Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Circumcision the AAP and some data....

Your usual Feckblog post. The reason I am chiming in is this current development:

American Academy of Pediatrics - POLICY STATEMENT Circumcision Policy Statement - 2012

In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) formed a multidisciplinary task force of AAP members and other stakeholders to evaluate the recent evidence on male circumcision and update the Academy’s 1999 recommendations in this area. Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement. [...]

Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns. It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner

Sigh...before we continue with the above, some data on health benefits:


1. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

The AAP estimates that noncircumcision means a four- to ten-fold increase in risk during the first year of life. However, the actual incidence of UTI is low, even for uncircumcised boys. According to the AAP, at most approximately one percent (1 out of 100) of uncircumcised males contract UTI during their first year. Since publication of the Task Force's report, a new study reports that among uncircumcised boys, the actual incidence of UTI is 2.15 percent. But even if this new statistic is correct, less than 3 out of every 100 uncircumcised males will contract UTI, and most who do can be easily treated with antibiotics.

2. Penile Cancer

[W]hile penile cancer is serious, it is also exceedingly rare, even for uncircumcised men. [...M]ost cases of penile cancer occur in uncircumcised males, who have an incidence rate of 2.2 per 100,000.

3. HIV

The connection between HIV and circumcision has not been heavily studied in the United States. [...] The only random population study conducted in the United States found no correlation between circumcision status and the rate of HIV. What is undoubtedly true is that behavioral factors are "far more important risk factors in the acquisition of HIV infection than circumcision status." The United States itself illustrates this point: it has both the highest rate of circumcision and the highest rate of HIV infection in the Western world.

4. Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

If circumcision makes a difference, it is probably for reasons that are similar to why noncircumcision is a risk factor for HIV: the moist environment under the foreskin and the susceptibility of particular cells in the foreskin. In addition, the foreskin may be prone to small abrasions during intercourse, which would facilitate transmission of STDs. Importantly, as with HIV, behavioral factors are far more significant than circumcision status in determining whether a person contracts an STD. Again, the United States has both the highest rate of circumcision and the highest rate of STDs in the Western world.

5. Cervical Cancer

In sum, more research needs to be done before prevention of cervical cancer can be added to the list of circumcision's potential health benefits. But because of the issue of distributional fairness, as well as the dubiousness of the parent's ability to consent to circumcision when its purpose is to benefit adult women, we should view with caution any argument that promotes the prevention of cervical cancer as a justification for routine circumcision.

Let me summarize the health benefits of circumcision for you: It helps with 2 rare medical problems, UTIs and Penile Cancer. With HIV and STDs, behavior is far more important (the US has the highest rates of circumcision and STDs in the western world). Cervical Cancer / HPV....there is a vaccine for that:

In 2010, 49% of teenage girls in the US got the HPV vaccine, while in comparison around two-thirds of teens have gotten shots for meningitis and DPT vaccine.

Not even talking about complications here or other negative effects of circumcision. It just seems the argument for medical benefits does not have much meat. The AAP says:

It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.

This however does not really matter as circumcision in the USA is not about health benefits.

From the Waldeck paper:

If routine circumcision is not medically recommended, is painful, and carries the risk of complications, why do more than 65 percent of American parents choose to do it? While there is no simple answer to this question, the existing social science research shows that the procedure is highly path dependent: in large part, parents circumcise because their parents did it and because their peers are doing it. Indeed, surveys of parental decisionmaking reveal that the single most prominent factor is usually what researchers term "social concerns," that is, the desire for the boy to look like his peers or his father. With regard to the former, parents worry that a boy whose penis is different from others will be ridiculed by his schoolmates, or that his sex life will be negatively affected in later years. In other words, parents perceive that the presence or absence of a foreskin is a basis for what McAdams describes as esteem-based sanctions. And there is room here for Posner's signaling theory as well. With no medical reason for the procedure, the circumcision decision is wholly arbitrary and an opportunity to signal a "good type."

