Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘sexism

Bad-faith assumptions in debate / allegations of e.g. sexism

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Accusations of e.g. sexism are often entirely unwarranted and accusations (in general) from the PC crowd are often exaggerated in a highly distortive manner, often involving undue speculation about motives or the assumption of a hidden agenda, e.g. in the form “criticizes immigration policy” => “must be a racist”.

In the border-areas of these two problems there are some interesting special cases that I have seen repeatedly over the years,* often involving clear non-sequiturs and/or bad faith. The latter in two variations: Firstly, in that the attacker can be acting in bad faith, e.g. maliciously distorting for rhetorical purposes. Secondly, in that the attacker assumes that the attacked spoke in bad faith, making the attack a case of incompetence. (I also point to Hanlon’s Razor and the standard recommendation for Wikipedia editors to assume good faith for further thought.) While I will not necessarily point explicitly to these complications below, they are almost always present to some degree, and I ask the reader to actively consider them when reading the reminder of the text.

*Because I have learned my lesson and try to stay away from Feminist debates, they have been much rarer to me lately than in the past. For this reason, I have few specific examples and links. Similar topics have occurred implicitly in a few older texts, however. I point e.g. to [1] and to my conflicts with and concerns about German blogger Antje Schrupp, discussed in e.g. [2] and [3]. An old debunking of a “male privilege checklist” is likely to contain some examples and/or some material overlapping with the below items.

A few (likely incomplete) examples:

  1. Interpreting criticism of Feminism as misogyny or as having an anti-woman agenda.

    Even if Feminism was a true equality movement (it is not, outside its own propaganda), criticism of it must be allowed. Jumping to (or, possibly, pretending to jump to) conclusions beyond the criticism it self is almost always unwarranted. Equating anti-Feminism with e.g. misogyny is comparable to equating anti-Communism with hatred of the working class.

  2. Interpreting opposition to equality of outcome as misogyny.

    Apart from the renewed non-sequitur, equality of outcome is not equality at all—true equality is equality of opportunity.

  3. Interpreting the belief in physical differences, be they speculative or well-documented by science, as misogyny.

    We must try to see the world as it actually is—not the way we want it to be. This includes being open to possibilities that do not match a preconceived opinion or an ideological agenda, and to respect that others might have a deviating opinion for a non-misogynistic (non-racist, non-whatnot) reason. (It does not include agreeing with that reason, but I would welcome it if e.g. Feminists were to take the trouble to actually research matters with an open mind, instead of blindly believing claims by other believers and the pseudo-scientific field of gender studies—they would find reason to modify a great number of opinions.)

    As an aside, a common sub-problem is that members of the PC crowd fail to consider individual variation, or that their opponents understand individual variation, resulting in absurd conclusions like the opponent who says that the average X of group A is better than that of group B being taken to imply that every single member of group A has a better X than every single member of group B. This including implicit variations, e.g. that the existence of one single member of group B of who excels in X is taken as counter-proof. (Where “X” can refer to a wide range of measures, abilities, whatnot, e.g. IQ or the ability to play chess. Height and the ability to long jump are good examples of similar measures that do not usually* receive this misinterpretation, and that implicitly show why the misinterpretation is idiotic.)

    *Exceptions can exist. Apparently, e.g., the opinion that Serena Williams would not be competitive with even fairly low-ranking male tennis players has been condemned as sexist—without bothering to actually investigate the factual correctness or faultiness of the claim. This shows an element of wishful thinking that is common in PC circles—I want the truth to be this-or-that; ergo, the truth is this-or-that.

  4. Interpreting criticism of an individual woman as criticism of women in general. For example, the claim “Hillary Clinton would be a useless President” has been extrapolated to “Hillary Clinton would be a useless President because she is a woman” (implying “any female President would be useless”)—where the speaker is far more likely to have his eyes set on her weird opinions, disputable morals, relative lack of qualifications, … More extreme extrapolations like* “women are useless in politics” or even “women are useless” are not unheard of.

    *I do not recall whether I have seen such in the case of Hillary Clinton, but similar extrapolations have definitely occurred. I use examples on the same base for consistency.

    This item (and the following) is outright baffling, and one that makes me believe that these interpretations are often either deliberately dishonest (to allow e.g. an ad-hominem attack) or based on the (horribly misguided) blanket assumption that a significant portion of the male population is deliberately trying to oppress women.

  5. Interpreting factual and valid criticism of an individual woman as being motivated by misogyny, a wish to put women in general down, or similar. As a special case, (typically incorrectly) assuming that a man who had displayed a similar behavior would not have been criticized in a similar manner.

    (See preceding item.)

