Gender-based I: Where Are Men in This Story?

Both men and women suffer from gender-based social expectations that are to some extent not fulfillable and likely interdependant. But there is a difference.

I’m a bit neglectant to speak of „suppression“ in regards to men, since men are not as much „suppressed“ as we are „uppressed“. This means: Social expectations for men usually aim at independance, activity and control. Being able to repair stuff, being promiscuous, physical strength, etc.

Of course, many men fail at this. In a way, all men do. Not everybody can or wants to live up to these expectations, despite them being inconsistent or even contradictory. As a consequence, many men feel inadequate for all of their lives, damage themselves or others – or exert power over people over which any man in a patriarchical society can exert power over, no matter how small and „unmanly“ one is: His wife or women in general.

The social expectations towards women on the other side are coined by passivity, abstinence and privacy. We are not always aware of these expectations, but the consequent submission is certainly demanded from women in society, as shown in some of the research above or anywhere in comment sections in social media.

250 years of enlightment and feminism on (if you think enlightenment without women fighting for women would have led to the relative emancipation we enjoy today, re-read Kant), women are still expected to be passive, private and subordinate creatures, who need to adjust to men in public spaces. As also shown in the research above, women are apparently regarded to be less worthy, less able or generally less competent in at least most fields of modern work. This is something all venerated modern sociologists agree upon (check out Judith Butler, Pierre Bourdieau or, if very understandably you find these authors too complex in their writings styles and you happen to understand German, Albert Scherr).

If from any of this you draw the conclusion that somebody would be waging a war against men, you are thinking in the lines of people you probably call „feminazis“, yet I refer to as „terfs“ (Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists): These debates aren’t about putting men and women on two sides and comparing who is somewhat „better“ or more of a victim. These debates are about the good of us all. We are all at the same time perpetrators and victims of gender expectations – all in different ways.

In general, however, and this is perhaps the actual problem, we have this situation: The gender expecations applied to boys as opposed to the ones applied to girls result in a reality, in which almost all positions of power are occupied by men. This is true for traditional families, for companies, armies, nation states, and so on. And this is a big issue, because:

A) it makes it harder for people not belonging to this group to participate in this kind of power for several reasons, such as the expectations being re-affirmed and/or people belonging to the group in charge feeling threatened by „outsiders“ closing up to them, and

B) homogenous leadership hardly makes decisions for heterogenous populations (unless forced) and/or isn’t aware of detrimental effects their decisions have on people who are not part of the group that is in charge. A committee consisting only out of men is very likely blind to the way their specific subject of interest looks from the perspective of a woman, just like most men are blind to and often surprised by how omnipresent fear of sexual violence or stories of weird strangers following them through the streets are in the world of many young girls.

Now, this being a social problem and humans not being able to exist outside of society, this isn’t a problem for individuals to solve, but for societies. States, in fact.

But wait, you might say now, isn’t everybody responsible for their own good? Don’t we live in a world in which it has been proven again and again that even the most belittled person could dig him- or herself out of the ghetto and become boxing-legend Muhammad Ali?

This will be adressed in Part II.

Shitloads of Research Evidence on Gender-based Discrimination

What is this?

genderbasedLately, I found myself increasingly often debating discrimination against women – an issue many people believe not to exist. I’ve have often heard and read claims such as that the Gender Pay Gap would be a statistical phenomenon, that feminism in todays egalitarian world would no longer be necessary and women are long since emancipated, and of course that any evidence to existing discrimination would be hear-say and individual experiences and there would be no good statistical evidence support this (who ever said this very certainly didn’t bother checking). Not to forget of the mantra that in our society, everyone could become everything if he or she only tried, a very important notion I will get to in the “evaluation” posts I will write about this very post:

Part I: Where Are Men in This Story?

Part II: The Myth of the “You Can Be Anything”-Society

Part III: But Why Cannot We Expect Women to Just Help Themeselves?

Ultimately, this piece here is me gathering tons of arguments and research evidence for later use. But I thought, why not make it accessible to anyone else? And that’s what I do.

