Dienstag, 13. November 2012

Helping people the christian way

Today while munching something outside the library I checked the notes on the blackboard mainly for given my head something to munch on, too.
So my eyes fell on a small booklet with the picture of a woman behind a window in a heavy rain, out of focus. So I picked it up to see what it was about and my worst fears were confirmed when I saw it was indeed a christian pamphlet for some bible-circle or other*.
What was sickening was that it clearly adressed women suffering from depression and other mental health problems, claiming that their fictional identification figure tried everything, from sex over drugs to Eastern spirituality but she was still unhappy and alone and also addicted.
But you know, then a friend mentioned that she had to pray to god and believe in Jesus and everything would be happy.
Fuck you.
I make no secret of the fact that I have mental health problems. And so have many others. I also have a thyroid problem and so have others. And I know how vulnerable and anxious and easy to manipulate you are when you are depressive and locked into your own head and I also know how much good therapy can do just like those little pills of Thyroxine are doing me a lot of good.
The idea of those people fishing for lost and lonely women who most likely have already experience emotional abuse and then telling them that they just have to accept that they're bad and broken anyway makes me sick.
That's why I'm allergic to people telling me about the good religion and religious institutions do. They would probably even count this as "good", because look, they want to help the poor women!
Fuck you, too 

*This kind of thing is relatively rare in Germany

Mittwoch, 25. Juli 2012

Who moved the zebra, eh cheese?

You know that idea of "who moved the cheese"? The idea that, if we suddenly find that the provisions we carefully made are gone we're supposed to work harder and find new resources instead of asking who fucking moved the cheese.
Today I noticed that concept in a children's book. Yes, teach 'em young.
The story is about a zebra in the Zoo who wakes one morning to find her stripes gone. She's black all over and sad and scared. Together with her friend she sets out to find new stripes. When she's finally made it she meets the zoo director who tells her that he borrowed her stripes while she slept because he needed a zebra crossing, but wasn't she a good zebra to find new ones for herself so her old stripes could now serve as a zebra crossing forever?
The moral of the story: If you're brave you'll find new cheese, eh stripes.
My daughter didn't buy it. Hearing it again and again (isn't it incredible how often they'll make you read the very same story) and knowing in the beginning that the solution to the vanished stripes is the director, she said "he just shouldn't have taken her stripes without asking. He mad her sad."
Good girl, bad authors.

Montag, 23. Juli 2012

Your daily dose of sexism #7 Teach 'em young

Just after the kids' evening TV, there was a trailer for a movie they're showing the coming Friday on the children's TV.
So school-kids install cameras in their school and then watch what's happening, for example, in the teachers' room. And then there's, of course, a camera in the girls' locker room. And the boys (whait, you didn't think the cool protagonist kids could be girls or a mixed batch? ) get to see the girls after taking a shower, wrapped in their towels.
The poor boys!
Even in a 30 seconds trailer for a movie for tweens they manage to tell us that the actual bad thing that happened in that scene was not the sexual offense (just exchange schoolkids for boss and secretary and you get it) commited by the boys, but that the poor innocent boys got to see some nekkid skin of those eebil girls who probably have cooties!
Nothing spells rape-culture better than that.

Freitag, 13. Juli 2012

Your daily dose of Sexism #6: Women and informatics

I teach Spanish for adults and often use material from a magazine that is especially made for learners. They have a feature called "La familia Perez", in which they show colloquial language in dialogues.
Sadly, the women of the family are always the punchline.
So, this time, while he is working on the computer, she is cleaning the living room (inconsiderate cow, to disturb him after he complained about the dust). And he complains about all the spam and if she has been fooling around with their email address.
No, of course, she hasn't (it's established (he tells us) that he can't have a sensible discussion with her about informatics), but, btw, there was this mail from the bank where they asked for their details. So he freaks out, they have been fooled by a Phisher, didn't he tell her?!.
By whom, she asks, what guy, but he sets off for the bank.
After he saves them and comes back from the bank, she asks again what a guy named Fisher has to do with this, and he goes off laughing, and wer'e supposed to laugh along.
Stupid woman, doesn't know what Phisihing is! Well, seems like she was extensively schooled on the subject by a patient teacher.

Donnerstag, 12. Juli 2012

Hugs are like sweeties

I'm really proud of this analogy, so I'm going to use it to death, be warned.

Since currently people are discussing the AA code of conduct,  there seems to be some controvery about what certain parts of it mean, especially the ones about asking for hugs:
Yes means yes; no means no; and maybe means no. Please take no for an answer for any request or activity. You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders—and hugs (ask first!). There are folks who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space.
So, my take on it: they're like sweeties

Everybody likes them!
I mean, come on, everybody likes sweeties. And hugs. They're great, they're good, who couldn't possibly like them? Oh, you. And you. And you only like peppermint humbugs. That's obvious, isn't it? Although most people like them, not all do. And of those who like them, not everybody likes all of them, at all times. The fact that I'm a big hugger doesn't mean that I want to hug you now.

There's more than one way to offer a sweetie 
A lot of the discussion is about whether asking explicitely means verbally (hint, AA, clarify that, please).
Ophelia Benson thinks it does:
“Ask first”=ask in words. That’s the normal meaning! Yes, you can pantomime, but that really isn’t what’s usually meant by “ask first.”
And she doesn't like it:
I have to say though, I agree with the critics on this one. No, I don’t want people asking me for permission before hugging. No, I don’t want to ask.
And yes, that would be kind of strange. Last weekend (I had a fantastic weekend, did I tell you?), I went to an internet community meetup (in an old castle that functions as a youth hostel, just cool). Most people there have known each other for years, there are deep friendships, but we mostly only see each other once or twice a year. So a frequent scene was that some new arrival would drop their luggage, scream a name like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert, and run towards somebody who was already there who did the same. It would be absolutely awkward and perfectly ridiculous if they had to stop 1 m in front of each other and ask "can I hug you?"

But I disagree  that this is necessarily meant: 
Hmm, most people seem to interprete “ask” as verbal and/or non-verbal. Clarification would probably in order.
When I open my arms I’m asking for a hug.
When I purse my lips I’m asking for a kiss.
 Or, to get back to my weekend (did I already mention that it was fantastic?): one of the lads would permanently offer you  sweeties. No idea how many kg he had with him, there seemed to be a neverending supply. Sometimes he asked: Do you want a sweetie?, but most of the time he would only hold a sweetie in front of you and grin. Somehow everybody interpreted this as "do you want a sweetie?"

Sadly, hugs aren't like sweeties

For example, you burn calories by hugging, you consume them with sweeties. There's disagreement about what's better: non-verbal or verbal asking.

