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Nov 24 2011

Sometimes a bunny is just a bunny

I just despair.

There is sexism everywhere, and there are battles to be fought. I agree completely that there are strong strains of odious stereotypy running through our culture, and that we have to be vocal in opposing them. Much of it is unconscious and not intended maliciously, but it still perpetuates a problem. It’s good to oppose it.

But this morning a raging flame war exploded in a thread about a cute bunny cartoon. The bunny who is the voice of religion is wearing a dress; the practical bunny playing the role of science wears pants. Some people said it’s sexist; some people said it wasn’t. And then the war was launched.

This is the WRONG BATTLE.

Are you really fighting for the right for the cute bunny in the dress in a cartoon to not be the religious one? I have never seen feminism reduced to such appalling depths of triviality as I have in that thread. I am literally embarrassed to see a 300+-comment thread erupt over this inanity, and to see it begin in only the second comment to the thread…it’s ridiculous.

I tried tracing down the source of the image, with no luck; it appeared on reddit, on a couple of discussion forums, but no one seems to give credit to the artist. If we found more examples of this person’s work, and there were a pattern of always making the girl bunny the dumb bunny, then you’d have a case — the artist is consciously or unconsciously expressing a sexist trope. Without more information, you cannot possibly judge this cartoon as a reflection of an underlying bias against women. You cannot see a pattern in a sample of one. It’s also simply not true that portraying women as stupid is a staple of cartoons — from Fred Flintstone to Homer Simpson, the trend goes the other way. Yes, it’s still sexism — but if the comic in question had swapped the pants and dress on the bunnies, someone could object just as strongly. Given only two characters, one representing reason and one irrationality, there is actually no combination of sexes that isn’t going to offend someone, if you choose to see it only as a parable of sexual relations.

It isn’t. The two characters are having a conversation about science and religion, they are not using gendered language, and they’ve both been made childlike by portraying them as little cute bunnies. It’s fair to note that there are sexist biases in our culture, and that many of them belittle women, but that’s not what the comic was about; note it and move on.

Move on to change it where it matters. You want to say society diminishes women’s roles? I’ll agree with you. You want to complain about the unjustified authority given to men? I’ll back you 100%. You found some weasel who wants to deny that women are treated like second-rate citizens? I’ll join in the stomping. But show prolonged outrage at one twee cartoon that just happens to have a bunny in a dress playing the role of Simplicio, and you’ve lost me.

I’m going off to Thanksgiving dinner, and I’m not going to pay any attention to Pharyngula for a while. Go ahead and make me the target for your ire for a while, I expect this thread to turn into a screaming melee, too. I’ll be more impressed, though, if you take a moment to instead come up with real instances of oppression, discrimination, and intimidation of women (they’re not hard to find), rather than railing about the importance of toy bunny dresses.

1,087 comments

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  1. 1001
    tinfoil hattie

    Hey, Myers: Women ARE the rest of the fucking world. The rest of the fucking world is fucking tired of so-called feminist “allies” loftily instructing women which battles to pick. You’re part of the problem when you think a woman pointing out sexism, and then being jumped on AS USUAL for pointing it out, is not a battle worth fighting.

    It’s every day of my fucking life, so don’t bother to scold me about What’s Really Important For Women To Care About.

  2. 1002
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Pteryxx: honestly, I don’t know that I can “read for sexism” with any accuracy or precision, and I’d hate to even try. I can say that in the context of the first movie, Ripley wasn’t even a major character at the beginning, and certainly not the one you would expect to see survive, so her questionable decision-making with the cat seems in-character. It is also sort of horror movie “last girl” tropes all over, up to and including the getting her in her undies bit and saving the cat both.

    Like someone said earlier, these less-overt sexism things are tough because there’s a lot more room for interpretation than the blatant, in-your-face stuff. Even when I don’t see it… there’s a difference between saying “I don’t see it, but I don’t have your perspective on it” and “I don’t see it, and therefore you’re wrong.” I’m squarely in the first camp, and I have no problem accepting that I don’t have the insight that other people have.

    I do what I can. I’m not going to pretend I’m particularly good at it, but I’m not going out of my way to be bad at it either.

  3. 1003
    Grace

    PZ says:

    “And there’s another personal source of my ire. I want this to be a strong safe place for women to express themselves, and it should also be a place with some credibility for taking feminist issues seriously. It’s taken a hit because people have been baited into a flamewar over goddamned stuffed bunnies. Sure, you see it as an aspect of anti-woman bias, but try, just try, to see it how the rest of the world sees it.”

    Wow. Who “baited” anyone with “that would suck”? Some people chose to take that like an angryfeminist battle cry. But of course she started/asked for a flamewar. Duh. Now she ruined both feminism and the safe space I created for them!
    I feel your pain PZ. Thanks for nothing.

  4. 1004
    Pteryxx

    Heh Joe, I bet you don’t know it, but you’re confirming my good faith in you.

    Look at your own words again:

    Pteryxx: honestly, I don’t know that I can “read for sexism” with any accuracy or precision, and I’d hate to even try.

    You just stated that you doubt your own ability to critique, and then follow up with an excellent analysis of Ripley’s character:

    I can say that in the context of the first movie, Ripley wasn’t even a major character at the beginning, and certainly not the one you would expect to see survive, so her questionable decision-making with the cat seems in-character. It is also sort of horror movie “last girl” tropes all over, up to and including the getting her in her undies bit and saving the cat both.

    And follow that demonstration of acumen with another statement of doubt in yourself:

    and I have no problem accepting that I don’t have the insight that other people have.

    That pattern, doubt-demonstration-doubt, I’ve seen over and over when a person’s got nothing holding them back but their own fears, and is just on the verge of discovering what they can really accomplish.

    Dude. Seeing sexism isn’t some mysterious “insight” that people (*cough* women *cough*) just happen to have. It’s a skill, like any other analytical capability, and you’re showing all the tools you need to learn it. AND you don’t get all snarly when someone calls you out for showing your ass. Trust me, seeing the “girls are irrational” trope isn’t any different than seeing the “last girl” trope or the “dog/cat always survives” trope. We’re just conditioned NOT to see it. It’s taken ME many years of work to get this far, and I still screw up sometimes. I bet you can learn better, too.

