General Question

nerfmissile's avatar

Gender equity or gender war?

Asked by nerfmissile (318points) January 26th, 2008

There’s still an active debate going on about fairness in the workplace and equal pay. What is the useful role of feminism now, and where is the voice of masculism concerning the issues of equal access to medical care, education, right to equal longevity, family law and asymmetric sentencing for the same crimes? Please detail how these issues have touched your lives and suggest the best websites you know.

Here’s one for starters: The Office of Men’s Health Resource Center

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18 Answers

GD_Kimble's avatar

There’s a very interesting book about many of these issues called The Myth Of Male Power by Dr. Warren Farrell.

Make no mistake though, he is operating from a VERY biased, anti-feminist point of view- but some of the raw data he presents is fascinating, for example:
Breast cancer and prostate cancer affect and kill equal numbers of women and men, respectively, each year, but breast cancer research receives 700% more funding annually.

Poser's avatar

Interesting question. But I wonder, where is anyone’s right to equal longevity guaranteed?

Or, for that matter, medical care and education? For anyone, male or female?

hossman's avatar

Poser, you’ve touched on a new trend. . . medical care and education (including higher education) are rapidly being labeled rights and entitlement, to rationalize the further intrusion of the federal government into both. I don’t recall any Constitutional guarantees of either.

nerfmissile's avatar

Excellent. So, how can men achieve equal rights in terms of the legal system ( such as family law or criminal justice ), education, health care and workplace discrimination…. without subscribing to the same victim mentality that has served as the tried-and-true formula for every other interest group for the past fifty plus years?

Poser's avatar

@Nerfmissile—great question. In a media literacy class in college, I gave a presentation about the negative portrayal of men in the media. Seems we’re one of the last “safe” targets these days, perhaps because we typically don’t subscribe to that mentality. I remember my professor being somewhat surprised that anyone noticed.

For my part, I think people just tend to whine too much.

nerfmissile's avatar

My thesis here is that “toughening up” and “playing mum” hasn’t worked for men… instead, it’s resulted in an ever-widening gender gap in all of these quality ( and quantity ) of life areas. Does anyone have any ideas on an approach other than “whining”? How about stepping back from pride and examining the facts long enough to consider that the male voice might actually be valid, rather than discrediting valid issues as complaints, for starters?

Are there any social movements, in your eyes, that don’t surround a complaint of some kind? Was women’s suffrage and is feminism, for instance, plaintive and therefore invalid? Has its whine made it pointless, or has it resulted in a widespread enfranchisement of females—often, as in the cases of affirmative action or family law, at the expense of males?

artemisdivine's avatar

lets see. equal access to medical care? most men dont WANT to go see a doctor (see the ads on SPIKE tv) or wait too long to get treated because they are “men”. seeking treatment is seen as weak. equal access to education? girls are ENCOURAGED not to take science or math. this have been proved again and again.
equal access to family law? sadly the law is quite antiquated. however in the past fathers have been MUCH less interested in their children than the mothers are in my estimation. this whole “share” household duties only came out of the 80’s when the yuppies started and women worked more. before then lots of families were ONLY the man worked. then people wanted BIGGER houses and more STUFF.

i am a woman and i know the system favors men. why? because men have the money, men have the power and men have the ability to do as they please. what are the most famous women in the world known for ?

beauty. looks. sex appeal. youth. fashion. its pathetic.

women are saddled with CHILDREN, cleaning the HOUSE, making DINNER all things to keep men happy. they also are under the control of their hormones/monthly inconvenience which men are not. women are more emotional, which is viewed as weakness. generally women put their needs second, as generally the husband makes more money. also women have forever been treated as sex objects and that will never evolve. until a man can GIVE BIRTH, have periods, get mood swings etc. it will never change. which means never

enjoy these sites. some are pro men, some pro women.

First Blacks, then other racial minorities, students, the New Left, peace protesters, and finally women, emerged one by oneas forces demanding social change.
The Feminist Majority Foundation and New Media Publishing Inc.

Gender-Issue News & Views Rarely Put Forth By The Big Media and Most Leading Feminists
“Comparable worth” proponents claim that until April 8 (“Equal Pay Day”), women essentially work for no pay, because women are paid 74 cents for every dollar earned by a man. This charge is based on misinformation.

