January 30, 2007


Can we now lay to rest- at least for another week- the myth that women are less aggressive and minded to die for their countries than men? This poll from Family Security Matters, a national security pressure group, shows that out of a sample of 1000 college students- 40% of the women said they were prepared to volunteer to fight in the US military whereas only 14% of the male students shared that conviction. Of course the poll may be an outlier, of course the number of students is smallish though normally polls for elections are around a couple of thousands. The poll was conducted by what looks like a reputable company. I suspect the figures are closer than the poll gives- but it is rather interesting that the gender bias that you might, on the basis of gender stereotypes imagine, was reversed.


youdontknowme said...

I have been thinking for a long time that women are more prepared to take up a fight to defend their country than men

Gracchi said...

Though I am very cautious about this poll- the more I think about it the more I wonder whether it is an outlier. It would also depend on the way that the question was phrased- say if it was about the reinstallation of the draft then women might have beleived that they weren't included. The size of the difference is so huge that it does make me interested.

Having said that you are right that it throws doubt upon the idea that women wouldn't fight whereas men would- you know the old sexist stereotype of the big strong man protecting his woman.

Matthew Sinclair said...

Hmm... I'm not sure that people can properly put themselves in the circumstances of being asked to defend their country when asked in a poll. It seems more sensible to rely upon revealed preferences; far more men do sign up to fight in the US military.

Gracchi said...

Yes I can see what you say Matthew there is also the possibility that women consider themselves less likely to be asked whereas men have more pressure upon them to serve should the military run short of manpower.

Ellee said...

I can't imagine why a woman would want to fight, this is an interesting poll.

Gracchi said...

Ellee I'm a man- though a coward- and I find it difficult to imagine why people volunteer to serve in the army- though I am exceptionally glad that they do.

not_saussure said...

The question, asked of college students rather than women in general, asked about whether respondents 'would consider defending America (joining the armed services)' in certain circumstances, so I think we're entitled to speculate as to what precise roles people saw themselves playing after enlisting.

Family Security Matters is a pretty obviously partisan organisation. Sourcewatch says they're
a conservative front group that claims to represent "security moms" and supports President George W. Bush
and who, in fact, seem to be sponsored by a conservative think tank (at least they apparently have the same switchboard).

You certainly get this impression from their website in general and from the commentary on the survey in particular; the survey is trying to elicit attitudes to the 'war on terror' and asks, among other things, about how willing people are to 'defend the Judeo-Christian basis of American values.' They find it 'disturbing' that a lot of their respondents were 'sceptical' (sorry, 'skeptical') about American politicans and institutions, including the military, and noteworthy that male college students are apparently considerably more sceptical than are the women. This might explain the results to a certain extent.

Gracchi said...

I think you are right and I was dubious about the source when I first came across it- but the poll was commissioned from outside and I'm not sure what their reasons for exaggerating male reluctance to fight would be.

I agree with you entirely on the question and the vagueness- men might think of fighting women of other roles when asked.

Not Saussure said...

I'm not sure what their reasons for exaggerating male reluctance to fight would be

The introduction to their commentary may provide a clue: Family Security Matters has sought to determine whether these students grasp the significance of 9/11 and have internalized the patriotic values of previous generations that faced daunting challenges. It was essential to determine what students are being taught on campus to prepare them to lead their generation in the continuing war on terror, as well as to meet other challenges such as those from Iran and North Korea.

Since the wisdom of America's war on terror is so lamentably (from the point of view of an organisation like Family Security Matters) unclear to most American -- not just college students -- I'd have thought it would be in their interests to ramp up the importance of showing students and others where their patriotic duty lies, be it by making sure that more positive messages come across on campus or by encouraging these spineless chaps' mothers, wives and girlfriends, who apparently do recognise the seriousness of the situation America faces (this is an organisation for 'Security moms', remember) to bring them to their senses. Lay on the white feathers.

Indeed, I also see from the introduction to the survey that A final area of concern that was tested in this research is the degree of influence of college professors on students' political beliefs. Faculties throughout the U.S. have succeeded in transforming entire departments and fields into political parties, many having negative views of the U.S. and its role in the world. Their teaching could influence a whole generation of new voters and lawmakers to minimize the importance of national security and not act forcibly to take actions to protect us. If college faculties are successful in their efforts to convey a negative view of the U.S. to the students on campus, the "clear and present danger" to the U.S. could result not from those who have already declared war on America and what she stands for, but from the apathy within.

Better have a look at what those campus marxists are teaching in their classes, do you not think? Good thing there're people like Campus Watch about.

Gracchi said...

Ok your first point I agree with- though I would point out it wasn't them that did the survey but a private company working for them- now the questions supposed to be asked etc and the reputableness of the company are another issue. So there I think you have me bang to rights as the expression goes.

Yes I agree this is a college focused thing and thus that imputation is clear but its interesting its been picked up for the male female comparison elsewhere.