  6. Interpreting any and all mention of women’s looks, irrespective of reason, as misogyny (cf. excursion). Slightly off-topic, we also have the related problem of taking any and all depiction of women that could be seen as sexualized as misogyny, objectification, or whatnot. In rare extremes, even the depiction of too good-looking women is deemed unacceptable, e.g. through “setting unrealistic standards” (cf. another excursion).

    See below for a more specific example.

    This item is not just a non-sequitur, but also often paradoxical in that implies that praising a woman for some aspect of her being would diminish her. If an accomplished women is also good looking, what is wrong with enjoying her looks—especially, when she is obviously deliberately trying to look good? If anything, the implied assumption that men would not be able to appreciate a woman for her brains or her accomplishments is the true sexism… For that matter, I suspect that more women appreciate men for the “wrong” reasons than vice versa.*

    *This is speculative, obviously, but no more so than corresponding claims by e.g. Feminists. More generally, I have the personal impression that men might e.g. like a beautiful actress because they enjoy looking at her, but leave it at that, while women are more likely to jump to a broader admiration of handsome actors, assuming that they are handsome and X, Y, Z even when the evidence is scant or outright contradictory.

  7. Interpreting any negative treatment, any treatment construable as negative, or even the lack of preferential treatment, as misogyny.

    For instance, just a few days ago, sexism accusations were raised when Australian TV failed to interrupt the broadcast of an on-going men’s game in favor of a women’s game about to start ([4]). True, one of the women, Ashleigh Barty, was both Australian and the women’s world number one—but also true: both men were Australian; their match was hard fought, while Barty’s was expected to be (and, indeed, was) a formality; their match was already far progressed, while the women’s were about to start; the men’s match was likely to end before the women’s, had the women’s match been hard fought, implying that the most interesting part of the women’s match could still have been shown; and viewer interest* appears to have favored the men’s match. Even those who would see the case for the women’s match as stronger would be hard-pressed to make a convincing argument for sexism as the motivation—not e.g. someone simply coming to another conclusion based on objective criteria.

    *Of course, some Feminists appear to reason that this disparity in interest is it self a sign of sexism, in need of intervention…

    I have found it a useful exercise to just reverse the roles in a situation and see how the interpretation changes. Assume that the sexes above were reversed and that the broadcast had been changed—would this have been OK or had loud accusations of sexism still followed? My money is on the latter, because in situations like these it is rarely a matter of what is fair on objective grounds—it is a matter of what is to the advantage or disadvantage of women. Generally, this exercise is excellent in revealing the enormous hypocrisy that applies pro women, e.g. behaviors that are tolerated when they would be inacceptable from a man, claims that would or not would not be OK with the roles reversed, etc.

Notably, such interpretations are typically made in a blanket manner, in an obvious assumption of “bad faith”, and without considering whether there might, e.g., be a valid reason for a given criticism. Consider e.g. the poster “Gabriella2” on the Track and Field News forums, which I have occasionally visited: I have noticed him* going off on absurd “bad faith” tangents on a number of occasions. Finally, in what was the trigger for writing this text, he seems to have gone too far and actually received a ban.** The originating*** incident is “bambam1729”, a physician, making an aside remark that he is concerned about Konstanze Klosterhalfen, a very thin female runner, being anorexic. This sets Gabriella2 of again, with claims likes “And then attention is turned to Klosterhalfen. Women are either too muscular, or too thin…Jesus give me strength!”.****

*According to mentions in the linked-to thread, despite the name, the poster appears to be male. While I am myself skeptical, both because of the type of the repeated accusations and because of style of writing, I will use pronouns based on this claim. Certainly, there are plenty of men who are similarly stupid.

**Note that this thread originated as posts in another, likely for a Diamond League event, and appears to have been split-off after the fact. Further note that some of Gabriella2’s posts might have been deleted by the moderators, as is often the case when a ban occurs.

***There was some prior discussion not included here that might have set the mood or agitated people in advance. Parts might be present in another split-off thread (but I have not tried to track what of the original discussion eventually went where).

****I note that phrases like “give me strength”, “here we go again”, “not this shit again”, and similar, are quite common with this type of debater—but that it is usually the rest of the world that needs strength to put up with them and their ever-recurring crap.

Well-reasoned posts by others have no effect, including:

(By bambam1729)

I brought up Klosterhalfen, and if you think that’s inappropriate you have never treated a 20-25 yo woman with stress fractures in their hip, or operated on hip fractures, and seen all the problems that are caused by the female athletic triad. As I said, it was my doctor coming out. I don’t give a shit what she looks like from an appearance point of view, I do care what anorexia does to a female body. The loss of bone strength from it at her age is not recoverable.

