Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 9.16

  • Like a girl – “…everyone suffers when we continue to maintain and perpetuate misogyny. But women and girls suffer more. Because we are the ones you shouldn’t be like.”
  • To my someday daughter – From a gamer to his future daughter, “I’m tired of gamers and their terrible attitudes towards you, my daughter, my flesh and blood. The girl who will one day look up at me and say “I want to do what daddy does!” and then watch as I screw my face up into a flesh vortex and think really hard about what that choice means for you.”
  • New Australian passport allows third gender option – Transgender people had previously had to have gender reassignment surgery before being able to change their gender on their passport. Now they and people of indeterminate sex will be able to choose “X”. From Agranulocytosis.
  • Self delusion may be a winning survival strategy – From Jay.
  • Cute Animal Friday! Nowoo, the great cute animal finder, shared the cutest French kitten commercial ever and jazz for cows. And jes3ica brings us science cuteness in the form of green glowing kittens that contribute to HIV research.

Amanda

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

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14 Comments

  1. “You throw like someone whose childhood involved systematic discrimination in a manner which discouraged athletics.”

    “Huh? You mean my dad was a prick because he wouldn’t teach me baseball even when I asked?”

    “Um … something like that.”

  2. Wow! The “Like A Girl” article is fantastic and totally, completely spot-on! The whole comparing someone to a girl as an insult thing is a HUGE cornerstone of widespread misogynist thinking that I find has been strangely ignored in the discourse concerning sexism and gender quality.

    A couple things it made me think of that I don’t think got quite pointed out, though… while, as she said, women tend to have more “breathing room” in terms of gender expression (wearing jeans, short hair, foregoing make-up) and men or assigned-male people engaging in any kind of feminine dress or behaviour is instantly seen as a major flaw, there’s also the fact that even if a woman manages to stray far enough from her assigned gender role that it becomes noticeable (“butch”, “tomboy”), she only has to deal with hostility on the grounds of gender variance, not the additional hostility and ridicule that comes with misogyny, “femmephobia” (a great word I saw coined on a feminist blog a few weeks ago) and being gender variant in the “wrong” direction. (“Why would you WANT to be girly?!” assumption: there’s no possible value in girls or femininity)

    Since maleness and masculinity are seen as superior and positive, and femaleness and femininity seen as inferior and negative, a “tomboy” gets MUCH more positive treatment than a “sissy boy”. Consider media portrayals… we very often see tomboy heroines (they do, however, frequently “clean up” at the end and adopt a traditional gender role), but we never, ever see an effeminate male hero.

    Heck, I’ve even heard “You’re like one of the guys!” said to women as a compliment many, many times. The inverse? Not so much.

    The whole assumption of acting-male being okay and acting-female being pathologically not-okay written even into the medical establishment. “Transvestic fetishism” appears in the DSM ONLY in regards to men dressing as women, for instance. Countless books have been written attempting to explain MtF transgenderism but comparatively very little has been written or even thought of in regard to FtMs.

    And convenient segue: I’m personally not too keen on the “X” or other forced “third gender” options for trans people. Although some trans people identity as neither male or female, or both, or something else, most regard themselves as either male or female and would like their passport to reflect that. Being transgender doesn’t mean someone ISN’T the gender they identity as. Forcing someone to go with an “X” or to tick a “transgender” box on a form instead of “male” or “female” is othering and kind of messed up. I like it best when you have a “tick all that apply” option, including M, F, and T. And perhaps a little spot for “other”.

    1. P.S. Yeah, just heard from some trans folk in Australia, and apparently they’re not too keen on it either. Having an indeterminate gender marker isn’t going to make someone that much safer while traveling, and this is also likely to make it that much harder to legislate for people to be able to get their identified gender marker without SRS. For those not in the know, btw, not every trans person wants SRS or feels its worth the risk / hassle. And there’s always a rather lengthy period between beginning transition and getting surgery, even in those cases that someone does want it and is trying to get there as quickly as possible. So… always a period of time where someone’s gender and their gender marker aren’t going to match. Which really sucks.

      1. This lines up with my initial reaction when I read that story–the policy is strongly reminiscent, both in intent and likely function, to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

        A lot of folks forget that DADT was meant to be a sop to the gay rights movement–a way of establishing that soldier’s sex life didn’t matter. It was seen as a compromise between the old exclusion policy, and the Clinton campaign promise to allow gay Americans to serve. However, because of how it was worded, plus internal resistance to any level of openness on the issue, it led to an increase in the number of soldiers being drummed out of the military for homosexuality, not a decrease. And the Clinton administration left it in place without comment or critique of the armed forces, a betrayal that played heavily into my decision to support Obama over Hillary in the Democratic presidential primary race.

