When men are insecure about masculinity, they support war and oppose same-sex marriage

An interesting new study from a researcher at Cornell. The researcher had men and women take a gender identity survey. The test subjects were then told that the survey showed that they were “masculine” or “feminine.”In fact, what they were told had nothing to do with their survey answers – whether they were told that their answers were “masculine” or “feminine” was random.

The subjects were then surveyed regarding various issues and also regarding car-buying preferences. The men who had had their masculinity “threatened” became more likely to support the Iraq war; more likely to oppose same-sex marriage; and more likely to want to buy an S.U.V. The researcher calls this phenomenon “masculine overcompensation”; Media Girl calls it the Fragile Male Ego.

The researcher, Robb Willer, says he’s planning a follow-up study to see if men are also more likely to favor violence against women if their masculinity is questioned.

This entry posted in Feminism, sexism, etc, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues, Same-Sex Marriage. Bookmark the permalink. 

102 Responses to When men are insecure about masculinity, they support war and oppose same-sex marriage

  1. 1
    BritGirlSF says:

    “The researcher, Robb Willer, says he’s planning a follow-up study to see if men are also more likely to favor violence against women if their masculinity is questioned.”
    I’m willing to bet the answer to that’s a no-brainer.

  2. 2
    proud2b4family says:

    This isn’t a “study” at all in the scientific sense. It’s just the homosexual equivalent of race baiting or playing the race card, (using fighting words to get someone riled up about something that they might not normally bother with). This is a tactic frequently used by heavily liberal-leaning American and European universities to discredit what they see as the “right wing” establishment. As they say in forensics, if you don’t have a real chance at winning an argument, you can always lure your opponent into discrediting himself.

    Robb Willer, the “researcher” in this “study” seems to have a political angle to the type of research he does, as you can well note from his Cornell grad student profile. Judging by the paragraph at the bottom, he seems inordinately interested in bragging about his connections with various liberal media outlets, including N.P.R and Bill Moyers.

    Also, have a look at his CV. Take note especially of the titles of his research papers. The title practically screams out the conclusion that he appears to be seeking. Scientifically objective studies don’t do this (but then “social science” isn’t really a “science” in the objective sense because it’s the study of people by people, who are inherently biased whether they admit it or not).

    Just asking you to consider the nature, author and the structure of the study. That’s all.

  3. 3
    Wookie says:

    Thats right all us men are no brain thugs with weak egos, It’s amazing how we have been able to oppress women for so long!

  4. I’d be interested to see precisely what his methodology is before lauding it or anything … but, that said, this is a bit of a “well, duh!” moment.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Proud2b4family, all of your comments are “ad hom” attacks. It’s irrelevant what’s wrong with the researcher; the question you need to answer is, what’s wrong with the research methodology?

    Wookie, I don’t think this study (if it’s valid) suggests that men are no brain thugs with weak egos. I think it does suggest that men in our culture are raised in a way that teaches many of us to be insecure about masculinity.

    Sarah, I looked on the web for his research report, but couldn’t find it. I’ve emailed him asking if I could get a copy; hopefully he’ll write back to me.

  6. 6
    Scarbo says:

    I think it does suggest that men in our culture are raised in a way that teaches many of us to be insecure about masculinity.

    It “suggests” no such thing. Clearly, this is your extropolation. For all you know, this could be an inherent tendency.

  7. Thanks Amp, can you drop me a line if he sends you the paper? And thanks as to the comment about certain people that won’t address the merits (or, if it turns out, the lack thereof) of the research.

    And actually, I do think it suggest what Amp is saying. Yes, it does not outright say that, but if it were an intrinsic quality to men regarding their masculininty then there would be less variation than what they guys are suggesting. I’m usually hardpressed to run with any infered interpretation from a study such as this, but I would argue it’s a fairly safe one to make.

  8. 8
    Robert says:

    Although the study’s conclusions seem reasonable given my understanding of human nature, it should be noted that the study was done on 111 Cornell undergraduates. The population of 18-21 year olds with an almost overwhelming bias towards abstract reasoners is not particularly representative of the male population overall.

    I’d change your headline to start “When insecure college intellectuals are insecure…”

  9. *smile* that’s a good point Robert, it’s actually funny, the most researched group in the world are college/university undergraduates :)

    But, I would also say that any good researcher does tend to take that into consideration when you do your research … but again, I’ll wait to see the full methodology.

  10. 10
    media girl says:

    Looking at some of the touchy reactions here, perhaps we can put to rest how “uppity” women were in reacting to Lawrence Summers. To me, the study only confirms what I’ve seen in life — not specifically regarding SUVs and Iraq, but in terms of aggressive postures to hide weakness or insecurity.

    prod4b2family seems to have his (?) own political filter, which suggests the curious notiong that facts can only be facts if they are said by someone with appropriate political vetting.

  11. 11
    Ted says:

    There’s a write up on this in this link. It just refers to an abstract that will be presented at an upcoming meeting. There’s no way to tell anything about methodology yet because there is no peer-reviewed manuscript yet. Presumably one is in preparation or already submitted since this is all over the news sites. It only involves college students though and another researcher has already hypothesized that these findings would likely not be similar in older men who have a firmer grasp of their masculinity or lack thereof. I’ve got no opinion on the matter, but its somewhat interesting.

    Post number 2 (not the person, just the post) is despicable. This poor guy is just a research assisitant, presumably just finished his Ph.D.. Give me a break!

  12. 12
    Antigone says:

    If it’s true that it’s only a few undergrads, than I think there is a definate problem with the sample. They’d have to get a much larger, much more varied sample to be able to extrapolate much from this study.

    The only thing I’m curious about is the fact that the women didn’t seem to have much response to the whole masculine/feminine thing. Why don’t the women have much of a desire to compensate for their “feminity”? Has the feminist movement actually done something successful?

  13. 13
    Ted says:

    Hopefully closing my open quote. SORRY!!

    [Thanks, and no big deal. I've fixed in the original comment. --Amp]

  14. 14
    hun says:

    What’s wrong with the research methodology?

    “As far as possible sociological research should be based on the freely given informed consent of those studied. This implies a responsibility on the sociologist to explain as fully as possible, and in terms meaningful to participants, what the research is about, who is undertaking and financing it, why it is being undertaken, and how it is to be promoted.”

    “[...] covert methods violate the principles of informed consent and may invade the privacy of those being studied. [...] experimental manipulation of research participants without their knowledge should be resorted to only where it is impossible to use other methods to obtain essential data. [...] Ideally, where informed consent has not been obtained prior to the research it should be obtained post-hoc.”

    These are ‘only’ the ethical aspects of this research, ie. randomly assigning ‘results’ to the “‘gender identity survey”. Other – more technical – criticism of the research methodology should belong to peers, ie. to people who are well versed in sociological experimental design and interpretation of results.

    OTOH Mr. Willer managed to come forth with some results which are ‘no-brainer’ and ‘well, duh’ for some segments of the lay population, so I guess he’s on his way not just toward acquiring his Ph.D. but launching a successful research career – after all, what can be more satisfying to both researcher and the consumers of such research than providing the stamp of scientific approval for common-sense beliefs which are already entertained by the more enligtened members of society?

  15. 15
    Robert says:

    Sarah, there’s a funny “Nasrudin” story that goes to the same point:

    Nasrudin is in the street next to a streetlight, looking around on the ground for something. A neighbor stops by and asks “what are you doing?” Nasrudin replies, “I have dropped my keys and am looking for them.” So the neighbor gets down on his knees and starts looking around, too. After about ten minutes with no luck, the neighbor says “Do you remember exactly where you dropped them?”