With “female athletic triad”, a term not previously familiar to me, he likely refers to something discussed in [5].

(By DrJay, presumably also a physician)

[…]

And I share bambam’s concern about anorexia, and had the exact same thoughts about Klosterhalfen. And take note that posters on this board have not been pointing at the many, many other female (or male) middle or long distance runners about their slender or skinny builds, i.e. Klosterhalfen is an exception and looks like stress fractures and more waiting to happen. Has nothing to do with some sort of “ideal” body, but everything to do with a sometimes fatal mental illness.

(By DrJay, replying to Gabriella2’s accusations of hypocrisy in treatment of male and female athletes)

Most (all?) world class male shot putters are overweight, carrying a lot of extra body fat. Most world class distance runners, male and female, are skinny, underweight by many standards, and I don’t recall seeing concern or criticism for that here before. The difference is that Klosterhalfen, anthropomorphically, is an (extreme) outlier among outliers. She is, as bambam said, cachectic.

Maybe you should start a thread discussing the health risks incurred by the body habitus of male shot putters. I doubt any of us would argue that they are not at increased risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.

As for bambam1729, he finally had enough of Gabriella2 and his nonsense:

OK, Gabriella, that’s it. Call me at [number*] and we’ll discuss this like adults.

As for the message board, that’s it for me. Its been a fun 10 years or so. Don’t care to deal with people who tell me my medical license should be taken away, or I don’t know anything about medical journals, when the people telling me that don’t know shit about medicine.

I’ll await your call.

*The original post does contain the real number, but I prefer to remove it on a “just in case” basis.

Excursion on attention to women and misogyny:
This is possibly the largest non-sequitur of all.

For instance, why should attraction to a woman be something negative?!?! Why would it diminish an accomplished woman if people who appreciate her accomplishment also take note of her looks? If people who do not care for her field* appreciate her for another reason than her accomplishment? This especially when it comes to women who obviously strive to look good.

*A particular common variation is someone who does not care for women’s sports, but who still can appreciate a good looking female athlete. Another is someone with only a casual or an “Olympics only” interest in sports in general, who takes note. (Based on age and physical training, athletes are, obviously, more likely to be admired for their looks than e.g. physicists.)

Why would it be wrong to (as above) raise concerns about a woman potentially being too thin for her own good? Similarly, too fat for her own good? Etc.

When it comes to negative opinions about optics, I can see a partial point along the lines of “if you cannot say anything positive; do not say anything”*; however, while a violation of this principle might be rude or insensitive, there is nothing misogynous about it.

*But I would limit the validity of this principle to specific circumstances, to the degree that I support it all, e.g. when speaking directly to the potentially insulted party and having no specific reason to say anything hurtful. (A specific reason could be e.g. a sub-standard piece of work that needs replacement.)

Talk of “objectification” is particularly absurd: Either it is nonsense or such an everyday matter that it cannot be considered bad, because, by the same standard, admiring a singer for his voice would be worthy of condemnation—as would seeing a baker as a source of bread, without bothering to build a personal relationship.

Excursion on “setting unrealistic standards”:
This is something that has long puzzled me—why should the average woman be depressed because she cannot match a “professional beauty”? Someone who has not only had great luck with genetics, but also has had that more time to spend on her looks, access to better advice and helpers, is wearing professional make-up, and has been photographed (or even re-touched) professionally? (And if she is, why should she not feel the same way when e.g. hearing of a Nobel Laureate?) Would this not rather point to a problem with e.g. the self-perspective in the individual woman than to a problem with modern media? A more rational attitude is to take things for what they are, understand that not everyone can be good at everything* and that looks are not all that matters, use the professional beauties as inspirations or a means to find ways to improve one self (should this be wanted), etc.

*In contrast, if someone dedicates years of work to excellence in a particular area and then falls short of the original hopes, then I would have larger sympathies.

By all means, I too was fairly insecure when I was a teenager, but (a) I grew out of it, (b) I never saw e.g. Schwarzenegger* movies as a problem that put me down, (c) by and large, media influence was a positive, because it contributed** to moving me to improve myself (and even at that, I trailed most of my male class mates by years). If anything, seeing that I was (then) considerably below average in athleticism, my class mates were a greater source of insecurity—and should we then go down the road of “Harrison Bergeron” to protect the feelings of teenage boys and girls***?

*To boot, as an adult, I consider him too bulky for my own preferences.

**To what degree depends on how inclusive “media” is taken and the exact intent. Movies certainly were a part; fashion magazines were not. Certainly, the brain-washy aspect often implied in Feminist rhetoric was not present—but an aspect of seeing e.g. how the same actor could come across extremely differently in different roles, or in the same role in different seasons of a TV series, was.

