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The Unreasoner
10-22-2011, 05:53 PM
So, given the interest in the Moiraine/ToG thread, I thought I'd start a thread for people to post and discuss actual differences between sexes, to see if there is a consensus that men and women should not be judged on the same criteria. I realize this thread may get a little heated, but let's try to keep it fun and lighthearted (so nothing too close to home). If a flamewar does start, try to enjoy it (or hide on the ESC couch if you must), but I'd like it if no posts got deleted (by the same token, keep it civil. Don't give a reason for your posts to be deleted. Or moved to the little-used meta-thread).

So to start it off, I'll post something I found a few years ago, thought it was pretty cool:
The Gender Genie (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=male%20female%20writing%20analysis&source=web&cd=2&sqi=2&ved=0CCsQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbookblog.net%2Fgender%2Fgenie.php&ei=0EWjTqu-OsTgiAK8gOFZ&usg=AFQjCNEI-hVVYGXLHFXrja1D6jvMUvIPyQ&cad=rja)
It analyses writing samples and guesses a gender. It's pretty accurate (though funniest when it's wrong). It is hardly a controversial issue, but it is at least reasonably supported.

And of course, @Zombie:
It may help you out with your novel. Maybe put a few of your female character PoVs through it, if only to verify it. (Me, I have three male PoVs (and the random other character, some of which will be female). Idk, I just feel that, as a male, I could do more justice to male characters. And I don't feel obligated to try (and very probably fail) to present a believable female character.)


EDITED TO ADD:

I don't personally believe that men and women should never be judged by the same criteria. But it is an argument that came up a few times in the Moiraine thread, so it was relevant, IMO.

In any case, this thread is supposed to be for entertainment purposes only. I'd rather not debate the existence of gender, or how it differs from sex. I don't want to hear about the worldwide patriarchal conspiracy, or how feminists have made men second-class citizens in families.

Certainly, whatever we personally believe, the WoT universe seems to operate on a pretty strict binary sex structure. So we should all be able to at least entertain the notion.

Zombie Sammael
10-22-2011, 06:30 PM
I'm worried about making horrendous mistakes because of privilege or just not knowing what I'm on about. But I think the way through that is just to write the book I want to bloody write and ignore all the other possibilities, at least until the second draft.

On the main topic, my problem with the idea of "scientifically proving" differences between sexes is that they can never be anything more than a broad generalisation. You can never say anything more than "most mean are stronger than most women" or "most women are better drivers than most men". Given that it is inevitably such a broad generalisation, the grounds for actually discriminating between the two are weakened, because doing so on an absolute basis will diminish the individual right to self-determination of the exceptions.

It's also not an argument for traditional gender roles. We may be able to statistically show that a broad selection of women are actually better psychologically and emotionally equipped for certain tasks than a broad selection of men, but this isn't necessarily an argument which demonstrates that the roles we've traditionally assigned to men and women are roles which individuals of either gender will find particularly satisfying or fulfilling.

And of course, there is the problem that sex isn't necessarily the same thing as gender. My sex is pretty accurately summed up as male. My gender identity is a little more complicated, and better summed up as "male, but with the following exceptions, the following characteristics which one might view as feminine, and the following things I think are just stupid regardless of gender". This goes back to what I said in the second paragraph about individuals. Just because most men or most women choose to behave one way doesn't mean men or women who choose to behave in another should be discriminated against or barred from doing so.

Davian93
10-22-2011, 07:48 PM
Boys have a penis, Girls have a vagina.

DahLliA
10-22-2011, 09:53 PM
Boys have a penis, Girls have a vagina.

a bit more complicated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_humans) than that ;)

Res_Ipsa
10-22-2011, 10:12 PM
Gender is considered to be a societal concept, do you mean the differences of the sexes?

The Unreasoner
10-22-2011, 10:33 PM
Gender is considered to be a societal concept, do you mean the differences of the sexes?
Jesus. This is 'America isn't a nation' all over again.

Interpret it as you will.

Crispin's Crispian
10-22-2011, 10:46 PM
Jesus. This is 'America isn't a nation' all over again.

