Categories: Bad Science

You must listen to this program from Ockhams Razor on RN. No, really, you must.

Mildred Studders lives in Brisbane. Concerned with what her grandchildren were being taught at their Christian schools, she sent them a series of questions by email… lots and lots of them. The answers are, frankly, scary and make it even more clear why we need to fight for secular public education for our children.

Mildred Studders: Do you know how old the earth is? Young Michael says it is a bit over 6,000 years. That’s what he was taught at school. He is the youngest of my eight grandchildren none of them say he is very wrong. Three went to his Christian College, five to other schools. All are involved with modern churches.
Their three sets of parents are not bothered by such dodgy science, so I stepped in. I hoped to encourage them to think for themselves without direct attack on their teachers. However, I did upset at least one for a while. I asked them questions by email. It took a year – not everyone answered every time. Here are things I found out.
Some thought everything started as much as 10,000 years ago, to three it doesn’t matter. Most thought the length of a creation day was 24 hours as we know it. They told me the earth appeared first, then water, land and plants. After that came sun, moon and stars.
I mentioned Galileo, they agreed he was right about the solar system In fact some wondered why there was such a basic question. So I asked ‘how could there be day and night before there was a sun, or any other star?” Nobody thought it was impossible.
They did know about continental drift, but most could not accept it pushed up the Himalayas.
They accepted our telescopes can see stars millions of light years away. So I argued the stars must have been there millions of years ago to send out their light. The 24 year old architect agreed, one was not sure and others, including Charles my newly minted Bachelor of Science said ‘No, nothing is that old’.

A Bachelor of Science.
We really are all doomed.
Read the whole thing, or better still, podcast it to hear Mildred tell the story in her own voice. Her attempts to make the grandkids explain the logistics of the Ark will have you in tears. Of laughter. Or perhaps not. We read about the woeful state of science education in some parts of the US, but will Australians be just like them in a generation or two?

3 Jul 2012, Comments (4)

Ad Nauseam: Huggies

Author: Helen


Ad transcript:

(All scenes split screen)
A boy toddler, dressed in bright blue, plays with a red truck. A girl, dressed in pale pink, plays with a baby doll.

Boy, dressed in blue and white striped T shirt, plays with mud and has mud all over his clothes. The girl, clean in pale pink with a peter pan collar, is doing cooking play with dough, or sand.

Voiceover: Boys and girls are different.

Boy is dressed in red and white stripes now. He is dressed as a pirate and waving a toy sword. Girl is in pink (again), dressed as a fairy, or princess? and waving a wand.

Boy is gurning like a pale imitation of Paul Hogan and reading a book about TRUCKS. Girl blandly reads a book called The Princess.

Now they’re in bed. The little boy has his plastic tyrannosaurus and the little girl has a lilac unicorn.

Voiceover: That’s why only Huggies nappies have tailored absorbency surge layer where they need it most… Huggies nappies. Because there is a difference.”

You know who to call when besieged by egregious gender policing of tiny helpless children and in danger of wrecking the TV by throwing some heavy object at it? Cordelia Fine! I searched and searched for my copy of Delusions of Gender, which is temporarily (I hope) lost somewhere in the house, unless it’s been “borrowed”. But no matter, because I found this wonderful review which gives a detailed introduction to the book.

Why do people take such pleasure in biological justifica-
tions of gender stereotypes? And why is their automatic reaction
when you point out the rather large leaps in their “reasoning”
to say: “Oh, you feminists just don’t want to accept facts”?
So it has been a great pleasure, this winter vacation, to read
Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society,
and Neurosexism Create Difference, which carefully and with
great precision demolishes the nonsense that pervades the
popular and technical literature pretending to be scientific
fact, exposing it as truthiness which is nowhere close to
To set some context, consider the industry—that’s the
only word for it—that has grown up pushing purported sex
differences in public policy. One example, would it were
the only one, is the Gurian Institute…

…and about a million other shoddy “scientific studies”, not to mention “news reports” which consist of little more than credulous regurgitation of press releases.