***Absent fashion magazines and whatnot, they will still have comparisons in their vicinity—taller girls, girls with bigger breasts, girls with better faces, girls who are slimmer, girls with more muscle, girls with more expensive clothes, …

From another point of view, should we deny others the right to look at depictions of beautiful women or muscular men? Should we ban magazines from using images that people want to see, even at the risk of damaging their profits? Should we force advertisers* to use images that are hurtful to product sales?

*Note that I am generally negative towards modern day advertising, and would be open to some legal restrictions, including on the amount of advertising, the use of animations, and profiling. Beautiful women are one of the very few positive aspects about advertising, however. I also note that some attempts to use “real” people have been less than appetizing, and are better avoided out of concern for the viewers. For instance, during my visits to Sweden, I was repeatedly exposed to an advert of an old crone lying in a bath tub—WTF! I did my best to look in other directions and do not even know what the advert was for…

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Written by michaeleriksson

July 5, 2019 at 8:01 am

Hope Solo and misguided legal actions

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It appears that Hope Solo is up to her old tricks again: According to a recent entry on her blog, she is initiating a federal law-suit to get “equal” pay. This in a continuation of an earlier suit ([1]).

These are highly unfortunate developments, which risk setting a damaging precedence, should the suit be successful, removing or weakening the performance aspect of remuneration and risking more “Title IX”-style problems. And that is just in sports: If and when such procedures catch on in the overall economy, there is no telling what the results could be. (I have a number of older texts on related problems, including [2], [3], [4].)

For want of new details, I have briefly looked into the original situation. Going by [1], the (then) complaint alleged that “[t]here are no legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for this gross disparity of wages, nor can it be explained away by any bona fide seniority, merit or incentive system or any factor other than sex”.

I have already discussed much of this matter in an older post on remuneration in Swedish soccer, and I will not re-iterate the arguments made there. However, I do explicitly note that audience figures are similarly poor among women compared to men in the U.S.: For instance, Wikipedia on MLS attendance and NWSL attendance shows that the MLS for 2017 had a total of 8,270,187 spectators over 374 games, with a mean attendance of 22,113—while the NWSL had 609,960 spectators over 120 games, with a mean attendance of 5,083. In other words, less than quarter per game and less than a third of the games…* (For further reference, a single 17-game round of the Bundesliga often exceeds the above season’s total of the NWSL.) The (international) situation in the men’s World Cup and the women’s World Cup is less extreme, but has the same tendency. For instance, the last four men’s tournaments have averaged roughly 50 thousand spectators at 64 games each. The best women’s average was 37,944 over 32 games in 1999; the highest overall attendance was in 2015 after the number of games had been pushed to 53—but with a mere 26,029 in average attendance.

*A better comparison would take total revenue and/or ticket prices into account, but, with the large difference in spectators, the research would not pay off—even a considerably higher ticket price for women’s games would not make up for this difference. To boot, chances are that the men’s tickets are more expensive due to greater demand; to boot, any difference in ticket price would be reduced by secondary game-visit costs, like overpriced hot-dogs.

The lawsuit appeared to claim that the women’s team would actual earn more money for the U.S. soccer federation than the men’s team. Here I have two objections:

Firstly, if that is the case, the women should have an excellent bargaining position and their first move should be to negotiate (see also an excursion below)—not sue. There might or might not be some deranged Old White Man somewhere who takes a perverted pleasure in keeping women down, but, contrary to Feminist propaganda, this is a rare case indeed. Motivations like a wish for more money and more power are far, far more common, and those who can give them what they want can get something in return. Starving the golden goose is just stupid. However, do not expect to get things without negotiating for them: Big organizations rarely work that way; and there are plenty of both Old White Men and Young Black Women who are more than happy to underpay everyone who lets them get away with it.

Secondly, the claim is at best misleading, as can be suspected from the above. I had a look* at a PDF-report with official numbers that is linked in [1]:

*A detailed interpretation might require more background information or more detailed numbers, and I make reservations for errors of interpretation.

Generally, it is misleading to base comparisons of a single year and a greater time stretch has to be considered: The numbers for each team can vary considerable based on the external circumstances of the year, as when the men’s World Cup in 2014 (fiscal year* 2015) increased the numbers for the men in that year and the women’s World Cup in 2015 (fiscal year 2016) did the same for women in that year. Furthermore, there is often a dependency on short-term success, which also make any short-term comparisons misleading. What e.g. if the U.S. women had missed their mark in 2015 the way they did in the Olympics in 2016?** Indeed, the great budgeted numbers for the women’s team in 2017 include an “Olympic Victory Tour” (chart 2; chart 3 for the men). I do not know what the later real games and numbers were, but I do know that the U.S. Women did not win the preceding Olympics, making this “Olympic Victory Tour” a budgetary distortion.***

*Unless referring to a championship, references to years will be fiscal years below.

