Is There a Trade-Off Between Rights for Women and Acceptance of Homosexuality?

BYU political scientist Valerie Hudson recently published a now much-discussed LDS feminist argument against same-sex marriage.  The central thrust of her argument is that there is a trade-off between gender equality and acceptance of homosexuality, and that Mormons should favor gender equality by opposing same-sex marriage and acquiescence toward homosexuality more generally.  The normative part of this argument depends on the empirical claim: that there is indeed a trade-off.  Can this assertion survive empirical scrutiny?  If not, Hudson’s entire essay basically fails.

The simplest way to empirically examine Hudson’s argument is to check whether countries that are more acceptant of homosexuality are also less gender equitable.  A useful measure of acceptance of homosexuality is the Pew Global Attitudes Survey from 2007, which asks (more or less) representative samples of people in 43 countries to agree or disagree with the statement that:

Homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society.

Gender equality is, perhaps, a more complicated concept, and indeed a major theme in Hudson’s essay.  How to adequately quantify this tricky idea in a cross-national way?  It may be the case that no fully acceptable measures exist, but some data are available that are at least minimally acceptable from Hudson’s perspective: those published through her research website,  Three multivariate scales drawn from those data will be used in this post: Mary Caprioli’s Physical Security of Women Scale, Valerie Hudson’s Scale of the Degree of Discrepancy Between Law and Practice on Issues Concerning Women in Society, and Rose McDermott’s Inequity in Family Law Scale.  Each of these scales is coded such that the greatest level of gender equity is achieved at a score of 0, while the most inequity occurs at a score of 4.

Both basic and more sophisticated analysis produce a set of results that, I suppose, could be described as striking — if no stronger word is at hand.  In every case, the relationship is exactly the opposite of the one that Hudson’s argument requires.  Those societies that are most acceptant of homosexuality are also the societies that are the most gender equitable.  Let me show some simple results to support this claim.  Consider first the following bivariate plot, with acceptance of homosexuality along the horizontal and inequality in family law along the vertical.

hudson1This is essentially as clean a relationship as one can ask for in the social sciences: increased acceptance of homosexuality is — in a linear way and almost without exception — associated with increased equality in family law.  Women are most equal, on this measure, exactly where same-sex family arrangements and relationships are most accepted.  The relationship is somewhat weaker and more error-laden when the Caprioli scale of women’s safety is used in place of the McDermott scale for family law, as seen in the following graph.

hudson2Increased error notwithstanding, the overall relationship is clear.  It is particularly noteworthy that every country which receives the best observed score of 1 on women’s safety is also a country where a large majority of citizens support acceptance of homosexuality.  For the Hudson measure of discrepancy between law and practice on women’s issues, the relationship is somewhere in the middle — stronger than the nonetheless strong relationship for physical safety, but weaker than the overwhelming relationship for family law.

hudson3These graphs are, of course, bivariate representations of the relationships of interest.  Controlling for confounding variables may certainly change the relationship, and in principle might even reverse it.  Yet my efforts at controlling for a variety of standard variables (GDP, women in the workforce, education levels, democracy levels, latitude, colonial heritage, etc.) made no dent.  Regardless of the analysis I undertook, the results were clear: increased acceptance of homosexuality is associated with increased gender equality, not with a drop in gender equality as Hudson’s argument would require.

These results do not necessarily mean that acceptance of homosexuality causes gender equality, or vice versa.  However, they do mean that adherents to Hudson’s argument have a lot of work to do.  Their line of reasoning requires a connection between recognition of same-sex relationships and gender equality that is the opposite of the strong evident trend in the empirical data.  If there are statistical confounders producing this result, the burden of proof is on Hudson and her supporters to demonstrate them.  Otherwise, her argument requires too much of an imaginative leap.


  1. Great post, JNS! Thanks for digging into the data to refute Hudson’s assertion. (And of course, I love any post with plots in it.)

    Data aside, would you have expected this relationship? I’m kind of surprised that Hudson would even make this argument. My anecdotal impression is that people most opposed to acceptance of homosexuality also tend to be more sexist.

