Friday, March 28, 2008

WorkPlace Bullies

Yesterday Brittany McNeil, 18, was sentenced in Dartmouth NS provincial court by Judge Alanna Murphy to 5 1/2 yrs in prison for her leading role in an brutal attack on another teen girl.

This follows another case in Montreal where a family is suing the school board for not protecting their son from a bullying teacher and another on on ABC News for vicious student bullying behaviour. The terrible consequences of neglecting to deal effectively with such behaviours has had tragic consequences many times in the past.

Not surprisingly bullying is now being traced "up the food chain" and into the workplace - as this article in NY Times points out.

Bullying in the workplace is surprisingly common. In a survey released last fall, 37 percent of American workers said they had experienced bullying on the job, according to the research firm Zogby International.

This month, researchers at the University of Manitoba reported that the emotional toll of workplace bullying is more severe than that of sexual harassment. And in today’s corporate culture, supervisors may condone bullying as part of a tough management style.

The New York State Legislature is considering an antibullying bill, and in several other states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, lawmakers have introduced such measures — without success so far.

A large share of the problem involves women victimizing women. The Zogby survey showed that 40 percent of workplace bullies are women.

Researchers at the State University of New York in New Paltz have developed a survey aimed at identifying the full range of behaviors that can constitute bullying.

Here are 10 most common forms of workplace aggression.*

1. Talking about someone behind his/her back.
2. Interrupting others while they are speaking or working.
3. Flaunting status or authority; acting in a condescending manner.
4. Belittling someone's opinion to others.
5. Failing to return phone calls or respond to memos.
6. Giving others the silent treatment.
7. Insults, yelling and shouting.
8. Verbal forms of sexual harassment.
9. Staring, dirty looks or other negative eye contact.
10. Intentionally damning with faint praise.

* Source: Professor Joel Neuman, Center for Applied Management, State University of New York at New Paltz. Data is from samples of more than 600 employees in a variety of work settings.

I question whether "Anti-Bully" programs at schools and elsewhere are merely dealing with the symptoms (i.e "Don't do this!" admonishments) rather than allowing teachers and parents methods of recognizing and dealing with the situations as the arise. These concerns are similar to those I have about SexEd classes and the prevalance of sexual permissive in most of our media.

Tiger by Salvador Dali

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Divorce, Marriage and the Deregulation of the Family

How could I resist this title? Dubner & Levitt continue to blog on applications of economics to modern day problems - as they did in their bestseller Freakonomics, published in 2005. This follows the topic of crisis articles.

This is a favourite topic of mine - misinterpretation of complex statistics by simple reporters looking for a quick story - like the "historically high divorce rate". In this case Sue Shellenbarger of the 2008 March 21 WSJ writes "On average, 43 percent of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years, a federal study shows."

This presumably refers to last US Bureau of Census data for 2004 which shows that 56.9 percent of women married from 1985 to 1989 had reached their 15th anniversary, and from that, inferring that 43.1 percent had divorced or separated within 15 years of marriage.

Clearly there are a few problems: 1) The Survey took place in the summer so even assuming roughly equal monthly distributions of weddings, 1/10 women would be from 1-6 months shy of their 15th year anniversary! 2) Then there is the fact that widows do not choose divorce but have it thrust upon them and still count as "no longer married".

Adjusting for these facts reduces what should more properly be called the "Womens 15 yr Divorce Marathon Rate" to 33%. The trend for men - not surprisingly - is very similar - 31.2%.

This is also born out by looking at the incidence of US Divorces (rate per 1,000 married couples) which shows the rate of divorce peaked at 22.8 divorces per 1,000 married couples in 1979 and has fallen 16.7 in 2005 - its lowest level since 1970. So marriages that do occur are increasingly more stable and the Divorce Crisis is just a myth. I do not have similar data for Canada - but will make a point to find some soon.

But I think the real crisis is Official Marriage. As Wolfers clearly points out - Marriage incidence is declining and has in fact reached historic lows (with stats since 1860!). Many would argue that marriage has only been replaced by common-law cohabitation, but that is a difficult claim to disprove. The data collection of such statistics is still evolving - in particular as same sex unions become legal in US states.

But it does seem that U.S. couples who cohabit before marriage have been historically more likely to divorce than those who do not. Among those couples who were cohabiting in January 1997, slightly more than half were no longer together five years later and only a quarter had married.

Here is Justin Wolfers excellent academic article on the issue.

p.s The other article mentioned at Freakonomics is not worth agitating over - as mentioned in accompanied comments, Spanish parents merely appear to be "faking" divorce so they can gain benefits for their children.

