Sunday, 29 November 2009

News Flash: Andrew Coyne Admits He Doesn't Understand Women

Now what man does? Andrew's mournful plea has resonance with every heterosexual man in history, "Dear, would you please make up your mind?"

Andrew's frustration comes from the "feminist" (I would say "humanist") call to treat both sexes equally, and finds this goal to be in contrast with statements that "men are more assertive", "women are more nurturing", etc. etc.

Commenter Jenn_, attempts to point out that this apparent inconsistency isn't inconsistent at all.

It is true that in the broadest sense, men and women are different. There are traits that are more predominantly male, and others that are more predominantly female. Does this contradict with the notion that we should treat individuals equally, and try to ignore gender bias? Absolutely not.

The problem with broad definitions, is that they are not true for all individuals. Men generally are more assertive than women, but that is not true for all men or for all women. Which is why, when we evaluate individuals, we have to (as much as possible) be gender blind when evaluating their capabilities. But from an anthropologists standpoint, gender differences in behaviour and thinking do exist. It does not help when these differences can show a difference in approach to situations (such as with police officers). But again, these differences do not translate to hard and fast rules for staffing. It might appear fair, to ensure that there is at least one female officer for every 5 male officers on any shift, but that assumes that the "one" female has all the desirable traits of "a woman" and that all the males do not have these traits because "they are men". Statistical distribution would not bear this out. Because it is a broad study, it just affirms that women should be and can be police officers, a 50/50 distribution would not be a bad thing, and that the police force as a whole would benefit from having both genders viewpoints throughout the entire organization.

This duality does require some mental gymnastics to understand, and keep straight. It has not helped that men saw their general traits as superior, and have historically used this as a reason to denigrate and restrict the activities of women. This continues today in western society, and is even more apparent in less progressive societies.

So to rebut Andrew, women are inconsistent in framing their message, because us men are inconsistent in accepting it. While women's equality has made many strides forward, many males still respond to the debate with "Yes Dear, I understand we are all equal, now please go back to the kitchen while us men discuss it."


ADHR said...

Coyne has apparently never heard of the difference between descriptive and prescriptive perspectives. I always knew he wasn't that bright.

Catelli said...


Well I wouldn't go that far.. I do find myself agreeing with him more often than not.

But maybe that says more about me than him ;)