Monday, August 31, 2009

Gender equality -- it's "just too confusing!"

Will Wilkinson has the right response to that traditionalist argument.


Jason (the commenter) said...

I think Wilkinson reduced Hymowitz's complicated descriptive article into an argument that was never made. I think in his simplification, Wilkinson lost the nuances which were the point of the original article.

Hymowitz often talks about how there isn't gender equality, like how men are still expected to pay on the first date. In fact, Hymowitz doesn't say that the gender equality is confusing, it's the mix of assumptions about equality and inequality that are confusing.

I think Wilkinson is just constructing a straw man, which is the real time-honored argument we should be looking at.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I don't think Hymowitz's article was so nuanced. I'm not saying I don't like his article. Hymowitz makes a good point (which Wilkinson actually concedes, by the way): some women contradict themselves by claiming to be in favor of equality of the sexes but expecting men (who aren't necessarily older or making more money) to pay for them. In fact, George Costanza made the same basic argument much more concisely than Hymowitz (source):

"Kramer: I got news for you: handicapped people, they don't even want to park there! They wanna be treated just like anybody else! That's why, those spaces are always empty.

"George: He's right! It's the same thing with the feminists. You know, they want everything to be equal, everything! But when the check comes, where are they?

"Elaine: What's that suppose to mean?"

Wilkinson does skew Hymowitz's argument as if it were explicitly opposed to gender equality. In fact, Hymowitz only complains about the current chaos and leaves you wondering what situation he would actually prefer. Wilkinson's post would have been better if he had noted that Hymowitz leaves the issue open-ended; then, Wilkinson could have simply stated his own position. On the other hand, if Hymowitz were more upfront about his underlying beliefs, readers wouldn't be so tempted to try to read his mind.

Jason (the commenter) said...

On the other hand, if Hymowitz were more upfront about his underlying beliefs, readers wouldn't be so tempted to try to read his mind.

When you're writing a descriptive article, mentioning your own biases may get in the way. But that's besides the point; Wilkinson does sloppy scholarship, it's as clear as day and it ruins any point he is trying to make.

I was actually kind of shocked at his commenters, they seemed like an echo chamber. How is Wilkinson supposed to improve, if he gets praise for this kind of work? If he had some constructive criticism maybe he could get better; as it is, all his commenters do is drip poison in his ear.

John Althouse Cohen said...

When you're writing a descriptive article...

I wouldn't call Hymowitz's article descriptive. It's an opinion piece.

Based on your last paragraph, I decided to post a comment about this on Wilkinson's blog. I'll let you know if he responds.

Jason (the commenter) said...

That's very kind of you.

The human mind and senses are prone to error, but with a corrective mechanism they can accomplish great things.

Ann Althouse said...

What the hell? We all read that Hymowitz article last year!

I posted on it here.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Oh, has it expired somehow?

Ann Althouse said...

It's just weird to see Wilkinson going over one of the most-discussed stories of last year as if it had just come out.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Well, as we established earlier in the comments, it wasn't exactly a close reading of Hymowitz! Wilkinson was using Hymowitz as a convenient example of a type of argument that's often made. It'd be sad to think that an essay is no longer worth commenting on once it's a year old. Interesting is a better filter than new.