As to my method: I didn’t actively search for studies that prove how women are being treated unfairly. Rather, I googled for studies on women in general, such as “study women pay gap” or “study women in media” or so. If any credible research providing evidence that being female brings you any bonusses would have popped up, I would have included it. I didn’t come across any, but I don’t doubt that there are situations in which women actually are on the „winning“ side of discrimination, given that it is a case in which the goal to achieve goes along with the gender stereotypes (an example could be becoming a kindergarten teacher or a nurse). You could claim that my method is flawed because google turns up the most read and shared stuff and obviously doesn’t give out the studies with the most impact. However, antifeminists have likely as much a fanbase clicking “their” articles as feminists do, maybe bigger, and either way, all of these studies are peer-reviewed.

Also, due to where research is happening and also my language barriers, all of the studies refer only to the “Western world”, aka the EU, Northern America and Australia.

The Research

Let’s start of with the Gender Pay Gap

The probably most important thing to say to this: It exists, deal with it. Even if you include all kinds of factors, including profession, experience, education, etc. women in the US still earn only 91% of what men earn (“non-adjusted” 77%).

http://time.com/105292/gender-wage-gap/

http://scholar.harvard.edu/goldin/publications/grand-gender-convergence-its-last-chapter

But as quoted from the article:

Using wage data for men and women with identical degrees and experience, she was able to show that gender discrimination is ultimately at the core of the gap.

Even if differences in occupations account for some of the gender wage gap, why should gender-based educational and occupational segregation count as evidence against gender discrimination? Young girls and young women do not make choices about what to study and where to work in a vacuum. They make them under the influence of peers, family members and adults who tell them, through words and actions, the subjects, majors and careers that are acceptable for them to choose — and these influences inevitably inform their later decisions on careers.

Things are doing not quite so well in Austria, where, depending on the study and the field of work, women earn 81 to 85% of what men earn under the same conditions – for pretty much the same job, as close as one can get to say this.

http://www.statistik-austria.at/wcm/idc/idcplg?IdcService=GET_PDF_FILE&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&dDocName=075968

http://www.statistik-austria.at/wcm/idc/idcplg?IdcService=GET_PDF_FILE&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&dDocName=062504

http://www.statistik-austria.at/wcm/idc/idcplg?IdcService=GET_PDF_FILE&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&dDocName=043946

All of these are .pdf and sadly, the only English one is the one where I’m not sure how much occupation is actually considered. It does say in one paragraph that it is considered, in another that it isn’t. The other studies are being pretty damn clear about it:

The comparison of men and women working in the same economic sector and occupational group, having the same level of education, length of service and age, indicate a decline of the gender wage gap [to] between 15.0 and 18.9 per cent depending on the mode of calculation (Within-Job Gender Wage Gap or multivariate model). Thus one part of the gap can be explained by differences concerning the labour market caused by economic and occupational gender segregation. Another part can be seen as a consequence of individual characteristics of the employees, like education or work experience. Even though taking all factors into account, a significant wage gap still persists that remains unexplained [by the considered socio-economic factors].

Or in the slightly less confusing German version:

Vergleicht man die Verdienste von Frauen und Männern innerhalb der gleichen Branche, des gleichen Berufs, der gleichen Bildungsschicht sowie mit gleicher Dauer der Zugehörigkeit zum Unternehmen und gleichem Alter, sinkt der geschlechtsspezifische Lohn- und Gehaltsunterschied je nach Berechnung auf 18,9% bis 15,0%. Ein Teil des Lohn- und Gehaltsunterschiedes kann demnach durch die Konzentration von Frauen und Männern in unterschiedlichen Branchen sowie Unterschiede in der beruflichen Tätigkeit und individueller Merkmale erklärt werden. Das Ergebnis zeigt aber auch, dass trotz gleicher Hintergrundmerkmale deutlich niedrigere Löhne und Gehälter für Frauen im Vergleich zu Männern bezahlt werden.

Now you could say, okay, there is a gap between what men and women get for the same work as much as this can be accounted for. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is because they are seen as less worthy, right? There could also be other factors that weren’t accounted for, couldn’t there be?

