Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Because Circumcision is cheaper....

Oh my. Found via reddit, here one of the proponents of circumcision as a means to fight HIV in Africa uses flawless logic in one of her arguments:

As Dr. Essex has indicated, male circumcision is much cheaper than condoms + education (one male circumcision in southern Africa is < U$100 and each condom costs almost U$1.00

So the argument for circumcision against condoms is that it is cheaper...keeping in mind that

-- although circumcised men should still use condoms consistently).

I rest my case...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gang members and fatherlessness

Via Glenn's blog:

The City of Fort Worth recently supplied the following data on “Whom gang members live with”:

40 percent mother only

19 percent grandparent

15 percent both parents

14 percent other

11 percent their own housing

1 percent father only

I have no clue what this study was all about and how relevant it is as I couldn't find anything about it online anywhere else.

About Stem-fields....

Didn't I blog about this before? Not too sure, anyhow collected from F&F/Glenn's old blog:

Women's Choices, Not Abilities, Keep Them out of Math-Intensive Fields, Experts Argue - ScienceDaily (Oct. 26, 2010) - Dr. Stephen Ceci and his colleague Wendy Williams:

Williams and Ceci also reviewed research on sex discrimination and decided that it is no longer a major factor. In fact, one large-scale national study found that women are actually slightly more likely than men to be invited to interview for and to be offered tenure-track jobs in math-intensive STEM fields.

Instead, Williams and Ceci think the problem is that women actually choose not to go into math-heavy fields, or drop out once they have started. “When you look at surveys of adolescent boys and girls and you say to them, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up,’ you never see girls saying, ‘I want to be a physicist or an engineer,’” Ceci says. That doesn’t mean they’re rejecting science, but they’re more likely to want to be physicians or veterinarians.

And those preferences persist. Studies of college students find that women are more interested in organic and social fields, while men are more interested in systematizing things. And indeed, more than half of new medical doctors and biologists are women today — and in veterinary medicine, women are more than 75% of new graduates.

I ran a piece recently on a study done by Cornell researchers led by Dr. Stephen Ceci comparing men and women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathmatics) area of academia. It found essentially the same things that two other recent studies into MBA graduates of the University of Chicago and University of Michigan law graduates. All three studies found that there’s no discernible discrimination against women in the fields studied and that the reason women fall behind men over time is that they tend to drop out or take significant time off to give birth to and care for children. Differences in pay and promotions are due to that salient fact.

Now there’s a new and even larger study done at the mandate of Congress into the STEM area of academia, and it unsurprisingly finds that there is really no discrimination against women among those disciplines. The authors summarize,

“Our survey findings do indicate that, at many critical transition points in their academic careers (e.g., hiring for tenure-track and tenure positions and promotions) women appear to have fared as well as or better than men…”

The study found that hiring was equal between men and women and that male and female assistant and associate professors were paid the same. Among full professors there was an 8% difference in pay, but the researchers attributed that to the men’s greater seniority.

Which links to

This past Tuesday the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a non-political, objective study of women in academic science entitled Gender Difference at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Faculty. The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and mandated by Congress. It contradicts key findings of Beyond Bias and Barriers. According to its executive summary:

Our survey findings do indicate that, at many critical transition points in their academic careers (e.g., hiring for tenure-track and tenure positions and promotions) women appear to have fared as well as or better than men... These findings are in contrast to the COSEPUP [Shalala] committee’s general conclusions, that “women who are interested in science and engineering careers are lost at every educational transition” and the “evaluation criterion contain arbitrary and subjective components that disadvantage women.”

To give one typical finding, in the years studied, 2004 and 2005, women accounted for approximately 20 percent of applicants for positions in mathematics, but were 28 percent of those interviewed and 32 percent of those who received job offers. Furthermore, once women attained jobs in math or science programs, their teaching loads and research resources were comparable to men’s. Female full professors were paid, on average, 8 percent less than males. But the committee attributed this to the fact that the senior male professors had more years of experience. There were no differences in salaries for male and female assistant and associate professors. “I don’t think we would have anticipated that in so many areas that there would have been such a balance in opportunities for men and women,” said Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Yale University research scientist and co-chair of the committee that wrote the report.

The new study does not claim that women have achieved parity with men. It found, for example, that women with Ph.D.s in math and science are far less likely than men to pursue a career at a research-intensive university. Why should that be? The report does not say, but suggests it would be an important question to pursue. In fact, there is now a lively and growing literature on gender and vocation. While some scholars contend that “unconscious bias” and persistent stereotypes are primary reasons for the paucity of women in the high echelons of math and science, others, perhaps a majority, suggest that men and women, on average, have different career interests and propensities. (AEI Press will soon be publishing The Science on Women and Science, a collection of articles by scholars who argue different sides of this issue.)

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior

Title says it all...

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

Paperless Child Support Payments May Cost Poor Fathers Only Source Of Income

Found via Reddit. Now that is fucked up. But first of all, keep that in mind:

This 2004 study by the Office of Child Support Enforcement shows that, according to their figures, 63% of all people who are behind on their child support report earning less than $10,000 per year. That accounts for 70% of all the child support owed in this country. The same figures show that 34% of child support obligors report earning no money at all during the year.
84% of non-custodial parents are fathers
Sanford Braver found that, when obligors who had lost their job were removed from the database, between 80% and 100% of child support was paid in full and on time. - Source

Now, when we talk about deadbeat dads, this mostly means deadbroke dads. To make matters worse, this is what could happen soon:

Old child support debts could cost thousands of poor men their only income next year because of a policy aimed at reducing the cost to the government of mailing paper checks to pay federal benefits.

The Treasury Department will start paying benefits electronically next March. It will stop issuing the paper checks that many people rely on to safeguard a portion of their benefits from states trying to collect back child support.

States can freeze the bank accounts of people who owe child support. A separate Treasury Department rule, in place since last May in a preliminary form, guarantees them the power to freeze Social Security, disability and veterans' benefits that have been deposited into those accounts.

Once paper checks are eliminated, about 275,000 people could lose access to all of their income, advocates say.


In many cases, the bills are decades old and the children long grown. Much of the money owed is interest and fees that add up when men are unable to pay because they are disabled, institutionalized or imprisoned.

Most of the money will go to governments, not to the children of the men with child support debts, independent analyses show. States are allowed to keep child support money as repayment for welfare previously provided for those children.

In some instances, the grown children are supporting their fathers.

The rule change illustrates how a politically desirable goal like cracking down on so-called deadbeat dads can have complicated, even counterproductive, effects in practice.

We see this happen again and again and again where they make it harder and harder on these deadbeat dads and make life worse for poor men. Be it imprisoning them, taking their driver's license, not allowing them to leave the country, not paying them a defense attorney on hearings, interest fees etc. It has long stopped to make sense as most measurements do not actually help the fathers to pay.

People who owe large amounts of child support are almost universally poor. Among those owing $30,000 or more, three-fourths had no reported income or income of less than $10,000, HHS says. Many had their earnings interrupted by disability or jail time and are unlikely to repay the child support debt, the government-sponsored research says.

The usual methods of collecting back child support often don't work with the poor. States typically start by garnishing wages. If that doesn't work, they can suspend driver's licenses, revoke passports and take away professional credentials.

Those measures have little effect on poor people without jobs who rely on federal benefits. They have no wages to garnish and no passports. Many can't afford a car and do not need a driver's license.

State child support agencies echo the HHS view that child support enforcement should not be so draconian that people end up with nothing.

Body Image - Google-fu edition...

So due to a recent post on NSWATM I tried searching for data on body image again and see what I came up with. Expect walls of text:

On body satisfaction, self esteem & co:

The relationships of body satisfaction, self-esteem, dieting, and exercise were studied in 92 men and women. Men and women did not differ in degree of body dissatisfaction as assessed by three different measures. However, on the direction of body dissatisfaction, men were as likely to want to be heavier as thinner, whereas virtually no women wished to be heavier. Although overall body esteem was correlated with self-esteem for both men and women, measures of weight dissatisfaction were not associated with self-esteem for women. The normative nature of weight dissatisfaction for women today may serve to buffer its effects on self-esteem. Women reported exercising for weight control more than men, and exercising for weight control was associated with disregulated eating. - Behavioral and psychological implications of body dissatisfaction: Do men and women differ? Lisa R. Silberstein, Ruth H. Striegel-Moore, Christine Timko and Judith Rodin

