It’s shit like this, r/atheism

I know this is just going to dig my hole even deeper, but I’m a blogger, so speaking my mind is what I do.

A couple of months ago I made a passing comment that I don’t like the atheism subreddit that much because it comes off as very sexist. Sexist comments can pop up on reddit as a whole (sometimes heavily upvoted, to my dismay), but sexist comments on r/atheism affect me more. For one, I tend to hold atheists to a higher standard, so it saddens me when they act irrationally about gender.

But two, the comments are personal. Whenever I see that I got an uptick in traffic from reddit, I’m always afraid to go check the link. Because inevitably when someone links to my blog, many of the comments will be disparaging remarks about my gender or looks. Hell, even some of the positive comments are about my gender or looks, which are still annoying – can we please comment about the content, and not my boobs, please?

So I lurk around r/atheism, but I rarely comment and never post my own stuff because I don’t want to deal with the flack. It’s not worth the frustration usually. But today I did submit my post about atheism in high schools, because it’s so important that I wanted to make sure a wide audience saw it. Young people are the future, blah blah.

But it also set up an accidental experiment. What happens when a female submitter links to her own post, and a male submitter links to his post featuring the same story? That happened when JT Eberhard linked to his post on Atheism Resource a couple hours after I linked to mine.

Let’s compare! (at the time of writing this blog)

JT’s Post:

121 upvotes
24 downvotes

1 comment with contact information (by JT) (5.5%)
4 jokes about the content of atheist clubs (22.2%)
5 jokes about high schoolers (27.7%)
8 relevant remarks about high school atheist groups (44.4%)

Jen’s Post:

110 upvotes
44 downvotes

2 comments about the appearance of women/banging them (3.3%)
19 comments basically saying how much I suck (32.2%)
22 comments (a lot of them mine) defending me against said comments (37.2%)
16 relevant remarks about high school atheist groups (27.1%)

So JT gets mostly relative posts or light-hearted humor, while I get disparaging comments and thread derailing thanks to people trying to reply. At least there are people replying (and the bad comments are getting downvoted), but it’s still frustrating. What woman would be encouraged to join this community or share posts when she has to deal with this shit all the time? And it is all the time – if you look at other Blag Hag posts people have submitted, there will always be at least some comments about my boobs, or how I have a deformed chipmunk face (I still don’t quite understand that one).

It gets old, but I don’t have a solution other than escaping to 2Xchromosomes (…which reddit mocks repeatedly). I just want to point out why r/atheism doesn’t make me feel exactly comfortable, instead of people thinking I’m just another “crazy feminist” who’s “hypersensitive” and “making up sexism that isn’t there.” I know the majority of people at r/atheism are fine, but the few rotten fruit are certainly ruining it for some of us.

It's shit like this, r/atheism

I know this is just going to dig my hole even deeper, but I’m a blogger, so speaking my mind is what I do.

A couple of months ago I made a passing comment that I don’t like the atheism subreddit that much because it comes off as very sexist. Sexist comments can pop up on reddit as a whole (sometimes heavily upvoted, to my dismay), but sexist comments on r/atheism affect me more. For one, I tend to hold atheists to a higher standard, so it saddens me when they act irrationally about gender.

But two, the comments are personal. Whenever I see that I got an uptick in traffic from reddit, I’m always afraid to go check the link. Because inevitably when someone links to my blog, many of the comments will be disparaging remarks about my gender or looks. Hell, even some of the positive comments are about my gender or looks, which are still annoying – can we please comment about the content, and not my boobs, please?

So I lurk around r/atheism, but I rarely comment and never post my own stuff because I don’t want to deal with the flack. It’s not worth the frustration usually. But today I did submit my post about atheism in high schools, because it’s so important that I wanted to make sure a wide audience saw it. Young people are the future, blah blah.

But it also set up an accidental experiment. What happens when a female submitter links to her own post, and a male submitter links to his post featuring the same story? That happened when JT Eberhard linked to his post on Atheism Resource a couple hours after I linked to mine.

Let’s compare! (at the time of writing this blog)

JT’s Post:

121 upvotes
24 downvotes

1 comment with contact information (by JT) (5.5%)
4 jokes about the content of atheist clubs (22.2%)
5 jokes about high schoolers (27.7%)
8 relevant remarks about high school atheist groups (44.4%)

Jen’s Post:

110 upvotes
44 downvotes

2 comments about the appearance of women/banging them (3.3%)
19 comments basically saying how much I suck (32.2%)
22 comments (a lot of them mine) defending me against said comments (37.2%)
16 relevant remarks about high school atheist groups (27.1%)

So JT gets mostly relative posts or light-hearted humor, while I get disparaging comments and thread derailing thanks to people trying to reply. At least there are people replying (and the bad comments are getting downvoted), but it’s still frustrating. What woman would be encouraged to join this community or share posts when she has to deal with this shit all the time? And it is all the time – if you look at other Blag Hag posts people have submitted, there will always be at least some comments about my boobs, or how I have a deformed chipmunk face (I still don’t quite understand that one).