Interpret it as you will.Well, it could be important depending on the thrust of the argument. Biologically, Dav nailed it of course. But gender and sex are technically different; a very feminine male might share more characteristically female social attributes than his male cohort.

Moreover, differences between genders may be entirely socialized and not related to biology. In some cultures, for example, men may be the typically "emotional" reactors, where as in our society women are usually labeled as more "emotional."

confused at birth
10-23-2011, 12:27 AM
Must be an age issue because I donít see much between the sexes beyond the physical and language differences (females defiantly speak a very different version of English than males). Always figured thatís you could do all the same things guys could but they chose not to because they didnít want to.

Zombie Sammael
10-23-2011, 04:18 AM
Jesus. This is 'America isn't a nation' all over again.

Interpret it as you will.

As I said in my post, gender and sex, while traditionally associated, aren't necessarily the same thing at all. I think this is important to the discussion.

GonzoTheGreat
10-23-2011, 11:20 AM
Boys have a penis, Girls have a vagina.Some people have both. There may even be people with neither. Would you deny them a gender/sex?

I maintain that it's just a choice.

Zombie Sammael
10-23-2011, 11:30 AM
We really need to stop using the terms gender and sex as if they mean the same thing. Sex is biologically determined, gender is socially constructed (and to some extent, a personal choice). The fact that they're two associated concepts does not mean they are the same thing.

If people need this illustrating (it appears they might), a couple of metaphors: The banking sector is associated with the insurance business, but that doesn't mean going to the bank is the same as buying insurance. A car and a bicycle are both forms of wheeled transportation. This does not make a car a bike.

GonzoTheGreat
10-23-2011, 11:36 AM
The banking sector is associated with the insurance business, but that doesn't mean going to the bank is the same as buying insurance.In both cases, when they go bust your money is gone, and the CEO will get a bonus from the government bailout. How's that different?

Zombie Sammael
10-23-2011, 11:57 AM
In both cases, when they go bust your money is gone, and the CEO will get a bonus from the government bailout. How's that different?

Associated concepts but not the same Gonzo. And don't be a troll.

The Unreasoner
10-23-2011, 06:30 PM
I'm worried about making horrendous mistakes because of privilege or just not knowing what I'm on about.

Privilege?

But I think the way through that is just to write the book I want to bloody write

Oh I wouldn't want you to do otherwise. I didn't mean anything by the comment on your novel. More a 'here is something that might be a resource, if you so desire.'

On the main topic, my problem with the idea of "scientifically proving" differences between sexes

Well I'll stop you for a moment to point out that I said demonstrated, not proven.

is that they can never be anything more than a broad generalisation. You can never say anything more than "most mean are stronger than most women" or "most women are better drivers than most men".

I don't really have a problem with this though. Pretty much everything we use as working knowledge is a generalization. 'I can go outside safely because most people aren't hit by meteors.' There are exceptions to almost everything, of course. But that is part of the point of such things: we can use generalizations to recognize the abnormal, and appreciate the exceptional. And to aid the disadvantaged, I suppose. And generalizations allow for more efficient communication. Not generalizing about anything would lead to perfectly inefficient communication. I could prove it, with the entropy of information (which is why I'm opposed to making everything PC).

This is beside the point, of course. You seem to be saying that generalizations shouldn't be made about people. I would disagree, although I think people often form generalizations poorly when concerning others. And all too often, they are used with malicious intent. But as long as it is an accurate generalization, I think it is fair to make. And if it isn't negative, I don't think it's impolite. (So 'Eskimos run all the locksmith shops' is probably inaccurate, 'All Muslims are terrorists' is both impolite and inaccurate).

I am intrigued by your comment on women being better drivers than men. In America, we have a similar stereotype, but with the roles reversed. I always just dismissed it as a stereotype that is often repeated but not really supported by any evidence. Essentially, I saw it as nonsense. But if in England, the stereotype exists in reverse, maybe there is something to it. Maybe it has something to do with the set-up of the roads: men do better with the wheel on the left, women do better with the wheel on the right. It certainly seems ridiculous, but I find the fact that the stereotype reverses with the steering wheel's position interesting.

Given that it is inevitably such broad generalisation, the grounds for actually discriminating between the two are weakened, because doing so on an absolute basis will diminish the individual right to self-determination of the exceptions.

