Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 5.17

Amanda

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

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  1. David Benatar’s book seems quite nonsensical. Not having read it, I can’t say for sure, but most of the reviews point out some serious misunderstanding of feminism as well as cause and effect. Paying any further serious attention to it seems like a waste of time and effort, beyond that of giving the guy more publicity.

    I take separate issue with some of the jabs in Moore’s article, though:

    (1) “I may be missing something here, but I thought it was to do with them doing more crime?”

    Everyone is 100% personally responsible for all crimes now? Laws are just? Someone criticizing another for failing to take a systematic view should really know better than to dismiss the fact that the laws are imbalanced, and the makeup of our prisons is very slanted.

    (2) “Distinguishing sex from gender (One is not born but rather becomes a woman), she set off a train of thought about how we all construct ourselves.”

    Holistic gender construction-ism is about as equally problematic as holistic gender essential-ism. There is a massive problem of explaining the lives and experiences of trans individuals when you think that gender is entirely constructed by society and has no independent or external causes of any kind. If that were the case, there would be no trans people period.

    Not that I expect a mainstream publication like the guardian, or anyone associated with it, to actually acknowledge the existence or importance of trans people. Media in general have a huge problem doing that, and the mainstream is possibly the worst segment of them all.

    (3) “Despite everyday stories of violence and abuse against women, we are now to refer to prostitution as ‘sex work’.”

    No one is telling you what words you have to use. This reeks rather strongly of anti-political correctness whining.

    Instead, some sex workers have declared that they have a strong preference — especially for people who have never been involved in their work or life — against the use of words with a heavy negative connotations like “prostitute”. They find it demeaning and trivializing. You can listen to them, or you can play the role of victim and cry free speech until the dawn breaks.

    Feminism is in deep need of a fourth wave:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/04/23/fourth-wave-part-one/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/05/07/fourth-wave-part-two/

    I’ll end on a note of thanks to Natalie, for expanding social movements in the direction of unity and universality.

    1. (1) “I may be missing something here, but I thought it was to do with them doing more crime?”

      That set off alarms for me, too. Part of my growing understanding of feminism is that it is a philosophy for *everyone* because it would make the life of *everyone* better.

      It’s about the roles women *and* men can take. I can, for instance, as a man, hug my sons and tell them I love them without having my testicles fall off. (It’s true, they’re still attached!) I can cook and watch the kids while my wife works etc. etc.

      I have to believe, from everything I’ve read, that a lot of the male criminals currently filling our prisons are there because of the way they were raised. And part and parcel of the way they were raised was to be hetero-male normative with all of violence and sociopathy such an upbringing can entail.

      I can’t see how a thinking person can realize “Girls have trouble in math because they’re raised to think they can’t do it” while not also realizing “Boys end up in prison because they’re raised to be violent” and, concurrently, not realize that these two things are symptoms of the same problem.

    2. If I’m recalling correctly, Moore’s articles are usually of this nature. You *think* it’s going to be a great piece on feminism and then…ugh. I like your breakdown of the issues with the article itself.

  2. Uh… the guy with his dad and sharing.. I mean, probably not been a horny teen on the planet who hasn’t once in a while had fantasies about the babysitter, but that the “dad” needed to “share” her with his son? I think I see where part of this guys problem comes from…

  3. Of all the harmful bullshit claims made by hucksters the win we get is a reworking of Earthshoes?

    Really?

    I guess we need to take what we can get but as far as ridiculous claims go “walking is slightly more exercise when you wear our ugly shoes and we have a quack to say it’s true” is pretty damned tame. And yet cretins like Kevin Trudeau walk free and you can buy homeopathic wish-water at Walmart right next to effective medicine.

    “Good job, boys.”