Tigger the Wing prefers verbal communication:
P.S. I actually find it easier to turn down a verbal request for a hug, because I feel intense embarrassment on behalf of someone left standing with their arms open. But hugs are actually quite painful to me and I’m sure that even enthusiastic huggers don’t want to cause pain.
 I clearly prefer non-verbal communication. To me it seems easier to widdle out of that without saying "no". And that's the difference between hugs and sweeties: The common rules of politenes are currently skewed in favour of the hugger (hello Mr. Dawkins!). I don't become an asshole for turning down a sweetie. I must have rejected as many sweeties at the weekend (which was great, btw) as I have accepted. Other people told him once that they're not into sweets/ peppermint sweets and everything was fine. It's not impolite to turn down a sweetie. You're not embarrased for the other person who is now standing there with his sweetie. Rejecting a sweetie is not rejecting the person.
With hugs, that's different and IMO this has to change: It's OK to say no. People must feel comfortable in saying no, especially women, who have been trained much more to put the needs of the other person before their own. You don't have to accept a hug or a kiss just not to embarass the other person, you must not be judged by other people for that. And the luckless hugger must learn that this doesn't devalue them, doesn't mean that the other person doesn't like them.
OK, sometimes it is because the other person doesn't like them, but, hey, they don't like you anyway and the will like you even less if you use the rules of politness to get some unwanted body contact.
That's a big goal, I think, a big shift in culture. Implementing rules that may seem uncomfortable at first can be a step towards this. The first time you wore a seatbelt was uncomfortable and awkward, too.

Mittwoch, 11. Juli 2012

Your Daily Dose of Sexism #5

My husband the feminist, or I'm being stupid again.
A friend of me is expecting a baby and I'll make a quilt for the baby.
So, I remarked that I'll wait until she knows if it's a boy or girl, and if it's a girl I'm going to make one with fairies and unicorns!
His remark was: Why not make one with all kinds of fantasy creature right away?
I think that means I'll have to hand in my badge...

Dienstag, 10. Juli 2012

Your daily dose of sexism #4

From the blurb of an erotic novel:
Lucilles neuer Boss, der ebenso charismatische wie exzentrische Reeder Craig Bellamy, erwischt sie während der Arbeitszeit bei einer Ménage à troi. Er sieht von einer Kündigung ab, wenn sie ihm Liebesdienste erweist. Neugierig lässt Lucille sich auf das tabulose Spiel ein.
In English:
Lucille's new boss, the charistmatic and excentric shipowner Craig Bellamy catches her in a threesome during work hours. He tells her he won't fire her if she grants him sexual favours. Being curious, Lucille joins this game without taboos.
Sexual coercion and probably rape as teaser for eroticism. Clearly, that's what all women want: as long as the guy is good-looking and rich, they don't mind that they have to give him a blowjob in order to keep their real job.

Montag, 9. Juli 2012

The Strong Woman Fallacy

By now many people have handed Paula Kirby her ass wrapped and with ribbons over her "open letter" that it's really not necessary to do so again.
But there's a point that comes up in her letter and in many comments, by both men and women that go along these arguments from Paula:
I simply do not accept that any reasonably mature, rational adult does not know exactly how to avoid getting into this kind of situation [she talks about being propositioned at bars after conferences] if he or she would prefer not to,or how to deal with it if it occurs...
So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge women to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we interact in our jobs, in our social lives or in the atheist movement. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive....
In almost any fieldyou care to consider, the women who have made it to the topare generally not sympathetic to the view that men or the system were desperately trying to hold them back. They havesimply adopted the tactics I am describing here, and have refused to let anything stop them.

I'll call it the Strong Woman Fallacy: Strong women deal with things. Strong women don't need silly harassment policies. Strong women kick ass without any help. It's infantilizing to suggest that women need protection. It's a particularly attractive and dangerous fallacy for many reasons:

1) It pushes people under the bus. Actually not all women are able to deal with harrassment. Because some women have been through extreme shit, have been hurt, raped, beaten, broken. But Paula, and many others, dismiss them as hysterical, immature, unreasonable, irrational. It's like telling somebody in a wheelchair that they should get the fuck up and climb the stairs instead of telling people to build ramps so they can participate in life.

2) It completely dismisses the fact that women have to deal with a shitload of things men usually never face. There's an old saying that homophobia is the fear of gay men treating a guy the way he treats women and there's more than a grain of truth to this. It's not about women being not as good as men, it's about the fact that women have to run an additional 100m to make it to the starting line.

3) It leaves the women who buy into this very vulnerable. It's attractive at first sight. It gives a sense of empowerment. I don't need help, no training wheels. I kick ass, I won't be held back, I can deal with all the jerks all by myself. And it leaves them completely without any protection or mechanisms come the day they can't do it alone anymore. By internalizing everything and denying external factors, all failing becomes their personal failing (and before that they're simply assholes because they'll tell everybody else that their failing is just their own fault) and since their sense of self and their self-worth is so closely tied to being "the strong one", they fall deep and they hit hard.

4) They dismiss the fact that it's simply wearing people out and, let's say it frankly, spoils their fun. Sure, most of us are able to tell the occasional asshole off (but, see point #1, there are those who can't even deal with that and it's not because they're immature or weak), but to put it bluntly: I refuse to spend my money on having my evening ruined (probably I'm not cheerful enough. Cheerful people don't let assholes spoil their fun). For many women, the way to deal with it is to stay at home. People like Paula will then tell us that we're hitting ourselves. Well, better me than you.

How to create a legend part 2: The Feminist Monolith

In my recent post "How to create a legend", I posted some tweets from Paula. S. Kirby and Russell Blackford, where they create the legend that "The Sisterhood of the Oppressed" (a very vaguely defined group, apparently) don't object to calling people "who disagree with their feminist dogma house-slaves" or, how Blackford called it "house negroes".
Timid Atheist pointed me towards something in the comments* that might have been the source of the claim, namely a comment by Taslima Nasreen on one of her posts on sex-work. If she meant that, it is in itself hilarious as an alleged example of the feminists monolith that does not allow for plurality, dissent and argument, because Taslima Nasreen's blog and her posts about prostitution and abortion are amongst the most controverse and discussed on FTB.
The post itself was very controversely discussed, with many voices disagreeing with Taslima Nasreen, challenging her for data, speaking their own experiences as sex-workers. So much for "dissent not being allowed".
Within the 305 comments, Taslima Nasreen answered one by an actual sex-worker and activist with this:
House slaves did not want the abolition of slavery because they were treated considerably better than field slaves. Would you say slavery should not have been abolished only because some privileged slaves wanted to remain as slaves?
 So, yes, Taslima Nasreen compared a woman who disagreed with her to a house slave, that part of Paula Kirby's statements is correct. What is a lie is that Taslima Nasreen's original position is "feminist dogma". Although there are feminists who agree with her, it is far from being the only position towards prostitution held by feminists and it's not like feminists don't heavily disagree with each other on the subject like in the very blog-post this comment follows. That part is lie #1.
The next lie is that people didn't object to that:

Stealth Badger replied to that comment with heavy critique:
Read that and think about how dehumanizing that is to say to someone; think about how casually you just swept away everything she said as if it was of no value whatsoever.
If you’re willing to do that, how can anyone be sure whether you’re speaking in support of someone, for them, or over them, especially when you ignore what they have said?
Anthony Kennerson writes:
Your analogy between consensual sex work legally sought and slavery is the most outrageous nonsense…and trivializes actual slavery and real exonomic exploitation that actually exists.
 MsLilithe weighs in:
THAT is the must ludicrous thing I have read thus far. Forget the fact that you just completely erased my sense of agency as a sex worker and that of sex workers who choose their occupation worldwide, you diminished the reality of slavery by comparing it to us. First, I find this comparison very unfeminist (ie, not celebrating the agency and strength and choices of women) second and more importantly, dismissing of the reality of true slavery that has existed and still exists.
So, to say that people didn't object  to Taslima Nasreen's term is another big, fat lie. Paula S. Kirby, you are a liar, ma'am. You, Russell Blackford, are one, too, sir. You whole argument relies on lies, distortions, strawmen and dishonesty.

*What comment you might ask?
The one that re-appeared, apparently. Don't ask me...
Yeah, sometimes I suck. I managed to delete comments by re-saving this as a draft while working on it. Thankfully it was still in my emails:
I'm wondering if Ms. Kirby meant this comment by Talisma Nasarin:


If so then she actually was refuted by her commenters. However I'm not sure that any of the bloggers at FTB saw that comment or if they did see it, say anything about it.

Donnerstag, 5. Juli 2012

How to create a legend, updated

Now, I think you all know about the verrry funny Twitter hashtag #FTBullies. On this hashtag and around it the following legend was birthed.
On the fourth of July, Paula S. Kirby tweeted this:
(formated for better readability, original below):

Last year one of the Oppressed Sisters described women in the atheist movement who don't take the RadFem view as 'house-slaves'. 1/3
Strangely, no one attacked her for the term on the basis that we weren't actually flogged for failing to polish the doorstep properly ...2/3
... or that using slavery as an analogy was disrespectful to its victims. 3/3

... or that using slavery as an analogy was disrespectful to its victims. 3/3
Strangely, no one attacked her for the term on the basis that we weren't actually flogged for failing to polish the doorstep properly ...2/3
Last year one of the Oppressed Sisters described women in the atheist movement who don't take the RadFem view as 'house-slaves'. 1/3

When asked who said that, her reply was this:

You think I save the URL of every comment insulting those who don't support RadFems?! It was a yr ago. Gd luck if u want 2 google

You think I save the URL of every comment insulting those who don't support RadFems?! It was a yr ago. Gd luck if u want 2 google
After that, the person who asked the question was blocked, so much for silencing dissent...

But that's not my point, nor the hilarity of claiming that using the term slave was disrespectful but using Feminazi is justified.

The problem is: We have no evidence for that claim except for Paula's memory.
Now, since Paula can't be trusted to give a definition of "Radfem ideology" recognizable by any person with a passing acquaintance of  feminist theory and schools of feminism, we have no idea what the "oppresed sister" actually said. Or in what context. Or, who she is and whether she has any actual ties to those she calls "The Sisterhood of the Oppressed".
So, make a claim that somebody whose name you don't remember said something that you don't remember exactly said something in a place you don't remember and then shout "you're silencing me" when people have the cheek to ask for evidence.

But it gets better. Russell Blackford jumps the train and twists this into this:

And nor are my female friends "chill girls" "gender traitors" "sister punishers" or (most amazingly!) "house negroes".
 Now we're racists as well!

Your (almost) daily dose of sexism #3 Birthday Edition

Today is my daughter's birthday (Happy Birthday, my love. You're smart, you're gorgeous, you kick ass). The amount of sexist crap I've gotten since I dared to have a daughter would fill this for like forever, but today I yaught myself at the daily sexism.
For her birthday I gave her a set of beads to make jewelery. Yeah, lots of pink butterflies. Not a cool science kit. Girl stuff, you know.
And since it's her birthday everything had to be postponed for half an hour so she could make a necklace (with a little help from me). Working with her I realized that this is a damn educational toy. Her fine motor skills were trained, we talked about symetry, colours and numbers. I, a passionate crafter and seamstress (not that kind) had fallen into the trap of the disdain for all things feminine.
Lesson learned, morre beads!

Sonntag, 1. Juli 2012

Your daily dose of sexism #2

I said it would be daily, didn't I?
So, today we have Nompliments, not really compliments.
In my parents' garden, the little one stood on the wall, holding the cloth-line pole, jumping up and down and singing "Jingle Bells".
Yeah, I know it's July.
So an elderly relative commented at the side of this happy and energetic child: She should have better been a boy!
Yeah, if those are compliments I don't want to see the insults...

Samstag, 30. Juni 2012

Your daily dose of Sexism #1

Welcome to a new and hopefully (sadly) permanent installment on this blog.
Just for those people who think it's not that bad.
And for the rest of us to vent and rant.

Today, at the place where our caravan is parked.
I get out of the car to greet the landlady and tell her that we're going to park the caravan again.
As Mr. drives to our slot and I walk, I hear her calling her husband:
"Husband, Mr MyLastName's son in law is here!"
Yeah. I'm invisible.

Freitag, 15. Juni 2012


Did you know that feminism (the radical notion that women are people) is just like sports?
No really.
BJ Kramer, who took part in an extremely ugly discussion about harassment policies actually claimed that:
More generally, nearly everyone I’ve encountered over the last two years with whom I’ve been having this discussion treats it more like sports or politics. You pick a team, and you defend it right or wrong.

And later Wendell Henry, who actually did pretty well in that trainwreck added:
For the record my intention was certainly not to have panel discussion with anything brilliant to say on this issue. I for one lack the expertise or insight or experience to be present for such a debate. I was coming at it from 2.1 directions. 1) A person’s whose views I very much liked (although his style does not work for many) had said some pretty stupid sounding things and I wanted to understand why. 2) For reasons both worthwhile and not I enjoy/get benefits from/like/derive pleasure from/?? spirited debates such as this one. .1) I had some secret hope that perhaps my undeniably correct logic would be helpful in showing Emery the ‘light’ (LOL well it has never worked the previous 40,000 times I have tried it so logically it will work soon I am sure).
For my purposes the event went reasonably well and accomplished 2 out of my 2.1 goals. I do hope that my silly little video has not widened the chasm and caused everyone to dig in deeper. If so then I sincerely apologize, that was not my intent.
So, obviously, my life, health and safety is sports for them. Because, let's face it, it won't really affect them either way, just like the result of the next football match doesn't really affect them.
Here's one request I have, though:
For those of you who see this as sports, and who have chosen "Team Women are People", could you please muster up the engery, devotion and enthusiasm actual football fans do? Or at least as much as the "TeamWomen are Fuckholes" does.

Montag, 4. Juni 2012

The day I was not raped

Following long and many dicussions over at Freethoughtblogs (read Pharyngula, Almost Diamonds, Lousy Canuck, The Atheist Experience, The Uncredible Hallq, Butterflies and Wheels, The X-Blog. Each blog usually has more than one post but I think you're famliar with all of them) and Skepchick, I decided to write this down as a testimony.
Many comments revolved about the actual level of harassment/ danger women face, victim blaming, and reporting. So here's my story.

Thankfully, so far in my life every day was a day I was not raped. I'm fortunate, I'm lucky. It's not because I do/ don't do X. One day stands clearly out amongst all those days and it is the day when rape suddenly became something that could have happened.

That day I'd gone to the cinema to watch The Lord of the Rings. Although we started in the afternoon it meant that by the time the movie was over and we'd said goodbye it was kind of late. Not middle of the night late, but between 10/11 pm. I walked back to my car which I'd parked in a Park and Ride a bit outside the city centre.
I walked back the main road and that's when I noticed the guy. Actually I noticed him because he cat-called me while walking in the opposite direction. Now, to get to my car I had to turn right from the main road uphill into a street that isn't "highstreet". About 250 m up that road I had to turn left into the carpark which isn't more than a bit of gravel and two light-bulbs, set back from the road and surrounded by buildings that are mostly used for comercial purposes and mostly uninhabited.
When I crossed the road I noticed that the guy was now walking in my direction. And since he was taller than me he walked faster than me. He was gaining on me, but he was not yet "officially" following me. When I turned left into the car-park he did so, too, still shortening the distance while I was moving further and further away from the main street, from the well lit side-street, from other people. That was what was obviously his intention: To get me as far away from any possible help before he attacked.
Thankfully my brain helped me out. I acted as if I was reaching for a car further back and just made a dash for mine when I was actually there. How I wished for a car with a remote control. But I made it. The distance was still big enough for me to open the lock, get in, close the door and lock it again while he tried to get after me.
I left the car park pretty shaken and upset. I told a female friend about it. Her reaction was to ask whether I was stupid to park my car there, she's so glad nothing happened but I mustn't ever park there again because it would be irresponsible of me.
Of course I did not report that. All this would have meant would have been that a great many more people would have criticised me, blamed me, lectured me while no wannabe rapist would ever be caught or prosecuted. (remember, you must take my story skeptically. Maybe his car was just parked there as well. Maybe he thought that this was his car and I was trying to steal it. Maybe he just wanted to ask me the time and now I'm painting a poor innocent guy as a rapist.)
No, I did not report.
Who would?

Samstag, 28. April 2012

The limits of imagination

I'm the first to admit that I'm a fantasy-chick.
LotR, His Dark Materials, Pratchett, Harry Potter, I love them.
Imagination, fantasy, they're important to me, they're wonderful, they're creative.
And quite often, they're settled in a mythical past of our own world.
Obviously, when we're talking about pirates, we're not talking about actual pirates, mostly desperate people who led short violent lives always threatened with execution should they be caught. We're talking about Pirates, like adorable "adopt me" Johnny Depp, kick-ass Keira Knightly and eye-candy Orlando Bloom.
And that's what trickles down to our children. They don't play "die slowly of syphillis" or "drown while simultaneously bleeding to death". They play Sea-fight! Major Treassure Found! Ghost-ship Sighted!
But there's a limit to imagination and I'll show you what it is:
The picture below is out of one of my children's books. It's one of these "search and count books" pretty popular with most kids and this is even better because of Pirates!
Everything is better with Pirates, even Ninjas.
Let's see, what can you spot?
Can you see the sea-serpent?
Can you find Aladin?
Can you see dwarves?
Can you see ghosts?
Can you find the lightbulb?
Can you find Matti, the little boy with a wooden sword who's the protagonist of the book?
Can you spot a woman?
Let me guess, you got the first 6 alright because they are actually there. A woman? Tssss, this is Pirates! There are actually women in the book, a total 8 of them.
A mother with her son
A mermaid chatting with a sailor
A barmaid
A damsel in distress
Four prostitutes
Well, I'm pretty sure that children don't notice that those are prostitutes, but they are definetly depicted as "women who make men happy".
But that's the places reduced for women:
Mothers, barmaids, fantasy creatures and pleasure-givers to men.  That's what our children, sons and daughters alike learn about the world: It's much more likely that there be sea-serpents than women making their place in the world.
And that's neither a bad book, nor a single example. I swear there were more known (not to mention the unknown) female pirates in the actual history of piracy than there are in all the children's books and toy-sets combined.

Montag, 16. April 2012

Cinderella ate my Gender Delusions - a double book review

When I was pregnant with our second daughter, I expected many things, first of all, lots more of pink (it's incredible how much pink stuff turned up after the birth of #1, and that was with all close friends and family being well aware of how much I loathe it. But everybody else obviously  thought a pink cute onesie would be such an original present for a baby girl).
The one thing I was not prepared for was pity.
In Germany.
In Twothousandandnine.
Because I was expecting a second girl.
"Oh, but  #3 will sure be a boy"
"Ah, we need them too."
"Ehm, congratulations!"
What the fuck were those people thinking?
Let me make it clear, they were not trying to insult or hurt me. None of them was a devout muslim or christian, No ultra-orthodox jew who thanks god for not having him made a woman.
Just ordinary, not very religious in a happy go lucky way people, quite some of them women.
That wasn't the start of my renewed feminist interests, nor was it the end. It was a snapshot, one of a million.
And on my journeys through debates and debacles two books were recommended to me: Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine and Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein.
First of all, both books are well-written and entertaining to read. They both made me laugh out loud, although it was sometimes one of those bitter laughs you give off when somebody relates a gruesome tale in a funny way.
But it is pretty obvious that one of them is written by a scientist (Cordelia Fine) and the other one by a journalist (Peggy Orenstein), so if you have read neither of them and want to read both of them (and I really recommend both of them, especially if you have a little daughter or granddaughter), I suggest going from Fine to Orenstein, because the knowledge of the scientific background will add much more to Orenstein's vivisection of  the girlie-girl culture than the other way round.
So let me start that way, too:

If you're anyway like me, your copy of Delusions of Gender will become littered with post-its. There's the Ha! I knew it (or at least expected it)- notes, there's the Holy shit, that's even worse than I thought -notes, there's the The next idiot to make that argument will get a thrashing with added bibliography -notes. It really isn't only an educating and entertaining book for one's own enjoyment, it's a weapon. There's somebody with the scientific background who did the work for you AND properly sourced her work. Just what you wanted for christmas for being such a man-hating evil feminazi.
What I really liked was how she didn't only present the science, but also the pitfalls of science. There's probably no other area of science where ideology and biases infiltrate the scientific process as much as the area of sex- and gender-studies. She embeds the current scientific discussions in the centuries of Science proving that women just aren't really people or at least not rational ones.
How come that in this one area scientists often go looking for confirmation of a cultural bias and then take any results they get as evidence without actually showing not only that A exists, but also that it leads to B?
Why are they so eager to put all those actual differences they find down to nature as if their subjects were grown in a sterile lab until the very moment they engaged in that particular study?
Well, Cordelia Fine can't answer those questions either (except with, it's patriarchy, duh, remember, that confirmation bias thingy), but it's good to keep an eye on them.
It helps to understand why all that "sciency" stuff  bothered you when you first read and heard about it (like, why on earth men can't seem to find the milk in the fridge. It's because of mamoths, duh*), not so much because of the conclusions (woman, just get off your ass, get over to that fridge and get that milk, the poor guy is genetically hardwired not to see anything smaller than at least a big deer), but because the argument made no sense. I would have thought that a successfull hunter needed skills like being able to spot and read traces on the ground and remember where he put the fucking spear. Let alone to communicate with his fellow hunters about the best strategy.
So, if you need ammunition, this book is for you. After this, you cannot only point out that this scientism is wrong (no, it's not because the conclusions disagree with our "feminist dogma"), but you can also provide a handy reference as to why that is (because their science is crap).
Cordelia Fine demonstrates brilliantly why affirmative action is still needed because especially people who think themselves to be "unbiased" and "rational" will still base their decisions on those very biases they deny having and then rationalize their biased decisions with seemingly sensible arguments.
But I'm not going to spoil your fun reading anymore. Go get it!

Now to Peggy Orenstein (I'm German, that name is hilarious!). Her book is a very different book, not so much about the science, but about the culture. Not about the whole of women's lives, but about that slice of childhood and adolescence. And it's written not by a scientist, but by a journalist and, of all things, the mother of a little girl. Her writings convey the anger, worries, desperation and helplessness of a mother who, just like me, saw her daughter washed away in a wave of pink princess glitter.
The one feeling I got while reading her book (apart from being thankfull that things are still less extreme here in Europe) was that Cordelia Fine's science somewhat was the easy part, while the parenting is hard.
She deals honestly with the conflicts of a mother who wants to raise her daughter a strong, brave, daring woman, who disapproves of the pink princess-bullshit but who also has to walk the fine line not to disapprove of her daughter as a girl.
Those conflicts aren't easy. How do you teach her that those Disney Princesses are crap and that, you know, those fancy geometrical magnets the boys in kindergarten always play with are actually cool without falling into the old misogynistic trap of painting girl things as inferior and boy things as superior (those magnets ARE cool! I wished I'd had a box of these as a kid)? And on top of all of that, how will that affect your daughter socially if you manage in preserving all the colours of the rainbow instead of limiting it to pink?
I like how she tied it all back to mostly toy manufacturers, Disney and such, how they created that pink princess market that constantly drives a wedge betweens our boys and girls, not out of malice or bad patriarchal inclinations, but just out of the general laws of the greedy, all-devouring market.
It helps remembering Cordelia Fine's chapters about how easily children are manipulated into thinking a toy is for boys/girls (hint, paint it pink/blue), how easily they can be influenced to try out more options and it is incredible how little it is done, falling back on the naturalistic fallacy of Boys/girls are different.
What I found quite enlightening was the fact that up to a certain age children actually think that gender is determined by what you wear/do. It made me wondering if that was partly due to the body-hate we instill into our children from birth on. Sure, first they are wrapped into their diapers, but I remember kids up to school-age running around naked in summer. They don't do anymore, swimming-pools prescribe at least pants. Dolls don't have genitalia and I know that my husband was asked if he was wearing swimming trunks when he takes a bath with the kids.**
So, yes, it makes total sense that children are confused about what makes you male/female apart from haircut and colour codes. It makes sense that they guard the boundaries closely. If we think about how deeply the sense of one's gender is ingrained into us, it must be frightening to believe that you could lose it by accidentially wearing the wrong shirt.
Another part that struck me was that about children and make-up. I mean, sure I would never sign the kids up for a toddler pageant, would I? Or give them lipstick while in kindergarten, right?
Only, thinking about it, the amount of beauty-products they own is frightening. Kiddie soap, bathtub-colour, sparkling purple princess-shampoo, sparkling purple princess spray-on conditioner (disclaimer: that stuff's great, I use it myself), extra-soft kiddie facial cream (OK, I use that, too) and the pink cherry lip-balm (the only way I could get her to use some in winter on cracked, bleeding lips). See, I have good explenations why they have them. And so does the mother who adds a whole cosmetics store for a beauty pageant.
Peggy Orenstein doesn't have the perfect answer. Where draw the line? Was the pink lip-balm too much, setting her onto the path of objectification, making her think that how she looks, her performance are more important than how she feels and what she does?
But she raises your conscience. I'll think twice before buying any "kiddie-cosmetics" again.
She makes you think again. The only advice she can offer is to talk to your daughter, to talk about girls and women in media, about what exactly you dislike about those princesses***. There's a multi-billion dollar industry out there trying to teach your daughter some things, you're absolutely allowed to do so, too.
Having said all this, there's one thing I missed about her book and that was more a matter of style than content. I often had the impression that I was indeed reading a series of newspaper articles. Her red thread, the fact that all those things set out our girls early for a path of self-objectification, alienating them form their own feelings, bodies and sensations, is sometimes getting lost. She wraps it up from time to time, but in between she lost me reading highly entertaining passages about Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears.
So, to sum it up, if you have a (grand)daughter or two especially in the toddler/tween age, go read her book. If you don't, it's still good read. If it doesn't do anything else, at least it will take away your feeling of being the only person on planet earth who hates Cinderella.
My own path? We try to be break up those gender-roles in our own life, although circumstances limit this somewhat. It's become paramount for Mr. to wear yellow, orange, purple T-shirts, the tool box is mummy's toy box and it's important to keep those up when the other one is around. My habit to get into the passenger's seat when Mr. is also at home out of laziness (isn't it nice that he can do the driving sometimes, I have to do it all week so, shared responsibilities it's his job now) made the little one believe that I was only allowed to drive the car when he wasn't around. Which wasn't what was going on in our minds, but in that of our daughter.
More driving for me then.

P.S. What did I write about this morning? make-up for children? This afternoon they were given sparkly lipgloss. For a 2yo. Seriously. 

*Yes, that's Why men don't listen and women can't read maps.
The very bok that also told me that I am probably lesbian and my husband is gay. At least the ratio of people doing men vs people doing women in our relationship didn't change, so we decided to just stick with each other.
**No, he doesn't. It is one of our principles that there's nothing shamefull about the human body. I want them to know how men and women look, I want them to be comfortable with their bodies and bodies in general and I really, really don't want shame to stop them from telling me if one they the horrible thing of sexual assault should happen to them.
*** Not that easy either, as she notices. How do you explain your preschooler that you think that a doll is inappropriate for her age because she's way too sexualized to be some kind of model for her without explaining "sexualized" in the first place?

Donnerstag, 29. März 2012

Won't somebody think of the fetus!

Or my voyages into the strange land of secular pro-lifers.
Alerted to them by various people on the blogosphere, I decided to go and see for myself what they look like.
If you're curious, go to their blog.
If you want to get the Full Monty for non-sequiturs, read the post on why they think shit about a woman's bodily integrity. But I warn you, you are a troll by default.
So, being interested in what if not baby Jesus can make the fetus a superhuman, I engaged in  discussion. My question was that if I granted the blastocyte/embryo/fetus full personhood and human rights, why on earth should they have more than any other being on this planet. I'm not forced to donate blood, plasma, bone marrow or kidneys, so why should the fetus* have a right to access my bodily resources.
The short answer: because you didn't keep your legs shut, slut!
The commenter, Simon, engaged in a longish exchange about this, trying to give me various analogies as to why I owed the fetus something.
Having said that Anon is wrong you aren't giving the foetus more rights, rather similar 'rights' to other moral agents; and using established moral precepts of moral responsibility and compensation that are already used in society.

It is actually similar to the violinist but instead for consented sex it is the violinist being kidnapped and attached to the individual through the casual consent of that individual. Since you have caused existential dependency you owe compensation to keep the individual alive and since the only compensation applicable is the continued use of the body it isn’t unreasonable to make that the payment. It is only in rape the this doesn’t hold.
So much for the human rights of the fetus. It forfeits them for the crimes of the father. It's kind of funny to see pro-lifers try to get around that problem. Or it would be, if it weren't so damn serious.
You will see a pattern emerge here that Simon couldn't get rid of:
Sex is a crime. At least if you are a woman. He is for full social wellfare so fathers don't have to be burdened with child support:
 No I advocate cancelation of all direct child support for everyone male and female because sicne you have cancelled the male’s stake in his offspring you have effectively cancelled his moral responsibility for said action. Moral parity would demand no say no pay.
I mean, hey, woman, you had sex. You owe the fetus, you have moral responsibility!
Hey, man, you don't own the kids anymore, no consequences for you therefore.
But they really don't hate women...

He tries again:

Thinking about it we can still full moral rights to a rape foetus but unless we force everyone to abrogate bodily autonomy to save a life, those full moral rights are trumped by bodily autonomy when no moral responsibility is involved.

Keep. Your. Legs. Shut. If you don't, you owe the fetus. If you didn't actually consent to the sex, the fetus is out. But if you actually had consensual sex, you have forfeited your right to bodily autonomy.

I tried to argue that the established moral precedent is that you owe legal responsibility (also, the creation of the fetus seems to cause harm to the fetus in and on itself) and financial compensation, but you never have to sacrifice your body. Just. Doesn't. Happen.

So, we're talking kidneys now:
...what if -using an argument put forward by a Pro-Choice philiosopher David Boonin- YOU CAUSED an infant to need a organ transplant or they will die and you are the only match?

You could choose to let the infant die and you go to jail -or maybe even executed since you might be in Texas-or you donate the organ?

You caused the harm/dependency you owe compensation.
Again: having sex = crime, or at least reckless, becoming pregnant = harm. Will you be surprised to say that he didn't get when I pointed out that the crime or reprehensible act actually happened before the question of the kidney arose and is a criminal act indipendently of whether I choose to donate or not?

He also totally isn't equating sex with crime, no no:
& no as I see it having sex isn't the crime, nor getting pregnant. It depends on the analogy.
It's all about the analogy. Funny thing is, when I learned about analogies, they were supposed to be likewise or equal scenarios, especially when talking about morally reprehensible/criminal acts.

So, since I didn't like his previous analogies, he tries again:
If you caused a infant to need an organ transplant because you stored toxic waste in their home and you were the only one who was the match; are you saying you shouldn't be punished? But hey you didnt intend for that to happen so you aren't responsible.
Sex = Storing toxic waste
Pregnancy = Punishment

But, you see, the problem is me:
Looks like you cannot understand the analogy, the point of the toxic waste was to show it was an indirect causal event that lead to the harm, he didnt intend to give the kid a disease. Next Boonin points out even when we cause indirect harm we are morally responsible and can owe compensation. It might not have precedent but the underlying principle is still there.
Again, my body seems to be the appropriate compensation.
After all I'm responsible.

Oh, and talking about responsibility...
Also, do you think that women should be held criminally accountable for damage they caused to the fetus during pregnancy because they smoked, drank, handled a dangerous toxin?
Should a woman who has a traffic accident and consequently suffers a miscarriage be punished like a woman who runs over a 6 year old?
Nxt Ano Troll yes I think a woman should be held accountable for such damage and there are in fact laws to that effect in some countries. & yes if she has a accident through negligent driving she should be punished as others in fact are by child destruction laws in my state.
Charming, isn't he?

So, his toxic waste didn't win me over, so he needed something better. This time his analogy contained sex!
So the act of having sex means you are immune to punishment or moral responsibility? Say a partner who knows they has HIV has sex thats ok no punishment because sex is normal?
So, yeah, having sex is just like infecting somebody with a deadly disease on purpose. If you're a woman, of course.

Ano Troll thanks for demonstrating you are such a douche.
That's me. I'm a bit proud of myself

There was a bit about that fucking "post birth abrtion paper". I knew we'd get that crap rubbed in  our faces. Now we want to kill real babies!
That's because there's actually better eating on them.

*I'm just using fetus from now on, I can trust you to know the differences

Donnerstag, 19. Januar 2012

Rape, statistics, criteria and probability

Since this has come up again and again in discussions about Schrödinger's rapist, I thought I'd put together something about statistics and probabilities, which is something most people don't really understand.
Not that I was a mathematician or something, so, it's a layperson's explication for laypeople.
If I make factual errors please correct me.
The latest example of this is in The Crommunist's excellent post on Racism and Schrödinger's Rapist.
Here are the facts people can mostly agree on (I'm too lazy to link the sources right now. Ask me and I'll do so):
  • Between 1 in 6 and 1 in 4 women are raped during their lifetime.
  • They are alsmost exclusively raped by men (98%)
  • Between 1 in 15 and 1 in 20 men are rapists.
  • Most women are raped by someone they know, only about 3% of women are raped by a stranger.
Those are pretty scary statistics, but they look a lot better once you turn them around:
  • 75-86% of women are never raped
  • 93-95% of men are not rapists
  • The stranger on the street is safer than the acquaintance who's giving you a ride home.
Therefore, people argue, it is unfair to contemplate the idea that a random stranger you meet at night in a dark area might be a rapist. The chances of being raped there and then are very small. It's also unfair to make this decision due to the sex of the person. After all, they also all have 2 eyes and I don't treat 2-eyed people as potential rapists.

There are several problems with this which I'll try to show.

1) Probability never hits the individual with 3%. Any risk/chance is calculated on a large number of data. When the actual event happens, there's only 1 or 0: you don't win the lottery 1:480.000.000. You either win it, or you don't. While it is a fact that the chances of winning the lottery are extremely small, people do indeed win the lottery.
Smaller example: When you throw a dice, the chance of rolling a 6 is 1 in 6. And the average number you roll is 3.5. The moment you throw it, the chances break down. The number is cast and you'll never roll a 3.5.

2) 3% isn't a small number. 5% isn't a small number. If you get that much interest, or have to pay it, you notice 3% quickly.
Walk along highstreet and count the women. Statiscally, number 6, 12, 18, 24 have been raped by somebody they know, number 30 by a stranger.
Count the men. Number 20 is a rapist (statistically. Don't do this with a group of people you know, it might drive you nuts). He has raped an average 6 times.
How many times can you repeat that exercise until you reach your office/the supermarket/etc?

3) Those numbers are people. The example above should have demonstrated that we're talking indeed about a lot of people. Above, we just assigned the value rape survivor / rapist by statistics. You have no clue who they actually are. Probably the first man you met was the rapist, maybe none in the first 20 was a rapist, but 16, 17 and 18 in the second set of 20. As long as there are no additional criteria/information, you cannot tell. And you ignore the peril at your own risk.

4) There are necessary conditions, sufficient conditions and red herrings.
The fact that all rapists have (more or less) two eyes is not in any way corelated with rape. It's a logical conclusion of them being humans. As a criterium to distinguish between potential rapists and harmless people, it's absolutely useless, since I cannot eliminate anybody by that.
If I want to be aware of poisonous snakes and be able to tell them from harmless snakes, "no legs" is a useless criterium.
Other criteria make more sense. The fact that most rapists are men is more usefull*. Now, as people rightly pointed out, viewing all men as potential rapists doesn't make much sense either, not any more than all grey snakes when, although all poisonous snakes were grey, only 5% of grey snakes are poisonous. But, honestly, which snake would you be more wary of if you found it on your terrace, the grey one or the green one?
So we add more criteria. Is he trying to isolate me? Is he getting uncomfortably close in a lone area? Does he follow me into confined spaces? Now, none of those criteria necessarily mean rapist. There are perfectly non-rapy reasons for doing so, maybe he doesn't notice that he's isolating me, or he really just wants to be helpfull and make sure that I get home safely. Maybe he's just heading home. Maybe he just confused the doors because he's a bit drunk himself.
Fact is, although those behaviours might be harmless, they are also the exact same behaviours a rapist would show. Those are, so to speak, necessary conditions for a rapist. But they are not sufficient conditions. The sufficient condition is the rape. That's when you cast the die and if it comes down as a six you're raped. So, is it reasonable to wait until that moment, or should you avoid rolling the die?
Maybe this grey, 2m long snake with the checkered pattern is completely harmless and just mimicking the looks of the poisonous 2m checkered grey snake, but since you can't tell until you're attacked, is it reasonable to be carefull with all 2m checkered grey snakes?

*What did I just say about numbers? 4 in 1000 women are raped by women. But I'm lacking data about how many women are raped by strange women. I don't think the numbers are the same, but just for the sake of the argument, let's use the same numbers as for men:
15% strangers: 6 in 10.000 women are raped by a strange woman.
Each rapist rapes about 4 new victims (they rape 6 times, the difference is due to women being victimized more than once), so 1 in 1000 women you meet is a rapist.

5) Schrödinger's anybody
In our daily lives, we engage in a lot of Schrödingers'.
-If you drive a car, you engage in Schrödinger's reckless driver. You monitor those around you for potential mistakes and outright violations. If you have right of way and a car approaches, you assess the situation, you watch it the other driver slows down to yield or not.
Does that mean you accuse the other driver unfairly of being an incompetent idiot who can't drive?

-If you engage in casual sex, you find it reasonable to use a condom for protection. Does that mean that you unfairly accuse the other person of having an STD?

-If you shield the panel while at the ATM, do you unfairly accuse the person behind you of being a criminal?

-If you don't open your door for a stranger while alone at home, are you unfairly accusing the other person of being a burglar?

If your answer is no to all the above, why are you upset at women being wary around strange men in a dark car-park.

Donnerstag, 12. Januar 2012

Boy or girl?

If you know me, you probably know the answer.
If you don't, so what?
Please, don't pressure the kids into some stereotypeor other.

Take the above as a picture of a kid.

Donnerstag, 5. Januar 2012

The rational debate

Well, people engaging in the ongoing debate about sexism in atheist/skeptic communities have been throughly chastized by D.J. Grothe from the JREF:
I think as skeptics, it behooves us to be a bit more generous with others in disagreement, to be slower to vilify, and to engage in less scorched-earthing. I know it may be good for blog hits, but it is bad for skepticism and in my view, is antithetical to our values.
He also thinks that we are too much engaging in groupthink:
And I do believe that much atheist and skeptic blogging engages in far too much in-group/out-group categorizing, us vs. them thinking.
Basically, both sides are equally bad and should just stop. We also have to be nice to people who threaten women with violence that women calling them out are unfair.

So, let's see how actually both sides are equally bad and what the people engaged on the other side are actually making as arguments:

Note: This is intended to be an ongoing collection for handy reference. Please post your examples as comments with attribution.

Tube Worm on the CFI blog #166
It’s nice to see Watson, Myers, and their legions upon legions of  fem-zombies continuing their project to hijack the skeptical movement to push their radical leftist political agenda. Over the last year I’ve seen this movement devolve into a PC-whitewash fest in which dissenters are tarred and feathered as “sexists” and “mysoginists, vitriole has come to replace reasoned debate, and fuzzy PoMo critical-theory reasoning has become a stand-in for science and evidence. If this keeps on, the skeptical movement will have to abandon science altogether, lest we offend anyone with “sexed” equations like E=mc^2, which clearly “privileges” (*vomit*) light over energy.
And that's not the end of it.
Here's his characterization of the whole  debate (#175):

Hi David,
Welcome to the Skeptical Movement’s version of the Cultural Revolution!
I’m not sure what happened, but at some point over the  previous year, skepticism suddenly lost interest in science and critical thinking and suddenly began to resemble a freshman sociology class at a third-tier liberal arts college.  Skeptical discussion became less of a reasoned debate about facts and evidence and more about upholding a far-left PC worldview and purging and ostracizing those who don’t toe the line. As in certain religious movements and cults, those who poke the new Sacred Cows (I.e deviating from the party line on issues of gender, sexuality, and leftist politics in general) become victims of online lynch mobs and character assassination—not unlike the way the Athiest Movement attempted to silence atheists who were opposed to a militant approach to discussion with people of faith.
 At the heart of the shitstorm are certain personalities of questionable motives who are jockeying for leadership, control of the agenda and discourse, and who are attempting to purge the “old guard.” As usual, politics ruins everything and like you, I have lost all interest in participating or contributing to this movement. 
If he could just do as he says...

Liam is very disappointed with us:

Wow, reading the reactions have left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve always considered myself pro-feminist. But looking at the hysterical reactions in these blogs, the attempted character assassination, the extremely disappointing personal attacks in the blog post. And the extremely low level of discourse on a subject that really needs a rational consideration rather than succumbing to the heat of emotion that such subjects as these make it easy to fall into.
But it does seem that such a touchy and important subject like this in this self proclaimed skeptical community are not immune to these horrible non arguments and character attacks by community spokespeople and rank and file alike.
If these are the sort of tools we use in womens advocacy, then count me out.
 Wilt informs us that it's all Rebecca's fault:
Professional victim and blaming 50% of the population is not fair. Plus, it’s now “not my opinion, STFU”.
Rebecca has hurt more people. And turned off more women, that don’t want to associated or represented by the skepchicks, mainly Rebecca Watson. The quality of the posts and posters at Skepchick reflects this change. Yes, women need to be represented more and respected more. But not lectured and nagged… instead included and brought into the discussion.
 He also informs us that (comment #4):

Rebecca lives for the imagined sexist slant from anyone on her “hit list”.  She can’t NOT keep looking for it.  She can’t deal with it in a creative responsible way.  She deals with the slights to women the way the CHURCH deals with slights to their theology.  With GUILT and finger pointing.  Ben, has crossed the Rebeca line, and must pay.  I don’t know where she went to church but she learned her lessons well. 
 And Ben Radford explicitly demands a rational and respectful discussion like this:

...and it's clear Rebecca enjoys being outraged at various things. It's often the case that outrage and insults substitute for truth and accuracy; it's easier to call someone stupid than it is to engage them respectfully.
 Collection ongoing...

Misronen, outraged that somebody could like Rebecca Watson better than Rick Gervais beats the straw rapist:
After being asked by janine: whether
“Is it because I do not have a problem with a rad-fem like Rebecca Watson. (Does that make me a rad-fem?)”
the badly prosecuted misronen asnwers:
I honestly don’t know. Does the fact that I do make me a potential rapist / a rape apologist / full-fledged rapist (apparently on the loose)? I don’t know that either. Maybe I’m just confused.
 Huskvarna gets all upset because the readers of Blaghag gave Rebecca Watson an award. How could they, she did something stupid on the internet 3 years ago!

Here’s a critique for you:
Rebecca accidentally got moderator privileges on JREF following the rescindment of a suspension. She then immediately abused those privileges by banning a bunch of people she didn’t like, then got permabanned by the JREF staff who understandably didn’t want Comrade Commissar Watson running around deciding what opinions people are allowed to have:
 I'm not sure if Emil Karlson isn't a Poe:
It is sad to see that Heina has sunken to the level of pseudoskepticism by primarily using anecdotes in the justification that sexism is a significant problem in the skeptic community.
Just as we reject anecdotes when it comes to claimed “alternative” cures of cancer or the efficacy of psychics, so too must we reject anecdotes when it comes to this subject.
Your initial attitude may be one of disbelief, objecting to this “dismissal of women’s experiences”, but you must understand that we do this without any problems whatsoever in other areas. To be consistent skeptics, we must apply the same rational criticisms to our favorite positions. We cannot shield them from criticism just because they are dear to us.
Anecdotes are not scientific evidence as there is no independent confirmation of the truth of these anecdotes (some are labeled as “anonymous” so they could, hypothetically, have been made up on the spot), and it is not necessarily the case that these anecdotes are representative of the experience of women in the skeptic community overall.
Another shameful entry from people who know better.
A recommendation for the future is to discuss the actual scientific literature on the topic of sexism (using it to support and strengthen your positions), while making sure not to draw conclusions not warranted by the evidence and _only then_ talk about future prospects and directions (e. g. suggesting partial, evidence-based solutions).
That will be a much more persuasive strategy and will leave critics with no where to go.
SkepticAtheist is also very, very disappointed with us:
Freefromthoughts’ blogs never ceases to amaze me. This baboon board has hit a new low. Now there’s even more blogging about problems which Greta created, which her and her minions fueled, with no mention of their attacks on Ryan, how they goaded him, misquoted him, used him as their scapegoat to vent their hostility, and with no mention that Ryan sarcastically posted on his own wall [in his screenshots] about the attacks made against him.
 And then there's Ryan himself.
He became part of the debate when he posted this on Facebook (link goes to Greta Christina):
Fuck you Greta. You’re the troll. You posted for the sole reason of trying to bait a sexist into writing something threatening. You didn’t find one, but I dared to disagree with you, so you and your brainless followers thought ‘eh, fuck it, close enough. We’ll attack him instead.’ You’ve been capitalizing on this for months and perpetuating vicious stereotypes about both men and women, under the guise of ‘feminism’. I used to think you had something to contribute. Now I see you’re just a pathetic attention seeker who isn’t interested in anything other than stirring up shit.
 His excuse? Women made him do so!
I encountered the same hostile insults on Greta’s wall, and you’re actually wondering why I lost my temper? Figure it out

Dienstag, 3. Januar 2012

You can be what you want in your dreams, except a woman

I've been reading and thinking about gender and transgender a lot, lately (I'm sure I don't have to tell you that Skepchick has launched a sister-site called Queerika. What's a straight cis woman like me doing there? Well, shutting up and listening. Learning. I feel privileged to be able to do so.)
And so it came that a little remark made by a friend lately got me all going.
My kids love playing make-believe. We spend half the days as characters from their favourite books/ movies or animals. So, lately we were playing Winnie-the-Pooh and my oldest daughter handed out the roles. She was Tigger, her sister was Roo, I was Rabbit and then she told her dad that he was Mummy Heffalump.
To which she was chastized by a well-meaning, but absolutely clueless friend that "oh, but your dad can't be Mummy Heffalump, he's a boy, not a girl!".
Thankfully, my husband glossed over the awkward moment by saying that he'd love to be Mummy Heffalump, because he loves Heffalumps and because she's so strong .
BUt there were two things about our friend's remark thst struck me:
First, she never said a thing when the three women in the room turned into male characters*.
Secondly, it was absolutely possible that the dad got turned into a purple, giant, elephant-like creature that can tear up whole trees. It was not possible that he got turned into a woman.
Because that's truely unheard of.

*Most series don't even come with three female characters we could use