Well, let’s see what happens when scientists turn with the exact same application, only differentiating by the sex of the applicant, to job offers or investors.

Apparently, women have less chances than men to get a job (in Yale) and if they do, they are offered less money:

http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/02/john-vs-jennifer-a-battle-of-the-sexes/

…and are less likely to be be invested in by both male and female private investors when applying for their start-up:

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/12/4427.full?sid=45375246-9dd9-45f2-9c51-fec71b2299abhttp://www.pnas.org/content/111/12/4427.full?sid=45375246-9dd9-45f2-9c51-fec71b2299ab

Fun fact: Attractive men have the best chances.

The weird thing about this is that people in HR are very likely not even aware of their bias. You could probably show someone after twenty years of job interviews a statistic proving that he or she was much more likely to hire men with the exact same background as women, and that person would be stunned in disbelief.

Still, one could speculate about potential other factors the researchers didn’t account for – but that’s a claim you can make with any research. If you don’t accept this evidence for gender gaps, I don’t know what kind of evidence you would accept. Maybe you should ask that to yourself as well.

By the way, this idea that the wage gap exists because engineers are being paid more than kindergarten teachers, despite having effect on some percentage points (see above studies) is basically a myth as well. Sure, engineers earn more, but (in Germany) typically masculine professions such as coal miner and other blue-coat jobs earn less than typically feminine professions such as the service sector – as can be read in this (German) interview with a researcher who actually focusses on how even when the wife is the main source of income, she usually does still more housework than the husband:

http://jungle-world.com/artikel/2016/34/54729.html

Most couples do believe that they split chores evenly, but it turns out that they don’t. Similarly, I’m sure most men who have issues with their female bosses don’t get behind the true reasons for their grudge:

https://hbr.org/2016/04/research-we-are-way-harder-on-female-leaders-who-make-bad-calls

http://www.businessinsider.com/study-on-men-threatened-by-women-bosses-2015-7

Oh, how fragile is masculinity?

Fun fact and in accordance with the actual research: When I google “female bosses study”, next to studies such as the one above (and studies pointing out how companies with women at the top do better), google suggests that maybe I’ve been searching for “female bosses are worse”, “dealing with female bosses” etc.

It is curious how women are being ignored when they are not hated. For example, women are more likely to be “forgotten” when they are working together with men.

https://hbr.org/2016/02/proof-that-women-get-less-credit-for-teamwork

Women in science publish less often and are cited less often than men, a gap that can’t sufficiently be explained by pregnancy breaks but apparently has to do with networking capabilities:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000127

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9038606

How networking capabilities can be an issue for women in work environments can be seen in this study, which actually focusses on why engineering has so few women doing the job as compared to women studying engineering in the universities:

https://hbr.org/2016/08/why-do-so-many-women-who-study-engineering-leave-the-field

http://news.mit.edu/2016/why-do-women-leave-engineering-0615

Women’s experience of their education differed along two critical dimensions — they encountered a culture where sexism and stereotypes were left unaddressed, and they saw only lip service offered toward improving society—and both of these disproportionately alienated them.

Oh yeah, and coming back to the hated-part of “hated when not ignored”:

The Guardian studied its own comment section.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/12/the-dark-side-of-guardian-comments

Although the majority of our regular opinion writers are white men, we found that those who experienced the highest levels of abuse and dismissive trolling were not. The 10 regular writers who got the most abuse were eight women (four white and four non-white) and two black men. Two of the women and one of the men were gay. And of the eight women in the “top 10”, one was Muslim and one Jewish.

Now let’s hop from verbal violence to physical violence. Sadly, in the EU, still there is much of sexualised violence going on:

http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/violence-against-women-eu-wide-survey-main-results-report

For example, one in three women (33 %) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. One in five women (18 %) has experienced stalking; every second woman (55 %) has been confronted with one or more forms of sexual harassment. Given this, violence against women cannot be seen as a marginal issue that touches only on some women’s lives.

