ findings need replication with larger samples.

There seem to be fundamental differences when it comes to brains. What else do we got? As Pelle has written a lot about biology I am going to borrow some more from this blog (seriously follow him, this is an excellent blog):

We have knowledge about girls and women who were exposed to abnormally high testosterone levels in utero (for various biological reasons, one of them being the medical condition CAH). These girls, who have been affected by testosterone as their fetal brains were developing, are more likely to be interested in a style of playing that is generally considered “boyish”.

Furthermore, from age 11 these girls are more likely to be interested in having a career (Dittman et al, 1990a) and less likely to want to have children or be a stay-at-home mom than other girls their age. This is something that happens even though the girl is raised as a girl, and expected to behave like a girl. As grown women, they are more likely to have a high status career (Purigoy and Koopmans, 1979; W Gallagher, 1998; Bancroft et al, 1983)

About brains and tweens:

a new functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of children offers at least one explanation for some common tween social behaviors: girls are hardwired to care about one-on-one relationships with their BFFs (best friends forever), while the brains of boys are more attuned to group dynamics and competition with other boys.

[...]The results suggest that as girls progress from early puberty to late adolescence, certain regions of their brains become more active when they face a potential social interaction. Specifically, when an older girl anticipates meeting someone new — someone she believes will be interested in her — her nucleus accumbens (which is associated with reward and motivation), hypothalamus (associated with hormone secretion), hippocampus (associated with social learning) and insula (associated with subjective feelings) all become more active. By contrast, boys in the same situation show no such increase in activity in these areas. In fact, the activity in their insula actually declines.

[...]Perhaps it’s evidence that evolution has programmed boys to compete within large groups, so they can learn to eliminate rivals for women — and that girls have been programmed to judge, one-on-one, who would be the most protective father for offspring.

We continue with Testosterone:

Prior research has shown that testosterone enhances competitiveness and dominance, reduces fear, and is associated with risky behaviors like gambling and alcohol use. However, until now, the impact of testosterone on gender differences in financial risk-taking has not been explored.

The researchers, using an economic-based measure of risk aversion, found that higher levels of testosterone were associated with a greater appetite for risk in women, but not among men. However, in men and women with similar levels of testosterone, the gender difference in risk aversion disappeared. Additionally, the researchers reported that the link between risk aversion and testosterone predicted career choices after graduation: individuals who were high in testosterone and low in risk aversion chose riskier careers in finance.

Cross cultural personality traits:

Previous research suggested that sex differences in personality traits are larger in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities equal with those of men. In this article, the authors report cross-cultural findings in which this unintuitive result was replicated across samples from 55 nations (N = 17,637). On responses to the Big Five Inventory, women reported higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness than did men across most nations. These findings converge with previous studies in which different Big Five measures and more limited samples of nations were used. Overall, higher levels of human development--including long and healthy life, equal access to knowledge and education, and economic wealth--were the main nation-level predictors of larger sex differences in personality. Changes in men's personality traits appeared to be the primary cause of sex difference variation across cultures. It is proposed that heightened levels of sexual dimorphism result from personality traits of men and women being less constrained and more able to naturally diverge in developed nations. In less fortunate social and economic conditions, innate personality differences between men and women may be attenuated.

In many studies, including several meta-analytic investigations, it has been found that men tend to be more assertive and risk taking than women, whereas women are generally higher than men in anxiety and tender-mindedness (Brody & Hall, 2000; Byrnes, Miller, & Schafer, 1999; Feingold, 1994; Kring & Gordon, 1998; Lynn & Martin, 1997; Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). These sex differences in personality traits can be detected in early childhood (Else-Quest, Hyde, Goldsmith, & Van Hulle, 2006; Wilgenbusch & Merrell, 1999) and remain fairly constant across adulthood (Feingold, 1994; McCrae & Costa, 1984). The effects of these sex differences lead to predictable differences in men’s and women’s leisure behaviors, occupational preferences, and health-related outcomes (Browne, 1998; Collaer & Hines, 1995; Lippa, 2005).

Observed sex differences in personality traits such as assertiveness and anxiety also appear to be culturally pervasive (Costa, Terracciano, & McCrae, 2001; Lynn & Martin, 1997). Feingold (1994) found that women in Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Poland, and Russia tended to score higher than men on scales related to the personality traits of neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Men, in contrast, scored higher in the extraversion related trait of assertiveness across cultures. In a much larger study, self-report responses to the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) across 36 cultures revealed that women in most countries are higher in several traits related to neuroticism, agreeableness, warmth, and openness to feelings, whereas men score higher on scales measuring assertiveness and openness to ideas (Costa et al., 2001; McCrae, 2002).