  2. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    Ziff, this post certainly shows the general relationship that I would expect; I’ve made this point informally in comments on a few sites previously. But it’s better to have numbers than generalities. Also, some of the relationships are substantially stronger than I would have expected, and I was a priori unsure whether I anticipated that the relationship would survive conditioning on GDP, etc. But, I do agree with your broader point that the empirical basis for Hudson’s argument was, in the term of art, counterintuitive.

  3. Randall says:

    JNS: Thanks for torching a strawman for us (or did you roast a red herring?)

    Of course these results are correlational rather than cause and effect. That is, societies that embrace homosexuality tend to adhere to the same progressive ideologies that support women’s rights. The overlapping ideology is what probably creates the impressive scatter plots, and it doesn’t empirically disprove that adopting a homosexual agenda couldn’t distract from the cries of the women’s movement.

    I would love to see the same analysis done within the states of the U.S. Does it hold that states who have more progressive views of women’s roles also have more progressive views of homosexuality? Similarly, do states who have more laws supporting homosexual unions also have more laws protecting women?

  4. MikeInWeHo says:

    Hudson’s essay strikes me as grasping at straws. Does it surprise anyone here that this comes out of BYU? I can’t think of a credible secular feminist who advances a similar argument.

  5. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    How exactly is gender equality being measured? I saw the graphs but they don’t answer my question. In my view, gender equality would mean a valueing of both types of roles equally. So I’m less concerned with female workers getting paid the same as male workers in the same jobs and more concerned with jobs that are traditionally “feminine” (like teaching or nursing) having salaries commensurate with the training and hours that they entail.

    Also with families not being punished for having a stay-at-home mom (or other care-giver I suppose but emotionally and physically, the mother’s ideal at least while the children are small. Men don’t breastfeed very well. ;)) as I see happening in the States and Canada.

  6. Nice analytical work. What are the R2 values for each of the plots?

  7. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    PDOE, the coding details for the Hudson and other two indicators are here, at Hudson’s website.

    Randall, the same results hold for states in the U.S., and also for individuals within the U.S. and in Europe: the relationship between support for homosexual rights and support for women’s rights is positive. Of course there could in theory be a distraction problem in which homosexual legislation distracts from women’s legislation. But there’s no evidence of such a thing, and the available data points in the opposite direction.

    Mike, I think Hudson’s piece is interesting and creative. I just think it doesn’t fit our empirical world…

  8. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    J. Stapley, for the simple bivariate regressions corresponding with these plots, the R^2 varies from 0.47 to 0.71 — really very high for a bivariate analysis in the social sciences with a reasonable number of degrees of freedom.

  9. Randall says:

    What’s interesting about Ms. Hudson’s argument is that is shows the advances that have been made in the women’s rights agenda. It reminds me of an article I read on the KKK a few years back where one of the grand masters was on record stating that his group had now embraced the blacks and were reserving their efforts for homosexuals.

  10. There’s evidence that this relationship holds for individuals as well as for countries. For example, here’s a 2001 article from the journal Sex Roles that includes a meta-analysis (an analysis that combines results from many previous studies) on the question of the relationship between attitudes toward homosexuals and attitudes toward women. Based on the meta-analysis, the author concludes (in part):

    people who endorsed traditional gender-role beliefs held more negative attitudes toward homosexuality. . . . The results indicate that gender-role beliefs are closely linked to attitudes toward homosexuality, accounting for 23% of the attitude variance

  11. Just thinking out loud: Looking at these graphs makes me wonder about other correlations. How would homosexuality in an individual correlate to other qualities? faith? compassion? service? humility? …

    I would think that such qualities would not go unnoticed when weighing trade-offs. I’m not quite sure how it became fashionable to judge a person on a single characteristic.

    Also, I should add that I have no idea how to read those graphs. In spite of courses in advanced calculus, linear algebra, abstract algebra, numerical methods, and one basic statistics course, I find myself mystified. If anyone has a good link…

  12. Randall says:

    Tony #11
    There called scatter plots. Wikipedia gives it a fairly good treatment:

  13. Randall says:

    There= They’re

  14. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    Tony, I have no particular sense of any correlation between homosexuality in an individual and any of the traits you mention. I guess it’s worth pointing out that this simply analysis, like pretty much any quantitative analysis, is about one hypothesized relationship. Obviously, both acceptance of homosexuality and women’s rights have other aspects beyond what’s mentioned here.

