Skepchick Quickies 7.30

  • Afghan women and the return of the Taliban – “The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband’s house. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn’t run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved.” From Mark.
  • A monkey economy as irrational as our own – TED talk by Laurie Santos. From cerberus40.
  • 5 stupid, unfair, sexist things expected of men – “Lately, though, I’ve been paying more attention to how men get screwed up by this stuff, too. Not screwed up as badly as women, to be sure… but not trivially, either. I care about it. And I think other feminists — and other women and men who may not see themselves as feminists — ought to care about it, too.”
  • Ghost bug – Why it wouldn’t be fun to become a ghost when you die.
  • Cute Animal Friday! Infinite Monkey says his kitty is a member of the skeptical community. We had two porcupine submissions: a puppy-like porcupine from Chasmosaur and an adorable baby porcupine from Rebecca. And Sara found this little guy who looks like he’s wearing stripey socks, a baby zedonk.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. From the Time article on Afghan women:

    Karzai mused on the cost of the conflict in human lives and wondered aloud if he had any right to talk about human rights when so many were dying. “He essentially asked me,” says Malinowski, “What is more important, protecting the right of a girl to go to school or saving her life?”

    Oh Karzai, you douchebag. Under the Taliban, those two options are pretty much the same damn thing.

    It’s so nice for you that your wife is already educated, and protected by virtue of being your wife. And that you have a son. And that out of all your numerous siblings, you only have one sister…who lives in Massachusetts.

  2. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn’t run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved. Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose.

    Holy mother of love, this is revolting. It makes me wonder, just once more: Does religious fanaticism turn people into criminally psychopathic a**holes, or does it just provide a framework where criminally psychopathic a**holes find it easier to get to positions of power and do damage unchecked?

    I will need a lot of skeptic kitties and puppy porcupines after that.

  3. What bothers me about the Taliban article (aside from the most obvious atrocity) is the way it pre supposes the argument for staying in afghanistan. “This is what happens if we leave”. That is what was happening before we were there, it is still happening NOW, while we are there, and it will happen if and when we leave. The U.S. government only uses the argument of human rights to sway the public. They aren’t there for human rights. How many countries does this happen in? Are we going to invade all of them, or just the one’s we have other, less altruistic motives for?
    Sorry. I think the way women are treated in these countries is atrocious, inhuman, and just plain wrong. However, I think that the idea that we can go in militarily and bring about a lot of positive change in areas that have such profound religious, ethnic and tribal differences among themselves is wrong headed and will ultimately fail. (They don’t agree with themselves, so who can we engage with meaningfully that will change the country as a whole?)
    Just because I’m complaining about our current policy doesn’t mean I have a meaningful solution ready to go, either. I’m just feeling very pessimistic about the human species.

  4. I liked the article on sexism towards men. I agree with the author that sexism towards women is still much worse, but it raises a good point that we’ve created a system of sexism where there are no winners, only people who lose less.

    Given, a friend points out an addendum to the entry about fighting that it missed; How men are expected to die.

    Only men are expected to be drafted for military service. And when fighting breaks out in a third world hellhole, the media adds “and women and children” to the list of casualties to give it more impact. Because it’s not an outrage that men are dying in the conflict, women and children also have to be butchered (given, that’s pretty sexist against both sides).

  5. First I read about the unfair sexism inflicted on men.
    -That made me confused.

    Then I read the comic about a bug ghost causing *harm* to a ghost hunter.
    -That made me laugh.

    Then I tried to watch the monkey video, but since I am at work I couldn’t.
    -That made me angry.

    Then I read of the plight of women under the Taliban.
    -That made me profoundly sad.

    Then I saw the pictures of beyond-cute animals.
    -That made me very happy.

    Now I’m thinking about how all these emotions are making me look like less of a man.
    -Now I’m all confused again.



  6. I really enjoyed Greta’s article on sexism and men. I think one thing she left off that is still important is the expectation to be a provider. A man who relies on his wife / female partner to provide for him is still thought of as weak, and the worst thing for a man is to be considered weak.

    I think this one has blowback for women too. Wondering why childcare duties are still disproportionately borne by women? How about because men who decide to stay home and look after the kids get no respect from anyone.

    Now, none of this means that sexism still isn’t a bigger problem for women than for men, but I don’t think a corner solution is optimal here, it’s worth throwing some light onto how cultural expectations hurt men.

  7. I think the take-home message on the sexism article should be that sexisim is not a problem for women and that sexisim is not a problem for men. Sexism is just a problem, period.

    Judging someone by any characteristic such as race, gender, sexual identity, etc. is wrong, ok? Can we get past debating who is harmed more and just agree that “-isms” like this are wrong whenever and wherever they crop up, no matter who is the offending and who is the agrieved party?

    Once we get past debating who’s is bigger (and yes, I recognize the irony in the use of that phrase) we can finally get on with fixing the larger problems of inequality and unfair treatment of people.

