|Gender Equality on the Job?
from THE PRINCESS AT THE WINDOW (Penguin) Donna Laframboise, pp.108,109
Incidentally, some of those high-paying jobs that poorly
educated young men have been spending large numbers of their waking hours performing are
also unpleasant, dangerous ones. In the United States, men accounted for 94 percent of
occupational fatalities during the 1980s. According to 1993 Canadian data, 96 percent of
those killed on the job were male, while men suffered three times as many non-fatal
injuries at work as women did. (37) In The Myth of Male Power, Warren Farrell points out
that young men are twenty-tour times more likely to be killed while performing farm labour
than young women are, and he notes: "The more a worker's beat requires exposure to
sleet and the heat, the more likely is the worker to be a man: ditch digging, previously
the work of chain gangs of prisoners, was protested as exploitative of
Feminists rarely acknowledge factors such as these when they
complain that women are still concentrated in pink-collar ghettos. Nor do they acknowledge
that the expectation on the part of many women that they will marry a man who earns more
money than they do gives them the flexibility to pursue career options that are less
lucrative but perhaps more appealing. Given a choice between repairing hydro lines
outdoors or supervising children in a daycare centre for less than half the pay, many
women choose to do the latter. Says Farrell:
We frequently hear that women are segregated into low-paying dead-end jobs
in poor work environments such as factories. But when The Jobs Related Almanac ranked 250
jobs from best to worst based on a combination of salary, stress, work environment,
outlook, security, and physical demands, they found that twenty-four of the twenty-five
worst jobs were almost-all-male jobs. Some examples: truck driver, sheet-metal worker,
roofer, boiler-maker, lumberjack, carpenter, construction worker or foreman, construction
machinery operator, foot-ball player, welder, millwright, ironworker. All of these
"worst jobs" have one thing in common: 95 to 100 percent men. [original italics]
37 (US) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Fatal Injuries to
Workers in the US 1980-1989: A decade of surveillance, Aug. 1993, p.4.
Statistics Canada, Work Injuries: 1991-1993, Dec. 1994, p. 13.
Gender breakdown regarding 1993 fatalities secured through
a private telephone conversation with Statistics Canada's Labour Division.
38 Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power (New York: Simon & Schuster,
1993) pp. 110 and 118.
39 Ibid., p. 105.
The following quotes Donna Laframboise, from the same book, on military
Perhaps the most telling example of how comfortable feminists
are with sexist double standards that operate in our favour is the military one. In the
United States, young men are still required, by law, to register for the draft when they
reach the age of eighteen. Those who refuse to do so may be jailed for up to five years
and fined Up to $250,000. They can be restricted from holding government jobs and, in some
states, are prohibited from attending certain schools or receiving student loans.(46)
46 Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power (New York: Simon & Schuster,1993), p.
The following quotes Donna Laframboise, from the same book, on the feminists'
distortion and falsification of statistics on page 115 she states:
In Revolution From Within, Gloria Steinem tells her readers
that "about 150,000 females die of anorexia each year" in the United States.
Steinem cites Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth as her source for this information, and,
indeed, Wolf's book does provide this figure. She says it comes from the American Anorexia
and Bulimia Association. But rather than quoting their literature directly, Wolf herself
has found the statistic in another book. Wolf does go to the trouble of telling us,
though, that number means that "more die of anorexia in the United States each year
than died in ten years of civil war in Beirut." Beirut, she says, was front-page
news. In her view, the fact that a disease that's claiming the lives of so many young
women isn't consistently on the front pages of our newspapers is just one more indication
of how indifferent our society is to female well-being.(48)
Wolf devotes an entire chapter to the issue, referring to
"emaciated bodies starved not by nature but by men." She compares anorexia to a
famine in the Netherlands during WorId War II and to the Holocaust. At one point, she
says: "Women must claim anorexia as political damage done to a social order that
considers our destruction insignificant because of what we are---less. We should identify
it as Jews identify the death camps...." Wolf argues that a woman's body can't
tell the difference between being anorexic living "in an affluent suburb" and
being a concentration camp inmate. That may be. But in addition to exploiting the deaths
of Holocaust victims in a scandalous manner, this is about as meaningful as saying that
your body can't tell the difference between performing manual labor in a coal mine for pay
and working there as an indentured slave. It signifies nothing.(49)
The real story, though, is that nowhere near 150,000 women die from
anorexia and bulimia in the United States every year. Many women may suffer from these
diseases, but I the most obvious reason why the front page of your morning paper doesn't
tell you that women are dropping like flies is because they are not.
Christina Hoff Sommers is a philosophy professor and the author of Who
Stole Feminism? Having learned in driver's ed that a total of 50,000 Americans are killed
in automobile accidents every year, she found the 150,000 anorexia figure rather high. She
contacted the Anorexia and Bulimia Association in order to double-check it and was told
the organization had been grossly misquoted. As it turns out, a 1985 newsletter released
by the group had reported that there were between 150,000 and 200,000 sufferers in all of
the United States. In fact, American government figures show that only 54 women died of
anorexia and bulimia combined in 1991.(50)
Nevertheless, the myth has taken on a life of its own. In April 1992,
for instance, Ann Landers told her readers that "[e]very year, 150,000 American women
die from complications associated with anorexia and bulimia." Ann got this
information from yet another book. Since then the bogus statistic has also begun turning
up in college texts. (51) [See also Anorexia Nervosa
Changing Ideal of Beauty or insane Obsession?]