  15. JNS,

    You needed to graph this to know this? Its pretty intuitive. I am not sure where Hudson gets her idea on this from. Acceptance of Homosexuality in a society is found largely in countries/culture groups where traditional cultural conservative Christian values are a minority view. Its the same in US states or when comparing European countries. Say Vermont vs Texas. Poland vs Holland etc.

  16. bbell,

    JNS is not on trial here–Hudson’s theory is.

  17. This discussion reminds me of an interview with author Richard Rodridguez last fall on wherein he touches on the link between feminism and the gay rights movement.

    He says “…we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women’s movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society. The possibility that we can form ourselves sexually — even form our sense of what a sex is — sets us apart from the traditional roles we were given by our fathers.”

    Hudson’s attempt to counter this reasoning falls far short. She has no good evidence to support her assertion, and as bbell says “it’s pretty intuitive” that she’s just plain wrong. I’m also curious as to her motivation. Trying to have it both ways?

    You can read the entire interview with Rodriguez here:

    (Sorry, you have to get through the ad first though.)

  18. Droylsden says:

    Without reading the article, I wonder if putting the gay rights movement with the womens’ rights movment is going to be a non-starter for the simple fact that one is erecting some separate-but-equal institutions (Title IX for college sports, different physical requirements for the fire dept. and military, etc.) and the other is trying to tear them down.

  19. Natalie says:

    It is wonderful to look at data on this issue – thanks!

    I think that this data suggests that we definitely to take seriously the claim that women’s equality is not compromised by us embracing homosexual rights, but, as I have written previously, I actually am concerned that some of the rhetoric that is being used to justify SSM does have negative consequences for women. In particular, I am concerned that as marriage becomes a “private” issue, we lose incentive to view marriage as something that we should publicly or socially support by promoting ways to make our society more friendly to women with children. I’m not saying that SSM and supporting women with children are incompatible, I just don’t want to see marriage become too much about personal choice and privacy.

  20. Natalie says:

    Here is my previous post flushing out these points. I’m not sure I still agree with all of it, but I still think that the relationship between feminism and gay rights is more tense than it sometimes seems:

  21. I think that this is a great evaluation of the argument. I think, however, that she would try to get out of this by defining “gender equality” in very specific ways. I am not sure what criteria are used to measure “gender equality” in the above studies, but it seems that what she means by it in her article are heterosexual relationships where both parents share parenting duties. In this way, her definition of “gender equality” is incompatible with homosexuality, and has nothing to do with the tolerance of homosexuality. This is the definition that I evaluate in my post, which you’ve linked to before:

  22. Randall says:

    Droylsden #18, did you just say “erect” in a gay thread? This is a family-friendly blog.

  23. re: 18/20
    It’s not as if the relationship between the gay and feminist movements just popped up today. (insert sly grin here)

    But anyway, shouldn’t we ask the feminists and the gays about how their movements relate? I have been hanging out with both groups for two decades and haven’t witnessed much tension. From my perspective, the political agendas of both are basically identical.

  24. I once picked up a book in the institute library entitled “Mormonism and The Negro”. In it, the author had gone to great lengths to square the circle of why the church didn’t accept blacks into the priesthood. There were many books like it, taking untenable positions to support untenable positions. Hudson’s paper seems, like the above mentioned book, to be that same epistemological claptrap. And yet, given the way that BYU works, coupled with the moral penalties that mormon intellectuals must pay to sit right with the church simultaneously with their consciences, Hudson will assure her tenure, should such tenure exist at BYU.

    What a world.

  25. I have to say, I am not greatly impressed by those graphs, especially the second one. Any conclusion besides homogeneity out of that one, looks crazy suspicious to me.

    And how are we defining equality in marriage law? The United States may not be Saudi Arabia, but having gone through a divorce many years ago, I don’t see much equality here either.

    (That said, Valerie Hudson’s argument looks like it needs some work)

  26. Funny you should ask, MikeInWeHo #23,

    I am a gay man in a SSM. My husband and I have been together 10 years now. Most of my friends (men and women) are strong feminists.