I'm not sure I follow your use of 'discriminating.' And I'm not looking for an absolute basis for anything anyway. But certainly a general rule of thumb. How else would we recognize exceptions? Some men are aesthetically pleasing, if very few. And almost none compare to even a moderately beautiful girl. But there are a few 'pretty' men. And some women are fast sprinters. But they would be overlooked, lost among male sprinters, without some sort of sex-based generalizations.

It's also not an argument for traditional gender roles. We may be able to statistically show that a broad selection of women are actually better psychologically and emotionally equipped for certain tasks than a broad selection of men, but this isn't necessarily an argument which demonstrates that the roles we've traditionally assigned to men and women are roles which individuals of either gender will find particularly satisfying or fulfilling.

Oh I'm not in favor of gender 'roles', be they traditional or modern. I don't want anything treading on free will, and feeling obligated to serve a certain role would probably make a person less free. I don't mind gender 'norms' though. I think people should be able to choose their own roles. But I reserve the right to have general expectations.

And of course, there is the problem that sex isn't necessarily the same thing as gender. My sex is pretty accurately summed up as male. My gender identity is a little more complicated, and better summed up as "male, but with the following exceptions, the following characteristics which one might view as feminine, and the following things I think are just stupid regardless of gender". This goes back to what I said in the second paragraph about individuals. Just because most men or most women choose to behave one way doesn't mean men or women who choose to behave in another should be discriminated against or barred from doing so.

Hmm. I wonder if 'gender' is nothing but an artifact of imperfect communication. If a male has feminine characteristics, maybe those characteristics aren't feminine after all, and were misnamed. Or maybe they are feminine. I don't know. I'm not sure I really care. I meant what I said when I told Res to interpret as he would.

In any case, I guess I meant 'sex', not 'gender', and will edit the OP accordingly. Although, since I was looking for distinctions that could be scientifically demonstrated, I think that should have been obvious. Certainly, If a person's gender is not easily defined, one wonders how much science could use it.

I have a number of characteristics that some would call feminine. I just wonder if they really are. Take my concern for fashion, color, and personal grooming. Is it a feminine concern? Or is it a less common masculine one, and simply may appear similar to a feminine concern? Does a gay man not have a masculine gender? What about the most stereotypically flamboyant gay man? I would think he would be offended at the notion of an ambiguous gender, and rightly so. Or let's take something not commonly assigned a gender: liking of cake. I like cake. So does my girlfriend. But do we like it in the same way? Do our different biologies even allow us to like anything in the same way? Or take cooking: many men see erotic imagery in it. Just look at Mario Batali, some of his uncensored stuff. In fact, we men may force a tad too much eroticism into it: it is not uncommon to describe a new dish to a kitchen's staff in sexual terms (when she swells, take it slow, finish with class...I've even read about using cup-sizes as measurement units). Some aromas are described (and recognized) in erotic terms. Now, I know women exist who enjoy cooking exist. But do they (can they?) enjoy it in the same way? Even if they see the exact same erotic symbols, they do not see them from the male's PoV. That which is recognized as complementary becomes the identity, and identity becomes complementary. Or, now that I live with my girlfriend (my roommate kicked me out, and hers left her, so she needed a new one), I'm constantly trying to keep a 'nice' place. My girlfriend (jokingly) called it a 'nesting instinct.' Which is, at least at first sight, a feminine characteristic. But she claims to have the same thing, but I've noticed that we tend to notice different things when cleaning, and ignore others. And our two styles lead to two different environments. Hers promotes a much more 'cozy' atmosphere, while mine seems to be better suited to guests (although it is a bit uptight). Clearly our behaviors are different. I think it is inappropriate for me to assume that I would even recognize a 'feminine' nature to any of my qualities. Perhaps society claims I have feminine traits, but in the end: I am not a woman, and I'm not arrogant enough to say that any of my attributes are just like a woman's. People are too complex: if you change one thing, you change it all. So, 'liking bacon (while having a penis)' will always be different than 'liking bacon (while having a vagina)'. I'm not a woman, I have never been a woman, I cannot know how even the most basic of traits are experienced by women. It would be like me saying I'm short, but some of my characteristics are those of a tall person. Maybe I generally duck when walking under relatively low obstacles (though I'm not quite tall enough to need to). Is this ducking the same as it would be for a tall person? For him it is necessary, for me it is frivolous. Maybe it's a compulsion, maybe it's to delude myself into thinking I'm taller than I am, but it is not protecting me from physical pain. I cannot experience even the most identical things in the same way as a tall man. And since there are documented differences in the structures of the brain itself between men and women, I would feel that to ascribe a feminine quality to anything I did quite presumptuous, if it was sincere.

