Monday, August 23, 2010

When you're a GUY

I have to say I was surprised by this Dish Network Commercial:

I was more surprised by this Twitter exchange:
: Oh Dish Network, good job pissing me off: "are you tired of paying for ... shopping channels, when you're a guy." #wtf
: @dan4th Official DISH Feed here,caught your Tweet. Is there something we can be of assistance with? *JB
: @dishnetwork the ad suggesting that there's something wrong with guys watching shopping channels is fairly offensive, not funny.
: @dan4th We have forwarded your concerns to our programming department. Thanks for the feedback. *JB

Slightly concerned that this makes me one of those people sitting around waiting for things to be offended by, but also, nice job reinforcing gender stereotypes.


My partner points out that I got a response from Dishnetwork through twitter in less time than he got a response from Comcast while he was on hold with their customer service. I pointed out that he should tweet at them.


update 12:42pm:

@dan4th DISH twitter team here. Shopping channels are provided at no cost. They may lower your bill as they can make DISH money. *M
: @dishnetwork The issue is that the ad implies that there's something wrong with guys being interested in shopping. it's sexist.
@dishnetwork additionally, that explanation basically means that the premise of your ad is a lie ("paying for shopping channels").
@dishnetwork which makes it both sexist and insulting. It's a terrible ad with a cheap punchline, and you should pull it.

So, I realize that by posting on DifferenceBlog, the context of the blog makes my position clear, but in case it's not clear, let me spell it out as unambiguously as I can:

I am a big fan of offensive humor. I have no problem with poking at stereotypes when it's funny, or to make a point. This ad does neither. It simply has Charlie Ergen, the founder of DISH network, implying that no guy would be interested in shopping channels, that it's intuitively obvious that guys wouldn't want shopping channels.

That's a load of crap, and not something I particularly want old white guys telling me over the commercial break. I find it particularly threatening to have an old, rich, white man telling me that it's not OK for men to like shopping during my leisure time, that I'm somehow less of a man if I watch QVC. Reinforcing those stereotypes isn't necessary to the point they're trying to make, and I find it doubly insulting when I complain about it, and then they tell me that the premise of the commercial is untrue, because the shopping channels are free anyway, and a moneymaker for DISH network.

I was mildly offended by the ad when I made the initial tweet. Now I'm legitimately angry.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

News: University of Alabama Huntsville Shooting

I was shocked and saddened to hear about the at the University of Alabama. According to the , Dr. Amy Bishop learned at the meeting that her appeal to an earlier denial of tenure was being rejected. The NYT also reports that Bishop had complained that it was "unfair" that she was having problems getting tenure. Bishop will be charged with capital murder, which qualifies for the death penalty.

I found myself surprised that the shooter was a woman; however, I'm unable to find any statistics on the sex of the perpetrator in workplace homicides. Men are more likely to be victims of workplace homicides (), but that's "normal". As discussed in "Murder Most Unusual" (4/13/09), men are more likely to be both the victim and the perpetrator of murders. The three confirmed dead have one masculine, one feminine, and one sort of neutral name.

I also noted my lack of surprise that she reportedly had trouble getting tenure; reported that women were more likely than men to perceive "unfair practices" in the evaluation of their work. I also cynically noticed that the NYT reports her major invention as having been developed "with her husband". I'm trying to remember the last time I saw an article reporting that someone had developed something "with his wife." I'm coming up blank.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


So, at work this week, I arrived at a meeting early. I'm often the only person in the meeting without kids, but this particular meeting, I seemed to be the only one without high-school-aged kids. The discussion of choice was teaching them to drive, and one woman said "I hate driving with my daughter. It was never like this with my son. I think boys are just more natural drivers." And another woman immediately agreed, based on her experiences with her own kids.

This was a couple of days ago, and I still haven't figured out what the hell I could have said. I felt like saying that I was a terrible driver, and I'm still not a comfortable one, but I feel like that's agreeing with them, because I was a girl at the time (not that this group necessarily knows that). I felt like saying that if boys are better drivers, why are their insurance rates higher? I felt like saying that drawing a conclusion about genders based on your two children is completely ridiculous.

