Skepticon 6 video: Sex and Violence in the Bible

The first video by Hambone Productions of Skepticon is up, of David Fitzgerald’s comedic analysis of the Bible’s naughtier bits.

Trigger warning: the Bible is very, very rapey.

I mostly enjoyed this talk, though there were a few bits that were problematic.

Many of the jokes are visual or are punctuated with visual aids, with people in the audience who are vision-impaired (Rebecca Watson made a point of narrating her slides for the benefit of these folks), and so they’re not going to get these jokes in this video either. Apologies to my readers. Also, I haven’t rewatched this, so I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I have a recollection of wincing a few times at some problematic language, too. “Bitch”, most likely.

GoldieBlox commercial wins the internet over

This commercial’s taking the internet by storm, because who doesn’t love Beastie Boys, girl engineers, and Rube Goldberg devices.

Some time ago, I wrote about the kickstarter for this project, and how I could live with the pinkification it took to sell these engineering projects for girls to parents already steeped in rigid gender roles. Looking at this commercial, though I love the commercial itself, I sort of feel like it’s overselling the product.

See, the actual product introduces a specific goal and a narrative in the form of a story book, drastically limiting the engineering potential of any one set. There’s only so much you can do with the ribbon and sticks and crank, so letting your imagination run wild doesn’t seem really, truly all that possible.

As a gateway into the wider world of toys, though, if GoldieBlox leads any girl to ask her parents for LEGO or K’Nex or some other engineering toy, I feel like it’s worth it — even if it requires not only retraining girls that it’s okay to like “doing things” instead of “being pretty”, but also getting in under parents’ gender policing radars.

And everyone loves a Rube Goldberg device. Hopefully inventive girls with enough toys can invent all sorts of crazy devices, if unfettered by the prescribed play mode.

The Truth Hurts

I’ve been feeling somewhat inured to the constant grind on the soul of people coming forward with tales of their having been sexually assaulted of late. Then along comes Pamela Gay, one of the kindest, smartest, funniest people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, however briefly, and her story has such a ring of familiarity and timeliness that people are speculating that she’s the one DJ Grothe and Barbara Drescher were talking about.

And to make matters worse, Dr. Gay is the one feeling guilty here, despite having personally done nothing wrong. She’s the one facing repercussions within the community for having spoken up last year about harassment. She’s the one being targeted for further harassment and abuse, and she’s the one whose career is on the line. Because she’s the one who has breasts. Because she’s the one who spoke up.

I am just fucking GUTTED now.

With ever increasing difficulty I’ve been dealing with issues of gender related to my career. Right now, I am struggling with hearing that an event I categorized as “A drunk ass tried to grab my boobs,” is now being discussed by witnesses as, “He tried to sexually assault her in a bar while intoxicated.” I had created a euphemism for myself, and having that euphemism striped away is making me realize that I have been hiding from myself the true degree to which I have been harmed.

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The Outrage Brigade

DJ Grothe, not content with his reputation and desperately lacking a communications director through which he can vet his random personal thoughts (any takers on that job?), posted to Facebook a terribly transphobic thought. Or, at least, so we Outrage Brigaders interpreted it!

No hyperbole: I just saw the worst-passing transsexual I’ve ever seen in the lounge here. It was so disruptive that I am forced to believe it was an intentional way to protest against rigid gender binaries. Or so I’d like to think.

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Lila Rose, anti-abortionist, tries to steal Malala Yousafzai’s activist cred

If you ever decide to unironically compare yourself to a civil rights activist who has risked everything and (almost) lost it all while fighting for, say, a woman’s right to be educated, and your cause is as patently uncivil as preventing women from choosing what to do with their bodies, expect to get laughed at and mocked. A lot.

Especially the moreso when the person you’re comparing yourself to got shot in the head for wanting the right to intellectual autonomy, with a bullet grazing her brain and coming within millimetres of killing her, and you’ve never seen real danger in your entire goddamn life and yet you’re fighting for a cluster of cells less than a millimetre across to have more rights over a woman’s bodily autonomy than the woman herself. All because you did a guerilla video campaign for Live Action, undercutting Planned Parenthood, which is as feminist an organization as has ever gotten national traction. Slow fucking clap.

I bet she didn’t ever say “Yousafzai” because she doesn’t know how. I bet, in fact, she knows almost nothing about Malala Yousafzai or her fight, except what someone told her would make good speech fodder.

Found at Right Wing Watch.

Asexual awareness week

Once upon a time, I was young and foolish, and thinking I was so enlightened about sexuality I suggested at a lunch table with friends that Freud was onto something when he said “the only unnatural sexuality is none at all”. Little did I know a friend at that table with me — about whom I think the world, and would never want to hurt — identified as asexual.

I was mortified to learn this a few years later. Such a casual throwaway comment, made thinking I was flip and clever and progressive, that hurt a dear friend.

I’m happy to see this exists. Maybe I can assuage my guilty conscience a bit by helping promote it. Though I am not asexual myself, I know a few people who do identify as such, and in all our talk about gender and sexuality around these parts, it’s only fitting that we avoid erasing an entire class of people.

From their 101 page:

What is an asexual person?

An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Most individuals find there are certain people they are not sexually attracted to. For asexuals, this includes everybody!

Is asexual another word for celibate?

Unlike celibacy, which is a lifestyle choice, asexuality is a sexual orientation – just like homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality. Celibacy is a conscious decision not to have sex, regardless of sexual desire. Many asexuals do not consider themselves celibate, as they are giving up no more in abstaining from sex than a gay person is by abstaining from sex with someone of a different gender or a straight person is by abstaining from sex with the same gender. Furthermore, some asexual people do choose to have sex, and therefore are certainly not celibate.

It’s not about simply being celibate — asexual folks can choose to engage in sexual activities with people or with themselves, without necessarily having a sex drive of their own. They can be in romantic relationships. They can climax. They can do everything you can do. They can have an undirected sex drive. They can simply have no sex drive and if left to their own devices, would not seek it out. Or perhaps they even have boundaries that they define with their partners in advance. Or perhaps they have no desire to enter a romantic relationship at all. It’s every bit as varied as every other orientation.

We’d all do well to remember that when trying to be inclusive.

Fischer talks about “love for gays”

If you know anything about Bryan Fischer, you probably have a good guess exactly what he’s going to say before he even opens his gob.

Pro tip: this ain’t love. It’s barely-contained seething hatred with a thin veneer of Christian brotherly love spray-painted on it. And since we already know that brand of love is anything but love, but rather a demand for conformity to rules written by goat-herds thousands of years ago, it doesn’t even register on the “worthy discourse” scale. I only add it to my blog in the interest of reminding everyone just how hateful a human being this man is.