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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 08:51:31 PM EST) Reading, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Myth of Mars and Venus", "Shooting War". Web.


What I'm Reading
Finished The Myth of Mars and Venus: Do Men and Women Really Speak Different Languages? by Deborah Cameron. Short book criticizing the rash of "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" books claiming that there are fundamental differences between the way men and women communicate. Makes a pretty convincing case by approaching things from several angles.

Partly, Cameron takes an anthropological angle. If intrinsic genetic differences are responsible for males and females communicating differently, the differences ought to be consistent across different cultures. However, this doesn't seem to be the case. In the 19th century, women were believed to have an inferior grasp of grammar to men, and to be inferior communicators. In the present day, the consensus seems to be the reverse.

The current belief is that women tend to be more circuitous, less direct and more considerate of emotions. However, in the case of the Malagasy people of Madagascar, the opposite is believed to be true: they think women are more direct and more confrontational than men. Cameron points out that in this society, leaders are expected to conduct their business in formal and circumlocutious language, "kabary", that rarely risks a direct rejection. So conveniently for Malagasy males, women's naturally blunt and direct speech renders them generally unsuited for positions of power.

In contemporary Western culture, the opposite is often believed to be true: women's subtle communication is unsuited to the blunt, direct and efficient communication required of CEO. Curiously, the outcome is the same in that women are unsuited for positions of power.

Cameron also considers other examples, like the ritualized streams of abuse of women in Gapun, Papua New Guinea. And even in Western culture, she points out that deferential female communication is more common among the white middle class than in other groups.

Cameron also points out that differences in communication are largely linked to roles. Women use more "tag questions" (appending "isn't it?" or "aren't you?" to phrases) on average. However, men in a role that require them to elicit information, such as a doctor, use more such phrases. This is interesting insofar as it's sometimes claimed that men literally cannot understand women's styles of communication; in fact they seem to be able to use such styles themselves equally well when acting in an appropriate role. Also, it suggests that the differences between male and female communication styles may be due to the roles that they take rather than the supposed "brain differences".

While there are real statistical differences in the way men and women communicate, these are often overstated. The differences are generally small compared to the differences between individuals; often a tenth of a standard deviation or so.

The richness of the book is in the number of examples she uses. One interesting example was the differences between men and women's communication as members of the British Parliament, and the Scottish Parliament. In the national Parliament, women rarely speak "illegally": that is, barracking or interrupting from a sitting position without being recognized. In the Scottish Parliament they do so just as much as men.

Cameron considers this as an example of how speech reflects social roles. In the British Parliament, women are relative newcomers, are considered somewhat as interlopers, and therefore must adopt different standards: in the newer Scottish Parliament they are given more equal status.

It's a short book, only 181 pages, very lucidly written. Well worth reading for anyone interested in the subject.

The Guardian had some extracts from it a while ago: parts 1, 2, 3, table of differences.

What I'm Reading 2
Shooting War by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman is a comic set in the near future. A activist/video-blogger is catapulted into celebrity after filming a terrorist bombing in New York, then accepts an offer to become a correspondent for a right-wing TV new channel in Baghdad; just as things there are turning really nasty for President McCain.

Interesting style of art, combining photos and drawings. Looks a little odd sometimes when line-drawings are superimposed on the photos.

Sadly, the script and story are pretty poor. The protagonist seems to be a Mary Sue for the activist/videoblogger author. While presumably a pleasant fantasy, it lacks plausibility that he'd be so instantly popular, or that the evil businessman would suddenly hire him, or even that he'd accept.

The future Iraq seems a bit pointless, since the present and recent past provide plenty of dramatic horror: life there's bad enough without inventing more of it. The high-tech terrorist and psychotic Colonel seem to be more like movie clichés than real people, despite the author's apparent first-hand knowledge of the situation.

Overall, nice idea, but not really executed well enough to be worth reading.

Bertrand Russell quote of the day
"Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact".

Poll
Please do the middle section to test this spacejack hypothesis.

Web
YouTube. Grey Bloke song: My Internet's Gone Down. Brief excerpt of David Prowse speaking Darth Vader's lines.

Julie Bindel on UK brothels.

Grindhouse rumour: Machete trailer to become film?