    Nasrudin replies, “oh, I dropped them inside my house.” The neighbor asks “then why on Earth are we looking out here?!?”

    Nasrudin: “Oh, the light is so much better out here.”

  16. 16
    proud2b4family says:

    Amp, I don’t feel that my take on the research was ad hominem at all. It is simply readily apparent from the man’s CV and grad profile what motivations the man has. I just pointed them out to support my point that his research doesn’t appear to be all that objective. That’s it. If you interpreted it otherwise, then so be it.

    Robert, good point. A lot of these “studies” are done on campus with a non-representative, non-random sample population that is not statistically indicative enough to draw a general conclusion about any populations, let alone the attitudes and beliefs of men across cultures. Did the study take into account the phenomenon of progressive changes in worldview and consistency of opinions as one’s age increases? I remember when I was 18-21…I didn’t have a clue what I really believed, even though I strongly believed that I did, because I hadn’t been exposed to the world and the worldviews of others in enough ways. When I’m 50, I’ll probably look back on my age now and think the same thing.

    I can think of a dozen other factors besides age and culture that could skew these results, but I’d have to see the methodology to be sure.

  17. 17
    Sarah in Chicago says:

    lol Robert, I like it :)

    Oh, and my “well, duh” wasn’t coming from a layperson’s perspective; I’m a senior Phd candidate in sociology and social-pysch. My “well, duh” comes from reading other research that shows similar stuff, such as hate crime perpetrators, rapists, etc tend to have more insecure masculinities and ego’s than those that do not committ such acts.

  18. 18
    hun says:

    I stand corrected re: layperson’s “well, duh”.

  19. 19
    Thomas says:

    Proud2b4family, you obviously read “ad hominem” as some sort of indistince pejorative. In fact, it is a technical term that refers to departing from the four corners of the material to question the motives or abilities of the person asserting an argument. Black’s Law Dictionary, which I have handy (6th Ed.) defines it thus: “To the person. [literal translation of hte latin.] A term used in logic with reference to a personal argument.”

    Since what you have said above goes to the researcher’s possible motives and biases, it is all ad hominem, as the term is used in its technical sense.

    Not that I never make ad hominem remarks about research I don’t like, but strictly speaking that’s a rhetorical appeal rather than a logical argument.

    In addition, if you really believe that all social science research is untrustworthy because humans are inherently biased, it seems a waste of effort to critique any particular piece of social science research.

  20. 20
    proud2b4family says:

    media girl, yes, I do indeed have my own political filter. Everybody does. That’s why people write Blogs like this one and my own. That’s why we have editorials in newspapers (and people who read them). That’s why we have the evening news and the “if it bleeds, it leads” or “if it’s against Bush, we push” paradigms. Anyone who believes that people can be 100% objective in every situation either views people as robots or hasn’t yet grasped the nature of humanity to form opinions based on factual and non-factual information.

    I simply have a concern with how the study was conducted. If it were done more objectively and less on an emotional level and came to the same conclusions, the scientist in me would say “Ok, I accept that conclusion based on the pure facts and statistical outcome”. The political, solution-seeking, opinionated side of me would then likely take over and fill in the blanks on its own. Human is as human does.

    That said, this study reminds me of one that I saw a freshman do back in 1992. He decided as part of his anthropology class to conduct a “study” of what would be the outcome of unexpectedly posting flame to a message board catering to homosexuals, then noting their reactions and reporting on them in his paper. It was a disaster and the paper could not reasonably draw any conclusions because a) the sample was already biased and b) the method of study was flawed. Along these lines, hun and Robert hit the nail right on the head with what they quoted.

  21. 21
    djw says:

    Amp, I don’t feel that my take on the research was ad hominem at all. It is simply readily apparent from the man’s CV and grad profile what motivations the man has.

    B2B4F: You don’t know what ad hominem means. It doesn’t mean “name calling” (which you didn’t do). It does mean saying that a person’s arguments or conclusions are false because of something characteristic that person has. That characteristic can be an insulting one, but it doesn’t have to be. The second sentence I quoted above essentially admits that your argument is a textbook example of ad hominem–X’s argument is wrong because X has ulterior motivations.

  22. 22
    djw says:

    Missed Thomas’ #19, rendering my post highly unnecessary. Sorry all.

    “something characteristic”=”some characteristic”

  23. 23
    Sarah in Chicago says:

    Actually, from the main article I don’t really see anything to dismiss it out of hand, and the guy was open about it not in the slightest being a piece of groundbreaking research, which I would certainly agree with.

    Honestly, I think classifying it as bad research before actually seeing the methodology in detail says more about one’s own biases than that of the research.

  24. 24
    proud2b4family says:

    djw and Thomas…I think my problem is that there are just too many @#$@ variations on the definition of the term ad hominem. As I understood it, semantically at least, it was “name calling”, hence my rebuttal.

    My 10:23 am post, IMHO, further clarifies what I believe about “X’s argument is wrong because X has ulterior motivations” in the context of my having an opinion on the subject, etc. Agreed, the same could be said about me and on its own does not refute the study. It’s a side note.

    Again, though, I reiterate the concept of the methodology of “surprising” test subjects with previously unrevealed information about the study. It shoots holes in the bucket you’re trying to carry your conclusions in.

  25. 25
    NancyP says:

    Well, d’oh, in laypersons’ terms. Insecure people notice when they are being described as out of the norm for the approved stereotype for their gender, and try harder to match that stereotype, a stereotype in part formed by commercial media interests (call an SUV-identical large capacity people and cargo-handling vehicle a “station wagon” or a “minivan”, and all of a sudden, it’s too girly for some guys). Secure people pay no mind and keep on doing what they had been doing in the first place.

    This works for girls and young women too. Some of the most dedicated fashionistas in high school and college are incredibly insecure.

  26. 26
    hun says:

    But women weren’t doing it! Even those who were randomly termed ‘masculine’ weren’t supporting the war in Iraq or disapproved of gay marriage or wanted to buy a SUV (more than a bio-fuel-driven environmentally-gentle Prius [or whatever])!

  27. 27
    Jake Squid says:

    Uh, yeah. That’s because if they were insecure about their femininity one wouldn’t expect them to be more pro-war, etc. as those things are not considered feminine. It would be interesting to see, however, if women termed “masculine” became more anti-war, more pro-SSM, etc.

    Maybe, if the right questions were asked, they would be more pro-diet, more pro-mommyhood, more pro-whateverthefuckitisthatisconsideredfeminine.

  28. 28
    Ampersand says:

    But women weren’t doing it! Even those who were randomly termed ‘masculine’ weren’t supporting the war in Iraq or disapproved of gay marriage or wanted to buy a SUV (more than a bio-fuel-driven environmentally-gentle Prius [or whatever])!

    It seems to me that if women had acted the same way, we would have expected the women told they tested as “masculine” to go in the opposite direction – to become more likely to oppose the war in Iraq, to buy the Prius, etc, in order to seem more “feminine.”

    That they did not suggests that women are less insecure about their femininity then men are about their masculinity, at least among college students. Another possibility, however, is that politics and car buying is a way that men express masculinity, but women express femininity in different areas.

  29. 29
    hun says:

    Another possibility is that the women in the survey thought that the “gender identity survey” was bunk and as such couldn’t give a flyin’ f* about the ‘feedback’ they received. Now if one would have administered a calculus test and provided randomized results, then inquired about Larry Summers’ fitness for his job…

  30. 30
    media girl says:

    I simply have a concern with how the study was conducted. If it were done more objectively and less on an emotional level and came to the same conclusions, the scientist in me would say “Ok, I accept that conclusion based on the pure facts and statistical outcome”. The political, solution-seeking, opinionated side of me would then likely take over and fill in the blanks on its own. Human is as human does.

