Every morning, msnowe sweeps through the “papers” (i.e. the online newspapers) to catch at least the bare minimum of the day’s headlines. Today was no exception, except, well, within 15 minutes, between stories of revolt in various Middle Eastern/African countries, there were four different stories, from the NYTimes & NYMag, that she couldn’t help but become obsessed with. In no particular order:
Let me break it down for you.
#1 Gridiron Girls
Article Summary: OMG, women are watching football, and they enjoy it! Even despite the rapists, dog fighters, and reports of brain damage, women represent at least 34% of viewers!
Why is this? Because the NFL is actually filled with “stories.” And women LOVE the “soap-opera aspect of the NFL.” The women loving on football also all watch Real Housewives, Intervention and Jersey Shore, which is basically the same thing. Oh, and they all look like these models.
Analysis: Clearly, it’s those clever marketers tricking women into liking football, the manliest of all manly sports. msnowe won’t underestimate the power of marketing here–perhaps, just perhaps, there are a few women who fit the description this article lays out before us like a play book. But I’ll tell you one thing–you can bring Febreeze and Pink Ribbons to just about anything–but that doesn’t translate into women sitting down and enjoying the damn thing you’re sponsoring. msnowe may only be able to speak for herself, but she watched baseball way before there were any sparkly pink hats available for purchase, and now she still doesn’t want one. The “crude archetypes” of females as clueless twits aren’t really overcome by this article–we’re still treated as though there must be some other hook, some hook other than the pure enjoyment of the thing itself. It’s like the age-old question about the G-spot–it just keeps shifting around to best suit those who need to find it (or it disappears).
#2 Wikipedia’s Gender Gap:
Article Summary: Only about 13% of Wikipedia’s thousands of article authors are women. Isn’t that horrible! No wonder it’s always HIStory–women don’t even bother to contribute, so you can’t say companies, etc., are just being biased–they’re “running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men** and, some say, uncomfortable for women.” Of course!
Analysis: msnowe actually perused the report, and let’s remember, folks–this was a sample of the Wikipedia population–a little over 176,000 people responded to the voluntary survey. (msnowe would like to compare this to a survey on how many people of either sex usually respond to surveys). 126,701 men responded to the survey, reporting themselves to be either readers or writers of Wikipedia. Only 42,191 women answered the survey. (904 people did not tick a gender and responded as “Other.”) So right off the bat, you’re starting with a skewed sample. Oh, and this was a world-wide sample. As much as msnowe would like to say that everywhere women are freer and just as educated and able to contribute to Wikipedia in their spare time, they’re not. The leading country that had respondents for this survey? Russia.
But no matter what the article gets wrong, it does say one good thing–more women should write about what they care about on the site.
**”The obsessive fact-loving realm” dominated by men? Sounds a lot like how men describe the NFL in order to exclude women, if you ask msnowe…
#3 More Conflict in Childcare Equality:
Article Summary: This article basically debunks its own premise. You just have to read it carefully.
“Despite those crazy media headlines, Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan explains that the study did not examine the quality of the couples’ relationships or their parenting beyond the two staged videotape periods, or anything about the children’s development; it also did not distinguish between men who took on childcare duties from day one and those who started to do so just prior to the study. But what it does do is add powerful evidence to the idea that childcare task sharing alone does not necessarily correlate with a harmonious co-parenting partnership.”
Analysis: Basically, it means we’re at square one–anyone’s guess. You can be just as un-harmonious if only one parent is taking on the brunt of the childcare grunt work. It’s about finding that compromise between parents, and what works best for your own family. One route doesn’t necessarily lead to martial bliss. The author’s emphasis on “power-sharing” was, well, powerful.
#4 Porn and Men, But Really How Porn Affects Women:
Article Summary: This about sums it up–
“And so a conundrum emerges. Men, over-saturated by porn, secretly hunger for the variety that porn offers. Women, noticing a decline in their partners’ libidos, try to reenact the kinds of scenes that men watch on their computer screens. Men, as a result, get really freaked out. They don’t want their real women and their fantasy women to inhabit the same body.”
