Deciphering Both Sides of Sexism
“Sexism Hurts Us All”, an article written by Ira Horowitz, discusses how sexism hurts men as well as women and how by reversing the conditioning of sexism and unlearning the teachings that young men are taught from the beginning, it can help men to be able to feel comfortable expressing their emotions and creating close relationships with other men and women. The audience is clearly targeted towards men, but I think it is also targeted towards women so that they have a better understanding of what gender roles men are subjected to. Women are starting to come out of the gender roles, and starting to stand against the gender stereotypes, but men haven’t done so just yet.
For Dr. Horowitz argument that men will benefit from unlearning the conditioning of gender roles is beyond helpful for the future. Women have benefited so much from this situation of learning to step out of their gender roles and have been able to develop relationships with women and men greater than what they had before. Though the argument is sound, and I find it insightful, there are few sources that can back up his point, more studies might have been more helpful, and there are logical follicles and cognitive biases that can be noted through the paper. Although extremely effective, the article could have used a few extra things to help push it further to make it a great article the main thing being more studies from other countries that can help to support his point.
Throughout this article, Horowitz mentions a study that he uses as an example to explain theories he has on what can help men with gender roles, describing them through the activities that were done in the study. Such study is, “Integrating the Other Half: Gender Training for Men”, which was conducted in South Africa, co-sponsored by Gender Education and Training Network. This workshop was held in Durban in South Africa, Horowitz sponsored this study himself along with others and wrote the first rough draft of this. Horowitz knows this study inside and out, which I think both helps and hurts his case since he is so involved in the study. It hits every one of his points that he makes in the article of how men are oppressed and the different ways that can help them move past this to have a better life and better relationships. This study is a great source to have and helps to further his argument as Horowitz continues to discuss how the activities that are performed in the study will help men now and boys growing in the future.
Dr. Horowitz has sources in this article that are very credible. Source one was the study done in South Africa, “Integrating the Other Half: Gender Training for Men”. This study was held in 1996 from November 13th to the 15thh at the Beach Hotel In Durban (Horowitz). There were fifteen male participants that came from five different provinces with three from COSATU, one from NUMSA and three who work for a provincial government, one a lecturer and one a residence counselor at a University and the rest from NGOs (Horowitz). Another credible source is “Learning to Kill? Masculinity, the Family and Violence in Natal” Journal of Southern African Studies by Catherine Campbell, and it supports Horowitz’s argument (Horowitz). This article discusses how gender roles connect to men’s destructive behavior and how it’s caused by when men have failed to live up to their expectations, this is discussed as a reference to the activities the men partake in. And although these are great sources and do a great job of tying the article together, I felt that he could have deciphered into other studies that have been conducted in other countries to help diverse the article. Some could argue that these studies might just apply to men in South Africa, since there is a culture difference, though that is something that Dr. Horowitz mentions in a different way and discounts for this, stating that the only difference between the two is the cultural differences. While I understand why Horowitz focused on mainly this study so that he could discuss his points that line up with the activates that the men went through in the study to meet up with what he had to say, I do think it would have helped to have other sources backing him up in the matter. Overall, Horowitz’s sources are credible considering the sources come from a scholar journal, but it would have helped his argument if he had more.
In the article, Horowitz does a great job using evidence and verifies that evidence through his examples, the only fault he has when he does this is he doesn’t bring enough evidence to the table with his examples. He gives us his theory, “I believe that neither role is freely chosen, and because both are learned, they can be unlearned” after he discusses how men and women are placed into these gender roles. With evidence, Horowitz uses the study done in South Africa to help explain how this can be possible, with the activities that the men did demonstrate their own oppression for their gender. By using this example to explain his theory it helps to focus on the main point throughout the article and to follow how the activities in the study can help men. His example is relevant towards the subject matter of how sexism hurts us all clearly because it discusses the oppression and pain that sexism causes on both sexes. This is accurate information because these studies have been performed around the world giving exact same feedback, according to Horowitz, just different variations of stories based on the cultural environment that those studies had been set in like the one he conducts in South Africa. What makes the context of this piece relevant is that these problems for men are universal; they are not just stressed towards men in South Africa. He uses this example to make a point, though the cultural context will obviously be different from those who are from different countries.
Although there are many ways that Horowitz has great evidence to back him up there are some cognitive biases that can be noted if one was really looking for them. One of those would be hindsight bias. Hindsight bias is once a decision is made, people often come to think it was inevitable (Pullman). By using the studies as an example, people might come to see every masculine course of action as inevitable because of the stereotype that men use physical force when they feel their masculinity is being threatened. People will see these actions only as a cause of pride and shame, not because they are violent. It is seen as he feels out of control and feels the loss of authority and can cause discredit towards men. Anchoring is another form of cognitive bias that can be used against Horowitz theory that he states in the article. Anchoring is fixing quickly or even unconsciously on a single interpretation or explanation or expectation, anchoring will expedite decision making, but the quick decision isn’t always the best answer (Pullman). By this one can find that, yes, sexism hurts us all, but in the article, there is not counter argument that makes his argument plausible. He anchors on to only one interpretation of the outcome. Giving a counterargument to his theory may help to credit him, and so that he isn’t avoiding the counterargument because it goes against his theory too much. By having a counterargument it gives the readers a thought of how he is not
In this article, there can be logical fallacies noted throughout the piece as well that can hurt the piece and make it discreditable. Generalization is the major one that can be found in here. Generalization is saying that all members of a group exhibit the characteristics of many or even of only some (Pullman). Obviously, we can make note that the group being generalized in the article is men, and by only having the studies show from South Africa, we can make note that Horowitz is generalizing that men all over the world can relate to what is happening in South Africa. Even though there is a lot of information to back up that this is true, Horowitz does not show this in his article with sources, but only with his word against others. This can lead into the logical fallacy of incomplete. Incomplete is leaving out information or including information you want people to see, also known as cherry-picking the evidence (Pullman). Horowitz may have found a study done in the U.S. or from the U.K. and didn’t like the information and shielded it from his audience by showing us a study that he felt was relevant to his theory alone. By having other studies, he could have avoided the suspicion of incomplete information given to the readers. The common practice could be another that is used against the article to discredit it. Common practice is saying something is the right thing to do because it is the thing most commonly done (Pullman). This could be demonstrated again in the studies that were reviewed in the article. What if some of the men that were in the study just followed what everyone else was saying to not seem different from everyone else? Maybe having another study that performed a different tactic, but still held the similar matter study would have done a good comparison to the article itself, but maybe there are no articles to back this up. But by mentioning different ways they could have updated the study to do different tactics would have helped.
Looking at it now it all seems so simple to divulge from this article that stopping the conditioning of men and women to fit in the gender roles society has set out, relationships between men and women won’t have to be forced or become a sexual encounter. Horowitz created a great article, with evidence that proves his point that men should unlearn their gender roles so that they can have a healthy relationship with themselves and others. “Therefore, for me and other men, it is only when we can support each other on the type of journey begun by the men at the workshop in Durban that we like our female counterparts will be able to become the true human beings we were meant to be” (Horowitz). But with a few changes from evidence and examples; logical fallacies and cognitive bias, I feel this would have been a stronger article to help Horowitz make his theory stronger. As we know all too well, these mistakes can be easily made by anyone, but these are notes that can hurt one’s work in the end, and discredit them from their point trying to be made. By adding in a few more examples of studies from other places in the world, and using counterarguments to engage the readers this article will be set.
Horowitz, Ira. “Sexism Hurts Us All.” Agenda (1997).
Pullman, George. Persuasion: History, Theory, Practice. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., n.d.