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Monthly Archive: August 2013

Aug 30 2013

Making the Normal Abnormal

Much of progressive activism focuses on making things that seem weird, abnormal, and wrong to many people seem more ordinary, normal, and acceptable. For instance, activists have tried to show that being attracted to someone of the same gender is no different from being attracted to someone of the opposite gender, that eating vegetarian or …

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Aug 29 2013

The Law is Not on Our Side

[Content note: sexual harassment and assault] Many brave writers have described what happened to them when they reported gender-based threats and violence to the police. Occasionally the outcome is positive, but often nothing at all happens and often something terrible happens. Here are two recent examples I’ve read. The first is by Heina of Skepchick: …

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Aug 28 2013

812 Miles

Mile 1 Of all the car doors I’ve shut in my life, this one feels the most final. Mile 31 I can finally breathe properly for the first time in days or weeks (I’m not sure). As soon as we got on the road, I instantly felt better, so instantly that I’d call it miraculous …

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Aug 21 2013

Flirting and Sexual Harassment: Not Actually the Same Thing

I could do a whole series on harmful and irrational responses to sexual harassment claims. First we had the “but it’s a learning opportunity!” defense, and now there’s this sort of thing: “But people are going to flirt. We’re all sexual beings*. We’re all adults here and should be able to deal with some harmless flirting. …

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Aug 17 2013

Women Are Not “Mysterious”

A man opens a huge, several-feet-tall book. Caption reads, "The book 'Understanding Women' has finally arrived in bookstores."

I came across this meme in my Facebook newsfeed (with criticism, thankfully): It was shared by the page “Engineer Memes,” which makes sense given the trope that it references. You know the one: the brilliant, successful scientist/engineer/mathematician who can solve any problem, invent a lifesaving drug or device, and understand the most complicated theories of …

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Aug 16 2013

On Memories Of Former Homes

The market is swarming with people on Friday afternoon. Tables covered with piles of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, bread, and household goods beckon as their owners shout their prices into the din. Feral cats dart beneath the tables, dodging people and cars to snatch scraps of food. Shoppers haggle: “Ten shekels for this? No …

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Aug 10 2013

How to Be a Responsible Devil’s Advocate

Devil’s advocate is a tricky rhetorical strategy. On the one hand, it can be extremely useful for exposing the flaws in an argument, helping others clarify and strengthen their positions, and practice your own argumentation. Using devil’s advocate when the topic under discussion is, say, whether or not we should pursue immortality or how best …

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Aug 08 2013

On Sexual Harassment and “Learning Opportunities”

[Content note: sexual harassment] The skeptic/secular community is blowing up with the sadly-unsurprising news that at least one Big-Name Skeptic has been sexually harassing women. More accusations keep pouring out, though some of them have been stifled with legal threats. I expect (and hope) that this is something we’re going to keep talking about for …

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Aug 04 2013

Strawmanning Rape Culture (Part Two)

[Content note: sexual assault] In the first half of this post, I covered three strawman arguments against the concept of rape culture. Read that post first! Then, here are three more. “So you’re saying that all men are rapists.” Nope. Men are more likely than women to be rapists for all sorts of reasons that …

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Aug 03 2013

Strawmanning Rape Culture (Part One)

[Content note: sexual assault] Rape culture is a very difficult concept for many people to understand, perhaps because, like many sociological constructs, it works in such a way as to make itself invisible. Understanding rape culture, especially if you are someone who isn’t affected by it very much, requires a keen attention to detail and …

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