A lot of atheists who were once religious talk about their de-conversion as a metaphorical opening of their own eyes. Of course, those who find religion often feel the same way: “I once was blind but now I see.” This is an obvious way of describing what happens when you have a sudden realization that changes your entire outlook on life.

It would be wonderful if those who experience that change took as a lesson the fact that there may always be something big and obvious about the way the world works, that we may be missing. But instead it seems as though it’s more common that once someone has their particular realization, they assume that now they’ve got it all figured out.

What I think many of them – atheists and theists alike – are missing is the way our (Western) society functions, particularly for people other than themselves. There’s a great webcomic called Sinfest that used the Matrix as a metaphor for someone having just such a realization:

You should go read them all, at least starting with the above comic. It’s got a badass feminist on a trike in place of Morpheus, a demon who’s lost her faith, and a former sex-pot who tries to show others what she can now see:

I bet a lot of atheists would relate to that comic if you replace words like “damsels in distress” and “hey dollface” with, say, “blasphemy is a sin” and “evil atheist.” They’d understand that these are messages that become a part of our culture and get unknowingly parroted by those who can’t see religion’s sometimes damaging impact on those of us who lack belief and value free speech. These atheists would never argue that those ideas are okay because religious people evolved to espouse them and they just can’t help it.

But many of those same atheists do make that very argument about the impact of the patriarchy, and many of them, like the male character in the above comic, are blind to the messages we all receive constantly, every day, about how men and women should behave and be treated.

Once you know what to look for, it’s scary how uniform and consistent some of the messages are. Here are some of the commercials that aired during the Super Bowl last night, one of the most-watched television events of the year:

An ad telling us that women will have sex with men in exchange for flowers. A naked woman is literally a billboard used to get attention from men in order to sell Internet domain names. Dream women are naked and available for sex with men. A woman is a car that enjoys being gawked at.

This is what we talk about, when we talk about “objectification.” The ads literally turn women into objects that have no emotion or personality aside from wanting to pleasure men. These are not exceptions – these are the rules that society plays by. It wasn’t a coincidence that all these ads were created by different agencies for a wide variety of products using the exact same message – it’s because each of those ads is a part of the patriarchy that is marketed to the patriarchy that reinforces the patriarchy.

These are the rules that children are taught, and they are the rules that we follow when we sexualize every girl and woman, regardless of her age or desire to be seen as an object. They are the rules that these men are following when they debate whether “slutty” women should be raped or simply completely devalued.

A few days ago, I saw the rules in effect on Jessica Ahlquist’s Facebook page. You may remember Jessica – she’s the 16-year old who went to court to get her public high school to remove a religious banner. She posted a funny photo of her face on her page:

Amongst the comments, there was this:

You should like the Sexy Atheist page, so you can post it there. It may be an exercise in narcissism, but it's fun

“You should like the Sexy Atheist page, so you can post it there. It may be an exercise in narcissism, but it’s fun :-P”

I took a look at the Sexy Atheist page (which the commenter linked to in a follow-up), and it’s exactly what it sounds like: people posting photos of themselves and others commenting on how sexy they are, amongst links to the usual atheist memes here and there. Here’s the main profile pic, a naked Statue of Liberty:

Naked Statue of Liberty

Who knew that Lady Liberty was hiding a stereotypically perfect Western body under all those robes? Anyway, I took a look at what was on the page. This is my absolute favorite, which makes me laugh every time I look at it:

idiot hits on spambot

I picture Kenneth at the mall, hand up against a wall at the Gap, telling a mannequin how hot her tits are. “You’re the quiet type, aren’t you? Naughty girl.”

Anyway, the photos that were uploaded by actual people were all obviously meant to be “sexy,” in the way that we all define “sexy,” and the comments went along with it. Things like this:

Woman in Bed with Gun

 

Here’s a whole photo album, with every sexy photo accompanied by dozens of comments like (these are all direct quotes from men): “Wow, I would like to give her some loving, oh yeah! Say my name baby, who’s your daddy!” and “does my boobs look big in this… (elfish princess)” and “You would look killer if you did not wear so much foundation…” and “Someone is getting fucked!” and “?:fapfapfap:” and “Oh my, I do love Asians. Yummy!” and “She looks legal age, or at least a jailbait… But she so fucking hot. Specially in that pose.” Those last two were in response to an Asian girl on a bed holding a teddy bear.

Not all the comments are directly sexual, but the vast majority are, so we can take a good guess as to what sort of reception 16-year old Jessica might find were she to take this man’s suggestion that she upload her own photos – adults would tell her how hot her body is and how much they’d like to date, marry, or have sex with her.

Which, for the women who want that, is fine. I mean, “fine” in that it appears as though many of them, men and women alike, are playing by (and thereby reinforcing) the rules of the patriarchy, which state that women should derive their self-esteem from presenting their bodies for men to judge. But that small bit of trouble aside, adult women have every right to upload photos of themselves anywhere they’d like for any reason they’d like and they should never be shamed for it.

But for those who do not want or need validation from others concerning their looks and sexual availability, it can be distressing to get these nonstop messages that they should (literally) submit. And it’s especially distressing to see a teenager encouraged to sexualize herself.

That’s why another awesome teen, Rhys Morgan, spoke up immediately on Jessica’s Facebook page:

Rhys: Jesus Christ, she's 16. Telling her to join a "Sexy Atheists" page is the height of creepiness.

Rhys: Jesus Christ, she’s 16.
Telling her to join a “Sexy Atheists” page is the height of creepiness.

Steven: It’s not an explicit page, and there’s a lot of good info that’s shared on there, as well as funny pictures.

Steven: (i.e., you’re taking the “sexy” part a bit too seriously)

Rhys: Great, but telling a 16 year old girl to post photos on a group called “Sexy Atheists” is really fucking creepy. Perverse, even.

This is the point where all the adult men watching should have realized that Rhys was absolutely right. Steven should have apologized to Jessica and thanked Rhys for pointing out his mistake before things truly got out of hand. Instead, Steven doubles down and he’s joined by other men who say even worse things:

Jason: Indeed. And they’ve had others post on there that I’ve been able to tell them I’ll tell them they’re sexy in a couple years. :P

Imagine how blind to reality one has to be to make a statement like that. Because these are mostly atheists, I’m going to keep making analogies to religion, so imagine this was someone saying, “I tell the kids that they can start shunning infidels in a few years.” Imagine how you feel when you see documentaries about adults smiling when little kids start speaking in tongues at Bible Camp.

Now imagine someone telling your teen daughter that in a few years, she’ll be ready to be objectified. Don’t be angry . . . Jason is just following the rules.

Rhys continues to confront the apologists who fall over themselves attempting to justify their suggestion that Jessica offer herself up for sexualization. They resort to calling Rhys an immature kid, because he’s a teen. Like Jessica. PZ Myers sums it up perfectly on Twitter:

Old people who simultaneously condescend to teenagers, calling them “immature” and out of their depth…while in the same thread they suggest that teenagers ought to pose for a sexy atheist page, so they can leer over them.

Ophelia Benson also weighed in on the thread, pointing out that the problem isn’t just about Jessica’s age:

Even apart from her age – it is so fucking condescending to tell a woman to post her pic on a “sexy” anything page when the pic is not about sexy – it’s a very droll enactment of the emoticon. Jessica knows how to make the shape of a D – that’s some talent!

Once the apologists realize that there are many people who feel the comments are inappropriate and that they’re not going to win the fight, they start complaining that people were “white knighting” for Jessica:

Okay, can we quit the white knighting?

Jessica’s cute. Very cute. We know this. Whether or not Stephen’s comment/invitation was appropriate isn’t really important here (at worst it’s awkward, imo). I think Jessica can handle this herself pretty well if she thought it was that bad; the whole reason we’re here is because we know she’s an extremely capable person.

After it was pointed out to him that there is nothing wrong with friends sticking up for one another and calling out inappropriate behavior, this person later apologized and retracted his statement. Others continued to insist that only Jessica could have an opinion on the matter.

While Jessica’s opinion matters a great deal, particularly in a case that concerns her own Facebook page, it is remarkable to me that people insist we should never help defend one another. Put yourself in Jessica’s position – thrust into the spotlight for doing something very brave, pissing off religious fundamentalists, finding support in an atheist community, and then having members of that atheist community say things that make you deeply uncomfortable. Do you ask them to stop? Do you ask them to stop, after seeing other women vilified and bullied again and again for doing the same thing?

To Jessica’s infinite credit, she eventually did:

Well isn’t this lovely. My opinion: [there] are better and more appropriate ways of telling someone (in this case, a 16 year old), that they look nice. Thank you to Rhys for pointing this out and thank you to everyone else for backing him up.

I messaged Jessica and asked her if it was okay that I write about this. She said it was fine, and also told me that after she posted that, one of the men in question apologized to her. I’m not sure who exactly, but that’s why I’ve blocked out their names in the screenshots.

I hope those men feel truly pathetic today for fighting so hard to make a teen girl uncomfortable, and for forcing her to step in and tell them herself, directly, that they were being inappropriate.

As upsetting as I found that thread, I also see in it a lot of hope for the future. Both Jessica and Rhys are teens with keen minds and a compassionate, progressive outlook that can only serve to make the atheist and skeptic communities better, if they stick with it. And I hope they do stick with it, despite those who have yet to see.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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461 Comments

  1. Avatar of Feminace
    February 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm —

    Cue the whiny backlash comments in 4,3,2…

    But seriously, with people like Jessica and Rhys who freaking get it, I have hope for the next generation, because goodness me are the current crop of adults skating on the hopeless line. I mean, really? That was the best complement they could have given her?

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
      February 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm —

      Hehe, I’m part of a group in which geeky atheist boys and proud neckbeards bear (almost) all.

      It’s a community group that arose out of one of the larger atheist Facebook groups – and it was done partially to mock the Patriarchal objectification Rebecca speaks of. However, since then it’s taken off into quite a popular and sexy counter community.

      One thing it’s taught me is that sexy sharing is okay if it’s respectful. However, as Rebecca points out, most of it degrades a woman down to her “fuckability”, sad.

      Anywho, if anyone wants to see geeky skeptic guys doin their thang, let me know and I can arrange an invite (Facebook banned us as an open group).

  2. Avatar of Eskeptrical Engineer
    February 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm —

    The more I read about Jessica Ahlquist, the more I am impressed by her. I can’t imagine having that kind of bravery and self-confidence at her age.

    I also really appreciate your putting this into a broader context. I think most people are able to see how creepy it is to tell a 16 year old that she’s sexy, but many of those people miss how the same behavior is still creepy for adults as well. I rarely read comments on tech blogs anyway, and I never do so when a woman is interviewed. Regardless of the actual topic of the interview, if there’s a picture of a woman, many of the comments will be devoted to whether or not she’s “hot.”

    • Avatar of
      February 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm —

      Why is it “creepy” to tell a 16 year old that she is sexy?

      Spain’s age of consent is 13. Denmark’s age of consent is 15. Estonia 14; Finland 16; France 15; Germany 14. England and Wales 16. Most of Europe is in that range.

      Canada and much of the US is 16, but some major population centers like California and New York are 17 and 18, so maybe that is where the more prudish or conservative sexual mores come from.

      Age of consent means the society has concluded that the person has the capacity to deal with actual sexual intercourse and other sexual activities. Certainly, being suggested to come to “Sexy Atheist” board and look at stuff like a green naked Statue of Liberty would be less extreme than actual sexual consent.

      So, while Ahlquist is American, not European – Rhode Island – which I think is where she is from – has an age of sexual consent at 16. So, she is old enough to choose for herself whether to have sex with men. So, if the society allows her to choose to have sex, presumably it allows her to field suggestions to view and contribute to a Sexy Atheist message board.

      While, of course, everyone’s sense of “creepiness” is purely a subjective matter, and there is no such thing as “objective” creepiness, I think that some of the reactions here seem a bit, well, let’s say ultra-conservative on the issue of sexuality. She’s 16 – she is an intelligent, smart, educated, capable woman, who we all know can stand up and fight for her legal rights and stand up to an overwhelming majority pitted against her – surely, she can field a request to contribute to the “Sexy Atheist” message board?

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm —

        But why should she HAVE to field a request to join a “sexy atheist” group IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY APPROPRIATE CONTEXT WHATSOEVER?!

        Moreover, your pedantry on issues of age of consent as opposed to, oh I dunno, basic human decency, is making my creep meter go off in a major way!

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm —

          Yeaaah, my “subjective” creepy meter just went “DING DING WE HAVE A CREEPSTER!” Because wow, just wow.

          • Avatar of
            February 7, 2012 at 8:44 am

            I don’t see why treating a 16 year old as something more than small child is “creepy.” She has the right to choose to have sex, and is granted the legal authority to decide who, what, where, and when she has sex. This implies, rationally, the legal authority to field requests for same. Here, we’re not talking about requests for sex, per se, but a request that she post an image of herself at a “Sexy Atheists” forum.

            I have no doubt that Ms. Ahlquist has the character and fortitude to field such a request. She has shown herself to be a strong young woman who stood up against an entire town, and fought for her legal rights. A dope on the internet asking her post a picture of herself is a small affair for her.

            I think we all can recall being 16. Were we such withering flowers?

          • Avatar of missmayinga
            February 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

            Yeah, mine too. I mean, yeesh.

            Re: Fensterbaby
            It’s not “treating a 16-year old like a small child”, it’s having some sense of social decency. Surely you realize that it’s not always appropriate for one person to make sexual comments to another, even if they are both over the age of consent? For instance, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a teacher to make sexual comments to a student, because the teacher is in a position of power over the student. Similarly, an adult is in a position of power over a 16-year old – they may not be able to hold anything over them, but they have more rights and responsibilities than a 16-year old, and thus they hold a higher “position” in society.

            I think we all can recall being 16. Were we such withering flowers?
            Given that I was 16 slightly less than two years ago, I believe I’m in a perfect position to address this question. Short answer: Yes. It’s not that sex freaked me out, or that I would have swooned away if someone on the internet told me I was sexy. But if that someone was an adult? It would have been massively awkward, to say the least. I’d be wondering what they meant by it – whether they were just trying to compliment me, or whether they were trying to hit on me – that is, trying to start something. I’d be wondering if I should respond, how I should respond, what they were expecting me to do. I’d be wondering if they knew I was 16, if they hit on me because of that. I’d be, in short, creeped the fuck out.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 8:29 am —

          Why should she have to field a request? Well, I guess it’s an internet forum open to people to comment freely and pretty much request whatever they want — unmoderated or loosely moderated message boards are like that. And, if a forum is really going to be a free discussion, then distasteful and “creepy” opinions and suggestions are going to be involved.

          Anyway – I can’t help your creep factor. But, it doesn’t have to be made about me. My point was only that cultural mores and customs don’t create objective standards from which we can point judgmental fingers and say “You have gone beyond the bounds of decency!” My point was that matters sexual have been and are subject to a very shifting array of cultural and legal standards. My citation to the age of consent was basically to illustrate the point that if the cultural consensus is that a girl of 16 has the ability to accept offers for sexual intercourse (which in Rhode Island she apparently does) from adults, then certainly a request to post a picture is not quite as serious. Maybe you don’t see it that way – but, I do.

          If you’re implying something about me personally, be advised that I wouldn’t make nasty comments to anyone on the internet, because I’m pretty tame on these issues. I also haven’t dated, or tried to date, a 16 year old girl since I was 18, so hopefully that reduces your “creep alert” a bit.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

            “. And, if a forum is really going to be a free discussion, then distasteful and “creepy” opinions and suggestions are going to be involved.”

            Wow, really? A free discussion includes sexist remarks to a 16 year old girl?

            I don’t even know where to being with you. You seem to have no understanding at all of what we’ve been talking about.

            A woman, of any age, should not have to filter sexual comments just because she posts a picture of herself. And if you think it’s totally okay to do that, you are part of the problem. A big part of the problem.

      • Avatar of Eskeptrical Engineer
        February 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm —

        I also left out that it’s not creepy for another 16 year old to call a 16 year old sexy (assuming appropriate context), but my larger point was in fact that I find this behavior of commenting on a woman’s attractiveness irrespective of context problematic for all women, adults included. Age of consent laws don’t affect my main argument.

        • Avatar of Eskeptrical Engineer
          February 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm —

          To make my point a little clearer: it’s not inherently creepy for one teenager to call another teenager sexy in the appropriate context, like if the two are dating. It is creepy to come across a picture of a woman of any age and go straight to “sexy” when the context has nothing to do with attractiveness.

      • Avatar of Kammy
        February 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm —

        Call me a prudish sex-negative backward American if you want (you’d be wrong about everything but the American part), but using age of consent laws to justify older people perving on a teenager is fucking creepy. I don’t give a rat’s dick if some lawmakers somewhere said it’s ok to for 16 year olds to give consent to sex with whomever they want, it does not make adults sexually objectifying a much younger person OK.

        • Avatar of BeccaTheCyborg
          February 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm —

          It’s always creepy as hell when jackasses like that assume that just because something’s legal, it’s therefore right and moral.

          • Avatar of
            February 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

            No no. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that. There are many things that are legal that I think are creepy. I was trying to place some perspective on the discussion, that is all, and I think that what is legal is certainly relevant to a discussion of what our culture objectively finds seriously creepy.

            I will say again that what is creepy is a purely subjective analysis, and some people think that it’s creepy for even adults to interact in a sexual manner. We generally, though, find that once a person is an adult over the age of 18 that there isn’t going to be advance protection against people saying creepy things. One person’s creepy is not another person’s creepy, and as a society it’s not feasible to decide the issue in advance.

            My suggestion here is that on this topic, even a person of age 16 and up is likewise capable of fielding these kinds of inquiries. And, while many people may feel the inquiries are creepy, many others don’t. I pointed out that as a consensus, the people of Rhode Island have decided that not only can a 16 year old field a request to post her picture on the Sexy Atheist forum, but that she is competent to field overtures for actual sexual intercourse.

            That is not to say that I think it’s a good thing to hit on 16 year olds – that isn’t something I’ve done since I graduate high school. However, unlike some, I don’t presume that others cups of tea are objectively wrong — like the show Lost’s Doug Hutchison married 16 year old singer Courtney Stodden.

            Creepy? Maybe so. They seem happy, and she’s perfectly capable of handling the situation, at least as far as anyone has shown thus far. Would asking her to post her picture on a forum be off the charts?

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 9:07 am —

          And, that is your view of it. There are quite a number of other people who aren’t particularly incensed by 16 year olds dating or interacting sexually with persons over the age of 21. A 20 year old and a 16 going on 17? Maybe – according to my rulebook, that’s not too bad. But, in my view, the difference between someone who is 21, or 25 or 30 and a 16 year old, in terms of life experience, etc., is too great. So, I think they generally should date and interact with persons over 20 ish.

          That being said, I don’t pretend that my morality must be everyone’s. Is Mr. Hutchison from the show “Lost” a creep for marrying Courtney Stodden (she was 16)?

          And we should remember that the extension of childhood is a fairly recent concept. Being 16 was, not too long ago, plenty old enough for sexuality and marriage. Cultural norms are just that, cultural.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

            “Is Mr. Hutchison from the show “Lost” a creep for marrying Courtney Stodden (she was 16)?”

            Uh. Yes. Yes it is. Have you actually seen those two interact?

            Wow. You really seem to think it’s okay to sexualize women just because they happen to be women. You are part of the problem.

      • Avatar of wonkman
        February 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm —

        The presumption that any woman who happens to be in possession of a body will be both thrilled and excited at the thought of internet strangers oogling her body is, in all cases, uniformly creepy. Age of consent doesn’t enter into it.

        It’s not incumbent upon women (particularly minors) to accept sexualized attention until and unless they explicitly forbid it. “Sexy until proven otherwise” is pretty messed up.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 9:11 am —

          I don’t think that is it at all. I think it’s just that in an internet open forum, lots of different things can be said because of a lack of moderation. Asking a question like “will you post your picture at Sexy Atheist” doesn’t presume that she wants to post her picture. It’s not a presumption – it’s a question. She may not, and if she doesn’t, then we know she doesn’t want to. She may be thrilled, and she may go there and post the picture.

      • Avatar of cluisanna
        February 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm —

        If you’re making stupid arguments, at least get your facts right. In Germany the age of consent is 14 only with people under 18, and I think that is true in some of the other countries you mention as well.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 9:15 am —

          Personal attack.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm

            It’s now a personal attack to point out that your augments are stupid AND uniformed? Uh, no.

      • Avatar of ologies
        February 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm —

        Wow, yes, and the marriageable age in some countries is 12 and 13! What’s with the rules, all of Western civilization?! Lighten up!

        Thing is, there is a difference not only in age but maturity that is wholly inappropriate. Yes, Jessica is a mature and well-spoken young lady, but older guys should also know better – where is the responsibility for them? Seems you’re more concerned that we let Jessica “field” these requests herself than you are that people are actually making them to begin with.

        Imagine if every picture you posted of yourself was followed up with someone asking you to join some group where people objectify your appearance. Post a picture of yourself with a book – people say LOL TAKE UR SHIRT OFF. Post a picture of yourself with your dog – people say OMG UR SO HAWT. Post a picture of yourself making a silly, cute face – OMG GO POST YOURSELF TO THIS PLACE WHERE PEOPLE CAN GET AROUSED.

        Welcome to being an attractive woman on the internet where similar actions by men wouldn’t get the same response!

        Taking age out of the equation, THAT is fucking creepy. Context, man.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 9:17 am —

          I certainly respect your opinion on this, which is a legitimate view.

          So, what do you suggest be done about it?

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm

            Have you been paying attention at all? Also, you need to take responsibility for yourself and ask yourself why you seem to be okay with apologizing for and shrugging off this type of behavior.

      • Avatar of absinthe
        February 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm —

        Weird argument about age-of-consent.

        Sort of like saying: “as an atheist I’m really tired of having belief shoved at my kids and hope for a future where this matter is personal, not socially accepted conversational trade”

        and hearing: “Well, but Catholics have confirmation at 13. So your kids are clearly old enough to go to hell.”

        Point completely missed.

      • Avatar of ysanne
        February 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm —

        Look, I understand many of your points (also made in the posts below), and completely agree that “creepy” is not a good description of the Sexy Atheists comment, and that mixing in the “she’s only 16! that’s perverted!” bit doesn’t help either.

        But.

        Do you happen to be European? :-) I am, and I didn’t see what was meant by a lot of this “women being reduced to objects” stuff… growing up in the 80ies/90ies in central and western Europe, I saw absolutely no problem with interacting with people in a respectful way and treating them as equals, and at the same time acknowledging that we’re both sexual beings, too.
        An appreciative comment on someone’s looks can be meant and taken as a friendly aside, and not as an attempt to reduce someone to an object. In the 80ies in Hungary, women routinely wore fishnets to work and were taken seriously as professionals who happen to like how their legs look, instead of being seen as sluts who want to distract men with sexual thoughts. Lots of women would go to the beach topless and nobody would pay more attention to them than bikini-wearing ones. Girls had short hair and were encouraged to play with cars and trains and Lego.

        A lot of this is not typical any more, and possibly never was in some places (such as the US). Notice how in comment on news articles with a woman, usually half the posts ignore what she actually said and judge her solely based on her looks. Notice how it’s become a popular way of reacting to something a woman posts to speculate about ways of raping her. Notice how it’s again ok to say “girls can’t do X because it’s their biology”, with X absolutely basic things ranging from maths over parking cars to doing politics. Notice how a woman has to choose between being a pretty, somewhat stupid and submissive “attractive woman” or a smart and successful but thereby threatening “shrill feminists”.

        This regression is hardly noticeable in academic, left-oriented circles, and most pronounced in pools of idiots such as youtube comment threads and MRA forums, but sadly the general population is sitting closer to the youtube end of this spectrum.

        So when you see a comment that says “I think you’re pretty” in a more or less crude way (and let’s admit it, asking to see sexy pics of someone is a pretty crude way), you as a guy may see this as a way of something nice and not too different from making a compliment on intelligence, eloquence or any other skill, but for the woman, it’s likely to be yet another of those comments from random guys who completely forget about her being an actual person and only see her in terms of them wanting to use her genitalia.

        Of course one may speculate about why this backlash in women’s equality happened and what factors contributed… My money is on religiosity and prudishness in the US (which is then happily adopted around the world), and how islamic fundamentalists’ claims that the West “allows” its women to be slutty are partly accommodated, among others, but that’s just my 2 cents.

        The point is: Your attitude is sane and logical, only it’s based on a world that’s very different to what women encounter on a more or less daily basis. I wish you were representative of men’s behaviour towards women, but you’re not.

      • Avatar of dtkgreg
        February 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm —

        >>> Why is it “creepy” to tell a 16 year old
        >>> that she is sexy?

        It isn’t necessarily creepy to tell a 16 year old she’s sexy. If, say, she posted a picture of herself posing in her bathing suit with a comment “Check out my news duds!”, then I’d suppose that we could say she wanted to appear sexy and comments to that effect would be non-creepy – providing the comment stayed reasonably non-criminal and came from someone near her own age.

        Of course, if she’s posting a funny, clearly non-sexual picture of herself, then some guy telling her she’s sexy and should post sexy pictures of herself is pretty creepy.

        Not “posting a list of international ages of consent” creepy, but pretty creepy all the same.

      • Avatar of sallystrange
        February 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm —

        YOU are creepy. If you don’t understand why, that’s why.

      • Avatar of Anna, Fake Robot Gamer
        February 10, 2012 at 11:03 am —

        Wow what a creepy fuck you are. There are no words, you are a creepy person and you SHOULD be ashamed, because you really, really need to learn how to not be creepy.

  3. Avatar of dtkgreg
    February 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm —

    You know, it would be a lot easier for me to ignore the Patriarchy if you wouldn’t put all of those examples of blatant sexism and objectification right next to each other like that.

    If they were spread out a little more in time, I could ignore each of them in turn as the kind of thing that rarely happens anymore.

  4. Avatar of bjdg
    February 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm —

    … Wow. People are creepy. And good on Morgan for calling them out on it. More people need to confront this behavior. It’s not white knighting to insist that everyone be treated as a human being rather than an object.

  5. Avatar of beautifulblackatheist
    February 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm —

    Great post. I’m sorry I clicked on the videos…well the Adriana Lima video-that vase is GORGEOUS!
    it’s no surprise, none at all,to know sexism is alive and well in our community. It will continue to rear it’s ugly head until enough people say NO…consistently. I’m saddened to see Danica the race car driver has still decided to subject herself to objectification but the socket is Jillian Michaels. She portrays herself as a ball buster on TV but this commercial.. .she looks as if she was preparing the girl to be sold. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from our youth and grow the hell up.

  6. Avatar of hisnoodliness
    February 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm —

    (I met with you and had dinner with you at Tam7 ‘Becca. Nice to meet you again).

    Yes, this was a bit sickening. I dare you to be-fan Erin Andrews’ Facebook page. Go on, I dare you. The poor girl might post, “Go Packers” and the sleeze just starts pouring forth. It is truly disgusting that some men evidently believe that publicly stating, “Wow, I love your tits” somehow endears them to a lady.

    Saying anything even remotely sexist or sexual to a six-freaking-teen year old girl is just . . . Well, I miss being able to wish people to hell for that kind of stupidity.

    On behalf of all men, I’m so sorry.

  7. Avatar of
    February 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm —

    There is no ‘patriarchy’, and your examples are just false dichotomies. I assumed that as feminists, you would know the definition of patriarchy by heart. But I will relay the definition to you, to clear any misunderstandings.

    Patriarchy:
    1. A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.
    2. A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.

    We can see that point #1 is not true today (In most countries). Men are not the head of the household. In fact, it is society (Got that? Society, not patriarchy, is responsible for stereotypical gender roles.) that paints men as the clueless husband, while the woman is the all-knowing mother. Not only that, but more and more children these days are being brought up by single mothers, without a father at all. Add to that, children and wives no longer have to take the last name of the father. And descent is traced through both lines of the family tree.

    Point #2 is also not the case. Women are not excluded from positions of power. We should all remind ourselves that equal opportunity =/= equal outcome. Every woman has the same chance as men to inherit a position of power. And in politics, women actually make up the majority of voters.

    As skeptics, I expect you to look at the facts. It is clear that the lot of you are so biased, that you will consciously ignore the facts the prove otherwise. By definition, the patriarchy does not exist. The sexism and stereotypes you see everyday are a result of society. A society that both men and women are responsible for.

    • Avatar of lamuella
      February 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm —

      so, that’s 9 comments from the original post to the first piece of mansplaining.

      Who had 9 comments in the sweepstakes?

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm —

        As a feminist, can you please tell me how you can justify the use of a gendered insult? (Mansplaining)

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm —

          Do you know what mansplaining means? It is also used toward women who also try to mansplain (lookin’ at you, Michelle Bachmann).

          • Avatar of djp928
            February 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

            There are lots of insults that are used for more than just their main purpose. Calling a straight man a “fag” is still an insult towards gays.

          • Avatar of
            February 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm

            Yes, but…in all fairness, it is gendered “mansplain.” It’s a portmanteau of “man” and “explain.” It is not different in character than saying “chick logic” or “woman logic.”

            And, it is used quite often – I’ve seen it – against any man who voices an opinion that isn’t shared by the person using the term.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you not to use it. I just think to rationalize it as not a sexist term can’t be justified, in my opinion. It is a sexist term. It’s saying that something is a “man explanation” and is therefore to be discounted.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm

            You cannot even begin to compare “Fag” to “mansplain”.

            Furthermore, you cannot be sexist toward men. Sexism can hurt men, but you cannot be sexist toward the opressor. Oppression doesn’t work like that.

            Men haven’t been oppressed since the beginning of time. Women and minorities have.

            This is a fantastic skit by the always fantastic Louis CK. It has to do with race, not sexism, but it’s slightly related (because white MEN have it good, man). You just can’t say anything that will offend or oppress the group of people who have oppressed minorities, including women, since the beginning of time. Again, oppression doesn’t work like that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG4f9zR5yzY

            Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a dickwad to a man, and I’d say just calling a man a mansplainer JUST because he’s a dude is a pretty dick thing to do, but it’s not sexist.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm

            No, fenster, it is not used “against any man who voices an opinion that isn’t shared…” I posit that actually you are socialized to be unaware of how said man is behaving in a condescending, belittling manner, where such attitudes are much clearer to those who are on the receiving end of them.

            Moreover, read up on the discussions of privilege and then you will see that it is not AT ALL equivalent to demeaning women’s logic. Here’s a quick explanation:

            Using “chick logic” not only uses the trivializing, sexualized term “chick,” but it also implies that women, by the fact of their biology, are not capable of using actual logic. It also bashes people who have historically been marginalized from education and continue to be deprecated in popular media about their intelligence, for socially-constructed disadvantages over which they have little to no control.

            In contrast, “mansplain” means that a person is exploiting their socially-established (usually) gender privilege in a thoughtless, self-entitled, belittling way. It is holding people who are in positions of power or assumed social advantage accountable for the way they are treating others. This is especially important because, by virtue of their privileges, their attitudes and examples can have far-reaching effects on society.

            To make this very simple:

            Belittling the marginalized for their disadvantages = bad.
            Holding the privileged accountable for their actions/attitudes = good and necessary for progress and equality.

          • Avatar of djp928
            February 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm

            I can’t seem to reply to the actual post I want to reply to. I don’t know if it’s locked or if it’s just a limitation of the software (too many nested comments?) If I’m doing something wrong someone please let me know. (Yes, I’ve read the comment policy.)

            Anyhow, I never said “mainsplaining” was sexist or reverse sexism or anything like that. I said it was insulting. If you have to explain why it’s *not* insulting every time you use the term to the uninitiated then that to me is enough evidence that it is an insulting term. It’s a pejorative term with the word “man” in it. And not by happenstance either, by design. It doesn’t matter to me if you use the term against women too. I still find it insulting.

            You can tell me I need to examine my privilege and I won’t deny it. I’m doing my best to do more listening than speaking, to learn something new rather than reinforce old biases. But what I’m hearing is that I’m not allowed to feel insulted because of A, B, and C, and that sounds like exactly the kind of condescending explaining that “mansplaining” is supposed to embody.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 6, 2012 at 11:27 pm

            djp, you’re not being “insulted.” You’re being held accountable for your privilege. It’s the privilege that’s being attacked, not necessarily you (unless of course you are exploiting that privilege to treat others badly, which it doesn’t seem that you, personally, are doing). I know it’s uncomfortable to have privilege challenged, but that doesn’t mean it’s an “insult”–it just means that critically examining our self-perception as to how we believe we are versus the effects of how we act in the world can be deeply unsettling. However, that’s a necessary stage to go through to actually deal with systemic injustice in the world.

            And, the fact of the matter is, with systemic systems of privilege, privileged people inflict their privilege on others even if they’re VERY committed to social justice. It’s a whole mess of assumptions, snap judgements, biases, cultural narratives, etc., etc. that we’re not even AWARE we’re engaging in. I know I’ve caught myself in some ridiculously racist assumptions over the years, when I had no idea I was doing it at the time. So, I’ve learned never to be offended when people talk about “Shit White People Say”–I know I’ve done enough stupid things in my time. Instead of trying to silence the criticism, I consider myself reminded to examine my own habits to make sure I’m not part of the problem. I have been before, and I will be again, I know, despite my best efforts.