[...]Sex differences in most personality traits, however, are not uniform in magnitude across all samples. At times, sex differences can be much larger in some cultures than in others (Fischer & Manstead, 2000; Guimond et al., 2007; Schwartz & Rubel, 2005). One unexpected finding has been that sex differences in personality traits are often larger in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities equal with men (Costa et al., 2001; McCrae, 2002). Both in self-report and in other-report data, Asian and African cultures generally show the smallest sex differences, whereas European and American cultures—in which living standard and gender equity indexes are generally higher—show the largest differences (McCrae et al., 2005). With improved national wealth and equality of the sexes, it seems differences between men and women in personality traits do not diminish. On the contrary, the differences become conspicuously larger.

This study provides strong support for the claim that with greater human development and with greater opportunities for gender equality, the personalities of men and women do not become more similar (see also Costa et al., 2001; McCrae, 2002; McCrae et al., 2005). To the contrary, in more prosperous and egalitarian societies the personality profiles of men and women become decidedly less similar. Moreover, these changes appear to result from men’s cross-cultural personality variation. In more traditional and less developed cultures a man is, indeed, more like a woman, at least in terms of self-reported personality traits.

Infant behavior:

Sexual dimorphism in sociability has been documented in humans. The present study
aimed to ascertain whether the sexual dimorphism is a result of biological or sociocultural differences between the two sexes. 102 human neonates, who by definition have
not yet been influenced by social and cultural factors, were tested to see if there was a
difference in looking time at a face (social object) and a mobile (physical-mechanical
object). Results showed that the male infants showed a stronger interest in the physicalmechanical mobile whilst the female infants showed a stronger interest in the face. The
results of this research clearly demonstrate that sex differences are in part biological in

[...]Sexual dimorphism in sociability has been documented in humans. The present study
aimed to ascertain whether the sexual dimorphism is a result of biological or sociocultural differences between the two sexes. 102 human neonates, who by definition have
not yet been influenced by social and cultural factors, were tested to see if there was a
difference in looking time at a face (social object) and a mobile (physical-mechanical
object). Results showed that the male infants showed a stronger interest in the physicalmechanical mobile whilst the female infants showed a stronger interest in the face. The
results of this research clearly demonstrate that sex differences are in part biological in

[...]In summary, we have demonstrated that at 1 day old, human neonates demonstrate sexual
dimorphism in both social and mechanical perception. Male infants show a stronger
interest in mechanical objects, whilst female infants show a stronger interest in the face.
The male preference cannot have simply been for a moving stimulus, and both stimuli
moved. Rather, their natural motion differed, the face with biological motion, the mobile
with physico-mechanical motion. Naturally, these results apply to males and females
averaged over a group, and not to all individuals. At such an age, these sex differences
cannot readily be attributed to postnatal experience, and are instead consistent with a
biological cause, most likely neurogenetic and/or neuroendocrine in nature.

More on infants:

Twelve-month-old infants (n=60) were presented with a video of cars moving, or a face moving, in a looking preference experimental design. This tested the prediction from our earlier work that attention in males is drawn more to mechanical motion, whilst attention in females is drawn more to biological motion. Results supported this prediction. These findings are discussed in relation to social and biological determinism.

Different toy preferences in infants which even monkeys share:

There could be a biological reason why boys love to play with toy trucks and girls prefer their dolls, British researchers say.

Dr. Brenda Todd and her student Sara Amalie O'Toole Thommessen from City University London studied 90 infants between the ages of nine months to 36 months and concluded children choose to play with gender-specific toys from the moment they can first crawl.

This study is the first to find such consistent and stable differences in toy choices between genders in children younger than 18 months.

[...]Evidence indicating that sex-linked toy preferences exist in two nonhuman primate species support the hypothesis that developmental sex differences such as those observed in children's object preferences are shaped in part by inborn factors. If so, then preferences for sex-linked toys may emerge in children before any self-awareness of gender identity and gender-congruent behavior. In order to test this hypothesis, interest in a doll and a toy truck was measured in 30 infants ranging in age from 3 to 8 months using eye-tracking technology that provides precise indicators of visual attention. Consistent with primary hypothesis, sex differences in visual interest in sex-linked toys were found, such that girls showed a visual preference (d > 1.0) for the doll over the toy truck and boys compared to girls showed a greater number of visual fixations on the truck (d = .78). Our findings suggest that the conceptual categories of "masculine" and "feminine" toys are preceded by sex differences in the preferences for perceptual features associated with such objects. The existence of these innate preferences for object features coupled with well-documented social influences may explain why toy preferences are one of the earliest known manifestations of sex-linked social behavior.

