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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.

Comments

  1. Dick the Damned says

    I dunno what all the fuss is about. The bunny in the dress is obviously a male transvestite, & the one in pants is a lesbian.

    Sorry, i wasn’t trying to trivialize the issue of sub-conscious sexual discrimination. But i agree with PZ that a sample of one is not gonna give us anything statistically significant.

    Take it easy, eh.

  2. Father Ogvorbis, OMoron says

    I disagree, PZ. The flame war started when some denied even the possibility that there may have been subconscious sexism. But that’s just me.

    And I freely admit that, with my level of privilege (white middle class middle age male), I did not even see the possibility of sexism until it was pointed out.

  3. Carlie says

    It was just an offhanded notice – as remarked several times, a simple sigh of “oh, this again”. The vitriol came from the other side and that is what was being responded to, not the initial comic. It’s the same damn situation we’ve seen every time it happens – the initial issue and comment on it is perfectly calm, if a little disappointed, and then the ire starts because how dare someone make notice of it at all.

  4. says

    Are you really fighting for the right for the cute bunny in the dress in a cartoon to not be the religious one?

    Nah. I’m fighting for the day when we can say “this shows an unfortunate gender stereotype” and the responses aren’t NO IT DOESN’T NO IT DOESN’T okay maybe it does but THIS IS THE WRONG BATTLE.

    I have never seen feminism reduced to such appalling depths of triviality as I have in that thread.

    I have, in your post right here.

  5. joed says

    Perhaps the anxiety of turkeyday allows people to vent but I see the anger/frustration uptightness in mant comments on this site. I am not sure why. Most people here seem to make an overt attempt to be reasonable and evidence driven. but knee-jerk emotions quickly(easily) seem to arise when any social issue is commented on. there is as many opinions as people but the anger is not necessary. I have seen anger show up often with no apparent reason.
    guess I am glad I didn’t get involved in the bunny deal.

    didn’t even look at what the cartoons were wearing.
    Kinda’ odd huh!

  6. says

    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.

    Dear Muslima…

  7. Seamus says

    Well said! I agree completely!

    Anyone interested in discussing the cartoon?
    My interest is in how we might extend the concept to deal with revisionists. The original works well with fundamentalists, but for me it’s the ‘moderates’ that are the problem!
    (I assure you I am not trying to sound Monty Python with that last part!)

  8. says

    I had a bad feeling last thread. There was a reason I said:

    I worry that PZ might be taking this more personally than he ought. (My worry might be unfounded, but I still worry.)

    So I want to note something*

    I don’t see anyone here suggesting that you’re a bad guy for posting it, PZ.

    It’s just that once an aesthetic work is up for display, we need to talk about the sexism we notice.

    *if anyone disagrees with my observation, please say so.

    As I worried, you’ve now gone and made the discussion be about yourself and your reaction to the discussion.

  9. says

    Well, since the other thread is closed I want to use this to apologize to rachelswirsky for my insensitivity about the problems people of colour face.
    My argument was poorly made, I stand corrected.

    On this issue:
    *sigh*
    It would have been a simple side-note. Just noticing that yes, indeed, the artists, most likely unthinkingly and meaning no harm, chose to use well-known, sexist stereotypes.
    Really, no big deal.
    Let’s move on and discuss the cartoon.
    And then the mansplaining started.
    And then we had 300+ comics about sexism.
    Not because of a minor fault of a great cartoon.
    But because again and again men told women (and people perceived as such, and male feminists, also known as our enslaved lapdogs) that they were shrill and overreacting and should shut up.
    That’s the problem. Not the bunny in the skirt.

  10. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    I finally find the time to comment, after reading the whole damned thread, and the original thread gets closed and PZ plays the “There are worse things to worry about” card. Well. That’s a surprise. Not the first couple of things about me missing all the action, but the last one, where PZ says stupid things, definitely is.

  11. says

    Only on an Atheist site could such a silly argument exist and now let’s watch as PZ is thrown squarely under the bus.
    It’s amazing to me that some folks feel a need to just analyze everything to death. It’s a friggin cartoon ! Have a giggle and move on ! Geesh !

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Two observations. First, I did (but barely) notice the boy/girl thing going looking at the pictures, and said “oh shit”, while giving the cartoon the benefit of the doubt.

    The second was that after the fracas started, the concern trolls came out of the woodwork to poo-poo the idea that any form of sexism, short of violence (or so it seems), is “not worthy” of mentioned and discussed on this blog. Folks like this are zealots themselves, as they try to inhibit rational discussion, that would shortly die out if they, not us, just ignored the discussion. Unfortunately, privilege only gains strength if it is not repeatedly challenged.

    *Back to watching a mystery in sun and surf.*

  13. Father Ogvorbis, OMoron says

    It’s a friggin cartoon ! Have a giggle and move on ! Geesh !

    And those who tried to actually discuss the cartoon were drowned out by those who denied even the possibility of unconscious sexism. Did you even read the thread?

  14. utakata says

    @ Tabby Lavalamp of 8

    …yeah, I got that too. But I’m not sure this is the same thing though. And that what PZ was intending. We won’t know until he comes back from dinner…even that. :(

  15. Pteryxx says

    I didn’t see the clothes until much later. The initial flag for me was the association of pink with unreliable opinions in the word balloons alone. (And yes, pink is associated with femininity [link], and so is having a discountable opinion [link].) If there were no characters portrayed at all, but solely puzzle pieces, box and text, I’d still dislike that pairing. Having the bunnies in gendered clothing just doubled-down on the unfortunate association.

    It’s an artist’s responsibility to detect and remove unfortunate associations in their work, even if the problematic elements arose by accident.

  16. Narlaquin says

    Are we going to call this “Bunnygate”? “The Day the Duck Cried”? “Fuck me, not THAT again”? “Let’s pretend this never happened”?
    I’m betting on”The Day that Narlaquin wished they’d never delurked”

  17. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Father Ogvorbis, OMoron #3

    The flame war started when some denied even the possibility that there may have been subconscious sexism. But that’s just me.