Desintegrating Mother and Child by Salvador Dali

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Men, Blah, Blah, Women, Blah, Blah, Talking, Blah, Blah

Another example of the different ways Men and Women communicate.

That women talk more that men is another example of gender stereotypes that form our view of either sex. However a group of scientists decided to test the theory and they came out with the study showing that men talk just as much as women. But, does counting average number of words spoken really tell the whole story? Deborah Tannen isn't so sure. It's all in the way we use words, and the situations that we use words, she says.

The notion that women talk more was reinforced last year when Louann Brizendine's "The Female Brain" cited the finding that women utter, on average, 20,000 words a day, men 7,000. (Brizendine later disavowed the statistic, as there was no study to back it up.) Mehl and his colleagues outfitted 396 college students with devices that recorded their speech. The female subjects spoke an average of 16,215 words a day, the men 15,669. The difference is insignificant. Case closed.

Another study found that counting words yielded no consistent differences, though number of words per speaking turn did (Men, on average, used more).

The "how was your day?" conversation typifies the kind of talk women tend to do more of: spoken to intimates and focusing on personal experience, your own or others'. I call this "rapport-talk." It contrasts with "report-talk" -- giving or exchanging information about impersonal topics, which men tend to do more.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Struggling to Squelch an Internet Rumor

This article discusses the new internet reality of dealing with false rumours. I think this might be the only remaining reason for "news organizations" to have value - they have fact-checkers and we are trusting this organizations "bona fides" in disseminating fact not fiction.
“I understand quite well the power of the Internet. Information flows instantaneously without respect to somewhat arbitrary borders of geography or nation state. That’s a positive. The flip side of that power — [is] the negative impact of an unfounded rumor that flows across a world seemingly without check."

“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” he continued. “It’s Kafkaesque. Just when you think you’ve tamped it down, it shows up on another Listserv.”
Then we have the problem of writer fraud, which blew up again last week under the pseudonym Margaret B. Jones [no relation] repeating the Oprah/James Frey controversy of 2006. The only question I have is how gullible are book publishers to fork out six-figure advances without without verifying the material?

A Canadian contribution to this infamous list was Archibald Belaney (aka Grey Owl) which was released as a feature film in 1999 starring british actor Pierce Brosnan.

Don Dutton: Unknown DV Expert

How come I have never heard of this guy? A Canadian no less?

Because he doesn't spout Feminist VAW ideology. That's why.

One of Dutton's main contentions is that the batterers' treatment programs which are based on the Duluth model are utterly ineffective. By being ineffective, they are, in fact, putting abused women in harm's way. The Duluth model is based on Femininst dogma which asserts that domestic violence is committed almost always by men, as part of their role in the patriarchy.

Here is a summary of his most recent book.

Rethinking Domestic Violence

“Dutton’s analysis of domestic violence research and discourse is comprehensive, refreshing, and enlightened. He has gathered the latest work from multiple disciplines to create a volume that will surely be a cornerstone of a radical, distinctly feminist rethinking of domestic violence practice.”

Linda G. Mills, NYU professor of social work, law and public policy, and author of Insult to Injury: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse

Rethinking Domestic Violence is the third in a series of books by Donald Dutton critically reviewing research in the area of intimate partner violence (IPV). The research crosses disciplinary lines, including social and clinical psychology, sociology, psychiatry, affective neuropsychology, criminology, and criminal justice research. Since the area of IPV is so heavily politicized, Dutton tries to steer through conflicting claims by assessing the best research methodology. As a result, he comes to some very new conclusions.

These conclusions include the finding that IPV is better predicted by psychological rather than social-structural factors, particularly in cultures where there is relative gender equality. Dutton argues that personality disorders in either gender account for better data on IPV. His findings also contradict earlier views among researchers and policy, makers that IPV is essentially perpetrated by males in all societies. Numerous studies are reviewed in arriving at these conclusions, many of which employ new and superior methodologies than were available previously.

After twenty years of viewing IPV as generated by gender and focusing on a punitive “law and order” approach, Dutton argues that this approach must be more varied and flexible. Treatment providers1 criminal justice system personnel, lawyers, and researchers have indicated the need for a new View of the problem — one less Invested in gender politics and more open to collaborative views and interdisciplinary insights. Dutton’s rethinking of the fundamentals of IPV is essential reading for psychologists, policy makers, and those dealing with the sociology of social science, the relationship of psychology to law, and explanations of adverse behaviour.

Donald G. Dutton teaches in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. He has written extensively on the subject of domestic violence.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What campus rape crisis?

I saw this gunpowder via tonight and wonder why it hasn't been picked up more widely by the wire services.

Promiscuity and hype have created a phony epidemic at colleges.

