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July 11, 2005

Nice guys

Judging by the comments in the "Aquarium" thread, folks have a lot to say about nice guys and the women who (do or don't) love them (enough).

No doubt there's some truth in perennial complaint that some types of niceness get short shrift in the dating market. Some people do seem to be drawn towards abusive partners. Who knows why? Past abuse, low self-esteem, bad judgment, personal idiosyncrasy, and bad luck probably explain a lot. Inequality is another major culprit--power imbalances invite abuse. Machismo is almost the antithesis of nice, and traditional femininity often requires women to indulge, ignore, or exalt men's bad behavior.

It's also true that the dating scene often rewards confidence, persistence, good looks, and conspicuous consumption over more substantial attributes. As John Emerson argued in the Aquarium thread, there might even be an inverse relationship between these qualities and niceness. I'd be curious to know if that's true. Thad suggested offline that some self-described nice guys may have difficulty recognizing the social nuances that make an approach seem charming rather than obnoxious. As a result they may be more reticent to approach women and more apt to perceive other men as being obnoxious.

However, guys who attribute their dating failures to niceness per se are often being self-serving. It's comforting to attribute to excessive niceness what might be better explained by shyness, awkwardness, or other less flattering interpretations. (I'm equally suspicious when Maureen Dowd complains that she can't get a date because she's too intimidating. Frankly, there are more parsimonious explanations.)

Often, the self-proclaimed nice guy wants special credit for just for being nice. It's as if he wants you to exclaim, "Oh, you poor fellow. What a burden it must be to treat women as you'd like to be treated. Above and beyond, old chap. Above and beyond!" I'm all for niceness, but I consider it a basic moral requirement for all humans, not a special bonus feature.

With certain notable exceptions, nice guys don't feel compelled to tell you how nice they are.* In my experience, most of the men who explicitly attribute their romantic failures to their own niceness are playing some sort of unendearing head game. Note, I'm not talking about acting nice, considering oneself to be nice, or valuing niceness in others. I'm talking about guys who tell you how nice they are and go on to complain about how women (read: you and your friends) don't appreciate nice guys (read: me). The subtext is that if women (you) weren't so stupid and hypocritical you'd appreciate nice guys (beg to blow me).

At worst, self-proclamations of niceness come across as vaguely menacing. The logical inference is that the speaker doesn't believe that women want to be treated well and that he might just drop the whole nice act. After all, if he thinks women like being treated badly, he might feel entitled to give them what he thinks they want.

*No offense to present company. Internet discourse is different from face-to-face interactions. We all have to describe ourselves a little more explicitly in a written medium. Maybe self-described Internet nice guys are unfairly getting tarred with the same brush as the guys who feel the need to go on about their niceness in real life.

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Comments

BritGirlSF said:
On the subject of male privilege, take a look at Amp's list. I'm trying to avoid reinventing the wheel if I don't have to. One example off the top of my head though. If you (male) get a promotion you can be fairly sure that the majority of people won't think you got it because you were shagging the boss, or because you were pretty. I've had both happen to me on several occasions, and in both cases they were totally wrong. If I were a man I'd bet you any money that wouldn't have happened.

I will agree that this is an example of situation where females are disadvantaged. I agree with many of Amp's examples, such as that females are often assumed to be less intelligent than males. Other examples, I disagree with, and in some cases he ignores corresponding examples of female privilege. Though Amp has made clear that he intends that list for feminists, not to convince non-feminists.

The fact that no-one assumes that I can't be trusted with kids or that I'm somehow instinctively perverse? Straight privilege. Are you starting to see how this works?

Yes. The last one is interesting, because it seems to be applied to straight men (to a lesser degree) in some contexts, such as teaching elementary school or kindergarden. It is very difficult for males to get jobs in those fields. According to your logic, this would be "female privilege," right? Of course, in pointing out female privilege, I do not mean to imply that it matches male privileges, or makes them ok. I simply want to show that if there is such a thing as "male privilege," then something called "female privilege" must exist also.

