Wednesday, May 21

:: Unfairness Totally Sucks

Sexism and misogyny have impacted the presidential primary, no matter what the chattering class claims.
I just followed an information trail that led me to a very sad and angry place. And of course, if it is sad and/or angry, it belongs on the Canary.

It started at with a cool item from the recent annual conference of public opinion wonksters, regarding a September 2007 paper called "Social Desirability Bias in Estimated Support for a Black Presidential Candidate." I immediately printed it out at someone else's expense, because I'm like that. Information should be free! You can't put a price on knowledge! and all that. Okay, so it looks terrific and I can't wait to read the whole thing. But first I did a search through it to see if gender was mentioned, because, you know, so much has been written about it, just reams and reams already, but I still wanted more.

Surprisingly, I did find a reference right away to a study from 2007 called "Social Desirability Effects and Support for a Female American President." Yay. It can be downloaded here.

Now here comes the point. These few sentences from the first report compare its findings to those in the second report. Reading this made me very, very upset, in that multivalent, polymorphous way that, I'm sorry to say, often leads to an outburst of some sort (I'll let you know when it happens). Here it is:
"Likewise, true support for a black presidential candidate increases monotonically as the level of education increases, a finding again at odds with existing literature and recent experimental evidence. In a similar list experiment, Streb et al (2007) recently reported that respondents with a bachelor's degree are more likely to express anger about a female presidential candidate than respondents without this degree. Our findings, on the other hand, suggest that respondents with higher levels of education are more likely to express support for a black presidential candidate. In other words, our findings are the opposite of those reported by Streb et al (2007)."
But, you know, only race is a factor in the election. So I think this is top, top secret information or something. So make sure you don't discuss it or anything. In fact, if asked, just respond that this information does not exist! Only race matters, god dammit!

I'm sure both papers will yield more interesting pull-out quotes. I'll just finish with part of the abstract for the second paper, the one on gender:
"Using an unobtrusive measure called the "list experiment" we find that public opinion polls are indeed exaggerating support for a female president. Roughly 26 percent of the public is 'angry or upset' about the prospect of a female president. Moreover, this level of dissatisfaction is constant across several demographic groups."

Shhh. Stay invisible. Don't mention sexism. Don't talk about what a "change" a female president would be. Don't talk about sexism shaping voters attitudes, and certainly don't talk about its influence on media coverage. Its not happening. It never happened. Shhh.

[fyi, I continue to think a vote boycott in November is a fine idea. ]

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