  4. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/16/second-sexism-men-blaming-feminism?commentpage=last#end-of-comments

    Notice how it’s always white, upper middle class, educated, cis-gendered and, too frequently, heterosexual women who look down their noses at sex workers, like we aren’t sisters, like we aren’t making choices in our lives that empower us, while they hog all their privileges to themselves and encourage governments like India to STOP allowing us the means by which we can make our jobs safer, such as condom distribution? Wow, arrogant much? I’d rather be a sex worker, where I can make my own hours, control my working conditions and have a high enough standard of living, thanks. You can take your sweat shop jobs and sewing machines and shove them up your brittle, narrow-minded, globalization apologist neo-theories, babies. We are liberating ourselves so, lead, follow or, better yet, get the hell out of the way.

    http://viridianariverstone.blogspot.com/2012/05/sneering-at-sex-work.html

    1. I feel you.
      “white, upper middle class, educated, cis-gendered and, too frequently, heterosexual women” unfortunately, is the main reason I don’t call myself a feminist.

      I’m tired of having to deal racism and classism from such people. And I’m tired of seeing the voices and desires of women who don’t fit into that classification dismissed as “false consciousness” or “internalized misogyny.”

    2. We have our very own white, heterosexual, middle-class woman here who does exactly this. All porn is degrading. All women who do porn deserve to be critsized for their terrible, anti-women/anti-feminist choices, and they have no right whatsoever to claim they are empowered. Because the white, heterosexual, middle-class lady says so.

      I think this commenter’s nam eis Luna…or something. Fuck. I’m terrible with names, I apologize. I’ll try and find the thread(s) I’m referring to, though I’m sure someone else might remember??

    3. FOUND IT.

      http://skepchick.org/2012/05/today-in-gender-role-marketing/

      I had the wrong person in mind. It was sphinooccipital. (I am terrible with remembering names, so no offense intended.)

      And I quote: “Yeah, and the fact that you have the right to do something in no way insulates you from criticism. ”

      Ahh, the straight, white, cis-gendered lady thinks you are full of shit when you say you are empowered by your own choices, and she totally has every right to tell you why that is. You are terrible. Sex work is inherently evil. Always. There is no room for complex consideration with this topic. The straight white lady thinks you are a whore who is bringing down feminism and she has every right to tell you as much.

      That’s what I got from that entire exchange, anyway. That and clearly she likes to look and talk down to people who don’t make the same choices as she does (because clearly she makes perfect, always-feminist choices!).

      ANYWAY: I agree with YOU. Since you have actual, real-life experience in the matter.

      1. Yeah, I was actually okay with the article untill that paragraph on sex workers. Then it was “wait, what?” But then again, I’ve been told I’m a horrible feminist because I don’t think porn and sex work are inherently misogynistic and it’s more important to look at the details such as how society treats sex workers, etc.

  5. My favorite part of the misogyny warning signs: “I’m not an ageist”. You’re willing to date beautiful young women despite being much older yourself? How open-minded of you. I can’t imagine why you haven’t been snapped up yet.

    1. I am always kind of amused (and saddened) when men do this. “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number!” Oh, but let me guess — you don’t care about age only when it comes to (usually much) younger women, right?! What about women that are *older* than you? Then that number suddenly matters!

      And they act like they are the only dudes on the planet who are ~okay~ with dating younger women, like this isn’t some sort of societal norm.

  6. That’s hilarious about the Shape-Ups.

    Still, I’d have to say the people that bought them and experienced no changes have only themselves to blame for falling for misleading (if not false) advertising.

    Victim-envy sums it up pretty good on that article.
    I like how the author mentions a “me-too” syndrome.
    Similar mentality seems to be in PETA’s mindset.

    However, the issue isn’t one of “what about the menz?”

    It’s about people being assholes because they’re indoctrinated by the status quo.

        1. Sexual orientation doesn’t break down along racial lines because all races are sexually compatible. Treating race as though it were like being a different species is actually rather racist.

          1. I don’t think anyone’s talking about treating races like separate species. At least, I hope not! However, I don’t think it’s necessarily racist to prefer to date people with certain ethnic looks or backgrounds as long as you’re fine with everyone else making different choices. I may be attracted to dark hair, and you to blond, or I may be more comfortable with someone who has had a similar upbringing to my own. If I don’t have a problem with you choosing to date someone from a vastly different background, I don’t think it makes me a racist if I do have that preference. You can’t dictate who people find attractive.