The present study examined body image and associated psychological traits in 154 college men. The comprehensive battery of measures included a novel computerized test of body image perception, the Somatomorphic Matrix, in which subjects could navigate through a range of body images, spanning a wide range of body fat and muscularity, to answer various questions posed by the computer. Subjects also completed paper-and-pencil instruments assessing depression, characteristics of eating disorders, self-esteem, and use of performance-enhancing substances. Findings suggest that contemporary American men display substantial body dissatisfaction and that this dissatisfaction is closely associated with depression, measures of eating pathology, use of performance-enhancing substances, and low self-esteem. Muscle belittlement, believing that one is less muscular than he is, presented as an important construct in the body dissatisfaction of men. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) - Biceps and Body Image: The Relationship Between Muscularity and Self-Esteem, Depression, and Eating Disorder Symptoms. - Olivardia, Roberto;Pope Jr., Harrison G.;Borowiecki III, John J.;Cohane, Geoffrey H. - Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol 5(2), Jul 2004, 112-120

Both scientific research and popular attention have begun to focus on the neglected issue of body image in boys. We reviewed the findings of this emerging literature. Using computer and manual search techniques, we located 17 studies that assessed body image attitudes in boys under age 18. We located 17 studies, most performed within the last 10 years. Eight studies used exclusively questionnaires or interviews; the rest also used figure drawings from which the subjects could choose specific images in answer to questions. Although boys generally displayed less overall body concern than girls, many boys of all ages reported dissatisfaction with their bodies, often associated with reduced self-esteem. Whereas girls typically wanted to be thinner, boys frequently wanted to be bigger. However, most studies failed to distinguish between “bigness” due to increased muscle and that due to fat. Body image dissatisfaction in boys is common and often associated with distress. To better assess this phenomenon, future studies should take care to separate the indices of muscle and fat. - Body image in boys: A review of the literature - Geoffrey H. Cohane, Harrison G. Pope Jr

Dissatisfaction with body image is thought to be a key factor in the etiology of eating disorders among women. In contrast, men are reported to be generally satisfied with their body weight and body shape. The present survey study examined the relative desire for thinness or weight gain among 226 male and female freshman students. Most 18-year-old women (85%) wished to lose weight. Men expressed conflicting views regarding desire for thinness and were almost evenly split between those who wanted to lose weight (40%) and those who wished to gain weight (45%). The proportion of men and women who expressed no desire for weight change was comparable. Men and women who wished to lose weight shared negative body perceptions: both groups viewed themselves as overweight, and both expressed dissatisfaction with body shape. However, men used exercise for weight control while women resorted to restricted calorie diets. A key risk factor for eating disorders may be dieting itself. - Men and body image: are males satisfied with their body weight? - A Drewnowski and DK Yee

OBJECTIVE: The authors tested the hypothesis that men in modern Western societies would desire to have a much leaner and more muscular body than the body they actually had or perceived themselves to have. METHOD: The height, weight, and body fat of college-aged men in Austria (N=54), France (N=65), and the United States (N=81) were measured. Using the somatomorphic matrix, a computerized test devised by the authors, the men chose the body image that they felt represented 1) their own body, 2) the body they ideally would like to have, 3) the body of an average man of their age, and 4) the male body they believed was preferred by women. The men’s actual fat and muscularity was compared with that of the four images chosen. RESULTS: Only slight demographic and physical differences were found among the three groups of men. Modest differences were found between the men’s measured fat and the fat of the images chosen. However, measures of muscularity produced large and highly significant differences. In all three countries, men chose a ideal body that was a mean of about 28 lb (13 kg) more muscular than themselves and estimated that women preferred a male body about 30 lb (14 kg) more muscular than themselves. In a pilot study, however, the authors found that actual women preferred an ordinary male body without added muscle. CONCLUSIONS: The wide discrepancy between men’s actual muscularity and their body ideals may help explain the apparent rise in disorders such as muscle dysmorphia and anabolic steroid abuse.


the literature on body image perception in men is far more limited, and the available scales are less well developed (3–6). However, accumulating evidence suggests that many men also suffer from disorders characterized by altered perceptions of their bodies. For example, in two studies, both American men (7) and European men (8) with eating disorders rated themselves as feeling significantly fatter than subjects without eating disorders. Also, recent studies of athletes have described a converse syndrome: men who perceive themselves as small and frail when in fact they are large and muscular. We have previously called this syndrome "reverse anorexia nervosa" (9) and have subsequently renamed it "muscle dysmorphia" (10). Individuals with muscle dysmorphia may exhibit striking psychiatric morbidity. For example, they may refuse to allow their bodies to be seen in public settings; they may relinquish important social, recreational, or occupational activities to work out compulsively at the gym; and they may abuse anabolic steroids in an attempt to overcome their chronic preoccupation that they look too small.
Given these observations of men with various forms of body image pathology, it is of interest to assess body image perception in unselected groups of men. In recent decades, men in Western societies have been exposed through the media to an increasingly lean and muscular male body ideal (11, 12). Therefore, we hypothesized that in both the United States and Europe, men would desire to have a body much leaner and more muscular than the body that they actually had or the body that they perceived themselves to have. We also hypothesized that men would think that women in their societies preferred a very lean and muscular male body. We believed, however, that men’s estimates of women’s preferences might differ from women’s actual preferences. - Body Image Perception Among Men in Three Countries - 2000

Research shows that today’s college men are reporting greater levels of body dissatisfaction, and this is true for both gay and heterosexual men

Males associate their attractiveness with increased muscle definition, and are concerned about body shape (as opposed to weight) and increasing their muscle mass (Knowlton, 1995; University of Iowa Health Care, 2002)
Eating disorders in males typically involve a constant competition to stay more defined than other men (University of Iowa Health Care, 2002)

Gay and heterosexual men have equivalent levels of body esteem, satisfaction with body shape, and desired levels of thinness (Yelland Tiggermann, 2003). However, gay men are more likely than heterosexual men to be treated for eating disorders

Disordered eating and exercising behaviors among men are associated with obsessive feelings of inadequacy, unattractiveness, and failure

The viewing and purchasing of muscle and fitness magazines was associated with body dissatisfaction in both gay and heterosexual men (Duggan & McCreary, 2004)

Gay and heterosexual men involved in sports that emphasize strict body weight adherence (such as swimmers, runners, wrestlers, and jockeys) are at higher risk for developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia (Ennis, Drewnowski, & Grinker, 1987; Knowlton, 1995) - Source


Evolution of the ideal for male bodies and the media:

Abstract: Objective: We sought to assess whether cultural ideals of the male body, as illustrated by magazine models, have changed over the past 25 years. Method:We examined 115 male centerfold models in Playgirl magazine from 1973 to 1997. Using the models’ heights and weights quoted by the magazine, together with visual estimates of body fat, we
calculated the body mass index (BMI) and fat-free mass index (FFMI) of each model. Results: The Playgirl centerfold models became increasingly “dense” and more muscular over time, as indicated by the significant correlations between BMI, FFMI, and year of publication. Discussion: These observations, in combination with previous studies, suggest that cultural norms of the ideal male body are growing increasingly muscular.


Fewer studies have examined the evolution of society’s ideal for the male body. In one study of male and female magazines for 18–24-year-olds, Andersen and DiDomenico (1992) found that men’s magazines published significantly more advertisements and articles about changing body shape than about losing weight, suggesting that men might be
more concerned with overall physique than with fat. Another study found that between 1980 and 1991, men’s fashion magazines printed an increasing number of articles on men’s weight and health concerns (Nemeroff, Stein, Diehl, & Smilack, 1994). A third study noted a trend for the greater use of young male bodies in fashion magazines and in
marketing a variety of products (Davis, Shapiro, Elliot, & Dionne, 1993). In another study examining the evolution of boys’ action toys, Pope, Olivardia, Gruber, and Borowiecki (1999) found that figures such as GI Joe have become increasingly muscular over time, with many contemporary figures having physiques more muscular than is humanly

These trends in cultural ideals for body image may contribute to psychopathology. Among women, it has been hypothesized that cultural ideals of thinness may contribute to the rising prevalence of eating disorders (Garner et al., 1980; Wiseman et al., 1992). Among men, cultural ideals of muscularity may contribute to lower self-esteem about the body (Blouin & Goldfield, 1995; Pope, Gruber, Choi, Olivardia, & Phillips, 1997; Leit, 1998)
and possibly to abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids (Pope & Katz, 1994). To augment the available data on trends in cultural ideals of male body image, we followed the strategy of Garner et al. (1980) and Wiseman et al. (1992) described above, but instead examined the dimensions of Playgirl centerfold models over the magazine’s 25-year history.

