TAM Friday

First up this morning was a marginal breakfast.  I don’t understand this — why do people put cooked fruit into things that don’t need cooked fruit.  Cooked fruit is not chocolate.  It does not make things better.  It makes them measurably much worse.  Croissants don’t need jelly on the inside.  It’s gross.

George Hrab opened the conference with a brilliant song, the best part of which was the direction to make sure that any questions you direct at a speaker are actually questions, not opinions, speeches, or comments on the speaker.  It was pretty funny.

Michael Shermer was first up and I literally don’t remember what he talked about.  I was not awake and not that interested, so I guess it just didn’t stick.

Then there was a panel, Skepticism and TV.  I got over the fact that *I* wasn’t on the panel, but I have to say it is really hard to look at these panels of old white guys and think that they’ve made the effort to get more than one point of view.  When they found out Adam Savage wasn’t coming, they had the opportunity to try to get a minority or a woman on the panel, and they didn’t.  Which was a shame because everyone on the panel agreed with one another and didn’t have a lot of useful advice on how to get more skepticism on TV.

Here’s the thing, when you don’t have young people talking about what’s going on, you miss stuff.  If you don’t have women, or mothers, or people of color, or people from different socio-economic levels, you don’t hear about whether people are actually being exposed to skepticism on TV.

Did the old white men mention any of the children’s programming out there?  No, not at all.  And that’s probably the place where you see the most skepticism incorporated into fiction storylines.  Look at Dora the Explorer, or any of the other investigative type shows that are aimed at kids.  Those teach critical thinking and why don’t they think that that qualifies as skepticism on TV.  Yes, you watch Bones or whatever and it’s absurd and not related to real critical thinking, but prime time adult television is not the only thing on TV.  There’s more than the Discovery Channel.

They also talked a lot about editing and how to get around being edited in ways they don’t want to be.  I’ll just say that it’s almost impossible to get by a determined editor.  They’re tricksy people.

*deep breath*

Yes, so I took some issues with that panel.

Next up was Lawrence Krauss.  A few months ago, Krauss made some statements in support of his friend who was an admitted rapist of underage girls.  There was a fair amount of backlash, and threats to walk out on him at TAM.  If that happened, I couldn’t tell.  There’s so many people in and out of the room anyway, it wouldn’t have been noticed, but also I think that elevatorgate has so overshadowed this that no one quite cared as much.

He gave a history lesson on Richard Feynman, which was OK, but I wasn’t that interested in a biography.

Then Jamy Ian Swiss led James Randi and two others in a recap of Project Alpha, which was when two magicians pretend to have Uri Gelleresque powers for several years and the lab believed them despite the fact that it was very obvious what they were doing.  Embarrassing for science, but kind of hilarious for magicians.  It shows how lame psychics are.

Eugenie Scott was up next, but I didn’t listen to that talk, I looked at books and walked around.  I wasn’t very interested in Climate Change Denial and I was tired and wanted to move around.  I’m trying to get over feeling guilty for not going to every talk, but it’s uncomfortable to sit all day.

And then it was lunch — I sat with the amazing Greta Christina and several other really cool people.  Elevatorgate was the primary topic, but what I liked that we talked about was how the movement needs to be getting people in disadvantaged circumstances involved.  So many people who are in the movement are there because they are the ones who can afford it.  If you look at where the large populations of black people are, they are also poor places with strong religious communities.  South Carolina and Mississippi have huge percentage of black people in their population, and those are places where being an atheist is not necessarily safe but more importantly, these are places where there are problems facing the community that are so much more pressing than religion.  Teen Pregnancy, education, jail time.  These are problems that the skeptic community should be working on, because we can’t get people to participate if they’re struggling to live.  Let’s get people in better life circumstances so that they can spend time on education and learning to be scientifically literate.  And it’s not just the South, of course, it’s inner city, it’s Detroit, it’s Compton.

Ok, sorry, off the soapbox.

After lunch, it was just pure uninterrupted awesomeness.

