Why is sexism universal?

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Sleeper
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Why is sexism universal?

Postby Sleeper » Fri May 04, 2012 2:30 pm UTC

Sexism exists in every culture in the world. According to a sociology textbook:

“universally, greater prestige is given to male activities—regardless of what those activities are. If taking care of goats is men’s work, then the care of goats is important and carries high prestige, but if it is women’s work, it is considered less important and given less prestige. Or, to take an example closer to home, when delivering babies [in the U.S.] was ‘women’s work’ and was done by midwives, it was given low prestige. But when men took over this task, its prestige increased sharply.”


Certain sex differences may explain the prevalence of sexism in cultures around the world:

1. Males are pretty much always a slight majority in any population below a certain age. About 1.07 males are born for every 1 female. It's a slight difference, but consistently larger numbers makes one group a majority and the other a minority in every society that hasn't gone through the demographic transition to an older population.
(In the US and other countries with older populations, the majority is female because the sex ratio skews from male to female as you look at older groups.)

2. Males are, on average, bigger than females. Throughout our evolutionary history, males competed with each other for females, resulting in the bigger stronger among the males being the ones to pass on their genes. You can still see it today among most other primates. And there's no good reason for it, but even apart from sex, taller people tend to earn more and be viewed more favorably. I think the bias in favor of taller people translates into a bias in favor of men.

3. Males are, on average, more prone to and capable of violence. A result of that evolutionary process mentioned earlier is that men are more prone to fighting and using violence to assert dominance. I personally know at least four different women who for a time were regularly beaten by their husbands.

4. All the advantages accumulate and build on one another in the "Matthew effect".

Does this explain the prevalence of sexism? Or is it something else? Or is sexism not universal?

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby aoeu » Fri May 04, 2012 3:45 pm UTC

Women are handicapped during pregnancy.

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ShortChelsea
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby ShortChelsea » Fri May 04, 2012 4:28 pm UTC

aoeu wrote:Women are handicapped during pregnancy.


What? No they aren't. Are you trolling?

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Griffin
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Griffin » Fri May 04, 2012 4:52 pm UTC

Uh, yeah, they are? It's not a huge handicap, especially in the modern world, but its definitely a handicap. Women are handicapped by childcare, too, what with males being unable to breastfeed. That can be worked around, of course, but it sets us up for a certain division of labour.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Kryigerofe » Fri May 04, 2012 4:55 pm UTC

aoeu probably meant that pregnant women (especially at the late phase) can't do all the things that men and non-pregnant women can, or can't do them as easily. Since women spent a lot of time pregnant in earlier times, men were able to dominate more easily. I don't see how pointing this out would be trolling.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Роберт » Fri May 04, 2012 5:30 pm UTC

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/handicapped

Moving on, not feeding the trolls...

I'm not sure you sociology book is accurate. Making a universal claim is pretty bold.
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Griffin
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Griffin » Fri May 04, 2012 5:53 pm UTC

Handicapped:
---
any disadvantage that makes success more difficult
---
a physical or mental disability making participation in certain of the usual activities of daily living more difficult.

Disabled:
---
lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity.
---
anything that disables or puts one at a disadvantage:

(dictionary.com)

It is not trolling to say pregnancy can be, and often was historically, a significant handicap. And these were quite obviously the definitions being used, by context.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Derek » Fri May 04, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

Sleeper wrote:1. Males are pretty much always a slight majority in any population below a certain age. About 1.07 males are born for every 1 female. It's a slight difference, but consistently larger numbers makes one group a majority and the other a minority in every society that hasn't gone through the demographic transition to an older population.
(In the US and other countries with older populations, the majority is female because the sex ratio skews from male to female as you look at older groups.)