P.S. I will be getting to Nancy next...

Let's see if I can still write after a night out shall we...
Aegis said.
"Yes. The last one is interesting, because it seems to be applied to straight men (to a lesser degree) in some contexts, such as teaching elementary school or kindergarden. It is very difficult for males to get jobs in those fields. According to your logic, this would be "female privilege," right? Of course, in pointing out female privilege, I do not mean to imply that it matches male privileges, or makes them ok. I simply want to show that if there is such a thing as "male privilege," then something called "female privilege" must exist also."
In a word, no. You are creating a binary model here that doesn't really make any logical sense. The existance of privileges/advantages on one side does not necessarily imply the existance of a corresponding set of privileges/advantages on the other side. Let's look at white privilege for a minute. I have white privilege. I didn't ask for it, I feel guilty about it, I'd be happy if we as a society could do away with it, and yet it remains. Acknowledging that the privilege is there does not mean that I approve of it's existance (which is where I think a lot of guys are getting hung up on the male privilege issue BTW - I suspect that they think acknowledging that it exists implies that they want it or approve of it, which is not the case). The fact that white privilege exists does not mean that there is a corresponding thing called "black privilege" that also exists. The idea is ridiculous. If we were talking about race I'm willing to bet that most people would acknowledge that the idea is ridiculous. And yet, when we are talking about gender somehow there is this idea that if there is male privilege there must also be female privilege, simply as a matter of logic. Realistically, one does not logically follow the other.
As to the teaching kindergarden example, research shows that when men do enter traditionally female occupations they are actually praised more and promoted faster than women in the same occupations. I can't find the link to the study right now, but someone posted it on Alas recently. There are fewer men in teaching positions focusing on young kids, but how do we know that that isn't because men just don't apply for those jobs? These are low-paid, low-status jobs, and women are ALWAYS over-represented in that category. There is also the idea that caring for kids os somehow "woman's work", and that may discourage some men from wanting those jobs, but I don't think that the men are being discriminated against so much as they are afraid that pursuing such a career will earn them the dissaproval of other men, or will negatively impact their social status. I know a few men in traditionally "female" jobs and none of them had any difficulty getting jobs in their chosen field. I don't think that the fact that men are under-represented in a low-status occupation for which few men apply anyway proves anything about "female privilege".
Honestly, I think you're trying to prove something that doesn't exist. There is no "female privilege" any more than there is "black privilege" or "gay privilege". The existance of privileges for one group does not prove the existance of privilege for the "opposite" group at all. That's bad logic, IMO, and I think you're smart enough to know it.
My question is, what is it about the term "male privilege" that makes you so uncomfortable? Do you feel that you're being blamed for doing something wrong?

Nancy,

Well since you asked to be corrected...

The Aquarium thread began with a description of what Lindsay considered a display of male privilege - a bunch of lumpy old men making public judgements on the bodies of young female Olympic atheletes. The conversation, with plenty of grist for the mill, went from there.

But what is this "*simply* an absence of disadvantages" ? The absence of disadvantages is the presence of advantages. How are male advantages different from male privileges?

The threads I am talking about are this one, and the threads on Arwen's blog. I've only read part of the Aquarium thread. My tentative judgment of it: (a) the guys were being sexist, and (b) their sexism was not an example of "male privilege" (though perhaps a sense of entitlement instead, because neither sexism nor entitlement nor privilege are the same thing, despite often going hand-in-hand). You might want to check out the threads on Arwen's blog:

http://www.geckotemple.com/arwen/blog/?p=135#comments
http://www.geckotemple.com/arwen/blog/?p=140#comments

As for whether an "absence of disadvantages" is the same thing as an advantage, I'm not sure that is true. You assume that there is a dichotomy being having an advantage, and having a disadvantage, such that the absence of a disadvantage automatically means the presence of an advantage. Yet couldn't there be a middle option, namely being neither advantaged or disadvantaged? Yes, having no disadvantages in a certain area makes one advantaged (hence, privileged) relative to someone who does have disadvantages in that area. Yet on an absolute scale, lacking disadvantages doesn't make you advantaged, or privileged (except in comparison to those more disadvantaged than oneself).