    Not just you.

    The comment was made that the cartoon perpetuated gender stereotypes. Then a bunch of MRA wannabees leaped in to say no, it doesn’t and even if it did it’s only one example so it’s no big deal, don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Sure, it’s a cute cartoon and a good allegory about religion vs. science. Unfortunately, the irrational, dogmatic religionist is depicted as a female and the logical, reasonable science type is male. This reinforces the stereotype that women are silly and unreasoning but men are sensible and analytical.

  18. Gnumann says

    I must admit – I can’t be arsed to read the other thread. I got a feeling of what’s there and I don’t want to wallow in stupid atm.

    But I must say, PZ should take a break from the class-room to brush up his litterary skills. The author clearly shows that gender matters (blue for male voice and pink for female for example).

    And I’m quite amused PZ missed the author had three options that wouldn’t offend anybody: Two equal bunnies, either female, male or gender-neutral.

    The cartoon reproduces a pretty toxic meme (female=irrational). This meme is very ubiqious, so it’s no telling if the artist had sexist intent. There’s sexism there, but there’s sexism nearly everywhere. What about just nodding to it, then most rational people would move on.

  19. tdesantiago says

    I didn’t know there was a fuss about it until I read this post… and I totally agreed. One data point is NOT sufficient when tryign to suggest there is something sexist about the cartoon. The people argueing over it being sexist have, as the comic stated, only but ONE PUZZLE PEICE and are already asserting to know the whole picture.

    Grow up people, and to those in the US have a good thanksgiving.

  20. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    This wouldn’t have blown up into anything resembling a battle if some people didn’t get all defensive when some others noted the possible unconscious use of a well known stereotype. Look, it’s there, it’s glaringly obvious. We could have noted it, been a bit disappointed and gone on with comments about the actual topic of the cartoon. So really, if there is a battle, it’s against sexism in the comment thread much more than in the response to the cartoon.

  21. rad_pumpkin says

    Yes, thank you, PZ! Reason, finally, all I ever wanted to see in that other thread.

    I’m gonna go buy a few of these stuffed bunnies and burn them. Damn bastards deserve nothing less…

  22. Gen, or The RadFem of Dhoom says

    @21, ‘Tis Himself OM, Father Ogvorbis, OMoron:

    The comment was made that the cartoon perpetuated gender stereotypes. Then a bunch of MRA wannabees leaped in to say no, it doesn’t and even if it did it’s only one example so it’s no big deal, don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Yeah, that’s exactly how I experienced it too.

    Imagine my horror upon discovering this lovely piece of deja vu, with PZ saying exactly the same thing.

  23. Stonyground says

    I didn’t even notice what the bunnies were wearing. The point is that the irrational bunny refuses to believe evidence that is overwhelming but not 100% conclusive. Sheesh!

  24. Azkyroth says

    I think Carlie pretty much nailed it with this comment and it’s distressing that PZ seems inclined to blame Person 2 for the MRAs streaking and screaming.

  25. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    @Pteryxx of 19

    …I wish pink wasn’t associated like that. It’s really cool color in it’s own right.

    But you are absolutely right about the artist’s responsibility to detect stuff like that. Unless his or her intended message gets lost in the controversy. As an artist myself, I am all too familiar with this. And have made few horrifying gaffs with negative consequences to the message I was trying to convey, which would of never been if I checked for those first before hitting the “send to printer” button. /sigh

  26. pelamun says

    I didn’t notice the thing with the clothes initially, but agreed that there was probably underlying sexism once it was pointed out.

    To those who say n=1. It really isn’t, as several people have pointed out, the depiction of women as silly and men as clever is pervasive in Western culture.

    I mean for the purposes of the cartoon, it wasn’t really necessary to use gendered bunnies. But the artist did, and it transported, probably unwittingly, a sexist connotation.

    It’s probably right that there are bigger issues, and that the cartoon still carries a powerful message about the irrationality of religion, but if it alienates a significant number of the audience, even if slightly, its effectiveness is diminished.

    But as many, including me, noted on the previous thread: after noticing the bias, we could’ve moved on, but instead there was a barrage of defensive posts about how insignificant the observation was.

  27. says

    Hate To say It; But PZ Missed his mark =\. Father and Ahs are correct in the “finger-pointing” on who fired the first shot. Just check post 11 of the thread, Pretty sure that’s what started the ball rolling.

    Pink and Blue Dialogue boxes, while not gendered language, reinforces “gender norms”. Pants + Blue text + rational etc. should be enough to make any feminist/humanist sigh… And to deny that IS belittling the real fight. Hence a Direct comment of “Fuck you. Paranoid Killjoy” A fight doth start.

    Hopefully Your Family/Dinner festivities Iron out the anger! Don’t want this to go down as another “Dawkins Fumble” after all! ;D (That being Said, in 113% Jest, Stomping out People who deny others their valid sighs is where Ima headed!)

  28. PM says

    I am a male. I frequently wear a skirt. On the other hand I have never worn pink pants. You may chose to see a harmful stereotype but that sure looks like a grasping at staws to me.

  29. Jah says

    Actually, both the bunnies are male, even though one of them is a transvestite… so the whole thing is sexist.

    (Kinda like the Pope wears a dress, actually. There’s your clue, now get on with living life.)

  30. evilDoug says

    I didn’t pay any attention to the bunny clothes, until I read a few comments.

    Could the bunny in the demifrock be – an imam bunny or a mullah bunny or a rabbi rabbit, or an orthodox bunny?

    Pink and blue striped shorts with red suspenders? Lavender speech ballons? Probably best if I don’t go there. It would be sad to make the new server execute a Halt and Catch Fire instruction.

  31. pharylon says

    PZ,

    I absolutely love Pharyngula. One of my favorite blogs. But in trying to join discussions about sexism, I’ve pretty much found it to be a cesspool of hate and vitriol. So, yeah. I’m kind of surprised you’re just now noticing.