I'm pretty sure females have been a slight majority of the population for most of human history. Until modern times, war was endemic, which meant that many men died relatively young in combat. Perhaps this is why there is a slight preference for male births? Or it could be the reverse, cultures are prone to violence due to too many young males? But I think I'm probably speculating too much now.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri May 04, 2012 7:48 pm UTC

There are plenty of counter-examples to refute the 'universal' claim. the tuareg culture for example is matrilinear (property and social status is passed through the women) and certain kinds of important property (such as livestock) are owned exclusively by the women. The Iroquis also gave women a strong role in government and society and there are numerous other examples, though they are largely the exceptions.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby JohnSmith1 » Sat May 05, 2012 12:04 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:There are plenty of counter-examples to refute the 'universal' claim. the tuareg culture for example is matrilinear (property and social status is passed through the women) and certain kinds of important property (such as livestock) are owned exclusively by the women.

That's still sexism. Sexism isn't just misogyny; both misogyny and misandry count as sexism. Any gender based discrimination is sexism by definition.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby DaBigCheez » Sat May 05, 2012 12:28 am UTC

JohnSmith1 wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:There are plenty of counter-examples to refute the 'universal' claim. the tuareg culture for example is matrilinear (property and social status is passed through the women) and certain kinds of important property (such as livestock) are owned exclusively by the women.

That's still sexism. Sexism isn't just misogyny; both misogyny and misandry count as sexism. Any gender based discrimination is sexism by definition.

Sure but the OP was asking about (and EdgarJPublius was referring to) the quote from the OP that “universally, greater prestige is given to male activities—regardless of what those activities are." Greater prestige being given to female activities pretty explicitly refutes that claim.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat May 05, 2012 1:17 am UTC

Whichever gender is more 'useful' in a particular time and place is the one that gets to write the rules, and people always write the rules to favor themselves.

IIRC, hunter-gatherer societies were more female dominant, as the gathering accounted for roughly 4/5 of the diet while the hunting only made up 1/5. It was when farming was introduced that men became dominant. The strength to push a plow was what determined a person's worth, and generally men are physically stronger than women. Today, sexism is somewhat less prevalent in part because being one gender* doesn't open up significantly more career paths than being the other gender.

Also interesting to note sky-deities tended to be male, and earth-deities tended to be female.

*Not getting into cis/trans/inter genders.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Sleeper » Sat May 05, 2012 5:05 pm UTC

ShortChelsea wrote:
aoeu wrote:Women are handicapped during pregnancy.


What? No they aren't. Are you trolling?


The statement was pretty terse, so it sounded to me, too, like it might be intended to be rude. But I think we're taking it the wrong way. (I thought maybe it meant "handicapped for life." The idea is that pregnant women have a harder time with physical activities while pregnant, which makes sense. That's another point on which primitive societies could discriminate against a "less capable" group.

Derek wrote:I'm pretty sure females have been a slight majority of the population for most of human history. Until modern times, war was endemic, which meant that many men died relatively young in combat. Perhaps this is why there is a slight preference for male births? Or it could be the reverse, cultures are prone to violence due to too many young males? But I think I'm probably speculating too much now.


Do you have any citations for that? I strongly doubt that females have been a slight majority for most of human history.

I'm basing this on a few things:

1.
The sperms are 50/50. There's 100 male sperms to 100 female sperms and that's because the sex is determined by the father and the father has one X and one Y, and when they split to go into separate sperms one gets an X, one gets a Y, that's even. By the second month of gestation, so this is still in the mother's womb, apparently a huge fraction of about one-third of the... female fetuses have died because now it's a high male ratio.

Then as time goes on the male fetuses start to die and when you end up, you get 106 at birth all over the world unless people are messing with it. There's about 106 male births to every 100 female births. This is a very, very fixed number, so for instance, in the United States in 1969 there were 105.3 males born per 100 females; 1995 30 something years later 104.9, so difference of .4. That number really does not vary except basically between 105 and 106. It's a very, very stable number.
"Global Problems of Population Growth" Open Yale Courses http://oyc.yale.edu/molecular-cellular- ... lecture-15

2.
[Global] Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2012 est.)