Zombie Sammael
10-24-2011, 05:44 AM
Gonna have to break this up as even I was getting a little tl;dr by the end.

Privilege?

It's a concept I'm not sure I fully understand myself, let alone agree with, but it basically asserts that groups which are dominant in society (i.e. males) have benefits which ought not to be associated with their status rather than that groups which are less dominant (i.e. females) have failed to reach a basic standard which the dominant group has. Things like an advantage in the employment market or higher earnings potential are male privileges. The concept is applied very widely outside of a strictly gender-based sphere, to the point of suggestions such as the one you made below about liking bacon. I'm not sure that I actually believe every example of gender discrimination is down to male privilege, and I disagree with the way that it is applied by some commentators: privilege is something which if you have, you cannot argue you do not have and which seems to be viewed as proved upon accusation, which offends my sense of justice (i.e. innocent until proven guilty).

See also the privilege denying dude (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/privilege-denying-dude).

Oh I wouldn't want you to do otherwise. I didn't mean anything by the comment on your novel. More a 'here is something that might be a resource, if you so desire.'

I'm not sure that writing believable female characters necessarily means I need to adapt my writing style to be more feminine. I mean, from my point of view, my writing style is neither masculine nor feminine, it's just the way I write. It's the character's thoughts, deeds, and motivations that will make them believable, not my prose style. But thanks for the help!

Well I'll stop you for a moment to point out that I said demonstrated, not proven.

I am unsure what the practical difference is.

I don't really have a problem with this though. Pretty much everything we use as working knowledge is a generalization. 'I can go outside safely because most people aren't hit by meteors.' There are exceptions to almost everything, of course. But that is part of the point of such things: we can use generalizations to recognize the abnormal, and appreciate the exceptional. And to aid the disadvantaged, I suppose. And generalizations allow for more efficient communication. Not generalizing about anything would lead to perfectly inefficient communication. I could prove it, with the entropy of information (which is why I'm opposed to making everything PC).

This is beside the point, of course. You seem to be saying that generalizations shouldn't be made about people. I would disagree, although I think people often form generalizations poorly when concerning others. And all too often, they are used with malicious intent. But as long as it is an accurate generalization, I think it is fair to make. And if it isn't negative, I don't think it's impolite. (So 'Eskimos run all the locksmith shops' is probably inaccurate, 'All Muslims are terrorists' is both impolite and inaccurate).

It's true that society would fall apart and we'd be reduced to scavenging for scraps like dogs without generalisations. My point is that a generalisation would lead you to assume that a pretty blonde girl isn't a brilliant computer programmer, which as you say regarding the Eskimoes and Muslims, might well be inaccurate. All I am really suggesting is that people should be judged by who they are rather than what they are, and we shouldn't deny people opportunities because of characteristics they cannot control, or a perceived belief that it's been scientifically demonstrated that they can't do it because of said characteristics.

I am intrigued by your comment on women being better drivers than men. In America, we have a similar stereotype, but with the roles reversed. I always just dismissed it as a stereotype that is often repeated but not really supported by any evidence. Essentially, I saw it as nonsense. But if in England, the stereotype exists in reverse, maybe there is something to it. Maybe it has something to do with the set-up of the roads: men do better with the wheel on the left, women do better with the wheel on the right. It certainly seems ridiculous, but I find the fact that the stereotype reverses with the steering wheel's position interesting.

