Quickies: The Problem with Calling Women “Females,” Lesbian Separatists of the ’60s, and Why Your Memory Is Unreliable

  • 10 Things People Once Complained Would Ruin The English Language – “You’ve probably heard that English is being ruined — by the Internet, by texting, by Americans, by young people who have no respect for proper grammar. But it turns out that people have always worried over English, and over the centuries, have accused all sorts of things of ‘ruining’ the language.”
  • Meet the Witches, Lesbian Separatists, and Other Brave Feminists Who Shook Up the ’60s and ’70s – “Most schools teach the basics of the women’s rights movement—the fight for suffrage, Roe v. Wade, and the Equal Rights Amendment—but what about the spunky ladies behind WITCH (the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy From Hell) or the first national “Ogle-in” in 1970, when women turned the tables of street harassment by catcalling male brokers on Wall Street?” From Amy.
  • How The Measles Virus Became A Master of Contagion – “For the past five decades, scientists have been studying the measles virus, and yet many details of its life cycle are only now coming to light. As a virus, it has to do three things in order to avoid extinction: it has to invade a new host, make copies of itself, and get those copies to another host. At every step of the way, scientists are finding, the measles virus cranks up its chances of successful spread.”
  • No More, The NFL’s Domestic Violence Partner, Is A Sham – “The brands have spoken, and they want you to know that domestic violence and sexual assault are bad. In fact, the brands not only think they’re bad, but have a theory as to why they persist: the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault don’t have a strong enough brand. So, to help get America talking about these issues, the brands created a brand, and partnered with other brands to promote this brand. And this is how No More—a more or less imaginary brand made by brands to help domestic violence and sexual assault with their brand problem—came to be.”
  • The Problem With Calling Women ‘Females’ – Even well-meaning people will use “female” when they mean “woman.” This article makes a lot of good points for why you can come across as “creepy” if you use “female” too often (as a noun).
  • You Have No Idea What Happened – A piece from The New Yorker going into the psychology of the fallibility of memory.


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. Normally I wouldn’t recommend reading the comments on anything (except Skepchick, of course), but the comments on the article about using the word “female” as a noun were very interesting, informative and some were hilarious. There were a few drive-by trolls, and one guy who Just Wouldn’t Shut Up* about how everybody was wrong, but the responses (by the regular readers, I guess) were patient (for the most part), rational and informative.

    [*] He didn’t seem to understand the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rules of holes. 1) Stop digging. 2) If you are still digging, stop. 3) See rule 1.

  2. Memory and Measles: I have a very vivid memory of having the measles when I was about 1 year old. I didn’t know it was the measles, of course, just being incredibly hot and every inch of my skin was in agony breathing was torment and the entire universe was a hot glowing red fog (just like it was 100,000 years after the Big Bang, before the hydrogen recombined.)

    I don’t remember remembering this memory before Andrew Wakefield and the birth of the modern anti-vax movement in the early 1990’s, so there’s a very strong possibility this is a false memory, but I think it is a pretty accurate picture of what measles is like for a baby.

    1. Buzz Parsec,

      Even if your particular memory is incorrect, the anti vaccination crowd has done an extreme amount of harm. Any movement that encourages parents to go against science and not vaccinate their children is asking for trouble.

      By the way, sorry it took me such a long time reply, but I kept getting error messages every time I tried to post comments here, for about two weeks.

  3. Mary,

    “Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy From Hell.” That sounds like something the misnamed “Men’s Rights activists” would constant nightmares about. Wouldn’t be surprised if uber misogynist over at “MRA” websites have a few choice conspiracy theories involving them.

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