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39 Responses

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin August 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    This sounds complicated! :-)

  2. Lettuce
    Lettuce August 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm |

    Ah, humanities people are their “conclusions”.

  3. Dawn
    Dawn August 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |

    What would happen: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/06/03/gluten-free-dishes-that-sound-ok/

    Gluten is only found in things like Wheat, Barley and similar crop and as you can see Gluten free is already been labeled the “fad” diet and women on it attacked by folks who think that protecting women who might have an ED is worth judging and upsetting those of us with a medical need for a special gluten free diet.

    So yeah, thanks for the recipe but you’re going to have to tackle disablism in feminist circles before hoe diets catch on.

  4. One thing I didn't follow
    One thing I didn't follow August 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm |

    What’s this about rice? I thought rice was a very individually intensive crop, both the rices of Asia and America grow in shallow ponds and not tilled/plough fields…

  5. xenu01
    xenu01 August 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    Down with the patriarchy of wheat! I am going to my local grocery store to campaign against bread RIGHT NOW.

  6. Tom Foolery
    Tom Foolery August 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm |

    Truly inspired satire. Brava!

  7. Tori
    Tori August 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm |

    When we drink our barley in the form of beer, we quench our thirst with the sweat of men who have kept down our foremothers.

    Give up beer?

    Please tell me that grapes, potatoes, and blue agave are plough-friendly????

  8. Tony
    Tony August 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    Autumn Whitefield-Madrano:
    Steven, that’s what I’d thought too! The study authors specified “wet rice” as a plough-positive food, though. (As opposed to…dry rice? I dunno.) I’m wondering if broad-scale industrial rice farming is a different beast?

    Perhaps they are referring to something like this? Also, there is a good post over at Discover Magazine where they show a map of the world between plough/hoe cultures and actually provide the regression results for you. The link to the direct study was going to cost $5 :) But I really like the segue into the recipes, very creative.

  9. Lettuce
    Lettuce August 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    Satire, or Poe’s-Law-Proof-In-The-Making?

    Tom Foolery:
    Truly inspired satire. Brava!

  10. Jess
    Jess August 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm |

    Lettuce:
    Satire, or Poe’s-Law-Proof-In-The-Making?

    Well, since Poe’s Law is about how some poor souls inevitably mistake satire for extremist arguments, Lettuce, you tell us.

  11. Lettuce
    Lettuce August 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm |

    Jess: Well, since Poe’s Law is about how some poor souls inevitably mistake satire for extremist arguments, Lettuce, you tell us.

    Um…. tell you what, exactly?

  12. Nymeria
    Nymeria August 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm |

    Yeah, well, I consider cats the higher beings.

  13. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer August 13, 2011 at 7:05 pm |

    The title is “A Modest Proposal,” and it’s tagged with “silliness.” I’d say it’s satire. In which case, it’s hilarious.

  14. Kate
    Kate August 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm |

    Okay, as much as I won’t give up wheat until it’s pried directly from between my teeth, I have to go try and brew millet beer now.

  15. Robert
    Robert August 14, 2011 at 1:35 am |

    Autumn, you write:
    “when we eat our wheat-laden breads, crackers, and Ding-Dongs, we are swallowing centuries of systemic oppression thrust upon the women of the weeds by their plough-bearing husbands. When we drink our barley in the form of beer, we quench our thirst with the sweat of men who have kept down our foremothers.”

    You are misrepresenting the findings. If the correlation does imply a causal link between farming methods and gender equality, then the lesson is that, at least in the beginning, unequal gender roles were not the result of “systemic oppression” or a conscious, collective power play on the part of men. Those things may well come later, but this study implies the opposite of what you (jokingly, I know) read into it: gender inequality as the unintended consequence of an expedient division of labor. I don’t see any evidence in the Economist article and paper you cite that the adoption of the plough was originally either just or unjust, only that it was expedient.
    I do understand that your post is satire (I like satire, and also millet), but satire is more successful if you don’t misconstrue the motivations/mechanisms of the people/systems you are satirizing. You are also clearly trying to make a serious point here, given the tags “economics,” “food” and “gender” (heavy topics all) and the jab at evolutionary psychology. The serious objective merits a more careful interpretation of the findings you’re talking about.

