Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Great Silence (On Race & Culture) Part V

Picture Above: A Casualty in the Jihad Against Educating Women

Before we continue our discussion, we must briefly highlight the difference between explicit culture and implicit culture. Explicit culture are the stated beliefs and values that predominate in a nation, the written laws of the state and the official beliefs of civic, religious and business institutions that hold sway. Implicit culture are the values implied by the behavioral patterns of the populace, in public and especially in private. When you analyze the constitutions and laws of most nations you find that the majority contain strong affirmations of equality, yet we see a divergence between nations that come close to realizing these stated ideals and others in which women and minorities languish as third class citizens. In international polls, even in nations with widespread abuse of women, the majority of respondents affirmed their belief that women should have equal rights. The same is true for education; few parents or government officials will respond that education is not a priority, but in many nations, data suggests otherwise. The source of the discrepancy between rhetoric and reality is the daily choices and strategies that individuals, families and communities make.

When we analyze the extent to which nations, with similar nominal GDPs and levels of corruption, have addressed illiteracy, we find a tremendous divergence, that speaks of their implicit cultures. For example, Kenya and Pakistan are both poor ($850 & $1,201) and corrupt, but Kenya's literacy rate has been raised to 87.4%, whereas in Pakistan it has languished at 54.9%. Hence, the actual behavior of individuals, families and the state imply the education is held in higher regard in Kenya. And when we analyze the literacy rate of women and men, we find that in Pakistan the rate for women (30.3%) is half that of men (68.6%), whereas in Kenya, the (90.6% & 84.2%) the gap is not nearly as pronounced.

Some will respond that this is simply a product of each nation's respective governments, which do not always reflect the will of people. This is a problematic notion, given that governments do not exist in a vacuum, but reflect the culture of the nations from which they arise. For the sake of the discussion, let us assume that this holds true in the example of Pakistan and Kenya and focus our analysis on the private behavior of families.  To do so, I compared the sex ratio of newborns, which is generally indicative of the extent of sex selective abortion, which is one the most misogynist act conceivable. Predictably, Pakistan has among the most skewed ratios (1.10) in the world, whereas Kenya enjoys one of the most equitable ones (1.02). Those who persist in the belief that this is simply a product of Pakistan's dire poverty should consider a recent study that found that such behavior even persists among well off South Asian immigrants in the United States. Clearly, the actual behavior that predominates in a nation tells us far more about their culture than laws and polls.

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