  32. InsideTheSkull says

    Why do people care what the rabbits are wearing? That wasn’t the point of the cartoon.

    People see what they want to see I guess.

  33. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Shit, guys. What happened to all the groupthink and PZ worship?

    We’re in Deep Rifts™ mode.

  34. AoT says

    The people argueing over it being sexist have, as the comic stated, only but ONE PUZZLE PEICE and are already asserting to know the whole picture.

    I imagine they have more of the picture than you’d think given the argument they made wasn’t that the author of this cartoon is sexist, it was that this plays into a long history of sexist ways of depicting women as being irrational. I’ve seen a lot of puzzle pieces that fit into that puzzle.

  35. Tethys says

    I didn’t notice the gendering of the bunnies until it was pointed out. It’s most likely due to the depth of the rabbit hole.

    It is sad that so many apparently male nyms had to get so worked up about it being pointed out that the gendering detracted from the more important message of the cartoon. (guys, don’t do that)

    @Chigau

    faze

  36. wasp says

    “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.”

    This is definetly true, but I’m wondering wether it would’ve caused such a fuzz if the roles had been reversed.

  37. says

    I will say, though, there is a difference in scale here. There’s a significant amount of difference between a thoughtlessly constructed cartoon and intimidating someone on an elevator — the latter hints at danger, while the former is mostly just a reason to dope-slap the artist for carelessness. There are very good reasons to be hypersensitive about issues like this, in the current climate, but that doesn’t excuse submitting such sensitivities to critical analysis.

    Dawkins’ big mistake was not acknowledging that the thing he was minimizing and the thing he was comparing it to are both issues of personal safety and respect. That, I think, is the basis of PZ’s logic here, at least as I read it. But as I said, it would be a big mistake to take a hard line on this one.

  38. joed says

    Professor Myers,
    looks like you are being spammed. Seems the gist of your complaint is comments about totally subjective sexism.
    It it obvious and evident that subjective sexism led to the complaint.
    but, now some commenters want to take you to task for taking it personal. I will ignore them.

  39. vexorian says

    1. I pretty much agree with PX that the lame derailing started in post 2. Really, people, it is a cartoon.

    2. Once you go around name-calling (“MRA wannabee”) anyone not willing to agree with you that the cartoon is part of an attempt to make females look irrational, you undermine feminism as a whole.

    3. In fact, I’d say that the comments undermine feminism a lot more than the author is undermining his anti-religion message by not constantly asking him/herself “would this appear sexist to some?”.

  40. Emrysmyrddin says

    This post makes me kind of regret claiming in the last thread that this blog was a safe space for discussion. I was thinking earlier that it’s nice to ‘be’ in a place where we can mention stuff that makes us uncomfortable without being shouted down as ridiculous and female. Perhaps I was wrong? I hope not. This post makes me honestly sad.

  41. procyon says

    I enjoyed the cartoon and didn’t even notice the pink and blue or the male/female aspect. But then again, I am a middle aged white guy. On the other hand, when watching TV I am constantly aware that many TV commercials portray the man as stupid and the eye-rolling woman as the smart one, be it a commercial for banking, insurance, or whatever. One has to learn to see through the others eyes.

  42. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    So, what? You’re fighting for the day when the whole world sings along with you with nary a dissenting opinion? It’s gonna be a long, long wait.

    Are you stupid or you just can’t read?
    Show me where ahs said that you should agree with him on everything. The sentence you quoted sure doesn’t say that.

  43. says

    I absolutely love Pharyngula. One of my favorite blogs. But in trying to join discussions about sexism, I’ve pretty much found it to be a cesspool of hate and vitriol. So, yeah. I’m kind of surprised you’re just now noticing.

    He has noticed, that’s why he normally has a low tolerance for MRAs.

    OH! You mean it’s the feminists who are the cesspool of hate and vitriol!

    Why do people care what the rabbits are wearing? That wasn’t the point of the cartoon.

    Of course it wasn’t the point of the cartoon. Racism wasn’t the point of Amos ‘n’ Andy, but guess what? One thing doesn’t have to be the point of another thing to be a problem.

  44. KarlVonMox says

    Hahaha, to see feminism reduced to such triviality is commonplace on this blog – the fact that even PZ noticed it this time is amazing, and illustrative of the depths it has gone. I read the above post and I had a hard time believing its PZ that wrote it! Well done.

  45. pharylon says

    I imagine they have more of the picture than you’d think given the argument they made wasn’t that the author of this cartoon is sexist, it was that this plays into a long history of sexist ways of depicting women as being irrational. I’ve seen a lot of puzzle pieces that fit into that puzzle.

    Sure, and there’s also a long tradition of big dumb guys being paired with smart, sensible women.

  46. Seamus says

    “But because again and again men told women (and people perceived as such, and male feminists, also known as our enslaved lapdogs) that they were shrill and overreacting and should shut up.”

    I would suggest that this as an example of gender stereotyping! How can I take the person making it seriously in their fight against stereotyping? (that and the fact that the term mansplaining was used later in the same comment: it seems that mansplaining has come to mean: words uttered/written by a man. Ironic that such a term could be so frequently used in a discussion about stereotyping!)

    Personally I tried to make a case for why I felt the cartoon wasn’t gender stereotyping (#179 for anyone interested).
    I received no response of note, (that I could see; maybe I missed one! I did receive one patronising condescending reply)

    As point of interest, can people conceive of a circumstance where a person makes a claim of gender discrimination or gender stereotyping, where they are in fact incorrect in doing so?
    Or should we regard the act of making the claim as sufficient grounds for validation of the claim?

    It would seem to me from the previous thread that the mere suggestion that the cartoon wasn’t gender stereotyping was sufficient grounds for being dismissed.

    (Why does that remind me about discussions I had with my CD (Christian Doctrine) teacher at school about not having an informed conscience as an individual, and needing instead to accept the superior wisdom and understanding of Catholic teaching!)

  47. says

    “I dunno what all the fuss is about. The bunny in the dress is obviously a male transvestite, & the one in pants is a lesbian.”

