Expose the falseness or hollowness of (a myth, idea, or belief).
“Debunking MRAs” Debunked
There is a talk being held in Kingston, Ontario, at Queen’s University on Thursday, March the 27th, by University of Ottawa English professor Janice Fiamengo. On the Facebook page for that event, I saw a blog article posted a number of times that supposedly “debunked MRAs”, authored by Owen Lloyd, and it was claimed that the article was well researched (i.e. he actually cited something). Having already written a critical examination of another document claiming men’s issues are myths, I decided I would do the same with this article. I will also try to stick to the same sources that Owen did, as that keeps us on a level playing field and shows how little, if anything, was actually debunked.
1) Suicide: Men die by suicide at 4 times the rate of women
Owen’s article reveals how poorly researched it is right out of the gate. Worse, it reflects how poorly it examines the list that it is attempting to debunk. In debunking that men commit suicide at 4 times the rate of women, the author starts by claiming that women are certainly trying to commit suicide, as they attempt it three times more often than men. Which is worse though, a woman attempting suicide 3 times and still being alive to seek help for the issues that drove her to her suicide attempts in the first place, or 100 men completing their suicide on their first attempt? Assuming we are counting men’s completed suicides as attempts, I’ll ask that question again, but in a more mathematically honest manner. Which is worse, 100 men dying by suicide in a single attempt each, or 35 women attempting suicide 3 times each, and still being alive to seek services for that which drove them to attempt suicide in the first place?
From the same stats page that Owen used, we can see that completed suicides (suicide attempts resulting in death), was 78.9% male, and 21.1% female. The author claims men are more likely to “succeed” (because this is a measurement of success for men in Owen`s eyes, as his source never uses the word “success”), because men are trained for violence, emotional detachment, and to deal with problems themselves. I suppose the fact that over 50% of completed suicides are carried out by firearms has nothing to do with it; it is men’s capacity for violence, now being exerted against themselves that is to blame.
Owen then attempts to vilify men who have committed suicide by pointing out that sometimes people commit acts of murder during their acts of suicide. He stretches this even further in attempting to add to women’s rate of suicides by including this form of murder with women’s suicide stats. Even if we added Owen’s highest claim of suicide-murders, 1 500, and made it all women, that would make the rate of death by suicide at 26 710 males to 7 200 women (if accepting the numbers originally stated).
Since 7 200 x 4 = 28 800, male deaths by suicide would still be approximately 4 times that of women. Again, this is if only we took Owen`s highest number cited for murder-suicide and disingenuously claimed it was all men murdering women. This, despite his cited sources stating:
“ On January 18, 2008, an aunt was taking her niece and nephew to her house for a weekend stay. While en route, she pulled over, took off her clothes and those of her niece and nephew, and carried the children into on-coming traffic. All three were killed.”
Falsehoods exposed in the claim that men die from suicide at a rate 4 times higher than women: 0
As someone who has had multiple family members die by suicide, one of which was a murder suicide attempt by a woman on her husband, this is insulting on a very personal level.
Owen starts with “this is a curious statement”. Someone who is still pondering a statement does not sound like they are remotely ready to debunk it. He proceeds to instead focus on the sub-point of the original article, that men “receive only 35% of government expenditures for health care and medical costs”. He does this by discussing how much health insurance companies charge women compared to men, and justifies why they do this. Health insurance costs more the longer you’re alive, because that means they are in more need of care for a longer time. This does nothing to debunk the average life span of men compared to women it just offers an explanation for the sub-point. It is known that insurer’s rates are based on actuarial calculations based on mortality and morbidity rates over many years.
He finishes off this attempted debunking by mentioning off-hand that this is all “despite [women] receiving 23% less income than men”, citing a news article on the wage-gap myth that women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar. Some sources that debunk the 77 cent wage-gap theory:
Feminist Hanna Rosin, Authour of “The End of Men”: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/08/gender_pay_gap_the_familiar_line_that_women_make_77_cents_to_every_man_s.html
Feminist Christina Sommers: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-hoff-sommers/wage-gap_b_2073804.html
Dr. Warren Farrell wrote a whole book on it, titled “Why Men Earn More”: http://www.amazon.com/Why-Men-Earn-More-Startling/dp/0814472109
For those who don’t like reading (but are reading this anyway), Learn Liberty has a youtube video explaining the supposed wage gap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwogDPh-Sow
That is so many links that have nothing to do with what Owen was supposedly debunking, that I almost forgot he was supposed to be debunking that men live an average of 7 years less than women, which he never did.