What I did was sit there silently and be uncomfortable, and I noticed that the (one) other man in the room didn't say anything either. When women express sexist stereotypes, how can we help?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sexual numbers, revisited

This morning, on the way to work, I was thinking about the "differences in average sexual partners" problem again, in reference to Gale's 2007 mathematical proof that the average for men and women must be the same. I thought of a couple explanations for differences in self-report that may not have anything to do with social pressures.

First, there is the chance that men are reporting the same woman more than once. It does not seem implausible to me that a man could count the same woman as three separate "conquests", while that woman would define their relationship as "on-again-off-again dating." Anecdatally, I believe it's not at all improbable to forget someone you've had sex with. Boy, was that an awkward conversation.

Another question I wondered about was the definition of "sex." I have rarely encountered heterosexual men who spend a lot of time thinking about what the word "sex" means. I'm wondering whether anyone has looked for gender differences in what "counts". I would actually expect a dose-specific effect, where the more experience you've had, the more things count as sex, but wouldn't be surprised to find out that dose-specific effects vary by gender; i.e. that men with a lot of experience count fewer contacts as sex while women with a lot count more. It would be foolish to discount social pressures for this option, but I'm not sure they are necessary to explain it.

Finally, there's record-keeping, which I would have guessed would favor women in terms of reporting higher numbers of partners. I have not encountered many men who admit to keeping a list of their conquests. Nearly all the women I've spoken to about it admit that they have at least one such list, often annotated with additional detail like location, types of contact, etc.

Mostly, I suspect I have trouble accepting the self-report explanation due to my personal selection bias. I don't spend a lot of time around guys who I feel are likely to inflate their numbers, or around women who I think would lower theirs. It's probably a bit of self-delusion, as is the idea that just because I forget having sex with people, it's probably not that uncommon. Honestly, I find any theory that leaves me as an outlier fairly suspect. I'm just not that special.

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Friday, June 26, 2009


According to the , the average age of retirement for men and women was the same in 1998: 64 years old. predicted that age at retirement would continue to fall for men and women into the 2000's, but as a article suggests, current census figures don't seem to follow the predicted pattern. More people over 65 are remaining in the workforce.

Speaking of retirement: I think I'd better officially retire Difference Blog before I start to really slack on it. I haven't been satisfied with the quality of my posts for a while, and I'm not finding more time to do it in. This Tuesday, I just flat-out missed a day right after taking two weeks away from the blog. I haven't made Difference Blog the type of blog I'd want to read, and it's increasingly not the type I want to write. I'm not saying that this is the last DB post, but I clearly can't keep up with 5 posts per week anymore. Thanks for all your comments and feedback over the past (nearly) three years.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

[Filler] Penis Power

I'm in a class this morning and didn't have time to post. However, talking to a coworker while I got my coffee, we got onto the subject of HBO. HBO doesn't scrimp on the presentation of breasts, ass, or cursing, but I'm not recalling much in the way of male exposure. My coworker described the condition as "Advanced Penis Deprivation"; and we spent some time discussing what I've long considered a double standard about the taboo surrounding naked bodies.

Is it really a double standard? Does it bother you?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Biases affect Performance

provide additional support for the effect of on academic performance. Using gender bias data from and scores from the , Nosek's study found that countries where stronger gender biases existed also showed greater disparities in TIMSS performance between girls and boys. (see other )

I'd be interested to see if there's a regional difference in biases within the U.S. or Canada. Do people in Montana hold difference gender biases than people in California, or Texas, or Massachusetts? Do gender disparities in math and science performance mirror these differences, if they exist? I feel like using regional differences within a country might control for some portion of the huge array of cultural confounds that I suspect plague international studies. The cultures are regionally diverse, but there is a common language and legal system, and I feel like that would help.

I feel like the big "key", if there is a one, to stereotype threat is the self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe what I mean is that stereotype threat assumes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm concerned that it rules out a valid interpretation of available data. Let's say, for some unknown reason, that there is an innate gender difference ability in math and science in Chile, but not in Cyprus. Wouldn't it make sense for the people in those countries to have beliefs that reflected that reality? I don't think that's the case, but I'm not sure it's appropriately ruled out by the stereotype threat studies -- because they assume that the biases create the performance, rather than performance creating the biases.

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