    I was going to say it’s a fat bunny wearing a muumuu (sex undetermined). Obviously the author thinks fat people are dumb and this isn’t an issue of sexism, but fatism.

    On the supposed ‘male’ bunny, how many males do you A) see wearing pants like that, and B) wear said pants with suspenders? And I mean outside of a circus, a rodeo or a costume party. To me it would appear both bunnies are female.

  48. Pteryxx says

    Given only two characters, one representing reason and one irrationality, there is actually no combination of sexes that isn’t going to offend someone…

    Easy fix; when using two characters to illustrate opposing viewpoints, minimize irrelevant differences between them. They don’t need to display a gender at all.

    Example

    Since gender is (or should be) irrelevant to the puzzle discussion, there was no reason to color the word balloons pink and blue in the first place, instead of choosing some other pastels without the baggage.

    Assigning gender is a choice, not a default.

  49. Matt says

    Your commenters are assholes, PZ (myself included, but I’m prepared to admit it). You shouldn’t be surprised that they leapt on any excuse to talk about how sexist men are.

  50. Bruce Gorton says

    I’m with PZ on this one. If we hyper-analyse everything to death for every possible subtext we risk ending up as humourless bores.

  51. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Emrysmyrddin,

    People may try to shout you down, but they will then be shouted down with such vehemence, it’s usually a delight to read. (bring some popcorn)
    But yes, the post saddened me too.

  52. joed says

    whats the matter with you people.
    Your seeing sexism in the cartoon says more about you than the cartoon.
    Any sexism you get from the cartoon is your sexism.
    you are creating the sexism. you can’t find sexism in this one single sample. if you see sexism in the cartoon it is cause you bring the sexism to the cartoon
    Your seeing sexism says more about you than the cartoon.
    Read this article again,
    “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…”

  53. Father Ogvorbis, OMoron says

    The people argueing over it being sexist have, as the comic stated, only but ONE PUZZLE PEICE and are already asserting to know the whole picture.

    No. Not even close. A commenter merely pointed out the possibility of unconscious sexism in the choice of roles. And that this could, possibly, be perpetuating a sexist meme. The assertion of a possibility is not an assertion that one knows all the answers.

    And the only reason it became a big deal was that some MRA-like commenters showed up to deny even the possibility of sexism. And that even if it was sexist, so what, it is a small thing so get a grip.

    Reading for comprehension? you failed.

  54. A Fellow Eukaryote says

    Long-time lurker here.

    OF COURSE it’s just a silly little bunny cartoon. I thought it was pretty good at first, and didn’t notice the genders until it was pointed out, but I winced after that (the lovely thing about being male is that you don’t notice these things at first, since these little things don’t chipping at you your whole damned life). But we’re allowed to fucking note, calmly but annoyed, that it plays the old trope–which we did. Check the first few comments again. Then the MRA asshats had to come oozing from the cracks, just to whine about how fucking hysterical we are. And PZ of all people should sympathize with the subsequent stompfest.

    No one’s throwing PZ under the bus. I still think he’s great, and he’s on our side. But we are just pointing out that it’s still awfully convenient that the bunnies’ genders are assigned way they are. And it aint a sample size of 1 when women fucking get this shit all the time. Smugly stupid, irrational bunny–>female. Smart, thoughtful, rational bunny–>male. Did we REALLY need the pink thought bubble for the irrational one, and blue for the rational one? We couldn’t have the two bunnies be the same gender? What if you had a cartoon of two bunnies, one of which was being a stupid asshole bothering the other bunny, and lo and behold the dumb asshole was black and the other was white. Wouldn’t you think it was unfortunate, EVEN if the author did not intend it that way? It might be far far less threatening than being cornered in an elevator, but fuck, we only did mention it to raise consciousness…only to get the Muslima treatment.

    And Carlie and Azkyroth are right–it sounds too much like PZ is blaming us for the 300+ comments. As though we were just asking for it, for even mentioning the goddamn gender trope. PZ, just step back for a moment, and acknowledge that it was an unfortunate choice on the author’s part, that it was a small thing that we were mildly ticked about, and that MRA’s flocked in to derail. That is all.

  55. vexorian says

    I am seeing a lot of commenter get stuck after “THIS IS THE WRONG BATTLE”. And then ignore the rest of PZ’s post.

    Let me retype it:


    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

    1. No, PZ is not in the group of those saying that it is impossible that the artist is victim of a unconscious stereotype. He is admitting the possibility, but he, would like more data before making a conclusion.

    2. Also, it is clear that PZ is criticizing all the commenters that are taking this discussion too seriously, both the ones claiming there was stereotype and the ones not claiming so.

    ———–
    I think it is not bad/wrong to judge pop culture for stereotypes it shows. I do think it is wrong to claim it shows stereotypes when it does not. The simpsons for example, when Lisa was the evolutionist vs. Flanders’ creationist pushing for it to be taught in schools. How many people really did complain about it showing a stereotype about men being irrational? Would it make sense? I think it wouldn’t.

  56. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    To be honest, I didn’t notice the bunny gender thing at all either. But when someone pointed it out, I was like, “Oh yeah. Huh, gender stereotypes again. Oh well, moving on.”

    I didn’t get angry at the person who pointed it out.

    I think the people who got really angry because people noticed sexism need to check themselves. Seriously, what is so fucking heinous about noticing sexism, even if you think the other person is wrong about the sexism?

  57. municipalis says

    I remember, when I was a young boy (maybe 20 years ago), there was a series of advertisements for Crispy Crunch. The campaign, as referenced in the wiki article, was “The only thing better than a Crispy Crunch is someone elses”. There were probably a dozen ads in the series, and each one followed the same formula, with the same actors:
    1) Man buys Crispy Crunch
    2) Woman tricks man out of Crispy Crunch
    3) Woman eats Crispy Crunch.

