A recent post by someone on social media has my blood absolutely boiling.
This person, who I had previously considered a well read, intelligent man, posted an image which was titled “Male Privilege”. The image reported statistics comparing men and women in certain situations; for example, the percentage of men killed in combat compared to women, or the percentage of men killed in industrial accidents, or rates of suicides across the genders.
It was a simple share of a slide which used statistics to counteract the view that men are somehow privileged; presumably a stance that all women take. I say presume as there was no commentary accompanying the post; no thoughts or disclaimers. There were no declarations or opinions. Just an inflammatory post with some skewed statistics which were heavily drawn from sectors and scenarios that are specifically male oriented.
Let’s look at some of the background for the example of combat deaths. In April 2015, according to ADF figures, there were 13,707 men and 936 women in various combat and / or security roles such as military police, firefighters, pilots and ground crew. That’s 14:1 folks. I’m no mathematician but I’d say the odds of a male being killed in combat are unfortunately much higher than a woman given those numbers.
Or what about one of the other statistics – rates of suicide in men and women. Sadly much research has gone into these numbers as they are replicated throughout the western world. One key reason the completion rates are skewed is that despite expressing more suicidal ideation (overall rates of mental health disorders tend to be around 20-40% higher for women than for men), the method of completion is significantly different. Women who attempt suicide tend to use nonviolent means, such as overdosing. Men often use firearms or hanging, which are more likely to result in death. Women also tend to demonstrate more help seeking and less risk taking behaviours.
You want statistics? I’ll give you statistics…..
Here’s one for you: in 2012, ABS data revealed that of the total victims of partner violence since age 15, 23% were men and 77% were women.
Or another: in 2016, the full time gender pay gap in Australia was 17.3% in favour of men.
Or another: despite improving education enrolments for women, in 2015 the United Nations estimated that 781 million people aged 15 and over are illiterate, with nearly 67% of them women. This proportion has remained static for over two decades.
My point here is that quoting random statistics without context, particularly when used to support a contentious viewpoint, is useless. Actually it’s more than useless, it’s inflammatory. It doesn’t help create a culture where the world’s most complex issues are shared problems. Random use of statistics to vilify or endorse a deliberately provocative platform sets up an “us versus them” mentality which over-simplifies and divides.
Gender issues are human issues. The sooner we recognise this, the sooner we can work together to reduce the disparity.
The sooner we create some informed, balanced debate that is not based on “poor me” attitudes from ALL sides, the sooner we will see a kinder, more just world.
If you must quote statistics, do so with some thought behind it. Use them to stimulate balanced debate and with a greater good intent. Find statistics that open the hearts and minds of all and enable us to develop and implement solutions not just incite bigotry, division and hatred.
At the very least, look at the statistics you’re quoting with some basic intelligence, a touch of analysis and a dollop of context before using them.
For fuckssakes’, for all our sakes, engage your bloody brain before posting!