Like I said, the population starts out skewed to males and winds up skewed to females as the population ages.
CIA World Factbook: World https://www.cia.gov/library/publication ... os/xx.html

3.
For most of the years 1900-1970, there have been more males than females in the US. It almost certainly goes back further but I haven't found that data yet.
US Census Historical Data: 1900-1970 Series A 23-28 http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/d ... 0p1-02.pdf

What skews the population at birth even further in favor of males today is sex-selective abortion. Before that, it was sex-selective infanticide. The majority of cultures prefer sons over daughters.

In China, India, and elsewhere, son preference is so strong that with the invention of ultrasound, pregnant women began checking the sex of their fetuses and aborting females. In India in a single hospital one year, out of:
8,000 serial abortions… 7,999 were females. One was a male and that was probably a mistake… The head of the Women's Association in India says, ‘No one wants girls; if the test says a girl then the pregnant woman will have an abortion.’.... “Hispanic women in Los Angeles were surveyed. They want 2.8 sons on average and 0.1 daughters.... The total sex ratio [of China and India] hasn't changed all that much. In China we have pretty good data and traditionally where-ever one has data there has been a dearth of about 10% to 25% of girls from… the 1700s... [That is, 10 to 25% fewer girls than boys]. Back then it was [caused by] infanticide so what you're really seeing is a change of method that the society is going from an infanticide control of the sex ratio to an ultrasound and sex selective abortion control of the sex ratio.” (Wyman lecture 15). “In the seventeenth century, again this is from Jesuit missionaries to China, reporting back to Europe, they were horrified to find that in Beijing alone… several thousand babies, almost exclusively females, were thrown into the streets like refuse to be collected each morning by carriers who dumped them into huge pits outside the city.


There is a biological tendency to have slightly more sons than daughters, and that tendency is exacerbated by practices in cultures that prefer sons over daughters. They'll often abort female fetuses or, more rarely nowadays, just kill a female baby. It's such a widespread practice that it actually skews the birth ratio, even in a very large population.

The sex ratio at birth in South Korea is 1.07 male(s)/female. The sex ratio in India is 1.12 male(s)/female. In China, it's 1.13 male(s)/female.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby CorruptUser » Sat May 05, 2012 9:56 pm UTC

At conception, it's even more skewed, at about 1.25 males/females. Male fetuses are more vulnerable, as mistakes on the X chromosome are more pronounced, so the birth rate becomes even.

I think the reason for the higher conception rate has to do with male sperm being slightly lighter/faster, but not completely sure.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Jplus » Sat May 05, 2012 10:40 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Whichever gender is more 'useful' in a particular time and place is the one that gets to write the rules, and people always write the rules to favor themselves.

IIRC, hunter-gatherer societies were more female dominant, as the gathering accounted for roughly 4/5 of the diet while the hunting only made up 1/5. It was when farming was introduced that men became dominant. The strength to push a plow was what determined a person's worth, and generally men are physically stronger than women. Today, sexism is somewhat less prevalent in part because being one gender* doesn't open up significantly more career paths than being the other gender.

It's amusing how you seem to take for granted that men did most of the hunting and women did most of the gathering. Modern western stereotypes to the max.

Also, since most cultures are patriarchic, do you believe that in most cultures men are more 'useful'? What do you mean by that?
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Derek » Sat May 05, 2012 10:55 pm UTC

Sleeper wrote:Do you have any citations for that? I strongly doubt that females have been a slight majority for most of human history.

I do not, unfortunately, and don't have time to look for one right now. Maybe later. But I think I've heard it somewhere before.

I'm basing this on a few things:

I don't doubt your claim that more boys are born than girls at all. What I'm saying is that I believe (but have no citation) that more young men died historically (especially ancient history), because of violence, than young women. Note that all your statistics are from post-1900, one of the most relatively peaceful (especially for the US) times in history.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Newt » Sat May 05, 2012 11:27 pm UTC

Jplus wrote:
Also, since most cultures are patriarchic, do you believe that in most cultures men are more 'useful'? What do you mean by that?