  5. 1005
    piranhaintheguppytank

    Sometimes a bunny is just a bunny.

    “Everything in life is either sexual or political.”
    –Harold Ramis (from the audio commentary for the movie “Ghostbusters”)

  6. 1006
    Grace

    @tinfoil hattie

    But it’s all about the bunnies! PZ keeps reminding us to think about the bunnies! They’re toy animals and they’re cute!
    Who in their right mind would provoke a flamewar over cute stuffed bunnies! Women!

  7. 1007
    Echidna

    One issue I wouldn’t mind tackling is how to discuss issues like feminist tropes without giving power to mra’s. PaulG stands out for me as someone who partly dominated the thread, and really we shouldn’t have permitted that.

  8. 1008
    David Marjanović, OM

    Ooh. Now I suddenly want feminist hair :-)

    HAVE I BEEN MISSING ALL THESE COMMENTS THE ENTIRE TIME I’VE BEEN READING THIS BLOG????

    Very few threads reach 801 comments.

    Nimravid – oh my, why have you only been lurking??? :)

    Seconded :-)

    lol
    Maybe look again?
    Sometimes a couple of baby bunnies are just a couple of baby bunnies.

    …and they represent…?

    What I wonder is what would have happened if that “killjoy” person could have choked down the “fuck you” business.

    LOL! You’re new here, so I’ll simply explain to you that you just accidentally insulted us by claiming we couldn’t see through the tone. :-) Don’t bother apologizing, it’s fine. *patting on back* Just read comment 186.

  9. 1009
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Pteryxx, it is comments like #212 that make me wonder why I bother posting. If people can just make up nasty things about me, and there’s no defense against it, what’s the point?

  10. 1010
    WishfulThinkingRulesAll

    Phew, this thread pretty much died down, good. 1300+ posts like this in so short a time is not a good or useful thing.

    … stands out for me as someone who partly dominated the thread, and really we shouldn’t have permitted that.

    Unfortunately there is a significant (and significantly stupid) large minority of people here at PZ’s site who don’t give a damn. They keep “feeding the trolls” no matter what, as their own entertainment matters more than any substantive conversation (only a few admit to this, but many exhibit this through their actions). I realize dealing with trolls may sometimes not be easy, but when people proudly and pridefully boast about how they keep on going and going and going with a troll, never stopping, ***no matter what*** , magnifying the troll’s thread ruining powers x100, as if that is a *good* thing, well it just blows my mind. It is one thing to be a selfish asshole, ruining threads which have real value, for fun, but claiming it is good and noble behavior? That’s delusional. And sadly, quite a few here suffer from that delusion.

    Of course I get attacked for this, and am labeled a “troll” myself. The irrational hyper defensiveness of these people is shocking. They act as if even attempting to have some kind of thread integrity is a bad thing. Or worse, pretend I want them to ignore trolls totally, as if they cannot read, or cannot comprehend gradients and ranges of behavior. It is either full on attack, for eternity, or retreat. The black and white thinking boggles the mind. I suppose I should lower my expectations, as I assumed my fellow atheists would, for the most part, be reasonable. And maybe they are mostly reasonable, maybe all of the hyperactive obsessive moronic ones have gathered at Pharyngula. Hopefully the general atheist population does not contain this high a percentage of illogical imbeciles.

  11. 1011
    WishfulThinkingRulesAll

    Improbable Joe says:

    Pteryxx, it is comments like #212 that make me wonder why I bother posting. If people can just make up nasty things about me, and there’s no defense against it, what’s the point?

    LOL. Regardless if you were actually misrepresented just now – Welcome to the internet man, where you will forever be misquoted and misrepresented. The sad thing is that here, people should know better. People should be reasonable. People should take more than two seconds to read a post, so as not to skim it and miss everything that was actually said.

    Many here are actually good about reading, comprehending and replying without a dozen fallacies. But they are often overshadowed by the dunces who either cannot, or do not care to, engage in a good faith conversation.

  12. 1012
    Dhorvath, OM

    It would be farcically illogical to suppose that any self selected group defines the larger population. We are here because here is where we fit, and that will magnify traits anywhere that self selection plays a role.

  13. 1013
    Pteryxx

    what’s the point?

    Joe: is it about you, or about helping?

    I’m not jumping down your throat because I accord you more good faith than some. Not because Caine or David are wrong in according you less.

  14. 1014
    David Marjanović, OM

    Oops. I didn’t refresh before commenting because I underestimated the growth rate of this thread.

    Feminism/sexism threads bring out the worst in Chas.

    Not always. He was on the side of sanity throughout the Rebeccapocalypse.

  15. 1015
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Caine, this is the Improbable Joe who normally hangs out at Ophelia Benson’s place; it’s hard to imagine anyone less likely to be “trying to be an asshole.”

    Joe, I really think she’s only experiencing Poe’s law here. If I wasn’t familiar with you, I think it would be easy for me to read your comment as sarcastic baiting.

    I don’t know that there’s anything you could have said differently, though. This just happens sometimes when two people are being honest but can’t confirm honesty in the other. Only increasing familiarity can eventually resolve it.

  16. 1016
    David Marjanović, OM

    Pteryxx, it is comments like #212 that make me wonder why I bother posting. If people can just make up nasty things about me, and there’s no defense against it, what’s the point?

    *blink* What did I make up, and what do you mean by “there’s no defense”? Just tell us what I got wrong.

    You wondered whether the person who said “killjoy” would have triggered less of a reaction if they had used a friendlier tone, and I pointed out how clearly this shows you don’t know us very well. :-|

    I can’t find anything to disagree with in comment 208, BTW.

    The irrational hyper defensiveness of these people is shocking.

    Have you really never encountered someone with SIWOTI syndrome before? (Don’t forget to mouse over the picture to make the alt-text appear.) I’m* hardly capable of letting go. I don’t get much from not letting go, there’s not a lot of entertainment in it, I just see something wrong, want to fix it, and try to fix it. :-| On occasion, I’ve even barged into meatspace conversations total strangers were having with each other, just to remedy their lack of a particular fact. It may be part of “Asperger’s syndrome” (as a poorly defined part of the autism spectrum used to be called), which or something close to which I probably have, and which is (in various degrees) common among Pharyngulites.