            So, djp, odds are you’ve mansplained, and will mainsplain again. In fact it’s staggeringly unlikely that this is not the case. Please understand that this is not a personal fault–men are socialized to do this from infancy, and certainly all through your schooling and adolescent/young adult social interactions. It’s just one of those nasty things that even though you’d never intentionally do it, it can happen without you meaning to. But, when you see or hear the term “mansplain,” please consider the twinge you feel as a reminder to make sure you’re part of the solution, not as being “insulted.” But, it needs to give that twinge because it needs to remind you that yes, even you, might mansplain.

            And, consider that when people (you or others) mansplain, others are being harmed and having their opinions/intelligence devalued, and addressing the behavior and its roots in gender socialization are essential to solving this problem. I understand where you’re coming from, and believe me I know how much it can hurt to have to examine privilege, but it’s really important that we not place our comfort above naming and solving a problem.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm —

          No, sorry, Mike, mansplaining is not a “gendered” insult–it is a criticism of male privilege, and how men are socialized in our society. Acting in a way that bullies or demeans someone based on your privilege is in fact wrong, and we’re not going to pretend that this gender-related privilege isn’t gendered, just for the sake of your fee-fees or other denialism.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

            That, and women can also mansplain. Michelle Bachmann is amazing at this. As is Sarah Palin. And don’t get me started on Anne Coulter! Women can be sexist/misogynist as well. It’s not just a problem with men; it’s a problem with society.

            I think people see “patriarchy” and assume it’s ONLY about men, when it’s not. It’s about a sexist/patriarchal SOCIETY, which includes everyone.

            Gay people can be highly sexist! And it’s not just a republican/conservative thing, either. Isn’t Chris Matthews (of MSNBC) known to be kind of a sexist dolt, for instance?

          • Avatar of
            February 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

            Yes, in every sense of the word, mansplaining is a gendered insult. And you feminists continue to use it.

            Mansplaining: The fact or action of explaining something in a condescending or self-justifying manner, originally and especially of a man to a woman.

            It’s is sexist.

          • Avatar of djp928
            February 7, 2012 at 3:07 am

            Still can’t seem to reply exactly where I want to, so I apologize for this being in the wrong place.

            Anyhow, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to deny that mansplaining as a thing (as it is defined by the feminist community) exists, nor am I trying to defend myself against the accusation of having done it. Shit no, I know I’ve done it. The very first time someone explained to me with specific examples what the term actually meant, I was like “Oh. Yeah, shit, done that. Many times. Whoops.”

            That’s my real point–someone had to explain it to me in detail first. I know, that’s true of most things in life. Nobody is born just knowing things. But the term seems easy to understand on the surface, and I’d wager most people seeing the word for the first time come to the same conclusion I did at first–that it has something to do with the act of explaining while male, and somehow this is bad in and of itself. Well no, it actually doesn’t have anything to do with being male at all, when you get down to it. It’s about “explaining” from a position of privilege, generally in an attempt to silence the “complainer”–white feminist women do it to black feminist women disturbingly often, I’m told. The term got its name because men hold the lion’s share of the privilege, and are in position to do it the most.

            But if it’s not really about being male, why does it still carry that name? It seems like a needlessly confusing and inflammatory word to use when the entire subject of privilege and systemic sexism is already such a huge minefield to navigate for the uninitiated (meaning, basically, white males.) At every point there is a new and legitimate concern to stop dismissing and start taking seriously, and each one is a new potential drop-out point, a point where it would be all too easy to stop trying to navigate through this minefield you didn’t even know was there yesterday and instead head back to your comfort zone of being white and male and straight and not having to deal with any of this if you don’t choose to. I agree that feeling uncomfortable (to say the least) is part of the journey, or the awakening if you wish to call it that. It couldn’t be otherwise. You can’t navigate this minefield without stepping on mines and getting some new pre-conception or prejudice you didn’t even know you had blown to shit. It just seems to me like this is an unnecessary mine.

            Anyway, I’m getting long winded and terrified that I’m just engaging in more mansplaining without even realizing it (wouldn’t be the first time, won’t be the last.) I did see some of the comments down-thread about how this shouldn’t even be the focus of the discussion, and I agree that it’s a minor point, but it just seems like a minor point that keeps coming up and has an easy fix. I do try to use each new point where I feel challenged as a chance to examine why I feel uncomfortable, and whether I’ve got a legitimate concern or I’m just trying to unconsciously protect another piece of privilege that I don’t want to let go of just yet. This one just keeps coming up and poking at me over and over, though.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm

            djp, I really do respect the fact that your posts have been thoughtful and seem sincere. On the one hand, I’m not comfortable with the idea that whether or not white, straight, cis males are comfortable should be the limiting factor in our discussion. On the other, I’ll offer you this: don’t try to take a necessary word away, propose a new one and make an argument for why you think it encapsulates the problem better, and then hope it will catch on.

          • Avatar of djp928
            February 8, 2012 at 1:02 am

            I want to think that I’m not suggesting you stop using the term just because it upsets men, but rather because in needlessly upsetting some men before they’re “ready” to understand the term (which frankly can’t be understood until you understand privilege, which is a far larger hurdle) the community will be alienating potential allies.

            I say “want to think” because I’ve not yet convinced myself I’m not just butt-hurt about the whole thing. I suppose I will ruminate on that for awhile. Also, I felt I very cleverly avoided offering up an alternative term because frankly I can’t think of one just yet. But you saw through that rather quickly, huh? It’s almost like I’m not the first one who ever thought of this. Tomorrow perhaps I will rediscover solipsism and go annoy some philosophers with my grand insight. I’m still not convinced I’m wrong, mind you, but I’m at least less convinced that I’m right.

        • Avatar of lamuella
          February 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm —

          it’s a gendered insult because it deals with a gendered concept. Or is your new claiming that any acknowledgement of gender is antifeminist?

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm

            The patriarchy doesn’t just deal with gender and gender alone, though. MANY women are part of the patriarchy, as I have pointed out several times. Mansplaining has more to do with the patriarchy than it does with men.

          • Avatar of yourd
            February 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm

            I’d say he’s purely trying to say that immediately reaching for a gender-based term to effectively devalue the comment that was made feels like a hypocritical reaction coming from a feminist (i.e. someone who actively campaigns for equality between both genders).

            That said, you’re absolutely right in saying that Mansplaining isn’t just a term, it’s a phenomenon. And one that will one day hopefully be a thing of the past.

        • Avatar of ologies
          February 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm —

          As a man, could you please answer on behalf of every man on some arbitrary definition or question? Maybe you could start by answering on behalf of every single man that ever did something bad to every single woman.

          If this sounds ridiculous to you, then you have just figured out how ridiculous you sound to the rest of us.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 9:29 am —

          This is a response to spinooccipital: you said, “I posit that actually you are socialized to be unaware of how said man is behaving in a condescending, belittling manner, where such attitudes are much clearer to those who are on the receiving end of them.”

          Well, we can all posit what others have been “socialized” to believe. Maybe you’ve been “socialized” to not see the term “mansplaining” used indiscriminately, against any man voicing a contrary opinion.

          In my experience, it is a denigrating term, designed specifically to belittle and discount an argument. If it isn’t that, then why not just call it an “explanation?” Why the “mansplain” term at all?

          And, of course, your response is dismissive of my experience. Just because you haven’t seen “mansplain” used in a sexist manner doesn’t mean that many men are not confronted by the sexist usage all the time.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm

            Why don’t you do a bit of googling to learn about socialization? The vast majority of us reading this understand this concept–you don’t, so we’re not going to waste our time educating you, especially given your piss-poor reading comprehension.

            And another thing DO NOT use the language of marginalization (“Denying my experience…”) to uphold privilege. It’s a shitty thing to do.

            And, by the way, the reason you’re probably annoyed with “mansplaining” is that you refuse to except that YOU ARE A PRIME EXAMPLE of the reason “mansplaining” exists–you know nothing about the topic, you post long, pseudo-authoritative rants that contain no insight and oversimplify complex concepts appallingly, and yet you insist that you should be taken seriously. This behavior is entrenched in your male privilege AND WE HAVE A RIGHT TO CALL YOU ON IT.

    • Avatar of ashleybone
      February 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm —

      MikeFromCanada,

      You stated exactly zero facts in your post. Instead you gave us a giant double scoop of condescension sprinkled liberally with definitions and unsupported assertions. If your going to demand that people “look at the facts”, you might try providing some.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      February 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm —

      Wrong on both accounts, and I hope I am the first to say “fuck off!”.

    • Avatar of Will
      February 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm —

      Good thing a man came in to explain to all the silly wimminz what REAL TRUE PATRIARCHY (that doesn’t exist) is.

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm —

        This seems a little stereotypical of you. How does me being a man have to do with anything? Seems a little sexist.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm —

          Your being a man has to do with the fact that you are used to male privilege, and you are abusing your privilege to act like an unthinking, condescending, intellectually incurious troll. It is not “sexist” to point out that you are using the privileges of maleness to which you are accustomed to bully others and act like your opinions and needs deserve to be foremost.

          • Avatar of
            February 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

            What about women who deny the patriarchy? They have zero male privilege and yet they still call fallacy. The fact that I’m a man does not mean I have no right to comment on subjects such as this. And I figure skeptics would ignore my gender, and instead read the arguments I present.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm

            Women benefit from the patriarchy. That’s nothing new. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, or that it’s somehow a positive thing.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm

            Or rather, some women can benefit from the patriarchy. I didn’t mean all women. Or, they think they benefit, or they think it is the “only way”. But just because people are stuck in their old ways, doesn’t mean it’s right or positive.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm

            Women who deny the patriarchy get tons of support and approval from patriarchal men. They get in-group privilege so that, like Phyllis Schlafly, they’ll never be as influential and powerful as the men, they will still get lots of creature comforts and social advantages from those in power.

            And no one said that “as a man you have no right to comment….blahblahblahwhinewhinewhine,” so you can drop that ridiculous strawman right now. You’ll notice lots of male-identified screen names have been welcome in this discussion and have been contributing thoughtfully. You, on the other hand, have been a pompous, denialist ASS. It’s your denialism, assholery, and general refusal to consider others’ lived experience, coupled with your long history of behaving like an ass on this site, that makes you unwelcome here, NOT your gender. Your gender is fine. Your BEHAVIOR is shitty to the utmost degree.

            And don’t play that “I would hope you’d ignore my gender” bullshit on a post that deals with GENDER ISSUES. Especially when the “arguments” you want us to evaluate have in fact been thoroughly debunked on their face, and when they are basically a whole steaming pile of argument from ignorance and privilege about gender issues.

    • Avatar of ScottyNuttz
      February 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm —

      Can’t you see how all of these examples are things that can directly or indirectly support a “A system of society… in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.”? You are sooo close! You even almost say it in the last couple sentences.

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm —

        Can you expand on this, or make it a little clearer? I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your point.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm —

          Then you can go out and educate yourself for your intellectual deficiencies, instead of expecting us to drop everything & explain 2+2=4 over and over again, especially when you have a long history of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “lalalalalalalalala!!!!”

          • Avatar of
            February 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

            Isn’t that the equivalent of the old saw, “Well, if you don’t know already, then I’m certainly not going to explain it to you.”

            Unfortunately, the convention generally is that people advancing an assertion bear the burden of proving it. If someone doesn’t understand you, then it’s not a proper form to suggest that they go out and do research or study until they find their way to the conclusion you are suggesting is inescapable.

            You ought to just clear it up for him.

          • Avatar of Rebel 16
            February 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm

            fensterbaby:

            No, it isn’t like that at all. It’s more like walking up to a discussion of Calculus and demanding that everyone stop and explain multiplication to you first. This is a long and complex subject with a lot of history, and it is your responsibility to give yourself a basic education in it, not anyone else’s. The response hasn’t been, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” The response hasn’t been, “Go out and research until you agree with me.” The response has been, “I can’t teach you about integrals until you understand basic math.”

            It’s not that difficult to give oneself a basic grounding in this or any topic. We live in a world with Google, and if you’re reading this, Google is a couple of keystrokes or clicks away. Simply reading the discussion here should provide one with an ample selection of keywords to use in one’s search. But if one is unwilling to do the requisite homework before engaging in discussion, one will find no better outcomes in life than those that tactic provided in school.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm

            @Rebel 16:

            Well put! Thanks for going over all that so I don’t have to :-)

            And fenster…seriously…”You ought to”?!?!?! Wow, what a privileged asshat!

    • Avatar of Timid Atheist
      February 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm —

      @Mike

      Here’s the first two paragraphs from Wikipedia:

      “Patriarchy is a social system in which the male gender role as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination. Many patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage. The female equivalent is matriarchy.

      Historically, patriarchy has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, and economic organization of a range of different cultures. Patriarchy also has a strong influence on modern civilization, although many cultures have moved towards a more egalitarian social system over the past century.”

      Did you see that second paragraph that starts out saying how the patriarchy manifest itself in SOCIAL, legal, political and economic organization of a range of different cultures?

      Now let’s cover your comment about both men and women being responsible for our society. You’re right, both sexes are responsible for it. Responsible for it being a hierarchy. Whomever is on top is the one that comes out the best.

      Now I’ll introduce a word called Kyriarchy. This word means that society takes into account not just sex but also race, social status, class and several other aspects in order to decide who ends up on top. After all, white women have more privilege than women of color and it’s easy for white women to forget that what they’re fighting for may not be what women of color want to fight for. Same goes for poor white people who can’t afford to drive to the polling station as compared to the rich white dude who gets a helicopter ride to one.

      As a skeptic, you really should be more skeptical of your own “facts.” After all, opinions aren’t facts.

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm —

        “and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property.”

        Fathers hold no authority over women. And authority over children and property are shared. This wiki post is already proving the fallacy of our so called patriarchy.

        “It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, ”

        Yes, but in society, there is also female privilege. And men aren’t ruling because they are men, they are ruling because they chose to. Any woman can go to university, take politics or business, and have the same chance as any man of making it into a position of power.

        “and entails female subordination.”

        Where exactly are the females being subordinated here? There is no entailed female subordination, therefore this definition on wiki is already proving you false.

        “Many patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage”

        This is no longer the case.

        So are you going to even admit there is no patriarchy?

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm —

          Just because there’s nominal legal equality DOES NOT MEAN there is functional equality. If you want to think about father’s having authority, let’s think about the shocking rates of domestic violence in this country. Let’s think about the millions of women living where they’d be shunned if they didn’t take their husband’s name. Let’s think about the fact that women are disproportionately expected to give up/postpone their careers (and face vicious social condemnation if they don’t!) for the sake of childcare. Let’s think about the fact that childcare costs so much that many women can’t AFFORD to make enough to equal the cost of childcare even if they really want to go back to work. Let’s think about the fact that women are expected to relocate for their husband’s career but husbands typically refuse to do the same for their wives.

          Actually try to make a case for what you think is “female privilege,” and I’ll show you that it’s really just condescending crumbs.

          Moreover, I’ve ALREADY SHOWN YOU many of the examples of how women are discriminated against in trying to reach a position of power, so your assertion that women aren’t in power just because they don’t want to be is absurd and denialist.

          Female subordination has to do with us having a much more difficult time to achieve professional success. It has to do with us receiving gender-based threats on a regular basis. It has to do with us being unable to walk down many streets or take public transportation without harassment. It has to do with our culture telling us that if we don’t look a certain way, we’re worthless. It has to do with rape and other violent crime against us being minimized or simply never investigated or prosecuted. It has to do with vicious verbal and professional attacks if we speak up for ourselves when we are mistreated. It has to do with our bodies being treated as public property. It has to do with major political parties trying to force us to be pregnant against our wills, even to the point of allowing doctors to withhold lifesaving care for pregnant women. It has to do with our accomplishments being brushed off as “tokenism.” It has to do with major religious movements with followers in the millions refusing to allow women to be leaders or even low-level priests or ministers, and telling their congregations that a woman’s place is to be subservient to men and to devote herself to the household.

          Note that your source said “Many”–not all–patriarchal societies have a pattern of male inheritance. It was never posited as essential. Moreover, our society held this as the norm until QUITE recently–do you think that just because this was formally abolished all other trappings of patriarchy magically disappeared?

          • Avatar of Otoki
            February 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm

            This post was fantastic. Seriously.

          • Avatar of patrickg
            February 8, 2012 at 9:43 am

            Seconded. Absolutely fantastic. May I copy and paste this for other threads (with attribution here)?

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 11:58 am

            @patrickg: of course! Thanks :-)

        • Avatar of koren
          February 7, 2012 at 4:20 am —

          It’s sad that so many skeptics don’t get the concept of Patriarchy. The fact that there are stereotypes like MEN = Do’ers WOMEN = Caregivers is the best evidence I can think of that the Patriarchy is a real problem.

          @Mike if your still trolling this article: Try putting yourself in our shoes: Why do we really disagree with you? Try thinking about the feminist issues brought up in these stories and try to think “If I were So-And-So why would this bother me?”

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm —

      PLEASE IGNORE THE TROLL.

      Mike, I like how you recently tried to pretend that you weren’t interesting in trolling every single feminist/gender/sexist-related article at Skepchick. You sure fooled me, man! (/s)

      Do you just hit refresh over and over until something about gender/sexism/feminism comes up? Why are you so intent on trying to prove that you’re ignorance is somehow correct? It’s getting tiring. I think it’s time for you to get a new hobby. Maybe a new subject matter, elsewhere.

      • Avatar of mrmisconception
        February 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm —

        Personally I think it’s time to bounce this troll, but that’s not my call.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm —

          I agree. Rebecca? This is honestly just getting tiring.

        • Avatar of Will
          February 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm —

          Thirded!

          • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
            February 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

            Done. Thanks for the input, folks!

          • Avatar of Xanthë
            February 7, 2012 at 12:15 am

            Thanks Rebecca – MikeFromCanada’s presence on previous epic thread derails is already well-documented, should anyone care to look. He’s no great loss!

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm —

      “As skeptics, I expect you to look at the facts.”

      Also, I’m really tired of this bullshit. “As a skeptic…” “You aren’t a real skeptic…”

      Stop wagging your tiny dick around.

      • Avatar of MWS
        February 6, 2012 at 5:26 pm —

        I’m amazed at your choice of words- isn’t this exactly the kind of talk that the post is about, using sexually demeaning insults based on deviation from the ideal body type?

        Imagine if you read a comment (even one to an obviously annoying troll) that dismissed a woman by referring to her ‘tiny tits.’

        Don’t prove the troll’s point!

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm —

          Next time Ill just say “tiny brain” because in the end that’s really what I meant. But, yes, you are right. So point taken!

      • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
        February 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm —

        I’ll agree with MWS here and point out that i know a few guys with tiny dicks and awesome everything else. I’m not a fan of dick-size-shaming.

      • Avatar of
        February 7, 2012 at 9:35 am —

        Nice. He gets banned after being told to fuck off, called a mansplainer and being ridiculed for possibly being born with a smaller than average penis.

        Interesting.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception
          February 7, 2012 at 11:01 am —

          @saopaulobrasil is that you?

          The reason I ask is because you are not the first person to think that MfC was treated too harshly recently. Yes, he seems like a resonable person but there is one word that you are missing. HISTORY; Mike from Canada has one as a MRA (though he denies it) that comes here to derail any discussion about woman’s issues. His very first post on this thread was off topic and asserted that the patriarchy doesn’t exist. I can not think of anything more derailing on a feminist blog.

          So there you have it. MfC was a troll plain and simple and you are starting to take non-personal remarks as personal (someone said you made a stupid argument, not a personal attack) the next step for spb was to ask that his account be deactivated. Please don’t go there.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm

            “@saopaulobrasil is that you?”

            I was thinking the same exact thing.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm —

      Mike, did it ever occur to you that maybe, in academic discourse, concepts are slightly more nuanced and thoughtful than a dictionary definition? Would you try to limit a discussion of, say, “capitalism” to only how it was defined in a particular dictionary?

      Moreover, as a skeptic, I expect YOU to be more skeptical of glib statements like “Every woman has the same chance as men to inherit a position of equal power.”

      Since privilege-denying “skeptics” just LOOOOOVE to pretend that discussions of patriarchy and/or women’s exclusion is an ideology that can’t possibly be data-driven, I’ve taken the liberty of suggesting some introductory reading about how women do NOT have equal opportunity in this society:

      Men are rewarded for negotiating raises, and while women ask for raises at the same rate, they are not rewarded:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-leadership/for-women-in-business-the-squeaky-wheel-doesnt-get-the-grease/2012/01/09/gIQAGRuqlP_story.html?tid=sm_twitter_washingtonpost

      Women are judged to be more competent at a task when the judge is blinded to subject gender:
      http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1997-04-28/news/9704250139_1_vienna-philharmonic-orchestra-auditions-harpist

      Organizational structures perpetuate biases against women that leads to gaps in their promotion and compensation:
      http://www.catalyst.org/publication/292/cascading-gender-biases-compounding-effects-an-assessment-of-talent-management-systems

      Men were selected over equally-qualified women in hiring simulations because they matched the ideal applicant, who is assumed to be male:
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1992.tb00985.x/abstract

      Men’s subjective assessments of women’s competence is affected by the women’s attractiveness, which does not hold true for men or women assessing men:
      http://www.springerlink.com/content/m43524751tj81606/

      Women and minorities are judged less favorably than white men of the same professional performance:
      http://advance.ei.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/Readings/Greenhaus_1993.pdf

      Overweight women are discriminated against in hiring decisions, even more so than overweight men:
      http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/79/6/909/

      Women are collectively judged as being poor performers at math, leading to stereotype threat and deflating performance:
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103198913737

      And no, that’s not weak ladybrains–white men can be induced to perform badly under stereotype threat too:
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103198913713
      (they just don’t usually have to deal with harmful stereotypes about themselves)

      Girls report lower self-esteem than boys in early adolescence and more negative body image and media influence:
      http://www.springerlink.com/content/m7225317781257j7/

      58% of women experience sexually-harassing behaviors in the workplace:
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2003.tb00752.x/abstract

      Girls in high school are more likely than boys to face severe harassment from classmates and adults at school, with a negative effect on psychological outcome, school attendance and safety:
      http://pwq.sagepub.com/content/32/2/113.abstract

      Okay, so now do you think you might want to consider that some of this stuff we’re talking about actually exists?

      • Avatar of Will
        February 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm —

        *thumbs up*

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm —

        All of those points you raised are probably true to some degree. However, just because they may be, does not prove that there is a patriarchy. You just posted adversities that women have to face while some men don’t have to.

        I could equally post facts that prove men have hardships that women don’t, does that mean we live in a matriarchy?

        • Avatar of Will
          February 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm —

          LOL Oh my god you are fucking DENSE.

          I challenge you, then. Post facts that prove that men have an equal amount of hardships as women. If there is not an EQUAL amount and women face more hardships than men do, then that fits YOUR stupid dictionary definition.

          I won’t hold my breath. Something tells me you wouldn’t know a fact if it smacked you right in the mouth.

          • Avatar of
            February 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm

            http://deltabravo.net/custody/stats.php

            http://www.avoiceformen.com/mission-and-values/about/

            Both men and women face hardships that are somewhat exclusive to them. This neither proves a patriarchy nor a matriarchy. It just proves that we live in a society that expects each gender to act in a certain manner.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

            So, women are expected to do the vast majority of the childcare in this country, and then you’re surprised that they get custody of the kids they disproportionately care for?!

            Moreover, when “we live in a society that expects each gender to act in a certain manner,” where the male gender’s “manner” means that it gets the vast majority of political, economic, and social advantages, while the female gender’s “manner” means that it gets even more of the long, difficult, un-financially-compensated task of childrearing, means that yes, O obtuse privilege-denying one, we live in a PATRIARCHY.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm

            I feel this may be a teaching moment for any readers and lurkers on the importance of REPUTABLE SOURCES.

            I cited work from the American Psychological Association, the Journal of Experimental Psychology, and numerous other peer-reviewed manuscripts.

            What do we get from our erstwhile MRA? A measly couple of amateur screed sites. Well, well, well.

            So, gentle readers, please note what being evidence-based looks like!

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm —

          What the fuck?! You claimed that women have equal opportunity. I proved you wrong. You admit that what I’ve said is true (which therefore necessarily means you’re wrong), and then you assert that there must be some balancing data (which you utterly failed to provide) that evens out the massive, systemic obstacles that women face to achieve equality. WHAT could even possibly even-out the fact that women are disproportionately rated less competent than equally-competent men, punished professionally for seeking raises, hired less often, and face more sexual harassment at work? How does this not constitute a society where women have systemically less power and less opportunity? How does this not create an environment where women are at a social, economic, political, and familial disadvantage?

          And, moreover, the proof is in the pudding: these hardships are disproportionately holding women out of important fields, and from making social, economic, and political strides. When you overlook ALL these barriers, and then just say, “Women could have the same opportunities if they wanted!” willfully ignoring those women who try but are discriminated against, you are just being a denialist intent on upholding the patriarchy because you like it.

    • Avatar of Will
      February 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm —

      Speaking of being skeptical, by the way. You said, “Every woman has the same chance as men to inherit a position of power. And in politics, women actually make up the majority of voters.”

      Oooh, more women than men vote (66% of women versus 62% of men, or about 10 million more women than men reported voting in 2008–see http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/07/20/census-bureau-heres-who-voted-in-2008/)! That means there is complete and total equality and power is equally shared among genders, y’all!!!! *eyeroll* Is that how we measure oppression, by the number of voters? I guess by that standard, 18- to 24-year-olds are the most oppressed people in the United States!!!!

      Now, let’s look at a little bit of who actually holds the power, shall we?

      “While the partisan composition of the Congress is fairly close to that of the electorate, there are larger disparities between the Congress and the general citizenry in term of sex and race. In the House, there are currently 362 men and 76 women. In the Senate, there are 17 women and 83 men.” (from http://thisnation.com/congress-facts.html).

      Or maybe….

      A 1995 report by The US Department of Labor showed that “while white men are only 43 percent of the Fortune 2000 work force, they hold 95 percent of the senior management jobs.” (from http://www.civilrights.org/equal-opportunity/fact-sheets/women.html)

      Or…..

      Women, on average, make 80 cents for every dollar that men make doing the same job (from http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/the-gender-pay-gap-by-industry/)

      But equal opportunity abounds, RIGHT?? Just pull yourselves up by the bootstraps, ladies! If you’re treated unequally, you only have yourselves to blame!

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm —

        “there are larger disparities between the Congress and the general citizenry in term of sex and race. In the House, there are currently 362 men and 76 women. In the Senate, there are 17 women and 83 men.””

        I literally just finished saying that equal opportunity =/= equal outcome. The fact that less women are in politics, is because less women are taking those courses or showing interest at a collegiate level.

        “Women, on average, make 80 cents for every dollar that men make doing the same job”

        Wage gap myth. How many times does the world have to shove the facts in your face that the wage gap is a fallacy.

        • Avatar of Will
          February 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm —

          You said: “The fact that less women are in politics, is because less women are taking those courses or showing interest at a collegiate level.”

          Okay, let’s assume for a moment that you are correct. Why are less women taking those courses or showing interest?

          Then you followed that gem up with: “Wage gap myth. How many times does the world have to shove the facts in your face that the wage gap is a fallacy.”

          What facts? All you’ve posted is your opinion. You have not posted ONE SINGLE FACT in this thread. Since you’re so fond of dictionaries, let me help you out:

          FACT:
          – a thing that is indisputably the case: she lacks political experience—a fact that becomes clear when she appears in public | a body of fact.
          – (usu. facts) a piece of information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article.

          So, #1 I dispute your statement (meaning it is not indisputable!) and I have provided evidence as to why you’re wrong. #2 you have provided not one iota of evidence to support yourself. And you have the audacity to say that others are not being skeptical! Hint: Just calling something a myth is not a fact supported by evidence!

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm —

          Just calling something a myth isn’t going to cut it. And your idea of “facts” are ideologically-based studies that willfully ignore social inequalities (e.g., childrearing), unfair evaluation, biased promotion, etc., etc. Go read my citations above on how many ways women are discriminated against in hiring and compensation and then maybe you’ll get somewhere.

          And just saying “women are underrepresented just ’cause they feel like it!!” totally ignores vast systemic pressures that alienate women from certain fields, not to mention a constant environment of criticism and harassment that make it vastly more difficult to succeed.

          • Avatar of
            February 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm

            I will post facts disproving the wage gap, once you or Will post a fact that proves the wage gap exists.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm

            I actually did post facts about the wage gap–it was the first link of many, showing that women sought raises at the same rate but were not rewarded while men were. I also showed abundant data about job performance rating disparities which, in the professional world, generally translates to more promotions and/or more money.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm —

      MikefromCanada, aka Anarchy, has been booted from Skepchick for excessive shitposting that went above and beyond the call of shitposter duty.

      • Avatar of Otoki
        February 6, 2012 at 8:12 pm —

        Thank fuck. If he’d seemed to have any interest in having an honest discussion I wouldn’t have minded him, but he obviously was just here to troll.

      • Avatar of Anne S
        February 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm —

        Thank you thank you. I’m so tired of seeing Skechick comment threads clogged up by responses to and from that asshole.

      • Avatar of utakata
        February 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm —

        As an anarcho syndicalist myself, I can’t help but be sickened by this individual for calling himself by that handle. He seems more about bolstering the systems of oppression than tearing them down. Vote Conservative Mike, your views seem more fitting with them…

        …but since he got his trolling ass strung up a flagpoll, I guess it’s not fair of me to taunt his delusional disposition since he can’t answer back.

        And sorry, I needed to get that off my chest…it’s just that bit of living, breathing oxymoron was bothering me no end.

      • Avatar of
        February 7, 2012 at 10:06 am —

        As a newcomer to the forum here, I can’t really see what MikeFromCanada did wrong. Regardless of what anyone thinks his underlying intent is, his posts are respectful, rational and to the point. One may disagree with him, but he never called anybody names or derailed the thread or did anything else untoward as far as I can see here.

        On this thread, though he was called a mansplainer, told he was wagging his tiny dick around, and told to fuck off.

        I must say that the treatment of that guy seems odd.

        • Avatar of cluisanna
          February 7, 2012 at 10:48 am —

          The reason is that after you have heard the same ignorant and possibly hateful argument often enough, it becomes really hard to take anybody seriously who still uses that argument, because it usually just means that this person is there to provoke and nothing else.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm —

          Have you actually been reading what we’re saying? Mike is a known troll. There is HISTORY from him. If you actually read what we said, you’d understand that. no, he wasn’t being respectful. Just because someone doesn’t include curse words in their argument doesn’t mean they are being respectful. THE ONLY TIME he comments is when an article of sexism/feminism comes up (something I’ve already mentioned at least once, but which you’ve conveniently ignored). He says the same shit over and over and over again. He continues to deny that the patriarch even exists. We end up re-hashing the same shit over and over and over again with him. EVERY TIME. He never comments on anything else. He has a clear agenda. He is an MRA troll.

          You are NEW. Which is fine, but you need to realize that this blog has been around a lot longer than you’ve been around, and there will be a history that you are unfamiliar with.

          It might do you some good to listen to what we have to say, since we’ve been here a while and understand some of the history and context from certain commenters that you are not familiar with.

          But it’s pretty typical for those who apologize for sexist behavior to completely ignore what women say, and to brush off their concerns and complaints like it’s no big deal, even if we know more than you do about the situation, so I can’t say that I’m surprised.

    • Avatar of cluisanna
      February 7, 2012 at 10:46 am —

      This is like saying “But the definition of ‘gay’ is happy or joyful! I’m not calling people joyful just because they want it!” – Just because what we call the patriarchy (or kyriarchy) doesn’t fit what your dictionary says doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    • Avatar of quietmarc
      February 7, 2012 at 11:05 am —

      Dude, you can use point number 2 when – and ONLY when – there are consistently an equal number of men and women in all levels of government and other areas of authority and power.

      In Canada, we have a record 76 women, which is about 1/4th. I assume that women still make up about 1/2 the population, so you can see that we aren’t quite there yet.

      Unfortunately, basic math often is a requirement for effective skepticism. Until you master this skill, you may find your posts subject to ridicule on this site.

  8. Avatar of hellboundalleee
    February 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm —

    When I saw the term “White Knighting,” it raised my eyebrows. I first saw this term over at manboobz.com, a blog that makes fun of Men’s Rights Movement Advocates. The MRA’s use this term as an insult to men who defend feminism. They also use words like “mangina,” to refer to anyone who defends women. It’s supposed to be highly derogatory.

    • Avatar of
      February 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm —

      Yes, it is quite similar to how feminists use the term mansplaining as a gendered insult towards men. Doesn’t feel good does it?