Read the whole thing, then run, don’t walk, to your bookshop or library, depending on your budget, and get this book if you don’t already have it. Today, when “hardwired” is one of the most popular words in the popular writer’s lexicon, toy departments of chain stores observe a gender apartheid which would make P.W. Botha whistle with admiration, and every attempt to criticise this relentless gender policing is met with cries of “Political Correctness!”, this book is so necessary. It’s also – as the reviewer points out – studded with gems of Fine’s wry deadpan humour.

In 2002, Hines and Alexander studied the play of
vervet monkeys. !ey gave them two boy toys, two girl toys,
and two neutral toys. Male vervets divided their time equally,
but female vervets spent more than a third of their time
with the girl toys. Impressive, yes? But, wait, one of the girl
toys was a pan. To quote Fine, “Although it is true that pri-
matologists regularly uncover hitherto unknown skills in our
nonhuman cousins, the art of heated cuisine is not yet one
of them.”

Parents typically underestimate the power of the cultural signals which bombard their kids literally from the moment they’re out of the womb (see the example of the difference in boy and girl birth announcements and differing treatment of boy and girl babies in general). Suddenly, everyone’s going hooray! for gender essentialism, and the whole infernal machine is given another spin for the next generation. Ads like this simply capitalise on the whole phenomenon and ram the message home with all the subtlety of a full disposable nappy in the face.

21 Feb 2012, Comments (8)

Another poke at the steaming pile

Author: Helen

…Or steaming bile, as Jo Tamar accurately called it.

Yes, not content with reading Bettina Arndt’s latest so you don’t have to, I went back to the steaming pile of bile and poked it with a stick to examine some suspicious-looking critters I’d seen lurking in there. I have to say some of these spokescreatures were quite creepy and crawly. Others simply failed to impress me with their compelling evidence for her, ahem, thesis.

Most of the people quoted in the first few paragraphs are the latter type – mostly harmless but annoying retailers of Arndt’s straw-woman theories – but Catherine Deveny has already done a good job on them. I’d like to pick up where Deveny left off. First, though, I’d like to mention one of Agony’s “real life stories”, the scuttlebutt about somebody’s workplace. If this anecdote isn’t invented, it’s a notable example of unprofessional conduct – on the part of the storyteller, that is.

A mid-40s woman tells me about a naive 22-year-old work colleague who recently had a breast enlargement.
”She is a tiny thing, quite pretty but socially inept and ready to settle for anything that comes along….”

Could anything be so unprofessional? This is Arndt’s scholarly evidence, her peer-reviewed source. This nasty piece of gossip has no value at all except to flag to the CEO of that company that they need to counsel their staff about acceptable workplace behaviour. Personal boundary violations and verbal bullying, I mean, not bra cup size. This isn’t evidence, it’s abuse.

After a “men’s advocate” from Perth, about whom the internet has nothing much to say, we’re treated to the thoughts of a thing called Giovanni Dannato writing on the group blog In Mala Fide. He’s the “assault on men” dude. I’m not linking to this blog, and if you decide to google it, here’s a prior warning for racism, antisemitism, white supremacist ideology and of course, bottomless misogyny sung from the whole sorry MRA/MGTOW/paleocon songbook. Some article headings: “How to stop masturbating”, “Modern Rape laws protect Harems”, “To be anti-Jewish is not to be racist”. The tagline: “The blog that shouted love at the heart of the world.” They’re joking, obviously. This is where I start saying HEY, SERIOUSLY, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING BETTINA.

How did Arndt come to include a quotation from this guy, on this blog? What wiki-walk or recommendation drew her to it? Is it a regular read? There’s a link to a neo-nazi bookshop, purveyors of young Eastern European women (or pictures of, anyway), and as well as the misogyny there are numerous references to “Race and IQ”, whites-as-a-disposessed-minority, and approving references to Steve Sailer, Roissy, John Derbyshire and many other slimy creatures who I recognise as belonging to the far right-o-sphere.

In case you think this is an aberration and that Arndt is just a naive and undiscerning web surfer, next up is F. Roger Devlin, who she describes as “a political philosopher who writes challenging material on gender issues for The Occidental Quarterly”. If your finely-tuned bullshit meter is hearing “challenging” as a word from the same playbook as “refreshingly un-PC!” and “heresy”, you’d be right.