Go look up some insurance statistics on driving and who make the safest drivers. If you look at it according to gender, you will discover it is actually women. Up until very recently it was okay in Europe to offer cheaper premiums to women on that basis. The stereotype is that men are better drivers, but when one looks at the research, the stereotype is false. Interesting, that? Of course, it's a generalisation and rather unfair to a man who is a very safe driver to make him pay more because of his gender. But there you go.

I'm not sure I follow your use of 'discriminating.' And I'm not looking for an absolute basis for anything anyway. But certainly a general rule of thumb. How else would we recognize exceptions? Some men are aesthetically pleasing, if very few. And almost none compare to even a moderately beautiful girl. But there are a few 'pretty' men. And some women are fast sprinters. But they would be overlooked, lost among male sprinters, without some sort of sex-based generalizations.

Again, your examples tend to prove my point. There is some evidence, in fact, that women may be catching up to men in terms of marathon run times and may even overtake them soon. Once again, a stereotype (women are worse at physical activity) or generalisation isn't necessarily reflective of reality.

I'm not sure what you mean by "aesthetically pleasing". I think you might be confusing it with sexual attraction. I am mainly attracted to women myself, but I am capable of recognising when a man looks good from a purely aesthetic point of view even if I don't have any sexual attraction for him. I would go so far as to say that in my mind, the "ugliest" of women (by which I can only mean the one possessing qualities which I find least attractive) wouldn't even compare to the most attractive man for aesthetic appeal. Male models, actors, and sportsmen look good, regardless of whether I'd like to sleep with them.

Oh I'm not in favor of gender 'roles', be they traditional or modern. I don't want anything treading on free will, and feeling obligated to serve a certain role would probably make a person less free. I don't mind gender 'norms' though. I think people should be able to choose their own roles. But I reserve the right to have general expectations.

The trouble with that view is, as I demonstrated above, you have to be prepared for those expectations to be wrong from time to time. If you're in a position of power and you assume that a woman will be worse at a certain task than a man because of your general expectations, you're acting in a way which is unfair. So often, as well, those general expectations are purely negative towards one side; "women are worse than men" regardless of what the task is, apart from in those stereotypical gender roles. I've been in a position where I've had to manage women involved in what were stereotypically male tasks but also incredibly basic: heavy lifting. What I found was that the women actually didn't work any less hard or less efficiently than the men, despite the difference in body strength. The strength only made a difference to what they could lift, not how they were working. If I'd been acting according to my general expectations, I would have just sent them away, but then the job would have taken longer, and that would have been unfair to all involved. What's interesting is that I noticed what was actually going on, but my own boss didn't; he believed they were "useless" at the lifting tasks, despite that being observably untrue. General expectations can very often be simply prejudices, and discriminating according to prejudice rather than personal ability is wrong for a lot of reasons, not least that it limits self-determination.

Hmm. I wonder if 'gender' is nothing but an artifact of imperfect communication. If a male has feminine characteristics, maybe those characteristics aren't feminine after all, and were misnamed. Or maybe they are feminine. I don't know. I'm not sure I really care. I meant what I said when I told Res to interpret as he would.

As I've said before, gender is a social construct, sex a biological one. What we're essentially talking about here is the social construct, which is a lot more interesting to debate. It is linked with the biological concept but not wholly intertwined or dependent upon it. The fact that you as a cisgender male have characteristics you would refer to as "feminine" merely serves to demonstrate this point. Gender is an imperfect communication, as you say, and on that basis it's an imperfect grounds for discrimination.

In any case, I guess I meant 'sex', not 'gender', and will edit the OP accordingly. Although, since I was looking for distinctions that could be scientifically demonstrated, I think that should have been obvious. Certainly, If a person's gender is not easily defined, one wonders how much science could use it.

The scientific study of transgender and various intersex conditions is a fascinating field. For example, did you know that there is a condition which causes an XY foetus to develop in the womb as female (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Androgen_insensitivity_syndrome)? People with this condition are usually female in both gender and outward biology, but retain some internal male biology and are male genetically. Far from being useless to science, gender identities which are hard to define are actually fascinating areas for both sociological and biological study.

I have a number of characteristics that some would call feminine. I just wonder if they really are. Take my concern for fashion, color, and personal grooming. Is it a feminine concern? Or is it a less common masculine one, and simply may appear similar to a feminine concern? Does a gay man not have a masculine gender? What about the most stereotypically flamboyant gay man? I would think he would be offended at the notion of an ambiguous gender, and rightly so.

