Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Amy Richards reacts to the debate

This post inadvertantly (I'm sure)confirms my point that Women's Studies (WS) programs are not serving any purpose on campus. She claims that WS serve as part of a liberal education by forcing students to confront views they disagree with. However, my argument was that the major premises of feminism are false. By Amy Richards' argument, students could broaden their horizons by taking chemistry classes in alchemy, physics classes in the flat earth theory and astronomy classes in astrology. She doesn't even attempt to refute my argument that men and women are different in significant ways.
Her attempts to defuse my reasons for proposing Mens' Studies as a counterpoint to Women's Studies are each seriously flawed. If any reader cares to go to the text of my speech, you will find footnotes for every significant factual claim. Amy Richards' responses have no research or substance to them. Some are just plain laughable. Here she is:
I stayed on topic because I thought it pointless to try to fight "her facts" with "my facts." And I knew most of her facts to be bogus. True, men might be more likely to commit suicide but it's disproportionately gay men and therefore, most likely because they didn't fit into society's (aka Morse's) definition of men. It's not that men suffer more depression, but they are less likely to seek help thus having the depression manifest more negatively than in women (again, the reason men often repress their depression is because this illness might disqualify them from the strong, protector, de-facto role they otherwise inhabit). Women might be more likely to "file" for divorce—but most have been pushed to that place either because they have been emotionally abandoned in their marriages or because they realize life will be easier without being saddled with someone else.

She has no evidence to back up her claim that the disproportion in mens suicide rate is driven entirely by gay men. The claim is preposterous, considering that 1. gay men are about 1% of the population and 2. divorced men have three times the suicide rate as married men. Does she seriously expect us to believe that all the divorced men committing suicide were closeted gay men?
Her speculations on depression are just that: speculations. I didn't even bring up depression in my talk. Depression and suicide are two different things. As it happens, women are more likely to experience depression, and more likely to attempt suicide. Men are more likely to succee in committing suicide. As it happens, this is the behavior most studied among gays and lesbians as well. They are more likely to attempt suicide, more likely to report having thought about suicide, but it is difficult to prove that they are more likely to actually "succeed" in their suicide attempts. Bringing up gay men is simply changing the subject.
Likewise, her claim to know why women initiate most divorces is speculation on her part. She shows no sign of knowing that this subject has been studied.
If this is the best Women's Studies can do to defend themselves, they are in big trouble.
By the way, just to set the record straight here: I answered a question from the audience about "having it all." A female student asked me what women should do who wanted to have careers and children. My response was careful in this way: I prefaced it by saying, "If having children is an important life goal for you, then..." To hear Amy Richards recount the debate, I am insisting that everyone do everything my way. Not true. I simply say, if having children is an importnat life goal, I think you should be married first, for their sakes. And I think you should take the goal of marriage and motherhood as seriously as you take your educational and career goals, and PLAN for them.
If I'm not mistaken, Rebecca Walker, Alice Walker's daughter, who considers herself a feminist, is saying pretty much this very thing to women. So, I'm not sure what the disagreement is on this point.

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