Another study I came across:

Factors Affecting the Circumcision Decision - Jeffrey D. Tiemstra MD - 1999

Although this study is clearly limited by the small and heterogenous sample, the findings are consistent with those from studies from 15 years ago, which showed that (1) that the circumcision decision is most often made before parents discuss the issue with their care providers, (2) that social concerns are more important than medical ones, and (3) that providers' discussions have limited impact on the decision made. Medical benefits were cited more frequently in this study than in past studies, although medical issues remain secondary to hygience and convenience. Given the limitations of this study, the minor increase in parents citing medical issues might or might not be important. The study design could have contributed to this finding as well, because the mere presence of this item on the survey could have prompted parents to choose it. [...] In summary, then, this study suggests that parents continue to have preformed decisions regarding circumcision based primarily on non-medical concerns, which are unlikely to be changed by attempting neutral discussion of the relative risks and benefits.

There was one thing that was missing from all of this and it can be said in one short sentence:

It is his body, it should be his choice.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


As I already mentioned in a previous post a hiatus is probably going to happen....well now. My little boy has just been born. He and his mother are fine thus far and his big sister is pretty cool about this, too. Pretty proud of my whole family right now.

One of the best feelings in the world is chilling in bed with your 1-day old sleeping on your chest. That is pretty awesome and I am making sure too miss much of that in the following days. I will have a 1 month break from work before going into parenting time and working part time for the next 2 months. Then things will turn more normal I assume.

Anyhow, don't be surprised if there are not much updates here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

When overt misogyny doesn't happen to the average woman....

A discussion on SRSDiscussion (SRSD from now on) on the topic why some women chose to be "FeMRAs".

What would cause a woman to

1) say feminism is completely unnecessary

2) Say that women as a whole have already achieved enough and are viewed as equals to men.

3) Say that Mens Rights is both pressing and necessary?

Interestingly as someone who is quite "Men's right-y" I would wonder about 1. and 2. as well. Feminism is always a useful tool to view society in and see how it impacts women. Also complete 100% equality will never be achieved as there will always be issues we need to work on. I am certain women are not viewed as equals in some regards in the same way that men are not viewed as equals in some regards. This is the point where my egalitarianism comes in, figuring the stuff out for men and women. Point 3. is the view of a certain kind of feminists, which I would term gynocentric feminists, who could not comprehend how there is a merit to the concept of men's right at all.

So this is mostly about that topic. One comment I found telling really showed me with what I griped with. As usual in SRSD there is the notion that "misandry don't real" as misandry as compared to misogyny is not institutionalized (perhaps the underlying reason for point 3.), yet one reads such a comment:

People tend take their own, personal experience and apply it to everyone around them. If you're average enough and live in a safe place/bubble, you could have never experienced the kind of overt misogyny that many women face. You might adhere to traditional gender roles and ideals of femininity just because that's who you are. You might not be the type of person who seeks out information on the rest of the world and it might be difficult for you to empathize with people who are very different from you.

So, essentially, if you're a white, middle class woman in an average town who isn't ugly or insanely beautiful and who fits in well to your traditional place in society, you're going to think this is the case for everyone else. You're going to see feminist claims as overblown. And it's going to be easy for you to unknowingly buy in to patriarchal propaganda (after all, most societies are designed to spread such propaganda… I mean, the male gaze is everywhere in America).

So the average woman does not face misogyny, yet many women do face overt misogyny. How can it be overt if the average woman does not face it? This points me to another gynocentric talking point, "men can not be oppressed as men". The idea behind that is that when men are oppressed, it is because that the man in question is from a minority or poor or from the GSM spectrum, that he just couldn't be oppressed because he is male because patriarchy or misandry don't real. However looking at the above one could argue that women are not oppressed because they are women. "if you're a white, middle class woman in an average town who isn't ugly or insanely beautiful and who fits in well to your traditional place in society [... y]ou're going to see feminist claims as overblown", If you are average (not poor not from a racial minority etc) you do not face oppression.

Personally, would I say that men/women are oppressed, in the western world? Well you could probably draw a line somewhere and argue that neither or both are. I am sure though that there are gendered expectations that do hurt women as well as men and we should work to eliminate both. Do women have it worse than men? Well, maybe. Or maybe not. How do you quantify having it worse? From my point of view arguing this is a pointless exercise that leads nowhere. The issues also influence each other. If you get more father's involved with their kids you also influence the wage gap issue. It is not a zero sum game. Which leads us to this question someone asked in regards to Point 3:

Do you think men face no gender issues whatsoever in society, or do you feel that the social issues faced by women should be solved first before addressing men's issues.