Jennifer Michael Hecht spoke first, and she decided she was going to try to talk about everything that ever happened ever and that she would accomplish this by talking super fast.  She talked a lot about the history of skepticism, which is the focus of her very excellent book Doubt, A History.  She was fantastic.  She talked about the movie The Road to Wellville, and said that a lot of people who go to quacks do it because, essentially, they want the attention.  Though she also implied that women could get a happy ending from a chiropractor.

They had to cut her off before she was finished, and then it was time for PZ, who was hilarious.  Every slide had a picture of either squid or octopi, which I feel is necessary.  He was talking about the biology of aliens.  I think his most interesting point was that there are several highly intelligent animals on earth that are self-aware that we still don’t know how to communicate with, yet we’re seeking out aliens.

He was awesome, and was followed by Pamela Gay, who I didn’t particularly like.  Not that she wasn’t good, she was calling for more funding and emphasis on science.  What I didn’t like was her criticism of the skeptic movement as scattered, as though the emphasis of everyone on the movement should be on science.  The fact of the matter is that not everyone can care a lot about every cause — outrage fatigue.  Science education is important, and I’m for it and happy to support it, but it’s not what I’m particularly interested in.  It’s not the cause that I’m going to spend time on.  That’s not because I’m scattered, it’s because my time is spent elsewhere.  I appreciate her enthusiasm for the cause, but it’s not a very useful criticism.

And then it was time for the best thing I’ve ever seen ever.  I can’t wait for it to be on YouTube, because I want to watch it again.  It was a panel on the future of humans in space.  It was moderated by Phil Plait, and had Bill Nye the Science Guy, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Pamela Gay, and Lawrence Krauss.  NdGT started off real quiet and then he jumped in like a ninja and started kicking ass.  He thinks that we don’t spend enough money on science and we should double NASA’s budget and do everything.  The bank bailout was more money than everything we spent on NASA in its fifty year existence.  Lawrence Krauss sort of poo-pooed the idea of humans in space, and Neil deGrasse Tyson bitch slapped him, with major assistance from Bill Nye.

NdGT totally dominated, and I didn’t want it to ever end.  I would say it was impossible to follow, except it was Tyson himself who was following it up, so he was fine.  He is a great speaker — he’s funny, he’s passionate, and he knows what he’s talking about.  Once again, it was simply so amazing that it’s difficult to sum up.  His focus was on stupid things that people believe that aren’t true.  I told Jarrett that Bill Nye and NdGT should be in a buddy cop movie together, he tweeted it, and the Jen McCreight saw that NdGT in his talk was going to go on his Twitter feed and she quickly posted it AND he read it outloud.  Hysterically funny.  I want it to happen.

And when NdGT was finished, that was it for the day.  I went back to my room for a while, came back up while Jennifer Michael Hecht was doing autographs.  I sat in a throne-like chair beside her while she fielded people who wanted her signature on her books.  It was entertaining sitting on that side of the table.  After that, I went down to eat.  Saw Heidi Anderson briefly and then got ready for Penn’s Party.  I hung out with Jen McCreight and some people before the party and then it was time for Donuts and Bacon.

Penn has a band called the No God Band — they’re decent, and the party was essentially a concert for them.  They did a lot of covers and some original songs as well.  I ended up hanging with Jen some more, as well as Hemant and a few others.  I saw Christina Rad briefly, and that was fun.  It was really loud and I was really tired, so I ended up bailing after about an hour and a half.  Then I collapsed in exhaustion because my legs could no longer hold me up.

AND THAT WAS FRIDAY!

Wow, Richard Dawkins is Clueless

I love Richard Dawkins.  I like his books, I love watching him read his hate mail, I loved listening to him talk at TAM last year, I loved watching him smirk about everything, I loved his documentary and I just like him in general.

But he doesn’t get what it’s like to be a woman.  Not that one would expect him to have a total understanding, he is not a woman, but you would think that he’d be able to empathize just a little with women.  Apparently not.  Apparently if your genitals aren’t being mutilated and you’re complaining about creepy behavior from men at conferences, you’re just complaining about nothing.  Wow, that’s great PR from a movement trying to get more women involved.

