Do men need to “lean out”

Yes, I’d say.  And so says the Elizabeth Winkler in this TNR piece inspired by Anne-Marie Slaughter’s new book:

The notion that it’s a man’s job to “provide,” Slaughter points out, goes back as least as far as the New Testament. Saint Paul writes, “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”  The idea has been so internalized through the centuries that we seem to think there is a near-biological instinct for men to be providers, but it may very well be a socialized bias. “For the skeptics who shake their heads and think I’m challenging nature itself,” Slaughter argues, “consider just how certain men have been for centuries that the highest and best role for women was as wives and mothers, daughters and sisters, nurturing and caring for others.” As traditional notions about women’s roles in society continue to break down, it’s hard to see why men’s shouldn’t too.

In the process, our notion of what it means to provide must itself evolve: “Why,” Slaughter asks, “does ‘providing’ or ‘supporting’ mean money rather than care? The production of food rather than the preparation of it? The purchase of a car rather than  the driving of it? The building of a house rather than the making of a home?” Masculinity must mean this larger, richer sense of providing in which men aren’t just ATMs but engaged nurturers of their families.

Good stuff, but what I really found interesting was the take from Slaughter’s own husband– Princeton Politics professor Andrew Moravscik– on being a “lead parent” in the Atlantic:

But none of this is lead parenting. Lead parenting is being on the front lines of everyday life. In my years as lead parent, I have gotten the kids out of the house in the morning; enforced bedtimes at night; monitored computer and TV use; attempted to ensure that homework got done right; encouraged involvement in sports and music; attended the baseball games, piano lessons, plays, and concerts that resulted; and kept tabs on social lives. To this day, I am listed first on emergency forms; I am the parent who drops everything in the event of a crisis. These tasks aren’t intrinsically difficult, and my to-do list is far shorter than that of parents who cannot afford household help. Yet the role has unavoidably taken a toll on my professional productivity… [emphasis mine]

First, being a lead dad can be good for your marriage. I am passionately committed to academic research and teaching, and I value professional success. But Anne-Marie is more competitive and driven than I am. Her achievements make me proud, and the balance we have struck leaves us happier as a couple…

Second, lead dads have something special to offer their children. I believe my sons have benefited from having me at home, and not simply because they needed someone to care for them while Anne-Marie was away. A former senior colleague of mine at Harvard argues that men are biologically unsuited to care for children, but the opposite may be true. In my experience, dads tend to take a practical, project-oriented, and disciplined yet fun-loving approach to parenting—an approach that is in many cases precisely what is called for, particularly with boys.

So, why did I bold the part I did?  I’d hate to imagine Moavscik’s productivity if not being burdened by the demands of being a “lead parent.”  His cv is insane.  A cv like this would be the envy of 99.9% of academics.  Wow.  Easy for him to be less productive.  He’s clearly brilliant and extraordinarily self-disciplined.  Anyway, he makes some really good points.  That said, I’d feel a little better about his trade-offs if he were an ordinary professor at Montclair State instead of an extraordinarily accomplished one at Princeton.

Women do it better

Legislate, that is.  I’ve recently been covering women in legislatures in my Gender & Politics class and it’s pretty hard not to conclude that our government would simply work better if we had more women legislators at the state and federal level.  Here’s the nice summary infographic from a Bloomberg piece on the matter:

And words:

The current, 114th Congress has a record 104 women—but that’s 104 of 535 lawmakers in all. (And somehow we’re supposed to cheer.) But what if these things are connected—that men are less likely to introduce legislation and cut deals than women? It turns out that women have been considerably more likely than their male counterparts to get bills through, and to achieve that near-unicorn of modern Washington: bipartisan agreement.

