“Debunking MRAs” Debunked – Part One

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de·bunk
verb
Expose the falseness or hollowness of (a myth, idea, or belief).

“Debunking MRAs” Debunked
Part One

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.

sadddd

1) SuicideMen 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:

Mental health and justice experts say murder-suicides are the exception and that suicidal people are rarely a risk to others.”

“ 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.

Next!

death-and-taxes2) Life ExpectancyMen live an average of 7 years less than women

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:

Forbe’s Magazine:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/04/16/its-time-that-we-end-the-equal-pay-myth/

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

Next!

fortscott02

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.”

0

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”.

Next!

NA-BH580_FATALI_G_201008191624464)  WORKPLACE FATALITIES: Men account for more than 95% of all workplace fatalities

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%.

Death by

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.

Homicides by

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”:

Europe Gendered WPD

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.

NEXT!

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19 Responses to “Debunking MRAs” Debunked – Part One

  1. eyeofwoden says:

    Not sure if I’m just talking to myself here, but part 2 is done and just need to edit it.

  2. You did a good job debunking a terrible rebuttal of an imbecilic litany of lies. What do you want, a cardboard trophy?

  3. Alex Reynard says:

    Absolutely magnificent. I learned some stuff about workplace deaths that floored me. Keep up the good work!

  4. Eye, I read part one with interest and would welcome seeing part two. I do love how you can write in a light hearted, fun way….these are important issues and can be too earnest and worthy. Where you slip into mocking ridicule you start to loose me, but a small wrinkle on an interesting landscape.

  5. Pingback: “Debunking MRAs” Debunked – Part Two | Eye of Woden

  6. Pingback: Canadian Association for Equality | “Debunking MRAs” Debunked – Part Two

  7. Pingback: “Debunking MRAs” Debunked – An Addendum on Suicide | Eye of Woden

  8. Pingback: Canadian Association for Equality | “Debunking MRAs” Debunked – An Addendum on Suicide

  9. Cody Hutton says:

    Oh wow. I think I was arguing with Owen Lloyd himself on Huffington Post when it came to workplace deaths. It happened about a week or two ago and “she” argued that women have it worse in the workplace for the exact same reason you mentioned: percentage wise women die more to murder than men.

    She never quite understood that just because one is a higher percentage does not mean it is a higher number. I outlined the stats and numbers in that argument just as you did and she continued to tell me women have it worse when it comes to workplace deaths. It boggled my mind.

    • eyeofwoden says:

      Now you can just link someone to this and tell them to dedicate some time to reading.

      • Cody Hutton says:

        I have to admit it will be a huge time saver. The issue is, however, we are fighting an uphill battle really. There are thousands of studies going into how mistreated women are, but only a handful of abuse against men. It can make trying to find evidence difficult.

      • eyeofwoden says:

        Just keep speaking up or passing on articles like mine that, I hope, provide a strong enough critical lens to their perspectives and results. Even if all it does at first is make them pause and go hmmm…

  10. sam says:

    I haven’t looked at all the sources you’ve linked because I am phenomenally lazy, but I’ll assume they’re right. There are some other issues I’d like to address though.

    1. What I think Owen was trying to point out with the “women attempt it more often” is that the only reason that women commit suicide more than men is because they do not succeed as often. Wikipedia states that “although females attempt suicide at a higher rate, they are more likely to use methods that are less immediately lethal. Males frequently complete suicide via high mortality actions such as hanging, carbon-monoxide poisoning, and firearms. This is in contrast to females, who tend to rely on drug overdosing”. His point isn’t that failed suicides are just as unfortunate as successful suicides, although I personally think they are. His point is that the only reason men die more often is because women are more likely to fail. Personally, while men are more likely to die from suicide, I think prevention of suicide should also recognise suicide attempts and suicidal behaviour rather than just the successful attempts.

    Again, from Wikipedia, suicide methods often correlate with gender roles, as well as availability. Men are both more likely to own firearms than women, and more likely to use them. That to some extent accounts for the discrepancy.

