Bryan Caplan  

The Social Psychology of Gender Bias

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Over at Overcoming Bias, the smartest man I know argues that we underestimate the quality of women's lives - and overestimate the quality of men's lives - because the genders have different propensities to complain. Women who complain get a sympathetic ear; men who complain get laughed at. The result: People with equal amounts to complain about complain at different rates depending on gender, leading to biased estimates of the genders' relative quality of life.

This sounds dead right to me. Thought experiment: A person tells his/her friends over lunch that "My spouse is cheating on me." If the speaker is a woman, she's got the crowd's sincere support. If the speaker is a man, he's lucky if someone doesn't make a joke at his expense during his next trip to the bathroom.

It's easy, of course, to call to mind women who have gotten a bad deal. We know how hard it is to be a single mom because they tell us all about it. At the same time, however, we forget how hard it is to be a cuckold, a "dateless wonder," or denied access to your kids because the men in these positions know that complaining will just make a bad situation worse.

Of course, this post could be viewed as thinly veiled male complaining. So I'd better shut up before you start to snicker at me!


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COMMENTS (6 to date)
another bob writes:

two women are having a chat over lunch. one woman sobs that she thinks her husband is cheating on her. the other consoles her and knowing that misery loves company confides that she too is terribly distraught as her boyfriend won't leave his wife as he has promised.

oh those two poor dears.

Omer K writes:

Only too true. You cannot be a "man" and complain about anything. Women have it much easier.

As a recent example on a large and very transparent sclae, take that recent outburst at Columbia with the Minutemen speaker... most of the liberals who invaded the stage were screaming puerile women. The reason? They knew they could get away with it. A man doing that would risk being punched out and ostracized.

Of course that is an eg of a large scale..its the little things which kill...

Randy writes:

I have often wondered what would be the state of civilization if women were as easily satisfied as men. I'm thinking something along the lines of a never ending camping trip with barbecue.

Jo Esperanto writes:

Women love to play the role of damsel in distress as much as men enjoy playing the role of knight in shining armour. Victim feminism is here to stay.

Kent writes:

I have often wondered what would be the state of civilization if women were as easily satisfied as men. I'm thinking something along the lines of a never ending camping trip with barbecue.

It's a funny line, but I think you have it backwards. Men are the ones who like to play with fire and waste time on seemingly pointless gadgets.

If women were running the show, we'd all still be sitting around the cave working on getting in touch with our feelings.

[/sexist]

hanmeng writes:

But maybe men don't complain because they (well, we) are generally unfeeling hulks.

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