Have some background:

  1. Rebecca Watson was part of a panel about feminism.
  2. A stranger followed her into the elevator at four in the morning, waited for the doors to be closed, and tried to get her to go back to the room with him.
  3. She was creeped out majorly by this behavior. And was bothered that her talk had apparently made no difference and that her wish to go back to her room and sleep, which she said to a large room of people that included the stranger, was being ignored by someone who thought it was his right to hit on her regardless of what she wanted.
  4. Another female blogger, Stef McGraw, said she was overreacting.
  5. Rebecca Watson mentioned Stef, by name, in another panel.
  6. Stef then said it was abuse of power for Watson to call her out in a panel.
  7. A bunch of guys in the movement started protesting that if you can’t approach a stranger in the middle of the night (in an enclosed, inescapable space) then how will you ever meet anyone in the movement??? Plus, Freedom of Speech!
  8. PZ posted about it, which garnered much response and vitriol from various people.
  9. DAWKINS came into the comment thread and said basically that it was OK for guys to be creepy because some women get their genitals mutilated. That the creepy behavior was NO DIFFERENT from someone chewing gum on an elevator. Richard Dawkins said this, PZ confirmed it was actually him.
  10. My head exploded

Here’s some advice for guys: If a woman, particularly a complete stranger, can literally not get away from you, that’s not a good time to proposition her.  If you’ve got her trapped in a small space or are between her and her escape route, don’t imply, on any level, that you’d like to do things to her body.  Just don’t.

Why?  Because she doesn’t know if you’re a good guy or not and she’s trapped in a space suddenly with someone who doesn’t care about how safe she feels, and in this particular case, has already intentionally ignored her stated wishes.  Why on earth would she think you’re not going to ignore it when she says NO?  There are lots of opportunities to express interest in ways that don’t feel incredibly dangerous to a woman — if you put yourself in her shoes and think, “Would this seem safe if I was a woman who might get raped by a strange man?”  If the answer is anything but, “Yes,” DON’T DO IT.

Here is an amazing post about how not to make women feel scared shitless when you try to hit on them.  Don’t act like a threat!  Don’t ignore what people say!  Don’t ignore body language!  And don’t accuse women of complaining about meaningless crap when they’re afraid for their safety because some people have it worse!

Skepticism: Tits or GTFO*?

Originally posted at SheThought.

I hate writing about feminist issues, because every time I do I get accused of being a feminazi or caring more about women than men, or of buying into victim culture, or any number of accusations that come with the territory.  Feminism isn’t generally my main issue, and so I’m always hesitant to distract from all the other things I care about by getting into knock down, drag out fights about why should I care about how women are treated or how they’re portrayed in the media.

Occasionally, of course, I do write something about feminism, because I’m upset enough to ignore the warning lights in my head that say I’m going to have to deal with a lot of BS because of it.  As you might imagine, this post is me ignoring those warning bells.

Skepticism has a woman problem.  It’s been said more than once, it’s been pointed out countless times, and it’s being addressed in a lot of positive ways that should absolutely count in its favor.  I don’t want to dismiss or underplay the fact that there are a lot of men in the movement who care a lot about this issue and are actively working to fix it.

That said, the amount of privilege and harassment I see coming from a number of the powerful men in the movement is really distressing.  The assumption that young women are taking advantage of older men or that men have the automatic right to presume sexual interest and the right to sexually harass young women is a problem, and it’s a problem within this movement, not just outside of it.

This problem came up today, because Lawrence Krauss, a respected scientist and one of the featured speakers at TAM9, defended his buddy Jeffrey Epstein, a man who plead guilty to hiring underage girls, some as young as 13,  to have sex with him.  Krauss is skeptical of the claims because he always thought the girls around Epstein were 19-23 and apparently thinks it’s ok to have sex with a 13 year old so long as you think she’s 18.  He also doesn’t seem to understand that a 13 year old having sex with a powerful, rich man has been coerced into it, no matter what.  Ignorance is no excuse there, it’s rape and it’s taking advantage of a child.