- Cultural Expectations of Muscularity in Men: The Evolution of Playgirl Centerfolds - Richard A. Leit, Harrison G. Pope, Jr. and James J. Gray

We hypothesized that the physiques of male action toys — small plastic figures used by children in play — would provide some index of evolving American cultural ideals of male body image. Method: We obtained examples of the most popular American action toys manufactured over the last 30 years. We then measured the waist, chest, and bicep circumference of each figure and scaled these measurements using classical allometry to the height of an actual man (1.78 m). Results: We found that the figures have grown much more muscular over time, with many contemporary figures far exceeding the muscularity of even the largest human bodybuilders. Discussion: Our observations appear to represent a “male analog” of earlier studies examining female dolls, such as Barbie. Together, these studies of children’s toys suggest that cultural expectations may contribute to body image disorders in both sexes.
- Evolving Ideals of Male Body Image as Seen Through Action Toys - 1999

Hypotheses regarding contemporary men’s body image distress have been presented by researchers in the field of psychology. It appears that the media plays a significant role in this by presenting the public with unrealistic images of the ideal male body. Consider the following:

GI Joe is to boys what Barbie is to girls (Pope, Olivardia, Gruber, & Borowiecki, 1999). Over the past 20 years, these G.I. Joe toys have grown more muscular and currently have sharper muscle definition. The GI Joe Extreme action figure, if extrapolated to a height of 5’10”, would have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history.
A Playgirl centerfold model of 1976 would need to shed 12 lbs of fat and gain 27 lbs of muscle to be a centerfold of today (Leit, Pope, & Gray, 2001).

In addition, the male body is increasingly being objectified and sexualized in popular print ads. For example, advertisements promoting weight lifting, exercise products, and underwear present the model as dehumanized (the gaze of male model is not at viewer) and the body is objectified (bodies are shown in parts, such as from the shoulders down). Additionally, the naked male body is increasingly portrayed in magazines targeted towards women and gay men.

The drive for muscularity

The Drive for Muscularity – a concept operationalized by psychologist Dr. Don McCreary – represents an individual’s perception that (1) he is not muscular enough, and (2) bulk should be added to his body frame (McCreary & Sasse, 2000).

Research shows that young men tend to see themselves as thinner and less muscular than they actually are. In contrast to women with body image concerns, who typically seek to shed pounds and achieve a specific body weight, men with body image concerns want to bulk up. Because men are socialized not to discuss their body image concerns, their silent anguish may lead to feelings of isolation, distress, depression, and anxiety. The Drive for Muscularity in young men has been associated with low self esteem, neuroticism, and perfectionism (Davis, Karvinen, & McCreary, 2005).

The drive for muscularity becomes pathological when it causes significant distress and interferes with social and occupational functioning. Any of the following signs are cause for concern:

Neglecting school, work, family, or friends to spend more time at the gym
Persistent fear and anxiety of appearing too small
The use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs

- Source

In the study, published in the February issue of Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, researchers had nearly 160 male college students watch an old episode of Family Feud, but they were divided into two groups that saw different commercials during the show.

One group saw ads for financial, telephone, and automobile companies that featured men over age 30 dressed in business or casual attire in a home or business setting. The other group saw commercials that featured muscular, young, and bare-chested men hawking cologne or deodorant.

Researchers found the men who saw the buff male model ads reported feeling more depressed and less satisfied with their own muscles than the men who saw the neutral ads. - Source

Monday, February 27, 2012

NOW is at it again...

Not trying to beat a dead horse here as I do not disagree that much with feminists (we are pretty much on line with our opinions on sex-positivity, contraception, abortion etc.) but damn it, NOW really irks me the wrong way. From

Feminists at the National Organization of Women are now hypocritically spouting two opposite and irreconcilable lines of attack at the same time, depending what the issue is. Politicians on the national stage have opened more combat roles to women. NOW claims that everyone should support this move because women are every bit as: tough, independent, fearless, and self reliant as men, an assessment I wholeheartedly agree with. But when a few Florida politicians consider ending lifetime alimony, the same organization starts simultaneously claiming that women are defenseless little prairie flowers and must be protected from taking responsibility for their own existence. I wish the National Organization of Women would make up its mind.


It would end "permanent" lifetime alimony in favor of "long-term" support that has a foreseeable end.


Barbara Devane from The National Organization for Women is concerned. “They stay home, they raise the children, and then they get older and the man trades them in for a younger wife, and then they are left out in the cold, and they must be protected,” she says.

Maryland Senate approves gay marriage bill - Baltimore Sun

And another one:

The vote makes Maryland the eighth state to approve gay nuptials — and the fourth state legislature to do so in the past 12 months.

Awesome, but:

Implementation of the measure is far from certain. Even supporters concede that the law will likely be petitioned to referendum, and they expect Maryland voters to have the final say in November. The legislation has an effective date of January 2013 — well after the November election.

"We move on to the next phase," said Senate Republican leader E.J. Pipkin, who tried to defeat the bill. "There will be a robust referendum effort." Recent polls have shown that Marylanders are evenly split on the issue, so it is difficult to predict what will happen at the ballot box.

Holding my thumbs here...

Friday, February 24, 2012

And finally some good ol' fashioned sexism from Ireland...

The law...oh it is biased sometimes:

The Supreme Court has delivered a landmark judgement upholding the constitutionality of a law that allows teenage boys - but not teenage girls - to be prosecuted for having underage sex. [...] Under the 2006 Act "teenage boys can be held criminally liable for having sexual intercourse with an underage girl" while teenage girls are immune from prosecution.

The reason?

His lawyers argued the so called "romeo and juliet" law discriminates against him on gender grounds, as it assumes the male is the guilty predator and the female is the "innocent comely maiden".

In 2010 the High Court rejected his challenge because girls risk pregnancy and the law is entitled to place the burden of criminal sanction on those who bear the least adverse consequences.

There is so much wrong with this....

And clearing up the rest of my Circumcision articles for now...

Too much stored away on google reader and here. Something more about circumcision:

“Can 20,000 nerve endings be amputated without loss of sensitivity?” asks ICGI director Dan Bollinger. “Circumcision advocates want parents and circumcised men to believe the truncated penis has not lost sensitivity. Genital integrity advocates such as ourselves want men to experience the full range of sexual pleasure possible. Studies have been published that demonstrate from no apparent sensitivity loss to significant sensitivity loss. They cannot both be true.”

For instance, the recent Payne et al. study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine says penile sensitivity is no different between intact and circumcised men. This is the opposite of the Penile Touch-Test Sensitivity Evaluation study by Sorrells et al. published in the British Journal of Urology International, saying intact men have four times the penile sensitivity of circumcised men. Sorrells says circumcision removes the most sensitive parts of the penis, while Payne chose to ignore the hyper-sensitive foreskin altogether, as well as failing to reference the earlier Sorrells study.

Both studies employed the same testing method using a standard monofilament skin sensitivity measuring device. The Sorrells study tested 161 men at 17 locations (2157 tests) along the penis, including the circumcision scar, and inner and outer parts of the foreskin. The Payne study tested 20 men at 2 locations (40 tests), but inexplicably did not measure foreskin sensitivity.

The foreskin has long been identified as the most sensitive portion of the penis, and Payne admitted that, “it is possible that the uncircumcised penis is more sensitive due to the presence of additional sensory receptors on the prepuce and frenulum.” And, yet, omitted testing any part of the foreskin because, “this cannot be compared with the absence of such structures in the circumcised penis.” Their circumcision-centric perspective defies common sense, which says the sensitivity of the lost foreskin in circumcised men is simply nonexistent, and should have been recorded as zero, and then test the foreskin’s sensitivity in intact men. What Payne did was side-step this thorn in their hypothesis by ignoring it altogether. Ignorance may be bliss, but it isn’t science.

“The difference in the findings in these two studies indicates the need to include the foreskin as an integral part of the penis when testing penile sensitivity,” says Bollinger. “Selective testing should be declared ‘junk science’ and remain unpublished.”

And finally, one blog where I did borrow steal some stuff for my previous post from. It seems to be a quite good blog about genital integrity. Check it out:

On September 30, 1996, a law was passed that would prohibit any form of female genital cutting on non-consenting minors. Even the mildest form of female genital cutting is condemned as "female genital mutilation," and it is prohibited under federal law, without exception for religious rituals. The law, of course, allows for medically indicated procedures, and would not criminalize a doctor if the procedure were medically or clinically warranted.

Last year, the AAP tried to endorse a "ritual nick" in girls, under the pretext that doing so might dissuade parents from taking their daughters abroad to other countries to have more severe forms of female genital cutting performed. The AAP admitted that the proposed "ritual nick" would dwarf in comparison with male infant circumcision. May 2010 would not end before there was a world outcry, and an embarrassed AAP was forced to retract their statement. The message was clear; under absolutely no circumstances were medical professionals ever to come near a girl's vulva with a knife, not even for a "ritual nick."

The establishment of such a law would seem like a noble gesture, were it not for a glaringly obvious inconsistency; the federal ban on female genital cutting (AKA female genital mutilation) protects members of only one sex against the needless cutting of their genitals, defying the 14th amendment, which says that citizens shall not be deprived of the equal protection of the law. While "religious freedom" and "parental choice" would never be enough to justify the slightest "ritual nick" in girls, for whatever reason, these are acceptable alibis for the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting boys.

