One small thing normal folks do when talking about people they’re attracted to

#1: Not making bloody lists detailing what constitutes “attractive”.

I have a guest blogpost responding to an awful article detailing what makes women attractive – or rather what constitutes “attractive girls”. I genuinely get to use “not all men” properly a few times.

UPDATE #2 Men cry foul cos evil feminism makes hitting on women more difficult

Would probably helped if I linked to the piece: Here.

That’s a piece I wrote, as a response to a Guardian post which – to say the least – I didn’t like. The piece claims campaigns like Everyday Sexism make hitting on women harder, because it makes all them “females” think confident flirtation is same as harassment.

Er, yeah. No.

I also commented directly on the piece itself, in the comment section, which got one… strange response.

Some readers can’t locate my comment Guardian site. I’ll reprint it here:

Since I’ve been following Everyday Sexism for a while, I find the author’s characterisation of the project different to mine. I’d be interested to see where exactly the claims come from that indicate all men do this – considering the campaign has been encouraging and welcoming men’s voices, too, who speak out and discourage this behaviour.

I’d also be interested where exactly the claim is made that mild flirtation is equated with street harassment. It seems to me if you can’t distinguish between the two then maybe that’s a serious problem and you should rethink what you mean by flirting – not what the woman you’re flirting with is “doing wrong”.

Of course, your intention could very well be one that truly is harmless and is non-threatening – but misinterpreted. And this I understand, to a small degree.

But considering, as you know, the environment in which women live and what some face everyday, that’s just… well… TOO BAD. Yes, it sucks that it’s harder to intitiate conversation and flirtation without being perceived as “yet another creep”. Yes, it sucks that women have been so constantly bombarded with such idiocy they change their behaviour, time of day for jogging or walking or doing basically anything (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/02/apps-and-online-programs-offer-new-ways-to-report-street-harassment.html), – because victim-blaming also is this pernicious, see?

It’s easy for us men to claim “but we’re nice guys and never do that” – but again, I assume most people can distinguish between the two behaviours.

There will exist genuine mistakes and misinterpretation – as there is in everything we do. Except here it’s compounded by the environment that so many women live in, everyday. The name of the project says it all.

In a world screaming for their attention, namecalling them when women refuse to give it, we shouldn’t be wagging our fingers when our kinder voices go unnoticed. We should be empathetic, target the environment and other men doing this – and also respect women enough to, you know, be able to tell the difference between harassment and harmless flirtation. I don’t see Everyday Sexism as ushering in the downfall of sexual freedom – I see it as protecting it, particularly women’s, so that we can all live in a better world.

(Weirdly, Dawkins linked to this comment – even though his quotation indicates his support of the very article I was criticising in that comment.)

PS: Ophelia also has some important insight, as always.

Supporting Scientology marriage – opposing marriage

This happened:

A couple have made history by becoming the first to marry in a Church of Scientology chapel, five years after they brought a legal case to have their religious rights recognised.

Newlyweds Alessandro Calcioli and Louisa Hodkin, both 25, described their marriage as a “momentous” victory against “inequality and unfairness” as they posed for photographs outside a Scientology church in London, surrounded by confetti and bridesmaids.

“It has been a long, five-year battle to achieve a simple freedom – the right to marry in our own church with a service in accordance with the rites and customs of our religion and surrounded by our friends and family,” the couple said. “All weddings should be magical and momentous for the couple concerned, but we are conscious that ours, as the first for our religion in England, has its own place in history.”

I’m not really a fan of marriage or most forms of romance things. Yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t think we should stand against opposition to gay marriage.

As Notung points out, you can defend the principle of equality while still being opposed to the overarching institution. His analogy regarded women bishops: It’s nonsense that women can’t hold the same offices as men, but I also think all things anchored or premised entirely on faith are nonsense too.

Does this mean I should support the Scientology couple and their victory? I think so. I may think that Scientology, along with all religions really, is wrong (morally and empircally). But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t suppor their right to marry, since it’s all – I guess – equally non-sensical. Don’t exclude a group from being able to engage in an adult institution, even if I disagree with that institution, if the only criteria is “your faith-based philosophies are newer than mine”.

I mean we know the Internet has a hard-on hatred for Scientology, but still.

Is there any reason to oppose Scientology marriage as a recognised form of marriage, if other faiths get recognised as proper marriages?

I “ruin” relationships just in time for Valentine’s Day

…or at least that’s what my friend Dean Burnett thinks.

Over at the Guardian, I decided to apply some kind of honesty to relationships, advising readers to question monogamy, procreation, etc., in their relationships (assuming most relationship are the two person, monogamous, long-term types). My main focus for this piece was to encourage the view that if you can’t speak about such important and difficult subjects with your partner, that should be a worrying sign.

Of course, it would also be nice if more people undermined their stigma of those who are childfree, polyamorous,ethically promiscuous (I’d love another word for this), etc.

I kinda defend Nickelback

As if it’s not enough that I “defend” “racists” and hunters, I’m now defending the worst of them all… like, ever, totally: Nickelback. Kind of.

I guest-posted on my friend’s Guardian blog about musical taste and shaming (and still snuck in a big of bigotry about better music, I think? Er, oops?).

Anyway, science is fun. Don’t shame people for their music taste and don’t be ashamed, say, for liking pop music.

Related: How horrible my experience was in retail – as I’m sure it is and was for everyone – but at least it means I can sympathise with these (mostly) horrible stories.

I just unpublished an article: Here’s why (UPDATED)

I made what I thought were legitimate criticisms of Holly Baxter’s piece, premised on criticisms with her points in her piece for the Guardian on crowdfunding. I spent a long time writing it and trying to be careful, since I’m aware she is currently facing much unnecessary, unwanted and unwarranted digital hate.

I’ve decided, despite spending a long time on the piece, not to publish it (at least for now). I do not wish to add to the Internet’s hate or criticism of Ms Baxter. No one will die because I didn’t say something, but the least I can do is be sensitive to her position right now. Apologies all round. That was an asshole move on my part.

I will perhaps publish it later, but for now, I’d rather spend time making social media and Internet in general a better place for discussion and not add to Ms Baxter’s unnecessary catalogue of negativity.

No, she doesn’t deserve it. And, no, I don’t agree with her arguments. But right now, what matters more is her sense of safety and I don’t want to do anything – even minor – that might detract from that. I’m no one, of course, but as we all know, we are all public figures.

UPDATE:

After seeing Baxter’s response on Twitter, I’ve chosen not to publish the article at all. Nothing significant will be gained by my publishing.

 

 

Melissa Bachman, hunting and the ethics of outrage

In my latest for The Guardian, I examine the backlash against hunter Melissa Bachman who killed a lion then posted a picture of her successful kill on social media. The backlash, more than the kill itself, worries me. That doesn’t mean I support hunting – I still don’t know my moral position on it – but it does confirm my worry over pile-ons, hate and indications of sexism that poisons much discussion of women on the Internet. [Read more...]