He is also skeptical of the claims made by the prosecution, despite the fact that Epstein plead guilty and they did an 11-month sting operation documenting his activity.  And they have his, apparently horrific, diary.

It gets worse.

DJ Grothe, on the Skepchick article about this, comments , saying basically that he doesn’t know anything about the situation, but he lied about his age when he was under 18 so that he could get laid, so maybe underage prostitution isn’t that bad.  I appreciate that he’s not saying that sex with a 13 year old is OK, he specifically says it isn’t, but since that’s what actually happened, I’m really not sure why he felt the need to defend Krauss.  Nor do I understand how he is also missing the power play aspect of this.  Epstein took underage women who were not prostitutes and coerced them into sexual acts, using money and power.  This is not acceptable behavior, even if you’re OK with prostitution and 16-year-olds having sex.

This isn’t a question of the legality of prostitution or what the age of consent should be.  This is a question about abuse of power, non-consensual sex and sex trafficking of minors.

I wish I could tell you that this blindness to abuse of privilege and power existed only in response to this one issue, but it permeates the skeptic movement.  Many of the men in this movement are guilty of abusing their power to take advantage of the women in the movement or to hurt them when they won’t agree to sex, or turning a blind eye to the behavior or other men who are guilty of similar behavior.

If I could tell you all the horror stories I’ve heard, all the individuals who have been mistreated, insulted, taken advantage of by men in this movement, you’d be shocked.  If I told you the number of men I’ve been told that I need to be careful around because they have a “problem with young women”, you might not believe me.  Unless you’re a woman, and then you’ve probably heard some of it yourself.

I believe these stories because I’ve been at the receiving end of some egregious behavior and I’ve seen a lot of it with my own eyes.  The women in the movement ignore it because it’s less important to us than our desire to be part of a community that matters to us.  Hell, I don’t even feel comfortable talking about it because I know it’s going to make me unpopular, I don’t want to list anyone’s name because I just don’t feel comfortable with the backlash that would come with it.  I can’t bring myself to do it and I feel absolutely ashamed for that.

When a powerful scientist asks a young women who is trying to be taken seriously in the sciences if she’d like to be his next mistress after meeting her once,  that’s an abuse of power.  When a powerful man implies he’ll help a woman out if he sleeps with her, that’s an abuse of power.  When a powerful man implies he will blackball a woman if she doesn’t sleep with him, that’s an abuse of power.  When a powerful man dismisses or insults a woman because she doesn’t want to sleep with him, that’s an abuse of power.  There’s a word for coercing women into having sex.

I doubt this will be read by powerful men in the movement, but if it is, I just want to say that you have a responsibility to set an example as to how women should be treated and where their value should come from.  If you think women are only sex objects and you only care about the young, pretty ones who don’t seem too frigid, how on earth are we going to be taken seriously by everyone else?

Why is it that when I go to conferences I have to be hyper-vigilent to the behavior of men whose opinions I respect?

*http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tits+of+gtfo

EDIT: I would like to say a special thanks to the men who have reached out to me, male support on these issues helps make sure we know it’s everyone’s problem, not just a woman problem, and also reminds women that there are a lot of guys who’ve got our backs.

Tron: Legacy: Where are all the women?

The Poster

I’m the first to admit that sexism and lack of reasonable representations of women in movies doesn’t always bother me, especially if the movie is entertaining otherwise.  The original Star Wars Trilogy, for example, didn’t pass the Bechdel test at all, but I still love them.  So, my extreme dislike of the movie Tron: Legacy is not just because it’s terrible at representing women, but also because it’s terrible generally.  It’s just that a lot of my inability to appreciate even the special effects and music comes from the ridiculous treatment of women in this film.