    This wasn’t what you were “simply” expressing before, which was a suggestion that because you think the scientist is some kind of liberal, nothing worthwhile can be drawn from the study.

    Anyone who believes that people can be 100% objective in every situation either views people as robots or hasn’t yet grasped the nature of humanity to form opinions based on factual and non-factual information.

    Setting up a straw man to argue with is fine with me, but it doesn’t have anything to do with what I said. But then I’m probably one of them libruls, too, thus making everything I say suspect, right? (Wondering if there’s a study on employment of straw men in arguments….)

    I think the fact that so many people are greeting this study with such alarm is hilarious. Do you think someone here is a shill for GM’s Hummer division?

  31. 31
    Robert says:

    That they did not suggests that women are less insecure about their femininity then men are about their masculinity, at least among college students. Another possibility, however, is that politics and car buying is a way that men express masculinity, but women express femininity in different areas.

    Or possibly that men and women are both insecure in their gender roles, but disregard threats to those roles that come from certain quarters; maybe women just don’t care what a survey said but would have changed their answers if the derogation of their femininity had come from a different kind of source.

  32. 32
    Ampersand says:

    Proud2b4F wrote:

    djw and Thomas…I think my problem is that there are just too many @#$@ variations on the definition of the term ad hominem. As I understood it, semantically at least, it was “name calling”, hence my rebuttal.

    I can definitely understand how you’d make that mistake. However, in this particular case, djw and Thomas were correct; I intended “ad hominem” in the technical sense they described. It seems to me that we now pretty much agree that the merits or flaws of the study have to be evaluated without reference to the merits or flaws of the researcher, so we can now move on.

    That said, this study reminds me of one that I saw a freshman do back in 1992. He decided as part of his anthropology class to conduct a “study” of what would be the outcome of unexpectedly posting flame to a message board catering to homosexuals, then noting their reactions and reporting on them in his paper. It was a disaster and the paper could not reasonably draw any conclusions because a) the sample was already biased and b) the method of study was flawed. Along these lines, hun and Robert hit the nail right on the head with what they quoted.

    Hun’s post was about the ethics of this sort of experiment, not about the merits.

    I don’t think your anecdote is relevant. Asking volunteers to take a gender role survey is not at all the same thing as going uninvited into someone else’s space to insult them. The volunteers are aware that they’re being tested, and they’re free to choose not to participate. Furthermore, there’s nothing inherently insulting about being told that you’ve come out “masculine” or “feminine” on a sex role inventory. Plus it seems unlikely that your anecdotal freshman could have had a control group of any sort.

    There is no resemblance at all between what you described and what we know of this study.

  33. 33
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, regarding post #15 – and with all due respect – you’ve completely butchered that story. Why would the light be better under a street lamp then it is in a house?

  34. 34
    Ampersand says:

    By the way, the researcher very kindly emailed me a copy of the current draft of his research report. I’m working on a drawing right now, but I’ll read it tonight, and let y’all know if there’s anything about the methodology that’s not already made clear by the press release.

  35. 35
    Lee says:

    Sarah in Chicago, I’d like to apologize to you and other sociology graduate students, both current and past, for my snarky survey answers when I was an undergraduate. Being older and somewhat wiser, I now realize it was wrong of me to jeopardize someone’s doctoral research because I resented being *required* to participate in surveys solely because I was receiving federal financial aid. I hope this confession doesn’t lead you back to square one on your thesis!

  36. 36
    Scarbo says:

    All this aside, I guess I’m not sure what all the hub-hub is about. So some guys reacted negatively when suggested that their responses were feminine. Big deal. They’re guys. What did you expect them to do?

    I suspect ANY research done this same way, where the researcher picks a sensitive area in his subject and finds a way to tickle it, would find similar results. I’d like to see research done with, say, women, who, after giving their responses, were told something like, “that’s what an obedient housewife would say” or “that’s what a dumb blonde would say”.

    File this under: self-awareness, identity of self, whatever. Yawn; I’m going back to sleep now.

  37. 37
    Robert says:

    Robert, regarding post #15 – and with all due respect – you’ve completely butchered that story. Why would the light be better under a street lamp then it is in a house?

    He hadn’t paid his electric bill.

    Don’t oppress me with your monochromatic interpretations of the text, man. It means what I WANT it to mean!

  38. 38
    hun says:

    I think Scarbo is being dismissive of this rather important research; after all, if the incidence of Fragile Male Ego could be lowered, then the troops would be home by XMas, SSM could be put to a referendum and pass by flying colours, not mentioning the dramatic fall in sales of those gas-guzzler (hence environment-killer) SUVs. Now the first step in solving a problem is recognizing it; it just might be that one day Mr. Robb Willer will be seen as one of those people whose research insight helped to radically better the human condition.

  39. 39
    proud2b4family says:

    media girl,

    Speaking of straw men…

    “But then I’m probably one of them libruls, too, thus making everything I say suspect, right? (Wondering if there’s a study on employment of straw men in arguments….)”

    But then I’m probably one of them conservatives, too, thus making everything I say suspect, right. It does work both ways. That’s the beauty (and frustration) of debate.

    I’ll forgive you your political biases and opinions and respect your right to have them, if you’ll do the same for me.

    I even promise to let Robb Willer have his as long as he doesn’t try to write studies that are based on faulty population samples and methodologies (Ampersand, can you post it somewhere so that I can verify, or eat crow, as the case may be?) and subsequently have the potential to help alter public policy in ways that may not be necessary.

    Lee, great post about undergrads being *required* to take some of these surveys and studies to keep your financial aid. I had completely forgotten about that little “requirement”.

  40. 40
    Sarah in Chicago says:

    LOL … you’re forgiven Lee :)

    But I’m lucky, I CAN’T study college students for my research, it just simply wouldn’t work *icky undergraduate students!* *grin* My population and sample are quite different.

    (and of course, I’ve NEVER answered snarkily on ANY college survey I’ve EVER filled out … errr)

  41. 41
    Scarbo says:

    I think Scarbo is being dismissive of this rather important research

    Darn right I am. I consider it a waste of time.

    after all, if the incidence of Fragile Male Ego could be lowered…

    Ah, I see now. The point I obviously missed is that this research is actually showing how stupidly flawed men are! So, I guess the natural next step is to wish for a magic pill to change the “basic” nature of men, huh? Meanwhile, women, who are perfect in every way, get to be the ones deciding the standards for appropriate male behavior, keepers of the list of how men have ruined/are ruining the world, and monitoring and demanding what men need to change. Since, of course, they are so flawed and everything.

    I would love a pill for women which would turn off the tendency to judge, tendency to nag, and the tendency to feel superior.

    Until I can find that magical pharmacy, I’ll be down at Hooters, with a big beer in one hand and a cute waitress’ rear in my other.

  42. 42
    Sarah in Chicago says:

    hey, there we go … misogyny anyone?

  43. 43
    hun says:

    Hey, does the research work in reverse? Can we state unequivocally that Scarbo’s display of (inflated?) machismo is a display to cover up the fragility of his gender identity?
    Oh it’s all so confusing… now I wonder why is that my first car was a ’78 Mercury Marquis 2 door with a 351 cu.in. V8, but after my wife left me, I started to buy 1300cc Honda Civics…

  44. 44
    Scarbo says:

    Can we state unequivocally that Scarbo’s display of (inflated?) machismo is a display to cover up the fragility of his gender identity?