    I doubt I noticed much when the first one of these aired, but after 3 or 4, the pattern became pretty apparent, and I got pretty upset at the commercials. I, of course, hadn’t studied any gender-theory at the point, but my little pre-pubescent head was smart enough to notice that the ads were really justifying deceit and cruelty over a candy bar – provided the woman was wasn’t the one being deceived.

    The issue is, though, I saw several commercials before I realized what was going on. As PZ is saying, you can’t claim a pattern from a sample size of one. For all we know, the original author had flipped a coin to determine each bunny’s gender.

    Yes, you can read into it and say “The female bunny is speaking in a pinkish red, while the male bunny has a purpley-blue!” But you could also point out that the female bunny’s dress does not cover her chest, or that the male bunny is wearing pink trousers. Unfortunately, without a bit more information, any determination of significance within this information is purely conjecture. Show me two other comics by the same author where the female is showed as a dumb sap, and I’ll be right beside you in the condemnation.

  58. eigenperson says

    I have to say that I was taken aback that people thought the comic played into a negative stereotype of women. I am familiar with many negative stereotypes that are often commonly applied to women, but I was not aware that “godbot” was one of them.

    Perhaps, though, out there in the great wide world there are people who hold this stereotype, and other works in the media where this stereotype is portrayed? If so, the comic is unfortunate. I am just not aware of those people, or those works.

  59. says

    On the other hand, when watching TV I am constantly aware that many TV commercials portray the man as stupid and the eye-rolling woman as the smart one, be it a commercial for banking, insurance, or whatever. One has to learn to see through the others eyes.

    Not just commercials, sitcoms in particular are often very bad for that too. Stereotypes hurt everybody, but it’s apparently zealotry to point them out.

  60. Gallstones says

    There was no gender stereotyping in that cartoon except where people injected it. Anyone who would assert that they can know the subconscious intentions of the artist is too full of of themselves to be taken seriously.

  61. SteveV says

    One data point is NOT sufficient when tryign to suggest there is something sexist about the cartoon.

    Well, Yes, but then again, No.
    Yes, one point is not enough to determine if the sexism is deliberate,
    No, one point IS enough to determine the sexism in THIS cartoon

  62. Liesmith says

    I’m always on the fence in these situations: I have to ask myself “is my thought process flawed? Am I overlooking something which is obvious to everyone else?” I get the impression that many people on both sides of this issue don’t ask themselves those questions.

    Based on the comments in both threads, it seems many people didn’t notice the gender attributes at all (I fall into this category). PZ is also correct that the cartoon depiction of women is not typically foolish…he even cited examples (and there are many many many more, not to mention sitcoms and even commercials) showing that the comedic trend often has clueless males and intelligent females. I really feel like this is tilting at windmills.

    All that being said, I’ll refer back to my first paragraph. I can often be clueless myself, and I rely on people with differing opinions to let me know what I’m not seeing or understanding. I think this could have been an interesting and civil discussion except for some folks who jumped in and stirred up the vitriol. I think Carlie put it best in the previous thread:

    It always goes this way.

    Scene: Corner table at a cafe.

    Person 1: Look at this cute cartoon I made!
    Person 2: Aw, that’s awesome! But…
    Person 1: What?
    Person 2: Well, you made it a stupid girl and a smart boy.

    (Optional:
    Person 1: stares blankly
    Person 2: stares expectantly)

    Person 2: You know, it’s kind of really old hat to make the girl the stupid one and the boy the smart one who knows better, and kind of sexist too. Not everybody would notice, but that makes it hurt a bit and detracts from the main message you’re trying to send.
    Person 1: Crap, I didn’t even think about it that way.
    Person 2: I know you didn’t. That’s why I’m telling you.
    Person 1: Ok, so for the next one I’ll put them both in similar outfits and use different colors for the word balloons, would that work?
    Person 2: That would be fantastic, thanks.
    Person 1: No problem. I’m glad you pointed it out. Hey, I’m going to go up to the counter for a refill. Need anything?
    Person 2: No thanks, I’m good.

    MRA: Runs streaking naked into the room past them, screaming “YOU ARE MAKING SO MUCH DRAMA!!!!!!!!!”

  63. Emrysmyrddin says

    I’m not very confrontational, Beatrice; I admire a lot of commenters on here for being able to do just that, including yourself :)

    A Fellow Eukyarote said everything my brain was trying to formulate, but much better.

  64. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    A single cartoon is not evidence of sexism. However, it may fit within a larger pattern of sexism. Just like a single hurricane is not evidence of global warming, even though it may fit within a larger pattern of global warming.

    One thing you can say about this cartoon is that it certainly does not challenge sexism in any way. It does not break the sexist pattern at all.

  65. shouldbeworking says

    Thank you PZ or your intelligent comments. I couldn’t believe the furor about the cartoon. I am white, male and over 40. I honestly didn’t notice the outfits or the colors of the bubbles.

    I was going to post a comment saying I liar things to PZ, but not as well written, but I didn’t want to be the focus of diatribes.

  66. says

    Also, I would have dressed the bunny in the dress as a priest. (The dress makes me think of the long dresses the women in the Twelve Tribes cult compound near me wear, but that’s sort of an unauthorized retcon.)

  67. Geoff says

    PZ should take a break from the class-room to brush up his litterary skills

    The curse of the pedant.

  68. AtheistAlabamanian says

    If you grew up in the 90s, you were aware that many sitcoms portrayed family men as dumb, obnoxious brutes. It was irritating at the time, and possibly, on a subconscious level, contributed to my desire to perform well in academics. If you want to fight a battle against stereotyping a sex as dumb and ignorant, I’m all for it. I think PZ’s problem was that the 300-comment flame war on the original thread distracted from a conversation about the intended message of the original content.

  69. Azkyroth says

    How can I take the person making it seriously in their fight against stereotyping? (that and the fact that the term mansplaining was used later in the same comment: it seems that mansplaining has come to mean: words uttered/written by a man. Ironic that such a term could be so frequently used in a discussion about stereotyping!)