To human rights activists who see the genital cutting of healthy, non-consenting individuals of either sex as mutilation, also known as "intactivists," it seemed only logical that such a law which offered protection to only one sex ought to be challenged. If neither "religious freedom" nor "parental choice" are enough to justify the slightest "ritual nick" in girls, then it only follows that the same applies to boys. A law that views the genital cutting of one sex as "mutilation" regardless of "religious importance" but not the other is not only sexist, bigoted and self-serving in nature, but also unconstitutional. Boys deserve the same protection under the law.

Circumcision in Africa to reduce HIV transmission

I think I blogged about this before. Anyhow there seems to be evidence, that those studies, used to justify the circumcision of men to reduce HIV transmission is not that great:

new research has cast doubt on the supposed efficacy of the procedure with an article in the December Australian Journal of Law and Medicine citing numerous flaws in the Kenya, South Africa and Uganda studies.

Researchers Gregory J. Boyle and Gregory Hill claimed the 60 percent reduction in transmission was only relative with the absolute reduction rate actually no more than 1.3 percent.
Boyle and Hill said: “What does the frequently claimed ‘60 percent relative reduction’ in HIV infections actually mean?

“Across all the three female-to-male trials, of the 5,411 men subjected to male circumcision, 64 (1.18 percent) became HIV positive while among the 5,497 controls 137 (2.49 percent) became HIV positive.
“So the absolute decrease in HIV infection was only 1.31 percent, which is statistically not significant.”

The authors of the article insisted that the WHO/UNAIDS recommendation “uncritically accepted” the findings of the Kenya, South Africa and Uganda trials, in the process ignoring a vast body of contradictory evidence.

“Examination of epidemiological data shows that male circumcision does not provide protection against HIV transmission in several sub-Saharan African countries including Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania all of which have higher prevalence of HIV infection among circumcised men,” they said.

“In Malawi, the HIV prevalence rate is 13.2 percent among circumcised men and 9.5 percent among those who are intact. (Again) in Cameroon prevalence among those circumcised is 5.1 percent compare to 1.5 percent for those who are intact.

“If male circumcision reduces HIV transmission as the trials claim then why is HIV prevalence much higher in the United States (where most men are circumcised) than in developed countries where most men are intact (such as Europe, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia)?”

The article warns that relying on male circumcision in the fight against HIV/AIDS is especially dangerous for sub-Saharan Africa women because circumcised men could still acquire and transmit the virus to their sexual partners.

“Evidence suggests that mass circumcision programs may exacerbate the HIV epidemic among women (and) under these circumstances it would be irresponsible and unethical to advocate mass circumcision programmes in southern Africa,” the article concludes.

“Male circumcision is a dangerous distraction and a waste of scarce resources that should be used for known preventive measures (such as condoms which are 80 percent effective.” - Source

An article in the December Journal of Law and Medicine cites numerous flaws in three African studies that claim male circumcision reduces transmission of HIV. (see: the article here)

According to the article, the studies, which are being used to promote the circumcision of up to 38 million men in Africa, had selection bias, inadequate blinding, problematic randomization, experimenter bias, lead time bias, supportive bias, participant expectation bias, time-out discrepancy, and lack of investigating of non-sexual HIV transmission among other confounding factors and problems.

The absolute reduction in HIV transmission associated with male circumcision for the three studies was only about 1.3%. The African studies had cited the relative reduction in HIV transmission, a misleading figure. Reports in the popular press have been even more misleading. Furthermore, there are at least 17 observational studies that have not found any benefit from male circumcision in reducing HIV transmission. Since condom use after male circumcision is essential to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, circumcision does not have any additional value. - Source

From the linked Article in the above:
Sub-Saharan African randomised clinical trials into male circumcision and HIV transmission:
Methodological, ethical and legal concerns - Gregory J Boyle and George Hill
In 2007, WHO/UNAIDS recommended male circumcision as an HIV-preventivemeasure based on three sub-Saharan African randomised clinical trials (RCTs) into female-to-male sexual transmission. A related RCT investigated male-to-female transmission. However, the trials were compro-mised by inadequate equipoise; selection bias; inadequate blinding; problem-atic randomisation; trials stopped early with exaggerated treatment effects; and not investigating non-sexual transmission. Several questions remain unanswered. Why were the trials carried out in countries where more intact men were HIV-positive than in those where more circumcised men were HIV-positive? Why were men sampled from specific ethnic subgroups? Why were so many participants lost to follow-up? Why did men in the male circumcision groups receive additional counselling on safe sex practices? While the absolute reduction in HIV transmission associated with male circumcision across the three female-to-male trials was only about 1.3%, relative reduction was reported as 60%, but, after correction for lead-time bias, averaged 49%. In the Kenyan trial, male circumcision appears to have been associated with four new incident infections. In the Ugandan male-to-female trial, there appears to have been a 61% relative increase in HIV infection among female partners of HIV-positive circumcised men. Since male circumcision diverts resources from known preventive measures and increases risk-taking behaviours, any long-term benefit in reducing HIV transmission remains uncertain.

The over-emphasis on sexual transmission modes of HIV infection has fostered the implementation of unsafe and unethical mass circumcision programmes in Africa in order to "prevent" HIV. Tens of thousands of men have already lined up to get circumcised, after three studies purportedly showed a 60% protection benefit.

These mass circumcision campaigns continue to receive millions in funding from leading organisations, including WHO and UNICEF. These health aid organisations have received strong criticism from human rights organisations and experts who question the ethics and the purported health benefits of male circumcision.

Organisations such as Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Doctors Opposing Circumcision, and Jews for the Rights of the Child have worked tirelessly to stop the practice of child circumcision in the US and around the world. These organisations have repeatedly called upon the UN to recognise the practice of male circumcision as a form of genital mutilation.

While these organisations are not opposed to adult circumcision, there are at least three grounds for opposition to the current mass circumcision campaigns in Africa. First, mass circumcision campaigns are based on misinformation, as men are not being informed of the functions of the foreskin.

Second, many countries are being pressured to draft plans for routine infant circumcision. Earlier this year, the South African Medical Association called these plans to circumcise infants for HIV prevention “unethical” and “illegal”. In addition to the dangers of circumcision, cells from "donated" foreskins are used to manufacture a wide range of biomedical products, ranging from skin grafts to facial beauty creams. (Oprah featured SkinMedica's TNS Recovery Complex on her show, a product which contains foreskin fibroblasts.)

Third, the three studies which purportedly show that male circumcision protects against HIV by up to 60% have several flaws. According to a UNAIDS demographic survey, 10 out 18 countries have higher HIV prevalence amongst circumcised males. Furthermore, the reported 60% protection benefit is for male acquisition only: studies show that male circumcision increases female acquisition of HIV by up to 50%. - Source

Not many Rwandan men are circumcised, but in the latest figures available for HIV prevalence among circumcised men (2005, later figures are yet to be released), the operation would appear to increase transmission. This is nothing unusual; in many countries HIV prevalence is higher among circumcised men; prevalence for circumcised Rwandan men is 3.8%, compared to 2.1% for uncircumcised men. So what evidence is the country using to persuade men to undergo this operation when they will still have to use condoms, which could protect them from HIV, unplanned pregnancy and a whole host of sexually transmitted infections in one go?

Indeed, national HIV prevalence in Rwanda is relatively low, at 3%. But female prevalence is 3.6%, whereas male prevalence is only 2.3%. As in all medium and high prevalence countries, rates are far higher among women, especially urban dwelling women, wealthy women and women with the highest levels of education. And it is not even clear if transmission from men to women is reduced by male circumcision. There is evidence that transmission from men to women may increase as a result of a mass circumcision program.

It is often claimed that HIV prevalence among Muslim populations is lower and it is even stated or implied that this is because Muslim men tend to be circumcised. In Rwanda, HIV prevalence is indeed lower among Muslim men than any other religious group. But Muslims as a whole have by far the highest HIV prevalence because female rates stand at 11.4%, compared to less than 4% for every other religious group. (It could be argued that polygamy, said to be common among Muslims, results in higher HIV rates; but rates are often lower where polygamy is common; besides, many non-Muslim groups practice polygamy, even if they identify themselves as Christian.) - Source

The study findings also show although men may be willing to be circumcised, and women approve, there are very real dangers associated with promoting MMC as an HIV prevention approach. Responses from study participants reveal myths and wrongly held beliefs about MMC – that it protects fully against HIV when it does not, that other prevention methods are not necessary when they are, that it allows men to have more sexual partners without increased risk, and that women are protected when they are not. - Communication Challenges in HIV Prevention: Multiple Concurrent Partnerships and Medical Male Circumcision - Panos Eastern Africa - Source

THE Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in conjunction with the National Male Circumcision taskforce have expressed concern over reports of multiple sex partners among those who recently underwent male circumcision.

Nyanza provincial director of publichealth and sanitation, who is also the task force chairman Jackson Kioko, said therehave been reports that those who have been circumcised are taking it as immunity againstHIV.