    I don’t know about “working in reverse”, but we’ve all seen examples of “compensation”: the big pickup truck, the Corvette, etc. Is that what you’re referring to?

    And why do you call my machismo “inflated”? Compared to what? There you go, arbitrarily setting standards (uninvited, I might add) again. For all you know, I could be acting like my true self, not an “inflated” version of same. Oh wait, that’s what I am doing.

    Hmmm, fragile gender identity… let’s see — I think Popeye said it best: “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.” Nope, no gender identity questions there, sorry.

    By the way, Sarah, I love the waitresses at Hooters. Isn’t misogyny the hatred of women? Maybe that would be you: you probably hate the women at Hooters.

  45. 45
    Jake Squid says:

    I can’t figure out whether Scarbro is a parody or not. If he isn’t, he is certainly a wild caricature of misogyny.

  46. 46
    Sarah in Chicago says:

    lol, I think it’s always funny how misogynists ALWAYS come back with “But I LOVE women” … and then go on to list all the sexist things they like about women … I mean, you can almost just let them talk to have them prove your point.

    We were actually having a discussion on bitchphd on precisely this :)

    Oh, and I don’t hate the women at Hooters, I don’t know them.

  47. 47
    Ampersand says:

    It’s my judgement that this thread is veering away from what was an interesting discussion of a study, and is now headed in the direction of becoming a not very interesting insult fest (even though it hasn’t gotten there yet).

    For everyone, if you’re going to continue posting on this thread, please try to reverse this trend.

    Everyone, please attack arguments, not people.

    People who are criticizing this study, please try out putting your criticism in more cool-headed and less sarcastic terms.

  48. 48
    Ampersand says:

    By the way, Scarbo, just to make sure: Hun is pretty much in agreement with you. The post of his you responded to, was him being sarcastic, not him beins sincere.

  49. 49
    hun says:

    Yeah, if/when one’s secure in his gender identity, one likes the non-sexist stuff about women; like how strong they’re, how they aren’t afraid of being randomly labeled feminine/masculine, the way they call it as they see it, not afraid of getting into the faces of even those men who’re close to them…

    T&A are for the gender-insecure males w/ the Fragile (Male) Ego. Period.

  50. 50
    Scarbo says:

    So it’s sexist to appreciate a beautiful women’s body? Dang. Now I gotta figure out who to blame for me being the way I am: the evil patriarchy, or my genetic makeup.

    Tell me, though, Sarah: is it sexist for both my wife AND my daughter to be drooling over Christian Bale’s six-pack abs in that morning scene in Batman Begins?

  51. 51
    Scarbo says:

    By the way, Scarbo, just to make sure: Hun is pretty much in agreement with you. The post of his you responded to, was him being sarcastic, not him being sincere.

    (red face) By gosh, you’re right. Must work on reading comprehension. Sorry.

  52. 52
    hun says:

    Ampersand,

    kind of hard to do what you’re asking for; when it is stated that it tells more about someone’s bias that one thinks this study bad than about the study itself – that pretty effectively precludes reasoned (if not professional) criticism, doesn’t it? apart from being an ‘ad hominem’ argument…

  53. 53
    Sarah in Chicago says:

    Aww, Amp, but he’s SOOO easy …

    But you’re perfectly right, I’ll stick to the topic of the post, which is this study. And moreover, till I have read the study, I’ll just shut up, because I’ve said my piece here and continuing isn’t really contributing anything new :)

  54. 54
    TestSubjectXP says:

    lol, I think it’s always funny how misogynists ALWAYS come back with “But I LOVE women” … and then go on to list all the sexist things they like about women … I mean, you can almost just let them talk to have them prove your point.

    Women of this opinion have helped me in my journey of self-discovery. I watched guys constantly get chided for this while growing up, and decided I would not repeat the mistake.

    I would rather just hate women than run the risk of insulting them with a compliment. It’s not worth disrespecting myself to do so. Let’s face it, a woman’s body is not the be-all and end-all of beauty. Among the most aesthetically appreciable things in the world, a lovely woman has quite a bit of competition with the rest of nature.

    This attitude among women helped me to open my eyes and realize there are other things more deserving of my admiration than a woman’s sexuality or being. Women just aren’t worth that much attention, yet men still give it to them and women still scold them for it. *sigh*

    I could be called a misogynist, not some man just because he visits Hooters to look at the eye-candy. When a beautiful woman walks by me I think to myself, “Meh, just another human with a gift that will never bring any true benefit to the world. What a waste.”

  55. 55
    acallidryas says:

    It seems to me that if women had acted the same way, we would have expected the women told they tested as “masculine” to go in the opposite direction – to become more likely to oppose the war in Iraq, to buy the Prius, etc, in order to seem more “feminine.”

    That they did not suggests that women are less insecure about their femininity then men are about their masculinity, at least among college students. Another possibility, however, is that politics and car buying is a way that men express masculinity, but women express femininity in different areas.

    I’m interested in this study, both for the fact that men reacted and the fact that men didn’t. I’d like to see one that was geared more towards testing female compensation, by testing some feminine stereotypes. It seems that the things you mentioned-opposing war and buying Prius’s- are deemed by society to be very non-masculine, but not exactly feminine.

    But also, I wonder if there would ever be a response from women. Because I don’t think there are “feminine” values that are considered to be as positive as “masculine” values. Being feminine is pretty well denigrated by society, even if not overtly, or at least considered not as good, or powerful, or however you want to put it, as being masculine.

  56. 56
    Josh Jasper says:

    I’ll wait until it gets a good peer review, but there’s something about this study that has me suspicious as to it’s validity. It’s a little bit too politicaly advantageous to a certain viewpoint (mine, in fact) for me to accept it as valid right off the bat.

    I’d really hate for this to be an example of “how liberals lie”. If it were true, it’d be great to use in a debate, but if it’s false, everyone who’s currently citing it is going to have egg on his or her face.

  57. 57
    Mike says:

    “Women of this opinion have helped me in my journey of self-discovery. I watched guys constantly get chided for this while growing up, and decided I would not repeat the mistake.”

    TestSubjectXP, I have had the same experiences. Though I am a straight male, I now mostly just ignore women — modern feminism wants it both ways. Many of them (certainly the mainstream) want to be treated as a protected group, with special privileges and status, while being exactly equal. Unfortunately, those paths are divergent.

    You know, I am quite into fashion. I observe what people wear (men included), and own more clothes and shoes than is sane. I often give people clothes as gifts, especially for those who hate shopping.

    And, I often tell men that I like their shirt, pants, whatever. However, I would NEVER tell a woman that, even were it true, because I would then automatically become a male scumbag pervert in the minds of all too many women — and I know this from personal experience, alas.

    I once gave a female friend a gift of pants and a shirt (all work-appropriate) because she hated shopping. I gave the receipts and everything, in case she needed to return them. This pretty much ended our friendship. Yes, I have learned the hard way in my life about the double standards.

    Now, I pretty much refuse to talk to and/or deal with women (unless at work, and then only on business), and I certainly never compliment one on anything, and I do not plan to ever submit to a relationship with a woman again. (Fortunately, I was never shy, and I started young, so I have been with enough women to know that I am not missing anything.)

    I am not bitter, or maladjusted, or sad, or depressed. It’s just that I’ve become confident enough in myself and what I want to know that it doesn’t include a woman.

    Neverthless, it’s strange that the worst insult you can give a woman all too often is to tell her that she looks nice — when someone tells me that, it makes me feel pretty good.