Take, for example, Jews and kapos (who were overseers in concentration camps, usually former criminals). Relative to the kapos, the Jews certainly had less advantages, and received much worse treatment. Yet the kapos still lived in a poor conditions, and were inferior to the Nazi officers. The kapos were privileged—but only compared with what the Jews had to endure. In relation to Nazi officers, or to standards of living at the time, the kapos were disadvantaged. Hence, would it really make sense to call the kapos "privileged" when that privilege was really only a relative phenomenon? It seems to me that using the word "privilege" in such a way would risk implying that kapos were advantaged on a more absolute scale, when that was not the case, because they were still pretty low on the food chain. In my opinion, the "privilege" concept is often used in a way which conflates relative privilege with absolute privilege (or privilege that is relative to some larger set of standards, such as having one's basic needs for food and shelter taken care of, or having one's basic individual rights respected).

"My impression: He IS meeting you halfway, and you just can't see it!"
Honestly, I disagree. And I would point out that Arwen, Jenny, Nancy, Amanda, Chris etc all seem to disagree too, in Amanda's case rather vehemently.
"Actually, if you take the average non-feminist woman off the street, I think she would find the notions that "females have the same level of sex drive as males," or that "females are as interested in casual sex as males" to be silly. I've suggested both those notions in discussions with female friends on mine, and they basically laughed at me (and these were not conservative or asexual women). So if Ken or I disagree with you or Arwen, it's not necessarily because we aren't listening to women; we are simply listening to other women who have different opinions than you."
Question - how do you know they're being completely honest with you? Women often tailor the way they speak about sex when they talk to men so as not to get labelled as "slutty". The way we speak to each other is often very different (I've seen this firsthand on many occasions). Also, this may be an age thing. Women in their late teens/early twenties are often still very much in the grip of social conditioning that they're not "supposed" to want sex, and if they do they're certainly not supposed to admit it to men. Men are often conditioned to say they want sex with anything that moves even if they don't. In both cases the conditioning tends to wear off a bit as they get older. Thank God, or we'd all be miserable and heterosexuality would be a very unpleasant experience.
"Sorry, but this sounds like a bit of revisionist history on your part. I don't think Ken has said anything like that."
Again, I'm not the only person who interpreted Ken's response that way. Even Chris interpreted it that way, and he's a 40 or 50-something man. If Ken wants to clarify then I think that's for him to do, not for you. I'm not going to assume that you know what he meant.

This is starting to seem like a dead end to me and is getting a bit boring. I may bow out soon. Not because I don't feel like I can prove my points BTW (I'm pretty sure that was going to be your conclusion if I vanished without saying why), but because honestly why does it matter who's right? I still think that women are just as horny as men, we just act upon our feelings in different ways (eg, we're far more likely to want to hook up with our male friends than with strangers). If what you were asking was "how can I relate better to women in order to have more and/or better relationships" then I'd be willing to chime in the way we were doing with Brian, but as to the whole question of which gender wants sex more? It depends on the man, and it depends on the woman, and how their desires are expressed depends on the culture/subculture in which they find themselves. Which I suspect is why Arwen and I find our experiences matching up so closely BTW - we grew up in the same subculture. Ditto for Amanda to a lesser extent.

Nancy - whatever the advertisers may think the metrosexual is alive and well where I live. And in the UK it's almost the norm among my generation. But then, advertising is always more about CREATING a market than it is about serving a market that already exists.
And I know the putting down the toilet seat commercial you're talking about. Anyone who thinks that's a female sexual fantasy really needs a copy of Nancy Friday's "In My Secret Garden". And she's your namesake too!

BritGirlSF said:
And yet, when we are talking about gender somehow there is this idea that if there is male privilege there must also be female privilege, simply as a matter of logic. Realistically, one does not logically follow the other.