By Heather Mac Donald
LA Times - February 24, 2008

No felony, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20% or 25%, even over many years. If the one-in-four statistic is correct, campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. Such a crime wave - in which millions of young women would graduate having suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience - would require nothing less than a state of emergency

Yet it is a central claim of universities across America including Harvard's Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, New York University, Syracuse University, Penn State and the University of Virginia, among many others.

The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in the U.S., was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants - a rate of 2.4%.

Where do the numbers come from? During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results - very few women said that they had been.

So Ms. magazine commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way to measure the prevalence of rape. Koss asked them if they had ever experienced actions that she then classified as rape. One question, for example, asked, "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?" - a question that is ambiguous on several fronts, including the woman's degree of incapacitation, the causal relation between being given a drink and having sexual intercourse, and the man's intentions. Koss' method produced the 25% rate, which Ms. then published.

Yet subsequent campus rape studies keep turning up the pesky divergence between the victims' and the researchers' point of view. A 2006 survey of sorority women at the University of Virginia, for example, found that only 23% of the subjects whom the survey characterized as rape victims felt that they had been raped - a result that the university's director of sexual and domestic violence services calls "discouraging." Equally damning was a 2000 campus rape study conducted under the aegis of the Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of those whom the researchers called "completed rape" victims and three-quarters of "attempted rape" victims said that they did not think that their experiences were "serious enough to report." Believing in the campus rape epidemic, it turns out, requires ignoring women's own interpretations of their experiences.

Nevertheless, none of the weaknesses in the research has had the slightest drag on the campus "anti-rape" movement, because the movement is political, not empirical. In a rape culture, which "condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as a norm," sexual assault will wind up underreported, argued Carole Goldberg, the director of Yale's Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education Center, in a March 2007 newsletter.

Referring to rape hotlines, risk management consultant Brett Sokolow laments: "The problem is, on so many of our campuses, very few people ever call. Some months there are 10 and others, one or two [calls]. And mostly we've resigned ourselves to the underutilization of these resources."

Federal law requires colleges to publish reported crimes affecting their students. The numbers of reported sexual assaults - the law does not require their confirmation - usually run under half a dozen a year on private campuses, and maybe two to three times that at large public universities.

So what reality does lie behind the rape hype? I believe that it's the booze-fueled hookup culture of one-night, or sometimes just partial-night, stands. This culture has been written about widely. College women - as well as men - reportedly drink heavily before and during parties. It frees the drinker from responsibility and "provides an excuse for engaging in behavior that she ordinarily wouldn't." Nights can include a meaningless sexual encounter with a guy whom the girl may not even know. In all these drunken couplings, there may be some deplorable instances of forced and truly non-consensual sex.

Many students hold on to the view that women usually have the power to determine whether a campus social event ends with intercourse. Quoting a female Rutgers student "When we go out to parties and I see girls and the way they dress and the way they act ... and just the way they are, under the influence and um, then they like accuse them of like, 'Oh yeah, my boyfriend did this to me' or whatever, I honestly always think it's their fault."

But suggest to a rape bureaucrat that female students share responsibility for the outcome of an evening and that greater sexual restraint would prevent campus "rape," and you might as well be saying that women should don the burka. Instead, sexual risk-management consultants travel the country to help colleges craft legal rules for student sexual congress. "If one partner puts a condom on the other, does that signify that they are consenting to intercourse?" asks Alan D. Berkowitz, a campus rape consultant. Berkowitz apparently finds it "inherently ambiguous."

And even as the campus rape industry decries alleged male predation, a parallel campus sex bureaucracy sends the message that students should have recreational sex at every opportunity. New York University offers workshops on orgasms and "Sex Toys for Safer Sex" ("an evening with rubber, silicone and vibrating toys") in residence halls and various student clubs. Brown University's Student Services helps students answer the compelling question: "How can I bring sex toys into my relationship?" Princeton University's "Safer Sex Jeopardy" game for freshmen lists six types of vibrators and eight kinds of penile toys.

Why, exactly, are schools offering workshops on orgasms?

Remarkably, many students emerge from this farrago of mixed messages with common sense intact. A third-year student columnist Katelyn Kiley gave the real scoop on frat parties: They're filled with men hoping to have sex. And rather than calling these men "rapists" she offered this practical wisdom:
"It's probably a good idea to keep your clothes on, and at the end of the night, to go home to your own bed. Interestingly enough, that's how you get [the guys] to keep asking you back."

Of course Blowback was instantaneous and vociferous, but this feminist review presented the traditional rebuttal that seems to revolve around 1) expanding the definition of rape into surreal proportions and 2) regardless of circumstances, anything justifies a very emotional response to such allegations.

