Skepchick Quickies 11.6

On November 6, 1856, George Eliot (a.k.a. Mary Anne Evans) submitted her first piece of fiction for publication. She chose to publish under a male pseudonym so that her work would be taken seriously. (Good thing we’ve made so much progress since then!)


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. Wow, that insane asylum piece was something else! Isn’t it surprising (actually not at all) how they pathologized perfectly normal human behaviors, esp in women? & if the reason for locking a woman up is really “Ill treatment by husband,” shouldn’t they have just locked up the husband?!

    I am, though, perversely curious to know what exactly the difference is between “masturbation for 30 years” and “deranged masturbation.” I mean, it’s okay to masturbate normally for 29 years, but once it gets “deranged” your grace period is up?!?!

    Tangentially related to the disability issues in the assisted living piece, I was shocked at how far the secular community (even on FTB!!) still has to go on disability issues. Here’s Chris Rodda thinking it’s perfectly appropriate to make Helen Keller jokes, shames people who say it makes them feel uncomfortable, and ignores the people with disabilities who point out the effect this “humor” has on their lives. The absolute high point (honorable mention going to her saying “I know I’m not an ‘ableist’ because I know that I never have to consciously think about how I’m acting around a disabled person any more than I do around anybody else.”) was when a visually-impaired reader asked her to please include alt tags on her images, and Rodda responded with a here’s-what-I’ve-already-done-for-you-people type answer and actually said “Screw you!” She then disappeared the entire thread and is throwing a pity party about how humorless and sanctimonious we are and how now she can’t have any more Sunday Funnies. Fortunately readers were able to find caches and we now have the whole thing in its entirety:


    Even if you don’t read FTB or This Week in Christian Nationalism, it really is an amazing textbook example of how privilege-denial and marginalization operates, justifies itself, and lashes out at those who object.

    1. Thanks so much for your contributions to that thread, LSP. I’d previously only read a much shorter google cached version of it, so thanks also for the full thread.

      I stopped reading Chris Rodda’s blog recently because I’m blind and all she posts these days is Sunday Funnies, never with alt tags for images, so the posts were just useless to me.

      As pointed out by Stella, there’s a certain addition of insult to injury that had people not discussed the joke in comments, we probably wouldn’t have even known we were being mocked.

  2. I am, though, perversely curious to know what exactly the difference is between “masturbation for 30 years” and “deranged masturbation.”

    Well, one involves 30 years and the other involves a porcupine, an oven mitt, and a roll of duck tape.

    1. Curiously “suppressed masturbation” would also get you a one way ticket, as would “novel reading” and “hard study”. it’s a wonder anybody escaped.

  3. The “Of Mice and Micro-organs” article is really interesting, but I think the spin that the microchip tissue technologies will replace animal studies is overly optimistic. This is a really cool method, and it will certainly complement animal studies, but bodies are much more complex than individual organ systems, or even good models of interacting organ systems. There is definitely potential for the quality of basic science research at the level of cells and tissues to be improved dramatically, and make much more intelligent use of subsequent animal studies that are performed, and hopefully even reduce their number. But for the foreseeable future, at least, I really think that animal studies to test whole-organism effects of novel drugs are going to continue to be necessary before human trials can be ethically justified. Hopefully, though, as our basic science level understanding of the human body (as well as other animals’) improves through research like this, we will be able to pursue pharmaceutical research much more intelligently than we can right now, and dramatically reduce the number of animal studies needed to test drugs. But that basic science research program is going to involve a lot of animal studies as well.

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