    Personally, anything to do with abuse and death should not really be a gender-exclusive debate. Rape, for example, is perpetuated onto and by both genders, though most are perpetuated by men toward women. Why it falls into feminist discourse is because sexual abuse often ties into patriarchal culture and gender roles.

    2. When he says it’s a curious statement, it means he thinks it’s strange due to a context that he feels wasn’t represented in the original list, not that he is still contemplative (obviously not, he has a clear agenda). Males often die earlier than females in both our species and animal species (for reasons explained here http://www.livescience.com/1966-males-die-females.html) but obviously that’s not a justification for one gender dying earlier than the other.

    Again, though, I don’t think death is an appropriate area of feminist or MRA discussion. Everyone dies. We should be preventing the deaths of members of both genders as individual human beings, not as a gendered statistic.

    3. See, why this statistic was in the original list confuses me slightly. Is it suggesting there is somehow a bias in enemy forces towards killing men rather than women? Is being killed less or more than the other gender in a combat situation really a right? How would something like that even be enforced? Is it trying to say that women and men should be killed in equal numbers?

    Cited in the original list was one statistic of one war, the Vietnam War. It stated 47,369 men vs 74 women were casualties, as if this was a great shock. According to this website (http://www.veteranshour.com/vietnam_war_statistics.htm), 7,484 women served in Vietnam, 6,250 or 83.5% of which were nurses, out of the 536,100 soldiers deployed there (http://www.statisticbrain.com/vietnam-war-statistics/). So that’s around 10% of women deployed killed, compared to 8.8% of men deployed, some of which whom also weren’t combatants, but I would argue the percentage of combatants killed in each gender was quite similar.

    4. Your obsession with his smugness bothers me a bit. He comes off more as matter of fact or sarcastic than anything, really, which makes sense given the original list consists of nothing other than statistics with the implication that they stand on their own. It’s a debunking. Things are going to be debunked.

    Aside from that, it looks correct (again, haven’t checked).

    What I think should also be taken into consideration is that most feminist issues have an obvious attacker that can be negotiated or dealt with; abusers, government attitudes, laws, misogynistic ideas and preconceptions forced onto both women and men. MRA issues, at least the ones purported here, have no such obvious target. Suicide, life expectancy, war, workplace fatalities- these are issues that do not have a cause other than, perhaps, the patriarchal mindset that society still is steeped in. That, and the fact that MRAs are often visible in the context of a departure from or response toward feminist discourse, is the reason why MRA issues seem less serious and more infantile than feminist rights: they do not have any obvious solution, and they often sound more like “men have problems too!” than anything, accompanied with cries of “feminist agenda” and “feminazi”, which I still have no idea what the fuck it is even about.

    Which doesn’t mean your issues aren’t as valid, or that they don’t have solutions to strive towards. It just means they are often brought up in the wrong context, as a criticism of feminism.

    Feminism is one of the only causes of the disadvantaged that is criticised on the notion that it doesn’t support other parties aside from the parties that they cater toward, especially since they really do. It would be weird to hear that African American activists aren’t advocating for the rights of the Asian community. And the fact is that feminism, as a purporter of equal rights, is a platform for issues that concern both genders, in its attempts to dismantle a poisonous culture. Men are often ignored victims, because the patriarchy hides them from being victims. Why either side insist on disengaging from each other (and to be honest I see it more exclusively from the MRA side than the feminist side, at least the community I exist in) so aggressively still bemuses me.

    So, I believe his intentions were correct. He may have slipped up a lot on the research, though.

    • eyeofwoden says:

      1. In the addendum I added to the suicide section, I pointed out that there is no accurate data on “attempted suicides”, and that it is all actually based on “non-suicidal self-injury” reports. If you missed it, it can be found here: https://eyeofwoden.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/debunking-suicides-an-addendum/

      His point was to debunk that men commit suicide at 4 times the rate women do. It was not debunked, he confirmed it and then argued attempts. I also recommend expanding your own research beyond wikipedia (which can be as simple as following the sources cited on a wiki page).