  16. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists August 14, 2011 at 9:23 am |

    This was hilarious, and the teaspoon of menstrual blood in the second recipe was just that perfect cherry on the top.

    @Robert: Do you really have nothing better to do?

  17. Lasciel
    Lasciel August 14, 2011 at 10:02 am |

    @Autumn: Robert’s comment reads to me like constructive criticism. The misrepresentation of results from academic research is disturbing and commonplace. The post may switch into satire but there are serious ideas we can consider from the research. The idea of labor-division causing gender inequality is hardly a new one; but I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer as to *why* dividing labor would result in gender inequality. It becoming the norm for women to do the domestic work does not explain why women were devalued.

    And I sure hope you’ve seen Robert ID as a man; otherwise the use of the word “mansplain” to describe their words is careless and disturbing in it’s implication [of you].

  18. Robert
    Robert August 14, 2011 at 10:51 am |

    Why does my comment count as “mansplaining” and not a legitimate entry into the discussion?

    As for whether I have better things to do, I read the article linked to and the post here and was interested, so I made a comment – like everyone else here. I’m not interested in the ancient use of ploughs for its own sake, and I doubt many readers of Economist or Feministe are. The study interests me because of what it tells us about the origins of gender inequality today, and that connection is what I found misrepresented in the post (in both the joking part and in the serious part, where you write about “wear[ing] a mask of progress,” again as if the creation of gender inequality by the use of the plough was a conscious decision on the part of the oppressors). Surely it’s worth getting that connection right, before and during joking about it.

  19. Z S
    Z S August 14, 2011 at 10:52 am |

    Satire aside, finding an interesting basis for the specializing of roles in this way is always a nice riposte to the “it’s innate”. Overturning the idea of cavewomen or early farming women sitting on their asses all day dandling babies while men hunted/gathered/farms is actually very useful. It shuts down the whole “we hunted the mammoth to feed you, ungrateful bitchez” and “men invented civilization” arguments, which are used with astonishing sincerity by certain types. And it shows that female passivity is a myth.

    Lasciel – probably the devaluing comes as a byproduct. Once one group is better able to make the food that the group wants to make in that area (actually early farming was probably less efficient than hunting/gathering), that group may stake a claim to land, hence wealth, hence power and value. Also once you have land ownership you start worrying about inheritance, ie paternity, hence control of women. Crucially seasonal farming of this type leaves the workers who do it with leisure and surplus, while home labor does not. Leisure and surplus equal time and resources both to innovate and make war, which each confer further wealth and power. Rinse and repeat for 10,000 years and a massive divide can open up. Something like that anyway?

  20. Miriam
    Miriam August 14, 2011 at 10:53 am |

    Hi Autumn! Full disclosure: Robert is my boyfriend, a feminist, and a regular Feministe reader (he thinks you all will think he wrote this, but I assure you he didn’t, and he doesn’t want me to write this, but I’m going to anyway). He and I disagreed about the interpretation of your post (generally I agreed with your response), but I have a request: Please don’t use the word “mansplaining,” especially when responding to a thoughtful (even if a bit over-wrought) comment from a guy on this very blog. It’s a name-caller and a dialogue killer, it discourages well-meaning guys from engaging with female feminists, and it ends up vilifying people who are, in general, on your side and want to be involved in the conversation in a respectful way. You may disagree, but invoking “mansplaining” doesn’t add to anyone’s understanding. Also, you had no evidence (aside from his name) that he was even a man, cis or not, so it’s presumptuous on top of it.

    Love the blog in general, but wished that you had been a little more thoughtful on that last comment.

  21. dan
    dan August 14, 2011 at 11:19 am |

    i think your audacity to claim public funding for a non-general issue is disturbing.
    here’s an analogy: staying without protection in the sun too long will increase your chances for burnt skin, just like going out semi/naked (male or female) on the streen will increase your chances of something bad happening to you.

    you are only entitled to the same medical service that non-sluts (male or female) receive and should NOT, under any circumstances, receive anything extra on the taxpayer’s expense.

