Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 8.13

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. I once read an essay by an Objectivist who claimed that Ebenezer Scrooge was a better man in the beginning of A Christmas Carol than he was at the end of it. I’m pretty sure that guy was being totally serious though.

  2. The pain study was interesting. In my family, the lore is that men can’t handle pain or sickness and that women are the stoic ones. Once again proving lore is just that.

    Although, I continue to wonder how we can accurately study something that can only be subjectively described and the only objective measures are not necessarily indicative of level of pain. (ie sweating, blood pressure, breathing etc.)

  3. RE: The Most Feared Person… While I admit the cartoon calls into play the absurdity of the death threats against cartoonists that draw Muhammad, I’d like to point out that Miller didn’t actually present an image of Muhammad. I guess I’m missing the point of the cartoon.
    Really if you’re going to have the cojones to call out radical Islam, you really should go all the way. Otherwise what’s the point?

  4. @Non Believer: Well, they can try and make people at least get the same pain stimulus – that is, putting their hands in identical ice baths, etc. Another pain stimulus method they showed on Mythbusters involved heating elements attached to the skin (iirc). Beyond that, I think they have some methods to actually look at the amount of signal there is going through the nerves (i.e. pain signal being sent to brain), but my memory is a bit iffy on that.

    I think the part that’s probably far more significant than immediate sensation, is the tendency to catastrophize, think specifically about the pain, and how bad it hurts, etc. There are some therapy methods that can help, but it takes a lot of effort for an individual to change how they think.

  5. From “women feel more pain then men”:

    “In experiments that challenged people to hold their hands in ice-cold water, one of Thorn’s students found that people who tolerated the pain longer were less likely to have catastrophic thoughts and less likely to have emotionally vulnerable personalities. Emotional vulnerability is a traditionally feminine trait, Thorn said, and even women who play traditionally masculine sex roles have higher levels of pain tolerance and feel pain less intensely.”

    How can you have “catastrophic thoughts” and “emotional vulnerabilities” to holding your hands in cold water? What the hell does this mean!? Urgh.

  6. Yeah – you’d have to get some even comparisons of hand size, and also fat content, since that tends to insulate.

    As far as how one “catastrophizes” during an ice water experiment, they might have worded it poorly, but they’re talking about the extent to which an individual concentrates on the pain. I suppose they had some questionnaires that tried to get a feel for an individuals emotional vulnerability, and also the catastrophic thoughts.

  7. There was a movie made sometime in the 70s – some sort of murder mystery comedy. Had Ida Lupino and David Hartman in it …possibly Don Knotts too. Ida Lupino played this bizarre character who conducted social experiments on her kids, trying free them from the encumbrances of society or something. Not surprisingly, they turned out severely antisocial …possibly homicidal. In retrospect, I wonder if Lupino’s character was a parody of Ayn Rand.

  8. @Magnus H.: She’s one of the most incredibly brilliant, incisive, original thinkers I’ve ever read.

    I like her speaking better than her writing. A lot. Like a whole lot lot.

    The articles about how sexism hurts men as well as women are jumble of anecdote and generalizations. Lets suppose we accept the premise (and I do — I just don’t think she made the case) what is the solution? Skepticism. Don’t blindly accept the gender stereotypes and don’t hitch yourself to someone who does. Problem solved. Speaking as a member the choir, however, I really enjoyed the sermon.

  9. That ‘5 things society unfairly expects from men’ thing is a load of bullshit. Speaking as a man who values his manliness, I strive for the things mentioned in that article.

    Frankly, I have a difficulty respecting a man who *doesn’t* strive for those things. I can respect him as a person, but I can’t really respect him as a man. And I don’t need some whiny Gender Studies major running around telling me that it’s OK not to be strong or not to value competition – because it’s not OK.

  10. It seems I am a liberated man. Of the 10 oppressive expectations on men (from two articles) I’m really only feeling about one and a half of them. (Don’t show emotion, and a little bit of be able to fix stuff.)

    I can be competitive in some instances – certainly I was at school about getting academic prizes. I play contract bridge to win, but I seek opponents who are better than me. (You learn more by losing to a genius than by beating an idiot.)

    “Oh, dude, your girlfriend makes three times what you do? Aww, that sucks.” If there are any skepchicks out there who earn three times what I do and want a middle aged boyfriend in New Zealand, I’m happy to give the prospect serious consideration.

  11. @davew: She stated at the beginning of the first article that she came up with the idea for them by talking to men she knew about their own problems with sexism. It’s not a scientific study nor even a skeptical piece, but an article about the general types of sexism that men can experience in our current society.

    And thanks so much for solving the problem of sexism. Now that that’s done, let’s move on to world hunger, shall we?

  12. @Amanda: And thanks so much for solving the problem of sexism. Now that that’s done, let’s move on to world hunger, shall we?

