THE DECLINE OF THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT: George Will wrote an excellent column in the Washington Post last Sunday, critiquing women's studies textbooks for their "women-under-siege mentality." The gist of Will's column can be summed up as follows:
Christine Stolba, a history PhD and senior fellow at the indispensable Independent Women's Forum (IWF), recently steeled herself for the ordeal of reading a lot of meretricious rubbish. The result is her report, "Lying in a Room of One's Own: How Women's Studies Textbooks Miseducate Students." It is published by the IWF, a voice for women unlike those who have hijacked feminism.
The hijackers include the authors of five widely used women's studies textbooks. Because these represent the mainstream of women's studies, they illustrate the extent to which political screeds, the cultivation of grievances and anti-intellectualism have gained academic respectability.
The textbooks' factual errors serve the "transformative" mission of women's studies -- the political mission of agitation and mobilization, a k a "consciousness raising." However, the postmodern premise (explicitly endorsed in one of the texts) is that "no purely factual studies exist." That is, "truth" is "socially constructed," and in "patriarchal," "phallocentric" societies "factual" -- scare quotes are obligatory among postmodernists -- assertions merely reflect power relations of male domination.
So textbooks' assertions about the "wage gap" between men and women do not mention the fact that many women chose to sacrifice compensation in exchange for flexible work arrangements. Certain feminists, radiating contempt to all women -- the vast majority -- who differ with them, disparage this choice as a "mommy track." They say it is not a real choice, it is mindless adherence to imposed sexual stereotypes.
The textbooks' assertion that women have been shortchanged in medical research is unsupported by evidence and refuted by facts, such as: Women are 60 percent of all subjects in National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trials, and since spending on various forms of cancer research began to be tracked in 1985, more money has been spent on breast cancer than on any other cancer research. And women are more likely than men to have medical insurance.
So in response to that column, Phyllis Greenberger of the Society for Women's Health Research writes a letter to the editor, claiming there was some dispute over his statistics. She writes:
Will's data come from a 2001 study by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and relate to the aggregate number of women and men in NIH-funded extramural research. But the GAO report also states that when female-only and male-only studies were excluded from its review, the proportion of women enrolled in extramural research projects was 52.1 percent -- proportional to the percent of women in the general population. For intramural protocols, women made up 49.6 percent of study participants.
What this means is that there are more womens-only studies at the NIH, which buttresses Will's point that breast cancer research receives the most funding of any other cancer research. Furthermore, Will's thesis is that many women's studies curricula claim that there is inequity in medical research. And Greenberger is forced to admit that the proportion of women enrolled in these projects is indeed "proportional to the general population." So what exactly is she refuting?
I interned at the Society for Women's Health Research last summer, and largely agree with their mission, which is to ensure women receive equal representation in clinical trials. Unfortunately, their mission appears to have been greatly politicized recently, based on this letter and also their recent public stance on cloning, which, frankly, has precious little to with their stated objectives. According to their website, the Society desires "to increase public and private funding for research on women's health, promote the inclusion of women in medical research studies, and encourage the scientific examination of the basic biological and physiological differences between men and women." This is entirely reasonable. What isn't reasonable is when Greenberger testifies before a Senate subcommittee on the Society's apparent endorsement of cloning, which has absolutely nothing to do with their original mission.
Unfortunately, many women's groups have greatly politicized their agenda. The Will column, which was about women's studies textbooks, had little to do with the Society for Women's Health Research. Nowhere in her letter did Greenberger argue over Will's thesis. She writes that the Society wants to "correct some of Will's own factual errors" in his piece, yet she only nit-picks at one perceived factual error and her argument is extremely weak. If anything, she helps support Will's assertions by acknowledging the equality in clinical research.
HEROES: This Monday is Memorial Day, where we honor the many military servicemen who have given their lives to protect the freedoms that we cherish in the United States. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII and, with all their fellow servicemen, fought and defeated the evil of Nazism in Europe. They were true heroes. Memorial Day should be honored for what it is -- not just a day off from school or work, or a day to get discounts at the department stores, but a day to commemorate the soldiers who lost their lives in order to secure our liberty here in the United States.
Eli Federman is another hero. The 34-year old Israeli security guard saved the lives of hundreds of young adults partying at a Tel Aviv disco last night. A terrorist from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade (affiliated with Arafat's Fatah movement) attempted to drive a car filled with explosives into the bustling "Studio 49," crammed with over 200 party-goers. If successful, the blast undoubtedly would have killed scores of young Israelis, whose only crime was partying on a Thursday night. Federman shot and killed the car's driver before he was able to enter the club.
"By instinct I pushed aside three people who were standing outside I took my gun in my other hand and fired off one bullet," said Federman. "Then, the bomber fell over and the car exploded."
"After the explosion I fired another two bullets at his head. Then I approached him and emptied the rest of the cartridge in his head," he added.
In such circumstances "there is no dilemma. There isn't anything to think about," said Federman, who served in the Golani brigade and is a Thai boxing coach. He added that he usually only works as a security guard on Friday nights.
