Monday, February 8, 2010

Odds 'N Ends

1) Math Is(n't) Hard For Girls!

From ScienceDaily:

"Girls around the world are not worse at math than boys, even though boys are more confident in their math abilities, and girls from countries where gender equity is more prevalent are more likely to perform better on mathematics assessment tests, according to a new analysis of international research."

It would make sense that girls would perform similarly to boys in countries where they have more of the same opportunities to perform similarly to boys. What's interesting but not surprising is that despite similar abilities, boys have more confidence than girls do.

2) Why Are There No "Working Fathers"?

Katherine Franke aptly laments that, despite feminism, many [heterosexual] men still feel entitled to and receive a free pass when it comes to sharing domestic work with their wives. After recounting an article about one upper-middle class working mother, she writes:

"You’d think, from the way the article was set up, that Brzezenski was a single mom. Mentioned only in passing was the seemingly marginal fact that she is married to Jim Hoffer, a successful journalist himself. He does not figure in the review as someone who has any role in taking care of the kids, taking care of Mika, or taking care of anything. The kids are her responsibility, and she may well have let them down by having a career. His career is a credential, hers is a liability and a source of guilt. Arghhh."

Interestingly, Franke raises this discussion in the context of same-sex marriage and questions whether allowing same-sex couples into marriage will challenge, or reinforce, "the marital institution, which "remains one deeply stratified by gender inequalities and status hierarchies." Generally, I've been of the opinion that same-sex marriage will counter at least some of the assumptions about gender roles within the marital institution; at the same time, to imbue same-sex marriage with the power to fix all of marriage's gender inequality problems would be to err to a similar extreme as those who say that same-sex marriage will completely destroy the institution.

Although, when you think about it, aren't "fixing" marriage and "destroying" it two different ways, uttered by two different camps, of imagining a marital institution devoid of gender inequality and status hierarchy?

3) Sex, Politics and Double Standards

Historiann recently raised some salient points regarding double-standards for male and female politicians:

"Try this on for flaky and unserious: here in Colorado, our current governor, Bill Ritter, made some news a few weeks ago when he announced that he was ending his re-election campaign because he had decided that he wants to spend more time with his family. (Three of his four children are adults, and the fourth one is 16.) Even his political opponents appear to believe that he’s on the level–there have been no sly implications of scandal, anyway–and the local media have spun the narrative that he’s not a career politician, just a super nice guy. Awwwww! Isn’t it cute? He’s such a devoted family man! I’m sure you too have seen a man pushing a stroller, and how he gets compliments and cookies from complete strangers because he’s spending time with a baby–almost assuredly his own–whereas women pushing strollers are just doing the work God made them for, and are never complimented or acknowledged to be doing anything special."

I wonder how much the fact that men get extra credit for taking on normal parenting roles furthers a man's entitled belief that taking on these roles isn't part of his normal Dadly job description?

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