Speaking during the launch of the resultsof the third rapid results initiative on male circumcision, Kioko said the taskforce will conduct a study to ascertain post-male circumcision sexual behaviour. During the launch of the exercise, itscritics including the Luo Council of Elders said the programme will be disastrous if not well packaged and the beneficiaries sensitised on itsimplication.

The council of elders argued that marketing male circumcision on the platform of preventing HIV was going to erode the overallgoal since many men will take it as complete immunity. - Source

The University of Illinois' Chicago School of Public Health study of 51 young women - presented in December 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually transmitted infections in Africa - found that most women were happy with the appearance of their partner's penis and enjoyed sex more after circumcision.

However, the study also revealed that more women than men were likely to perceive HIV as a less serious threat - 51 percent of men compared with 76 percent of female participants, and to feel that condoms were less necessary following circumcision - 4 percent of men compared with 51 percent of female participants.

A greater number of women than men said after circumcision, they were more likely to have more than one sexual partner - 22 percent compared with 2 percent of men, and to have sex without a condom - 28 percent against 2 percent of men.

The study was conducted in Nyanza Province, home to the Luo, Kenya's largest non-circumcising ethnic community and the focus of the country's male circumcision programme. Since 2008, more than 350,000 men have been circumcised in Nyanza alone; the government aims to circumcise 1.1 million men by 2013. - Source

The most obvious smoking gun: The United States of America
Circumcision hasn't stopped HIV in our own country.

And, it hasn't stopped other STDs either.

In America, the majority of the male population is circumcised, approximately 80%, while in most countries in Europe, circumcision is uncommon. Despite these facts, our country does poorly.

In fact, AIDS rates in some US Cities rival hotspots in Africa. In some parts of the U.S., they're actually higher than those in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, rates of HIV among adults in Washington, D.C. exceed 1 in 30; rates higher than those reported in Ethiopia, Nigeria or Rwanda.

The Washington D.C. district report on HIV and AIDS reported an increase of 22% from 2006 in 2009.

"[Washington D.C.'s] rates are higher than West Africa... they're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."

Shannon L. Hader, HIV/AIDS Administration, Washington D.C., March 15, 2009.
She once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe.

One would expect for there to be a lower transmission rates in the United States, and for HIV to be rampant in Europe; HIV transmission rates are in fact higher in the United States, where most men are circumcised, than in various countries in Europe, where most men are intact. It is telling that the HIV epidemic struck in our country in the 1980s, 90% of the male population was already circumcised. Somehow, we're supposed to believe that what didn't worked in our own country, or anywhere else, is going to start working miracles in Africa.

Studies With Contrary Conclusions

According to USAID, "there appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher."

"Conclusions: We find a protective effect of circumcision in only one of the eight countries for which there are nationally-representative HIV seroprevalence data. The results are important in considering the development of circumcision-focused interventions within AIDS prevention programs."

Results: ...No consistent relationship between male circumcision and HIV risk was observed in most countries.

"Conclusions: ...[M]ale circumcision... is not associated with HIV or STI prevention in this U. S. military population."

One study which aimed at measuring male to female HIV transmission was ended early, because the results were not looking favorable. The Wawer study showed a 54% higher rate of male-to-female transmission in the group where the men had been circumcised. The figures were too small to show statistical significance, but there will be no larger scale study to find out if circumcising men increases the risk to women. Somehow that's considered unethical, yet it's considered ethical to promote male circumcision while not knowing if the risk to women is increased (by 54%?, 25%?, 80%? - who knows?)

The latest study in Kenya finds no association between male circumcision and lowered HIV rates:
'Using a population-based survey we examined the behaviors, beliefs, and HIV/HSV-2 serostatus of men and women in the traditionally non-circumcising community of Kisumu, Kenya prior to establishment of voluntary medical male circumcision services. A total of 749 men and 906 women participated. Circumcision status was not associated with HIV/HSV-2 infection nor increased high risk sexual behaviors. In males, preference for being or becoming circumcised was associated with inconsistent condom use and increased lifetime number of sexual partners. Preference for circumcision was increased with understanding that circumcised men are less likely to become infected with HIV.'

A few select studies show a prevalence of HIV transmission in uncircumcised men, but real world empirical data shows that circumcision hasn't stopped HIV in countries where there is already a prevalence of the practice of circumcision, nevermind the United States. Yet, for whatever reason, leaders at the WHO continue to endorse it as HIV prevention policy and millions are being spent on so-called "mass circumcision campaigns," even in countries where HIV transmission was shown to be prevalent among the circumcised. - Source

And this huge source.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On equal parenting....

From a recent F&F post, an argument toward shared parenting. Kind of sad that there are people against it. The highlights:

More recent studies… have found not only that EPR (Equal Parental Responsibility) is not harmful in high-conflict situations, but equal parenting can ameliorate the harmful effects of high-conflict: a warm relationship with both parents is a protective factor for children in high conflict families.
Finally, Fabricius, Diaz and Braver (2011) determined that children’s ongoing relationships with each parent can counter the harmful effects of parental conflict, and that limiting parental time when there is parental conflict makes children doubly vulnerable to long-term physical and mental health problems.
“Winner-take-all” adversarial processes and sole custody or primary residence orders are strongly associated with exacerbation or creation of parental conflict.
Inter-parental conflict decreases over time in shared custody arrangements and increases in sole-custody arrangements; interparental cooperation increases over time in shared custody arrangements and decreases in sole custody arrangements. (Citations)… The culture of animosity created by the sole-custody system seems tailor-made to produce the worst possible outcomes when there are two capable parents who wish to continue as primary caregivers, cannot agree on a parenting plan, and are forced to disparage each other within the adversarial system in an effort to simply maintain their role as parents.
Most acrimonious parents can successfully learn to minimize conflict when motivated to do so, and an EPR presumption provides an incentive for parental cooperation, negotiation, mediation and the development of parenting plans. - “Arguments for an Equal Parental Responsibility Presumption in Contested Child Custody" - Dr. Krug

The Y-Chromosome is dying!!111!!

Or not. I get the feeling I blogged about this before, yet can not find the post. In short, there was a theory that the Y-Chromosome would go extinct in a certain time, well it does not:

Theories that men will eventually become extinct because the Y chromosome which determines maleness is shrinking are quite wrong, according to a new gene study.

The men-are-doomed scenario leapt to prominence nearly a decade ago when scientists found that the male chromosome had dramatically shrivelled.

[...]But the latest study says the Y's shrinkage occurred in the very distant past and the chromosome has been wonderfully stable for millions of years.

[...]The new evidence comes from a comparison of the human Y chromosome with that of the rhesus macaque - a so-called Old World monkey whose evolutionary path diverged from humans and chimps some 25 million years ago.

The rhesus Y chromosome has not lost a single ancestral gene in all this time, says the study.

By comparison, the human Y has lost one ancestral gene, occurring in a tiny segment that accounts for just three percent of the entire chromosome.

"With no loss of genes on the rhesus Y and one gene lost on the human Y, it's clear the Y isn't going anywhere,'' said Jennifer Hughes of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Her boss, David Page, said he had been fighting the notion of the "rotting Y'' for the past 10 years and believed the new paper "simply destroys'' the theory.

A man's right to choose - Abortion -

An interesting Salon article about choice for men. How is my opinion on that? Well I do believe the current situation is unfair for men and yet still believe women should have the final say due to the rights of their own body. The solution I hope we will finally see that has been 5 years away for 20 years is the male pill, but well, some thought provoking stuff here:

“In the old days, a woman’s biology was a woman’s destiny, today, a woman’s biology is a man’s destiny.” - Warren Farrell

Brings it right to the point.

Many men, and some women, see a very different situation — one in which women have rights and choices while men have responsibilities and are expected to support any choice a woman makes. “If she wants an abortion, he’s supposed to shut down all of his emotional bonding to the child,” says Fred Hayward, founder of the Sacramento, Calif., group Men’s Rights Inc. “Then, if she changes her mind and decides to have the baby, he’s supposed to turn it all back on and be a father.” [...] The expectation that men will “switch” to support the woman’s change of heart, Henry says, is “a fundamental denial of men’s humanity, as if they just exist to make the woman happy.”

Yep, unfair.

Of course, men’s lack of reproductive rights has another side: being forced to assume the burden of unwanted parenthood, at least financially. In the eyes of the law, it seems that virtually no circumstances, however bizarre or outrageous, can mitigate the biological father’s liability for child support, as an overview of cases published in Divorce Litigation journal in 1999 shows.