    * I know you’re not talking about me, I wasn’t present during most of the thread. I’m just using myself as an example.

  17. 1017
    Carlie

    Joe, I don’t want to speak for others, but part of it may have been your initial insistence on getting it “exactly right”. While I assume that was earnestness, it can easily read as sarcastic baiting trying to get the other people to take up time getting as specific as possible so that at some point some little detail is wrong and it becomes a “gotcha” (especially since we’ve spent the last two days dealing with lots of that).

    Plus, there isn’t an “exactly right”, I don’t think. It’s perception, and opinion, and everyone has a little different trigger point and interpretation as to which part of it was why they thought it was sexist and what they paid the most attention to (such as someone who was forced to wear dresses while growing up in a fundie cult would be upset by the girl being in a fucking skirt again, while a scientist would get upset by the girl being irrational about physical evidence again, etc.).

  18. 1018
    Horace

    Given that on average both women and african americans are more likely to be religious, shouldn’t the theistic bunny have been a female bunny of colour ?

  19. 1019
    sandiseattle

    Really Horace? Just here to stir the shit?

  20. 1020
    Utakata

    @WishfulThinkingRulesAl

    Are you trying to troll this thread to balloon to 2000? Other than the small converation going with Mr. Joe most of us have *gone back to the real world* after having our say.

    And yes, there was a lot posts about this. Is that such a big deal? So I guess it was never about the bunnies after all…only the wilfully ignorant would conclude now that is was. It was issues underlaying that touhed a nerve with many. As it would if the bunny in the coveralls was depicting wearing a white sheet and the other bunny in the dress was black. As cute as they are, I sure the shit storm over that would of reached into the tens of 1000′s. My only disppointment is PZ really didn’t see this whole affair for what it was.

    But either way though, I’m done feeding you. No one else is really paying attention. /shrug

  21. 1021
    Momo Elektra

    Hey,

    my first reaction to comment #2 on the other thread was: “Oh no, not again. Why can’t those patronizing feminists leave well enough alone. This is not relevant now. The comic is about something else.”

    But that was, well, my first reaction.

    When I was about 20 I thought feminism was a thing of the past and feminists of today were hysterical (yeah, I know). 10 years later I got stomped ( in that e-gate-thing) by men and women of the sceptical/atheist community I considered my allies, because I didn’t want to shut up about something I consider a trivial matter of common courtesy among humans. What the hell…

    I (think I) get why this discussion on this comic bothered you, PZ. The message of the comic was another one that got discussed (simply put).

    But the topic of sexism/sexist tropes, sadly, seems to be a white and black topic. Either you talk about it or you don’t. Either you notice it or you don’t. Either you call out on it or you don’t. Either you care for it (in this example) or you don’t (in this example).

    It’s not a battle of the sexes, it’s not black world against white world, it’s not women vs. men, it is always a battle against yourself and the things you learned in the world you grew up in and the behaviours you internalized.
    And I realized, my first reaction was not really mine, but what I learned, how I learned to react to claims like that. Because feminists are hysterical and see sexism everywhere.

    I get the “why do we have to talk about that now, since the comic is about something else.”
    But we do have to talk about it because the comic is about that, too.

    And the intention does not mean shit. The artist is not on trial, the comic is.

    And it won’t go away if we don’t talk about it. It won’t go away if the first reaction is “Gosh, they really see sexism everywhere!”. Because sexism is everywhere. There is no overreaction.

    I want to thank everyone, who, again, took their time and nerves to explain, to respond, to fight.

    Thank you, I learned a lot. Again.
    And I hope the next thread (and there will be one) will be filled with you people, too.
    So I can learn again.

  22. 1022
    WishfulThinkingRulesAll

    David Marjanović, OM says:

    Have you really never encountered someone with SIWOTI syndrome before?

    No, I’ve encountered plenty. Still, is that syndrome supposed to include interacting with trolls? With people whose only real goal is to bait and cause long flame wars? I assumed us folks who are skeptics and rational would have the sense to recognize that, for example, the 30th post to a given troll is probably enough, and that they should move on.

    Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says:

    Are you trying to troll this thread to balloon to 2000?

    No, fucking moron, pointing out ridiculous thread destroying behavior by many in this community is the opposite of trolling. You’d have to be a really dumb fuck, or a person who skims posts while multitasking on 12 other things, to get this wrong. I mean you proved one of my complaints – after mentioning the total lack of reading comprehension, even towards explicit and simple points, you somehow completely and utterly missed what I said.

    And yes, there was a lot posts about this. Is that such a big deal?

    No, not on its own. I mean it is pathetic it happened when it did, considering most Americans had time off, and somehow people here devoted many hours to this? Madness! It is not like threads like this don’t happen often either, because they do. So, besides complete and utter pathetic-ness, I fail to see the reason why it blew up when it did, unless almost everyone battling it out were Brits and Aussies?

    That’s besides the point though. One guy complained about a troll overtaking the thread for a time, so I commented on how trolls have crazy enablers who insist on ruining threads at the expense of everything else. Enablers who think they are good and noble for battling the troll, when after a little while all they are doing is helping the troll make a huge mess of things.

    So that was my beef.

  23. 1023
    Delft

    656 Candra Rain “Who complains about a paper cut?” brought tears to my eyes. It connects me to the deep pain that can surface over something as “trivial” as a cartoon.

    It is not the cartoon that causes my pain, but the millions of times I’ve heard/read the message that women are not as intelligent, valuable etc. My interpretation of Chrys T was, that like me s/he finds this association painful, not that s/he is accusing the cartoonist of being an evil sexist.

    Dismissing an expression of this pain as trivial, inane etc. is dismissing my experience and my feelings, and that hurts too. You can disagree about whether something or someone *is* sexist. Disagreeing on how someone else feels is crazy.

    Perhaps this fundamental misunderstanding allows mild remarks to spark flame wars: bunny cartoon, or elevator passes. Life, basically.
    A: I don’t like this
    A means: I find this painful/ frightening…
    B hears: This is evil, should be forbidden, the person who did this needs to be punished.
    After this point it seems NO AMOUNT of explanations help.

    Perhaps (part of ) a solution would be to assume that everyone is well-intentioned. Yes, even the trolls.