  22. Miriam
    Miriam August 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

    Thanks for being responsive, Autumn! We really appreciate the smart dialogue here – it’s one of the things that makes this blog stand out. — Robert & Miriam

  23. Tony
    Tony August 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    Robert:
    where you write about “wear[ing] a mask of progress,” again as if the creation of gender inequality by the use of the plough was a conscious decision on the part of the oppressors).

    I read that as meaning that the appearance of the plough undoubtedly wore the mask of progress to the people who adopted it, but it had the side effect of strengthening gender equality, whether or not the original progenitors of the plough intended for it to do so. It’s a rejoinder to the notion that progress can be defined purely on materialistic terms, without examining their structural effects on human societies.

    Ironically though, if you look at the actual regression model contained in the study (which I linked to above), historical plough use is correlated positively with female labor force participation at the highest level of significance, and also the at the highest absolute coefficient in the table shown. It’s only when absolute latitude, domesticated animals, political hierarchies and economic complexity variables are incorporated into the model do they get a negative correlation with the highest level of significance. In other words, contrary to what some MRA sites I’ve seen take from this connection, higher female labor force participation remains highly correlated with higher levels of ‘civilizational achievement’ even at the purely materialistic level, and the gender inequality effects of the plough did set back these societies’ gender relations development away from their long term trend.

  24. DouglasG
    DouglasG August 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    Thank you for reminding me of *Precious Bane* and Prue Sarn, who could plough with the best of them and acquired literacy into the bargain. I must listen to it again soon.

  25. raya
    raya August 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    I honestly don’t think I can grasp where exactly this satirical shift begins.
    Are you implying that Ester Boserup’s hypothesis in itself is ridiculous? Because as a sociology major, I know way too many people who think studies like the one given in the article are as silly as all those which are based on evolutionary psychology and the like – and I don’t really get why that is.

  26. Lettuce
    Lettuce August 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    I have to admit I was being a bit snarky about the original study. I just find so much about social science “studies” to amount to “here’s a bias or idea I’ve always had, let me try to find some tangentially related statistical correlation to “prove” it.” It’s the reason for, for example, homosexuality being in the DSM until so recently, and about 85% of BS evopsych.

    But that’s just my bias (no pun intended) against social science being taken as capital-S science – without control groups, null hypothesis, etc. (what would that even be here?) you’ll always have jerks say stuff like “Here’s PROOF that African Americans are inherently violent because of rap music/women are bad at math because of cooking/etc.”

  27. Lettuce
    Lettuce August 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    Being involved in the physical sciences, I see a lot of this too. (I kind of just was guilty of it a second ago in my last comment.) I think a lot of that comes from the huge huge gulf in methodology between social sciences and “harder” sciences – namely, you spend a ton of time in the latter trying to disprove something you are trying to prove, trying to see if there’s any way possible [phenomena A] could be caused by some other factor not accounted for. Whereas with social sciences, this is kind of impossible (in the case of, for example, economics) or at the very least, horrifyingly unethical (in psychology.)

    raya: Are you implying that Ester Boserup’s hypothesis in itself is ridiculous? Because as a sociology major, I know way too many people who think studies like the one given in the article are as silly as all those which are based on evolutionary psychology and the like – and I don’t really get why that is.

  28. Sara
    Sara August 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm |

    Things that don’t use the scientific method aren’t science. Social science, by definition, is science. Studies on social issues that fail to employ science, therefore, are not social science.

    The existence of possible alternative explanations for results is a feature of all sciences, not just social sciences. Critique individual studies for flawed methods or conclusions, not entire fields for studying the wrong topics.

    Lettuce, “trying to see if there’s any way possible [phenomena A] could be caused by some other factor not accounted for” sounds like a pretty good description of a lot of modern work in social psychology.