UNTIL RECENT YEARS, journalists seldom recognized the military women who risked—and often sacrificed—their lives in war. They almost always reported on “the men.” Since military women represented at least a small percentage of those ensnarled in fighting a war, journalists were hardly fair when minimizing or ignoring servicewomen’s risk and sacrifice altogether

Within the last 30 years, men have sustained the vast majority of discrimination within the workforce. This information has been repressed by the various fallacies that the feminists have stated via the media. The discrimination that men endure is derived from the legislation of affirmative action laws, that ensure the most incompetent female employees are granted a job over the more qualified male candidates. Sexual Harassment Laws tend to offer legal impunity and financial reward to the female employees who falsely accuse a male colleague or employer of committing such an offence.

‘Looking back, the early 1970s were years of incredible optimism in Women’s Liberation; we believed we could change the world, and had not yet understood or analysed the extent of the forces ranged against us,’ Lynne Harne, writing in ‘68, ‘78, ‘88 From Women’s Liberation to Feminism.

Feminism may have been around, in various guises, for centuries, but in the 1970s it started to take shape as a movement. In 1971, the first National Women’s Liberation Conference was held at Ruskin College, Oxford. It was the first time women’s groups from across Britain had met in a single place to discuss their demands and the challenges they faced.

By the following year, the Women’s National Co-ordinating Committee had worked out four basic demands with the aim of uniting as many women as possible in the new struggle for equality. They were:

Equal pay
Equal education and job opportunities
Free contraception and abortion on demand
Free 24-hour nurseries

New Internationalist – The people, the ideas, the action in the fight for global justice
Feminists believe that equal pay must be given for work of equal value.

What is Men’s Rights About ?
Men’s Rights is the ideology according to which men have intrinsic rights that are often denied them in contemporary Western culture—indeed, according to this view, society does not usually recognize that men, as men, even have rights. Feminists in western countries have, over about 200 years (since Wollstonecraft), established as a given the thesis that society is male-dominated and oppresses women. This is the meta-issue that Men’s Rights activists raise, as a logical (but not necessarily practical) precondition to the raising of various specific issues.

Marilyn vos Savant writes the “Ask Marilyn” column in Parade Magazine. She is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame for “highest IQ.” This is Marilyn’s explanation of why the widely-quoted statement “women, on average, earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men” is a misunderstanding and why she believes the wage gap between the sexes actually may be tiny. The results of her poll about men and women in the workplace follow it.

No equality in nature: Man and woman designed to complement not compete—to love & complete one another. Sex-roles vital to survival, motivation & personal fulfillment. Feminism: The attack on femininity—on woman;—reflecting hatred and loathing for all things female; ultimately an attack on our capacity for happiness, even on life itself.

Genuine feminism, and genuine female emancipation, is not about equal pay for equal work, and other minor matters. It is also not about opposing men. Genuine feminism, most of all, is about female sexual liberation. It is about females not being restricted from pursuing sexual satisfaction, without being brainwashed into believing that they will have to pursue love in a traditional marriage setting (and that it’s the man’s fault if it doesn’t work out).

The original meaning of “feminism” was “a belief in theory and practice of equal rights for women” and a “feminist” was an advocate for equal rights for women in spheres conventionally reserved for men. The suffragettes in Britain who agitated for the right to vote were the prototypal feminists. However, since the ‘sixties, “feminism” has come to mean a specific set of methods for achieving equality between the sexes. The most significant belief underlying contemporary feminism is that there are no sex differences; therefore advocacy for equal rights must be extended to advocacy for equal results or outcomes. This article examines some of the impact this ideology has on government policies in the areas of education, social security, maternity, employment and defence.

A new study from the American Association of University Women finds that just a year after graduating from college, women earn just 80 percent of what men make. Ten years down the line, women make 69 percent of what men earn. is a thriving online community fostering awareness, education and activism for women all across the world. We serve as the Internet’s definitive hub for resources and information dedicated to women’s equality, justice, wellness and safety.

