Iraq: the model that wasn't

By Razib Khan | April 28, 2012 11:13 pm

The magazine Foreign Policy recently had a “sex” issue out. This issue is particularly famous for Mona Eltahaway’s jeremiad against Arab male culture, and their attitudes toward women. Over at bloggingheads.tv Charli Carpenter expresses some concern that the issue seemed so singularly focused on Arabs, as if women’s rights is a problem with particular salience for Arab Muslims. As it is, she admits that as a matter of truth it may be so, but still has qualms about essentialization.

Now, I like to think in terms of distributions, and don’t find essentialization particularly useful on a fundamental level. But, my personal observation is that the term ‘essentialization’ tends to be used when there are phenomena brought to light which make people uncomfortable. For example, I rarely hear essentialization being nearly a great a problem when talking about Republicans or Western Christian conservatives.

But it does make to wonder: how bad are Arab countries when it comes to women’s rights? Let’s look at the World Values Survey. There are two questions in the survey which have a lot of normative baggage:

- If jobs are scarce: men should have more right to a job than women

- It is an essential characteristic of democracy that women have the same rights as men

As a matter of pedantic accuracy obviously it is not an essential characteristic of democracy that women and men have the same rights. Ancient Athens and America before the 1920s are generally considered democracies. But, the question is a rough gauge of attitudes toward male and female legal equality. I relabeled these questions as “economic” and “legal” equality. They are given as percentages, so I converted the categories into numbers, and then took the weighted average. These two indices measure the two dimensions of equality, with higher values favoring more equality. Below I generated a scatterplot showing the relationship between the two (naturally positively correlated). I’ve also attached table data after the figure.

