Neanderthal Women Unite!

I'm a devoted reader of Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series, so anything with the word "Neanderthal" in its headline grabs my attention.

Two weeks ago, I was intrigued by a New York Times article Equality Between the Sexes: Neanderthal Women Joined Men in the Hunt. The article made clear that Neanderthals are alive and well -- or at least Neanderthal opinions about women's equality.

The New York Times describes a hypothesis by two scientists at the University of Arizona, Mary C. Stiner and Steven L. Kuhn, in Current Anthropology, which describes itself as "one of the leading international scholarly journals in anthropology since 1961." The suggestion in their article, titled What's a Mother to Do? is that Neanderthals did not die out in the Upper Paleolithic period from biological or cognitive differences vs. modern humans, as other anthropologists have surmised for centuries, but because women tried to be equal to men by fighting alongside them in search of large game.

"Their skeletons are so robustly built that it seems improbable that they just sat at home looking after the children," the Times says. "More likely, they did the same as men, with the whole population engaged in bringing down large game."

Turns out hunting mammoths is dangerous, as evidenced by bone fractures in Neanderthal skeletons. Thus Neanderthals were "putting their reproductive core -- women and children -- at great risk," by allowing women to hunt.

Modern-day humans, on the other hand, "exploited the environment more efficiently, by having men hunt large game and women gather small game and plant foods ... [this] division of labor and diversified food sources ... secure[d] a continuous food supply" and allowed modern humans to flourish while the poor gender-equal Neanderthals perished.

Obvious takeaway: Desirable women must be petite and weak (God forbid robustness lead us to hunt 5,000 ton beasts or million-dollar Wall Street jobs!) We must stay close to home working the earth, hunting only small game, and just looking after the children. We cannot combine work and raising kids once we bear children. What's a mother to do? Clearly, we must stay out of the hunt -- or risk destroying the entire human species.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  December 19, 2006; 9:30 AM ET  | Category:  Research
Previous: Daddy Wars | Next: Milk Mania


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



First!

Posted by: First Comment | December 19, 2006 9:34 AM

Congratulations, First.

Do you have anything to say?

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 9:53 AM

I don't even follow the logic here -- since the females were "robustly built," scientists conclude they were hunting large game? That's quite a leap. Sounds like someone is really manipulating information to suit an agenda.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 19, 2006 9:55 AM

This post is trite. I know it must be hard to come up with something every single day on this topic, but this is truly stretching it.

Posted by: No value added | December 19, 2006 9:58 AM

New headline --

"Neanderthal Logic Keeps Women Barefoot and Pregnant"

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 19, 2006 10:02 AM

anthropologists have specific things that they look for and the idea that females being 'robustly built' translates to something else is entirely believable, given how anthropology works - I don't pretend to know, since I don't know much about any of it, but when the anthropologists look at a certain bone structure, they can tell quite a bit about an animal/person. So I don't think it's stretching it at all.

Posted by: atlmom | December 19, 2006 10:03 AM

Looks like Leslie has run out of interesting things to post about. This is kind of dumb. (Unless she's just kidding?)

Posted by: wihntr | December 19, 2006 10:04 AM

Oh come on - this is gender politics gone out of its mind. Division of laber can work pretty darn well in a variety of settings - have you seen a factor recently where one person builds an entire car, or lawnmower, or toaster, even? Do you really want your doctor fixing your plumbing - or your plumber reading your x-ray?

Why is it so inconceivable that division of labor might have had an evolutionary advantage sometime in the past?

And why would the idea be threatening to anyone today, in our modern, post-industrialized society?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:04 AM

There's really nothing new here from an anthropological perspective -- the sexual division of labor of foragers (men hunt, women gather) has been established by numerous ethnographic studies since at least the 50s. It's important to remember that in an economy of this sort, women provide 60-70% of the food, so the fact that women "only" gather doesn't diminish their influence.

The CA study as described is pretty shaky, IMHO, drawing an inference from a robust female musculo-skeletal system to a social role for female hunters. Not to mention the even shakier inference that somehow this confers a decisive evolutionary penalty. All this would be easier to take seriously if there were some sort of additional empirical evidence at least to support women's hunting. I don't know what sort of empirical evidence would have to be adduced to support the larger "extinction" hypothesis, or even if identifying such evidence could ever be a possibility. What would it look like?

I note that even were women and men out hunting (say, a cooperative hunt such as you might have seen on the North American plains with women and men driving critters over cliffs), there's nothing at all to rule out some sort of arrangement for the nurturance of children by those not involved in the hunt. Such arrangements *are* known ethnographically; in fact, they are fairly common. Foraging societies do disappear, but typically when they are under pressure from larger societies that are more politically centralized and that are already committed to farming as an ecological base. I find all this pretty unpersuasive.

Posted by: Alan Aycock | December 19, 2006 10:04 AM

Diversity is a good strategy.

Those who diversified won.

They happened to diversify along gender lines.

Why are you angry about this?

Posted by: eh | December 19, 2006 10:07 AM

Anon at 10:04 and eh, I'm not hearing any statements that indicate anger or the sound of someone feeling threatened. Are you listening for something that's not there?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:10 AM

I suppose it was the last paragraph of the post and its defensive tone. Felt angry to me. I could be wrong (happens a lot).

Posted by: eh | December 19, 2006 10:12 AM

Wow Leslie. I had no idea you were a trained anthropologist. Oh wait - that's right. YOU'RE NOT. Listen, I do have a degree in anthropology, and I do consider myself a feminist. Having not studied Neanderthals myself, I cannot comment specifically on their societal structure. Actually, that's the point. I'm not going to make broad assumptions about a topic I have not studied thoroughly. I ask you not to further your agenda and make yourself look silly by commenting on subjects you know absolutely nothing about. Once you have spent years studying every aspect of Neanderthal life, if you'd like to suggest that other anthropologists are putting forth a biased and unfounded claim - THEN I'll listen.

For example, thank you to Alan Aycock for the balanced response.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:13 AM

I have read studies that say that even in marriages, where you only have two people, division of labor ends up being a huge benefit - and one reason that married people, on average, fare better financially than two random single people. In my family, I pretty much do most of the financial planning/paying bills/figuring out where the money goes, etc. My DH is good at charging things :). He fixes stuff around the house - that I couldn't possibly do, and I do what I do (organizing, remembering what we need, etc).

So there's nothing wrong with indicating that people specializing makes for better society. It's just using those ideas to force people into little boxes they may not want to be in (i.e., woman stays home, man goes out and earns money).

Posted by: atlmom | December 19, 2006 10:16 AM

Just that I like to read the comments in the blog.

Posted by: First Comment | December 19, 2006 10:19 AM

Leslie,

Did you read the full article, or just the abstract? Tell the truth.

Posted by: bob | December 19, 2006 10:19 AM

No offense Leslie, but it looks like you're actively looking for things to try to get offended about. Previous posters have stated it very well: division of labor is a very good thing. Just because you don't like the results --- OF A STUDY ABOUT A DIFFERENT SPECIES!!! --- doesn't mean that it gives you any credibility to go calling the anthropologists views "Neanderthal" just because they don't happen to conform to your beliefs and social agenda. As another previous poster wrote, what exactly do you really know about any of this stuff anyway? I hardly think they taught this at Wharton's.

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | December 19, 2006 10:19 AM

only 5 days until christmas!!!

Posted by: yay | December 19, 2006 10:20 AM

What is this crap? Dumb post.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:21 AM

I actually think the study is interesting.
Thanks Leslie.

Many an academic article is written for the sole purpose of the review process (including a couple of mine). I am lucky to be in math/cs, where if there is a social agenda in most people's work, I can't find it. I am curious what makes a person pursue a question like this & what they think the implications are...

However, I have to say I don't see how this applies today at all, even if true evolutionarily. Providing for many of us involves typing a keyboard, anwering phones, etc. In today's world childrearing and housecleaning are harder physical labor than what many outside the home workers do.

Fanning the flames... with some frequency arguments are made that things are a certain way because of what is "natural" or how "we evolved" ... but with some very limited exceptions - we live in a very artificially structured world and engage in very few tasks that are normal relative to the rest of animal kingdom. Does anyone else get as peeved by the logic of those arguments as some seem to by bad grammar?

Posted by: good mood | December 19, 2006 10:21 AM

I don't always agree with Leslie, but come on! there's no need to attack. So she's never studied anthropology - so she can't show us an article about anthropology and we can't have a discussion about it? Jeez - I mean, really...
So only academics should read academic studies and make conclusions in their ivory towers? What's the point then? Unless the studies are given to the public and give some insight into our lives or make them better or whatever, then what's the point in doing them? To get more funding for more obsolete studies?

Posted by: atlmom | December 19, 2006 10:23 AM

Thanks Arlington Dad -- you get it.

No idea about the anthropologic merit to the scientists' hypothesis. But I do object to the title of their study -- What's a Mother to Do? -- and the obvious anti-feminist position of the NYT, which is consistent with other articles such as Lisa Belkin's Opt Out Revolution and Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood, where the pro-sahm position is evident even in the articles' titles.

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 10:26 AM

It is difficult to make a solid argument against the obvious fact that in societies where feminism (and high taxes) have led women into the paid workforce, those women are having too few babies for replacement of the existing population. One may not want to tell women to go back to being barefoot and pregnant, but there is the demographic reality that non-feminist societies (Latin America, the Islamic world) are prospering in population, while the developed world (sans immigration) is not. The paradoxical implication for Western feminists is that the ideals they cherish could be swamped by the simple equation that feminists prefer working to having two to three children, while their ideological opponents prefer to have their women not working and having four to eight children.

Posted by: Mediaskeptic | December 19, 2006 10:27 AM

It doesn't seem like these findings have any ramifications for today's society at all.

It seems silly to even point this out, but the working mom/stay at home mom debate today is a little different from the hunting mom/gatherer mom differences in societies that lived 45,000 years ago. Maybe at one time the hunter/gatherer society was more efficient than the hunter society, and it probably made sense then to divide the big game/small game and plants jobs up by sex. After all, women would've been the only ones capable of feeding the infants, and since small children can assist in hunting small game and gathering vegetables, it makes sense that women would've just been in charge of the gathering and watching the children. Someone had to do it, and if the women needed to be with the infants anyway, it was safer for the society to give them the safer job.

That has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not women should work on Wall Street or men should stay home with the kids.

Posted by: Kate | December 19, 2006 10:28 AM

Atlmom - I do agree with you. Except we're talking about something difference here. Everyone should have the opportunity to read scholarly articles and learn from them. The difference is that Leslie is taking an article and not actively seeking out the specific points she feels are unfounded. She's generally painting it with her own brush.

It's the difference between having a dicussion - i.e. "I don't understand this point" or " According to this other resource..." and dismissing something altogether because it doesn't fit with your predetermined agenda.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:28 AM

I read a report about the same article in the Economist (http://www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=8380326) and I came away with a completely different interpretation. What I read suggested that Cro-Magnon man (inclusive) out-competed Neanderthal man by the division of labor. The division of labor began in southern climes where it was possible to gather food year round, then supported food storage as it moved north. Since Neanderthals didn't do this (digs show only bones of large animals, and there is no archaeological evidence of leatherworking) they were outcompeted by C-M, according to this theory. When big game was scarce, a population that had built up other food reserves could survive when the Neanderthals could not.

The theme in the Economist's interpretation was that women (possibly, due to needs of child care) invented the division of labor and the modern economy.

I read the first few of the Auel books, too. Good soft porn, eh?

Posted by: Historian | December 19, 2006 10:28 AM

I wonder if Neanderthal men nurse their young?

Posted by: anon | December 19, 2006 10:29 AM

I don't think it implies women are to be petite and passive. I think it means that a division of labor diversifies risk and leads to better survival outcomes.

Did anyone watch the NCAA Volleyball finals this weekend? Stanford vs Nebraska. As beautiful a set of women as you'll ever see. The Nebraska star (they won) Sara Pavin is 6'5". Her arm is everywhere on the court. Don't you suppose she'd have been an excellent gatherer? Climbing up trees, hoisting big rocks, carrying a bigger basket of vitamin laden vegetables back for her family?

It's my opinion that this is an argument for the work smarter, not harder school. When cave women went out and did the hard dumb work they suffered casualties, and their family/survival suffered. When they put their brawn to smarter activities, like gathering food, knowing medicinal herbs, watching over vulnerable young ones then their survival increased. Did their family units benefit from meat? Of course. But that could be obtained without risking all, so the smarter social groups went that way and prospered.

Over time that kind of stuff makes a difference.

But what does this mean for modern woman? Well, maybe both partners shouldn't work in risky start-up businesses. Maybe one should travel for work and the other not. Maybe one should be the PC-wiz and the other know about cars. Diversify, diversify, diversify.

Anthropologist? No, Economist - Yes.

Posted by: RoseG | December 19, 2006 10:29 AM

The real question:

Is a man's superior physical strength correlated in any way to his domination of the power structure in today's society?

Posted by: Muscle | December 19, 2006 10:30 AM

I really don't get the bile here today - other than that some people are bitter to be working this week? Can't a broader ranging discussion on an academic article - even an imperfect discussion be interesting? If only the anthropologists are ever allowed to discuss the results of their studies - we are over-specializing to the point where there seems to be no point to doing the study in the first place.

Alternative topic: Gift wrapping strategies...

Is that an appropriately benign for the page today? A comparison of tape dispenser qualities anyone?

Posted by: good mood | December 19, 2006 10:30 AM

Ok, I haven't read the study, and I'm not normally one to gang up on Leslie, but from what's portrayed here, I'm just not getting the anger in the last paragraph of her post. From what I see, it's an interesting anthropological hypothesis that may or may not hold up over time; the idea that cultures that build a diversified food supply are more capable of long-term survival is an intriguing one.

But is anyone actually trying to link this study to today's world, for ex. by using the study to argue that letting women do "men's work" nowadays will threaten the survival of the species? From what was posted, I don't see anything that indicates this. And that would strike me as patently stupid, given that the "work" environment today is very different from the "work" environment however many thousands of years ago. The skills required to hunt a mammoth are not exactly those required to close a deal on Wall Street.

Now, if the study had said "the Neanderthals died out because those uppity women insisted on hunting but were too stupid to get out of the way of the stampeding [insert name of critter here]," THAT would be worth getting upset about.

Posted by: Laura | December 19, 2006 10:30 AM

Or is it the way he thinks?

Posted by: Muscle | December 19, 2006 10:31 AM

"Obvious takeaway: Desirable women must be petite and weak"

No so obvious takeaway.

All that hunting small game and gathering plants, nuts, and berries was no day at the mall. Even if modern human females of antiquity weren't hunting mammoths or other big game, their daily duty roster was not accomplished by being "petite and weak."

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 10:32 AM

to Mediaskeptic:

That is a load of hooey. Every INDUSTRIALIZED nation - no matter whether women 'work' or don't - decreases the birth rate. The more kids, the more poverty - you can even see it in the US. We no longer need our children to work on farms or elsewhere (my grandmother was working to help support the family at 8, do you want to go back to that society?).

And, another thing, women ALWAYS worked. ALWAYS. They either baked bread and sewed (or made) clothes, or did an industrial job or whatever, but they ALWAYS worked. This 1950s idealized version of women lunching is NOT the norm. The idea that women going into the workforce is what created high taxes and the need for more money is false.

We were just a rich nation right after WWII and women for the first time, had the opportunity (such as it was) to 'not work.' But in reality, everyone worked to keep a family going (people lived with extended families, so usually a grandparent watched kids - or older kids watched kids - while parents worked).

Posted by: atlmom | December 19, 2006 10:32 AM

"reality that non-feminist societies (Latin America, the Islamic world) are prospering in population, while the developed world (sans immigration) is not"

The reality is that they are making babies there but their women are uneducated, abused, poor, little rights in their society...wow they are prospering!! Mr or Miss Mediaskeptic, why don't you leave and live where women are "prospering". What an imbecile you are.....

Posted by: to mediaskeptic | December 19, 2006 10:34 AM

Leslie -

I didn't realize that amongst your various jobs you were also a cultural anthropologist and biologist!

Oh wait...but if you were a cultural anthropologist (or had studied any kind of evolutionary biology), you would know that it is not at all uncommon for the female of a species to be more gracile (meaning smaller and more delicately built) than the male of a species. This does not imply that the female of any species is any less dangerous or less capable or even less intelligent...just smaller.

What the scientific article seems to suggest - and it is actually an interesting train of thought - is that when this usual morphological difference is not as obvious, then the *entire* society may focus on *one* life-sustaining activity that is *high risk*. Which then puts the whole society at risk. Because you neglected to mention that it appears that not only did the women but the children also participated in hunting activities.

Hunting animals with tools other than modern weaponry is actually a pretty d@mn risky activity. So not only did they put the children at risk, they put the mothers at risk. And by doing so, they may have significantly decreased the population of child-bearing women. And when you diminish that population, you increase the odds that the species will die out. It's reproductive science, not sociology!

Other hominid species appear to have divided the labor so that the women and children - who were more likely not as robust as the males of the species, based on skeletal remains - in activities that helped promote the health of the tribe, as well as kept them out of riskier behaviours. This meant that the women had longer lifespans and could potentially bear more children. Hence increasing the odds of survival and expansion of the species.

Stop trying to press a modern, feminist spin on this please. Ancient life was far, far, far, far, far more different than the life we live today. A bit more "red in tooth and claw" than "anything he can do I can do better". If you would like to go out and hunt a large bear or bison with your family using nothing but spears, no one is going to stop you, but it may give you a different spin on life. Our modern conveniences have evened the playing field as far as gender roles go. All our modern conveniences make living less about our physical abilities than the wits with how you use them. This is not to say that ancient man didn't require wits - but he also had to be able to move fast enough to get out of the way of unavoidable danger.

I've camped in some pretty remote places in the name of field science. When you injure yourself out there, it's scary. You can't just run to the UrgentCare and get yourself fixed up. A moderately serious cut or a heavy sprain can be debilitating. Breaking a bone, receiving a serious laceration or having a major allergic reacion - these are actually life threatening. Something we all forget about in our age of incredible technologic and hygeinic advances.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | December 19, 2006 10:35 AM

Unfortunately, the social sciences are fraught with bogus studies that promulgate conjecture rather than proof. How anyone can compare hunting to working on wall street is a mystery to me. Certainly not an argument for limiting women's place in the work world.

I'm sorry but today's blog is a dud

Posted by: To Leslie | December 19, 2006 10:36 AM

Leslie, what was the purpose of today's post? Just to draw fire down on you for blogging about something so irrelevant to today? I mean, come on. Whatever Neanderthals were doing has little-to-no implication for us today, and whether the researchers' conclusions were right is not something you, as a non-anthropologist, could ever figure out. Moreover, I'm not sure that anthropologists' hypotheses about Neanderthals is a comment about today's society. Were these anthropologists also trying to argue that we should avoid being like the Neanderthals? Did they say anything about Wall Street, as you suggest? I doubt it.

You're just trying to create drama where there is none. You've tried this before and I've called you out on it. Now, it looks like most people here are sick of it.

Posted by: Ryan | December 19, 2006 10:37 AM

Mediaskeptic, I don't think the issue is as simple as "feminists would rather work than have kids, so the population is growing more where there aren't feminists." I think it's more likely that society just hasn't caught up to the needs of "first world" nations where women are a major part of the workforce. I'm a feminist who would love to have four kids, but because of the cost of child care and college, I will probably settle for two. That's not just because I want to work and like my job; it's also because I owe $150k in student loans for law school (as does my husband), and neither of us can afford to pay both sets of loans while the other stays home. But if it was easier to have a flex schedule or to work from home (which would reduce the costs of child care), we would probably be able to afford to have three or four kids.