Analysis: Ah, the eternal problem: Men objectify women, look at shit-tons of porn. Men lose interest in banging real women who don’t have hydraulic tits. Women scared and worried that men are totes over them, and try to compensate for their flaccid breasts and thighs by throwing in some dirty talk. Chaos ensues. I’m pretty sure Aeschylus wrote about that, a lot.
A. This report is highly anecdotal.
B. msnowe needs to barf.
C. This report assumes that most women don’t watch porn, but then assumes that they can “mimic” porn stars.
D. This report also assumes that women are just objects of your imagination, trying harder and harder to be your fantasy.
E. The whole concept of the article is based on one sexuality counselor/blogger’s notion that more men were complaining of “delayed ejaculation,” on how the author “read about a University of Kansas study that found that 25 percent of college-age men said they’d faked orgasms” (he didn’t even read the actual study it was based on!). Then the author made the intellectual leap that somehow this was connected with porn (because he looks at porn), and then he interviewed…wait for it…DOZENS(!) of porn consumers. Wow, dozens!
F. msnowe would run out of alphabet if she kept going.
G. Oh yeah, and the report is really, really offensive to men, too.
All these articles were written in the hope of high page views and “most emailed” rankings. And in effect, msnowe is helping that along. In itself, there is nothing wrong with using a snappy title to hook people. But there is something wrong when data is skewed in favor of some imaginary claim that the title makes.
Each of these articles (perhaps with the exception of the childcare equality piece) describes how women are clearly just reacting to something that men are causing them to do–whether it is learning to love football because men decided to give them NFL apparel and pink ribbons, working extra hard to care about the “facts realm” that really only men know how to navigate, or women noticing men have lost interest and therefore getting raunchy and porn-tastic in the bedroom. msnowe calls bullshit. These are all viewed from what big strong hetero men want or expect from women, or reinforce how men want women to view them. For whatever reason, women who do something that is culturally “male” are encroaching, and no one, especially journalists, will stop from letting us know that this is highly unattractive, or at least try and explain it away.
Sometimes m.snowe just wants to shake her head in shame when she reads stuff. And it seems like the NYT really enjoys giving her whiplash. We’re talking about this article, written by Mr. Ross Douthat (and m.snowe can only assume “Douthat” translates loosely into “man with no solid foundation for argument or even worthwhile sensationalist reporting”).
m.snowe has nothing against men writing about “feminist” topics–but she would at least appreciate some effort not to stereotype, and at least the vaguest of attempts at not being all chauvinist-piggy. m.snowe will address her issues in full, but let’ s start with one of the most glaring infractions, which she simply can’t let lie:
“Or perhaps the problem is political — maybe women prefer egalitarian, low-risk societies, and the cowboy capitalism of the Reagan era had an anxiety-inducing effect on the American female. But even in the warm, nurturing, egalitarian European Union, female happiness has fallen relative to men’s across the last three decades.”
Yes, Douthat is merely throwing out this reasoning as a suggestion–but his notion that it might actually be valid is what makes it so appalling and stereotypical. Women as this fuzzy, separate species are better attuned to “low-risk societies,” and can’t handle all that male-dominated “cowboyism.” Sorry, but is this article talking about cattle ranching, and not about women in leadership positions? Because last time we checked, Steve Jobs or his ilk aren’t going out and lassoing themselves a bull–they’re running corporations with the same know-how any woman can wield given the same chances. Not to get personal, but Douthat, did your mother not love you as much as you’d have liked as a child? Did you always wish for the warmer, more nurturing bosoms of European dowagers? Or maybe you’re just confused with the respect and impartiality that women have shown you in your life as opposed to the disrespectful treatment of some males in your circle? Are you so harsh on your own sex to suggest that men cannot be equally nurturing and warm? Oh, and women enjoy low-risk societies? Excuse m.snowe, but she’s fairly certain it was mostly the high-level men of the United States administrative branch (self-identified “cowboys”) who devised the whole “threat level” scale and spent years dithering about national security, and parlayed the universal need for a low-risk society to prop up their own political agendas. Fear mongering only works if people don’t like being afraid. Oh (Again), and women weren’t the only ones anxious about Reagan, that can be verified. m.snowe knows many red-blooded American males that break out into cold sweats when Reagan is invoked during a debate (and for good reason!).
