‘The Ten Most Common Feminist Myths’

A very interesting article on feminist myths I found on S.P.A.R.C. (Separated Parenting Access & Resource Center). It does a great job at dispelling common feminist lies. Link to the article.

1. Myth: One in four women in college has been the victim of rape or attempted rape.

Fact: This mother of all factoids is based on a fallacious feminist study commissioned by Ms. magazine. The researcher, Mary Koss, hand-picked by hard-line feminist Gloria Steinem, acknowledges that 73 percent of the young women she counted as rape victims were not aware they had been raped. Forty-three percent of them were dating their “attacker” again.

Rape is a uniquely horrible crime. That is why we need sober and responsible research. Women will not be helped by hyperbole and hysteria. Truth is no enemy of compassion, and falsehood is no friend.

(Nara Schoenberg and Sam Roe, “The Making of an Epidemic,” Toledo Blade, October 10, 1993; and Neil Gilbert, “Examining the Facts: Advocacy Research Overstates the Incidence of Data and Acquaintance Rape,” Current Controversies in Family Violence eds. Richard Gelles and Donileen Loseke, Newbury Park, CA.: Sage Publications, 1993, pp.120-132; and Campus Crime and Security, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 1997. *According to this study, campus police reported 1,310 forcible sex offenses on U.S. campuses in one year. That works out to an average of fewer than one rape per campus.)

2. Myth: Women earn 75 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Fact: The 75 cent figure is terribly misleading. This statistic is a snapshot of all current full-time workers. It does not consider relevant factors like length of time in the workplace, education, occupation, and number of hours worked per week. (The experience gap is particularly large between older men and women in the workplace.) When economists do the proper controls, the so-called gender wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.

(Essential reading: Women’s Figures: An Illustrated Guide to the Economic Progress of Women in America, by Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Christine Stolba, published by the Independent Women’s Forum and the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C. 2000.)

3. Myth: 30 percent of emergency room visits by women each year are the result of injuries from domestic violence.

Fact: This incendiary statistic is promoted by gender feminists whose primary goal seems to be to impugn men. Two responsible government studies report that the nationwide figure is closer to one percent. While these studies may have missed some cases of domestic violence, the 30% figure is a wild exaggeration.

(National Center for Health Statistics, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary , Hyattsville, Maryland, March 1997; and U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence-Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments: Washington, D.C., August 1997.)

4. Myth: The phrase “rule of thumb” originated in a man’s right to beat his wife provided the stick was no wider than his thumb.

Fact: This is an urban legend that is still taken seriously by activist law professors and harassment workshoppers. The Oxford English Dictionary has more than twenty citations for phrase “rule of thumb” (the earliest from 1692), but not a single mention of beatings, sticks, or husbands and wives.

(For a definitive debunking of the hoax see Henry Ansgar Kelly, “Rule of Thumb and the Folklaw of the Husband’s Stick,” The Journal of Legal Education, September 1994.)

5. Myth: Women have been shortchanged in medical research.

Fact: The National Institutes of Health and drug companies routinely include women in clinical trials that test for effectiveness of medications. By 1979, over 90% of all NIH-funded trials included women. Beginning in 1985, when the NIH’s National Cancer Center began keeping track of specific cancer funding, it has annually spent more money on breast cancer than any other type of cancer. Currently, women represent over 60% of all subjects in NIH-funded clinical trails.

(Essential reading: Cathy Young and Sally Satel, “The Myth of Gender Bias in Medicine,” Washington, D.C.: The Women’s Freedom Network, 1997.)

6.Myth: Girls have been shortchanged in our gender-biased schools

Fact: No fair-minded person can review the education data and conclude that girls are the have-nots in our schools. Boys are slightly ahead of girls in math and science; girls are dramatically ahead in reading and writing. (The writing skills of 17-year-old boys are at the same level as 14-year- old girls.) Girls get better grades, they have higher aspirations, and they are more likely to go to college.

(See: Trends in Educational Equity of Girls & Women, Washington, D. C.: U.S. Department of Education, June 2000.)

7. Myth: “Our schools are training grounds for sexual harassment… boys are rarely punished, while girls are taught that it is their role to tolerate this humiliating conduct.”

(National Organization of Women, “Issue Report: Sexual Harassment,” April 1998.)

Fact: “Hostile Hallways,” is the best-known study of harassment in grades 8-11. It was commissioned by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in 1993, and is a favorite of many harassment experts. But this survey revealed that girls are doing almost as much harassing as the boys. According to the study, “85 percent of girls and 76 percent of boys surveyed say they have experienced unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior that interferes with their lives.”