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm —

        No, troll, “mansplaining” is a critique of male privilege, NOT of the state of being a man. Many men are great at explaining/discussing things intelligently and respectfully, and the term mansplaining would never be applied to them (Conversely, women who are speaking from a position of arrogant privilege on other matters are also considered “mainsplainers”). You, however, cannot see the difference between the fact of your maleness versus the behavior to which your privilege has entitled you, and thus you think a criticism of your privilege is an attack on you as a male and a person, which is, of course, hogwash.

        We are not criticizing you for being a man. We are criticizing you for being an ASSHOLE, which you happen to be doing in a manner inseparable from your sense of entitlement as a man (but non-asshole men do not behave this way).

        • Avatar of
          February 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm —

          No, it is a gendered insult because it is stereotypically men who talk like know it all. So, instead of saying that I’m talking in a condescending manner, you chose to use an insult that is gendered towards men.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

            It’s not a “stereotype.” It’s a socially-reinforced phenomenon, and one from which you benefit.

      • Avatar of fifilamour
        February 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm —

        Nah, “white knighting” is an insult thought up by guys (particularly “how to hypnotize women into sleeping with you” types) and used by guys – usually against guys who are actually nice to female people. Just like the obsession with dick length vis a vis getting laid is a guy thing (girls are more interested in girth, but we’re usually much more interested in actual skills that bring us to orgasm that are not related to size).

    • Avatar of
      February 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm —

      The expression that someone is acting as a White Knight comes from Alice in Wonderland. It’s not a big deal, and it’s not racial. The White Knight saves Alice from the Red Knight. The allusion is used in business to mean a friendly investor who saves a company from a hostile takeover, and it is used in general parlance when someone rides to the rescue of a person who supposedly is weaker or set upon.

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm —

        **headdesk**

        Perhaps you might want to look a little more into how this term is actually used in this context? It has a lot of history on this topic of which you seem to be grossly unaware.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 8:13 am —

          I have a pretty good knowledge of etymology. However, I never claim to have perfect knowledge. You’ve implied with your “head desk” blurb that I have somehow said something ridiculous or over the top.

          Feel free to enlighten me or clarify what the underlying offensiveness of the term “white knight” is in this context. I would love to have my understanding expanded.

    • Avatar of cmasontaylor
      February 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm —

      I’m not particularly bothered by “mangina.” It’s just plainly nasty and ineffectual. It is openly misogynistic, implying that I’m like a woman because I defended them, and that being like a woman is bad. It’s just plain trolling. It’s no more insulting to me than calling me a doo-doo-head; it just gives me the opportunity to write the speaker off entirely as a chauvinistic scumbag.

      • Avatar of Xanthë
        February 7, 2012 at 12:26 am —

        No one should be offended by being called a Mangina, because it’s a female Hebrew name meaning “song, melody”. So MRAs can put that in their pipe and smoke it.

        This I discovered when looking for an etymology or history of the insult, seeing as the Men’s Rights douchebags seem to want to use ridiculous slurs for feminist or feminine-acting men, which of course is harmful to men in general.

  9. Avatar of Steve Andrew
    February 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm —

    I followed the thread on Facebook and I couldn’t help thinking, thank the FSM for people like Rhys! Because as a man, sometimes I despair about the more clueless members of my gender. And I’m too much of a coward to confront anyone about their sexist idiocy, even online. Well done, Rhys, it’s a relief to know we’re not all numpties.

    • Avatar of Timid Atheist
      February 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm —

      I have to agree. I only wish there were more people like Rhys out there. Age should have nothing to do with it. If anything the older we are the -less- we should care about what people think of us. That Rhys is starting so young gives me hope. And while I don’t want a hive mind, it would be nice if more people could see just how much their thoughts and actions hurt others. It’s too bad that man didn’t apologize to Jessica until after she spoke up, as if that were the defining line. As long as she wasn’t bothered by it, it would be okay! Except not really.

  10. Avatar of Amy Roth
    February 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm —

    This would be depressing if Rhys and Jessica didn’t kick so much ass!

    • Avatar of benjaminsa
      February 7, 2012 at 4:57 am —

      Completely agree, it is sad that any thread with a women’s picture gets sexualised, but it is wonderful that all these threads are getting railed into discussions of misogamy. Dan Savage made a wonderful point, which I think is analogous, on working on the margins, building majorities and getting people to see that they are the problems check it out here.

  11. Avatar of fifilamour
    February 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm —

    Yeah, I had a similar thought as Hellboundaleee, that anyone using the term “white knighting” must be into “the game” or some other lameness meant to, um, cure their lameness with women. It’s a pretty big giveaway as to how someone thinks and where they got their indoctrination. The dudes that sell this stuff seem to alternate between dressing up like sleazy magicians and pretending they’re selling a science – it’s like a special kind of specifically male woo. It reminds me of new agey type woo that mixes up true believer stuff with a little bit of science, which leads believers to think themselves superior skeptical thinkers without actually understanding any of the science. Most of these guys seem to be pretty hostile to women in general, as well as decent guys that women actually want to spend time with (clothed or not…but, hey, that’s pretty clearly jealousy on the part of the creepy dude that women don’t want to hang around with).

  12. Avatar of
    February 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm —

    I have to say, I think the bit about Ahlquist being invited to the “Sexy Atheist” thread as some sort of outrage or “perverse” and “creepiness,” is itself an imposition of a certain cultural value on the situation. That 16 would be too young for the “Sexy Atheist” thread described is, perhaps, an American idea of “age of consent” where many Americans think that anything sexual before the age of 18 is off limits. In most European countries, the age of consent to actual sexual intercourse with an adult is 16 and up. Obviously, an invite to that “Sexy Atheist” picture exchange is not as sexual as actual sexual intercourse.

    Looking at pictures of beautiful bodies, male or female, and commenting on their sexual attractive may be morally wrong in many people’s minds (both the religious, and here as in Ms. Watson’s long blog entry above), it is not universally so, nor is it necessarily a product of a “patriarchy.” People are sexual beings and many humans like to look at other humans, and they find them attractive and sexually stimulating. That doesn’t seem to me to be abnormal.

    I find the blog article above to be monumentally prudish and very difficult to understand from a modern standpoint. A woman dressing in sexy clothes, suggesting that sex may be had on Valentine’s Day night — which in the US is a night of romance and, well, sex, quite often, doesn’t seem to me to be beyond the pale. She does suggest “guys, if you give you will receive,” well — come on, I mean — it’s a coquettish double-entendre or play on words.

    The fiat commercial where the woman was being gawked at was not a display that she enjoys being gawked at. She yells at the guy and puts him in his place, and she is the one with all the power in that commercial. The metaphor in the commercial is that the car is so hot you can’t take your eyes off of it. The woman is fully clothed, and quite beautiful. There is nothing wrong with looking at her. There is nothing wrong with being sexually excited or titillated by her. In my opinion, anyway. And, I am really surprised to see that it is a problem for most people, especially liberal, educated, enlightened people.

    The blog article above sounds like something written by a very religious person, who has sexual hang-ups and wants to make sure that people don’t watch “dirty” things. Only here we’re not talking about porn, we’re talking about fully clothed, but sexy women (except the body paint commercial, but there we only see stomach, arms and legs, separately).

    I’m surprised the clip of Janet Jackson’s purposeful “wardrobe malfunction” from a few years back wasn’t included here.

    • Avatar of Will
      February 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm —

      First of all, Jessica is an American, so it should come as no surprise to you that she would subscribe to the typical American cultural more of the inappropriateness of adult men hitting on teenagers. I would also point out that Rhys is not American, so your notion that this is an American hang-up of some sort is off base.

      And, as Rebecca explained (and you apparently conveniently overlooked), it’s more than the age thing. It’s the habitual and overwhelming objectification of women’s bodies and the centering of their existence around approval from men.

      Saying that the article is “prudish” is a distraction from the actual point of the article, which you also obtusely overlooked. It was laid out very well by Rebecca how these commercials contribute to patriarchy. You say things like “The metaphor in the commercial is that the car is so hot you can’t take your eyes off of it.” This is exactly the problem of comparing it to a woman. It reduces women to their physical bodies. Rebecca NEVER SAID there is something wrong with being turned on by women. What she is point to is the PATTERN in our society of using women as OBJECTS.

      All of that other stuff that you’re saying you read into the article is shit you’re reading into it. Rebecca explicitly said, “adult women have every right to upload photos of themselves anywhere they’d like for any reason they’d like and they should never be shamed for it.” How is that AT ALL prudish or dirty or a sexual hang-up?

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm —

        Well, I will say that I respectfully disagree with you on a couple of points:

        1. Ms. Ahlquist is 16, and the age of consent in Rhode Island for sex with adult males who are not her schoolteacher or other fiduciary is 16. So, while I respect anyone’s right to find anything “creepy” (some would find anything sexual at all between even unmarried adults to be a form of “creepy”), I just wanted to point out that 16 is old enough to field and fend off suggestions from internet denizens, it seems.

        2. I do not see the habitual and overwhelming objectification of women’s bodies and the centering of their existence around approval from men. I see very common portrayals of female (and male) bodies in a sexual fashion to sell products. People like to look at hot bodies, and get sexually titillated by them and they are more apt to be favorably disposed to a product because of it. If that’s objectification, fine — but, have you seen the Hollister store at the mall? Or Abercrombie? It’s all erotic or semi-erotic depictions of males in their underwear, carved abs, suggestive, etc. Calvin Klein underwear ads — and it’s not just recent – a few years back there was that Coca Cola advert where the women in the office leer and gawk at a man doing construction and drinking a coke. I think isolating only commercials depicting women in sexually titillating manners paints a distorted picture — sex sells, and there are sexual depictions.

        3. I disagree with you about the car commercial. I don’t find it “reduced” the woman to a mere “object.” I think one has to have a predisposition about strong, sexually confident women to get that out of the fiat commercial with the gawking male. The depiction of the woman in that commercial was of “power,” and “confidence,” in the presence of a male who could not resist her and when confronted by her was powerless and at her mercy. I at no point saw her as “object” in the least — I saw her as a beautiful, sexual attractive woman. But, of course, I am only telling you my own view of it. What the commercial represents is quite often, like any artistic work, largely in the minds of the person viewing it.

        It’s like the argument from 30 and 40 years ago as to whether Playboy Magazine was “porn” or not. It depends on who is looking at it, I guess.

        4. Regarding the “she never said it was wrong to be turned by women” point you made, you are quite right. However, the overall impression I get from the blog post is that any titillating, sexual depiction of women in an advert is going to be considered “objectification.” I could be wrong, of course, but that is the overall impression that I get. This raises an interesting point (well, interesting to me, that is) — what would be an example of a titillating, sexual commercial that ISN’T “objectification?” If I could see what line is being drawn here with concrete examples, then I might be able to fathom where I’ve gone wrong here. But, the issue that I see on this point is that, like the body paint dot-co commercial and the beautiful-woman on the street Fiat commercial, they don’t seem all that “objectifying” to me – they seem to me to merely be humorously titillating – a bit like fun sexual banter.

        Obviously, I have to be prepared for the possibility that I don’t yet fully understand the argument being made. But, that is, of course, why I’m here discussing it. So, while some of you seem to be getting a little heated here – I assure you that I am just voicing my opinion and engaging a discussion. I hope that is o.k.

        5. I agree that adult women have every right to “upload” (I would say “publish”) images of themselves anywhere and not be ashamed of it. I think that includes, however, the women in the videos in the blog. The Godaddy characters in the advert were engaged in non-pornographic activities – bodies were not exposed beyond what would be lawful on most public streets. The idea of a depiction of, say, a man being struck dumbfounded by a sexy woman on the street and aligning that against the reaction the car company wants to suggest you will have when you see their car on the street, well, there isn’t anything to be ashamed of in that either.

        It’s hardly, in my view “objectification” either, but I already covered that before.

        Perhaps “prudish” was too inflammatory of a word, but I really find the thesis of the article – that things like these commercials are evidence of a “patriarchy”, along with lurid, immature invites of a 16 year old teenager (who is, if she is anything like the normal American teenager, no stranger to sexual imagery on the internet far more extreme) is also evidence thereof, well, I can only say I haven’t been convinced. I’ll keep reading here and thinking about it.

        In any case – in this kind of format, rather than a “forum” style posting board – it is very difficult to keep in depth discussions going, and I find it difficult to get my point across completely. So, maybe that is part of a communication issue on my part which resulted in my post seeming to you as if I had missed major parts of the article.

        And, of course, I admit that some stuff may well have blown by me — it happens to the best of us, ay? I will go back and re-read the whole thing, though, and see if I come out with a different perception.

        Thank you.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm —

          Your insistence on using age of legal consent as a way to defend this behavior is … well, fucking disturbing.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm —

          http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/

          A 15 year old girl can’t even post an innocent, non-sexual picture of herself without being told how many ways she should expect to be raped until she bleeds.

          And then we’re told that we are overreacting, because we are angry that atheists thing this is at all appropriate.

          If that’s not enough evidence for you, I don’t know what will be.

        • Avatar of Will
          February 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm —

          I will stick to your point system so we can hopefully stay clear on what we are talking about.

          1. Age of consent and creepiness have little-to-nothing to do with each other. I don’t know why you keep equating the two. Would you be making this argument if she was 15? 14? Why do you feel that age of consent laws should mark some point at which creepiness is no longer understandable? You say you respect anyone’s right to find anything creepy, yet here you are telling people that they shouldn’t find this creepy. And also? Jessica seems to have agreed with Rhys that it was creepy, so I fail to see how the age of consent in the state in which she lives (much less anywhere else) is even relevant. What it comes across as is a creeper who is trying to lessen the creepiness of adult men hitting on teenagers.

          2. Uh, the use of bodies to sell products is OBJECTIFICATION. It is reducing a person to their body to associate it with a product. Of course both men and women are used. But there is a history of women being oppressed and objectified even when they don’t want to be objectified–WHICH IS THE POINT OF THIS POST. Jessica did not ASK to be objectified–some CREEPER objectified her, reduced her to her body, and told her to go post her picture on a Facebook page where other men could further objectify her. Please, find me examples of this happening habitually to men. I’d be shocked if you could, because men are not objectified habitually in the way women are.

          3. The depiction of that women in the commercial was not of HER power and confidence, it was of the power and confidence a MAN will have if he buys the car! The whole point of the commercial was that he was gawking at the car, imagining that it was as sexy and feisty as that woman was. By having the woman–and the car–the MAN can be seen as successful. The entire commercial revolved around the man, and had nothing to do with the success or power of the woman.

          4. The overall impression you get from the article is entirely your problem. You can read the post wrong all day long, it doesn’t mean Rebecca is prudish or “ultra-conservative” because you cannot see what she is actually talking about. It means that you need to step back and try harder.

          5. I don’t see where Rebecca said that the women in the videos she linked to should not have been allowed to make them. Again, pretty sure she said exactly the opposite. What she’s saying is that women can participate in the (re)production of patriarchy–knowingly and unknowingly–and provided examples of the patterns of patriarchy via the objectification of women.

          I hope you will take the opportunity to go read a bit more about privilege and the objectification of women and take seriously what is being said to you here.

          • Avatar of
            February 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

            1. Age of consent is not determinative of what is creepy. I was very clear that anyone can find anything they want “creepy.” Some people have very low tolerances, and others have very high tolerances. The reason I brought up the age of consent was that plainly the consensus in our society is that a 16 year old is competent to make sexual decisions on her own at that age. She can consent to ACTUAL SEXUAL ACTS with an adult at that age. That, to me, is evidence that as a society, there is not an overarching consensus that a 16 year old being exposed to sexual images is creepy either, since having sex, it stands to reason, is a bit more sexual than seeing pictures of naked people or having someone make a sexual suggestion. Hopefully, you see what I mean now. Yes, I said I respect anyone’s right to find anything creepy, but I did not – not in the least – tell anyone that they “shouldn’t” find this creepy. I was explaining how it is not by definition creepy, and just because SOME people here find it creepy doesn’t mean that it is, ipso facto, creepy.
            2. You said, “the use of bodies to sell products is OBJECTIFICATION.” No, it isn’t. Objectification is when a human being is reduced to a mere object. Using bodies to sell products might do that, but it doesn’t NECESSARILY do that. I can give you a clear example – underwear modeling – selling underwear and other clothes using bodies. Is that “objectification?” Hardly. You then say that “Jessica did not ASK to be objectified–some CREEPER objectified her, reduced her to her body, and told her to go post her picture on a Facebook page where other men could further objectify her.” It isn’t objectification to be attracted to and comment on people’s bodies. She didn’t ask to have the guy ask her to post her picture, but – please – having someone ask you something is not “objectification.” If Playboy Magazine were to ask a woman to pose as their centerfold, that is not “objectification.” That’s just asking her to do so, and even if Hugh Hefner said, “I want you to pose for Playboy, so everyone can see your beautiful body and comment on it” – that is not “objectification.” Please, find me examples of this happening habitually to men. I’d be shocked if you could, because men are not objectified habitually in the way women are.
            3. You said this, “The depiction of that women in the commercial was not of HER power and confidence, it was of the power and confidence a MAN will have if he buys the car!” If that’s what you got out of it, then I can only say I don’t share it. Throughout the commercial, the man was rendered dumbfounded and powerless, first by the woman, and then by the car. That was the point of the commercial. And, you say “The entire commercial revolved around the man, and had nothing to do with the success or power of the woman.” That isn’t what I saw. I saw a powerful woman who dominated the man and reduced him to a quivering mass who was at her mercy, and the commercial was saying that the car will do that to a man similarly. But, I suppose that’s the deal with these kinds of things – we each see in the commercial a lot of what we bring to the table in terms of our perceptions. I have a very positive view of women, including beautiful women, and I don’t see depictions of them or their sexuality or sexual power to be “objectifying” them.

            4. You say, “The overall impression you get from the article is entirely your problem.” Likewise, your overall impression is entirely your problem. And, you say, “You can read the post wrong all day long, it doesn’t mean Rebecca is prudish or “ultra-conservative” because you cannot see what she is actually talking about. It means that you need to step back and try harder.” Perhaps. I’ve been open to that possibility since the first post. I think any skeptic, including you and the writer of the blog post, ought leave open that possibility – that they aren’t viewing the issue correctly, or perhaps need to step back and try harder. We’re exchanging ideas here – and just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that I am the one who is necessarily wrong.
            5. You said, “I don’t see where Rebecca said that the women in the videos she linked to should not have been allowed to make them.” I didn’t say she did. I was responding to the quote pointed out to me that any woman could upload whatever images she wants of herself. Sure – I agree, and I wanted to include the commercials in that. If we’re talking about consent and whether a woman “wants” her images publicized, then we can’t presume that the women in the commercials weren’t perfectly happy and comfortable about their portrayals.
            Lastly, you said, “I hope you will take the opportunity to go read a bit more about privilege and the objectification of women and take seriously what is being said to you here.” To the extent you imply that I haven’t read about this subject, please, don’t make the mistake of presuming that disagreement equals a failure to read or understand. Sometimes, you may wish to open yourself up to this possibility – sometimes someone else can rationally draw a different conclusion.

        • Avatar of Will
          February 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm —

          Here’s a couple of videos that should help you understand the issues. If not, oh well I don’t know what else to say to you.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uviJRuGTg0

          and

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

            **ZOMG** I was totally thinking this guy’s obliviousness to recurring social motifs calls for an urgent dose of Anita Sarkeesian!!!

            But I couldn’t remember which videos they were, and then I’d be watching FeministFrequency all night!

            So thanks for posting those, and I applaud your good taste in YouTube videos!

            Yay.

        • Avatar of spaceghost
          February 7, 2012 at 12:29 am —

          fensterbaby,

          A response to a couple of you points…

          The age of consent where Jessica lives is not relevant. The issue is whether or not she should should have to fend off suggestive remarks from men based on a very innocuous picture she posted. I am not, nor have I ever been, a 16 year old girl. So, while I cannot presume to know for certain that a 16 year old girl who posts a silly picture would find posts of that sort unwelcome, I can say that, based on what I have learned over the years, most girls her age would react to that sort of thing (particularly from older men) with a sort of “ewwwww” sound.

          The issue is, why does she even have to consider that sort of thing at all? Why is it an issue to begin with? As many here have pointed out, there are underlying reasons, and we need work so that *all* members of our society can post a silly picture and not be made to feel ashamed or unsafe in doing so. Remember, the picture she posted was not sexual in any way. For someone to immediately go there speaks to a problem with that person, and for so many to defend that behavior (on her own page and here) speaks to the greater societal problem RW and the other posters here are pointing out.

          “I do not see the habitual and overwhelming objectification of women’s bodies and the centering of their existence around approval from men.”

          Let me ask you this – are you a woman? I only ask because, as a man, I spent a good deal of my life not noticing that sort of thing either. From our differing positions in society, I think men and women view these things differently. As I man, I walk by A&C and see the ads with the ripped young men and don’t think a thing about it. That is because as a man, I have never felt that my worth was tied to my body. Women, from a very early age, are taught otherwise.

          I have tried as best as I can to employ empathy to overcome the fact that I am not a woman to understand these issues. As in, well, *I* don’t care if someone make suggestive comments to me, but if I was a 16 year old girl, would I like a 40 year old guy inviting me to post pics on a sexy atheist page? Probably not.

          Also, something that helped me a great deal in learning these issues was internet rule number 33 – Lurk More. I lurked at this site for over a year before I ever posted, specifically because I wanted to learn about these issues. Because, you know, this place is filled with crazy lefty hippies and I swing more to the right, so I figured I had better make sure I knew whereof I spoke before I did so, because this lot here does not suffer fools easily. They do, however, know their stuff, and all that time I spent in the rafters was well spent. I have learned a lot here, and I am grateful for that.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

            ” Because, you know, this place is filled with crazy lefty hippies and I swing more to the right,

            Haha this cracked me up. I have this vision of all us crazy lefty hippies sitting in a circle and singing folk songs while you look on with a bit of fear.

            Anyway, you did things right. I honestly only vaguely remember your username. Which is a good thing, actually. It means you haven’t said something monumentally stupid, and have instead probably remained respectful and open to ideas that you aren’t fully familiar with.

            A few other new people could probably learn a lot from you.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm —

      fensterbaby, how did you manage to find the comment box without reading any of my post?

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm —

        I did read it. Perhaps, if you are so inclined, you’d indicate to me what you thought I missed. Perhaps I could explain more where I am coming from.

        I do apologize if I misunderstood you, or missed something. It was a very long post – I read it – I watched all the video clips/commercials, etc.

    • Avatar of robofish
      February 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm —

      Sorry, but your comment perfectly exhibits the point this article was making. If you can’t understand the concept of patriarchy or see how it influences the world, then you’re not going to be able to understand what’s so wrong here.

      “People are sexual beings and many humans like to look at other humans, and they find them attractive and sexually stimulating. That doesn’t seem to me to be abnormal.”

      In principle, yes: there’s nothing wrong with finding another person attractive, nor with a person acting sexy. But there IS something wrong when women are always judged on their sexual attractiveness, beyond all other qualities, in a way that men are not; when women are expected to be sexy, and perpetually sexually available to men; when the vast majority of images of women in the media show them acting sexy; when advertising routinely uses images of sexy women to sell products to men. These are problems. It’s not about being prudish, it’s about understanding the broader point of how women are treated in our society. And until you understand that, there’s not a lot more I can say.

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm —

        Thank you for the response.

        1. Your first paragraph basically tells me that if I don’t agree with the thrust of the blog, then I am a poster child for the problem. That, of course, is not a nice argument, and just slurs me. What am I supposed to do with that? Well, other than say “oh, o.k., you’re right, then.”

        2. Here is the crux of our disagreement, I think. You say “…women are always judged on their sexual attractiveness, beyond all other qualities, in a way that men are not; when women are expected to be sexy, and perpetually sexually available to men; when the vast majority of images of women in the media show them acting sexy; when advertising routinely uses images of sexy women to sell products to men.” I take issue with that. That’s not how I see women, and in my experience I don’t think that is how most people see women, and I think that one needs to want to see those things to see them in the commercials you showed.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm —

          1) When the problem is NOT SEEING SOCIAL PROBLEMS, then yes, the fact that you refuse to see it makes you a poster child for the problem. Deal with it. Moreover, this is not “slurring” you, this is appropriate and necessary criticism of the blindspots in your worldview.

          2) If that’s not how you see women, GREAT. Then this post is not about you and you would have no need to defend yourself. However, I suggest that in fact you’re in denial about your numerous cognitive biases about women, a major one is that your “baseline” is seeing so many women sexualized for you that you don’t even realize how pervasive it is. Moreover, you seem totally incapable of understanding the difference between people expressing sexuality of their own accord versus being sexualized for the pleasure of others. You might want to try to read some women’s writings on this and learn about it.

          What POSSIBLE qualifications do you have to say “in my experience I don’t think that is how most people see women”?!?!?!? Don’t you think that, JUST MAYBE, the women who actually have to put up with this kind of treatment have slightly more experience than you?!?! That, maybe, since this isn’t your lived experience, you should SHUT UP AND LISTEN.

          We have to WANT to see these things in this ad?!?!? Did you seriously just try to play a “you’re too sensitive” line? Here’s an idea: for every time I’ve been told I owe a guy romantic attention because he likes me, for every time my appearance receives more attention than my views or accomplishments, for every time I am harassed walking down the street, for every time I am told my most important goal should be pleasing a man, for every time I’ve been pressured to do things sexually that I don’t want, for every time my ability to voice an opinion is predicated on whether and how I will show my body, you should expend a commensurate effort to understand where people got the messages that this behavior is okay, and try to respect us when we point it out in culture that, to you, in your sheltered ignorance of the pervasiveness of this treatment, seems fine.

          I also suggest you read http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/01/23/standing-on-the-shoulders-of-assholes/ and see where you might be going wrong here.

  13. Avatar of zoonerd
    February 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm —

    I am somewhat soured on the matrix comic because as some of you may know, the MRA lot use another matrix reference ‘taking the red pill’ to describe the effects of suddenly noticing all the misandry and oppression of straight, white, cis males.

    So yeah, that’s been ruined for me.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm —

      I kinda feel that way about Donald Rumsfeld forever ruining the concept of Known Knowns/Known Unknowns/Unknown Unknowns. In theory, that’s a great framework for critical decision-making. In practice, now it’s a buzzword for a lying, opportunistic war criminal.

  14. Avatar of TerranRich
    February 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm —

    I was a part of that conversation, and I found it really creepy that not only were some people defending a suggestion that Jessica be added to a Sexy Atheist page, but that they were unaware of how creepy that was. I used to be a member of “Sexy Atheists”. I thought it was objectifying and disgusting. I un-Liked it very soon thereafter, and haven’t looked back.

    Also, every single one of the above Superbowl ads made me sick.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
      February 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm —

      Yeahhhh, no boundaries there for sure.

      I wonder what people’s thoughts are in general about if it’s ever NOT degrading to pose sexily for something. I’m a longtime member of one of the largest Atheist groups on Facebook and as a community (not even kidding) we’ve setup two groups (godless boys and godless girls) and kinda trade pictures amongst each others.

      I think therein lies the distinction. If it’s consenting adults doing it because it tantalizes them, that’s OK. If it’s men or corporations saying “hey, come here, be objectified, you know you want to!!” – then that’s fucked up.

      It’s why I stick to amateur porn really, it’s much better to see a genuine passion or desire rather than just a woman being paraded like a doll.

      • Avatar of TerranRich
        February 7, 2012 at 7:49 am —

        I do get that most, if not all, of the pics there are self-submitted and completely voluntary… but it brought to mind an image of piece of meat being put on display and being judged by wannabe butchers.

        And yeah, I can’t even stand the manufactured mainstream porn anymore. It’s fake, there’s no emotion, and it all seems very devoid of any passion. I go for the stuff released by the stars themselves (on, say, websites they themselves own), or amateur stuff as well, where I know they’re in it for the actual act of sex and not just making money like it’s a 9-5 job where their “soul” has been sucked out.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
      February 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm —

      It’s also creepy to see just how many men will gladly show their support for statutory rape.

  15. Avatar of opheliabenson
    February 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm —

    I was glad I saw that thread soon after Rhys commented, so that I could provide some backup; also glad that Rebecca did. Not that he needed it, but it’s always nice to know that there are other sane people around.

  16. Avatar of opheliabenson
    February 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm —

    Rebecca didn’t include her retort to the “white knighting” accusation, so I will, because it was good.

    ‘Ah, “white knight”: the typical insult lobbed at any man brave enough to politely point out that we should value women for their thoughts and achievements and not for their looks first and foremost. Double White Knight points if the woman in question is 16. Quadruple if the “White Knight” is half the age of the creeps who can’t understand why it’s not cool to suggest a teen girl post her photos in a group called “Sexy Atheists.”‘

    • Avatar of Xanthë
      February 7, 2012 at 12:31 am —

      Gold, Ophelia. And thank you too!

    • Avatar of davroslives
      February 7, 2012 at 12:37 am —

      See, this is interesting to me. I have only personally heard the term White Knighting in reference to an opposite sort of behavior. Basically treating females like delicate flowers, with the implicite sexual gratitude of the female.

      I had honestly never heard this usage before. But I’m glad to be informed as such. I can definitely see it being used in the context you described, as an attack against any male who supports a female in anything.

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 7, 2012 at 10:18 am —

        It’s kinda related in an odd way. Lots of times the MRAs complaining will insist that the man who is standing up for a woman could not possibly be doing so out of respect for her humanity, but must just be trying to get in her pants.

  17. Avatar of Luthien
    February 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm —

    I’m just gonna come right out and say it: this is literally the third time this month I was about to swear off the atheist/skeptic social movement forever because I was pissed off (this morning it was because of that blag hag story about Penn Jillette calling someone a cunt) and Rebecca Watson brought me back from the brink.

    Rebecca Watson, you are the shit. It’s such a relief that you not only comment on this stuff with pitch perfect insight, but also do it in a way that makes me lol every time (today it was “I picture Kenneth at the mall, hand up against a wall at the Gap, telling a mannequin how hot her tits are. “You’re the quiet type, aren’t you? Naughty girl.”).

    Skepchick is how I found skepticism, and now it’s the reason I’m continuing to call myself a skeptic. Thank you.

  18. Avatar of Corey Feldman
    February 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm —

    I hate to agree with @Mike on anything in this thread, because it is absolutely absurd to argue patriarchy doesn’t exist when there is a clear power imbalance in society. But I have to say the term mansplaining, bothers me as well. Justifying that it is OK because women can be called mansplainers too, or that it is simply a way say male privilege, doesn’t make it less of a gender based dismissal.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm —

      No, it’s a BEHAVIOR-based dismissal. And, the fact remains that many men do use their position as men to treat us very badly, and we deserve to have vocabulary to talk about this problem. If we pretend that this treatment of us has nothing to do with gender, and therefore are hamstrung from discussing how those mistreating us use gender-based assumptions to do so, we are seriously encumbered. If you’re more concerned about whether or not it reflects on you, versus whether or not we are actually being mistreated, we might have to have a little talk.

      • Avatar of Corey Feldman
        February 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm —

        I am sure that there are a lot of people that feel when they call someone by a gender charged term, they are simply being dismissive of their behavior. There are plenty of words to choose from without perpetuating gender based stereotypes. And suggesting that my being bothered by the term is some sort of defensiveness for my own behavior and/or beliefs is little more than a straw-man (oh crap) straw person argument.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 7, 2012 at 10:17 am —

          Have you read any of the other rebuttals we’ve given to all the dudes complaining about mansplaining? Because you’re just repeating the same debunked shit over and over again.

          And no, it’s not a “strawman” to say you’re being defensive, because it is not an attempt to restate your argument. It is an assessment of the patterns of your behavior.

          • Avatar of Corey Feldman
            February 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

            I haven’t read any that I perceive and a valid rebuttal. But using terms that are clearly gender charged doesn’t help fix the problem, it hurts it. You very clearly implied my objections were based on my own behaviors. By stating that, you were building a straw man that could be simply torn down by dismissing my objections as nothing more than me defending my own privilege, when my concern is about using a negative term and using language to tie an entire gender to it, hurts everyone.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG4f9zR5yzY

            Whenever the oppressing majority comes in and starts whiny about how awful they have it, do you know what I want to say?

            BOOH FUCKING HOOO.

            And stop derailing.

          • Avatar of Corey Feldman
            February 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

            @marilove I have not once made any sort of comment in regards to how bad I have it. My pointing out that using gender charged langue doesn’t help and in fact hurts the movement towards a more egalitarian society isn’t derailing the conversation, it’s very much in support of it.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

            Your comments come down to “you’re hurting the poor oppressors feelings. Stop it! Start being nicer!”

            No.

    • Avatar of Will
      February 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm —

      I feel like I’ve told you this before, but maybe not. You know what’s worse than the term mansplaining? The act of mansplaining.

      You know what will stop people from using the term mansplaining? When people stop mansplaining.

      The fact that you are more disturbed by the TERM than by the ACTION is quite telling.

      • Avatar of Anne S
        February 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm —

        Hear, hear.

