Oct 30 2005

The Study Study


The alert reader will have observed that I am lately enamored of studies. Or more precisely, of newspaper reports on studies illuminating the errant deviating weirdness of women.

Some mornings, as I gaze beyond the crema on my espresso to contemplate another dusty cobweb on the ceiling, I imagine that I will one day conduct a groundbreaking study of my very own. The study will focus on studies. No dearth of raw material would impede my mission. Two or three chicks-are-freaks-of-nature studies pop up in my mailbox every day. Chinese women are more fatigued than men. UK women are more unhappy than men. Indian women feel more pain than men. Saudi women are more totally fucked in every way than men.

It boggles the mind to consider all the resources and time and effort put into proving that women are odd.

All studies have a hidden agenda, and my study of studies would be no exception. My hidden agenda would be to expose a great truth: that studies purporting to expose great truths either (a) merely validate the widely-held beliefs of the mainstream or (b) advance the nefarious purposes of the studier.

Since my study study would probably not validate very many widely-held beliefs of the mainstream, it would necessarily advance the nefarious purposes of the studier–in this case, me. So I would give a free pass to reports like this one, which reveals that women retirees in the UK are four times more likely to die in poverty than men because they were absent from the work force for 20 years while, without compensation, they raised the kids and cleaned the toilets.

But I would be fairly relentless with "studies" such as this glittering gem from the Hindustan Times, headlined "Women Are Bigger Fibbers Than Men!" The survey on which this story reports shows that 73% of Britons in general lie at least once day, but the "fact" that most captivates is the one suggesting that a whopping 75% of women prevaricate daily, as opposed to a paltry 68% of men.

Or how about "WOW (The Wonders of Women)"? This survey was, according to the Malaysia Star, conducted to reveal "what makes Asian women tick," but it actually does nothing but track the spending habits of affluent female Malaysians. Who, it turns out, enjoy manicures and expensive bags and, though they "acknowledge that aging is inevitable, they wish to look forever young and beautiful" and so will cough up for cosmetics and beauty treatments and boob jobs and labiaplasties.

The things that makes poor Asian women tick–fear, loathing, hunger, disease, violence–don’t sell well in malls.


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  1. curiousgyrl


    Other possible interpretations of above fact: women are more honest/stupid than men, thus MORE likely to accurately report daily lying!

  2. Nancy M

    Study finds overwhelming majority contribution to keyboard snotting around here made by I Blame the Patriarchy image subversion.
    10/10 for that sneaky bit of font wrangling lass.

  3. Knotted Knickers

    There are a few studies published every now and again proving that women aren’t freaks, but they seldom get the kind of press attention as the “women are freaks” studies that Twisty so dutifully deconstructs for us.

    Case in point: Psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde’s recent article, “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis.” Hyde did a statistical meta-analysis of the results of 46 other meta-analyses of gender difference (which means she’s combined the results of hundreds of studies) and found that overwhelmingly, women and men and girls and boys are more alike than they are different on pretty much everything psychologists have ever measured. She found statistically meaningful differences in only a few areas: motor performance, such as throwing distance and throwing velocity; some but not all measures of sexuality (there are large gender differences in frequency of masturbation and in attitudes toward casual sex – however, there’s virtually no gender difference in sexual satisfaction); and physical aggression (but the evidence regarding the magnitude of observed gender difference in relational aggression was ambiguous). Everything else that’s been measured – self-esteem, verbal ability, mathematical skill, leadership ability, negotiation skill, self-disclosure, moral reasoning, computer use, cheating behavior, and a bunch of other stuff – there’s either minimal difference or the statistical magnitude of the difference is so small as to be negligible.

    Hyde’s study was published in September in the academically reputable American Psychologist but her findings have yet to make front page (or even back page) news in the U.S. I blame the patriarchy.

  4. Knotted Knickers

    It looks like the APA is trying to charge 12 bucks for access to that article, but you can still download the PDF here for free – at least until the APA figures out that I’ve linked it in your blog.

  5. Twisty

    Hey KK, thanks for the link. I can’t wait to read this.

  6. The Fat Lady Sings

    c. Both of the above

    And what in the Sam Hill is a labiaplasty??? Never mind – sounds painful, stupid and I never want one so help me God.

  7. jennifer

    Labiaplasties are one of the latest rages for women. It’s basically chopping off part of the inner labia, because flappy lips aren’t cute. Feministing has had a lot on this, as did Women’s eNews. And yes, painful, stupid, and I don’t want one either.

    Twisty, if you’re not getting wigs, would you like some fake tattoos for your head?

  8. Chris Clarke

    Shorter Hyde: The main difference in competencies between men and women is that women are more likely to throw like women.

  9. ae

    I am so naming my band The Flappy Lips.

    That Hindustan Times article was too deep for me. Anybody have the Cliffs Notes?

  10. Ron Sullivan

    NOnono. We’re freaks of culture.

