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Category Archive: social justice

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 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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Aug 02 2013

“They’re Your Friends/Family/Neighbors!”: On Activism and Appeals to Kinship

This post may have more questions than answers. You have been warned! For a while I’ve been noticing a certain tension in activism of various kinds. On the one hand, we want people to care about our causes not because those causes are necessarily proximal to them and impact their lives directly, but because these …

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Jul 24 2013

The Importance of Centering Consent in Sexual Ethics

[Content note: sexual assault] A week and a half ago I gave a talk about sex education at the Secular Student Alliance annual conference. In the section on creating a better sex education program, I mentioned that we need to center consent in the way we teach healthy sexuality to kids and teens. Rather than …

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Jul 15 2013

I Am Not Trayvon Martin

When Trayvon Martin was murdered last year, I remember seeing many people post things like “I am Trayvon Martin” online, sometimes accompanied by photos of themselves in hoodies. At first I thought it was something people of color were doing as a sign of solidarity and as a reminder that they, too, face the same …

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Jul 12 2013

[guest post] A Thought Experiment In The Style of Schrödinger

I’m traveling to Columbus, Ohio for the Secular Student Alliance conference, and CaitieCat has written a guest post so that you’re not too bored in my absence! I was thinking about Schrödinger’s Rapist, the concept that to a woman faced alone with a man she does not know, it is rationality in action if she …

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