      • Avatar of Corey Feldman
        February 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm —

        @will Are you trying to say the fact that I am bothered by a term is irrelevant because there are worse things? I said his notion regarding patriarchy was absurd. I never said I found one more disturbing that the other. No, I didn’t go into a long diatribe against the absurdity because A) others beat me to it B). he was clearly trolling. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take issue with the term. I’m not telling you what you can and can not say, only that I feel it can be interpreted and used as a gender based slur. You don’t agree, fine, but if you are telling me that you can’t understand from a rational perspective why I might feel that way, maybe you should look at your own biases.

        • Avatar of Will
          February 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm —

          I’m not saying you can’t be disturbed by a term.

          I’m saying coming into a thread about misogyny, sexism, and patriarchy to voice your agreement with a mansplaining tone troll about your being disturbed by a term contributes nothing to the eradication of the oppression of women and draws the focus away from the actual issue of the original post.

          • Avatar of Corey Feldman
            February 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

            If I sounded like I was lending to support to Mike, I apologize for my failure to communicate. I was and am saying that using terms that connote gender based stereotypes doesn’t serve the argument against misogyny, sexism, and patriarchy. If fact I say it hurts it.

      • Avatar of ysanne
        February 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm —

        This is beautiful.
        Does mansplaining mean only “condescending explanation of how pointing out a given example of male privilege is really only unjustified whining about unimportant details”?
        Or does it also cover “explaining how it’s OK to associate one gender with a negative behaviour, and pointing out the problem with this is just whining about some minor detail”?

        I guess it’s the simple “I feel I’m part of the in-group in the current context, so I’ll label your disagreement as a behaviour considered idiotic around here and feel like I’ve won the argument.” mechanism. Does it have a catchy, preferably gender-related name?

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm —

          Seriously? In this entire discussion, THIS is what a good chunk of people are focusing on? Read the comment that Susannah left recently. READ IT. Let it soak in. THAT is what we should be focusing on.

          Not some stupid term that some poor (mostly white) men are offended over.

          I just can’t even begin to care, honestly, not when a young girl can’t even put her picture up without getting sexual ad out-right creepy comments. Not when the focus of a young girl isn’t her accomplishments or intellect, but about how sexually attractive she is.

          Can we stop the derailment and get back on track?

          • Avatar of Corey Feldman
            February 7, 2012 at 9:54 am

            @marilove It isn’t derailing the conversation to point out that using gender based stereotypes against the group you are trying to change (for the better), isn’t the most effective way of getting that change.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

            @Corey–it’s not a “stereotype,” it’s an extremely common socially-conditioned behavior, and if we don’t call it out, including its gender associations, how are we supposed to change anyone for the better? Do you really want to change for the better or would you rather whine about stereotypes?

            And, yes, you’re derailing. Stop it.

  19. Avatar of Fred Nurke
    February 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm —

    Hahahaha, some clown actually blamed Society, so here is the obligatory Monty Python quotation:
    Klaus: It’s a fair cop, but society’s to blame.
    Detective: Agreed. We’ll be charging them too.

    BTW, On behalf of rational Canadians, we’ll be reviewing Mike’s status. I foresee a long, slow drift on an ice floe until he sees sense.

  20. Avatar of Laika
    February 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm —

    Anecdote about the pervasiveness of patriarchy. My wonderful, totally supportive, skeptical husband that I love very much and have been married to for 30 years……well, he kinda let his dirty little unconscious sexism show. We were discussing a car purchase when he piped in that a friend of his had recently bought a car for his wife. Huh? Didn’t THEY buy a car? When I called him on it and said that if we were considering a car purchase that there would be no way that it would be framed that HE purchased it FOR ME, he realized how sexist that statement really was. We buy a car. He doesn’t buy it for me. PS: I buy all the cars because I am just more interested and therefor better at it. He was quiet but I knew he got the point. This is the man I love that is going with me to the Reason Rally and NECSS.

    • Avatar of
      February 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm —

      Yeah, but did he actually buy a car for his wife? Such a thing is possible right? Maybe he actually bought a car for his wife and, even if that is an uncomfortable phrase, is factually correct.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm —

        I think the fact that he automatically assumed (probably unconsciously) that the husband but the wife a car is what the problem is. I imagine he didn’t really know, just assumed. That is a problem. Unless you know, you shouldn’t assume.

        Also, this can be a somewhat complicated thing. What if the husband is the one that gets a paycheck, but the wife stays home and takes cared of THEIR kids and THEIR house? Just because she doesn’t get a paycheck doesn’t mean that she’s not part of the household, and I would argue that the man’s income is shared with the entire household. Just because he gets the paycheck doesn’t mean that it’s fully HIS money and THEIR house and they could easily have bought the car together.

        Every household and situation is different of course, but I think the main point is you just shouldn’t assume that the man did the buying (which means you’re assuming it was his money), if you don’t know the details.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm —

        I think the fact that he automatically assumed (probably unconsciously) that the husband but the wife a car is what the problem is. I imagine he didn’t really know, just assumed. That is a problem. Unless you know, you shouldn’t assume.

        Also, this can be a somewhat complicated thing. What if the husband is the one that gets a paycheck, but the wife stays home and takes cared of THEIR kids and THEIR house? Just because she doesn’t get a paycheck doesn’t mean that she’s not part of the household, and I would argue that the man’s income is shared with the entire household. Just because he gets the paycheck doesn’t mean that it’s fully HIS money and THEIR house and they could easily have bought the car together.

        Every household and situation is different of course, but I think the main point is you just shouldn’t assume that the man did the buying (which means you’re assuming it was his money), if you don’t know the details.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm —

          Sorry for the double post. I have no idea what happened.

        • Avatar of
          February 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm —

          Yes, fair enough. I was thinking that she assumed that he *hadn’t* bought her a car. But yeah, marriage is a partnership.

    • Avatar of ysanne
      February 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm —

      How’s that necessarily sexist?
      I know of a number of “I bought it for her/him” cars, for men and women, that were decided upon by both partners together and paid for with money earned together — the “buying for” thing was a romantic gift-giving gesture and consisted of one partner taking care of the associated paperwork.

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        February 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm —

        It’s the assumption, not whether or not it was a correct one.

  21. Avatar of Laika
    February 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm —

    Will any Skepchicks be at the Reason Rally?

    • Avatar of Anne S
      February 6, 2012 at 8:56 pm —

      Amy will be there! Victor and I will also be there–Mad Art Lab represent! I’m sure others will be, too.

  22. Avatar of ragdish
    February 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm —

    Is wearing the Skepchick thong playing by the rules of the patriarchy?

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm —

      This is where things get a little shady! Even the blog name — Skepchick — has brought some controversy (lots of mansplainers like to bring it up).

      Not all feminists or skeptical feminists agree on this point, but I think most of us here believe that as long as it is the woman’s choice, then it’s not something we should judge. if they make that choice (we can’t assume to know their reasoniings for wearing that thong)). Now, that doesn’t mean it’s NOT part of the patriarchal society, but a lot of it is so ingrained in us, that it’s hard to separate. Is shaving my legs part of the patriarchy? You betcha. Am I gonna stop shaving? Nah. I also like the way it feels and so in the end, I do it for me (I have gone without shaving before and most men honestly just don’t notice, or care once they are that close to a naked lady), but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely separated from the patriarchy.

      • Avatar of mrmisconception
        February 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm —

        @marilove – @ragdish is a known entity who delights in pointing out just how hypocritical Rebecca is for having that gall to ask for respect when she has said sexy things before.
        He likes bringing up the angry vaginas, the brothel party, and yes the Skepchick thong; it is nothing new I saw it all coming as soon as I read the username.

        • Avatar of ragdish
          February 7, 2012 at 12:57 am —

          My intent was never to disgrace but to understand and Marilove educated me. As far as angry vaginas and brothel night, those were not my threads. Indeed my criticism of Rebecca was in regards to not calling out Christopher Hitchens sexism. I was in error as she directed me to the thread and I subsequently apologized.

          If you found my thread on the Skepchick thong offensive and deserves to be stricken then at last I have come face to face with the Thought Police.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            February 7, 2012 at 1:57 am

            If I have mistaken you for someone else (which is entirely possible) I apologize. I did not however ask, or even suggest for that matter, that your comment be stricken (our even that it was offensive) so the Thought Police comment was unnecessary.
            Please do not confuse my impatience with Mike from Canada’s derailing tactics as a willingness to get rid of any dissenting opinion. That would not be my goal even if I had that sort of power. (I do not, that above request was just correctly timed)

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

            Well, shit, now I feel bad. Sometimes I get usernames mixed up. I need to make a spreadsheet!

            Your comment did fel like baiting, but if it wasn’t, I apologize. Basically, we women make a lot of discussion in our life. And those decisions are not in a vacuum. You can’t always completely separate the patriarchy from your decisions.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

            discussions … decisions … we women do a lot of both, I suppose!

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm —

          I *thought* I recognized his name, and obviously I knew something was not right about his comment. It felt like baiting, and guess what! It was.

          • Avatar of ragdish
            February 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm

            If you looked at my responses below, I was being sincere and not baiting or seeking to antagonize. If my post came across that way, I sincerely apologize and put more thought into my posts hereafter.

            And Morpheus aka marilove, you have opened my eyes. I’m not trying to Agent Smith (or whatever equivalent of the patriarchical universe) you.

            Cheers.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm

            Oh, no worries! It was a misunderstanding. Thanks for your questions!

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm —

      Also, while I got why you asked what you asked, I do have to ask … why the thong? Most women wear thongs under their pants. Most women wear thongs because they find them comfortable, or because they look better under pants (no lines). Now, I personally think these women are crazy (thongs are not comfortable, ever), but I’m not going to question their reasonings because we’re all different when it comes to whether or not we prefer a piece of string up our ass.

      But by asking this question, you seem to assume that the women are wearing thongs because they are sexy, and only because they are sexy, rather than the fact that most women wear thongs because thongs are their preferred underwear. And most women like attractive underwear, even if no one else is going to see it.

      So picking on underwear seems a bit odd, and almost like you’re just trying to pick on something to prove that we are somehow bad feminists.

      • Avatar of ragdish
        February 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm —

        The point I was driving at was not the thong per say. If a meme ultimately has patriarchical underpinnings, is that meme wrong? And if said meme is so ingrained in the fabric of the human psyche to which many women derive pleasure, how would that meme ever go away? For that matter do feminists want them gone or do they rather want to co-opt them under umbrella of feminism?

        I read an article by Simone de Beauvoir on how wearing lipstick was submitting to the patriarchy. Yet in that same journal, there was an article about women holocaust survivors at the Bergen Belsen death camp. And after being raped and tortured, they felt human after they wore lipstick. A patriarchical norm was co-opted as a symbol of liberation and empowerment.

        • Avatar of ysanne
          February 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm —

          I think the lipstick comparison is a bit off, as it’s really about context and emphasis: “choosing whether to conform to a certain aesthetic standard” as a choice of free people thinking about how society works, vs. “being able to care about aesthetic standards at all” as a hallmark of being a member of society at all.

          • Avatar of ragdish
            February 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm

            No choice is ever made in a vacuum. Indeed, right down to the choice of toothpaste you use is unconsciously motivated by various social factors. I merely use lipstick as one of several examples.

            Let’s take another example of an item that has patriarchical underpinnings. The dildo has been around since the paleolithic era and provides immense amount of joy to many women and men. Historically, feminists viewed the dildo as a tool of the patriarchy and considered it wrong. Yet with the ever shifting moral zeitgeist even among social justice movements, I would be very surprised if contemporary feminists would view the dildo as anything but a good thing despite the patriarchical underpinnings.

            Here’s another example way out of left field. Scientific reductionism embraced in particle physics, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, etc.. has roots in western, patriarchical hegemony of thought that dominated the Enlightenment. Yet apart from Sandra Harding’s rant on Newton’s Principia being a rape manual, no atheist feminist would abandon reductionism even if it had a tainted sexist past.

            My point is that just because something is patriarchical in origin, doesn’t make it wholly bad.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

            “Historically, feminists viewed the dildo as a tool of the patriarchy and considered it wrong.”

            Is this true, though? Maybe I’m missing some historical references, but I know a lot of feminists with lots and lots of dildos and vibrators.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

            “My point is that just because something is patriarchical in origin, doesn’t make it wholly bad.”

            I don’t think anyone is really saying that, though. I mean, good things come out of bad things all the time. Richard Dawkins has done a lot of good but he can also be a sexist assmunch. Ya dig?

            That doesn’t mean we should just ignore the patriarchy. And like I said, it’s just such a complex issue, and it’s something that I’ll probably be considering until the day I die.

      • Avatar of
        February 6, 2012 at 11:07 pm —

        This is interesting though:
        “you seem to assume that the women are wearing thongs because they are sexy, and only because they are sexy, rather than the fact that most women wear thongs because thongs are their preferred underwear. ”

        But, they’re preferred underwear because they are supposedly sexy.
        At what point is dressing attractively unacceptable because it is part of the patriarchy? Why would women wear sexy underwear if it were not because of the patriarchy?

        • Avatar of ragdish
          February 7, 2012 at 12:07 am —

          More generally, at what point in a man or a woman’s psyche does patriarchy end and true freedom begin in personal decision making. After thousands of years of ingrained programming I suspect it will take generations before this is achieved.

          When my second child was born, the physicians included an obstetrician, neonatologist, residents and medical students. All of them were women. A testament to feminism of how far women have come and what they have achieved. Yet my wife and I shuddered at the thought of a home delivery. Indeed all of the women physicians involved in my wife and child’s care dismissed home delivery and midwifery. And no doubt we all were perpetuating ideas based on a patriarchical bias given that evidence has shown the safety of home deliveries conducted by midwives. Time will tell when patriarchy will end if it ever will. But inching towards that diretion, our eyes were opened.

        • Avatar of Corvus
          February 7, 2012 at 12:15 am —

          “But, they’re preferred underwear because they are supposedly sexy.” sounds quite presumptive. Data?

          • Avatar of
            February 7, 2012 at 1:00 am

            I have no data with which to support that statement. I was trying to point out the fallacious reasoning of “the fact that most women wear thongs because thongs are their preferred underwear”.

            It seems fairly obvious to me though why sexy underwear exists and why women might choose to wear it. Is it really her choice or does this not stem from the Patriarchy and should it not then be permissible?

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm —

          In my opinion — and this is something not all feminists agree on — it becomes unacceptable when the woman lacks a choice in the matter. We all like feeling sexy sometimes. And that’s okay. You can’t just tell a woman she’s doing something wrong. As long as it’s her choice and she feels comfortable making that choice, more power to her.

          Also, lesbians like feeling sexy with their lesbian partners. And hell, a lot of feminists will argue that if you are wearing sexy clothes with your lesbian partner, you’re still bowing down to the patriarchy. Some feminists believe that any sex whatsoever with a man is bowing down to the patriarchy. It’s one of those things that is ridiculously complex and doesn’t really have a solid answer, which is why a lot of more reasonable people believe that CHOICE is the ultimate decider on what is appropriate or not. As well as respecting your fellow human being, and don’t just assume that she wants to be sexualized just because she posts a picture of herself. Does this make sense? I’m a little hungover. Damn IPAs.

          And what about BDSM? How does that factor into feminism? See, we could go around in circles forever!

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm —

          Also, most women seem to prefer thongs not because they are sexy, but because they are comfortable (these women are nuts) and/or because they won’t cause lines. Not necessarily because they are sexy. Underwear has a lot of uses, and they aren’t always “‘cuz sexy!”

          I mean, I like wearing cute cotton panties with fun designs. I find that sexy. And that’s okay. Being sexy or feeling sexy is not the problem. Treating women like pieces of meat, is.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm —

      Marilove covered this really well so I’ll just add that I didn’t realize anyone actually owned a Skepchick thong, and also I think thongs are pretty much the least comfortable thing ever but your choice of underpants is your business and your business alone.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm —

        I figured there was a Skepchick thong you could buy. I haven’t looked at the store in foreverrr so I don’t remember.

        I do not own any thongs. However, Skepchick boy shorts would be AWESOME. Or Skepchick boxers. Are there Skepchick boxers? Now I want some!

        • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
          February 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm —

          Yeah, back when the store was just CafePress we had all the CafePress stuff, including underwear…thongs and boyshorts. I bought a pair of the boyshorts and they weren’t really great. Kind of tight and cheap feeling (but I feel that way about all CafePress stuff).

          I want to carry undies again now that Skeptical Robot is up and running, but I haven’t found a good supplier. It’s tough to find anything that’s good quality but inexpensive, especially when you’re a little tiny business like we are. Especially for boxers.

      • Avatar of BeardofPants
        February 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm —

        I suppose it really is a matter of preference. I personally find them comfortable, and certainly preferable to those stupid underoos that wedge into your buttcrack unintentionally.

        • Avatar of Otoki
          February 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm —

          This. When I’m wearing sweatpants or dresses I generally wear normal bikini panties. When I’m wearing leggings or certain pairs of jeans I wear thongs because tight pants will either result in VPL (visible panty line) or bunch my underwear up my ass unintentionally when I move around. I also wear thongs for work, so I’m super comfortable in them. It’s about finding the right style for your shape (because there are always going to be thongs that won’t be comfortable no matter how or when you wear them).

          But yeah, we all have different preferences. As long as everyone is making the choices that make them happy and comfy, who gives a fuck?

  23. Avatar of Susannah
    February 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm —

    I noticed that one aspect of this mess was completely missed in the discussion.

    Jessica asked her school to obey the law. For this, she was subjected to a barrage of insults and abuse, a large part of which was explicitly sexual.

    She posted a photo of a funny face. For this, she was immediately subjected to suggestions of a sexual nature.

    In neither case did her gender have any importance to what she was saying.

    Given the recent history, you would think that any person with a shred of empathy would avoid bringing up memories of the abuse she had just suffered, by keeping strictly to the topic of her live emoticon.

    • Avatar of JulianMorrison
      February 7, 2012 at 10:43 am —

      Thank you for saying that. Poor Jessica. She thought she was alone, then she met atheists, now she KNOWS she’s alone. I hope she meets feminists.

  24. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm —

    For those who still don’t understand;

    Mansplaining is a term that has a very specific meaning (to explain in a condescending and dismissive way) that was originally used almost exclusively to refer to men. It still has that same meaning but no longer only applies to men, a woman based analogue might be mothering; while originally only applied to women it most definitely can apply to men.

    Mansplaining is a useful word that some find condescending itself but its usefulness outweighs its potential for offense; that coupled with the fact that it is a descriptor for a behavior rather than a personal attack and the delicious irony that is involved in turning the condescension back on the mansplainer; I wouldn’t expect it to be going away any time soon.

    Perhaps those that are offended should work on their own communication stills to keep from being thought a mansplainer rather than trying to banish the word altogether.

    That, in a nutshell, is mansplaining; both by definition and by example. You’re welcome.

    Hate the behavior, not the descriptor.

    • Avatar of davroslives
      February 7, 2012 at 12:42 am —

      I think it’s one of those deals where yes, theoretically, it could be abused. I.e., to totally discount a male’s view on ANYTHING, etc, etc. But honestly… who has actually seen that? I’ve never seen it used to describe anything other then semi-panicked rationalisation for a sexist position. Or for a third party’s sexist opinion.

      This is one of those times when the absolutist and pedantic bit of my brain has to shift aside and look at how things work in the real world. Messily.

      So I agree with you… it’s a word, the usefulness of which far outweighs the potential to offend

    • Avatar of Rebel 16
      February 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm —

      I think the inherent potential offensiveness increases the effect of the term, rather than being counterproductive. If it were unoffensive, it would just be ignored.

  25. Avatar of Corvus
    February 7, 2012 at 12:17 am —

    I wonder if all the creeps defending an older man hitting on a 16-year-old girl online would defend the behavior if seen in the real world?

  26. Avatar of KingMerv00
    February 7, 2012 at 12:43 am —

    I’m not chiming in on the main topic (friggin’ creepy) but I will say that I “saw the light” about 6 months ago as a direct result of something that rhymes with “shmelevatorgate”.

    Thanks Rebecca/Skepchick, I now proudly call myself a feminist.

    • Avatar of davroslives
      February 7, 2012 at 12:48 am —

      I agree, KM, that whole fiasco really solidified my position. I don’t think I was unfeminist, exactly, but I just hadn’t thought about it.

      Now I find myself trying to convince my sister that feminism is a good idea…

      • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
        February 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm —

        Thanks, guys. Good to know you’re on our side.

        • Avatar of KingMerv00
          February 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm —

          No problem. Just letting you know that you are making progress even if it feels like you aren’t.

    • Avatar of BeardofPants
      February 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm —

      That’s so awesome. You guys both rock. :)

  27. Avatar of davroslives
    February 7, 2012 at 12:47 am —

    What’s fascinating to me is when people of the age and gender being creeped on say, “hey, older person, that behavior is creepy.” And the response is “look at this law, I can legally have sex with you, so it’s not creepy.”

    The fact that you know the age of consent laws backwards and forwards is kind of a red flag for creepiness, my friend. When the girl SAYS to you that the behavior is creepy, then it’s creepy. You can’t explain to her that it isn’t. In fact, the more time you spend explaining, the creepier you are…

    • Avatar of Otoki
      February 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm —

      First: great username.

      Second: Your point is worded really well. I was feeling the same thing and I was having trouble verbalizing it. When people are bringing laws into it it’s idiotic because we’re not talking about laws. We’re not saying these guys are creepy and thus should be arrested or sued. We’re just saying they’re fucking creepy.

  28. Avatar of James Fox
    February 7, 2012 at 1:02 am —

    What a great post and loads of great comments; and then there was house cleaning, followed by underwear! Never buy cheep underwear or arguments with skid marks.

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm —

      Ahahaaha. This is why you’re one of my favorite comments. You funny.

  29. Avatar of israelkwalker
    February 7, 2012 at 9:29 am —

    My standard go to example for this stuff is my now 8 year old kid. If in 8 years she has an identical facebook conversation, I hope I have the clarity of mind to respond with the simple, and respectful of her, “Gross, dudes. Knock it off” that Rhys did.
    I don’t think this is the worst thing to ever happen, but it’s just ugly, and I wish it didn’t happen, and I’m afraid I have to agree that patriarchy is the cause.

  30. Avatar of alkahest
    February 7, 2012 at 10:21 am —

    “Not all black people are niggers. Besides, white people can be niggers, too. It’s how they act, not the color of their skin.”

    – My grandmother attempting to explain why her use of the n-word wasn’t racist.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 7, 2012 at 10:27 am —

      I’ve heard that from young white men who think that because Chris Rock said it, it’s not racist as shit. Yuck.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm —

        I can’t remember the skit exactly though I’ll probably go hunting for it tonight, but Chris Rock basically regrets one of his routines because it seemed to give white douches carte blanche to be racists and then pin it on Chris Rock. Ugh. Anyway, Chris Rock is hilarious.

        • Avatar of yourd
          February 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm —

          Carlos Mencia actually went into even more detail on why it is ONLY racist to use the N-word if you have it end in ‘er’ and how it’s perfectly okay to use it “as long as you put an a at the end of that shit.”

          It’s a crying shame that Chris Rock hates that skit about there being both black people and niggas. Because the facial expressions he gets throughout that skit make it one of the funniest things he has ever done (in my humble opinion anyway).

          On the actual word though, I always say that if you constantly have to explain your choice of words to the people around you, you might want to think about just using different words next time to save yourself time as well as embarrassment :)

    • Avatar of
      February 7, 2012 at 10:56 am —

      Exactly. It’s like explaining that “mansplainer” isn’t sexist.

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 7, 2012 at 11:04 am —

        Do you read what we write, like, at all?

        There was a whole bit about bashing the disadvantaged versus holding the privileged accountable…

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm —

          Sure I read it. I don’t agree with it.

          It’s just giving yourselves permission to act in the way your claim to oppose. It’s called hypocrisy.

          You seem to be under the misapprehension that rejecting your argument as unpersuasive must mean your argument hasn’t been read or properly understood. Anyone not accepting your argument either hasn’t read it or is too “dense” to get it. All you’re doing there is rendering your own argument unfalsifiable and beyond criticism.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

            If you were actually able to intelligently address our arguments, instead of oversimplifying them, dismissing them, repeating the same lines we’ve already rebutted, and arguing from ignorance, you might have a point there. But as it is, your repetition of juvenile nonsense makes you dense, not **the mere fact you disagree.**

            The fact that you lack the intellectual capacity to intelligently discuss our arguments does not make it “unfalsifiable”–plugging your fingers in your ears and saying “lalalalalala I can’t hear you talk about privilege or unexamined biases or accountability!!!!” is not exactly “falsifying”!

      • Avatar of BeardofPants
        February 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm —

        Why don’t you throw some of the righteous fury where it properly belongs? Don’t like the term “mansplaining”? Well, fight against the fuckers that perpetuate it so that we can STOP calling them out on it. Fight against the creepers who invite a fucking sixteen year old fucking HERO to validate herself through taking her clothes off or posing sexy (as opposed to validation through being so fucking awesome for taking that school on). THAT’S what you should be raging against.

  31. Avatar of jonn
    February 7, 2012 at 10:44 am —

    Wow. I wanted to talk about SuperBowl ads and I got to wade through…all that. +1 for the banination.

    There were two ads that kinda pulled it out of the fire. The Camry “reinvented” ad started out horribly (women as furniture, ugh), but at least hit equal exploitation with “it also comes in male.” The good part was cutting back to the guy from the couch made up of almost-naked men, and he shrugs with an “ah, whatever floats your boat” expression. It doesn’t make up for the awfulness of the concept, but a blow against heteronormativity is fun.

    I also liked the Kia Optima ad, where the guy ditched the bleachers full of screaming women in bikinis in favour of his apparent long term relationship.

    So, “throwing a bone” so that people don’t get too offended, or evidence that maybe some ideas are starting to seep into advertisers’ heads?

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 7, 2012 at 10:52 am —

      Yeah, I neeeearly included the Kia ad. I rolled my eyes hard at the stadium full of screaming women in bikinis. I didn’t include it because of the ending, and I’ll grant that it’s a cute idea that someone’s dream is so powerful he can blow through the walls of his wife’s dream and sweep her off her feet.

      Demerits, though, for the bikini women. My marketing training has made me cynical and I think that the concept is a way for them to have their cheesecake and eat it, too.

      • Avatar of
        February 7, 2012 at 11:08 am —

        The context of the bikini clad women is an exaggerated male fantasy. The sandman comes in, trips, and dumps all the dream dust on the guy – resulting in too much dream material. It’s meant to be over the top. The bikini clad women are all mouthing things like “I love you!” to him as he races past, symbolizing a man being adored by thousands of beautiful women.

        It is, after all, a dream, where the guy is all at once a race car driver, living a rock-and-roll life, and adored by thousands of women. He busts through the dream through the sheer power of the Kia and takes his wife away from the long-haired romance-novel hunk that his wife was dreaming about in her dream.

        Frankly, to suggest that there is something patriarchal about that – or even really sexist – is a bit of a stretch.

        Now, if I had to find sexism in that commercial, I would suggest that it focuses on the stereotypical male fantasies and stereotypical female fantasy. One might ask why the woman is not also shown being adored by thousands of hunks, rather than just riding off into unicorn-land with Fabio.

        I guess you can make whatever you want out of it.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm —

          Just because it’s over-the-top doesn’t mean that makes it okay:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PD0Faha2gow

          And, no, you can’t just say “But it’s a male fantasy!” and expect us not to consider all the culturally-limiting REASONS why it’s a fantasy.

          And yeah, the stereotyped fantasies are ALSO a problem. I guess you’re almost catching on.

          • Avatar of KingMerv00
            February 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm

            Damn, I was gonna post that.

            The whole “ironic sexism” trend is an exercise in (as Jon Stewart calls it) “dick fu”. These commercials take offensive behavior, acknowledges that it is offensive IN ADVANCE, go through with the behavior, and then blame you for “not getting the joke”.

            It’s the rhetorical equivalent of giving someone a wedgie and then telling them to quit whining because you were “just screwing around”.

          • Avatar of yourd
            February 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm

            While it’s true that being over the top and silly does not make something okay by definition, it does however show that the people behind in this case the ad weren’t taking themselves too seriously which shows (or at least gives me the impression) that there is no ill intent behind the spot.

            That said, if you’re going to choose a stereotypical male fantasy for an ad like this, going for “beautiful women” is certainly the cheap and easy way out. There’s quite a few more (and potentially funnier) fantasies to choose from.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm

            yourd–that’s the PROBLEM. This trope of pretending it’s “just a joke” allows advertisers some plausible deniability and leads people like you to think “they have no ill intent.” BULLSHIT. They are advertisers. Their sole intent is to sell a product and make money. I assure you, that no matter how light-hearted an ad seems to be, they are most definitely taking themselves very seriously in terms of making serious money. In our culture, exploiting women’s bodies is an incredibly easy way to do that. Being “ironic” about it, aka “dick fu” is just a way to get all the advantages of objectified women and then be able to mock the people who are understandably annoyed by the blatant sexism. It convinces (sorry, but) gullible people like you that there’s no ill intent, so people like you are less likely to understand the problems with it when we complain, and it still reinforces harmful gender stereotypes and uses women’s bodies to move product.

            By the way, intent is not magic.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

            btw, yourd, did you watch the link I posted?

            I don’t mean that to be snarky–I know at work or whatever it’s not exactly convenient, but the video does a really good job of explaining this and is well worth watching when you get the chance.

            :-)

          • Avatar of yourd
            February 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm

            Actually I did not, my comment was posted in the middle of the night in between fits of my lungs trying to escape my chest cavity through my nostrils whilst waiting for either my alarm clock to tell me to get the hell out of bed or a brief sleep before said alarm clock would come a-ringing. I shall watch it shortly.

            I guess what I was trying to say (but probably worded incorrectly) was that the people behind this ad had to pick a ‘stereotypical male fantasy’ and out of the possibilities they had brainstormed together picked this one for whatever reasons they had (though if I were to guess this one was the easiest/cheapest to shoot/record with regards to the budget and time they had) What I meant by not harboring ‘ill intent’ was that I doubt the decision to go with this fantasy over other possibilities was made because it objectifies women (though I could be wrong, since there are still quite a few ‘marketing experts’ out there who insist that ‘sex sells’ even though studies show that there is no visible correlation between a sexy ad for a product being aired and sales actually increasing).

            And maybe you’re right, maybe I am a bit on the gullible side. I tend to look at the positive side of things and give anyone the benefit of the doubt until they prove that they don’t deserve that benefit. That doesn’t mean I’m an idiot though, just that I’m a bit less cynical than the rest of the world seems to be.

          • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
            February 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

            Yourd: Super Bowl ads are not chosen based on what is easiest/cheapest to shoot.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

            yourd, your insistence on giving advertisers “the benefit of the doubt” in spite of abundant evidence that they manipulate people, and in spite of the obvious advantages they gain from exploiting women, is a pretty clear case of privilege. That’s what this whole blog post is about–people often not to see the patriarchy all around them, and can engage in some pretty deep-seated denial. Your excuse-making and minimizing is a way not to see the objectification of women, which makes it harder to deal with the ill-effects.

            Also, why would it HAVE to be a MALE fantasy? Why not just a consumer fantasy? Your assumption that male fantasies should be catered to is another example of privilege.

          • Avatar of yourd
            February 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

            Right, I fully agree with the video, but at the same time the examples shown are a hell of a lot more blatant in their sexism and dickishness than the commercial we were talking about.

            I definitely see where the problem lies though, not only do we still objectify women’s bodies but it’s one of the (if not THE) first option that comes to mind when thinking of how to best sell our products and to top that all off, we’re apparently looking at ways to sneak this crap past the radar by pretending it’s all just a joke.

            In defense of people like me, it’s not that we don’t understand where the problem lies when someone complains about ads like these (because let’s face it, the fact that you feel strongly enough about the issue to complain about it is itself a good indicator that something isn’t right) it’s just that we sometimes feel that certain sides of an argument are too easily dismissed, which I view as one of the leading problems in the world today.

            “By the way, intent is not magic.”
            True, it is not, but I strongly feel that it is also not something that has to be immediately discounted in cases such as this one. It’s easy to paint someone as a villain when you don’t consider that they may simply have a different sense of humor than you have, or a different cultural background. For instance any random person might dress up as Zwarte Piet for a costume party over here, which is a costume that would include the use of blackface. To an outside viewer from the UK or US that would instantly brand them as a racist (and given what blackface was used for, rightly so) but to the best of my research, blackface theatre was never performed over here in the Netherlands and as such the only connotation we have when we see someone in black facepaint is as one of the helpers that Sinterklaas employs (much like the elves that Santa Claus has).

            Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that a centuries-old white man with a golden pimp cane and a papal-ish outfit adorned with gold who has hundreds of black ‘helpers’ running about to do his chores for him is anything but racist (especially when you consider tht he doesn’t bother learning any of their names but instead just calls them all “Pete”). But what I am saying is that someone using black facepaint in this country may simply be trying to be nostalgic to their childhood possibly without even realizing the racism behind wearing that paint on their face.

          • Avatar of yourd
            February 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm

            @Rebecca, Good point, I actually hadn’t considered that. I stand corrected.

