Sexism is a problem. So, too, is sexism. And the fact that we can openly discuss the one and not the other is doubling down on sexism.
THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARD SERIES:
II: LOOK ONE WAY BEFORE CROSSING
III: HEADS, YOU’RE SEXIST; TAILS, I’M NOT
IV: DIGGING FOR GLASS (you are here)
My argument in this DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARD series is that mainstream feminist academics, advocates, and journalists are adept at pointing out possible double standards against women, but they are not as keen to discuss equally as compelling and numerous cases where men might be encountering a double standard.
In this essay, I shall illustrate that phenomenon by pointing out what I perceive to be a chief feminist strategy that allows this double standard of double standards to go unscrutinized. The feminist policy is simple: when you’re searching through our many layers of human social interaction, stop any time you find data that could indicate a glass ceiling (or glass wall), and then claim that this single level of inquiry tells the whole story.
Consider the woman’s legal advocacy group, West Coast Leaf, which argued in 2017 to the BC Supreme Court that the use of solitary confinement was unconstitutional because it “disproportionately affected female inmates.”
CBC Radio’s feminist-hugging show, On the Coast, was eager to hear about that, and so host Gloria Macarenko asked WCL’s Director of Litigation, Raji Mangat to tell us more.
“Obviously,” Mangat said, “prolonged solitary confinement has a negative, deleterious impact on anyone. The focus of our group is on the gendered impacts of solitary confinement, and that’s because disproportionally to male inmates—who make up the vast number of the population of people in prison—…women are at an increased risk of being put in solitary confinement for their numbers.”
Now, some might think that, given the greater total population of men in solitary that maybe it is men who are more significantly harmed by the policy than women. But, if you’re a feminist advocate who comes across a layer of data that makes it seem like men have it worse, you must keep digging. Thus, WCL ignored the surface level of information which would have pointed their concern at men, and dug until they landed on their per capita finding, at which point they immediately stopped the search. They had the glass they were looking for.
“Part of that [the overrepresentation of per capita women in solitary confinement],” Mangat continued, “comes from the fact that many women who find themselves in prison in Canada are folks that have had some traumatic experience, some history of physical, emotional, psychological, violence in their past, and that’s only exacerbated and made worse by placement in solitary confinement.”
The gendered implication here is that, whereas men in solitary confinement are cold-blooded villains with no excuse for their evil deeds but their own psychopathy, the women are victims of those same men, and so eventually resort to crime as a coping mechanism.
I doubt that the distinction between villain-without-a-cause and victim-turned-villain is as gendered as Mangat implies, but let’s assume that women-inmates are much more likely than men-inmates to have been abused into their life of crime. It is still likely the case—given how many more male inmates we have—that a higher number of men than women in solitary confinement are former victims of the sort for which WCL is expressing concern.
In fact, sociologists tell us that the highest per capita population of Canadian inmates in solitary confinement are First Nations men. As a “progressive” organization, I wonder if West Coast Leaf is comfortable with their implication that those indigenous men are all born anti-social psychopaths with no trauma that nudged them towards criminality. But, worry not, Mangat didn’t have to answer that inconvenient question, because her interrogator didn’t ask it.
Indeed, without any resistance from her gentle interviewer, our glass-seeking advocate was able to triple down on her gendered outrage by attempting to prove that those women in solitary confinement are suffering psychologically more than their isolated male counterparts.
“Women,” Mangat said, “also have higher incidents of self-harm and suicide ideation in prisons. Again these are factors that result in an exacerbation of pre-existing conditions to be put into solitary confinement knowing that there is this makeup of the female offender population.”
I don’t distrust Manga’s data here; after all, women outside of prison are also more likely to self-harm and report suicidal ideation. But our noble pundit neglected to point out to our admiring interviewer that—in spite of women’s higher rate of reported suicidal ideation—it is men who complete 80% of suicides. Indeed, if our advocate weren’t so blinded by her search for glass, she might have noticed the obvious conclusion that it is the men (with their higher suicide rate multiplied by their higher solitary population) who are most likely to die while in solitary confinement. But again that was not the data we were looking for.
Meanwhile, during a BBC debate on how women are treated in the workplace, a sociologist was asked for verification of the feminist claim that “manterrupting” (i.e. men interrupting women disproportionately) is a problem.
“Well,” our feminist expert said (approximately, as I haven’t yet been able to find the debate on youtube), “in terms of raw data, women interrupt men more than the reverse, BUT what we found was that men interrupt women more often when women are saying something important.”
So, while technically the assumption of men-us interruptus wasn’t true, the spirit of it—that men are talking over women too much—was, by our researcher’s estimation, valid.
Now, I don’t know how this researcher defined what counted as important conversation points that should especially not be interrupted, but let us assume that she had made a cogent distinction. The results of her findings—if she were an objective examiner of them—ought to have been one of ambivalence, wherein she pointed out that both generalized genders might have a beef with their counterparts depending on where you focussed your lens. But once again our researcher skimmed over the level of analysis that seemed to vindicate men, and didn’t stop digging until she found the glass for which she was searching.
