Blog By Barry

January 21, 2009

Dodge Rams Are For Girly Men

Filed under: Sexism hurts men — Ampersand @ 6:12 pm

Real men, it appears, drive Chevys:

A lot of commercials make sexist appeals to insecurity about masculinity, but this one is impressive because it’s just so pure. The Dodge Ram has a heated steering wheel! Manicures! Pro football players! Unstated but heavily implied: Drive Chevy or die a wimp, wimp!

I like to imagine the ad agency people sitting around, spitballing. “You know the problem? Men think they can be real men just by driving any old ludicrously oversized truck. We want to make them know that if you’re in the wrong ludicrously oversized truck, then you’re a girl.”

Curtsy: Sociological Images and Feministe.

January 7, 2009

Male circumcision could be outlawed in Denmark

Filed under: Sexism hurts men — Ampersand @ 12:59 am

Via BigFred:

The Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper has reported that several parties in the Danish Parliament are considering legislation that would ban circumcision on boys as well as girls. After an intense week of discussions by MPs, it appears that the proposal for a ban covering both genders is gaining traction.[…]

At the centre of the debate is the question of religious freedom. Female circumcision was outlawed in Denmark because it was deemed a too-common practice among some Muslim immigrants. But Jewish tradition demands that boys be circumcised, and many Christians and Muslims support the practice as well. Denmark’s Ethics Council has criticised the practice, suggesting boys should wait until 15 to decide for themselves, the age at which a child has sole legal control over his or her body in Denmark.

I probably favor this ban, and think Jews and others should begin using alternative ceremonies. The main reason I say “probably” is that I wonder how effective the ban will be; if the only effect is to make religious minorities feel unwelcome while they have circumcisions performed anyway (either illegally or by making a day trip to Norway or Germany), then a program of pubic education to convince people to voluntarily move away from circumcision might be more effective.

(On the other hand, if an actual ban persuades all but the most orthodox members of religious minorities to leave their sons uncut, then good.)

January 5, 2009

On Boys’ Higher Accidental Death Rate

Filed under: Sexism hurts men — Ampersand @ 4:45 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new report out, about accidental deaths among children age 0-19. The most likely time for a kid to die in an accident is when they’re aged 15-19; the second most likely time is in the first year of life. (See the chart on page 25).

One thing that sticks out, glancing through the report, is that in every age group boys are more likely to die from an accident than girls. But the magnitude of the difference varies, as you can see in this chart:

Table showing injury-related accidental deaths by age and sex for children age 0 to 19

Under a year of age, the death rate for girls is 22 per 100,000, compared to 27 per 100 per boys, which is a fairly small difference (put another way, for every 10 girl infants who die accidently, 12 boy infants die accidentally). In contrast, for the 15-19 year olds, the rates are 20 and 45 per 100,000 — for every 10 girls who die, 23 boys die.

It’s also clear that the youngest and the oldest groups are the groups most at risk of dying by accident. In the youngest group, the most common cause of accidental death is suffocation; in all other age groups, the most common cause of death is a transportation-related accident (mostly accidents involving motor vehicles, although a few are accidents involving bikes). The slight uptick in the likelihood of 10-14 year olds dying — and then the enormous leap in deaths for 15-19 year olds — is entirely caused by the higher numbers of vehicle-related deaths in those age groups. ((See the graph on page 33 of the report.))

Most of the differences in accidental death rates, I suspect, come about because boys are encouraged by both grown-ups and peers to be physical risk-takers; part of being a boy’s boy, in our culture, is taking risks. I don’t say this to blame boys. Instead, I think this is one clear way society’s sexism, and in particular our conception of masculinity, is harming some boys.

Anti-feminist Robert Franklin doesn’t think risk-taking can explain why more boys age 10-14 die in vehicle accidents:

Given that children under the age of 14 generally don’t drive cars, what’s the explanation for that?

The explanation is, some 14 year olds do drive cars.

By far the highest death rates for kids age 10-14 are in Alaska and North Dakota ((See page 48 of the CDC report.)) — both states where 14 year olds can get learners permits. Meanwhile, the four states with the lowest death rates for 10-14 are states that won’t give learner’s permits until age 16.

Although there must be other factors involved, ((One state with learners permits for 14 year olds, Iowa, has only average death rates for 10-14 year olds.)) it’s clear that in areas where 14 year olds can legally drive, 14 year olds are more likely to die in car accidents. And probably 14 year old boys take more risks driving than 14 year old girls.

What really puzzles me is why boys under the age of 1 are about 50% more likely to die of suffocation than girls. Elkins suggested to me that boys may just be more fragile than girls at that age (which would also explain boys’ higher rates of SIDS). A couple of anti-feminists who have left comments to Robert’s post think it’s because evil male-hating women are selectively murdering infant boys and disguising the deaths as accidents. (Gee, there’s nothing insane-o about that movement.)

Another puzzling (to me) finding is that accidental deaths by poisoning are far more common among 15-19 year olds. One possibility is that “poisoning” includes alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses; another is that perhaps some suicide deaths are being counted as accidental deaths. (This is also a possibility for some of the vehicle-related deaths.)

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