This challenging material is… Oh, dear god. (Peers through fingers). No link for the Occidental Quarterly, either. TOQ is the mouthpiece of the Charles Martel Society, which Sourcewatch links to William Regnery (a US “White Nationalist”) and other white supremacist individuals and organisations such as Stormfront. Yes, that Stormfront. This stuff isn’t conservative. It’s white supremacist and male supremacist wingnuttery, to the extreme. Devlin also writes for VDARE, another anti-immigration, white supremacist website. He’s the author of such wholesome titles as “Sexual liberation and Racial Suicide”.

My recommendation: Back away, slowly. Disinfect computer after reading.

*Dishonourable mention: The Dad from Family Guy. You do, er, realise he’s a fictitious character, don’t you, Bettina? And

*Hugo Schwyzer. No comment.

Poking into the steaming heap of an Arndt article is not only unspeakably depressing, it shows the very, very dubious provenance of her antifeminist thinkpieces. Bettina Arndt comes across as the voice of reason, the dimple-cheeked smiling disarmer of male interviewers and defender against “extreme feminists”. In fact, I think she is somewhat extreme herself.

13 Feb 2012, Comments (14)

Agony Arndt At it Again

Author: Helen

Weapons, baby!

“Who let Bettina Arndt out again?” complained someone on Twitter. Yes, someone at Fairfax editorial has enabled this abuser of women, again, to peddle her hatred of “liberated women” in the opinion section.

And just as an aside, haven’t the merry punsters of the subediting profession had a field day with this one. It’s largely (snerk! snerk!) about breasts, you see. So the AGE had “Booby Trap” for the title of Arnd’s outpourings, the SMH had “Busted”: the politics of cleavage”, WA Today had “Tit for Tat”… Hilarious and so original!

Arndt pretty much takes Sheikh Hilaly’s Uncovered Meat and reheats it with a serve of pseudoscience sauce. The issue: women wearing clothing that shows skin, particularly where breast cleavage is involved.

“Increasingly, women feel they are entitled to dress however they like,” she begins. The cheek! It’s time they were slapped down, and Arndt is the woman to do the slapping.

Women “dress provocatively but bristle if the wrong man shows he enjoys the display.” They have their “goodies on display”. (Commodification 101, yes?). They’re “half naked and pandering to the male gaze”, and “proudly proclaiming their right to dress as they wish” (Again! this must be stopped!). They “dress sluttishly just to make themselves feel good”, but they are just “flaunting women’s sexual power” and “making “an “UP YOURS” gesture of the most provocative kind”. They’re “advertising (their) wares to the world” (there’s that commodification problem again, Bettina.) Their way of dressing is “sexual arrogance”, like “like schoolchildren who bring something tasty to class that they are not prepared to share”, but at the same time “an act of aggression in which they use the power of their sex as a weapon”, subjecting men to “constant just-out-of-reach titillation”. Yet they have the temerity to “hate men’s ogling” and “protest (their) caveman shenanigans”.

But what about the men, because you know in the Arndt world of today it’s always What About the Men!

Men are “biologically programmed to scan for life-giving breasts for (their) future offspring” (she’s keen on tabloid-level EvPsych Mars-Venus factoids). But they’re in a “total state of confusion”, due to the womens’ terrible weaponized bazonkas. The “Alpha males” are fine, but For the “Beta Males”, “the whole thing is a tease. They know it and resent it,” They’re “angry”, and most likely to “behave badly”. Serve those teasing women right for making people angry with their agressive breasts, right? Then the “sensitive males” are “wary, not knowing where to look. Afraid of causing offence.” (I don’t know where they stand in Bettina’s alphabet soup. Perhaps being “sensitive” makes you too unmanly to even rate a letter.) They describe cleavage as “a form of biological sexual harassment” and an “assault against men”. Behaviour such as catcalling is only “a defence mechanism used by low-status men against women flaunting themselves publicly”. They find “the constant just-out-of-reach titillation men now face confusing, irritating and even insulting.” Another dude thinks that low-cut garments in the workplace are a deliberate ploy to throw their concentration.

And we know this is all true, because she quotes at least three reliable witnesses, including…Peter Griffin, The Dad in Family Guy.