    You know, fuck that. I’m out of the game. :-)

  58. 58
    Rock says:

    I would not think that women would react similarly to real or imagined threats to masculinity as men. I do note many women driving SUV and other security-imaged vehicles. Perhaps asking questions about traditionally identified female concerns would hit some of their buttons and trigger a similar response. (Personal security issues, etc.)

    I do not know what “women” undergrads fear in identity, (not all that up on men either) however just on observing folks, I doubt the reaction would be as strong as men. Having said this all folks listening to fear based messages and consumer oriented solutions that seem to be in media all the time might react over time in similar fashions regardless of gender. Blessings.

  59. 59
    GoEast says:

    …and when feminists are under threat, they oppose cross-culture romance. The following is amusing, and scary.

    http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2004/7/prweb138739.htm

  60. 60
    Mike says:

    Figured my comment would not be posted. It did not fit the dogma of this site, though it contained nothing offensive, and no attacks.

    So much for open dialogue. Cheers!

  61. 61
    Mike says:

    “I would rather just hate women than run the risk of insulting them with a compliment.”

    TestubjectXP, I left a much longer comment reference this which the moderators refused to post, though it contained nothing offensive and no attacks, but the gist of it was that I agree with you.

    I have dropped out of all relations with women, though I am a straight male, due to the nature of much modern dogma on gender relations. It’s too risky, when even giving a compliment (that I myself would be glad to receive) can begin a sexual harassment suit in most workplaces.

    Being a real fashion hound, it’s hard for me not to comment if I like someone’s shirt or pants, etc., but there is no way I’d risk it in the modern environment.

    Perhaps this comment will not be deleted, though it is not dogmatically sound vis-à-vis this site.

  62. 62
    Ted says:

    The politicization of science, such as what is occuring here, is very disturbing. I suppose many people find this study political because it involved a question about the Iraq war, I, however, fail to understand how that has political underpinnings. The experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that if you challenge a person’s identity they will exaggerate the challenged trait to compensate for the challenge. This is based on an old theory of Freud and the experimental design, from what I can gleam from the abstract, is a rather clever way of testing that hypothesis particularly as it pertains to men. The use of the Iraq war is mearly a reference point that the study participants would be familiar with and the results themselves say nothing about societal support for the war, just that when males are told they are more feminine based on a survey they are more likely to support that war. What is political about that (perhaps someone can explain)? It does, from my standpoint and coupled with the other stated findings, give reasonable support for the hypothesis, which is what the researchers wanted to test.

    This is just one study, which will likely lead to many more along these lines and who knows what the consensus will be on the original hypothesis 10 years from now. Single studies rarely, if ever, provide concrete evidence to support a hypothesis. This takes years, or decades, of work and multiple publications, from multiple researchers which eventually start to form a story that gives some real insight.

    Amp, I’ll be interested to see what you think of the pre-print. That was quite a jesture of Mr. Willer to send it to you (I wouldn’t send a presubmitted draft out in a million years!).

  63. 63
    Antigone says:

    *sigh*

    I would like to be considered beautiful, without it just being about my beauty. I would like to not be reduced to just a beautiful body. I would like it to be recognized that I am a sexual being and not a sexual object. I would like guys to recognize that when I am more skilled at something
    “traditionally masculine” then them, I am not a threat to their masculinity, and when I am not skilled at something, that does not speak to my gender as a whole.

    I would like science to go back to being objective.

  64. 64
    mythago says:

    I have dropped out of all relations with women, though I am a straight male, due to the nature of much modern dogma on gender relations.

    If laws against harassment and rape really ruined your ability to interact with women, it’s probably just as well.

    The idea that a mere polite comment will get you a sexual harassment lawsuit is ludicrous. You don’t see people worrying that they will be punished for well-meant remarks that are wrongly taken as racial harassment, or religious discrimination, yet there’s this weird perception that women are all eager to immerse themselves in the joy that is a lawsuit.

  65. 65
    Jenny K says:

    “I would like science to go back to being objective. ”

    Science was objective? When?

    (Yes, I think it’s gotten worse recently – I just couldn’t resist.)

  66. 66
    Elinor says:

    Mail-order bride businesses are now “cross-cultural romance.” Good to know.

    Getting back to the topic: I think it’s pretty straightforward – neither “masculine” nor “feminine” is really an insult, applied to a woman’s personality. Writing like a man, thinking like a man, driving like a man, taking tequila like a man…all “good.” Looking like a man isn’t seen as good, but if these women believed they were being judged on the results of a written test, that wouldn’t enter into it.

    I’m starting to wonder about the subtle distinction between “masculine” and “unfeminine.” I think the latter is almost always an insult when applied to women.

  67. 67
    Antigone says:

    Well, let’s say I’d like science (like the media) to live up to it’s supposed objectivity.

  68. 68
    alsis39 says:

    Writing like a man, thinking like a man, driving like a man, taking tequila like a man…all “good.”

    Marian McPartland commented once that early in her jazz career, she felt very proud if someone said that she played piano “like a man.” Later on, she figured out that what they really meant was that the average woman at the piano would sound “frilly, vague, and inconsequential.” She went on to write that the crowning irony of the “like-a-man” suffix was what it said about men who played sweetly, with a gentle, soft touch at the keyboard. It meant THEY “played like women.” No one suggested this, of course, because it would have infuriated them !

  69. 69
    Ted says:

    How is science not objective? Perhaps the intended meaning is that some pundits, the press and even some scientists use objective science for subjective means that support their particular platform, but that does not make the science itself subjective. In particular how can this particular study be seen as not being objective. A clear hypothesis was stated (based on a long-standing theory, admitidly proposed by a much maligned psychologist/psychiatrist, but that is immaterial), tested and results were obtained and presented for discussion/interpretation. Seems to follow the scientific method to me. The way results are interpretted does not alter the objectivity of the study itself.

  70. 70
    Amanda says:

    Seriously, who pissed in the whiny MRAs cereal lately? Is there a full moon? These past few days, they have been relentless idiots all over the feminist blogosphere.

  71. 71
    Amanda says:

    If laws against harassment and rape really ruined your ability to interact with women, it’s probably just as well.

    The main law that’s problematic is the one against kidnapping a woman and forcing her into marriage.

  72. For all you know, this could be an inherent tendency.

    Deep in the beast’s intelligence was something that assured Kerchak that the sports-utility vehicle was only dangerous in the hands of someone who knew how to operate it; yet still it was several minutes before he could bring himself to touch it. Using his long arms as a man uses crutches, the great ape paced back and forth before his prize—the moving boulder of death that previously Lord Greystoke had used in war against his tribe.

    It was Tublat, Kala’s mate, who broke the stasis. He inched towards the SUV, tentative, hesitant, but with a posture that nevertheless contained within it implications injurious to the masculinity of Kerchak. Then the great ape Kerchak loosed his wild scream—than which there is no more terrifying in all the jungle—and rage overcame him. He bit a great chunk from Tublat’s hide and spat it on the asphalt ground. He tore open the door of the SUV. He started the engine and loosed the parking brake. He began to drive, the apes chattering and scattering from his rage, the wheels of his SUV grinding down the vertebrae of lesser apes.

    Then did Kerchak, the great ape, at last support the war in Iraq. Then did he bare his white fangs and shake his muscled arms and cry out vengeance against the desert-born enemies of his forest tribe. Then at last did he recognize the moral bankruptcy of the progressive apes and awaken to his true masculine power.

    Vroom.

    . . .

    With apologies to Edgar Rice Burroughs, I suspect that masculinity is a social construct.

    It is self-evident that the human brain is wired with inherent low-level bias in terms of which concepts feel slightly more “right.” I think this because otherwise babies would have to resolve certain basic philosophical quandaries before essaying to nurse, such as “is there a necessary correlation between experience and reality?” and “what is the purpose of my existence?” I sincerely hope I am not the only one who managed to get past my first few days in this world without figuring these things out.

