Sunday, September 6, 2009

Love, marriage and politically correct research

More on love and marriage from C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis has interesting things to say on love and marriage in the The Screwtape Letters. Senior demon Screwtape writes letters to his junior demon nephew Wormwood on how to take humans from "the Enemy" being God, toward "Our Father" being Satan:

Now comes the joke. The Enemy described a married couple as 'one flesh'. He did not say a 'happily married couple' or 'a couple who married because they were in love', but you can make the humans ignore that. You can also make them forget that the man they call Paul did not confine it to married couples. Mere copulation, for him, makes 'one flesh'. You can thus get the humans to accept as rhetorical eulogies of 'being in love' what were in fact plain descriptions of the real significance of sexual intercourse. The truth is that whenever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured. From the true statement that this transcendental relation was intended to produce, and, if obediently entered into, too often will produce, affection and the family, humans can be made to infer the false belief that the blend of affection, fear and desire which they call 'being in love' is the only thing that makes marriage either happy or holy. The error is easy to produce because 'being in love' does very often, in Western Europe, precede marriages which are made in obedience to the Enemies designs, that is, with the intention of fidelity, fertility and good will; just as religious emotion very often, but not always, attends conversion. (emphasis mine)

When we come from the place that elevates "being in love", a temporary feeling which should not be confused with love, to the pinnacle of human experience, we create an environment where the loss of the feeling of "being in love" can be used as an excuse for all sorts of behaviors destructive to marriage, including infidelity. After all, God wants us to be "happy", right? Right?

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Politically correct research

You never know when you are going to run into examples of political correctness when it comes to the differences between the genders. I attended a dissertation defense on Friday in preparation for my own defense one of these days. The study being defended examined a certain type of knee injury in sports that is more commonly experienced by women than by men, the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL tear. The researcher outlined the anatomic and kinematic differences between men and women related to this injury. Basically, men tend to land from a jump in more knee flexion than women due to different factors, not the least of which is better balance between the quadriceps and hamstring muscles (ie; women tend to overly rely on their quads resulting in greater knee extension upon landing). And, the ACL is more at risk for injury in extension.

The researcher then went on to describe the study she carried out which involved a way to change landing kinematics such that the women in the study had more knee flexion when landing. After her presentation the audience had the opportunity to as her questions and one of the female anatomy profs asked the following question; "In essence aren't you trying to masculinize these women's movement patterns?" I thought to myself that was true, and that it would make sense to do so to a certain degree if the goal is to prevent ACL injuries among female athletes. But, the researcher answered, "Well, I suppose you could look at it that way, but I prefer not to. It is, in a sense, true, but it isn't appropriate to consider the findings in that manner". The prof who asked the question nodded her approval and from the back of the room I could observe several other profs shaking their heads a bit. Brilliant! Never mind the truth if it makes you uncomfortable to think of it in that way or you find it "inappropriate". We can't imply that men in any way have any inherent superiority to women, now can we?

18 comments:

Elusive Wapiti said...

"...aren't you trying to masculinize these women's movement patterns?"

But we spend all day long trying to feminize men's behaviors. Witness the Swedish researcher who said that men should whip out a moob and jam his vestigal nipple in his child's mouth.

I think I would've went thermal if I was in that room. I guess women can move like a chick and get hurt all day long, or change the way they move and not get hurt. Or the alternative is to not do "men's sports". Take your pick, fembot.

Question: why is there an imbalance between quads and hams in women? Are women just designed that way? Is there some sort of evo-bio speculation on why women are built that way.

Learner said...

EW,

But we spend all day long trying to feminize men's behaviors.

Yes, but that is just because feminized behaviors are superior. Sheesh!

Question: why is there an imbalance between quads and hams in women? Are women just designed that way? Is there some sort of evo-bio speculation on why women are built that way.

Well, typically most people are stronger in their quads than hams, including men and women (same deal for biceps and triceps). However, when landing from a jump your quads contract concentricaly (shortening) to extend your knee to meet the floor at the same time your hams contract eccentrically (lengthening) to control the extension against the resistance of the floor. Eccentric contractions require more strength. Men have longer and thicker muscle fibers which intrinsically = more strength so, men will have better eccentric control. (though women can improve this through rigorous specific training). So, I would say yes, women are designed that way. Why we are designed that way from an evolutionary biology frame of reference I am not sure. Perhaps the same reasons men are designed stronger than women.

There are also other anatomical and physiological or "design" reasons women are more prone to ACL injuries. Women have a larger "Q angle" (angle between the hip and knee) than men and that makes women relatively more "knock-kneed" than men which places more stress on the ACL (though according to the defendee that research is inconsistent). Also the changes in a woman's hormones through the menstrual cycle leaves her ligaments in a more compromised position.

Heh....sorry, that was probably more than you wanted to know!

Elusive Wapiti said...