Oh give us a break.

And if you detect a whiff of threat and rape apology in the above, you’re not alone, although Arndt tries to evade it with the classicly formed “Of course, there’s never an excuse for sexual violence…But…”

I must inhabit a different universe, because in my world, women often wear singlet tops and the like purely for reasons of comfort. And every warm day, we encounter topless males, from loungers at the beach or sporting facilities to builders’ labourers. Out walking the dog in my aggressively harassing tank top and sports bra, I’ll see old guys watering the lawn in their shorts and thongs and nothing else. I envy their freedom to experience the soft breeze on their skin. The closest we get to it is a singlet top, but apparently that’s too weapony. Heaven forbid we ever do something that’s just for us.

And where the motivation is pride in your physique, well, I haven’t notice the more toned topless males and buffed singlet-wearers hold back with their flaunting. Maybe we should make them cover up, too? Ha, ha, joking – women don’t have the uncontrollable, animal libido that makes being visibly female such a risk!

It’s surprising and sad, as a fifty-plus woman, to think back to the 1970s where Arndt was a self-described “sexologist”, which sounded slightly ridiculous then, and still does, and writing alongside libertarians like Greer and Humprhries in Forum magazine, encouraging women and men alike to embrace their sexuality and throw off the old shackles. Now she reads more like a member of Family First. It’s hard to see any merit in this article, but of course, we know what it is: linkbait. And I’ve fallen for it.

More fool me. But there’s more I want to say about this steaming pile, er, article, so there will be a part two of this post.

More from The Sarah Monologues, Jane Caro and others.

Some parents around here are up in arms about the sudden axing of the Steiner education stream which has been maintained at Footscray Primary school for the last few years.

Footscray Steiner parents, I am sorry to hear that this was done so suddenly, and – according to newspaper reports – in such a cackhanded way. The program should have been phased out gracefully over another year, allowing parents to plan and children to transition more easily.

On the other hand, the situation should never have arisen because a Steiner stream should never have been allowed into a State primary school in the first place.

Public education was supposed to be free, secular and compulsory. The “secular” part is under siege, as it is, from Liberal government initiatives to put chaplains in schools and to force them to accept religious education classes, often by dubious practitioners. Steiner education is based on a kind of quasi-religious “spirituality” (I’d say “the random thoughts of an early Twentieth Century German crank”, but let’s go with that), and as such it drives the non-secular wedge in a little further. What’s the argument against having a Scientology stream if we allow this in our schools?

A Steiner parent at Footscray Primary was able to have a complaint about the Steiner annexe closure published in the Opinion page of the AGE, no less, by a prominent grandparent. This was published soon before the National Day of Action for public education, but the article made no mention of this. Come November 15, it would have been wonderful to see famous grandparents protesting about the ongoing defunding of public education in the AGE editorial, but there were none. Public education really needs defending in Victoria; it’s an inestimably valuable public good which we take for granted and fail to properly appreciate.

Educate your child at a Steiner school if you must, but keep religion and “spirituality” out of our Government school system, please.

23 Mar 2011, Comments (6)

Take a good look

Author: Helen

If the Liberals should win the next federal election, these are the nongs who will be “governing” you.

More here and here.

Aust Opposition leader Tony Abbott standing with Lib MPs Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella in front of a placard painted with flames and "JuLIAR Bob Browns BITCH"

To quote James Bradley of City of Tongues on Twitter, “The level of casual misogyny directed at the PM is truly appalling, and says a lot about those who endorse it.”

The stealthy return of cattle to the Victorian alpine national parks by the Victorian Liberal government is a payback to the National Party for their help in winning the last election. In an attempt at arse-covering, they’re touting it as a “scientific experiment”. As Robert Merkel and others have pointed out, they’re obviously taking this audacious action from the “Scientific Whaling” playbook. Simply, they’re breaking the law.

There is a well-defined legal process for such projects, developments or activities in a place of national significance, under section 68 of the Environment Protection, Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) Act. In early January, before they sent the cattle in, the DSE was supposed to notify the Federal environment minister, Tony Burke. After that, the Minister is required to publish the notice on the internet and invite public comment. After “consultations with the public and relevant ministers”, the Minister is required to decide whether the activity is a Controlled Action under the EPBC Act.