(sorry for breaking up your uber-paragraph) See above. This is why I argue that even if there are scientifically demonstrated differences, discriminating on gender lines is just wrong; people are individuals (well, some people are at least).

Or let's take something not commonly assigned a gender: liking of cake. I like cake. So does my girlfriend. But do we like it in the same way? Do our different biologies even allow us to like anything in the same way? Or take cooking: many men see erotic imagery in it. Just look at Mario Batali, some of his uncensored stuff. In fact, we men may force a tad too much eroticism into it: it is not uncommon to describe a new dish to a kitchen's staff in sexual terms (when she swells, take it slow, finish with class...I've even read about using cup-sizes as measurement units). Some aromas are described (and recognized) in erotic terms. Now, I know women exist who enjoy cooking exist. But do they (can they?) enjoy it in the same way? Even if they see the exact same erotic symbols, they do not see them from the male's PoV. That which is recognized as complementary becomes the identity, and identity becomes complementary. Or, now that I live with my girlfriend (my roommate kicked me out, and hers left her, so she needed a new one), I'm constantly trying to keep a 'nice' place. My girlfriend (jokingly) called it a 'nesting instinct.' Which is, at least at first sight, a feminine characteristic. But she claims to have the same thing, but I've noticed that we tend to notice different things when cleaning, and ignore others. And our two styles lead to two different environments. Hers promotes a much more 'cozy' atmosphere, while mine seems to be better suited to guests (although it is a bit uptight). Clearly our behaviors are different. I think it is inappropriate for me to assume that I would even recognize a 'feminine' nature to any of my qualities. Perhaps society claims I have feminine traits, but in the end: I am not a woman, and I'm not arrogant enough to say that any of my attributes are just like a woman's. People are too complex: if you change one thing, you change it all. So, 'liking bacon (while having a penis)' will always be different than 'liking bacon (while having a vagina)'. I'm not a woman, I have never been a woman, I cannot know how even the most basic of traits are experienced by women. It would be like me saying I'm short, but some of my characteristics are those of a tall person. Maybe I generally duck when walking under relatively low obstacles (though I'm not quite tall enough to need to). Is this ducking the same as it would be for a tall person? For him it is necessary, for me it is frivolous. Maybe it's a compulsion, maybe it's to delude myself into thinking I'm taller than I am, but it is not protecting me from physical pain. I cannot experience even the most identical things in the same way as a tall man. And since there are documented differences in the structures of the brain itself between men and women, I would feel that to ascribe a feminine quality to anything I did quite presumptuous, if it was sincere.

This goes back to what I said about privilege at the beginning of the post. It also proves the point about that being kind of a difficult concept to apply, because ultimately, everyone is different from everyone else. Regardless of the fact that we both have penises - wait a sec (checks) - yep, I at least have one - liking bacon whilst being The Unreasoner is not the same as liking bacon whilst being Zombie Sammael. Gender and sex are just two characteristics that make up the whole person. Personally, I feel too much weight is placed upon them. I am my gender, but my gender is not me.

DahLliA
10-24-2011, 12:54 PM
most[/I] women are better drivers than most men"

are they though? only thing I've seen that supports that is that women cause fewer accidents than men.

which kinda falls through since men drive more than women.

and men have better spacial awareness.

anyone actually seen some reliable and recent evidence one way or the other? googling it only brings up jokes, clearly outdated results and femmags which are pretty obviously biased.

Jokeslayer
10-24-2011, 01:33 PM
Associated concepts but not the same Gonzo. And don't be a troll.

You're only like a decade too late.

Zombie Sammael
10-24-2011, 03:31 PM
are they though? only thing I've seen that supports that is that women cause fewer accidents than men.

which kinda falls through since men drive more than women.

and men have better spacial awareness.

anyone actually seen some reliable and recent evidence one way or the other? googling it only brings up jokes, clearly outdated results and femmags which are pretty obviously biased.