            “yourd, your insistence on giving advertisers “the benefit of the doubt” in spite of abundant evidence that they manipulate people, and in spite of the obvious advantages they gain from exploiting women, is a pretty clear case of privilege.”

            When was I denying that this privilege existed? Of course it does, it’s been around me my entire life. Hell, even as a child I noticed how my favorite cartoons had casts consisting of a group of white men rounded out with a couple of token minorities and often only one token woman who was relegated to doing ‘womany stuff’. And yes, marketing people manipulate others – it’s their job to do so after all (fun side note: I have a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Communication)

            I guess what makes me try to defend this particular ad is the ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ aspect to it, the women aren’t the focus of the ad, it’s the whole package, the fast car, the race track, the rock band, the…well, the random lumberjack, etc. All in all, I guess I’m trying to defend it because if I were tasked with making this kind of ad (guy’s asleep and accidentally gets doused in dream dust) I would likely make the same mistakes and add the exact same elements – something I don’t particularly like to think about.

            “Also, why would it HAVE to be a MALE fantasy? Why not just a consumer fantasy? Your assumption that male fantasies should be catered to is another example of privilege.”

            Forgive my squirrelly ignorance, but weren’t we talking about an ad in which the Sandman accidentally trips and overdoses a man with dream dust? This is the depiction of a dream taken into overdrive on all possible levels – perhaps the only time a stereotypical male fantasy actually makes perfect sense.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm

            yourd: firstly, on why intent is really, really not magic:

            Blackface in the Netherlands doesn’t just represent Sinterklass. It also represents the Dutch history of colonialism in Aruba, Surinamm which is why Black Pete speaks in a parody of a Surinamese accent. The Dutch were also heavily involved in the slave trade in the Indian Ocean:

            http://www.historycooperative.org/cgi-bin/justtop.cgi?act=justtop&url=http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jwh/14.2/vink.html

            There are also problems with systemic racism in the Netherlands, with an unemployment rate of people of color up to four times that of white people.

            Moreover, activists who protest the Black Pete tradition are silenced & ignored by the media, and when they appear at festivals they are beaten, dragged along the pavement, and arrested:

            http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/11/14/if-you-protest-racism-during-black-face-season-in-the-netherlands-you-will-be-beaten-up-and-arrested/

            So, if you want to talk about how people don’t *mean* to be racist for their Black Pete celebration, or if they’re only thinking about it in terms of their childhood nostalgia, I will answer you with an emphatic BULLSHIT!!

            Moreover, I would argue that people who are so insistent about not looking into the racist history of these traditions do NOT have good intent, they are in denial.

            If you prioritize your childhood nostalgia over confronting a history of racism and exploitation, you are part of the problem. If you prioritize dress-up parties over addressing systemic inequality in modern life, you are part of the problem. If you prioritize someone’s purported “intent” over free speech, you are part of the problem. If protecting a fictional character is more important than protecting your fellow human beings from police brutality, you are certainly part of the problem!!

            So, in conclusion, intent is NOT magic, and claiming good intent can be used to cover all manner of sins!

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm

            Secondly, the fact that this ad is more subtle in its sexism is NOT a point in its favor. Just because it’s slightly sexist means it’s all the better to be normalized and unnoticed. Pervasive systems of privilege THRIVE on cues that are not blatant enough to seem noteworthy in and of themselves, but it’s important to see the little things, because they endorse and reinforce the attitudes that lead to the big things.

            Thirdly, privilege is not something you can acknowledge and thereafter be enlightened about. It leads to a whole host of subconscious biases that are VERY difficult to get rid of, even when you’re trying. So, just because you know you’re privileged doesn’t protect you from the impulse of minimizing an example of your privilege.

            Fourthly, I think it is naive in the extreme to assume that the concept for the ad started out as a dream, and that led to the stadium of bikini-clad women, instead of the goal being sexual titillation and the “dream” concept was chosen as a means to that end. Rather, I think the creative process went something like this: “We need a hook for a titillating ad so we can do something really over-the-top! Lots of scantily-clad women–it’s the Super Bowl! But make it funny…” I mean, thinking that this particular ad somehow independently arrived at one of the most classic tropes in football advertising?! Come on…

            Fifthly, it’s basically irrelevant whether the person perpetuating this ad or any other example of racism or sexism is “a villain.” They have harmful subconscious biases and cultural expectations–they can do it knowingly, or not, but it really doesn’t matter. People deserve criticism when they do harmful things.

          • Avatar of yourd
            February 10, 2012 at 10:57 pm

            Aww dammit, I had this looooong reply typed up (twice I might add because some idiot pressed F5 as I was almost done -.-) only to now notice that it’s been posted all the way down the page :/

            Is there any way to get it moved up here?

      • Avatar of jonn
        February 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm —

        way for them to have their cheesecake and eat it, too.
        Nice turn of phrase (and point).

  32. Avatar of
    February 7, 2012 at 10:54 am —

    Addressing this part of the blog: “Here’s a whole photo album, with every sexy photo accompanied by dozens of comments like (these are all direct quotes from men): “Wow, I would like to give her some loving, oh yeah! Say my name baby, who’s your daddy!” and “does my boobs look big in this… (elfish princess)””

    This appears to be selective, because that album is “Sexy Atheist Gals 4.0″ and there are many “Sexy Atheist Guys” albums too. Apparently, it’s equal opportunity picture posting and commenting.

    The first photo I clicked on had comments — like “Yummy!” posted about a shirtless male. I clicked through all the images — the link is to a Facebook page – and the comments by men are largely in that vein — “you’re beautiful” — “Awesome!” and “Hawt!” And, stuff like that.

    Comments by women (and men) on images of males are likewise similar to that. Although, I think it can certainly be said that more males than females are commenting on the images. There are, however, a fair amount of women commenting on the images.

    After clicking through many pictures, I saw nothing abusive there. Facebook is pretty controlled in that regard, and abusive posts can be reported and removed.

    The entire “Sexy Atheists” thread seems really unwarranted as an example of sexism. There are sexy males and sexy females posted there. Everything is voluntary, and there is a relatively open forum for posting, which seems to result in most people on facebook, since they are posting generally under their real names and all their friends and family can see it, are generally pretty tame.

    It’s PG-13 at worst.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 7, 2012 at 10:59 am —

      Yes, I was “selective” about what type of comments we can assume that Jessica, a girl, would receive. So I “selected” the photos of girls.

      • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
        February 7, 2012 at 10:59 am —

        And, btw, I didn’t call the page sexist. Anywhere. Seriously, how have you spent this much time commenting without having read the original article? This amazes me.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 11:17 am —

          When discussing the Sexy Atheist’s facebook page you stated, “…many of them, men and women alike, are playing by (and thereby reinforcing) the rules of the patriarchy, which state that women should derive their self-esteem from presenting their bodies for men to judge.”

          When you say something is a patriarchy or “the rules of the patriarchy,” I took that to mean that you were saying that it was sexist. I thought patriarchies and things that reinforce patriarchies, would have to be sexist.

          I am sorry — I will admit you did not use the word “sexist” per se to describe that particular page. But, you focused on the comments toward women’s photos and selected only the most “sexist” ones (even without calling them that). This was, according to your statement – men and women “following the rules of the patriarchy.” If that’s not “sexist” then I apologize.

          My main point regarding the Sexy Atheist page is that it’s a facebook page that allows men and women to voluntarily post their pictures FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE of other people who are interested in looking at pictures of people to comment and discuss the persons’ appearance.

          It’s not just women who are able to post images, and it’s not just women who are asked to post images, and it’s not just women who in fact post images, and it’s not just men who comment on them. The majority of the comments are nonsexual, and hardly any – if any – are abusive. This is the patriarchy?

          That’s part of why, as I was excoriated for above, I found the general flavor of your blog entry to be prudish and conservative. It seems to me that you’ve made more out of it than is warranted, and you did so by being selective in presenting non-representative samples.

          • Avatar of spaceghost
            February 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm

            Dude, the issue is *not* the sexy atheist board or people knowingly and willingly posting images to be commented on. The issue is a society in which women or girls of any age, in any circumstance, being immediately sexualized no matter what they are doing. “Hey baby, you should post to the (insert ANY sexually themed website or message board here) cause you are teh hotz!” should *not* be the accepted default, but it is, and some people want it to change.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm

            If you’re still reading, you also need to learn the difference between being sex-positive and being sexualized. There’s nothing wrong with engaging in sexually explicit behavior, per se, but we are criticizing the cultural connotations of it in this case. It is possible to be sexual without being objectified. It’s quite possible to engage in X-rated content that is not sexist. The fact that this has problematic undertones is not a condemnation of sexuality, it is a condemnation of sexual objectification. You can’t tell the difference because you ostensibly feel entitled to people objectifying themselves or being objectified for your sexual pleasure (and because you refuse to think with any depth and instead rely on privilege-denying anti-feminist tropes).

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 7, 2012 at 10:59 am —

      You are seriously the most fucking dense thing I’ve come across in quite some time. The issue is NOT with “Sexy Atheists” itself. Rebecca made this pretty damn clear when she said:

      “Which, for the women who want that, is fine. I mean, “fine” in that it appears as though many of them, men and women alike, are playing by (and thereby reinforcing) the rules of the patriarchy, which state that women should derive their self-esteem from presenting their bodies for men to judge. But that small bit of trouble aside, adult women have every right to upload photos of themselves anywhere they’d like for any reason they’d like and they should never be shamed for it.

      But for those who do not want or need validation from others concerning their looks and sexual availability, it can be distressing to get these nonstop messages that they should (literally) submit. And it’s especially distressing to see a teenager encouraged to sexualize herself.”

      This is NOT a post complaining that “Sexy Atheists” exists (or that the problem with it is that it’s graphic, as opposed to power-dynamics-reinforcing), this is a post complaining about the fact that a teenage girl who puts up a picture of herself WITH NO SEXUAL CONTENT OR INTENT WHATSOEVER is being shoehorned into this “Be sexy for us!!!” role.

      Can you honestly not see that?!

      • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
        February 7, 2012 at 11:04 am —

        Yeah, I think he just can’t bring himself to slowly, carefully read the article and understand what I’m saying, because that would ruin his fun. I’m considering banning him for thickness and derailing.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 7, 2012 at 11:12 am —

          And multiple comments presenting essentially the same walls of text.

          I maintain we can insist on a respectable insight-to-words ratio.

        • Avatar of
          February 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm —

          Banning me? Really?

          O.k.

      • Avatar of
        February 7, 2012 at 11:43 am —

        I can see a tendency here for folks to get upset, and you appear to be getting upset with me. I think calling me names is against the rules here, but I also see that the rules are selectively applied. I would simply, politely, request that you confine your comments to the arguments and not level personal attacks against me personally. Discussion tends to work better that way. I’m not attacking you. Disagreement and discussion is not a war. We need not be enemies, and we can certainly hold disparate views and even sometimes reach a complete impasse without either of us bashing the other, or impuning the other.

        Now, you said that the trouble was not with the Sexy Atheists facebook page per se. Well, I would suggest that the Sexy Atheist page was advanced as an example of the point being made in the blog post. Moreover, if the Sexy Atheist page is not a problem, then why is it advanced as an example of women following the rules of the patriarchy?

        Look at the sentence you quoted: She says that women are free to post what they want — but, the caveat is entered in the middle there — if they do participate and post pictures, they are participating in the rules of the patriarchy, “which state that women should derive their self-esteem from presenting their bodies for men to judge.”

        I do understand that Ahlquist posted a picture of herself and was, without provocation, told “You should like the Sexy Atheist page, so you can post it there. It may be an exercise in narcissism, but it’s fun.”

        I do understand that the comment was from someone on facebook that Ahlquist herself allows the power to post comments on her pictures. Facebook places the control in the hands of the profile owner to control who gets to post comments. Many people I know limit posting on their pages because they don’t want stuff showing up that they don’t like.

        Also, apparently, Ahlquist herself did not find the post particularly distressing, because she has the power to delete it at will. If someone posted something to my FB page that I did not like, I would just delete it, and I might block the person from posting further comments.

        Further, now let’s look at what was actually suggested — hey – you should post on the sexy atheist’s page — it’s narcissistic, but it’s fun.

        That is advanced as an improper comment? I really think that in the grand scheme of things, that’s not a big deal, particularly given that Ahlquist can do what she wants with it – delete it, ignore it, block the user, whatever.

        The idea that there wasn’t a sexual connotation to the original posting of her picture seems to me to be irrelevant, because the comment itself is non-sexual. It’s just a “you should like the Sexy Atheists page” suggestion.

        And, we keep hearing about how it’s older men posting this suggestion to Ahlquist. Just went to the thread and looked up the comment, and it’s still there. The guy looks barely out of high school himself.

        Anyway – I guess we just have different perspectives on what is acceptable or tolerable in a free society, particularly on a message board on the internets, and particularly where the party who would be the one with the most standing to complain (Ahlquist) has complete plenary authority to control whether the message was said at all, and whether it remains on there. She not only allowed the guy to post, she left it there.

        Moreover, I just checked also, and the guy who posted this horrid comment is still listed among Ahlquist’s friends. This may be a small thing, because she has thousands of friends on facebook. But, it does say something about whether this is really something worth complaining about.

        She can remove him as a friend. She can block his comments. She can delete his comments. None of those things were done, even to this day. I would say that is pretty good evidence that this is a big nothing.

        • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
          February 7, 2012 at 11:47 am —

          You should really stop insisting on taking a complex issue, over-simplifying it, and then demanding that we support your new, stupider version of what we’ve said.

          • Avatar of
            February 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm

            I added nuance. I did not simplify.

            Moreover, I’ve not demanded that you or anyone else accept anything. I’ve presented a perspective on the issue. Nobody needs to accept it, and they don’t need to accept yours either.

            Is your blog a demand that others accept everything you say? I doubt you’d say it was, and I didn’t take it as such. That’s why, I assume, there are spaces for people to post views on the topic here – because you’re inviting different perspectives. If not, then you can let me know and I’ll stand corrected.

          • Avatar of Rei Malebario
            February 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm

            You should really look up the meaning of the word “add”*. What you were trying to do was subtract nuance.

            You were trying to bring the argument back to the usual “I’m not affected by this so obviously nobody is.”

            Shall we bring this into perspective by suggesting that you try, just try, to imagine that your appearance in any context at all was taken by people generally as an invitation to discuss your fuckability, the hotness of your ass (too big? Not big enough? Nice shape, though! I wonder how big a cock it could accomodate?) and whether you should be fucked consensually or non-consensually. Trying to talk about science or skepticism? Look, stop interrupting when we’re talking about your hot ass.

            Post a pic of yourself anywhere in any context at all? Obviously an invitation for every stranger with a boner to suggest you post pics of yourself to sexycretins.com** for them to evaluate your worthiness as a fucktoy.

            Granted, if you’re thick enough to sincerely believe your own line of shit about “attempting to add nuance”, I’d be very optimistic to expect you to understand a single line of what I just wrote or, indeed, of anything anybody has ver written or will ever write.

            * And, judging by your apparent level of reading comprehension, every other word in the english language as well.
            ** Not, as far as I know, a real website.

        • Avatar of BeardofPants
          February 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm —

          Derailment, and now gas-lighting? *sigh*

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 8:43 am

            I hadn’t heard the term gaslighting before. I googled, and gather it is a psychological trick where you subtly alter the ‘reality’ of a person until such time as they start to believe a reality that is of your own making. I think that has to mean something different in the context of discussions and debates. Can someone point me to a good definition of the term in this context?

            Thanks.

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 8:57 am

            If fensterbaby committed “gaslighting,” then didn’t Rei Malebario gaslight fensterbaby in his/her retort to fensterbaby?

            Ms. Watson accused fensterbaby of “oversimplifying.” Then fensterbaby claimed that he did not oversimplify, but instead added nuance. That was cited as gaslighting. Then Rei Malebario said that fensterbaby didn’t understand the meaning of the word “add” and was instead “subtracting” nuance.

            Without opining as to the merits of any of these accusations, aren’t they all doing the same thing?

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 10:10 am

            Betwixt, you can find out if someone is gaslighting vs. accurately describing reality by actually looking at what the person’s claims are in relation to reality. Fenster really was simplifying, so it’s perfectly fair to call him on it. You actually have to “opine on the merits of these accusations” because “making a true criticism” is not the same thing logically or morally as “making a false criticism.”

            I also think Beard was replying to the earlier comment by fenster (I know it’s hard with all the replies stacked!) when he was trying to claim that criticisms of his blitheringly obtuse arguing style were “personal attacks” and how he tried to insist that all of our perceptions of the way Jessica was treated were wrong, and that the whole thing is harmless fun, when there is abundant commentary (including Jessica’s reaction) that it isn’t.

            Hope that helps.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm —

          Maybe she wants it to stand as an example of how she’s being treated. She did object to it, after all, and she did give Rebecca permission to post this.

          Furthermore, she shouldn’t HAVE TO delete comments that treat her this way. Yeah, if you in your obtuse way want to insist it’s nothing, come back and explain that to me after two and a half decades in an alternate universe where you get this shit ALL THE TIME, and then maybe you’ll have some insight as to how we feel.

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 9:11 am

            I’m not sure I understand you. Everyone with a facebook page controls who, what, where and when things are posted to it. The reason there are controls at all is because people need to control what other people post on their facebook pages.

            One could argue, of course, that NOBODY should “have to” delete stupid stuff from their facebook pages, because everyone would only post things on a person’s facebook page that the owner of the page likes and deems appropriate.

            I think what fensterbaby is saying there is that if a person really was bothered by a post on their facebook page, they would have taken the simple measure of clicking the little “x” by the comment to delete it. I’ve done it, when friends have posted stuff to my wall that I figured was not cool for family to see being posted to my page. Should I “have to?” No – I think people should post only “appropriate for all audiences” things on my facebook page, but the reality is that if I have the thing set for any friend to post — and if I have nearly 5,000 friends – it’s inevitable that some of those 5,000 people will have different ideas of what is appropriate to post.

            Among 5,000 people, there are likely multiple violent criminals, some sociopaths, etc. The wikipedia article on psychopathy indicates that some studies show about 1 to 2% of people score high enough on tests of psychopathy to be considered as being psychopaths. If we use the lower number, than someone with nearly 5,000 facebook friends would expect to have about 50 psychopaths as friends.

            I’m not bashing anyone, but I think the “she shouldn’t have to” do this or that is kind of a bogus argument. None of us should “have to” put our money in a bank, either, and nobody should steal it. We shouldn’t have to have car insurance, and we shouldn’t have to throw away junk mail advertisements mailed unsolicited to our mailboxes. And, we shouldn’t have to clean up our facebook pages to delete unacceptable comments. But, the fact remains — if you let anyone and everyone be your facebook friend, and you don’t limit who can post what on your page, then you can expect to get some silly and offensive posts on your page, especially when your friend count nears 5,000 people.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 10:23 am

            Betwixt, my first point was that just because she left it there DOES NOT MEAN that she’s okay with it. Yes, some people take down stuff they don’t like, and that’s a perfectly valid thing to do, but other people have equally valid reasons for letting those things stand to bring attention to the issue, to have a complete record of the event available to readers, to avoid censoring, etc.

            Also, you really need to think about your attitude that women getting inappropriate sexual remarks is “inevitable.” THIS IS THE PROBLEM. Men don’t get that kind of constant sexualization, and this is a huge problem with our culture, and one that we think needs to change. Just look up #mencallmethings and that should give you a good start to understand that this is not just some random person saying something off. Moreover, DO NOT try to say that “oh, well, everyone gets that on the Internet…” Women notice a distinctly higher level of abuse when they identify as female (via avatar, screenname, or anecdote) than when they’re gender-neutral, men who take a female character in role play games notice a huge spike in the harassment they get, and men who moderate websites with women notice that their female moderators get a lot more abuse than they do (and, lots of this abuse is sexual harassment and rape threats).

            Moreover, this is not about “sociopaths.” This is about normal, functioning people in our society who think it’s acceptable to treat women this way, and this is a huge and systemic problem.

            I would also urge you to consider that the harm here is not “OMG my Facebook page was besmirched!!!!” It is about the attitude behind the comments, and that doesn’t go away when you delete the individual comments themselves. These types of comments show that women are less respected AS PEOPLE in certain corners of the atheist movement, that women are expected to be sexualized as the default, that women can’t communicate basic friendly/entertaining information without someone reading something inappropriate into it, that women are expected to be cute first and maybe intelligent second, and so on. All those attitudes–that we have to deal with EVERY FUCKING DAY, btw, do not go away when you just delete a particular comment on a Facebook page.

  33. Avatar of erikthebassist
    February 7, 2012 at 10:58 am —

    Can I just say that think the Fiat commercial is getting unfairly thrown in with the rest of these disgusting ads? I had a completely different take when I first saw it.

    When the guy is first caught gawking at the woman, she is righteously pissed off at him, berates him and slaps him across the face. The message right out of the gate is that it’s not ok to ogle women on the street. I appreciated that.

    She’s fully clothed in a very classy outfit, and then goes on to tease the guy in a further act of humiliation and punishment for his gawking.

    The message wasn’t “If you buy this car you can get a woman like this”. It was, this car is sexy, and the first time you see it, it will be an experience you won’t forget.”

    They are anthropomorphizing (sp?) the car, not objectifying the woman. The woman comes off as powerful, in control and sexy. That’s the image they want to convey about their vehicle. Vehicles and other objects are anthropomorphized (sp?) all the time. Ships are referred to as “she”, BB King named his guitar Lucille. Muscle cars are often called “bad boys” or “beasts”.

    The rest of the ads, yes, disgusting, but this one ad I thought was funny and classy and portrayed the woman in a very positive light.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 7, 2012 at 11:25 am —

      I guess it’s difficult for me to see it as empowering when a woman is literally represented as an object to be lusted after. And I don’t find the dialogue at all empowering, either:

      Line 1: “Che cosa guardi, eh?” (repeated twice… followed by a slap!)

      Translation: “What are you looking at, huh?”

      Line 2: “Mi stai spogliando con gli occhi?”

      Translation: “Are you undressing me with your eyes?”

      Line 3: “Non puoi farne a meno, poverino?”

      Translation: “You can’t help it, poor baby?”

      Line 4: “Ti batte il cuore? Ti gira la testa?”

      Translation: “Is your heart beating? Is your head spinning?”

      Line 5: “Sei perso pensando che saro’ tua per sempre?”

      Translation: “Are you lost thinking that I’ll be yours forever?”

      The ad finishes with the tagline, “The Fiat 500 Abarth. You’ll never forget the first time you see one.”

      ***

      The message here, from what I can see, is that young, sexy women hold the power because men can’t help but leer at their hot, hot bodies. I find that insulting to both men and women.

      • Avatar of davew
        February 7, 2012 at 11:59 am —

        If the woman is just an hallucination then the commercial can only demean hallucinations or the man’s subconscious. The dialog is quite funny if you think of it as coming from a car. The Love Bug rides again!

        • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
          February 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm —

          “If the woman is just an hallucination then the commercial can only demean hallucinations or the man’s subconscious.”

          I’m going to assume that’s irony…

        • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule
          February 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm —

          Fiat ad:

          Let’s leave aside woman as stand in for inanimate object (she’s branded with the Fiat logo on the back of her neck for fuck’s sake).

          She is initially offended by his staring, and I’m not sure where you get that she is humiliating him by changing her tune… Honestly that comes across to me far more like, “Now that I’ve gotten the ickiness of pretending to be angry that you noticed me, I can reward you for gawking at me…” You know, the old “Your lips say no, but your eyes say yes,” trope prevalent in so many pop songs, movies and even children’s cartoons?

          However, if you are being ironic… I apologize for landing on you. After reading post after post by Fensterbaby (and that name should have been a tip off if you’ve seen the Bugs Bunny cartoon with Fenster baby in it), my triggers a little twitchy.

          I’m just glad to have not had to deconstruct the Teleflora ad for anyone.

          • Avatar of erikthebassist
            February 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm

            It’s humiliating because is clearly teasing him, getting a rise out of him, literally. She has no intention of sleeping with him, he knows it and she knows it. She’s way out of his league.

            It’s humiliating because I’ve seen women do it to men and have even had it done to me. It’s a powerful move and makes the man feel about an inch tall when the woman walks away laughing at how stupid the guy was for actually thinking he stood a chance.

            At the end of the commercial he’s left kissing thin air, the implication being that he was a delusional fool. He played the fool throughout the commercial, and she played the one with all the power, not just because she was beautiful, but because she wasn’t going to take being ogled.

            I’ve changed my mind though on whether this is objectification. Given the actual dialogue Rebecca posted, the context of the state of women’s rights in the country of origin, and the Logo on her neck, all information I was unaware of or hadn’t considered, it’s clearly objectification.

            I still think the man gets humiliated for his clear gawking, but it now seems perfectly acceptable to consider this as another example of the patriarchy in action.

      • Avatar of
        February 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm —

        Respectfully, I think if you’re suggesting that men not be floored by beautiful women, you may be looking for a monumental change in evolutionary biology. You may be taking issue with male sexuality, which is such that men are floored by sexy women – rendered speechles, gaga, whatever you want to call it.

        It starts pretty early in male development. Young heterosexual boys will start feeling squishy about girls before they know what it’s all about and before puberty. Young heterosexual boys are oriented toward girls and women, and there are queues to sexual attractiveness that trigger reactions in the male brain. That is going to happen.

        Even adult males have those reactions, which is illustrated by car commercial.

        That, of course, does not excuse cat-calling and aggressive ogling and stuff. As sentient humans, we are called upon to control our impulses. So, I’m not suggesting it is uncontrollable for men to engage in harassment of women.

        That being said, the man in the commercial really does nothing wrong, except get caught looking. There will never be anything we can do about where men point their eyeballs in public. He doesn’t say anything to her, or approach her. All that happens is he sees a very beautiful woman and is floored, and stops and looks. She sees him, and can tell that he is looking lustfully at her. So, she deals with it, and deals with him. He is embarrassed. He looks like the monkey-boy. She comes off looking like confident, powerful women, not just because she is beautiful and he is rendered speechless by her beauty, but because she has the confidence and strength to call him out on it.

        • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
          February 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm —

          “There will never be anything we can do about where men point their eyeballs in public. ”

          I’m just quoting this here so that there’s a nice, obvious example of why I finally had to ban you after days of hardcore trolling.

          • Avatar of ysanne
            February 7, 2012 at 11:06 pm

            So the mere idea that people can’t really control what catches their attention, but only how they consciously react, at least when it’s applied to men, is trolling and just deeply wrong.

            This whole “a man who finds a woman physically attractive is devaluing the her and making her an object, regardless of how he subsequently acts” trope is extremely sex-negative and equates “male sexual thoughts” with “dirty, wrong, objectifying”.
            Being offended by random strangers’ irrational initial thoughts that they neither voice nor act upon is not feminism, it’s more like paranoia.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 12:15 am

            No, ysanne, it has very little to do with happening to find someone on the street attractive, or happening to have sexual thoughts about someone. It has to do with male entitlement to objectify women, and to expect women to make themselves attractive and pleasing for them. It also has a whole fuckton to do with the fact that men are taught that they are sooo entitled to find women attractive, and to have the privilege of the gaze, that they don’t even have to consider how obvious they’re being, how rude and intrusive they are, and how they are violating numerous bounds of common decency that it would never OCCUR to them to overstep with a man. This obvious behavior is not only an assertion of privilege, it also completely ignores the fact that the woman in question is a person with her own wants, intentions, and goals, not to mention enough brain cells to notice when she’s being ogled.

            I find LOTS of men sexy on a regular basis, but I assure you it has never once caused me to so brazenly treat them like a piece of meat. Sexual attraction and social niceties are not mutually exclusive, and when we criticize the utter lack of social niceties, please don’t kill a strawman and insist we’re vilifying sexual attraction.

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

            To sphinooccipital —

            I think that it’s impossible to regulate other people’s “expectations” and whether they find another person attractive. You said, “…male entitlement to objectify women, and to expect women to make themselves attractive and pleasing for them. It also has a whole fuckton to do with the fact that men are taught that they are sooo entitled to find women attractive, and to have the privilege of the gaze..”

            If the “objectification” is going on in a man’s head — let’s say that he has a fetish for blonds, and “objectifies” them in his own mind, discounting their intelligence and personalities, and is turned on only by the mere form. I think that many folks would agree that to that extent any person is “entitled” to have whatever feelings our thoughts that they have on any topic. If what we’re talking about is what another person’s sexual feelings or proclivities are, or predilections, are, then I may be with fensterbaby, that there is little that can be done about it.

            And, if a man “expects” women to make themselves beautiful for him, that again is a thought. Women don’t have to do it if they don’t want to, and from the looks of things around my city, most of them don’t. But, women have “expectations” of men too. Men don’t have to adhere to women’s expectations, and I think most of them don’t either.

            The part that most disconcerted me about what you wrote was this: “It also has a whole fuckton to do with the fact that men are taught that they are sooo entitled to find women attractive, and to have the privilege of the gaze.” Well – I mean – I think they are “entitled” to “find women attractive.” Everyone is entitled to find whomever and whatever they are attracted to attractive. This is where I’m losing you. You indicate that you’re not vilifying sexual attraction, but then in the immediately preceding sentences you do just that – you say it as if it’s a bad thing that men are “entitled to find women attractive.” That, to me, seems dead on vilification of sexual attraction.

            And, the “privilege of the gaze” is a privilege held by every person. Nobody can stop anyone from looking anywhere they want in public. If a person wants to stand on a streetcorner all day long and look at other people, they certainly have that right. Back to the commercial about the nerdy looking guy who stares at the sexy Italian woman – he never “does” anything. He just looks. He never says a word – he never approaches her – and I think that must have been calculated by the makers of the commercial.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 10:41 am

            Betwixt, did you totally miss the WHOLE POINT of my post that finding someone attractive is not the problem?!?!?! It’s how you behave about it!

            I strongly suggest you actually look up what “The Male Gaze” actually means, before you opine on it:

            http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/08/26/faq-what-is-the-“male-gaze”/
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaze#The_male_gaze_and_feminist_theory

            You’ll notice the whole POINT of this is that the gaze is not equal.

            Also, liking blondes is not “objectification.” This is objectification:
            http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/08/feminism-101-objectifying-women-isnt.html
            http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/the_religious_right_and_the_objectification_of_women

            Please learn what terms mean before you try to defend them.

            When I said “soooo entitled to find women attractive” I would think it is obvious to any reasonably literate person that my objection is to the sense of entitlement (and, by extension, how one communicates their entitlement and attraction), helpfully preceded by a sarcastic “soooo”. “Entitlement” does not mean ownership of one’s own internal thoughts, it is entitlement to a particular privileged social role.

            Also, don’t say “well, all this is just going on his head!” Since I probably have a LOT more experience dealing with harassment than you do, let me assure you it is NOT just going on in his head–actions and tone make it VERY clear to the women in question that they are less-than. Moreover, if you indulge in a lot of privileged, sexist shit in your head, it’s going to spill over into how you treat women in your personal and professional life. Trust us, we deal with the results very, very frequently.

            I think you should also seriously consider that when men “expect” women to be attractive, it’s not just his thought, this translates into A LOT of social pressure for women in a lot of contexts.

            And if you think it’s okay that someone “just looks”–did it ever occur to you that the women he’s looking at ARE PEOPLE and NOTICE that they’re being looked at, may feel uncomfortable, like their privacy is violated, like he is treating them like meat, and this might have an effect on their mood and perceived ability to go out in public? That every time we have some lecher staring at us we have to wonder if it’s going to escalate to verbal or physical harassment in this case (because, frequently, it does!)? Because, you know, they’re thinking, observant, sentient beings who, like all humans, are social creatures and thus care about how they are treated by the people around them? Can you honestly tell me you don’t feel uncomfortable when total strangers stare at you incessantly? If you haven’t had this experience, don’t you at least have the empathy to understand that it might be a problem?

      • Avatar of yarro
        February 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm —

        You are right. The Fiat commercial is an example of objectifying in optima forma. More so if you take into account it’s an Italian commercial. Italy, the country where it’s very hard for highly qualified women to get a decent job without them having been on one of those Burlesconi (typo intentional) titty shows with their assets prominent on display. How this country ever was allowed into the EU still baffles me.

        BTW are there really men who think cars are sexy?

        • Avatar of davew
          February 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm —

          “BTW are there really men who think cars are sexy?”

          Yup. I don’t get it myself, but I’ve heard men talk about cars and other types of machines in ways that are distinctly sexual without any outward sign of embarrassment. (I confess I have strong feelings for my wife’s new Leaf, but they aren’t sexual. More like respect and awe.)

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 8:28 am

            That’s the great thing about diversity. Some folks like the Leaf, and others like the Acura NSX and others like the Mustang Boss 302. The same folks that have affinity for one, won’t see the appeal of the other two.

          • Avatar of yarro
            February 9, 2012 at 3:43 am

            Quick survey at my footbal(soccer) club. There were indeed a few men and 1 woman!!! who thought cars are sexy. All older cars though. It seems the younger models aren’t as sexy…

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 8, 2012 at 12:07 am —

      Holy shit!! Apparently we here at skepchick had a man disagree with us, did NOT flay him alive but instead gave him some substantiation of our opinions, to which he listened thoughtfully and then we all came to a mutually respectful and nuanced understanding!

