Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Glenn Geher Lectures at Yale's Sex Week

Dr. Glenn Geher gave a lecture at Yale University's Sex Week. The lecture, which was on Valentine's Day and examined Dr. Geher's research on mating intelligence, can be viewed on YouTube. Part 1 of the lecture video can be viewed below. The rest is available at http://youtube.com/matingintelligence.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Did he really say THAT?! A closer look at the work of Lionel Tiger

Note: The content of this post reflects the opinions of those who have signed their names below, not the Psychology Department as a whole.

In celebration of Charles Darwin’s birthday, Dr. Lionel Tiger (Rutgers University) was invited to give two presentations on campus on February 6. A group of faculty from several disciplines put together a fact sheet raising issues regarding some of Dr. Tiger's claims. As we have pointed out in a letter to the Oracle (http://www.newpaltz.edu/oracle/article.cfm?id=3540), the fact sheet included direct quotes taken from Dr. Tiger’s writing, provided factual information with full citations, and raised questions about Tiger’s unsubstantiated claims. We are posting the fact sheet here, along with a Reproductive Rights fact sheet that provides evidence against the purported "self-righteous and automatic public support for women’s interests and issues" (Tiger, 2005).

Maureen Morrow (Biology), Brian Obach (Sociology), Giordana Grossi (Psychology), Morgan Gwenwald (Library), Anne Roschelle (Sociology), Peter Kaufman (Sociology) Alison Nash (Psychology), Eve Waltermaurer (Sociology), Gowri Parameswaran (Educational Studies), Karl Bryant (Women’s Studies/Sociology), Maryalice Citera (Psychology), Amy Kessleman (Women’s Studies), Judy Dorney (Educational Studies), Susan Kelly (Women’s Studies), Nancy Schniedewind (Educational Studies)

Did he really say THAT?!
A closer look at the work of Lionel Tiger

Many of Lionel Tiger’s claims are based on the idea that biological differences between the sexes provide important insights for understanding human behavior. He states that “…the sexes differ enormously and it is unnecessary to recall here the immense catalogue of defined sex differences…”(i) On the contrary, research has shown that these differences are minimal and that females and males are similar on most psychological variables (ii). Furthermore, any methodologically sound research that claims that existing differences are biologically rooted should convincingly rule out obvious alternative explanations, such as the role of socialization.

It is Dr. Tiger’s sweeping claims based on relatively little evidence that leads some to suspect that his pronouncements really reflect a desire to advance a conservative political ideology more than to produce sound social scientific findings. He has expressed personal concern about how women’s gains in the area of education and employment pose a threat to the traditional male dominated social order (iii). He also considers gay rights to be among the biggest problems of our era (iv). While his views draw attention in the mass media and rally support in conservative political circles, as social scientists we should always be mindful of the methodologies that are used to reach conclusions.

Below are questions to consider based on just a few of Dr. Tiger’s claims drawn from publications distributed for this talk.

Lionel Tiger says that there is “self-righteous and automatic public support for women’s interests and issues”.

Given that the rate of female poverty is 27% greater than men’s (v), that women earn on average seventy seven cents for every dollar earned by a man (vi) and that women are disproportionately victimized by their male partners (vii), what evidence is there that there is “automatic public support for women’s issues”? Should these even be considered “women’s issues” or do these problems affect everyone in society?

Lionel Tiger says that measures to protect women from abuse, like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), represent “antipathy to men”.

The VAWA provides for improved services for victims of violence with special emphasis placed on underserved communities where women are unlikely to find the support needed to escape abusive situations (viii). How does this represent “antipathy to men”? Just what aspect of protecting women from violence does Dr. Tiger find objectionable?

Lionel Tiger finds it “heartbreaking” that courts issue restraining orders against men charged with domestic violence.

The truly heartbreaking fact is that these restraining orders are not effective enough. While these protective measures are put in place for short periods when evidence of a threat exists, one strong predictor of homicide by an intimate partner is possession of a restraining order (ix). Does this suggest that restraining orders present too much of an infringement on the rights of men charged with violent acts? Does Dr. Tiger believe that women should have even fewer protections?

Lionel Tiger sees “remarkable gender discrimination” in the fact that more females are currently enrolled in college than males.

An average male high school graduate earns more than a female with over two years of college education (x). Is it unfair to men that women have to go to school two additional years in order to reach the earning level of males?

Lionel Tiger decries the "countless thriving women's studies programs" and "paltry number of ineffective male equivalents."

Women's Studies programs developed because the mainstream curriculum had ignored and marginalized women's experience. Rather than inhibiting the study of men, women's studies programs have generated interest in gender as experienced by men as well as women.

Lionel Tiger was a featured speaker at an anti-contraception conference organized by the radical anti-abortion Pro-Life Action League (xi).

Does it make sense to deny women access to abortion AND oppose the use of contraception that can prevent unwanted pregnancies?

