posted Monday, 2 February 2004
I wrote this commentary about Time magazine in part to commemorate my first encounter with blatant mainstream-media bias against men ( Jerry Boggs.)
When reporting on gender issues, the media sometimes misrepresent statistics in a way that severely disfigures the reality of the sexes. Take Time magazine’s report from some years ago comparing male and female victims of workplace violence. At the bottom of Time's archived page entitled “Odds & Trends” is what Darrell Huff, author of How to Lie with Statistics, would call a “statisticulation,” the misinforming of people via statistical manipulation. Here is Time's statisticulation exactly as the magazine printed it:
THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH ON THE JOB FOR WOMEN IS HOMICIDE. OF WOMEN FATALLY HURT AT WORK FROM 1980 TO 1985, 42% WERE MURDERED, 64% BY GUN. AMONG MEN, ACCIDENTS ARE THE TOP OCCUPATIONAL KILLER; HOMICIDES ACCOUNT FOR JUST 12%.
Describing the men's homicide rate as “just 12%,” Time completes its statisticulation, its lie that at work the sex facing the far greater murder risk is women.
To coax readers into accepting the lie as fact, Time first had to deceive them into thinking that as many workplace women are fatally hurt as men. It achieved that deception, at least to its own liking, by simply omitting the actual workplace homicide numbers.
If these numbers had accompanied the percentages, we could have seen that the “just 12% of men murdered” far exceeds in number the “42% of women murdered.”
Consider the numbers for 2005, as provided by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In that typical year, both accidents and homicides claimed the lives of 5,328 men. Of these, 679 were killed by “assaults and violent acts at work.” In sharp contrast, accidents and homicides claimed the lives of only 406 women. Of these, only 113 were murdered.
Clearly, with the homicide numbers, we see an entirely different picture than the distorted one purposely painted by Time. (Incidentally, in the early 1980s, the period from which Time plucked its statistics, probably more men were fatally hurt than are today, given the period's laxer workplace laws and policies, and fewer women were fatally hurt because a smaller percentage of women than today occupied dangerous jobs.)
Time neglected to frame the topic of workplace deaths as it should have been framed: “Of the approximately 400 women fatally hurt at work each year between 1980 and 1985, 42% were murdered,” and “Of the approximately 5,300 men fatally hurt at work each year..., 12% were murdered.” This correct framing would have allowed readers to quickly arrive at the numbers Time had hoped no one would think about:
42% of women murdered = 168
12% of men murdered = 636
Almost four times as many men are murdered at work as women!
Moreover, over 15 times as many men are killed accidentally.
Yet Time's gender statisticulation intended to have readers go away thinking simplistically, “Wow! 42% of the women killed at work are murdered, and only 12% of men are. The workplace is truly a dangerous place for women."
| "Sometimes it is percentages that are given and raw figures that are missing, and this can be deceptive too. The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify." -How To Lie With Statistics |
In conveying that idea, Time may have exposed its real intent. What if its editors had secretly wanted to minimize the number of women in the workplace and to keep the female's average wage low? What better way is there to do that than have a reputable, flagship magazine "help" women by providing horrendous statistics proving the workplace is far more dangerous for them than for men? What better way is there to frighten women into staying home or working as little as possible, thus widening the gender wage gap that sends Times' feminists into a rage? No, I don't really think Time had that goal. But I do think both the editors and the reporters were rendered obtuse by their overpowering need to portray the female as a victim in all walks of life.
How do you think Time would have treated the story if the 5,000-plus workplace deaths occurred not to men but to women. Such an outpouring of rage you never would have seen before.
The sad thing is that Time's feminists saw in this male tragedy — men's much higher accidental death rate at work — an opportunity to set up the percentages on workplace violence so that the lion's share of the violence would appear to target women. (For an example of how ideological feminists use men's higher death rate in general to anger women about the "mistreatment" of women's heart disease, see "Women’s Advocates Wrong About Why More Women Die of Heart Disease Than Men.")
Many other media outlets, to propagate the feminist ideology that women are a class of victims, also frequently take the opportunity to cast men's problems as women's problems. They present men’s shorter life span, for example, as a man-shortage-or-loneliness problem for women, or as an economic problem for elderly women.
Now look at the other gender topics covered by Time's “Odds & Trends” in the '80s. What other statisticulations can you uncover?
While you're at it, what statisticulations can you uncover in a gender topic covered by Time at any time?
(The woman-is-victim distorting of workplace violence continues to this day. See the Center For Disease Control's purposely misleading Worker Health Chartbook 2004.)