Good question, and a typical answer follows:

Many of the gender issues faced by men stem from patriarchy, in that its restrictive gender roles harm both men and women by forcing them to conform to a set of very narrow rules. However, the important thing about patriarchy is that it is set up to benefit men (who follow it unquestioningly), but even then, only some men.

Because the voices and the views of women have been suppressed, currently it is important to focus on women's rights because they are the oppressed group. But feminism is not the elevation of women's rights over and above those of men's; it is the eradication of sexism. Seen in this light, it should go without saying that feminism will improve the lives of both men and women by dismantling gender roles. Even things that MRAs complain about - child custody, the overlooking of male rape - can be traced back to patriarchal origins (the belief that women must care for children, the false assumption that men are sexually aggressive and thus cannot be raped), so feminism is a way of fixing these things. [I omitted the critics of MRAs here because it is not relevant to that topic and I really do not care]

The social issues faced by men and women, though different, do not exist independently of each other. However, in our present society, women suffer more than men. The eradication of the power structure that enables this inequality is ultimately a benefit to all genders, not just women.

Again this is a very word-y cop out. Interestingly there is a rebuttal to this on a very gynocentric feminist blog (FF101):

Why are you concentrating on X when Y is so much more important?

A common argument that is used on people who are talking about special interests — such as feminism — is to say that, instead of talking about Special Interest X the person should instead talk about Important Issue™ Y. This proposed correlation between X and Y is problematic on a few levels:

- It assumes that X and Y are mutually exclusive
- It assumes that there is an objective determinant for what is “important” and what is not
- It creates a hierarchy of issues, which in turn creates a supposed “correct” order/path that must be followed

And all these points really apply. Asking "shouldn't you feminists focus on women's rights in Africa first?" or even "shouldn't we work on world peace first and solve the hunger problem?" is the same kind of derailing as saying that women have it worse and we should focus on them first and that feminism really also helps men. It is a stupid topic really. Feminism has mostly treated men's right as collateral benefits. And who can blame them as it was focus to emancipate women. I agree that it was the more pressing issue at the time. But really, it is about time now that men get some help, too. And really it is not mutually exclusive, quite the contrary.

Bonus points for my resource section, Dworkin's book "Right Wing Women" and the Dworkin Online Library. (The more you know)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Celebrity Bulge - Guess the Male Olympian Bulge

Oh man...there was some talk about objectification during the Olympics. This however....I do not even know how to classify.

Sexism in The Affordable Care Act

This is part discrimination and also part dumb. From a change.org petition:

On August 1, 2012 many more health care services became available to women without co-pays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket expenses. While this can be seen as a victory for women's health, there are many services that affect men in equal or similar ways that still require men to be able to afford those cost-sharing requirements.






The above is really stupid as, well, women tend to have sex with man and there are far more men in the USA with HIV than women.



Much of the usual, "we do not really care about men's health stuff".

Traffic stops and gender

Not so surprising findings:

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas State University researcher's analysis has found that racial profiling is intertwined with gender.

It already was known that white women are less likely to be ticketed, searched or arrested than men. But The Topeka Capital-Journal ( ) reported that sociology doctoral candidate Jeremy Briggs found black and Hispanic women are ticketed, arrested or searched during traffic stops more often than white women and at a level comparable to white men.

Briggs said black drivers overall were more than twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested. The rate was even higher among black men, with them 2 1/2 times as likely as white men to be arrested.

Friday, August 10, 2012

This and that....big five personality traits, self-esteem and a bio argument

This is not really a structured post, just me collecting data, which started looking up things on google scholar. We start with self-esteem:

Gender differences in self-esteem: A meta-analysis. - Kling, Kristen C.; Hyde, Janet Shibley; Showers, Carolin J.; Buswell, Brenda N. - 1999

Two analyses were conducted to examine gender differences in global self-esteem. In Analysis I, a computerized literature search yielded 216 effect sizes, representing the testing of 97,121 respondents. The overall effect size was 0.21, a small difference favoring males. A significant quadratic effect of age indicated that the largest effect emerged in late adolescence ( d = 0.33). In Analysis II, gender differences were examined using 3 large, nationally representative data sets from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). All of the NCES effect sizes, which collectively summarize the responses of approximately 48,000 young Americans, indicated higher male self-esteem ( ds ranged from 0.04 to 0.24). Taken together, the 2 analyses provide evidence that males score higher on standard measures of global self-esteem than females, but the difference is small. Potential reasons for the small yet consistent effect size are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

In short not much of a difference between men and women, contrary to popular belief. And while I searched further I came across the "big five" again and remembered something I read somewhere else:

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.