The way that transgendered persons report feeling after hormone therapy to cite from Wiki:

female to male:
Most trans men report an increase of energy and an increased sex drive. Many also report feeling more confident.

male to female:
decreased libido

As an example from an interview with Chaz Bono:

There is something in testosterone that makes talking and gossiping really grating. I’ve stopped talking as much. I’ve noticed that Jen can talk endlessly.” He shrugged. “I just kind of zone out.”

“You just don’t care!”

“I just don’t care!” He laughed. “I’ve learned that the differences between men and women are so biological. I think if people realized that, it would be easier. I would be a great relationship counselor. I know the difference that hormones really make.”

Sex, for him, is completely different now. “I am completely monogamous,” he said, “but I need release much more often than Jen does.”

I would say this is all I got. Now I am not saying we should enforce gender roles. Quite the contrary, everyone is different and we should make sure that everyone can freely decide how to live his/her life. It just means we might end up with more stay-at-home-mums and more male ceos by design. Oh and that the above mentioned feminism is no more...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Don't bother to call daddy...

Via F&F:

I’ve written before about the Urban Institute study that shows that, when they’re thinking of taking a child from its mother, or have done so, child welfare agencies routinely ignore the father as a possible placement. Instead they go straight to foster care to meet the child’s needs. The Urban Institute found that, even though they know the identity of the father in over 85% of cases, he’s contacted in fewer than half.

Read it is worth it.

Same Sex Marriage in the Usa

Coming to NY July 24th.

There is also, to cite from wiki:

The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. Such licenses are granted by five states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, plus Washington, D.C. and the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon. [...] States that recognize same-sex marriage but do not grant same-sex marriage licenses include Rhode Island and Maryland.

Hopefully, there is more to come...

New campaign will use "manspeak" to help men deal with suicidal thoughts

Nice that a group is going to give some focus on male suicide victims. Some stats from the article:

Working-age men, 21-65, die by suicide at twice the baseline rate of other Americans, according to studies.

[...]more than 90 percent of people who complete suicide had a mental disorder, such as depression, substance abuse or both, at the time of death, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

In Colorado, men ages 25 to 54 account for the greatest number of suicide deaths each year. The state ranked sixth in the U.S. in suicide rate in 2007, the last year for which statistics are available.

[...]The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the second-leading cause of death in men 25-34 years old.

Almost 75 percent of suicides are completed by white males, who are almost twice as likely to take their own lives as black males, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

A five-year study of death rates released by the CDC in 2008 found the greatest increase in suicide rate was among 45- to 54-year-olds. Their rate increased 20 percent from 1999 to 2004.

Yet, Spencer-Thomas said, most suicide-prevention dollars are going to prevent youth suicide. She wouldn't divert those critical resources, she said. She simply aims to increase resources for working-age men.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

'Dear Woman': Will Ferrell Spoofs The Manifesto For Conscious Men

Something funny for once. Includes some critic about negative view on male sexuality. A little transcript by me:

I apologize that my masturbation fantasies are not entirely respectful to your feminine being. Sometimes when caught up in the throes of self-pleasure I let my imagination drift at thoughts of your nude body. I apologize for the pain that my fantasies must have cost you.


States Drop Circumcision Funds From Medicaid - The latest, Colorado, will save $186,500 a year

Who would have thought, sounds like the end to circumcision in the Us is near:

A nationwide debate about circumcisions for newborn boys, combined with cash-strapped public health budgets, has Colorado taking sides with 17 other states that no longer fund Medicaid coverage of the once widely accepted procedure. For years, Colorado lawmakers considered doing away with funding for circumcisions under Medicaid—a move that would save the state $186,500 a year. Now facing a budget shortfall estimated to be $1 billion at the beginning of this year, lawmakers finally approved the change, which takes effect July 1. [...] The matter of circumcisions has gotten contentious in California, where San Francisco will be the first city to hold a public vote in November on whether to ban the practice.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The MRM is frighteningly effective and does nothing at the same time.

Feminists, make up your mind, we can't be both:

movements are supposed to move. Hey, wait a second, let me yell again. MOVEMENTS ARE SUPPOSED TO MOVE. I look around the men’s rights movement and you know what I see? Some two-person protests where someone pretends to be Batman, some petitions that can’t gather a thousand signatures, a few activist groups with almost no political power, some pick-up artists, some socially awkward people not dating anyone anymore and a whole lot of bitching in comments sections.
- from here

"Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective They’re changing custody rights and domestic violence laws.
- from here and a similar article here (an answer to that article can be found here)

So it might be time to list some accomplishments:

We start with F&F and NCFM. Mediaradar also has some campaigns running. This victory by them about gender neutral language in VAWA might be interesting. Or the success in making DV service more including for male victims, see here and here. SAVE has something to offer as well.