    Take PZMyers: (no, I am not suggesting he is a troll):
    Yes he dismisses these expressions of pain as “appalling depths of triviality”. Ouch. And no, he has not retracted the really important bits. To him it’s still about what the artists motivations were. And there are still more important battles.

    So, if he is well-intentioned, what could have made him write this?
    Well, he could be embarrassed that something he posted as amusing is causing a flare-up, he could simply want people to cut him a little slack, believe he is a “good guy”. He may be worried that while everyone is arguing about bunnies, some life-and-death issues are not getting enough attention (chinese girl babies?). Or he may be upset that apart from always being cast as the evil sexist, rapist etc., men are from now on going to be the dumb-ass bad guys in every cartoon story.

    Or maybe he didn’t twig it that it’s not about the cartoon/cartoonist being sexist, evil etc, but that it triggers pain. Who knows, if someone had written explicitly about their experiences, and how much this message has been ground into their soul, how deeply they have unconsciously bought into the message – maybe he would have understood that the issue is not so *trivial*. And that it’s not really about bunnies.

    My proposal: before condemning someone think of 3 reasons why they could be doing, saying etc what they are while being well-intentioned. You will probably not hit the mark, just as I probably missed it on Myers. But the exercise does help let go of what we believe to be the other persons (obviously evil) reasons for doing something we don’t like.

    The bit about the troll is left to the reader as an exercise.
    Hint: what circumstances / experiences would make you troll? Don’t say “I’d never do that” – What if someone held a gun to your , or your child’s head?
    Letting go of the troll doesn’t mean you need to feed it.

  24. 1024
    chigau (違う)

    WishfulThinkingRulesAll
    Are you really this oblivious to irony?

  25. 1025
    'Tis Himself

    chigau (本当) has it right. WishfulThinkingRulesAll is trolling this thread by whining about trolls.

  26. 1026
    Pteryxx

    Heck, it’ll take more than that to kill the glow from Momo Elektra’s #225.
    ♥ *inclines head* ♥

  27. 1027
    Inaji

    ahs:

    Caine, this is the Improbable Joe who normally hangs out at Ophelia Benson’s place; it’s hard to imagine anyone less likely to be “trying to be an asshole.”

    I well aware of who he is. He seems to act the asshole here more than at Ophelia’s. When he’s agreeing with that moron Cesar and making yuk yuk jokes about “yeah you don’t want to know what my wife thinks either” and being snarky about getting shit *exactly* right, he’s inviting less than pleasant responses.

    I’m not that important in the wider scheme of things, and Carlie and Pteryxx have been doing sterling service in attempting to educate Joe. He can concentrate on that and I’ll reserve my opinion.

  28. 1028
    Utakata

    @WishfulThinkingRulesAll

    Oh I’m a fucking moron now. Did I hit a nerve? (I would be more worried though if somebody like Caine, Fleur du Mal called me that.)

    …but I digress. I know you’re looking for dessert, but what part of I am done feeding you did you not get?

    *Back to reality*

  29. 1029
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Caine,

    I well aware of who he is.

    Ah. My bad.

  30. 1030
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    No, fucking moron, pointing out ridiculous thread destroying behavior by many in this community is the opposite of trolling.

    It is trolling. Tone trolling. I have your porcupine ready…Now back to reality, away from idjit thinking like yours.

  31. 1031
    Bob Loblaw, Read my law blog!

    Well I must admit that I have learned a lot from all this.
    I was in this all for the fun of it and then it got really serious quickly.

    I always thought of the wider community as being fairly tolerant and was deeply unaware of the deep problems with sexism. Though, to be fair, I have never been too active in the community.

    Tone doesn’t always translate well when joking online, especially when others are more invested in the conversation.

    In portrayals of gender I hold firm that possibilities for all matter of gender interactions idiots, and otherwise must be accepted and encouraged otherwise we are not accepting the full breadth and depth of the human condition, and consequently our gendered identities. While having ungendered anything (instead of rabbits) is possible, I think it wasn’t necessary, as the comic could reflect a myriad of encounters I have daily with both men and women.

    MRA – sometimes used as a broad smear. some comments needed to be clarified first. Some people were surely MRAs but not everyone accused.

  32. 1032
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Improbable Joe @180:

    Sorry, that was a bit snippier than necessary. What did you find objectionable about my post?

    Snippiness is largely irrelevant, nor did I indicate I found anything objectionable about your post in my #173.

    (My parenthetical was intended to reiterate my point)

    WishfulThinkingRulesAll:

    I assumed us folks who are skeptics and rational would have the sense to recognize that, for example, the 30th post to a given troll is probably enough, and that they should move on.

    You assumed wrong.

    This. Is. Pharyngula!

    (That means we don’t ease up after 30, 300 or even 3000 comments*)

    You don’t like that, well, either go elsewhere or get and run a killfile, or find some other way to cope.

    * Do you know anything about the genesis of TET?

  33. 1033
    Grace

    KG says:
    “‘From the outside, it looks entirely ridiculous — everyone is fighting ferociously over toy bunny rabbits? – PZ’”
    “Then why wasn’t it ridiculous to use toy bunny rabbits to point up the foolishness of religion?”

    Great point, KG. PZ seems to wedge a big part of his argument on women/feminists hurting the cause by thinking the cute bunnies might reinforce gender sterotypes.
    Like anyone is actually fighting ferociously over toy bunny rabbits. What a dishonest fuck. That’s like saying “elevatorgate” was just about coffee (it’s just a delicious beverage, what’s WRONG WITH YOU?) And who is the “outside” he is so worried about?

    “Are you really fighting for the right for the cute bunny in the dress in a cartoon to not be the religious one?” Er, no.
    Someone just made a mild observation that it might be an example of the typical ‘girls are illogical’ stereotype in society. God forbid!

    Then she was flamed by a bunch of guys, but he chose to write an entire blog post to chastise her and the silly feminists for provoking it over their ‘trivialities,’ not the sexists asshats who actually made a bigger deal about it than anyone (there’s a reason any thread that brings up sexism goes to over 1,000+ posts).

    Then we get the “there are more imporant things in the world!” patronizing B.S. How Dawkins of you, P.Z. Maybe you want to get back into the good graces of your sexist colleagues after all the abuse you got from defending Rebecca Watson.