    (More generally, Nirvana abhors computation.)

    At the same time I think that if there *is* any intrinsic underlying neurosis in the simian brain that operates when “masculinity is threatened”, it is something that only operates because society has generated a specific connection and affiliation between the abstract concepts involved and the low-level potentials. We’re not talking about primal behavior like eating, nurturing, and violence here, where it’s legitimate if horribly risky* to say “masculinity is a word for the quality we were studying”; we’re talking about people receiving the *label* masculine or feminine, and their response in terms of SUVs.

    * Risky to the chances that the researchers can successfully maintain objectivity.

  73. 73
    ginmar says:

    I guess a bunch of MRAs just got divorces or something, based on their whiny appearances here. Nothing makes this study look more accurate than a bunch of guys boasting about their metaphorical dicks and whining about how they can’t get anything to stick them into.

  74. 74
    hun says:

    I dunno; maybe those with the Fragile Male Ego who support the war in Iraq support those troops who whine about free wireless access as well…

  75. 75
    Rock says:

    The responses are destined to be skewed in this line of question. In some men, telling one he is feminine may result in him acting more masculine; if he is told he is masculine he is secure. If some women are told they are masculine they may want to become more feminine, however if they are deemed feminine there is not the corresponding desire to be masculine as a result (in general). It should be no surprise that men react to the threat to masculinity by acting more aggressively, as this is often an interpretation of it. (Though a rather shallow one.)

    As long as we teach that the masculinity of a man is in things as his size, how many women he has bedded, or willingness to fight that is what we get. A paradigm shift like teaching masculinity is standing up for the marginalized, being a faithful and responsible partner, a good parent etc. maybe in about a thousand years (if we are lucky) it might change the way many men respond to that type of survey. Blessings.

  76. 76
    jane says:

    i was looking for a synonym for the word “changeable” on thesaurus.com, trying to write a paper and keep my mind off political & sexual topics for awhile, and the following is what i found as part of the search results. there’s no escaping it. it just makes me depressed. (although the “male” entry doesn’t list “strong” as a synonym.)

    Main Entry: female
    Part of Speech: adjective
    Definition: womanly
    Synonyms: changeable, child-bearing, delicate, effeminate, effete, fair, feminine, fertile, gentle, girlish, girly, graceful, ladylike, maidenly, matronly, modest, muliebral, oviparous, petticoat, pistil-bearing, pistillate, pure, refined, reproductive, sensitive, she-stuff, shy, soft, tender, twisty, virgin, vixenish, weak, womanish, womanlike
    Antonyms: male, manlike, manly
    Source: Roget’s New Millenniumâ„¢ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
    Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

  77. 77
    Rock says:

    So much for Roget’s opinion… “New Millennium?” Hate to see the old one.

  78. 78
    Jenny K says:

    “How is science not objective?”

    Because it involves people.

    I don’t just mean the people who selectively take certain facts and twist them to their own biases, as we all do – perhaps despite our best efforts – from time to time.

    Scientists choose what to study. Other people choose what studies (and scientists) they are going to fund.

    Let’s take for example, the recent study that was undertaken to try to figure out why both male and female schizophrenics usually hear male voices. :) Appparently male and female voices are processed in different parts of the brain because women’s voices are more melodious (complex). If verified, this information is not, in and of itself, biased – it’s just information.

    That doesn’t mean, however, that the science doesn’t involve bias. Neither does the fact that bias plays a role in the study mean that their discoveries are untrue or meaningless. All it means, is that, since the scientists who started this study did so in order to understand schizophrenia, their focus was narrowed in such a way that the methodology, while reasonable and undiscriminatory, still results in certain biases in terms of what information we have, and what information we don’t have.

    One of my first thoughts when reading about this was curiousity as to how children’s voices are processed. Since this information wasn’t included in the study, one could make the arguement that the study was biased towards adults, and it was, for logical and (mostly) unavoidable reasons.

    As a single study, this bias hardly matters, it’s simply necessary focus. But all to often, certain biases add up to whole fields being biased in ways that are not logical or necessary, and are often harmful. Children being excluded in studies is actually a problem – there was an article in Newsweek recently that talked about how doctors who treat kids are often unsure what doses of certain medicines to give kids because it’s not something that is ever tested. There are obvious reasons why this is so, but it means that seriously ill kids are being put in even greater danger because there is almost no effort to gather information on how all but the most mundane drugs affect children. So doctors who treat seriously ill kids have begun to band together to share information and set up and argue for experimental programs for seriously ill kids like those that already exist for adults.

    The fact that science is meant to be logical, and requires that facts and theories be tested and verified, does not mean that bias only affects it when the study is done and laypeople try to learn about it, or twist it’s findings to their own purpose.

    Bias is there from the beginning because scientists choose what to study and other people choose what studies (and scientists) they are going to fund.

    Bias is there from the start because people are involved.

  79. 79
    Brian Vaughan says:

    I’m wondering what’s up with the MRAs, lately, myself. This morning I got an email from a stranger I’d contacted about something unrelated, and she apologized because she’d been in a flamewar with an MRA.

    She did say they’re on a “marriage strike.” I imagine that’s one picket line there’s no danger of anyone trying to cross.

  80. 80
    Aegis says:

    proud2be4family, most of the people in the thread are correct, you are going to actually point out problems with the methodology of the study to discredit it; pointing out the biases of the researchers is not enough.

    acallidryas said:
    But also, I wonder if there would ever be a response from women. Because I don’t think there are “feminine” values that are considered to be as positive as “masculine” values. Being feminine is pretty well denigrated by society, even if not overtly, or at least considered not as good, or powerful, or however you want to put it, as being masculine.

    I would definitely agree that femininity is not considered “powerful,” because powerfulness is usually associated with masculinity. I think there are also some areas where “feminine” values are seen as superior, such as in “communication,” intimacy, and loving. Part of this comes from the stereotype of females as more nurturing.

    Mike said:
    And, I often tell men that I like their shirt, pants, whatever. However, I would NEVER tell a woman that, even were it true, because I would then automatically become a male scumbag pervert in the minds of all too many women … and I know this from personal experience, alas.

    For all too many women, that is true, because of widespread negative attitudes towards male sexuality. Yet “widespread” is not the same thing as universal. For this reason, I do not hold off on complimenting women when I occassionally feel like it, although I am careful that I know her well enough to have a good idea of how she will respond.

    Now, I pretty much refuse to talk to and/or deal with women (unless at work, and then only on business), and I certainly never compliment one on anything, and I do not plan to ever submit to a relationship with a woman again.

    Well, I would never advise anyone of either sex to “submit” to a relationship. “Submitting” to a relationship implies that one doesn’t really want one, or that one is only entering it to please the other partner, perhaps out of a sense of obligation.

    Like you, I am deeply troubled by sexual harassment policy and cultural misandry. Yet I wouldn’t let those stop me from enjoying my relationships, both sexual and otherwise, with women. Me swearing off women might help me feel self-righteous, but it wouldn’t actually change anything. I don’t believe that all women are so heavily misandrist that I couldn’t have positive relationships with any of them. I just have to be more selective. Honestly, your stance seems like an overreaction (although an overreaction to very real issues).

    mythago said:
    The idea that a mere polite comment will get you a sexual harassment lawsuit is ludicrous. You don’t see people worrying that they will be punished for well-meant remarks that are wrongly taken as racial harassment, or religious discrimination, yet there’s this weird perception that women are all eager to immerse themselves in the joy that is a lawsuit.