  8. @James K: I could see that falling under the willingness to fight. You have to fight for that promotion to be a better provider.

    @dpaul: I think you’re missing a very important part though. Yes, sexism is a problem, but a lot of men don’t care because they feel it doesn’t effect them. This points out that yes, it does effect them, and they should pay attention. And I’ve not seen anywhere in the article or this thread that men are saying we have it worse. We are on easy street compared to what women go through. But only when you recognize that there is a problem can you begin to fix it. I guess you should think of this as the bigfoot of sexism. Something relatively easy to work with, but hones your skills for bigger problems.

  9. it’s a blessing in disguise that our brain got bigger, along with our societies, faster then did our physical attributes change to fit with these changes.
    So we’re left with two groups, each with a mismatch of strengths and weaknesses compared to the other.

    If I were the fictional being named God, I would have made one change, if only to level the playing field in a way. The group that has to depend on the other for help during pregnancy (don’t bring up single parents, you know what I mean here), should be physically stronger.

    Wonder how what would change with that, which sex would be more likely to be pretty to attract the other sex, which would be more likely to home-keeper, etc etc.

  10. @infinitemonkey: Actually, I didn’t miss the point. I guess I should have been more explicit. I actually appreciated tha article for shining a light on the fact that sexism hurts both sexes. Yes, in different ways and to different degrees but that no one group has a monopoly.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that I said, nor do I think that the point was that men have it worse (I appologize if I gave that impression). I would agree that as far as that goes, in most respects women do have it worse.

    What I was getting at in a clumsy way was to say “Alright then. Here is a good example of how it cuts both ways. Can we agree that it is just as wrong when men suffer and now get to work on the larger problem of gender-based inequality no matter the direction?”

    I actually very much appreciated the article as it touched a nerve (in a good way) for me. It addressed that sense of discomfort I get when I read other articles about how much women suffer due to sexism and I get a little bothered and think that “yes, they do. But they don’t have a monopoly on it”. Yet as soon as that gets brought up, no matter how politely, a shouting match begins. This article articulated that discomfort of mine in a very good way.

    What I was hoping to express in my earlier post was a desire to move along past the point where we consider it a women’s problem, or a men’s problem and parse out every instance of injustice to see who is suffering and to what degree and just get to a point where we worry about if anyone is suffering an injustice and move to prevent it.

    I agree that there is value in disecting the forms of injustice and the specific occurances as learning tools…but I want us to stop thinking in terms of gender specificity and just start looking at it as a global problem. Any time someone is forced into a role that they do not want or are expected to behave in a certain fashion based solely on their gender it is wrong.

  11. RE: the Sexism article, my boyfriend complains about most of those things all the time (complains AND consults with me… he must be pussy-whipped!). Another thing that he gets pulled up on is being too emotional towards our cats. Apparently, real manly men don’t invest emotionally in pets?

  12. I don’t know the answer to the question about gender specific roles (not identified by biology like child bearing) being a form of sexism. Because if they are the deaths of men in war and violence clearly makes sexism historically much worse for men. That doesn’t seem right to me, because part of my brain wants to say men killing men is more often than not some form of self inflicted stupidity. Then again perhaps it’s just biology and chemistry so fuck responsibility.

  13. @BeardofPants: Not CATS. Real men like dogs. Big dogs. Ginormous. Cats are for girly-men and lesbians.

    I laughed while writing that. Joy, my cat, shot me a dirty look, because I woke her up. She then sat on my mouse hand, and went back to sleep.

    I think this is a clear sign that my cat thinks it is time for bed.

  14. I suppose I pretty much handed in my male membership card about two years ago when I decided to let my hair grow longer.
    On the odd flipside of that though, I think I get less assumptions of gay-ness nowadays. Either it’s because I’ve just become more comfortable with who I am rather than who I’m supposed to be, or gay men don’t usually have long hair. I don’t know.

  15. @exarch: Um… It’s not at all uncommon that men, even manly-men, grow their hair out. It’s really popular within the biking (as in, motorcycle) community, for one. :) And I think they’d balk at the idea of “turning in their male membership card” just ‘cuz their hair is in a ponytail. ;)

  16. @Mark Hall: A male friend of mine has a coffee mug that says proudly: “Real Men Love Cats”. Hehehehehe. :)

    Of course, this friend is bisexual and in a polyamorous triad (married to a woman, and has a long-term, live-in boyfriend), so he may not be considered a REAL MAN by many, anyway. But then again, I don’t think he cares. :)

  17. I thought the sexism article was great. I’ve never been a fighter, and have always been confused and mystified by how normal it seems to be for most men to just throw out the punches at any passing piss-off. I never got it.

    I remember once, way, way back in grade 5, I punched a friend in the face just to see what it was all about. His look of surprise, pain, and betrayal made me cry. I never hit anyone else ever again.

    Yes, we are all losers for sexism and ludicrous stereotyping. It places ridiculous unrealistic expectations on all of us.

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