Posted by: Kate | December 19, 2006 10:38 AM

I think maybe if the post had ended with a few interesting questions rather than a rant, we could get a good discussion going here. But I found the rant a little off-putting.

Posted by: Christine | December 19, 2006 10:39 AM

"there is the demographic reality that non-feminist societies (Latin America, the Islamic world) are prospering in population, while the developed world (sans immigration) is not"

"Prospering in population" is not necessarily an attribute to which to aspire. The world is overpopulated, and the result has been disease, starvation, and hopelessness. We don't need to replace ourselves for any reason except political economy.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:40 AM

I once read a book about the !Kung people, who are contemporary hunters and gatherers who live in Africa. Learning about these people can provide us with some insight into our homonid ancestors, who with the exception of the last 10,000 years or so, lived as hunters and gatherers as well. In fact, hunters and gatherers have been by far the most long-lasting kind of culture in the homonid experience. Studying gender relations and roles in the !Kung society, as well as other hunter-gatherer societies, reveals that the sexes were much more equal than they were in later agrarian cultures. Both sexes participated in the gathering of food and raising of children. The balance between the genders was much more balanced in terms of the power structures than in later agrarian societies. There was less violence against women, and women were more protected as a class. The theory on why this was the case is that the women were active in their communities as a whole. Their contributions to the economy of the group was important, as they brought in much of the food that was consumed. Also, as a result of their rigorous physical activity, their tended to have children that were spaced approximately 4 years apart, so they were not as tied down with children as women in later, more modern cultures. As a result, their voices were heard and they had considerable influence.

Later on, as the hunter gatherer societies shifted to a more economically efficient agrarian culture, women became more tied to the home and less to the external world. The men farmed the land and participated in their external political and social system, and their women were tied to the home and were more isolated from other women. They were also having children that were spaced closer together. The women became more dependent on their men, and since they were isolated from each other and the external world, they lost power.

I guess the point is that the hunter-gatherer societies have lasted the longest in homonid history, and in that sense, they can be viewed as very successful. And in these successful societies, the balance of power between men and women was largely equal. Perhaps the neanderthals did die off because the women were big game hunting. But they are not the only homonid hunter-gatherer society that we can look to. There are many others where the women were able to contribute to their economy, where their voices were heard, where they were not tied down by too many children, and where their men also contributed to childraising. And these societies were long lasting and successful, even key to the evolution and survival of humans. Agrarian society set women back a little in terms of the balance of power, but I think we are moving away from that again, and perhaps evolving into a new kind of society, where women once again are active in the external world, and where thanks to birth control, we have some control over how many children we have and how that affects our lives. To me, the big picture is encouraging, notwithstanding the neanderthal theory.

Posted by: Emily | December 19, 2006 10:41 AM

There is a wonderful book called "Mother Nature: A history of mothers, infants, and natural selection" by anthropologist Sarah Hrdy (yes that's how it's spelled.) A great read.

One thing she describes in the book is how, among chimpanzees in the wild (or gorillas- can't remember now), mothers make the same work-family choices that human women do. A chimp mom can stay with her baby, which limits her ability to forage for food, or leave her baby with "lower-status" members of the group to care for, and forage further away- which enables her to bring the group more food, and increase her status and her infant's status.

Posted by: randdommom | December 19, 2006 10:41 AM

"We were just a rich nation right after WWII and women for the first time, had the opportunity (such as it was) to 'not work.'"

Even then, this opportunity was not available to all. My father had a middle management, white-collar job and my mom still had to work until the late '70s as a nurse on the night shift. They couldn't pay for the (rickety old) house across the street from the train tracks, one decrepit station wagon, and food for four kids otherwise. Few first generation immigrants or African-Americans had this '50s opportunity either.

As you note, atl mom, the norm for most of our history has been that the vast majority of women have worked, in most families, either to generate money (nursing, teaching, house cleaning, etc.) or to save money (growing a large vegetable garden, sewing all clothes, draperies, darning socks., etc.).

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:42 AM

"and the obvious anti-feminist position of the NYT, which is consistent with other articles such as Lisa Belkin's Opt Out Revolution and Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood, where the pro-sahm position is evident even in the articles' titles."

So Leslie - does this mean you believe "pro-sahm" = "anti-feminist"?


Posted by: momof4 | December 19, 2006 10:43 AM

So let me get this straight, in order to succeed I need to have my wife stay at home and hunt small game and mind the children while I go out and hunt mammoths? How much does that pay again?

Posted by: An Dliodoir | December 19, 2006 10:44 AM

"Or is it the way he thinks?"

Yeah, right. (Snort.)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 10:45 AM

does "pro-sahm" = "anti-feminist"?

Now there's a question that could lead to an intersting discussion today!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 19, 2006 10:46 AM

To Atimom and others -- You think we disagree. We don't, necessarily. The reality is that every aspect of Western society, from entitlements such as Social Security and Medicaid, to economic growth, is predicated on population growth. When Western women go out en masse and get education loans (such as the poster mentions above) that prevent them from having the four children they desire, their nations face the risk of a host of demographic problems. These include the risk of either collapse, sharing of power with anti-feminist immigrant groups, or military conquest. Industrialized nations have not yet figured out a substitute for mothers choosing to raise replacement numbers of children that does not entail huge tax burdens that are ultimately counterproductive (see France for one example).

Posted by: Mediaskeptic | December 19, 2006 10:56 AM

I realized I forgot to add one thing:

I haven't been able to read the original paper, so I have no idea on whether or not this idea has any merit. It is, however, an interesting leap of logic. It could very well be flawed logic, but interesting nonetheless ;)

Posted by: Chasmosaur | December 19, 2006 10:59 AM

It just points out something that is so "un PC". Businesses are specializing to create greater productivity and knowledge. Whereas, the "PC" push is to generalize relationships, so that man and woman do the exact same things in a relationship. It makes no rational sense, unless you believe that man and woman are the same. Two dependent parts work much better and are more cohesive than two independent parts working together.

Posted by: niceday | December 19, 2006 10:59 AM

Posting 13432***Mammoth Hunter

Requirements:
Robust bones
Own club
3+ yrs Game hunting experience (musk ox or larger)

Compensation:
16K + bonus (performance based)
No health benefits

Education:
H.S or GED
MBA a plus

HR Contact: Ug Grunty

Posted by: monster | December 19, 2006 11:00 AM

How much is everyone tipping their daycare? We settled on a week's fee.

Posted by: Tomcat | December 19, 2006 11:00 AM

Again, Leslie seems to have taken very little time to fully read and understand the article she is commenting on. I think the prior posters have it right...all for drama instead of an interesting debate. I've begun to realize Leslie is the ultimate Drama Queen. Boring.

Posted by: just another mom | December 19, 2006 11:04 AM

But mediaskeptic - but don't forget the impact of reliable birth control. I know many upper middle class SHAM's who could afford to have more children, it wouldn't impact an outside career and they chose to stop at 1 or 2.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 19, 2006 11:05 AM

Interesting. I wonder how we would have turned out if the women did all of the hunting and gathering and the men stayed home and took care of the kids, took baths, shaved their body hair, made themselves as desirable as possible , etc.

I actually saw a movie once called Mondo Cane where an aborigine society was discovered that actually was structured in that way. All the men did was hang around the capfire all day grooming themselves, primping, and tending the kids while the women did all the hunting and fighting.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 19, 2006 11:05 AM

The reality is that every aspect of Western society, from entitlements such as Social Security and Medicaid, to economic growth, is predicated on population growth.

to Mediaskeptic: We do disagree. "Every aspect of Western society" is not equivalent to "every government program". Government programs and their underlying metrics are a poor measurement for economic and/or societal success. Let's talk about GNP and other economic factors in the U.S. that are thriving. Our GNP reflects the results of a work force drawn from all of society and not only the male portion. You can't truly be arguing that our per-household-income would be improved, or that the percentage of persons living below the poverty line would be decreased, if we had as many kids as we want and couldn't afford to provide health insurance for them?

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 11:06 AM

Emily,

How did these women space their children 4 years apart?

Posted by: dz | December 19, 2006 11:06 AM

'What is this crap? Dumb post.'

I second that! I'm off to the mall.

Posted by: experienced mom | December 19, 2006 11:10 AM

Apparently, the children were spaced 4 roughly 4 years apart for biological reasons. The women in these hunter-gatherer cultures were very physically active and lean. I am not a biologist, but apparently, because of this, they tended to get pregnant less easily than more sedentary agrarian women who probably had more body fat. At least, that is what I remember from the explanation.

Posted by: Emily | December 19, 2006 11:10 AM

Tipping daycare??!?! We're supposed to tip daycare for christmas? Now I feel like an a$$.

Posted by: Cheapskate | December 19, 2006 11:12 AM

Rule No. 48 for the On Balance Blog.

If you cannot behave and call each other names (such as imbecile), Leslie will send you to bed without dinner.

Posted by: New Rule | December 19, 2006 11:12 AM

I've studied anthropology and agree with what Emily said. Division of labor =/= female subordination. In fact, the Iroquois had a very strict division of labor (men hunted, women farmed) and were *matriarchal*, as are the Moso of China. It's very possible, even probable (considering the abundance of female figurines) that the Cro-Mags were matriarchal, division of labor or no.

What subordinates women is not whether there is a gender-based division of labor, it is whether women contribute to subsistence. The Eskimo are a rare example of a male-dominated hunter-gatherer society, because there was nothing to gather. All the food was supplied by men, therefore, men controlled women.

And let's not forget what else the women were likely doing besides gathering food and rearing children. Anthropologist Olga Soffer has found evidence of woven cloth dating as far back as 30,000 years ago. It must have helped the Cro-Magnons to survive in the colder climates, to have warm and well-made clothes that the women were probably responsible for making. As well as baskets and bags to carry things in.

Just because the women weren't hunting large game doesn't mean they were subordinate.

And, by the way, I love the COTCB series, too!

Posted by: Flyonthewall | December 19, 2006 11:13 AM

"Mediaskeptic
When Western women go out en masse and get education loans (such as the poster mentions above) that prevent them from having the four children they desire, their nations face the risk of a host of demographic problems. These include the risk of either collapse, sharing of power with anti-feminist immigrant groups."

The United States unlike Europe does not have the problem you describe above because of mass immigration that has assimilated 1000 percent better than they do in Europe.

Posted by: niceday | December 19, 2006 11:15 AM

Well, we don't need to debate the ponzi scheme that is social security here - but remember, when it was implemented - people rarely lived to 65 (that was life expectancy) and it was for people who *couldn't* work, not people who *chose not to* work. BIG difference. The age at which one receives benefits should be increased to 75 or 80, then we wouldn't have a problem, people would either retire on their own dime, yet the govt (i.e., we) would take care of those who needed it most. But alas, that is in no politician's plans - since the elderly vote more than the rest of us.

Posted by: atlmom | December 19, 2006 11:17 AM

mediaskeptic, talking in short-hand about such important topics doesn't work. No one's education loans prevent them from having children. Being responsible for one's debts causes one to re-evaluate the wisdom of taking on more debt, or creating more financial obligations, than one can handle. Isn't that the sort of personal responsibility we should encourage as a society? We didn't take on debt for a fancy new state-of-the-art minivan. We took it on in order to be able to feed, clothe and obtain good medical care for our kids -- those two that we have.

Would that my education loans actually served as birth control, and not just as a reminder to my husband and me that we have to live within our means.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 11:21 AM

Atlmom - it was also partly implemented because of the job market - because of the Depression, the men graduating from college on the GI bill, and later the Baby Boomers entering the market, the older people had to retire to make way for younglings. Now since people live longer, and there is not a massive generation of young people flooding the job market (in fact the reverse) it's probably best that people not retire as early.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | December 19, 2006 11:23 AM

This is more like a class than a conversation. Boring.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 11:27 AM

Is it bad form to tip daycare workers with the same Giant Bottles of Liquor that you use to tip the postal and trash workers?

Posted by: Bad Tipper | December 19, 2006 11:28 AM

atl mom...
"retire on their own dime"? that way homelessness lies...

Posted by: aging mom | December 19, 2006 11:28 AM

Bad Tipper, it depends on your child, I suppose.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 11:30 AM

I agree with many other posters that we are grasping at straws to find a correlation between Neanderthals and H. sapiens' gender equality. I think Leslie may be reading a little too much into the findings. You know, sometimes scientists don't write papers for journals to make a statement about today's gender equality gap. More often, they write papers to get grant money.

"So only academics should read academic studies and make conclusions in their ivory towers?"

All this academic sees is a fume hood, bottles of chemicals, a messy bench, and holiday lights strung to ease the harshness of the fluorescent overhead lights. Where's my ivory tower?!

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 11:37 AM

Perhaps the "robustly built" (read stacked? healthy? full-figured? Amazonian? Lionel Ritchie's "brick house"?) female Neanderthals needed to help bring down the big game in order for the job to get done.

Just another example of a woman doing what a woman's got to do. Sort of a glass-half-full view instead of glass-half-empty. OR robust instead of rotund.

Seriously, this wouldn't be the first time women have helped out with the heavy work. What about the poorer and minority women who helped with the farming by working the fields in the last century and before? THAT didn't wipe US out!

Methinks the scientists wanted a provocative way of presenting their findings.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | December 19, 2006 11:38 AM

Couldn't find someone worthy enough for a Tuesday guest blog? Or what about Rebeldad? He's typically more thought provoking than this...

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 11:39 AM

The benefits derived from the division of labor are one of the basic tenents of economics. I think there's a story about workers making pins in "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith. If one ancient homonoid species discovered the division of labor and another didn't, it's not hard to see how that might have made a difference in which survived and which didn't. What might have happened tens of thousands of years ago has nothing to do with gender politics today.

Posted by: An economist | December 19, 2006 11:42 AM

Historian - the friend who introduced me to Clan of the Cave Bear series called it Cro-Magnon Trash. Loved every one.

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 11:43 AM

One big part of the reason the !Kung San women had children spaced so far apart was that they allowed the babies to nurse on demand all day and all night - no restrictions. These babies nursed very, very, very frequently - often for only a minute or two at a time. (The women carried their babies in wraps almost all the time.) They didn't stop nursing at age one - these children nursed for several years. The *frequency* of nursing (as opposed to just the fact of nursing) appears to be strongly related to the delay of the return of fertility.

Posted by: TexasMom | December 19, 2006 11:45 AM

Clan of the Cave Bear- OK, I admit it: I love this cave man trash lit. I have one big problem with it though: I assume her 2 competing species are supposed to be cro-magnon and neanderthal. The problem is that she describes neanderthals as ape-like, when in fact, neanderthals looked like horse-faced cro-magnons. That bothers me to no end. Oh, and the riding of the saber-toothed tiger. Pretty stupid. I love the medicinal and food descriptions, though.

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 11:48 AM

I don't think only academics should be able to read scholarly articles, but I *do* think that a lot of laypersons read the articles, don't understand them, oversimplify them, and rely on their limited understanding of the subject to draw sweeping conclusions. (Case in point: today's blog!!) There's nothing wrong with a little intellectual honesty, i.e. "This study seems to indicate XYZ, but I'm a newbie at this and would need to be a lot better read on the subject in order to draw a conclusion."

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | December 19, 2006 11:49 AM

Emily -- Thanks for that history of the !Kung people. Fascinating. You made great points

After I posted my comment I too started thinking "Do I mean pro-feminist = anti-SAHM?" And I also asked myself how long it would take everyone to call me out.

The short answer is no. Pro-fem does not mean anti-sahm or vice versa. Entirely possible and often that SAHM are passionate feminists. WM can be anti-fem. Inda Schaenen's Mommy Wars' essay is titled On Being A Radical Feminist Stay-at-Home Mom. Catherine Clifford's essay, Mother Superior, outlines how her feminist philosophy is a large part of why she became a stay-at-home mom.

But but but...I think when an elite national publication such as the NYT repeatedly runs articles portraying SAHMs as somehow having made the "right" choice you have to question their bias. That's what I object to.

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 11:52 AM

Is there any empirical evidence that shows these Neanderthal women and children were killed during the hunt itself?

And assuming they were, why would anyone infer that these tribes of hominids were hunting this way for a lark? Perhaps there were other, earlier incidents, that made it an imperative for everyone to join in, including the juveniles.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 11:53 AM

Interesting. I wonder how we would have turned out if the women did all of the hunting and gathering and the men stayed home and took care of the kids, took baths, shaved their body hair, made themselves as desirable as possible , etc.

I actually saw a movie once called Mondo Cane where an aborigine society was discovered that actually was structured in that way. All the men did was hang around the capfire all day grooming themselves, primping, and tending the kids while the women did all the hunting and fighting.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 19, 2006 11:05 AM


They're called Fillipinos.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 11:53 AM

**somewhat off-topic post**

Most of you have probably seen this, but just in case: a NYTimes article called "Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying." (If the link doesn't work, just go to the NYTimes page--it is the most emailed article at the moment.) It is sure to ring bells!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/fashion/weddings/17FIELDBOX.html?em&ex=1166677200&en=9cbe5538cb1d2c45&ei=5087%0A

Posted by: aging mom | December 19, 2006 11:54 AM

Were there seperate caves for elite Neanderthal Women? Maybe ones higher up in the hills with streams running nearby or thru the cave?

Mabye NC lawyer or Fred would care to comment.

Posted by: just wondering | December 19, 2006 11:55 AM

I didn't read Leslie's post because I got bored after the first couple of lines, but I don't like being left out so here I am.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 11:57 AM

"Must be petite and weak?"

No way! Robust, six-foot tall women can do the dishes just as well as the little ones. (Grins, ducks, and runs.)

Posted by: Rufus | December 19, 2006 11:58 AM

Only if they wash in the nude! (This should appeal to Theirry)

Posted by: to Rufus | December 19, 2006 12:02 PM

just want to point out that in the thread on US or western feminism and no population growth vs. developing world and rapid population growth that folks are:

1. taking for granted the absence of feminist movements in these parts of the world. sorry, but they do exist... india, bangladesh, etc... and, take for example microfinance, i know it was started by a man, but it had become a system benefiting and operated primarily by women in developing nations...nobel anyone?

2. the rapid population growth of humans *taken as a whole*, not compartmentalized based on global politics, is decimating resources needed for animal populations to eke out an existence themselves, speaking of zero population growth...

Posted by: kate | December 19, 2006 12:02 PM

aging mom, you better be prepared to retire on your own dime because the New Deal ponzi scheme known as Social Security will be means tested out of the reach for everyone who is not homeless.

Posted by: Rufus | December 19, 2006 12:03 PM

Interesting, I have become more 'robust' since having my daughter. Lost my baby weight quickly and since then my legs and arms are much more muscular than ever before -- carrying around a 20 lb baby up and down townhouse stairs, not to mention the games of "flying baby" that were easier when she was 5 1/2 lbs, or lugging the infant carrier and stroller to and from the car... that's what has made me more robust and stronger. Not hunting game./ Perhaps the neanderthal women were just robust from hauling their babies!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 12:04 PM

I know this is going to anger a lot of people, but the modern version of this is happening in the more and lesser developed worlds. Where the status of women is high (USA, Western Europe, Japan) the population isn't replacing through reproduction; leaving Latin America and the Middle East to provide immigrants.