The Bechdel test, for those unfamiliar with it, is a very simple test about the representation of women in a movie.  Passing doesn’t mean a film isn’t sexist, but it is useful in showing how few films actually do the following:

1. Have at least two named female characters
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a man

Fembot/Siren

Tron: Legacy passes the first one, and only just, having the characters of Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and Gem (Beau Garrett). All the other women in the film have names like “Siren #4″.  There is only one line in the entire movie spoken between two women and it is “He’s different,” spoken by fembots, excuse me, “Sirens” about a recently en-spandexed Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund).

What I don’t understand about this movie is that there are so many opportunities to put women into it, why couldn’t there be some in minor roles?  Why couldn’t they be in major roles?

Why couldn’t Sam have been a woman?  Would a story about Flynn’s daughter not have been equally compelling?  I think it could have only helped the film, and it would have been a much more original piece to have a young woman who refused to take up responsibility at her father’s company, than having yet another rich boy who won’t take up his father’s mantle.  The movie could have been exactly the same, but with a Samantha instead of a Samuel, it would have been much better and much more original.

But let’s accept for the moment that the world is just not ready for girl slackers even though it loves the infantilized Apatow boys, surely there could have been a woman in the real world that had an impact on Sam’s life, right?  Instead, the evil CEO and the young Encom programmer they set up as Sam’s rival, and then drop without a second thought, are both men, as is Sam’s only living mentor.  The security guard and police that chase him?  Men.  Even his dog is a boy.  As for his grandmother, she’s just dead, as is his mother — both of them unceremoniously dumped from the film for fear of encumbering it with nuances in the presentation of women.

Jeri Ellsworth: Real Life Awesome Programmer

But surely within the world of the computer there is room for females, right?  After all, there are women programmers, women love the internet, and within a computer it doesn’t really matter if you’re a man or a woman.  The freedom in the semi-anonymous enclave of the computer has been a source of great empowerment for women, surely the creators of the film would give a little something back to all the women who go to Comic Con.  Because women are actually a huge part of geek culture, and the last people who are going to trivialize women and make them into mere sexual toys are the nerds, right?

I have to admit that I was shocked at the fembots/sirens scene — it pulled me right out of the movie.  When Sam Flynn goes into the Grid world, he is immediately taken into a room with four super sexy women — the kind of ridiculous, hyper-sexed women I haven’t seen in a theater since Dude, Where’s my Car? — they strip him down and then dress him.  Why does this scene exist?  There is no new information given and surely they could have introduced Gem, who appears later, in a much less embarrassing way.

"First you give us the continuum transfunctioner, then we give you oral pleasure."

So then Sam goes to fight in the Neon Frisbee games, and all of his competitors are men, because hurling a frisbee is bad for female programs’ delicate sensibilities, and then he goes to talk to the evil Clu, who has a strictly XY inner circle.  I will refrain from complaining too much, because James Frain was brilliant and I love him, but is there any reason the major domo couldn’t have been a woman?  Or maybe the guards or people working on computers nearby could have been female.  Or just one person in the light cycle bike racing fight.

I find these heels incredibly practical for fighting and driving

When Quorra finally makes an appearance, it’s almost a relief to remember that non-fembot women are, in fact, allowed to be on screen.  Unfortunately, Quorra is a hyper-sexualized, wide-eyed, male fantasy.  She only wears skintight clothing, can fight and drive fast cars, but doesn’t know anything and needs men to teach her about the world and make decisions for her.  I love Olivia Wilde, but this character is embarrassing — after seeing how brilliant and nuanced she can be on House, it’s incredibly depressing to see her made into nothing more than fodder for fanboy fantasy.

At this point the film just gets dull and repetitive until we are reintroduced to the siren Gem, and meet Zeus, played to manic David Bowie extremes by Michael Sheen.  Once again, there is an opportunity here for a meaty secondary role to be given to a woman, and once again they give it to a man.  I love Michael Sheen, but what if Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton had had this role?  It would have meant giving lines to a woman who wasn’t a smoking hot 25 year old, I know.