  11. Holly

    Here’s an article that made me feel a little better, from the Independent UK:

    Women are happier living the single life than men
    By Terri Judd
    Published: 27 October 2005

    Men are lonelier living on their own than women and less likely to appreciate the freedom and lack of compromise it brings, research has shown.

    The number of people choosing to live alone has almost doubled in the past 30 years with the shift most significant among men. The total of males under 65 living alone has tripled since 1971.


  12. Brooke

    From the office of the National Institute of Health Sciences:

    Dear Ms. Faster,
    We regret there is no funding available for the study you describe.

    As an aside, we wonder if this “patriarchy” you describe is a greater concern for women than for men. If so, we hypothesize that this skewed perspective arises from some innate flaw in women as a group.

    Undoubtedly a well-funded inquiry will confirm our theory.

    Have a nice day.

  13. BitingBeaver

    LMAO, Brooke that was utterly hilarious. You know Twisty, that’s most likely the response you’ll get when you apply for funding for your study on studies.

  14. PrissyNot

    Of COURSE women are happier living on their own than men! What fool wouldn’t know that? If a man lives with a woman, SHE usually ends up getting to do all the chores. So what woman wouldn’t appreciate not having to do for somebody else in ADDITION to herself; and as for the men, they aren’t happy because they don’t have someone else around to do everything for them and have to do it themselves. I’m going to go puke now over the labiaplasty. How many “plasties” turn into “ectomies?” As in female castration because the surgeon just doesn’t give an effing damn?

  15. Joolya

    Apparently you can also get collagen or fat injected into your labia to make them plumper, too.
    Boobs, butts, stomachs, legs, hair . . . now we’re supposed to worry about how buxom or toned our coochies are?

  16. The Fat Lady Sings

    I finally decided to look this ‘labiaplasty’ thing up (thanks Jennifer for the pointers). ‘Loss of sensitivity?’ How stupid can a personthis shit HAD to be the brainchild of some misogynistic plastic surgeon who watched one too many episodes of Nip/Tuck, right? I mean – no woman in her right mind could have thought up something so anti-female. Good God, Twisty – where do you find these things? Now I’m gonna end up with nightmares!

  17. Sam

    A friend just sent me this in an email and I thought of here.

    “A study conducted by UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features.

    However, if she is menstruating, or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with scissors lodged in his temple and a bat jammed up his ass while he is on fire.

    Further studies are expected.”

  18. Anonymous

    You will have to do the study on men, because women are too highly variable and have far more complex hormonal cycles. Then we can apply the results to women without any thought to said complexity and variability.

  19. Anonymous

    All those who blanch at the thought of labial trimming, but consented to have your sons circumcised raise your hand (and examine your armpit for signs of karmic blemish).

    At least the women who have their labia trimmed are supposedly mature adult women who consent to the procedure, no matter how vain and ill-founded it may be. Nobody had such done without anesthesia when they were infants.

  20. BritGirlSF

    With all due respect to the nameless poster above, millions of African girls have been “circumsised” via the removal of part of their genitalia as children, often using pieces of broken bottle or scissors. Most of these girls were actually old enough at the time that they will remember the “procedure”. And your point was?

  21. AWhollyDifferentNamelessPoster

    So, what’s YOUR point? That because ritual clitorodectomy (AKA mutilation in Africa is wrong, circumcision is justified? It’s just not logical. In fact, given the non-consensual nature of clitorodectomy, I think you’ve actually bolstered the OPs point, not refuted it.

  22. Chris Clarke

    I blame the patriarchy for circumcision.

    But the notion that circumcision’s regrettable persistence somehow excuses female genital mutilation – voluntary or otherwise – is absurd.

    As is the notion that women who oppose genital mutilation are to be disregarded if they have not yet made the connection between mutilation of female genitalia and mutilation of male genitalia. (Though I wonder how many of said straw women actually exist.)

    I have no trouble opposing all forms of genital mutilation. But as a male whose first experience with another person handling my penis involved having some of it chopped off, I have to say that equating foreskin trimming with clitoridectomy or even labial “trimming” is, well, specious and stupid.

    In fact, while I recognize the important symbolic role circumcision plays in maintaining the patriarchy, I find it relentlessly amusing to witness those men who seem to claim that their circumcision is the worst thing ever to happen to them. There is a word for men whose worst experience has been their circumcision. That word is “patriarch.”

  23. notADude

    Talk about your straw men, Chris Clarke. Where are these male upholders of patriarchy who claim circumcision is the “worst thing to ever happen to them?” as a means of preserving patriarchy? Is it not permissable for men of the patriarchy-blaming variety to speak out against the practice at all? No one is saying circumcision is the exact moral equivalent of ritual female mutilation. Just that it is indeed a form of nonconsensual mutilation. Nothing pro-patriarchy about it.