**Note that I am not arguing that their success should be discounted—they did win and do deserve the credit (and any bonuses they might have negotiated in advance). What I do argue is that differences from one tournament to another (especially, when combined with the question of what tournaments are available in the given year) make it important to be cautious with prognoses for the future. They won in 2015, but flopped in 2016. The German men won the World Cup in 2014 (and were Olympic runner-ups in 2016), but were last in their group in 2018. Keep in mind particularly that there is always an element of chance involved and that even the best team of the tournament is unlikely to win it without at least some luck.

***Interestingly, per game, the men’s budget had both higher average attendance and higher average ticket-prices, making it reasonable with higher per game rewards for the men. (Per game rewards appearing to be one of the main bones of contention. I make no claim as to how much higher would be reasonable at this stage, however.) Note that the overall numbers are further distorted by the greater number of “away” games for the men.

Further, the numbers are not that flattering for the women. True, page 68 shows a projected income from “Men’s National Team Events” of 21,047,216 for 2016 compared to 23,570,326 + a World Cup 3,234,600 for the women—leaving the women almost six million ahead.* However, actual numbers for 2015 show 14,867,576 + 12,892,819 for the men, reaching higher than the women in their World Cup year—and the overall for the women in 2015 is a mere 3,160,386… 2014 tells a similar story—men clearly ahead. The budget for 2017 would show women ahead again, but here we have the influence of the “Olympic Victory Tour” (cf. above). (No other years are listed.) The tentative** conclusion is that the men’s team brings more money and/or that we have to wait and see what happens with future revenue, before judging*** what would, in some sense, be fair.

*There are some other entries with no obvious sex relation, including “International Games”. I have not attempted to investigate their nature.

**A longer time series would be interesting and could alter this conclusion.

***But not before negotiating: The time for the team to hit the negotiating table, and to do so hard, was immediately after the 2015 gold.

It is true, however, that the men’s team also has had higher expenses (cf. page 71), implying that its profitability relative the women’s team might not have been as good as the revenue indicated. Then again, in the budget for 2017, this is changed and the women have about five million more in expenses… (Likely, the “Olympic Victory Tour” again.) To boot, the demands by Solo et al. would drive the women’s expenses even higher.

A point where the women’s team might* have an argument is the area of publicity and sponsorships. However, if so: (a) The continuation of this is contingent on continued success. (b) The individual players should already have been benefactors through their own sponsorship deals. (c) The better solution would be to generally pay out more of “central” sponsorships to the players instead of fattening the federation. (d) If there really is a long-term effect, this should manifest in better attendance numbers, which can then be used for negotiations and/or will lead to semi-voluntary increases by the federation. (e) Strong publicity and sponsorship effects are a perfect base for negotiations—so negotiate.

*This is not unambiguously clear from the parts of the report I have read.

Excursion on Hope Solo:
As for Hope Sole herself, I have done a bit of reading today, and note that, in addition to her dubious legal actions and payment stance, she is alleged to have badly physically abused several relatives (and threatened police officers, and whatnot), and has been referred to as a “piece of work” by Pia Sundhage* (re-quoted through the New York Times). She has been mentioned on this blog before ([5]), that time in her defense. While I stand by my defense in that issue,** I have at least heard the claim that her suspension was based more on prior behavior than the incident at hand. (But this should be taken with a grain of salt, considering that misrepresentations by the other party are not unusual.) The bearing of this on her payment case is at most circumstantial; however, it is interesting how often Feminist activists (and similar people) have similarly shady behavior patterns and personalities.

*In addition to being a former long-time U.S. national-team trainer with considerable exposure to Solo, she was also one of the best player’s in the world in the early years of women’s soccer. The latter implies both that she is not a bureaucrat talking down a player without understanding her situation and that she is likely to have encountered more unwarranted sexual discrimination than Solo.

**Even assuming that the secondary, vague, allegations are true and refer to something less forgivable: Prior behavior might very well have an influence on the degree of punishment; however, it must not make things illegal that are legal for someone with a better background. (Excepting cases where there is a strong reasonable connection and where the consequences are public knowledge well in advance, e.g. that someone convicted for a felony might be forbidden to own a gun. Even here, however, it is better to err on the side of “too little”.)

