Monday 7 September 2015

Dave Sim: 3 Minutes About Misogyny

"I think that equating opposition to feminism with misogyny is the same as suggesting that the only reason to not be a communist is that you hate working people. I don't hate working people. I don't hate communists, I don't hate women, and I don't hate feminists. I don't hate anybody. I keep my political discussions completely free from emotion because I think emotion has no place in a political discussion." ~ Dave Sim, September 2015

Links & Further Reading:
"I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is A Misogynist" Petition
15 Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast
Neil Gaiman: Why I Won't Sign Dave Sim's Petition
Sandeep Atwal's Explanation Of Dave Sim's Views


Will Collier said...

Bit of serendipity (or rather, Cirin-dipity) that a link leading to this popped up in my Twitter feed not half an hour ago.

Jeff Seiler said...

I have been resolutely in the same camp as Dave about feminism since long before the ipetition. His is a reasoned, non-emotional response to overwhelmingly emotion-based philosophies and actions from the "ladies and gentlemen" in the feminist camp.

I think we are both resolved that, so long as Dave speaks out against feminism, the "ladies and gentlemen" opposed will continue to play the misogyny card. It's a powerful weapon and just about the only one they have in the face of actual rational thought.

Jim Sheridan said...

Dave raises valid critical points about some aspects of feminism, or at least the stances of some feminists. He has also made some broad statements against women at large, some reprinted very recently in the comments section on this page. They get conveniently ignored at times. I don't know how.

Nguyen Thi Chinh said...

As Huston’s comment also suggests, the effects, on average, are small. What’s far, far, far more important than child care in shaping your kid’s future is what her home life is like. Jay Belsky, a child development expert at the University of California, Davis, who was also involved in the NICHD study, put it to me this way: “If you were a fetus and the good Lord came to you and said, ‘I can give you great quality day care and a lousy family, or a great family but lots of lousy day care,’ you choose the latter, not the former.” Yet in the same breath, Belsky added that even though the negative effects of day care are modest, “one needs to be careful about dismissing them.”

Let’s tease out these positive and negative effects, when they happen, and what might be causing them. Multiple studies, including the NICHD study, have found that, after statistically adjusting for the effects of social class and other potential confounders, kids enrolled in high quality child care given by nonrelatives develop slightly better cognitive and language skills—as measured at various points in their lives, all the way up through age 15—than do kids in low-quality care. These beneficial effects are more pronounced for low-income kids than children from more affluent families and for kids in center-based care than other types of care. The NICHD study also compared children in child care to children who stayed at home with their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the ones at home fared somewhere in the middle: They scored better on verbal comprehension tests at age 3 than did kids in low-quality care, but they scored worse on language tests at age 2 than kids in medium- and high-quality care. Interestingly, studies suggest that the cumulative amount of time kids spend in care makes little difference when it comes to scores; what matters is whether they go at all and if it’s good or bad. That said, there were differences when the NICHD researchers parsed out the ages for which child care was used. Kids who spent a lot of time in care in infancy had worse academic achievement at age 4½ than did kids who spent little time in care in infancy, but kids who spent more time in care during their toddler years scored better on language tests than kids who were home more during their toddler years. Is your head spinning yet? …

Again, although the effects are small on average, it’s possible that some kids experience more significant benefits. As for what distinguishes good care from bad: One crucial factor is how caregivers interact with the kids. Are they responsive and sensitive? Do they get down on the floor with the children or are they always standing in the back, looking bored? Higher quality care also tends to have a higher ratio of adults per child, fewer children per group, and staff is typically more highly educated.

As for the downside of day care: several studies, including those using the NICHD’s data, have found that the more time kids spend in day care (and especially center-based care rather than, say, family day care), the more behavioral problems they develop later as reported by teachers. These effects include being more disobedient through age 4½ (and through the sixth grade for kids from center-based care); having poorer academic habits and social skills in the third grade; and being more impulsive and taking more risks at age 15. Again, the experts I talked to couldn't give specifics on how big these effects were, but one reassured me that the behavior of day care kids is still usually well within the normal range. Many—but not all—of the studies suggest that these problems develop even after high quality care, so quantity really seems to be the crux of the problem, yet there doesn't seem to be a threshold where these effects start, either—it's not that 20 hours a week doesn't cause any problems but 22 does …

End of part 2. To be continued….

Nguyen Thi Chinh said...

It’s important to keep in mind some of the (major) limitations of these studies. They were designed to find associations, not cause-and-effect relationships. Parents who use day care differ in many ways from parents who don’t. Yes, there are stay-at-home moms found in all income brackets, and both poor and affluent families put kids in day care. Still, on average, parents who use day care tend to have higher incomes and fewer kids than those who don’t. They are “much more advantaged in almost every way,” says Margaret Burchinal, a senior scientist in the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was also involved in the NICHD study. Affluent families tend to enroll their kids in higher quality day care, too (although don’t assume your day care is awesome just because you’re paying a fortune for it: The majority of day care in this country is mediocre).

This means that studies on the effects of child care compare different types of families to one another, not just differences in child care use—and as I mentioned before, the former is a much more significant influence on kids than the latter. Although studies try to control for the impact of education and income and the like, this so-called selection bias “is a huge factor,” Burchinal says, and it’s unclear, exactly, how these confounders might impact results …"

There is more, but the bottom line seems to be clear: it's not so clear except for one thing: you get what you pay for. What a shock. At the extremes, someone who is not engaged or interested in full=time parenting can create benefits for their kids in a day-care or nanny setting. Someone who wants to be an engaged parent can also decide to do that. And just because the kid is at home with a parent does not guarantee at all what is happening there, because kids parked in front of the TV with a box of Fruit Loops while the parent is ignoring them or, worse, pursuing some additive habit, are just not better off (even with low quality day care). But them it really gets horrid, because THAT parent is just not going to be inclined to even pay for someone if they can put the cost of day-care in their veins, up their nose, or in their liver.

