Sunday, October 07, 2007

Two things I read this morning.

Both by way of Feminist Philosophers: first, this extract in the Guardian from Deborah Cameron's new book, The Myth of Mars and Venus, carefully debunking popular and scientific myths about differences between men and women in communication.
In relation to men and women, our most basic stereotypical expectation is simply that they will be different rather than the same. We actively look for differences, and seek out sources that discuss them. Most research studies investigating the behaviour of men and women are designed around the question: is there a difference? And the presumption is usually that there will be. If a study finds a significant difference between male and female subjects, that is considered to be a "positive" finding, and has a good chance of being published. A study that finds no significant differences is less likely to be published.

And second, this grim account from the New York Times of epidemic rape in Congo, reminding us that some differences between men and women are real.
Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore.
Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.
“We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”

I don't know what to say.

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