First of all, news! Thanks to the incredible generosity of Marcus Ranum, a frequent commenter on FtB, I’m going to Women in Secularism 2 for free! If you’re going too, you should find me there and say hi.
While I’m on the subject of things I’m going to, I’m also going to SkepTech in the Twin Cities on April 5-7. You should find me and say hi there too.
In terms of the rest of my life, I’m about to turn 22 and start hearing back from grad schools. Dunno how I feel about either of those things right now. :P
On to the links.
It is natural for anyone, especially skepto-atheists, to become hung up on a point of fact, particularly when it colors how we are seen, when an interpretation of words reflects on us as people. When called out for saying something or for holding an opinion that seems to reveal a lack of sensitivity, a social ignorance, or an over-abundance of privilege, it stings, and our obvious recourse is to counter the accusation (or the polite consciousness-raising) with more words. An additional three or four paragraphs, surely, will clear this whole mess up.
Has it ever?
2. Collin discusses free speech and the “right not to be offended” and makes a ton of really excellent points:
There is no right not to be offended, but this platitude, when used as a rhetorical conversation-stopper, is nothing more than a red herring*. In the same sense that you dohave a right to uncritically accept shallow falsehoods or commit logical fallacies, you also have a right to cause offense. However, if you wish to be a rationalist, you should not mindlessly exercise these rights, and you should especially not use them as a pretext for intellectual dishonesty.
3. Captain Awkward settles the question of whether or not men and women can be friends. (Spoiler alert: yes.)
When I was growing up, my mom fell into this trap, big time even though she is an amazing, driven, brilliant, career-minded feminist who brooks no crap from anyone. She was hyper-vigilant and worried about any time I spent with boys. Even though I played on a nearly all-male soccer team. Even though men made up more than half our family, not to mention being half of everyone on the planet so, not actually avoidable. I was not allowed to invite male friends over, or go to their houses, and the question was always “Will there be boys there?” She would say “It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust them,” or “You never know what might happen” or “You don’t want to get a reputation.” I wanted to know – WHAT? WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN?
4. Cliff discusses negotiating relationships; this is an extremely useful post. I can’t even pull a quote out because it’s all that good.
5. Jadehawk explains why a recent piece on sex work from Feministe is wrong. Also impossible to pull a quote from since it’s a point-by-point rebuttal.
I have access to produce, to grains and nuts, to soy and specialty “health” products; a family and community that value or at least tolerate that decision. Because I am able to eat vegan, I do. In my experience, being a vegan (if it is economically and nutritionally feasible) is easier than being a feminist. In my diet I can draw very clear lines for myself, which requires only that I obey a habit at each meal. In contrast, responsible feminism requires the mental exercise of regularly throwing off the patriarchy’s kyriarchy’s hold.
7. Ferrett points out how important it is to differentiate between being attracted to people physically and being attracted to their personality, and how most people don’t really think about this difference:
Look, I’m not saying never to boink a really pretty person who you don’t get along with. Do! Safely! Consensually! Exorbitantly! But the danger is in trying to transform that single-serving friendship into a relationship. And you do that by fabricating bits of their personality that don’t actually exist, which is never a good idea.
8. Lore Sjöberg from Wired discusses the Nice Guy phenomenon:
Now, I hear some of you complaining “women always say they want a nice guy.” I know lots of women — I’m even related to a few — and I can’t say I’ve ever heard any of them say that. I can’t prove it, but this sounds like one of those things stand-up comedians say about women and everyone else just repeats. I’ve also never known a woman who cries when she breaks a nail — although I’ve known a few who swear like a 15-year-old sailor in jail — and I’ve never had a woman ask me if her outfit made her look fat unless she actually wanted and subsequently appreciated my opinion. So either I’ve stumbled upon a secret trove of women who aren’t passive-aggressive sob machines, or you need to stop mistaking Dane Cook routines for peer-reviewed sociological studies.
Christianity is a privileged class in this country, and at many times throughout history (including today) its religious leaders have been guilty of oppressing people whose humanity (as found in their religion or lack thereof, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc.) they haven’t understood. This has happened in nearly every generation in which Christianity has existed– and in every case, there has always been some faction of people who said, “Those who wish to use scripture to marginalize others are entitled to their opinion.”
I can’t say that anymore. Even if it’s popular. Even if it’s politically correct. Even if it’s touted as the “peaceful” thing to do.
10. It may take a few rereads to understand what this piece is trying to say, but it’s well worth a read if you’re interested in alternative sexuality and relationship models:
your poly is only politicaly relevant to me if…
[…]you do not pit your partners, hookups, or love interests against each other by being shady and shitty about communication — especially if you are masculine-identified
[…]you do not dismiss your partners’ jealousies, insecurities, or negative feelings as just them being “jealous” or “too emotional” or “not really getting it.” you don’t blame or shame people for their emotions.
[…]you do not dismiss others’ concerns about you being possibly disrespectful or misogynistic as them not being radical or sex-positive enough.
I don’t have an objection to high heels.
I have an objection to women being pressured into wearing high heels. I have an objection to the idea that you have to wear high heels to be beautiful or sexy or feminine. I have an objection to the fashion trends that make it almost impossible for a woman to be reallydressy without high heels. I have a powerful objection to any expectation or demand whatsoever that women wear high heels in the workplace. I have a powerful objection to any social or economic pressures that make wearing high heels necessary for women to advance in their careers, or that give women who do wear high heels a career advantage over women who don’t.
I was very briefly Schrodinger’s Rapist earlier this week. I knew my intentions, but the woman I spoke to did not, and while I have never done nor ever will do such a thing, I accept that we live in a culture where it’s not worth taking that risk. As a decent human being, I backed off to make another human being more comfortable because it was literally the very least I could do. This random woman wasn’t “making herself a victim,” she was avoiding being made a victim in the best way she could, which means eternal vigilance.
13. Post of the week! How to keep moving forward, even when your brain hates you:
Help someone else. Specifically, lend someone your skill in something you are good at. Yes, you will feel warm and fuzzy for your good deed, and maybe that warm and fuzzy will quiet the SAD! part of your brain down. But more than that, this is about reminding yourself that you are capable and useful. Often our own tasks take on so much importance that they just seem impossible, and you can almost convince yourself that your brain just doesn’t work anymore. Putting your mind to work on a problem with low stakes for you–someone else’s problem–will show you it still functions.
Remember to promote your own stuff in the comments! But keep in mind that it works much better when you link to a specific post you wrote, not to your entire blog. I’m sure your entire blog is wonderful, but few of us have time to go read the entire archives. :)