Correct. The existence of female privilege alone does not logically follow from knowing that male privilege exists. There could be a society in which there was one type of privilege, but not the other. Nevertheless, I argue that we do not live in such a society. What I meant when I said that "if there is such a thing as 'male privilege,' then something called 'female privilege' must exist also" was not that the latter logically follows from the former, but that by the kind of criterion you seem to be using for deciding when one gender is privileged over the other, you must admit to "female privilege" in some areas to avoid employing a double standard. To put it bluntly, I am trying to figure out whether your criterion for "male privilege" is something that actually has any meaning, or whether it is simply self-serving.

On the issue of kindergarden teaching, you are right, we can't know whether a lack of male kindergarden teachers is due to discrimination. I have heard anecdotal reports of men trying to get hired in that field with no success, yet we can't conclude much based on such reports. What I am wondering is this: if we assume that males are discriminated against in kindergarden hiring practices because of stereotypes that men aren't as caring as women, or men are more likely to be molestors, would you call that "female privilege"? If not, then what would you call it?

Honestly, I think you're trying to prove something that doesn't exist. There is no "female privilege" any more than there is "black privilege" or "gay privilege".

True, the example of kindergarden teaching may not be an example of female privilege. But I don't know how you can conclude so confidently that there is no such thing as "female privilege," or "black privilege," or "gay privilege." If that was true, it would mean that there are ZERO areas in society where females are advantaged over males, or African Americans are advantaged over whites, or gays are advantaged over straights. Yet couldn't there be areas where women and minorities do hold at least small advantages over men and whites?

Aegis said:
"My impression: He IS meeting you halfway, and you just can't see it!"

BritGirlSF said:
"Honestly, I disagree. And I would point out that Arwen, Jenny, Nancy, Amanda, Chris etc all seem to disagree too, in Amanda's case rather vehemently."

Well, since this is a feminist blog, it doesn't surprise me if the majority agrees with you. I stand by my impression that Ken was meeting you halfway. I say this because Ken evidenced an ability to back down and even apologize for certain of his statements. He was being skeptical, but not to a ridiculous extent. I actually disagree with him on whether or not those guys were being sexist: I think they were. On the issue of "male privilege," I think he was asking questions about the meaning of the concept that needed to be asked. I'm sure we could go on for ages with a meta-analysis of who was being more open-minded and patient, but I suspect that such an undertaking would be more effort than it is worth (especially since Ken seems to have vanished), and I doubt anyone would be swayed in their opinions. So I am content to let that issue lie, if you are. Though perhaps the privilege issue merits further discussion (I might do a post describing the problems I have with it on Arwen's blog at some point).

Question - how do you know they're being completely honest with you? Women often tailor the way they speak about sex when they talk to men so as not to get labelled as "slutty". The way we speak to each other is often very different (I've seen this firsthand on many occasions). Also, this may be an age thing. Women in their late teens/early twenties are often still very much in the grip of social conditioning that they're not "supposed" to want sex, and if they do they're certainly not supposed to admit it to men.

You are correct on all counts. I didn't say I necessarily believed my female friends ;) I simply wanted to refute the ridiculous charge that I wasn't listening to "the female perspective," simply because I don't agree with you or other feminist women here. What disturbs me is your eagerness to appoint yourself (and feminist women who agree with you) as the sole advocates of the "female perspective," and dismiss the perceptions of females with different perspectives than yours.

Sure, my female friends may have motives (conscious or unconscious) to under-report female sexual desire. You may have reasons to over-report it. I really can't know either way! In the absence of conclusive scientific data on the issues of who desires sex more, my stance is to remain completely agnostic on this issue. Nobody, male or female, can truly know which sex has greater desires, because they cannot know what it is like to be in the body of someone of the opposite sex. All we can do is watch the behavior of the opposite sex, and listen to what members of it say, yet those are both unreliable measures of sex drive.

BritGirlSF said:
I just find it bizzare that you guys would hear a woman say "women are hornier than you think we are and respond with "no they're not". Don't you think we might know something about how it feels to be a woman?