Also there is the new academic discipline of male studies forming

Not to forget about International Men's Day.

I kept that list Us-centric and will add more when I find more. 20.10.11: NCFM at San Diego “Hope in the Park” Domestic Violence Prevention Month Event

The MRM and Gay rights...

While I wouldn't say the MRM is inclusive (in a way feminism is now) we are getting there (at least I hope so):

It's true that marriage has always been between a man and a woman (or a man and several women). But in the past, it served to enhance human procreation by giving men a greater reason to invest resources in offspring they could be reasonably certain were theirs. That was at a time when expanding the number of human beings in the world was perceived as important by human beings. Now the opposite is true. There are far too many of us for the resources of the planet. Contraception is more important than procreation.

That doesn't mean that marriage isn't important, though. It is vitally important to the children that we choose to have. But I completely fail to understand how granting the right to marry to homosexual men and lesbian women threatens the rights or abilities of the rest of us to marry, and have and raise children. On the contrary, I view changing laws to permit gay and lesbian marriage as an expression of how much we value the institution. We think it's such a good idea that we don't want to prevent anyone from doing it.

And, contrary to what the article cited implies, lesbians and gay men adopt and raise children. I know several of each who've adopted and, although the synergy of male-female parenting styles is largely lost in those couples, are they really worse for children than raising them in foster care or orphanages? That's not a tough one to answer.

[...]It may be that the majority of Americans aren't yet ready to say "I do" to the concept of same-sex marriage. But I suspect that time will come and when it does, I think we'll be better off because of it.
-from Glenn's blog

Child custody disputes involving homosexual couples are becoming increasingly common and are often contentiously litigated. Unlike many groups focusing on LGBT issues, we do not see these disputes as centering on primarily gay/lesbian rights. Instead, we see them as family court issues comparable to those involving disputes between married heterosexual couples where the man is infertile and children are conceived through the recruitment of a sperm donor. Such children are considered the children of the marriage, and are raised by both the mother and father.

When a couple divorces, one parent should not be able to decide that, because he or she is the only biological parent, he or she can drive the ex out of their child’s life. Both parents agreed to have a child together, and they both have a parent-child relationship with their child. The child’s right to a relationship with both parents must be protected.

While F & F does not take any official position on gay marriage or gay rights issues, we do defend the rights of all parents–male or female, biological or adoptive, gay or straight.

Jenkins has for many years been represented in court and in the media by the Boston-based advocacy group Gay & Lesbian Advocate Defenders. GLAD has been very effective, repeatedly winning in court, but the court’s orders have not been effectively enforced. F & F spoke with a GLAD representative today, commended the organization for its good work, and offered our support.
-from Fathers and Families (Father's rights organisation)

[I]f you were born with a penis, you're welcome here
If you're a M>F transvestite or transsexual, you're welcome here
If you'e a F>M transvestite or transsexual, you're welcome here
Gay, straight, or gender-queer, you're welcome here.
If you're a cis-man or cis-woman, you're welcome here.

[...]We're about politics, less so about identity.
-from r/Mensrights (perhaps the largest MR group there is)

NOW wants to imprison more poor fathers...

Sensationalist headline....I know, but hear me out. Some quotes about "deadbeat" dads via Glenn's blog:
More than 90 percent of fathers with joint custody paid the support due, according to a Census Bureau report (Series P-23, No. 173). So deadbeats are in the minority. Also, most so-called deadbeat dads actually are dead broke. Two-thirds of men who fail to make child-support payments earn poverty-level wages, according to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. Most of the others are unemployed...
The largest federally funded study of child-support payments was led by Arizona State University researcher Sanford Braver over an eight-year period. Mr. Braver found that fathers with joint custody pay 90.2 percent of all child support ordered. Fathers with visitation rights pay 79.1 percent of all child support ordered. However, fathers with no access or visitation rights to their children pay just 44.5 percent of the court-ordered child support. Much of Mr. Braver's data was backed up in the Census Bureau report (Series P-23, No. 173).
Another study, "Visitational Interference: A National Study" by J. Annette Vanini and Edward Nichols, found that 77 percent of noncustodial fathers are not able to spend time with their children, as ordered by the court, as a result of "visitation interference" perpetuated by the custodial parent. This would mean that noncompliance with court-ordered visitation is three times the problem of noncompliance with court-ordered child support. In short, lousy moms outnumber deadbeat dads 3-1. - from here
This 2004 study by the Office of Child Support Enforcement shows that, according to their figures, 63% of all people who are behind on their child support report earning less than $10,000 per year. That accounts for 70% of all the child support owed in this country. The same figures show that 34% of child support obligors report earning no money at all during the year.
84% of non-custodial parents are fathers
Sanford Braver found that, when obligors who had lost their job were removed from the database, between 80% and 100% of child support was paid in full and on time. - from here
By federal law, child support orders cannot be retroactively modified, no matter how mistaken, misguided or ridiculous. Even men who fell behind on their child support because they had heart attacks, broken legs or cancer cannot have their arrearages eliminated. And much of the arrearages owed by Abbott’s “Top 10” accrued before 2002, when Texas charged obligors 12% interest, one of the highest interest rates in the country.
Also, under Texas law, an obligor who owes only three months of past-due child support can have his driver’s license or other professional licenses suspended, interfering with his ability make a living.
Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data shows that two-thirds of those behind on child support nationwide earned poverty-level wages; less than four percent of the national child support debt is owed by those earning $40,000 or more a year. - from here

