Posts tagged Sexism

Victim surveys

O.K., James, you got me. I’m a poisonous hate-filled politically-correct man-hater. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m also anti-sex, anti-America, and anti-life.

Let’s move on to empirical data.

Here’s what you say:

Acquaintance rape is indeed common – but rape by intimates quite uncommon.

Here is what Tjaden and Thoennes (2000) say in the report on their randomly-sampled survey of 8,000 U.S. women and 8,000 U.S. men:

Nearly 10 percent of surveyed women, compared with less than 1 percent of surveyed men, reported being raped since age 18 (exhibit 21). Thus, U.S. women are 10 times more likely than U.S. men to be raped as an adult.

The survey found that most women who are raped as adults are raped by intimates. Nearly two-thirds (61.9 percent) of the women who reported being raped since age 18 were raped by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. In comparison 21.3 percent were raped by an acquaintance, 16.7 were raped by a stranger, and 6.5 percent were raped by a relative [other than a spouse] (see exhibit 22). The number of male rape victims was insufficient to reliably calculate estimates for men.

Tjaden and Thoennes (2006) breaks out the data into different categories of intimate partner rapists. (The prevalence rates don’t add up the same way as in [2000], because in this passage the data is broken out by victim-perpetrator relationship but not controlled by the age of the victim.)

Information from NVAWS confirms previ­ous research that shows most rape vic­tims know their rapist. Only 16.7 percent of all female victims and 22.8 percent of all male victims were raped by a stranger (see exhibit 13). In general, female victims tended to be raped by current or former intimates, defined in this study as spous­es, male and female cohabiting partners, dates, boyfriends, and girlfriends. In com­parison, male victims tended to be raped by acquaintances, such as friends, teach­ers, coworkers, or neighbors. Among all female victims identified by the survey, 20.2 percent were raped by a spouse or ex-spouse, 4.3 percent were raped by a current or former cohabiting partner, and 21.5 percent were raped by a current or former date, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

Age has a major effect on the risks from different groups of men. If you look at victimization rates for girls under the age of twelve, the greatest danger of rape comes from relatives (67.8% of female victims who were raped when younger than 12), followed by acquaintances (24.5% of under-12 female victims), followed by strangers (10.8%). If you look at adolescent women, aged 12-17, the greatest danger of rape comes from intimate partners (35.9% of female rape victims who were raped when 12-17), followed by acquaintances (33.3% of female victims age 12-17), followed by relatives (19.4%), followed by strangers (15.8%). Women raped in adulthood are overwhelmingly more likely to have been raped by a current or former intimate partner than by any other man — as seen above, more women are raped by current or former intimate partners than by all other categories of perpetrators put together. It shouldn’t be surprising that rape by dates, boyfriends, and husbands is much more common among adult women than among adolescent women and young girls, of course; adult women are more likely to be exposed to dates and boyfriends in the first place, and much, much more likely to have husbands, than women aged 12-17 are, let alone girls under the age of 12.

Them’s the facts, as far as I am aware of them. If you have empirical studies of the prevalence and incidence of sexual violence against women which indicate something different, then your mission, should you choose to accept it, is actually to produce the specific studies in question, and demonstrate how they contradict or undermine the findings from the NVAWS. Or I guess you could just impugn my intellectual honesty again without providing a reference to any specific data.

Now, if Tjaden and Thoennes’s findings are accurate, I guess you could ask why the facts hate men so much, but the truth is that I really have very little idea what, if anything, in my remarks was supposed to be “man-hating” in the first place. At most it is boyfriend-and-husband-hating, and it’s really not even that. Lots of boyfriends and husbands are violent towards their girlfriends and wives. Does it follow (1) that there’s something intrinsically wrong with boyfriends or husbands as such, or rather (2) that there’s something deeply wrong with how boyfriends and husbands are expected to conduct themselves in this particular society as it actually exists, or rather (3) that there’s something deeply wrong with how a large minority of boyfriends and husbands in this particular society expect themselves to act, which doesn’t necessarily apply to the majority of boyfriends and husbands who don’t commit rape? My own view is (2), although for all I’ve said so far, you could just as easily take option (3), and neither case seems to me like something that you could fairly call “man-hating” or anything of the sort. (For comparison, during the 1910s black men in Mississippi were overwhelmingly more likely to be lynched by white men than by black men, white women, black women, or children of any race. Is it somehow anti-white or anti-white-male to point that fact out, or to point out that it might have had something to do with the norms and ideals accepted by the majority of white men in the racial system of Jim Crow?)

