Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category.

Why Transgender Athletes Dominating Women's Sports Is Great News For College Administrators

Apparently transgender athletes are starting to dominate in high school and college women's sports.  I don't have much passion on this issue one way or another.  My only intercollegiate competitive experience was in duplicate bridge, in which all human beings of any gender compete together in one division.

However, it does strike me that this is a godsend for college administrators as it solves one of two problems for them:

  1. If separate women's sports persist, college coaches of women's teams will increasingly seek to recruit transgender athletes.  This is a much more comfortable situation for college administrators, who have of late been embarrassed by the number of admissions spots that are given to athletes.  Now, they are not recruiting unwoke athletes, but super-high-intersectional point transgendered persons
  2. If this is taken to its logical extreme, it may well start to end separate women's athletics (though if we still have totally meaningless divisions for men and women in chess, who knows what will persist).  But women's athletics have always been a major pain for college administrators.  They seldom generate any money and it is hard to maintain enough participation in smaller schools to avoid Title IX problems (at least in terms of equality of outcome, ie pure athlete and sports team counts by gender).  A whole class of headaches could go away.

Social Justice Virtue Signaling Has Become a Form of Tourette's -- It's A Tic People Can't Seem To Stop Themselves From Doing

I was reading the USA Today story about a local guy who reported a local restaurant to the newspaper because it had a picture of guys in blackface they wouldn't take down -- what turns out to be a picture of Welsh coal miners covered in coal dust.  Personally, I am sorry the guy has faced so much vulgar hostility and apparent outright racism in the letters he has received.  But I still can't get past a judgement that his concern was historically ignorant, clueless virtue signalling.  His concern failed even on the level of his own stated principles in that it tried to deny a voice to folks who were a lot more downtrodden and lacking in privilege (including a near certainty of early death from a variety of respiratory diseases) than are modern African-Americans.

The silver lining from all this is that I had forgotten that Phoenix had a Cornish pasty restaurant and I have since eaten there twice (well, one was delivered) and it is awesome.

All this is preface to an event that happened a week or two ago.  My wife and I were at a small, ticketed event watching a preview of an upcoming Ballet Arizona performance of the Firebird.  These take place in a small rehearsal theater and give ballet supporters a chance to see a preview and then hear from our artistic director (and in this case also the costume designer).

I have to give a bit of background on the ballet.  We were previewing the opening scene, in which a prince and a group of his friends are hunting in the forest and discover a secret magical place where they encounter the firebird -- a sort of fantasy non-human creature played by a ballerina.  They try to capture her, she nearly dies, she pleads for her life, and the prince revives her (which then leads to a sort of reward that leads to the rest of the story).

Anyway, in this performance the ballet tried to do something different.  The artistic director Ib Anderson reimagined the scene as a sci fi scene from his childhood -- think of the prince being Captain Kirk on an away mission on a new planet and discovering an alien. All the new costumes are sci fi / alien themed.

OK, so we see this opening scene.  I am only a middling ballet fan but the scene is beautifully done.  Afterwards we had Q&A.  Even I was thinking about asking about the idea, but geek that I am my mind had wandered from the ballet of an away team visiting a planet to imagining the original cast of Star Trek dancing ballet on a new planet to trying to figure out what Star Trek episode had the main characters dancing and playing air instruments ("I Mudd" by the way).

A hand goes up in the first row.  Rather than a question, the guy goes into a monologue about how he really didn't like the fact that all the men attacked a defenseless woman and that the only way she got her powers back was because the man chose to give them to her.  Now, I said that in about 20 seconds but this went one for a minute or two.  It was excruciating.  An enormous WTF moment.

First, it's a freaking alien that is being played by a woman.  Second, to the extent it is a reflection of stereotyped gender roles by the original author, does this person monologuing to us really think the rest of the audience is unaware that writers 100 years ago had different visions of women's roles in society than we have today?  Is his goal to whitewash the past by pretending authors never wrote this kind of thing, or is his goal merely to make sure that we all know that he knows?  Even weirder, to be at this event the guy was presumably a ballet aficionado at some level -- has he never seen, say, any 19th century story ballet?  Or better yet 19th century opera, where the main role of women seems to be to die of some sort of wasting disease in the third act?  And finally, is he really concerned that the community of ballet choreographers and dancers is somehow a secret den of anti-wokeness that needs to be exposed?

I compare this need to publicly virtue signal like this to Tourette's because I don't think the guy could help himself.  Had you carefully explained all of the above to him in advance, he still likely would have had to make his speech (just like the guy with the miner photo above still insists he did the right thing even now that it has been explained that its a freaking photo of downtrodden, soon to be dead of respiratory diseases, miners).  By the way, it was sort of funny to see the reaction of the ballet folks on stage to this -- they tend to be way out there on social justice causes themselves and were clearly unused to being outflanked on these issues.

I got to thinking, what is the solution if this were really a problem?  I suppose we could gender swap the whole thing, with a male in the lead of Swan Lake, say.  But that does not really work, because in general in all these unwoke story ballets the females get all the best roles.  Most of the men are just props.  So gender swapping them would just take all the best roles away from women and hand them to men.  Eek, what is a good SJW to do?