A 2007 study by the Urban Institute showed that eighteen states routinely charge interest and those states have seen their arrears increase from $5.4 billion to $58.7 billion over a 10-year period. States that did not charge interest over that same period only saw arrears grow from $2.8 billion to $19.5 billion during the same time period. - from here

a few weeks ago, the State of New Jersey conducted a statewide sweep of those behind on their child support payments. Hundreds of people were picked up and given a choice - pay up or go to jail. Most of us would pay if we could, but what New Jersey actually collected in that sweep was six cents on the dollar. In one county, it was two cents. Stated another way, when faced with paying what they owed or going to jail, six parents in 100 paid. - from here

every dollar of child support collected by the state is matched by $0.66 from the federal government. - from here

even the Office of Child Support Enforcement admits that family court judges routinely order support levels that the non-custodial parent can't pay.

we care so much about the wellbeing of children that we take their fathers from them and put them in prison. That's sensible only if you believe that fathers have nothing to offer children except money. And that, come to think of it, is a pretty fair description of public policy with regard to fathers and children.

The sensible approach to all of this is equally shared parenting in which parents have equal time with children and share the expenses of childcare equally. But until we get there, family courts must (a) start establishing support orders that parents can actually pay, (b) start enforcing visitation orders (that's the main cause of refusal to pay), and (c) establish summary procedures for child support modification that reflect changed circumstances.

Oh, and (d) only send people to prison who can pay but don't. - from here

According to a September 2006 issue of “Children’s Voice” magazine, while the government spends some $4 billion on child support enforcement, it spends only $10 million on visitation enforcement. In essence, we spend 400 times more on child support enforcement than we do visitation enforcement. - from here

According to an Urban Institute study, less than one in 20 non-custodial parents who suffer substantial income drops are able to get courts to reduce their child support payments.

According to a California Judicial Council report, 80% of California child support debtors earn poverty level wages, and over a quarter of the arrears total is interest. - from here

In reality, much if not most child support enforcement funds are frittered away in misguided attempts to collect artificially inflated paper arrearages from low-income men who couldn’t possibly pay them. Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data shows that two-thirds of those behind on child support nationwide earned less than $10,000 in the previous year; less than four percent of the overall national child support debt is owed by those earning $40,000 or more a year. According to the largest federally-funded study of divorced dads ever conducted, unemployment, not willful neglect, is the largest cause of failure to pay child support.

For example, a recent Urban Institute study found that only 25% of California's $14.4 billion child support arrearage will be collected over the next decade because the support amounts demanded of noncustodial parents are not realistic. The average arrears owed per debtor is $3,000 higher than the median annual earnings of employed child support debtors. Those in the poorest category have a child support debt amounting to their full net income for seven and a half years. - from here
Even though I repeated myself I want you to keep that all in your mind. Most fathers pay child support. If they are not able to pay this is most likely due to unemployment. If they are unemployed they face the problem that the child support payment rates don't get reduced, even more so, the state ads another 66 cent for every dollar not payed and puts the fathers in prison if they can not pay. Most of those earn poverty level wages, or are unemployed and can surely not pay while they are in prison, so there is even more to pay. Not even thinking about the felony or possible revoked drivers licences which makes it even harder to pay at all. This of course doesn't help children.

Now we come to NOW, more specifically the Rhodes Island chapter:

RI NOW Supports
Promoting Economic Justice
Would decrease the amount of child support arrearage constituting a felony from $10,000 to $5,000
Would decrease the amount of child support arrearage constituting a felony from $10,000 to $5,000

And there is nothing more to say...

Women's role in enforcing "patriarchial" norms...