Did the woman ask him to impregnate her and sign an agreement relieving him of any financial obligations? He’s still liable if she changes her mind. Was he underage and legally a victim of statutory rape? Makes no difference. (One such case, in Kansas in 1993, involved a 12-year-old boy molested by a baby sitter.) Did the woman have her way with him when he had passed out from drinking and brag to friends that she had saved herself a trip to the sperm bank? Tough luck, said Alabama courts. Did she retrieve his semen from the condom she had asked him to wear during oral sex and inseminate herself with a syringe? Yes, it’s a true story, and in 1997 the Louisiana Court of Appeals told the man to pay up, saying that a male who has any sexual contact with a woman — even oral sex with a condom — should assume that a pregnancy may ensue.

Even in less dramatic cases that involve sex between two consenting adults with no coercion or deception, there is a fundamental imbalance. A woman who gets pregnant in her freshman year in college can decide that she’s not ready to be a mother, or that having a child would disrupt her life too much.

The above cases can lead us to interesting conclusions. In cases of rape I do believe people would accept "financial abortion" by the victim, is allowing that in cases of contraception malfunction for not married couples a fair solution. I am not to sure about that. Again, my solution here would be to give men more reproductive choices (male pill). Anyhow, when it comes to children conceived after rape, I do believe nobody would give a male rapist custody, why do get female rapists custody (of course only when she has that child, she should still have the abortion veto)?

The article goes on with a veto for abortion by husbands, which is just horrible. Bodily authority trumps that, and should always do.

And yet, in a broader sense, men’s autonomy is an issue. Advocates of choice for men like to cite a passage from a Planned Parenthood statement, “9 Reasons Why Abortions Are Legal”: “At the most basic level, the abortion issue is not really about abortion. … Should women make their own decisions about family, career and how to live their lives? Or should government do that for them? Do women have the option of deciding when or whether to have children?”

Substitute “men” for “women,” and it’s hard to deny that coerced fatherhood drastically curtails a man’s ability to make key decisions about how to live his life, including when or whether to have children with the woman he loves.

That just hits the nail on the head and really fits with the Farrell quote above and gives us a good view why it is so unfair.

Some maverick feminists agree with this view. Karen DeCrow, an attorney who served as president of the National Organization for Women from 1974 to 1977, has written that “if a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support … autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice.”

Yet, by and large, feminists and pro-choice activists have not been sympathetic to calls for men’s reproductive freedom. “If there is a birth, the man has an obligation to support the child,” says Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center. “The distinction with respect to abortion is the physical toll that it takes on a woman to carry a fetus to term, which doesn’t have any translation for men. Once the child is born, neither can walk away from the obligations of parenthood.” (Actually, a woman can give up the child for adoption, often without the father’s consent, and be free of any further obligation.)

Indeed, on the issue of choice for men, staunch supporters of abortion rights can sound like an eerie echo of the other side: “They have a choice — use condoms, get sterilized or keep their pants on.” “They should think about the consequences before they have sex.” (The irony is not lost on men’s choice advocates or pro-lifers.)

And some good ol slut shaming here as well (keep your pants on).

In the meantime, we have to deal with biological realities as they are. Given these realities, it may be nearly impossible to come up with a solution that wouldn’t be unfair either to men or to women. The current situation is clearly inequitable to men. But allow a veto for fathers, and it raises the disturbing specter of giving a man authority over a woman’s body. Allow choice for men, and some will find it galling that a woman who wants to avoid the burden of parenthood has to undergo surgery or drug treatment with unpleasant side effects while a man merely fills out some forms.

Straight to the point that is the way it is. Well said.

The argument for at least notifying the prospective father of an abortion (with a waiver for cases in which the woman has a reasonable fear of bodily harm from the man, or the pregnancy results from rape), seems compelling. [...] There is also a strong case for providing some options for men to terminate their paternity. (At the very least, a woman who never bothered to let the man know that he was a daddy shouldn’t be able to hit him up for back pay 10 or 15 years later.)

I would add cases of rape to the list as well.

Above all, perhaps, the issue of men’s reproductive autonomy brings home the fact that abortion can create a radical imbalance rather than equality between the sexes. For years, women have been sending a mixed message to men: Sometimes we expect them to be full partners in child-rearing, sometimes we treat them as little more than sperm donors, walking cash machines or bystanders. If men’s parental role is to be taken seriously, women need to assume a moral, if not legal, obligation to involve their partners in any decision about pregnancy and we all need to have a serious conversation about men’s reproductive rights — no matter where that conversation may lead.

Overall a good article, which makes many valid points. Read it all!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


American politics....

2011 marked a sea change for abortion rights. States passed 83 laws restricting access to abortion, nearly four times the 23 laws passed in 2010. A lot of that had to do with the 2010 elections, which ushered in a wave of Republican legislators and governors. This year, the number of states with fully anti-abortion governments — in which both the governor and the legislature oppose abortion rights — increased from 10 to 15.

That cleared the way for new restrictions. Five states banned all abortions after 20 weeks of gestation; until last year, only Nebraska had such a restriction. Seven now require an ultrasound, or the offer of one, prior to the procedure. Eight will no longer allow private insurance plans to cover the procedure. A handful of states are, to this day, battling the Obama administration over whether they can bar abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, from receiving government funds, even for the non-abortion services they provide.
- Source

The state’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed the “fetal personhood” bill, which now heads to the state Senate. If the bill passes the state Senate and is signed into law by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, it would be the most sweeping criminalization of abortion in the United States.

Both Colorado, Mississippi, North Dakota and Alabama have all been unsuccessful in their attempts to criminalize abortion by granting the fetus status as a “person” — but nevertheless the concept behind the bill is popular amongst anti-abortion politicians. (According to Reuters, VA seeks to identify s fetus as ”person” in the legal code, as opposed to the CO and MS bills, which sought to amend their state constitutions.) These bills fail not only because they’re so extreme in criminalizing abortion but also because they could possibly be interpreted as banning both birth control and infertility treatment, too.

Unfortunately, the “fetal personhood” bill wasn’t the only nutty and frightening piece of legislation that Virginia’s House of Delegates passed. Another bill was advanced requiring a woman undergoing an abortion to have a “transvaginal ultrasound” — i.e., to require a doctor to insert a speculum and then an ultrasound probe into a her vagina against her will and reflect that image onscreen. Not only is a bill like this rather rape-y in its forcefulness — and yes, I realize that is a strong statement, and I mean it strongly — but there is no medically necessary reason to do so. And there are no exceptions. Gov. McDonnell has stated his intention to sign the “transvaginal ultrasound” bill if it lands on his desk.
- Source


On with Prison Rape

It is interesting how certain topics come up time after time. It feels like waves. Someone posts something this gets reposted and on and on and I get several results in my google reader. This time the topic is prison rape. It seems it started with a n+1 article which was linked to via feministe which was linked to via NSWATM. And truth be told, while I did write something about prison rape before, I have no clue on the data that is surrounding that issue. With DV I can pinpoint the numbers and survey once I read a post, prison rape...nada. So time for me to catch up.

We start with a DoJ survey, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2008-09. Now the data does not seem to be structured well as there is a whole lot of sexual assault mentioned and it is not really stated what is going on there, so it makes it hard to compare this with other studies. Some key findings:

An estimated 4.4% of prison inmates and 3.1% of jail inmates reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff in the past 12 months or since admission to the facility, if less than 12 months. Nationwide, these percentages suggest that approximately 88,500 adults held in prisons and jails at the time of the survey had been sexually victimized.

About 2.1% of prison inmates and 1.5% of jail inmates reported an incident involving another inmate. An estimated 1.0% of prison inmates and 0.8% of jail inmates said they had nonconsensual sex with another inmate (the most serious type of acts), including unwilling manual stimulation and oral, anal, or vaginal penetration.

About 2.8% of prison inmates and 2.0% of jail inmates reported having had sex or sexual contact with staff. At least half of the inmates who experienced staff sexual misconduct (1.8% in prison and 1.1% in jail) said that they willingly had sex or sexual contact with staff.

This seems rather low to me so it seems we have some kind of crime survey used here which is pretty common as we are speaking about the DoJ who also has the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Female inmates in prison (4.7%) or jail (3.1%) were more than twice as likely as male inmates in prison (1.9%) or jail (1.3%) to report experiencing inmate on inmate sexual victimization.

Sexual activity with facility staff was reported by 2.9% of male prisoners and 2.1% of male jail inmates, compared to 2.1% of female prisoners and 1.5% of female jail inmates.

Most victims of staff sexual misconduct were males; most perpetrators were females. Among male victims of staff
sexual misconduct, 69% of those in prison and 64% of those in jails reported sexual activity with female staff. An
additional 16% of prison inmates and 18% of jail inmates reported sexual activity with both female and male staff

The higher rate of female victims may account for the survey structure as many men do not label their own experience as rape. Anyhow besides the higher rate that would still mean, as more men are imprisoned, that there would still be more male than female victims. Something similar was true with rape in the military but I am diverting here.

The study makes it hard for me to get actual numbers as the tables either do add male and female victims together or add sexual assault and rape together.