    Then you tried to backtrack from your numerous assertions that commenter #2 caused this “flamewar.” (Are flamewars unusual here? Why is this one such a big deal?) Whenever anyone tried to reason with you, you accused them of putting words in your mouth (which no one did).

    I’ve read the entire thread (thanks to insomnia and boredom), and my opinion of PZ has gone down to nothing. Sorry, I don’t still see him as an ally like some other women here. He’s a dishonest, patronizing, self-absorbed ass.

    This is your ‘Dear Muslima’ moment, PZ. You may not be an MRA, but you sure made them happy. Take your “safe space” and shove it.

  34. 1034
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Grace:

    I’ve read the entire thread (thanks to insomnia and boredom), and my opinion of PZ has gone down to nothing.

    Your opinion is worth what it is worth.

    [1] This is your ‘Dear Muslima’ moment, PZ. [2] You may not be an MRA, but you sure made them happy. [3] Take your “safe space” and shove it.

    1. Your hyperbole is noted.

    2. Your bullshit, also.

    3. PZ has never made that claim; however, that claim has been made by multiple women and multiple feminists.

    (No, I am neither a woman nor a feminist)

  35. 1035
    Richard Eis

    WishfulThinkingRulesAll
    Are you really this oblivious to irony?

    Probably, since he has brought up two in his last 4 posts in quick succession about how people post too much… while discussing how a bunny representing religious motivations could never represent anything else but cute bunnyness.

    I wasn’t going to comment, but then since no one shot him down, he didn’t shut up. Thus proving once again that ignoring trolls doesn’t shut them up, it merely gives them implicit approval.

  36. 1036
    Emrysmyrddin

    Hyperbole perhaps, but a dismissal still feels a hell of a lot like a dismissal.

  37. 1037
    Nicoleandmaggie

    @92 Tethys

    Except… they weren’t. PZ only “changed his mind” because he found out about the intent of the author. The intent is irrelevant. If someone unintentionally steps on your toe, it still hurts.

    As later commenters ask, where exactly are you getting that PZ changed his mind? Because it sure as heck isn’t in comment #430. That only acknowledges that hey, the author chose a feminine bunny on purpose, and that kind of sucks. Completely in contradiction with CPP’s points #2 and #3 about intent being irrelevant. Intent is the ONLY thing that’s relevant for him in his decision.

  38. 1038
    'Tis Himself

    A thought just occurred to me.* In the original bunny thread PZ expected a discussion about how certain people dogmatically cling to a position despite mounting evidence that the position is wrong. When the discussion veered away from “it’s a duck” PZ got annoyed. He shouldn’t have been annoyed because he got the discussion he expected.

    It was noticed that the cartoon was subtly sexist. Various people leaped in to say “no, it’s not, no sexism there at all, nope, nope, nope.” Despite all evidence to the contrary, these people continued to deny the cartoon was sexist, just like the one bunny kept denying the puzzle was about Pooh and Tigger. We saw people steadfastly denying the obvious sexism or trying to minimize down to nothing. This denial continued even after evidence was produced that the artist intentionally inserted the sexism. We actually saw how dogmatic certain people can be despite mounting evidence their position was wrong.

    *Yeah it happens every so once in a while. Don’t act so surprised.

  39. 1039
    ChasCPeterson

    the artist intentionally inserted the sexism

    But that’s incorrect.

    Intentional insertion of sexism would have to involve making the dress-dressed bunny the allegorical religious person because of a belief or assumption that women are stupider or stubborner or less rational or whatever than men. That’s not what happened.

    Unintentional insertion of sexism would normally involve not even thinking about it, just sort of automatically assigning gender roles based on unconscious cultural training or whatever. That’s not what happened either.

    Instead, the cartoonist decided which bunny to make the allegorical religious person by looking up data on the subject and learning that women are, empirically, more religious than men in both belief and practice*. This is uncontroversial fact.

    The procedure was sexism-neutral, and therefore any sexism inherent in the cartoon was unintentional. You can castigate the cartoonist for choosing not to be anti-sexist, for not making a statement (orthogonal to the point of the cartoon) that you would have liked to have seen made, but not for intentionally inserting sexism.

    *(on average, of course; as always, statements about group differences do not accurately predict individual cases)

  40. 1040
    julian

    Not to speak for him or anything but pretty sure Tis Himself meant intenetionally inserted *thing that is sexist* and not intentionalliy inserted *sexism.*

  41. 1041
    Lexic

    Tis Himself, OM – Your realization in 242, is perfect.

  42. 1042
    Momo Elektra

    @ChasCPeterson
    “[...]the cartoonist decided which bunny to make the allegorical religious person by looking up data on the subject and learning that women are, empirically, more religious than men in both belief and practice. This is uncontroversial fact.”
    100% of catholic priests are male. That is uncontroversial fact, too.
    Still no reason to make the irrational rabbit female and the smart one male (or the other way arround).

  43. 1043
    'Tis Himself

    Not to speak for him or anything but pretty sure Tis Himself meant intenetionally inserted *thing that is sexist* and not intentionalliy inserted *sexism.*

    You’re right. However in my defense I have to claim I do know how to spell intentionally.

  44. 1044
    julian

    100% of catholic priests are male.

    How much better would the cartoon have been if it offered a pair of spectacled friars?
    ______

    In the original bunny thread PZ expected a discussion about how certain people dogmatically cling to a position despite mounting evidence that the position is wrong.

    If that’s what the cartoon was about (changing our beliefs based on new and mounting evidence) the whole ‘women are more religious’ thing seems kinda besides the point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but women and men are equally likely to refuse to let go of ideas they’ve long held despite what the evidence says.

  45. 1045
    julian

    You’re right. However in my defense I have to claim I do know how to spell intentionally.

    And in my defense

    meh

  46. 1046
    Pteryxx

    How much better would the cartoon have been if it offered a pair of spectacled friars?

    …That would be AWESOME! Perfect! It’d lose the unfortunate sexism and gain massive stealthing qualities all in one go.

  47. 1047
    Ichthyic

    Various people leaped in to say “no, it’s not, no sexism there at all, nope, nope, nope.”

    huh, it seemed to me from a cursory glance that most of the people decrying calling the comic sexist were indeed complaining more along the lines that PZ was.

