Men Are From North Dakota and Women Are From South Dakota


Notre Dame Philosophy Professor James Sterba and the Independent Women's Forum's Carrie Lukas debate feminism at Cato and can only agree on one thing: pornography is really, really bad. Sterba says something incomprehensible about the fact that men's rights are not violated by Shoebox greeting cards. Lukas mentions The Vagina Monologues, which is a relief because if anyone from IWF goes 30 minutes without mentioning Eve Ensler, the universe will implode. Lukas argues that women aren't discriminated against in the workplace; it's just that "if one person like potato chips, and another person likes pretzels, it's ridiculous for us to each to try to make sure that each has an equal share." I think I blacked out for a moment after that line, but you can watch the whole thing (as I did) here.

The different-preferences-create-different-outcomes argument is ambitiously superficial and question begging. Absent any account of how preferences are shaped, I'm not sure why anti-feminists think they're saying something intelligent when they boldly assert that men and women want different things. IWF loves to talk about Title IX, and it's a great example of a cultural shift affecting preferences in young women. Did 14-year-old girls just not like sports before Title IX and the rise of the girl jock? Or did Title IX help create a culture where a broader range of interests could be engendered and cultivated? Does the fact that girls in 1950 did not aspire to captain high school soccer teams say anything interesting about women? I don't think so.

As far as good old, traditional discrimination persisting despite market forces to the contrary, I find Roderick Long's account extremely compelling:

A wage gap might persist even if employers are focused solely on profitability, have no interest in discrimination, and are doing the level best to pay salary on marginal productivity alone. But there is no reason to rule out the possibility of deliberate, profit-disregarding discrimination either. Discrimination can be a consumption good for managers, and this good can be treated as part of the manager's salary-and-benefits package; any costs to the company arising from the manager's discriminatory practices can thus be viewed as sheer payroll costs. Maybe some managers order fancy wood paneling for their offices, and other managers pay women less for reasons of sexism; if the former sort of behaviour can survive the market test, why not the latter?

Actually, everything Roderick Long writes on this topic is extremely compelling. This especially.

*Headline stolen from Janet Hyde.