The numbers, as published Thursday by a new startup called Quorum, founded not a month ago by two Harvard seniors, seem to bear this out. Over the last seven years, in the Senate, the ‘average’ female senator has introduced 96.31 bills, while the ‘average’ male introduced 70.72. In the House, compare 29.65 for women, and 27.2 for men. And women were more likely to gain cosponsorship: In the Senate, women had an average of 9.10 cosponsors,  and men 5.94. In the House, the difference was smaller—but women still proved better, or more interested, in sponsoring together: Female Representatives averaged 16.84 cosponsors, and men 14.64…

Women are also more likely to cosponsor with other women than men are with other men. From the 111th Congress to the present one, the typical female senator cosponsored 6.29 bills with another female senator, as opposed to 4.07 bills cosponsored by male senators with a male peer…

There’s also good evidence that women legislators do a better job communicating with their constituents.  And they do a better job (not surprisingly) getting issues that affect women and families onto the political agenda.

So, just vote for women– right?  Not that simple.  The biggest problem is not that women lose, but not enough women run.  That’s not easy to change.  It’s not only society’s attitudes about women and politics, but how women have internalized those attitudes.  So, time to start telling your daughters they should grow up to be politicians.  We’ll all benefit from better government.

Quick hits (part II)

1) Richard Hasen on how the balance of the Supreme Court may well be the most important outcome of the next presidential election.

2) Drum on what Ben Carson really means when he says “political correctness.”

3) If we listen to Huckabee (and lots of Republicans on guns), e.g., we might also not try to do anything about Iran either.

4) Oh damn did I love this Vox interview with Brookigs scholar Jeremy Shapiro on Putin and Syria:

It’s a little bit depressing that on both sides we’ve gotten into this kind of machismo foreign policy, where we think that whoever appears strongest and most macho is winning. As if that has any meaning in international relations. This is not a pissing contest. Boldness rarely has benefits in international relations, particularly for status quo states like the United States. Caution is a good thing, and boldness is rarely rewarded…

The truth is that everybody’s critical of the Obama policy in Syria, and nobody has a better alternative. I’ve never fucking heard one. And if you heard something that even resembles a good idea on Syria in the Republican debate I would eat my head.

There is a lot of pressure in US politics, particularly under a presidential campaign, to “do something,” to look tough. And one of the advantages of being a powerful country is that you can do stupid things for a long time and it won’t affect you that dramatically.

So we have a history in this country of doing things that aren’t good for us, but we don’t suffer on the scale that some countries experience. So the Vietnam War, we survived it pretty well — the Iraq War, ditto. We have the possibility of doing that again [in Syria]. It won’t be the fall of the American empire if we do, but how many times can you make these kinds of mistakes?

5) Not surprisingly common beliefs held by anti-immigration folks have little connection to reality.

6) The latest study does not link breast feeding with a child’s IQ (quite importantly, this controls for mother’s socio-economic status).

7) Big Steve on the lameness of all the pro-gun arguments.

8) Great Onion headline: “Man Can’t Believe Obama Would Use Tragedy To Push Anti-Tragedy Agenda.”

9) On a related note, another sad retread (from a 2014 mass shooting) that’s really good, “There is no catastrophe so ghastly that America will reform its gun laws.”

10) David Brooks with some hard truths on our mass incarceration problem (i.e., it’s not just letting out non-violent drug offenders, etc.).

11) Seattle schools have responded to the racially-biased use of school suspensions by dramatically cutting school suspension.  Good for them.

12) John Cassidy on the Republican response to the shooting:

The Republican Party has long exercised a veto on any meaningful addition to the gun laws. And among its current crop of Presidential candidates, there is no sign of anybody breaking ranks. Reaction to the shooting ranged from nonexistent to predictably depressing. As far as I could see, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, the third- and fourth-place candidates in the polls, didn’t say anything on Thursday about what had happened in Oregon. In a message on Twitter, Jeb Bush called the massacre a “senseless tragedy.” Donald Trump, in an interview with the Washington Post, referred to it as a “terrible tragedy.” He also said, “It sounds like another mental-health problem. So many of these people, they’re coming out of the woodwork.” Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon, took a similar line. “Obviously, there are those who are going to be calling for gun control,” he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” “Obviously, that’s not the issue. The issue is the mentality of these people.”

As if only America has people with violent mental illness.  No, only America has them routinely shoot up strangers.

