My interview at Radio Freethinker

In which I discuss women in skepticism (it’s a little less than half way in*).

I was a bit sleep deprived thanks to a long post-talk pub night the evening before, and the interview took place early morning sans coffee, so I don’t quite remember what I said. Something about ladies and skepticism and such.

A ringing endorsement, I know. Oh well, go listen! Thanks to Ethan and Chloe for having me be a part of the show.

*That’s what she said.**

**Aren’t I the best spokesperson for women?

Help Ask an Atheist!

Remember earlier this month when I congratulated Seattle’s Ask an Atheist television show for sweeping its channel’s awards? Well, unfortunately that channel is going to be dead come December 31st thanks to a lack of public funding. Ask an Atheist doesn’t want to die with it, so they’re asking for some help. They’ll be moving to commercial radio (KLAY 1180 AM in Lakewood), but that takes some money. You can help them in two ways:

1. If you’re a fan of the show but not near Seattle, you can donate. Remember, you can watch all of the episodes online!

2. If you’re in the Seattle area, there will be a comedy benefit show in Tacoma on December 9th. What’s not to love about godless humor that helps a good cause?

Don’t you want to be able to say you helped fund the first commercial atheist show in the country? You know you do. Or at the very least, you know you want to keep me supplied with local godless inspiration. Everybody wins!

Anti-vaxxer madlibs

I filled in the blanks!

Don’t you hate that you get sick every time you go to Canada? It certainly can’t be because you got infected before you went to Canada, because we all know correlation implies causation, and that no other variables other that you going to Canada preceded getting sick. Therefore, crossing the border made me sick. I knew this would happen! …What, confirmation bias? What’s that?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Except people say this same exact thing about getting flu shots, not crossing the border. Sigh.

But yeah, apparently I have some non-strep throat virus that’s been going around campus. You know it’s good when the nurse exclaims, “Wow! [Your tonsils] look God awful!” Thankfully it’s not too bad since there’s nothing they can really do about it other than decrease some of the throat pain. Last time I had codeine I had Iron Chef sleep walking hallucinations, so this may be interesting.

Sexy feminism?

Feminism is about choice. Sometimes I think if I repeat that enough, people will get it. This time I’ll let another blogger repeat it for me, since I think she’s spot on:

Feminism (at least my brand) doesn’t oppose sexiness, but it opposes compulsory sexiness.

It’s the difference between putting on makeup to look like your slutty fantasy, and putting on makeup to leave the house. Between wearing heels because they make your ass tight and your legs long, and wearing heels because they’re in your dress code. Between smiling at a sexy stranger and having “hey honey, why aincha smiling” yelled at you. Between having sex because your pussy is wet and your muscles are quivering, and having sex because it’s time to put out.

And I’d go further and say it’s also the difference between being a sex worker because that’s a legitimate career option, and being a sex worker because it’s the only way you can eat. It’s the difference between sexified female bodies being used as porn, and them being used as decorations and advertisements. Maybe most importantly, it’s the difference between women being taken seriously when they talk about sexuality, and women not being taken seriously when they’re not sexy enough.

And I’d add that the opposite is also true. It’s the difference between dressing modestly because it’s comfortable or keeps you warm, and dressing modestly to avoid being jailed or raped because you were “asking for it.” Between liking football and Grand Theft Auto because they entertain you, and liking football and Grand Theft Auto because you don’t want to dare to have stereotypically “girly” hobbies. Between forgoing makeup because you’re too lazy in the morning and forgoing makeup because otherwise you won’t be taken seriously at work. Between choosing nerdy t-shirts because you think they’re funny, and choosing nerdy t-shirts because your friends will heckle you if you wear anything feminine.

Compulsory anti-sexiness is not the solution to compulsory sexiness. There’s not one right way to be a woman.

I’m back!

And I’m about to go pass out somewhere. My Canada speaking trip was fun, but I’m exhausted now that I’m home. I’ll write up more about my trip later, but for now I leave you with one very important question to ponder:

Why does Canada get Cadbury chocolate products year round? Why must we wait until Easter time for Cadbury eggs, when they have delicious stuff like Caramilk bars? Totally unfair.

Sexy + Smart = Scary

I’ve been busy getting ready for my Canada trip, so I missed this little debate while it was first bubbling up. tl;dr some feminists are cranky that there are science cheerleaders because the only reason a woman would act sexy is because she’s been brainwashed by men.

Ow. I just strained an eye muscle from rolling them too hard.

Thankfully I don’t have to waste my time replying to think bunk, since ERV has already eviscerated it:

Not the oh-so-civil ZuskAIDS! She wants everyone who doenst conform to her stereotypes to SHUT UP!!!
Let’s say the Science Cheerleaders do keep one girl in advanced science or math classes, but make three other girls feel like they have to pornulate themselves in order to be 21st Century Fembot Compliant While Doing Science, and make five d00ds feel like it is perfectly okay to hang up soft porn pictures of sexay hawt babes in the lab and harass some colleague because hawt science women WANT to be appreciated for being sexay and smart!

Once again, women cannot be attractive and smart in Zuskas world. Women cannot enjoy being cheerleaders. Women cannot enjoy sex. NEWSFLASH, HAG– Making women feel like they have to change themselves to appease a stereotype, whether its TEH D00DS or YOURS is BULLSHIT. Girls/Boys who want to cheer and go into science SHOULDNT be degraded anymore than girls/boys who DONT want to cheer and go into science.

SO STOP DEGRADING THE ONES THAT DONT FOLLOW YOUR STEREOTYPES.