Quorra gets injured and has to be saved by Flynn the elder.  And then she gets captured by Tron and has to be rescued by Flynn the younger.  And then there’s a chase scene in which she flies a plane, as directed by the men, and Flynn the younger shoots at people and Flynn the elder uses his magic godlike powers to fight Clu.  At the end our intrepid hero gets the girl and drives her around on the back of his bike, where women belong.

Why is it necessary to have this shot, and why am I sitting like this?

There were so many opportunities for this film to treat women as anything other than sexual objects and so many good reasons for it to have done so.  It’s very difficult for me, as someone who loves and identifies strongly with geek culture, to put up with the complete lack of reasonable female characters in almost every major release that is supposed to appeal to me.  This stuff isn’t hard and it doesn’t require that much thought, but of course the only female with a major role in the creation of the film was the woman who wrote the original screenplay to Tron 30 years ago.

Finding 24-year-olds sexy? Not Pedophilia

I am a huge fan of the show Glee. This is not necessarily because the show is that great, a lot of the episodes fall hugely flat, the plots are occasionally nonsensical, and the characters change to suit whatever the episode is doing. But, it’s a show about loser high school kids and they sing songs I know the words to. Plus, Jane Lynch.

So, Dianna Agron and Lea Michele, who are both 24, posed along with Corey Monteith, 28, in GQ and the Parents Television Council has said it “borders on pedophilia”. You know, I’m just going to let Classically Liberal do the talking because it’s less expletive laden than my response:

Pedophilia is a persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV also says the adult partner must be at least 16 years of age and at least 5 years older than the child. Non-sexual photos of adults, even of adults who play teenagers on television, is not even on the borderline of pedophilia.

In fact, by definition, even if the photo shoot were of actual teenagers this would not be pedophilia. Notice what pedophilia is NOT. It is not the violation of age of consent laws. Age of consent is a legal definition for a status crime, it is not something that falls under the clinical definition of pedophilia.

Nor is pedophilia a sexual relationship with significant age differences, unless one of the individuals is a prepubescent child. A man of 50 who dates an 18 year old is not a pedophile since the 18 year old is not a prepubescent child.

Pedophilia is a sexual attraction to sexually immature children.

Go read the entire article. Really, this is meant to just be a link saying how well-written and thoughtful that article is, but I’m too irritated by the entire thing to leave it at that.

Because I do actually have a problem with the photoshoot — why isn’t Corey Monteith nearly naked too? Mary McNamara at The LATimes got this right:

But the problem isn’t so much the sex as the sexism. And the disappointing banality of it all.

One assumes that Michele, whose poses are much more aggressively suggestive than Agron’s, also wants a payoff for the hours she has clearly spent in the gym since the show premiered, or at least a bigger payoff than her recent Britney Spears number. And no one can blame a young actress for wanting to make it very clear that, the Broadway cred notwithstanding, she isn’t a theater geek but a sexually attractive young woman who shouldn’t be shoeboxed into Rachel roles.

But honestly, does a woman still have to strip down to panties and thigh-highs and straddle a bench to accomplish this? That’s not titillating or provocative or even retro. That’s just sad.

This is GQ we’re talking about, so the fact that anyone is at all surprised that there are women wearing little in the way of clothes while the men are fully dressed should come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever. I think GQ is pretty damn trashy, but if that’s what people want to do, it’s not like I can stop them. These are things this magazine has had in the past:


I included Borat because it’s the only nearly naked man I could find in the magazine, played for laughs, of course. Obviously the right-wing PTC doesn’t care about feminism or equality, but does care about Glee being too demented for children’s fragile little minds.  Now, why it thinks children should otherwise be allowed to read GQ to see the pictures in the first place remains a mystery.

TAM: For the Ladies?

Jen McCreight and PZ Myers have both posted on this — how welcome are women to skeptic events?

I want to say, before I get into some of the less flattering stuff, that I had an excellent time at TAM8 and I met a lot of really interesting, cool people, both men and women.  And many of the women there were strong, outspoken and hilarious, so even if the women are under-represented, they’re well-represented.  I say under-represented because there was a 20 guy long line to the men’s bathroom and no wait to the women’s bathroom.  If that doesn’t speak to gender ratio, what does?