Democracy: Women have the same rights as men.
Country Not essential 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Essential
Malaysia 4% 2% 2% 5% 18% 14% 14% 15% 12% 15%
Thailand 2% 1% 2% 2% 11% 10% 14% 17% 18% 22%
Iraq 10% 5% 6% 7% 15% 7% 8% 9% 7% 27%
Rwanda 2% 2% 3% 4% 9% 8% 9% 14% 19% 32%
Iran 5% 2% 3% 3% 9% 7% 8% 13% 14% 35%
South Africa 2% 3% 2% 3% 7% 7% 9% 12% 15% 41%
South Korea 4% 1% 1% 2% 9% 6% 7% 13% 15% 42%
Japan 2% 1% 1% 1% 4% 12% 8% 15% 13% 43%
Zambia 3% 3% 4% 4% 10% 9% 5% 7% 11% 45%
Morocco 8% 2% 4% 4% 10% 2% 5% 10% 10% 45%
Indonesia 6% 1% 1% 2% 7% 4% 8% 12% 11% 47%
Ukraine 1% 1% 1% 3% 6% 7% 8% 11% 14% 48%
Ghana 3% 2% 2% 1% 4% 4% 4% 12% 19% 49%
France 1% 1% 1% 2% 6% 3% 4% 15% 17% 50%
Moldova 1% 0% 1% 1% 6% 4% 7% 10% 20% 51%
Jordan 11% 3% 3% 4% 6% 5% 4% 9% 6% 51%
Egypt 7% 1% 3% 4% 9% 6% 7% 8% 4% 51%
Mali 8% 2% 1% 3% 9% 4% 8% 6% 9% 51%
Ethiopia 1% 0% 0% 0% 1% 1% 9% 11% 25% 52%
Chile 2% 1% 1% 1% 8% 6% 6% 10% 10% 55%
Serbia 3% 1% 1% 2% 4% 4% 5% 11% 13% 56%
Brazil 4% 1% 2% 2% 6% 3% 5% 9% 13% 56%
Turkey 1% 1% 1% 2% 4% 6% 8% 13% 9% 57%
United States 2% 1% 1% 1% 11% 4% 5% 8% 11% 57%
Bulgaria 2% 2% 2% 2% 4% 3% 3% 9% 16% 57%
Mexico 8% 2% 2% 1% 5% 3% 3% 9% 11% 57%
Burkina Faso 4% 1% 2% 2% 7% 4% 5% 6% 9% 59%
Taiwan 0% 0% 0% 1% 3% 5% 6% 11% 15% 59%
Netherlands 1% 0% 0% 1% 2% 3% 5% 12% 17% 60%
Uruguay 2% 0% 1% 1% 8% 5% 6% 9% 9% 60%
China 2% 1% 1% 0% 2% 3% 3% 8% 19% 61%
Peru 2% 1% 1% 1% 4% 3% 4% 10% 14% 61%
Great Britain 1% 1% 1% 1% 3% 3% 3% 12% 14% 62%
Slovenia 2% 1% 1% 1% 4% 2% 4% 11% 12% 63%
Spain 1% 0% 1% 1% 5% 4% 7% 7% 11% 63%
Finland 0% 0% 1% 1% 2% 2% 4% 10% 17% 64%
Trinidad and Tobago 3% 1% 1% 1% 4% 3% 3% 8% 12% 65%
Poland 1% 0% 1% 2% 4% 2% 4% 10% 11% 65%
Canada 1% 1% 1% 1% 4% 2% 3% 11% 12% 66%
Viet Nam 0% 0% 0% 0% 1% 3% 4% 10% 14% 68%
Cyprus 2% 1% 1% 1% 5% 3% 3% 7% 8% 69%
Georgia 1% 0% 0% 1% 3% 2% 5% 9% 9% 70%
Norway 1% 0% 1% 1% 2% 1% 2% 9% 15% 70%
Australia 2% 1% 0% 0% 4% 1% 4% 7% 10% 72%
Romania 0% 0% 0% 1% 3% 1% 3% 7% 11% 74%
Russian Federation 2% 0% 1% 1% 3% 2% 3% 6% 9% 74%
Germany 1% 1% 1% 1% 2% 4% 4% 6% 7% 74%
Switzerland 2% 0% 1% 0% 2% 1% 2% 4% 10% 78%
Argentina 1% 0% 0% 0% 3% 1% 3% 5% 6% 80%
Sweden 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 16% 84%
Andorra 2% 0% 0% 0% 2% 1% 1% 3% 5% 88%
Men more right to jobs
Country Agree Neither Disagree
Egypt 89% 7% 4%
Jordan 88% 4% 8%
Iraq 84% 0% 16%
Iran 69% 14% 17%
Mali 62% 15% 23%
Indonesia 55% 8% 36%
Ghana 54% 9% 37%
Turkey 53% 17% 30%
Georgia 53% 21% 26%
Burkina Faso 52% 13% 35%
India 51% 28% 21%
Morocco 51% 16% 33%
Malaysia 49% 36% 15%
Taiwan 44% 20% 36%
China 42% 25% 33%
Viet Nam 41% 22% 38%
Moldova 38% 23% 39%
South Africa 37% 13% 50%
Russian Federation 37% 20% 44%
South Korea 37% 37% 26%
Cyprus 37% 17% 46%
Romania 35% 24% 41%
Zambia 34% 15% 52%
Ukraine 33% 23% 45%
Thailand 32% 27% 41%
Poland 31% 18% 51%
Chile 30% 24% 46%
Argentina 28% 12% 60%
Japan 27% 55% 18%
Mexico 25% 7% 68%
Trinidad and Tobago 25% 9% 66%
Rwanda 25% 11% 64%
Bulgaria 24% 23% 53%
Brazil 22% 14% 64%
Switzerland 22% 15% 63%
Italy 22% 19% 59%
Uruguay 22% 9% 69%
Hong Kong 22% 34% 44%
Guatemala 19% 9% 72%
France 18% 8% 74%
Germany 18% 15% 67%
Peru 18% 10% 73%
Spain 17% 7% 76%
Great Britain 16% 8% 76%
Canada 14% 8% 78%
Australia 14% 21% 65%
Slovenia 14% 13% 74%
Netherlands 13% 6% 81%
Serbia 13% 24% 63%
Finland 10% 9% 82%
New Zealand 8% 19% 73%
United States 7% 27% 66%
Norway 7% 5% 89%
Ethiopia 6% 8% 86%
Andorra 4% 6% 90%
Sweden 2% 4% 94%

 

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis
MORE ABOUT: Arabs, Sex
  • Darkseid

    it seems to me that this is what happens when one reads new sites that omit “offensive” info. I find that NPR and NYT, BBC are much more reluctant to print stories that would que a reader to investigate a subject like this example further. And I find it hard to even get a comment published on NYT that doesn’t follow The Narrative. I think of it as lies by omission. It does kind of scare me that even people who know info like this is true are so incredibly reluctant to speak about it (even anonymously on the internet.) The first thing they do is try to cite examples of why all other cultures are equally as bad: “There is sexism is ALL cultures.” But in what proportion?

  • http://www.lindipendente.eu Dario de Judicibus

    how that list of countries was selected? why many major countries are missing?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #2, wvs only surveys some countries. try and get a survey of north korea. you should follow links, i provide them for a reason.

  • http://anepigone.blogspot.com Audacious Epigone

    Darkseid,

    Perfect example of just that a few months ago on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, when an Egyptian correspondent fielded a caller’s question about women’s rights in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’. I get the feeling that a lot of people who consume media like TotN think Islamist views on women’s rights are about the same as southern evangelicals in the US.

  • http://anepigone.blogspot.com Audacious Epigone

    * about the same as those of southern evangelicals

  • Darkseid

    Isn’t it weird how badly we need diversity even though all cultures are exactly equal? Keep those wicked blog posts comin’ btw;)

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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