    Strangely, the vast majority (5 out of 7) of gay couples I know personally living in my suburb (obviously skewed relative to the city) have at least one child (through sperm donors or adoption). I am not close friends with any of them.

    I am closer friends with a half-dozen childless straight couples (both married and not-married). To me, childlessness is thicker than gayness. Parents with children are simply not available to friends, either quantitatively or qualitatively, to be close (and believe me, both sides have tried desperately but futilely to disprove this). Conversation invariably turns to their children. They are simultaneously envious (of my free time and copious travel) and supercilious (they have something special I will “never have”).

    Much is made about the gay/straight divide, but as I get older, I realize that the true divide is between those who have children and those that do not. I suspect that the end result of normalization of SSM in our society will be simply to realign the debate back to this true fault line.

    If the LDS church ever overcomes (what I judge to be) its blindspot over SSM, it will realize that defending marriage is much less important than defending the (rapidly dying) societal support for child rearing. While energy is being dissipated on what is probably the lost cause of opposing SSM, the real battle of subsidizing children is being lost.

    A large majority of women in the US are both against abortion and pro-choice. This is not a contradiction. I think there is a parallel with SSM and feminism in this. Fighting for the right to choose does not mean that we are inclined to choose yes. I would have thought the vaunted agency which is a cornerstone of LDS belief would harmonize better with this that has so far been the case.

    It is strange that in this entire discussion, no one has yet mentioned the strongest force promoting gender and marriage equality and undermining the 2-parent 1-income family: globalization. Much as I want to take credit for sensitizing heterosexual strangers to my plight, the simple truth is that both crime and gender roles are both much more strongly influenced by economics than by culture or religion. Ultimately, we can no longer afford to do without the labor of half the population, with or without SSM, while in China, there is one child and both parents work outside the home.

  27. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    Zen #25, all three graphs, if treated as quantitative regression analyses, show strong and statistically highly significant negative relationships. You may not be intuitively impressed by the strength of the connection, but that just suggests that you don’t work very much with empirical data.

    TT #21, I agree that Hudson’s article offers a nuanced, not to say overly narrow, conception of equality. Yet the consequences that she sees as attaching to that narrow version of equality seem to include broader ideas of equality. In particular, various stages of Hudson’s argument connect gender equality with — and, implicitly or explicitly, see the acceptance of homosexuality as raising dangers for women in the areas of — rape, involuntary marriage, plural marriage, child marriage, family law that discriminates in favor of men, and so forth. In other words, while these ideas may not be central to the specific usage of the concept of equality with which Hudson makes the pivotal move in her argument, they are nonetheless clearly part of the overall concept of equality developed in the article. The three indicators analyzed above clearly capture aspects of the concept Hudson raises as a specter associated with same-sex marriage: “evolutionary patriarchy” and “evolutionary marriage.” Since the data show evolutionary patriarchy to be least prevalent exactly when homosexuality is given the greatest societal acceptance, Hudson’s argument fails — her proposed cause (“companionate heterosexual monogamous marriage is… merely one form of gender arrangement among all others”) does not remotely appear to lead to her proposed outcome (accepting homosexuality will “enshrine male dominance and malignant patriarchy across the globe and ensure they will never be assailable again”). Instead, the data seem most compatible with the opposite hypothesis.

  28. What is interesting is that the arguments by the official LDS Church against the ERA was exactly this corrolation. Interesting how this backs that argument up. And Dan Weston, the LDS Church is VERY concerned about child rearing practices and disinterested observers have noticed this. That is why it has been called a “family friendly” religion. The problem is that a lot of Mormons, as usual, are not listening.

  29. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    Jettboy, to be clear, the pro-equality measures here are also generally what we’d call pro-family. Unless rape, forced marriage, and abuse of female children is somehow pro-family.

  30. Biologically, her analysis ties into the worse abuses of evolutionary psychology. (A field under strong attack from evolutionary biologists themselves. See here for a nice discussion of these problems: Her comparison of human and chimp male dominance hierarchies is flawed because it focuses male violence as if it were the principal form of interaction in chimps. In chimps, male-male violence is much more common as is female-female violence. Chips are just violent. Focusing on the occasional male-female violence is missing the way chimps actually interact, which is very complex. Also the comparison between humans and the common chimp is not the right one. Our closest relative is Bonobo Chimps which live in much more peaceful, matriarchal, societies that trade on sex for group cohesion.