    The term “mansplaining” refers to a phenomenon where a person either with unexamined privilege or an unexamined urge to defend the privilege of others pops into a discussion, ignores what was actually being said, and condescendingly presumes to speak with authority on the matter – IE “uh huh. Yeah, see, here’s how it ACTUALLY is…” The term was coined because certain mindsets of men are extremely prone to doing this in discussions of women’s issues (a handful of women will also do this on behalf of men, and the language used is similar enough that it’s not easy to distinguish between them without explicit identification statements). Which is unfortunate because the concept has broader applications; groups who are prone to this kind of behavior include: middle-aged or elderly persons of either gender talking to young adults; rich people (and idiots who vote against their own self-interest in favor of rich people) talking to non-rich people; white people talking to non-white people; neurotypicals talking to anyone else. Obviously applying the term “mansplaining” in those circumstances is confusing and possibly prejudicial, which is why I favor the term “condesplaining” to describe the behavior in general.

    And, yeah, there are spaces in which any comment identifiably from a man which in any way fails to conform to the consensus is dismissed as “mansplaining,” and where more broadly any comment failing to conform to the consensus is assumed to come from a man, regardless of commenter self-identification or lack thereof, and dismissed. Feminists are human, humans are flawed, and people who congregate together are often similar – including similar flaws. Combined with some of the often-problematic social instincts humans have, these particular flaws can create toxic environments. There’s nothing special about feminists in that regard, though, and I’m curious as to why you’re looking to hold them to such a vastly higher standard. Plus, Pharyngula threads only very rarely go that route, so it’s a bit of a red herring here….

  70. danielrudolph says

    I’m sorry, did you just tell a bunch of women they were being too sensitive about sexism and reading it in where it didn’t exist? Isn’t this normally called mansplaining?

  71. hughmcb says

    “Sometimes a bunny is just a bunny”

    However the word cunt can definitely not be just the word cunt! LOL

    Double standards methinks.

  72. echidna says

    Emrysmyrddin,

    I was thinking earlier that it’s nice to ‘be’ in a place where we can mention stuff that makes us uncomfortable without being shouted down as ridiculous and female. Perhaps I was wrong? I hope not. This post makes me honestly sad.

    Think of it rather as PZ is honestly sad that we didn’t even get to talk about the main issue in a post aimed at the trope “Science doesn’t know everything therefore God”.

    I disagree with PZ inasmuch that the derail was not really about the cartoon as much as it was about the reactions to the “sigh”. And the “sigh” should have been a safe comment to make.

  73. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    vexorian #50

    Once you go around name-calling (“MRA wannabee”) anyone not willing to agree with you that the cartoon is part of an attempt to make females look irrational, you undermine feminism as a whole.

    Your concern is noted.

    Since I’m the one who “name-called” let me defend my use of MRA wannabee.

    The cartoon was sexist. Probably unconsciously sexist but still sexist. The sexism was pointed out. A bunch of folks leaped into the discussion to say nope, nope, nope, not sexist at all and even if it is, no big deal. The sexism was minor and the original comment was made in regret, not anger.

    MRAs try to marginalize any form of sexism, even the most trivial. Since the people, mainly (and probably only) men, who tried to make a peripheral bit of sexism disappear and complained about anyone who said yes, it is sexist were doing perfect imitations of MRAs, it wasn’t unreasonable for me to call them MRA wannabees. Because that’s what they are. Sorry if the facts are inconvenient.

  74. Father Ogvorbis, OMoron says

    Your commenters are assholes, PZ (myself included, but I’m prepared to admit it). You shouldn’t be surprised that they leapt on any excuse to talk about how sexist men are.

    Bullshit. Not the asshole part, that I own up to, but the part about leaping “on any excuse to talk about how sexist men are.” Note was made of possible sexism (conscious or not) within the bigger message of the cartoon. Later commenters noted how unfortunate that was as it might make it difficult to discuss the message of the cartoon. And then came the cries of how mean Pharyngulites are to men, and hypersensitivity, and absolute MRA-style bullshit. Without the vociferous denials of even the possibility of sexism, the conversation would have been about the atual message of the cartoon. But, thanks to the reactionaries, we’ll never know.

    If we hyper-analyse everything to death for every possible subtext we risk ending up as humourless bores.

    Failing to examine extant art for subtext ensures continuation of current privilege.

    Your seeing sexism in the cartoon says more about you than the cartoon.

    So what does that say about those who refuse to recognize even a possibility of sexism?

    Anyone who would assert that they can know the subconscious intentions of the artist is too full of of themselves to be taken seriously.

    The only ones asserting that they know the mind of the artist are those denying the possibility of sexism in the assigned gender roles of the cartoon.

    I couldn’t believe the furor about the cartoon.

    The furor was from those who, after having the possible sexism pointed out, denied the possibility.

    I am white, male and over 40. I honestly didn’t notice the outfits or the colors of the bubbles.

    Same here. Which is why it is important to look for hidden subtexts.

  75. A. R says

    Of course, we have to consider that the intention of the author was to illustrate the religion vs. science issue (which I would still like to discuss), and not to challenge gender roles. Of course there were elements of unconscious gender bias here but that was not the point of PZ’s post. Someone noted it, and we should have moved on. Instead a bunch of trolls came in and assisted the regulars in totally derailing the thread into oblivion. PZ is, in my view, understandably frustrated.

  76. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Privilege is only privilege when it’s something you haven’t got, right?

    An obvious newbie. I have privilege up the wazoo. White, male, AARP card carrying and well educated in my field individual. There is one difference critical difference compared to the apologists for privilege. I have learned how to shut the fuck up and listen to those without privilege. What is your excuse for not shutting the fuck up and listening???

  77. Emrysmyrddin says

    echidna:

    I disagree with PZ inasmuch that the derail was not really about the cartoon as much as it was about the reactions to the “sigh”. And the “sigh” should have been a safe comment to make.

    My comment was honestly just a sigh – there was no topic longevity or derailing meant on my behalf *worry*

  78. jose says

    Surprise! The scientific bunny was also a she. She was just wearing pants because women do that sometimes, too.