The impacts must then be assessed (and there are already reams of information on the damaging impact of hooved grazing animals on the Alpine environment, such as the 2005 Alpine Grazing Taskforce report and the 2006 CSIRO study into the Alpine ecology, grazing and fire.) Following assessment, the Minister then may determine whether or not to allow the Controlled Action under the EPBC Act.

It is an offence to carry out activities which may be Controlled Actions without the consent of the Federal Minister for the Environment.

According to news reports on January 12, the (Victorian) DSE claimed to have sent a letter to the Minister, but this letter appeared to have mysteriously disappeared en route.

The Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment has written to Mr Burke’s office advising it of the trial and has offered a full briefing, but it has received no reply.
But the federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has not received the letter.
”Under national environment law, the onus to refer an activity falls on the person carrying out the activity,” a spokesman said.

The cattle are already in the park, so they were in breach of the law already by mid January. I haven’t seen any calls for public comment by Tony Burke for assessment of a Controlled Action under the EPBC act – anyone else seen it? At any rate, the legal process has hardly got to square one.

It’s wrong. And don’t fall for the argument that as a city dweller, you have no right to oppose it. For one thing, this is a Heritage area which belongs to all Australians, not just a handful of families. For another, it’s your taxes at work.

The $5.50 per head fee paid by the graziers when the practice was stopped in 2005 (calves born while up in the high country travelled free) represented a massive subsidy by the taxpayer to a privileged few families, since the tiny fee went nowhere near to covering the damage caused by the cattle. If the Baillieu government is hell bent on allowing these people to do their damage, will the new agistment fee be set at a more realistic level?

Also, when Alpine grazing was ended by the Bracks government, an ex gratia payment was made by the Victorian government to the tune of $100 per head of cattle for the three years after that, up to $100,000 per license holder. (H/T Wilful.) So we were still paying for them.

Now that Alpine grazing has been brought back, will they be required to pay back that money?

You or I would be sent to the wall if we attempted to do something like this, but for the macho men of the Liberal and Country parties, the law is for the little people. We saw the damage that favours for “Labor mates” did to Victorian governance under Bracks and Brumby. Stand by for government by Liberal / Country Party mates. Plus ca change.

1 Oct 2010, Comments (5)

From the Fine to the Ridiculous

Author: Helen

No, I’m not dead, and no, the Grog’s Gamut fiasco hasn’t made me give up blogging about the patriarchy and the rest of the kyriarchy in favour of talking about shoes. Life has thrown more work at me lately than I can cope with, and I’m going around with my head bulging with posts I have no time to write.

A Balcony reader has nudged me to put up something about this article in last Saturday’s AGE by Cordelia Fine, and yes, the writing of this very fine psychologist and academic (yes I know, hilarious, I’m sure that’s never been done before) need to be disseminated far and wide, in fact, hammered into the heads of all the nouveau-essentialists, in the media and out of it, with a giant cluebat. Here are some quotations from the article by Suzy Freeman-Greene:

At one point in Delusions of Gender, for instance, she writes: ”It is appalling to me that one can, apparently, say whatever drivel one likes about the male and female brain and enjoy the pleasure of seeing it published in a reputable newspaper, changing a school’s educational policy or becoming a bestseller.”


…(T)hree years, ago when [son] Isaac was at kindergarten, Fine discovered his teacher reading a book that claimed his brain was incapable of forging the connection between emotion and language. ”And so,” she explains in Delusions of Gender, ”I decided to write this book.”
The teacher was reading Why Gender Matters by US physician Leonard Sax. An influential campaigner for single-sex education, Sax once claimed that the areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills mature about six years earlier in girls, while those involved in maths and geometry mature about four years earlier in boys. Fine dismisses such ”neurononsense” and quotes American linguistics professor Mark Liberman’s description of Sax’s use of scientific data as ”shockingly careless, tendentious and even dishonest”.
What did she say to her son’s teacher? ”I explained to her that this was not a scientifically valid claim. And she was very responsive to it.” The exchange, she says, sparked the teacher’s interest in the issue.


Read the whole thing. This is where the academic rubber hits the social change road.