Having read that, I'd say it is definitely both. To what degree is debatable and in my opinion we should work on eliminating cultural factors (sexism). But this might also mean that even when we have achieved cultural equality there still might be some gaps in our favorite measurements of equality (wage gap, number of stay-at-home dads, number of female CEOs). So I came across cross-cultural studies of the big five that helped support the nature side of this argument. We start with an abstract for one because it is behind a paywall:

Gender differences in personality traits across cultures: Robust and surprising findings. - Costa Jr., Paul; Terracciano, Antonio; McCrae, Robert R. - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 81(2), Aug 2001

Secondary analyses of Revised NEO Personality inventory data from 26 cultures (N =23,031) suggest that gender differences are small relative to individual variation within genders; differences are replicated across cultures for both college-age and adult samples, and differences are broadly consistent with gender stereotypes: Women reported themselves to be higher in Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Warmth, and Openness to Feelings, whereas men were higher in Assertiveness and Openness to Ideas. Contrary to predictions from evolutionary theory, the magnitude of gender differences varied across cultures. Contrary to predictions from the social role model, gender differences were most pronounced in European and American cultures in which traditional sex roles are minimized. Possible explanations for this surprising finding are discussed, including the attribution of masculine and feminine behaviors to roles rather than traits in traditional cultures.

The fascinating thing here is, the more egalitarian your society is, the more pronounced gender differences are. How come? The following study goes into more detail:

Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Differences in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures - David P. Schmitt, Anu Realo, Martin Voracek, Jüri Allik - 2008

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.

It goes further:

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. [...]

Sex Roles Do Not Explain Why Sex Differences in Personality Traits Vary Across Cultures

An accumulating body of evidence, including the current data, provides reason to question social role explanations of gender and personality development (Baron-Cohen, 2003; Campbell, Shirley, & Candy, 2004; Geary, 1998; Lytton & Romney, 1991; Maccoby, 2000; Mealey, 2000; Spiro, 1996; Tiger & Shepher, 1975). In this study, a collection of eight different gender equality indicators provided a comprehensive set of measures that assess disparity between male and female roles in society. In every case, signifi-cant findings suggest that greater nation-level gender equality leads to psychological dissimilarity in men’s and women’s per-sonality traits. If differences in personality traits are controlled by the drastically different social roles that men and women play in the society then in cultures in which women earn considerably less than men, in which they have limited access to education, and in which only few of them become professionals, women’s person-ality profiles should be very different from men’s. In reality, these women’s personality profiles are more similar to those of men.

Evolutionary Theories May Explain Why Sex Differences in Personality Traits Vary Across Cultures

Evolutionary theories rooted in parental investment theory (Trivers, 1972) have predicted that sexual selection pressures have caused men to be more prone than women to take risks and seek social dominance, whereas women are thought to have been se-lected to be more nurturing and cautious (Buss, 1997; MacDonald, 1995). Thus, evolutionary theories can readily account for the existence of culturally pervasive differences between men and women. In principle, evolutionary theories can also explain the widening gap between the personalities of men and women by a version of the mismatch theory (specifically, the curvilinear hy-pothesis), according to which discrepancies between contemporary environmental conditions and those in which early humans evolved have begun to lessen as humans move from agricultural to modern societies (Schmitt, 2005a). [...] As societies rooted in agriculture and monotheism emerged, the personalities of men and women were relatively constrained and sex differences in personality may have been less likely to surface (see Pasternak et al., 1997). Finally, as modern societies have become more egalitarian (more similar to hunter-gatherer cultures; Marlowe, 2003; Yanca & Low, 2004), innate sex differences in personality traits may have become more likely to materialize. However, until there are larger studies that include a wider range of cultures—ideally including hunter-gatherer, horti-cultural, pastoral, agricultural, and developing nations—this cur-vilinear hypothesis must remain speculative.[...]