  24. BritGirlSF

    “As is the notion that women who oppose genital mutilation are to be disregarded if they have not yet made the connection between mutilation of female genitalia and mutilation of male genitalia. (Though I wonder how many of said straw women actually exist.)”
    I’m guessing none. For the benefit of our less bright commenters (ie not Chris), my question was what the random “yes, but what about circumcision?” comment had to do with anything that we’re discussing here. Other than perhaps a desire to suggest that all feminists are EEVIL, and hypocritical to boot. Did Twisty say anything to suggest that she’s a big fan of circumcision, or did any of the women here express similar sentiments? No on both counts.

  25. Chris Clarke

    Is it not permissable for men of the patriarchy-blaming variety to speak out against the practice at all?

    I believe I did just that.

    Where are these male upholders of patriarchy who claim circumcision is the “worst thing to ever happen to them?”

    Do a cursory google search.

  26. Twisty

    Twisty Faster doesn’t give a crap about the foreskins of the world. Now move along.

  27. mskate

    Aren’t all schools of thought that maintain that even our genetals are not good enough as nature made them – that MAN has to change them because MAN knows better than millions of years of evolution or an angry male god demands it – inherently patriarchial by nature?

  28. Anonymous

    hey chris clark. nice partial quote there. very effective.

  29. Finn

    I came here hoping to read a Twistylaboration on the Maureen Dowd piece in the weekend magazine section of the New York Times and all I get is an argument about foreskin.


    Hey, Twisty, hope the treatments are going well. I know it’s shitty and I’m pissed that you’re having to go through it. No one should. But, I guess it beats death on most days.

  30. Chris Clarke

    Sorry, Twisty,

    I should know better than to debate with the penis atrocity guys* in your joint. Thanks for cutting things short. I promise to be more circumspect in the future.

    *(assuming there’s more than one here, which I kinda doubt)

  31. ae

    Twisty, oh please, for the love of all that is holy and just, excoriate MoDo’s execrable “Modern Woman,” excuse me, “Modern Girl” article. Please, please! It practically begs for your especial Twisty Touch (TM). I’ve been fantasizing about your response all weekend. I’m not even going to try my hand at it in hopes that you will give it the proper shredding. To borrow from a MoDo shero: It runs the gamut from A to B.

    Has it been 48-hrs yet? Fucking cancer. Fucking patriarchy.

  32. mskate

    Gadzooks AE! “How to catch and hold a man?” How about “Men are Like Carp” subtitled “so why the fuck would I want to catch and hold the kind of man who would go in for all this shit”. Those “The Rules” pricks can all go do eachother with hard to get looks. Fish, bicycles, and all that …

    Then again, I caught my best fish while on a bicycle, going on bike rides just for my own purposes that had nothing at all to do with men. I don’t do “catch” anyway, preferring to take turns leading and following (drafting),happy to share the ride with good company.

  33. ae

    MsKate (MSkate? MSKate? MSKATE?), I know! It’s so, so — I’m flabbergasted so I’ve lost vocabulary. I tried to respond to MoDo, but I could not get past the third sentence: “Women were once again imitating men and acting all independent: smoking, drinking, wanting to earn money and thinking they had the right to be sexual, this time protected by the pill.”

    I spent 3 paragraphs on that and then the rest of my life intervened, alas. It takes considerable time and powers of attention to dismantle patriarchy brick by brick. I’m not superhuman, which is why I leave it to those w/ TwistyPowers.

    Nice carping! ;-)

  34. jc.

    I thought of you today when I noticed that the womens toilet at the gas station was marked with a symbol for women and handcapped, the mens toilet was of course only marked with a symbol for men.
    Sometimes the patriarch is breathtakingly honest in its attitudes.

  35. Finn

    “I thought of you today when I noticed that the womens toilet at the gas station was marked with a symbol for women and handcapped, the mens toilet was of course only marked with a symbol for men.”

    Did you happen to look inside?

    I’m guessing the men’s room had a urinal and one small stall and that the women’s/handicapped room had a small stall and a big stall.

    Space planning, etc.

  36. Wordlackey

    Re: “studies”. I agree about the results. I firmly believe the studies are often products of ingrained social mores of the time. IOW, reinforcements of prevalent dominant cultural stereotypes. It strikes me as a miracle when *any* scientific fact makes it through so-called “neutral” studies. Feh!

  37. jc.

    space planning, of course this is the case finn, I was just riffing off off this posts newspaper picture lead in(irony?) but i guess you had to be there or I should have had a digital camera but when I saw the door i immediately thought of this particular post.

  38. pararepatriarchs

    Isn’t the toilet thing partly about the patriarchy rejecting disabled men as second class, and thus lumping them with the other second-classers? It’s a case of there being a REAL MEN’s toilet and an OTHERS’ toilet. And obviously women don’t mind their space being invaded by disabled men, who don’t have penises. And those men don’t give a damn about being made to do so.
    Fuck “space planning”. If it really is coming before dignity and equal treatment then it shouldn’t, and people shouldn’t be excusing it for doing so.
    Incidentally, it also mightily pisses me off when people bring their little boys into the women’s changing rooms. Little girls do not enjoy little boys watching them change. Maybe they shouldn’t care, and maybe some mothers have no choice, but there it is.

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