GENDER ISSUES PART THREE:
This started when an email flame war on the ISSHO Mailing List, directed at the subject I raised but not necessarily at points I had personally raised, turned towards me--despite my recanting.in the previous URL. (I can't find the original emails sent to me by the antagonists, but I will put them up if I can. Meanwhile, this URL records my response to two critics, followed by an email which blew a hole wide open in my very methodology of analysis.) I include this debate on my web page because it is very instructive on how not to look at an issue as wormy as Gender Issues.
From: Dave Aldwinckle
Subject: Distortion of facts? Disagree
Date: 8 Nov 1998
Hello all. A quick note on two posts which appeared recently on ISSHO:
Diane wrote in ISSHO 6 Nov 1998, in part:
> Dave's statistics can only possibly represent that small subset who think like him in the first place. In additions, Dave's statistics are questionable, as he claimed that only 1 male agreed with his basic beliefs, but I personally had 2 men send me email thanking me for my sarcastic rebuttle to Dave's ideas. I don't know which 1 of those Dave included in his statistics, if either.
Comment interjected from Dave: (I assume you mean one male DISagreed.)
Then Jennii concurred in ISSHO 7 Nov 1998, in part:
> I have to agree with this statement. I also believe that the reason American women react so violently to reports like Dave's is just because of the distortion of facts.
I have since reread Diane's original post on my first Gender Issues essay, which appeared in ISSHO 15 Oct 1998. I also reread a private email Diane sent me, on 4 Oct 1998, that said my stats were suspect and I did not seem to have read her post, or other posts, for that matter. Moreover, although I said that Connie was the one who held the aces when it came to points, she said I seemed to have been looking for style and not content. (I'll forward the post to ISSHO if people want and Diane permits.)
Hmmm. There's something wrong here. Here's what happened:
I did not include any part of Diane's post in either my stats or my second Gender Issues essay for two reasons.
1) It was not all that quotable. Sorry.
2) It dealt only a smidgen with issues I had specifically raised (and dealt more with points that had been raised on ISSHO by Jonathan, Bern, and Connie).
The first reason above is maintainable not because of style but because of content. There were a few lines on my points and the rest on ISSHO points. As I like my essays self-contained and cross-postable, very little of Diane's post could have been quoted without giving the background of other ISSHO posts, which would have made a long post already much longer.
The second reason above is reason enough for not quoting, but upon rereading I should have at least included it in my statistics. Sorry. Things get overlooked sometimes when you're dealing with a pile of email. Here you are:
GENERALLY SUPPORTIVE of my points:
Male: 12, Female: One
GENERALLY OPPOSED to my points:
Male: One, Female: 8 (was seven)
As for the fact that two other males replied to Diane (excerpted from above):
I personally had 2 men send me email thanking me for my sarcastic rebuttle [sic] to Dave's ideas. I don't know which 1 of those Dave included in his statistics, if either.
Well, sorry, but those people didn't email me. So what would you have had me do? Fudge the statistics in anticipation of other people's pro or con ideas? That would in fact be deceiving. I can only report statistics on posts I receive, and given the paradigms I set out in my original post (those dealing with points I raised), those were all I saw. I never said that my stats were conclusive or representative of anything. I just said in the sampling I had there were splits down gender lines. Still are. If people had comments, they should have voiced them, but the fact that they did not is not my fault.
The reason I am replying at all is that I am essentially being accused of, quote, "distortion of facts". I resent that. I have no hidden agenda. I was just trying to get some issues out in the open for discussion, nothing more, as I stated in my posts. Passion about a can-wormy subject is one thing. To infer me as some agent of subterfuge is, hypocritically, a distortion in itself.
Date: Nov 12, 1998
Subject: STOP USING STATISTICS!
Like many men (I would hope), I have refrained from writing to ISSHO--not because I agreed with you--but because I don't think everything you write has to be commented on. I did not agree at all with your initial posting (and in fact found much of it offensive), and I very much agreed with what my wife, Connie... wrote in response.