Now you could rightly argue that this perhaps isn’t actually evidence for gender-based discrimination because it doesn’t say anything about violence going on against men. Apparently, in the UK, 40% of the cases of domestic violence have men as the victims.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence

However, statistics like this (and all of the others, too) are to be considered with care. In this research, being slapped on the butt counts as much as being raped at gunpoint. The distorting effect this can have on the statistic the Guardian quotes can be imagined when reading this article about domestic violence in Australia:

http://www.thecitizen.org.au/features/what-about-men-lies-statistics-and-peddling-myths-about-violence-against-women

In Australia, one in three cases of domestic violence sees a male victim. However, Australian sociologists share with us interesting observations from their research:

[Dr. McInnes] recounts some of her research that showed that when men talked about women’s violence against men, some cited abuse as not having a hot meal on the table, not having the children bathed before bed, or women spending money on gambling or shopping. At the more severe end of the spectrum, they nominated verbal and emotional violence as abuse. Then, a tiny minority documented physical abuse, and an even smaller minority named sexual abuse.

“Women were talking about being run over, being drugged and raped at knifepoint, having their children dangled over high rise balconies till they did as they were told and of course you get verbal and emotional violence,” says McInnes. “When we were talking about physical violence against men, one of the worst examples was that she banged his head with the cupboard door – which isn’t good – but the sheer level of fear, harm and terror that women talked about was simply not present in what the men’s data showed.”

It remains somewhat unclear as to how the secret world of everyday violence actually looks like under the aspect of gender, with violence in relationships still being a huge taboo and so on and so forth. However, it is not far-fetched so say that something is wrong with our image of masculinity in regards to violence. After all, as quoting from the EU’s study:

Women can perpetrate violence, and men and boys can be victims of violence at the hands of both sexes, but the results of this survey, together with other data collection,show that violence against women is predominantly perpetrated by men. This is overwhelmingly the case when it comes to sexual violence and sexual harassment.

I’m going to randomly assume that violence against men (all violence, not only domestic, so including everything from bar fights over prison revolts to actual wars) also mainly is carried out by men.

The invisibility of women, as well as an affinity for violence in the gender expecations for men, can be grasped for example by looking at popular contemporary movies in the US:

http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/research/

http://www.indiewire.com/2015/02/sorry-ladies-study-on-women-in-film-and-television-confirms-the-worst-65220/

Here we see that popular movies focus mainly on men (surprise, surprise), as well as other pieces of the puzzle, such as that the goals of portrayed men and women differ in regards to being social or anti-social (male characters were more likely to strive for anti-social goals), and so on.

Even more interesting is this study (.pdf) though, concerned more detailed about how women are depicted in popular movies in several (and not only Western) countries:

http://seejane.org/wp-content/uploads/gender-bias-without-borders-executive-summary.pdf

https://newrepublic.com/article/119562/gender-movie-study-film-industry-discriminates-against-women

Some of the findings are summarised as follows:

• Sexualization is the standard for female characters globally: girls and women are twice as likely as boys and men to be shown in sexually revealing clothing, partially or fully naked, thin, and five times as likely to be referenced as attractive. Films for younger audiences are less likely to sexualize females than are those films for older audiences.
• Teen females (13-20 years) are just as likely as young adult females (21-39 years) to be sexualized.
• Female characters only comprise 22.5% of the global film workforce, whereas male characters form 77.5%.
• Leadership positions pull male; only 13.9% of executives and just 9.5% of high-level politicians were women.
• Across prestigious professions, male characters outnumbered their female counterparts as attorneys and judges (13 to 1), professors (16 to 1), medical

As to the function of movies providing role models, in this quote in regards to body expectations:

Research reveals that exposure to sexualized and thin content can contribute to or reinforce body shame, appearance anxiety, or internalization of the thin ideal among some females.

Here, many things come together that are important.

Women in movies are to a large extent blurred out, their are sexualised and more likely reduced to appearance, they are not leaders as men are, and so on. The same study provided also a reason how this situation came across:

• Out of a total of 1,452 filmmakers with an identifiable gender, 20.5% were female and 79.5% were male. Females comprised 7% of directors, 19.7% of writers, and 22.7% of producers across the sample.
• Films with a female director or female writer attached had significantly more girls and women on screen than did those without a female director or writer attached.