National Organization for Women – taking action for women’s equality since 1966

The original meaning of “feminism” was “a belief in theory and practice of equal rights for women” and a “feminist” was an advocate for equal rights for women in spheres conventionally reserved for men. The suffragettes in Britain who agitated for the right to vote were the prototypal feminists. However, since the ‘sixties, “feminism” has come to mean a specific set of methods for achieving equality between the sexes. The most significant belief underlying contemporary feminism is that there are no sex differences; therefore advocacy for equal rights must be extended to advocacy for equal results or outcomes. This article examines some of the impact this ideology has on government policies in the areas of education, social security, maternity, employment and defence.

nerfmissile's avatar

Artemis, good resources and great answer. However, there is no dearth of feminist perspective out there. In fact, it seems to be just about the only canonical perspective despite being quite asymmetrical in nature. While I happen to agree that women seem, perhaps genetically, more inclined to evince emotional investment in their family and children ( with many, many obvious exceptions ) than men, the following ideas seem at best moot and rooted in 1950s social perspective:

1) That “girls are ENCOURAGED not to take science or math. this have been proved again and again.” Where’s the Office of Girl Discouragement? Are there any non-concocted statistics here re: this, from an agency without an agenda for Amazonian mastery? I don’t think there are any Patriarchy-commissioned boogeymen or other active forces out there pushing women out of science. Having majored in science both undergrad and grad, I can attest that science is a hard, exclusive field for both sexes and that the personalities teaching it are stringent and discouraging to everyone on an equal opportunity basis. Why don’t we see more women in science? Well, it might be the same reason why we don’t see more women in tough, physical or dangerous jobs: lack of inclination. Science is one thing, but where’s the feminist push for gender equality in the less glamorous professions of construction, welding and the military? I’m not saying there isn’t one—just saying I haven’t heard about it. Meanwhile, I’ve heard a lot about the cherry-picking employment push for women for the choicest of jobs, the executive and academic ones.

2. That women are more caring about other people by nature, more “selfless”. Sentimental, perhaps, but selfless? I know what I’ve experienced in my life, and I’ve dated both sexes pretty extensively. If caring is measured in terms of financial fairness, generosity, romantic acts and self-sacrifice, then in my experience, men have it all over women. When my mom was dying, my dad practically killed himself taking care of her 24/7, month after month, while the many females of my family either sent occasional platitudes or sat on their a$$es. Having said that, I have seen many women capable of amazing altruism—as long as you happen to be their children. I’ve dated dozens of women and all but one expected a net input of caring ( a supercilious “prove yourself to me” attitude ) rather than conceiving of themselves as equal partners.

3. That “women are saddled with CHILDREN, cleaning the HOUSE, making DINNER all things to keep men happy.” Please! Amazing, that this idea was flown as plausible, today! It’s more than obvious to us men that the sun has set on the Cleavers, ladies. Men are viciously backed off of any expectation of modern women fulfilling any aspect of their traditional gender roles besides, of course, demanding to be treated as “the fairer sex”. The first time I ever had dinner made for me by a date was after I made the switch to dating men. The first time I was ever NOT confronted with a “you VILL comply” to-do list while co-habitating was also after I made the switch. And children? Who has time for those? The only couples under 40 with children I know of have wealthy helicopter parents, and much of the childcare is up to them, rather than their liberated daughters. I’m going to argue here that modern women are so disinclined to care for children that most men are scared to death to help them have babies, because they know that someone has to pick up the slack and they’re already expected to provide the majority of the household income and the entire burden of risk in the case of divorce.

4. That the system favors men. So, feelings aside, where’s your hard evidence? I have some on the side that the system favors women. Men die 6–7 years younger. A huge percentage of the male population is in prison, many of them due to trumped-up or false accusations leveraged by women. Men’s medical issues receive a tiny fraction of the research money allocated to women. We have no Men’s Studies academic programs—women have hundreds of these, tax-financed. We have no National Organization of Men. We have bad press, negative media depictions and the conventional attitude of females is “sit down and shut up” rather than anything approaching the respect deserved for the sacrifices the male gender makes working ourselves raw, paying the majority of the taxes and defending the country. Women don’t get conscripted and NOW isn’t pushing very hard, if at all, for that particular share of equality.

If women were dying 7 years younger than men, don’t you think we’d hear about it? There would be strikes, walk-outs, burning buildings, burning pieces of clothing, outrage, militancy, etc. etc. But men seem to put up with it because we’re acculturated to being treated like dogs.