The pretty clear criteria for 'usefulness' from his examples was impact on the group's food intake.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Chen » Mon May 07, 2012 2:56 pm UTC

Jplus wrote:It's amusing how you seem to take for granted that men did most of the hunting and women did most of the gathering. Modern western stereotypes to the max.


Presumably the biggest of the tribe would be the ones to hunt and the smaller ones would be the ones who gathered. I suspect this would have made it traditionally: Male -> Hunters, Female -> Gatherers. Now once technology started advancing and you had tools to change the average strength discrepancy I presume it could have shifted. Of course by that point you probably also had agriculture start and the point became somewhat moot.

Also, since most cultures are patriarchic, do you believe that in most cultures men are more 'useful'? What do you mean by that?


In terms of allowing the tribe to survive by gathering food/building materials? Probably, again simply by the fact that they are generally larger/stronger.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Wodashin » Tue May 08, 2012 2:49 am UTC

Sleeper wrote:3. Males are, on average, more prone to and capable of violence. A result of that evolutionary process mentioned earlier is that men are more prone to fighting and using violence to assert dominance. I personally know at least four different women who for a time were regularly beaten by their husbands.


I like how this implies men beat their wives often, while the opposite doesn't happen, when many studies [http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm] have shown parity in domestic abuse between genders, with domestic abuse being mostly a two-way affair, and unilateral domestic abuse being the domain of women. Just something I found interesting in your post.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Aaeriele » Tue May 08, 2012 7:20 am UTC

This thread delivers.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby xkcdfan » Tue May 08, 2012 8:46 am UTC

Slow clap.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 08, 2012 9:04 am UTC

Chen wrote:
Presumably the biggest of the tribe would be the ones to hunt and the smaller ones would be the ones who gathered. I suspect this would have made it traditionally: Male -> Hunters, Female -> Gatherers. Now once technology started advancing and you had tools to change the average strength discrepancy I presume it could have shifted. Of course by that point you probably also had agriculture start and the point became somewhat moot.

How's that? It's not as if human hunters wrestle their prey in hand-to-hand combat. Most prey are small compared to humans in the first place, like birds or rabbits, not to mention fishes. Typical human hunting, even for large animals, involves sneaking, throwing, trap setting. And group coordination: spotters who find animals and report back to the group, drivers who chase fleeing animals into waiting killers, things like that. Dogs, as well. Raw physical strength can be an advantage for some parts, but skill and stamina are needed for all of them.

Really, this one of those questions where you have to look at local natural and social circumstances to know how communities are organized. There doesn't appear to be a single clear pattern of human living, and there probably never was.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Sleeper » Tue May 08, 2012 9:50 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:
Sleeper wrote:3. Males are, on average, more prone to and capable of violence. A result of that evolutionary process mentioned earlier is that men are more prone to fighting and using violence to assert dominance. I personally know at least four different women who for a time were regularly beaten by their husbands.


I like how this implies men beat their wives often, while the opposite doesn't happen, when many studies [http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm] have shown parity in domestic abuse between genders, with domestic abuse being mostly a two-way affair, and unilateral domestic abuse being the domain of women. Just something I found interesting in your post.


Thanks for posting that link, very informative.

I didn't mean to imply that women aren't just as capable and likely to be mean and nasty as men. I guess I should have specified that I meant men are more likely to beat their female partners so badly that they suffer injuries, or have to go to the ER, or are killed. Looking at statistics from emergency rooms and the Department of Justice, there does appear to be a disparity in the level of violence between the genders.

Maybe the data being used to show domestic abuse is just as commonly committed by women as men is distorted or has some limitations. Here's some criticism of some of the studies mentioned in your link:

The Gelles/Strauss numbers that Leo and others seize on are based on simply asking people whether they have ever hit, pushed, slapped, etc. their partners. They do not reflect the context of family violence. They do not indicate whether violence was used as aggression or in self-defense, or whether violence caused or was intended to cause injury. Using such numbers without qualification results in bizarre conclusions: that children's violence against parents is a much more serious problem than parents' violence against children, for example.