Excursion on negotiation:
Should negotiation fail, we have to consider the “why”. It could, for instance, be that the parties involved simply see the world so differently that no mutually satisfactory agreement is possible, in which case the sides need to consider their alternatives (up to and including a refusal to play, in the current case). It could be that the party requesting a change does not make its argument effectively, in which case it might hire a professional negotiator (or a better one, should one already be present). It could be that the one side holds out in the belief that the other side will cave, and then the other side needs to prove the opposite.

It could also be that the one side has a so disproportionately better situation that it can more-or-less dictate terms—which might very well be the case here, and would be well in line with some of my other writings (e.g. in [5]). If, as here, this party is a sports organization dictating to its athletes, however, we have another and more urgent matter—making the organization a tool for the athletes, not the athletes tools for the organization. Focus on that and the issue of negotiation will resolve it self; neglect it and other actions are tantamount to Sisyphus rolling his stone up the hill. (Had this been Solo’s complaint, she would have had my support.)

Written by michaeleriksson

August 30, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Swedish gender nonsense and bandy

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I have written about the absurd Swedish take on equality (in general) and equality in sports (in particular) in the past. (For example in [1].) The last few weeks, the sports police have been at it again—with what might take the cake:

The fact that the women’s bandy world championship is played on the ice of a lake instead of in a rink is proof that women are mistreated, men and bandy are sexist, or whatnot…

Well:

  1. Even if the decision was wrong, this is not necessarily proof of anything. I am not privy to the decision-making process, but it could quite easily have been something along the line of the international federation giving the championships to China to expand the sport* (cf. below) and the Chinese simply not having a rink** suitable for a world championship (or having promised to build one, only to find themselves out of money). For that matter, they could have wanted to give an authentic (cf. below) introduction to the sport. If worst comes to worst, chances are that any sexism involved was restricted to one or several individuals—nothing more, nothing less. Moreover, in as far as sex played a role, it is very likely to have been in an indirect manner, based on the state of the men’s and women’s bandy (cf. below) or the expected costs and earnings from the event.

    *China only even having a national federation since 2014…

    **Note that the playing field in bandy is more like a soccer field than an ice-hockey field/rink, making the setup that much more resource intense and ruling out the use of many existing artificial ice areas, including typical hockey and ice-skating rinks.

  2. What is wrong with playing on a lake in the first place? It does seem a little unprofessional and there is chance that e.g. the element of chance is increased—but not to a degree that it would have a major impact on the results (considering the state of the women’s sport; cf. below). There are, obviously, differences to playing in a proper rink, but they are not earth-shatteringly large—and the differences present will likely introduce complications of a type that, say, skiers and golfers have to deal with every single time. That games are played outside is the rule either which way—unlike with ice-hockey, question like “with or without a roof” are of little relevance. For that matter, bandy is usually considered a sport for people willing to put up with quite a lot from nature, notably several hours of sometimes biting cold; and to complain about playing on a lake does not seem to be in this traditional spirit.

    Moreover, a great many men’s games have been played on lakes over the years; and for a long time it might even have been the most common setting. (No matter whether rinks are more common today.)

    Considering the low number of expected spectators, it might even have been a better experience for them than using a rink…

  3. In terms of participation, money, popularity, and whatnot, bandy is small sport even among men—with the exception of Sweden (and possibly Sweden’s closest neighbors). For the women, the situation is far worse, as is demonstrated by the medal table in the world championships:

    After the current and 9th championships (played this week), we have little Sweden a dominant leader with 8 Golds and 1 Silver—followed by Russia with 1 Gold and 8 Silvers… The Bronze medals are more even, divided between Norway at 5 and Finland at 4, but still show the limited depth of the sport. Even the 4th places are limited, being divided between Canada and the aforementioned Norway and Finland.

    This year, we saw a whole of 8 teams participating—after the federation failed to find the planned 12 teams willing and able to compete… The medals went Sweden–Russia–Norway (surprise!), with Sweden and Russia being entirely unthreatened in all games but two—the ones they played each other (winning one each). Norway beat Finland a convincing 5–2 in the Bronze game and USA 4–0 in a group game. In its other three games, this Bronze winner was destroyed, losing once to Russia (5–0) and Sweden (9(!)–0) in the group phase and a semi-final re-match against Sweden (5–0).

    The international standard is so low (as is often the case with small sports) that the two groups were deliberately lop-sided to keep things “exciting”. In fact, this to the degree that the real championship arguably consisted of just the four teams from Group A, who took three automatic semi-final places and all three medals, and was a hair’s breadth from taking all four and the fourth place to boot.

