Hi Mr. Brooks,
Thank you for “The Gender War Is On! And Fake!” This was interesting. Gender’s a super-prickly topic, and I know we want to be doubly careful not pass along misinformation, so I’ve picked out the sections where the sourcing seemed vague or where further research is needed if you want to include them in the final copy. I’ve also listed a couple of links related to the topic that you might want to consider, especially for the latter half of your piece. Anyway, my comments in order of appearance!
For a start, I’m worried about this opener:
“Years ago people used to believe that gender equality would produce gender similarity. That is to say, people used to believe that as women and men enjoyed more equal opportunities and earned similar pay, men and women would see the world in similar ways.”
I’m afraid we might be putting the cart before the horse here, and I have some questions about what “see the world in similar ways” means. Do you know the “gender similarities hypothesis”? Basically, some psychologists argue (albeit controversially) that men and women already think and behave the same regardless of social or economic factors; its first mention was in 1914, way before women significantly entered the workforce and the wage-gap even existed. But there’s some reason to think it might be valid; a 2013 University of Wisconsin—Madison study, a meta-analysis of 48 studies discussing gender differences, found that many of the workplace characteristics traditionally ascribed to men (like good leadership) or women (low self-esteem) occur in equal levels among both. So, the idea is that cultural over-emphasis on gender differences—rather than underlying similarities—actually exacerbates issues like the pay gap and that many of these similarities (but not all) exist independently of cultural influences.
“It hasn’t worked out that neatly.”
This seems like an understatement, but I’m also not sure what time-frame we’re in; anyway, do we mean to imply that gender equality has been achieved? The wage gap actually increased slightly between 2016 and 2017 in the US, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research. But still, women earn approximately 18 percent less than their male counterparts, and for women of color, the situation is even worse (African-American and Latina women only make 63 and 54 percent respectively compared to their male colleagues). Even if wage trends continue as they are, it’ll take until 2059 to achieve wage parity. We can rephrase to indicate that “gender equality” is still very much a work in progress, but I’m not sure the point survives?
“In the Nordic countries, where gender equality is highest, unexpected differences have opened up between men and women. In what Nima Sanandaji calls the Nordic paradox, companies in those countries have fewer female business managers, not more. It seems that when egalitarian welfare states give people more choices, many women take advantage of those choices by dropping out of the rat race.”
Technically this is correct–even the least equal Nordic country Denmark ranks 14th regarding equality, far ahead of the US in 49th place–but the situation is nuanced in a way this paragraph elides. Nordic women have what the Cato Institute calls “a monopoly” over public-sector jobs, meaning that fewer engage in private-sector businesses in the first place, which naturally lowers the number of female managers. So the idea that Nordic countries offer women “more choices” is a bit of a stretch, even if the numbers themselves are closer; Sanandaji himself mentions that tax rates push many women out of the workforce when they are unable to hire domestic help to lessen the burden at home. Just as in the US, Nordic employers are often less likely to hire women of childbearing age because of maternity leave policies and the perception that women will be less reliable. Since these factors are out of women’s hands, I’m not sure “choice” is the right frame for talking about the problem. It feels misleading, I don’t know. Maybe rephrase?
“In 2016, female voters under 30 years old voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 63 percent to 31 percent. Males in the same age cohort gave Clinton a much smaller edge, voting for her 46 percent to 42 percent. That’s a 17-point gender gap…More than ever, Millenials are staggeringly divided by gender, while older generations show far smaller differences.”
Where did you get these numbers? Exit polls at the New York Times—and most other mainstream media outlets—separate voters by age and gender but not the intersection of both (Are they from this FiveThirtyEight article? Maybe we should cite them?). Anyway, this Pew Research Center study says that (what they call) the 18-point gap between millennial men and women only adds to a larger trend that began in the 90s, where women across all age groups vote for Democrats while men lean Republican. So the millennial age gap isn’t the only demographic disparity: Among voters 65 and older, who historically trend Republican, there was a 13-point gap with women favoring Clinton. Do you have different numbers than that? 13 doesn’t seem “far smaller” than 17/18; it feels about in line with the discrepancy you’d expect between the age groups, doesn’t it?
“Since the election, the gap in leanings has gotten even bigger”
Unless I’m misreading, you’re saying that the gender gap in partisan leanings for the midterms is wider than it was for the election, but aren’t we comparing actual voting numbers to Pew poll results? That would seem to suggest that the difference might be more due to comparing apples to oranges rather than something that has actually changed over that time period. Could we compare these results to Pew poll results using a similar methodology from 2016?
“An increasing number of high school-educated men say they are the ones being screwed by modern society, not women, who are better educated on average. More and more college-educated men argue that the assault on “male privilege” has gone too far, that the feminist speech and behavior codes have gone too far.”
So, these are definitely things people say, but how do we know that more are saying it now than used to? That the number is actually increasing? Can we back that up in some way? Otherwise it should probably be flagged with “It seems to me” or “It feels like.” If you do want to keep these statements focus on specific movements than generalizations about demographics. I couldn’t find anything that directly backed up your comment about high schoolers or college-educated men.
Otherwise, your comment about the “assault on male privilege” sounds a lot like the Red Pill movement on Reddit, where men discuss their feelings of oppression in modern society. But tracking down numbers for something as nebulous as the Red Pill movement is tough; there are no official statistics. It seems to be growing, according to an article from 2013 which mentioned that the forums grew from 100 to 15,000 members in a matter of months. More recently, this 2017 article noted that there are 200,000 members. But they’re still a really small subsection of the total population, right? And probably not representative in the way you’re implying?
“I have to say that this rising war between the sexes feels phony to me. Millennials seem to be in fundamental agreement on how to live. I detect less day-to-day difference between men and women than in earlier generations. But in the political showbiz sphere, Trump’s cartoonish masculinity squares off against cartoonish “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” incitements. It’s only there that we see the usual social media game of moral one-upmanship in which each tribe competes to be more victimized, more offended and more woke. I’m betting that the millennial gender war is a figment of the political circus, and will be washed away by the giant force looming on the horizon: parenthood.”
I feel like this focus on vitriolic internet postings rather than the real-world implications of this divisive thinking isn’t well supported, and there’s a lot of real-world examples that apply here instead. For example, during “Gamergate,” women advocating for more equality in video-game culture were “doxxed” when angry male gamers published the women’s addresses online. Death threats towards the women soon followed. More importantly, millennials inspired by the men’s rights movement have gone far beyond just venting their anger online. Women have been attacked and even killed by men who felt that something as simple as a romantic rejection justified violence against women or anyone else who got in their way. Elliot Rodger, who in 2014 killed six and injured 13 near Isla Vista, California before ending his own life comes to mind. He left behind a 137-page manifesto which echoed much of the demeaning and misogynistic rhetoric found in men’s rights subreddits. After his death, Rodger became a martyr in men’s rights forums, where many expressed sympathy for his violent acts.
Also, where does the statement that parenthood will be a unifying force for millennials come from? From what I can tell, it lacks scientific support, but maybe you have some other information I couldn’t find? The studies I found mostly show that parenthood does effect men’s and women’s politics, but that it seems to highlight already-established political preferences more than bring about convergence (fatherhood pushes men towards more conservative values, while motherhood acts as a liberalizing influence for women). Do you have an example of this unifying effect that we could cite?
Thanks for letting me work with you on this! Best of luck with the second draft!