Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm no social scientist, but I play one in the media

Along the same lines of my last post, I read this article this morning. In it, the author argues why Sonia Sotomayor may be correct about a Latina woman (yes, Bob Herbert, I am aware that's redundant, but her words, not mine) making wiser decisions than a white man. In the end, she says:

Now I am no social scientist, and this argument may be riddled with empirical holes. But it strikes me as intuitively obvious that in order to succeed in a white man's world, women must learn to see both sides in ways that men do not.
It is filled with empirical holes, and yet you forged ahead anyway in an unscientific manner. The thing is, sociology isn't really a science, so claiming the banner of science wasn't going to work anyway.

What other reasons can we think of to explain this?:

one popular trick among High School creative writing teachers is to assign students to write an essay imagining that they were to switch genders, and describe what it would be like to live for one day as a member of the opposite sex. The results are almost always exactly the same: all the girls in class write long and detailed essays demonstrating that they have spent a great deal of time thinking about such questions; roughly half the boys refuse to write the essay entirely.
Could it possibly be that social standards encourage girls to express these ideas while others discourage boys from engaging in the same? A lack of willingness to express these ideas in writing may have more to do with fearing what your friends will tease you about later. It doesn't mean boys can't, and don't, think about it. And apparently half of the boys forge ahead anyway. Besides, once again we're talking about law in the highest court in the land here. Murder is murder no matter who did the murdering. Either they broke the law. Or they didn't. Equal. Protection. Under. The. Law.

It seems to me some people want it both ways. They want there to be no differences between men and women unless said difference casts women in a better light than men. To suggest men might be better at something, anything, is heresy. To argue the converse is "enlightened thinking". Most of the flap over this Sotomayor thing is, in fact more about pointing out this double-standard and trying to get society to address it and come to grips with it. Unfortunately, anybody who brings it up is immediately dismissed as a racist or a sexist. And that -- right there -- is the problem. There's a huge elephant in the room that one side refuses to even acknowledge exists.

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