    Male violence in human societies is real and needs to be dealt with in vigorous ways, but it is hardly the most dominant form of social/sexual interaction in human societies. Biologically, the basis of her argument highly suspect.

  31. Steve P., thanks for that. So we can now assert that Hudson’s argument fails on philosophical grounds (TT!), biological grounds (Steve!), and social science grounds (see the above post and Ziff’s citation link). That seems fairly thorough…

  32. When bbell and I agree on something, in most cases the bases are covered.

  33. Jessawhy says:

    Is anybody going to email Hudson and see if she wants to respond to JNS’s analysis of her position?

  34. Jessawhy, I’ve emailed the Square Two people. If they permitted comments, I would have posted a cross-link. They should nonetheless be aware of the link in the original post, as well. I’d note that, as far as I can tell, Hudson never chose to respond to TT’s remarks, either.

  35. #32 – That’s a pretty compelling argument all by itself.

  36. #32–Heehee. Very, very true.

  37. A. Amber says:

    Cassler’s argument is that greater gender equality in society leads to greater acceptance of ALL persons of difference–differences based in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Societies with greater gender equality should have greater tolerance for all “others,” including homosexuals, according to Cassler’s logic. Her logic also implies that in societies with low levels of gender equality, there will be less tolerance in society for homosexuals. Your empirical analysis actually proves her point. I am sure she would thank you if she knew!

  38. Left Field says:

    “Also the comparison between humans and the common chimp is not the right one. Our closest relative is Bonobo Chimps.”

    Wait a second, Steve. You’re saying that the genus Pan is not monophyletic?

  39. A. Amber, to the extent that the arguments in Hudson’s piece against societal acceptance and recognition of forms of romantic relationships other than “compassionate heterosexual monogamous marriage” are not to be taken seriously, you might be right. But if those arguments are intended as serious, then your reading has to be flawed. That’s because those arguments do not work if acceptance of other forms of romantic relationships do not threaten gender equality — such a threat lies at the heart of Hudson’s argument, and justifies for her the claim that the state shouldn’t recognize same-sex marriage. Recall that Hudson’s conclusion is that gender equality is destroyed when good heterosexual marriage is regarded as “merely one form of gender arrangement among all others” — so she claims that acceptance of homosexuality as a gender arrangement is a threat.

    More generally, her essay focuses on state regulations, arguing that they should privilege good heterosexual marriage over all other systems. The more concrete argument is that state acceptance of other forms of romantic relationships undermines gender equality. But regulatory acceptance of homosexuality is very strongly correlated with societal acceptance, and in any case the logic she suggests works basically the same way whether the state is involved or not.

    In other words, if Hudson has a case against same-sex marriage, it has to be that acceptance of homosexuality is correlated with poor rights for women. If Hudson instead sees acceptance of homosexuality and rights for women as themes that go together, then her argument — that somehow accepting same-sex marriage will undermine rights for women, but rights for women will basically ensure same-sex marriage — is self-undermining.

    Hudson refers to same-sex relationships under the aggregate concept of “gender apartheid systems,” saying that homosexuality “encourages a lack of true partnership between men and women, making gender equality unachievable.” This kind of claim seems hard to sustain in light of the evidence presented above.

    If Hudson’s essay is to be read essentially or perhaps only as an argument for compassionate marriage as against traditional forms of marriage, none of the criticism here applies. But if there is an argument against acceptance of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, it needs the relationship to be the opposite of what it is.

  40. In my #39, “then her argument” should instead be “then your reading of her argument”.

  41. #38 ” You’re saying that the genus Pan is not monophyletic?”

    Of course not. I’m saying I’m more closely related to my Grandfather’s Brother’s son, than to my Grandfather’s Brother’s grandson of a different one of his sons. Ok, I know this is uninterruptible in words but if you draw a picture you’ll see what I mean. My Grandfather’s brother forms a monophyletic line, but I am still more closely related to some of his descendants than others.

