politics

Some back of a napkin analysis re: male vs female sentencing.

This facebook post

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and this news article about a women who received 11 months home detention for pushing her husband down the stairs, killing him got me into a discussion about whether it is men or women are treated more leniently when it comes to domestic violence.

Using these tables from NZStats, here’s what I’ve got:

(The murder statistics aren’t that interesting, because for both men and women, almost all of them result in imprisonment, and the length of sentences isn’t available).

Men, Manslaughter
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 20 16 4 .. .. ..
2008/09 23 23 .. .. .. ..
2009/10 32 30 1 .. .. 1
2010/11 37 35 2 .. .. ..
2011/12 21 19 2 .. .. ..
2012/13 15 14 1 .. .. ..
2013/14 27 25 2 .. .. ..
2014/15 15 15 .. .. .. ..
2015/16 19 16 3 .. .. ..
2016/17 21 21 .. .. .. ..
Women, Manslaughter
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 4 2 2 .. .. ..
2008/09 6 5 1 .. .. ..
2009/10 17 9 8 .. .. ..
2010/11 5 3 2 .. .. ..
2011/12 6 4 1 .. .. 1
2012/13 4 3 1 .. .. ..
2013/14 4 4 .. .. .. ..
2014/15 3 2 1 .. .. ..
2015/16 7 4 2 1 .. ..
2016/17 5 2 .. .. .. 3

Some thoughts:

  • Men obviously commit more manslaughter than women
  • The sample size for women is a lot smaller, meaning that any noise is going to have a much bigger effect
  • But that said – eyeballing it, about 1/3 of women convicted of manslaughter get a non-custodial sentence, while almost all men get a custodial sentence
  • It’s possible that men commit more serious manslaughter offenses
  • It’s possible that women plead guilty earlier, or express more remorse

The data for assualts is more pronounced. There are a lot of of them, and so we can more safely extract trends:

Men, Assault
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 7980 1401 4063 1336 781 399
2008/09 8487 1408 4651 1233 880 315
2009/10 8436 1500 4715 1048 847 326
2010/11 8144 1394 4681 904 914 251
2011/12 7755 1406 4394 855 854 246
2012/13 7320 1452 4202 734 740 192
2013/14 6332 1239 3799 606 547 141
2014/15 6026 1318 3632 534 437 105
2015/16 6497 1497 3914 511 487 88
2016/17 6545 1498 4063 439 441 104
Women, Assault
Sentence Total sentences   Imprisonment sentences   Community sentences   Monetary   Other   No sentence recorded
2007/08 1349 72 697 245 246 89
2008/09 1588 82 833 269 305 99
2009/10 1675 96 937 225 312 105
2010/11 1704 110 996 192 319 87
2011/12 1605 104 948 191 277 85
2012/13 1374 90 860 148 207 69
2013/14 1226 87 799 105 196 39
2014/15 1224 95 803 103 186 37
2015/16 1263 100 845 85 194 39
2016/17 1182 84 801 90 172 35

Around 20% of men who are convicted of assault get a custodial sentence.

Around 7% of women who are convicted of assault get a custodial sentence.

    • It’s likely that the assaults men commit are more serious
    • Men are probably more likely to have commited prior offences

In any case – some pretty good refuting evidence would be required to suggest that women are treated more harshly when it relates to violence offenses.

 

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politics · social philosophy

Tinder’s #menprovement campaign is looking like some cheap misandric bullshit.

Tinder has launched a new advertising/social awareness campaign, they’re calling #menprovement.

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The premise is that there a lot of douchebags on Tinder, and so there’s a scientifically themed effort to improve the quality of men on Tinder.

It features videos of women scientists like these:

And charts like these:

Now obviously this is intended to be a fairly lighthearted kind of campaign – but humour like this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The reason that this campaign is considered a good idea, is because there is genuine sentiment that there are too many douchey men on Tinder.

A starting point – let’s acknowledge the existence of douchey men and abuse women face on the internet.

I want to be clear. I acknowledge that women on the internet, and on dating apps like Tinder, likely face a lot of verbal/written abuse in the face of rejection, sleazy messages, unsolicited dick pics etc.