13) North Carolina’s Republicans again taking the position that local government is better.  Unless local government wants to pass liberal laws, of

14) I so love how smart crows are.  Here’s a fascinating new study that shows that have (wisely) learned to fear death in their fellow crows.

15) Very nice piece from Seth Masket arguing that it is far too early to suggest that party elites no longer control nominations as The Party Decides crowd has been arguing.

Basically, it’s still really early. At this point in the 2012 election cycle, Rick Perry was the poll leader. It was Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani at this point in the ’08 cycle. Wesley Clark was heading to an easy Democratic nomination at this point in ’04. Oh, and Teddy Kennedy was beating Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination at this point in the 1980 cycle. It’s actually pretty rare for the poll-leader a year out from the election to get the nomination. So just by that metric alone, a Donald Trump nomination would be highly unusual.

16) You might have seen mention of the New Yorker article back in July about the massive earthquake and tsunami overdue to strike the Pacific Northwest.  Finally got around to reading it.  Fascinating!  And scary.  And a really well-written article.  Somebody needs to turn this into a post-apocalyptic (as it will be for that region) novel.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Nice Amy Davidson piece on Carly Fiorina.

2) Chait points out that the US Republican party is about the only major political party within advanced Democracies that denies climate change.  They are really out on a limb by themselves.

3) I knew that the placebo week of birth control pills is what gives women on the pill their period, but as one of my correspondents was blown away by this fact, thought I’d share this interesting Atlantic piece on the psychology of forgoing periods (as is the case with many LARC’s).

4) I don’t know why I’ve put off for so long this great Australian comic takes on the insanity of Americans and guns video, but I finally watched.  Overdue.  This is great.

5) Actually something from this week before the latest massacre: a family who tried to sue the suppliers of the Aurora, Colorado shooter (no name here) and got stuck with the gun and ammo manufacturers legal bills to show for it:

The judge dismissed our case because, he said, these online sellers had special immunity from the general duty to use reasonable care under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and a Colorado immunity law. If you couple the PLCAA law with Colorado’s law HB 000-208, (which says in essence: If you bring a civil case against a gun or ammunition seller and the case is dismissed then the plaintiff must pay all the defendant’s costs), you have an impenetrable barrier to using the judicial system to effect change in gun legislation in Colorado.

Everyone else in society has a duty to use reasonable care to not injure others — except gun and ammunition sellers. [emphasis mine]

6) This is really cool.  Research at NCSU suggests we may be able to use fingerprints to know a person’s ethnicity.

7) Really looking forward to using Anne-Marie Slaughter’s book on women, men, and the workplace next time I teach Gender & Politics (if I had known it was coming out, I would’ve assigned it this semester).  Great interview on the Freakonomics podcast.

8) Loved this Nicholas Davidoff piece on the carefully orchestrated illusion that is football on TV.

9) I’ve been meaning to do a post working off of a Seth Masket piece on authenticity and presidential elections.  But Julia Azari has already done a better one that I would.

10) When I first heard about the Pope and Kim Davis, I was thinking I bet some conservative American bishop made this happen.  Looks like that’s the case.  Drum:

As usual with the Catholic Church, previous popes continue to have long arms even after they die or retire. It turns out that the papal nuncio, a culturally conservative guy who’s loyal to the former Benedict XVI, decided to invite Davis. The current pope apparently had no idea this would happen and may not have even known who she was. Basically, Davis was ushered in for her 60 seconds with the pope, who blessed her, gave her a rosary, and then moved along to the next person in line. It would be wise not to read too much into this.

11) Jeb Bush said something stupid yesterday (“stuff happens” to refer to mass murder).  When he said something was “retarded” he used the word perfectly correctly.  Is there really no place to use this word at all according to it’s original meaning?  If so, that’s stupid.

12) I almost never listen to “On the Media” (just too many good podcasts out there), but I was driving with NPR on the other day and really enjoyed the feisty exchange described here over whether AP is doing a disservice by moving from “climate skeptic” to “climate doubter.”