I was especially bothered, however, by your use of statistics. I do not at all think you were INTENDING to be deceptive, but by suggesting that the very small group of people that RESPONDED to your post can represent a general trend, you are in fact being deceptive. As Connie pointed out (and I especially agree with her on this point), you seem to be pushing for a greater polarization of the sexes, and your use of such a very small sampling to suggest that "in the sampling I had there were splits down gender lines" only makes matters worse.
This wasn't my sense of the argument at all: to begin with, the argument involves a variety of issues and is too complex to so naively lump everyone into "pro" and "con" camps. You yourself said that some of what you wrote was meant in jest, and that you have reconsidered some of your opinions, so I think YOU should be in the GENERALLY OPPOSED camp. I suppose I would be in the GENERALLY OPPOSED camp, too, but I am not quite sure what points I would be opposed to. That American woman aren't feminine? Or don't try to be? That Japanese women are more feminine? Yes, I would be opposed to such blanket generalizations.
I was shocked by your initial post because I have always seen you as someone who fights for something I feel strongly about: openness and inclusiveness. Your phrases "generally supportive" and "generally opposed," then, are clearly problematic. I followed the "debate" closely, and I thought the issue was a complex one that brought out a wide range of views and values: I was not lumping everyone into "supportive" and "opposed" camps, and I am shocked that you would feel compelled to do this. I don't remember anyone saying they agreed with everything you said--including you yourself--and your tacking on the "generally" makes clear you realize this. I never saw this as a male vs. female issue, and as a man, I am offended by this characterization of the complex debate.
"Well, sorry, but those people didn't email me."
Come now, do you seriously think that all of us on ISSHO are expected to voice our opinions on everything you write, just so that your statistics will be accurate? No one else (that I can recall) does this for their posts. I wish you would just write your own opinion, and keep it at that. Don't try to suggest that you are representative of a larger group. I have talked with several people and the break down is this:
GENERALLY SUPPORTIVE of the posting of statistics listing those supportive and opposed to other list member's posts:
Male: 0, Female: 0
GENERALLY OPPOSED to the posting of statistics listing those supportive of and opposed to other list member's posts:
Male: 4, Female: 4
Both genders obviously agree on this point, and I seriously hope you take these statistics to heart.
You also write:
"So what would you have had me do? Fudge the statistics in anticipation of other people's pro or con ideas? That would in fact be deceiving."
Isn't the answer to this obvious? DON'T LIST ANY STATISTICS AT ALL--espcially when the only statistics you have are meaningless at best, and misleading at worst.
You also wrote:
"I never said that my stats were conclusive or representative of anything. I just said in the sampling I had there were splits down gender lines. Still are. If people had comments, they should have voiced them, but the fact that they did not is not my fault."
Why list statistics that are not representative of anything? And why do you assume that everyone on ISSHO must reply to your posts? And again, who decided which group to place everyone into in the first place? I don't remember any survey being sent out. I don't know much about surveys and statistics, but I doubt that "Read this complicated five-page post and then state whether you generally agree or disagree" would be a very good question. A more carefully put together survey (such as the one ISSHO did on the "gaijin" issue) might be interesting, however.
P.S. Although I am generally opposed to what you wrote on gender issues, and strongly opposed to your listing of statistics in the way you did this time, I am generally supportive of most of what you have written on ISSHO. I am very encouraged by the knowledge that there are people like you who push for Japan to be more open and inclusive. Keep up the generally good work. I very much feel like we are on the same team.
P.P.S. I have chosen to send this just to you, but if you want to cross-post it to ISSHO, feel free. I only ask that you post all of it or none of it.
Paul (and Connie I assume in absentia. I assume.) :-)
Thanks for taking the time to write an excellent rebuttal. Really. I feel it is worth reposting to ISSHO--all of it, as you wish--so here it is. I have no qualm with any of it. It's made me learn a lot about the ways to do things properly and improperly. I especially appreciate the fact that you do not construe my poor methodology as deliberate propagandizing, and instead point out the flaws in a highly-constructive manner. I think this is the way it oughta be done. Thanks again to you and to Connie for all the time and engagement.
Dave Aldwinckle in Sapporo
GENDER ISSUES DEBATE ENDS
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