I’m generally of the opinion that men and women have opposite problems on online dating – where women suffer through unwanted attention – men suffer from a vacuum of attention, and loneliness.

If we consider the wider issue of rape culture / consent culture – it’s very reasonable to consider conducting social campaigns aimed at changing the way people behave, and in this case, the way men behave in the context of a dating app.

So getting that out of the way – I acknowledge that there’s a problem of douchey behaviour from men on dating apps like Tinder, and it would be a good thing to improve on that.

Tinder’s campaign does not address actual douchey behaviour

This image is probably the egregious example:

Wanting a partner who has a job and is nice to your mother? Great – that’s just the kind of thing we want to encourage.

Being six feet tall? – Is that really the problem with Tinder? That there’s not enough tall men? Are short men guilty of being douchebags?

I’m not going to pretend that we shouldn’t have physical qualities that we find attractive, and I’m not offended by the proposition that many women prefer a man taller than them.

The issue I have with this image is the gross insensitivity it demonstrates.

For example, where I think the fat acceptance movement is dangerous; I think obesity should be treated as a health condition, not an acceptable lifestyle, I think all people should be treated with respect – and not be the subject of cruel jokes.

So while I think it’s ok for someone to have a preference for slim women for example – I don’t think it’s ok to make fat jokes. The same goes for short men – show some sensitivity.

Let’s examine some qualities of what Tinder considers douches

 

  • A self employed CEO
  • Has a bluetooth
  • Tips minimum
  • Late because charging vape
  • Is into fitness, and you should be too
  • Posts gym sessions on instagram
  • ‘This body wasn’t built for monogamy’
  • Eggplant emojis as opener
  • Come hungry as closer

Of this list, I’d say tipping minimum is perhaps the only actual douche behavior, and eggplant emoji, depending on whether you’re into that kind of thing.

Here’s where Tinder needs to get it straight:

There’s nothing wrong with being into the gym, being non-monogamous, or owning your own business. 

It’s straight up misandric bullshit to try shame men for possessing these qualities – things that they’re probably quite proud of.

If I’m to hazard a guess here – that these stereotypes are seen as acceptable targets – because they’re ‘successful men’ – and can therefore take take being taken down a notch.

However – what Tinder needs to realise – is that it’s not just men fitting the stereotype, or men who water rolls of the duck’s back of,  that sees these videos.

I think we need to consider men in the context of having higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of computer and video game addiction. Within that context – we shouldn’t be trying to tear men’s sense of self esteem and value away from them. If men get that from owning their own business, or working out – that that should be encouraged, not criticised for being douchey.

What it suggests to me – is that Tinder’s willingness to go along with this campaign – means that they don’t value men’s feelings nearly as highly as women’s. That again reinforces the social norm of male disposability.

Douchey behaviour that Tinder could have used.

The thing is – this could have been quite an interesting and positive campaign – if Tinder had seeked to address actual toxic or unappealing behaviour.

Here’s a quick list, if they need inspiration:

  • Boring first messages, ‘Sup’, ‘How are you’ guy.
  • Main hobbies are playing video games and trolling on the internet, and nothing outside of that guy.
  • Ten days unwashed dishes guy.
  • Responds with abuse at rejection guy.
  • Only wants to talk about you guy.
  • Only wants to talk about him guy.
  • Never suggests going on a date guy.
  • Insists on a first date at your place guy.
  • Is cheating on his girlfriend guy.
  • Selfish lover guy.

How women can foster non-douchey behaviour Tinder

Let’s get this ball rolling.

  • Send the first message. Set the frame for the conversation. Want flirty banter? Want a challenging argument? Want a standard get to know each other conversation? Your message determines that.
  • Unmatch severe douches. Train men with negative reinforcement.
  • Call out mild douchey behaviour. See if there’s a correction of behaviour.
  • Respond to desired behaviour with positive reinforcement. Personally, I like the 😍 emoji

God. This must be what being a Cosmopoliton writer must feel like.

