Thursday, July 4, 2013

Manly Thor's Day Special: Looking at feminism through manly eyes Pt1

As I've often joked, the worst possible thing you can do is to do a good study that comes up with inconvenient results.

You run this risk in a big way if, for example, you do a study comparing the political knowledge of different groups.  Why? Because there isn't a lot of room for questioning your methodology; it's a pretty straightforward project. And there is a good chance that those results are going to cause discomfort because, little as we like to admit this, some groups tend to do a lot better than other groups when you test them on their political knowledge. Or, to put it in a way that people really won't like, some groups tend to do a lot worse than other groups when you test them on their political knowledge.

What groups? Well, women.
In a finding sure to inflame the gender wars, research funded by the U.K. government suggests women around the world, and especially in Canada, are significantly more ignorant of current affairs and politics than men.
How very inconvenient. But facts are stubborn things.

And this result shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention. Compare the good morning shows on the big networks to the evening news and you will immediately note that the morning shows, whose audience is primarily women, tend to focus a lot more on gossip, make up, fashion and other lifestyle issues than they do on politics. Over the last few decades as the media has tended to focus more and more on female readers, they have done so by increasing the amount of gossip they cover. That is why once-respectable newspapers now treat Pippa Middleton's clothing choices as serious news.

No, I don't think this is a good thing nor do I think there is nothing that can be done about it. But nothing will ever change so long as we don't acknowledge that some things are women's fault. The people responsible for the study are desperate not to do that.
The mystery of what causes this alleged knowledge gap is the “extraordinary question at the heart of this study,” said the lead author, James Curran, professor of communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, and director of the Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre.

“I think it’s because public affairs is indeed dominated by men. It may be that there is also patriarchal bias, but it isn’t possible to determine whether reality is being distorted or whether it is merely being reflected,” he said in an interview.

He suggested three partial explanations. One is a “historical hangover” from an age when public affairs was men’s work, and women stayed home. Another is that women can be more busy than men, with less time for news. A third is that the men seem to be more prominent in current affairs, which can discourage some women from taking an interest or feeling involved.
Notice that all of those "partial explanations" treat women as helpless victims of their environment. None of them suggest that maybe the solution might be for women to stop wasting their time on tripe like women's magazines The Vagina Monologues and the like and read the political news that grown ups read instead.

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