Of course, there were the constant murmurs of how every guy wants to “bag a skepchick” and the winners of the skepchick party costume contest were the girls willing to make out with each other, but I generally accept that with just some eye-rolling.  There were comments I heard about the looks of the female speakers, but then people were making fun of James Randi and Michael Shermer’s height, so maybe that plays out.

I hang out with geeks, I like geeks, I like geek humor, and a lot of that is offensive if you’re easily offended.  And there can certainly be an air of sketchiness around some of those guys with less familiarity with social interaction, and I will say that TAM was a lot less creepy than Comic Con or Dragon*Con when it came to my average interaction with a strange dude.  People there seemed to be genuinely interested in what I had to say, and the environment seemed to be as deliberately nonsexual as possible most of the time.  Though I was occasionally asked if I was in high school, but ageism is a whole nother thing.

I was, however, really bothered by how the female psychic, Anita Ikonen, was treated and talked about.

I understand that the “other” in a skeptic convention is not going to be gender, race, or sexuality but opinion and point of view.  Someone who thinks that they have magical powers is automatically going to be the center of a fair amount of eye-rolling, derision and name-calling.  It’s natural for groups to behave that way, unfortunately, and I’m not here to say that I support the things Anita believes or even her behavior, I don’t know her that well.  But I will say that most of the insults and jeers thrown her way were all based around the fact that she was a young and attractive woman.

Someone called her, on her facebook page, a “psychic slut”.  Many people at TAM accused her of using her sexuality to her advantage, of sleeping around, of sexually getting off on attention.

I will break this down in a second, but let me make one thing very clear: No one, male or female, should ever call a woman a slut.  The intent of that word is to make a woman feel ashamed of her sexuality, to humiliate her, to make her feel degraded.  Not only does it shame the woman in question, it also makes every other woman scared of admitting to being a sexual creature.

It is the fear of being thought a slut that keeps women from accepting their own sexuality and it keeps victims of rape and molestation from feeling safe revealing that they’ve been hurt.  There is, in my opinion, no more hurtful word you can use towards a woman, it is as vile and low as the N-word.  And society uses it to keep women in their place, especially uppity women with opinions and beliefs you disagree with.

So, if you want to say this psychic woman revels in attention, fine, but you don’t get to start calling her names because you don’t like attractive women who are at home with their own sexuality.  You do that and you start driving away the skeptical women in the group.  I don’t want to be part of a group that slut-shames any woman who doesn’t agree with them, though I don’t think the majority of the skeptical group is guilty of that behavior.

I talked to Anita yesterday, I let her know I was writing this and she told me some other things that had happened to her.  She got turned away from taking pictures with a skeptic celebrity with a brusque, “I’m married,” as though she was trying to sleep with them rather than get a photo, and she was asked to send topless photos to a skeptic when they learned she was a psychic.  I know I just went off the other day on how skeptics don’t need to show a consistent face, but this behavior is completely unacceptable in any human.

The girl may be nuts, she may have HPD, she may be incredibly attention hungry for whatever reason, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  I know some people may have personal reasons to dislike her or the discord she apparently causes, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  And if you hate her, fine, and if you hate that the JREF brings her more publicity, fine, but you don’t get to go around complaining that she’s too flirtatious or that she gets all this attention just for being young and cute.  If people react to that in a way you don’t like, it’s their own fault.

This reminds me of the TDS kerfluffle.  Everyone is pissed at TDS for not hiring enough women or having enough visible women.  So, when does everyone get really vocal about it?  When TDS hires an attractive, sexualized woman.  Guess what?  Women have sex!  Women can have sex and be funny!  Olivia Munn is being punished and slut-shamed for pursuing a career in comedy because she’s not the right kind of woman.  You think that when you complain about it the only person you’re hurting is The Daily Show?  How would you feel if someone hiring you turned into an internet shit storm about how you posed in Playboy and just aren’t that funny on G4?