  42. MikeInWeHo, this is fascinating. I suspect that Hudson was affected by classical Greek discussions where homosexuality is framed in the context that of course men must love men, women are inadequate for love.

    Interesting how each time period frames matters differently.

  43. Left Field says:

    Ok, Steve, I get that you have greater consanguinity to your first cousin once removed than to your second cousin. However, I still don’t see how this applies to the Homo/Pan relationships. What makes P. paniscus more closely related to us than P. troglodytes? Your cousin analogy would apply if you were making the case that you are more closely related to the last common ancestor of chimpanzees than you are to either of the extant chimps. But neither living chimp is more closely related to the Homo/Pan ancestor than is the other. Therefore, both chimp species are analogous to our second cousin. The first cousin once removed would be the extinct common ancestor of Pan.

  44. re: 42
    That’s interesting, Stephen. It’s a shame Hudson isn’t part of this conversation. It would be helpful to know what influenced her thinking on the topic.

  45. #4–You said “Hudson’s essay strikes me as grasping at straws. Does it surprise anyone here that this comes out of BYU? I can’t think of a credible secular feminist who advances a similar argument.”

    Try Parity of the Sexes by Sylviane Agacinski. She is a secular, French philosopher who has some similar views.

  46. JNS,

    You are treating gender equality and acceptance of homosexuality as though they have a causal relationship when they are correlative. Of course countries who repress one group are more likely to repress another, but more respect for gender equality itself does not mean that a society will be more accepting of homosexuals or vice versa. Both of these stem from other factors such as modernization and education.

    Hudson sees both same-sex marriage and “traditional” marriage, which most people consider synonymous with heterosexual marriage but actually isn’t, as leading to gender inequality. Your graphs, while impressive, do not address the core of Hudson’s argument.

  47. Kristine says:

    From the original post:

    “These results do not necessarily mean that acceptance of homosexuality causes gender equality, or vice versa.”

    Is there some part of that that’s unclear?

  48. I understand that. However, the post sets itself up as though it is finding a causal relationship between the two (if not, then there is no need for the graphs and fancy language). It says the results do not “necessarily” cause each other–that isn’t as clear as it should be, especially given the tone of the rest of the argument and the responses to it.

  49. Kristine says:

    Nope. It posits correlations that tend in a single direction, which is still not at all like causation.

  50. Irene,

    However, the post sets itself up as though it is finding a causal relationship between the two (if not, then there is no need for the graphs and fancy language). It says the results do not “necessarily” cause each other–that isn’t as clear as it should be, especially given the tone of the rest of the argument and the responses to it.

    You made an assertion which (thanks, Kristine) is directly contradicted by the original post’s words. If you’ve got something substantial to say, then say it–no problem there–but criticizing the use of scatter plots to demonstrate correlation analysis is highly correlated with silliness. Criticizing intelligent people with large vocabularies for using big words is also highly correlated with defensiveness and an inability to admit when you made a bad argument in the first place.

  51. Juliann says:

    Unfortunately, I started this on another blog by mentioning Hudson and am following JNS’s link. Not that it will make a whit of difference as I will be also be dismissed as silly…but too many of you are unnecessarily rude and mean to those who initiate comments that might advance the dialogue beyond backslapping.

  52. Irene,

    I think Scott B. is being a bit unfair here. Your argument is (I believe) flawed, but not silly. And whether people are intelligent or have large vocabularies is completely irrelevant: what matters is whether their arguments are well-founded, clearly enough to be understood by the intended reader, and backed up with evidence.

    I think you overly worry over the distinction between causation and correlation. Correlation of A with B does not imply causation A -> B or B -> A but (barring sheer coincidence) does imply that there is some causal link correlating the two (perhaps C -> A and C -> B, perhaps further removed). There may be multiple (not necessarily independent) causative agents. Correlation is a “smoking gun” that is sufficient reason to explore the matter further.

    It is important to recall that the burden of proof is on the published writing of a (political) scientist, not on those who rebut that argument. In the presence of a contraindicative correlation, it is Ms. Hudson that owes us an explanatory hypothesis that is both plausible (so we give her temporary benefit of the doubt) and falsifiable (an experiment we, and preferably she, can run to defend her thesis).