The One Thing I am Sure About In the Whole Kavanaugh Brouhaha -- That My Policy of Not Meeting With Young Women Alone Is Absolutely Justified

18 months ago, I got a lot of cr*p for this post, including from my wife:

I never meet with young women one-on-one any more. If I am interviewing a young woman for college, we meet in the Starbucks rather than my office. I try to meet with sales people via the web rather than face-to-face, but if a young female sales person does show up at my door and I really must meet with them, we do it downstairs in the lobby and not in my office.

I do not know if Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent at this point of a range of alleged actions that range from boorish behavior to attempted sexual assault. Like most folks I await their testimony tomorrow, but perhaps unlike most folks I have a lot of experience trying to adjudicate he-said-she-said conflicts (in the workplace and with customers) and I am reconciled to the fact that we may never be certain of the truth.

What I do know is that having many prominent people in the media and in the highest levels of government claim that a woman's accusation, without any other due process, is enough to convict a man and destroy his career and reputation just proves to me that my policy is absolutely justified.  Because even if Kavanaugh's accusers are absolutely correct and honest, the next one's may not be, especially if we establish a rewards system for public accusations of this sort.

My wife tells me I am being incredibly unfair -- how can young women ever advance and get mentored if every male business executive (and males still dominate the c-suite) takes this attitude?  Well, let me give an analogy.  Let's assume that in reaction to years of abuse, young female actresses made a pact or formed a union. In doing so they agree to never meet with a male director or producer alone.  Many directors and producers could reasonably complain that they weren't threats, and this action unfairly punishes them by making their jobs harder.  The women would reasonably retort, "perhaps, but as long as the rules are such that if we get assaulted in that room then we have absolutely no recourse for justice -- under these rules we aren't going in to the room.  Sure, it may only be a small percentage are predators, but we can't know who is who until after the damage is done."

Would anyone think this was unfair?  Perhaps they might be accused of overreacting -- and I am willing to accept that maybe I am over-reacting as well.  But I worked 3 years in a refinery, wearing a hard hat and eye protection every minute of that time, and I don't remember anything ever hitting my head or my glasses.  But that does not make these things irrational precautions.

A Thought Experiment Wherein Coyote Makes In Intersectional Argument, Sort of

The following is a thought experiment:

Modern SJW's argue that it is impossible for one gender or ethnicity or sexual preference to understand another.  Taking that as a launching point, there appears to be a crisis in psychology that can only be fixed by government intervention. 

Begin with a basic fact:  Between 3 and 4 times more men in western nations, including the United States, commit suicide than women.  This is clearly a public health crisis of the highest magnitude(1).  

Unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder for these men to get the help they need.  Most psychologists today, and based on current graduation rates, almost all the psychologists of the future are women.  In fact, in 2016 22.4% -- less than one quarter! -- of all psychology graduates were men.  Men with existential crises in their lives are not going to be helped by someone woman-splaining the world to them.  How can any man be helped by psychologists who can't understand their most fundamental problems(2)?

Take this web page at the top of the google search on mental health and gender.   90% of the page covers only women's issues!  There is not even a single mention of suicide or the disproportionate male suicide crisis.  This is just further proof that the strong imbalance of the psychology profession to female providers inhibits any focus on or recognition of male issues.  You can see from this site that men are not even seeking help --"Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men (29% compared to 17%)" -- almost certainly because men cannot find sympathetic male psychological help(3).

As a first step, the government needs to step in and find ways to eliminate the barriers that young men are facing in entering the psychology profession.(4)

OK, I have no idea if this is a credible effort but other than the fact that it is pointing out a unique male issue, I feel like this is at least as viable as any other SJW article I have read.  You will note the four tricks I used in the article that are common in many other more serious articles of the same sort

(1)  I assert this a public health crisis, but compared to what?  Are the deaths a lot or a little compared to other preventable causes.  Are the numbers rising or falling?  And how preventable are suicides?

(2) This is the underlying assumption in the article, that a psychologist of one gender cannot well serve a patient of another gender.  Is that really true?  Is there any science on this?  I have had physicians of both genders and have not really noticed a difference.  Of the psychological interventions I am aware of in friends and family, the most successful was a female helping a male.

(3) This is twisting a fact around the opposite of how most people would interpret it.  Most folks would interpret this as women have more mental health issues over their life that they need help with, a finding that seems to be pretty consistent in the scientific literature as well.  The clever conspiracy builder, though, can use almost any fact in their favor.

(4) Why do we assume that a gender imbalance is the result of barriers and discrimination, rather than just preferences? Typically, the media treats such imbalances asymmetrically.  Professions that skew female such as health care or psychology or education are treated as skewed due to preferences.  Professions that skew male such as software programing are treated as skewed due to discrimination.