Two recent studies, one found via Arne Hoffmann's blog:

Happy smiling men are consistently rated least attractive by women when compared to proud or brooding men, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

[...] Men who thought they might attract a mate with a happy friendly picture might want to consider updating their online profiles.

[...] Tracy and her research partner graduate student Alec Beall had 1,000 adults rate the attractiveness of people in photographs displaying either pride, happiness, shame or a neutral expression.

In men, happiness was consistently rated as the least attractive expression. Shame and pride were the most sexually attractive to women. In women, happiness is the most attractive expression to men.
from here

And another one via ForbesWomen and YourTango (not sure how serious one could take that source):

Seventy-five percent of women wouldn't hitch themselves to someone who was unemployed, and 65% wouldn't tie the knot if they were jobless


"It is ironic that women place more weight on love than money, yet won't marry if they or their potential suitor is unemployed," said Meghan Casserly, Reporter, ForbesWoman. "A job can make or break the longevity of a relationship and the results of the survey demonstrate just what an important role careers play in romance."


32 percent of women in a relationship make more money than their partner. 50 percent of women would marry someone who earned significantly less than them, while 41 percent wouldn't marry someone who earned significantly less than them.

55 percent would give up their career to take care of kids if their partner asked them to do so; only 28 percent would ask the same of their partner.

77 percent of women believe women can simultaneously have a fulfilling relationship and family life, as well as a successful career.

Would you vote for a female / gay president?

As a reminder, as gay men are men and as Men's rights of course applies to them as well I will feature posts about gay rights on this blog as well (to be honest I am not sure why I didn't in the past). So from a recent Gallup poll, only 6% would vote against a women candidate and a minority of 32% would vote against a gay candidate.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Social Media Pregnancies – Where to Draw the Line?

A recent headline on feministing and something that, as a father, make me shake my head in disbelief. I cite:

The news article’s focus is mainly how more women feel comfortable documenting their pregnancies through social media as a way to share with extended family and friends and swap advice with other moms and moms-to-be. According to a 2010 study by software maker AVG, more than 30 percent of American mothers have posted their sonograms online.


A trained medical professional in a position of authority and power views the pregnant woman through ultrasound technology, interprets the ultrasound image and confers meaning on it regarding the fetus’ size, health and sex. The couple then shares the image with family and friends in a social ritual that allows them to reinforce the fetus’ individuality and personhood. The woman simply becomes a vessel for carrying and delivering a healthy fetus to term.

Thankfully there was some common sense in the comments:

Abortion on demand is, in my opinion, a right that all women should have the abililty to exercise should they, themselves, not anyone else, deem it the appropriate solution for their life, body, mind, etc.

However, trying to devalue the unborn child is not going to make a pro-choice argument more worthy or more valid. Trying to prove that a woman is somehow dehumanized through pregnancy is just as weak.

For a pregnant woman to assign her unborn child a “personhood” is totally normal. If the reinforcing of the notion that an unborn child has the potential to become a person (or already is) is so offensive to the pro-choice rally that one must seek to eradicate the “ritual” then it is my opinion that this author’s personal rationalization for the legalization and accessibility to abortion on demand is weak and delusional.

I found this article to be much like the elite feminism I see in the academy, devoid of reality.

Danish Study on Circumcision

Found via I cite:
Male circumcision and sexual function in men and women: a survey-based, cross-sectional study in Denmark.

Frisch M, Lindholm M, Grønbæk M.

Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark and National Institute of Public Health, DK-1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark.

One-third of the world's men are circumcised, but little is known about possible sexual consequences of male circumcision. In Denmark (∼5% circumcised), we examined associations of male circumcision with a range of sexual measures in both sexes.

Participants in a national health survey (n = 5552) provided information about their own (men) or their spouse's (women) circumcision status and details about their sex lives. Logistic regression-derived odds ratios (ORs) measured associations of circumcision status with sexual experiences and current difficulties with sexual desire, sexual needs fulfilment and sexual functioning.

Age at first intercourse, perceived importance of a good sex life and current sexual activity differed little between circumcised and uncircumcised men or between women with circumcised and uncircumcised spouses. However, circumcised men reported more partners and were more likely to report frequent orgasm difficulties after adjustment for potential confounding factors [11 vs 4%, OR(adj) = 3.26; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.42-7.47], and women with circumcised spouses more often reported incomplete sexual needs fulfilment (38 vs 28%, OR(adj) = 2.09; 95% CI 1.05-4.16) and frequent sexual function difficulties overall (31 vs 22%, OR(adj) = 3.26; 95% CI 1.15-9.27), notably orgasm difficulties (19 vs 14%, OR(adj) = 2.66; 95% CI 1.07-6.66) and dyspareunia (12 vs 3%, OR(adj) = 8.45; 95% CI 3.01-23.74). Findings were stable in several robustness analyses, including one restricted to non-Jews and non-Moslems.