Aegis said:
"Sorry, but this sounds like a bit of revisionist history on your part. I don't think Ken has said anything like that."

BritGirlSF said:
Again, I'm not the only person who interpreted Ken's response that way. Even Chris interpreted it that way, and he's a 40 or 50-something man. If Ken wants to clarify then I think that's for him to do, not for you. I'm not going to assume that you know what he meant.

Still, it takes a lot of imagination to extract your above paraphrase from anything Ken or I have said. Most of Ken's arguments were about preferences in casual sex, not about which sex is hornier. I hope you will agree that "which sex desires casual sex more" and "which sex is hornier" are two separate questions (since there can exist very horny people who nevertheless only want sex in committed relationships). Since you haven't provided a specific quote on exactly where Ken or I have made any such implication, I have trouble taking your allegation seriously.

This is starting to seem like a dead end to me and is getting a bit boring. I may bow out soon.

I was actually thinking the same thing; this thread has been going in circles! If you want to bow out, I promise I won't think any worse of you. If you want to discuss the privilege issue, perhaps Arwen's blog might be a better place, and as I said, I might post there after I've thought about the issue a bit more.

"Yet couldn't there be areas where women and minorities do hold at least small advantages over men and whites?"
In the case of women, I think there are some situations in which a white woman has advantages over a non-white man, for sure. That in no way disproves male privilege, it merely proves that in America racism if the most common form of bigotry and often supercedes all other considerations. In terms of women in general having advantages over men in general? I can't think of any that stand up to close scrutiny. In the case of minorities having advantages over whites? Not a chance.
"To put it bluntly, I am trying to figure out whether your criterion for "male privilege" is something that actually has any meaning, or whether it is simply self-serving. " That statement is in itself a little self-serving. You seem to be implying that anyone who does not agree with you is lying. My criteria for "privilege" is one group having widespread and commonplace advantages over the other in areas such as employment, finances and personal relationships. Thus, we may be able to find a few isolated situations in which the usual pattern is reversed, but that in no way alters the existance of privilege in general.
"What I am wondering is this: if we assume that males are discriminated against in kindergarden hiring practices because of stereotypes that men aren't as caring as women, or men are more likely to be molestors, would you call that "female privilege"? If not, then what would you call it?"
I would call it a stereotype that women's proper role is caring for children and that men have more important things to do. This stereotype does hurt men in some ways, particularly those men who actually want to have close relationships with their childen, but it hurts women a great deal more in that it is used to justify attempts to push women out of the workforce and compel them to have children even if they are not inclined to do so (see the rhetoric often used by anti-abortion people).
"Still, it takes a lot of imagination to extract your above paraphrase from anything Ken or I have said. Most of Ken's arguments were about preferences in casual sex, not about which sex is hornier. I hope you will agree that "which sex desires casual sex more" and "which sex is hornier" are two separate questions (since there can exist very horny people who nevertheless only want sex in committed relationships). Since you haven't provided a specific quote on exactly where Ken or I have made any such implication, I have trouble taking your allegation seriously."
You know, Arwen already went over this on her blog. My point was that both of you refused to accept her reframing of what casual sex means to a man and what it might potentially mean to a woman, ie that a lot of what is commonly referred to as casual sex is not much fun for women and thus they avoid it. Ken pretty much dismissed this argument out of hand, and I'm not sure that you grasped what she was talking about either. The point is, if casual sex is defined in such a way as to not be much fun for women of course they aren't going to be very enthusiastic about it. If you want to go into this further I recommend taking a look at Arwen's blog. Hoever, we're getting into the meta-analysis here and I'm not sure that's very helpful.
Also, one important thing to note RE your points about myself, Arwen etc speaking for other women. You do realise that feminists know and are friends with non-feminist women, right? I have plenty of friends who would definately not define themselves as feminists at all. I also have plenty of non-feminists in my family who I do talk to. This seems like an obvious point, but I get the feeling that you think feminists live in some sort of hermetically sealed environment where we never come into contact with or listen to other women, and that's just not the case.
In any case, over and out from me.