Posted by: Doug | December 19, 2006 12:04 PM

"I think when an elite national publication such as the NYT repeatedly runs articles portraying SAHMs as somehow having made the "right" choice you have to question their bias."

I agree. But are the articles in question *really* portraying SAHMs as having made the right choice, or are they simply reporting on the trend of more women leaving the workforce to be at home with their children?

It seems like defensiveness to read an article which is reporting statistics and the results of studies and assume that the publication is necessarily being supportive of whatever it is that's being reported on. And reporting something in a positive way doesn't necessarily indicate bias, I don't think.

Posted by: momof4 | December 19, 2006 12:07 PM

Leslie, don't you think it is a HUGE reach to equate an analysis of a long dead species to modern day attitudes? The headline is hardly offensive or controversial. It's just flip, someone's trying to be cute title, not the next bill to go before congress.

Quote: "which is consistent with other articles such as Lisa Belkin's Opt Out Revolution and Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood, where the pro-sahm position is evident even in the articles' titles."

Your blog today is more indicative of your disdain for anyone who chooses to stay at home than any prejudice on the part of the researchers or the NY Times.

Exactly what is wrong with being pro-stay at home mom? It beats the hell out of the obnoxious condescension people like you dish out on a daily basis. To you and yours, feminism is not about having the choice to stay at home or work out of the home, but rather doing what the feminist elite have decided is right.

I'd give my right arm to be a stay at home mom, but I don't have that option. If I ever get the chance, I'll jump so fast it will make heads spin. If that is a waste of my college degree or a slap in the face of feminism, we can have a party, burn my diploma and I'll start slapping.

Stay at home moms are a valuable cultural resource--equally as valuable as moms who work outside the home. The feminist movement should not be so quick to dismiss them.

Posted by: Single and denied | December 19, 2006 12:11 PM

Is this the week before Christmas or what? Where are the blogs about traditions---new or old? Anyone want to share??

Posted by: Lou | December 19, 2006 12:15 PM

Lou - please can we skip making everything about Christmas - those of us who don't celebrate it need someplace to go.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 12:22 PM

Hey Lou,

Yes, traditions. Now that both my parents and wife's parents are passed on and 3 of the 4 children adults, we get to stay home! All of our children will be traveling to our house for Christmas. In some cases with their friends. So I guess the tradition starting this year is buying the future son in law presents! And buying a stocking for him!

Posted by: Fred | December 19, 2006 12:23 PM

Doug
"Where the status of women is high (USA, Western Europe, Japan) the population isn't replacing through reproduction; leaving Latin America and the Middle East to provide immigrants."

Is this a problem?

Posted by: DZ | December 19, 2006 12:33 PM

why you feel bad when someone say stay at home mom is right choice? it is right for our family. great choice. but when someone say stay at home is bad, i don't offended. i just think it not work for them, so ok. same thing if it not work for you, just ignore it and allow someone else to enjoy that way.

are you on a mission to get all stay at home mom to work? is someone on a mission to get all working mom to stay at home? i think society have so many different people, they do whatever is right for them. no one can judge one way or another.

and i really confusing how neanderthal can apply to us. is really not our concerning.

Posted by: xiaoti | December 19, 2006 12:34 PM

Lou

The Christmas discussion encourages the God Squad.

No thanks.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 12:37 PM

Leslie,

The justifications for your blog posting today have meandered from being (alternately) a scientific debate, a social critique, or an accusation of journalistic bias.

So which is it really?

Frankly speaking, you are not competent to contribute to a scientific debate among anthropologists. So let's not go there.

And it's ludicrous to base a social critique of current society on two species that have been extinct for millenia. Let's just not go there either, ok?

That leaves journalistic bias, which presumably you (since you work at the Washington Post) have some insight into.

If you really do believe the NYT is biased against SAHMs, well, at WaPo you have easy access to newspaper archives (both paper and electronic).

So you can easily compile the necessary evidence and present it to Byron Calame, the Public Editor at the NYT.

Here, let's make this even easier:

http://www.nytimes.com/top/opinion/thepubliceditor/index.html

E-mail: public@nytimes.com
Phone: (212) 556-7652
Address: Public Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036-3959

Posted by: Skepticality | December 19, 2006 12:39 PM

"Were there seperate caves for elite Neanderthal Women? Maybe ones higher up in the hills with streams running nearby or thru the cave?"

Separate caves higher up in the hills with stream running nearby were reserved for magna cum laude graduates whose beauty provoked the other Neanderthal women to jealousy. They matriculated from both elite and crappy schools. We didn't have the U.S. News and World Report rankings until 1983 and so couldn't use that standard for cave assignments.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 12:42 PM

Leslie...
It's a huge mistake for you to take on this article (which apparently most of us haven't read) when it's not really making any waves that I'm aware of (outside your blog, of course).
I started wondering whether this was a straw-man set up specifically to spark contentious debate by blog posters.
Either this article was deliberately misread by you, or you have some sort of deep-seeded narcissism that prevented you from reading this as the results of a study based on conjecture and hypothesis, which, as far as I know didn't offer any recommendations on how modern homo sapiens ought to live.
As far as the NYT headline "What's a mother to do?" Ok, I can see your objection to that, but only if you pick up the article expecting to read about modern society. If, once Neanderthal societies are mentioned, you fail to make the leap from modern civilization to an extinct species of hominids, then you're failure is cognitive. This is the same type of failure that led the Bush administration to confuse Saddam Hussein with Osama Bin Laden... However, I believe yours is more of a stretch.
Perhaps next time you ought to blog on the injustices of lion societies. Remind us that the position of the lioness is nothing to aspire to: one where she wields the power in the hunt, only to have her kill picked at by the dominant male, who then forces himself upon her and spends the rest of the day lounging under a shade tree on the vast savannah. I think that's at least as relevant.

Posted by: Neil | December 19, 2006 12:44 PM

Lou- Traditions! I was talking to my husband about the tree the other day. (We've been together 5 years and put up our first tree this year. We're staying home this year since I'm about 11 months pregnant.) So, growing up, us kids were never allowed to touch the tree. It was decorated by my mother to look like it came from a magazine. This seemed normal to me. All the trees at my friends' houses looked sad and messy. While our tree this year isn't messy, it is covered with blue ornaments, which my mom always hated. And it's a REAL tree. Fake trees are a pain in the butt and don't smell like Christmas!

Bah humbug to the person who doesn't celebrate Christmas and "needs some place to go." I'm sure there is something to celebrate in December for you! We NEED to celebrate when the days are SO short. You have lots of choices, too! Chrismas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice. Or just celebrate having a tree inside your house, covered in lights and ornaments, that the cats may eat and the dog may pee on! And the food and parties! Who cares what they're for! It's fun!

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 12:47 PM

Having taught human evolution in a high-school level anthropology class, I would like to second Alan Aycock's thoughtful comments on what can and cannot actually be known from the archaeological evidence. A great many popular articles about early human ancestors (including some in the textbook I used) go far beyond the available evidence in order to make eye-catching claims about connections to present-day gender relations.
Before drawing any conclusions about division of labor, it would be relevant to know whether any evidence of foods other than big game have been found at Neanderthal sites. My recollection is that there are bones of birds, shellfish and fish, but I don't remember what the evidence is for small land animals and for plants. Most excavations are at the rock shelters which were occupied in winter, rather than at the camp sites used in the summer, so they may not provide a complete picture of the types of foods utilized over the course of the year.
By the way, "robust" is a technical term meaning "having heavy bones"(for example, the early hominids known as australopithecines are usually divided into "robust" and "gracile" species). Neanderthals of both sexes are "robust" compared to homo sapiens (including Cro-Magnons) of both sexes.
Many Neanderthal skeletons show evidence of serious injuries which have been interpreted as the result of hunting large game at close range with spears. If women joined in hunting large game at close range (as opposed to helping to stampede large game as they do in many modern hunter-gather societies), female skeletons should show injuries similar to those of males. I don't think the article (or at least the summary in the New York Times) gave data on actual evidence of such injuries, although this would be crucial to any arguments about whether female hunting posed risks to the survival of females and children.

Posted by: jhurwi | December 19, 2006 12:48 PM

Leslie,

I asked a couple of hours ago if you had read the article or just the abstract. If you answered, I'm sorry but I don't see it.

Are you basing your very interpretation of their research (Neanterthals might not be extinct if females and children were better protected) and your feminist assumption (the authors are therefore attacking and degrading female homo-sapiens) just based on the abstract?

Posted by: bob | December 19, 2006 12:49 PM

atb must be on crack or something. to suggest that someone celebrate a December holiday, just because she does is presumptious and rude. I celebrate Christmas, but can understand how it would annoy those who don't. Heck, even I don't want to hear Xmas music from October to January non-stop! I feel for those who can't get away from it, because it is everywhere.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 12:52 PM

"Where the status of women is high (USA, Western Europe, Japan) the population isn't replacing through reproduction; leaving Latin America and the Middle East to provide immigrants."
>Is this a problem?
>Posted by: DZ | December 19, 2006 12:33 PM

Well, it means that the cultural values of our society aren't being passed down through generations the way the values of less developed societies are.

Posted by: Doug | December 19, 2006 12:53 PM

"Where the status of women is high (USA, Western Europe, Japan) the population isn't replacing through reproduction; leaving Latin America and the Middle East to provide immigrants."
>Is this a problem?
>Posted by: DZ | December 19, 2006 12:33 PM

Well, it means that the cultural values of our society aren't being passed down through generations the way the values of less developed societies are.

Posted by: Doug | December 19, 2006 12:54 PM

Leslie, I think the basic problem today is that you've made WAY too much stew from one oyster with this blog. As I said, I read another article about the same study (if you're interested in the topic, I hope you read the link I provided) and came away with a totally different view from the one you presented today. I also read the NYT story and failed to extract an anti-feminist diatribe. That you did makes it sound like you've got an axe to grind.

Saying that a society that specializes in different types of food production is anti-feminist (whatever that would mean to a C-M) is viable ONLY if you think that providing the majority of the food supply is anti-feminist. This specialization made women more important to society as a whole, not less.

Also... being big isn't relevant to pack hunting. Someone else mentioned the !Kung. From my reading, this tribe are traditionally pack hunters of large game (to supplement the main food supply acquired through gathering). The !Kung certainly aren't "robust"--on average, adult males are 5' tall or less. People are so much smaller than large animals that it matters not at all whether the human weighs 100lbs or 200. You leverage technology to defeat the animal, because brute strength will never do it.

A male large-animal vet once scoffed at a female large-animal vet. "You weigh 110 pounds. What are you going to do when a thousand-pound horse kicks at you?" She replied: "Exactly the same thing a 200lb-pound man like you is going to do: I'm going to sedate him."

Posted by: Historian | December 19, 2006 12:57 PM

Tuesday Guest Blog will run tomorrow. Editor-in-Chief Stacey is busy working three jobs and raising two kids under five and she got Tuesday and Wednesday mixed up this week. Hopefully she won't get her kids mixed up.

I admit to my own skewed bias. I tend to see anti-women slants everywhere. But this doesn't mean it's not really there.

Tipping childcare providers: rule is to give as much as you can, and to aim for more than other parents so you keep your childcare providers loyal. Just like any other employees...

FYI: On Balance Virtual Book Club is underway. Should launch in January. First book will be John Dickerson's On Her Trail. On Balance holiday homework assignment is to buy the book and start reading!

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 12:58 PM

"atb must be on crack or something."

I hope not -- that would be terrible for the baby she's carrying.

Good luck, atb, I hope you and your baby are well! Enjoy an extra-exciting Christmas this year!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 19, 2006 1:00 PM

Doug

"Well, it means that the cultural values of our society aren't being passed down through generations the way the values of less developed societies are."

Is this a problem?

Posted by: DZ | December 19, 2006 1:03 PM

Seems to me that all discussion of division of labor as it occurred before the Industrial Revolution is moot. That historical development alone impacted every aspect of every type of division of labor (male-female; management-worker; parents-children; etc., etc.). The type of labor was transformed -- over and over again, as it happened, with further technological improvements -- as were standards for who could do what.

So, really, all this hand-wringing is for naught.

Posted by: BigBee | December 19, 2006 1:04 PM

Hey Neil -- the headline of the STUDY was What's a Mother to Do? Do you really think that's an apt title for a scientific study? You don't see any bias there? C'mon...

The NYT headline was slightly more scientific, but only slightly: Equality Between the Sexes: Neanderthal Women Joined Men in the Hunt

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 1:04 PM

"presumptuous and rude" from an anonymous poster is over the top in response to atb's innocuous comment. Acknowledgement of Christmas isn't beyond the pale for Carolyn Hax or Dave Barry readers. Are they more balanced? Come on people, we've all agreed today's topic is a snoozer, so what's wrong with some holiday stories? One doesn't have to accept the existence of God, Allah, Jesus Christ or anyone else to comment on family traditions loosely associated with the month of December.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 1:06 PM

"On Balance holiday homework assignment is to buy the book and start reading!"

Or BORROW the book -- from a library, friend, relative, coworker, etc.

Leslie, are you going into book sales? Doesn't seem kosher to be hawking wares on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 1:08 PM

Wow, the abstract and title alone suggest to me at first glance that the paper compares women's roles then and now, rather than looking at the division of labor. The authors using a silly title to grab peoples attention?

Posted by: agenda setting? | December 19, 2006 1:09 PM

"Do you really think that's an apt title for a scientific study?"

Considering they probably called it that in the grant proposal only so they'd get money, I don't see a problem with it. I mean, that title is more likely to get a grant than "Equality Between the Sexes: Neanderthal Women Joined Men in the Hunt."

Regardless, I still think trying to extrapolate the study to modern times is futile at best, as has alreay been pointed out above.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 1:09 PM

Save your money; pick up On Her Trail at the Public Library.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 1:14 PM

"I admit to my own skewed bias. I tend to see anti-women slants everywhere. But this doesn't mean it's not really there."

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not out to get you? ;)

Can you explain the anti-woman bias you found in the article that you focused on for today's blog? From your post:

"The suggestion in their article, titled What's a Mother to Do? is that Neanderthals... [died out] because women tried to be equal to men by fighting alongside them in search of large game."

That's a HUGE stretch of the description I read in the Economist and the NYT. Another interpretation is that a society with only one food source is very vulnerable to interruptions in their food supply, and a society that can store food is better able to survive these interruptions. When a group of people who did specialize moved into Neanderthal territory, they were better adapted for survival.

If you read the Economist article, you'll see that another scientist argues that the specialization was not necessarily sex-linked, but could have been some men who did not hunt. The basis of the assumption that the division of labor was sex-linked is that it's generally sex-linked now. It also mentions the role of trade to building a sustainable economy (if you don't have it, you can trade for it). Diamond's _Collapse_ also explores this aspect of why societies succeed or fail.

Posted by: Historian | December 19, 2006 1:17 PM

"I think when an elite national publication such as the NYT repeatedly runs articles portraying SAHMs as somehow having made the "right" choice you have to question their bias."


You portray working mothers as somehow having made the "right" choice. I have to question your bias.

Posted by: to Leslie | December 19, 2006 1:17 PM

I knew someone would get upset. That's the nature of this blog. How dare I suggest being festive in a month of short days? It was about as loaded as suggesting someone turn on the sprinklers and throw some dogs on the grill in June to celebrate the long days. I guess that may offend the vegans and those very concerned about water conservation.

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 1:20 PM

Yes, turn the conversation to Christmas tradition, b/c the snarks up in here are getting downright nasty. A bah-humbug for the holidays?

My Christmas tradition: I team up with Santa Claus, travel back in time and hunt Mammoths. I have to do something to keep up my robust figure!

Corny? Yup. But it's better than snarling about precise anthropological interpretations of studies that are likely conducted with some sort of bias or presumption anyway.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | December 19, 2006 1:23 PM

"Considering they probably called it that in the grant proposal only so they'd get money."

Precisely what the authors of an unbiased scientific study don't need or should be encouraged to do.

Posted by: title and abstract | December 19, 2006 1:24 PM

"throw some dogs on the grill "

terriers, daschunds, beagles?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 1:26 PM

Christmas stories would be much more enjoyable than anthropological discussions. I would guess that there are more people who care about Christmas than there are lawyers :).

Our family tradition is to open one present each on Christmas Eve in the hopes that we will be able to get some sleep before the kids get us up in the morning.

Posted by: to atb | December 19, 2006 1:29 PM

"I guess that may offend the vegans"

Not at all. Vegans enjoy grilling -- even "dogs" -- like everyone else.

You know, I don't think anyone has ever said anything on this blog to the effect that OTHER people should become vegan. Why, I wonder, is this dietary choice and lifestyle singled out for such disdain? I could understand it if we vegans were trying to change your hearts and minds, but that's just not the case here.

As to December being a long month of short days, you're absolutely right. While my husband and I don't celebrate any of the various religious holidays of the season, we do decorate our house with lights and go out looking at all the various light displays in neighborhoods around town. We just really like lights. Hanukah, Christmas, Kwaanza, New Years, etc. -- it doesn't matter whose holiday. We'll always come for the lights!

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 1:30 PM

You portray working mothers as somehow having made the "right" choice. I have to question your bias.

Posted by: to Leslie | December 19, 2006 01:17 PM

No, I don't think Leslie has ever suggested that working mothers have made the right choice. Rather she has presented topics on this blog and that concern working parents concerned with balancing home and careers.

Posted by: in defense of Leslie | December 19, 2006 1:31 PM

Headline: Anonymous Poster Declares War on Christmas.

Posted by: Bill O'Reilly | December 19, 2006 1:32 PM

Happy Holidays Pittypat, enjoy the lights!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 19, 2006 1:35 PM

"Do you really think that's an apt title for a scientific study?"

It could be. Or it might not be. It's a debatable point. And such debate is best conducted by editors of scientific journals and its readers.

But even if one grants, for the sake of discussion, that the title was inappropriate, that is hardly evidence of gender bias.

A lone data point - a single title or headline - is paltry evidence on which to claim gender bias, or any kind of bias.

Posted by: Skepticality | December 19, 2006 1:36 PM

Back at you, Arlington Dad. Hope your holidays are merry and bright!

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 1:39 PM

Ignoring the God-fearing. (in most cases being called that is a compliment, but not in this case)

I ask because my SIL took the kids out on a Light Tour around the neighborhoods with hot cocoa and popcorn, while playing Christmas carols. I thought it was a wonderful idea and great new tradition!!

Posted by: Lou | December 19, 2006 1:40 PM

"I admit to my own skewed bias. I tend to see anti-women slants everywhere. But this doesn't mean it's not really there."

That strikes me as a little bit paranoid, but anti-woman bias is still too common. I think you exaggerate it based on your biases.

My real issue with you is not that you see anti-women biases everywhere, but rather that you equate the choice of an educated woman to stay at home as anti-woman. To quote my daughter, "What are you on about?"

It isn't anti-woman. It's anti-your opinion and anti-NOW's opinion. Neither NOW nor you nor anyone else have the right to render that judgment upon stay at home moms. Frankly, it is none of anyone's business but the moms' and her spouse.

The ultimate in gender equality is the right to make that choice without judgment from self-appointed gender-issues police. What is more feminist than a woman completing an education and using that education to come to the conclusion that staying home with her children is a more valuable endeavor than whatever her career path might have been or the opposite, deciding her chosen career path was more important/necessary/valuable/whatever than staying at home at that time?