    Frequently when I read articles about racism or sexism and they don’t ring true to me I’ll comment. The discussion usually gets down to “You can’t possibly understand because you are not (race or gender in question).” It is quite the trump card because it is unarguably true. I have always wanted to say this: Amanda you just don’t understand or can possibly perceive reverse sexism because you’re not a man! :-)

    Well I am a man. I have been one for years and I call bullshit on both articles. None of it matches up with any of my life experience which is exactly as good as the evidence she presented. Without going through point by point I’ll cover three. Fighting: anger management issues are considered to be a mental illness is my circle. Seek help. Gay: I’ve been hit on twice. I found it flattering. Stiff upper lip: this is rather the way many (most?) men are wired and it is certainly my natural instinct. I find it intensely uncomfortable to behave in any other way.

    I don’t believe that sexism can ever be solved, but don’t puff pieces like this distract from the real sexism that exists in the world?

  13. @davew: Excuse me this one nitpick: It’s not reverse sexism, it’s just sexism.

    And I’m honestly very happy that you feel you haven’t had to put up with that bullshit. I don’t want anyone to have to go through that, everyone should be able to be themselves without the imposition of ridiculous societal expectations of gender.

    But given the response to Greta’s articles, your experience is sadly atypical. So there’s the value in articles like this – just as exposing sexism against women helps bring us together and make us feel less alone, exposing sexism against men does the same. At least, that is the impression that I get from the responses to the articles. It also shows that we scary feminists are concerned with the harm that sexism does to everyone and that we want to include men in our fight against it – not just for our benefit but for theirs.

    (Oh, and I grinned at “you can’t possibly understand.” Touche! :)

  14. I do agree with @davew: about her speaking vs writing, but the only 2 samples of her writing I’ve read are the two articles about unfair expectations of men. So for all I know, most of her writing is akin to her talk which I though was brilliant.

    I found the written pieces to be rambling, some of the points redundant and some of the items trivial while I think other important issues have been left out. However I would have to think about it a lot more to come up with specifics. As a starting point for discussion, I think it’s okay, but (at least here) people seem to be concentrating more on quibbles than on actually discussing the specifics, which items are important and which are not, what should be added to the list, etc.

    Personally, I love fixing stuff (though I wish I was better at it, sometimes my repairs look really shoddy though other people often seem not to notice), but I can imagine men who are klutzy or whose minds don’t work that way would feel an unfair pressure to perform. On the other hand, this works both ways… How many women who would be terrific fixer-uppers and would thoroughly enjoy it have been discouraged from even trying because “it’s man’s work?”

    Greta is absolutely right that this hurts everybody, though many of her specifics (like the pressure to be mechanically adept) only hurts some people.

  15. I only really have one bone to pick with Greta Christina’s argument (although I certainly agree with most of the examples), but it’s a big old bone for me. I think the entire idea of “we should discuss sexism against men because they experience it too and it would be a good way to get them involved” is wrong. Look, I should be concerned regardless of whether the ways in which sexism affect me are pointed out. If the potential risks to my specific age/sex/race/class are the only reason I’d care, I’ve missed the point. Any sexism damages men (and women) regardless of which sex is getting the obvious short hand of the stick. There are no winners here. In crappy analogy-ese (which I consider my second language), you can’t pull one Jenga piece out of the tower and argue that it’s only affecting that piece.

    I know that’s not exactly what she’s arguing, but I dislike the idea of sexism being separated into how it affects men and how it affects women. When you say that in some situation Man A got higher pay than Woman A of equal ability because of sexism, you are probably right. You’d also be right to say that Woman A really got screwed in this situation, while Man A got a better deal, practically. But neither experienced more sexism than the other – they are victims of the same exact sexism – and from an ideological standpoint they both got fucked. The term “inverse” sexism (or racism, or anything) is in itself sexist and self-defeating. This article kinda had that feel to me.

    But I’m not arguing against practicality, either. I’m glad that somebody is preaching for my sex, and I’ve got my fist in the air as much as any guy about it. I also realize that, practically speaking, I’m much more likely as a male to “gain” (as much as you can call it that) from society’s sexism than be hurt by it. It’s just that I think problems that are so deeply rooted should be attacked at those roots and not just at where the weeds are sticking out.

    I guess this is kind of pedantic, but it seems important to me.

  16. So I read both the 5 things posts… I guess the ten things posts now. I feel I’m pretty liberated from those demands except the ones about being horny all the time which I would rather like to be free of. It’s very distracting.

    I put forth what I believe my strategy has been to get me to this point: Targeted apathy. I don’t care. I imagine it’s hard to do consciously and my ability to do so is likely a product of my environment, but I just don’t care about being manly. It’s a social construct that I find extremely unpleasant and I rather try to avoid the people that attempt to exemplify it.

    @joeharbison: The fact that you feel this way is an incredible victory for the feminist movement. For most of recorded history women were subjugated. No matter how shitty the men had it the women were worse off pretty much across the board. Ask your grandmother, it’s enlightening how much things have changed.

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