  79. says

    The simpsons for example, when Lisa was the evolutionist vs. Flanders’ creationist pushing for it to be taught in schools.

    A story based around established characteristics of long-running characters in a show isn’t the best example. I would have been fine with Maude Flanders being the one pushing for creationism based on what had been established about her, but I would have wondered why she was getting the story and not Ned because she was never really featured as a main protagonist (as far as I can recall).

  80. Dhorvath, OM says

    I am concerned. This doesn’t seem complicated, the comic was good, but it could have been better, voicing concerns over how it could have been better shouldn’t produce a shitstorm. That it has is the push, and resisting that is important even if the specific issue was slight. I can’t see this post as doing anything save discouraging people from resisting that push.

  81. says

    You know … reading all about the sexism that someone noticed in the picture, I’m inclined to wonder if people want to invoke racism as well … cause the bunnies are white with no representation from any other race or something … i wonder if with two white males only, it may still have been an issue of why is there only one gender representation …
    I didn’t really notice the whole sexism and gender thing until i started reading the comments. and even then i found it more funny then trouble … you’re right, it’s there … a little bit … does that mean that with every cartoon, there should now be a disclaimer of how this doesn’t represent all possible personalities or views? Like PZ said, with only one sample it’s difficult to determine if this was meant to portray women as irrational … for all we know, there may be an entire line of cartoons with various characters and for this strip specifically, there was a rational male or irrational female … i saw it more as an intelligent design vs evolution debate … I mean, after reading all the posts PZ does on shaming and poking fun at MALE creationist “scientists”, the whole sexism thing wasn’t even noticeable …

    And who is to say that the artist was infact implying that the pink-dialogue-box skirt-wearing bunny was female? Whose to say it wasn’t a gay bunny? Pink can also be associated with gay men, can’t it? I’m reminded of Scottish kilts. Assuming that the bunny is female is thinking inside the box, no?

  82. vexorian says

    “Since gender is (or should be) irrelevant to the puzzle discussion, there was no reason to color the word balloons pink and blue in the first place, instead of choosing some other pastels without the baggage.”

    Many webcomes color the speech bubbles so we could differentiate which character the bubble comes from. It is specially common in comics in which the speech bubbles do not have the pointy thing that originates at the character’s position.

    The character design, pink dress vs blue pants kind of dictates that you use pink and blue speech bubbles. I think that it is you who is assigning gender on the colors.

  83. puppygod says

    N of bunnies: 2
    N of roles assigned: 2
    Null hypothesis: bunnies are distributed randomly (P=.5)
    Observation: n=1, Assignment conform to stereotype.
    p-value=.5
    Even with extremely loose α of .1, we have still way too weak result to reject null hypothesis.

    So, yeah.

  84. Carlie says

    On the other hand, when watching TV I am constantly aware that many TV commercials portray the man as stupid and the eye-rolling woman as the smart one, be it a commercial for banking, insurance, or whatever.

    If you look closely, it’s not “whatever”. It’s not which mutual fund to invest in. It’s not which college to choose. It’s not, heavens to betsy, who to vote for. It’s which fabric softener to use. It’s which brand of chicken to buy at the grocery store. It’s how to coordinate Tommy’s baseball practice with Susie’s ballet performance and still have time to make a nice dinner. It’s all the shloppy chores that nobody wants to do where feigning ignorance can frustrate the other person into doing it just to avoid the argument that a grown adult can certainly figure out how to wash whites without throwing a new red shirt in with.

  85. says

    My reaction was; “Great analogy!” But then I read the comment about gender stereotypes and thought; “Didn’t think of that but yeah, it would definitely be better if the artist had.” And both thoughts are still active for me.

    I’ve noticed oscillations in commenting that make me think some kind of positive feedback loop is in play. Not just here. We need to figure out how to dampen the cycle a little. Make it easier to tell small offenses from major outrages.

  86. Yar Sir says

    @Emrysmyrddin: Agreed. =\ I blame Jesus. But Mainly Ignorance.

    I Strongly recommend Comparing ‘Post 2′ to ‘Post 11′ of the last thread for everyone attempting to ‘dismiss’ this whole thing. It was never about the sexism in the comic; It was the rejection of stereotypes. To all people nodding along to the “ahhhh! It was just an innocent comic guyz!” are completely dismissing the “sigh of lament” that is all the initial (post 2) comment was about. If you dismiss this, you are feeding into the great big wheel of inequality. No, No also no, Nobody is up in arms over “the comic!”. It is your dismissal!

    Dismissing obvious gender/sex stereotypes IS sexist/sexism.

    GOOD NEWS! You can all Easily Redeem yourselves by doing what many have already done… “Oh, I didn’t even think of those gender norms! Whoops silly me! *insert other relevant discussion point here!*”

    Off-topic: The Comic was really cute.

    On-Topic: Let me re-iterate; PZ Goofed saying it was about the comic. I don’t blame him. Takes a lot of time to read through all those comments! Or… maybe it was a quick skim reading! Which makes me a bit sad… cause My quick skim totally showed it was a bunch of people whining over others having an opinion. Weird.

    Some of the Dismissals on this thread are pretty funny too. “Guyz! It’s just a cwute wittle comic about bunniez! Won’t anyone think of the children?!” Yes; We are thinking of the cute children, forced to be assigned a symbol before they can even comprehend what it means… still based in belief, but how supernatural is pink and blue balloons? Cars/trucks and bows/dolls? Turns out religion isn’t the only thing force fed into the young…

  87. Emrysmyrddin says

    Make it easier to tell small offenses from major outrages.

    That’s what I don’t get. It was a few offhand comments, noting a possibility – y’know, what happens when you deconstruct something for meaning? And the reaction to those comments turned into flamethrowers at dawn…

  88. wasp says

    BrianX: “Probably not. Privilege makes a lot of things like this noncommutative.”

    Well, I’ve never seen anyone being accused of using sexist pronouns if they consistently use the feminine one; maskuline ones on the other hand get called out pretty quickly. It doesn’t bother me, but you’d think the MRA (or whatever they are) were all over this.