Being forced to work because of some misplaced loyalty to an over-zealous group of cause junkies is neither freedom nor equality. It's the feminst version of cultural indentured servitude and no different than the philosophies that kept women out of the workplace for so long.

"Owe it to their gender to work?" Hardly. The only thing we owe each other as women is the support of whatever voluntary choice they make.

I've little use for women who look down their noses at anyone who chooses opposite of them. I don't like it when stay at home moms accuse working mothers of not loving their kids enough or neglecting them and I don't like it when working women portray staying at home as some sort of wasteful, traitorous act or a personal affront upon their dignity. They all need to build a bridge and get over it.

An educated woman staying at home doesn't set the women's movement back. It doesn't make it harder for other women. Those obstacles would be there whether they worked or not. You know what an educated woman choosing to stay at home does? It lets educated women do what they want to do.

It's all about being able to make the choice, not the choice itself.

Posted by: Single and denied | December 19, 2006 1:40 PM

"SIL took the kids out on a Light Tour around the neighborhoods with hot cocoa and popcorn, while playing Christmas carols"

No lights in the neighborhoods around my house.

Posted by: Liz | December 19, 2006 1:44 PM

Lou - the Light Tour is one of those things we always say we'll make time for "next year". Maybe we'll make this year next year because it does sound like a wholesome blast!

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 1:47 PM

Bonjour everybody!

Woke up and it is noon already! Hangover...

Only cavewoman I like is Racquel Welch in the movie One Million Years BC. If all cavewomen were like that, I would love to be a cave man.

Hey, my buddies and I had a great time at Bond Girl Night at the club last weekend. Remember - the bond girls came out, and they were oooh la la lavely!
Octopussy was wearing 8 tentacles (like Doc Ock in Spiderman2) and she walked among the guests tickling our ___ with her tentacles.
Pussy Galore was an incredible dancer, a solid 8-up! Man, I wish I were the pole.... ooh. And when she took it all off, I almost lost control.
Then they turned out the lights and played Hail To The Chief. Lights on, and there was Holly Goodhead wearing only a beret and knee pads. She had a very seductive pout. My buddy went to the front row and tipped her over $100. She was all over him, or should I say... all under the table.
Kissy Suzuki was delicious in kimono and fan. She did things with her chopsticks that ... well, I will just say that I cannot look at asian girls in the same way now.
And lastly there was MoneyPenny. Her dress was made of dollar bills, and when she took it off, she had 3 gold coins covering her 3 points of focus.
That was really some night!

Posted by: Thierry | December 19, 2006 1:51 PM

"No, I don't think Leslie has ever suggested that working mothers have made the right choice. Rather she has presented topics on this blog and that concern working parents concerned with balancing home and careers."

No, she just suggests in her blog that it is detrimental to all working women when a working woman decides to leave the paid workforce and stay home with the children. She just suggests that somehow that is a betrayal of the women's movement and that women owe it to each other to support working women by joining/remaining in the workforce. She openly lamented that a friend made that very choice and quoted other women who agree, but she never quoted anyone who disagreed. All the evidence she ever shows is that working women are right.

How exactly does this suggest anything but that the right choice is to work outside the home and the wrong choice is to stay at home? It's not wrong because it is wrong for the family, but because it is wrong for women everywhere.

Posted by: Single and denied | December 19, 2006 1:53 PM

pittypat- It was just an example. I don't find vegans any more sensitive or annoying than any other group of people. Though, one of the most annoying human beings I've ever met happened to be a vegetarian (not vegan) who loved to tell people how "disgusting" their food was (if it included meat) as they ate it. FWIW, I think people are uncomfortable with vegans because they assume the vegans are judging them as uncivilized and unenlightened. Seems kind of paranoid to me, but whatever.

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 1:55 PM

It lets educated women do what they want to do.

Best hope she and her spouse paid her for her efforts in the form of an IRA, and that she contributed to Social Security. Odds are good she will withdraw more money from Social Security than she put in.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 1:55 PM

single and denied:

i have been reading this blog for a few weeks now and i completely agree with you.
the blog's author has demonstrated her strong bias against sahms and men. she pays lip service to choices and options but the only options that matter are those that help women to work 50hrs/week guilt-free and stress-free. she wants cheap but high-quality daycare, servant husband, perfect robot kids, professional accolades and praise from everyone that she has it all made. what a wonderful professional working mom!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 1:57 PM

"A lone data point - a single title or headline - is paltry evidence on which to claim gender bias, or any kind of bias."

I seriously disagree. I title sets the tone of a paper, as does the abstract. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, I can specifically remember the uproar relating to bias in media coverage over two captions under photographs published the AP depicting residents making their way through chest-deep water. The caption under the black man read "looting," while the white pair were referred to as "finding." 2 photos, but the captions themselves revealed a real bias!

Posted by: to Skepticality | December 19, 2006 1:59 PM

"The caption under the black man read "looting," while the white pair were referred to as "finding." 2 photos, but the captions themselves revealed a real bias!"

what if the black man was really looting?
and the white man found something floating on the water?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:01 PM

look at WaPo online front page "Being a Black Man". it says 33% will go to jail in their lifetime. so.... justification for our bias? it is a stereotype but supported by the numbers.

Posted by: MinuteMan | December 19, 2006 2:03 PM

"Obvious takeaway: Desirable women must be petite and weak"

Yep, and men need to be big, strong and dumb. That's right, we're talkin' Jethro Clampett here.

Leslie - get a life.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:03 PM

Isn't the origin of "What's a Mother to do?" a tv commercial for Total cereal? The mom doesn't know what to do because her kids can't get enough vitamins...kinda like if they only ate mammoth burgers...

Doesn't sound very anti-anything to me.

Posted by: Barney | December 19, 2006 2:05 PM

"look at WaPo online front page "Being a Black Man". it says 33% will go to jail in their lifetime. so.... justification for our bias? it is a stereotype but supported by the numbers."

the only thing supported by those numbers is the bias of the criminal justice system. Sheesh. Please find a politics or wing-nut board and leave this one without your smarmy racist comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:05 PM

"finding" something that isn't yours, even if it is floating on the water is still theft.

Ditto for helping yourself to people's things that fall off of their vehicle. Hay, furnishings, clothing. It's theft, and it is defined as such.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:06 PM

If reproductive success is the key determinate of whether or not a species (or lineage, for that matter) makes it over the long haul, perhaps pregnant (I'm agnostic on the "barefoot" part) isn't all that bad a strategy.

;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:06 PM

to single and denied: unclench.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:06 PM

"look at WaPo online front page "Being a Black Man". it says 33% will go to jail in their lifetime. so.... justification for our bias? it is a stereotype but supported by the numbers."

Minuteman, by that logic every mention of a man in a newspaper should read like this: "Potential rapist President George Bush addressed Congress today..." After all, almost all rapists are men. Ergo, we should identify men as potential rapists.

Not.

Posted by: Historian | December 19, 2006 2:09 PM

Single and denied, 1:57, you are both so right. And this article is complete foolishness and shows Leslie's complete disconnect from anything real. Leslie, women like you are the reason I am NOT a feminist. I know I am equal with a man in my own way and don't have to validate my insecurities by searching out imaginary biases and drawing outrageous conclusions from a headline.

Posted by: Right on | December 19, 2006 2:10 PM

"the only thing supported by those numbers is the bias of the criminal justice system. Sheesh. Please find a politics or wing-nut board and leave this one without your smarmy racist comments."

No - the problem is that you can't tell, just by looking at them, what's causing this particular distribution. You may ASSUME that since people all share the same basic physical and psychological makeup, there can't be any real difference in crime rates and then CONCLUDE that they are evidence of bias. You might also ASSUME that observed differences are attributable to social conditions that FORCE people into certain behaviors, and that it is thus not their fault. You might also ASSUME that differing cultural norms among various subgroups cause the observed distributions.

But without additional data - and data that is extremely hard to obtain - you can't tell which explanation is correct.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:10 PM

it's so difficult to understand someone's point unless they emphasize the really, really important words in ALLCAPS. I hope all the posters start following the lead of our 2:10 anonymous participant.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:12 PM

"Minuteman, by that logic every mention of a man in a newspaper should read like this: "Potential rapist President George Bush addressed Congress today..." After all, almost all rapists are men. Ergo, we should identify men as potential rapists."

Of course not - but we should assume that if we meet a man and a woman, absent any additional information about them, the man is likely to be more of a rape threat than the woman. To fail to draw that conclusion is to be willfully blind.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:12 PM

"it's so difficult to understand someone's point unless they emphasize the really, really important words in ALLCAPS. I hope all the posters start following the lead of our 2:10 anonymous participant."

Nice dig. But seriously, this medium makes it very difficult to find effective ways of adding stress and emphasis to a sentence. Can't use pitch or tone of voice - formatting isn't preserved, so you can't use italics. I used to use _underscores_, but not many other people seem to use that convention any more, and it can make the text more difficult to read.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:14 PM

Feminism:

The doctrine -- and the political movement based on it -- that women should have the same economic, social, and political rights as men.

Right On: "I know I am equal with a man in my own way"

What way is that?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:15 PM

2:12, you also need lots of punctuation. Examples:

HUH??!?!!

WHA??!

or, the transcendent: F@*<!!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:16 PM

"Ergo, we should identify men as potential rapists"

in my rape-defense class, they teach us to be aware of our surroundings and "cues" as to what an attacker might look like, suspicious behavior, etc. do you want the list? It contains biases that you would find abhorrent, but I find helpful. If we were all blind to biases, we'd walk into dangerous situations all the time.

Posted by: WomanVictim | December 19, 2006 2:16 PM

"Bah humbug to the person who doesn't celebrate Christmas and "needs some place to go." I'm sure there is something to celebrate in December for you!"

What an insensitive boob you are. Some of us don't celebrate Christmas and don't have any desire to participate in it's trappings. We are neither humbug or anything else. People like you are the reason I dislike Christians.

Posted by: To alt | December 19, 2006 2:17 PM

Leslie, have you thought about doing something useful with your blog for poor working mothers (the ones who work b/c they don't have a choice) such as giving the names of charities where toys, clothes, or food can be donated for Christmas? I suggest www.mytwofrontteeth.org or www.toysfortots2006.org.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:17 PM

D@mn, Single and denied. That was some pretty strong posting. Hats off to you for calling it like you see it...

Since everyone else has already pretty much shot down the rather pathetic straw man this topic contained, and whomped Leslie for doing it, not much left to mine there.

But since the subject was brought up, I have an interesting tiny sidebar question that I've always wondered about on the hunter gather division of labor and evolution. Gathering fruits/vegetables would seem to place a premium on having good functioning rods on optic nerve. Hunting in low/night lighting conditions and protection would seem to place an advantage on rods over cones on the optic nerve.

So is that the reason so many more women than men seem to have poor night vision and so many more men than women are color blind? A leftover from evolutionary gender roles?

On a personal note, I'm not color blind, but I'm damned if women often can't see more variations between deep blue and purple than I can, as well as between red going to burgundy. And I won't go long into my spouse's and sister's ability to see at night... :~) Though why do every oncoming set of headlines seem to blind them?

For the nit-pickers, I am considering offering this Standard Disclaimer: I am asking questions without perfect scientific credibility. There are nearly always exceptions to rules, and generalizations can be a dangerous thing. With that said, my posts are hopefully a way that I or others can draw useful insight from less than perfect or complete suppositions. So lighten up!

Others might wish to consider the same, or making something like it a standard for our blog. Might end at least some of the snarking.

Posted by: TexasDad | December 19, 2006 2:18 PM

atb --

Yes, people on a dietary soapbox are a PIA.

I was lucky to have a wonderful example in my sister-in-law. She's been quietly and happily practicing veganism for over 20 years, and she talks about it only if people ask her questions. And then she only responds to what they ask.

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 2:19 PM

To Leslie,

I'll grant you that the title of the study is snarky and probably inappropriate for a scientific study, but that doesn't convince me of an anti-feminist bent. You're going to have to prove that they've made a direct correlation between the study of neanderthals and the modern human woman.

Could the title have been to garner more attention for a dry scientific study about a long extinct species? I don't know, I'm not one to jump to conclusions.

Posted by: Neil | December 19, 2006 2:19 PM

To 2:15, it meant that i am not the same as a man but my intrinsic worth is identical. Does that definition meet with your approval? (Jeepers...eye roll)

Posted by: Right On | December 19, 2006 2:19 PM

D@mn, Single and denied. That was some pretty strong posting. Hats off to you for calling it like you see it...

Since everyone else has already pretty much shot down the rather pathetic straw man this topic contained, and whomped Leslie for doing it, not much left to mine there.

But since the subject was brought up, I have an interesting tiny sidebar question that I've always wondered about on the hunter gather division of labor and evolution. Gathering fruits/vegetables would seem to place a premium on having good functioning rods on optic nerve. Hunting in low/night lighting conditions and protection would seem to place an advantage on rods over cones on the optic nerve.

So is that the reason so many more women than men seem to have poor night vision and so many more men than women are color blind? A leftover from evolutionary gender roles?

On a personal note, I'm not color blind, but I'm damned if women often can't see more variations between deep blue and purple than I can, as well as between red going to burgundy. And I won't go long into my spouse's and sister's ability to see at night... :~) Though why do every oncoming set of headlines seem to blind them?

For the nit-pickers, I am considering offering this Standard Disclaimer: I am asking questions without perfect scientific credibility. There are nearly always exceptions to rules, and generalizations can be a dangerous thing. With that said, my posts are hopefully a way that I or others can draw useful insight from less than perfect or complete suppositions. So lighten up!

Others might wish to consider the same disclaimer, or making something like it a standard for our blog. Might end at least some of the snarking.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 19, 2006 2:21 PM

The point I was trying to make was that a title can cause an uproar and reveal, to a great deal of people, a bias--in this instance a bias on media coverage. Just to be fair, the photo of the black man and white pair showed that both had goods in their hands. We as readers don't know if the black man was indeed looting or that the white pair indeed found the goods, but the title suggests that the AP knew, which they actually did not. To bring this back to the topic of the blog, I believe Leslie had reason to be upset of the title of the scientific study as it does demonstrate a gender bias.

Posted by: in response | December 19, 2006 2:21 PM

Women can be sexual predators too. And those who are, tend to be sadists.

Don't take drinks from strangers, irregardless of gender.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:22 PM

" She's been quietly and happily practicing veganism for over 20 years, and she talks about it only if people ask her questions. And then she only responds to what they ask."

I wish more people would practice parenting the same way...I don't care that Nate is crawling and pointing now, or that he won't eat orange colored foods! Arrrrghgh!

Posted by: good advice | December 19, 2006 2:25 PM

WomanVictim, I've also been raped and have studied self-defense, but that does not mean that men IN A NEWSPAPER (if you read my original comment) should all be identified as potential rapists by virtue of being men. Sheesh.

The willful stupidity of some of my compatriots doesn't stop me from being a feminist, but it sometimes wearies me.

Going back to the original topic of potential bias in headlines, I write for a living. The chances are pretty good that the authors of the study didn't write that headline at all. A headline writer trying to draw attention to the study--successfully, I might add--did. It's inflammatory, but, as Bartleby observes in _Dogma_, you have to keep reading.

Posted by: Historian | December 19, 2006 2:26 PM

To 2:15, it meant that i am not the same as a man but my intrinsic worth is identical.

Just as long as you don't expect it to show up in your paycheck.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:27 PM

Since I am a male and I graduated from a "crappy" state school Summa Cum Laude, I wonder what kind of cave I would be alloted?

Posted by: Fred | December 19, 2006 2:28 PM

In response,

I am thick headed. Please explain the bias in the study title. Thank you.

Posted by: Lance | December 19, 2006 2:29 PM

Get back to the cello studio, Fred!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:30 PM

Well, of course, when science (like, uh, Darwin) conflicts with our "faith", throw it out! Ridicule it! "Obviously, it is wrong because we all know that...."yadda.

Posted by: Peaceful Observer | December 19, 2006 2:32 PM

when's the next Bond girl night, Thierry?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:32 PM

cello studio? explain please

Posted by: Fred | December 19, 2006 2:32 PM

Sorry, wrong Fred. All you Freds look alike in print.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:33 PM

Many of you are twisting Leslie's comments. She isn't saying 1/2 the things you claim she is saying. Newspapers sensationalize their headlines. This often leads to bias--this doesn't mean that the author intends to be biased, but it is nonetheless. And you can call Leslie sensitive, but it is the repeated media images and words that we subliminally incorporate into our brains and then becomes beliefs. So not such a small thing.

And I think so many of you seem to be so anti-women. The issue isn't that feminists or anyone else (Leslie) believes that women shouldn't choose to stay at home, it's that there are barriers, expectations and attitudes in our society that prevents this from really being a "choice". The barriers are uniformly excellent childcare for all, the expectation is that the mother will be the primary care giver and the attitudes are that mothers are somehow evil for choosing career instead of 24/7 child rearing. There are many more but these are examples.

And I would venture to say that true feminists would make careers and motherhood work. Educated women who stay at home choose this because it is the path of least resistence (not a dig, but is true). Sure some say "I want to be with my kids all the time", but I think if our society weren't so ambivalent about women in the workplace, more of us would be there--in the workplace.

And I've been "at home" so I feel I can speak to this better than some of the self rightous SAHM and the cannot-get-off-the-track WOHM.

Posted by: in defense of Leslie | December 19, 2006 2:35 PM

OK, I am the Fred from the state school with Fredia as a wonderful spouse and lactation consultant.

Posted by: Fred | December 19, 2006 2:36 PM

i don't know when Bond Girls are coming again.

Ladies, keep an eye on your men. Did you know that there are lots of married men in clubs? Sometimes I see them take off their rings and put them in their pockets when they come in the door. Some of them sit alone in the back so they aren't seen.

Posted by: Thierry | December 19, 2006 2:37 PM

to "to atb" 2:17

All I'm saying is, the lights and trees and bells and bows and good eats and food are AWESOME (though mightily offensive trappings to some). I never told anyone to celebrate Christmas. I just said to do something to celebrate when the days are short. So, you can sit and be angry, but I'm going to turn off the lights and look at my tree and sip some nog and enjoy life. Just like I enjoy seeing little kids all dressed up at Halloween, despite the fact that it's an evil, vile, satanic holiday.

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 2:37 PM

Sorry about the double post above. In the first, I didn't get the full moniker out, and in the second one I had added a final sentence.

And I hope I won't enter the Holiday war started today by wishing everyone who has to work this week a light week and Happy and Healthy New Year in 2007! After Thursday, I will be going back to my hometown San Antonio and filling my overlarge body up with even more fabulous Tex-Mex food. (It's probably good that I won't get to live in SA again until retirement.) So I'll miss reading topics until after January.

So a hello callout to all the regulars (scarry, NC lawyer, Fof4--can't list them all), and even those who consider me a Neanderthal (no pun intended to today's topic. No..no really, I mean it. ;~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 19, 2006 2:37 PM

hey "in defense of Leslie" - are you Leslie?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:39 PM

Fred, you would have been over-qualified to receive one of the allocable caves. Your fine education would have enabled you to design and build a better, more protective edifice than was available to the masses, e.g., the cave dwellers. The ancestor of Magna Babe would have found you irresistible, had Fredia not drop-kicked her into the nearby stream.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 2:40 PM

The real news here is that Leslie thinks the NYT is being anti-feminist. Maybe that is why she posted it.