Barbara Yawn, M.D., a Rochester physician who specializes in school health
research, and who was Speaker of the MMA's House of Delegates when they made
the school starting time recommendation, says the Edina Public Schools are
out in front on an important issue.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AMERICA AND EUROPE: Great column by Mark Steyn on the differences in government between America and Western European "democracies." As always, here's a relevant excerpt:
Most British politicians reckon this sort of thing's a joke. But you'd be surprised: give people democratic control of roads, education, law and order, public services and so forth, and it does wonders for their disposition. These things are all primary-school science, but in Britain they're mostly reserved to quangoes staffed by baronesses. The baronesses are perfectly pleasant, but it's unclear to me why their skills are so highly regarded that they should supplant responsible self-government. Meanwhile, what's left to elected officials is trivial. Fleet Street finds it hilarious when Clint Eastwood gets elected mayor of Carmel or Sonny Bono mayor of Palm Springs - typical bloody Yanks, hung up on shallow celebrities. But, to the contrary, the celebrities are acknowledging that, when it counts, they're citizens. That's the 'spirit of liberty': plumbers, doctors, strippers, movie stars get steamed about crime or zoning regulations or logging restrictions and decide to do something about it. How come Liz Hurley or Robbie Williams never run for mayor or councillor? Because, like non-celeb Britons, they know it's not worth it.
Thursday, May 23, 2002
WHAT'S IN A NAME: Virginia Postrel, in today's NY Times column about names, writes that Josh(ua) was one of the five most popular first names in the 1980s. Yet 20 years earlier, it didn't even crack the top 100. The name Madison is now the 4th most popular girls name. Postrel writes:
Maybe Saige (No. 939) or Ximena (No. 894) will be the next Madison. Or maybe Virginia, No. 391 today but No. 7 in the 1920's, is due for a revival.
Ximena Kraushaar? I don't think so.
NEW AND IMPROVED: I've added a guestbook below on the site for friends, family
and random Internet visitors to sign. Also, I've got a new webcounter showing how
many unique visitors have come to check out the site. Already, I've gotten a random
Internet surfer within five minutes of putting this up. Very cool.
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
A MUST-READ: For anyone who is sickened by the appalling lack of historical background many reporters have towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Victor David Hanson's piece in today's National Review is a must-read. Anything written by him is can't miss material, but this article in particular caught my eye. Check out this excerpt:
In the last six months we have heard constant comparisons with our Founding Fathers — allusions by the more soft-spoken Palestinians to "Washington and Jefferson," by the more the fiery to "Patrick Henry and Tom Paine." A little boilerplate exegesis usually follows, relating the Israelis to the similarly imperialistic and militarily preponderant British, the weak and idealistic Palestinians to American "freedom-fighters" circa 1776.
The analogy is not only false, but offensive as well to the American nation. The Revolutionary War — for all the romance of the Minute Men, Nathanael Greene, and the Swamp Fox's irregulars — was won on the conventional battlefield by a real army. And while there were occasional atrocities on both sides, Americans did not blow up Loyalist American women and children, or dynamite Tory churches — much less have agents in London shooting British schoolgirls in their beds. The Palestinians name streets after murderers, and give bounties to those who butcher women at work and in their sleep; the Continental Congress did not.
Nor was America fighting for an "American Authority" under the dictatorial control of George Washington — himself also a different sort of man than Yasser Arafat, by any set of moral standards, then or now. Let the Palestinians first have a Congress that drafts a real constitution, with real elected officials and a real free press, and then they can invoke Valley Forge. And let us hear that the killers of Hamas and Hezbollah are dying in battle against soldiers — not murdering civilians; and for freedom of expression and regular elections — not virgins, paradise, and cash bounties for their survivors, all in service of an autocratic kleptocracy. If one is to conjure up the American revolutionary experience, there are far more echoes to be found with the creation of Israel. Quickly upon its establishment, it adopted a consensual government, elected its officials, and prepared to defend itself against much stronger enemies — and thus, not surprisingly, like America today, is a beacon of tolerance in a sea of tyranny.
Like I said, it's a must-read.
INTIFADA MADNESS: They're teaching the intifada at UC-Berkeley. No, not about it. The professor, a pro-Palestinian activist grad student, has made a mockery of academia at Berkeley with his course "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance." Check out this course description:
The brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, [ongoing] since 1948, has systematically displaced, killed, and maimed millions of Palestinian people. And yet, from under the brutal weight of the occupation, Palestinians have produced their own culture and poetry of resistance. This class will examine the history of the [resistance] and the way that it is narrated by Palestinians in order to produce an understanding of the Intifada. . . . This class takes as its starting point the right of Palestinians to fight for their own self-determination. Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections.
Keep in mind this is the same university whose class on human sexuality gave students brownie points for getting laid at strip clubs. Anyhow, for a great summation of this absurd class, check out this article.