Circumcision was associated with frequent orgasm difficulties in Danish men and with a range of frequent sexual difficulties in women, notably orgasm difficulties, dyspareunia and a sense of incomplete sexual needs fulfilment. Thorough examination of these matters in areas where male circumcision is more common is warranted.

And there is nothing more to say, besides, stop that shit!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just for the lulz...another feminist quote

I think we’ve gotten far enough. We’re not that oppressed.

Feminist author Molly Jong-Fast in an interview on Feministing

We raise boys to believe that their bodies are dirty and gross.

While I don't often agree with Hugo Schwyzer, he has a point here:
So many straight men have no experience of being wanted. So many straight men have no experience of sensing a gaze of outright longing. Even many men who are wise in the world and in relationships, who know that their wives or girlfriends love them, do not know what it is to be admired for their bodies and their looks. They may know what it is to be relied upon, they may know what it is to bring another to ecstasy with their touch, but they don’t know what it is to be found not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but worthy of longing.


We raise boys to believe that their bodies are dirty and gross. The female nude is beautiful, we’re told by our culture, while the male nude is awkward. The penis is an object of fear and derision, disgust and ridicule. And while porn in its ubiquity teaches women that men are aroused by close-ups of female genitalia, men grow up with a sense that their penises are valued only for what they can do (stay hard and get the “job done”) and not for how sexy they look.

NOW on retirement age

Found via Reddit:
Conservative members of Congress are pressing for increasing the retirement age on the grounds that life expectancy overall has increased. But according to the Congressional Budget Office (2008), life expectancy for women has stagnated, and life expectancy for low-income women has decreased. It is higher-income earning males who have seen their life expectancy extended. Maybe they can work longer, but the rest of us can't.
NOW isn't exactly known as fighting for equality or as a Redditor put it:
So NOW is saying high income males should work longer, because their life expectancy isincreasing, even though even high income males still live 5 years less than high income females. This is a bit of dishonesty achieved by substituting a rate of change for the actual value. 
And there is nothing more to add.

Deadbeat dads...

I am a tad surprised that I didn't cite that article before:
In the past decade, child-support collections from the estimated 11 million fathers who do not live with their children have nearly doubled, to more than $18 billion a year. Most of that money comes from fathers who have stable jobs and can afford to pay.

Where the money does not come from is the 2.5 million poor noncustodial fathers in the United States. According to a study by the Urban Institute, nearly 30 percent of these men are in prison. Among the remainder, nearly half are unemployed. Those who do have jobs earn an average of $5,600 a year, well below the poverty line.


Poor fathers are often asked to pay significantly more, as a percentage of their income, than middle- class fathers, according to the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, a social policy research group that studied 5,500 low-income fathers in seven cities in the 1990's. Nearly two-thirds of the poor fathers tracked by the study had child support orders that demanded more than half of their income.
I always wondered how many dads exactly have been put behind bars for not being able to pay. The Zetamale linked us to an article that gave us a number (for South Carolina at least):
South Carolina is one of those states that does not provide a lawyer for indigent parents facing prison for nonpayment, [...] in South Carolina, 13 percent of the county jail population consists of nonpaying parents held in civil contempt, and 98 percent of them did not have lawyers.
And justice for all, well at least for those that can afford having a lawyer...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Something more about circumcision

Found via Reddit, a nice summary:
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that “Routine circumcision is not necessary”. Whether done by a physician in the hospital, or a mohel in a ritual brit milah, the procedure has significant complication rates of infection, hemorrhage and even death. Mortality may actually be higher than thought since some of these deaths have not been attributed to circumcision, but listed only under their secondary causes, such as hemorrhage or infection. I’ve learned of the very important role the foreskin has in the protection of the head of the penis in the infant, and in sexual functioning in adulthood. It has also been shown that the newborn feels pain even more acutely than adults do, and that many of the infants who stop crying during circumcision are actually in a state of traumatic shock. To my amazement I learned that the USA is now the only country in the world routinely circumcising babies for non-religious reasons.
Via the comments a link about complications and via some googling a study about circumcision related deaths:

In summary: through a thorough review of the literature and the application of common-sense calculations, this study has arrived at a reasoned estimate of circumcision-related neonatal deaths in the United States: approximately 117 per year.


Physicians are less likely to circumcise their sons than the general populace (Topp, 1978), suggesting that they know it is an unnecessary surgery, but don't relay this valuable information to parents. Many physicians say that they prefer not to perform circumcisions, but do them anyway, rationalizing that the boy will be in better hands with them than with a physician they might refer the parents to. This may seem a noble position at first, but there can be no pretending to be a conscientious objector to circumcision while simultaneously performing one.