    IOW, yeah, it COULD be interpreted that way, and it would be a good thing to alert the author that it could, but not that it was the main issue involved, and that many appeared to be pissed that the main issue involved had been sidetracked for an argument about sexism that may or may not have been intended, but that nobody bothered to actually ask the author about first BEFORE claiming “it’s sexist”.

    and, what’s more…

    THINK OF THE BUNNIES!!

  48. 1048
    Pteryxx

    ‘Tis Himself:

    This denial continued even after evidence was produced that the artist intentionally inserted the sexism. We actually saw how dogmatic certain people can be despite mounting evidence their position was wrong.

    “The box says it isn’t sexist. It can’t be sexist.”

    ~X>

  49. 1049
    Comradde PhysioProffe

    The procedure was sexism-neutral, and therefore any sexism inherent in the cartoon was unintentional.

    This is a red fucken herring, and has nothing to do with what is going on here, except to the extent that it is siezed upon by a bunch of fucken hypocritical fake “skeptics” who understand nothing of the basics of feminist theory, yet can’t stop themselves from ignorantly and credulously mansplaining to a bunch of women what feminism should be focused on.

  50. 1050
    ChasCPeterson

    This is a red fucken herring

    No, it’s a separate, tangential argument. I’m not trying to divert anybody from discussing anything.

    has nothing to do with what is going on here

    Except that it was in direct response to something somebody just posted here. And it’s also directly relevant to all kinds of shit that has been discussed in the many many comments above, few of which I’m guessing you could be bothered to read, Comradde. But stay on message, whatever it is.

  51. 1051
    Tethys

    Nicoleandmaggie

    As later commenters ask, where exactly are you getting that PZ changed his mind? Because it sure as heck isn’t in comment #430.

    PZ #430

    Now THAT’s a smoking gun. OK, point accepted: the cartoon was originally made with part of the point being perpetuation of a sexist stereotype gleaned from the internet. In light of the evidence, I change my mind.

    What part of “I change my mind” are you disagreeing with?

    Would you prefer it if PZ donned sackcloth and ashes and performed a few acts of public self-immolation?

    On a less hyperbolic note, an addendum to this post would not hurt. Something along the lines of “Damn I was wrong! Sometimes a Bunny is just a Bunny…except when it perpetuates sexism.”

    ——-
    Even though this discussion was not what PZ intended, it has been very thought provoking on the subject of unconscious gender bias.

  52. 1052
    Nicoleandmaggie

    @255

    CPP eloquently said 3 things http://freethoughtblogs.com/physioprof/2011/11/25/skeptic-skepticize-yourself/:

    (1) flat-out denying that the cartoon could be propagating misogynist tropes,
    (2) flat-out asserting that all that matters is the intent of the author, and
    (3) flat-out asserting that even if the cartoon might be propagating misogynist tropes, it isn’t important and bitchez should STFU.

    From the part that you have quoted, as I, and many others have pointed out MULTIPLE TIMES, PZ has said, oh, I guess I was wrong about the cartoon (1) propagating misogynist tropes. He only said that because he STILL BELIEVES (2) all that matters is intent. The only reason he changed his mind on (1) is because he believes (2). Got that? He changed his mind on one thing, but not the thing that is actually important. And he only changed his mind BECAUSE he is denying the important more general point. Because the author had intent, all of a sudden that changes this case, even though the effect of the case is the same regardless of the author’s intent.

    I ask you, What part of INTENT IS NOT IMPORTANT do you not understand? And where does PZ say he was wrong about intent not being important? He doesn’t.

    I can pull out the toe stepping analogy for the Nth time, but if you didn’t get it the first N-1 times, I’m guessing reading comprehension isn’t going to kick in the Nth. It’s up there in the comments. Just search for “toe.”

  53. 1053
    Richard Eis

    any sexism inherent in the cartoon was unintentional.

    Ooh, i raped a woman…but i was drunk and didn’t mean it… can i haz a free pass please??

  54. 1054
    Richard Eis

    I know, i know, i just noticed… slightly out of context…but that was the line you pulled so that was the line i read.

    It still doesn’t change the fact that if you get your facts from public opinion, all you will get is the Daily mail.

  55. 1055
    chigau (違う)

    If the author of the cartoon had done his “research” on “religiosity and race” rather that “religiosity and sex”, what would we be discussing right now?

  56. 1056
    Inaji

    NicoleandMaggie:

    BECAUSE

    Stop using all caps. If you can’t figure out other methods of emphasis, go away until you do.

  57. 1057
    Nicoleandmaggie

    @Caine

    Seriously? Wow. Way to deflect the point of the discussion.

    Also: I had no idea that you made the rules. CPP hasn’t been following them either. I guess we’re naughty. :Þ

    @257 and 259: Excellent points.

  58. 1058
    Nicoleandmaggie

    Also: I guess this is how the patriarchy wins in the end. They wear you down with their inanities and terrible reading comprehension skills until you decide you have better things to do than repeat the same argument. And then they “win.”

    It’s not like, Oh! If I use tags for bold or italic this time, they’ll actually understand that intent is unimportant unlike the last 4 or 5 times I explained it. Good grief.

    @Caine, I have decided that you’re not allowed to post unless your font is purple and you’ve included ASCII pictures of flowers on every comment. If you aren’t willing to do that, then I suggest you turn off the computer and just give up. Oh, also you need to send us a dollar each time you post. You can use paypal. The email is grumpyrumblings at gmail.

  59. 1059
    vexorian

    But show prolonged outrage at one twee cartoon that just happens to have a bunny in a dress playing the role of Simplicio, and you’ve lost me.

    Seriously.

    This is not about saying that it is just a cartoon so you shouldn’t worry about its stereotypes.

    It is more about having no evidence whatsoever that the cartoon has a misogynistic bias.

    Oh sure, the female character is Simplicio. Just note that whenever there is a chat between two characters, there is a 50% chance that the more stupid one will be a woman. Unless of course, the author is sexist, then the chance will either be 1% or 99% depending of his/her kind of sexism. Unless you chose not to add genders… But then are you really asking media not to have genders? That would be lame.

    The cartoon itself, other than having the female bunny be the irrational person, does not seem to have any hints of misoginism. There is really no strip that seems to specify that she is irrational because she is female.