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1247

The Department of Justice says:

In 1998 women were victims in about
876,340 violent crimes and men were
victims in about 157,330 violent crimes
committed by an intimate partner (table
1). Women were victims of intimate
partner violence at a rate about 5 times
that of males (767 versus 146 per
100,000 persons, respectively).... Of the 1,830
persons murdered by intimates in
1998, 72% or 1,320 were women.

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/ipv.pdf

DOJ statistics on hospital visits by victims of domestic violence:
Table 5. Characteristics of persons
causing violence-related injuries
treated in hospital emergency
departments, 1994
Characteristic of
the offender Number Percent
Sex
Total 1,417,500 100.0%
Male 763,400 53.9
Female 144,300 10.2
Not reported 509,800 36.0

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/VRITHED.PDF

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Sorry, what do you mean by that?

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Wodashin » Tue May 08, 2012 12:11 pm UTC

The older studies, from the 90s, like you're linking to, show an obvious bias. Both the DOJ and CDC have vastly different findings these days, so either women randomly became incredibly violent, or their original studies were incorrect. Not only that, but the criticism of the Gelles/Strauss numbers seems to be implying that women are as dangerous to men as children are to their parents. This is disconcerting, because it's not a stretch to extrapolate that and thusly state that any female-on-male violence is inconsequential (a common mindset, even in this day and age), and that male-on-female can only be abhorrent (while violence is bad, I mean that this type of violence is leaps and bounds worse than the other way around). It just reinforces gender stereotypes that do wrong on both parts by infantilizing women and making men to be assumed wrong-doer.

Not only that, but I feel like this thread, by sexism, only means it in favor of men. Throughout history, there have been mostly men in power. However, men have always been on the bottom as well. There is nothing glamorous or powerful about being a serf or coal miner or mill worker, or, even as late as the sixties, having all personal agency stripped from you and being shipped to the other side of the world to be forgotten and disposed of on the whims of those in charge. There may be men in charge, but men are not in charge. It is fallacious to say that, because some from a group are in charge, that that confers some sort power to the whole of that demographic. It's not maleness that creates the skew, it's power. Power has mostly been in the hands of males, because males are going to more easily dominate. However, this is a human thing, not a male one. And the humans on top subjugate those on the bottom. That's how it works. There've been queens and empresses throughout history that've been the most powerful people on earth at certain times, and they oppressed everyone just as well throughout human history.

I'd assert that it's not really sexism. It's the common thread of the strong, the powerful vs. the weak. More powerful men, but that tiny sliver of the top doesn't really do wonders for the huge bulk of people underneath, regardless of sex. It's the natural order of things for the top to press down on those below them. 'Least that's how I see it.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby PeteP » Tue May 08, 2012 1:11 pm UTC

So what do you propose are the reasons that "males are going to more easily dominate" in political systems, if not sexism? Greater average upper body strength isn't all that helpful in more complex political systems, you usually have others for violence.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby HungryHobo » Tue May 08, 2012 1:48 pm UTC

I'd imagine in simpler systems it would help get you into power.
On the local level being able to beat the crap out of people probably helps get into power initially.

So when most of the tribe(or any other small community) leaders are physically strong the one of them who then manages to get to the top of the pile and become the king is more likely to be someone physically strong than an average or weak person .

of course when power starts flowing down the generations that should revert but by then there could be a strong pattern of men being in charge and after a while it might become tradition.

of course that's just guessing.

I think Wodashins point was that even if you swapped every male in power for a female and vice versa it wouldn't do much to help the average woman on the street. men are overrepresented at the very highest levels of society but they're also overrepresented at the very lowest, the kind of person who gets into power doesn't particularly care for any particular poor person more or less if they happen to be male or female.

The type of men who get in to power are about as much use to average men on the street as margaret thatcher was to the average woman on the street.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 08, 2012 3:03 pm UTC

I don't even think we need much guessing there. It's a process that you can see in well-recorded history. The structure of government in Europe and the Americas is highly shaped by feudal traditions, and feudal lords used to form a real warrior class not that long ago.