I am not convinced the statistical evidence feminists use is credible. However perhaps more disturbing is that they do not consider significant the consequences of such cavalier mis-truths on both women and men. Clearly men are sub-human and do not justify concern.

Similarly, feminists completely rejects there could be confusion by men or women about what constitutes valid consent - and basically leaves it up the the women if she wants to revise her belief about the encounter well after the fact. In fact one Campus Womens Resource Center staff claimed she didn't realize she had been "raped until 3 years later after reading countless feminist blogs". Talk about
repressed memory syndrome!

Is it not possible
such mindsets - apparently well established across American campuses - in some way have contributed the false rape allegations against the Duke University Lacrosse Team? Could it have triggered despair and remorse in young men at University who are seeking relationship, but are receiving confused signals about their gender-role?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Inside the Mind of the Boy Dating Your Daughter

This is a "catch-up" article and it follows my preoccupation with "gender roles" (but it is a bit annoying that I am harvesting the New York Times so heavily).

Contrary to stereotype, a new report suggests that boys are motivated more by love and a desire to form real relationships with the girls they date.

“Let’s give boys more credit,'’ said study author Andrew Smiler, an assistant professor of psychology at SUNY-Oswego. “Although some of them are just looking for sex, most boys are looking for a relationship. Adolescence can often be a lonely time, and for many boys, girls represent needed companionship."

“Many boys are yearning to talk to somebody, but they can’t talk to their boy friends because it’s all teasing and a lot of competitiveness,” he said. “For many boys who have been a little bit lonely in the boy group, finally meeting a girl and talking to her is a huge relief.”

Dr. Smiler said parents should talk to boys and girls and try to teach them about both romantic and platonic relationships, how to develop and maintain them, how to deal with ups and downs and how to forgive and regain trust. [my emphasis added]

Sound advice! Perhaps if I had understood this better I would still be married (albeit to a different person).

A follow-up article provided further discussion, but widespread skepticism by adult readers was worrisome according to psychologists and may have more to do with adult fathers fears, driving boys to ultimately fulfill our low expectations of them.

“The stereotype reduces boys to one-dimensional beings who just want sex and nothing else,” said Andrew Smiler, an assistant professor of psychology at SUNY-Oswego and author of the recent study. “But there are certainly other things boys want. They want to play baseball. They want good grades and to go to good colleges. But if we insist all boys want is sex, in any context, that’s one dimensional, and it really limits boys and how we think of boys.

I believe this is a more accurate representation of young male teen emotional aspirations than "feminists" would prefer us to believe as it destroys their arguement that "men are sexual predators" from birth. It also matches my distant recollection of that time of my life.

Uncovering the science of the sexes

By somewhat unusual coincidence the National Post also featured a story on gender biology in reviewing a new book by Montreal psychologist Dr. Susan Pinker - The Sexual Paradox.
Biology, not patriarchy, is the culprit behind gender inequality in the workplace, a Montreal psychologist argues.
Dr. Pinker looks at the biological science that underpins fundamental gender differences in the way we work with each other, view and demonstrate competition, negotiation, and communications. One example may be attributed to the biology of empathy that drives women to want more connection and more meaning from their working lives. She cites research that shows how girls and women make more eye contact than men when communicating; how even as infants, girls respond to others' distress more quickly; and how female rats and macaque monkeys use grooming of others to reduce stress.

The implications are that feminist hand wringing about the low incidence of women in high achieving positions as a male conspired "glass ceiling" is mostly self-imposed.

Another radical feminist heresy?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Teaching Boys and Girls Separately

A serious gender issue that has become more topical over past 10 years - with proof positive now that Leonard Sax has turned into a consultant - was in the New York Times today. Here is my summary.

After reading Sax's book “Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences." the Foley Intermediate School AL principal, Lee Mansell, thought Sax's insights might help improve the test scores of Foley’s lowest-achieving cohort, minority boys. They began offering separate classes for boys and girls a few years ago. The are now 360 similarly segregated schools in America with "many more in the Pipeline"

The reason for the same-sex segregation is simple - young boys and girls have essential differences in emotional and mental development. Among the differences Sax notes between boys and girls can be quickly described: Baby boys prefer to stare at mobiles; baby girls at faces. Boys solve maze puzzles using the hippocampus; girls use the cerebral cortex. Boys covet risk; girls shy away. Boys perform better under moderate stress; girls perform worse.
The grade 4 boys listen to Gary Paulsen’s young-adult novel “Hatchet” read by a young male teacher. In the story the protagonist survives a plane crash and finds himself alone by an insect-infested lake. The boys are encouraged to discussed how annoying it is, when you’re out hunting, to be swarmed by yellow flies.