On the other hand, Elizabeth Farrelly, who, unfortunately, is a regular in the Fairfax opinion stable, says anything about gender that pops into her head!

(The BER project is)…a Gillardist fem-coup to make the Rudd assassination pale in comparison. Or, more sinister yet: a Third World plot to effeminate the West.

…Now that almost every school has a major chunk of its ”open” space fenced and scaffolded, what will give?
Boys, and boy-ness, for a start. As even boisterousness becomes frowned-upon and the fighting that is bound to erupt in such pent conditions becomes punishable by that boys’ own worst-possible penalty, endless hours of raking-it-over talk, just being a boy becomes a problem.
The incentive is to stay static, watch the screen, make like a girl, gossip, get fat. Which is where the double whammy kicks in. Estrogen.
Double whammy, double mammy. For not only does estrogen generate fat; fat also generates estrogen. Add this feedback loop to the xenoestrogens already ubiquitous in the environment and you have a very interesting development in endocrine politics.

*Golf clap*

Yes, it goes on, and yes, it’s all as hateful as that or worse. (Notice there is material for a whole other post on fat hatred in there. It’s an all-round trainwreck.)

Cordelia Fine holds a PhD in neuroscience, is a Senior Research Associate at Macquarie University, Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Elizabeth Farrelly used to be an architect. I have no idea why Fairfax consider Farrelly qualified to witter about absolutely anything and everything in the opinion pages. Oh, yes, I forgot – women who seem to hate their own gender are always given a megaphone in our media.

I rarely read the AGE Sunday magazine these days, and the last time I dipped into it it, it exceeded all expectations for Terrible. Blue Milk and Eglantine’s Cake have already written about the article by Sarina Lewis on “The Invisible Men”: Men are actually doing more domestic work now than women, did you know? Not just that, but they don’t get any appreciation for it!

Well – not quite. Now, I’m not saying a food writer can’t write convincingly about gender politics. Look at Crazybrave Zoe and Twisty at IBTP. But unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if Lewis will take this topic to their level of excellence.

Yet figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics bear out a startlingly even spread of domestic and professional labour: a 2006 study into how Australians used their time found that men spent a combined average (over seven days) of 11.44 hours per day performing professional, childcare and domestic tasks. And women? They came in at a combined average of 11.35 hours – nine minutes less than the men.

All credible studies, from the ABS (including more up-to-date information), the Australian Institute of Family Studies and HILDA surveys, tell us what we already know: women still do the bulk of domestic work, whether working or not. Notice how Lewis slipped the “professional” in there? That’s not part of the domestic load. It’s paid work which goes on the CV and contributes to your superannuation.

And as you begin to take on more of the domestic load, even where your share – minus Lewis’s numerical massage – is less than half, guess what? It’s tiring! Which is a bit of a shock. And kind of demeaning, because it is ballbreaking for men to do housework, which is coded female. So we get sad, sad pictures like this

bizarre image of a very dapper young man in beautiful suit holding a mop and looking poetically sad, oh how low he has sunk

…Why is he “holding” the mop like that? Is the ignominy of it all so crushing he has to appear entirely bemused by it? Is he a store dummy? Why is he wearing a nice suit to do the housework?

And this (from the Daily Mail in the UK)

Bad woman sits reading newspaper while her poor, poor male partner does the vaccuuming around her. Abuser!

Gah! You can see how hellish life has become for these poor, poor men! And according to Lewis, not a word of appreciation!

“There is a legitimate desire from men to be acknowledged,” says Jones, who suggests that the modern man’s role in society is vastly different from that of his father…Feelings of neglect arise, they say, when the stresses and strains of their lives – now as complex as those of their wives – go unnoticed.

Ok, about the appreciation thing. It goes back to the same principle as referring to the bloke’s contribution as “help” – the notion that the woman still owns the domestic load with a limited potential to delegate, rather than the man taking on an equal share of the responsibility, including the planning and remembering component. I’m not against partners giving each other appreciation, of course, it’s wonderful. But it’s assumed, to some extent, that a mature adult will perform certain tasks on a fairly regular basis. As far as women getting more appreciation: really? We still assume, even in 2010, that a mother is going to do various boring household tasks without being thanked for it – apart from the ritual “thank”fest and Hallmark card on Mothers day. Or as Rebekka said here, “they’re kidding, right?”