Table 1
Inmates reporting sexual victimization, by type of facility and incident
National Inmate Survey, 2008-09

                               Number            Percentage
Type of incident               Prisons   Jails   Prisons Jails
Total                           64,500  24,000      4.4%  3.1%

Inmate-on-inmate                30,100  11,600      2.1%  1.5%
  Nonconsensual sexual acts     15,100   6,000      1.0   0.8
  Abusive sexual contacts only  15,000   5,600      1.0   0.7

Staff sexual misconduct         41,200  15,800      2.8%  2.0%
  Unwilling activity            25,400  11,400      1.7%  1.5%
    Excluding touching          19,000   8,200      1.3   1.1
    Touching only                5,800   3,100      0.4   0.4
  Willing activity              25,500   8,500      1.8%  1.1%
    Excluding touching          21,700   7,200      1.5   0.9
    Touching only                3,800   1,300      0.3   0.2

Table 6
Prevalence of sexual victimization, by type of incident and 
inmate demographic characteristic, National Inmate Survey, 2008-09

                      Male               Female 
                      Victims  %         Victims  %
Prison                1,357,100 inmates  100,600 inmates
Inmate on inmate         25,785 1.9%       4,728 4.7%
Staff sexual misconduct  39,356 2.9%       2,113 2.1%

Jail                    678,100 inmates   99,100 inmates
Inmate on inmate          8,815 1.3%       3,072 3.1%
Staff sexual misconduct  14,240 2.1%       1,487 1.5%

In total we could say around 88,196 men and 11,400 women suffer sexual assault in the prison system. Judging by table 6. Remember the beginning where it said "approximately 88,500 adults held in prisons and jails at the time of the survey had been sexually victimized", I have no clue what is counted and what is not counted, see also the total of table 1.

Now I am not the only one who believes that these numbers seem low and apparently the DoJ has different numbers as well:

Washington, DC, April 26, 2011. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 216,600 inmates were sexually abused in prisons, jails, and youth detention facilities in 2008 alone. However, while many prisons across the country are plagued by rape, others are virtually free from sexual victimization.

Today and tomorrow, the Department of Justice Review Panel on Prison Rape is holding public hearings to address the problem of sexual violence in detention -- questioning representatives from federal and state prisons with the highest and the lowest levels of sexual abuse. These hearings are based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics report Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2008-2009.
- Source

Or to cite from the n+1 article:

In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances.

So we take a look at the NY Review of Books article:

How many people are really victimized every year? Recent BJS studies using a “snapshot” technique have found that, of those incarcerated on the days the surveys were administered, about 90,000 had been abused in the previous year, but as we have argued previously,2 those numbers were also misleadingly low. Finally, in January, the Justice Department published its first plausible estimates. In 2008, it now says, more than 216,600 people were sexually abused in prisons and jails and, in the case of at least 17,100 of them, in juvenile detention. Overall, that’s almost six hundred people a day—twenty-five an hour.

The department divides sexual abuse in detention into four categories. Most straightforward, and most common, is rape by force or the threat of force. An estimated 69,800 inmates suffered this in 2008.3 The second category, “nonconsensual sexual acts involving pressure,” includes 36,100 inmates coerced by such means as blackmail, offers of protection, and demanded payment of a jailhouse “debt.” This is still rape by any reasonable standard.

An estimated 65,700 inmates, including 6,800 juveniles, had sex with staff “willingly.” But it is illegal in all fifty states for corrections staff to have any sexual contact with inmates. Since staff can inflict punishments including behavioral reports that may extend the time people serve, solitary confinement, loss of even the most basic privileges such as showering, and (legally or not) violence, it is often impossible for inmates to say no.4 Finally, the department estimates that there were 45,000 victims of “abusive sexual contacts” in 2008: unwanted touching by another inmate “of the inmate’s buttocks, thigh, penis, breasts, or vagina in a sexual way.” Overall, most victims were abused not by other inmates but, like Jan, by corrections staff: agents of our government, paid with our taxes, whose job it is to keep inmates safe.

All the numbers we have cited count people who were abused, not instances of abuse. People raped behind bars cannot escape their attackers, though. They must live in constant fear, their trauma renewed every time they see their assailants. Between half and two thirds of those who claim sexual abuse in adult facilities say it happened more than once; previous BJS studies suggest that victims endure an average of three to five attacks each per year.5

2 - See David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow, " The Rape of American Prisoners ," The New York Review , March 11, 2010; see also David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow, " The Way to Stop Prison Rape ," The New York Review , March 25, 2010. ↩

3 - As a point of comparison, it may be worth noting that the latest National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) by the BJS, which excludes "Armed Forces personnel living in military barracks and institutionalized persons, such as correctional facility inmates," estimates that in 2009 there were 125,910 instances of rape and sexual assault in the US. However, several caveats are necessary here: first, that the definitions of these crimes used in this study are not the same as those used in the surveys of prisoner rape; second, that the 2009 number was down significantly from the 2008 NCVS finding of 203,830 rapes and sexual assaults in the free community; third, as the BJS says in the 2009 NCVS, "The measurement of rape and sexual assault represents one of the most serious challenges in the field of victimization research." The 2009 National Crime Victimization Survey is available at . ↩

4 - As the Justice Department acknowledges, "the power imbalance in correctional facilities is such that it is impossible to know if an incarcerated person truly ‘consented' to sexual activity with staff." ↩

5 - Of juvenile detainees reporting sexual abuse by other inmates, 81 percent said it happened more than once. ↩

They still believe this is a low estimate. The article goes on to describe the system and offer solutions, it is a good read. Anyhow if the male female rate from the above survey still translates to the estimated victims the numbers would roughly be 192.240 male and 23.760 female victims. That is a ballpark figure. Now, to get to the meat of the argument it was to cite the headline of the Feministe article which is based on the n+1 article "Is the United States the only country where more men are raped every year than women?". The NYBooks article says something about this, too, from my above quote:

As a point of comparison, it may be worth noting that the latest National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) by the BJS, which excludes "Armed Forces personnel living in military barracks and institutionalized persons, such as correctional facility inmates," estimates that in 2009 there were 125,910 instances of rape and sexual assault in the US.

As 19,820 of those were male victims this could lead us to compare the 192.240 male victims in prisons with the 106.090 female victims in the "free" world (169.370 in 2010). Aha, so this is what this is all about.

Now we can take a look at the feministe article which is a take on the other articles. Well, what Jill does in this article is talking about the caveats which the NYBooks article also does:

However, several caveats are necessary here: first, that the definitions of these crimes used in this study are not the same as those used in the surveys of prisoner rape; second, that the 2009 number was down significantly from the 2008 NCVS finding of 203,830 rapes and sexual assaults in the free community; third, as the BJS says in the 2009 NCVS, "The measurement of rape and sexual assault represents one of the most serious challenges in the field of victimization research."

So, are more men than women raped in the US every year? With the recent CDC data in mind, maybe. Does it matter? Not really. No matter how you think about this, the fact remains that a significant number of men and women, be it in prison or not, are raped and sexually assaulted. The juggling with numbers and the "who has it worse" do not really help the victims. It is an interesting argument to make but then again, I am more interested in society taking male victimization (and female perpetrators) seriously. Let us stop bickering over the numbers. Let us work on helping these men and women.

I close this post with a citation that Jill on feministe made:

And however you cut the statistics, it is clear that men in the United States are sexually assaulted in enormous numbers — they’re just men who we don’t care so much about, or who society has decided deserves it.

Let's change that.

EDIT: Tamen on the NSWATM post said the following:

Contrary to common belief the most common victimization by men in prisons and jails are not inmate-on-inmate victimization, but rather what the BJS calls “staff sexual misconduct”:
Inmate-on-inmate: 33.929 victims
Staff sexual miconduct: 53.455 victims – 64-69% of these reported a female perpetrator. An additional 16-17% reported both female and male perpetrators.
(I operated with a range since BSJ reported one number for prison and the other for jail – I didn’t take the time to calculate the exact percentage, but it is somewhere between the two numbers I’ve quoted).

For female inmates it’s the opposite: the majority of victims were victims of inmate-on-inmate rather than of “staff sexual misconduct”:
7.797 vs. 3.608. Of the 3.608 62-71% reported male perpetrator while the remaining 29-38% were either female perpetrarors or both male and female perpetrators. Given that the majority of institutions are gender segregated – only 4 of the surveyed institutions where women were measured were co-ed institutions and those were not outliers in the rate of inmate-on-inmate victims – it seems likely that the majority of perpetrators of sexual assault, sexual violence and sexual rape of female inmates are women. Yet, when people point out that female inmates are suffering from sexual abuse at a higher rate than male inmates it’s never acknowledged that it’s women who perpetrate the major part of this abuse.