The feminist movement can really hurt women who aren’t the “right kind of woman”.  Women who are naturally thin (real women have curves), like to have sex (sex is men taking advantage of women), or really like clothes or barbies or the color pink.  It’s hard enough to be a woman, it’s hard enough to be different, can’t we let women be human?  Can’t we let them be sexual beings without trying to make them feel horrible about themselves?  Can’t we focus on the intellectual shit instead of petty bitchery?

What’s wrong with guys?

I hate to ask that question because, generally speaking, I get along pretty well with dudes.

There isn’t a general parking lot where I work, just one for the higher ups.  Because of that, I have to park a couple blocks away wherever I can find street parking.  This is not a great situation, not because I mind the walk, but for whatever reason this particular neighborhood, which is quite nice, has some very not nice traffic in the form of guys who like to harass women.

Up to now, this has only really been a problem in the evenings, after dark, and if I leave particularly late or am parked particularly far away, I can usually get someone to walk with me.  Which I never do because that seems pathetic.  I have been followed by cars, honked at, and screamed at.  It’s usually just a brief scare and it passes.

Not that it matters, and it certainly shouldn’t matter, but I don’t dress provocatively.  80% of the time I’m wearing some variation of jeans, t-shirt, ponytail and glasses.

Anyway, the point is that the summer has been a welcome respite because it stays light longer, so I walk to my car from work in the daylight and it’s all good.  I haven’t been bothered in ages.

This morning, I parked not terribly far away, and someone in a gold forerunner not in very good shape honked at me and waved like crazy as I was walking through a crosswalk.  I looked at them, it was some guy I didn’t recognize and who, even at a distance, looked skeezy.  To be fair, honking at a girl automatically puts you in the skeez camp, even if it is 10AM.

I crossed over another street and saw that the forerunner was driving too fast up that street and quickened my pace a little to be well out of the way.  The guy had driven around like 5 blocks to get back to me.  The guy started screaming at me, but I just ignored him since he was behind me, hoping that he’d go away.

The guy swearved around traffic and pulled into someone’s driveway to cut me off.  He very nearly ran me over.

Creep: Hey, I’m the guy who honked at you.
Me: Yeah, I got that.
C: Do you have a boyfriend?
M: Yes.
(The inflection here has to imply the imaginary boyfriend is a linebacker, very violent, and the jealous type)
C: Does he make you happy?
M: Yes.
C: That’s too bad, I was hoping I could take you out some time.
M: Sorry, you can’t.
C: You could still go out though, right? I mean –
M: Really I couldn’t
C: Do you have a sister?
M: No, I have a brother, I doubt you’d be interested.

Do you have a sister? WTF SERIOUSLY?! Who goes around picking up women on the side of the road?

The Imaginary Boyfriend

The Imaginary Boyfriend

Anyway, this all reminds me of a post on Pharyngula yesterday, about why there aren’t more women who go to conventions. It’s because women deal with shit like that on a regular basis and walking into a room dominated by strange guys by yourself isn’t fun. It’s not fair to the vast majority of guys who aren’t super creepy, but it’s true. Even if only one guy in the room is super creepy, if none of the other people have your back, many girls decide that it’s not worth it.

And if one person comments that I’m lucky to have the attention, I will find you and bring a baseball bat.  I don’t own a baseball bat, but I’m seriously reconsidering my position on that.

Have some disturbing links

The following is a man arguing that the only way for men to get back equality that they’ve lost thanks to feminism is to rape women.

“So it is about time men in feminist countries such as Norway stop thinking of rape as wrong.”

http://eivindberge.blogspot.com/2009/05/rape-is-equality.html

Here’s an article from the front page of CNN that’s all God-lovey.  Let’s ignore for a moment that it’s just shitty writing, and acknowledge that it’s also incredibly biased and offensive.

“Jesus was fearless, not someone you provoked,” Franklin says. “He’s a man’s man. He was a carpenter who worked with his hands. He wasn’t a metrosexual who did his nails.”

http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/wayoflife/05/25/God.sports/index.html?hpt=C1