    The problem with this lame nitpick without evidence is that it derails a great comic making a great anti-religious argument.

    If you happen to have better proof demonstrating an actual pattern of chauvinism in part of the comic’s author, like another strip in which it is clearer, then be my guest and post it , I will then agree with you.

    I have no problem with asserting that a cartoon has an anti-women bias, and I do not think that would be a small problem. I do have a problem with accusing something to have a bias when there is simply not enough data to back it up. Because we are supposed to be skeptical even about things that we would like to be true.

  60. 1060
    chigau (違う)

    NicoleandMaggie @261
    uh, thanks?
    What point did I make?

  61. 1061
    chigau (違う)

    NicoleandMaggie
    Since you are new to the internets:
    ALL CAPS is equivalent to SHOUTING, not emphasis.
    It doesn’t add to the impact of your argument, it takes away from the impact of your argument.
    Incoherence doesn’t help your argument either.

  62. 1062
    vexorian

    After the last post, I noticed. We have been handling this in the worst way possible. I have a piece of software called, The GIMP and I can use it.

    PZ’s intent when using the comic was not really to have a discussion about gender stereotypes in comics and media. Although that is an important topic, I will make the wild guess that his main objective was to criticize a view that is almost always present among religious types. I think this is the reason for PZ’s not liking the discussion, and the reason many react strongly to it.

    So, instead of continuing the discussion, let us just fix the godamn comic. Here it is:
    http://i39.tinypic.com/nr0i2x.jpg

  63. 1063
    Pteryxx

    *shrug* Sometimes I use all caps for emphasis because I’m posting quickly, and hitting capslock twice per phrase is easier on my hands than holding down Shift four times in rapid succession. Also, all caps doesn’t require Preview to troubleshoot, and saves with a quick copypasta while italics and bold disappear. So I guess I’m polyemphasist.

  64. 1064
    Pteryxx

    So, instead of continuing the discussion, let us just fix the godamn comic. Here it is:
    http://i39.tinypic.com/nr0i2x.jpg

    SWEET *cough*

  65. 1065
    vexorian

    Actually, after posting the URL to the fixed version of the comic, I noticed that tinypic resized it to a very tiny picture (the name must be indicative, hmmn).

    So, here is the complete version:

    http://www.filesonic.com/file/4026659014/religiouslogic.jpeg

  66. 1066
    Gunboat Diplomat

    @268 Pteryxx

    So, instead of continuing the discussion, let us just fix the godamn comic. Here it is:

    While you’re at it why don’t you rewrite Cervantes Don Quixote as it was meant to be written? I’m sure it would be awfully more meaningful than the original and surely the mark of the true artist is the rewriting of classic works. It gives them a much deeper meaning and does our species an inestimable service:

    http://www.coldbacon.com/writing/borges-quixote.html

    I for one await with bated breath.

  67. 1067
    chigau (違う)

    vexorian
    Did you hear that wooshing sound?

  68. 1068
    Pteryxx

    @GD: Oh, I might write up something about caricature and misinterpretation, possibly involving unicorns, if the idea should come to fruition. At the moment I’ve got other things to do.

    Small props for using “bated breath” correctly though, I hate when that expression gets screwed up. ~;>

  69. 1069
    chigau (違う)

    Gunboat Diplomat
    Pteryxx was quoting vexorian.

  70. 1070
    Richard Eis

    Vexorian… the Mcguyver of the feminist movement.

  71. 1071
    julian

    I’m sure it would be awfully more meaningful than the original and surely the mark of the true artist is the rewriting of classic works.

    Not exactly informed on the subject of literature but isn’t that sorta what all writers have historically done? Taken an older work, story or myth and rewrite it in a way that emphasizes the themes they wish to stress?

  72. 1072
    John Morales

    [OT]

    julian responds to Gunboat Diplomat’s sarcasm:

    I’m sure it would be awfully more meaningful than the original and surely the mark of the true artist is the rewriting of classic works.

    Not exactly informed on the subject of literature but isn’t that sorta what all writers have historically done?

    Clearly not, since that reduces to an infinite regress.

  73. 1073
    Cesar Hechler

    Wow. Did not see it coming. Went from snortles to moron in 3.8 seconds – or at least the time I was away for the weekend.

    KG asked what was said when my wife was shown the cartoon and then informed of the contents of the thread afterwards. I was simply reporting.

    When I first read the cartoon and PZ’s write-up, I didn’t think it was as important to people as it was. I only had my own perspective at the time. After reading the comments from people who found the cartoon sexist and their reasoning I agreed they had a right to those feelings and were making agreeable arguments. When KG asked what was said here I didn’t think it was wise to go into too much detail given what was said by my wife and older (high school senior) aged daughter as I knew it wasn’t a popular opinion given what was said here. And I can’t apologize for my wife’s or daughter’s speech mannerisms either.

    They aren’t anti-feminist and I usually consider them to be with the program in that department. The gist of what they said, and trying to sound least obnoxious (if that is possible) was that there are instances when the sexism is brash, purposeful and with intentional derogatory harm. They take offense at that. Since they (nor I) noticed anything without it being pointed out, our original perspective was that it was a harmless cartoon. My youngest daughter doesn’t fully understand the issue and it was she who mentioned the topless bunny and the eldest agreed.

    Out of my household, only I had the benefit of reading the comments here and KG asked what was said so I responded as diplomatically as possible (I guess I was wrong). I’m not particularly keen on being romantically suicidal so I’m not going to take my wife (nor the girls) to task for their perspective since they had their own rationale for feeling the way they do. I don’t want to make unscientific guesses but my only speculation could be that it centers on my wife’s Asian heritage and the way she was brought up and sees the world with regard to genders. Now I am probably going to be accused of racism.

    Now, if we are ever at a convention and someone here wants to get into that discussion with my wife or eldest and they’re open to it, I’m happy to introduce you. I have read the comments here and can honestly say I’m sympathetic with the people who were angered here. I’m also living in a house with people and am required to be sympathetic to their opinion as well. If that makes me a moron, well, I’m happy to remain a moron in that regard until the reaper finds me.