It’s funny how feminists can’t comprehend the concept of letting women do what they want. Actually, no, it’s not funny anymore – it’s fucking aggravating. This is why people think all feminists are humorless, sexless man-haters – not because of your personal choices, but because you try to police others. Don’t try to pin the cause of feminist stereotypes on “sexy feminists” when you’re the ones perpetuating the stereotypes.

It's a sign

Apparently God hates feminism. Or at least, God hates feminists talking about how God hates feminism. My talk last night was effectively canceled due to massive amounts of unseasonable snow in Vancouver. It wasn’t too horrible to drive in if you went slowly – more slush than the black ice Seattle got. But SFU is perched on top of a mountain, so they canceled afternoon classes. Which meant:

1. No buses were running to campus. Apparently some of my readers attempted to get to my talk, but couldn’t because of this issue. Sorry guys!
2. College students happily ran home to play in the snow/sleep/drink heavily early. Or to make sure they could get home at all with the snow. I don’t blame them; I probably would have done the same.
3. The office in charge of unlocking projectors refuses to unlock the one in the room I was speaking in since classes were officially canceled, so no PowerPoint for me and the hardcore students who still showed up to my talk.

Thankfully I wasn’t required to illustrate my talk through interpretive dance. Instead we went to a restaurant on campus to eat and drink. I ended up giving an informal version on my talk on someone’s laptop, but most of the night was spent educating me on everything Canadian. I think I have a vague grasp of Canadian politics now. Though of course, they could have been making everything up and I wouldn’t have been the wiser. Those wiley Canadians.

The rest of my talks should still be on, since what seemed to be a foot of snow magically melted overnight. Apparently God is totally cool with me poking fun at the Creation Museum, but not the Bible.

Vancouver or bust!

I’m leaving for my Canadian speaking tour this morning! Here’s my schedule, as a reminder:

Simon Fraser University Skeptics
Thurs. Nov. 25 3:30-5:30 pm in AQ 5037
Atheism and Feminism
Hour talk followed by Q&A
Free & open to the public
Likely impromptu pub night to follow

University of British Columbia Freethinkers
Fri. Nov. 26 7-9 pm in Buchanan A203
My Trip to the Creation Museum
Hour talk followed by Q&A
Free for members, $2 for general public
Post talk drinks and fun somewhere

CFI Vancouver
Cafe Inquiry with Jennifer McCreight
Sat. Nov. 27 11 am-1 pm at SFU Harbour Centre
Tentative topic: Closing the gender gap in skepticism
20 min talk followed by discussion
Free & open to public (donations welcome)

British Columbia Humanists
Sun. Nov. 28 9:30-11:30 am at Oakridge Seniors Centre
Boobquake & Its Aftershocks
Hour talk followed by Q&A
Open to public & donations welcome ($2 suggested)
The pub nights are up in the air (apparently one of the planned places closed, whoops), but I’ll announce where we’re going via Twitter as soon as I know.

Well, that’s assuming I get there at all. Apparently it’s snowing all between Seattle and Vancouver. Gulp. Leaving early and driving slowly…

Snowpacolypse 2010!

That’s what Seattlites are already dubbing last night. Only two inches of snow fell in my neighborhood, but I’m reevaluating my Midwestern instinct to heckle. When your city is hilly and severely deprived of snow plows and de-icers, this is the result:

My favorite “Oh nooooooooooo” moment is when the bus appears around 3 minutes in, and proceeds to fail. I road the bus home last night, but thankfully my route didn’t need to conquer any major hills.

Because the roads are basically made of ice, school was canceled. You know it’s bad when universities aren’t even sending their grad students in. Of course, I’m used to living in Indiana, where we have an army of snow plots ready to make the road spotless at the sight of a single flake. The only time school was canceled for us was when the power went out because of a storm. Ah, the fond memories of walking to class in below zero weather during a blizzard.

Instead I’m huddled up next to my not-very-effective space heater in my much-too-cold basement apartment preparing for my trip to Canada. I was planning on leaving Thursday morning, but now I’m a bit worried about the weather forecast:I was already worried driving on Thanksgiving Day and dealing with crossing the border, but now there’s going to be rain and snow too? Gah. I just hope I get there in one piece. If I don’t make it to my talk on atheism and feminism, I’m sure people would be happy to have an open discussion about atheism and skepticism for the ten billionth time.

EDIT: I’d just like to add that I’ve heard at least three different sirens during the time it took me to write this post. Snowpacolypse chaos!!!

Pope: condoms not just for gay prostitutes

When the Pope recently decided that condom use was okay when preventing the spread of AIDS, many people were suspicious of the example he used – gay prostitutes. Did that mean it was only okay when there was already zero possibility of pregnancy? Was this the Catholic Church snubbing women yet again?

The Vatican has released a clarification today that condoms can be used to prevent AIDS by all genders and sexual orientations:

The pope’s comments in the book implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren’t being used as a form of contraception. Questions arose immediately about the pope’s intent, though, because the Italian translation of the book used the feminine for prostitute, whereas the original German used the masculine.

Lombardi told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended to refer only to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me ‘no.’ The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

“This is if you’re a man, a woman, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point. The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,” Lombardi said.

[…]In the book, the pope was not justifying or condoning gay sex, condoms as a means of artificial contraception or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage. He reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.

But by broadening the condom comments to also apply to women, the pope is saying that condom use is a lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner even when pregnancy is possible.

“We’re not just talking about an encounter between two men, which has little to do with procreation. We’re now introducing relationships that could lead to childbirth,” Martin said.

The Catholic Church hasn’t quite joined us in the 21st century, but making it to the 20th century is a good first step. This decision will save countless of lives, even if it is just a publicity ploy to distract people from their child molestation scandal.

Sooooo, can someone explain to me how the concepts of the “infallibility of the Church” and “papal infallibility” meshes with “changing your mind”?