Skepchick Quickies 11.15

  • Nerds, stop hating on women – Reaction to comic book artist Tony Harris voicing the all-too-popular, “waaaaaah, fake geek girls!” complaint.
  • Symphysiotomy survivors gather to recount stories of torture – “…Symphysiotomies involved breaking the woman’s pelvis during childbirth. The Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS) group claims that the operations were carried out without prior knowledge or consent “mainly for religious reasons, by obstetricians who were opposed to family planning.”” The last one performed in Ireland was in 1984.
  • Climate change could heighten space junk threat – From Buzz Parsec.
  • Take back HalloweenTake Back Halloween tells you how to put together costumes for famous women of history – movie stars, queens, goddesses, and other notable women. Their kickstarter is to fund even more awesome costume guides.


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

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  1. November 15, 2012 at 10:15 am —

    …wow. I’d never heard of symphysiotomies before (my spell-checker doesn’t even recognize it as a word!) The myriad ways that people can find to be terribly, terribly cruel never cease to amaze me. Just… wow.

  2. November 15, 2012 at 10:54 am —

    Mad Art Lab’s own Melissa wrote a post a couple days ago in response to the fake geek girl crap. Check it out! http://madartlab.com/2012/11/13/the-great-geek-cosplay-debate/

  3. November 15, 2012 at 11:24 am —

    I missed something in the Symphysiotomy article… why were these alleged to be done by doctors “who were opposed to family planning”? What was the reasoning that these were in line with that?

    • November 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm —

      It was viewed as a “better” alternative to C-section, in that you can only have a certain number of C-sections, and C-section can lead to infertility. Symphysiotomy was a permanent opening of the pelvis, which would allow for endless subsequent pregnancies/births.

      So basically, it was more important to make sure a woman could give birth an endless number of times, even if it meant a life of pain from the procedure and a more risky procedure for the mother. Disgusting.

  4. November 15, 2012 at 11:59 am —

    I particularly enjoyed Tony Harris’ squealing rebuttal that he can’t be a sexist/misogynist because he respects his mom/wife/daughters. The old “I have a black friend” defense lol.

  5. November 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm —

    If anyone has a problem with the female cosplayers sporting costumes that are a tad too revealing, maybe they should ask themselves why it is so in the first place – why is such a staggering number of female characters designed as “sexy”. Having a sexy Lara Croift with a rapey backstory in a game is ok and having an (assertive) cosplayer dressed as Lara is fake/attention seeking – ?

  6. November 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm —


    My understanding is that pregnancy becomes more unsafe the more C-Sections you have. In order to keep women from what was seen as high risk of death the doctor’s would have had to encourage the the women to use some sort of birth control (ie. family planning.) With a symphysiotomy women could keep getting pregnant like good Catholics.

    Avicenna pointed out in a comment on this post http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/11/15/aaaaaieee-why-did-you-have-to-tell-me-that/ that it can be lessser of two evils type of decision in some places and situations. There were definitely much better, safer alternatives in 1950’s and 60’s Ireland.

    On a side note, before I gave birth I was completely horrified that I might have to have a episiotomy (which I actually did and it wasn’t really that bad.) I am so glad that I had never heard of a symphysiotomy when I was pregnant. I would have been so freaked out.

    • November 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm —

      pascale68 beat me too it and even replied in the right spot!

  7. November 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm —

    What exactly is wrong with attention seeking, anyway? I don’t get it.

    • November 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm —

      Neither do I. However Tony Harris seems to have a problem with that. Skepchick seems to be in cahoots with io9 as they’re also featuring an article on fake geeks myth:

    • November 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm —

      Right. Isn’t an artist, by definition, an attention seeker?

    • November 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm —

      The “logic”, as I understand it, goes like this:

      These girl’s aren’t super-pretty, or they’re insecure about themselves, so they can’t compete in the “real world”. So, to feel better, they go to geek conventions dressed as geek icons, because they know they’ll get good treatment from the inoffensive geeks who are there… they’ll be treated like goddesses, and they get to disdain the poor, vulnerable geek boys who don’t get attention from real women, anyway. However, they aren’t REAL GEEKS (tm, pat. pending). They don’t know geek culture, they’re just there to bathe in the geek attention (because that’s such an appetizing image), break hearts, and insult geek culture by appropriating it for their own purposes. They demean geeks by leading them around by their tender geek feelings (NOT their gonads, because these girls aren’t SUPER-pretty), while not engaging with geek culture in any other way than being ogled at.

