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)