Didn't read all the posts.

Posted by: cmac | December 19, 2006 2:40 PM

Hey NC Lawyer,

Is that why I work in a cube farm in a 50 story building? (no, not NYC, New Orleans)

Posted by: Fred | December 19, 2006 2:41 PM

Nope. And I don't always agree with her and I think the blog today is lame. But I think people were too hard on her.

Posted by: in defense of Leslie | December 19, 2006 2:41 PM

"look at WaPo online front page "Being a Black Man". it says 33% will go to jail in their lifetime. so.... justification for our bias? it is a stereotype but supported by the numbers."

No, MinuteMan, it's not supported by the numbers. That's a simplistic interpretation of a headline/story teaser -- the same thing everyone is blaming Leslie for doing today.

Please learn before you expound.

The online discussion taking place this very minute on the WaPo site references this website for background and discussion of racial disparity in prisons: www.sentencingproject.org.

Check it out, do a little reading, and then see if those numbers still sing to you.

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 2:42 PM

Texas Dad of 2- You lucky, lucky man. I'm a Houston native and a UT grad, and trying to explain to people how good proper TexMex is is nearly impossible, especially the breakfasts. Hmmmm...migas...

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 2:42 PM

To atb: I actually thought it was a tad bit insensitive for you to suggest that people should find a holiday to celebrate the days are short. I am sure you don't celebrate Christmas because the days are short. Besides Jesus wasn't really born on December 25. I think it is better to say, hey I like to celebrate my holiday and your welcome to celebrate your own or not celebrate. But it is rude to assume everyone should just put up with what the masses wants to do.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 19, 2006 2:43 PM

If someone could describe the bias in the study title, I'd really appreciate it. Seriously, I don't get it. I don't even know what "What's a Mother to Do?" means.

Posted by: Lance | December 19, 2006 2:43 PM

NC Lawyer,

Come to think of it, Fredia always says that if I leave, I will leave without two things, my money and my ....

Posted by: Fred | December 19, 2006 2:44 PM

NC lawyer,

Come to think of it, Fredia always says that if I leave, I will leave without two things that women want: my money and my ....

Is there something evolutionary in her thinking?

Posted by: Fred | December 19, 2006 2:46 PM

This blog is awful....yet, why am I so drawn to it?

Posted by: kt | December 19, 2006 2:48 PM

"i am not the same as a man but my intrinsic worth is identical."

Yeah, right. Try taking that one to court.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:50 PM

Women have fought alongside men much later than the neanderthals. Check this out.

http://www.archaeology.org/9701/abstracts/sarmatians.html

Posted by: jenshadus | December 19, 2006 2:51 PM

Hey, I read in USAToday that more soccer moms are getting breast implants. So... are you women doing it?

Posted by: Thierry | December 19, 2006 2:52 PM

good advice --

LOL!

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 2:52 PM

Please learn before you expound

This is why people can't stand you.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:53 PM

KT - my feelings exactly!

Posted by: Ajax | December 19, 2006 2:54 PM

Ten Million Pound Mammoth

Leslie's article refers to "5,000 ton beasts." Uh, Leslie, Dear, that's TEN MILLION POUNDS, which is impossibly large for any number of reasons. This sort of heinous error of scale does nothing to enhance reader confidence in you.

To all the "she's not an anthropologist" commenters: well, duh! If you want real informed debate on technical matters, read a peer reviewed technical journal, not the space-filling musings of journalists.

"By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, [modern journalism] keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community." -Oscar Wilde

Posted by: OscarWildesGhost | December 19, 2006 2:55 PM

Please learn before you expound

This is why people can't stand you.

OK, I don't get it. What is wrong with asking people not to talk out of their a$$?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 2:57 PM

Wait, so if I go off to work and my wife chooses to stay home and surf Craigslist all day and leave the place a mess and not do any laundry or chores byond occasionally cooking and gripes that I don't do the chores, it is ok? If I complain that she stays home all day and the place is a mess and none of the chores are done, I'm automatically sexist. No kids by the way. If I were to sit around all day without earning money, and not contribute to the upkeep of the home I would be called a bum. If my wife gets a part time job just to get out, but still has an extra day off during the week, and works less hours, and still chooses not to contribute to the upkeep of the home and I complain, I would be labelled sexist. If our roles were reversed I would be called a bum again.

Posted by: Frustrated | December 19, 2006 2:58 PM

"And I think so many of you seem to be so anti-women. The issue isn't that feminists or anyone else (Leslie) believes that women shouldn't choose to stay at home, it's that there are barriers, expectations and attitudes in our society that prevents this from really being a "choice". The barriers are uniformly excellent childcare for all, the expectation is that the mother will be the primary care giver and the attitudes are that mothers are somehow evil for choosing career instead of 24/7 child rearing. There are many more but these are examples."

This may be true for the 'professionals', but for most of middle to lower-class America, the barrier to women having a choice to work or stay home is economic necessity to be in the workforce.

Posted by: flipside | December 19, 2006 2:59 PM

"Gone are the days when reality fed the feminist movement. " - Tammy Bruce

Posted by: Quotable | December 19, 2006 2:59 PM

ah, Fredia, a girl after my own heart.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 3:00 PM

"Gone are the days when reality fed the feminist movement. "

"One of the biggest problems with the modern feminist movement is its failure to bring men along with us. "

"One of the goals of the Feminist Elite is to reinforce to women the idea that men are obsolete. "

Tammy Bruce

Posted by: Quotable | December 19, 2006 3:00 PM

"Well, of course, when science (like, uh, Darwin) conflicts with our "faith", throw it out! Ridicule it! "Obviously, it is wrong because we all know that...."yadda.""

Where the heck did this come from? The only "faith" I see her is PC feminism.

Ooooooooh . . . is that what you meant?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:02 PM

"Feminism is the radical idea that women are people"

Posted by: to Quotable | December 19, 2006 3:03 PM

OK, I don't get it. What is wrong with asking people not to talk out of their a$$?

Because she is not the only one allowed to have an opinion.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:04 PM

atb,

Ahhh, another fellow UT grad. Hook'em!

Considering our State school education, which cave(s) would we be entitled to in the schemes mentioned above? At least with my Aero degree, I'm trying my level best to get us up and out of the caves (and off this single rock, if we are really lucky.) Does that earn any brownie points?!? NC Lawyer?

Anyway atb, I'd love to send you some homemade Christmas tamales, but there just never seems to be enough, ya know? :~)

Tex-Mex = sublime

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 19, 2006 3:05 PM

"This blog is awful....yet, why am I so drawn to it?"

For the same reason we slow down and look at the guts spread across the highway . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:08 PM

"Feminism is the radical idea that women are people" . . .

. . . and that we're not so sure about men.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:09 PM

"This is why people can't stand you."

Ok, anonymous @ 2:53, but I don't get it.

MinuteMan claims that "our" (read: his) stereotypes of black men are justified because he read in an online newspaper headline that 33% of black male babies born today will be behind bars at some point in their lives.

I suggest that he learn something about the topic before discussing it.

And you say that this is why people "can't stand" me.

So, are you saying that people can't stand me because I advocate self-education over willful ignorance? Or because I point out bigotry when it's practically in our faces? Or because I have an opinion at all?

And, how is it that we're going to let MinuteMan get away with the exact same crime that so many here are accusing Leslie of today?

If you could clear all this up for me, I'd be most grateful.

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 3:10 PM

"For the same reason we slow down and look at the guts spread across the highway . . ."

Especially when it's a famblee van or s-MOO-v that has caused it all! Those are the best!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:10 PM

"OK, I don't get it. What is wrong with asking people not to talk out of their a$$?

Because she is not the only one allowed to have an opinion. "

to anony at 3:04: well, it's always nice if one's opinion is supported by something . . . like facts, or statistics, or the analysis of experts in the field. Sure, you are worthy of having an opinion. However, if that opinion is not supported then it's just so much blather.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:11 PM

"Especially when it's a famblee van or s-MOO-v that has caused it all! Those are the best!"

Actually, I prefer the trucks that spill something really fun - like live chickens or pickled pork lips - all over the highway.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:13 PM

"it means that the cultural values of our society aren't being passed down through generations the way the values of less developed societies are."

What is wrong with that?

But I'm not even sure that is true anyway-- immigrants come to America because they are attracted to its cultural values and are likely to want to adopt them as their own. If their personal cultural ideas are so distinct and foreign from America's, then they wouldn't come here.
In any case, most immigrants I've met bring an attitude of valuing family and hard work that most Americans can learn from and would do well to be inspired by.

Posted by: capitol hill | December 19, 2006 3:15 PM

"it means that the cultural values of our society aren't being passed down through generations the way the values of less developed societies are."

What is wrong with that?

But I'm not even sure that is true anyway-- immigrants come to America because they are attracted to its cultural values and are likely to want to adopt them as their own. If their personal cultural ideas are so distinct and foreign from America's, then they wouldn't come here.
In any case, most immigrants I've met bring an attitude of valuing family and hard work that most Americans can learn from and would do well to be inspired by.

Posted by: capitol hill | December 19, 2006 3:16 PM

"No, MinuteMan, it's not supported by the numbers. That's a simplistic interpretation of a headline/story teaser "

Hey, just click on the video headline and you will see this statement:
"social scientists say one in three black men will spend time behind bars in their lifetime."

so that is where I get my conclusion that 33% of black men are criminals.

Posted by: MinuteMan | December 19, 2006 3:18 PM

atb -- it makes me sad that you've been attacked for spreading some holiday / winter solstice cheer. Your Tex Mex talk has also made me oh so hungry.

It's soooo sad the Glover Park Austin Grill has closed.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 19, 2006 3:19 PM

PittyPat: Or because I point out bigotry when it's practically in our faces?

Who is the bigot? Minuteman? Maybe that is why people don't like you - you jump to conclusions - the very same thing you chastise other posters about.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:23 PM

i certainly hope the Post intends to remove the remark indicating that 33% of black men are criminals... or does the Post (and Leslie - this is her blog and she is responsible for it) endorse this point of view?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:23 PM

foamgnome- I'm rebelling against the grumpiness. If someone can get angry about the holidays, I can get angry about the grumpiness. And it's not like the masses are raping virgins, for crying out loud. I'd go so far as to say the masses aren't even celebrating a "religious" holiday. I am curious, what is it about the holidays that is so upsetting? The fact that it's predominantly Christian? The commercialization? The solid month of Christmas music? The decrease in worker productivity? The decorations? The mall traffic?

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 3:25 PM

So the bias in the study title "What's a Mother to do?" is either:
A) so obvious, no one wants to bother to explain it
B) so subtle, no one dares try articulate it because it's just too hard
C) doesn't exist
D) exists simply because Leslie said so, and no one really thought about it, so you're all going along with it

I am begging someone for an explanation.

Posted by: Lance | December 19, 2006 3:26 PM

Yaaay!!! Miss USA Tara Conner gets to keep her crown. Trump is a good good man.

This girl is so beautiful,... what a pair of lights! ooh la la!

Posted by: Thierry | December 19, 2006 3:26 PM

No, it is the fruitcake!

Posted by: to atb | December 19, 2006 3:26 PM

I don't agree with the comment about black men, but I agree that pittypat thinks she is morally, ethically, and intellectually better than most people on this blog, and therefore can shoot down opinions at will and say "don't talk unless you know everything I do or believe the way I do."

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:29 PM

>>i certainly hope the Post intends to remove the remark indicating that 33% of black men are criminals<<

i am interpreting the social scientist statement in that video headline on the Post. it is surprising to me that the number is that high. is my conclusion not accurate, given that social scientist statement?

Posted by: MinuteMan | December 19, 2006 3:31 PM

Texas Dad of 2- I'm afraid my solid 3.5 GPA BA (yes, that's right, a BA) earns me a fixer upper cave in the inner suburbs, probably an hour's walk to the closest hunting grounds, but only after I earned a PhD from another 2nd tier university and married an MS who's about 20 mammoth pelts in debt from that same 2nd tier university. And our moccasins are almost new, but of mediocre quality.

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 3:35 PM

Texas Dad of 2, your (and atb's) amiable and confident attitude surely would have caused the other cave dwellers to voluntarily vacate a certain amount of space for each of you, despite your humble educational credentials; however, your flatulence-inducing Tex-Mex diet might have caused the cave-dwelling community to reevaluate cohabiting and request that you invent transportation off the rock to a rock of your very own several thousand years sooner. Magna Babe would have been certain that you selected her as co-pilot to the new rock because of her undeniable wisdom.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 3:36 PM

"Hey, just click on the video headline and you will see this statement: 'social scientists say one in three black men will spend time behind bars in their lifetime.'

"so that is where I get my conclusion that 33% of black men are criminals."

MinuteMan --

Do you really, truly not see the complete lack of logic and reason in what you're saying here?

First of all, you're relying on an online newpaper headline for all your information.

Do you not need to know what percentage of those black men will be victims of false arrest?

Do you not want to know what percentage will be acquitted or have charges dropped because they're not guilty -- or the cases against them can't be proved?

Does it not matter that you don't know what the social scientists are studying and what their research is designed to demonstrate?

Do you really believe everything you read in headlines?

As to your conclusion -- that "33% of black men are criminals" -- how do you see that following from a headline that says "one in three black men will spend time behind bars in their lifetime"?

First, the statement is in future tense. How can it support the notion that 33% of black men living today are criminals?

Second, "spending time behind bars" does not equal being a "criminal." Our justice system does insist that we prove a person is a criminal -- even if he's a black man.

What you've done here is to paint yourself as a racist who will take the flimsiest of "evidence" -- and only skim its surface -- to back up your prejudicial beliefs.

Of course you're welcome to your opinion. Just don't expect others to take it as anything other than nonsense.

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 3:36 PM

"I don't agree with the comment about black men, but I agree that pittypat thinks she is morally, ethically, and intellectually better than most people on this blog, and therefore can shoot down opinions at will and say "don't talk unless you know everything I do or believe the way I do.""

Look, sometimes I find pittypat a bit pedantic too, but in this case all she asked was for the poster to actually read the article (or view the video, whatever) that explained the data s/he was expressing an opinion about. This does not seem like a big hurdle. It does add to the conversation if people actually try to inform themselves about the things they say.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:38 PM

"It does add to the conversation if people actually try to inform themselves about the things they say."

It's sad to think that this concept passes for controversial or even radical on this board, isn't it?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:40 PM

sparkle sparkle twinkling lights!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:40 PM

OK, thanks pittypat for the clarification.

FYI, I am not a racist. I read that statement and came to a conclusion which you pointed out is incorrect. Thank you.

For now, I will remember that 33% of black men will be in jail sometime in their lives.

Posted by: MinuteMan | December 19, 2006 3:41 PM

I understand what you are saying, but GOD; everything is not as tragic as she makes it out to be. I can't be the only one on the blog who just wants her to shut up! Well me and maybe cmac.

Posted by: to 03:38 PM | December 19, 2006 3:42 PM

"So the bias in the study title "What's a Mother to do?" is either:
A) so obvious, no one wants to bother to explain it
B) so subtle, no one dares try articulate it because it's just too hard
C) doesn't exist
D) exists simply because Leslie said so, and no one really thought about it, so you're all going along with it"

C, with a small side of D.

Speaking as a woman, I actually thought the title was kind of funny.

Posted by: To Lance | December 19, 2006 3:43 PM

"I am curious, what is it about the holidays that is so upsetting? The fact that it's predominantly Christian? The commercialization? The solid month of Christmas music? The decrease in worker productivity? The decorations? The mall traffic?"

Traffic is bad, yes, and so is hearing "Mariah Carey sing Christmas Crap in her Overrated, Shrill Voice" over and over at the grocery store. But what I hate most about Christmas is that at least one family member has a new baby every year...one more kid whose name I don't even know that I have to break my budget for. I work in academia, but my family thinks that because I have a college degree I must be rolling in it and can buy their kids lavish gifts. "They'll do the same when you have kids!" my mom cries in their defense...but these people can't even pay their own rent. They won't give anything to my kids, which is fine, because I plan on being able to provide for my kids when I have them, and not be reliant on family members to provide them entertainment.

So pretty much, yeah, it's the commercialism. The thing I'm looking forward to the most? Sitting next to the fire sipping cocoa with my boyfriend, who lives on the opposite coast. But for the airfare, it wouldn't cost a thing, and yet it brings me the most happiness.

Oh, and I hate holiday commercials. If I see those bratty Nintendo 64 kids on that Mercedes (BMW?) commercial again I'm going to give away my TV. And what's up with the Zale's commercial? What man goes around daydreaming about the expression on his wife's face when she opens his diamond earrings? And who high-fives a dude in the mall because they're carrying the same bag? I don't believe it for a second. Men don't spend any time wandering around or daydreaming in the mall. They get in and get out, and who can blame them?

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 3:43 PM

To all you grumpies who "hate the holidays"--ignore them!! That's what polite people do when confronted by something they don't personally want to see or hear, but in itself is harmless. I believe that was the message here when the discussion topic was BF on an airplane. It was also the bottom line about reserved parking spaces for expectant moms. If you don't want to read about the holidays, just don't read those posts!

Posted by: RM | December 19, 2006 3:44 PM

I understand what you are saying, but GOD; everything is not as tragic as she makes it out to be. I can't be the only one on the blog who just wants her to shut up! Well me and maybe cmac.

Posted by: to 03:38 PM | December 19, 2006 03:42 PM

Amen brother.

OOps - I forgot I am not allowed to comment on the pitty.

Posted by: cmac | December 19, 2006 3:44 PM

aw, atb, cheer up! Pour some more egg nog (not spiked when you're preggo, right?), put on some Johnny Mathis and stare at those Xmas lights! That'll make you feel better!

Posted by: TO atb | December 19, 2006 3:45 PM

To atb: I don't personally have a problem with Christmas because I am Christian. In that way, part of the masses. I think what non Christians dislike about Christmas is it makes them feel excluded. It has dominated popular culture. I think if remained an "actual religious" holiday, I doubt they would have any issues. It is just that they feel blasted into something that is really secular but has a religious tone. It screams You are and I am not. At least that is what some of my Jewish friends say. They actually hate Christmas. It makes them depressed. But any non Christians feel free to jump in. Like I said, I am Christian too. I just try to be sensitive because I know this time of year is not always as inclusive as it should be.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 19, 2006 3:45 PM

"Who is the bigot? Minuteman? Maybe that is why people don't like you - you jump to conclusions - the very same thing you chastise other posters about."

To 3:23:

Yes, MinuteMan!

For cripes' sake, he made this statement: "so that is where I get my conclusion that 33% of black men are criminals."

What is there to debate about? The man says he believes that 33% of black men are criminals. It's like he wants to be identified as a bigot. Like he's proud of it.

Are you not reading his posts?

I think I may have to start posting under a new moniker. You guys see "pittypat" and go on a feeding frenzy, losing all frame of reference for the actual discussion.

And, just FYI, I don't believe I've ever accused anyone on this blog of "jumping to conclusions." I've suggested doing a bit of reading before shooting off mouth, but that's about it for my attempts to muzzle people.

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 3:46 PM

Skimming the comments... much ado about nothing.