I do not find it impossible to think that it can be better for SOME kids to be in high-quality day-care while both parents are working, and then (according to these studies) engage parenthood when they are all together. The potential balance of advantages and disadvantages is conflated with income, motivation, and things that make overgeneralization the thing that is impossible to believe - not only before breakfast, but throughout the day.

End of part 3.

Nguyen Thi Chinh said...

Oops. Looks like part 1 did not take.

I've had breakfast, but let's take a look at the first of the 15 impossible things.

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

I am going to skip past the part where this duty is assigned to only a mother for a moment, and consider the assumptions being posited here are a family structure with two parents where both are employed, and where a non-relative day-care setting is being used for a pre-school child. There are plenty of other permutations on this, but the literature on the effects of day-care (when credible) will sort these out as variables to control.

So what does the actual research say? Not too surprisingly, the only thing you do not get is an overgeneralized statement as the one from Dave. The outcome is mixed.

The NYT Magazine did a story back in August 2013 (Aug 7, Judith Warner) called "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In" (under the larger banner of the "Opt-Out revolution" by Lisa Belkin,
which followed features in Time Magazine and reports on 60 Minutes).

Melinda Wenner Moyer did a follow-up meta-analysis for Slate (August 22, 2013) looking specifically on the effects on kids. She writes:

"For me—the parenting columnist—the elephant in the room when I read the article was: So what was best for their kids? Parents often decide to stay home because they think doing so is better for their children. (Sure, there are plenty of other reasons, too, such as the desire to be around one’s offspring and, oh yeah, the crippling costs of child care.) But is this notion—that kids do better when a parent, typically a mother, stays home with them—actually true?

Ooh boy, does the Internet have a lot to say about this. But few articles I found presented much scientific evidence; it was hard to distinguish the trustworthy from the tripe. I did, however, find far more articles written by women who defended day care—sometimes very emotionally—than who warned against it. Was this imbalance, I wondered, driven by evidence or rationalization?

I dug into the science to find out. There’s quite a lot of research on the issue, which isn’t surprising considering how ubiquitous child care is in this country: According to the U.S. Census, 16 percent of babies under the age of 1 are enrolled in center-based day care, while 26 percent of 1- to 2-year-olds are. Adding in family-based day care—day care out of someone's home—and nannies, 33 percent of children under age 5 are regularly cared for by nonrelatives. This figure doesn’t even include the 18 percent of kids who have multiple child care arrangements. …

What I found is that day care can be good (primarily for cognitive development), and day care can be bad (by making kids more aggressive and impulsive)—and the good seems to become less helpful the more educated and well-off parents are. But this is important: It’s impossible to predict how day care is going to affect an individual child, like, you know, your actual kid. It may have certain effects on average, but most researchers I talked to speculate that its effects are concentrated in a subset of children. “It’s not going to mean that each child is going to have 0.05 percent probability of being more aggressive,” explains Aletha Huston, a professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, who was involved in one of the largest, longest-running studies on the effects of child care on development, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, which followed more than 1,000 kids from infancy to age 15 starting in 1991. “What probably is represented here is that some kids are responding in that way, and a lot of kids aren’t.”

End of Part 1. To be continued…

John Mosher said...

I do not think I will be impacted negatively or in any other way by signing the petition. Using the definition that misogyny is the hatred of women, then, no, Dave is not a misogynist. I feel Dave has been clear that feminism is what he has a problem with.

I wanted to add, since Nguyen started the discussion, that as an elementary school teacher, it is very easy to tell which kids have been in day care and which have not. You can tell that they have been in a school like setting and have learned at least some appropriate behaviors. What is not obvious is how long they may have been in day care. Could be a few months, could be all five years.

I was a stay home dad for 12 years, but as each kid got to the year before kindergarten, we had them in pre school, which I am unsure if it fits the definition of day care we are talking about here. I have no hard data proof, but I believe that pre school did help them transition to elementary school more easily.

Joshua Leto said...

1 : an impractical idealist : theorist
2 : an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology

When Dave says one must fight against ideologues, I choose to do so by not signing his petition. His use of extreme words ("two centuries" of "impossible" things to believe), is exactly the sort of thing that reminds me of my own fallibility.

Anonymous said...

Dave declares, "I think that equating opposition to feminism with misogyny is the same as suggesting that the only reason to not be a communist is that you hate working people."

No one - NO ONE - is equating opposition to feminism with misogyny. It is a straw man argument Dave is making on behalf of those who disagree with him.

Dave is accused of being a misogynist because he says things that are indicative of disdain for an entire gender. Calling women "five-to-six-foot leeches." Or dropping the likes of these:

"A gender which has no ethics, no scruples, no sense of right and wrong."

"Women are emotion-based beings."..."You can try being sensible and reasonable but all you're going to get back is an emotion-based portrayal of sense and reason having nothing to do with sense and reason."

"Any female-centred or female-originated political movement - more precisely, "political" "movement" - will lack sound intellectual footing."

"No one wants to be a woman."

Those (and many other) comments very easily lead to a conclusion that Dave Sim harbors contempt for women. That is not an equation of "opposition to feminism with misogyny."

That conclusion is nothing more than a logical belief based upon examination of the very specific positions he has staked out and stood behind; positions that are, by definition, misogyny.

--Bill Kremer