Friday, June 09, 2006

Perception differences by gender

This post requires some critical thinking and I've been working on it for a few weeks. The links are a very interesting way to examine your own perceptual biases, especially for men.

Every guy worries about going to prison at some subconscious level or another. That's because we basically can't help but do stupid things some times, or we could at least envision doing something stupid if only by accident. And it's not white collar resorts we're afraid of, it's PMITA federal penitentiaries. To reinforce that petrifying terror, read this article that starts with a discussion on prison rape.

I've read it multiple times, because it really caught me off guard. I was getting very agitated by the subject matter when this quote slammed reality in my face:

Ah yes, there's nothing to get red-blooded men fired up about rape than a good ol' drop-the-soap-story. By the way, it happens to a woman about once every 2 minutes, according to the DOJ.
Wow. The things we obsess about as an extremely remote possibility are a living nightmare to many women out there. So how is it that it did not come naturally for me to connect the unpleasant prison narrative to this harsh reality? I'm too cynical to be living in a sheltered bubble, so that's not it. I think it's that fundamentally our society is still biased against women, too mentally lazy to confront the issues that they face every day. I consider myself a feminist, but I still have biases that I'm trying to purge.

Do you stress about each pay raise you believe you deserve, while most women make 3/4 the pay for similar work? Where do you draw the line in your preferential thinking as the examples become more extreme? I'm still trying to challenge my own stereotypes, and this is a really good exercise for that.

Here's an extreme: social conservatives have attempted to challenge a vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the leading cause of potentially fatal cervical cancer in women. The drug, which was developed by Merck and has been approved by the FDA, is 100% effective in combating the leading cancer-causing strains of HPV. But it's most effective when administered in young girls, leading social conservatives to boldly proclaim that this will lead to promiscuity in young women. This is as unnatural and creepy as the father-daughter "purity balls", a disgusting event where fathers pressure their young daughters into "abstinence pledges". Furthermore, it doesn't work: abstinence pledgers broke their promise at a rate of 61% (or 82% if you believe oral sex is still sex... which it is, duh), and from this article:
...pledge-makers who became pledge-breakers were less likely [than other sexually active teens] to use protection, such as condoms, when first having sex.
Trying to appreciate equality is how I came to supporting women's reproductive rights since I was a teenager, but traversing the gradient of inequality gives me a much clearer vector for connecting my thoughts to my beliefs. To those who still question a woman's choice, you too need a way to connect your thoughts to your beliefs. Think about it, and if you have a logical doctrine then please share. If not, hopefully this helps you challenge your beliefs, else your beliefs become cemented as faiths. Faith about your own moral path in life is one thing, but having faith about anyone else's proper lifestyle scares the crap out of me.

1 comment:

platkat said...

It's good that more people are talking about the HPV vaccine. It could make a huge difference in thousands of lives and it amazes me that there are people out there who think we'd be better without it.