    This is a serious issue for me, because my entire scientific field is sometimes disregarded because of wholesale assertions that social science isn’t real science. The outcome is that meaningful findings about important issues like intergroup prejudice or media violence get ignored. See this post: http://seburke.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/psychology-science/

    Sorry for the derail.

  29. Sara
    Sara August 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm |

    [It is worth noting that news media misinterpret social science studies as much or even more than they misinterpret biology or physics studies, which seems self-evident, but I'm often surprised at how many so-called "hard science" people get their ideas about what social science is from popular media.]

  30. Lettuce
    Lettuce August 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm |

    Feel free to delete this if you want, because I’m kind of continuing a derail – this is just stuff I’m passionate about. Sorry in advance.

    I agree with you sort of, but also disagree.

    The thing you quoted me with, that you said is in much of social psychology, is the crux of the issue, I feel.

    The difference in how alternate possibilities are addressed between fields of science is really a big deal, as you know. That’s why many people in the various social science fields don’t consider themselves scientists (I believe there was someone on this blog who made a comment or two to that effect, but I don’t remember, so I’m not sure. And yea I just outed myself as a lurker.)

    Psychology is fascinating to me because it’s such a huge umbrella. For example, would you consider neurobiology to be a pat of psychology? Or vice versa? Or are the two completely unrelated besides body geography?

    I very much doubt that anyone in the scientific community would disagree with calling, for example, neural network studies “science.” But there are other areas that are far into the “social” side of social science, and that’s what I was referring to. I don’t think it’s people misunderstanding it – it’s that, from a “hard science” perspective, how could it ever be possible to make a conclusion of “[x] behavioral trait is caused by [y] societal influence” without having both a control-group person and a control-group society? Surely you see the difference in something like that than, say, the molar masses or speed of lights you mention in your linked article. And, I’m realizing now I might be coming off kinda jerky so let me add: I don’t think physical sciences are inherently “better” at all than social sciences – their rigor and methodology mentioned above is the very thing that makes them useless in studying social phenomenon.

    Thank you for your time. You may now return to you regularly scheduled comments.

    Sara:
    Things that don’t use the scientific method aren’t science. Social science, by definition, is science. Studies on social issues that fail to employ science, therefore, are not social science.

    The existence of possible alternative explanations for results is a feature of all sciences, not just social sciences. Critique individual studies for flawed methods or conclusions, not entire fields for studying the wrong topics.

    Lettuce, “trying to see if there’s any way possible [phenomena A] could be caused by some other factor not accounted for” sounds like a pretty good description of a lot of modern work in social psychology.

    This is a serious issue for me, because my entire scientific field is sometimes disregarded because of wholesale assertions that social science isn’t real science. The outcome is that meaningful findings about important issues like intergroup prejudice or media violence get ignored. See this post: http://seburke.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/psychology-science/

    Sorry for the derail.

  31. Lettuce
    Lettuce August 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm |

    Uh, that was longer than it was supposed to be so, in brief:

    I think most of the people who say social science isn’t “real” science are simply using a different definition of science related to (specific) methodology; I doubt (hope) no one intelligent questions the merit and importance of what people actually do in those fields, semantic disputes aside.

  32. Sara
    Sara August 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm |

    In brief:

    1. Neurobiology is part of psychology, yes.

    2. “[x] behavioral trait is caused by [y] societal influence”
    It is possible to randomly assign people to be exposed to particular types of social influence, with a control group. It’s not possible to do this for an entire lifetime, just as it’s not possible to do experiments on redshift by controlling for the location of the astronomical body in question, but that’s why we isolate smaller cases to study first before trying to draw conclusions about the whole phenomenon.

    3. My definition is also based on methodology. If you think there’s a methodological issue I’ve overlooked that’s important enough to justify the traditional disciplinary distinction, please specify what it is.

    4. The ease of access to the “black box” being studied is a quantitative rather than a qualitative difference.

  33. Sara
    Sara August 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    [P.S. If you feel bad continuing the derail but you want to respond, feel free to comment on my post instead of here.]

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