I appreciate Leslie's honesty in her statement, "I admit to my own skewed bias. I tend to see anti-women slants everywhere. "

It explains why there is always such controversy on this blog. In my real-life experiences, I have very rarely seen anti-women slants.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 19, 2006 3:47 PM

to atb: I think it is like when childless people get really upset on Mother's day or if they hear someone got pregnant quickly. They really can't share in the joy because it makes them feel worse or excluded. I don't feel that way about other people's holidays that I don't celebrate. But I try to be understanding that everyone does not appreciate all the hoopla about Christmas.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 19, 2006 3:49 PM

I think I may have to start posting under a new moniker. You guys see "pittypat" and go on a feeding frenzy, losing all frame of reference for the actual discussion.

We will still know it's you.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:49 PM

Holy hell, I find myself on the same side of an issue as Pittypat.

I need a drink.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:49 PM

foamgnome, the D.C. and NY areas are full of well-adjusted, secure Jewish folks with hannukah bushes in their living rooms. Christians aren't a part of the high Holy Days and Jewish persons don't celebrate Christ's birthday, but Christians love when the office essentially closes up at 4:30 twice per year, and our Jewish friends adore having a quiet and peaceful week next week and every Chinese restaurant in the country to themselves on 12/25. Anyone feeling excluded because he doesn't have a reason to buy crap from Target and wrap it up in red and green truly must be upset about other things.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:50 PM

atb, and other Christmas lovers, you might find this interesting:

http://www.streetprophets.com/storyonly/2006/12/18/144541/47

Posted by: Random Guy | December 19, 2006 3:51 PM

foam, that's pretty accurate from where I stand. I'm atheist, I celebrate the holidays minimally (prefer New Year's to Xmas), but one thing I dislike is having the holidays come at you everywhere you go. I admit I do get caught up in the excitement of it all, so I am guilty of holiday spirit. But I also have to admit (snark alert) that I was secretly happy when stores went with "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas."

You're right: if the Christians could keep it about Jesus and myrrh and Bethlehem or whatever, instead of commercializing it so ostentatiously, I'd be much more okay with it. But how could they do that when it was originally a Pagan holiday? Take a holiday from another religion, you're gonna have some overlap.

I'll admit I love the twinkling lights and comfort food, but I'll deliberately avoid nativity scenes. Sorry about the dual posts. :-) Happy holidays!

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 3:52 PM

"I know this time of year is not always as inclusive as it should be. "

why should it be?
i'm left out of celebrating ramadan, diwali, cinco de mayo, emancipation day,...

Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. our culture is rapidly trying to forget that.
even schools can't mention the dreaded "J" word. horrors!!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:52 PM

As as scientist, I have to object to this post simply because of its implications for science. Because someone can potentially take your topic and stretch it into something offensive, we should never ask the question? That's treading on some scary ground.

Not knowing anything about that period in history, it seems reasonable that division of labor played an important role in societal functioning (I say that as a feminist). Assuming that the anthropological field thinks that's an important area for exploration, it seems reasonable to test a hypothesis about whether it is linked to societal decline AT THAT TIME.

It's the application of these potential findings to today's world that's problematic, and it doesn't sound like anyone but folks on this list are making that linkage.

It was once true that women's getting an education was linked with their being less likely to get married, but that is no longer true. Should noone have studied that history simply because it might be offensive to those who fear it would be generalized to today?

Posted by: scientist | December 19, 2006 3:54 PM


Some people won't be happy until anything that is culturally American is gone. Look out the fourth of July is next.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:55 PM

to 3:50: I am sure most non Christians don't have any issues with Christmas. And the high holy days in not a fair comparison because that holiday is not part of our national secular culture. But I do know some of my Jewish friends have stated that Christmas makes them feel excluded. I can't personally relate but I try to be sensitive to their feelings.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 19, 2006 3:55 PM

Sounds like those Neanderthal women would fit right with today's US Army. Just remember that it's OK to wear nail polish under those combat boots. Hoooooaaaaaah!
God protect and Love them all. 8-)

Posted by: Ed Harris | December 19, 2006 3:55 PM

"You're right: if the Christians could keep it about Jesus and myrrh and Bethlehem or whatever, instead of commercializing it so ostentatiously"

Most Christians do keep it about Jesus.
Only Jesus.

It's the stores that commercialize it, not the most christians.

blog qualifier: there are of course exceptions.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:56 PM

Hey Anon 3:52. If you are not celebrating Cinco De Mayo you are missing out.

$1 corona everywhere. That's cause for celebration, d@mmit.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:57 PM

//Hey Anon 3:52. If you are not celebrating Cinco De Mayo you are missing out.

$1 corona everywhere. That's cause for celebration, d@mmit.//

that's the commercialization part! :)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:59 PM

Hey, my Air Force daughter wears her finger nail polish while holding her M-9 pistol!

Posted by: anon | December 19, 2006 3:59 PM

Neil, yes you are right. I believe the title was intentionally chosen to be kind of cute and attention-getting, to liven up and draw attention to a subject that might seem kind of dry to people not obsessed with Neanderthals.

But -- dig deeper here. Why is the title "What's a Mother to Do?" cute and catchy in the first place? "What's a Father to Do?" has no such complex, attention-getting meanings. Something is going on here.

And thank you, dear kind lovable In Defense of Leslie, who is most definitely not me.

Lastly, I have to agree with all of you Leslie-bashers who criticize me for my lack of anthropological expertise, etc. You have good points. But my belief is that I do too, despite my lack of authority on every subject tackled. I don't believe you need to be an expert to ask a question or have an opinion. Curiosity is critical, and experts (on anthropology and everything else) are welcome to argue and prove me wrong.

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 3:59 PM

//Hey Anon 3:52. If you are not celebrating Cinco De Mayo you are missing out.

$1 corona everywhere. That's cause for celebration, d@mmit.//

that's the commercialization part! :)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 3:59 PM

to 3:52: WARNING: This gets religious-read at your own doing: I think it should be inclusive because isn't that the greatest gift that God gives to man? The gift of his limitless love of man kind. "The second is like unto the first, you should love your neighbor as you love yourself." But call me silly, the first gift at Christmas was the gift of a child, (god's love made into man). But hey, if you want Christmas to be about feeling good and not worrying about others, that is your choice and your personal right.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 19, 2006 4:01 PM

foamgnome- That I can understand and it's a bummer. But the truth is, it's much more of a cultural celebration than a religious one. It just so happens to be the weird bastard child of a religious holiday that a Jew/Wiccan/Muslim can't in good conscious celebrate. I'm all about "happy holidays," but it doesn't seem to be catching on, does it? I think my original posting may have been so upsetting because I neglected several potential winter holidays to celebrate, including Yule and Festivus. I think now would be a great time to air our grievances. Oh, wait, that's all we do here...

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 4:03 PM

"But -- dig deeper here. Why is the title "What's a Mother to Do?" cute and catchy in the first place? "What's a Father to Do?" has no such complex, attention-getting meanings. Something is going on here."

WHAT is "something"? Because that phrase is from a commercial? I don't get it. Why is it offensive/biased/whatever? What are the complex attention grabbing meanings?!
I am so lost on this.

Posted by: Lance | December 19, 2006 4:04 PM

3:56, that may be true in your experience. It may be true factually. I guess I've just never seen any Christian at all, of any denomination, who made it more about Jesus than presents. Sure, the stores commercialize it (if they didn't, they wouldn't be commercial businesses), but PEOPLE participate. All of us who buy holiday gifts and buy into the Santa B.S. are guilty. And if Christians truly made it about Jesus being born, why aren't they celebrating closer to his actual birthday?

I grew up in North Carolina and West Virginia--the buckle of the Bible Belt. My mother still lives there and has to hide her religion for fear of being disowned by her family and ostracized by the community. Yet all I saw when I lived there was Santa this and presents that. It may be that Christians really are celebrating Jesus' birth six months early; maybe I'm just not making the connection between Santa and Jesus.

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 4:04 PM

Q: How many women does it take to change a lightbulb?

Posted by: Thierry | December 19, 2006 4:05 PM

I don't believe you need to be an expert to ask a question or have an opinion.

Unfortunately there are some people here that believe the exact opposite. Not mentioning any names!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:06 PM

Atb,

Too cute and clever. Post worthy of a fellow Longhorn.

NC Lawyer,

"flatulence-inducing Tex-Mex diet... ...request that you invent transportation off the rock..."

Hmmm.... **[light bulb going off]**

Naaww...too icky...

Next subject.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:06 PM

Foamgnome, Not being snarky, but how, in practical terms, do you propose that Christians be sensitive to those who are perhaps offended or saddened by the commercialization surrounding Christmas, and still be inclusive and share Christ's love? If we mention Christmas we are, it seems, being exclusive and not inclusive. If we don't mention Christmas, we are keeping the message of Christ to ourselves. What do you contend we should do?

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 4:07 PM

Speaking as a Jew - Foamgnome has it right. I can still recall the friend in college who felt sorry for me because I didn't have a Christmas Tree (can you say condensending). Or having to listen to songs about our "Savior's Birth" while grocery shopping - How would you feel if you had to listen to songs praising Allah while you were buying dinner? And when a store (Walmart) acknowledges that you might exist and says Happy Holidays instead saying you should have a Merry religous holy day that you don't celebrate they are chatised because this is a "Christian" Country, they look at their bottom line and go back to Merry Chritmas - makes you feel like a second class citizen (we must remind you that are the minority and you can be offended, but not the other people) and when you try to find someplace that is not talking about Christmas in December people like atb critize you. And don't even bring up Chanukah - a minor religous holiday has been blown out of proportion so the kids don't get left out of the commercialism and to remind people that not everyone is Christian. I have had people shocked that I don't take off - it is the only Jewish holiday some people know about so I also see my relgion being perverted by the way our society celebrates in December. Sorry for the rant, but I've reached my fill of "isn't Christmas the 'most wonderful time of the year'".

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 19, 2006 4:07 PM

"everything is not as tragic as she makes it out to be."

Ya know, I think I'm going to start calling people out on their comments about me, because most of them are patently absurd. If y'all want to dislike me so much, that's fine. But please explain your vague and ambiguous accusations.

What do I make more "tragic" than it is? How does "tragic" even fit into the discussion?

And that business about how everyone "can't stand" me?

Ok, I believe you. But I'm curious. How do you know this is true? Unless you guys are meeting somewhere off the blog (like they do over at Achenblog) and discussing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions in person (or at least by phone), how do you know that you all feel the same way?

Look, I'm naturally curious about people, and I just don't get some of you guys. You're offended that I eat differently and that I don't wear diamonds (although I'll bet you'll all be queueing up to see the new movie on the brutality of the diamond industry). You don't like that I ask for support of claims put forth as fact. You don't like that I support women's equality. You call me "mean" and "nasty."

What does it say about you all that you allow such unimportant things to cement you together into a virtual mob?

There's some really stunning intellect on this blog. (And I'm not counting myself; my grades were never stellar.) People who clearly have to think for themselves while maintaining an incredibly high level of performance.

So why do you allow yourselves to be pulled along in campaigns against individual posters? (And I'm not talking solely about myself. I've seen this happen many times on this blog.)

Y'all are too smart for this. Most of you are better than this.

What gives?

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 4:09 PM

"weird bastard child "

atb, i am disappointed that you would say such a thing. one should have respect for another's beliefs, especially here we are at Christmas time celebrating Jesus' birth.
even though you do not believe, that kind of criticism is over the top. i am actually quite sad now.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 19, 2006 4:10 PM

Mona--right on! That BMW commercial does the complete opposite in terms of sales for me--it convinces me that I will never own a beemer, ever! Aside from the fact that they're way overpriced, and I often see too many of those stalled on the side of the road, using kids that are screaming bloody murder over an Xmas gift is not going to sell me--on anything. Leave it to yuppy parents who think it's cute to try to use it as a selling tactic.

If I'm going to blow ridiculous amounts of money on a car, I'd buy a Jaguar then anyway.

Posted by: no beemers | December 19, 2006 4:12 PM

NCLawyer: I don't think I have an easy answer to that. I fail at that a lot in my own spiritual life. But I guess the best answer I could give is to live a life as Christ commands you to do. The story is less important as the message that it brings to the world. The story of that baby in the manager is not what was really important. It was that god's loved the world that he gave us his only son. Go forth and love one another and that sense the real true message is shared. But I know that is harder to do and easier to say. I kind of like the Amish, one of the only non evanglist Christian groups. Their philospophy is the greatest way I can share the true message of Christ is to live separate from the secular world. I am not all saying give up electricity. I almost never share religious beliefs with people unless they ask. I think I try hard, and fail often, to show people that I am Christian in the caring way I live. Again, I believe the greatest gift god gave us was the commadment to love one another as Christ loved us. But again, I don't want to offend some people who really don't want to talk about religion too much.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 19, 2006 4:12 PM

"Weird bastard child" refers to the holiday, not the baby. Or are my reading comp skills subpar?

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 4:15 PM

Pittypat,

You gang up on cmac all the time. unclench will ya.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:16 PM

Mr.Honda- I wasn't calling Jesus a weird bastard child. I was calling the holiday we celebrate a weird bastard child of the actual religious holiday. You know, the Santa, flying reindeer, tree thing we call "Christmas."

Posted by: atb | December 19, 2006 4:16 PM

"Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. our culture is rapidly trying to forget that."

Huh? Last time I looked, we were being reminded since just after halloween. With the retail industry in high gear, the malls are jammed with people and cars, our mailboxes are jammed with catalogs, and people are being encouraged to shop at midnight and even to sleep over on line in order to snag high-demand electronic gifts.

Our culture is BOMBARDED with Christmas.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:17 PM

to Leslie:

Argue with what exactly? Should I go back in time and ask Neanderthal women about their role in society? You haven't presented an argument against the article. You've just expressed your opinion about it and made assumptions as to its relevance in the 21st century.

Great. Sure. Okay - I disagree with you. Argument made.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:17 PM

"baby in the manager"?
huh?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:18 PM

Cool, I was right. Maybe I WILL get into law school after all.

And sorry about posting so much. I'm procrastinating.

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 4:18 PM

sorry, I meant baby in the manger. Good golly, I think you could have figured out a typeo.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 19, 2006 4:19 PM

precisely. shopping is not celebrating birth of Jesus. our culture is trying to forget that by commercializing the heck out of it.

Posted by: To 4:17 | December 19, 2006 4:20 PM

"I don't believe you need to be an expert to ask a question or have an opinion."

No, you don't. I'm not an archaeologist either. But it helps if an opinion about something factual can be backed up by the facts. I debated your interpretation of the article and the study backing it, and the only reply is a vague something about how anti-feminism exists. Sure it does--but it's not included in every single news story out there.

If you're not interested in the topic, I can understand not engaging. But if you are interested in Neanderthals and what might have brought about the end of that society, then it surprises me that you'd rather not discuss it. I replied in the first place because I'd read the story a couple of days ago and found it intriguing, and I'm honestly rather disappointed that you seem more interested in using it as the basis of a dubious point (that the study is saying that a society ended because women insisted on equality) than considering the bigger picture: what happened to these people? The original study doesn't have a lot to do with balance, but it's an interesting reflection on how society benefits from specialization.

What gives? Is the topic only interesting when you don't have to think about it?

Posted by: Historian | December 19, 2006 4:21 PM

There are two very separate things between the religious holiday, and the media/retail frenzy. The hype that starts earlier and earlier each year is not about the religious holiday, but the retail one.

People are not running around like jerks when it comes to the true meaning of the holiday. They're doing that when they shoot someone over the last video game console or new trendy toy for their kid.

Posted by: to anon 4:17 | December 19, 2006 4:22 PM

foamgnome--
I just thought the typo was too funny not to be pointed out. The baby in the manager: the true spirit of Xmas!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:25 PM

"What is there to debate about? The man says he believes that 33% of black men are criminals. It's like he wants to be identified as a bigot. Like he's proud of it."

Well, to be more precise, he's saying that he believes that the percentage of false imprisonment is negligable, and that the statistics cited accurately reflect crime rates among African-American men. If you would like to move this discussion along, the right way to proceed is to produce some hard evidence that the false imprisonment rate is much higher than he is suggesting (rather than huffing and puffing about how "racist" the man is).

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:26 PM

"And if Christians truly made it about Jesus being born, why aren't they celebrating closer to his actual birthday?"

Um...when would that be. I mean, I totally realize the main reason Christmas is in December was to take over the old Saturnalia celebrations, but I had never heard that Jesus's actual birthdate was so different. (Aside from the fact that they now think He was actually born around 4 BC. Gotta love calendars.....)

Oh, and totally different topic: I *loathe* that BMW commercial. As my mother said: if I had screeched like that over a present, it would have been put back in the closet for a while.

Posted by: To Mona... | December 19, 2006 4:26 PM

If Christmas is not a religious holiday then why is it so offensive? Jews, Atheists, Muslims, partake from the commercialized greed that is not Christmas. Enjoy your day off from work and go look at non-Christmas lights.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:27 PM

BTW, if you have not seen The Nativity Story, ... I highly recommend it. Non-Christians, please try not to criticize. There are some of us who do really enjoy the film and hold to these beliefs. Thank you for your respect.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:28 PM

"What is there to debate about? The man says he believes that 33% of black men are criminals. It's like he wants to be identified as a bigot. Like he's proud of it."

The real issue is why is this statement on the Post.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:29 PM

Pittypat,

I don't want to fight with you. I don't want to argue with you. But you posted something last week that as a man, I found so offensive. You are right that veganism and an aversion to diamonds are not valid reasons that people "can't stand" you.

But what I read last week was to me a blanket condemnation of men, all men, even men who try to embrace the most basic concepts of equality set forth by feminism. This post made it sound as if men were beyond hope.

Again, I'm not picking a fight, here's your post that I found so offensive:

"I don't know one man that is SCARED of feminists."

No, cmac, you wouldn't. It's not the kind of fear a man is going to talk about -- not to another man and certainly not to a woman.

Actually, it's not even anything men are aware of, so they wouldn't communicate it in any of the usual ways. It's a fear that is deep-seated, visceral, and probably inaccessible. But it's there.

It shows up in men's reactions to certain women, to political scenarios, to domestic situations, to work-related issues, etc., etc. It shows up in the gifts they give their wives and girlfriends. It shows up in the TV shows and talk-radio shows they choose. It shows up pretty much everywhere. But it's the elephant in the room that nobody will -- or can -- acknowledge is there.

I know you'll have some sort of outraged response to this, cmac, and frankly I'm tired of your attempts at arguing every time I post an opinion. So, I'm signing off for the day. Whatever your response, I won't see it.

Bye, all.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 19, 2006 4:30 PM

"Pittypat, You gang up on cmac all the time."

How can I gang up? There's only one of me!

(Don't all cheer at once.)

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 4:31 PM

I'm with you on the BMW commercial. Who on earth thinks that's cute?

Posted by: RM | December 19, 2006 4:31 PM

can't blame the stores for trying. That doesn't mean we have to fall for it, and become obscene Christmas consumers.

Posted by: experienced mom | December 19, 2006 4:35 PM

I find the Christmas controversey very interesting. I personally love Christmas. I love the religious nativity story, but I also love the pagan idea that it is wedded to. December is the shortest day of the year (up north at least), and it is very nice to fill these overlong nights with festivities and lights. For some people, the birth of Jesus gives meaning to Christmas. To others, it is just a time of merriment and celebration that lights up the gloom of winter -- a time when the gods of light defeat the gods of darkness and sure enough, the days start to get a little longer after the shortest day of the year which is sometime in mid December.