It gets old, but I don’t have a solution other than escaping to 2Xchromosomes (…which reddit mocks repeatedly). I just want to point out why r/atheism doesn’t make me feel exactly comfortable, instead of people thinking I’m just another “crazy feminist” who’s “hypersensitive” and “making up sexism that isn’t there.” I know the majority of people at r/atheism are fine, but the few rotten fruit are certainly ruining it for some of us.

I wasn’t expecting this remix

Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University sang an a capella version of the Bed Intruder song at their Christmas show. Wha?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMB10wwmWrU&fs=1&hl=en_US]

It’s pretty good, though my mind is boggled by a Christmas show at a right-wing evangelical school singing a song by an openly gay man about attempted rape. Especially considering the Dean of Law at Liberty University is also the founder of the Liberty Counsel, which puts out a list of “naughty” stores that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Bed Intruder Song? Totally appropriate for Christmas.

Saying “Happy Holidays?” OMG you’re undermining Christianity by being inclusive!!!!

Got it.

Troll physics explained

Rage comics are one of my guilty pleasures. Combine them with my love for science, and you can’t go wrong. A physics professor was asked to explain the (lack of) science behind some of the funnier “Troll physics” comics. Here’s one of my favorites:

“DM: Jumping off the ground – or even a chair on the ground – is nothing like jumping off a chair while you and the chair are in freefall. Because the chair isn’t connected to anything, you’ll be pushing the chair DOWN as much as pushing yourself up (via Newton’s third law). And since you have much more mass than the chair, the force you and the chair exert on one another will speed up the chair’s descent much more than it slows your own.”

Is it bad that I think I would have learned more from my physics class if it would have incorporated internet memes?

I like it to actually have a point

There’s been a new meme running around Facebook recently. If you haven’t heard about it, or if you’ve been confused by it, allow me to post the original message to explain what it is:

Remember the game last year about what colour bra you were wearing at the moment? The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news. This year’s game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example “I like it on the couch”, “I like it on the kitchen counter”, “I like it on the dresser” well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. The bra game made it to the news. Let’s see how powerful we women really are!!! REMEMBER – DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!!! PASS THIS TO EVERY WOMAN YOU KNOW

How is this raising awareness? Or more importantly, who the fuck isn’t aware of breast cancer by now? We don’t need to be raising awareness that it exists. We need to raise awareness about self examinations, mammograms, or places where we can donate money. That will actually save lives. How is posting a cryptic facebook status update that’s purposefully meant to confuse people saving the lives of people who suffer from breast cancer?

Because it isn’t meant to raise awareness or save lives. The point of this is to titillate. Now, I’m not going to pretend I’m above juvenile humor – I just made a post giggling at naughty sounding scientific words. But this is even bellow all of the “I Heart Boobies” t-shirts – even though those reduce survivors to their breasts, at least they actually raise money for research, treatment, and prevention.

But this is just sad. I think this redditor sums up how I feel quite nicely:

I’m a dude. I thought some of my facebook friends were just horny and proud of it, so when I read things like “I like it on the table / couch / car,” I thought, “Good for you! You’re owning your sexuality, even if it’s some awkward public declaration of it! Go do your thing!” To find out it’s about breast cancer ruins both the campaign and my friends’ false sexual declarations.

Our society needs to stop treating women’s sexuality like it’s only acceptable when used as a tool or in jest. It’s just as sad that women are perpetuating it. They’re effectively saying “This is funny because I would never actually talk openly about my sexual preferences, or even admit to being sexual, and I like confusing guys so they’ll give me attention by posting a bunch of comments to my status!” Cut it out, ladies.

I like my purse on my floor. And I like having sex wherever I goddamn want.

Now go here to actually do something worthwhile – one click has a sponsor fund a free mammogram.

Twitter affects brain chemistry the same as love

Why is Twitter so addictive and appealing? It seems the answer may be more scientific than one would have guessed. An experiment by an industrious blogger has found that sending a tweet increases oxytocin and decreases stress hormone levels in the brain. This is similar to the reaction a person has when being in love.

I would love to see this investigated on a larger scale. Is this guy an anomoly, or is this a common experience for tweeters? How does reading other tweets affect us? Are the effects magnified when someone replies to us? Are the thousands of tweets I’ve sent in the last year considered drug abuse?

Hop to it, NIH! Fund this essential research.