    Ludicrous perhaps, but not necessarily impossible. And since when don’t we see people worrying that they will suffer negative consequences for well-meant remarks that may be taken as racial harassment, etc… ? If people are more afraid of sexual harassment, maybe it’s because sexual harassment guidelines may be more prevalent, strict, or punitive than racial harassment guidelines, not because people believe women to be more hyper-sensitive? Still, I do think Mike’s response is over the top.

  81. 81
    Aegis says:

    Oops, the blockquote for mythago should be closed at the end of the 2nd to last paragraph… (If Amp wants to fix it and delete this current post, that’s fine…)

    [Actually, I prefer to leave posts like this one up, as a way of letting hypothetical new "Alas" readers know they can point out things that need fixing to me. --Amp]

  82. 82
    jaketk says:

    mythago said: The idea that a mere polite comment will get you a sexual harassment lawsuit is ludicrous. You don’t see people worrying that they will be punished for well-meant remarks that are wrongly taken as racial harassment, or religious discrimination, yet there’s this weird perception that women are all eager to immerse themselves in the joy that is a lawsuit.

    actually, it isn’t all that uncommon for people to be concerned about what they say. perhaps in your case, by being from a protected group, you have little to fear if you make a well-meant comment or even a flat-out sexist or racist comment. but many people do, especially if they aren’t in a friendly setting. many whites are careful about their words choices around minorities, especially blacks. as for men and comments about women, perhaps you should consider this: if many men think that their well-meant comments will be perceived as sexist, perhaps that is because it is actually the case. perceptions are based not only on preconceived notions, but on what is placed in front of you. and following the series of sexual harrassment lawsuits at the beginning of the 90s, it is much safer for a man, or for whites, to simply avoid making comments than risk being fired over something trivial.

    as for the subject of the thread, until i can read exactly how this study was conducted, what questions were asked, what choices were made available, and most important if the subjects’ insecurities were studied to determine what exactly they stemmed from, i won’t give it much credit. generalized studies such as these have little value as they simply reinforce stereotypes, generally negative ones, and rarely factor in elements outside of the range of the study. for instance, how do we know these men were not made to feel insecure by the manner of the questioning? how do we know that they were not insecure about themselves in general to begin with, and that the researchers merely took that to mean they were insecure about their masculinity? such questions typically aren’t asked as the studies often “prove” what people already believe.

  83. 83
    acallidryas says:

    Aegis said:
    I would definitely agree that femininity is not considered “powerful,” because powerfulness is usually associated with masculinity. I think there are also some areas where “feminine” values are seen as superior, such as in “communication,” intimacy, and loving. Part of this comes from the stereotype of females as more nurturing.

    I agree that females are considered superior to males as to nurturing ability, and are thought to be more communicative and intimate. However, I don’t think that those values in and of themselves are thought to better by society, at least outside of mothers. If men are perceived to be more nurturing, they’re called feminine and it’s certainly not a compliment. Just look at some of the right-wing attacks on Clinton for saying the felt our pain. They took that as a feminine thing to say and criticized him harshly for it.

    jaketk said:
    as for the subject of the thread, until i can read exactly how this study was conducted, what questions were asked, what choices were made available, and most important if the subjects’ insecurities were studied to determine what exactly they stemmed from, i won’t give it much credit. generalized studies such as these have little value as they simply reinforce stereotypes, generally negative ones, and rarely factor in elements outside of the range of the study. for instance, how do we know these men were not made to feel insecure by the manner of the questioning? how do we know that they were not insecure about themselves in general to begin with, and that the researchers merely took that to mean they were insecure about their masculinity? such questions typically aren’t asked as the studies often “prove” what people already believe.

    I’m not sure how this is a criticism of the study. Of its methodologies, yes, but you seem to completely agree with the conclusion. If I’m reading this correctly, you’re suggesting that these men could have been made to feel insecure from any number of ways, instead of just being told that they were feminine. And, I guess, that their insecurities about other things led them to answer in the way that they did? But that still suggests that men are more likely to support the war, buy SUVs, and be against same-sex marriage when they are insecure. Right?

  84. 84
    piny says:

    >>Just look at some of the right-wing attacks on Clinton for saying the felt our pain. >>

    Don’t forget “therapy for terrorists.”

  85. 85
    jaketk says:

    I’m not sure how this is a criticism of the study. Of its methodologies, yes, but you seem to completely agree with the conclusion. If I’m reading this correctly, you’re suggesting that these men could have been made to feel insecure from any number of ways, instead of just being told that they were feminine. And, I guess, that their insecurities about other things led them to answer in the way that they did? But that still suggests that men are more likely to support the war, buy SUVs, and be against same-sex marriage when they are insecure. Right?

    not necessarily. it depends on how the questions are asked. for instance, if a man was badgered about his dislike of homosexuality until the point he became insecure, and then asked if he supported gay marriage, how do we know that he would not have otherwise had no problem with supporting gay marriage? i’ve seen this done in school with conservative students. they can get along fine with gays until they are poked and prodded about not liking homosexuality to the point that they react in a very biased way.

    likewise, men tend to be more protection-oriented than women, and therefore more likely to support wars when necessary than women. half this country doesn’t support the war in iraq. are we to then assume that the men who support this war are insecure about their masculinity? it couldn’t possibly have something to do with the way the war has been presented to them? given the scare tactics used, it is not at all surprising that many people would support this war. and given that men are socialized as protectors, it is only logical that more men than women would support a war if it is seen as a protective measure.

    this is what i mean by the study only validating stereotypes. we see men as essentially aggressive, over-compensating wimps, and when presented with a study that “proves” what we believe, we accept that it is true without ever questioning it.

    for instance, SUVs don’t appear to be the pinnacle of masculine cars. trucks are. they have been for decades. however, SUVs are popular cars. so one has to wonder if the option of trucks were placed as a choice of vehicle, assuming that the subjects had to make a choice. likewise, one must wonder what percentage of “secure” men chose SUVs as well. if it is also a high percentage, then the subjects would just be choosing what car they see during most commercial breaks, i.e. what they are most exposed to. the article makes no mention of this.

    based purely on what is stated in the article, this study did not take into account male socialization, which would explain attitudes about war and fears about homosexuality, both of which are propagated by just as many women as men. it did not factor in popularity of items or choices. it did not factor in pre-existing non-gender identity insecurities or social norms. and it appears that it did not factor in whether the very proposing of the questions themselves would in fact create the insecurities, not to mention any of the data about the men deemed secure (one has to wonder just what criteria a man must meet in order to be “secure” in his masculinity), which is odd since it is just as important to results of the study.

  86. 86
    Tuomas says:

    they can get along fine with gays until they are poked and prodded about not liking homosexuality to the point that they react in a very biased way.

    Pfft. I have always supported gay marriage – however when I was more insecure and pestered about it (you must be gay because you support it!)
    I generally felt a need to mask it by saying things like “Well, gays disgust me but I still would allow them to marry”. Luckily I’ve matured since, and don’t need to say silly stuff like that. Depends on the person, in other words, but I’d bet my case is more common than the “You hate gays/ No I don’t!/ Just admit it! /Okay, I hate them!” -exchange.

    likewise, men tend to be more protection-oriented than women, and therefore more likely to support wars when necessary than women.

    this is what i mean by the study only validating stereotypes.

    Anyone see the irony here?

  87. 87
    Tuomas says:

    And of course, the study was about Iraq war, so I think “necessary” and “protection” are quite irrelevant words.