13) Loved this Richard Skinner piece for Brookings on Trump supporters.  It’s titled “do hate and racism drive Donald Trump supporters?”  You’ll just have to read it to find out :-).

14) Seth Masket on governing by sacrifice (in this case, Boehner).

15) I so love “The Princess Bride.”  I literally know more of the dialog of that movie than any other movie.  Thus, I loved this Buzzfeed list on why it is such an “important” movie.

16) Will Saletan on the incoherence of Republicans’ arguments against Planned Parenthood.

Throughout the hearing, Republicans complained that Planned Parenthood gets too much of its revenue from the federal government. Several members of the committee—Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and John Mica of Florida—protested that taxpayers were supplying more than 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s income. Duncan fumed that the Boys and Girls Club gets only a fraction of what Planned Parenthood receives. Mica explained the GOP’s underlying beef: Many Americans, including some who are pro-choice, don’t want their tax money used for abortions.

As an argument for defunding Planned Parenthood, this complaint makes no sense. Richards explained to the committee that under U.S. law, federal funds can’t be used for abortions unless the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or was caused by rape or incest. So if Planned Parenthood is getting a high percentage of its income from the government, that means much of the work it’s being paid for isn’t abortion.

17) Really nice piece in Slate on wrongfully convicted exonerees and restorative justice.


A war on sex?

The truth is, when you look past abortion to the anti-contraception sentiments of many Republicans, it really is hard not to conclude that Republicans really just don’t want women having casual sex.  Amanda Marcotte:

Despite all the hand-waving about fetal tissue, Tuesday’s hearings were a confirmation that the attacks on Planned Parenthood are a proxy for the largerreligious-right movement to reverse the sexual revolution brought to Americans by feminism and reliable contraception. Recreational sex, however, continues to be wildly popular among the public. Deluging people with bloody fetus pictures isn’t dissuading them from their enthusiasm for affordable contraception that makes stress-free recreational sex possible.

Just how much sexual assault on campus

As always, disclaimer: sexual assault on campus is a real problem and we should certainly do all we can within reason to minimize it.  Of course, “within reason” does not include violating all standards of due process for the accused or using wildly inflated statistics to make a point.  I meant to write about the latest study responsible for plenty more “1 in 5 college women are raped” etc., headlines.  Of course, that’s not what the study showed.  Of course, nobody wants to be kissed against their will either, but only one of these things is actually a felony.

Anyway, since I never did write anything critiquing the survey, my procrastination has paid off as the Post recently published a really interesting critique from Brookings scholar and National Journal senior editor, Stuart Taylor  (i.e., this is no anti-feminist with an ax to grind).  Here’s some of the more compelling points that are left out of most discussions of the issue:

Below are three ways in which the 288-page AAU survey report is grossly misleading, as are others like it and the credulous media coverage of them all.

First, the extraordinarily low response rate of students asked to participate in the AAU survey — 19.3 percent — virtually guaranteed a vast exaggeration of the number of campus sexual assaults.

Even the AAU acknowledged that the 150,000 students who responded to the electronic questionnaire were more likely to be victims of sexual assault than the 650,000 who ignored it because “non-victims may have been less likely to participate.”

Start with the fact that 60 percent of the 150,000 students who responded were female, even though half of all students at the surveyed schools were male. Then ask yourself whether you would be more likely to take the time to respond to such a survey if you were a sexual assault victim or if you were not.

Yep.  Huge potential problem with non-response bias.  There is every reasonable reason to believe that those who did respond to the survey are systematically different than those that did not.  I find this next bit particular damning (all emphases in original):

These tables indicate that about 2.2 percent of female respondents said they had reported to their schools that they had been penetrated without consent (including rape) since entering college. If extrapolated to the roughly 10 million female college student population nationwide, this  would come to about 220,000 student reports to universities alleging forced sex over (to be conservative) five years, or about 44,000 reports per year.

But this would be almost nine times the total number of students (just over 5,000) who reported sexual assaults of any kind to their universities in 2013, the most recent data available, according to the reports that universities must submit to the federal government under the Clery Act.

