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First, I want to say, just to make my position clear, I love women, and I consider myself a feminist. I think women should have equal rights and make equal pay and blah blah blah. But I saw something online and it triggered a rant in me. I started ranting out loud, even though I am alone in my apartment because my girlfriend is away for the next week and a half. Anyway, here’s what I saw:
from http://www.4thestate.net/
So, you might know that I’m a fairly liberal guy, and you might be anticipating a rant about the media right now. That is exactly what I am here to rant about, but probably not in the way you had anticipated! I absolutely hate the people who made this infographic. I won’t claim to have a whole lot of knowledge about statistics, but I did take a year in that course in high school, and got a 5 on the AP test, and I’m very proud of that. I understand how to say a lot with a little bit of statistics, as most statisticians and infographic artists do (this should basically be synonymous with con artist now, by the way), and I’m going to deconstruct a lot of this graphic.
First of all, the whole point if this graphic is to point out the gender gap. Choosing to include organizations quoted is just unnecessary and misleading, and slightly alters the balance of the other statistics. It is completely unnecessary for the point they are trying to prove, and they could have just made their sample males and females.
That said, the number of people/organizations quoted only reflects EXACTLY that, the number of people quoted. That doesn’t even mean the number of quotes. This means that, for example, a paper could have quoted Hillary Clinton 80 times within 12 minutes, and this would only count once. I hope you get the point, but let’s give another example: any female politician/head of an organization. If she says one word, or one million words, she is counted ONCE. The amount of time or effort given to these quotes, or even the number of quotes is not represented at all. So, obviously, there is a huge flaw there.
This would be the equivalent to saying “Oh, they only let one black man speak out at this rally?” when Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech. Do you see how these numbers might possibly be wildly misleading? And do you also see how these are not weighted in any way? This, to me, is because of a bigger problem, though this is a bit of a tangent. We live in a society where it is very important for everyone to have a voice (see: Twitter), but let’s be realistic, not everyone has something powerful or new to say–in fact, most people don’t. One Martin Luther King Jr. or Abraham Lincoln speech would kick the ass of all of these fucking quotes and it wouldn’t matter whether he had a dick or a vagina or both!
There’s another thing that bugs me about the way 4thEstate presents their data–the categories in which they place these quotes. Abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood, and women’s rights are all very similar categories. I am not saying they are all the same topic, but it is going to be nearly impossible to find a quote that doesn’t fall into more than one category, if not all four. When you have overlapping categories like that, it would be more responsible, statistically, to group them all into one sample. Now we cannot just take the average of the 4 and get reasonable data because we have no idea what their sample sizes are and where the overlaps are.
AND here’s the most important thing of all–they left NO comparison to what the average numbers are. We have absolutely no context. This is a pretty standard thing. You have a control group and a sample group. Obviously, there’s no experiment here, but we have two things that we can compare, and then make conclusions. If you took a look at other nation-wide issues, does this fall outside the norm? Are there more females or less females weighing in on the economy? It’s kind of odd that they left out any sort of benchmark, don’t you think? It seems to me like they may have even started making conclusions before making the graphic, which is my biggest problem.

Now that we’ve argued numbers, let’s get to the original point of the graphic. It’s trying to say that woman are underrepresented. At least, in terms of women’s rights, isn’t that what you want? I mean, obviously women are going to fight for their rights, but MEN should be fighting that battle just as much, if not more than women! The name of the game is EQUALITY. Isn’t the whole point of feminism for men and females to be equal and to not care? When blacks earned the right to vote, it wasn’t because only the blacks were fighting for it, it’s because whites were fighting for the blacks to vote too! In a perfect world, wouldn’t you rather have more men fighting for women’s rights than women? Wouldn’t that be THE most powerful message of all? One of the biggest problems we have with gay rights right now is that they are very few publicly homosexual politicians. Similarly, the strongest message we can send is that the heterosexual community embraces them and is willing to fight for their rights because we are all equals. Let’s focus on everyone fighting for what they believe in instead of picking apart meaningless numbers, all right?! Sheesh!

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