Sunday, November 11, 2007

Query

Can you make sense of this sentence, taken from my class notes: "Women often work longer hours than men."

Danica thinks that the word "often" means the same as "on average." That seems like quite a leap to me. The way the sentence is phrased seems to me to imply that men work more hours than women, on average.

What do you think?

5 comments:

FOOD COMA said...

i think danica is right, as always. she is a smart cookie. and if i am right (which i'm not always), this sentence is about women's tendency to work after "work" (i.e. housecleaning, dishes, errands, childcare). but maybe i am wrong. that is the usual academic feminist spiel.

chelky said...

[i forgot that it would say "food coma." haha.]

Matthew said...

I don't doubt that on average women work longer hours than men, I just don't see this sentence making that claim. I don't like the phrasing. If it is supposed to mean "Women work longer hours than men," why put the "often" in there? It diminishes the impact, to my mind.

Of course, as you imply, it all comes down to how one defines work.

chelky said...

well, if they said "women works longer hours than men," people could hold up all kinds of examples where this is wrong. i think by inserting the "often," they are making this more of a general statement. like...women "frequently" work longer hours, or "the majority of women" work longer hours. i guess unless you were to do a survey of all women and men in the world, this can't be a solid statment. like math. isn't math more fun that way? women's studies and philosophy and religion are for NOT having absolutes!

Matthew said...

Ok, you win.

That's why philosophy is fun! I hear math gets a little funny, too, sometimes.

"No absolutes and that absolutely" (often and in general!) doesn't really work, though. I kind of have a soft spot for absolutes, like love.