Take, for example, Jews and kapos (who were overseers in concentration camps, usually former criminals). Relative to the kapos, the Jews certainly had less advantages, and received much worse treatment. Yet the kapos still lived in a poor conditions, and were inferior to the Nazi officers. The kapos were privileged—but only compared with what the Jews had to endure. In relation to Nazi officers, or to standards of living at the time, the kapos were disadvantaged. Hence, would it really make sense to call the kapos "privileged" when that privilege was really only a relative phenomenon?

So how does your example connect to the world of male privilege? Who are the Nazi officers, who are the kapos, and who are the Jews?

Elizabeth Spelke, in her debate with Steven Pinker, demonstrates the ways that assumptions of male superiority affect our lives from the earliest years on - and please note that even people who consider themselves non-sexist may be shown to have a bias against females...

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.html

Spelke:

Let me start with studies of parents' perceptions of their own children. Steve said that parents report that they treat their children equally. They treat their boys and girls alike, and they encourage them to equal extents, for they want both their sons and their daughters to succeed. This is no doubt true. But how are parents perceiving their kids?

Some studies have interviewed parents just after the birth of their child, at the point where the first question that 80% of parents ask — is it a boy or a girl? — has been answered. Parents of boys describe their babies as stronger, heartier, and bigger than parents of girls. The investigators also looked at the babies' medical records and asked whether there really were differences between the boys and girls in weight, strength, or coordination. The boys and girls were indistinguishable in these respects, but the parents' descriptions were different.

At 12 months of age, girls and boys show equal abilities to walk, crawl, or clamber. But before one study, Karen Adolph, an investigator of infants' locomotor development, asked parents to predict how well their child would do on a set of crawling tasks: Would the child be able to crawl down a sloping ramp? Parents of sons were more confident that their child would make it down the ramp than parents of daughters. When Adolph tested the infants on the ramp, there was no difference whatever between the sons and daughters, but there was a difference in the parents' predictions.

My third example, moving up in age, comes from the studies of Jackie Eccles. She asked parents of boys and girls in sixth grade, how talented do you think your child is in mathematics? Parents of sons were more likely to judge that their sons had talent than parents of daughters. A panoply of objective measures, including math grades in school, performance on standardized tests, teachers' evaluations, and children's expressed interest in math, revealed no differences between the girls and boys. Still, there was a difference in parents' perception of their child's intangible talent. Other studies have shown a similar effect for science.

There's clearly a mismatch between what parents perceive in their kids and what objective measures reveal. But is it possible that the parents are seeing something that the objective measures are missing? Maybe the boy getting B's in his math class really is a mathematical genius, and his mom or dad has sensed that. To eliminate that possibility, we need to present observers with the very same baby, or child, or Ph.D. candidate, and manipulate their belief about the person's gender. Then we can ask whether their belief influences their perception.

It's hard to do these studies, but there are examples, and I will describe a few of them. A bunch of studies take the following form: you show a group of parents, or college undergraduates, video-clips of babies that they don't know personally. For half of them you give the baby a male name, and for the other half you give the baby a female name. (Male and female babies don't look very different.) The observers watch the baby and then are asked a series of questions: What is the baby doing? What is the baby feeling? How would you rate the baby on a dimension like strong-to-weak, or more intelligent to less intelligent? There are two important findings.

First, when babies do something unambiguous, reports are not affected by the baby's gender. If the baby clearly smiles, everybody says the baby is smiling or happy. Perception of children is not pure hallucination. Second, children often do things that are ambiguous, and parents face questions whose answers aren't easily readable off their child's overt behavior. In those cases, you see some interesting gender labeling effects. For example, in one study a child on a video-clip was playing with a jack-in-the-box. It suddenly popped up, and the child was startled and jumped backward. When people were asked, what's the child feeling, those who were given a female label said, "she's afraid." But the ones given a male label said, "he's angry." Same child, same reaction, different interpretation.

