Sexual revolution = sexual assault?

In 2015, I saw an article called, “I’m A Gay Man Who Loves Sex (And Here’s Why That’s Suddenly A Problem)“, by Noah Michelson. Most of the article is about defending the sexual openness and promiscuity of gay men. But I just want to talk about this one line:

Caramanno is disturbed by “the male gaze” and the way that he has been groped in gay clubs and “eyed by guys the way a hungry CrossFitter stares down a packet of bacon” (which, if you ask me, sounds pretty hot)…

Here, Michelson is criticizing another article by someone named Caramanno.  The groping that Caramanno is complaining about is unwanted groping. Not that the Michelson could be bothered to mention the unwanted part. He simply dismisses Caramanno’s complaints in one throwaway line in an otherwise trite article about the sexual revolution.

You know what, guy? I don’t give a shit about your sexual revolution, because apparently you don’t give a shit about sexual assault. You didn’t show the slightest awareness that you even knew you were talking about it. Somehow, for you, complaints about sexual assault are the same as complaints that gay men get around too much. The fact that promiscuity involves consent but sexual assault does not was somehow too subtle a point. Fuck you.

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Rational ideals

This post is for the Carnival of Aces, whose theme this month is “Questioning your faith“.

Leaving religion was a rather unemotional process for me. There was no catalyzing event. I was interested in skepticism. I learned about philosophical arguments for God, and found them unpersuasive.  Without any real urgency, I spent a whole year thinking to myself, “Gee, there’s really no justification for belief in God, and there may never be.” At the end of the year, I considered myself an atheist.

Unlike leaving religion, leaving straightness was a far more emotional experience. And yet, I tried to treat it the same way. “Am I straight or am I asexual?” was an intellectual puzzle, to be approached under the same rational ideals.  It is not clear to me, after the fact, that this approach was a good idea.  Here I give a taste of my thought process.
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Atheist venting

Coyote, a bloggy buddy, had an anecdote about an awkward atheist encounter. Four people were hanging out playing board games, when an atheist realized that the other three were all Christian. For whatever reason, the atheist decided this was a good time to confront everybody about Christianity and/or defend atheism. Coyote described it as “delivering a predetermined spiel”.

I feel like I’ve seen that before. For example, one time the local atheist student group met up with some Christians for lunch, and there were a few students who really launched into spiels about why atheism is more fulfilling and stuff. Whereas my initial reaction was to ask about their majors and to figure out where they were on the political spectrum.

I’ve also been on the receiving end. Back in the day I’d table for the atheist student group, and sometimes people would approach the table and just start monologuing about how science is the greatest and religion is the worst. Then they’d walk away before I could respond to anything. Okay? Happy to lend an ear?

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Signaling in social justice language

Social justice activists like myself have a tendency to construct a lot of rules about which words to use or avoid. For example, “gay” is preferred to “homosexual” because the latter is too formal, clinical, and distant. On the other hand, “homosexual” may be acceptable when it’s used in parallel with “heterosexual”, or if it’s contrasted with “homoromantic”. These rules can be frustrating to learn, but they have some rationale behind them.

And then there are other rules which just don’t have any clear rationale. For instance, “gay” is to be used only as an adjective, never as a noun, and certainly never as a plural noun (i.e. “the gays”). Why? We don’t have a problem with using plural nouns for other identities, such as “Americans”, “liberals” or “atheists”. Even other sexual orientations are usually acceptable, as in the case of “lesbians”, “bisexuals”, or “asexuals”.

On an individual level, the only rationale is that “the gays” just sounds wrong, and conjures negative associations. It makes me think of conservative preachers talking about all the evil things the gays are up to.

On a broader scale, this is a clear example of signaling. Following arbitrary language rules indicates that a person has taken the time to educate themselves and exercise a little empathy.
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Review: Hits and Mrs.

Content note: this is a spoiler free review. The book depicts rape, which is briefly discussed here.

PZ Myers brought to my attention to Hits and Mrs., a new novel by Karen Stollznow. The book is about Claudia Cox, and her efforts to expose her ex-fiance Gil Godsend, a famous psychic medium. This book was of particular interest to me, because of its topical nature, and because PZ mentioned its negative view of organized skepticism. Although, as it turns out, the negative view of organized skepticism plays only a very minor role.

The first thing that struck me about the book was its similarity to TV series Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones is a former superhero, currently working as a private detective specializing in cheating husbands. In the series, she faces off against an abusive ex slash supervillain with the power to control people. In Hits and Mrs. Claudia Cox is a former skeptical activist, currently working as a private detective specializing in cheating husbands. In the book, she faces off against a manipulative ex slash villain with the power to read people.

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Five awful things about “God’s not Dead”

This is a repost of an article I wrote in 2014.  I thought it might be relevant, given that God’s Not Dead now has a sequel.

I saw God’s Not Dead, a Christian film that appears to be based on that absurd chain e-mail about the brave Christian student who faces down an atheist professor.  This movie got a 16/100 on metacritic, but still ended up a big box office success.  If you want to know what happens in it without watching it, I recommend this synopsis.

In the world of God’s Not Dead, atheists are horrible people who mock their girlfriends in public, abandon people close to them when they’re dying, and secretly hate god.  The movie joyously depicts atheists dying by cancer or car accidents, and gloats over their last minute conversions.  Also, all atheist arguments are arguments from authority or assertion (oddly, so are the Christian arguments).

But a lot of that has already been said.  So here I present five things that were awful or bizarre about God’s Not Dead that had nothing to do with atheism.

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Linkspam: May 12th, 2016

It’s time for more links, along with my brief comments.

Hot and Cold Cognitive Empathy – Ozy distinguishes between hot cognitive empathy, which is intuitively felt, and cold cognitive empathy, which is deliberate.  Ozy observes that many autistic people develop the latter, and comments of the advantages and disadvantages.  I am not autistic, and experience hot cognitive empathy, but I find it fascinating how different people have different private experiences, and develop different mental processes to fulfill the same function.

Aphantasia: How it feels to be blind in your mind – Blake Ross, cofounder of Firefox, explains a revelation he had: “Picture it in your mind’s eye” is a literal expression for most people, but not for him.

This is another case in point.  Many people have different private experiences, but it can go under the radar for a long time because so much of our language describes only the function of our private experiences, rather than the experiences themselves.  And yet, contra Wittgenstein, comparing private experiences is at least possible.  This makes me wonder if I have other private experiences which are atypical.  For example, I suspect that fish doesn’t taste the same way to me as it does to other people.  Also, I don’t think I experience this “mystic emotion” thing that Einstein says is necessary to being alive.  Einstein: what a jerk!

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