‘But it’s just a joke David, stop taking it so seriously’.

Jokes are never just jokes. Jokes are generally funny because they have a kernel of truth (or what the joke teller purports to be the truth).

Just like how telling racist jokes creates a hostile environment for black people, or telling sexist jokes creates a hostile environment for women  – these guys of jokes create an hostile environment for men.

Now – I would suggest that there’s a brand of feminism that is ok with this – men need to be taken down a notch because either that’s justice, or because that makes it easier for women to achieve equality. I don’t want to get get into this line of argument here – but I would make two points – that this is likely to be not effective, it’s just likely to cause division between men and women, and that this philosophy directly contradicts the argument that ‘feminism is for the interests of both men and women’.

Reactions from the internet

The reactions on their Twitter and Facebook threads has been almost entirely negative – mostly pointing out that it’s sexist and douchey in itself. There’s also a lot of comments from men saying how they don’t get matches – would would seem to confirm comment I made in the first section.

This does take us to a point of personal conflict for me. While I clearly agree with the commenters in this instance – in other gendered hot topics on the internet – there is often a reaction of faux victimisation from what can be fairly considered alt-right types. (I’m struggling to think of examples here right now though – maybe revisit this later).

Bottom Line

A pretty gross campaign.

Not the right way to go about creating a society of confident, respectful men, at all.

I’m curious to hear from my feminist friends about this. While Tinder has faced a bit of criticism on social media about this – the feminist community as a whole are quite quiet about it. There’s definitely no social media storm about it – which does suggest that people simply don’t care about this kind of toxic gender dynamic.

There is though – the chance that this is a long running deeper social critique – that explores things like gender norms around height attraction, and all will be revealed in time. If I was taking a bet, I’d bet against that happening though.

politics

A quick thought about punching nazis.

On With the emboldening of the white supremacy and the alt-right, there is growing discourse about whether it’s ok to confront nazis with violence. For example, take a look at this segment on Bill Maher’s show.

The alt right use nazi punching episodes as evidence that liberals are the real fascists.

To weigh in with my own opinion:

What concerns me about pro-nazi punching sentiment – is the potential for it to turn into an uncontrollable mob frenzy. For example there’s the example of the wrongly targeted doxxing victim following Charlottesville, or the shooting of Republican senators at a baseball game.

On the other hand, I’m perplex and how Germany allowed the Nazis to rise to power, after the failed beer hall putsch that killed four police officers.

Here’s an example of a nazi punching episode:

Now being honest, I’m not particularly sympathetic to Richard Spencer, and I can’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction at witnessing this attack, regardless of whether it fits with my more rational thoughts about the matter.

But for those who suggest that this is completely unwarranted and unforgivable – here’s a counterpoint:

Here is a video of Buzz Aldrin punching a man who believes he didn’t walk on the moon:

 

There are of course some notable differences. Buzz Aldrin is an old man. Buzz wasn’t going out of his way to punch someone, he was punching someone who was already in his face.

It does pose an interesting moral conundrum though. Is there some point at which we’ll let a punch slide? Just where is it?

 

letters

I wrote a letter to a news media company about distasteful content. Here’s their response.

My email (sent September 4):

Hi, I’d like to formally complain about this article you published, regarding a serious assault that took place in South Korea.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2017/09/woman-cut-off-husband-s-penis-because-he-played-golf-too-much.html

 newshub.PNG

The article concerns a man whose wife cut his penis off.

The accompanying image you elected to use – a vegetable being cut up, essentially makes a joke of the assault, trivializing it, and doesn’t demonstrate the sensitivity that is appropriate.

Domestic violence is a serious issue, once that is exacerbated by cultural attitudes that prevent people from seeking help about it. As a media outlet, it is irresponsible to contribute to this attitude, by treating it like a joke.

It is also insensitive to any similar victims of domestic violence seeing their circumstances being treated this way.

Please treat this email as a formal complaint.

Can you please check your policy/guidelines for how you handle cases domestic violence, and tell me if your standards were adhered to in this case.