So, why do men put up with it? Some are starting not to: The Marriage Strike.

andrew's avatar

@nerfmissile: I’m only going to respond to your point #1. Before I dispute your point, know that I do feel that as time progresses, masculinity will come into the discourse… it’s just harder when you’re in the position of privilege and power.

Of course there isn’t a Office of Girl Discouragement, just like there isn’t a Board of People Who Think They’re Racist (klan aside).

The real problem lies in the fact that culturally the sciences (and I’m going to specifically talk about computer science, since it’s what I know) make it very difficult for women—I can’t count the number of times in undergrad when a woman who was extremely smart was cut down behind her back because she was a female. And if she’s at all attractive? Forget it! She’s either not “hardcore” enough or she’s totally fetishized—either way the weight of her ideas are diluted by the fact that she’s a woman. That’s something that all of my lady computer-science friends have had to deal with—and something that, as a white man, I take for granted.

Do I think that political-correctness can have a negative side effect to discourse? Yes. Have I seen woman rewarded over an equally (or more) qualified man because she’s a woman? Yes.

That said, each one of my managers at major corporations have been women, and they were brilliant. And I think that until more than 98% of people in computer science aren’t white and male, we have a duty to introduce different perpectives, because we all will prosper from diversity.

nerfmissile's avatar

I’m all for diversity and I don’t feel particularly connected to—quite the contrary, actually—the culture or ethos of my own race or gender. What I’m challenging here is the myth of male power in the West, which our population has bought, and continues to buy, hook line and sinker despite the OJ Simpson-esque mountain of evidence.

Yes, a cadre of a very few WASP males are more or less in charge of the American government and economy, and in the western hemisphere they tend to be in charge of more than their share of large companies. But these are the elites. They’re not particularly fond of their own or inclined to share. They’re a very tiny minority, NOT representative of Joe Blow. Yet, the academic and media assumption is that they speak for Joe and that Joe is a suitable proxy for resentment directed toward them. Meanwhile, Joe dies 6–7 years younger, receives inferior legal representation, is many times more likely to commit suicide and spend a portion of his life in prison… etc., etc.

I will admit that I might be conditioned to perceive the sexes as completely equal in potential because the women of my extended family are better-educated and more gainfully employed than the men, almost to a person, and have been since about 1990. It just wouldn’t occur to me to laugh at or berate a female in computer science… I’m surprised that it occurs to other men and frankly I haven’t seen a lot of snickering behind their backs in my experience. In my computer science major, the students were 80% Asian and 90% male. I don’t know where you get your 98% white men in computer science figure—do you work in rural Alaska? The population where I work is very ethnically diverse.

The few females in my software program received extra attention, extra help and were completely respected as far as I could tell. When I asked them about their experiences, they had nothing overtly negative to recount and were pleased when I mentioned that, due to affirmative action, they should have no trouble at all finding jobs. So, how much of your recounted observations of your undergrad computer science experience are through het-colored lenses, and how much are a product of attending a school in a small, perhaps more regressive, town?

andrew's avatar

@nerfmissile: Now now, no need to make personal assumptions. I’d hardly call one of the top CS programs (at one of the most liberal universities) small or regressive.

But you’re right, my off-the-cuff figures are wrong (and exaggerated). It’s more like 72% male (less for grad school).

I definitely think there should be more support for white men in terms of social issues—and I think we’ll see the pendulum swing back the other way as things become more equal. Forming groups and support out of necessity and common interest—be it women in science or students of color—will always happen before an amorphous population gets the same level of support.

i think an even stronger deterrent to women in computer science is the the very strong cultural image of the “male geek”, which is reinforced by the (often-more-than-a-handful) of hardcore geeks studying computer science. This is also changing (especially as video games become less stigmatized as a teenage male thing), but again, we (as white men and a majority) have the responsibility to acknowledge that fact.

sarah's avatar

On women in the sciences: women now receive more than half of the undergraduate degrees in biology. I’ve heard that attributed to successful initiatives to recruit and encourage women to enter those programs. I’ve also heard it cynically attributed to the decline in salaries for general practitioners with the rise of HMOs.