Re: Socioeconomic Creationism

For example, if some have much more wealth than others, the socioeconomic creationist believes that this is the product of government policies specifically designed to transfer wealth from the many to the few, rather than the natural result of market transactions between people of disparate abilities and preferences.

Well. Isn’t it empirically true that there are specific government policies which, either through design or through unintended consequences, tend to profit the rich, hinder and impoverish the poor, or do both at the same time? If you doubt it, I can name some examples.

Can you think of any actual examples of people who fall back on the claim that poverty is substantially caused by government policies, rather than by voluntary market forces, who do so because they’re simply unable to understand how spontaneous orders work? Every proponent of such a claim that I can think of (Kevin Carson, Roderick Long, Brad Spangler, Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Gabriel Kolko…) is relatively clear on the notion of spontaneous order; they get to the conclusion that government policies cause poverty not by explanatory default, but rather because they can point to a bunch of concrete examples of government policies that really do this.

In my experience, most of the real “socioeconomic creationists” with regard to wealth, tend to attribute poverty to tightly coordinated conspiracies (“international bankers” and the like), or else to the personal greed and vices of individual business people, not to structural factors like government policy.

If the average man makes more than the average woman, the socioeconomic creationist concludes that this must be due to the misogynistic oppression of women, rather than the natural outcome of men and women having different preferences, opportunity costs, and/or abilities.

You seem to be presupposing that “misogynistic oppression of women” and “spontaneous order” are two mutually exclusive explanations of the situation. But why make that claim? There’s nothing in the concept of a spontaneous order that requires that all spontaneous orders be benign. It may be that if certain kinds of ignorance, folly, or vice are widely distributed throughout the population, then lots of little individual acts of stupidity or evil will, without the design of the participants, add up to a large-scale, malign spontaneous order that goes beyond the intentions of the participants.

“Preferences, opportunity costs, and/or abilities” aren’t the only factors that can contribute to the individual decisions from which a spontaneous order emerges. And not all “preferences, opportunity costs, and/or abilities” are independent of prevalent prejudices and traditions, either.

Re: Legitimate


So, is my preference for a female secretary (assuming I have one) sexist,

Probably, but as I said, I don’t know. What’s the reason for your preference? I can imagine sexist, anti-sexist, and sexism-neutral reasons for preferring hiring a woman (as such) rather than a man. Without knowing which one is hypothetically yours, I can’t answer the question.

and if it is, is that immoral?

Yes, if it is, it is (therefore) immoral.


Is it sexist for a man to lust after women?

Depends on what you mean, I guess. If you’re asking whether it’s sexist when the particular people you’re sexually attracted to all turn out to be women, then no, I’m not claiming that. If you’re asking whether it’s sexist to lust, more or less indiscriminately, after “women,” due to some kind of attitude towards femininity in general, then that may well be sexist. In any case it’s immoderate and objectifying.

More to the point, while being male and heterosexual is not, as such, sexist, there are a lot of things commonly associated with heterosexual male “lust” for women, as it is actually felt and expressed in the society we live in, that are sexist. For example, preferring to surround yourself with women in subordinate positions to you so that you can ogle them or sexually harass them is fairly sexist, and, as I said, fairly sleazy.

If one’s preference for associating with women rather than with men in a particular context is based on different reasons, then who knows? It may well be neither sexist nor sleazy.

Social engineering

Left-anarchists can not realistically change the hierarchy in male / female relationships without some heavy social engineering requiring heavy coercion.

I don’t think that the empirical evidence points very strongly toward the conclusion that anti-sexism would require a continuous process of “heavy social engineering.” (It would take heavy social engineering to get from where we are to an anti-sexist society, but as I see it, that’s because it took heavy social engineering to get to where we are, not because there is some perennial in-born basis for structuring social relationships in terms of sex-class.)

But suppose you’re right. Suppose there is some in-born, perennial basis that will keep asserting itself in favor of hierarchical relationships structured by sex.