I am not sure why so many people are offended by Christmas. Why not just live and let live? We all are not the same, and we don't all celebrate all holidays, but this does not give us the right to limit what others celebrate, especially if it is something as innocuous as Christmas. I live in an area where the Jewish High Holidays are very important to much of the population. I certainly am not offended by these holidays. Nor am I offended by Kwanza or Ramadan. What gives on Christmas?

Posted by: Emily | December 19, 2006 4:35 PM

"Well, to be more precise, he's saying that he believes that the percentage of false imprisonment is negligable, and that the statistics cited accurately reflect crime rates among African-American men."

Hmmmm. How is it more precise for you to put words in his mouth? He never said anything about false imprisonment.

He said that he saw the headline to the WaPo video and that's how he concluded that 33% of black men are criminals. In other words, he admitted that he didn't read beyond the headline and based his claim on his interpretation of the headline. And he admitted that he thinks 33% of black men are criminals.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:37 PM

NC Lawyer, re: your question what to do:

I can see both sides of this, because Christmas is a big deal in my family, but my husband is Jewish and pretty much feels bombarded and overwhelmed by all the Christmas stuff. It's not that he begrudges anyone else their holiday; it's just that it's so all-encompassing for so long, and everywhere you go, there are these constant reminders that you don't "belong." Like someone else said, imagine how you'd feel if you spent an entire month (or six weeks, or two months, or whatever the "shopping season" is nowadays) hearing nothing but songs praising Allah at the malls and grocery stores, finding nothing but Islamic "holiday specials" on your TV, reading nothing but special Islamic holiday stories in the paper, etc. etc. etc.

One thing I can suggest is just, if you don't know someone, say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." It's a really little thing, but it shows that you understand that people have different beliefs and are making an effort to respect those beliefs. Frankly, I always used to say that anyway, even before I met my husband (usually because my Christmas cards never went out until after Christmas, so I figured if I said "happy holidays" that made them New Year's cards, so they weren't late!).

I think the Wal-Mart "Happy holidays/Merry Christmas" thing is just very sad -- seems like they actually spent some time thinking about what to do, found something that could include everyone (because at the very least, who doesn't celebrate New Year's?), and then decided, nah, that constituency doesn't count anyway, fuggedaboudit.

Posted by: Laura | December 19, 2006 4:40 PM

"He said that he saw the headline to the WaPo video and that's how he concluded that 33% of black men are criminals. In other words, he admitted that he didn't read beyond the headline and based his claim on his interpretation of the headline. And he admitted that he thinks 33% of black men are criminals."

O.k. - so if we're torqued about this, let's prove it wrong.

Why do we think it's wrong? Did the headline get the number wrong? Was there a simple tabulation error in developing the percentage. Do we have another source for the percentage that comes up with a different (lower?) number? Do we have another data source that demonstrates a high rate of false imprisonment?

The only clean way to fight is to attack the conclusion - not the motives.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:41 PM

Of COURSE Neanderthal women were robust! Otherwise, they couldn't have been dragged around by the hair...

:-)

Posted by: throwback | December 19, 2006 4:42 PM

I suppose this post is simply to acknowledge the cognitive dissonance between Leslie and I. "What's a mother to do?"
What could that mean, right? Well, any number of things, given the context. In this case the suggestion is that Neanderthal women may have contributed to the extinction of their species simply by engaging in a predominantly (historically, in homo-sapien's societies) male activity. Why, you ask, is this considered more catchy than a title such as "what's a father to do?" Perhaps that would be an appropriate title if the study had been about the male Neanderthals staying with the young and collecting berries and whatever else. That's not however, what the study was about. Would you believe that stay at home fathers would rightly take offense if the study had shown a possible link between the demise of a species and the male's reluctance to hunt? That would be, at the very least, consistent. I might also point out that there remains a social stigma to stay at home dads, and there are far fewer stay at home dads then there are go to work moms.

However, even if that were the case, I would tend to disagree with you. To extend a description of an extinct species -however similar to humans they were- to modern society is overreaching, regardless of the sex.

Posted by: Neil | December 19, 2006 4:44 PM

nothing but Islamic "holiday specials" on your TV, reading nothing but special Islamic holiday stories in the paper, etc. etc. etc

Are you for real? The only thing on TV is Chirstmas shows? I find plenty of other stuff to watch.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:44 PM

Arlington Dad,

I apologize for offending you.

I only wish you'd presented your argument as you have here -- instead of ridiculing and deriding everything you know about me (which isn't much) and bad-mouthing me to others as "crazy" in a sustained campaign over the past week.

But I don't mean to excuse myself with the above. If I have offended you -- and it seems that I truly have -- then my apology is sincere and I take responsibility for having spoken without thinking.

Posted by: pittypat | December 19, 2006 4:45 PM

"nothing but Islamic "holiday specials" on your TV, reading nothing but special Islamic holiday stories in the paper, etc. etc. etc"

Sounds like Egypt to me. Egypt's predominant religion is Islam - so they celibrate Islamic holidays. What's the problem? Our largest religion is Christianity - so we celibrate Christmas and Easter. Again, what's the problem.

If you want me to listen to you grousing about Christmas, you're going to have to be willing to be an equal grouser, and dump on Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Yom Kippur and whatever the heck it is that Wicans celibrate.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:49 PM

4:26: "Um...when would that be."

My understanding is late spring, June-ish. I'm not a historian or Christian, so I never investigated further.

I've got nothing against Jesus. From what I hear, he was a peace-loving, sandal- and robe-clad, healing hippie who promoted love of all. The hate I sometimes hear (regarding non-believers, pro-choice people, miscegenation, name your controversy) kind of ruins it for me, but the occasional Christian I meet who is full of love and respect for all beings seems to me to be a true follower. But then again--I am NOT Christian. I'm certainly uneducated about Christianity.

Bottom line? What I hate about Christmas is the presents. Give me twinkling lights and cocoa, give me parties where people dress in their best and eat great food and drink great wine, hell, give me a holiday sermon. Give me Bing Crosby singing carols! Give me extra time volunteering at the soup kitchen/animal shelter. Please, PLEASE give me time off from work! But keep those presents! I'm not in the mood to spend thousands on gifts when I can barely pay my student loans. Maybe it'll be different when I have my own family. Maybe not. But I do remember asking my boyfriend if, when we have a family, we could occasionally donate our entire holiday budget to charity, and my eyes welling up with tears of gratitude when he said he thought it was a great idea.

Give me the holiday spirit, I'll eat it up. But please keep your Old Navy and BMW and Shaw's commercials to yourselves. Please don't e-mail me wish lists from your new infant (you were pregnant? when did this happen? wait, do I even know you?). Please don't get mad that I am going to Las Vegas this year to hang out with a bunch of Buddhists. Hand me the champagne and I'll toast the New Year with you. I love it.

But when it comes to paying my bills or buying a present for my second cousin's fourth kid, don't get mad at my choice.

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 4:49 PM

"The only clean way to fight is to attack the conclusion - not the motives."

Not true, because the conclusion was based on insufficient (nonexistent) evidence.

In scientific inquiry, there is a hypothesis -- an educated guess. Then, the hypothesis is tested methodically, the results are analyzed, and a conclusion is reached, the implications of which are then discussed.

But the conclusion is NEVER based on anything less than research, examination, analysis, and questioning.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 4:49 PM

PS -- I agree with Lance: Leslie, I appreciate all your responses today, but you still haven't explained why "What's a Mother to Do?" is inherently offensive. I agree with a lot of what you say about hidden messages, but I don't understand what it is about this particular line that is triggering that response (I don't remember those commercials, and I don't see why you wouldn't say something like "what's a father to do?" as well). I guess that's why I didn't get upset at the study's authors or the NY Times -- just seemed like they were trying to be cute/catchy, instead of reiterating some negative stereotype. Plus it seemed kinda appropriate, since the study seems to present a Hobson's choice between immediate food needs (moms help hunt) and long-term survival (better to diversify food sources).

Posted by: Laura | December 19, 2006 4:50 PM

Hey folks, I don't know what the big deal is. I read the statement:
"social scientists say one in three black men will spend time behind bars in their lifetime"

so I says, this must mean that 33% of black men are criminals. but as has been pointed out, this is not the correct conclusion. so now i conclude, that 33% of black men will be in jail sometime in their lives.

and I am not racist.

Posted by: MinuteMan | December 19, 2006 4:54 PM

Um...FYI, Allah = God, so hearing songs praising him probably would be A-OK, as long as they sounded good...

Posted by: Allah Songs | December 19, 2006 4:54 PM

anon at 4:26, if you contend that false imprisonment is the only issue than I can understand the basis for your conclusion that there's only one way to proceed. Frankly, I'm not motivated to spend my energy trying to open the eyes of someone like the first poster because it's unlikely to be result in any change of heart or viewpoint. I am, on the other hand, struck by your comment that false imprisonment is the only avenue of rebuttal for pittypat and am willing to consider that you might not have previously been interested enough in this topic to research it. There is a substantial amount of information available about the underlying causes of the high incarceration rate for black men, including the consequences of the sweeping changes to federal drug laws in the 1980s, the disparity between the harsher mandatory minimum sentences applicable to crack cocaine (favored by black users) vs. powder cocaine (favored by white users) users, the aggressive, selective enforcement of the federal drug laws against non-violent black drug users (not sellers), and the disparity between the frequency with which probation was offered to first-time, non-violent white offenders vs. first-time, non-violent black offenders. For those who are interested, the data fully supports an assertion that the 33% figure is the result of a racist legal system. The strongest point of rebuttal is not an arrest-by-arrest argument about false imprisonment. It's to suggest that had: (1) the sentences for crack and powder cocaine been identical, or (2) more whites been imprisoned for committing the same offenses as those for which many black men were imprisoned, or (3) more black men been offered probation instead of imprisonment, in the same manner as similarly situated white offenders, then the 33% statistic might be different, and the interpretation of some members of the white community with respect to that statistic's significance certainly would be different. Using the 33% statistic to suggest greater criminality on the part of black men is uninformed, at best.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 4:55 PM

Emily - I bet that even though you live in a Jewish Area the discussion of the High Holidays doesn't go on for an entire month (or more). I bet they don't do Shofar calls in the grocery store. I know you can turn on the food network or hgtv and not be innudated for weeks on end about how to get your house ready for the high holidays. I bet you don't have strangers in line at Starbucks saying L'shanah Tova. But I am not offended by the holiday or the church celebrations, I am offended by the people who critize me for not wanting to celebrate (ie atb) and by people who don't understand that I am being forced to celebrate this holiday whether I like it or not. After all if the Clerk in the store says Merry Christmas - you smile and walk away because what can you say and after the nth time you feel like saying STOP ASSUMING I AM CHRISTIAN. I wonder if I was with one of my male friends who wear yamukles whether that would stop the clerks from saying Merry Christmas?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 19, 2006 5:04 PM

"Despite my lack of authority on every subject tackled. I don't believe you need to be an expert to ask a question or have an opinion. Curiosity is critical, and experts (on anthropology and everything else) are welcome to argue and prove me wrong"

Leslie, though I don't always agree with you I really do respect your skepticism. I think what you get here is alot of cynicism which is something completely different and not nearly as valuable.

Posted by: to Leslie | December 19, 2006 5:09 PM

NC Lawyer, what about violent crimes? Are you also saying that the percentage of black men committing violent crimes and getting jailed for them is higher than white men? I seriously doubt it although would be open to any information you have otherwise. Minute Man is getting slammed simply for noting that WaPo is discussing the reality of crime in black society (and the reality is that far more black men commit crimes than anyone else). Are we really going to allow this PC bullsh**t to sugarcoat the truth here? Can anyone on here come forth with any real information to contradict WaPo's findings???

Posted by: In support of Minute Man | December 19, 2006 5:09 PM

Oh, come on, Leslie, you missed the point completely. Neanderthals did quite well for a long time, which is pretty indicative that Neanderthal women could be pretty damned good at holding their own in the hunt. This is not a question of their capability, its a question of whether putting them in the line of fire is wiser for the long term survival of the species. That article is a pretty clear indicator that in the long term, it probably wasn't. Life in their world was harsh, and putting the reproductive half of the population in the line of fire probably did seriously impact their ability to continue their species. All it takes is a stretch where not too many girls are born, or a bad year where a lot of women are lost, or just rotten luck, and you've got the recipe for decline.

Now for Sapiens, they played it differently, set their priorities accordingly, and in a time when protecting your reproductive females made a LOT of sense, they did. The result is that a human is typing this post, and not a Neanderthal.

No one is questioning the strength or capability of Neanderthal or even Human women, its a question of whether it made sense for them to be put in danger when the world was a far more dangerous place than the one we inhabit now.

Posted by: James Buchanan | December 19, 2006 5:12 PM

"My understanding is late spring, June-ish. I'm not a historian or Christian, so I never investigated further."

Well, heck. Learn something every day. Or at least something to look into...

As for the rest: Hey, I hate the commercialism as much as you do. My family does small Xmases, with small presents (dad was laid off last year, I'm repaying a boatload of student loans), and the big thing is just to get together and enjoy some family time. Our big excitement is playing Monopoly and driving around to see the lights.

And I'll stand right with you on not giving gifts to the second cousin's fourth kid.

Posted by: To Mona again... | December 19, 2006 5:14 PM

I just don't see why "Merry Christmas" would be offensive to anyone, even if they by chance don't celebrate. After all, the people are only wishing you well. I realize that the High Holidays are not as pervasive as Christmas. When I was in college, all three of my roommates were Jewish, and I would tag along to services with them, and sometimes even join then on Fridays for services dinner. I thought it was great fun. I learned about their customs, beliefs, and culture. I was never offended by it, and to this day, I am thankful for the exposure (as well as the really yummy food).

Posted by: Emily | December 19, 2006 5:14 PM

single & denied - ::clap clap clap::

in defense of Leslie - "Educated women who stay at home choose this because it is the path of least resistence (not a dig, but is true). Sure some say "I want to be with my kids all the time", but I think if our society weren't so ambivalent about women in the workplace, more of us would be there--in the workplace."

I couldn't disagree more. I, and every single SAHM I know, are home because we WANT to be. I don't know a single SAHM who isn't working but wants to be.

Posted by: momof4 | December 19, 2006 5:15 PM

too bad there aren't any neanderthal women left. the air force could drop a couple of 'em in Afghanistan and they'd yank that b@stard Bin Laden out of his smelly cave by his scraggly beard.

Posted by: Thierry | December 19, 2006 5:16 PM

Momof4 - Perhaps that's your experience, but I know plenty of women who are at home because it would just be too hard to work AND raise children at the same time, especially with husbands that are too busy to actively participate in the childraising. So the mothers tend to give in and raise the children even though the love their careers and would be happier working. And I know some women at work who stayed at home for a few years, were miserable, and found a way to come back to work. I am sure that there are plenty of perfectly happy SAHM out there. But I also know that some are not so very happy as you depict.

Posted by: Emily | December 19, 2006 5:21 PM

A question for all the non-Christians who are tired of the Christmas overload. Do you take advantage of all the great sales, or do you avoid the stores so as not to be bombarded by all the Christmas decorations, music, and greetings?

I generally don't have enough money to shop for myself after buying gifts, and I always thought it would be nice if I were Jewish so I could shop for myself this time of year :) (Just a joke. don't get upset)

Mona, a gift is something you give because you choose to. Don't allow others to blackmail you.

Posted by: curious | December 19, 2006 5:23 PM

Emily:

I think it's a matter of taste, really. What doesn't offend you, might easily offend another.

I just had my first social at the company I started working for in the summer. I was rather surprised that it was all blatantly Christmas--from the decorations all over the building to the party--not the Holiday Party--but yes, the Christmas Party.

I do celebrate Christmas, but even I was taken aback a bit, if for no other reason than since it has become mainstream and PC to specifically not single out the Christmas holiday in most public situations. Indeed, I'd be surprised if all 300 employees at my site did in fact celebrate Christmas.

Posted by: J | December 19, 2006 5:24 PM

Slow news day? Come on Leslie, you are really reaching with this one.....

Posted by: Shaking head | December 19, 2006 5:25 PM

Minute Man isn't getting slammed for noting that wapo is discussing the reality of black male criminality, he's getting slammed for simply accepting the surface statistics and not questioning why things are the way they are. It's fine not to sugarcoat the problem--yeah, black men commit more than their fair share of crime--but a person who is truly interested in understanding and changing the issue will take a deep, unbiased look at why it exsists. To conclude that black men have a natural tendancy toward criminality on the basis of one front-page statistic while ignoring the social, economic, and historical forces under which they operate is, at best, irresponsible and uninformed, and, at worst, what minute man claims he is not.

Also, minute man, methinks you doth protest too much. Anytime you feel the need to preface or follow a statement with "I'm not a racists" generally means what you just said IS racist. Otherwise you wouldn't need the disclaimer.

Posted by: to In support of Minute Man | December 19, 2006 5:26 PM

NC Lawyer: I can't speak to all your research, but specifically the crack vs powder cocaine research seems outdated. I seem to recall when the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences was debated (back in the 80's) that there was justification for the different sentences due to the link between crack and violent crime. In LA and here in the District violence escalated due to the crack epidemic, but much of the sentencing had to do with the violent crime that was committed by those on crack.

Also, you are speaking of Federal Drug Laws and I am not sure what percentage of those incarcerated are doing time under federal sentences. I know current VA drugs laws do not differentiate between forms of cocaine. If Federal law takes precendence, how can it be different then the VA law?

These are legitimate questions of mine. If my information is wrong please correct me. I have to add that disclaimer since opinions and expert analysis seem to get mixed up here.

Posted by: cmac | December 19, 2006 5:27 PM

"but I know plenty of women who are at home because it would just be too hard to work AND raise children at the same time,"

Exactly. Because it IS hard. (I did it for 8 years.) So perhaps what you call "giving in" is actually just the recognition that no matter how much flex time, benefits, or quality childcare they have, working mothers still have a huge amount of responsibility and they still have to split their time between their career and their children.

Making the choice to live a more peaceful, less stressful lifestyle is hardly "giving in."

Posted by: momof4 | December 19, 2006 5:27 PM

Emily you chose your exposure - you tagged along. It wasn't thrust in your face. I have attended Christmas Mass with friends and I found the ceremony beautiful - but if someone insisted I went I would fight tooth and nail against it. The difference is choice.
No one is assuming you are a different religion. No one is reminding you that you are a minority. And not just occasionally, but constantly throughout the season and in the case of the people who critized Walmart they were insisting on reminding you that you are the minority and that inclusion Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas is a bad thing.
Again if you want to celebrate Christmas go ahead - set up the Creche in your front yard, etc. but don't assume I want to participate.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 19, 2006 5:28 PM

I believe that In defense of Leslie is not attacking SAHM but rather suggesting that for the Feminist concerned with making careers and motherhood work that balance would be a real option if "our society weren't so ambivalent about women in the workplace."

Posted by: to momof4 | December 19, 2006 5:28 PM

My husband's employer sponsored a "holiday party" at a country club with music, food, dancing. It was one of the nicer parties I've attended. There was not a Christmas decoration in sight or Christmas song to be heard. The owner of the company was Jewish.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 5:29 PM

to In support of Minute Man (which is as close to anonymous as it gets), Facts don't have a political bias. I don't happen to know the percentage of the 33% that is attributable to non-violent vs. violent crimes, but if you believe that breakdown is relevant to the discussion, feel free to look it up and share. In my experience, contributing to the spread of information is significantly more helpful to a dialogue then smugly hanging the "PC" label on explanations you'd rather not consider. It's even worthy of a Cro-Magnon.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 5:29 PM

NC Lawyer, just pointing out that you too seem to approach this with a bias. It's just that your bias is on the side of angelic black men getting put in jail for crimes they didn't commit. See also comment by cmac above.

