Teaching girls that pretty isn’t pretty enough

One of my pet peeves, for far longer than I have identified as a feminist, and probably longer than I’ve even known the word “feminist”, is the creeping and insidious way that women are portrayed as perfect Barbie dolls in the media. When I learned that photos were often retouched, airbrushing away those parts that weren’t quite Barbie-like, that weren’t quite perfect, I felt an empathetic betrayal for every little girl who thought they weren’t good enough because they weren’t like those images. These girls were being taught that they weren’t good enough, because they weren’t like the images of women they see in the media — images of women who don’t actually exist.
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CFI Canada creating “Good and Godless” campaign

CFI Canada sent around via email, as part of a fundraising effort, the news that they’re planning on starting up a campaign with which I couldn’t agree more. I quote:

Hi Jason

Did you hear that Atheists are as distrusted as rapists? That’s the result of a UBC study:

105 UBC students between the ages of 18 and 25 were presented with a description of an untrustworthy person – an “archetypal freerider” who committed selfish and illegal acts when he thought he could get away with it. Subjects were more likely to find the description representative of atheists than Christians, Muslims, gay men, feminists or Jewish people. Only rapists were similarly distrusted.

In response, the Centre for Inquiry is starting a Campaign “Good and Godless”, inviting atheists of all backgrounds to record short videos explaining who they are, how they contribute to society and why they are indeed moral people. Videos will be displayed on our Think Again! TV YouTube Channel.

Click Here to Join or Renew Your Membership or Make a Charitable Donation

This is just another project supported by your membership and donation to the Centre for Inquiry Canada. This will be our last email to thank you for helping make 2011 an amazing year for our shared values – skeptical inquiry, freedom of thought, and secular humanism – and to encourage you to make a tax-deductible charitable donation and renew your membership (extending it by 12 months from its expiration date) at this time.

It’s a damn good idea, if you ask me — though I’m ever leery of doing video. And donations are tax-deductible, if you are so inclined.

More pushback against systemic misogyny within our respective communities

I’m sure you’ve seen quite a few of the posts that have sprung up about Freethought Blogs lately in the wake of Rebeccapocalypse 2. Posts like Greta Christina’s “Why ‘Yes But’ Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny” or Maryam Namazie’s “We are not an atheist community”. Excellent conversation abounds, but I do hope you’re looking at trackbacks and such. Otherwise, you’re missing conversation elsewhere. Here’s two you should read.
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The good news is that FOX news is not news

The better news — though not so much for FOX news — is that it’s about to become OLD news. It is now officially losing in the ratings to a comedy show, thanks in no small part to an aging audience. Their average viewer is 65+, and every important demographic for long-term viability slipped.

“Red Eye” was the only Fox News show to post ratings gains in 2011. Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and On The Record With Greta Van Susteren all lost viewers. In the morning, Fox and Friends remained flat. Fox News still showed its dominance by having the top 13 rated cable news programs, but a certain program hosted by a comedian that Fox News loves to hate on Comedy Central blew past most of the Fox News shows in the ratings.

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Why is Rebecca Watson so damned polarizing?

How is it that when Rebecca Watson says something essentially unobjectionable and otherwise a no-brainer, like that when people make misogynist jokes at a fifteen year old girl, and others reward same with upvotes, they might just be creating a chilling atmosphere for women in general, a total fucking shitstorm ensues?
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Climate: definitely not due to solar forcing or cosmic rays

I kinda made a private vow that I wouldn’t keep reposting Peter Sinclair’s excellent Climate Crock of the Week videos quite so regularly, because I don’t want to be accused of simply ripping him off. But the bastard went and included both a Rickroll and several Fantastic Four references. Sigh.

I love that the anti-AGW crowd keeps positing arguments to take the place of the obvious and demonstrably correct reality — that the planet’s heating up and we’re responsible — and science just keeps knocking those arguments down. I’m very sad, however, that we’re probably going to keep playing this game and letting them posit more things that might be responsible for global warming in an attempt to supplant the understanding that it’s actually us burning fossil fuels, til it’s completely impossible to do anything about it.

Automoblox: cool idea, with an unfortunate gender-related flaw

Update: see comments for some corrections from the co-founder of Automoblox, which I will also include inline.

Reader James Sweet of No Jesus No Peas has discovered a bit of probably accidental sexism in a particularly innovative kids’ toy called Automoblox.

The toy concept is rather novel, as a sort of hybrid of LEGO and the good old fashioned wooden car, where kids might find something novel to do with them at many different stages in their development. The really young have a nice, sturdy toy car; as they develop, they might be inclined to take that car apart and put it together differently in mix-and-match ways, or just to explore shape recognition with the various sizes and shapes that each slot and tab has. With all the various parts that can be disassembled, from the car’s body in three sections, to the various interiors and hoods, to the little people to act as passengers, there’s practically no part of this toy in any of its incarnations that can’t be taken apart and put back together.

Evidently in the design process, though, nobody thought about what might happen if a kid decided to try to put one of the female passengers into the lefthand driver’s seat. It’s actually completely impossible to do so, owing largely to the rotational chirality of the female passengers’ slot-and-tabs. Note: this is apparently only true of the sportscar models, and other car models (and cars for other countries) include women in the driver’s seat by default.
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Canada about to lose any vestige of internet privacy

Despite how pro-privacy the Harper government has claimed to be, with the destruction of the long gun registry out of privacy concerns, it is absolutely no surprise to me that they’re total hypocrites when it comes to actual privacy concerns, like warrantless information-gathering from ISPs.

Suppose you read an online article – not this one, hopefully – that makes you so angry you post a comment under your online pseudonym, “Irate Canuck,” saying that someone ought to shoot the author. The police notice.

Under legislation that the Conservatives will soon be introducing, the police could order your Internet service provider to hand over your personal information so that they could have a talk with you.

If they are sufficiently concerned, they could get a warrant and begin tracking your every move. You really should have turned off the GPS on your smart phone.
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Three year old girl has gender marketing all figured out

Via Unicorn Booty, a three-year-old realizes there’s something very wrong with gender marketing and goes on a rant. I don’t know how much she’s been taught to look out for this stuff, but either way, she’s the next generation and it warms my heart.

When three year olds can come to such feminist realizations unbidden, I have some hope for the eventual destruction of gender roles and the gender-specific marketing that goes with it. Compare and contrast with the recent attempt to pinkwash LEGO.

I hope this girl grows up to like superheroes if she wants, and only buys pink things if she decides she likes pink.