Yours sincerely,

David Johnston

Their response (Recieved September 29):

Dear David,

Thank you for you complaint about the Newshub article at the attached link. The MediaWorks Standards Committee agrees that the stock image used for the article was inappropriate and we apologise for the offense it caused you. Immediately after receiving your email we raised your concerns with the editor of Newshub online. The image was removed and the staff member responsible counseled.

We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and once again apologise for the offense the article caused you.

Kind regards,

Robert Dowd

For the MediaWorks Standards Committee

I’m pleased with this response. It’s unequivocal, and it mentions that the staff member who published the article faced some kind of feedback. I would suggest that the email I sent may very well have a tangible effect on how domestic violence is portrayed in the media.

 

politics

Progressives and SJW-critics alike should be aware of Russian efforts to amplify extreme voices on the left.

As a starting point – check out the Wikipedia page for Foundations of Geopolitics .

The book is used in many Russian institutions and proposes various Russian geopolitical strategies.

Relating to the United States, there is this paragraph:

Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke “Afro-American racists”. Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”[1]

It is generally accepted by the media and political establishments that Russia did indeed play a role in the 2016 US Election – with reports of paid trolls and bots.

For a progressive then – it is easy to dismiss or be wary online that some pro-Trump twitter person may infact be a bot or paid troll.

And pro-Trump talking points is part of the strategy – normalising an opinion by making it seem like many others hold it.

But the other side of the coin – that I think many progressives have a blindspot to – is the liberal agitation from Russia.

Reports are coming out that Russia paid for ads supporting Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump. There are reports that Russia paid for geographically targeted ads supporting Black Lives Matter. There’s also the now suspended @bostonantifa Twitter account that recently posted a tweet geotagged in Russia, whatever that means:

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This image shouldn’t be taken seriously. This Buzzfeed article has a pretty good summary. 

This highlights the need for two things:

  • Progressives need to apply critical reasoning to all political actions, and not blindly go along with, or tolerate any political activity just because it’s anti-Trump. For example, in the wake of Charlottesville there was a wave of doxxing coordinated by the Twitter account @YesYoureRacist,    that did end up doxxing someone innocent. 
  • There’s a brand of ideology I’ll call SJW-critical Trump apologism. While not explicitly #MAGA Trump supporters – these people tend to be critical of progressives (and often with well founded criticisms), but also turning a blind eye to Trumpism, or selectively applying different standards of proof or reasoning as needed.
    This ideology often points at anti-free speech or fascist tendencies among the left, with the unsaid

Now to be clear – this isn’t to say that every example of extreme behaviour on the left is the work of Russian agents. I don’t think that Zara Joshi of Hugh Mungus fame is a Russian agent, nor do I think the 2016 Dallas cop shooter  was. Similarly – I don’t think all the people who marched in Charlottesville were Russian agents.

But – we should all be aware that while some people genuinely do hold extreme views – often the prevalence of those views are being amplified by the internet, to make them seem like they are more prevalent than they really are. (I think too the media plays a role – as controversy sells while more moderate, and likely more common views do not).

In short:

  • Progressives shouldn’t be tempted to adopt anti-liberal tendencies, because the extreme political climate warrants it. They should be aware that a lot of the extremism is manufactured.
  • SJW-critical Trump apologists should be similarly aware that a lot of the liberal extremism is manufactured, and also that – just as Trump supporters can be duped – so can liberals.

 

 

 

 

politics

Cynicism in practise.

The show isn’t over yet, but assuming National does form a forth-term government:

Consolation prize – yay I get a $20/week tax cut in April 2018.

I’ve had a resolution to give money to charity since I started my career four years ago. Back then it was $250, and while my income has gone up >50%  since then, the amount I’m giving is still $250.

I could give the entirety of this tax cut to charity, making my donation $1000 or more.

This reddit thread entitled ‘Practical things you can do if you’re feeling discouraged with our political situation’ suggests doing something like that.

The problem I have – is this feels like a free rider effect or prisoners dilemma – where New Zealanders as a whole have voted against equality. Putting the onus on individuals to support charity essentially means that the more well off New Zealanders who aren’t supporting charity, are freeriding on the social benefits that the charity provides.