(Four scholars at the University of Michigan did a careful follow-up study of the AAUW data and concluded: “The majority of both genders (53%) described themselves as having been both victim and perpetrator of harassment — that is most students had been harassed and had harassed others.” And these researchers draw the right conclusion: “Our results led us to question the simple perpetrator-victim model…”)(See: American Education Research Journal, Summer 1996.)

8. Myth: Girls suffer a dramatic loss of self-esteem during adolescence.

Fact: This myth of the incredible shrinking girls was started by Carol Gilligan, professor of gender studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Gilligan has always enjoyed higher standing among feminist activists and journalists than among academic research psychologists. Scholars who follow the protocols of social science do not accept the reality of an adolescent “crisis” of confidence and “loss of voice.” In 1993, American Psychologist reported the new consensus among researchers in adolescent development: “It is now known that the majority of adolescents of both genders successfully negotiate this developmental period without any major psychological or emotional disorder [and] develop a positive sense of personal identity.”

(Anne C. Petersen et al. “Depression in Adolescence,” American Psychologist February 1993; see also, Daniel Offer, and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, “Debunking the Myths of Adolescence: Findings from Recent Research,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, November 1992.)

9. Myth: Gender is a social construction.

Fact: While environment and socialization do play a significant role in human life, a growing body of research in neuroscience, endocrinology, and psychology over the past 40 years suggests there is a biological basis for many sex differences in aptitudes and preferences. In general, males have better spatial reasoning skills; females better verbal skills. Males are greater risk takers; females are more nurturing.

Of course, this does not mean that women should be prevented from pursuing their goals in any field they choose; what it does suggest is that we should not expect parity in all fields. More women than men will continue to want to stay at home with small children and pursue careers in fields like early childhood education or psychology; men will continue to be over-represented in fields like helicopter mechanics and hydraulic engineering.

Warning: Most gender scholars in our universities have degrees in fields like English or comparative literature–not biology or neuroscience. These self-appointed experts on sexuality are scientifically illiterate. They substitute dogma and propaganda for reasoned scholarship.

(For a review of recent findings on sex differences see a special issue of The Scientific American “Men: The Scientific Truth,” Fall 2000.)

10. Myth: Women’s Studies Departments empowered women and gave them a voice in the academy.

Fact: Women’s Studies empowered a small group of like-minded careerists. They have created an old-girl network that is far more elitist, narrow and closed than any of the old-boy networks they rail against. Vast numbers of moderate or dissident women scholars have been marginalized, excluded and silenced.

(Essential reading: everything by Camille Paglia; Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge–Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women’s Studies; and Christina Hoff Sommers–Who Stole Feminism? How Women have Betrayed Women)

17 responses to “‘The Ten Most Common Feminist Myths’

  1. Don’t you have better things to do than repeat those things we’ve already heard? Feminists are evil man-haters who lie about everything, blah blah fucking blah.

    I hear enough of that on tv, thanks…Don’t need to hear it on the interweb as well. :)

  2. Actually, I have other posts that you probably have never heard, since I wrote them myself.

    Don’t you, as a gender feminist, have better things to do then lie all the time and claim ‘patriarchal oppression’ 24/7?

  3. I have to admit I’m not sure what the definition of a “gender feminist” is. You wield it as an insult, but I can’t tell you if it’s true or not so whatev.

    If you had bothered to even look at my blog you would discover exactly, um, NONE of the things you talk about here or in other blog entries I’ve read. You’d also discover that I very rarely talk about “patriarichal oppression.” I’m a firm believer that our current culture is drastically biased against various peoples in various situations, and ends up only working for a small number of people. Many of those people happen to be men, but I am aware that a rich white woman is much less oppressed than a poverty-stricken black man, so gender is not all we’re looking at here.

    My personal area of interest tends to be fatphobia and body image issues, which are not gender-specific, as well as race/class issues (again, not gender-specific). Though to claim that women are not, in most cases, held in lower-esteem than men makes you a bit blind.

    Please let me know where I’ve “lied” to you so I can…oh, wait, if it was a lie, it would be intentional, and there’s no way I would take it back. Kind of like the entire premise of your blog, that is based on silly stereotypical assumptions of what a feminist is and what his or her goals are.

  4. You don’t know what a gender feminist is? I’m not a feminist, and even I know that. A gender feminism knows nothing of science, is illogical, and/or doesn’t like men too much.