In summary, we have found that differences between men and women in their personality traits become more extreme with the increasing development of human society. Reported ISDP data indicate that human development—long and healthy life, access to education, and economic wealth—is a primary correlate of the gap between men and women in their personality traits. Most other correlates appear to be mediated by general level of development in health, education, and economy. In societies in which longevity is threatened by poor health, in which only a fraction of people have opportunities for a good education, and in which people suffer from economic hardship, the development of one’s inherent personality traits is more restrained. In these hold-down or mal-nourished conditions, there is a smaller variation around the mean level of personality traits across the ISDP, and it is more likely that any one individual is more like all other individuals. In traditional and less developed countries, therefore, an average man is more like an average woman, not in terms of his social roles or value preferences, but in his basic personality tendencies to feel, think, and act in a way more comparable with women.

Pretty fascinating. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the above study.

Gender differences

Cross-cultural research has shown some patterns of gender differences on responses to the NEO-PI-R and the Big Five Inventory. For example, women consistently report higher Neuroticism, Agreeableness, warmth (an extraversion facet) and openness to feelings, and men often report higher assertiveness (a facet of extraversion) and openness to ideas as assessed by the NEO-PI-R.[58] A study of gender differences in 55 nations using the Big Five Inventory found that women tended to be somewhat higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.[59] The difference in neuroticism was the most prominent and consistent, with significant differences found in 49 of the 55 nations surveyed. Gender differences in personality traits are largest in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities that are equal to those of men. Differences in the magnitude of sex differences between more or less developed world regions were due to differences between men not women in these respective regions. That is, men in highly developed world regions were less neurotic, extraverted, conscientious and agreeable compared to men in less developed world regions. Women, on the other hand tended not to differ in personality traits across regions. The authors of this studied speculated that resource poor environments (that is, countries with low levels of development) may inhibit the development of gender differences, whereas resource rich environments facilitate them. This may be because males require more resources than females in order to reach their full developmental potential.[59] The authors argued that due to different evolutionary pressures, men may have evolved to be more risk taking and socially dominant, whereas women evolved to be more cautious and nurturant. Hunter-gatherer societies in which humans originally evolved may have been more egalitarian than later agriculturally oriented societies. Hence, the development of gender inequalities may have acted to constrain the development of gender differences in personality that originally evolved in hunter-gatherer societies. As modern societies have become more egalitarian again it may be that innate sex differences are no longer constrained and hence manifest more fully than in less developed cultures. Currently, this hypothesis remains untested, as gender differences in modern societies have not been compared with those in hunter-gatherer societies.[59]

Thursday, August 9, 2012


While I have the data at hand...I could as well post it here. I have seen this come up on r/SRS as well as r/MR. This is a recent post from the GMP:

The whole MRA spermjacking fear is overblown, I think: if you don’t trust your partner enough to trust that they’re telling the truth about birth control, you don’t trust them enough to not lie to you about having an STI, and so you should be wearing a condom anyway.

Well I do not get what is written here. For instance, MRAs that fear spermjacking are advocating to use condoms or to take the fertility in your own hands. Also, having a spouse you may believe might "forget" taking birth control pills is something different than believing your spouse would cheat on you. Which brings us to another point, obviously the pill is a bit different than a condom. It is obvious when a condom is used for a pill it is not. So putting on a condom might actually tell your SO "I do not really trust you". So things are not that easy, there is a bit of unequal playing field here. Regardless, the question is how overblown is that fear?

Well the NISVS (page 48) has an answer for us:

Prevalence of Control of Reproductive or Sexual Health by an Intimate Partner

Approximately 8.6% (or an estimated 10.3 million) of women in the United States reported ever having an intimate partner who tried to get them pregnant when
they did not want to, or refused to use a condom, with 4.8% having had an intimate partner who tried to get them pregnant when they did not want to, and 6.7% having
had an intimate partner who refused to wear a condom (data not shown).

Approximately 10.4% (or an estimated 11.7 million) of men in the United States reported ever having an intimate partner who tried to get pregnant when they did not want to or tried to stop them from using birth control, with 8.7% having had an intimate partner who tried to get pregnant when they did not want to or tried to stop them from using birth control and 3.8% having had an intimate partner who refused to wear a condom (data not shown).

I assume there are many cases that do not land in the statistics. 1/10 is pretty much....don't you think?

EDIT: Someone in the comments made the same point, I saw it mentioned on Reddit first though.