A product, in this case films, comes into existence reflecting the world according to the perspectives, stereotypes and norms present in those at whoms hands it is created. Which is, in this case, mainly men. (Also, consider: This is popular films, not all films nor series included.)

One final study I want to mention is specifically interesting to me because it shows how a process of structural discrimination is hardly observable and, hinsight, looks to us like a given, “natural” constant rather than a development, or perhaps as the outcome of random individual choices rather than systemic:

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-women-stopped-coding

Apparently, in the 70s, women would be increasingly interested in computer sciences – until in the 80s, the industry began marketing computers as “toys for boys”. This lead, for example, to families rather buying a computer for their sons than their daughters even if daughters might have shown as much or more interest in a PC. The article also points out that at that time, movies about geeks would be shown in the cinemas, also featuring exceptionally men as protagonists.

This factored into a development which we see changing slightly over the past decade or so, one that resulted in a new major source of power – being able to use computers, the internet, and all of what is connected to that – is again given in the hands of a rather homogenous group.

I could go on like this forever, but I kind of doubt anyone actually read all of it. I think the important question here is, and I will try to answer this in the upcoming pieces:

Why does this disparity exist and why are so many people so certain that it doesn’t still?

So. Yeah. Sex. And Turkey.

Foreign girls moving to Turkey all share a very common problem. They sign up in one or more of the dozens of facebook groups for international students and as soon as they’re accepted as new members of „Erasmus Istanbul“, „Foreign Students in Istanbul“ or „Drinking and Fucking for World Peace“ (Erasmus’ inofficial name, sadly doesn’t exist as a real group, though), they’re being spammed with friend requests and messages from strange Turkish men. These messages are generally suggestions to hang out together, to show the receiver around, or say little more than „Hi“. It doesn’t need a Charles Xavier to figure that the majority – if not all – of the composers of such messages want to get laid. The Erasmus program has a certain reputation, Western girls are known to be more liberal than Turkish girls etc. But to the random young student longing to enjoy her stay in a foreign country, the bulk and omnipresence of attention received by Turkish men soon turns from nuisance to threat.

Marriage proposals in cafés are among the more obscure incidents. Shady followers in dark streets, being hit on by strangers almost every night out and being masturbated to in public are, however, to many a traveller what remains of their memory of Istanbul. This is a shame. Turkey has a so much more to offer than sexual harassment. It’s a country full of incredibly hospitable people, friendly folks who really just want to help you in dire situations or have an honest interest in your native country’s culture and language. However, one chav grabbing your butt can make a hundred reasonable guys standing at the counter go unnoticed.

More than once I had to venture out at night to pick up female friends from the illuminated cones below street lights, surrounded by daunting darkness. Eventually, I’ve earned the title „knight in the golden taxi“ in such a rescue mission.

I remember going through the nightly streets of Dili, Timor Leste, without fearing to be attacked. I walked home alone numerous times after parties in Russia and in Europe, often drunk and lost. Never was I afraid of strangers. My protection, the invisible halo surrounding me and making me impervious to perverts, is my penis. More precisely, the assumption by other men that I have a penis.

In Turkey, this protection is apparently more valuable than in other parts of the world. As a female friend of mine once put it, Turkey was the first country she’s been in she’d have prefered visiting as a guy, solemnly so she could retain the freedoms she has at home. Freedoms such as going anywhere by herself, not being dependant on the help of men, wearing what she wants, choosing her profile picture on social media etc., without being reduced to a potential sex object.

There are two very important gender related phenomena I have noticed ever since my teenage years and which help to understand why Turkey is different in this aspect to, say, Stockholm. They don’t sound revolutionary at first, neither are they complete, but they’re out there.

First of all, men are expected to go for girls.

People say it’s biology, but genes can’t be held responsible for the differences in gender expectations among societies.

