Whenever esteemed Globe and Mail columnist wades into the trenches of the gender wars, we can be assured of an interesting and infuriating read. Wente is the kind of person who, if she were a comedian, would claim that it’s okay that she uses horrific racial slurs for cheap laughs because she makes fun of everyone. Hey, she calls white guys “cracker” all the time, so what are you FOBs upset about? It’s called comedy, duh. Or in her case, it’s called insightful cultural commentary.
She’s a pioneer in the field of troll-columnisting but Wente has truly outdone herself with today’s analysis of a recent study on political awareness. The study looked at 10 countries and found a wide gap in political knowledge between men and women in each nation.* Some people might say, as the study’s researchers did, that cultural attitudes encouraging women to stay out of the political spotlight play a part in this gap. After all, the vast majority of politicians are still men. Or you could think the media plays a part by “marginalizing” women’s voices and issues. Others still might argue that the nauseating wasteland that is cable news is probably pushing everyone away, regardless of gender.
But if your mind is clear and sharp, if you refuse to be muzzled by deference to the false gods of logic and social awareness, you have likely come to the same conclusions as Wente. To wit:
Women tend to filter what they need to know. Their eyes glaze over at the media’s daily offerings of “gotcha” politics.
There is a large overlap between men’s and women’s interests. But many of these interests are fundamentally different.
Men have opinions on almost everything, even if they’re ill-informed. Women tend to underrate their knowledge, and are far more likely to say, “I don’t know.”
What’s truly fascinating is that Wente manages to sneak pieces of legitimate criticism into otherwise ridiculous arguments. For instance, she decries the uselessness of mainstream news, which “consists primarily of incremental political developments that are pre-hashed and rehashed ad nauseam.” Immediately after, though, she claims that international conflicts and issues are “largely incomprehensible.” It certainly must be hard to keep up on developments half a world away when you’re so busy making jokes about how men like sports and women like weddings.
Now that Wente has gotten to the truth of why women don’t care about politics or news, what about the researchers’ claim about the media? Surely if Western culture can be counted on for one thing, it’s having a shitty media!
As for “marginalizing” women, I can tell you that the media are desperate to play up every woman and women-related story they can find. The TV news is inundated with female anchors and reporters, and saturated with health and diet pseudo-news and emotional human-interest stories that are designed to tug at female heartstrings. But no matter what they do, a lot of women still prefer to watch Wedding Reality TV.
Oh, women. Always dieting and watching wedding shows! Can’t live with them, can’t count on them to know anything about politics.
Men have their faults too, though. And fearless, brave, genius cultural critic Margaret Wente isn’t afraid to call them out.
Ask a different set of questions, and you’ll get a different gender gap. When is Grandma’s birthday? Who heads the school parents’ group? What are the new hours at the library? Which has more calories, a grilled chicken sandwich or a hamburger? What are the pros and cons of co-sleeping? How long have we been married?
Er, he’ll have to get back to you on that.
And there you have it. Equality!
*I’m no statistician — I am a woman, after all! — but 10,000 people over 10 countries and two genders means they spoke to 500 men and 500 women in each country. And with countries being at least several million people, that doesn’t seem like a reasonable representative sample to me. I better go ask a man about this.
[Globe and Mail]