I know that in the UK and Europe until an EU court decision last year it was possible to get cheaper insurance if you were a female on the basis that females are safer drivers. Obviously I'm using "safer" to have the same meaning as "better" here, which it obviously isn't if you're a professional motor sport driver, but pretty much is if you're just driving to work. But it pretty clearly isn't viewed that way in the states, which is interesting.

The Unreasoner
10-24-2011, 03:55 PM
I know that in the UK and Europe until an EU court decision last year it was possible to get cheaper insurance if you were a female on the basis that females are safer drivers. Obviously I'm using "safer" to have the same meaning as "better" here, which it obviously isn't if you're a professional motor sport driver, but pretty much is if you're just driving to work. But it pretty clearly isn't viewed that way in the states, which is interesting.
I'll reply to this first, as I'm still working on the other.

But, essentially, I don't have a problem with women paying less on the basis of generalizations.

Zombie Sammael
10-24-2011, 03:56 PM
You're only like a decade too late.

Yeah, but at least Gonzo bucks the trend by generally being a left-wing troll.

fdsaf3
10-24-2011, 03:59 PM
I took an interesting class on sex, power, and politics as part of my political science undergrad. I'm trying to find the syllabus so I can post some of the readings we did on the concept of gender, but I'm not having much luck. If I do find it, I'll be sure and post some of what we read. It was interesting, even if I didn't agree with all (or even most) of what the authors said.

Zombie Sammael
10-24-2011, 04:41 PM
I'll reply to this first, as I'm still working on the other.

But, essentially, I don't have a problem with women paying less on the basis of generalizations.

I actually do. Despite being (or considering myself to be) a feminist, I'm also an individualist, and this second takes precedence. Applying a generalisation in a way that benefits a normally discriminated against group is still discrimination, and I don't believe in "positive" discrimination.

I took an interesting class on sex, power, and politics as part of my political science undergrad. I'm trying to find the syllabus so I can post some of the readings we did on the concept of gender, but I'm not having much luck. If I do find it, I'll be sure and post some of what we read. It was interesting, even if I didn't agree with all (or even most) of what the authors said.

I would be very interested to see this too, and to read what you disagree with and why. I hope you find it.

The Unreasoner
10-24-2011, 04:56 PM
I actually do. Despite being (or considering myself to be) a feminist, I'm also an individualist, and this second takes precedence. Applying a generalisation in a way that benefits a normally discriminated against group is still discrimination, and I don't believe in "positive" discrimination.
Hmm. I think you are associating the generalizations with a positive or negative quality rather quickly. In theory, I wouldn't care if the group that benefited from a generalization wasn't discriminated against. I don't think we need to make it tit-for-tat/a zero sum game. My only real concern is that the generalizations are accurate. If an insurance company can show that they can safely charge women less, I don't think the men are getting hurt. The women are benefiting.

Women tend to get pregnant more often than men. Is it bad for a company to take the steps necessary to facilitate maternity leave? What if they use generalizations to try and estimate the necessary actions?

Zombie Sammael
10-24-2011, 05:58 PM
Hmm. I think you are associating the generalizations with a positive or negative quality rather quickly. In theory, I wouldn't care if the group that benefited from a generalization wasn't discriminated against. I don't think we need to make it tit-for-tat/a zero sum game. My only real concern is that the generalizations are accurate. If an insurance company can show that they can safely charge women less, I don't think the men are getting hurt. The women are benefiting.

But the women are benefiting to the detriment of the men, purely on the basis of a generalised ruling that may have no basis in reality. Of course, insurance is a bad example, because regardless of gender you're likely to find your premiums go up rather quickly if you have a tendency to drive like a madman. There are also all kinds of other arguments about this: driving is a necessity in many jobs, women tend to get paid less for the same work than men, therefore women should be charged less for the necessities of their work. (as an aside, I think we are a little bit in danger of getting into a discussion of the necessities/evils of insurance, which is a whole 'nother thread)

Women tend to get pregnant more often than men. Is it bad for a company to take the steps necessary to facilitate maternity leave? What if they use generalizations to try and estimate the necessary actions?