Some examples; we men have to explain ourselves why we don’t hit on a given fine chick on a party. Not being sexually active is regarded as a problem, if not as a personal deficit. I, for instance, have numerous highly attractive female friends, but my unwillingness in trying to have sex with them is continuously interpreted as shyness, stupidity, cowardice, indecisiveness, or as being „friendzoned“. On the other hand, each time someone pats me on the back and congratulates me on a succesful hunt, I feel that it’s a very tiny cogwheel in a gigantic machination. It’s a machination of a social pressure existing in different extents all around the globe. Even talking about expectancies in terms of them being a problem is, however, unusual for a straight male. Presumably, many of my readers will ponder whether I have issues with my sexuality, too. Because, you know, only black people can speak out for black rights.

Secondly, if people challenge the patterns we’ve been taught, they often face unreasonable amounts of hostility. In fact, you might feel offended right now after reading the paragraph above.

Violence against LGBT people is the obvious example, but not the only one. Just mention in a group of people that you consider yourself asexual. Never did it, but unless you’re with a bunch of hippies, you’ll certainly face ridicule or even aggression. No, I correct myself on that. Hippies have a tendency to regard boundless sexual activity as the ultimate symbol of freedom and individualism. Ironically, being completely asexual out of disinterest might be interpreted as suppressing your inner self. I could name more examples, from women who have no interest to ever have kids nor long for traditional relationships, men who don’t want to attend strip shows with their mates, boys playing with dolls etc., all facing disbelief, mockery, eventually anger and even hatred.

Also have issues with sexuality: everybody.

Also having issues with sexuality: everybody.

Long have I been wondering; why is that so? Why do people feel personally attacked by other people’s private matters? Here’s my answer, and I’m sure it’s only one of many aspects.

The first concept we learn to differentiate between humans is the concept of gender. Ever since the first moments of our lives, we learn that we have a mother and a father, brothers and sisters, that we’re either boy or girl. At the same time, we learn the necessary tools to distinguish between the two. These are not the kinds of chromosomes we have, nor the different genitalia, not even the ability to give birth. We learn about these biological features long after we fully internalised that there’s a difference between man and woman.

Our methods to distinguish male from female are much more symbolic as a child. Names, colours, clothing, toys picked for us by adults and specifically designed for one or the other gender. We don’t choose if we get the car or the doll toy as two years olds, yet we learn to identify through these objects.

Identification is the key word. Not coincidentally do we base a significant portion of our identity on our gender for the rest of our lives. Nationality, race, religion…those concepts come much, much later in life. At first, we’re either boy or girl. For most of our lives, we will feel offended by being called the other.

Soon, physical toys and clothes are replaced by more abstract means of gender identification. One has to be brave and decisive, the other empathic and caring, and so on.

How little surprising is the hatred those face who dare challenge the rolls assigned to us from early childhood on. Whatever is different is a threat to the glassy construct of the two-opposing-genders-concept. A young girl being the first to have her hair „boyishly“ short in a conservative society is in no way a physical danger, nor is she a danger to what most people assume to be their traditional values, yet she will have to deal with scorn and isolation. Liberal societies, being more open to new ideas, have a lower bar, yet I was often laughed at for wearing my hair long when I was younger, too.

While as kids, we do little more than laugh at the boy who likes dolls, as adults, the presence of homosexuals makes many of us, even those who deem themselves tolerant, nervous or angry. Even worse when it comes to transgender issues. The thought of a man who wants to be a woman makes people confused or outraged. Essentially, though it’s a private matter, breaking the glass walls is actually a personal threat. If even the first assumption we have ever made about humans is relativised, doesn’t that also question everything we ever learned about others and about ourselves?

Turkey is a highly patriarchical society. Being a man’s man is important to many, more so than in most other places I’ve seen. The pressure to fulfil the unspoken expectations is subtle, but omnipresent. It’s exerted via peer groups, thoughtless jokes and banter, stereotypes in the media, last but not least by politicians’ remarks about the natural order of women and men. Apparently, what was good for a hunter-and-gatherer-society is inevitably good for modern societies, too.

Sexuality is nothing bad. Few things match the joys of sex. But imposing artificial rules for sexuality on us is, how I learned, ultimately a problem for everybody. In the end, there is always suppression.