In other studies, children with male names were more likely to be rated as strong, intelligent, and active; those with female names were more likely to be rated as little, soft, and so forth.

I think these perceptions matter. You, as a parent, may be completely committed to treating your male and female children equally. But no sane parents would treat a fearful child the same way they treat an angry child. If knowledge of a child's gender affects adults' perception of that child, then male and female children are going to elicit different reactions from the world, different patterns of encouragement. These perceptions matter, even in parents who are committed to treating sons and daughters alike.

I will give you one last version of a gender-labeling study. This one hits particularly close to home. The subjects in the study were people like Steve and me: professors of psychology, who were sent some vitas to evaluate as applicants for a tenure track position. Two different vitas were used in the study. One was a vita of a walk-on-water candidate, best candidate you've ever seen, you would die to have this person on your faculty. The other vita was a middling, average vita among successful candidates. For half the professors, the name on the vita was male, for the other half the name was female. People were asked a series of questions: What do you think about this candidate's research productivity? What do you think about his or her teaching experience? And finally, Would you hire this candidate at your university?

For the walk-on-water candidate, there was no effect of gender labeling on these judgments. I think this finding supports Steve's view that we're dealing with little overt discrimination at universities. It's not as if professors see a female name on a vita and think, I don't want her. When the vita's great, everybody says great, let's hire.

What about the average successful vita, though: that is to say, the kind of vita that professors most often must evaluate? In that case, there were differences. The male was rated as having higher research productivity. These psychologists, Steve's and my colleagues, looked at the same number of publications and thought, "good productivity" when the name was male, and "less good productivity" when the name was female. Same thing for teaching experience. The very same list of courses was seen as good teaching experience when the name was male, and less good teaching experience when the name was female. In answer to the question would they hire the candidate, 70% said yes for the male, 45% for the female. If the decision were made by majority rule, the male would get hired and the female would not.

A couple other interesting things came out of this study. The effects were every bit as strong among the female respondents as among the male respondents. Men are not the culprits here. There were effects at the tenure level as well. At the tenure level, professors evaluated a very strong candidate, and almost everyone said this looked like a good case for tenure. But people were invited to express their reservations, and they came up with some very reasonable doubts. For example, "This person looks very strong, but before I agree to give her tenure I would need to know, was this her own work or the work of her adviser?" Now that's a perfectly reasonable question to ask. But what ought to give us pause is that those kinds of reservations were expressed four times more often when the name was female than when the name was male.

So there's a pervasive difference in perceptions, and I think the difference matters. Scientists' perception of the quality of a candidate will influence the likelihood that the candidate will get a fellowship, a job, resources, or a promotion. A pattern of biased evaluation therefore will occur even in people who are absolutely committed to gender equity.

I have little doubt that all my colleagues here at Harvard are committed to the principle that a male candidate and a female candidate of equal qualifications should have equal chance at a job. But we also think that when we compare a more productive scholar to a less productive one, a more experienced teacher to a less experienced one, a more independent investigator to a less independent one, those factors matter as well. These studies say that knowledge of a person's gender will influence our assessment of those factors, and that's going to produce a pattern of discrimination, even in people with the best intentions.

From the moment of birth to the moment of tenure, throughout this great developmental progression, there are unintentional but pervasive and important differences in the ways that males and females are perceived and evaluated.

-- end of Spelke quote ---

Most of Ken's arguments were about preferences in casual sex, not about which sex is hornier.

But arguments about casual sex preferences are pretty pointless in view of the fact that in the world we live in:

- the double standard is still alive and well throughout much of the world - and in fact we live in a world that includes geographical regions that punish rape victims for reporting rape.


Meanwhile, the family's patriarch, Mr. Khalid's grandfather, sent word that because Dr. Shazia had been raped, she was "kari" - a stain on the family's honor - and must be killed or at least divorced. Then, Mr. Khalid said, his grandfather began gathering a mob to murder Dr. Shazia

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/02/opinion/02kristof.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fNicholas%20D%20Kristof

- males are more likely to assault females than vice-versa, and have a general strength advantage to cause greater harm

- females need to worry about pregnancy

- females are more likely to contract sexual diseases from males than vice-versa

And so with all these indisputable factors, it's impossible to make any claims about male vs. female casual sex behaviors, other than to note that it is clearly less risky for males to engage in it.