Posted by: In Support of Minute Man | December 19, 2006 5:35 PM

i find it amusing that there are a couple of arguements going on at the same time. arguement 1. commercialization of christmas. arguement 2. that immigrants to this country will dilute our values. our values being the commercialization of christmas???? sorry. i'm trying to inject a little humor into the subject.

what exactly are "our" values verses "other" values?
honesty, integrity, hard work? i've seen those values in the third world. other values i've seen in the 3rd world that i haven't seen too much here. respect for family and elders. less emphasis on self & more on community.

Posted by: quark | December 19, 2006 5:38 PM

cmac, I don't have the answers, and am trying to get out of the office (believe it or not). The powder vs. crack sentencing disparity, while perhaps an old issue, contributed mightily to the statistic about the quantity of black men who have spent some time in jail in their lifetime. The guys who were sentenced back then are approx. 45 - 55 now. Your comments, as always, are thoughtful and go to the complexity of this issue. If I get free to find the answers later after the kids are in bed, I'll post what I find.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 5:38 PM

I do think it is courteous to hold generic "holiday" parties in consideration of those who are not Christian. But I worked in an office where the non-Christians nixed even a generic holiday party and lunch as offensive, so I am little sensitive about this.

Posted by: Emily | December 19, 2006 5:39 PM

"It's just that your bias is on the side of angelic black men getting put in jail for crimes they didn't commit."

Isn't that a constitutional bias, innocent until proven guilty? Minute man and his supporter seem ready to jail all Black men based on the entire group's incarceration rate.

Posted by: hmmm | December 19, 2006 5:40 PM

"A question for all the non-Christians who are tired of the Christmas overload. Do you take advantage of all the great sales, or do you avoid the stores so as not to be bombarded by all the Christmas decorations, music, and greetings?"

I WISH! I'm broke! Nothing would thrill me more than to go into the mall (especially after Christmas) and buy something for myself. That would be so nice! And if I had the money, I would. But no, I don't particularly take advantage of the sales. I avoid the stores as much as possible after Thanksgiving. In fact, I haven't set foot in the mall since early November. I've been finished with holiday shopping since early fall, so unfortunately no sales. Now I'm just trying to pay off those credit card bills from the holiday shopping in the summer! :-)

Curious, you're right. No one should be able to guilt me into anything, but I still willingly do it. Luckily, for the next three years I'll be in law school with no income. I'll manage to be broke and not buy gifts, and suddenly have a final and not be able to fly home to visit. Seriously, though. Next year, NO GIFTS!

Posted by: Mona | December 19, 2006 5:41 PM

cmac--
I believe you are right that this was the reason given for the enormous disparity in sentencing guidelines between crack and powder. People who decry that disparity (of whom there are many, and not all "bleeding heart liberals"--I am talking about serious commissions) believe that its size is unwarranted and that the effect it has on the black community is out of proportion with the reasons given for it.

As for state/federal sentences, there are many crimes that are both state and federal. It's kind of the luck of the draw whether the feds or the state prosecute you. So yeah, you could end up with a much different sentence depending on whether you are prosecuted in state or fed court.

nc lawyer, please chime in if I am wrong.

Posted by: aging mom | December 19, 2006 5:43 PM

the shepards were watching their flocks by night... probably due to lambing which takes place in the spring mar/apr time frame. while ephiany, the day the wise men arrived bearing gifts, is celebrated 6 january (12 days later) it is thought that they may have taken up to 2 years to get to bethehlm which is why herrod had boys up to 2 years old killed once he realized that the wise men weren't coming back.

Posted by: quark | December 19, 2006 5:46 PM

"NC Lawyer, just pointing out that you too seem to approach this with a bias. It's just that your bias is on the side of angelic black men getting put in jail for crimes they didn't commit. See also comment by cmac above."

You must be confusing me with another poster. I did not state that men of any race or level of angelicness are being put in jail for crimes they didn't comment. I said that a case-by-case argument for false imprisonment is not the point of rebuttal I'd make and offered several other areas of exploration for those who have a thoughtful interest in the topic. Review, then redirect. and if you're a regular poster, you could at least use your "regular" name and not go anon with your sniping. Oh, and take a cue from cmac. If she and I are willing to post under our respective "names" with respect to topics that some consider controversial, you can have the courage to do so as well. It makes for a more civil environment, don't you think?

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 19, 2006 5:47 PM

As for the holiday party - I worked at company that used to hold their annual company dinner in June. Less conflict with other events (made it easier to find a sitter as well - increasing balance) easier to find a place and they were actually able to work better deals because the venues and caterers weren't as busy. The point is if it is to celebrate with friends why does it have to be at this time of year? And if the point is to celebrate a certain holiday then let it be with the people who want to celebrate that holiday.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2006 5:49 PM

i have read (and i don't have my fingers on the stats) that the crime rate is more a class issue than a race issue. two people of the same class have the same rates of crime. meaning that the 16 year old black male living with his parents in the $950,000 house in moco or nova has the same possibility as his white neighbor of commiting a crime. the white 16 year old living with his mom in a poorer neighborhood has the same rate as his black male neighbor.

Posted by: quark | December 19, 2006 5:52 PM

"Clearly, we must stay out of the hunt --"

Not so clear to me in the past and less so in the future where mental strength will count the most. This conclusion is not very appropriate or accurate.

Posted by: Gary Masters | December 19, 2006 5:56 PM

I think June is a great idea for an office get together. A lot of offices do the summer picnic. But I find it depressing not to do anything at all in December. I don't care what you call it, but I equate December with at least some sort of party.

Posted by: Emily | December 19, 2006 5:56 PM

(1) Never rely on the NY Times description of a scholarly article. Don't rely on the Post either.

(2) After having read the original article, I see no evidence that the authors are attempting to draw any sort of conclusions about what modern society SHOULD BE by comparing Middle and Upper Paleolithic populations.

(3) Physical robustness comes with a cost -- it takes a lot of caloric intake to maintain very large muscle mass -- and specialization within a community that allows half of the population to be less robust would be very likely advantageous during an Ice Age or at any other time that resources are scarce. Almost every current model about Neandertal extinction takes count of their physical mass one way or the other. There is much more that could be said, quite a bit in this article.

(4) It goes without saying that we no longer live in paleolithic conditions (although one could think otherwise by reading the WaPo editorial pages). Few of us kill large animals with sticks and rocks in order to live. Writing idiotic blog entries can be done with either large or small muscles.

(5) In other words, this article is not about you. Don't make it about you. And yes, Current Anthropology is without question one of the top journals in the field.

Posted by: SD | December 19, 2006 6:13 PM

Yes, there is a diparity between state vs federal sentencing guidelines which can skew data.

Posted by: cmac | December 19, 2006 6:16 PM

The interesting question, I guess, cmac, is what people are in jail for. If it turns out--and I don't know the numbers, although I think I did at one point--that 70% of all blacks in jail are serving crack sentences, that would tell us something different than if we found out that 70% of blacks in jail are serving sentences for first degree murder.

It is certainly true that black men in particular are incarcerated at some multiple of the rate that white men are. I for one am not willing to assume that this is because black men are somehow many times more evil than white men. This leaves other options: living conditions, poverty, selective prosecution, bad access to good lawyers, more aggressive sentencing, sentencing guidelines designed to punish more harshly crimes historically more likely to be committed by black people, etc. I would bet that a good number of people in prison are there because of "three strikes" laws triggered by relatively minor infractions, or by drug recidivism laws (which, in the federal context, can increase sentences by huge factors).

I don't pretend to know the answers to the obvious questions this raises, but I would say there certainly are questions.

Posted by: aging mom | December 19, 2006 6:31 PM

Aging Mom - Agreed - there are so many variables. To your list I will add the rate of recidivism - which is very high for certain crimes such as drug possession and distribution. Drugs literally lead to a "life of crime" and if the economically disadvantaged are more prone to more drug crime, and blacks are more economically disadvantaged (in general) - you will have higher numbers of blacks in jail for drugs.

Posted by: cmac | December 19, 2006 7:31 PM

Right.

Posted by: aging mom | December 19, 2006 9:25 PM

Mom of 4 -- just to give you more data points to counter your statement (which I believe to be true from your experience) "I don't know a single SAHM who isn't working but wants to be." For the record, I don't know a single SAHM who wants to be home full time -- every single one I know would rather be working part-time, if she could find good part-time work that allowed her to also be a big part of her kids' lives.

James Buchanan and SD -- Thank you both for your anthropological input. Excellent points. Lovely, logical, disspassionate, unemotional, classically, wonderful male posts. Very refreshing compared with my own hotheaded views. Not to say you are right and I am wrong, but still. And a question: are you both men? I hope I am right (because it is more fun to be right than wrong, but please let me know if I am wrong in my gender assumptions so I may correct myself).

Pittypat!!!!! I am cheering for you!!!!

Neil -- Thank you for a civilized discussion. Really enjoyed it.

Nighty nite.

Posted by: Leslie | December 19, 2006 10:13 PM

Leslie - "For the record, I don't know a single SAHM who wants to be home full time."

The main difference between my experiences and yours (and likely most of the people on the blog) is that I live in an area where a relaxed, peaceful, non-stressed life is (I believe) more coveted than in east-coast metro areas. The women I rub elbows with on a daily basis seem to recognize that returning to work, albeit on a part time basis, still takes away from that relaxed existence.

My point was that I don't see that a choice to stay at home is "giving in" or "giving up" - I see it as women making a choice to pursue a less stressful life.

Remember the "overwhelmed" (I believe that was the word) conversation from several weeks ago? You talked about being overwhelmed with motherhood and stated that you didn't think there was a parent with 3 children under age 10 out there who wasn't overwhelmed. I raised my hand as being someone who at one point had four children under 10 and wasn't "overwhelmed." And someone asked me "but were you working then? Because that makes a difference." Bingo!! Working and mothering IS stressful and overwhelming. And even someone who has made a career out of the idea of seeking balance and who supposedly has the ideal work/family situation with a flexible, part-time career - is still overwhelmed. Hmmmm.....

Posted by: momof4 | December 19, 2006 11:25 PM

Leslie - Don't know if you will see this but after Pitty's pleas to those that are harrassing her I almost posted, but decided not to.

The topic of my complaint is the anonymous posters. If you look through the past couple days the anon poster(s) has/have been prolific. You can tell when it is the same person posting on 2 different side of an issue, usually 1 liners within a minute of each other. Pitty is just the latest in a succession of regulars that have responded to, rightly or wrongly, the anon poster(s). NC Lawyer engaged he/she/them yesterday, Scarry the other day. I did on this day. People have been complaining about the anon poster(s) for months and the problem has just gotten worse.

It is apparent that the only reason the anons post is to, as we say here "Stir things up."

I don't know your/Wash Post technical limitations but the anon postings are contributing more than their fair share of controversy and nastiness on the board. If you want to comment on the pitty/cmac debate - hold your tongue - as I already see your bias towards Pitty, much like your other (admitted) biases.

I am just posting as an irritated regular. I don't think the problem will go away if "we just ignore them." Whoever it is having a lot of strange fun with their twisted posts. I can't speak for anyone else but I think my sentiment is pretty common.

Posted by: cmac | December 20, 2006 7:51 AM

NC Lawyer - Thank you for the 4:55. Some of us appreciate it when people research, not simply talk out of their a$$3$.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 20, 2006 8:06 AM

Here are the 2005 FBI crime statistics by race:

http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/data/table_43.html

I believe Robbery is the only raw number where the "black" figure is higher than the "white" figure.

If you want to make an argument about proportionality, feel free. That argument still doesn't address causality, which is relevant to any fear-mongering discussion about whether Blacks are inherently more criminal.

And, if you'd simply like to be controversial and "Un-PC", should I conclude that white people (particularly those under 18) are likely to be irresponsible drunks who frequently slam their cars into each other based on the DUI numbers?

I'm sorry I missed most of yesterday's discussion but perhaps that was best. Seems like the tangent topics on this board are somehow antagonistic as often as not these days.

Posted by: Proud Papa | December 20, 2006 9:06 AM

Applause to Proud Papa, especially for shutting down the folks who will want to take the proportionality argument and run with it. I was ignoring the poster who had their undergarments in a bunch over that 33%, but others had good responses.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | December 20, 2006 9:31 AM

Long time lurker...first time commenter.

uhh...on second thought...nevermind.

Posted by: kilcannon | December 20, 2006 9:57 AM

proud papa - Who was arguing that blacks are inherently more criminal? Aging Mom and I were discussing the economic angle as it is associated with crime. White, black, hispanic, whatever - if you live in a crime-ridden, drug-laced, low income area you are more prone to drug crime. Specifically I mentioned the 1980's "crack wars" in the major metropolitan areas of DC and LA - where there was a black majority population - crack use and associated crimes were higher among that population. Remember the Bloods and the Crips (sp?). The regional gang wars of the 80's were highly drug related - these were black gangs, which flourish in poverty areas.

I'd be interested in causality of today's crime and whether they are economical in nature. I suspect they are. I am not the least bit surprised that white males under 18 get more DUI's, as I am also not surprised that 14-24 year old hispanic males (mostly gang related) have a higher murder/malicious wounding/drug related incarceration rate. It is a part of their gang culture, much like the gang turf/drug wars of the 80's.

I had just as many questions as opinions and answers.

Posted by: cmac | December 20, 2006 10:20 AM

Momof4,
I understand your point that deciding to stay at home should not be seen as giving in, and rather should be viewed as accepting a less stressful life, but you are making assumptions about women who may have different personalities, wants, and needs than you.

Deciding to stay at home should not be seen as giving in if the woman truly wants to be at home. Some women do. But others really don't. The choose to stay at home because they don't see other viable options, and sometimes, they resent the choice. I certainly don't want to be a SAHM, and many other women I know don't relish the idea either. Some women want and need to be busy and a little overwhelmed. It charges our batteries and keeps us going. Yes, sometimes we complain, but I would much rather complain about being too busy than feel bored at home. But that's just me. I accept that some women want a more relaxed lifestyle. But it isn't ideal for every woman or mother out there, because we are all different.

Posted by: Emily | December 20, 2006 10:22 AM

cmac, I'm not bashing you.

But Minuteman, at 3:18pm, wrote: "so that is where I get my conclusion that 33% of black men are criminals."

To me that constitutes "arguing that blacks are inherently more criminal."

Posted by: Proud Papa | December 20, 2006 10:26 AM

Emily -

I'm trying to not make assumptions because I do realize that (like I said earlier) I think life is generally more relaxed where I live than in, say DC or NYC, and that most people who live here relish the more laid back culture.

But I do have to say that you're also making an assumption when you say this: "Yes, sometimes we complain, but I would much rather complain about being too busy than feel bored at home." I realize you're speaking about yourself and not everyone, but I think it's a generalization nonetheless that you think you would automatically be "bored" if you didn't work. There are a multitude of ways that SAHPs use to not be "bored". And it's my experience that those who are bored wouldn't be if they had a different outlook on what it means to be a SAHP.

Posted by: momof4 | December 20, 2006 11:44 AM

You said: I think June is a great idea for an office get together. A lot of offices do the summer picnic. But I find it depressing not to do anything at all in December. I don't care what you call it, but I equate December with at least some sort of party.

The reason why most every religion has a "dead of winter eat a lot and celebrate" party (end of Ramadan, Christmas, Solstice) is because at its root, we're celebrating the fact that the entire world is dead and under snow (OK maybe just the northern parts) and food is not growing, but we're still alive, dagnabbit.

Whatever you call it, it's humanity thumbing it's nose at Mother Nature. As such, how can you *not* celebrate? The lights are simply a part of it - light in the dark, plenty in time of want, oil where there should be none, a baby born through a medical impossibility. It's all an homage to human survival.

As such, my pagan self is going to go check out my pagan tree and drink up!

Posted by: to Emily | December 20, 2006 12:57 PM

Momof4 -
But you are making assumptions. You are thinking that if all women had the same outlook as you, we we all love to be SAHM's. This is kind of arrogant, don't you think. How would you feel if I told you that if you had the same outlook and energy as I do, you too could be a working mom?

The fact is that we don't have the same outlooks, likes, dislikes, levels of energy, personalities, and patience. What is perfectly fine for me may not be so for you. I accept that. You just need to accept that all women aren't ready or willing to stay at home with their kids. Moreover, those who don't want to probably shouldn't. I just don't believe that one way is better than the other.

Posted by: Emily | December 20, 2006 4:13 PM

First of all, I *have* been a working mom. For eight years - longer than I've been a SAHM - I also went to graduate school during that time and was a single (divorced) parent for a portion of that time. I have plenty of energy and know what "outlook" is required to be successful as a working mother.

Second of all, I didn't say one way is better than the other nor did I say that all women would/should love being at home - I said that making the "this is boring" assumption often comes out of a belief that a) this is going to be boring b) I am beneath this and c) there's no way this is as worthwhile as working.

And third of all - my original statement was about being overwhelmed and how even a great part-time job doesn't alleviate all of the stress involved with trying to balance work and parenting. You yourself admitted that you are at times overwhelmed and that you sometimes complain about being too busy. Leslie says she's sometimes overwhelmed (and some other adjective that I can't remember since it was several weeks ago), yet she has a flexible part-time career that she enjoys, makes presumably a great salary, and is past the childbearing years so doesn't need benefits such as paid maternity leave. So if lucrative, flexible, enjoyable part-time careers are the answer to work-life balance, why is Leslie still overwhelmed?

Posted by: momof4 | December 21, 2006 10:15 AM

I meant to say "b) this is beneath me" in my post above!!! Doesn't make much sense the way I typed it. ;o)

Posted by: momof4 | December 21, 2006 10:20 AM

Momof4 - I am not trying to pick a battle with you, but I find this to be a very interesting conversation. First of all, I don't doubt your outlook or energy. To be perfectly honest, I think I was shooting from the hip with the energy comment -- I think it some ways, it takes more energy (both emotional and physical) be a SAHM. But my point is that every woman knows herself better than anyone else can know her. When I say that I am not suited to being at home, I know that this is true. I love work too much, and I would miss it. I would miss the mental stimulation, the social aspect, the routine, and certainly the knowledge that I am financially independent. And while I participate in a few volunteer activities at the school because I think this is a parent's obligation, I don't get the same kind of satisfaction from that as I do from work. I can't think of a way that I would be happier at home.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 10:37 AM

"'The only clean way to fight is to attack the conclusion - not the motives.' Not true, because the conclusion was based on insufficient (nonexistent) evidence."

I'm not backing down on this one. It is neither fair nor reasonable to speculate on a persons motives and attack them, rather than their arguments. What's worse, it's not logically valid. A perfectly correct argument leading to a correct conclusion may be advanced by people wiht profoundly corrupt motives - and completely invalid arguments may be advanced by people with the most noble of motives.

If you think his assertions are garbage, then prove him wrong - don't call him names.

"In scientific inquiry, there is a hypothesis . . . But the conclusion is NEVER based on anything less than research, examination, analysis, and questioning."

And this is flat wrong. How many scientific researchers have been exposed as frauds over the last few years? Does a particular geneticists leap to mind? Do we really think that all scientists are Mr. Spock - above all base and irrational human emotions?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 22, 2006 10:05 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company