Christina Hoff Sommers at Georgetown
By David Henderson
There’s even a term for what caused me, someone who is notoriously impatient while watching long videos, to watch an hour-plus video of a speech by feminist Christina Hoff Sommers at Georgetown. It’s called the “Streisand effect.” Most of the talk is not about economics. Some is, as when she discusses the sources of the wage gap between men and women and basically gets it right. But there’s a huge amount of common sense in her talk. As a bonus, Ms. Sommers has a really appealing personality. She’s someone I would like to meet. Also, in a broad sense, much of this talk fits under the categories “Labor Market” and “Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge.”
A bureaucrat at Georgetown University announced a few days ago that the College Republicans, who sponsored the event, should delete the segments showing protestors because the protestors didn’t consent to be filmed. So, of course, I wanted to watch the video before it was taken down from Youtube. I spent my normal early-morning blog-reading time doing so.
Thus my use of the term “Streisand effect.” Here’s the wikipedia write-up and here’s the relevant paragraph:
Mike Masnick of Techdirt coined the term after Streisand unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia.com for violation of privacy. The US$50 million lawsuit endeavored to remove an aerial photograph of Streisand’s mansion from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs. Adelman photographed the beachfront property to document coastal erosion as part of the California Coastal Records Project, which was intended to influence government policymakers. Before Streisand filed her lawsuit, “Image 3850” had been downloaded from Adelman’s website only six times; two of those downloads were by Streisand’s attorneys. As a result of the case, public knowledge of the picture increased substantially; more than 420,000 people visited the site over the following month.
Now on to Ms. Sommers’ talk, for which I’ll note highlights. I’ll also give one criticism of one of her answers in Q&A.
Before and after the 5:00 point: she tells how she was a member in good standing of the feminist community.
5:25: Everything changed when she wrote Who Stole Feminism?
8:00: A hilarious story about how her father bought Playboy and his unfortunate explanation to the sales person about why he was buying it.
9:50 to about 20:00: The various historical strands of feminism. Stuff I didn’t know and found interesting.
21:00: Men and women are different.
21:40: Men and women major in different things and it has implications for earning.
22:30: Research results on gender and personality across 55 nations.
23:15: A fascinating finding about poor nations vs. rich nations.
29:15: Sweden’s government-sponsored school to wipe out gender differences: see what happened.
32:45: The spin about men and women in college textbooks.
33:30: Factors behind the wage gap.
35:30: Intolerance on campuses. Trigger warning about clapping.
36:15: “Safe room” at Yale for those who can’t handle disagreement. That reminded me of this.
37:55: Q&A begins.
37:59: This guy is long-winded and aggressive.
39:50: He finally gets to a point where Sommers can insert some facts. She does a great job on European policy on paid family leave.
41:45: Great nurse story about wages.
42:48: Question about whether there should be government requirements for parental leave.
43:30: Sommers gives a good answer but not to that question. She dodges the question.
46:20: The schools’ intolerance of the antics of little boys. (I’m glad that I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s.)
48:00: Great point about relative absence of women in dangerous professions.
50:30: Interesting point about men being forced to have sex.
51:40: Kangaroo courts. We need due process.
52:25: Sommers uses the question asked about violence against women in Anacostia (a poor part of Washington, D.C.) to make the point that the emphasis on rape on campuses doesn’t make sense because those are the safest places.
56:50: She toys with a “Marshall Plan” to save young boys. Hmm. How about getting government out of education?
58:35: Development in poor countries is focusing on educating girls.
1:01:00: Men need their safe spaces too.
1:02:20: One woman asks about socialization of men and women as an explanation. Summers has a good answer but her earlier point about Sweden was a good answer.
1:05:15: We are not silly putty.
1:05:45: Question about racial breakdown of suspensions from school. Sommers makes a great point with North Dakota. I don’t think the questioner got the point.
1:08:20: Sommers’ plea for working-class boys.
My bottom line is that Sommers is a true humanitarian.