You can see the remnants even in democratic institutes, with presidents and parliaments derived from kings and councils of noblemen, and courts of law from court justice. Historically such positions were not just filled my men, but by trained fighting men. That was part of what it took be a believable leader.

We've morphed that into something nearly unrecognizable, but the lingering echo lasted a long time. Churchill's popular appeal was still that of an old-fashioned noblemen, born and raised to be a military leader. Arguably, Theodore Roosevelt appealed to a similar echo of a tradition even in the anti-feudal USA. A bravely masculine, soldiering, hunting upper class born to lead.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby HungryHobo » Tue May 08, 2012 3:42 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:We've morphed that into something nearly unrecognizable, but the lingering echo lasted a long time. Churchill's popular appeal was still that of an old-fashioned noblemen, born and raised to be a military leader. Arguably, Theodore Roosevelt appealed to a similar echo of a tradition even in the anti-feudal USA. A bravely masculine, soldiering, hunting upper class born to lead.


Very true, many of our institutions are modeled after military systems (when even our modern military institutions might not be best run with their current structure. )

For example our justice system with lawyers serving as champions on your behalf makes almost no sense if your goal is to come to a correct decision but perfect sense if you remember that they were once fighting champions. (who got a retainer fee )
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 08, 2012 6:06 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:We've morphed that into something nearly unrecognizable, but the lingering echo lasted a long time. Churchill's popular appeal was still that of an old-fashioned noblemen, born and raised to be a military leader. Arguably, Theodore Roosevelt appealed to a similar echo of a tradition even in the anti-feudal USA. A bravely masculine, soldiering, hunting upper class born to lead.


Churchill had tattoos, was an alcoholic and overweight, disdained the Navy, swore, and was born 7 months after his parents were married. If anything, he had more of that "beer drinkability" appeal.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Zamfir » Tue May 08, 2012 7:16 pm UTC

There are dozens of holes to be shot in that post of mine, but 'churchill was voted in on his everyman appeal' is not one of them.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby CorruptUser » Tue May 08, 2012 7:45 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:There are dozens of holes to be shot in that post of mine, but 'churchill was voted in on his everyman appeal' is not one of them.


The reality of who he was is just so different from the way he was remembered. I never said people voted for him based on 'everyman appeal', just that reality was just so different from the public's impression of him. It's amazing what the media can do.

Hell, just look at our politicians. Gore never claimed to have invented the intertubes (he just said he helped fund it in schools or something), but he's remembered as that crazy guy that thinks he's the most important man on Earth. Bush may have fumbled a few words, but he's remembered as that idiotic puppet that was being controlled by his Veep, whether or not that's true. Reagan, well, his persona had even less basis in reality; he's remembered as being anti-union yet organized a SAG strike, he was very aggressive yet pulled out of Lebanon after an attack, against taxes despite raising them several times, for freedom but raised the drinking age, etc.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Jplus » Tue May 08, 2012 11:07 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Chen wrote:Presumably the biggest of the tribe would be the ones to hunt and the smaller ones would be the ones who gathered. I suspect this would have made it traditionally: Male -> Hunters, Female -> Gatherers. Now once technology started advancing and you had tools to change the average strength discrepancy I presume it could have shifted. Of course by that point you probably also had agriculture start and the point became somewhat moot.

How's that? It's not as if human hunters wrestle their prey in hand-to-hand combat. Most prey are small compared to humans in the first place, like birds or rabbits, not to mention fishes. Typical human hunting, even for large animals, involves sneaking, throwing, trap setting. And group coordination: spotters who find animals and report back to the group, drivers who chase fleeing animals into waiting killers, things like that. Dogs, as well. Raw physical strength can be an advantage for some parts, but skill and stamina are needed for all of them.

Really, this one of those questions where you have to look at local natural and social circumstances to know how communities are organized. There doesn't appear to be a single clear pattern of human living, and there probably never was.