Some other issues:

Worse, the AAU also tallied as victims all respondents who said yes when asked whether anyone had sexually touched them “without your active, ongoing voluntary agreement” — for example, attempting more intimate contact “while you were still deciding.”

No criminal law in America requires such “affirmative consent” to make sex lawful, although some (not all) universities have recently moved in that direction…

Third, a red flag should go up for any reporter or other reader who notices the AAU’s acknowledgment that — for the vast majorities of poll respondents who said they had not reported to campus authorities the events that the AAU classified as sexual assaults — “the dominant reason was it was not considered serious enough,” (emphasis added)…

More astonishing still, 75 percent of respondents who told researchers that they had been “penetrated using physical force” said they had never reported this to authorities — and 58.6 percent of that 75 percent said they “did not consider it serious enough” to report. [emphasis mine]

This most plausible explanation is that most of those classified by the survey as “victims” of sexual assault or rape did not really think that they had been sexually assaulted.

Wow.  Quite the critique.  And again, sexual assault on campus (and not on campus) is a real problem that we should definitely work to reduce.  But scaring people and influencing policy with super-dubious statistics is never a good thing.

(Also, a great take from Emily Yoffe).

Quick hits (part II)

1) Nice column from Kareem on education under assault from right and (sadly) left:

The attack on education isn’t on training our youth for whatever careers they choose, it’s on teaching them to think logically in order to form opinions based on facts rather than on familial and social influences. This part of one’s education is about finding out who you are. It’s about becoming a happier person. It’s about being a responsible citizen. If you end up with all the same opinions you had before, then at least you can be confident that they are good ones because you’ve fairly examined all the options, not because you were too lazy or scared to question them. But you—all of us—need the process. Otherwise, you’re basically a zombie who wants to eat brains because you don’t want anyone else to think either.

2) I’m so with Drum on the great court decision voiding the copyright to “Happy Birthday.”  Can’t wait till my family’s next birthday meal out when the restaurant can sing the real birthday song.

3) North Carolina Republicans are cutting the mental health budget for short-term savings.  Of course, those will be far outweighed by long-term costs.

4) Emily Bazelon on the intellectual battle going on over sex and sexual assault on college campuses.

5) Nice Thomas Mills piece on why he won’t be voting for Bernie Sanders.  Pretty much captures my view as well.  (And a quick skim through the comments makes me even more sure).

6) Everybody predicted that the rise of Super PAC’s would totatlly change the game in presidential primaries.  Turnst out they haven’t.

But it turns out that there are some things that Super PACs can’t do. Hard money can pay for the full gamut of campaign expenses, from hiring staff to purchasing printer toner to putting ads up on television. Super PACs can pay for television ads, but they can’t pay for campaign staff.

Perry and Walker were hoping to hang on for long enough to allow nominally independent Super PACs to flood the airwaves with supportive ads. But long before the first caucus, their hard dollars dried up, leaving them unable to make payroll.

7) Love this research that is such a compelling demonstration of the power of motivated reasoning.  Americans feel totally different about the same policy if it purportedly comes from a Democrat or a Republican.  People like to think that their issue positions drives their partisanship.  Alas, the causality works far stronger in the other direction.

8) Bill Ayers on Republicans’ fear-based, “Dirty Harry” approach to politics.

9) It ain’t easy being Chief Justice John Roberts and actually having an intellectually consistent (as opposed to ideologically/ and or partisanly (yes, I made that up) consistent) judicial philosophy.


10) So, the government’s college scorecard doesn’t rank schools, but it’s not hard to do it on your own with some basic criteria.  So NPR does.  Nice to see my alma mater as #1 for “schools that make financial sense.”  And go University of California system for so much social mobility.

11) The conservative case against the death penalty making some headway in NC (personally, I support both the conservative and the liberal case against it).

12) Jeb Bush– just as enlightened as Mitt Romney about minority voters.

13) Yeah, so I get totally freaked out by insects.  To the consternation of my wife and the amusement of my children.  But I sure would not jump out of a car I was driving leaving children behind, as this parent did at the sight of a spider.


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