Global Quickies: The Flattery Will Get You Everywhere Edition

Hello awesome Skepchick readers. Have I ever told you that you guys are the greatest audience in all of the intertubes? Well, you are not only that, you are also forgiving of a bad blogger who hasn’t posted an update of Global Quickies in a long time. I hope I can make up for it with the news items I found for you:


The Primer Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is no liberal, much less a feminist. He tried to criminalize adultery, has said he doesn’t believe men and women are equal, that women should have at least 3, preferably 5 children, and that it’s against human nature for women to get into politics. Now, he wants to restrict access to abortion and Caesarean births, because according to him they’re unnatural and prevent women from achieving the 5 kid golden standard. The new law is being drafted by the Health Minister, who also believes abortions should be restricted, so the current 10 week after conception limit might turn into 4 weeks or it could disappear all together. Der Spiegel says Erdogan might be targeting abortion to distract from the massacre of Kurdish civilians. Bonus points: he wants to “raise a religious generation” and he’s been targeting artists for being the liberal elite (and hitting on his daughter).


The Spanish economy is going through a bit of a rough patch (and by that I mean the shit is hitting the fan, hard), and the government has been implementing a series of spending cuts that have been met by public dismay and disapproval. I talked a little bit about the cuts in science spending on a previous post, and a few days after that the Secretary for R&D said in an article in Nature that “the Spanish R&D system is not large enough to justify paying as many researchers as it currently does” (do read the comments to the article). The latest controversy is that the Minister of Health is proposing that the national healthcare system stop paying for medicines for minor illnesses and cover “more natural remedies” instead. I did mention this was the Health Minister, right? She hasn’t clarified whether she was referring to homeopathy, herbal remedies and the like, or if she meant household remedies. I hope she picks the later, I hear the checks from Big Chicken Soup are pretty sweet.


Over 58 percent of Liberian women have undergone female genital mutilation. FGM is traditionally practiced by some Liberian ethnic groups and is performed in schools for girls run by the Sande, a female secret society that swears the girls into secrecy. The Sande also perform FGM on women of other groups as punishment. This was the case of Ruth Berry Peal, who was kidnapped by the Sande, mutilated, and left without treatment for her infected wound for a month. Since she went public with her story, she has received death threats and had to flee her village, leaving behind her husband and children. Her kidnappers were found guilty, but they appealed and are free on bail with no date set for the hearing. Despite having government campaigns to stop FGM, Liberia does not have a law banning the practice and continue authorizing the Sande to run their schools. You can ask the Liberian government to enact a law banning FGM and ensure the swift conclusion of Ruth Berry Peal’s case signing this Equality Now petition.


Mexico, my own country, never ceases to surprise me. With its rich cultural heritage, there is always something interesting, messed up, amazingly awesome, or totally weird to learn about its people. Like the runners of Copper Canyon, the burping ritual in Chiapas, or the third gender in the Juchitán, known as Muxes. NPR did a piece on the Muxe and their annual drag ball recently, and it took me in a very interesting hunt for more information about them. Juchitán is a town in the state of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, inhabited by Zapotec indians. According to legend, god sent Saint Vicente Ferrer to place men and women around the country, but he also had a special sack full of homosexuals to sprinkle around the different towns, and it broke in Juchitán. Most Muxes realize at a young age that they don’t identify as males and go on to live as a Muxe (adopting female clothing, roles, and body transformations to different degrees). Families see them as a blessing, since traditionally Muxes take on household work and take care of their aging parents. Another traditional role Muxes hold is that of initiating young men into sex, since virginity in brides is still very much valued.
Muxes may be a respected part of the community in Juchitán, but most of Mexico can still be quite homophobic and transphobic. With globalization, it is conceivable that intolerance creeps into Juchitán before society at large becomes accepting of non binary gender identities.
You can watch a few clips from a documentary on Muxes (with English subs) here, where you can also buy the DVD. If you speak Spanish, I highly recommend reading this article.

Remember to keep sending in links through the Skepchick contact form!

And just in case this wasn’t enough to gain your forgiveness for my inconstant posting, here’s a picture of cute sloths:

Featured image from here, where you can buy the print.


Born and raised in Mexico City, Daniela has finally decided to abdicate her post as an armchair skeptic and start doing some skeptical activism. She is currently living in Spain after having lived in the US, Brazil and Italy. You can also find her blogging in Spanish at

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  1. How does the Turkish PM expect women to have five children if they die giving birth to their first one because they couldn’t get Caesareans?

    1. Dying during childbirth is a crime against Allah and the state. All those convicted of such will be sentenced to death by stoning.

    2. Oh, didn’t you hear? Childbirth is so natural that nothing could ever go wrong unless the woman doesn’t trust the childbirth experience! C-sections only exist because greedy doctors want to make more money and/or because women are too lazy to push. There’s a big C-section backlash for some reason and it’s not exclusive to religious extremists. It frequently ties into the anti-vax movement, but it’s gaining popularity even among otherwise sensible people. There are plenty of people on the internet who aren’t against C-sections in general, but they feel need to hand-wring every time the topic is brought up and claim that the rate is just too gosh darn high, even when the topic is about a specific C-section that was clearly medically necessary. On most boards, women who have had C-sections have to follow their confession with a long caveat proving that they really truly needed it, just like the women who confess to bottle-feeding their babies.

      1. I’m very sad but not surprised to hear that. I made the joke knowing it wasn’t really funny.

        My first girlfriend would have died having her first child without a C section.

      2. The shame put on women in the USA about c-sections is no joke. I had one when my son was born and felt bad about it for a couple of years. I questioned my choises, that I made with my Doctor’s help! I was told (by family with no science background)I shouldn’t have been induced, or have an epidural. I was over 41 weeks in July, and was passing out between contractions!

  2. I remember hearing a story on NPR where an ultra orthodox Jewish couple were having their first child and the OB said she needed a C-section which they didn’t want because they wanted multiple future children and vaginal birth after C-section can be problematic.

    In arguing with their rabbi, who said if the OB said it was necessary that they had to do it, they argued, “but what if a miracle happens”? To which the rabbi responded “A miracle has happened. You are in a place where someone has the training and expertise to know what must be done, and has the expertise and equipment to do it.”

  3. Quite a few WTF moments in these articles.
    And some scary as well.

    For some reason, sloths don’t do it for me.

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