          2. How are you defining ‘sexually compatible’? I’m perfectly able to have sex with other men, I’m just not attracted to them. The same goes for, say, most black women. Or most women shorter than 5’3″ or so. Or most women taller than 6’2″ or so. Or most girls younger than 16 or so. Or most women older than 25 or so.

            On the other hand, the ‘different species’ comment seems to imply something about procreation, which wanders into the whole ‘homosexuality is unnatural’ argument.

          3. Replying to myself since we’ve already hit max depth.

            “However, I don’t think it’s necessarily racist to prefer to date people with certain ethnic looks or backgrounds as long as you’re fine with everyone else making different choices.”

            Would you accept that argument in any other context? I prefer not to work with people of certain ethnic backgrounds. I prefer not to live in neighborhoods with… Obvious problem, correct?

            Why is it acceptable to discriminate against partners on the basis of race? You may be flinching at accusations of racism, but this is clearly biased behavior. Holding biases against people for a factor that is outside of their control, and constructed almost entirely sociologically rather than having any substantial biological influence, is simply not fair.

            My statement about species was playing into this arbitrary nature of race divisions. It is not like the division between cats and dogs; nothing of the sort.

            “You can’t dictate who people find attractive.”

            That’s fully irrelevant to the criticism. I didn’t make any such claim. Trying to deflect it with the equivalent of “I choose what I want” is no response at all. A reason so abstract as that may be used to justify any bias of any kind, and so ought to be disregarded.

            “How are you defining ‘sexually compatible’? I’m perfectly able to have sex with other men, I’m just not attracted to them.”

            Sexual orientation has biological and neurological roots. Discrimination based on race does not. Weighting the evidence shows pretty clearly that it is feasible to change racist attitudes, but it is infeasible in practice to change sexual orientation by force or social pressure. The most that happens is that people’s inclinations are suppressed or distorted in some way, for example in the case of gays and lesbians who believed in their youth that they were straight. Eventually it’s possible to overcome the social brainwashing that one must be straight, but this will only have a practical effect on behavior in people who developed an atypical sexuality under the surface.

            Look at it this way: if sexuality were mostly or primarily a choice (will driven), then it is extremely unlikely there would be any LGB people at all since the social pressures including shaming, isolation, discrimination, and so forth outweigh the benefits. Environmental factors must be the greater influence and by a wide margin.

            Changes in racial attitudes over the past fifty to sixty years are startlingly strong by comparison. Apparently, such attitudes are programmed first and foremost. Interracial marriage rates should not have moved by any statistically measurable margin if there was a biological or neurological basis for the discriminatory practice. Further, it should not vary notably among different cultures and nations.

            As to sexual compatibility, that was in the context of biological fact. All races are the same species and can reproduce together. Functional compatibility in this sense is not the same as attraction, obviously.

            “On the other hand, the ‘different species’ comment seems to imply something about procreation, which wanders into the whole ‘homosexuality is unnatural’ argument.”

            You’re jumping to wild conclusions. The only thing it implies is that different races can and do interbreed successfully. Confusing this with an argument about whether atypical sexualities are moral is the naturalistic fallacy.

            I maintain that the vast bulk of these two responses are misdirections that do not justify partner discrimination on the basis of race.

          4. There are beautiful people in every race. Thinking that you can determine what someone looks like from racial descriptors is a strong sign that you do not understand how arbitrarily drawn racial lines actually are.

            Beyond that, using a person’s appearance as the primary attribute for whether they’re “worth” dating has its own serious problems. It also deeply intersects with sexism, as standards of appearance are far more strict for women than men.

  7. My dad wears Shape-Ups, but only because he can’t really move his ankle and will probably need to have it fused soon. With the rounded bottom of the shoe, he can still have a more natural walking motion.

    It doens’t make them look any less ridiculous, though.

  8. “And trust me, marrying someone you haven’t slept with is rushing it and is stupid even if you don’t marry an abuser.”

    I like that article alot except for that part. I personally am waiting until marriage to have sex and it offends me that it is implied that waiting for such a thing is a bad idea.

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