    Hair’s breadth? Well, the fourth placer in group A, USA, who failed to score a single goal or winning a single point, played the utterly dominant winner of group B, Finland, for the fourth semi-final—and lost after a penalty shot-out. Finland was then taken down 4–0 by runner-up Russia in its semi-final.

    Utterly dominant? Well, if you think that some of the previous wins were large, consider that Finland went 9–0, 10–0, and 27(!!!)–0 against respectively Estonia, China, and Switzerland.

    Moreover, looking at the sum of 19 games played, only 5 (!) saw the losing team even score a goal—and only three were won with less than three goals. (Specifically, the two Sweden–Russia games and the Finland–USA game.)

    With these differences, I would be unsurprised if the women’s Swedish championships has better depth and (outside the two games between Sweden and Russia) quality than these, as it were, world championships—and there are likely hundreds of men’s soccer teams in Germany alone that play on a higher international level than eight-placer Switzerland…

  4. As for spectators? The Wikipedia page currently links to four match reports. One, home-team China’s first game, show a whopping 350 spectators; the other three 50* each… While this might (or might not) have improved in later games, I feel confident that the grand-total of (physically present) spectators for the entire tournament would have been seen as a fiasco had they occurred in a single game of the men’s soccer Bundesliga. (Unless, that is, the Chinese regime decided to force participation during the later stages…)

    *Some rounding or rough estimation might be involved.

For the above, I have drawn data from the Wikipedia pages on bandy, the 2018 World Championship, and Women’s Bandy World Championship; as well as the Swedish videotext* to supplement the (currently still) incomplete data for 2018 on Wikipedia.

*Note that content here is not preserved in the long-term. Readers should not expect this link to deliver the right contents for more than a few days; however, the same contents should appear on Wikipedia in due time.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 13, 2018 at 11:55 pm

PC annoyances

with 3 comments

One of the great annoyances and proofs of human stupidity is the many, many, many news items where poor reasoning or ignorance is used to support a politically correct agenda (be it by the journalist or the politicians, whatnot, reported on). I regularly find myself keeping a browser tab open, because I want to write something about a particularly idiotic item—but before I get around to it a week has passed and I have ten open tabs. (At which point I usually resign myself and just close them.)

Particularly common problems include:

  1. Variations of the 77-cents-on-the-dollar myth, which has been debunked for years*. Recently, e.g., the video-text of the German ARD reported that Germany is about to introduce transparency rules implying that women should have a (presumably asymmetric) right to find out what men in similar positions in their companies earn.

    *Cf. e.g. several earlier posts.

    A major problem with this is that just having the same (let alone a “similar”) position is not that strong an indication of what someone earns or should earn. Other criteria include actual performance, experience, education, how long the position has been held, and (very notably) negotiating* skill and tactic.

    *It could be argued that this is a bad thing, but as is it is a fact of life. I also suspect that it would be hard to abolish without risking a system where everyone is payed based on purely formal criteria, e.g. years in the company.

    The last item is particularly interesting, because men* tend to be more aggressive negotiators and are relatively more likely to turn down offers based on money—while increasing the risk of periods of unemployment and rejections. We can now have scenarios where four out of four women are hired at X (in some currency, for some time interval), while out of four more aggressively negotiating men three are hired at 1.1X and the fourth goes unemployed. The women find out that the three men earn more (while being ignorant of or disregarding the fourth), demand a raise with charges of sexual discrimination, and we end up with four women and three men earning 1.1X and one unemployed man… One group takes the high risk road for a higher reward and the other group receives the same reward without taking the risks… (With many variations, e.g., that is possible that everyone would have gotten 1.1X at a given company—but that only the men asked for it. Negotiations are there because the employers want to pay the least amount they can get away with—not because they want to systematically give women less money. I have even been asked outright what the smallest offer was that I would accept…)

    *Here and elsewhere I take is as granted that we speak of group differences, relative probabilities, and so on. That individual variations exists is a given and will not be spelled out.

    The first item (performance) is also of of extreme importance: In software development, my own field of practice, the difference in output and quality can be so large that it would often be easily justifiable to pay the one developer twice as much as the other. (Unfortunately, the decision makers are usually under the very unfortunate misconception that software developers are fungible and differences of that size are far rarer than they should be. Still, that someone earns 10, 20, 0r 30 % more is not automatically a sign of discrimination, skill at negotiation, or any non-performance factor—quite often it is a result of better performance.)

  2. Variations of women-are-not-successful-in-technology-due-to-discrimination.

    The truth is simply this: Men and women have different aptitudes and interests. Men more often end up as e.g. software developers and women as e.g. kindergarten teachers because that matches their natural preferences. Too boot, the women I have encountered so far in software development have only very rarely broken into the top half of the pack; off the top of my head, I recall no single woman who broke into the top quarter. (But I stress that my sample is too small to make statements about the overall population of female developers with certainty.)