Actually, your reply was perfect.

So, riddle me this Batman: what is more preferable: playing high-action, high-impact sports so that one may be steeped in lesbo-jock culture, or refrain from doing so and not get hurt in the process.

Also, women should know that sports-playing doesn't earn you much in the way of extra points as far as we men are concerned. The only way I can think this would be different was if she is a runner or cyclist...as these sports lend to quality exercise time together.

Learner said...

Good, I'm glad my reply was useful.

So, riddle me this Batman: what is more preferable: playing high-action, high-impact sports so that one may be steeped in lesbo-jock culture, or refrain from doing so and not get hurt in the process.

About as atheletic as I get is casual badmitten and volleyball and kicking/throwing a ball around the yard with me niece so I have never felt an urge to play any competitive sports. Makes that choice is a no-brainer for me.

Ame said...

my idea of competitive sports involving a ball flying thru the air in my general direction ... duck. the end.

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interesting how the defendee can defend her position which should be based on objective research alone with an opinion ... and the review board accepted that.

Learner said...

LOL Ame :) Ball flying through the air and ducking reminds me how much I hated dodge ball!

I think the review board accepted her answer because to challenge a feministic opinion would likely be academic suicide. Sad, but true.

Ame said...

Learner - that is incredibly sad, and disappointing. education goes to such great lengths to teach one how to do accurate research, and then it comes down to what one supposes to be true, prefers to, and what is in a sense true to one person's perception of what is true.

Learner said...

Ame, Yes, it is sad, isn't it.

Triton said...

Why we are designed that way from an evolutionary biology frame of reference I am not sure.

Well, that one seems pretty easy to me. Women's bodies are designed for activities that don't include landing hard on one's feet - activities like gathering berries and raising children. Men's bodies are designed for hunting and combat, activities where athleticism is important.

Sports were invented in the first place, after all, as a way of training for hunting and combat.

Women have a larger "Q angle" (angle between the hip and knee) than men and that makes women relatively more "knock-kneed" than men which places more stress on the ACL (though according to the defendee that research is inconsistent).

This larger angle results in a greater amount of torque. The magnitude of torque is rFsinθ, where r is the femur, F is the force of the woman's weight pressing down on the femur at the hip joint, and θ is the angle by which the femur deviates from the vertical.

I'm curious - was the defendee denying that women have a larger Q angle, or was the defendee denying that the larger angle puts more stress on the ACL? Because the first is a matter of basic anatomy and should be obvious one way or another. The second would only be obvious to those who have had basic physics.

Learner said...

Hi Triton,

Good point about the origin of sports.

I'm curious - was the defendee denying that women have a larger Q angle, or was the defendee denying that the larger angle puts more stress on the ACL? Because the first is a matter of basic anatomy and should be obvious one way or another. The second would only be obvious to those who have had basic physics.

My take on what the defendee said was that she was not denying that women have a larger Q angle (this is an anatomical fact), but rather that the relationship between a large Q angle and ACL injuries was not consistently established in the literature. I would posit that the reason why the relationship between Q angle and ACL injury is not consistently established is because there are other factors that influence ACL stability/injury like stability of the posterior cruciate, medial collateral, and lateral colateral ligaments, quadriceps and hamstring strength, playing surface, shoes, and perhaps other factors that are not yet apparent.

SA said...

Learner-

"the blend of affection, fear, and desire"

Very interesting. I hadn't thought about a fear aspect. What do you think he meant by this? Also from the second post on the ACL, does this mean in addition to the eyebrows we're going to get to see a picture of your knees?
wowza
:D
:p

SA

Triton said...

I would posit that the reason why the relationship between Q angle and ACL injury is not consistently established is because there are other factors that influence ACL stability/injury like stability of the posterior cruciate, medial collateral, and lateral colateral ligaments, quadriceps and hamstring strength, playing surface, shoes, and perhaps other factors that are not yet apparent.

Gotcha.

Of course, those other factors would only mitigate the stress on the knee; the torque is till there, though.

Even if ligaments or thigh muscles or shoe design play a part, I think the Q angle is still the most glaringly obvious culprit.

Learner said...

I hadn't thought about a fear aspect. What do you think he meant by this?

You know SA, when I read that I wondered the same thing. Perhaps it alludes to the risk associated with relationships? That is a great question. What do you think it means? Anyone else have any ideas?

Regarding my knees; I have no plans to post any knee pictures at this time. However if you look in my archives sometime last Fall I believe there is a picture of one of my ankles while I was modeling my fabulous pink lamb slippers. :)

Learner said...

Even if ligaments or thigh muscles or shoe design play a part, I think the Q angle is still the most glaringly obvious culprit.

Triton,

I agree that logically the Q angle is a likely culprit, along with the propensity of women to land a jump with their knees more flexed, which places the ACL in a greater degree of stretch and so increases the risk of injury.