  88. 88
    Ampersand says:

    …not to mention any of the data about the men deemed secure (one has to wonder just what criteria a man must meet in order to be “secure” in his masculinity), which is odd since it is just as important to results of the study.

    It seems very doubtful to me, from this statement, that you understood the description of the study.

  89. 89
    alsis39 says:

    many whites are careful about their words choices around minorities, especially blacks.

    Yeah, I really hate that !! I mean, it’s getting to the point where you can’t even proclaim Bringing Down The House to be the greatest cinematic masterpiece of the 21st century without those humorless Black people getting all grumpy and stuff ! I mean, what’s their problem, anyway ?

    [rolleyes]

  90. 90
    BritGirlSF says:

    “Anyone see the irony here? ” Yep.
    On the whole “men are afraid to say things around women/white people are afraid to say things around black people” idea – what a big steaming pile of crap. Most men I know are not afraid to give women compliments, and most white people I know don’t feel like they need to watch what they say around black people. The only reason I can imagine for someone feeling that way is that maybe they commonly find themselves thinking offensive things and are afraid that they might pop out in a sudden attack of Tourettes. For the record, I’m white and have never felt that I need to watch what I say in case a black person “accuses” me of harrassment because I don’t hate black people. Funny how that works.

  91. 91
    ginmar says:

    Yeah, as somebody who complained about sexual harassment and got fired because I was the trouble maker, yeah, I really feel his pain.

  92. 92
    Jeff says:

    The whole “I’m afraid to say things around women or people of color” thing is ridiculous. It just goes back to the idea that the speaker’s good intentions are somehow more important than the reaction of his or her audience.

  93. 93
    mythago says:

    The whole “I’m afraid to say things around women or people of color” thing is ridiculous.

    No, it’s honest. The speaker is admitting they have no idea of how to address women or people of color as equals, and can’t distinguish inappropriate conversations with appropriate ones; either they believe that women or people of color require a whole different set of conversational topics and behaviors, or their natural discourse is so sexist/racist that the only alternative is silence.

  94. 94
    Aegis says:

    BritGirlSF said:
    The only reason I can imagine for someone feeling that way is that maybe they commonly find themselves thinking offensive things and are afraid that they might pop out in a sudden attack of Tourettes.

    Perhaps there are other explanations that don’t assume the guilt of such a person? Someone might be extra careful what they say around women/minorities, because s/he isn’t sure exactly what statements will be considered offensive? The vagueness and overbroadness of many harassment policies doesn’t help: not only is it unclear what people will take offense at, but it is often unclear on what you can be punished for. In the case of race, maybe someone doesn’t have much experience interacting with minorities of a certain race, honestly doesn’t understand what they will be offended at, and opts for silence. Such ignorance towards people of a different background is unfortunate, but it isn’t necessarily the fault of the person involved, nor does it mean that he or she is racist for exercising caution.

    Jeff said:
    The whole “I’m afraid to say things around women or people of color” thing is ridiculous. It just goes back to the idea that the speaker’s good intentions are somehow more important than the reaction of his or her audience.

    Seems like the other way around to me. If such a person self-censors because of fear of harassment, they may think “the impact of my statements on my audience is more important that whatever good intentions I may have.”

    mythago said:
    No, it’s honest. The speaker is admitting they have no idea of how to address women or people of color as equals, and can’t distinguish inappropriate conversations with appropriate ones; either they believe that women or people of color require a whole different set of conversational topics and behaviors, or their natural discourse is so sexist/racist that the only alternative is silence.

    But “inappropriate” according to what standards? I know what my standards of appropriateness and offensiveness are. I can’t always predict what other people are going to find offensive, because I can’t read minds. Hence, I can understand someone being cautious about raising certain topics with groups of people that may take offense, although he or she may not believe those topics to be inherently offensive. Also, there are topics, or ways of approaching topics, that people from historically oppressed groups may find more offensive than people from different backgrounds would. It’s obviously a stereotype that all women and minorities are going to be hypersensitive. Yet females and minorities are probably more likely to make and succeed with harassment charges than people who aren’t in those “protected categories.” And abuse of such charges exists, and even without them, inordinate social censure can happen for statements that offend the wrong people (e.g. Larry Summers, though some probably won’t agree with my example).

    How should someone respond to the above double-bind? Should they censor themselves out of fear of certain groups of people taking offense, and risk unfairly stereotyping those people as hypersensitive? Or should they barrel ahead, and risk offending people with standards of offensiveness that they fail to predict? I don’t know the answers to these questions. Consequently, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that those who are cautious about saying certain things in the company of women/minorities are automatically sexist or racist.

  95. 95
    Aegis says:

    Oops, from the first paragraph down (BritGirl’s quote), the blockquote should be closed.

  96. 96
    ginmar says:

    I’d be afraid of saying something shitty and hurting somebody’s feelings, not with what I could get away with. All this crap about taking offense sounds like you’re trying to manage to get away with shit.

  97. 97
    Robert says:

    I’d be afraid of saying something shitty and hurting somebody’s feelings, not with what I could get away with. All this crap about taking offense sounds like you’re trying to manage to get away with shit.

    Ginmar, I believe that Aegis agrees with your first phrase – albeit, I imagine he disagrees with the “because you’re a racist fuck” subtext of the rest.

    If you are afraid of saying something shitty and hurting somebody’s feelings, AND you are aware that you don’t have a good grasp on what somebody else is going to consider shitty, then a prudent person is often going to clam up rather than run the risk.

    That you have to ascribe this to wanting to get away with something says more about you than it does about the person trying to be respectful.

  98. 98
    Aegis says:

    Robert said:

    Ginmar said:
    I’d be afraid of saying something shitty and hurting somebody’s feelings, not with what I could get away with. All this crap about taking offense sounds like you’re trying to manage to get away with shit.

    Ginmar, I believe that Aegis agrees with your first phrase – albeit, I imagine he disagrees with the “because you’re a racist fuck” subtext of the rest.

    Correct. And I don’t understand how someone would be trying to get away with shit by censoring their own speech.

    Robert said:
    That you have to ascribe this to wanting to get away with something says more about you than it does about the person trying to be respectful.

    Speaking of respect, that lets me put my finger on a strange contradiction: Whites and males are often encouraged to show “respect” and “tolerance” for minorities and women, yet according to several posters in this thread, being worried about what one says to minorities is somehow a hallmark of racism. Yet these views seem to contradict each other.

    If we are going to hammer tolerance into people, then we shouldn’t be surprised if all that consciousness-raising makes them very self-conscious, at least for a while. (And note: the way “tolerance” is currently advocated is extremely vague, and basically forces non-minorities to take responsibility for any unintended interpretations of their words.) Maybe whites and males should just have to deal with their resulting self-consciousness. So why demonize them for saying that they have to watch their words around minorities, or that they feel like they are walking on eggshells around women? Sure, maybe they know that they are racist and sexist and are trying to hide it, but maybe they are simply self-conscious and confused? Isn’t the very purpose of “raising consciousness” to get people to be aware of the social consequences of what they say? If so, it’s pretty bizarre to damn them as racists or sexists for trying to do exactly what they have been told they are supposed to do.

    I’m having trouble reconciling the “avoid saying anything that could be loosely interpreted as intolerant or sexist to a minority or a woman” position with the “if you complain about having to watch your speech around minorities/women, it means you don’t know how to act around minorities/women, or that you stereotype minorities/women as hypersensitive, or that you are hiding racist/sexist views, which all mean that you are racist/sexist” position. You (not you, Robert, but a general “you”) can’t have it both ways. Either censoring yourself is racist/sexist, or self-censoring is necessary to avoid racism/sexism, but not both at the same time.

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