    I can’t look at your blog if you don’t link to it in your profile…

    When did I claim women were not held to higher body standards than men? Anyway, men’s beauty standard should be WAY higher than it currently is. Women should care about their appearance (apply make-up, etc.) and be at a normal healthy body fat (around 20%), and men should be muscle bound freaks.

    Also, I never said you specifically. I meant you as a group lied.

    Finally, my entire blog isn’t based on feminism. Some posts such as Men and Their Y Chromosomes are Soon Parted, and Circumcision-a Human Rights’ Violation have absolutely nothing to do with feminism. Now, since your interest is ‘fatphobia’, aren’t you making assumptions as to why these people are ‘fatphobics’? When I ‘diss’ feminism, I make sure it’s the norm within feminism. I do this by looking at N.O.W.’s or Feministing.com’s website.

  5. I wouldn’t call “NOW” or “Feministing” the norm of feminism, and it’s a bit silly to consider only two sources (one a blog, no less! how informal) when making vast sweeping assumptions about an entire movement spanning decades.

    Looks like “gender feminism” is a term phrased by one person in one book. Since this is the first time I’ve encountered it in quite-some-time worth of reading, browsing, and commenting on feminist blogs, I wouldn’t think it’s that widely used……but I could be wrong. Then again, it’s defined (according to wikipedia) as “feminism which criticizes contemporary gender roles and aims to eliminate them altogether.”

    Oooh, so I’m a terrible person because I think all people should be created equal and behave however they want without arbitrary rules bestowed upon them, such as what is “masculine” (hairy chest, bulging muscles, non-feeling, violent behavior) and what is “feminine” (shaved legs, quiet demeanor, nurturing, stupid)?

    Interestingly enough, your definition of “gender feminist” sounds nothing like the actual one…and yet I’m the illogical liar. :)

    I’m really unsure why my comments aren’t linking — I’m pretty new to wordpress so I must have something unchecked that should be checked; I’ll look into it. In the mean time: zombiez.wordpress.com

  6. It links now. I guess I fixed it. Don’t know how…but ok!

  7. ”I think all people should be created equal”

    Yes, that’s bad. People should have equal worth and be equal under the law, but we should not be born biologically equal.

    Obviously, people should be able to act however they want. When I said women should care about their appearance and so should men, that would be in an ideologically, imaginary ‘perfect’ world–where people are perfect.

    My definition of ‘gender feminism’, is the actual one (against science), mixed with my own. Just like feminists say ”feminism is equality for everyone” and others say: ”feminism is equality for women.” Definitions vary.

    Go to your Dashboard, then underneath is should read: Welcome to WordPress.com, with a bunch of links underneath. Click on Update Your Profile or Password.

    Then, where it says ‘Primary Blog’, select your primary blog. Then, under contact info, paste your primary blog address.

  8. Some basic HTML that works in comments:

    (i) = anything you write after this will be in italic.
    (/i) = closes italic. (Note: you need to write the word(s) between each code for it to work.)
    (b) = bold.
    (/b) = close bold.
    (ul) = underline.
    (/ul) = close underline.

    (a href=”http://website-address.com” rel=”nofollow”) word to hyperlink(/a)

    Replace the brackets by these:

  9. Wow, what a bunch of lies. I don’t have time to go through all of them, so I’ll just take on “Myth 1.”

    This mother of all factoids is based on a fallacious feminist study commissioned by Ms. magazine.

    Except Ms didn’t commission it. Koss and her co-writers published the first version of the study over a year before Ms or Gloria Steinem were involved at all. Ms’ involvement was only in a later repeat of the study, which they helped by donating management of paperwork (there were thousands of survey forms which had to be classified and kept filed according to the sex of the person filling them out and where they had been filled out). Every aspect of what Ms was allowed to do was vetted by the National Institute for Mental Health, which funded the study with the condition that Ms could not be involved in any aspect of interpretation or design, only paperwork.

    By the way, the IWF — the anti-feminist group that originally wrote the “top ten myths” you quote – funds research that supports their views. Hypocritical, much?

    …that 73 percent of the young women she counted as rape victims were not aware they had been raped.

    This misstates, in a subtle but important way, what Koss’ study found. 73% answered no to the question, “it was definitely rape” (emphasis added).

    We have to consider context: we’re talking about young women, most of whom were raped by someone they knew (usually someone they were dating and had already been sexually fooling around with), who were in high school over 20 years ago, when discussions of date rape were extremely rare. It is any surprise that most of them weren’t positive that their experience was “definitely” rape?

