Mythbusting the Gender Zeitgeist

Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true. But many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly.

Thomas Sowell

Some of the social justice or the feminist persuasion believe that we live in a patriarchy because men predominate positions of authority in politics and business.

Men also predominate victims of suicide, homelessness and false convictions, yet there is no talk about us living in a society that victimizes men. Cherry picking who represents the male population will only give us flawed perspectives. Men commit suicide three to four times more than women do [1][2]. In June 2009, it was reported by the National Coalition for the Homeless that 67.5% of the single homeless population are male, and this population accounts for 76% of the total population surveyed.

Male representatives and business owners are not in their positions simply because they are men, or because they only represent men. The vast majority of them had to pass job interviews just like anyone else. In the case of politicians in Western democracies, women participate as majority voter, and have a clear role in electing representatives. In 2004, the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance reported that women had a larger voter turnout than men since the mid-1980s in Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Germany, and the graph showing the gender gap on voter turnout is expanding in women’s favor (shown below).

IDEA graph for the gender gap in voter turnout across five European countries

The same majority voter status for women can also be observed in Canada and the U.S.A. The Center for American Women and Politics reports “that the number of female voters has exceeded the number of male voters in every presidential election since 1964,” whereas the proportion of female voters dominated the proportion of male voters since the 80s.

CAWP voter turnout graph for women and men

If women wish to have fewer men in political office, they have the voting power to make that happen. Male predominance can only be temporary if the will is there.

Business executives are driven by the interests consumers in the private sector, where women are powerful consumers. A 2007 report by the MassMutual Financial Group Senior women states that women over 50 years old have a combined net worth of $19 trillion, and they own more than 75% of the nation’s wealth. Women also account for 85% of all consumer purchases.

For all of these sources, refer to this fact sheet on she-conomy.com.

Men would not be in business executive positions if they could not be trusted to appeal to their target markets, be they full of men or women. In both cases of politicians and business executives, women’s interests may be vital to their careers should women be among those who they represent.

Men cannot expect to remain in their positions by angering half the human population. Men with power cannot sustain a massive, decorated career supporting men’s interests alone. The claim that women are not represented by men in power ignores all of these facts.

On a similar note, it is a myth that women in Western societies (particularly the United States) are paid less than men for the same work due to discrimination in the workplace.

If that were true, then it makes no sense to hire men. Paying a woman less for the same value is a competitive advantage for women. In the event that an employer discriminates by hiring men for the same work at a higher wage, that employer takes on additional costs he does not need to pay, therefore burdening him with the additional expense of men. On this subject, economist Milton Friedman pointed out that if you force equal pay for the sexes, you take away women’s competitive advantage and remove the cost of discrimination from the employer.

Speaking more directly to the claim, the assumption that women make circa three-quarters of what men make is based on taking the mean of men’s and women’s salaries. This is a figure often cited from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But simply taking the mean of gathered numbers does not speak to why the numbers are the way they are. Women earn less because, statistically, they tend to make choices that result in lower wages but higher security in social life.

While women face their own problems, we cannot cast the situation as men having lasting power over the choices women make.

We need to dismiss the nonsensical notion that men have it better off. The reality is that society is an ecosystem of leverages, disadvantages and benefits, where whoever has it “better” depends on the context by which someone makes an assessment.

 

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4 thoughts on “Mythbusting the Gender Zeitgeist

  1. I think the very good reason why women don’t run for political office is because they don’t need to. A career in politics is extraordinarily demanding, stressful and risky, and so is very unappealing to most people. Why would women put themselves through the struggle and pain of public politics if they can have their interests well enough served by men doing it?

      • I don’t think women are too weak for politics at all. Rather, I think women with their current powers don’t really have to participate since in many ways they can reap the benefits of representation without seeking to increase the presence of women in politics. If you can vote out reps at whim, and they know it, what would it matter what sex they are?

  2. “Rather, I think women with their current powers don’t really have to participate since in many ways they can reap the benefits of representation without seeking to increase the presence of women in politics. If you can vote out reps at whim, and they know it, what would it matter what sex they are?”

    Precisely! There is a theory of human behaviour that suggests that people typically act against their own self-interest and then postulate a force that is the cause of this. And then there is a simpler theory that suggests that if women do not enter politics it is probably because male and female politicians alike favour women. Women don’t need to be in politics BECAUSE men and women are both sympathetically disposed towards women. That’s the whole point – women can have their interests advanced preferentially by electing a woman OR a man.

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