The Librarian said...

I confess I am curious about why the presenter's response would be considered "feministic"? It seemed like a carefully worded response to a dissertation panel to avoid saying "I suppose you could say that... if you were a complete idiot and cared more about gender theory than about ACL injuries in female athletes. It's about body mechanics and there is a difference between male and female structure and how they react to this particular kind of physical stress." Maybe there was something in the tone of voice I missed? And, by the way, you don't have to be doing traditionally masculine sports to have sports injuries. A friend of mine tore her ACL when she landed a bit off from a tricky cheer routine.

I'm not competitive either, except when it comes to pound cake, and I have a wall full of blue ribbons to prove it.

Learner said...

Hi TL :)

Well, there were several things that pointed to the aforem mentioned denial. The beginning of the presentation laid out how male and female anatomy and kinesiology differed and how those factors increased the incidence of ACL injuries for females which set the stage for the intervention. The intervention being studied was designed to mimic male movement patterns. Masculinizing movement patterns was exactly what she was trying to do, yet she denied it when asked. She even said she did not think stating it that way was "PC". I think "PC" should have no place in scientific research.

And, by the way, you don't have to be doing traditionally masculine sports to have sports injuries.

True that, but the basis of the study was sports injuries.

I am still waiting to samle some of this prize winning pound cake! Can you freeze it and mail it to me? ;)

The Librarian said...

"The intervention being studied was designed to mimic male movement patterns. Masculinizing movement patterns was exactly what she was trying to do, yet she denied it when asked."

Well, yeah, OK. But when I do my workout, I consciously think about pushing through my heels, keeping my weight centered, avoid bouncing on my toes. I don't think of my movements as being "masculine" even when I'm at the gym lifting heavy in the squat cage, because I am a very feminine-type woman who just likes lifting heavy stuff for fun without incurring injury to my already-cranky knees. Your researcher may have been trying hard to avoid upsetting the dissertation committee, thus the "PC" language which is pretty much a required element of academe these days regardless of discipline. I'd be inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to her. You know I know my way around academic language, and the snippet I read in the original post did not bear a specifically "feministic" interpretation, unless someone was looking hard for it. "Inappropriate" in this instance may simply be shorthand for "gender theory does not have any place in this particular aspect of research which has to do with male and female body mechanics and the recurrence of this specific injury," and "masculinizing" is one of those gender-theory words which have little bearing in real-world applications. So when I go to the squat cage and load up the bar and find the "meat shelf" at the top of my shoulders, and plant my feet wide and really press through my heels, I'm "masculinizing" my movement? My ovaries and I say "I don't think so, sweetie." Safe movement is safe movement for boys and for girls.

"True that, but the basis of the study was sports injuries."

Yes, but.. (this is really in response to some of your commentators, not to your original post).. not all sports injuries occur during traditionally masculine sports. Cheerleading, for example, or tennis, or figure skating. Not every female athlete burns to wear an NFL or NBA jersey; sometimes spandex with sequins is the uniform, but it doesn't lessen the chance of injury, and any research that reduces the risk of a serious knee injury is good research.

My baking equipment is in storage, which is a bummer because I met a local caterer and have the opportunity to do some freelance baking. You're on my list for a pound cake shipment as soon as I get my kitchen in order! I have aprons to break in :)

For EW, a possible answer to the question:
"why is there an imbalance between quads and hams in women?"

Quads get a lot of work when the front of the leg is engaged in work. Any time a woman wears heeled shoes, that engages the entire front of the leg when the body is in motion, while forcing the back of the leg (hamstrings) to rest, because the heel pitches the woman's center of gravity forward. Add to that lots and lots of step aerobics, and you get the dreaded "turnip thigh" syndrome, where the quads get overworked and the hamstrings are barely used at all.

But you'll have to pry my Jimmy Choo slingbacks from my cold dead hands...

Learner said...

TL,

When you do your workout you are using very conscious movements in order to be safe. Landing a jump in the midst of a basketball game is a much more automatic behavior. A behavior in which women naturally land one way and men naturally land another way and the way women land increases their risk for an ACL injury (by as much as 8x). It really is not comparable to purposeful proper body mechanics used during things like weight lifting or yoga.

"Inappropriate" in this instance may simply be shorthand for "gender theory does not have any place in this particular aspect of research which has to do with male and female body mechanics and the recurrence of this specific injury,"

If she was not concerned about being PC with relation to gender she would have answered that yes, because she was employing an intervention that was designed to make female natural movements more like male natural movements. The reason to say no is because either she or the people listening would not like the intimation that she was trying to change female kinematics to male kinematics.

not all sports injuries occur during traditionally masculine sports

True, however by far the most common causes of ACL injury in women are basketball and soccer, not tennis or ice skating, or cheerleading.


Yea poundcake! :)