    I don’t know if explanation counts for anything here as an apology, but I’m sorry I offended. I just won’t comment any more. That’s been my MO previously and I will just return to that mode. I’m sure this is now tl;dr so it won’t amount to much anyway.

  74. 1074
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Cesar:

    KG asked what was said when my wife was shown the cartoon and then informed of the contents of the thread afterwards. I was simply reporting.

    Then you did it very poorly: “I will just say that her opinion, upon discovering the goings-on here, would just offend the offended.”

    The gist of what they said, and trying to sound least obnoxious (if that is possible) was that there are instances when the sexism is brash, purposeful and with intentional derogatory harm. They take offense at that. Since they (nor I) noticed anything without it being pointed out, our original perspective was that it was a harmless cartoon.

    You should ponder that claim in view of the numerous explanations posted in the comments, not least in the OP: “Much of it [sexism] is unconscious and not intended maliciously, but it still perpetuates a problem.”

    I don’t know if explanation counts for anything here as an apology, but I’m sorry I offended. I just won’t comment any more. That’s been my MO previously and I will just return to that mode.

    IOW, you’re the one who has been hurt and offended, and who cringes away from confrontation.

    Surely you’re not trying to make it seem like you’re protecting us from your harsh opinion? :)

    I’m sure this is now tl;dr so it won’t amount to much anyway.

    Clearly, you are wrong about your comment being teal deer, as my response indicates.

    (You were also sure people would be offended at your wife’s opinion, too. Perhaps you were just as correct then as you are now?)

  75. 1075
    Cesar Hechler

    J. Morales: I’m not hurt or offended, I was just kind of surprised at what I read when I returned. As you suggested, I made a hash of responding to KG’s question. With regard to the perpetuation of the problem, I have a greater understanding of that via this thread, and if conversation allows I make suggestions. My wife and kids are allowed to their own opinions though, I don’t presume to coerce them one way or the other after being given anecdotes or evidence. They usually make a decent rational choice. We’ll see what the effects of the in-laws influence has on the issue…they aren’t the most progressive family I have ever met and my attempts to persuade them of anything lefterly-leaning usually gets me stared daggers.

    Still, I’m awfully good at putting my foot in it when I open my mouth, so better off just watching everyone else play verbal tennis.

  76. 1076
    Pteryxx

    Tangent example from my faaaavorite show (in this thread). From the DVR description of the newest MLP episode, freshly recorded Saturday morning:

    When Rainbow Dash discovers that a new masked avenger has been stealing his thunder as Ponyville’s resident hero, he attempts to reclaim his glory…

    Sure, Rainbow Dash is athletic, competitive, heroic, and not a little arrogant. (And pastel-blue with rainbow mane and tail.) But she’s also a SHE.

    Does anyone seriously think the description-writer intentionally called Dash “he”? Or have any doubts why that particular mistake got made; or that it might annoy other MLP and Rainbow Dash fans besides myself, even if they’re too young to articulate why it hurt their feelings?

    Yeah… gender coding exists, people do it unconsciously, and it’s a problem.

  77. 1077
    Porco Dio

    Can anyone explain why a Deepak Chopra audience is usually upward of 80% female?

  78. 1078
    Cyberwulf

    Ahhh, I love it when a man takes time out from his busy day to fill his pants in rage while scolding women about being hysterical. Good for you, PZ, good for you, you fucking Liberal Dude.

  79. 1079
    Cyberwulf

    I do love the irony in PZ completely ignoring the objective evidence of sexism, until at last the Creator (of the cartoon) handed down the Word (the genders were deliberately chosen). And lo! his eyes were opened and he did see. Though not well enough to edit this steaming pile of condescending, pity-me bullshit, of course.

  80. 1080
    Richard Eis

    Can anyone explain why a Deepak Chopra audience is usually upward of 80% female?

    Because that is the target group he aims his crap at?

    to fill his pants in rage while scolding women about being hysterical

    I wonder when “annoyance” appears as rage? Do you have special glasses you have to wear to make that appear to be true? Like beer goggles, but instead made out of hyperbole and stupid.

  81. 1081
    tigtog
    Can anyone explain why a Deepak Chopra audience is usually upward of 80% female?

    Because that is the target group he aims his crap at?

    Exactly, and it’s the exact same reason why ~90% of the audience at any Jeremy Clarkson event is male. Broad-brush demographic targeting works really, really well on the getting bums on seats level and is a highly successful form of marketing both escapist woo and comfortingly ‘commonsense’ rantage (which are classes that intersect, natch).

  82. 1082
    tigtog

    P.S. to my #285: It’s no accident that both Chopra and Clarkson target middle-aged people trying to feel better about their lives once the obvious consumerist goodies have been accumulated yet they still find themselves unfulfilled, and that the solutions they offer (woo will fix you; going faster and louder will fix you;) generate much transfer of cash in their direction both directly and indirectly. The products offered to the mostly-women-demographic are smaller/regular purchases (books/dvds/getaways) while the products offered to the mostly-men-demographic are large look-at-what-I’ve-got purchases (new cars/stadium shows) aligns precisely with gendered spending patterns – fancy that.

  83. 1083
    Cyberwulf

    Richard Eis @ #284 – when someone makes a whole new post screeching about despair and embarrassment, scolding women for wasting their time on something “trivial” (and how fucking dare PZ or any other man tell women what incidences of sexism they should and shouldn’t care about), and tops it off by climbing up on the cross and snarling OTHER WOMEN EXPERIENCE *REAL* OPPRESSION, that goes beyond annoyance. That’s pants-full-of-shit rage.

  84. 1084
    Herp N. Derpington

    Self-important binary commentary circle-jerks like this make me glad I avoid commenting/reading the comments on Pharyngula. 1037 comments that no one not involved in the “argument” will read, ever. Love it.

  85. 1085
    devnull

    You inviting this nonsense onto your blog PZ, one of the reasons why I no longer read it (the bunny pic was linked on JREF).

  86. 1086
    chigau (違う)

    And I cannot express how sadly you are missed, devnull.
    Really, I can’t.

  87. 1087
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Eponymous one:

    Self-important binary commentary circle-jerks like this make me glad I avoid commenting/reading the comments on Pharyngula.

    You just commented, and how do you imagine know the contents of the comments if you haven’t read them?

    (If you must be a liar, at least try to be plausible)

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