Overheard at Purdue

Me: *walks into Student Activities Office to fill out some forms for the Society of Non-Theists*
Guy 1: *to Guy 2, who’s filling out form* Club website? Heh, put goatse.
Me: *laughs*
Guy 2: …And this is a lesson on why you should see who’s standing behind you before saying something like that.
Me: Hey, I laughed and knew what goatse was. You got lucky that I’m another internet nerd.

I later found out they were with the Improv club, which was fittingly nerdy. Goatseing administrators would be a spectacular way to end a club – unfortunately your college career would probably end along with it.

And if for some unlikely reason you have no idea what I’m talking about, please do not Google image search goatse to find out. Or if you do, make sure to videotape yourself doing so.

Update: Google’s religious “censorship” spreads?

About a week ago I made a post about Google’s apparent concealment of suggestions for search terms about certain popular religions. A couple of people who work for Google (but not on Google’s suggest feature) postulated that it may merely be an odd artifact the coding, some software bug, an algorithm error, etc. The last commenter said he spread the word around Google to get some answers…and now look at this new development:I hate to jump to conclusions, but it seems mighty suspicious that “Buddhists are” and “atheists are,” the two terms I pointed out did have suggestions, now no longer do. Coincidence of another bug? Or has someone at Google been reading my blog post?

Would someone at Google like to explain what’s going on? If Google is choosing to hide these search suggestions, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. They’re not censoring the search results themselves, and as a private company they can do whatever they wish. I’m more curious behind Google’s rationale on deciding what doesn’t return a suggestion. Or if this does turn out to be some odd bug, why the heck is it acting so suspiciously?

EDIT: A reader makes an interesting comment that searching for many nationalities also fails to return suggestions. Try “Italians are” or “Mexicans are.” Seems this may by a wider attempt not to offend. Though “Greeks are” does return stuff; blatant discrimination against me!!!*

*Joking. Obviously.

Google’s religious censorship: the double standard

Anyone who has used Google before knows that when you start typing a phrase, Google will start suggesting searches for you based on common searches of other people. This can be useful, and it can also lead to some pretty wacky stuff popping up sometimes. But what happens when you combine religion and Google’s search suggestions? Let’s take a look at some major world religions:Wow, a lot of negative and critical stuff being searched, huh? Because I’m an equal opportunity offender, let’s throw in atheism too, even though it’s technically not a religion (though apparently most searchers don’t understand that).
But wait, what about Islam? Did I just forget about them? Nope – there’s just nothing to show.
Yep. Google censors the search “Islam is,” presumably so negative phrases don’t pop up. Apparently it’s okay to criticize other religions – but Islam? Oh ho ho, nooooo, we’re not opening that can of worms.

But maybe no one is searching for “Islam is,” and that’s why we don’t see it. Let’s take a look at the number of search results per term:

“Christianity is” – 2,600,000
“Judaism is” – 486,000
“Hinduism is” – 270,000
“Buddhism is” – 550,000
“Atheism is” – 548,000
“Islam is” – 14,400,000

Yes, even though “Islam is” has the most search results, it offers no search suggestion.

Maybe this is an isolated case. What happens if we look at a similar type of search term?
Huh, looking pretty empty around here. I guess this goes with the old “Respect the person, not the idea” mantra that I support. As long as Google does that for all of the groups…
Well…okay, I guess none of those things are really bad things…
Aaanndd never mind. Guess it’s still okay to pick on the ickle atheists, but not anyone else.

Let’s look at the search results:

“Christians are” – 2,600,000
“Jews are” – 7,880,000
“Muslims are” – 1,890,000
“Hindus are” – 268,000
“Buddhists are” – 95,300
“Atheists are” – 390,000

Again, an odd little correlation. Two of the terms with the lowest amount of search results are the ones that actually show search suggestions. It’s obvious Google is covering its ass and trying not to offend religious users – and you know what, as a company they have that right. And as long as they’re not censoring the actual results (which seems true, looking at the number of search results), that’s okay with me. But I think this really illustrates the attitude that surrounds criticizing religion.

We’ve gotten to the point where it’s okay to criticize everything but Islam – which is a better than not being able to criticize religion at all – but we shouldn’t be putting Islam on a special pedestal. We can’t be bullied into silence through threats and incidents like the Muhammad cartoons, because that only gives them even more power. Even something as simple as Google being afraid to highlight the searches of others (not their own personal views) shows how strongly people can fear criticizing Muslims.

And as for the search terms about individuals? I personally don’t think Google should censor anything, as it leaves silly loop holes like this. It shows which groups scare them the most – the ones with the most power – rather than any sort of logical, uniform censoring system. I don’t think Google hates atheists, but rather that they realize we won’t flip our shit at a couple of nasty search terms. It just all seems a bit ridiculous, really.

(Hat tip to Reddit for finding this)