Falsehoods exposed in the claim that men live an average of 7 years less than women: 0
3) WAR: Men are almost exclusively the only victims of war
I was pulling for Owen on this one, but I still don’t think he really debunked it. He made some good points about how we can’t just look at soldier / battle deaths. Only looking at the casualties of soldiers in war is ignoring a huge portion of victims. I would expect an MRA would know what it is to be an ignored victim.
In his first paragraph, he discusses how if soldiers are to be called victims, then they are victims of the ones who sent them to war. I agree with this, but he then states “those responsible are men”. This is no doubt true most of the time, but it is certainly not true all of the time. Margaret Thatcher and the Falkland islands; Boudicia leading the Celts against the occupying Romans; Joan Of Arc; Catherine The Great and the Russo-Turkish wars; Emmelline Pankhurst and the white feather campaign of shaming men into going to war against Germany in World War One, particularly those who did not have the right to vote (something she was trying to achieve for women, but would rather see men without that same right sent to war).
Owen makes the claim that to blame male combat deaths on women is not only absurd, but insane. Would I be insane to attribute some blame to the women I listed above? I think not. Would I be insane to assign some blame to the women who voted the leaders he mentioned into power? I think not. I think it is unintelligent to say blaming women at all would be insane, but I have never seen someone blame women, and only women, for men having to go to war. Men just point out that throughout history, men have been the only ones sent to war, often without a say in the matter.
Citing this source, Owen claims that in a study of wars in 13 countries, of 5.4 million people violently killed, more than 1 million were female. Personally I’d like him to show me where it says this, as I may just be missing it. The only section I see discussing gender is a bit on sibling death stats, which states that:
“A total of 43 874 sibling deaths were reported in the 13 surveys, of which 917 were a result of war injuries. Some 38 613 deaths, of which 797 were due to war, occurred after 1955 and were eligible to be included in our analysis. Figure 1 shows the age and sex distribution of all violent war deaths captured in 13 countries from 1955 to 2002. Among war deaths, 58% were in people aged 15 to 34 and 81% were in males.”
All I can ascertain is that Owen took the estimated 5.4 million number cited for total violent war deaths in the 13 countries from 1955-2002, and then applied the 81% of male deaths from the above sibling death survey results. I assume that the 5.4 million violent war deaths is including soldier deaths, of which the overwhelming majority would be male. It makes no sense for Owen to then apply the gender rate from the sibling death survey, which accounted for less than 44 000 deaths, and only 1 714 of that was attributed to war. This is the only way I am seeing that Mr. Lloyd could possibly have come to his numbers, as 19% of 5.4 million would be 1.02 million. However, as should be obvious, one can not just transfer the gendered percentage found in 1 714 deaths to that of 5.4 million.
(Also, Owen says the study was conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, despite it clearly being in the British Medical Journal, clearly states the lead author is Michael Spagat, a professor of economics at the University of London, and is an article over which there has been much debate as to its accuracy and validity)
Mr. Lloyd also cites some horrible atrocities that men and women have suffered (aerial spraying, war-inflicted poverty, sexual torture), but admits there are no accurate reports of these other possible causes of death that can be attributed to war.
Falsehoods exposed in the claim that men are almost exclusively the victims of war: 0
Owen rightfully pointed out that civilian casualties should also be counted, as well as wartime atrocities committed to civilians, which also include male civilians. How many men fight for their country when it is attacked, without actually being “soldiers”? Men are still the majority according to his sources; it certainly is almost exclusively male when it comes to “battle deaths”.
Owen begins by correctly stating, smugly, that in the U.S., “the figure is 92% as of 2012”, which is what it has been in the U.S. for a number of years (I’ll save why this is a complete failure of debunking for later, but let’s go with that statistic for now). However, he loses any credibility after that by victim-blaming men, saying they choose dangerous jobs, in an attempt to look manly. Any work I’ve done that came with an element of risk was due to a need for income. My grandfather worked as a miner, as well as two other jobs, to support his wife and 10 kids; he did not choose to be a miner because it was perceived to be proof of his masculinity, except insofar as to be a provider for his family.