Expecting recognition for day-to-day housework is an indication that you believe your role in that housework constitutes a heroic act above and beyond the call of duty.

Guys, welcome to our world. Yes, you may find it frustrating and annoying at times. We certainly have.

What an excellent coincidence that this post should spring up in the Femmostroppo Reader just as I had this one nearly ready to go: OH HAI Naomi Mc, have I got an example for you! In the same week that, in Melbourne alone, two men set a woman and a girl on fire (the second man also raped the girl) there was a report in the ABC News opining that again, society is going down the tubes because of feminism. With a big, scary, hot pink feminist symbol! Brrr.

A senior lecturer in psychology at Charles Darwin University, Dr Peter Forster, says there is no truth to the argument that testosterone levels make men more aggressive.
He says social factors such as the rise of feminism in the last few decades could be behind the rise in violence amongst women.

I’m happy to give him points for biology not being destiny – a refreshing change from most antifeminists I’ve read – but what actual evidence does he have that the “rise of feminism” has kicked off a rise in violence among women? Has he demonstrated that there is a rise in female violence?
Has he told us what the increase(s) are and from what bases they’ve increased? No. Has he teased out increases in actual violence from increases in arrests and charges? Nope. Has he looked at whether violence overall is rising or static, and if so, is male violence rising as well (See also previous point)? No.

Has he mentioned that if you look at historical sources of milieux such as Victorian London and accounts of colonial Australia, the idea of women as gentle and delicate creatures who never threw a punch was somewhat class-based? No.

I went off in search of more information, because I thought that if the ABC had seen fit to publish an article about Dr Forster pronouncing on women and violence, it must be that Dr Forster and/or his department had come up with some ground breaking research, perhaps resulting in a report or peer-reviewed paper which we could read.

Apparently not. In fact, my usually effective google-fu hasn’t unearthed any publications or reports put out by Dr Forster on women, violence, or women-and-violence at all. So what’s he got?

…(P)eople were now looking at other contributing factors, particularly at social and cultural factors such as the effects of several decades of feminism which have largely removed the expectation that women would behave differently to men, and, more recently, the binge-drinking culture among young people, for the rapid rise in female violence.

“Studies have shown that at the age of 14, girls were just as likely as boys to be involved in fights, threats and stealing,” he said.

“This is supported by studies at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, where they have found similar rates of binge drinking by men and women, and women are also catching up in the use of illicit drugs, and these behaviours are linked with aggression.

“People” are looking at contributing factors. “Studies” have shown. I’ve seen undergraduate essays, let alone blogs, with more demonstrated evidence – and active verbs – than that. Well, there is a citation of sorts, the AIHW, which does exist, although would it kill him to point to the studies themselves? And there doesn’t appear to be anything to do with women and violence, but women and “behaviours (which) are linked with aggression.” Right! Men binge drink and set women on fire and king-hit other men on King street, while women binge drink and “get themselves” raped. See, equal!

The only actual piece of work done within the walls of Charles Darwin University that he seems to be able to point to is a study of road rage by his colleague Mary Morris.

“The research by Dr Morris has clearly shown that, in such aspects of road rage as aggressive gestures, sounding their horn at another driver and verbal abuse, there is no significant difference between male and female drivers. There used to be differences, but not any more,” Dr Forster said.

Road rage covers a continuum up to and including stabbing, shooting, thumping and running over people, so I don’t see that an increase in female horn-sounding and verbal abuse is very useful evidence of an epidemic of violent femmes. I haven’t been able to find Dr Morris’s study either, but I’ll take his word that it exists, so that’s one more on the topic than I’ve been able to find for Forster. It’s ironic that given that the subject is the evil power of feminism, he took her work and ran with it as “Expert Warns”.

Dr Forster hasn’t even begun to demonstrate any link between feminism and violence.

I have no idea why this should have been put out as a media release by CDU and why it should have been news, but unfortunately it’s one more brick in the wall of the bullshit “Feminism gone wrong” story that the media is hellbent on giving us, no matter how dodgy the source might be.