        I suspect that in another decade-plus, the “X” gender category will be another item in the list of “good intentions poorly executed”, not to mention a case study in what happens when you half-ass progressivism.

  3. Tait’s article is very long but very good. There’s been a lot of sexist stupidity in the gaming community for about as long as it has existed. This kind of thing happens out in the open whenever there’s a major gender skew in the population.

    The important thing to note is that women face the “arbitrary prejudice” that many saw in Alyssa Bereznak’s article all the time, not only in dating situations. I doubt most people would show such a hostile, even vicious, response to a man who dismissed any further interaction based on a typical woman’s hobby.

    There’s also the class aspect that plays into it. “Oh, he’s rich, you must be an idiot.” Are we living in the 18th century? If he hadn’t been rich, who doubts that someone would have claimed she dumped him because he didn’t have enough money?

    Some people claimed Bereznak’s article was just a troll, trying to draw people in and boost ad revenue or whatever. I don’t know how you would disprove that. People do write about their personal lives openly on the internet, despite the fact that this has very little to do with the rest of us. However, supposing that it were, it was brilliantly successful. Expressing your outrage, especially in such an obliviously sexist manner, is playing the role of the fool.

    1. “However, supposing that it were, it was brilliantly successful. Expressing your outrage, especially in such an obliviously sexist manner, is playing the role of the fool.”

      Yup. In online content production, we’ve been taught to look at the blowback as ‘thanks for the clicks’.

  4. On the whole “Like a girl” thing… Indeed. I’ve actually thought a bit about this recently, because this specific issue was brought to my attention, believe it or not, by a French children’s cartoon (Wakfu) that I’ve been geeking out about recently.

    Not in a bad way. It was done consciously, during three whole episodes taking up the issue of sexism as a kind of subtopic to a sports match.

    I have been meaning to write a post about those episodes for a while, and your link finally spurred me into action, as it seems somewhat relevant:
    Dealing with sexism in a children’s cartoon

  5. On the “Like a girl” article: I personally have been guilty on calling a guy out for not having balls. It’s something that deeply ashames me, and I’m really glad I called out for it. Engendered pejoratives are really rife in society, and it becomes really quite telling if you replace those with racial ones. It really reminds you that we still have a long way to go, before we can escape the nonsense.

    The letter to the daughter was both heart-breaking, and inspiring. It heartens me that most comments appear to be supportive, and have made some people / gamers really think about their interactions, and how their own privileges might be coming through.

    I did note that there was comment in the letter/article that triggered a response from me about privilege:

    ” “That’s why I’m thinking really hard about whether I’d like you to be involved in gaming at all.” ”

    My first take on that was that it should be his daughter’s decision, surely. Someone else commented that it was probably intended to be parental privilege rather than male privilege, but I still have a problem with that because engendered roles are being hammered into us from a very young age. If the kid was a boy, would he be as sheltered as a girl would?

    1. I think you might be reading it wrong. As a parent there are things I don’t want my kids to get into. That doesn’t mean I forbid it, it just means I’m uncomfortable with it.

      I don’t want my kids to work as a strippers or prostitutes but ultimately it will be their choice. But considering the less than healthy environments those jobs tend to exist in, I don’t have to like it even if I accept it.

    2. Oh yeah, absolutely, the “balls” comment is another one of those ways our language reveals latent sexism. Someone is a “pussy” if they’re cowardly, weak, easily pushed around, etc. but “having balls” is to be brave, strong, confident, ambitious, etc. Thanks for pointing that one out.

      Like PrimevilKneivel, though, I read the quote from the gaming article as being about what he’d *like* for his hypothetical daughter, not about what choices he’d force upon her.

      But, yeah, I definitely think the attitudes that gender certain hobbies, professions and fields are partially perpetuated by parents encouraging their children to pursue certain things instead of others dependent on their gender. As long as parents are raising their kids in such a way as to send subtle messages that girls shouldn’t be into gaming, computers, sports, science (even with the best intentions, like wanting to spare them from sexism) then those will continue to be male-dominated areas where sexism and misogyny can remain rampant and unchallenged.

  6. I feel like I’ve commented way too much in the last 48 hours, but I can’t resist…

    Proposed amendments to gendered terminology:

    “Pussy” – Someone who is warm, deep, loving and creative.
    “Having balls” – Being highly sensitive about one particular issue.
    “Dick” – Someone who is normally flexible, but willing to stand-up for their principles when the time is right.

    :P

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