The citation Owen uses for his further victim-blaming is behind a pay wall, but its title is certainly telling of its accuracy for the over 4 000 workplace deaths in the U.S. that occur every year; “Using a Computer Simulated World to Study Behavioral Compliance with Warnings.” It must be their fault for not adhering to warnings. Too bad these deaths happen in the real world.
He tries to skew this yet again into how much more important women’s issues are. “Tellingly, the most common way for a woman to die in the workplace is to be murdered”. This is true; the most common way for a woman to die in the workplace is to be murdered. For women, 29% of workplace deaths are due to murder, compared to men’s mere 9%.
However, 29%, of women’s 338 workplace deaths, equals 97 deaths by homicide. By contrast, men’s paltry 9% of workplace deaths by homicide comes out to just 366 deaths; telling indeed.
Falsehoods exposed in the claim that men account for 95% of workplace fatalities: 0
Debunking the debunker: Owen Lloyd was technically correct with his smug opening, but the degree of smugness exhibited in correcting this minor quibble is completely disproportionate with the magnitude of the quite minor discrepancy he is so proud to highlight. Of course, with almost nothing to validate his position, it is perhaps understandable that he grossly over magnifies what little substantial evidence he has. As I said, he was correct, men’s workplace death rate in the U.S. in 2012 was 92% (according to preliminary numbers, because why read the small print or go with finalized statistics?), and have been around 91-93% for a number of years.
What does not excuse his smugness, however, and this is an issue that calls Owen’s article entirely into question, is he is using U.S. stats to debunk stats from other countries. I do not believe you can get any more disingenuous, dishonest, deceitful, or duplicitous than this. This is the kind of “well researched” document that Queen’s University students are using to try and diminish and quash a talk focused on men’s issues and double standards of feminism? Shame on them!
In trying to figure out where the original article got its stats from to arrive at its claim that men are 95% of workplace deaths, I backtracked through the U.S. stats, but they are consistently around 91-93%. I checked some of the few sources that the original article cited, and saw a lot of them are for Australia. I checked on Australia’s stats and found that “Of the 111 people who died in workplace incidents in 2009-10, the vast majority (95%) were men.”
I decided I’d email the person behind that original article, to see if he had any of his original sources, and saw that his email address is in the U.K. (the U.K., not the U.S., there are other countries out there Owen!). I have not heard back from him but instead dug up stats on gendered workplace deaths for Europe. “Almost four out of every five (79.5 %) serious accidents at work and nineteen out of every twenty (94.9 %) fatal accidents at work in the EU-27 in 2009 involved men”:
Beligum – 100%
Bulgaria – 95%
Czech Republic – 92%
Denmark – 100%
Germany – 96%
Estonia – 100%
Ireland – 100%
Spain – 96%
France – 92%
Italy – 98%
Cyprus – 100%
Latvia – 86%
Lithuania – 89%
Luxembourg – 100%
Hungary – 93%
Malta – 100%
*Netherlands – 90%
Austria – 94%
Poland – 96%
Portugal – 97%
Romania – 92%
Slovenia – 100%
Slovakia – 91%
Finland – 100%
Sweden – 100%
United Kingdom – 95%
Norway – 100%
Switzerland – 100%
*Corrected total to 59, if the 53 men and 6 women is accurate.
**Some countries showed a higher total than male deaths, but no female deaths. I assume this is due to deaths where the individual’s gender was not reported.
Here in Canada:
“In 2005, 97 per cent of Canada’s workplace fatalities were men. Fatalities among men have increased by 47 per cent between 1993 and 2005 from 727 deaths in 1993 to 1069 deaths in 2005 … In fact, all female workplace fatalities between 1993 and 2005 account for less than half of the male workplace fatalities in 2005 alone.”
–Centre for Study of Living Standards
Given that Mr. Lloyds “well researched paper” shows this degree of intellectual dishonesty due to his lack of compassion and inability to realize that there is a bigger world out there, and that men’s issues are global issues, as are women’s issues, I’m sure my look at his next four points will also illustrate just how pathetic a failure is his attempt to “debunk” men’s issues.