On women in computer science: It is good to see a rise in women getting undergraduate degrees. When I graduated in 1990, it was at 18%—a sharp decline from the mid-eighties. Many women I know who graduated in the eighties said that their parents encouraged them to study CS, since they felt it was the career of the future. I also noticed that by the end of the 80s, there was no longer a widespread misconception that people would need to learn to program computers in order to use them effectively. I don’t know why that stat is rising again, but maybe we’re improving the image of what it means to study CS and become a software engineer (more on that: )

I’m a women who has been writing software and managing software projects since 1990. The gender gap may be closing in CS degrees, but it takes longer for it to close in the industry, especially in certain types of jobs. I’ve seen QA departments that had a good gender balance, often marketing, and occasionally management. Only once have I heard about a software development team with a majority of women—I think that was true of the AppleTalk group in the early 90s. Only 2 percent of open source developers are women . I’ve often been the only woman on my team and I am frequently in technical meetings with other companies where I am the only woman in the room, even though statistically 20–25% of the technical jobs in software are held by women.

There is huge bias against women by many people, and there are also people who actively seek to encourage women in the field. I can’t tell you how many times I have been seen as an existence proof by my peers. I have also had some wonderful mentors who were men. Early in my career I found the gender issues to be discouraging, then I got over it, now I’m either too senior to be affected or I’ve gotten really good at avoiding the large pockets of sexism in the industry or the industry has gotten better—probably a bit of all of these has happened.

Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls reports a lot of very good research about classroom education (before college). Also, while we have no curriculum standards for teaching computer science in elementary, middle and high schools, it continues to be hard to introduce girls to the subject. Many women I know never even considered CS, simply because they knew nothing about it.

Kurtosis's avatar

Sarah makes the point that women are much more prevalent in biology. In fact I would hazard a guess that if you ranked the science disciplines by percentage of women it would go roughly biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, math, (and CS dead last?) I can say with certainty that I see a lot more women at chem and chem engin conferences than at physics conferences. This is actually a pretty significant point in my opinion.

@sarah: I’m not convinced by the reasons you mentioned for more women in biology. Saying there were more successful initiatives to recruit women in bio sounds a bit like post facto justification. Why were these initiatives more succesful in bio than other sciences? The point about HMOs relates to doctors, but even in non-medical biology there is a higher proportion of women.

@andrew: I think the cultural image effect is definitely real, but there are limits to how much it can explain the current state of CS.

If you go back ~100 years, all sciences were essentially male dominated fields (heck, even history was) and women faced similar handicaps in all of them. It’s easy to lose sight of that now, but certainly biology in the 19th century was even more of a male dominated field than computing is today. So women certainly have broken through a lot of cultural barriers (and cheers to that). Still, it has clearly resulted in an uneven distribution of women in the sciences. I guess I’m not convinced that the relative lack of women in computing is mainly due to it having a uniquely “male” image, since all sciences have at one time.

Zaku's avatar

@Kurtosis – I’ve heard from women who tried that only ~50 years ago many/most universities assumed that generally women wouldn’t do math and science.

aaronblohowiak's avatar

<joke> You all have completely missed the point. The real answer lies here;

purely from an evolutionary perspective, the genders have different strategies to maximize reproductive effectiveness. further, specialization and the resulting sexual dimorphism have lead to inequality between the sexes. (Axiomatically, Different is not the same! Equality is sameness!)

For interesting reading, check out things like this

Now in computing, if you go back in the history of computing, it used to be much more balanced. Some support

trainerboy's avatar

Gneder equitty and equality are myths. Nobody is equal in the sense that we are all unique and bring unique talents and gifts to any organization regardless of gender.
The statistics that people site to cry inequality are skewed by things like, time on the job etc.
Stop worrying about being victims. Anybody can achieve whatever they desire but if you are looking for a reason to feel discriminated against, you will find it whether or not it is really happening. Even if someone is discriminating, find opportunity elsewhere.

aweav's avatar

I’m not sure how exactly anyone can claim that gender inequality is a myth. I agree that some of the statistics cited by feminists could be skewed. Statistics lend themselves to skewing. But the fact is, as a woman, it’s impossible to ignore it. I know it’s stupid to walk the streets of a city alone at night. I know I could get raped or mugged. If genders were equal, men would also be afraid to go out alone at night, but for fear of getting raped by women.

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