    From the scatter plots of the original post, I can reasonably conclude that Hudson’s hypothesis is unworthy of a temporary benefit of the doubt, and so I join with the others who call call on Hudson to defend her publication. Until then, as in all scientifically valid endeavors, the tie goes to the doubters.

    I read only the Preface to the English edition of your prior citation (Parity of the Sexes by Sylviane Agacinski). I believe her argument is exemplified in three of her sentences:

    Thus, the culture of parity seems to want to ensure the equality of the sexes at the expense of “the equality of the sexualities”.

    I think this is a strawman. It is not “equality” but “equity” that is the better metric (and more widely advocated). Women do not want to be men, but they want to be equally valued (equivalent) and equally powerful (equipotent). It is the availability of choice, not the restriction of choice to a narrow definition of equality, that is empowering.

    the legalization of homosexuality has no direct connection to the family or marriage because, contrary to what you may read here or there, marriage was not instituted to legalize heterosexuality, but to regulate filiation.

    I have two problems with this:

    1) I.e. it’s not about the spouse, it’s about the children. This is an axiom, not a conclusion. In fact, I suspect only a minority of Americans would enter a marriage with lukewarm interest in a spouse merely to coparent.

    2) “instituted” implies that someone created marriage, rather than an organically evolving social contract encoded much later in law. It also invites one to infer that the (past) original intent is normative, rather than a continuing revelation on the current and future relevance of marriage and the expectations of the parties. There are many dead institutions (e.g. slavery) whose original pragmatics are (to put it mildly) no longer compelling. In the Bible, Jesus says that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. It is not irrational to substitute the word marriage for Sabbath here.

    One can easily be parent…not as homosexual nor…as heterosexual…it is first of all as man or woman, and thus with a second parent of another sex.

    The first part of this statement (the protasis) is a hypothesis which may be true or false. Naturally, if it is true, the second part (apodosis) follows trivially. This exemplifies the seemingly compelling faux-authoritative style of the author (admittedly in translation). The uncritical reader is invited to mistake an implication for a fact, although the meat is in the hypothesis, not the conclusion.

    It is (to me) unlikely (but please direct me to any contrary evidence) that a child attributes power to the bond between parents because they provide different enriching experiences. Otherwise, she might as well be raised by an English teacher and a math teacher. It is the love between parents that is modeled to the child, for religious families a reification of the divine on earth. The child learns love not from parent to child (which is necessarily rather one-sided in the beginning) but by observing the peer love between spouses for each other. Affection towards the child is expected. It is the affection between parents that conflicts with the inborn narcissism of babies and instills a more noble and richer sense of love.

    You may disagree with the above contentions, but it is enough that you find them plausible. Assertion is not fact, and I would have preferred in Agacinski’s book a few less polysyllabic words and a few more scatter plots.

    P.S. If you have read this far and your name is Irene or Juliann, then I thank you for the courtesy.

  53. Irene, thanks for your thoughts. Regarding causation vs. correlation, the data here are correlations; they nonetheless severely problematize the argument that there is a strong causal relationship in the opposite direction. Your proposed confounding variables, education and modernization, aren’t sufficient to really change the relationships presented above, though; in multivariate regressions that control for various measures of these, the key relationship between views on homosexuality and gender equality remains strong.

    You say, “Hudson sees both same-sex marriage and “traditional” marriage, which most people consider synonymous with heterosexual marriage but actually isn’t, as leading to gender inequality. Your graphs, while impressive, do not address the core of Hudson’s argument.”

    This is probably a much weaker argument than it initially appears to you. The analysis above shows that there is a very high hurdle to pass to conclude that acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriage causes gender inequality. The data don’t speak to the question of whether Hudson’s “traditional” marriage causes gender inequality, although there’s actually a tautology concern there: traditional marriage is by definition unequal in gender matters. However, if there is a positive relationship between traditional marriage and gender equality, then the data in the post above suggest that traditional marriage and same-sex marriage have divergent relationships with gender equality. Hudson’s argument thus becomes a brief against gender inequity within heterosexual marriage but irrelevant to debates over same-sex marriage.

  54. Sorry, should read “a positive relationship between traditional marriage and gender inequality”

  55. Scott B says:

    >I think Scott B. is being a bit unfair here.


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