More on Mars and Venus. Cross-cultural study shows less difference between men and women in other cultures. (MeFi). Not convinced by their conclusions. It suggests to me that the evolutionary psychologists view that contemporary Western gender roles are deeply embedded in the genes, is false. Their interpretation is that it's all in the genes, but in other cultures the differences are suppressed by poor nutrition.

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It's a no a royal no | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
many communication problems by MillMan (4.00 / 3) #1 Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 09:21:29 PM EST
aren't communication problems at all - they are issues between one or both parties who are unwilling or unable to negociate and compromise.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

Yes by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 09:51:40 PM EST
That's one of the points she makes, especially when it comes to "I didn't understand that you wanted me to take the trash out" kind of things...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Huh? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:21:39 PM EST
"filming a terrorist blogging in New York"?
OMG. Forgive me for not jumping out of my seat in excitement. Who green-lighted this one?

Also, if you've never met a Colonel, they are all crazy. It comes with the "I'm almost a General" mentality.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Hmmm by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:59:04 PM EST
I suspect that will change to "terrorist bombing" within 12 hours or so.

[ Parent ]
Julie Blindel on brothels by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 11:43:20 PM EST

As she is mysandrist of the highest order judging by her Guardian columns, I would suspect that her "research" was not very objective. For example "evidence of traficking" was that you could get many diferent nationalities at these brothels.

Also is she talking about Amsterdam or the UK here? This sounds made up.

Alice brought it home to us just how accepted and normalised prostitution has
become. "You sit in a basque, in a window with your red light on. When you get a client you close your curtains and turn your red light off. That starts from eight in the morning."



 



Balsall Heath in Birmingham by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 11:55:01 PM EST
Used to have that kind of red-light-and-window thing in the Nineties, but it was all cleaned up (at least at one point.)

[ Parent ]
Made up? by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #7 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 12:07:54 AM EST
It sounds completely idealised. An actual room, and curtains? The reality of illegal prostitution is much much grimmer than that, from what I've seen living near some dodgy bits of Dublin. Brothels are the good stories (which is why they should be legalised and encouraged over people putting themselves at risk on the streets).


[ Parent ]
All I'm saying is Julie has by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #8 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 12:30:42 AM EST
A real axe to grind about men in general (i've read her articles in the Guardian a lot and her main thesis seems to be that all heterosexual men are rapists) to be particularly objective. If the research was carried out by a proper university social research department I'd be take it more seriously rather than by her and her friends.

It's part of a softening up campaign by the govt to criminalise any form of prositution even in well run brothels by the usual " think of the children and all those trafficked women".


[ Parent ]
She's grinding it stupidly though by Merekat (4.00 / 3) #9 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 12:44:47 AM EST
If she wants women to be safe from men, criminalising ways in which they are safer than other ways within the context of something that is always going to happen is phenomenally stupid and at least as misogynist as misandrist.

People know trafficking happens, but pushing it further underground also does not seem helpful. Are people who work in call-centres and corner shops trafficked? Think about why not;)


[ Parent ]
It's not just her by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #10 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 12:56:11 AM EST
this "research" was commissioned by Harriet Harman, a govt minister who is on the record of being in favour of ban. So she wanted objective research on the subject by putting a man hating lesbian in charge of it says it all.

[ Parent ]
The article is based on a survey by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 01:10:59 AM EST
Which uses direct quotes taken from phone conversations: "dirty Oriental bitch who will do stag nights, anal, and the rest."

It also breaks it down statistically: "more than a third of the brothels offer unprotected sex."

And cites research from other studies: "One large US study on prostitution and violence found that 82% of women had been physically assaulted since entering the trade... More than 80% were homeless, and a majority, on and off-street, were addicted to illegal drugs and/or alcohol."

Seems pretty unambiguous to me - unless you have research from another survey that shows otherwise.

--------
It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Links by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 01:32:08 AM EST
Yes by jump the ladder (4.00 / 3) #13 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 01:45:31 AM EST

I am trying to defend the indefensible. I just don't think criminalising it is the way to go, just drives it further underground like the drug war. The demand is still going to be there.



[ Parent ]
But... by nebbish (4.00 / 3) #14 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 02:02:35 AM EST
I saw a survey done in Nevada where prostitution is legal (wish I could remember where - this was in the days before delicious and a handy place for these kind of bookmarks). Because it exists in a legal grey area based on a lack of enforcement things were actually worse. Brothel owners felt they could get away with anything as long as it was kept quiet.