      Maybe all these mansplainers might be wrong that we pounce on them “juuuust because they have a different pooooiiiint of viiiieeeeewwwww…” Maybe it’s actually because those guys are pompous, idiotic douchebags.

      Erik, thanks for your comments. One other thing I’d like to add since it didn’t seem to be mentioned above is that the whole “women have power because they’re sexy” trope is actually not an example of female empowerment. This is something that usually gets served to us with a heaping dose of resentment and silencing, and is often used as an excuse as to why women don’t need actual legal, economic, and social equality (not to mention the fact that it disappears and denigrates women who aren’t considered traditionally beautiful, and it makes other women compete against each other for what little “power” there is to be had). In the interest of (relative) brevity, I’ll just say for more on this topic you can look up some of the feminist criticisms of Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)”–if memory serves, NineteenPercent and Amanda Marcotte both had some great things to say about it.

      • Avatar of erikthebassist
        February 8, 2012 at 3:42 am —

        I’m not sure that I really disagreed with Rebecca or anyone else here on any substantive point.In fact I agree wholeheartedly with just about everything I’ve read in the past few years here at Skepchick.

        I started out as an atheist / skeptic that was turned on to Skepchick by Rebecca’s involvement in the SGU, which was my first foray into internet skepticism. I never thought of myself as a feminist before then, but I do now, and it’s in large part due to “schmelevatorgate”, just like kingmerv00 above.

        My post was as much to see where the flaws in my reasoning were as much as it was to express an opinion. I knew I was wrong, I just didn’t know how yet, and I knew a couple of astute commenters here would help me clarify my thoughts on the issue. I don’t have any formal education in feminism, and I’m still getting my mind around it in it’s entirety, but I’m learning a little more every day thanks to people like you.

        This privilege thing is hard to shake off, not sure if I’ll ever really be free of it or see things as clearly as someone who doesn’t have it, but that’s no reason to stop trying.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm —

          I just meant that you had a different interpretation of the ad (not, like, on feminism in general), but to listen to our trolls around here, you’d think we were a hivemind and we insist on lockstep agreement and will tolerate no questioning (I also note this happens a lot elsewhere–privileged dudes complain on other sites that Rebecca Watson and skepchick as a whole insist on complete homogeneity and are therefore intellectually lacking, and that they, the privileged dudes, shouldn’t have to take seriously anything we say). I found the juxtaposition humorous: when the issue is, actually, a different point of view (as opposed to someone being a pompous twit!), we can perfectly happily discuss our interpretations and understand each other.

          • Avatar of yourd
            February 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm

            I definitely see your point, but please do understand that to a newbie like me (hi everybody! o/) these types of comment threads can initially seem quite intimidating, especially if you see a difference between your opinion and the leading one going through the comments.

            This isn’t a bad thing per se though, In the few days since I’ve arrived here, I’ve seen you (insanely effectively I might add) deal with one known troll and one very dense newbie ad as glorious as the display was to view, it’s also a bit scary to think that I actually sorta agreed with that one little point he put forth.

            I guess it’s because everyone here seems to have both a very strong opinion to give and a very strong will to defend that opinion, which is something you don’t come to expect on the internet. I think I’m going to like it here :)

  34. Avatar of masqueofred
    February 7, 2012 at 11:42 am —

    Whenever I talk about when I started to recognize my own priviledge, I ALWAYS use the Matrix as an analogy…

  35. Avatar of shan
    February 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm —

    Wow! talk about a grand exercise of burning bridges.

  36. Avatar of carolw
    February 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm —

    Wow. I about needed a map to follow these comments. Regarding the Super Bowl ads, I really hated all the Go Daddy ads. The one where the women are body-painting the model is heinous. Sure, it doesn’t show any naughty bits, but it also doesn’t show her face or head. She’s the Headless Model of GoDaddy Hollow.
    I hate that any young lady on the internet gets creeped on these days. I’m just speechless. But I’m wearing my Evil Little Thing shirt. :)

  37. Avatar of apismp
    February 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm —

    Wow. Just to throw another spanner into the mix…

    imagine Jess is your daughter/niece/little sister.She’s posted a funny face on the internet. Guys are now commenting on various aspects of her completely unrelated to her comedic skill or cleverness (or anything to do with her as a person with a mind).

    Still completely non-creepy? Ready to tell your friends to check out her ‘hotness’ and talk about her lady bits?

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm —

      But, I thought men’s eyeballs were helpless. It’s Biology!

      • Avatar of
        February 8, 2012 at 9:42 am —

        It’s not that they are helpless. It’s that on the street, they are allowed to point in any direction the owner of the eyeballs likes. Men are not horses that can be blinkered so as only to look forward. Men are not obliged to avert there eyes, gazing only upon such things as extend prior consent to being seen. Nobody is obliged in that regard.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 8, 2012 at 11:17 am —

          Yeah, you’re not legally obligated to look away. Big woop. But if you cared about your fellow human beings, and actually placed a priority on being a decent person, you would actually realize you are morally obligated, if not legally, to treat others with some consideration and respect.

    • Avatar of
      February 8, 2012 at 9:46 am —

      Imagine, indeed. And, then the concerned parent sees for herself what is going on on Jess’ facebook page, and sees that Jess allows nearly 5,000 strangers access to her page without restriction.

      In that case, as a parent, I would do two or three things. I would confront persons directly who made what I thought were inappropriate comments. I would notify the authorities if the comments were potentially illegal. I would have Jess delete people who weren’t really her friends from the page and/or add commenting restrictions such that this sort of thing won’t happen again.

      In other words, I’d teach her to behave like an adult.

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 8, 2012 at 11:20 am —

        But you’d never start any type of discussion with all the people who think this kind of behavior is acceptable about what basic social norms should be?!

        How, EXACTLY, has Jessica NOT acted like an adult through this?

        How, EXACTLY, have people objecting to how she was treated not acted like adults?

        Standing up for yourself and others is in fact mature, pro-social behavior. Trying to make the world a more thoughtful, considerate place is in fact mature, pro-social behavior.

  38. Avatar of ysanne
    February 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm —

    That’s my point.
    How can one see from the story as it’s told that it’s an “assumption” rather than knowledge of a detail?

    • Avatar of ysanne
      February 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm —

      Oops, sorry, this was a reply to
      punchdrunk
      02.06.2012
      “It’s the assumption, not whether or not it was a correct one.”

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm —

      From the rest of the story – how her husband reacted?

      He didn’t say ‘No no, hon, it was a gift from him to her.”
      Instead, he realized he’d made a sexist assumption, borne of sexist stereotypes.

  39. Avatar of thebewilderness
    February 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm —

    This was absolutely priceless!
    You write a post about seeing the patriarchy and the comment thread is full of mansplaining the rules of the patriarchy.
    Some of us are aware of the fact that females in the public street and the public interwebs are treated as sex objects for creepy men to judge.
    That was sorta the point, yanno?

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm —

      But we just don’t understand the biological burden that men are under. Their sex drive is so enormous and overwhelming that the only way to stop them objectifying us is castration.

      That is what they’re saying? I might have misunderstood, maybe someone could write another wall of text explaining male libido. It’s all beyond my female ability to comprehend, since I don’t think castration is the only solution to objectification.

      • Avatar of yarro
        February 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm —

        Every 7 seconds women think about men thinking every seven seconds about sex.

      • Avatar of
        February 8, 2012 at 9:39 am —

        I would explain it very briefly in the sense of the fact that many people have weird sexual predilections, and that people’s sexuality is their own business. What goes on inside people’s heads is their own business, and in public areas, they are allowed to look where they like.

        The difference is between what people think and feel and what people do.

        Men do have sexuality. I don’t think it’s more unmanageable to men than women’s sexuality is to women, and I don’t see a claim here that special allowance is being asked for. I think what is sometimes forgotten is the reality that a person’s sexual thoughts, even demeaning and gross thoughts, are their own. I don’t think you’re going to be able to regulate or control the sexual thoughts of others, men or women.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 8, 2012 at 11:24 am —

          When they express those thoughts, whether on a Facebook page or with overt leering or subtle “othering” of their female colleagues and acquaintances, it ceases to be “just their thoughts” and becomes “their actions,” for which they are responsible and which are absolutely a legitimate target of criticism.

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm

            I agree that what people say and do are, in principle, legitimate targets of criticism. That does not, however, mean that all criticisms are justified, or that everyone has to agree that all criticisms are justified.

            Part of the discussion is about what we think is out of bounds behavior and what we think is not out of bounds behavior. And, rather than limit that to men’s behavior toward women, I would suggest it includes everyone’s behavior.

            So you may possibly understand a bit better where I am coming from – the reason I highlighted the Facebook photo issue and concluded that the comments made to Ahlquist that she was pretty/hot/whatever, and should post her picture on the FB page for Sexy Atheists, is that after looking into it I found the following: (1) the guy who wrote the comment was not an old man, he was a young guy, clearly not far out of high school himself, (2) he wrote it on her FB page, which she basically leaves open to the public, friending anyone and everyone – having over 4900 friends – and allowing open comments, and (3) she controls the board and does not restrict comments and hasn’t deleted them.

            Placed in that context, it takes, for me, the wind out of the wailing exclamation that any suggestion that an “underage” girl’s picture be posted on a Sexy Atheist FB page (which is, indeed, chock full of apparently teenage men and women posing) is a moral outrage.

            That’s what I’m saying about it. Everyone else is free to voice an opinion. I’m just adding my perspective to it, and it’s not an unwarranted or unneeded perspective here, because I’m the only one here who thought to disclose the details of when, where, how and by whom the comment was posted. To me, a lot of what generated outrage about that picture and comment was that it was taken out of context.

        • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule
          February 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm —

          Yes, what goes on in anyone’s head is solely their business. When it becomes my business is when I man comes up to tell me I have “a nice rack,” “must be jelly ’cause jam don’t shake like that,” “back that ass up, girl,” or when a man comes up to tell me that I don’t meet his expectations of attractiveness i.e. through the use of words like “fat bitch.” Or when a man grabs my breast, pinches my ass or slides a hand along my arm without my permission and often without my knowing him.*

          That is what we’re talking about. No one here is talking about thought police.

          *All real things that happen in the real world all the fucking time.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm

            While I totally agree with you, I’d also like to point out that the more subtle aspects, like leering, looking someone up and down, continuing conversations that aren’t overtly sexual but are still intruding on someone who is trying to read or is otherwise clear that she wants to be alone, minimizing women’s opinions and/or talking over them, criticizing them for being “too sensitive” when they object to how they’re treated, etc. are ALSO an incredibly pervasive problem.

            Of course, I think that the cultural attitudes that teach men that it’s okay to leer are exactly the same ones that lead to overt harassment, and that the tolerance for leering gives social license for more extreme behavior. However, I don’t want to let clueless dudes get the impression that as long as they don’t do something “obvious” it’s totally okay–dudes, we can see you staring…it’s actually pretty obvious and pretty insulting. Dudes, you may think your sexualized, objectifying thoughts are only in your head, but more often than not we can tell how you’re treating us within 5 words!

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

            As for your first paragraph – I agree. Those are different things, and I agree that harassing women like that is wrong. That’s different than the Fiat commercial, and different than the Ahlquist photo issue.

            As for this: “That is what we’re talking about. No one here is talking about thought police.” Maybe you aren’t talking about that, but others are. Which is why I responded to posts addressing their objections to men’s “expectations” and “entitlement to feel attracted.”

            I agree with you. I don’t agree with the other persons I responded to.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

            See, I knew the mention of objectionable examples would lead some douchebag to declare, “yeah, well only that’s a problem! I’m just talking about looking! Looking is fine!!!”

            Bullshit. If we can notice you’re looking, it’s an action. If you post something on a Facebook page, it’s an action. It’s not just going on in your head. It’s affecting others and the world around you. We’re not being “the thought police” when in fact your thoughts are negatively affecting your ACTIONS, which in turn negatively affect others. And, if you don’t care how your actions affect others, you are a fucking douchebag.

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm

            Sphinooccipital – you feel you are entitled to call me a douchebag?

            I find your objection to the way men treat women ironic in light of your willingness to call me names.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

            TROLL ALERT!!!

            I am calling you a douchebag because you are being a douchebag. This has nothing to do with society treating a group as a whole as inferior, this is YOU, personally, being called out on your douchebaggery BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

            Anyone who doesn’t care about being considerate to other people, or taking into account how their actions affect others, is a douchebag. You have stated multiple times that people (predominantly men) should be able to leer REGARDLESS OF THE FACT that many people have said it makes them feel othered and uncomfortable. Because you are engaging in douchebag-defining behavior, you are ipso facto a douchebag.

            This is not “calling you names” (whinewhinewhinepooryou!) in some arbitrary way. This is you being held accountable for the odious positions you hold and your complete disregard for others’ feelings. For you to then try to avoid accountability by whining about your feelings when your behavior has in fact been quite accurately described, is furthering your douchebaggery.

            By the way, nice job UTTERLY FAILING to respond to the fact that your innermost thoughts do actually affect others in multiple ways!! You’ve completely skipped over all discussion the difference between a thought versus an action! Remember how we’ve been saying you and others are trolling for failing to acknowledge arguments? This is a prime example!

  40. Avatar of KingMerv00
    February 8, 2012 at 12:19 am —

    To my fellow penis-havers,

    As a guy, I found the biggest barrier to seeing the Patriarchy were my preconceptions surrounding the term. It conjures up images of laughing misogynists chomping on cigars and telling the little woman to “get back in the kitchen”. Obviously, that wasn’t ME so I felt unfairly attacked. I also I felt like it was intentionally dismissive of male stereotypes. It took a bit of reading on feminist websites to understand how wrong I was. Guys need to understand the modern state of the patriarchy is less about explicit misogyny and more about implicit sexism against women AND men.

    Why is it called the PATRIarchy then? Isn’t that unfair? Not entirely. Women have suffered disproportionately in this environment while men have reaped more of the tangible benefits. On average, men have more money and power than women because men are lucky enough to have been born into a world where we have historically controlled EVERYTHING. Men have always been president. Men always ran the business. Men always had power over his wife.

    This all leads to horrible gender sterotypes by assigning men and women into different roles:
    Men who cry are “fags”. Women with short hair are “dykes”. Men are filthy slobs. Women are embarrassed to fart. Men unfairly lose child custody battles. Women get beaten, raped, and raped but “had it coming”.

    It’s ALL the patriarchy. Please accept it.

  41. Avatar of Anthony
    February 8, 2012 at 5:00 am —

    “There will never be anything we can do about where men point their eyeballs in public. ”

    I’m just quoting this here so that there’s a nice, obvious example of why I finally had to ban you after days of hardcore trolling.

    That’s a banning offense? Really?

    I’m not saying that I agree with anything that fensterbaby is saying, but to use that phrase as an example of why he deserves to be banned disturbs me for a couple of reasons.

    Generally, as someone who has a very difficult time with voicing disagreement in the first place, I have a very real fear that simply posting this comment will earn me the same fate.

    More specifically, when my Dick and I would walk together in the street, I would literally have to walk with my eyes cast down, because if an attractive woman would walk into my field of view, it would be days before I would hear the end of it.

    You, Rebecca, have become someone that I greatly respect and admire, and to actually hear that coming from you disheartens me so very much, because now, I’m forced to wonder if my respect-o-meter is broken.

    Please convince me that it isn’t.

    By the way, as far as creepiness is concerned, I take my cue from this guy.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 8, 2012 at 6:11 am —

      She’s saying it was the last straw in a string of exchanges with that particular commenter, not as a banning offense in isolation:

      …why I finally had to ban you after days of hardcore trolling.

      I’m sorry about your experience with your Dick, I hope you’re well.

      • Avatar of
        February 8, 2012 at 9:28 am —

        How could it be a “string of exchanges” or the “days of hardcore trolling” when fensterbaby was only posting starting on February 6, and was banned on February 7? Disagreement and lengthy argument is “trolling?”

        • Avatar of Otoki
          February 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm —

          Fensterbaby has been a troll on this site for a long time. His behavior in this thread was proof that he was being the same old troll, and that post was the final straw because of other exchanges and threads on similar topics.

          • Avatar of
            February 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm

            Are you sure about that? How long?

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

            I dunno … since saopaulobrasil joined and then flounced?

            Nice try troll.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm —

          I SEE YOU, fensterbaby, who is also probably that other dude that was recently banned. Can someone check IP addresses? It just seems highly suspicious that this new commenter suddenly comes around as soon as fansterbaby is banned, and that fensterbaby comes around as soon as that other person was banned.

          Something is fishy. Either they are all the same person, or they are friends.

  42. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 8, 2012 at 10:33 am —

    @betwixtacup – I sincerely hope that you are new to this because if you aren’t you either haven’t been paying attention or you are trolling.

    You started out by saying that you didn’t know what gaslighting was and that’s fine it’s not a commonly used term, but then you went ahead a guessed at what it meant (incorrectly I might add) so that you could make the point you wanted to make. Gaslighting is a tactic that is used to silence someone you are arguing with, it is similar to but different from strawmanning. With strawmanning you say X=Y and then knock down Y where Y is an easy target and where X does not always equal Y. Gaslighting is stating that Y is true and as X you should believe that, it comes in many forms “I thought you were a skeptic…” or “feminists are supposed to…” or “if you were really open minded you would…”. An example would be when climate change denialists say “I thought skeptics wanted to look at the facts” followed quickly by a pile of cherry-picked factoids from the Kato Institute.

    Then you went on to say that Jessica should just adjust her Facebook account to filter out such comments or delete them completely ignoring, or not reading, the repeated assertion that it wasn’t about the request that was given to Jessica but rather about the fact that whenever a woman puts a non-sexual picture on the internet she will be propositioned and the patriarchy that furthers the right that men feel they have to do this. Really, really beside the point.

    Then you decided you needed to prove that @fensterbaby shouldn’t have been banned. (Which is a form of gaslighting, but I digress) Why? Is he friend of yours? He was tossed for refusing to acknowledge any points made by anyone which would have been fine if he would have said let’s just agree to disagree but he wouldn’t let it go, he had to prove his view was the right view at all cost despite the brick wall that was fast approaching.

    Now you are defending a man’s “right” to ogle women. Yes of course you can be attracted to women, yes you can look at them, yes you can think whatever you like but, you know, it puts me in mind of a Seinfeld quote:

    “Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun. You can’t stare at it long, it’s too risky. You get a sense of it then you look away.”

    Subtlety matters. Really it does.

    • Avatar of
      February 8, 2012 at 11:22 am —

      Gaslighting – I didn’t guess at what it means. I googled it. I didn’t know what it meant in the specific context used in discussion boards, and I asked if someone would direct me to a good definition.

      I looked at the post that one person accused another of “gaslighting.” If someone responds to a post and accuses it of being an example of “gaslighting”, it is not a mere guess that the content of the complained of post is being alleged to be gaslighting.

      I’m not trolling. But, from reading this website, there does appear to be a pretty loose definition of that term. Nothing I wrote was inappropriate. If you’re attributing ill motives to me, then please save it. My motives are to discuss the issues.

      You said, “Gaslighting is stating that Y is true and as X you should believe that, it comes in many forms “I thought you were a skeptic…” or “feminists are supposed to…” or “if you were really open minded you would…””

      O.k. – fair enough. That last bit sounds a lot like – “…if you really looked you’d see the privilege/patriarchy” ….

      I was under the impression that gaslighting was when you attribute a false reality to something and try to make someone else believe it. Like in the movie Gaslight. That’s what I got from googling it. But, that didn’t seem to apply to anything said here, so that’s why I asked the question. Why you have gotten so angry and mean about it, I have no idea.

      You then said my comment about her controlling her own facebook account was beside the point. That’s fine. Then I would think it’s a bad example of the idea that women post their pictures ANYWHERE and get these kinds of comments. If it’s beside the point, then why wouldn’t a different, more relevant, example be used in the first place.

      Essentially, the facebook picture/comments issue was raised in the blog. I commented on it to point out that it wasn’t really an example of what it was proposed to be. And, then you tell me that it’s beside the point.

      Voicing an opinion that someone shouldn’t have been banned? There is something wrong with that? And, no – actually – I didn’t voice an opinion that he/she shouldn’t have been banned. I pointed out that there couldn’t have been “days of trolling” involved, because apparently that person was around for all of one 24 hour period or so. The reason advanced seems to be a bit suspect. But, it does seem in line with your definition of “trolling” so maybe it’s a peculiarity with this website.

      You say fensterbaby was banned for “refusing to acknowledge” any points made by anyone…” Since when is that a reason for banning someone? I didn’t see anyone “acknowledging” fensterbaby’s posts either – why didn’t they get banned?

      This website has apparently redefined “trolling” as “vigorous disagreement” and failure to back down on an argument.

      And, I only defended a person’s right to direct their eyes where they want to direct them. Whether it is proper etiquette or good form, well, that kind of thing depends on cultural norms and social conventions. A certain point of view on cultural norm and social convention seems to be advanced here on this website as if it is inarguable, unassailable, and objectively true. It isn’t. And, it’s not “trolling” to discuss the issue from a different point of view.

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 8, 2012 at 11:46 am —

        Yeah, you’re trolling. You’re posting long, obtuse assertions of concepts you barely understand (and, no, just googling something doesn’t cut it!), you are totally missing or misrepresenting arguments made by others, and you’re defending people treating others badly. This is trolling.

        No, it’s not “vigorous disagreement.” It’s pompous, knowledge-deficit-riddled fools making the same points over and over again while never considering in any depth what the other posters here are saying. Not that they’re not agreeing, which is fine, they’re not even acknowledging that a counter-argument has been made and just repeat their same positions, let alone actually addressing the counter-argument! We considered what he was saying repeatedly. We went to great lengths to explain why he was wrong. He just repeated the same shit and never listened to what we actually meant–this is trolling! If we have to put up with people making the same walls of text over and over, how are we supposed to have a productive discussion?

        Then you bob and weave when you’re called out–Oh, the Facebook page is a bad example, really? HOW? If women get this kind of treatment everywhere, and this is somewhere, isn’t this another piece of supporting evidence of the pervasiveness of this treatment! We said that it’s not just about the Facebook page IN ISOLATION (I can’t believe that wasn’t clear!), not that it wasn’t an example of inappropriate sexualizing behavior. We’re saying that just deleting that comment doesn’t make the problem go away.

        And, when you’re called out after insisting it’s totally okay to look (let’s be frank–leer!) at people sexually, and insisting that man JUST CAN’T be expected to be “blinkered,” THEN you back down into saying, well I’m not talking about etiquette. “Social norms” do not exist in a vacuum–they are entrenched with a lot of poor treatment of women. If someone says, “this treatment is demeaning and unacceptable” and you say “but it’s a social norm!” then you are being an asshole and a troll.

        Yes, the cultural norm being advanced here is that WOMEN DESERVE TO BE TREATED AS PEOPLE. We are people–this is inarguable, unassailable, and objectively true. If you have a “different point of view” about the fact that women, as people, deserve to be treated with basic common decency, that women shouldn’t have to spend all their time fending off attention and modifying their Facebook pages, then yes, you are a troll.

        • Avatar of
          February 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm —

          My arguments are shorter than yours. So, if length of argument indicates trolling, then that’s one point against you. You demand that people “acknowledge” the points of others, and then you complain that I’ve addressed every one of your points. Which do you want?

          You said I am trolling because I am totally missing or misrepresenting arguments made by others. Well, “missing” a point is not trolling. Maybe I’m slow, or maybe the person writing the other opinion didn’t explain it clearly. Maybe I disagree with it. There are other options, but you don’t give people the courtesy of allowing them to discuss anything. Either they agree, or they are trolling. If they disagree, they are “missing” it or they are ignoring it.

          You say, “Then you bob and weave when you’re called out–Oh, the Facebook page is a bad example, really? HOW?” See – it’s you that doesn’t listen or acknowledge. YOU said it was “beside the point” to put the facebook example in context. Fine, but you can’t have it both ways. Either the example matters, or it doesn’t and if it matters, then putting it in context matters.

          As for the “looking” – I made it perfectly clear, and you refuse to listen. All the guy did in the commercial with the sexy Italian woman was stand still and look. That is not bad behavior, regardless of what he’s thinking. Period. That’s what I said can’t be “blinkered.” You can’t expect people to abide by every single person’s custom notion of when it’s o.k. to glance, look, gaze or “leer.” If the guy cat-called her – if he approached her – if he moved toward her menacingly – if he harassed her — those are “behaviors.” The whole point of the guy in the commercial was that he didn’t do any of those things, all he did was stand there dumbfounded by the beauty of that woman. That’s what you’re raising as an example of “mistreatment of women?” And, you don’t think that’s a bit much?

          I am not saying that making something a cultural norm automatically makes it o.k. I’m saying that what YOU think is “o.k.” is not objectively “o.k.” and what YOU think is not “o.k.” is not the end-all-be-all of the conversation. It doesn’t make it wrong or trolling to say “hey – I don’t think that particular example is a good example of bad behavior.” You folks seem to think that if YOU think something is wrong, then it is unassailably and inarguably wrong behavior or conduct (or, often “thought”). All I’m doing is offering some perspective that you folks might not have thought of, and I honestly don’t think that the conduct of the man in that commercial was bad at all, and once I saw the apparent age of the guy who said Ms. Ahlquist should post her picture at “Sexy Atheist” facebook page, and once I saw how tame Sexy Atheist facebook page really was, and once I saw that Ms. Ahlquist allows such comments from everyone and is apparently not concerned enough about them to remove them, that it’s not much to get in a twist over.

          The sheer amount of outrage over a stupid Fiat commercial, and some apparently college age kid posting that a 16 year old is hot and should put her picture at Sexy Atheist facebook page, is a giant overreaction – in my opinion. You may not agree, and that’s fine. But, that doesn’t make me a “troll.”

          I never said that women shouldn’t be treated as people. I’m saying that the conduct alleged to have inflicted upon Ms. Ahlquist in now way reduces her to a non-person. You think it does. I think it doesn’t.

          Now you can follow me around and demand all day long that I agree with you, or if I don’t then I’m a troll, but you can’t make up things and attribute them to me, please. I did not, repeat, I did not say that women ought not be treated as people.

          • Avatar of Otoki
            February 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm

            There’s a difference between glancing and staring. Staring is not cool, at least when it’s directed at a person. If you personally are comfortable with people staring at you, neat. That doesn’t give you the right to dismiss other people being uncomfortable with that. So when so many people in this thread have explained that body language (like staring, leers, etc) can be harassing or rude or objectifying behavior that they personally have experienced or dislike, accept that their lived experience is different than yours.

  43. Avatar of BeardofPants
    February 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm —

    Woah, unleashed a can of worms when I called out fensterbaby on his gas-lighting, huh? I would go into great depths to explain WHY this is gas-lighting, but I can see that others (mrmisconception et. al.) have done a great job already. You guys rock!

    • Avatar of
      February 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm —

      Well, I asked a pretty reasonable question: how were you defining “gaslighting” because I hadn’t heard the word-usage in this context before. The meaning provided by those others you applaud would apply to a lot of people posting here regularly.

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm —

        You still don’t get it, I see. Try lurking more to read and learn, rather than spouting off your incredibly ill-formed assumptions!

        Quick version–gaslighting is about INTENTIONALLY denying reality to mislead/manipulate someone. That is NOT THE SAME THING as telling someone they have misconceptions. Not even close. If you actually read thoughtfully you’d get that.

  44. Avatar of
    February 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm —

    @Otoki –

    Check out this commercial — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdrE1VMxzoE and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpizkWEmg1g&feature=related

    Is that gawking, leering or staring? Objectifying? Big deal?

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm —

      Yeah, that’s actually pretty fucking rude. Imagine separating that from the magical world of advertising, and you were actually doing your job and you had a dozen office workers staring at you and licking their lips–eeeeeewwww!! It’s also indicative of the way that our society seems to think of being “empowered” as acting more like men, without regard to being considerate or ethical.

      I’d also urge you to consider the comedy of reversal. This ad is supposed to be funny largely because usually it’t the construction workers gawking at women, and this is flipping that.

      Also, just to state pre-emptively in case you’re trying to pull some bothsidesdoit fallacy…so to get an example of egregious female gaze, you found a single example from…what–1993?!

      • Avatar of Otoki
        February 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm —

        Right. I think it’s pretty indicative of male privilege to miss the fact that it’s only funny because it’s NOT the norm. Also because the “female gaze” is implied as less threatening. How often to women catcall men compared to the other way around? In this commercial, the men are unaware of the stares AND there’s glass separating the gawkers from the objectified individual. I think if the women had been jeering and catcalling the worker as a group, fewer people would have found this ad funny and would have understood the reference to sexual harassment.

        The fact that a group of women doing this to a man has different connotations than a group of men doing this to a woman is enough to point out the power in the male gaze that the female gaze lacks.

  45. Avatar of marilove
    February 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm —

    I’m pretty sure that betwixacup is fensterbaby and that they are also both saopaulobrasil. This is just too coincidental. As soon as one is banned, another comes along, and they all have very, very similar writing styles (meaning: they are all equally as dense and unable to grasp simple concepts).

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm —

      You’re correct! Sorry I missed it. I’ve now banned betwixt.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm —

        Hahaha, I KNEW IT! By his second comment, I knew it. It was way too obvious. Same shit, different name, basically. LOL FOREVER.

        Sorry dude … troll harder next time!

        Thanks, Rebecca!

        • Avatar of punchdrunk
          February 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm —

          Maybe if he didn’t feel the need to write a novel every time he comments, he would last longer.

          An unbearably stupid, boringly narcissistic novel.

        • Avatar of greenstone123
          February 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm —

          HAHAHA Marilove. Good work!

    • Avatar of BeardofPants
      February 9, 2012 at 10:52 am —

      Wow. That’s like a whole new level of narcissism. :/ Nicely spotted, Marilove!

  46. Avatar of marilove
    February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm —

    Also, sphinooccipital, you are quickly becoming one of my favorite commenters.

    • Avatar of Xanthë
      February 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm —

      Marilove, my thoughts exactly. When I noticed another oblivious douche writing interminable screeds I thought, this deserves an answer – and sphinoccipital had already cut each comment off brilliantly. Great work.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm —

      Aaaaawwww, thanks you guys!!!

      Although, to be fair, you really ought to thank…this will blow your mind…MikeFromCanada!!

      I only joined this site because Mike decided to post our private-message debate from YouTube here (without asking my permission, natch!!) on the Elevatorgate-follow-up video, and so I just had to de-lurk:

      http://skepchick.org/2011/07/update-plus-dating-advice/#comment-129908

      Hence why my username here is the same as my youtube channel*. (Usually on the interwebz, I’m LeftSidePositive.)

      *speaking of youtube (alert: shameless plugging!!!), marilove–I gather from your avatar that you’re an Eddie Izzard fan, and I’ve got a few Eddie Izzard mashups on my youtube channel…just sayin’ ;-)

      • Avatar of greenstone123
        February 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm —

        You know, I thought I remembered you from somewhere. That stuck in my mind how Mike brought a private exchange, posted it here and thought it was fair game to dissect. I have enjoyed reading your comments. :)

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm —

          And the thing is, if he had just ASKED, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it! I mean, I’m a big believer in Greta Christina’s axiom that it’s only worthwhile to argue in public, so if he’d just said, “Hey, we’ve both spent a lot of time on this, and I’d like it to get a wider audience…” I would have been fine with it! But, yeah, to just go off and post it along with a lot of whining about how “hostile” he thought I’d been on youtube, what a douche!!

          • Avatar of Xanthë
            February 9, 2012 at 12:14 am

            So, it’s only taken about six months and a bit for MFC to get banned! (I knew I’d read his obnoxious derailing several times over – and I dare say he’s also been trolling other sites such as FtB.) Better late than never…

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

            Actually, Mike has been around here for longer than six months, though I think he had a different username.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 9, 2012 at 11:26 am —

        Wow … Mike has problems!

        Also, yes I love me some Eddie! :) I’ve seen him live twice! I’ll have to check out your mash-ups.

  47. Avatar of glennstelter
    February 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm —

    So I have a quick question about the sexyatheist/Jessica thing.

    Is the issue with the name of the group (sexyatheist), with the pages content (IE lewd commentary on pictures), or both?

    If the name of the group were, say, ‘interestingatheists’, and this guy asked her to put her picture up there, would it still be as offensive? Would it require that the content be different too?

    I am seriously not trying to troll here, I’m just having trouble wrapping my head around the ‘offensiveness’ of what this ‘kenneth’ guy initially said. Really, not trying to piss people off, just trying to figure it out, Ive been a fan of the SGU too long to want to piss off Rebecca Watson.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm —

      The problem is that (young) women are sexualized regardless of where they are and what they’re doing.

      Jessica wasn’t stripping or sexchatting or doing anything remotely sexual. And she was immediately treated like a sex toy.

      That’s all.

