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August 22nd, 2007

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10:26 am - Is There Anything Good About Men?
Today's reading starts with an NY Times science blog article and progresses to the lecture that it was about, all with the same title as this entry. The lecture is long, but worth it. While there is a lot of incorporated research put in without citation and statements made without the same level of verification as the main point... it works. It is a compelling read, even if most of its points have been made elsewhere.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 23rd, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
Any time you are tempted to go to Tierney for science news you should think once, twice, three times about it. That man is a hack and a half with a strange agenda about the differences between the sexes.
I found the lecture somewhat unconvincing for reasons better illustrated by others. He doesn't even define patriarchy correctly. It is not a conspiracy by men to exploit women, but merely a society in which men are systematically favored over women, by writ of law or custom.
[User Picture]
Date:August 23rd, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
I don't read Tierney (it was a link on memestreams), and barely read the article before going to the lecture. It was not promoting the ideas, but I found it a nice morning read.

But that said, what do you mean by society? I think both of you have differing (and likely fluctuating) senses of scale. Are the Western -- heck, any societies -- of today tilted? No doubt. But what's the cause, not the effect. Why is it tilted? The conspiracy version says that, if I became The Man, it would be my objective to change the rules to make sure that only men like me could become so in the future -- and I would do it because... self-interest? That would suggest that if a woman ever became The Man, society would shift the other way. Either there have never been real women leaders; all of their work is eliminated immediately; or? That's a conspiracy version -- those with power preserve their power. And it is a little weird because there are so few examples where it didn't turn into a male dominated society and did not change. By invoking an evolutionary and game theoretic model, it becomes a bit more clear why all societies have all converged to that same solution. Not that it is a good result. It just explains why all the rocks in the riverbed are smooth.
[User Picture]
Date:August 23rd, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
Do you not think that perhaps the easier explanation for why societies are tilted lies in the fact that women bear children, and until the advent of birth control they had little power over when they did so?

In either of your descriptions you have a patriarchy. There is no conspiracy implicit in the term patriarchy, no matter what certain rhetoric might lead you to believe. But there is precious little science behind what he is saying. A ring of plausibility does not define truth, as you should know.
[User Picture]
Date:August 23rd, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
That's also a plausible but unscientific explanation, you know...for instance, the birthrate for white women in the US went from 7 to 3.5 in the US between 1800 and 1900. Life expectancy and all that good stuff went up, too. Clearly something was happening before modern birth control came about. Women's suffrage started well before the Pill.

There's also the massive shift in employment that everybody forgets about - before industrialization, common men and women both worked at home, generally farming and producing craft products. Women provided significant income for their families until robots took over the production of textiles.

I think a better question is why people keep defining our societies based on what the tiny group of wealthy and powerful do.

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