Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 7.25

Amanda

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

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  1. “Why are there departments without women?” With a population of only 18% of women, it’s statistically expected.

    “Is suicide a problem?” Statistically speaking, the rate of suicide in the general population hasn’t changed significantly in several years. So, no, suicide is not a problem.

    “Wait, I’m lost. Where am I?” On a computer.

    “Thanks, you’ve been very helpful.”

  2. Several years ago, a group of women friends posed to each other a challenge: when overcome with the habitual impulse to apologize, take a minute to examine whether or not you have anything to be sorry for. What harm has come to the recipient, what wrong have you done? No harm, no wrong, no apology.

    It is hard as fuck. Women and girls are groomed to make ourselves as nonthreatening as possible, to accept responsibility even for that which A) actually isn’t a problem or B) that which doesn’t in fact belong to us. Bump into a stranger, but don’t actually hurt them in any way? Try “excuse me” rather than “sorry.” Inviting someone into your home? Is it a health hazard? No? Then say “welcome, would you like a beverage?” I *still* apologize for the state of my home. It’s ridiculous. My spouse and I’ve got three kids and a huge dog in a tiny house, it’s never going to be pristine. There will always be a funny smell coming from somewhere, there will always be hair and leaves on the floor, there will always be toys scattered about, I will never be caught up on paperwork, and the only person really affected by this in any substantial way is? Me.

    The idea isn’t to never apologize, the idea is to accept responsibility only for that which validly belongs to us *and* causes another person harm. Mistakes are allowed. “Oops, I goofed” doesn’t necessitate apology unless the goof has got a victim attached. Nobody is being victimized by standing up for reproductive rights. If anything, I feel that I am owed an apology for being put in the position of having to keep fighting so hard! Yet, I empathize with the author, in that I also do feel the need to qualify my anger and soften it.

  3. Stop… stop, stop… STOP!

    Okay the article on Jenny McCarthy lost me when it said this:
    “Yet, McCarthy represents a large segment of parents who are not actually eager to move to either extreme, and it is a mistake to cast and recast her message as more extreme than it really is.”

    BULLSHIT. The article is attempting to put science based medicine at the extreme of a spectrum where nonscience based medicine is at the other and the implication is that maybe a “moderate” in the middle is correct?

    Yes, Jenny McCarthy’s views are dangerous. They have and will result in more deaths by not vaccinating children. Period. She is wrong that Vaccination can cause autism. She is not some moderate force, she is a voice for the extreme that is dead wrong about vaccination.

    Science based medicine isn’t some extreme. It’s not some risky proposition, these are proven policies. And they aren’t part of some political spectrum where there is a right and a left. I hate when people try to first create controversy and then apply a political spectrum as if to give it some legitimacy.

    1. The article author merely felt victim to McCarthy’s tricks. When in a mainstream outlet, she loves to present herself as a reasonable voice. Trying to make an appeal against the “one size fit all” approach. But she does that precisely to get support from naive commentators who don’t search better. All the while she is saying the relatively mild things she is quoted saying by the blog post, she promotes anti-vax groups like generation rescue. She is an anti-vaxer and she is a threat to public health.

    2. We’ve seen this before, though: “Smoking causes cancer” versus “smoking doesn’t cause cancer”, evolution versus creationism, atomic theory versus homeopathy, “humans are causing the planet to warm up” versus “it’s just el niƱo”. It is, of course, trying to turn something uncontroversial into something controversial.

      The really bad part is, Bob Sears was one of the first of this wave of antivaxers in America, and he advocated his own schedule that he and his brother Jim came up with, with no peer review to speak of. Then he mentioned herd immunity…as why your child doesn’t need a vaccine! (Almost poetic, how parasitic that is.) So this particular strain has always been part of the antivaccine movement.

      Plus, we all know that they’ll go after one ingredient or another, real or imagined, until vaccines no longer exist. They don’t care about autism, any more than they care about us turning into cattle, as the first antivaccine movement claimed would happen.

  4. I like the Erin Walter article. I’m not sure I agree entirely with it. I’m not sure how much more apologizing is pushed on women than anyone else, but that might be just me. I’m male, and I do apologize for just about everything. I apologize for being late, early, when my apartment is a horrible disaster (always), when other people bump into me, when I feel like I’m taking too long at a cash register, crying, and just about any time I have to say no to someone, regardless of reason. I have even done the thing where I apologize for apologizing so much, and I didn’t mean it as a joke. I recently noticed that, at some point, I’ve taken up apologizing to people when I’m introduced to them, because I’m bad with names and might forget. Meaning that if I do forget someone’s name, and have to ask them again, I’d have apologized at least twice, once when I met them, and at least one time when asking again.

    But the key word there is “how much” more. Because when I stopped to think about it, I realized it had to be more. Sure, some of the things women feel compelled to apologize for might be things most people feel compelled to apologize for. But that’s not the meat of the article, that’s just the introduction. What the rest of the article made me realise is that insistence on apology is almost a universal form of silencing criticism.

    As an atheist, I’ve seen people shout down the “angry atheists” time and time again for being too offensive, too brash, too rude, too whatever. It’s just not as effective because it’s not something most atheists grew up with. Instead of being constantly there, it’s a sudden change, and easier to recognize as absolute bullshit. Also, of course, no one knows if I’m an atheist, unless I stick a button on my shirt that says so. I still get the privilege of not having to worry about it all the time. And even with all that privilege, I still had a hard time putting that button on, every time.

    I’m rambling a bit, but I suppose my ultimate point is that, yes, it’s a good article, with a good point, that especially needs to be heard by people who, unlike me, can’t just take a pin off their jacket and watch the discrimination go away. But also that everyone needs to recognize this brand of guilt silencing, because it’s used, to greater or lesser effect, everywhere. If you decry anti-vaccination, you’re supposed to be sorry for being closed minded. If you speak out against religious bigotry, you’ll be expected to apologize for being offensive, even while you’re being told you’ll burn in hell. And heaven forbid you speak out against how society conditions women, because then you’ve upset all the poor menz by not putting their issues with society first.

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