OK Folks, Here is A Rorschach Test on Gender

I am going to show you this chart from the New York Times and you tell me the lede:

If your first reaction was something like "wow, the gender gap in favor of girls in English simply dwarfs any gender gap that exists in favor of boys in math," you had the same reaction as I did.  All I could think was that all this discussion of getting more girls in STEM is a fine aspiration, but my God, boys in English are a dumpster fire.

I saw the chart standalone like this before I flipped to the source New York Times article and read more.  And, incredibly, this is the title of the article: "Where Boys Outperform Girls in Math:  Rich, White and Suburban Districts."  That's right, the authors look at this chart and all they want to talk about is the small area in the lower right quadrant of the chart, the only place where boys out-perform girls (and even there the maximum boy advantage perhaps a third of the girl advantage across the board in English).  This is bizarre beyond belief.

I wrote the other day in a sort of toss-off conclusion that is looking more accurate today:

Look, I have no doubt that one could easily put together a book about all the ways the public education system fails girls because I think the public education system in many parts of this country fails EVERYONE.  But we seem to keep obsessively questioning whether we are doing enough for girls in education when the problem seems to be boys....

I am not an expert on why this is.   Shifting success norms from competition to cooperation, elimination of historic outlets for non-academic males like vocational programs, and huge amounts of money and counseling resources all dedicated to girls probably play a part.  But the frustrating thing is you almost never see a discussion of this topic.  Anyone who does try to address it is immediately pigeon-holed as some alt-right male rights extremist and defenestrated from the Overton Window.

Update:  Had "boys" and "girls" swapped in the third paragraph.  Thanks for those who pointed it out.  As one reader noted, I need to find a female to help me edit I guess.

A Terrible Example of Potential Speech Suppression

A group of Harvard Law professors wrote an editorial a while back criticizing parts of the movie "A Hunting Ground" -- a movie that from every thing I have seen offers a pretty fertile ground for criticism.   Now, it appears that makers of the movie are considering using Title IX to suppress this criticism they don't like, arguing that since they are (to them) obviously the defenders of women, anyone who criticizes them must be attacking women.  Suffice it to say that this is pretty far afield from what Title IX was meant to accomplish.

One of the professors, Jeannie Suk wrote in the New Yorker:

But last week the filmmakers did more than understandably disagree with criticism of the film, which has been short-listed for the Academy Award for best documentary. They wrote, in a statement to the Harvard Crimson, that “the very public bias these professors have shown in favor of an assailant contributes to a hostile climate at Harvard Law.” The words “hostile climate” contain a serious claim. At Harvard, sexual harassment is “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including verbal conduct that is “sufficiently persistent, pervasive, or severe” so as to create a “hostile environment.” If, as the filmmakers suggest, the professors’ statement about the film has created a hostile environment at the school, then, under Title IX, the professors should be investigated and potentially disciplined.

To my knowledge, no complaint of sexual harassment has been filed with Harvard’s Title IX office—though I’ve been told by a high-level administrator that several people have inquired about the possibility—and I don’t know if the school would proceed with an investigation. Precedent for such an investigation exists in the case of Laura Kipnis, a feminist film-studies professor at Northwestern University, who earlier this year wrote an article criticizing aspects of Title IX policies and culture and was accused of creating a hostile environment on campus; Northwestern conducted an investigation and ultimately cleared Kipnis of sexual-harassment charges. A handful of students have said that they feel unsafe at Harvard because of the professors’ statement about the film. If a Title IX complaint were filed and an investigation launched, the professors wouldn’t be permitted to speak about it, as that could be considered “retaliation” against those who filed the complaint, which would violate the campus sexual-harassment policy.

It's Stalinists all the way down.

Progressive Overshoot: Efforts Begin as Liberalization, End as Stalinism

I could write a book on Progressive reform efforts which begin as sensible liberalization efforts and then overshoot into authoritarianism.  Gay marriage is a great example.  Liberalizing stage 1:  Let's give gay folks equal access to the benefits of protections of legal marriage.   Authoritarian state 2:  Let's punish any small business who refuses to serve a gay wedding.

I ran into another example the other day.  Hillary tweeted out, "Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported" which is a common refrain among women's groups  (we will leave aside the irony of Hillary making this statement after she has crushed a number of women who have made sexual assault claims against her husband).

In what I believe to be the initial meaning of this phrase, it was quite reasonable.   In the past (and presumably on occasion today) women have gone to police or some other authority and claimed to have been raped or assaulted, and have been essentially ignored.  A pat on the head and the little lady is sent home.   Women, reasonably, wanted their charges to be taken seriously and investigated seriously.  This is my memory of where this phrase, then, originally came from.  It meant that when women claim to have been assaulted, authorities need to take these charges seriously and investigate them seriously.

But, as with most other things, Progressive reform which began as liberalizing and empowering has transitioned to being Stalinist.  The meaning today of this phrase when used by most women's groups is that any such claims by women should not immediately trigger an investigation but should trigger an immediate conviction.  The accused male should be immediately treated as guilty and punished, and any exercise of due process represents an assault on women -- never mind that the same SJW's taking this stance would take exactly the opposite stance on due process if the accused were, say, a black male in Ferguson accused of theft.