    A particularly idiotic example is reporting on Facebook’s diversity program (which I originally encountered in a German news source which just parrots the original without any critical thinking).

    Facebook wants to diversify, but this “has been hampered by a multi-layered hiring process that gives a small committee of high-ranking engineers veto power over promising candidates”. Of course those pesky white men are at it again: “The engineering leaders making the ultimate choices, almost all white or Asian men, often assessed candidates on traditional metrics like where they attended college, whether they had worked at a top tech firm, or whether current Facebook employees could vouch for them”.

    What makes this particularly outrageous is the mention of “white or Asian men” in manner that very obviously is intended to imply that “white or Asian men” is the actual problem. It is not: The criteria used by these “white or Asian men” are sound and justified. The problem here is not the decision making process—it is the lack of suitable candidates. If (!) there is a problem here it is not with Facebook but with earlier stages: Facebook cannot be faulted if too few members of minority groups have gone to Stanford and MIT. This article* makes creating diversity a higher priority than finding the right person for the job at hand—an absurd attempt to create equality of outcome through destroying equality of opportunity. Notably, there is not one shred of proof presented that the decision makers would discriminate based on e.g. ethnicity—but if the lead of the article was followed, they would be forced to do so!

    *There are a number of problems with the article that I will not analyze in detail, but most of them boil down to observing result X and concluding Y without regard for other alternatives. For instance, it is true that using school as a criterion at the last stage of the process, rather than the first stage, is a bad idea—but if school has not been considered appropriately in the earlier stages and the sensible people only have a say in the last stage, well, better late than never. For instance, the claim that promising candidates, cf. above, are filtered out, is unsubstantiated and an explanation of “promising” is not given. For all we know, “promising” could here mean nothing but “is Hispanic, has a bachelor, wants to work here”—which is a long way from “is Hispanic, has a master from MIT with a great GPA, and has ten years of relevant experience”.

    (Not to forget: There is nothing remarkable with these decision makers being “white or Asian men”. Almost certainly this also reflects the suitable candidates in an earlier generation.)

    What has happened here is easy to understand: Facebook started to search for more diversified candidates, put them into the process, and found them being filtered out again, because they were not satisfactory. By analogy, if a fisherman casts his net wider, he will still not get the fish that is small enough to slip through the net.

  3. “Mäns våld mot kvinnor” (“mens’ violence against women”) is a Swedish specialty, but has similar variations in e.g. the U.S. (notably the misconception that domestic violence is committed predominantly by men onto women, which is very far from true).

    Using this specific phrase, feminists has spent decades running a grossly sexist campaign that paints men as serial abusers and women as innocent victims. Violence in the other direction and any other form of violence is strictly ignored. Violence simply is not a problem for these people—except when the perpetrator is a man and the victim a woman. To boot, “Mäns våld mot kvinnor” is painted as gigantic problem, while it in reality is a marginal issue: The vast majority of men do not in any way, shape, or form abuse their women.

    Unfortunately, feminist populism has become such a staple in Swedish mainstream political rhetoric that this type of hate speech and sexist rhetoric is regularly uttered even by high level politicians.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 13, 2017 at 6:11 am

Self-centered women (yet another censored comment)

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Today, I found a “freshly pressed” poste that had very narrow-minded and one-sided, not to say sexist, take on men and how they should approach women. This post was followed by a number of equally narrow-minded comments (and a few more intelligent). Having seen the same self-absorbed prejudices on a great number of occasions, I left the following (apparently censored due to dissent) comment:

You seem to make the major mistake of confusing what works (does not work) with what is graceful/appropriate/whatnot (graceless/inappropriate/…)

Asking directly for a number may not work, but there is nothing inherently wrong with doing so. On the contrary, simply asking is direct and honest. Notably, what the asker actually wants is usually clear from context and any actual claims made are likely to just be excuses or steps on the road to the goal.

Several commenters discuss signals and hints. What most women fail to understand is that:

1. Men prefer and expect direct communication over hints and it is wrong for women to blame this incompatibility on men. They are themselves just as guilty—indeed, arguably more so, because direct communication is inherently more efficient. (Note the similarity to the earlier parts of my comment.)

2. Not every woman uses the same signals to imply a particular meaning. There is no infallible universal language to stick to, and if a man fails to correctly interpret the signals of one particular woman, it is occasionally because he is used to another “dialect” (for want of a better word).

(Two typos corrected.)

Written by michaeleriksson

March 18, 2011 at 10:09 pm