You know, reading this thread, I'm glad I seem to be a "nice guy" in the sense women see it.

The good sense, not the bland, let me get rid of him without hurting his feelings sense.

I've had some casual sex, and it seems to me I did it well. We (with a couple of exceptions, at least one of which I felt I was the mastubatory toy) were friendly, and it was to our mutual pleasure. Most of them are still on speaking terms with me.

I've also (in retrospect) missed out on some opportunities (for both romping, and relationships) because I wasn't aware, or perhaps aggressive enough. For me that's ok, because I'd probably still have missed them, were I more pushy.


Being, "nice" doesn't seem to have hurt me. Not in the long run. In the short run there wer some times when I wasn't getting the attentions I wanted, but all in all I'm doing all right.

On the subject of female jerks. They exist. I've known a couple, been taken in by one (and like the stereotypical woman in an abusive relationship I kept coming back for more).

As has been said, people are people and that is the crux of it. Women have the gatekeeping power, and culture helps set the bar for what they want, but being nice in the "women all say they want nice guys and go for jerks" way hasn't been something I see men who are likely to get out of their shell and be attractive (and not in the looks department, I am no Brad Pitt, nor even a Harrison Ford. I have a decent face but am slim, and average in height) to women.

Mostly, speaking as a guy, the nice guys trope usually sounds like sour grapes to me.


TK


Women have the gatekeeping power

I assume we can rule out societies in which females are routinely sold into prostitution or marriage by their families, or societies in which rape victims cannot report rape without fear of being punished.

So ruling out those societies, what do you mean by "women have the gatekeeping power?"

Thanks for confirming that there are female jerks and that the dynamic of abuser-abusee is not strictly divided by gender.

I don't think it's power, Terry, at all. I think it's something that's forced on us. We're placed in the position of controlling access to sex---like it's us----and saying yes or no. We're not allowed to ask for it, or whatever. It presumes that men are active and that women are passive. When a woman doesn't keep that gate shut, she gets blamed forwhatever gets through. No, it's not a power at all.

BritGirlSF said:
"I just find it bizzare that you guys would hear a woman say "women are hornier than you think we are and respond with "no they're not". Don't you think we might know something about how it feels to be a woman?"

Aegis said:
"Sorry, but this sounds like a bit of revisionist history on your part. I don't think Ken has said anything like that."

BritGirlSF said:
"Again, I'm not the only person who interpreted Ken's response that way. Even Chris interpreted it that way, and he's a 40 or 50-something man. If Ken wants to clarify then I think that's for him to do, not for you. I'm not going to assume that you know what he meant."

Of course, I never said anything like "women are less horny than men", and indeed, in a response to Nancy (July 15, 2005 02:53 PM, above), I specifically said otherwise. For me, this is one of those crude distortions that are often made, sometimes for creating a strawman. (Some of these interactions are about like this: "Dogs are lovable" "I'm outraged that you like to fuck dogs" "No, I just think they're very sociable" "I can't believe that someone could hate cats so much!" "No, I like cats too" "I'm outraged that you like to eat cats" And so on.)

The problem here was that A was claimed, and one possible explanation for A is B, and so it is assumed that people believing A must also believe B.

I have women tell me that many guys who claim to suffer from nice guy syndrome are really just pathetically boring.


I have women tell me that many guys who claim to suffer from nice guy syndrome are really just pathetically boring.

Try telling that to a "nice guy." They know for a fact that there is nothing wrong with them. Their only fault is that they are too nice, in a world where all women prefer jerks.

Nancy, check out this thread. The skewering of self-proclaimed "nice guys" therein is a beautiful sight to behold.
http://jedmunds.blogspot.com/2005/08/who-wants-piece.html

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