      This is, as I understand it, the idea behind it. Mind you, many of these same geeks insist there are no girl comic book geeks, and I have heard (from either Kelly Sue DeConnick or Gail Simone, both of whom you should worship) an anecdote of a comic store owner arguing with a woman that women don’t like comics… and her informing him that the comic he was trying to keep from her was one she had written.

      • November 16, 2012 at 4:04 am —

        Ok, so I get that they’re claiming that the act of wearing a costume is a deceptive one. I for one don’t think someone in jeans and a sci-fi tee has any business pulling rank on someone that actually made their outfit, but whatever.

        I notice that “attention seeking” is an accusation leveled almost exclusively at women. Nobody ever explains what that means but I think in this case it has a lot to do with the idea that the male gaze is a thing that women do to men by dressing a certain way. I get the impression that they feel as though women have coerced them into paying attention to and probably harassing them.

        • November 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm —

          One of the central tenents of modern “soft” misogyny is that men can’t control themselves. You show us a flash of boob, and we become ravening madmen, intent on screwing SOMETHING, so it’s up to the women to police themselves so they’re kept safe from the big, uncontrollable, men.

          And I should define “soft” misogyny, since I just pulled it out of my ass. Soft misogyny tends to masquerade as concern for women, and get enforced through non-physical means (i.e. slut-shaming, questions about how someone was dressed when raped, etc.). The “concern for women” angle also rears its head in more traditional misogynies (i.e. Saudi Arabia), but it’s part of a larger, and frequently physical or legal framework of misogyny.

  8. November 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm —

    “But the views Harris expresses aren’t just held by virulent misogynists – instead, they are depressingly common in “geek culture”. ”

    This is a sort of mentality I just don’t understand.

    Is this something that started in more recent generations (1990s onward)? Or just something I missed out on in my generation (late 70s to early 80s)?

    • November 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm —

      Oh, once I ventured outside my little group of geek friends, the contempt for women was palpable. I moved on to other things after trying a few different groups. This was in the 80’s. I walked away in the early 90’s. I don’t know what it’s like now.
      Maybe you were lucky enough to find people who were more enlightened?

      • November 16, 2012 at 6:00 am —

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…Enlightened! HAHAHA, hoo boy, I needed that laugh.

        Sorry, but we’re talking about culture that’s dominated by a bunch of horny 15-29 year old white cis-males screaming the death howls of the privileged (I AM AWARE OF THE HYPOCRISY). There’s little enlightenment to found anywhere in the open.

        And just to offset the cynicism…
        When I say ‘dominated’, I don’t mean that these kinds of people are the norm, or that they’ve gotten four kills without taking one. They are just a very, VERY loud minority in a place where most people choose to stay silent rather than speak up.

        That said, I have seen people return fire at sexism, racism, and rape jokes on occasion. Not enough to be satisfying, but those occasions when you actually get through to someone are worth all the effort.

        • November 16, 2012 at 8:56 am —

          “Sorry, but we’re talking about culture that’s dominated by a bunch of horny 15-29 year old white cis-males screaming the death howls of the privileged”

          Anything like “cis-lunar”? :)

          Indeed, I’ve met the type you describe.
          As a not-so-horny 30+ male, I found them annoying.

      • November 16, 2012 at 8:54 am —

        “Maybe you were lucky enough to find people who were more enlightened?”

        Now that you mention it, I haven’t been that lucky, because I haven’t found many people of any sort at all!

        I’m pretty much an introvert. Outside of the internet (which mostly consists of this site and a couple of others), I haven’t much a social life.

        So it’s a small wonder that I haven’t encountered what you described.

  9. November 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm —

    From the misogyny in geek culture to the horror of symphysiotomy, it’s all too much sometimes.

    But that Take Back Halloween site is so great, it offers the opportunity for some significant fightback!

    For $500 you can commission your own costume!

    The point I want to make from this is, these Web based solutions offer the opportunity for a much needed international approach to social justice for women.

    In the same category was the hollerback smartphone app to report street harassment (ihollaback.org in Amanda’s 11.2 Quickies).

    There is a whole international network based on that app, with volunteer organisers and training sessions, and it is growing, city by city!

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