On the otherhand, I could be saving the money, and in attempt to scramble up the wealth gap and be on the privileged side of the wealth gap.

This is, in effect cynicism in practise. Like a prisoner’s dilemma example, if appears like the other person isn’t going to cooperate – then it clearly is the rational move to not cooperate myself.

Perhaps there’s a third option. Not giving the money to something alleviating poverty in New Zealand, but something supporting a political party I respect (Which one though? I don’t like Labour/Green’s head in the sand attitude towards welfare dependency, and I don’t like TOP’s controversy politics) – or perhaps – supporting research for male contraception.

 

politics

Post-truth politics, Trumpism, and cynicism.

The results of the 2017 New Zealand General Election are disappointing.

It’s a little disappointing that we have a national-populist in the position of kingmaker – but what the real issue is that National got 46% of the vote.

If I were to summarise what people were voting on this election, with the caveat that I’m possibly in my own ideological bubble, it was voting on ‘supporting welfare dependency’ vs ‘supporting liars’.

For me, it’s disappointing that in regards to the dishonest tactics National used in this election, that so many voters either believed the lies, or thought the lies were an acceptable technique in our political process.

From an outside perspective looking at Trump-era America, it’s mind-boggling to many that Donald Trump still commands a 40% approval rating.

I wouldn’t equate the National Party with Donald Trump – I don’t think they practise the overtly bigoted, uncivil or hateful rhetoric that Trump does – but they have been practising a similar lack of regard for the truth the Trump does.

Other than that people who voted were apparently ok with National untruths, it’s also disappointing how many people didn’t vote in their own interests. This election had a 78% turnout, up from 74% in 2011, and of those that don’t vote, they tend to be poor and/or young.

This is where it’s tempting to become a bit cynical. Parties like Labour and Green seek to represent the interests of people who aren’t bothered enough to vote.

As an educated person earning more than the median income, it’s tempting to consider that perhaps I shouldn’t be concerned to supporting policies for people who aren’t bothered enough to support themselves.

There are a few points in response to this though:

  • Issues like climate change do affect me.
  • Arguably, homelessness and poor mental health affects our society as whole, through crime, etc.
  • I don’t own a house, and Labour’s Kiwibuild plan would benefit me a lot more than the National’s $10k extra homestart grant.

But let’s continue with this line of thought. Perhaps I should narrow my scope of empathy, and to hell with those less well off.

I suspect, that this is the calculation that many people have made – acknowledging that it must suck to be earning only $25/hour and supporting a family on that, or that home ownership would be near impossible on that income, but ‘The important thing is to provide a good life for me and my family – so long as my kids are ok, then it’s ok’.

I think that the home ownership thing where National got a lot of support. I suspect that many of those who are already on the property ladder, don’t want to see more affordable housing – what they want to see is continuing increasing prices, so that they can make bank on the house they’ve purchased in the recent years.

There’s two main problems I have with this kind of thinking:

  • I think this self-centered (I don’t use that term as an ad hominem, but as a literal descriptor of the philosophy) thinking is counter-productive when it comes to tackling global issues like global warming. This kind of thinking would have one saying ‘Global warming won’t be a problem, so long as I can purchase a piece of land in an area that wrecked by global warming, and purchase the means to protect it’. Possibly a viable option if you’re super rich, but not if you’re just upper middle class – which chances are, you are.
  • The idea of supporting a system that advantages the more well off relies on you being one of those people. In that sense, it seems like this race to be one of the privileged is a bit a scam. Of course, it’s easier to say this, myself not being a homeowner .

So that’s where I’m at. Ultimately I think post-truth politics is a dangerous game. It might suit you today, if your party wins, but there’s nothing stopping a party that you don’t like winning tomorrow using the same techniques.

I do think that both Labour and Green could do more to reform. It makes sense that seperate their bleeding heart welfare platform, from their climate change and housing problem platforms. That way – they might attract the votes of people who want an alterative to National, but who really don’t want to support to welfare dependency. But all of this, is a post for another time.