But let’s to the opening paragraph–shall we?
“American women are wealthier, healthier and better educated than they were 30 years ago. They’re more likely to work outside the home, and more likely to earn salaries comparable to men’s when they do. They can leave abusive marriages and sue sexist employers. They enjoy unprecedented control over their own fertility. On some fronts — graduation rates, life expectancy and even job security — men look increasingly like the second sex.”
Basically, you ladies can do no wrong! Look at all this neato stuff you’ve achieved! Okay, so maybe you still don’t earn as much as men, but you’re plugging away. And you even get to taddle on your abusive boyfriend! Aren’t restraining orders a riot? Okay, so what could possibly be wrong with all these wonderful, liberating things? Wait for it…
“But all the achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness…In postfeminist America, men are happier than women.”
Pardon me, but it does not seem that all these wonderful and rightful semi-freedoms are the cause of women’s unhappiness, if there is such a collective thing that can be accurately gauged. Studies have shown that wealth and education are not telling factors in determining a person’s state of happiness. In fact, the amount of these things one has has virtually nothing to do with it–and people who are more successful with more money end up more stressed out across the board. Plus, happiness is relative to your peers–even if you and your peers are all millionaires, the person with the measly 2 million will be constantly jonesin’ for the 200 million-dollar person’s lifestyle. So, with this in mind, IF women were more unhappy, the reason might be that feminism has not done the job entirely–and true gender equality is still just out of reach (duh!). But what kind of editor would say that a totes liberation of women has resulted in an unhappy sex? And then what kind of person would go on to say that not only are women unhappy because they aren’t relegated to baking bread (sorry pastry chefs), but also that somehow their lack of satisfaction has also tipped the scales to make men more happy?
And then Douthat writes this:
“Again, maybe the happiness numbers are being tipped downward by a mounting female workload — the famous “second shift,” in which women continue to do the lion’s share of household chores even as they’re handed more and more workplace responsibility. It’s certainly possible — but as Wolfers and Stevenson point out, recent surveys actually show similar workload patterns for men and women over all.”
This is the internal dialogue Douthat had while making this claim (if m.snowe might be so bold as to read his mind): “Well, I have to mention the whole second-shift thing, but it would invalidate my claim about women being equal and yet not being as happy as men because they would in fact be doing twice the work….hmm….I’ll just stick in some offhand comment about a study on parity of “workload patterns,” oohh and even better, it will be a study conducted by women, so they don’t think I’m a total asshole. Done. Hey honey, what you fixin’ for dinner?”
m.snowe is sorry, but she has witnessed many many times over the second-shift phenomenon, and she can tell you–only in one situation was that second shift a male’s. Also, if you’re claiming that unwed or single motherhood is contributing to unhappiness, how could it NOT be that more women are doing the “second shift?”
And this comes to the most ridiculous part of the editorial: the proposed final solution:
“They should also be able to agree that the steady advance of single motherhood threatens the interests and happiness of women. Here the public-policy options are limited; some kind of social stigma is a necessity.”
A. Um, we understand that not all single motherhood is intentional or advantageous, but this smacks too much of “focus on the family” shit for this blogger’s eyes. Are we really saying that single-parenthood is the cause of women’s unhappiness? Didn’t we just impeach your argument a few paragraphs ago, Mr. Douthat?
B. Listen to my peer A. : “Contemporary America doesn’t seem to be willing to accept sexual stigma, period.” Are you f_ _king KIDDING me? Dude, try being a woman for a day. “Stigma” is about the only word that DOES apply to society’s reaction to sexually active women . (for more info, read this.)
Let’s not forget about this gem:
“In this sense, ours is a kinder, gentler, more forgiving country than it was 40 years ago. But for half the public, it’s an unhappier country as well.”
So, basically, not only is it horrible that women even tried to liberate themselves, it’s turned the country to an inconsolable sobbing mush. And here m.snowe was thinking we were celebrating a renewal of hope?