      2. You might question your citation when it says something like “new research suggests this might happen…” It is new research, it suggests, and might happen. Far from definitive. The better argument (and one MRAs don’t bring up that I’ve seen), is all these other forms of early death in men. They speak about them, but they don’t connect them to the earlier death rates. Obviously suicide, workplace deaths, homicide, etc., are all going to bring the average lifespan of all men down when they are all lumped together.

      Citing a source that attributes this to the sole source of “intense competition over sex” is pretty weak.

      3. So you’re going to base “primary casualties of war” on percentages? So you think 74 women dying makes them just as primary a victim as 58 200 men being killed?

      You mix up your stats a lot. None of your links (nor Owen’s, he just copies and pastes claims from somewhere without checking them) actually mentions 74 women casualties. One of your sources (http://www.statisticbrain.com/vietnam-war-statistics/) lists 536,100 soldiers deployed and that casualties were 58,220, which is 11%, not the 9% you state. You got that by taking one source’s numbers and then the casualties from Owen’s article, even though your source listed them for you. Using its numbers would be the more accurate method. It does not mention women deployed or women killed.

      Your other cited source (http://www.veteranshour.com/vietnam_war_statistics.htm) says 83.5%, or 6,250, of women who served in Vietnam. It says 8 nurses died in Vietnam. Assuming that they were all women, that is 0.1% of all female nurses serving in Vietnam. If you take the total number of women who served, 7,484, and accepted that 74 women were killed in Vietnam, that is still only 1% (0.98% to be exact). I don’t know how you got 10%, but you clearly need to double check your math.

      Final casualty tally from your sources:

      11% of men deployed. Less than 1% of women who served.
      58,220 men killed. 74 women killed (though I have seen no actual reporting of it being 74).

      Your logic confuses me, as does your math, wherein you think that not only are the percentages similar, but that this somehow places women equally on par with men as primary casualties of war.

      4. Glad you let my observation of his smugness bother you. His smug article titled “debunking MRA’s”, when he does anything but, bothered me. Perhaps you should try getting bothered by inaccurate claims and articles than by my observations of the people who write them.

      Feminist issues do not have an obvious attacker. The modern feminist attributes all problems to things that can’t be clearly shown or defined. The patriarchy; rape culture; masculinity; etc.

      I have read that in Japanese culture, when faced with a problem, people focus on how to solve the problem, not where to place the blame. As you’ve said, feminism does a great job of pointing the finger at other things and accusing them of being the cause of the problem. MRAs point out problems men face, but they don’t point out a cause of the problem. They want to see the problem fixed, they want to discuss the issues and try to see them addressed and minimized.

      The reason I see MRAs getting into it with feminists, is because feminists see the very idea of discussing ideas that men face as in opposition to their cause. This is strikingly similar to me as Christian Americans who get up in arms when Muslim Americans try to build a mosque. It goes against their religion, and so they complain and try to get it shut down; “not in my backyard!” This is precisely what feminists are trying to do in regards to the discussion of men’s issues. Examples of this have been abundant over the past couple of years, here in Toronto (even though CAFE is not an MRA group, just a group that wants to examine and address men’s issues), and recently down in Detroit.

      His intentions were to debunk MRAs. He failed. His intentions were not correct, he’s just screaming “not in my backyard!”

      —-

      Also, you are incorrect on the feminism is the only cause that doesn’t get challenged for not addressing other groups. The civil rights movement got criticized for not being inclusive of women, i.e. the million man march (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Woman_March), just as feminism has been criticized for not being inclusive of all women (not just us non-women), such as trans and women of colour (#solidarityisforwhitewomen). As Bell Hooks wrote:

      “It is obvious that many women have appropriated feminism to serve their own ends, especially those white women who have been at the forefront of the movement”
      ― Bell Hooks, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

  11. Poe says:

    Interesting rebuttal. Thank you for your work.

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