In addition to what Zamfir said: agriculture started about ten thousand years ago, tool use is older than Homo sapiens. So no, by the time we started to have tools we were still a far cry from agriculture.

Also compare with lions. The males are much stronger than the females, yet the females hunt. In fact the lionesses do wrestle their prey in paw-to-paw combat, contrary to humans.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Laserdan » Wed May 09, 2012 12:04 am UTC

PeteP wrote:So what do you propose are the reasons that "males are going to more easily dominate" in political systems, if not sexism? Greater average upper body strength isn't all that helpful in more complex political systems, you usually have others for violence.


I would also add that with being male, in most cases there's more testosterone (and similar molecules in effect) in play, which also has psychological effects outside of just being helpful in the anabolic department.

There are also studies showing that men are more interested in competing, and that increasing competitivness in the environment increases performance in males more than in females (there are also interesting differences when females compete against males vs. against females). This is excluding actual skills and assuming skills are equal, e.g. not directly comparing environments where physical strength is highly advantageous. This is of course "in general", as we have plenty examples of highly competitive and successfull females. Taking this together with the fact that historically, power was built in large parts on physical power, can offer an explanation - as in, the physical power differences snowballed into societies that don't primarily rely on physical strength to assert power anymore.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 09, 2012 1:23 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:the criticism of the Gelles/Strauss numbers seems to be implying that women are as dangerous to men as children are to their parents.
Actually no, it doesn't even remotely imply that. Rather, it assumes readers are smart enough to know that children are not, in fact, especially dangerous to there parents. And yet, if one analyzes statistics the same way as Gelles/Strauss, one would come to the conclusion that men and women are about equally violent toward each other, and that this violence pales in comparison to that instigated by their children. Which is obviously absurd.

If a given kind of reasoning applied to a given kind of data results in at least one conclusion that absurd, we would do well to question the other conclusions the same kind of reasoning applied to the same kind of data comes up with.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby Wodashin » Wed May 09, 2012 2:02 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Actually no, it doesn't even remotely imply that. Rather, it assumes readers are smart enough to know that children are not, in fact, especially dangerous to there parents. And yet, if one analyzes statistics the same way as Gelles/Strauss, one would come to the conclusion that men and women are about equally violent toward each other, and that this violence pales in comparison to that instigated by their children. Which is obviously absurd.

If a given kind of reasoning applied to a given kind of data results in at least one conclusion that absurd, we would do well to question the other conclusions the same kind of reasoning applied to the same kind of data comes up with.


What was considered severe violence in the study was, and I quote, "Severe violence: To kick, bite, or hit with a fist; burn; scald; to hit or try to hit with an object; to beat up the other; to threaten with a knife, gun, or other deadly weapon; to use a knife, gun, or other deadly weapon."

Now, if you wish to apply children's actions towards their parents to this, you may. You will get that children are very violent, severely so. However, this violence is ineffectual, and to say that child violence is a huge problem would be silly. Children may bite and kick or hit with a fist. Sure.

However, if we don't want to be intellectually bankrupt, we can see that applying "children" to this set of standards is complete idiocy. That is not what this study is for. Hell, if we applied "pets" to this, then we'd have to put down the vast majority of cats and dogs for being "severely violent". However, this is a study on violence between adult men and women. To say that the study can be hand-waved away by inserting children into it IS to compare women to children, because the point of inserting children and say that "it shows child violence to be a problem" is to insinuate that female-on-male violence is not a problem.

I'm sorry if, when your thesis is basically "adults can hurt other adults when in relationships, regardless of gender", and you go and say "lulz wut abt if we put childrenz?" it doesn't fit. Throwing in variables that are not supposed to fit within a study in order to disprove it makes absolutely no sense in any way whatsoever. The questions were asked of adults, and meant for adults, in order to measure an attribute of adults. Not that hard to grasp.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 09, 2012 2:40 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:To say that the study can be hand-waved away by inserting children into it IS to compare women to children, because the point of inserting children and say that "it shows child violence to be a problem" is to insinuate that female-on-male violence is not a problem.
Nice false dichotomies there. I would never argue that "child violence is not a problem", because there are children who murder their parents. Similarly, I would never argue that "female-on-male violence is not a problem", because in 1998 510 men were killed by intimate partners, most of whom were probably women (though unfortunately the quoted statistic doesn't further distinguish between heterosexual and homosexual intimate partnerships).