This combined with the finding of NISVS 2010 where 79.2% of the men who reported being made to penetrate someone else reported a female perpetrator paints a totally different picture of the extent women are perpetrators of sexual violence and abuse than most people believe or think. I believe it’s high time that the onus and focus are ALSO put on female perpetrators as a means to try to reduce incidents of sexual violence and abuse inside and outside prisons. There are commonly held gender essential beliefs which enables female perpetrators and two of the major are the disbelief that women are capable of such abuse (both morally and physically) and the disbelief that any man can be coerced/forced into any sexual activity by a woman. We need to stop that enablement.

Pretty good Tamen, thx.

Economics of Abortion

Interesting Article, On The Issues Magazine The Progressive Woman's Magazine Winter 2012: Abortionomics: When Choice Is A Necessity by The Editors:

The current research pointed to three key findings. First, as the economic downturn continued, birth rates fell and the demand for contraceptive services, including vasectomies, increased.

Second, as economic factors forced cutbacks in social services, low-income women faced greater difficulties in getting safe and affordable birth control.

Third, faced with these difficulties, more low-income women were choosing abortion. The report cites findings from the well-regarded Guttmacher Institute, showing that in 2008, the last year for which national figures are available, 69 percent of women having abortions were living at incomes lower than 200 percent of the federal poverty line, compared to 35 percent of women in the general population. In addition, 42 percent of abortion patients lived below the federal poverty line in 2008 compared to 27 percent in 2000.

The new report also draws upon the experience of local providers and non-profits that assist low income women to show the rise in abortion demand during today's economically-pressured times. It notes, for example, that Oakland's ACCESS, which serves only low-income clients, reported that 60 percent of all calls received in 2008 were from women seeking abortions; in 2009, the number increased to 72 percent of all calls.

The National Network of Abortion Funds, an organization that provides financial support for women who cannot afford the cost of an abortion, reported that calls to its helpline nearly quadrupled from 2008 and 2009.

Finally, at Choices Women's Medical Center in New York City, demand for abortion services increased four percent from 2008 to 2009, while the number of economically disadvantaged women requesting abortions increased by eight percent in that same time period.


"Given the consistent findings that economics are a critical component in choices regarding abortion, the most effective approach to decreasing abortion rates will involve increased access to comprehensive health care and expanding opportunities for employment and economic stability.

"Barring this, as the economy declines, demand for abortion can be expected to increase. Available data suggest that demand is increasing and access is declining. Many women report that they believe economics would force them to choose abortion, regardless of whether it is legal.

"Roe v. Wade resulted in a dramatic 90 percent reduction of abortion-related deaths between 1965 and 1975, with the low rate remaining stable since. The combination of a declining economy, decreased access to preventive birth control, and diminished access to safe and legal abortion services could well lead to a reversal of this trend. Responsible decision-making regarding health care, abortion, and economic policy must consider how these issues ultimately will impact the reproductive choices, including abortion – legal or not – that individuals must make." - Abortionomics: When Choice is a Necessity - The Impact of Recession on Abortion - Robin H. Pugh Yi, Ph.D.

Workplace discrimination - 2 sides of the coin....

Some stereotypes hurt both sexes, heck, probably all stereotypes do. I have often heard how men feared being alone with children in fear of having a false accusation being made against them. Be it in kindergarten or in school or whatever place you could think of where a false accusation could ruin your career. The same seems to be true in the workplace:

The CWLP research shows that sponsorship is the critical promotional lever for women stuck just below the top layer of management. However, fear of being even suspected of an illicit sexual liaison causes 64 percent of senior men to pull back from one-on-one contact with junior women; conversely, for the same reason, 50 percent of junior women are hesitant to have one-on-one contact with senior men.

These fears are often well founded. As mentioned in my previous post, illicit relationships (between a boss and a subordinate) wreak havoc in teams.

Clinton, Circumcision, Confused....

Here is what always struck me as blatant hypocrisy. The support of the USA for circumcision and at the same time condemning female genital cutting. Here is what Clinton said recently.

“We cannot excuse this as a cultural tradition. There are many cultural traditions that used to exist in many parts of the world that are no longer acceptable. We cannot excuse it as a private matter because it has very broad public implications. It has no medical benefits. It is, plain and simply, a human rights violation”

Pretty much the same can be said about circumcision, only that Clinton supports this in Africa to fight HIV. Oh my.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Men not reporting and experiences from hotline callers

Some titdbits I found and wanted to save, so why not make a collective post:

37% of female victims of DV called the police only 15% of men did (Family violence in Canada - 2003)

17% of male victims of DV seeked helped with "formal social agencies" compared to 48% of female victims (Canadian General Social Survey - 1999)

Female victims are 9-time as likely to call the police and 5-time as likely to talk to a relative or friend than male victims (National family Violence Survey - 1985)

8% of male victims called the police compared to 22% of female victims (British Crime Survey - 1996)

47% Of female victims and 16% of male victims called the police. Only 39% of male victims defined their expierience as domestic violence but 77% of women did. (Scottish Crime Survey - 2000)

Often victimised men are not taken serious by the police (Farrell - 1993 | Wilkinson - Children and divorce - 1981) and often that leads to men not reporting their victimisation (Steinmetz - The battered husband syndrome - 1980 | Machietto - Aspects of male victimisation and female aggression - 1992)

Women are more likely to report minor cases to officials: Only 25% of all cases reported by women were severe cases compared to 86% of cases reported by men. Men were injured in most of this cases and most of this cases also involved weapons (most often knives) (McLeod - Women against men: An examination of domestic violence based on an analysis of official data and national victimization data - 1984)

How many know that survey research suggest that women who are assaulted are 9 times more likely to report to police and 5 times more likely to tell a friend/relative than men who are assaulted by their wives. (Stets, J. & Straus, M. A., 1990) In general only about 8-10% of women who are assaulted and 1-2% of men who are assaulted report the assault to an agency/authority. (Fontes, 1998) This is likely why archival data indicates more female victims.
(Information on Male Victims of Domestic Violence by David L. Fontes, Psy.D., CEAP)

I also found another survey by DAHM:

Best Practices: Service Provisions for Male Victims of Domestic Abuse Presented at the 9th International Family Violence Research Conference July 13, 2005 - Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men

Participants for the current study were 434 callers who called DAHM and STV between March 2004 to June 2005 for whom data was collected by seven of the ten volunteers at DAHM and STV (although jointly the two helpline's averaged 450 calls per month during that time period only complete1 self reports e.g. men reporting intimate partner violence (IPV) by their partners were included). Others who called the helpline such as female victims, friends, family members and agencies concerned about female or male victims were not included in this study.


16% of callers were in need of or seeking shelter.
53% indicated they were in need and/or seeking some type of support group.
89% of callers indicated that they were in need and/or seeking legal assistance.
13% indicated that they were in need and/or seeking financial assistance.
79% of callers indicated that they were being or have been physically abused by their intimate partners.
97% of callers indicated that they were being or have been psychologically/emotionally abused by their intimate partners.
31% of callers indicated that their intimate partners threaten to call the police and have them arrested on false domestic violence charges and/or file false protection from abuse orders as a means of keeping their intimate partners under their control and in the relationship. Also included in this statistic are callers who stated that their abusive females partners followed through on those threats once the partner left the relationship.
20% of callers indicated that their partners controlled the money in the relationship.
87% of callers indicated that they were being abused in multiple ways.
19% of callers indicated that along with physical and emotional abuse their intimate partners had used a weapon such as a knife, gun, and/or motor vehicle etc. against them.
59% of callers indicated that there were young children living in the household.
22% of callers indicated that they had requested services and support from police/domestic violence programs/family courts and services were denied them.
22% of callers indicated that they requested and received services from police/domestic violence programs/family courts.
55% of callers indicated that they didn't know where to go for help or were too embarrassed to ask for assistance from police/domestic violence programs/family courts.
88% of callers reported that they were calling regarding a girlfriend or wife.
4% of callers reported that they were immigrants and that their partners had threatened to have them deported in order to control them.


thirty percent (30%) of callers in this study were unemployed or disabled and living on a limited income and twenty
percent (20%) reported that their partners controlled the finances in the relationship. Combining those two scenarios and adding "imminent danger" to the equation e.g. being physically abused and/or having death threats made against them make the chances of these men needing safe housing or transitional housing services more likely.
Over half the callers had need of a support group. In Maine 1600 women attended support groups at domestic violence shelter programs throughout the state. (2003) No such groups were offered to men through these shelter programs.


nearly one-quarter of the callers to DAHM and STV reported that when they sought services as male victims of IPV by women they were either denied the same services available to females, not believed, referred to batterer's intervention programs and/or ridiculed for allowing a woman to "beat them up." And over half of the callers in this study didn't know where to seek help (believing that women's shelter programs were only for women and children) or were too embarrassed to ask. Some believed that they were the only ones suffering abuse at the hands of their female intimate partners.

Overall our data indicates that male victims have similar needs to their female counterparts.

Nothing to see here.