CELEBRITY BOXING II: Who knew Screech Powers was a black belt in karate? Or that Darva Conger is a media whore? Or that William "The Refrigerator" Perry is one of the few people on this planet who is larger than Jason Reimer? Well, if you're a fan of sleazy television like myself, you would have discovered all this out had you kept FOX on after the Simpsons tonight. Darva Conger kicked some ass fighting the aged corpse of some German (I think) Olympian from the '70s. (Man, she was ugly.) Not to be outdone, the next match featured Dustin Diamond, whose sole claim to fame is as "Screech" on Saved by the Bell, Saved by the Bell: The Hayley Mills Years, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Saved by the Bell: I'm Back as Assistant Principal on Saturday Mornings, and Saved by the Bell: Mr. Belding is on Viagra.
Needless to say, the actor formerly, currently, and always known as Screech won handily against AfroMan on "Welcome Back, Kotter." He even gave him a black eye. But, he will always be the nerdy, voice-cracking Screech to me and the other millions of people who actually watched that Saved by the Bell crap and, in some cases, still do.
Here's the poll of the day:
A FEW GOOD NEWS SITES: Everyone knows about the Washington Post, NY Times,
CNN, and other mainstream news webpages. Well, here are some of the best sites that
provide incisive, insightful commentary and I frequent these daily. All are highly recommended.
ONLY ON THE ORIOLES: Listening to the Orioles-A's game today on television, I encountered this exchange between the two lead announcers, Michael Reghi and Jim Palmer.
Reghi: "Is that guy [in the stands] carrying a doll?"
Palmer: "Don't you carry one?"
Reghi: "Yes, but mine's inflatable."
I kid you not.
Monday, May 20, 2002
THUMBS UP/THUMBS DOWN: Thumbs up of the day definitely goes to the National
Sleep Foundation, who have the decency to pay an intern a half-decent salary unlike
some non-profit -- Society for... (cough) Women's Health... Research -- places. I'm
doing the *exact* same work as I did with the ladies, except they don't pretend they're
an organization that's so prestigious that they can withhold money from their employees.
I mean, if I'm doing stimulating work for an organization that educates me about the PR
biz, that's fine -- call it an internship and pay me crap. But, if it's a job where I spend
time making copies most of the time, call me an office assistant and pay me minimum wage.
Thumbs down to the Society for Women's Health Research and Michele Robinson for not doing that last summer, and props to new boss Marcia Stein and the good people at the National Sleep Foundation for having a good work environment and treating their employees decently.
RECESSION OF GIRLS: During the summer, Recessions is the Cheers of Washington, DC -- especially if you're an AU student. Everyone truly knows your name there, since most of the barhoppers are AU politicos, like Ken Biberaj or Bob Nardo. On Saturday nights, the bar is usually packed with AU people and it's also easy to get drinks
if you're under 21 (like myself).
Well, I ignorantly expected the atmosphere to remain as good over the summer. Myself and three friends trekked down to the bar last Saturday and all I can say is it should be renamed to "Recession (of Girls)" during the summer. It was empty. Only two women -- both fat and ugly -- were there. The other 15 or so people were guys -- guys dressed in unusually tight clothing. I go to the bar, ordering up some shots. A guy with a Georgetown cap on, turns around and says, "Hey, I'm Jon. Nice to meet you." Ahh! This dude was hitting on me, and it was gay night at Recessions. What is up with that? So we left soon thereafter -- and I was left wondering why attractive girls can't be like Georgetown Jon.
For those who attend American University, you are undoubtedly familiar with the insufferable Jason Reimer, our bloated SC (Student Confederation) ex-secretary. He was notable for his inaction, inactivity and inflated ego. When Reimer left the Student Confederation, he proclaimed how great "retirement" was. Excuse me? I didn't know that when you're forced not to run for re-election in a freakin' student election (because everyone hates you), that constitutes retirement.
And now, thanks to our friends at AOL Instant Messenger, we can see how narcissistic Reimer truly is.
I need your help.
Okay. Two words for you: Weight Watchers.
Right now, I am beginning the planning of the first YMCA DC Youth and Government Conference.
DC government, eh? If there was one governmental structure that is arguably more inefficient than the American U. Student Confederation, it's the DC government. Perfect place for Reimer, I guess.
If you have ever been to YaG or want to help me out because you love me... please let me know.
Because they love you? Could he be any more full of himself? Reimer is about as lovable as a 24-hour Jiminy Glick marathon. If you want to help out Mr. Reimer, get him a yearlong subscription to Jenny Craig, a ticket to summer boot camp and some lessons in humility.
Thanks for letting me rant. And, yes, Reimer will be one of our first guests on "American Pie" next year to debate me on this.
-- Rumor has it that Alpert Productions is completing production of another David Sloan
rap mix, with the schedule release in June 2002. IM him at Outpost728 for
an advance copy.
-- Are the Cincinnati Reds for real? With an outfield of Austin Kearns, Adam
Dunn and, eventually, Ken Griffey Jr., the Reds boast one of the youngest and
most talented threesomes in the league. And, their bullpen has sparked their
dominance. But I still like the Astros in the NL Central.
-- From the where-are-they-now file for those JDS-obsessed people:
Any information can be forwarded to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you correctly identify the whereabouts of all three, you get the hat
trick and win an autographed copy of "Reflections" circa 1996.
This week's three:
Ms. Gina Sweet