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Facts and Myths on Gender Issues
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Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality

by Cathy Young
© 1999 by Cathy Young


Cathy Young, Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality (New York, NY: Free Press, 1999). Order on-line

Cathy Young
Cathy Young

Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality
by Cathy Young
A "dissident feminist" links feminist advocacy to the growing gender antagonism in politics, society, and culture--and proposes in its place a new focus on equality for both sexes.

Order on-line

Myth: Domestic violence is used by men as a means of patriarchal control; battering is so common that it is the leading cause of injury to women in America.

Fact: The majority of reliable studies show that both men and women use violence toward their partners and that much domestic violence is mutual; while women are more likely to be injured, victims of both sexes can suffer serious consequences. Hospital statistics show that as a cause of injury to women, domestic abuse ranks far behind car crashes and household accidents.

Myth: A sexualized atmosphere creates a hostile work environment for women. Unwanted sexual attention on the job is sex discrimination and must be addressed through legal measures.

Fact: In most cases, sexual dynamics in the workplace are complex and subtle. Strict laws and policies intended to eradicate all unwanted sexual attention in the workplace end up also targeting consensual flirting and banter and penalizing trivial misdeeds that could be resolved far more effectively on a personal level.

Myth: The courts treat crimes against women, particularly sexual assault and domestic violence, as "second-class" crimes.

Fact: Charges of sexual assault/rape end in conviction about as often as charges of robbery and more often than charges of aggravated assault (which usually involves male victims). Also, assault charges are less likely to be dismissed when the victim is the defendant's wife or girlfriend. Some laws and policies intended to protect female victims have been applied in ways that egregiously violate the rights of accused men and sometimes backfire on women as well.

Myth: Two-paycheck couples have are less healthy families and are not good for children.

Fact: Most two-paycheck couples make adjustments and compromises to balance career and family. Most studies find that children in two-parent, two-earner households get as much parental time as children with stay-at-home mothers and that mothers' employment has no negative effect on children.

Myth: Working mothers bear more than their fair share of child care and household responsibilities because men don't want to pitch in.

Fact: Many mothers admit that they don't want fathers to be equal parents because it threatens their self-image; a mother who claims that she wants the father's involvement may subtly sabotage his participation.

Myth: Medicine has neglected women's needs.

Fact: In the late 1980s, 14 percent of National Institutes for Health research funding was going to women's health projects; 7 percent of the funding was going to male-specific health projects and the rest to diseases that afflict both sexes. While women have been underrepresented in some clinical trials, there is no evidence that this has had a negative effect on women's health.

Myth: The liberalization of divorce laws and the loosening of social strictures against divorce have hurt women by making it easy for irresponsbible men to abandon their families.

Fact: Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by wives. Research shows that the psychological and possibly even economic consequences of divorce are worse for men than for women.

Myth: The courts are biased against women, particularly working mothers, in divorce cases; when fathers seek custody they usually win.

Fact: According to surveys, women feel more in control of the divorce process than men and are far more likely to get the child custody arrangements they wanted. When fathers get custody it is usually with the mother's consent. Career women who have lost custody have been judged by the same standards as traditional fathers.

Myth: Women and men are fundamentally different; they have different goals and priorities in life.

Fact: In most areas, individual variability is far greater than differences between men and women. While many traits appear to be unevenly distributed between the sexes, many women possess traits that are more common in men, and vice versa.

Myth: The fact that women are still underrepresented in some spheres of activity and overrepresented in others proves that sex discrimination remains persistent.

Fact: The male-female ratio in any given field reflects many factors, including ability and personal preference. While individual choices are often influenced by cultural pressures and evolve over time, even in a non-sexist society more women may be found in some occupations and more men in others.

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