Unfortunately this isn't the only example of inflated claims that
exaggerate female victimization. In January 1993, Time magazine reported that a
March of Dimes study had identified wife battering as a major cause of birth defects. The
idea that some men batter even their pregnant spouses is a particularly grotesque
one and is commonly included in violence statistics, but this particular allegation took
things even farther than ever before. Over the next few months, these same
"study" results made their way into various newspaper articles. However, when
the March of Dimes was contacted by Sommers, it said no such document existed. According
to her, the chain of events went like this:
[The Time magazine journalist] had relied on information given her by the San
Francisco Family Violence Prevention Fund, which in turn had obtained it from Sarah Buel,
a founder of the domestic violence advocacy project at Harvard Law School who now
heads a domestic abuse project in Massachusetts. Ms. Buel had obtained it from Caroline
Whitehead, a maternal nurse and child care specialist in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Whitehead told Sommers the whole thing was the result of a
misunderstanding. While introducing Buel as a speaker at a 1989 conference, Whitehead
referred to a March of Dimes protocol aimed at screening pregnant women for domestic
abuse. Buel apparently misheard
Whitehead and afterwards began disseminating the birth defects myth
both verbally and in writing, without bothering to track down a copy of the alleged
document. Nearly a year after printing the false information, Time magazine published a
retraction. Observes Sommers:
Unfortunately, the anorexia and the March of Dimes study"
are typical of the quality of information we are getting on many women's issues from
feminist researchers, women's advocates, and journalists... When they engage in
exaggeration, oversimplification, and obfuscations the feminist researchers may be no
different from other such advocacy groups as the National Rifle Association or the tobacco
industry. But when the NRA does a "study that shows...," or the tobacco industry
finds "data that suggest...," journalists are on their guard. They check their
sources and seek dissenting opinions.(52)
On page 119 of the same book Donna Laframboise states:
On other occasions, only women are
polled about violence and abuse. If we don't ask men the same questions we aren't able to
say for certain whether these experiences are common to all human beings. And indeed, when
researchers do go to the trouble (and expense) of asking both sexes about matters such as
sexual harassment and domestic abuse, they are often surprised to find the sexes have more
in common than many people-particularly feminists-suppose. But data suggesting
similarities doesn't always make it into the public arena.
In late 1991, for example, the Ontario minister responsible for women's
issues, Marion Boyd, announced Wife Assault Prevention Month and disclosed details of an
$858,000 ad campaign that featured the slogan: "WIFE ASSAULT; IT lS A CRIME. THERE'S
She also took the opportunity to inform the provincial legislature of
an alarming statistic. According to the minister:
Research shows that one in five men living with a woman admits to using
violence against her. This violence takes many forms, including slapping,
throwing objects at her, beating her up, threatening her with a knife or gun
and even using weapons against her.
This information came from a study conducted by a University of Calgary sociologist
named Eugene Lupri. The portion that dealt with violence committed by males appeared in a
Canadian journal and did, indeed, appear to confirm the minister's remark. Part two of the
study, involving female violence, apparently couldn't find a Canadian publisher. It
eventually saw the light of day in a German publication. In the words of David Lees, the
Journalist who tracked it down:
...[it] contains nothing that should surprise anyone, male or female, who has
survived--or clings to--a troubled relationship or who takes the saddened view that we
should be better people than we are. It documents the probability that both sexes evolved
on the same planet and bring to their affairs the same disagreeable tendencies. Violence
in the home, in other words, observes no gender
For clarity's sake I've summarized the results as follows:
|threatening to hit or throw something at
|pushing, grabbing or shoving their partner
|slapping their partner
|hitting or trying to hit their partner
|kicking, biting, or hitting their partner
with a fist
|threatening their partner with a gun or
|using a gun or knife against their partner
Some people admitted to doing things that fell into more than one category, but when
the dust finally settled it was determined that 17.8 percent of the men and 23.3 percent
of the women among the 1,530 people surveyed admitted to behaving in a "violent"
manner toward their spouses.(60)
The irony, of course, is that a government concerned about the violence
taking place in Canadian homes spent the better part of a million dollars on an ad
campaign that targeted only wife assault. Indeed, according to the very research it chose
to cite, the ads should have been targeting female violence if, for some reason, it was
necessary to single out one
48 Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth (Toronto: Vintage Books, 1990), pp. 181-82.
49 Ibid., pp.207-08 and 194-95.
50 Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? (New York: Simon & Schuster,
1994),pp. 11- 12.
51 Ibid., p.12 and Ann Landers appearing in Toronto Star, 29 April 1992, p. D12.
52 Ibid., pp. 13-15.
59 David Lees, "The War Against Men," Toronto Life, Dec. 1992, pp. 47,
99-100. See also Eugene Lupri, "Male Violence in the Home," Canadian Social
Trends, Statistics Canada 1989, pp. 19-21.
60 Ibid., pp. 47, 99-100.