Does it follow that any attempt to combat that through “heavy social engineering” will require “heavy coercion?” Only if all forms of social engineering are coercive. But they’re not. For example, mass literacy is only possible through heavy and continuous “social engineering” aimed at teaching children how to do something quite difficult over a period of years. But does mass literacy require coercion? Not as far as I can see.

Does it follow that any attempt to combat that through “heavy social engineering” is necessarily foolish or wrong? Only if all forms of social engineering are foolish or wrong. But they’re not. Lots of forms of deliberate “social engineering” are extremely beneficial (for example, teaching children how to read), and become harmful only when they are accompanied by coercion. If there are independent reasons for thinking that sexual equality is a valuable goal, then even if it is true that social engineering would be required to achieve it, that provides a reason for practicing the social engineering, not a reason for abandoning sexual equality as a goal. If there is some independent reason for rejecting sexual equality as a valuable goal, or for concluding that the costs of the social engineering processes outweigh the benefit to be gained from it, then certainly that’s a reason either to reject anti-sexism in principle or to reject efforts to implement it on a structural level in contemporary life. But you first have to produce those independent reasons; just pointing to some discovery about what human beings may or may not be naturally inclined to do won’t cut the ice you’re trying to cut.

The morality of racism and sexism


I agree with you that any value other than non-aggression could, when combined with the notion that it is O.K. to use the State to enforce values other than non-aggression, lead to aggressive actions or policies. Anti-racism included.

You also don’t have to convince me that government-imposed antidiscrimination policies are harmful. I think everything unjust is (therefore) harmful, and that they’re harmful in other ways besides the fact that they’re unjust. (Although we might disagree on the exact details as to why, I don’t think we’d disagree in a way that matters for this discussion.)

However, I think that there is good reason to say that a belief in natural orders of superior and inferior social rank, based on race, are more conducive to aggression than a belief in social equality among people of different races. It could quite easily be argued that it takes a bigger inferential step to get from “Racism is a social evil” to “The government should make specific policies to force people not to promote that evil” than it takes to get from “White people are naturally superior to black people and should be in a socially dominant position to them; black people who are not submissive are vicious and dangerous” to “The government should make specific policies to enforce white dominance.” I don’t think that in either case the premise logically necessitates the conclusion (without auxiliary principles), but an independent belief in the propriety of the State as a means of social change has more of a leading role to play in the first case than it does in the second case.

For what it’s worth, I also think that there are other reasons why racism is vicious and not merely foolish. The precise reasons why generally depend on what we’re discussing (prejudiced attitudes or beliefs? exclusionary actions? antagonistic actions? etc. etc. etc.). Part of the issue here is that I think there are things that are naturally classed as examples of racism, and not easily divorced from the fact of the perpetrator’s racism (for example, racist harassment, slurs and insults) which I regard as vicious, and which are very widely regarded as vicious. I don’t know whether Arthur means to deny that acts like these are vicious (if not, why not?), or whether he means to say that they are vicious, but should not be classified as a part of racism. So I’m asking him to clarify what he means to say about cases like those.

I might prefer to have a female secretary. If this is not as legitimate as preferring to marry a woman, why not?

I don’t know what you mean by “legitimate.” Are you asking me whether or not this is within your rights, or are you asking me whether or not it’s morally licit for you to do?

If the former, then certainly it’s within your rights. You have a right to prefer all kinds of things. If the latter, well, reasonable criteria for a good romantic partner for you are presumably different from reasonable criteria for a good secretary for you, and I suspect that the former allows a lot more leeway for unargued idiosyncratic preferences than the latter does. While nobody has a right to force you to go along with somebody else’s judgement about what criteria are the reasonable ones, it may very well be the case that they have good reason to suggest that your own understanding of the matter is mistaken, ignorant, foolish, or even vicious. (After all, you might have reason to change your own mind at some point; and if you can have good reasons for differing with your past opinion, then other people could have had those good reasons, too.)

As for whether such a preference really is mistaken, ignorant, foolish, or even vicious, I suppose it depends on what your reasons for having that preference are. Most of the historical reasons that men had during the 20th century for preferring women (as such) over men (as such) as secretaries have been fairly sleazy. But any serious discussion of a preference like that will require more details than just its existence.

For what it’s worth, while sexist hiring practices are a serious concern for those who are concerned with gender equality, there are a lot more issues involved than just that, many of which go well beyond exclusiveness in terms of who you want to associate with at your job or on your own property.