Lionel Tiger says that an “anti-male bias” has created school systems “configured more to female than male nature” and that this explains superior female academic performance.

Like all major social institutions, educational institutions historically have been created, organized and administered by males (xii). Until relatively recently many colleges and universities did not even allow women access based in part on the belief that women “by nature” were not capable of benefiting from higher education. Was there any evidence to support these erroneous claims about “women’s nature” in the past? Does Dr. Tiger have any evidence to support his claims regarding education and women’s “nature” today?

(i) Tiger, Lionel. 2002. "The Human Nature Project". The Bradley Lecture - December 9, 2002. American Enterprise Institute
(ii) Hyde, J. S. (2005). The Gender Similarity Hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60 (6), 581-592
(iii) Tiger, Lionel. 2005. “You’ve Got Male” Wall Street Journal. All other Tiger references are drawn from this article except where noted otherwise.
(iv) Harrison, Colin. 1999. “Who Needs Men?” Harper’s June 1999, p 34.
(v) United States Bureau of the Census, 2005 (latest data available). The corresponding poverty rate for males is 11.1%.
(vi) United States Bureau of the Census, 2005, based on annual salaries for full time workers.
(vii) Dugan, Daniel S. Nagin, Richard Rosenfeld (2003).Exposure Reduction or Retaliation? The Effects of Domestic Violence Resources on Intimate-Partner Homicide Law & Society Review 37 (1), 169–198.
(viii) http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/
(ix) Dugan, Daniel S. Nagin, Richard Rosenfeld (2003).Exposure Reduction or Retaliation? The Effects of Domestic Violence Resources on Intimate-Partner Homicide Law & Society Review 37 (1), 169–198.
(x) United States Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, 1998.
(xi) http://www.prolifeaction.org/cinta/speakers.htm
(xii) Wheeler, Karen and Martha Tack. 1989. “Male and Female College Presidents: Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors.” Annual Meeting of the American Research Association.


According to Lionel Tiger (2005):

“Male resentment of the self-righteous and automatic public support for women’s interests and issues has been increasingly noisily on the boil for some time.”

Do women really enjoy automatic public support for their issues? Do women really have power over men in contemporary American Society? Lets look at reproductive rights as one example of how women do not receive automatic support for their most fundamental rights—the right to control their reproductive freedom.


Seventeen states (AR, CO, ID, IL, KY, MA, MS, MO, NE, ND, OH, RI, SC, VA, WI) prohibit health insurance carriers from providing abortion coverage. Since 1995 Congress has adopted language annually barring federal employees from selecting a health care plan that provides abortion coverage.

Several federal laws, most notably the Hyde Amendment, bar access to abortion care for most low-income women who rely on the federal government for their health care, with exceptions only to preserve the woman's life or if the pregnancy results from rape or incest. Women affected by these bans include recipients of Medicaid, Medicare, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, Indian Health Service clients, and clients of the District of Columbia's public health care programs.

Congress banned the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions except in the case of incest, rape, or potential death of the mother.

33 states and the District of Columbia restrict low-income women’s access to abortion.

8 states have unconstitutional and unenforceable laws that require women to obtain the written consent from, or give notice to, her husband prior to receiving abortion care: CO, IL, KY, LA, ND, PA, RI, SC.

43 states restrict young women's access to abortion by mandating parental notice or consent.

87 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider available (Fifteen years ago, 2,000 abortion clinics operated across the United States. Today there are only 750 in existence).

44 states and DC have laws subjecting abortion care providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to other medical professionals.

TRICARE is the military health care system serving 6.9 million active duty military personnel, retired personnel, and members of their families.

TRICARE is open to approximately 212,000 women of reproductive age currently serving in the military and 1.6 million female veterans.

Since 1979 the Department of Defense has prohibited abortion funding for military personnel, retirees, and their dependents through TRICARE, except when a woman's life is in danger.

In 1985 the ban was made permanent.

In 1997 Congress went even further by prohibiting the performance of abortions in military hospitals overseas even if paid for privately, except in cases of rape, incest, or where a woman's life is in danger.


46 states allow some health care providers to refuse to provide abortion services. All of these states permit individual health care providers to refuse to provide abortion services.

43 states allow health care institutions to refuse to provide abortion services.

13 states allow some health care providers to refuse to provide services related to contraception.

8 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to provide services to contraception.

4 states explicitly permit pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception.

9 states allow health care institutions to refuse to provide services related to contraception.

On at least 3 occasions, the Bush administration censored or changed accurate medical information on government websites at the behest of anti-choice activists. One of these websites was the Centers for Disease Control website where information about contraception and the transmission of STD's was taken off.



These data were gathered by the Guttmacher Institute a non-partisan institute that does research on sexual and reproductive health and the National Abortion Rights Action League. Some information was obtained on the Right to Life web site.