Clearly, feminists prefer to identify general results—and not details—when those meta-facts match their accusations. So, since there are more total men than women in STEM, politics, and board rooms, feminists know that those places are all currently societies of unmitigated anti-female sexism. No further study required. However, any time the numbers go the other way, and women are more populous on the happy side of a distinction (university participation, the medical profession, longevity), we must dig for nuance until we find something—anything—that could show that women are the victims in those arenas. As Hilary Clinton infamously put it:
“Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat.”
Moreover, if men are more likely than women to do something positive for society, the feminist glass diggers will begin calling for intervention even if there is no evidence that those men are excluding women along the way.
For instance, our friends at CBC Radio have reported to me a few times on the “problematic” fact that Wikipedia writers (who are volunteer contributors) are more often men than women; this, according to CBC Radio, is a troubling result that requires intervention to support women to feel more included in the work.
In contrast, if it were women who were leading this voluntary project—and even if they had openly discriminated against men in the process—they would have been lauded as heroes for their inspiring work. In fact, CBC Radio recently celebrated a story of exclusively women scientists going to the North Pole to figure how to save the environment. This baffling feminist double standard would be amusing if it weren’t so successful.
Indeed, given that most Western media (save for the occasional holdout) treats feminist advocates as impartial bystanders on our society’s goings on, we have little defence against their one-thinking-fits-all.
When women-first feminist pundits are interviewed, for instance, on CBC Radio (a daily occurrence), I do not recall any of them ever receiving a single skeptical question about the premises or conclusions of their arguments. Instead, it is assumed by both “expert” and interrogator that we are living in a society that desperately needs gendered recalibration, and that the negative imbalance is always in the direction of women.
In contrast, in the last few years I can only remember hearing two critics of feminism on CBC Radio:
(A) Camille Paglia, a second-wave feminist who criticizes third-wave feminism for what she claims is man-hating and female infantilization, and
(B) Cassie Jaye, who—as a feminist—created what she intended to be a documentary hit piece on her natural enemy, the men’s rights movement, only to discover along the way that their arguments were niggling away at her sense of fairness to the point that she renounced her feminist label, and is now a friend to men’s rights advocates.
Now, I’m proud of CBC Radio for talking to these two critics of feminism, but notice that—far from receiving the unlimited agreement that women-first feminists are treated to—these two pundits each encountered a bounty of critical questions from their interlocutors.
And that’s good. Skepticism, as I’ve argued many times, is the best nutrition for our arguments. However, the lack of similar skepticism for women-are-always-victims feminists is dangerous.
This not to say that such feminists are incapable of presenting us with concepts fit for consideration. If, for instance, there is evidence of a significant sexual harassment problem in Hollywood, that’s worth investigating. But, by virtue of its no-critical-inquiry-allowed principles (such as #BelieveWomen), the #MeToo movement has become an anti-due-process, faith-based, guilt-by-association, misandrist, nuance-resistant mob (or a collection of “MeCarthyism” as pundit-comedian Bill Maher described it).
As ever, in order to stop women-first feminists and their narrowly-focused ideology from overtaking us, our media, academia, and governments must be willing to openly question them. And one way to do that is to occasionally ask feminists about the other items they find in the area while they are searching for glass.
THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARD SERIES:
II: LOOK ONE WAY BEFORE CROSSING
III: HEADS, YOU’RE SEXIST; TAILS, I’M NOT
IV: DIGGING FOR GLASS (you were just here)
7 thoughts on “THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARDS IV: Digging For Glass”
You might as well fall flat on your face as bend over too far backwards.
Good essay Seth!
I share some of your concerns. I have noted in the metoo movement a disturbing trend of not caring about due process for the men accused. I also remain very uncomfortable with the conclusion that a woman was mistreated when she has also benefited in some way by tolerating sexual behaviors.
Thanks Tom and Colin.
Tom: I don’t disagree that feminism’s freedom to invoke such double standards is likely the result of the general assumption that the pendulum does need to swing. Nevertheless, I still argue to get rid of the pendulum, altogether. Even if its trajectories are correct (which I doubt), it is always aiming past equality.
Colin: interesting thoughts. I agree: the willingness to dispense with due process is frightening. And I suppose you’re right: if we’re going to investigate, we should be looking more closely at both sides of these alleged sex-for-promotion schemes. Neither side is necessarily innocent in every exchange.
Wow–a first-rate analysis, Seth! Calm, measured, and devastating.
Good article, Seth. Very well argued. It’s a daring topic that might lead to you getting your head ripped off on social media. You’re a brave man.
Thanks Erik. Yes, it is unnerving to disagree with the current orthodoxy, but I’ve been spared so far. I like to hope this is because I’m reasonable and respectful in my arguments, but I suspect it’s actually a consequence of my audience being too small to concern the social media assassins.