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John Stossel: The bogus war on women


You've probably heard that Democratic Party leaders decided that a way to win votes this November is to shout loudly that Republicans wage "war on women." Politico calls this a "proven, persuasive argument."

Give me a break. The idea of a conservative "war on women" is as silly as propaganda I was taught in college: Aside from sex organs, genders are exactly equal, said my leftist professors, and any admission of differences between men and women is oppressive.

I was taught that the only reason boys and girls behave differently is because we're raised differently. If society and parents were to treat genders the same, behavior differences would vanish. I believed it.

Then I had kids, and spent more time with kids, and learned what a fool I'd been.

Back in my ABC News days, I did a TV show about the differences. A typical mom said, "We gave them each trucks. She just wouldn't play with trucks. We wouldn't let him play with guns, so he pretended carrots were guns."

There were exceptions, of course. But it turns out that there's plenty of science documenting that men and women are just programmed differently.

Yet when I reported on that, feminist icon Gloria Steinem told me that gender differences shouldn't even be studied. She sneered, it's "anti-American, crazy thinking to do this kind of research."

At the time, fire departments had dropped strength tests to avoid being accused of sex discrimination. When I told Steinem that one of my interviewees complained that instead of being carried during a fire, now she would be dragged downstairs, with her head hitting each stair, Steinem retorted, "It's better to drag them out ... there's less smoke down there."

Such mindless egalitarianism appeals to politicians, so governments push more of it. President Barack Obama and his supporters brag that Obamacare forces health insurance companies to sell men and women health insurance for the exact same price. On my TV show this week, Democratic activist Jehmu Greene asks indignantly, "Do you want to live in a country where you charge women more than men?"

Well, yes, I do. Insurance should account for costs. Women go to doctors much more often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, even if you exclude pregnancy visits, women are 33 percent more likely to visit a doctor. Insurance companies used to reflect that in prices. That isn't bigotry — it's just math.

Insurance companies still charge men more for car and life insurance. A survey of car insurance companies found that the cheapest policy for a woman cost 39 percent less than for a man. A 60-year-old woman pays 20 percent less than a man for a 10-year life insurance policy. Seventy-year-old women pay half as much as men.

That's just math, too, because most women live longer than men and, despite the "woman-driver" stereotype, we men get into more car accidents.

I don't hear activists complaining about men paying too much. The "victim" propaganda works only when women pay more.

The sexes are simply different. Yet government demands that colleges have gender-equal sports participation. It's fine if dance and art groups are mostly women, but if athletic teams are too male, lawsuits follow.

Obama even cynically repeats the misleading claim that women make 77 cents for every dollar men make, although his own Department of Labor says the difference evaporates once you control for experience and other choices.

Government once even claimed that Hooters discriminates against men because it hires big-breasted female waiters. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only dropped its complaint after Hooters ran a commercial showing a hairy male server wearing Hooters' skimpy uniform. Good for Hooters for mocking the bureaucrats; most companies just cringe and pay.

Liberal social engineers may dream of a society where genders are exactly equal, but that's nonsense. Men and women are different. We should celebrate that difference instead of claiming that women are victims.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."


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