Circumcision is a $2 billion healthcare market, which includes costs for the procedure itself, dealing with complications, and payment for repairs (Fauntleroy, 2001). A study of Medicaid records found that a greater number of circumcisions are performed in states where Medicaid pays more for the procedure (Craig & Bollinger, 2006). A busy delivery-room obstetrician will do as many as five circumcisions a week. Physician reimbursement is at about $167 each6 (Van Howe, 2004), which means that they can potentially make an extra $3 ,340 per month, or $40 ,080 per year. That is more than an entire year's income for 45% of Americans (US Census Bureau, 2005). One physician brazenly admitted, "I love doing circumcisions- they make my Mercedes payments!"7


Risk assessment for an unnecessary surgery must be held to a higher standard than that for a life-saving surgery. We accept that a heart transplant carries with it a substantial risk of death, but without it there is a certainty of death. On the other hand, the risk from circumcision, which has no therapeutic value, needs to be zero for the infant's sake, all the more so because he is never consulted about whether he wishes to take his chances.

We hear very little in the media about circumcision-related deaths compared with other causes. For instance, compare the 1 17 annual deaths from circumcision with those from other causes for male infants: suffocation (44), mother's use of addictive drugs (27), HTV/ATDS (19), homicide (17), automobile accidents (8), drowning (2), and falls (1) (CDC, 2004). Sudden infant-death syndrome (SIDS) killed 1 ,216 boys under the age of one year in 2004; of those, 115 were under the age of 1 month (CDC), which is the same risk as from circumcision. Approximately 36 teen-aged boys are killed in schoolyard shootings each year (Donohue, Schiraldi, & Ziedenberg, 1998). But there is more publicity for the SIDS deaths and shootings than for the circumcision-related deaths.


If a similar number of children were dying from another optional body modification-say, tattooing or piercing- would the public be outraged at the people and institutions benefiting financially? If not, is it then due to gender bias? Imagine the uproar if a hundred girls were dying from female circumcision each year. Why are so many adults silent about this atrocity? Adults would be furious and highly vocal, to say the least, if someone were to forcibly cut their genitals.


It is reasonable to conclude that about 117 circumcision-related deaths occur each year in the United States- approximately 1 out of every 77 male neonatal deaths- and that thousands of boys have died since this practice was first medicalized 160 years ago. These boys died because physicians have been either complicit or duplicitous, and because parents ignorantly said "Yes," or lacked the courage to say "No." Every one of these boys would have had a chance at life had he not been circumcised. Circumcision can no longer be called either a beneficial surgery or a beneficent rite of passage, but by its true designation: an unrecognized sacrifice of innocents.

And another one:
Today the main argument against the foreskin is its supposed correlation to sexually transmitted disease, especially AIDS. And especially AIDS in Africa.

With American funding, thousands of adult African males have recently undergone circumcision to study their subsequent HIV infection rates compared with those of uncircumcised counterparts. HIV infection rates among uncircumcised control groups (often before studies had run their course) led researchers to conclude that the foreskin significantly contributes to seroconversion.

There is ample cause to question this conclusion.

First, a hard reckoning: Several African countries with some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world (Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast, Gabon) already circumcise at rates exceeding that of the United States.

Moreover, efforts to export American genital norms expose a glaring hypocrisy: The United States has both the highest HIV infection rate and the highest circumcision rate of any industrialized nation. By comparison, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands could take a more plausible "intactivist" stance. Their predominantly uncircumcised men have some of the world's lowest HIV infection rates.

Many developing countries, such as India, Thailand and Brazil, have successfully combated AIDS not through circumcision but through aggressive health- and condom-education programs. While hardly rid of HIV, these nations have dodged the devastating mortality rates of, say, Uganda or Botswana.


Ironically, all arguments for prophylactic circumcision as a successful harm-reduction strategy may be built on a fundamental diagnostic flaw. Existing scientific data demonstrate that adult circumcision typically causes a marked overall decrease in sexual pleasure and erectile function. Statistics citing circumcision's efficacy against HIV may not reflect the foreskin's contribution to infection so much as demonstrate its contribution to sexual performance—and the potential risks therein. (Chalk one up for the Victorians.)

Confronted with complex, real-world dynamics, the limited scope of circumcision research may not help to stem HIV infection rates at all, but may actually sustain or even accelerate them. The president of Uganda and the Brazilian secretary of health have already reached this conclusion, denouncing recommendations for adult circumcision in their respective countries.