      • Avatar of glennstelter
        February 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm —

        Okay, I get that, although I think saying she was treated like a ‘sex toy’ is a bit much.

        Reading it again makes me wonder how old the guy who made the initial comment was. I am assuming he was older. However, if he was not older than her, than the problem here is that asking her to post a picture on a group with the name ‘sexyatheists’ is insulting. If it had a more benign group name, then there wouldn’t be a problem. Im assuming there wouldn’t be as much upset if some other 16 year old asked her to post her photo on the ‘inspiringatheists’ page or anything. Not trying to be sarcastic, just making a point. So what it comes down to is the ‘sexy’ part of the title.

        If the guy is significantly older than her, as I imagine he is, then asking her to post her picture anywhere is inappropriate, let alone on one titled ‘sexyatheists’. Thats how I see it anyways.

        Regardless, the guy should have just said I’m sorry once it was pointed out to him what he said.

        Anyways, thanks! Good read!

        • Avatar of BeardofPants
          February 9, 2012 at 11:05 am —

          Age is pretty immaterial here, IMO. Jessica has created a name for herself as an advocate for atheist rights, and what is offensive here is that instead of celebrating her success as an advocate, she was immediately trivialized and relegated to ‘hot girl’. She never gave any indication that she wanted to be sexualized, and the fact that she posted a picture that was supposed to be funny NOT sexy is what led to her being sexualized… can a woman not post a picture of herself without this happening? Is that too much to ask?

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm —

      I think both the title and content are relevant in the context of objectification. It’s more that a woman is expected to be shoehorned into the “sexy” category merely for existing in public. Sometimes people want to be sexy, sometimes they don’t, but it’s intrusive and rude to expect people to be sexy on demand. It is, simply, rather personal, and thus not something that should arise indiscriminately. When consenting adults are intentionally putting themselves in sexuality-focused situations*, that’s fine, but when a group insists on putting some of its members in that role in the absence of any indication from that person that it’s desired, it becomes a problem.

      In contrast, there’s no reason “interesting” would be personal, or an attribute that you would only want applied to you in certain contexts or by certain people. “Interesting” is a general value that can be broadly applied to people and tends to celebrate them as whole beings, in a way that “sexy” doesn’t, especially not with how it tends to be used for women. (One thing that can get complicated with this is things like “articulate,” which sounds like it should be a reflection of a universal goal, but historically has been used as a backhanded compliment to belittle people, especially African-Americans.)

      *There is some meta stuff that can be discussed about whether that is a situation dealing with self-actualized sexuality, versus adopting and perpetuating limiting and historically problematic stereotypes, but that is a cultural critique rather than of those particular people…but again, that’s very meta. It is in that vein that the content of SexyAtheists was being criticized, the fact that it exists isn’t necessarily a problem, but there are cultural issues it shows. This is not–I repeat, NOT–a complaint about the sexual explicitness of the site or other things. Posing fully-dressed can be very sexist and objectifying in some contexts, whereas in other contexts being completely nude can be sex-positive and self-fulfilling. That gets VERY complicated, culturally, but I want to be clear that the take-home message is not “OMG! Too much skin!”

      • Avatar of glennstelter
        February 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm —

        Well then, I retract my earlier comment to punchdrunk (I would literally do it if I knew how). That totally makes sense, thank you sphinooccipital!

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm —

          I … uh, um … I … uh … I … I totally don’t know what to say! After all the willful misconstruction going on around here, I’m kinda flabbergasted that someone actually thought about what I was actually saying and wanted to learn from it!!

          So, um, thanks!!

          **wipes splattered brain off computer screen**

      • Avatar of BeardofPants
        February 9, 2012 at 11:07 am —

        LOL, should have read further down. You worded it MUCH better than I did. :)

  48. Avatar of GeekGirlsRule
    February 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm —

    sphinooccipital Sorry about leaving out the leering and looking. I forgot I wasn’t dealing with someone in good faith (betwixtawhatsit). Yeah, leering and staring are indeed also sexist actions and invasive, and anyone who doesn’t think commenting on a FB post is an “action” is an a self-serving idiot.

    I got sloppy, I apologize.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm —

      No need to apologize! I totally agree with you, and I think that for women who deal with harassment it’s just so intuitively obvious that the sense of entitlement manifests itself in the physical and explicit things you mentioned, and it’s all on one big continuum (and, when someone’s leering, we have to worry about how bad it’s going to get!). However, I’ve been so jaded by the defense of “well, as long as it’s not above threshold X it can’t possibly be a big deal so why are you complaining?!?!?!” that I wanted to pre-empt it. I do find it pretty funny that our resident troll decided to go ahead and do exactly what I predicted, volunteering himself to be “Exhibit A.”

      • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule
        February 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm —

        There’s also the tendency to be like, “Oh, whew, at least it was JUST leering, and not…(add egregious sexist douchemonster behavior of your choice).” Which sucks, because sometimes leering and staring is just as scary, or scarier because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm —

          I don’t want to look for this now while I’m at work, but Jezebel posted a funny amateur woman stand-up routine. Basically, she was describing what it’s like to be a woman in this world. Say you’re walking down the street, alone, at night. Suddenly you realize that a man is walking behind you, slowly. Something isn’t right. So you think, “Here’s My Rape! Been waiting for this for a while now! I guess now it’s my time!”

          The routine was, of course, titled “Here’s My Rape!”

          I have had similar thoughts before. A lot of women have.

          And that’s something (most) men are never, ever, ever going to understand.

          It makes those leers and obscene gestures even worse. You just never know if it’s time to say, “Here’s my rape!”

          • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule
            February 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm

            And sadly, there are dudes who view rapes like Lays brand potato chips: Can’t have just one.

            I joke in order not to scream. Sadly, I’ve already had mine, twice actually. I commonly refer to my teen years in Idaho as “Idaho, where date rape’s a varsity sport!”

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm

            Yep. Been there, done that. Except for me, it was while I was in a relationship (and on numerous occasions it included forcing me to take drugs I did not want to take). But that was when I was 19/20/21 years old. A decade ago, now. Damn.

          • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule
            February 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm

            Yup, I was 15 and 16 respectively, dating guys who told me how much they loved me and would never hurt me.

            You get real old real quick after shit like that.

          • Avatar of spaceghost
            February 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm

            “And that’s something (most) men are never, ever, ever going to understand.”

            I would like to put a point on this, in case there might be anyone reading this who would dismiss that.

            When I was in high school, a friend of mine came to class one day with her eyes swollen and black. Turns out her father beat her up after catching her in bed with her boyfriend.

            A cousin of mine once told me of things her (much older) boyfriend used to make her do for his buddies when they would all get together.

            My wife was raped a few times, from when she was 9 through her teen years. She has never really given too much detail about what happened to her, but I do know that one of her attackers was foolish enough to set aside the knife he used to subdue her, and she planted it in his gut for him. I *really* love that woman…

            I relate those stories because, having heard them, and many others, something very fundamental never really clicked for me about being a woman in the world. The above quoted statement is exactly right – I can never *really* know.

            The thing that can really get to someone and break through to them is probably different for everyone, and for me it was this: on the SGU podcast episode after the whole elevatorgate mess, Rebecca made a statement to the effect that if she were going out for the evening she would have to choose her shoes based on if she was going to be riding with someone or walking, just in case she had to run.

            That statement hit me right between the eyes, hard. It just never would have occurred to me. It may sound like a simple thing, almost trivial to some, but it had the effect of completely altering the way I view the world, I think *because* it is such a seemingly small thing. I think it’s almost as if I took the idea of rape or violent abuse of women as a reality in the world, but in some abstract way. Even beyond hearing the stories of things that have happened to women I know, that one simple statement altered me to my core.

            In any event, the ultimate reason I have written this long winded mess is really to say this – keep fucking talking about it. On forums, on podcasts, wherever. Rebecca has talked about the endless shit she gets for bringing the subject up, and she just goes right on getting under their skin with that cheerful, happy, fuck you attitude of hers that makes her one of my heroes. People, especially us men, need to hear this stuff, and you never know what some seemingly small thing said in conversation will burrow into someones brain and wake them up.

          • Avatar of BeardofPants
            February 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

            I have been fortunate in that I haven’t been rape-raped (yet – hopefully never), but I have been molested. I was 7, and it was the neighbor. I was lucky in that it only happened a few times, and then I reported him. I have no doubt that it would have progressed. Everything I’ve read since tells me I was in the process of being “groomed”.

            @Spaceghost – it’s really good to hear stories like yours too. It helps to know that we have allies.

  49. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm —

    BTW- saopaulofestermonster whatever the fuck your name is – sockpuppetry is trolling. FYI

  50. Avatar of Carl
    February 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm —

    Not to disrupt this endless-er, fascinating-discussion of whether “patriarchy” is a valid description of modern Western culture or anything, but:

    Rebecca, didn’t you start Skepchick as a pinup calendar? why is that OK?

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm —

      Maybe it’s not okay. Why don’t you look over the past threads in which this has been brought up and endlessly – fascinatingly – discussed, go over the benefits and drawbacks, and decide for yourself?

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm —

      Apples and oranges. Jessica didn’t sexualize herself, nor did she in any way give any indication that she was interested in doing so.

      Others (men) chose to put that on her, loudly and at length.

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        February 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm —

        Oh, for an edit button. Should be:

        “Others (men) chose to put that on her, and then loudly and at length defended their entitlement to doing so unchallenged.

    • Avatar of BeardofPants
      February 9, 2012 at 11:25 am —

      The issue is always much more complicated. Just so you (and others know), we can be fighters of the status quo, and still enjoy our sexuality. The key thing is that we enjoy it on our OWN terms rather than being shoe-horned (love that phrase!) into the role. We are more than our bodies, and we fight to get that recognized, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t own our sexuality as well. It makes me sad to think that because I’m a feminist, and because I choose to fight the inherent biases in our society, that that somehow makes me some “harpy” who is trying to ruin teh sex for everyone! I’m really not. It’s about being respectful, and treating women like equals in this funny adventure we call life. We should be able to enjoy our sexy bodies by posing in calendars, or wearing sexy dresses, or thongs or whatever makes us feel sexy, and not feel like traitors to the cause.

  51. Avatar of lefrench
    February 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm —

    So I have existential question/rumination that is related to objectification.

    Before I get ganked by the resident fighting champs (marilove and sphinooccipital), I want to say I’m confident I comprehend and agree with all your statements, and explanations regarding this matter.

    I believe the people who come here and repetitively repeat stubborn views, and then nitpick endlessly on semantics inorder to protect their argument, are just people who are new to critical thought on power hierarchies throughout history, and thus do not see “the matrix” as it has been said. All they see are trees and people, and say things like “how nice everything is” or “how awful everything is” without actually understanding why.

    But onto my astounding, and misanthropic question.

    Imagine a very near future where culturally, objectification in any sense is major taboo . It’s now the cultural norm to consider people as people, and leave objectification for the bedroom, or just quietly in your head without acting on it behaviorally or verbally. This lack of objectification is a culturally trained consideration, and not a sudden genetic jump in empathy and reason.

    So I’m wondering, and here I’m being an elitist misanthrope, how would the masses (who generally speciate our planet) knock boots? Unlike everyone here at skepchick, who are interesting people with their intelligent critical thinking and who probably go on dates or are hooked up already with other intelligent people (hopefully) and who have interesting conversations and shared observations, the masses are stupid, dull and predictable.

    Being stupid and dull, they’ve never really had any other reason other than objectification (especially the patriarchal sort that encourages the established norm of men being hunters, women staying in the kitchen, make babies and pay taxes, and death) to get together.

    If they start having to treat each other like people (getting to know each other) instead of sexual objects, they’d quickly get bored out of their minds and hate each other.

    Most relationships end because, bingo, the biological love drug concoction wears off after I think it’s 12 to 18 months, and suddenly the other persons glaring dullness and flaws become apparent, and they go their separate ways. (many may try to stick together because god will send you to hell if you don’t, impulsive marriage, pregnancy, or out of a sense of ego failure, i.e if this relationship fails it means i/we have failed and we can’t handle that, plus Doctor Phil says we can work it out)

    So if a society loses the “sex first” which objectification brings for the masses, they’d be sexually frustrated and hating each other. Maybe some kind of prostitute guild would arise to attend to their needs, but that would be more objectification.

    There may be ways to reason that one can be a prostitute and not be, in a social sense, objectified but none that are immediately apparent to me.

    Since the world is still largely, either savage, or ignorant, or desperately trying to survive genocide, is not objectification (sans the patriarchy part, tho now it would be an “egaliarchy” objectification) actually necessary in order for them to get laid? (and our species continue to speciate)?

    So it might be said egalitarian objectification is necessary for dummies (90% of our species) and thus by extension, necessary for our society?

    I suppose I’m having this thought because it’s always felt like objectification (inspired by selfish sexual desire) is kinda genetic. Ie we would not have gotten this far as a species without objectification cause we certainly did not start out with conversational skills (inorder to be interesting) back when we are in ape form and after a few million years of us lacking interesting personality, well evolution found a way to get us to hook up almost indiscriminately, and now we are stuck with it.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm —

      Man, you really see 90% of people as filthy animals beneath you?

      I mean, seriously? You’re talking about people like cattle, and especially since this is a discussion about social mores, that’s kinda wack.

      According to you, it’s unbelievable that we ever came out of the primordial ooze, and nothing’s changed since then.

      You think evo psych is the answer? Why did language evolve beyond a few pragmatic concepts? Why art and poetry that didn’t impart important, practical, information? You believe that fucking wouldn’t happen without objectification? I assure you, it would.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm —

        Okay, I could not figure out why his/her comment bugged me, but you nailed it.

        Also, it’s a lot of conjecture and feeling and “what if…”, and it’s not really based on much reality. I really hate the “existential question/rumination” crap. It really doesn’t get us anywhere.

        Also:

        “well evolution found a way to get us to hook up almost indiscriminately, and now we are stuck with it.”

        This screams of so much made-up bullshit. THAT is how evolution found away for us to knock boots? By creating objectification? Evolution did that? Seriously?

        It’s a bunch of rhetorical crap, and it doesn’t even make that much sense.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm —

      Holy shit, do you ever have a case of the Flintstone Fallacy!!

      Objectification is a socially-constructed concept. It’s based on power structures, access to social influence, and especially media. You haven’t cited ANYTHING that says that objectification is necessary for sex. You can just plain enjoy fucking and that is more than sufficient drive for primitive humans to get it on. I would posit that objectification is something that is a later social development as a way to distance oneself from one’s sex partners in a deeply sex-negative culture.

      It’s also not really adaptive in a sexual sense–understanding what your partner wants and needs is a great way to get laid more often and to be better at raising children together. Human beings are in general really good at theory of mind and at least understanding that people they work with have internal experiences and emotions that need to be stroked. Patriarchy generally UN-teaches men this basic human social impulse with regard to women (and people of other races, cultures, social statuses, etc., etc.). Because, while objectification is a really shitty pair-wise strategy, it’s a great way to control large numbers of people via divide-and-conquer. I therefore think a much more likely model is that it is a cultural meme rather than a genetically-hardwired phenomenon. We can even see within the last 20-30 years how much objectifying attitudes can change with a more enlightened culture.

      Can I also point out that you got blasted for treating people like “filthy animals” from a poster whose avatar is a goat?! That’s a pretty epic fail, man…

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm —

        Haha, SMACK DOWN!

        I’m actually trying to figure out if “lefrench” is the douchecanoes we keep banning, trying a slightly new angle (“I agree with you, but here, let’s try this weird rhetorical situation that makes almost no sense…”), because I don’t recognize the username, and the comment is just odd.

        • Avatar of Otoki
          February 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm —

          Agreed. As soon as I saw the long post siting evo psych crap I was thinking sock puppet.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm —

          Yeah, I’m looking at the incredible length of the post, the total failure to understand what “objectification” means (note, betwixt had problems with that concept, too!), and then this is a huge red flag:

          “I want to say I’m confident I comprehend and agree with all your statements, and explanations regarding this matter.”

          Remember when fensterbaby was so sure he understood what “White Knighting” meant and then continued to brag about his knowledge of etymology?!!?

          Remember how betwixtacup was whining that we the meanie feminists just insist that anyone here agree with us, and how many times we told him he had to learn basic concepts?

          Rebecca, could you look into this?

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm

            Haha, exactly. I wonder if he thought if he just said “HEY! I agree with y’all!” before bringing the stupid, that we wouldn’t notice? LOL

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

            (Disclaimer: I could also be wrong and they may very well not be a sock puppet, and instead are sincere but … well, I think y’all could see why I’m skeptical and even a little paranoid about that.)

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

            Yeah, I was even so paranoid I asked myself if glennstelter was the newest reinpixelation when he first posted…and then he turned out to be quite reasonable! Good thing I didn’t cast aspersions. :-p

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        February 9, 2012 at 6:25 pm —

        Baa, I’d rather be a filthy animal than part of lefrench’s purported 10% of ubermensch.

        And I haven’t seen any evidence that animals objectify each other. ‘Rape’, however, seems to be a popular mating strategy in the animal kingdom. It’s amazing we’re ever able to fuck without rape, too. (that’s the logic ,here, right?)

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm —

          “‘Rape’, however, seems to be a popular mating strategy in the animal kingdom.”

          I dunno about that. Anyone have any more knowledge on this subject? I seem to remember reading somewhere that ducks “rape” … but at the same time … that seems an awful like anthropomorphizing (I can’t believe I spelled that right!) animals. It just doesn’t feel right calling what they do “rape”.

          • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
            February 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

            I think punchdrunk was just mocking EvoPsych logic…

            But, in any event, I’m not a specialist in animal behavior, but given the fact that the vast majority of species in the animal kingdom have females with body strength that could easily attack the male back (or at least make it risky enough to be less likely to have this be a go-to strategy). Moreover, the wide variety and near-ubiquity of mating dances and the importance of sexual selection mean that the vast majority of males seek the cooperation of their mates.

            (However, if it’s a fish can it be considered rape since they externally fertilize? Apparently some species of fish have some runty-looking males who look too immature to mate, and then when the female sprays her eggs in the vicinity of a large male, the little one sneaks in and fertilizes some eggs–natural selection has favored a bimodal distribution of very small and very large fish in these species. The more you know…)

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            February 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm

            It is anthropomorphizing, that’s why I put ‘rape’ in quotation marks. It’s why it’s no good using animal’s mating habits to extrapolate to humans.

            Here’s what wiki has to say about the diversity of mating tactics:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_sexual_behaviour

            And primate fact sheets:
            http://anthro.palomar.edu/behavior/behave_2.htm
            http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/chimpanzee/behav

            We have our own human thing going on.

        • Avatar of marilove
          February 10, 2012 at 11:37 am —

          I see I missed the snark :)

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            February 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm

            I’m just swinging wildly at this point.

            I can’t decide if it’s an invasion of clones or trolls or troll clones.

          • Avatar of marilove
            February 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

            Yeah. This post is now on the second page. It’s been a few days, now. We normally don’t get a bunch of new people on a post that is a few days old. SOMETHING IS FISHY.

      • Avatar of spaceghost
        February 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm —

        “I therefore think a much more likely model is that it is a cultural meme rather than a genetically-hardwired phenomenon.”

        I wonder, at least in Western culture, if objectification isn’t’ a natural result of demonization. See, you have to figure a way to keep those womenz under control (becasue the manly men tend get get rather stupid around women), so you invent a fanciful tale about how your sky-god created you, the man, along with all the good things of the earth, but then decided the man needed a new toy, so made woman from a spare bone. And of course, this new creature promptly makes an utter mess of literally everything in all creation. So you gotta keep her under control, you never know what those wicked women (who aren’t even real humans after all, you know, not being made from the earth)will get up to if left alone, cavorting with talking snakes and being unclean every few weeks and whatnot.
        It doesn’t take a great leap to go from there to where we are now.

        Of course, I could be wrong. :)

        “Can I also point out that you got blasted for treating people like “filthy animals” from a poster whose avatar is a goat?! That’s a pretty epic fail, man…”

        You know, I had kind of a crummy day, and I *really* needed the great laugh I got out of that. Thanks! :)

  52. Avatar of KingMerv00
    February 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm —

    lefrench, I don’t think you understand what “sexual objectification” means. It means to see another person as a means to sexual gratification without regard for their own personal sexual motives or interests.

    To say that 90% of the world can’t fuck without doing that is too cynical even for me. Nonskeptics, theists, new agers, and *gasp* REPUBLICANS can all be perfecly lovely people.

  53. Avatar of originosity
    February 10, 2012 at 5:15 am —

    Hello, I was wondering if I could have a respectful discussion with someone who considers themselves a feminist about the topic of advertising (specifically about how it effects our views on gender). I am genuinely curious about a feminist’s viewpoint.

    When I see an ad that shows a man being able to have sex with a woman because he buys her flowers, I do not see it as saying ‘all women want to exchange sex for flowers’, I see it as saying ‘this woman in this advertisement would like to exchange sex for flowers’. I see women as individuals with individual motives and desires. Just like when I watch a pornography, I do not assume that all women want to have sex or be treated a certain way, I only assume that the woman in the pornographic film would like to be treated that way.

    It just seems to me that people should be smart enough to know that just because a woman in an advertisement wants something this does not mean all women want it.
    I take a person to be an individual, not a member of a group based on what is between their legs. Just like I take a blonde person in an advertisement as an individual and don’t assume they represent all blonde people I take a woman in an advertisement as an individual and assume they don’t represent all women.

    There is so much more that I could say but I am curious to hear how someone who agrees with this article would respond to my post.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm —

      I think this is incredibly self-rationalizing and naive.

      So, you’re so sure that you see people as individuals and aren’t affected by messages in advertising? There are heaps of sociological and behavioral sciences research that shows this is not the case. Read up on the extensive literature on subconscious bias and how it affects behavior. Short version–even if you don’t THINK you’re affected by stereotypes, the vast majority of research shows that you are. Upthread I posted a bunch of examples of how women were discriminated against in evaluations, hiring decisions, etc.–I assure you the vast majority of those subjects didn’t realize they were sexist, and they too thought they saw everyone as individuals (but just because we know that’s the right thing to do, doesn’t mean we actually do it!).

      I view your claims with exactly the same skepticism as someone who says, “I don’t see race…”

      Moreover, advertising uses tropes and archetypes to convey their message. The WHOLE POINT is to make these situations and attitudes seem common enough to be a justification to buy a product. If all the ad was implying is that a particular women liked flowers, how the hell would that be an argument to buy flowers, unless you had a reasonable chance to sleep with that particular woman? (Also, she doesn’t *want* flowers–she’s being paid to say she does. She’s being paid to say she does because the company is trying to convince people that buying flowers is a good strategy to get laid).

      And women overwhelmingly report pressure from their sex partners to conform to what said partners see in porn. I’m dubious that this doesn’t affect you at all (because, clearly, you’re a perfectly rational special snowflake!), but at least have the decency to realize this is a major social problem!

      I think it is downright silly of you to expect that you are immune to the generalizing effects of advertising and other media. It is based on a vast foundation of psychological study on how to manipulate people. That’s it’s whole purpose! It is also in the advertiser’s best interest to establish social norms that favor the buying of their product, and that involves manipulating large numbers of people.

      Your attitude reminds me of a classic study of physicians, 61% of whom are sure they aren’t affected by pharmaceutical marketing (even though abundant prescribing data shows they are!)–meanwhile, only 16% of physicians are sure their *colleagues* aren’t affected.

      http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhpr042734

      So your impression that you’re a cognitively pure, thoughtful, rational person is in large part an illusion of your self-perception. That’s not necessarily a character flaw, everyone does this to some extent, but skeptics need to be aware of it and try to compensate for it. You’re basically exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger effect in your ability to recognize sexism. Moreover, this whole post is about how common sexist attitudes are so normalized that people don’t see them and don’t realize they’re affected by them–did it occur to you that maybe you don’t see how you’re being manipulated (like, just about every other human who has EVER been studied on this topic?!)??

      Yeah, it also “seems to me that people should be smart enough” not to smoke, not to eat a high-fat high-fructose-corn-syrup diet, not to vote against their economic interest, and to stay in school…but clearly they don’t, and your attitude is wishful thinking at its most absurd.

      By the way, don’t act entitled to a respectful discussion. Respect is earned, and your demanding it is, frankly, disrespectful. If you want to come off well, say something along the lines of “Hi, I’m new here, sorry if I ask something that’s been covered, or if I’m confused about anything…”

  54. Avatar of punchdrunk
    February 10, 2012 at 6:51 am —

    Oh, yeah, like sphinooccipital said, my tongue’s in my cheek a little there.

    I think I got a little Godwin on me, too. Je ne regrette nien.

  55. Avatar of Texas Paul
    February 10, 2012 at 9:04 am —

    I like your points, Rebecca, and disagree with one line you wrote, which is, “…adult women have every right to upload photos of themselves anywhere they’d like for any reason they’d like and they should never be shamed for it.”

    In an ideal society of equals, feminism does not render women impervious to the consequences of their choices (choice being an operative word here).

    There is much that is taught and ingrained in us, but you seem to ignore many differences in attitudes and psychology of the genders are down to genetics, and the science behind this is robust.

    It seems to me that some feminists (I don’t know if you’re in this group or not, no judgments) seem to define “equality” in such a way that it ignores these basic biological differences. If we don’t acknowledge this truth, then any dialogue between people of different genders (whether written, via photo posting, spoken, etc.) will place unequal responsibility for the consequences of that dialogue on all parties. What, then, does this sort of equality really achieve?

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
      February 10, 2012 at 9:29 am —

      I don’t understand what you’re trying to say, here.

      Why should women be shamed for posting photos of themselves online?

      What genetic differences between the sexes would make that okay?

      • Avatar of Texas Paul
        February 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm —

        Rebecca,

        Sorry for the long delay time, and if I was unclear.

        Your point about adult women being able to upload pictures of themselves “for any reason and not be ashamed” seems a little unnecessary, that’s all. I can certainly think of situations where adult women knowing post embarrassing pictures or comments online–should they be shielded from taking responsibility for their actions because they are women?

        I can think of an example. Someone I know who is a young teacher (in her 20s) posted pictures of herself and in college sorority where they were all dressed in lingerie at some party (this, BTW, is a fairly typical behavior among college women). I commented to her that she should take those down before someone at her school (a teacher, student or parent) spotted them and complained, because it projects an inappropriate image of a role model that a teacher is expected to be.

        All I’m saying is that all people (men and women) have rights, but those rights also come with responsibilities attached. I hope we can agree on that.

        -P.

        • Avatar of Rebecca Watson
          February 17, 2012 at 10:54 am —

          No, there is absolutely no logical reason why a woman should be shamed for posting a photo of herself wearing lingerie on her Facebook page.

        • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
          February 17, 2012 at 11:39 am —

          “Taking responsibility for their actions” should apply only to actually harmful things, not to blaming victims for the sexism and discrimination of others. Women don’t need to be “shielded” from “responsibility,” all PEOPLE deserve to have their privacy and personal choices respected.

          Parents and school administrators need to stop feeling entitled to pry into teacher’s personal lives. I reject entirely the attitude that being a person with a natural desire for sexual self-expression among consenting adults and being a “role model” are mutually exclusive.

          Now, a teacher could be expected to set the privacy settings on those pictures so minors couldn’t see it if she has friended any of her students on Facebook. But, how much she wishes to share among HER ACTUAL FRIENDS is her business, and if a parent or administrator finds it it’s THEIR fault for being a snoop.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 10, 2012 at 9:30 am —

      Citation fucking needed.

      I strongly suggest you look up Cordelia Fine’s “Delusions of Gender” for some great background reading on the long history of pseudoscience trying to establish biological differences between the genders, and how this extraordinarily bad methodology persists in these “studies” to this day. Well-designed and well-controlled studies find these “biological” differences disappear when cultural factors are addressed.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 10, 2012 at 9:37 am —

      Which attitudes and psychologies are specifically genetic? Linkspam me.

      • Avatar of Texas Paul
        February 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm —

        Suggest you listen to the SGU, in which a recent exchange between Rebecca and Steve Novella covered this very point…I’ll see if I can remember the episode…but it was sometime in October. To deny that sexual differences exist in brain structure is to ignore well-founded science.

  56. Avatar of lefrench
    February 10, 2012 at 10:04 am —

    @marilov,

    yes, I’m new, been reading for a couple months, don’t really comment much, and I find everything posted by the skepchicks reasonable and fair. Also can’t remember ever disagreeing with anything you have written, which is quite alot (I distinctly remember your posts because of the eddie izzard pic, him being one of the all time great satirists and atheists). So either I am schizophrenic, because even tho I relate (in the sense that I agree) with 99% of what the skepchicks write or member’s contribute, apparently I don’t understand anything written on this particular post, and I say anything, because the crux was objectification, and I was called out on it, which brings me to…

    @ sphinooccipital
    You think I completely missed the boat on objectification? Iet’s see? Objectification is when you reduce a person to a single or few qualities? Most commonly sexual objectification, where the woman’s purpose is seen only as a sex gratification alone and has no personhood? A man can also be objectified, though it’s not sexist or patriarchal because he is not harmed? More broadly objectification is used by existing power structures (patriarchy) with the purpose of removing power from people, most notably woman when it comes to sexual objectification. Are those not the bullet points?

    @punchdrunk
    Filthy animals? I called 90% of the people dumb, also savages, but not filthy animals. You made it sound like, well, you imply animals are less than nothing, and thus I think people are less than nothing. The most I wanted to imply was that most people are ignorant, stupid, dumb. Try not to project that I’m a hitler in the making for a second.

    @KingMerv Perhaps that is too cynical, a number. 80%? If I go any lower I lose my misanthropy license. Though the following will dilute my cynicism slightly perhaps I should concede that when 80% of people use objectification to relate to each other, it is combined with a case of them lying to themselves by rationalizing that they actually care, but it’s just another rationalized strategy for the pursuit of the sex.

    And to all, what’s with the contempt for evolutionary psychology? That’s like the most useful tool to land on psychology since it began. From Freud onwards, barring a few more objective researchers it was miss mash random guesses at why we thought the way we did. At least now they are grounded in something that works, physical evolution of cognitive function. Did I miss some scathing documentary review of it recently?

    The responses it seem to indicate a 100 percent certainty that objectification is a complete social construct used to maintain power (oppress others, etc) tied to nothing else. And if only people would stop accepting the status quo they’d stop oppressing others.

    But to what end is that power suited? The need for power must originate from genetic reproduction/survival strategy? The common disputes come to mind? Land/food (both survival/security orientated) and sex (reproduction)? Does this not imply that power dominance behind objectification has one of the two key purposes behind it, sex? And thus it would be used to make sexual advances indirectly and directly, etc. ie. that it stems from our mental toolset of interaction with competitors and mates, especially before we had language.

    And what about the role dominance plays in the animal kingdom. especially apes. There it is associated (via the successes) often with sexual reproduction and selection. So sexual objectification (if we take its purpose to dominate) seems to fit into that animal genetic history.

    Is this the impasse of Determinist camp frequenters who believe that it’s unlikely fundamental human cognitive processes can be changed, and thus it would require above average self control, critical thought and empathy to rise above it, and even so it requires continuous self-vigilance, and the Nurture camp frequenters who want to rationalize that all human behavior of any human can be retrained without much difficulty.

    So specifically the difficulty I was musing on was the masses being unable to relate to each other under the new future egali-archy, once their genetic way of interacting with each other is so suppressed. Ah, forget it, it’s more of a sci-fi dystopia musing. I’ll save it for a bad short story that no one should read.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 10, 2012 at 10:16 am —

      Your question was bizarre, and your seething contempt for humanity alarming.

      Filthy animals? I called 90% of the people dumb, also savages, but not filthy animals.
      I used hyperbole to point this out.

      And this:
      And what about the role dominance plays in the animal kingdom. especially apes. There it is associated (via the successes) often with sexual reproduction and selection. So sexual objectification (if we take its purpose to dominate) seems to fit into that animal genetic history.
      Please see the links I posted earlier. And I’d like to see some of your citations for these assertions.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk
      February 10, 2012 at 10:31 am —

      Last one, I swear.. Dominance Theory – and animal mating behavior? After you were affronted by my language about you seeing people as animals?

      Oh, you’re a piece of work.

      (is it trolling yet, Ma?)

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 10, 2012 at 11:40 am —

      No, objectification is not just reducing people to a few qualities. That’s not even fucking close!!

      Here is a basic primer:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectification

      This term is also used to describe the treatment of a human being as a thing, disregarding his/her personality or sentience. Philosopher Martha Nussbaum[1] has argued that something is objectified if any of the following factors is present:
      Instrumentality – if the thing is treated as a tool for one’s own purposes;
      Denial of autonomy – if the thing is treated as if lacking in agency or self-determination;
      Inertness – if the thing is treated as if lacking in agency;
      Ownership – if the thing is treated as if owned by another;
      Fungibility – if the thing is treated as if interchangeable;
      Violability – if the thing is treated as if permissible to damage or destroy;
      denial of subjectivity – if the thing is treated as if there is no need to show concern for the ‘object’s’ feelings and experiences.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_objectification

      Do not fucking waste our time if you haven’t even bothered to read the fucking Wikipedia page on what you’re trying to understand! (And, just reading Wikipedia is not enough–that should guide your further study, so you can EDUCATE YOURSELF instead of posting long, obtuse badly-reasoned theses for which we are then expected to drop everything and explain basic concepts to you.)