Meanwhile down the hall the girls sang a vigorous rendition of “Always Sisters” and then did a tidy science experiment: pouring red water, blue oil and clear syrup into a plastic cup to test which has the greatest density, then confirming their results with the first-hand knowledge that when you’re doing the dishes after your mother makes fried chicken, the oil always settles on top of the water in the sink.

Principal Mansell reports that 87% of parents requested the single-sex classes which produce fewer discipline problems, more parental support and better scores in writing, reading and math.
Sax's movement is an educational counter-strike to the crisis facing girls in the 1990's when the American Association of University Women published “Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America,” which described how girls’ self-esteem plummets during puberty and how girls are subtly discouraged from careers in math and science. The main premise was that boys and girls have different social needs and that girls educational progress was substantially at risk.

The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem (T.Y.W.L.S.), an all-girls school for Grades 7-12. It is widely considered the birthplace of the current single-sex public school movement and was founded by Ann Rubenstein Tisch, wife of Andrew Tisch, the co-chairman of the Loews Corporation and a former correspondent for NBC Network News. On assignment in Milwaukee, she was interviewing a 15-year-old at a public high school that had just opened a nursery so teenage moms could come back and finish their degrees. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Tisch asked the young mother. The young mother started to cry. “I said to myself: ‘She’s stuck, [and] she knows she’s stuck." Her efforts to open the school in July 1996 started a firestorm of legal challenges up to the Supreme Court about whether single-sex public education was illegal, regressive, anti-feminist and a non-answer to the problem of how to educate both boys and girls well in school - and it “divided the feminist community right down the middle.” The school is now thriving and their approach - as explained by teachers like Emily Wylie - “It’s my subversive mission to create all these strong girls who will then go out into the world and be astonished when people try to oppress them."

Sax calls schools like T.Y.W.L.S. “anachronisms” — because, he says, they’re stuck in 1970s-era feminist ideology. He has also been labeled a gender essentialist which he believes is a derogatory term "that arose in the 1970s to define someone who is an idiot, or a Republican, or both, [and] who does not understand that gender is socially constructed”. He believes our human nature "is gendered to the core" and that "all that happens when you take a toy gun away from your son and give him a doll instead is that you tell him, ‘I don’t like the person that you are and I wish you were more like your sister, Emily."

Still others suggest "single-sex" education has become a cottage industry based on selective science. Appearing with Sax in 2005, Michael Younger, of Cambridge University, objected to his simplification that ‘Boys are active, girls are passive" but concedes “that certain aspects of Sax’s work suggest an essentialism about boys and girls which is not borne out by reality as exposed in our own research.” Jay Giedd a senior neurologist at the National Institute of Mental Health has concluded "Differences in brain size between males and females should not be interpreted as implying any sort of functional advantage or disadvantage.”

Benjamin Wright was sent to the failing Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, in Seattle, to help bridge achievement gaps between white and black students in 1999 did notice some disturbing gender trends.
  • Boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to be suspended, and more likely to drop out of high school than girls (65 percent of boys complete high school in four years; 72 percent of girls do).
  • Boys make up two-thirds of special-education students.
  • Boys are 1.5 times more likely to be held back a grade and 2.5 times more likely to be given diagnoses of A.D.H.D.
After Marshall’s first year in a single-sex format, the percentage of boys meeting the state’s academic standards rose from 10 percent to 35 percent in math and 10 percent to 53 percent in reading and writing. Wright attributes this both to the insights of “brain researchers” like Sax and to what he calls “the character piece” — giving children a positive sense of themselves as students.

Education scholarship has contributed surprisingly little to the debate over single-sex public education. The data do not suggest that they’re clearly better or worse for all kids. But there seem to be two prevailing theories to explain this: one is that single-sex schools are indeed better at providing kids with a positive sense of themselves as students, the other is that in order to end up in a single-sex classroom, you need to have a parent who has made what educators call “a pro-academic choice.” That is you need a parent who at least cares enough about their child to read the notices sent home and go through the process of making a choice — any choice.

I have often felt that the only hope men have of turning back the tide of misandry fed by "feminist" dogma is when a full cohort of women with sons begins to understand the extent of their betrayal. Shock and disappointment is growing at the realization that their sons, despite being raised in a "liberated" environment, will not have have a fulfilling family life due mostly to their damaged preconceptions of gender roles and a victim enabling legal system. Obviously, young women will be no less disappointed. The "wages of sin" from the grave consequences of not firmly speaking out against "feminist" misandry in the past.

Sax has also written a second book "Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men."