Mythbusting the Gender Zeitgeist

Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true. But many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly.

Thomas Sowell

This post will be updated as new information is gathered. Feel free to report errors or offer new sources. I will be honest about any mistakes I have made, since this post is being developed organically, and some of the statistics I am looking at vary widely depending on who is reporting it. There’s a lot of bias out there, and work has to be done to sort it out.

Changelog

Times are in GMT-5

7/15/13 00:49 – Australia example removed in gender voting demographics report. Typed it in a brain fart without citing a source. Sorry about that.

7/15/13 01:02 – Clarified statements on false rape allegations.

7/16/13 09:42 – Added info on pay gap myth

7/16/13 09:48 – Added “Kudos” section to thank contributors

7/16/13 11:36 – Corrected Salafist muslim info; Their reach extends beyond Saudi Arabia

Kudos

Thanks go to MrScruffles, Lucian-Valsan, Yesiamjames, dhanu of the AVFM forums for their feedback.

Myth

Most cultures live in a patriarchy, that is, (quote Wikipedia) “a social system in which the male is the primary authority figure central to social organization and the central roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where fathers hold authority over women and children. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination.”

Fact

Cultures have differing expectations of the sexes, and have established different gender roles throughout history. Both men and women have been given sex-based privileges and restrictions based on their perceived strengths in our sexually dimorphic species. Modeling society by only viewing the negative experiences of one sex is misleading, since this ignores the negative experiences of the other. Dr. Warren Farrell, former board member of N.O.W. and one of the pioneers of renewed compassion for both men and women, documented this at length in The Myth of Male Power.

Myth

There is a omnipresent rape culture, where rape is in some form or fashion condoned, glorified or tolerated by citizens, law enforcement officials or courts.

Fact

Rape is condoned in some areas, but not all. Rape is a traumatizing experience that was only elevated to the level of cultural integration in (thankfully) tiny pockets on a global scale. Salafist Muslims marry and bed with girls as young as nine, with their consent being decided by the husband, and “corrective rape” of lesbians is a phenomenon in South Africa.

However, the concept of rape culture falls short when looking at Western cultures, where it is false allegations of rape that are pervasive in the system, not rape itself [1]. This is not to say that false accusations have always outnumbered genuine cases of rape, but that rape figure reports have varied widely depending on how “rape” is defined, while victims of false allegations suffer clearly and consistently from false rape accusations brought on by a paranoid narrative. A set of isolated occurrences or rape or intolerant claims made by officials, while shocking, do not necessarily represent the interests of a culture, so the reaction of a sovereign and its constituents to such occurrences are more telling. As it stands now in Westernized civilizations, the rape of a woman is a cause for outrage. This would not be the case in a rape culture.

Myth

We live in a patriarchy because men predominate positions of authority in politics and business.

Fact

Men also predominate victims of suicide, homelessness and false convictions, yet there is no talk about us living in a society that victimizes men. Cherry picking who represents the male population will only give us flawed perspectives. Men commit suicide three to four times more than women do [1][2]. In June 2009, it was reported by the National Coalition for the Homeless that 67.5% of the single homeless population are male, and this population accounts for 76% of the total population surveyed.

Male representatives and business owners are not in their positions simply because they are men, or because they only represent men. The vast majority of them had to pass job interviews just like anyone else. In the case of politicians in Western democracies, women participate as majority voter, and have a clear role in electing representatives. In 2004, the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance reported that women had a larger voter turnout than men since the mid-1980s in Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Germany, and the graph showing the gender gap on voter turnout is expanding in women’s favor (shown below).

IDEA graph for the gender gap in voter turnout across five European countries

The same majority voter status for women can also be observed in Canada and the U.S.A. The Center for American Women and Politics reports “that the number of female voters has exceeded the number of male voters in every presidential election since 1964,” whereas the proportion of female voters dominated the proportion of male voters since the 80s.

CAWP voter turnout graph for women and men

If women wish to have less men holding political offices, and they have the voting power to see that happen, male predominance in political offices is temporary.

Business executives are driven by the interests consumers in the private sector, where women are major consumers. Men would not be in those positions if they could not be trusted to appeal to their target markets, be they full of men or women. In both cases of politicians and business executives, women’s interests may be vital to their careers should women be among those who they represent. Therefore, they cannot expect to remain in their positions by angering half the human population. Men with power cannot sustain a massive, decorated career supporting men’s interests alone. While women face their own problems in the face of adversity borne in religious persecution and some forms of traditionalism, such hardships cannot fairly be cast as men having lasting power over the choices women make.

Myth

Women in Western capitalist societies are paid less than men for the same work due to discrimination in the workplace.

Fact

If this is true, then it makes no sense to hire men. This assumes is that you can pay a woman less to offer you the same value, which is a competitive advantage for women. In the event that an employer discriminates by hiring men for the same work at a higher wage, that employer takes on additional costs he does not need to pay, therefore burdening him with the additional expense of men. On this subject, economist Milton Friedman pointed out that if you force equal pay for the sexes, you take away women’s competitive advantage and remove the cost of discrimination from the employer.

Speaking more directly to the claim, the assumption that women make circa three-quarters of what men make is based on taking the mean of men’s and women’s salaries. But simply taking the mean of gathered numbers does not speak to why the numbers are the way they are. Women earn less because, statistically, they tend to make choices that result in lower wages but higher security in social life.

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