Again we find ourselves jogging happily into a minefield, since this opens up many questions about paternity leave as well. In some Scandinavian counties*, I believe fathers have been given the same parental leave rights as mothers as a way of promoting gender equality, and it has worked rather nicely. I'll see if I can find an article somewhere to back it up. But essentially, giving women maternity leave but not giving men paternity leave promotes traditional gender roles, which isn't necessarily great for women who, despite wanting to become parents, aren't necessarily comfortable with taking time off work to do it. This might be because they're very career-driven, or because they actually earn more than their partner. In the first instance you might make the argument that such a woman should avoid becoming pregnant, but would you make that argument of a man?

My general point being that whilst I agree that companies ought to make arrangements for parental leave, restricting this to the female parent is problematic for a number of reasons, so making the decision based on this generalisation is unfair. Of course it's true that many women who become mothers also have some physical requirements that will necessitate time off, but why shouldn't they choose to assign the additional time required to look after a newborn to their partner? What about a lesbian couple? Etc?

*Read: lefty utopia

The Unreasoner
10-24-2011, 07:46 PM
Again, still working on pretty thorough post, but I thought I'd address this:
But the women are benefiting to the detriment of the men, purely on the basis of a generalised ruling that may have no basis in reality.
Well, two things here. First, I don't see it as necessarily detrimental to the man (just like I don't think charging people for tampons is detrimental to women). Second, I would have a problem with the thing having no basis in reality. I just am not too concerned that a thing is conclusively 'proven.' Demonstrated is enough (more detail later).
Again we find ourselves jogging happily into a minefield,
One I had hoped to avoid. I was hoping for just some random fun facts, like "Women 'talk dirty' in the bedroom more often than men," as google just informed me. Not too much speculation on why, or how to fix the difference, or if it even needs to be fixed. Just idle entertainment.
since this opens up many questions about paternity leave as well. In some Scandinavian counties*, I believe fathers have been given the same parental leave rights as mothers as a way of promoting gender equality, and it has worked rather nicely.
I'm not against offering paternity leave. But if, for instance, women were more likely to take maternity leave than men were to take paternity leave, I don't think it is inappropriate for a company to take that into consideration when making preparations. Shifting schedules, lining up potential temporary replacements, reassigning projects, whatever.
giving women maternity leave but not giving men paternity leave promotes traditional gender roles, which isn't necessarily great for women who, despite wanting to become parents, aren't necessarily comfortable with taking time off work to do it. This might be because they're very career-driven, or because they actually earn more than their partner. In the first instance you might make the argument that such a woman should avoid becoming pregnant, but would you make that argument of a man?
Well, I would say that the decision belongs to the couple. Certainly, if neither the man nor the woman would be willing to accept time off at all (and each wants their partner to), perhaps they should not have a kid at all. The same for couples who both want to stay home (but cannot afford too). And again, I am not opposed to offering paternity leave in the same manner as maternity leave. But at the same time, I don't have an issue with taking advantage of statistical differences.

Of course, there are some jobs that offering either would be problematic: Look how much Apple's stock fluctuated on news of Jobs's health over the last few years. The President also may wish to wear condoms/be on the pill.


In any case, I don't think it is our job to minimize the impact of the differences between sexes. Take abortion rights, for instance. While I am personally opposed to it unless the life of the mother is at serious risk, it is currently legal for women to have abortions (we'll ignore how the exact nature of the legality and the access to facilities vary from place to place for the moment). And the choice belongs entirely to the mother. At the same time, men are expected to pay for the child, if they are the biological father, no matter what. Putting aside the issue that women are significantly more likely to win custody (another difference 'demonstrated' by fact, I will avoid analysis of it though), the potential scenario exists where the woman of a couple becomes pregnant, yet aborts for purely financial reasons. Even if the couple had previously made the mutual decision of having a child. Suppose this hypothetical couple breaks up, with the woman still pregnant. The man cannot order the woman to have an abortion, even for almost identical financial reasons, and will need to pay child support anyway.

Is there any way to provide a 'gender-equal' solution to this problem? Or does the impossibility prove that men and women can be treated differently while still being equal?

Sei'taer
10-24-2011, 08:14 PM
Good god. Enough with the 15,000 word essays. This should sum it up for you:

Why do men die before their wives? Because they FUCKING WANT TO!!