I think decriminalisation could make things worse. The industry would remain completely unregulated.

So I think the only way legalisation could work is in a strict set-up with regular checks, observation etc, which raises all sorts of other problems. There's the question of whether society would accept something like that, and whether there would be client demand for an unregulated set-up so you effectively just get two tiers of prostitution, a legal one and an illegal, exploitative one.

It's a very tricky area. I don't think there are any clear answers; stricter policing and punishment for clients is certainly an option.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
I agree by jump the ladder (4.00 / 3) #16 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 02:17:23 AM EST
See my last comment. I just feel that the legilisation and proper regulation of the least worst forms of it would cater for probably the vast  majority of the demand. It's not a perfect solution but totally outlawing it is worse in terms of safety for women and their clients.

[ Parent ]
The survey seems a bit of a mixed bag by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #22 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 08:23:47 AM EST
I think in some ways it strengthens the case for legalization. In other countries when it's been tried, legalization doesn't seem to have affected the drug-addicted street prostitute trade much, since they can still undercut the actual brothels.

So on the assumption that that's the worst of the trade, legalization wouldn't help much. But if conditions in the brothels are abusive, it makes more sense to legalize things and bring them more under the control of the law, making it easier to prosecute pimps and violent punters.

However, the report does seem a bit biased. For instance, this bit:

The average age of women available in brothels was 21 years old;
The given ages of women ranged from 18 years to 55 years old;
Numerous establishments offered ‘young girls’ or ‘babyface girls’ but refused to specify ages.
They basically seem to be implying that there's child abuse going on without having data to back the assertion up.

Also they seem to have a kind of ideology that paid sex can never be consensual, that economic necessity equals rape.

MYTH: Women choose prostitution.
It is a choice through lack of choice. A significant number of women involved in street prostitution were groomed as children. Many enter through marginalisation, dependencies and/or economic necessity.
But if prostitution really is an economic "necessity", and they'll starve without it, and if -an anti-prostitution law is effective, surely banning prostitution would just make them starve? Or if you're providing an adequate alternative to starvation, why do you need to ban prostitution too? Once you've banished the "necessity", they should stop entering prositution.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
The drug addicted street trade is objectionable by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #23 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 09:17:42 AM EST

That's why it's against the law already. So is trafficing and so is child prostitution. If none of these things are going on, why should it be illegal? I know plenty of lap dancers, they're not all coked up victims as the stereotype goes.

Also why no concern over male prostitution. Looks to me like double standards.



[ Parent ]
Also I think we have the worst of both worlds by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #15 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 02:05:29 AM EST
In  the UK where it is in this legal grey area where it is a free-for-all for all sorts of nastiness. I really believe a properly regulated system like in Germany, Australia  or New Zealand would be making trhe best of a social ill.

[ Parent ]
Very true by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #17 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 02:22:16 AM EST
I think decriminalisation is the wrong way to go, there needs to be a proper legal structure and strict enforcement.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
It's a bit of quandary by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #18 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 02:29:44 AM EST
It's not a particularly good thing so giving it a legal status implies that society is giving it a seal of some sort of approval. But on the other hand driving it totally underground is worse.

[ Parent ]
pleh by Merekat (4.00 / 3) #19 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 02:37:22 AM EST
Society must approve sufficiently since it exists as a large scale industry. Whether society's public face can acknowledge this is another question.


[ Parent ]
I think by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #20 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 02:52:16 AM EST
Society doesn't approve of it at all but is it no1 social ill to be tackled first with limited resources when we've got so many others, I don't think so.

[ Parent ]
Men are from Mars... by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #21 Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 07:44:28 AM EST
Did that piece of tripe actually blame it on genes? I hadn't realized it had even that much depth.

There's a real obvious way to prove the "communications problems between men and women" theory. Compare the number of communications problems in heterosexual and homosexual relationships. My suspicion is that you'll find equal numbers of communications failures in both.

This is not to say that there aren't culturally driven differences in the way men and women act. But I think for all the "I just can't understand women!" crap, most people actually do have a very good understanding of what the other sex wants.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

It's a no a royal no | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback