Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 6.22

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I’ve always wondered about this… If the spirits of animals continue to exist on Earth after they die, does that mean that every trilobite, velociraptor, and bacteria that ever existed is still hanging around in spirit form as well, or is there a time limit on that sort of thing? Maybe I could start a career as a trilobite psychic…

  2. RE: Clooney’s hog

    This is why I hate to read celebrity news. It’s hard to respect excellent work in front and behind the camera when you know that you can’t really respect the person who does it.

    Frankly, I would rather not see how the sausage is made.

  3. Notice the comments section. All the people who commented with lowercase name and city (usually a short name like ron, fred, rob) are very critical of the article, attack the informants and journalist, and appear to be canned responses coming from a bot.

  4. @Chasmosaur:
    Healthy sexuality is empowering.
    So is being able to do the math yourself.
    (Not that those are mutually exclusive)
    To each her own. (Or his own. Guys too.)

    I don’t think it has much with what you do (legal) as it has with why you do it. If it furthers you goals, including the goal of self expression, it helps build or maintain self esteem. If it is because someone expects you to, it may undermine self esteem.

    My guiding principle is:
    We need to conform to the extent that we wish to put food on the table and stay out of prison. Everything else is an unnecessary capitulation to the tyranny of the masses.

  5. @gwiz: The Examiner isn’t a tabloid, but it is a Huff-Po blog collective wannabe Gothamist kind of thing that’s full of idiots. A number of the Skepchicks are mega-skeptical about the story, and not only because we all love Clooney so much. I suspect it may have something to do with his upcoming Jon Ronson movie, The Men Who Stare at Goats.

  6. Lady Gaga concurs. “I think it’s great to be a sexy, beautiful woman who can f— her man after she makes him dinner,”

    I am always impressed that “liberated and empowered” women have followed their passions to create their new redefined female sexuality that looks exactly like the 1950’s American (hetero male, wet) Dream.

    Also, do you think that the psychic parties will come with ectoplasm again? ‘Cause I really miss ectoplasm. I’d pay extra to see a psychic pull something real out of their ass again.

  7. @Skepotter:

    Um, did you even look at the link?

    Lady GaGa has FIREWORKS going off from each cup of her bra.

    I’m all for being yourself and I totally believe in having a healthy sexuality. And to paraphrase an old Rosie O’Donnell joke , if I had Lady GaGa’s body, I’d probably be grocery shopping naked.

    But the last time I checked, the medical community doesn’t consider it physically healthy to attach pyrotechnics to your mammary glands while about 1/3 of your flesh is exposed…

  8. Ok, I love Lady GaGa. Sure, she uses her sexuality, but she OWNS it. She writes her own music, produces, and her style is alllll her own. That and she has a great sense of humor, AND she’s very open about her bisexuality without going the Katy Perry route (*giggle giggle, sometimes I make out with dudes at bars giggle*), and instead saying, “I dig chicks. And men. Deal with it.”

    I can’t deny my Lady GaGay love.

    And she uses her sexuality, but dammit, she does it in a pretty unique way, and she’s not exactly just wearing tiny shorts and a tube top. Her outfits are sometimes so crazy I don’t know if I’d consider them sexy so much as, “YOU ARE CRAZY GIRL”.

  9. @Chasmosaur: Are you serious?! She’s a PERFORMER, good god.

    She says she took a lot of inspiration from David Bowie, and she’s ALWAYS wanted to entertain and be crazy and out there in her shows.

    She kind of does it all tongue-in-cheek. I mean, fireworks from her tits? Hilarious. She doesn’t take herself at all seriously and I love her for it.

  10. @SaraDee: I always thought “liberated and empowered” meant that you could do what you want while being respected and treated equally with the anticipation that you would not be judged regardless of said choices. I find my wife’s professional accomplishments hot and sexy and I do all the grocery shopping and cooking which I guess makes us both liberated. It seems to me that the end result of liberation is the freedom to choose, and not just conforming to some new set of expectations.

  11. @Chasmosaur: LOL, what, do you know what a stage performance is?

    Plenty of other performers (INCLUDING MEN OMG) go on stage with fire and special effects. You know, like that one time Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire.

    And what about fire eaters? I have friends who EAT FIRE!!!!!

    I’m sure there are plenty of emergency personnel around and that there is extensive planning and training so that the show goes on smoothly without setting her tits on fire.

    It seems a VERY odd thing to get so offended about.

  12. Re: Pet Psychics
    I always wanted to promote myself as a psychic vet. That way I could say to my clients, “I have been communicating with your dog and she says that she’s tired of the stress of going into heat. She really wants to be spayed. And she thinks you have enough on the Visa to pay for it.”

  13. Also, unlike, say, Britney Spears, Lady GaGa seems very aware of herself and she seems very much in control. She’s not just wearing short skirts and showin’ her boobs, but rather wearing crazy ass outfits (some of which aren’t even all that revealing) like she’s in theater.

    Her song “Poker Face” is actually about when she was with a pervious boyfriend, and when they had sex, she would think about a woman but put on a “poker face” so that her man wouldn’t suspect a thing. She’s been really honest about that.

    I dunno, female pop sinsgers usually bother me, but I love Lady GaGa for some reason, I CANNOT DENY IT OK.

  14. @marilove:

    *heavy sigh*

    Folks, can’t a girl make a joke about how you don’t have to have to wear a flaming brassiere to be self confident? “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” and incendiary devices are usually considered to be mutually exclusive, unless you want to be remembered for your extensive burn injury or immolation.

    Have we become so defensive as a gender that we take every expression about our strength and self confidence this seriously?

    If Lady GaGa wants to be outrageous, I don’t give a crap. She’s obviously smart, savvy and nervy, and I can respect that (even though I’m not a fan of her music). I’m not one to look down on women who use their beauty, sexuality and physicality to get ahead – it’s an advantage, so use it. Good luck to her. As my mom likes to say, the most successful people in business have a gimmick. Hers is wearing the most outrageous clothes possible. She’s got the figure and the confidence, so hey, it works for her.

    But I don’t generally equate being a strong, self-confident woman with the necessity of being outrageous. You just have to be strong and self-confident, however you express it. If it means you wear outrageous scraps of clothing, then whatever floats your boat. But what works for her, doesn’t work for every strong, self-confident woman. Most of my friends and I – who are not shrinking violets – would probably not consider the use of pyrotechnics necessary to sustain our persona. Lady GaGa does, and I wish her luck, ’cause burns suck.

    And yes, she’s a performer. But she was discussed as an example of modern feminism in the original article, and it’s not for her private life. It’s for her very public persona. I know crap-all about her private life – that’s not why she’s famous, is it? She’s famous for her – what was the phrase – “flippant, sexy, assertiveness.”

    Besides, if you don’t find fireworks out of bra cups to be in the *least* bit comical, then perhaps I’m on the wrong message board. That I have to defend the fact that I find a bra loaded with fireworks to be funny is just too frickin’ bizarre.

    @James Fox:

    Helen Gurley Brown was just featured in the article. Nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  15. @Chasmosaur: Well, it sure didn’t seem like a joke (and I didn’t even think you were girl; it didn’t occur to me to consider which sex you were, to be honest). Clearly you were being facetious and I missed it. Because it’s Monday. And I’m having a poo poo day. And Lady GaGa makes poo poo days better.

  16. @Chasmosaur:

    And yes, she’s a performer. But she was discussed as an example of modern feminism in the original article

    I agree, btw.

    Besides, if you don’t find fireworks out of bra cups to be in the *least* bit comical, then perhaps I’m on the wrong message board.

    Well, no. I even SAID I found fireworks coming from her tits to be hysterical. I was thinking YOU were serious and didn’t find it hysterical.

    We both find it hysterical!

  17. And can I just say, as an out bisexual woman, I find it refreshing to have a vocal bisexual woman who is very popular and successful, and she isn’t *coy* about her bisexuality. She’s very upfront and not at all shy about it. She talks about it openly. It’s obvious it isn’t just for show to make dudes hot ‘n horny.

    I am putting WAY too much thought into Lady Freakin’ GaGay today, guys. Just dance, okay? Everything will be ok, just dance.

  18. Thanks @Rebecca – for the clarification, it’s been awhile since I’ve been Stateside and I seemed to remember that the Inquirer was a tabloid. I may be confusing it with another of a similar name.

    BTW – my name is short & lower cased, but I am not a bot.

  19. I’m not sure where I stand on the “feminism, sexuality and self-esteem” thing. It seems to me that the key to empowerment is to look and act in a manner that you’re comfortable and confident about, regardless of social pressures.

    What (e.g.) Lady Gaga does works for her but there shouldn’t be an expectation that it would work for everyone else (or anyone else for that matter). That would be like expecting all men to feel empowered looking like this. I, for one, would feel like a complete berk.

  20. @Steve: “I am part of a generation which has spent the past 20 years proving to men that we don’t need them. In doing so, we have painted ourselves into a corner, literally in some cases since we have given up waiting for the men in our lives to redecorate the spare room and girls are now doing it for themselves, as well as everything else.”

    I can’t tell if that article is serious or not.

  21. @Steve: That’s exactly my problem with that piece too. Women shouldn’t be expected to participate in “raunch culture,” but if some individuals use aspects of that culture, it doesn’t necessarily mean they were duped or pushed into it. It could just mean it’s right for them and not others.

  22. @Jen: The service is real to the extent that it provides a vehicle for the griever to commune with a lost loved one.
    I agree with you, that, at some point, such a service can become exploitive. It didn’t appear that Clooney is being expoited.

  23. I’ve had conversations akin to the one in the feminism article, (not in the pushy sense, but with similar topics) and while it is completely, obviously true that such a set of behaviors is 100% a matter of personal preferences, in my experience the conversation was more akin to “anyone wearing less, or having more sex, or with more total partners, or is experimenting with an alternative sexual dynamic or orientation, has no moral center regardless of how safe, responsible, or kind they are, cannot be trusted, and is a worse person than me.” And that version is corrosive to empowerment- insofar as empowerment is about establishing a safe place for bold or unconventional personal choice.

    I agree with the author- a partner wanting to be “seduced” during grad school app season is quite possibly an ignorant twit, but I have encountered explicitly stated shades of Puritanism and jealousy more often.

  24. @James Fox:

    I always thought “liberated and empowered” meant that you could do what you want while being respected and treated equally with the anticipation that you would not be judged regardless of said choices. I find my wife’s professional accomplishments hot and sexy and I do all the grocery shopping and cooking which I guess makes us both liberated. It seems to me that the end result of liberation is the freedom to choose, and not just conforming to some new set of expectations.

    I completely agree. And I suspect you did not read the article. If raunch culture was being presented as one possible manifestation of female sexuality, I’d shrug and decide that, much like hanging myself from hooks in the ceiling, it just isn’t something I find appealing in the least, but whatever floats yer boat. But, it’s not being presented that way – it’s being presented as the manifestation of “liberated” female sexuality, and -worse – being presented like it’s something new, when it’s old, tired hat. ‘Walking sexpot in heels and scanty clothing’ is a new vision of female sexuality like Intelligent Design is a new scientific theory. It’s just Creation Science fooling itself.

    Furthermore, it’s deeply problematic to say that women could realistically be expected to be “freely” choosing anything that’s been shoved down their throats since birth as the highest possible use of their selves. If I’m raised as a good Muslim girl, do I freely choose the hejab? In Bountiful, would I freely choose to become an older man’s 18th wife? In each community, the women will swear up and down and under oath and to the death that they love it, and this is their truest self. Of course it’s possible. But at least let’s be realistic about how boundary-breaking and “freely chosen” it is to be a woman in North American culture who fulfills her personal vision of sexuality by moulding herself into something defined by the Male Gaze (that’s not specifically about Lady Ga Ga – she doesn’t seem to think she is, but that’s what she was being praised for here).

  25. Regarding “feminism, sexuality and self-esteem”, I think Jessalynn Keller’s boyfriend was a total asshole. I think he was quite cruel in telling Ms. Keller that she had low self-esteem because she did not meet the “standard” of sexual empowerment. I honestly don’t think that the majority of raunch is a product of subversive patriarchical brainwashing. Similarly, women who choose to wear a burqa are not duped by patriarchy either. IMO what is truly the most damaging aspect of raunch (whatever your definition is) for both men and women is that it is unfortunately a part of a culture of mediocrity wherein close to 20% think that the sun revolves around the earth. I think the freethinker Susan Jacoby aptly addresses this matter in her book The Age of American Unreason. Raunch devoid of intellect you get Britney Spears. Raunch with intellect you get Jim Morrison of The Doors or Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. And I would liken Skepchick to be the Robert Plant of skepticism.

  26. SaraDee,

    Do you really believe that women have absolutely no agency or autonomy? Do honestly think that my fellow medical student who scored honors in every course and will become a successful Medical Oncologist at MD Anderson wears the burqa out of some enslavement to a patriarchical norm? Do you honestly feel that she has no mind of her own? Does the same apply to Indian women Neurosurgeons who wear saris or salwar kameez? Based on your deduction, none of us men and women have any free will. We are all automatons with everything shoved down our throats since birth. Is it possible that women who wear the string bikini or the burqa (and believe it or not there are some women who wear both) do so because they intrinsically want to out of personal freedom? Did Julia in 1984 paint her face and look sexy to Winston because of patriarchy? No wait! She was rebelling against the patriarchy of Big Brother and Ingsoc. If you have unrefutable scientific evidence that women have no agency in these matters, I’d love to hear it.

  27. @SaraDee: “And I suspect you did not read the article.”

    Correct, I didn’t have time to read the article until my lunch break and my comments were only a response to your statements for which I was lacking the essential context. Conversely it seemed that you took umbrage that any woman might enjoy cooking for their partner and then giving them a good f—k. My personal opinion is that the better the cook the better the f—k.

  28. @rohan: of course I don’t think women have no agency. I didn’t even remotely imply I thought that was true. I merely pointed out that it’s problematic to scream “She’s making a free choice!” when said free choice reflects the culturally accepted norm.

    Are women who help promote the culture of female genital mutilation in their countries (and most of the people who perform the procedure are women) free agents, or victims? What about soldiers who worked for the Nazi regime? Would they have chosen differently if their status in society and safety did not depend on the choice they made? This is something to think critically about, not a black and white yes or no answer.

    @James Fox:

    Conversely it seemed that you took umbrage that any woman might enjoy cooking for their partner and then giving them a good f—k.

    Not at all. I was taking umbrage at the idea that this was somehow an edgy new vision of sexy. It made me recall the last time I was in chapters and found a 1940’s era “guide to being a good wife” reprint being touted as ‘the best new advice for women!’. I won’t shit in your [the collective your] mouth and tell you it’s ice cream, if you won’t hand me an apron and tell me it’s fresh off the runway from Paris (because I prefer the one I sewed and embroidered myself, thank you very much).

  29. SaraDee,

    In regards to Nazi Germany, I suggest you read about Police Battalion 101. These folks were not indoctrinated by Nazi ideology and acted as free agents as they participated in the Holocaust. Furthermore, neither themselves nor their families lives were at stake ie. the Nazis were not threatening them to commit genocide. Plus, there is a big difference between cultural indoctrination in totalitarian societies and freedom of choice in a democracy. When Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to the United States she did not lose her individuality to Maxim or Playboy magazine and suddenly get a Brazilian wax job or a vaginoplasty like many women here do. She can make that choice. Whereas in Africa, female circumcision is not a choice. If there is any oppression in the West, it is anti-intellectualism which affects both men and women. And it is this ignorance from parent to child that gets shoved down peoples throats from birth onwards resulting in blind sheep following the mantra of Paris Hilton or worse, fundamentalist religion. If you are implying that some women from a young age are not encouraged to be freethinkers and then be engulfed by the raunch meme with negative consequences, then I do agree. But if an intelligent woman such as Salma Hayek bares her cleavage, then I do scream ” She’s making a free choice!” And I would say the same for an intelligent woman who chooses to wear a burqa.

    Cheers

  30. before popping in here, i had JUST posted about the psychic parties and the clooney pig psychic incident on my little blog.

    either i’m psychically connected to you or we both google-newsed “psychic”.

    i like to google-news “psychic fraud” periodically, too — there is always something new popping up. check out this article about a psychic getting scammed without seeing it coming — fun role reversal!
    http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20090611/NEWS04/906110370/1003/NEWS02

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