      And where the fuck was it said that men are not harmed by objectification? It’s not AS harmful because it’s not AS culturally pervasive–therefore there’s a dose-response relationship and it’s context-dependent. But it’s definitely harmful and wrong to objectify anyone.

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 10, 2012 at 11:41 am —

      I’m admitted it’s possible I was being paranoid, and someone else had the same feeling, and I do apologize for thinking you were a sock puppet. We have been dealing with that a lot lately and sometimes it’s hard to tell when there are also quite a few new people around. So cool.

      But seriously, attempting to wax poetic on highly convoluted what-ifs doesn’t sit with me well. It really isn’t based in reality. This shit is real for women.

      Also, it honestly didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Evolution made it so that people objectify one another? Particularly that men objectify women? Really? I call bullshit.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm —

      “And to all, what’s with the contempt for evolutionary psychology? That’s like the most useful tool to land on psychology since it began. From Freud onwards, barring a few more objective researchers it was miss mash random guesses at why we thought the way we did. At least now they are grounded in something that works, physical evolution of cognitive function. Did I miss some scathing documentary review of it recently?”

      To say Evo-Psych is not respected is a MASSIVE understatement!

      Here is a primer–don’t come back until you’ve read/listened to ALL of it:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_evolutionary_psychology

      http://www.rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/show/rs18-evolutionary-psychology.html

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=four-fallacies

      http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/evolutionary_pyschology_where_nice_guysreg_go_for_grant_money

      http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/how_evo_psych_is_laying_waste_to_responsible_science_journalism

      http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2011/06/bad-reasoning-about-reasoning.html

      http://skepchick.org/2011/04/rape-is-not-an-adaptation/

      http://skepchick.org/2012/01/intellectual-cage-match-ben-radford-vs-a-4-year-old/

      http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/evolutionary-psychology-for-the-masses/

      http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/06/13/evolutionary-psychologists-on-the-weaknesses-of-evolutional-psychology/

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3xwwpnEPqA

      http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/05/27/how-feminists-ruined-menstruation-and-other-insights-of-a-dude-psychologist/

      http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/the_impeccable_logic_of_evolut.php

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      February 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm —

      And to all, what’s with the contempt for evolutionary psychology? That’s like the most useful tool to land on psychology since it began.

      That’s quite the statement you’ve made and while I can’t speak for everyone here I can give you my non-scientist view of why I view evo-psych with a jaundiced eye.

      Evo-psych has no real way to back up its assertions which in and of itself is not really a problem; theoretical physics, for example, can only back up their assertions with mathematical formulas and then wait for the technology to become available to prove or disprove their fever-dreams; the big difference being they are not stating their ideas as absolute truth.

      To be fair not all evolutionary psychologists pretend that they have all the answers but the nature of how the media works (report now, ask questions later) and the nature of brain matter (it becomes “unspecial” when it dies and does not tend to stick around long afterwards) along with the desire of some to further their ideas (whether well meaning or not) means that those who wish to spew forth any hypothetical bullshit that they wish can get their “theories” put forward as if delivered by the Oracle of Delphi herself. It matters not whether the theory makes sense, or has any proof, or even is plausible but if it makes someone’s toes curl it will be put forward as “the truth”. This allows evo-psych to be used as a blunt instrument against anyone you wish if you can simply make your story sound good enough.
      Want to “prove” rape is hereditary? OK, evo-psych to the rescue.
      Want to show why semen tastes bad? Yep, evo-psych can do that for you. This is a spoof that could pass as a Poe of evo-psych
      Conservatives are stupid? Uh-huh.
      Hel, want to write off every bad thing humans do? It can manage that too.

      So evo-psych has not shown itself to be not reliable enough to trust with any consistency.

      If someone wishes to use evo-psych to put forward a possible path that we may have followed as a species, and couch it in that way, I have no problem with it. But used as it is it becomes almost useless to laypeople and should be seen as suspicious by the media.

  57. Avatar of mrmisconception
    February 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm —

    DAY-YAM

    @Sphinooccipital, I’ve got to say you sure know how to make a point. Impressive.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm —

      Subtlety. It’s how I roll.

      ;-)

      • Avatar of Jack99
        February 11, 2012 at 3:51 am —

        Game set and match to sphinooccipital.

        That would be the Texas of all link farms.

        That just about wraps it up for evo-psych.

        Huge respect!

  58. Avatar of yourd
    February 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm —

    “So, if you want to talk about how people don’t *mean* to be racist for their Black Pete celebration, or if they’re only thinking about it in terms of their childhood nostalgia, I will answer you with an emphatic BULLSHIT!!”

    That’s easy to say, but the sad fact is that in this country we’re all taught from a very young age to ignore those racist undertones. In fact, you probably did more research for your post than the overwhelming majority of the Dutch have on the inherent racism of that one character.

    Like I said, we’re all taught, conditioned even, to ignore the racist undertones that can be found in the Black Pete character. The black face is handwaved away as being ‘soot stuck to his face from climbing all those chimneys’ and the accent (where applicable, as it’s not nearly as prevalent as the article you linked makes it out to be) is explained away by them ‘living abroad.’ And keep in mind that this is done when we’re kids – when we’re still trying to make sense of whatever’s happening around us. And we’re told all this by EVERYONE around us, our parents, peers, teachers, magazines, comics, television shows, etc. and even once you get older and you find out that they’re not really foreigners that come to our country every year to give us presents (again, children, the type of person to NEVER question where a present came from just so long as they get it) you’d be surprised how little is actually written about how the ‘great tradition of our people’ came to pass and what exactly goes behind that “loveable” black guy with his bundle of sticks.

    And don’t think that asking around is going to do you much good, everywhere you turn, every group you talk to there are always going to be a few people who are instantly ready to dismiss your comments as ‘overthinking it’ and it just being ‘harmless fun for children.’

    Speaking of burying our racist history by the way, do you know how long it took before our colonial history in Indonesia (which, admittedly, is worse, racism-wise than Suriname) even came up as a topic in my history classes? Six years. It was almost literally an afterthought after all those years of learning how the Germans were really really bad because they were racist. Though I will admit that a point can be made for focusing the bulk of the history lessons on the World Wars, the Industrial Revolution and with the fall of the Berlin Wall still so recent in our collective memory, the rise and fall of Communism in Russia and the Cold War that resulted from that. That said though, a VERY small part of what we learned actually concerned the racism in our own history, which is made worse by the fact that only half of the levels of education we can choose to follow are six-year courses, the lower two being 5 and 4 years long, respectively (and I’m not even sure if history is a mandatory subject in the 4-year course).

    So bearing the above in mind, how essentially all the levels of our society are both consciously and more importantly subconsciously maintaining this shroud concerning our racist past, can you at least see how I feel somewhat uncomfortable explicitly blaming an individual who truly and honestly may simply not know any better because let’s face it, they’ve almost been programmed to ignore it?

    But much as our historical racism gets largely ignored and dismissed, that doesn’t mean that current racism gets an automatic free pass. The unemployment figures certainly don’t lie and the fact that youths of foreign descent have a much harder time finding a job than the people who by sheer coincidence were born on this particular bit of Earth is being reported on and largely being met with a negative response (the far right notwithstanding). I do disagree with the article though, because while I won’t deny that the stereotypical depiction of a slave from Suriname certainly doesn’t help matters, I highly doubt that three weeks of people running around in blackface is going to add any more fuel to the fire that is already kept burning so well throughout the entire year by the systematic demonization of “foreigners” in any and all media, every time the police is looking for someone, every time a gay couple is bullied out of their neighborhood, every time there is some sort of riot going on someone will find a way to shift some if not all of the blame on people whose ancestors weren’t born here, which for some reason means that they aren’t worthy to stay here.

    But as much as I abhor Sinterklaas and all it stands for, it really is but one drop in a very large ocean, a symptom of a disease that isn’t going to be alleviated until we cure the disease, something that isn’t going to go away for a looooong time if this economic crisis keeps up.

    Right, enough about the racism in my country’s past, present and future. If I’m not mistaken we were talking about an advertisement.

    “Thirdly, privilege is not something you can acknowledge and thereafter be enlightened about. It leads to a whole host of subconscious biases that are VERY difficult to get rid of, even when you’re trying. So, just because you know you’re privileged doesn’t protect you from the impulse of minimizing an example of your privilege.”

    All I’ve been trying to do for the past few days is put forth a possible alternative reasoning for this ad being the way it is. Having the objectified women displayed in the ad as a secondary part rather than a primary one does not diminish the influence of the patriarchy in their inclusion.

    “Fourthly, I think it is naive in the extreme to assume that the concept for the ad started out as a dream, and that led to the stadium of bikini-clad women, instead of the goal being sexual titillation and the “dream” concept was chosen as a means to that end. Rather, I think the creative process went something like this: “We need a hook for a titillating ad so we can do something really over-the-top! Lots of scantily-clad women–it’s the Super Bowl! But make it funny…” I mean, thinking that this particular ad somehow independently arrived at one of the most classic tropes in football advertising?! Come on…”

    And I disagree, just because I don’t immediately jump the the conclusion that best fits my personaly agenda does NOT make me naive. In fact, carelessly jumping to conclusions that support one’s views is one of the biggest problems I see in the world today, it enables people to make up their minds without having to think and promotes the idea that EVERYTHING in the world these days is a choice between two extremes.

    I still feel that the underlying concept to the ad is not the objectification of women because the other elements do not support that, why have the rock band (or rather, why have the rock band being an all-male one instead of an all-hot-female one)? Why have the lumberjack? Rather, I think that the underlying concept of this ad was a testament to manliness. Everything, ALL of it is taken straight out of a male power fantasy, it focuses on beautiful, scantily clad women, fast cars, physical prowess, domination over animals (and a rhino no less), a sandwich so big that only a manly man can cut it, with a saw, all supported by a rock soundtrack explosions and above all, EVERYBODY is visibly cheering the guy on, all these ultimate displays of manliness are looking up to the one man who is dreaming, for he is awesome. Hell, he’s even awesome enough to rescue his wife from the boring fantasy she’s having.

    Just because I’m not saying that the women being objectified (and yes, I did notice how the flagbearer not only has a boob window but the camera also conveniently cuts to her behind just as he’s racing past)aren’t the main focus of the ad, does NOT mean that I think the scantily-clad women part wasn’t the first thing they came up with once they had the concept nailed down, I just have a little trouble believing that the ad exec who was behind this concept would be allowed to be so openly and blatantly sexist in an office setting that likely includes women (though I admit that this is pure speculation on my part).

    “Fifthly, it’s basically irrelevant whether the person perpetuating this ad or any other example of racism or sexism is “a villain.” They have harmful subconscious biases and cultural expectations–they can do it knowingly, or not, but it really doesn’t matter. People deserve criticism when they do harmful things.”

    While yes, it has very little relevance, It can influence how best to speak to them about their intolerance. You can employ the troll method of discussion and come flying out of the gate with namecalling and intimidation or you can calmly tell them ‘dude, not cool’ followed by an explanation why you think it’s not cool. /and it does mater if they do this knowingly or not, because if they are unknowingly guilty of sexism, racism, homophobia or advocating the clubbing of baby seals, there is a chance that they
    simply have never put any thought into it until someone decided enough was enough and called them out on it. If you open that conversation with hostility, they will instinctively take a defensive position and are going to be less likely to listen to you and less likely to ultimately change their ways.

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 10, 2012 at 11:55 pm —

      I’m not saying the people who participate in Black Pete celebrations are necessarily doing so with any animus at all, but it is important to note that it’s deeply problematic, and the defensiveness is a huge part of the problem. And, even though Black Pete may be a little thing, I’m a firm believer in tackling the little things that are indicative of a sick society, because they’re all part of the same continuum and it’s way too easy for people to brush off the big things as “oh, only crazy people do that” for hate/sex crimes, and “it’s just too complicated a problem” for things like mass unemployment, and not see how the little things that they do contribute to that culture.

      As for the systemic ignorance, we have the same problem here, too. You may have also read about efforts by certain schoolboards (esp. Texas) to “scrub” history lessons to hide lots of our racist past and ignore trailblazing minorities–when people are ignorant of their history, it’s much easier for them to believe persistent inequality the downtrodden’s fault (or at least that it’s not society’s problem). But, I think this is all the more reason to confront this sort of thing.

      As for tone, well, this is a feminist post in a feminist space for the purpose of awareness-raising for us, not really to persuade others. I agree persuasion is important, but it’s context-dependent, and sometimes (like here) you have to be clear about what your objections are. If I were to approach a total newbie about some of these issues, I’d do it differently, but here we’re dealing with either the more educated or the willfully obtuse, so we’ve moved beyond the newbie realm (I also want it on record that up thread I convinced someone in *one post* so I think I can be pretty damn persuasive when it’s appropriate and worthwhile!).

  59. Avatar of pixelkd
    February 11, 2012 at 4:28 am —

    Yup. The commenter was creepy.

    A spot of ponder, if you will…

    var statementA: man is told he is sexy = complement
    var statementB: woman is told she is sexy = creepy

    if(straight man is told he is sexy by another man || young male [mid-20's or under] is told he is sexy by older woman [60 or older])

    function testA()
    {Men are rarely told they are sexy.
    Women are constantly bombarded with the statement.}

    function testB()
    {Calling an object ‘sexy’ = personification;
    calling a [person] ‘sexy’ = objectification}

    function testC()
    {
    var Person;
    var Spectator= bisexual;

    Scenario= Person says something quick witted and thought provoking;

    result = Spectator says that was [person]“is sexy.”

    if (person = female){}
    if (person = male) {}

    Note: for this function assume the person to be of equal age to spectator.
    Also assume the person is watching (or listening) to something in the same room as you.
    }

    Sorry. Just curious.

    • Avatar of BeardofPants
      February 11, 2012 at 11:30 am —

      Just a thought: not everyone is gonna bother parsing through your variables & functions to get to the gist of your thought experiment. Might be best to transcribe it to English.

    • Avatar of BeardofPants
      February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am —

      My own response to your question is this: women have more of a problem being taken seriously as a person of expertise than men. So comparing the scenarios in which a male vs a female getting objectified helps precisely no one. Until society stops conditioning men (and women) to default to how sexy a woman is instead of acknowledging that she is a person, and has X awesome skill sets, we have a problem. And this is what happened to Jess. That when called on it, the men didn’t go: “…maybe we should have taken her seriously instead of asking her to join sexy fun-times ogle party….” is part of the problem.

      • Avatar of pixelkd
        February 12, 2012 at 9:18 am —

        I agree. I grit my teeth every time a news caster (or some such person) talks about what a female figure was wearing as if it is at least as important as what she was saying. It’s a problem with men and women alike.

        objectification is not a simple issue. It’s as true for race as it is for sex. White men were the rulers of their own little circles since the dawn of agriculture (if I may have the postulation license).

        The poster this article was primarily about was guilty of not just crossing this line but being a complete creepster.
        I do not know that I agree with this statement:

        “So comparing the scenarios in which a male vs a female getting objectified helps precisely no one. ”

        First off, just because it is more common with women (being the cultural default), does not mean that it is forgivable when done to men (even by other men) or that comparing the two in a thought experiment is useless. Turning someone from a complex self sufficient organism to a “toy” with cute attributes to amuse you is wrong with anyone.

        When I see gay stereotypes on sitcoms (speculative, I don’t actually watch sitcoms) I don’t usually ask myself if women have it worse, or if women in other countries have it worse than those here or about the injustices of open racial bias in sci-fi, I get pissed off at the objectification of the queer guy. Likewise when I see a woman running for office (saying a lot of ignorant BS), but all the anchor woman can talk about is her pants suit, that pisses me off too. They are related in the abstract, may have meaningful comparisons, but the existence of one does not negate the presence of the other.

        the other (more subtle) issue I was pondering is what do you think when someone finds a person sexy Because he or she is intelligent? Is it a cultural flaw or an evolutionary necessity (I say this knowing full well that being queer what I find sexy may have very little to due with evolutionary necessity)… I know this was not the issue in the article nor what was at the heart or your reply… feel free to ignore…

  60. Avatar of yourd
    February 11, 2012 at 5:02 am —

    I fully agree that tackling the little things is a very important aspect of taking on deeply-rooted social problems like Sexism and Racism, in fact, it’s one of the things we can often do as individuals and every small victory raises awareness of the issue. It also quite nicely bookends the article seeing as how that’s exactly what Jessica did – she saw something small that wasn’t right and fought to make it right. I guess I’m just seeing all the systemic defensiveness and dismissiveness around Black Pete and concluding that my energy is better spent fighting other, larger problems because this one is apparently too subtle for people to notice. And for the record, there is a small ‘discussion’ raised about the inherent racism in Sinterklaas and regarding Black Pete every year and in the nearly two decades I’ve been following/taking part in it I’ve yet to see it go anywhere. the arguments on both sides are the same and in the end it’s decided it’s not up to OUR generation to tell kids that their beloved saint is a racist jackass. It’s a problem, but one that I honestly doubt I’ll see eradicated before I die.

    What I tend to see in reports of how American schools are willfully ignoring things, it’s sadly almost exclusively concerning their refusal to teach evolution because it may clash with their own creationist views or it’s people who live in former confederate states who try to minimize the South’s deep-rooted racist past in an effort to either save face or to propagate the views that were prevalent in the areas they grew up in. In any case though, I have no trouble believing that it’s happening because I’ve seen this happen in my own country. And let’s face it, of our two countries, we’re not the ones known throughout the world for our national pride ;)

    Regarding your last statement, I saw that, and it was glorious :)

  61. Avatar of ichbindaswortistich
    February 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm —

    Our Western society evidently is patriarchal. And patriarchy indeed entails, not logically but as a historic-empirical fact, misogyny. As Rebecca pointed out correctly, many if not most people do not realize this because they simply play the game by the rules they have learned.
    Furthermore, especially the term ‘feminism’ is often misunderstood, or even intentionally alleged, to mean that women ought to strive for dominance over men. In other words, ‘feminism’ is often falsely believed to entail the overthrow of patriarchy by matriarchy.
    This widespread misunderstanding and false accusation has quite recently been followed up by the appearance of both groups and individuals purporting to fight for men’s rights, calling themselves ‘equalitists’, since, according to them, women were already privileged. No matter how ridiculous and far-fetched this claim is, these people actually believe so, and are obviously determined to fend off any given piece of evidence to the contrary.
    The problem is that if you grow up by certain societal standards regarding behaviour, they will at some point not only appear normal to you but indeed natural. They become an unconcious bundle of foundational premises about social reality how it ought to be. This, in turn, creates – literally, I dare say – a kind of blindsight as to the contradictions between universal human rights and social reality as it actually is.
    Finally, people tend to develop an all-or-nothing way of thinking: either you can sexualize someone, for instance, and then it must apply to all possible contexts, or you can sexualize no one, which means you are supposed to stand back from natural tendencies. But of course this is a false dilemma. It is the same mistake Immanuel Kant made about lying. Kant thought that there has to be either a categorical prohibition of lying, or none whatsoever. This is not true, however. Consider the following example. If Mary comes to your house, pleading with you to give her shelter because John is after her with the intention to kill her, and somtime later John comes to your house, asking whether you knew where Mary be, then the right thing to do would be to lie to John about Mary’s whereabouts. Thus, it is perfectly possible to maintain that lying is bad in most cases but not in all.
    Needless to say, there is a vast difference between recognizing someone as a sexual being, and reducing him or her to his or her sexuality. There are cases in which men are reduced to their sexuality, to be sure, but these are almost insignificant when compared to the number of cases (and ways) in which women are thus treated.
    If someone tells me – both males and females have actually done so, by the way – that I should be more dominant towards females because they liked or were even eager to be dominated so as to increase my success with them with regard to partnership, I always retort that I do not search for someone who wants to be dominated by me, but treated as an equal. Unfortunately, reactions usually go from perplexity to amusement, or even outright laughter. Clearly, many people do not understand what is the point of this.

    • Avatar of Jack99
      February 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm —

      Ichbindaswortistich! I for one am pleased to see you here again.

  62. Avatar of cburschka
    February 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm —

    A depressing part is that this isn’t even surprising. “A girl becomes a public figure online; cue the ‘omg u r hot’ in 3…2…”

    It’s far too easy to consider this just as “men being creepy assholes on the internet”, dismissing the connection to real-life sexism and vainly clinging to the hope that those guys are less awful in person. I’ll admit “seeing the patriarchy” in real life doesn’t really come naturally to me as a guy, though I’m beginning to suspect that misogyny is just more visible on the internet because it is a more public and persistent record.

    Regardless, crap like these comments and the fact that they’re considered normal behavior in this medium demonstrate there is clearly *something* terribly wrong.

    I’m glad that Jessica Ahlquist stood her ground against this – as well as the threats (which were more vile, but at least didn’t come from people who professed to be on her side) and didn’t let anyone scare her away. She’ll be an awesome new voice for atheism and feminism.

  63. Avatar of lefrench
    February 13, 2012 at 10:33 am —

    @sphinooccipital
    you need to go smoke some pot and chill the fuck out. You’re not going to intimidate anyone, especially over the fucking internet. Jeez if there’s one place where agro is pointless, it’s here. If going off all the time is a relaxing pastime for you, great. I’ll indulge it, and this post will be the last time I mention it.

    But back to your many pointless statements regarding “my understanding of objectification”. Nothing in your wiki link and anything that you posted flew in the face of what I listed as bullet points. I think it’s great that you can google the wiki dictionary, but I was writing them off in my own thoughts, which without a doubt did not go contrary to what you copied and pasted.

    Yes, you were very anally precise. Well done. You were upset I did not semantically capture your every detailed need in the concept of objectification. No doubt now you will now attempt to dissect every sentence of my original bullets and reinterpret or pad every semantic and post massive linkage inorder to dispute that I “truly” understand as only sphino can understand.

    Guess what tho? Objectification is not rocket science. As much as you and I get enjoyment out of highlighting how stupid and uncomprehending we think people/me are/is, at least it is a historical and contemporarily easy to prove objective and sad fact (on my side that people are stupid), you on the other hand, cannot know shit about my history, but most importantly, my bullet points on what objectification is, as mentioned, was contrary to nothing you wrote.

    If I recall, you got huffy about “it is not a few traits” even though I added “or single” in that sentence. I naturally understand being reduced to a single quality/trait/thing is the purest form of objectification, but I included “few” to cover perhaps other degrees of it, like “tits, ass and vagina”, instead of just “a vagina”. I could go on but this particular response to you is a waste of time, since i’d prefer to just let you beat the strawman to death. Have fun.

    And finally, I think it’s fair to say that men in a patriarchy can’t be hurt by objectification significantly enough to consider it “hurt”. I may have read too much into the comment (it was Marilove who reasoned that you can’t be sexist towards men in a patriarchy, but refer to the post way above if you want reasons why, suffice it to say i agree with the initial statement) but since I feel sexual objectification falls under sexism, and thus conclude that sexual objectification of men under the patriarchy can’t ”really” (I threw in “really” just for you sphino) hurt them. I’m comfortable with my statement.

    Regarding evo-psych. Fine. I’ll read up all the criticism. Seems like interesting reads. Incidentally my view is that evo psych is a tool to aid research of how the mind works and how the evolutionary past is connected to it, so anyone making “absolute” statements with it is clearly using it beyond its scope. End of the day, it’s still guess-work, BUT based on EVOLUTION, which is why I prefer it to guess-work based on the guesser’s emotional baggage (which is what Freud and other based it on).

    And as luck would have it, I can conclude this post with a post just made, that pointed toward what was my way, way original query.

    Ichbindaswortishtich concluded with a personal observation that males and females they social with, when the subject came up are either are perplexed, amused or laugh when claims of pursuing a relationship based on equality is preferred.

    My query was always how can this attitude of the masses be soley the result of cultural pre-programming, as the inclination to dominate or submit cannot happen in a vacuum, and yeah,

    @punchdrunk,
    ignoring your “affront nonsense” I did check out your primate links, there nothing I was not aware of apart from reminding me how dominance hierarchy is present in all the social groups, in majority of the cases, the male gender, yes I know there was a tiny fraction of sometimes the female gender that set the rules, but within any large animal genotype you will see a few survival strategies emerge, yet the dominant one was, that’s right, dominance. I guess you read something different into it. clearly something else jumped out at you from those articles. care to elaborate?

    And anyway, it’s unlikely considering our history, that humans emerged from anything but a dominance survival strategy.

    Regardless of how distasteful it may feel, if our attitudes are influenced to whatever degree by genetic survival strategies, it is better to consider them into any cultural perspective, rather than adamantly dismiss query into them.

    • Avatar of lefrench
      February 13, 2012 at 10:50 am —

      and before all those word confuse my stance. I agree with the Post by Rebecca, I agree that it was Objectification, I agree we live in a Patriarchal world, and that it was creepy.

      No one has so far explained succinctly why it was “creepy” so I hazard a attempt:
      In democratic societies (to be cynical: even in just a perceived veneer democracy like ours), when significant power imbalance exists in flirtation it comes off as creepy.

      In this case the power difference is age. If it were two 16 year old’s we’ve would think nothing of it “creep-wise” since power roughly equal(though it’s still objectification).

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm —

        Also, newsflash: While the age difference does make it extra creepy (and the power differences in age differences ARE IMPORTANT and the fact that you keep ignoring that fact is CREEPY), it would still be creepy if some dude her age did it. She posted a silly picture that was supposed to ber silly. It was not a picture that was in any way sexual. It was creepy to make it sexual when her intentions had nothing to do with anything sexual. Jesus, how is this a hard concept to grasp? Is it because you’re trying to rationalize your own creepiness?

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm —

      Wow, thanks for that amazing example of how not to lose a debate gracefully!

      I didn’t know pixels could pout so much.

      Face it–your “argument,” if you can even call it that, doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Whatever you think you do have to say you can only support by pathetically oversimplifying concepts (and then whining at me for being “anally precise”!). Look, I already cited why “reducing people down to a few traits” is a woefully inadequate definition of objectification (and are you really so clueless you think I was talking about “one” vs. “a few” traits? Seriously???), and I already discussed why your understanding is totally missing the concepts of denial of autonomy, commodification, and discounting of the individual’s perceived experience. These aren’t just some pedantic details–this is the entire POINT of objectification versus “engaging in only a superficial interaction with so-and-so.”

      This is about as intellectually rigorous as posting a novel of a post about how capitalism is “a system where people spend money,” and then when people point out the numerous holes in your simple-minded understanding, crowing about how all the additional resources they tried to direct you to “didn’t contradict anything you said…”

      But, please, whine more about how I called you out on your ignorance, and please persistently refuse to learn. It amuses me.

      Oh, and I should mention, I am soooo impressed by how you showed your intellectual capacity by putting EVOLUTION all in CAPITAL LETTERS to show that it’s so important. Pro tip: no one here disputes that evolution is important, including to the development of human behavior. If you had actually read my sources, you would know that the objection to EvoPsych is its intellectually lazy, self-serving just-so stories that utterly fail to consider mountains of sociological research and anthropology, *not* the fact that it claims to be based in evolution (emphasis on “claims”). But it’s okay–why should you need to think when you have CAPS LOCK?

      And another thing, if you aren’t done reading all those sources, why the fuck did you comment? Read first, THEN comment–don’t waste our time otherwise! If you read half as much as you wrote, you might actually develop an understanding about the world!!

  64. Avatar of marilove
    February 13, 2012 at 11:04 am —

    I think you have it backwards on who needs to “chill the fuck out”.

    That shit is not going to fly here.

    sphinooccipital has been incredibly detailed, and, most importantly patient. sphinooccipital has been taking every single ridiculous “opinion” and claim and torn it into shreds. If you can’t handle that, well, then you might want to “smoke some pot and chill the fuck out” and go somewhere else where your poor little feelings won’t be hurt when your points are torn to shreds.

    PS: Telling a woman to “calm the fuck down” is sexist. Especially when that woman has been calm, collected, and patient throughout this entire thing.

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 13, 2012 at 11:08 am —

      Also, it’s cute that you’re calling *her* sexist. What is your problem? Not to mention she wasn’t the only one to tear your points to she wasn’t the only person to tear your evo-psych bullshit to shreds. Interesting that you focus on her, though, and call her “agro”.

      It’s okay to admit you’re wrong sometimes, or that you don’t fully understand a point, or that you weren’t aware of certain points and are now more enlightened. I promise.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 13, 2012 at 11:09 am —

        Also, it’s cute that you’re calling *her* sexist. <– sexist should be agro. My wires were crossed. I need coffeeeee.

    • Avatar of spaceghost
      February 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm —

      “PS: Telling a woman to “calm the fuck down” is sexist.”

      I’m sorry, I don’t get that at all. Can you explain this to me, please?

      • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
        February 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm —

        Women are generally stereotyped to be over-emotional, and this regularly gets trotted out when they are either perfectly calmly objecting to their treatment at the hands of some douchebag, or when they are quite justifiably expressing their frustration at some situation or attitudes.

        This is not to say that no woman, anywhere, has ever needed to calm down (we are people, after all, and people tend to flip their shit!), but using “calm down” as a go-to tactic to silence women is pretty well-established marginalizing behavior.

        http://derailingfordummies.com/#overemotional

  65. Avatar of israelkwalker
    February 13, 2012 at 11:48 am —

    Why do posts on this subject generate so many text walls? My theory? Because when people know at some level they are wrong they have to talk around their cognitive dissonance.

    • Avatar of marilove
      February 13, 2012 at 11:58 am —

      Yep. That’s at least part of it, I think. You made a really good observation the other day regarding the post that was made telling women what THEY should do. That hardly got any hits at all. But when we point out the patriarchy in detail, well, a shit storm happens. Every time.

      Also, I’ve seen you say “I tend to miss a lot of details and specifics” several times, but the few times I’ve seen you post, you always have very insightful questions, or points (like this time). Just sayin’. :)

    • Avatar of yourd
      February 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm —

      Personally I do it to add as much nuance as possible to a discussion that is almost never black and white (and frankly, because I feel there is FAR too much black/white thinking going on in the world right now). By presenting more facts I hope to minimize the amount of misunderstandings I get (which can lead to derailings, shouting matches and bannings).

      Also, presenting the facts that led me to draw my conclusions allows others to see potential flaws in my reasoning which they in turn can then further discuss with me which ends with me having learned something new.

      • Avatar of marilove
        February 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm —

        ….you appear to have completely missed the point of the comment you replied to.

        • Avatar of yourd
          February 14, 2012 at 12:04 am —

          A question was asked (Why do posts on this subject generate so many text walls?) and I offered an answer as to why I tend to favor the text wall over the two-word reply in discussions such as these.

          In fact, I pretty much agreed with the theory that israelkwalker put forth afterwards in his own post.

          Yes it crossed my mind that he was merely making a point by being sarcastic and therefore asked a rhetorical question, but even then I’d have favored my reply to a “Totally agree bro, high five!”

    • Avatar of LeftSidePositive
      February 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm —

      “Because when people know at some level they are wrong they have to talk around their cognitive dissonance.”

      Quoted for truth, man! Quoted for fuckin’ truth!

      On the flipside, it also generates textwalls because those of us trying to debunk all of this have to unpack a MASSIVE amount of bullshit!!

      (And for some reason, it always seems to take more words–for me, anyway–to eviscerate the bullshit than to just spout the bullshit!)

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        February 14, 2012 at 12:17 am —

        You must have infinite patience. This one’s throwing out assertions about dominance theory and primates and how he thinks behavioral science works, without providing an iota of actual evidence.

        Part of what they’re doing is digging enough different rabbit holes that they can pick another one to wander down while obfuscating the fact that they never provided any evidence for their assertions.

        • Avatar of punchdrunk
          February 14, 2012 at 12:20 am —

          They also really like their own voice and think they’re smarter than everyone else.

      • Avatar of mrmisconception
        February 14, 2012 at 12:29 am —

        (And for some reason, it always seems to take more words–for me, anyway–to eviscerate the bullshit than to just spout the bullshit!)

        Yeah, it always does. That’s why the Gish Gallop works so well.

  66. Avatar of ragdish
    February 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm —

    Jen and Rebecca,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you… to the power of google for the following post on an alternate thread:

    A collection of biographies/essays by indian women in science

    As an Indian, I was deeply moved by these essays. I hope to download them to give to my children. I have always been critical of my Indian heritage and Skepchick with its committment to feminism and diversity have truly changed my heart. In spite of patriarchy, religion and caste, all of those women became scientists in the face of adversity. I am proud of that heritage and in part, I owe it to Skepchick.

    I’m saying all this on this thread because I have no longer any doubts or reservations. I wholeheartedly concur and embrace all that you have said on this matter. Therefore, Rebecca, Jen, marilove, etc..:

    I AM FEMINIST

    and I hope your door is still open for me.

    ragdish

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