    In the real world, women who are raped – even in situations which anyone would call rape – are frequently, for whatever reason, not prepared to name what happened to them “rape,” let alone definitely rape. As Schwartz and Leggett noted, even among women who were physically forced or drugged into absolute helplessness – experiences that even the most determined anti-feminists will ruefully admit are rape – many or most refuse to label their experience “rape.”

    What are the implications of believing that if the victim doesn’t say it was ‘definitely’ rape, it’s not? 70% of the alleged rape victims in Koss’ study resisted by physically struggling with the man, and 84% tried to reason with him to no avail. The large majority reported having sex when they didn’t want to due to force or threat of force.

    To say they weren’t really raped, we’d have to believe it doesn’t matter if the woman resisted physically, tried to reason with the man, and felt they had unwanted sex due to force or threat of force; according to your logic, rape isn’t defined by being physically forced to have sex, it’s defined by whether or not the victim checks “yes” next to the words “it was definitely rape.”

    Should the law really be that even if someone physically holds down an unwilling woman and shoves his penis into her vagina by force, it can’t be rape if the victim, for any reason, doesn’t say it’s “definitely” rape?

    Forty-three percent of them were dating their “attacker” again.

    This critique of Koss just restates the old “a woman who stays must not really have been abused” myth. It’s bullshit when said regarding battered women, and it’s bullshit when said regarding raped girls and women, too.

    A subsequent encounter doesn’t prove that the earlier encounter wasn’t rape. The real world isn’t that tidy. It’s extremely common for victims of abuse to stay with their abuser for a while – certainly long enough for another sexual encounter.

    Regarding the footnote to myth 1, notice what isn’t cited? Mary Koss isn’t. They critiqued her studies without reading them, instead relying entirely on secondhand sources. And there’s a big difference between “rapes that happen in a lifetime,” which is what Koss’ study measured, and “rapes reported to campus police”; if Koss’ numbers are correct, we’d expect to see rapes reported to campus police at a rate of less than one per year.

  10. Interesting, Ampersand.

    However, I seriously doubt 73% of women have been raped. Do you really believe it?

    ”A 2001 study by the Bureau of Justice and National Institute of Justice found that about 3 percent of college women experienced a completed and/or attempted rape during the current college year”
    From: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12690062/

    I doubt the stats are much higher than 6%, including those who didn’t tell the police.

    Don’t get me wrong, rape is a horrible crime; I just don’t believe 1/4 college woman has been raped or that 73% of women have been raped.

  11. Don’t get me wrong, rape is a horrible crime; I just don’t believe 1/4 college woman has been raped or that 73% of women have been raped.

    But Koss’ study didn’t reach either of those conclusions.

    Koss’ study never claimed that 73% of women have been raped. What it found is that of those women who have experienced rape, don’t say “yes” to the question “it was definitely rape.”

    Koss’ study never claimed that 1 in 4 college women have been raped. What the study found is that approximately 1 in 4 women have experienced rape or attempted rape. If you look only at completed rapes, Koss’ study found that approximately 1 in 8 college women have been raped at some point in their lives (not “during the current college year”).

    Several other large-scale studies — including two run by the federal government — have found figures for completed rape that are similar to Koss’ results. For example, the study you refer to (“3 percent… during the current college year”) also found that about 1 in 10 women in college has experienced rape at some point in her life, which is pretty close to Koss’ 1 in 8 figure.

  12. Hmm. I’ll take a closer look at your blog, and I might add you to my blog roll.

  13. I wrote this:

    Koss’ study never claimed that 73% of women have been raped. What it found is that of those women who have experienced rape, don’t say “yes” to the question “it was definitely rape.”

    That leaves one crucial word out. What I should have said was this:

    Koss’ study never claimed that 73% of women have been raped. What it found is that of those women who have experienced rape, 73% don’t say “yes” to the question “it was definitely rape.”

  14. I’m still surprised 12.5% of college women have ‘escaped’ rape…

  15. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, if you do.

    But I still feel that you haven’t really addressed my arguments yet. :-)

  16. Hmm… got a link to Koss’ study?

  17. I don’t have a link; it’s not online, that I know of. However, if you have access to an academic library, you can find it the old-fashioned way:

    ”Scope of rape: Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Higher Education Students,” by Mary Koss and co-authors, can be found in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology v 55 (2) pages 162-170, 1987.

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