What I would argue is that a lot of child violence against parents is inconsequential, and that therefore the problem with this study study that comes to light when we hypothetically include children is that it cannot distinguish significant violence from inconsequential violence. If it could, then applying it to children wouldn't make them look like the most dangerous people it's possible to have in a family. And because it can't, it is an invalid way to compare male and female violence against each other.

The reason that study was only meant to apply to adults is because the researchers presumably made a number of assumptions about things like intent to cause injury and physical strength, which are not present to the same degree in children (or pets). However, in leaving these assumptions unstated, we are unable to assess whether they *are* present to the same degree between men and women. If they aren't, then it's as fallacious to compare men and women by the same metric as it is to include children in the comparison.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby jakovasaur » Wed May 09, 2012 2:56 am UTC

I don't think partner-on-partner violence can be inconsequential in the same way that child-on-parent violence can be. Can you give some examples of partner violence that you think is inconsequential?

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 09, 2012 3:06 am UTC

For one thing, part of what I mean by inconsequential is that it's unlikely to cause physical damage. Since women are on average physically smaller than men, it's reasonable to think that even if men and women put exactly the same amount of effort into committing violence against each other, men are more likely to physically hurt women than the other way around.

For another thing, not all violence is abuse. Not all violence is even done against someone's wishes, nor is it necessarily done out of anger, or with the intent to hurt or punish or retaliate against someone. Nothing in the definition of "severe violence" that Wodashin posted says anything about intent or understanding or about the actual force of any of the hitting or biting or anything.

If I make a terrible pun and my girlfriend punches me on the shoulder for it, is that really the kind of "violence" that should be counted together with using a deadly weapon? The wording posted above suggests Wodashin thinks so. Which is why I still contend that that study cannot distinguish between consequential and inconsequential violence.
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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby jakovasaur » Wed May 09, 2012 3:19 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:For one thing, part of what I mean by inconsequential is that it's unlikely to cause physical damage. Since women are on average physically smaller than men, it's reasonable to think that even if men and women put exactly the same amount of effort into committing violence against each other, men are more likely to physically hurt women than the other way around.

This is kind of a troubling way of looking at it. The effort or intent should always matter, and obviously a very significant portion of the harm from abuse is psychological. Just knowing someone wants to hurt you is enough, even if they aren't very good at it. I think one could still say "women commit just as much domestic violence as men" even if they don't do as much physical damage.

gmalivuk wrote:For another thing, not all violence is abuse. Not all violence is even done against someone's wishes, nor is it necessarily done out of anger, or with the intent to hurt or punish or retaliate against someone. Nothing in the definition of "severe violence" that Wodashin posted says anything about intent or understanding or about the actual force of any of the hitting or biting or anything.

If I make a terrible pun and my girlfriend punches me on the shoulder for it, is that really the kind of "violence" that should be counted together with using a deadly weapon? The wording posted above suggests Wodashin thinks so. Which is why I still contend that that study cannot distinguish between consequential and inconsequential violence.

I hadn't considered this. I would think any decent study would take this into account, so that love bites or shoulder punches aren't counted as violence, but that's just an assumption. Maybe I'm wrong.

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Re: Why is sexism universal?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 09, 2012 3:48 am UTC

jakovasaur wrote:The effort or intent should always matter, and obviously a very significant portion of the harm from abuse is psychological. Just knowing someone wants to hurt you is enough, even if they aren't very good at it.
But knowing whether hurt is intended isn't part of the study in question. Plus there's the fact that I said "part".

I would think any decent study would take this into account
Well yes, but the contention is that this isn't a decent study.
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