  89. says

    Sure, and there’s also a long tradition of big dumb guys being paired with smart, sensible women.

    Who are, noticably, always the star of the show, and always forgiven their stupidity, and totally more awesome/important.
    Tell me, who’s better known and has more merchandise: Bart or Lisa? Homer or Marge?

    Seamus

    I would suggest that this as an example of gender stereotyping! How can I take the person making it seriously in their fight against stereotyping?

    Ehm, do you understand the difference between stereotyping and observing?
    It’s an observation several people made, it’s one we can back up with quotes and evidence.

    that and the fact that the term mansplaining was used later in the same comment: it seems that mansplaining has come to mean: words uttered/written by a man

    Nope. Mansplaining: Mostly men (and sometimes women) telling (mostly) women how wrong they are about gender and sexism and how they are actually terrible people for even daring to raise the subject.
    If you read carefully, you’d notice that quite a lot of those arguing that there is indeed some underlying sexism are actually men.

    you can’t find sexism in this one single sample.

    But we can haz orthography.
    The artist didn’t bother thinking for 10 seconds about whether the choices regarding dress and balloons reinforced bad stereotypes. Sexism is everywhere. We’re all sexist to some degree because we live in a patriarchal society. Only there’s some of us who are trying to change things. We generally do start with ourselves.
    Noticing sexism is the first step.

  90. Seamus says

    @ Azkyroth (#83)

    Thanks for your comments about mansplaining, and your explanation. I appreciate its origins, and that is why I commented, and used the term “has come to mean”.
    My main point is: Why use the term at all? I personally believe that the term has become a stereotype and pejorative, and as such undermines any argument that includes it.

    “I’m curious as to why you’re looking to hold them to such a vastly higher standard.”
    I’m not. I am pointing out the irony of people complaining about stereotyping, operating with such stereotypes themselves.

  91. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    The character design, pink dress vs blue pants kind of dictates that you use pink and blue speech bubbles. I think that it is you who is assigning gender on the colors.

    Right. No wonder PZ couldn’t find the author. (S)he is living in another dimension, with no contact or knowledge of our culture – no cable, no internet, no shops with pink department for girls, blue for boys. Must be a nice place, that other dimension.

  92. Ganner says

    I agree with PZ. I was thinking to myself “well if we found who wrote this and saw a pattern of female characters as the religious or unscientific role, we’d have a point here. If we found that there is no pattern of genders fitting into any stereotype, there is no point here.” Without knowing this, and seeing only one comic, I don’t think there is any argument to be made.

    Just as one way of looking at whether or not there is a gender bias in atheism cartoons, I popped over to reddit’s atheism comics page and surveyed the front page comics including women as characters.

    5 had a woman as a main character atheist and no other women. 3 had a woman as a main character atheist and had at least one other woman as a christian foil. 4 featured a man as the main character atheist and at least one woman as a christian foil. 1 had a man as a main character with a woman as a secondary character atheist.

    So, yeah, obviously a small sample size (25 comics, 13 containing women characters) and not a definitive way of measuring this but kind of confirms my gut feeling/recollection that atheism comics don’t seem to have a pattern of gender bias. I really don’t feel like you can make a rule that women can NEVER be put in the role of the Christian/unscientific character in a comic.

  93. says

    I would like to clarify: I am not denying that it is likely that the cartoon has at least a subconscious stereotype. But I’d like to take PZ’s position that we do not have anymore comics from this author, so we do not know if that is true. And without further info discussing it and taking a strong stance about it is pointless.

    If you bring more data confirming the subconscious stereotype then I will agree that it is unfortunate. If you bring data showing that the comic also has some intentional chauvinistic or misogynistic views I will bring hell to it.

    I also recognize that the mere act of participating in the discussion makes it worse, and thus I will avoid further involvement, bye.

  94. echidna says

    I think that it is you who is assigning gender on the colors.

    Pink and blue have been used in our society for the last few decades (about 10 or so) to signal gender, especially in baby clothes. It allows people to look at a baby, and say “Oh, isn’t [he/she] adorable” with confidence.

  95. Pteryxx says

    There’s a reason the dumb male + smart female character pairing shows up where it does: sitcoms, commercials, cartoons. Role-reversal from accepted norms is a comedic staple. Smart competent male + dumb or less competent female juxtapositions are more or less baseline, show up in serious settings or genres, and generally go without comment as long as the female character isn’t too egregiously portrayed.

    Take a look at the gender roles of serious-toned commercials versus comedic commercials sometime. Example:

    Youtube link -State Farm

    versus

    Youtube link – Allstate

  96. Dave R says

    Ah, the irony. PZ getting upset about too much vitriol over minor issues?

    Welcome to the concern/tone troll corner! I’ve been waiting for some company over here…

  97. echidna says

    Sure, and there’s also a long tradition of big dumb guys being paired with smart, sensible women.

    Using misogyny to reinforce anti-intellectualism.

  98. wanion says

    Just pointing out the source is reddit. The thread has the poster asked if it’s OC (original content), to which they say yes, and also has the person discussing the decision of which puzzle to use, seeing as the pooh puzzle has 24 pieces while the duck one has 25, so there will always be a ‘missing’ piece even if it’s complete.

  99. Terry says

    But PZ, – your sycophant’s can be classified into two groups, the Fan-boy’s, and the folks who try to scribble on this blog what they think you want to hear.

    (Actually there is a third group; the people who must educate the rest of us on how smart they are.)

    So, it’s not surprising that this degenerated into “war” as you call it. These guys, and it’s evident every time you make some sort of righteous rant (i.e., Cowards spraying passive students,) one can see sides chosen; and the battle joined.

    It’s “trivial and inane,” and immensely entertaining.

  100. Tethys says

    reading all about the sexism that someone noticed in the picture

    I’m sure your inane comment and choice of nym is a poor attempt to stir the pot.

  101. municipalis says

    echidna: Pink and blue have been used in our society for the last few decades (about 10 or so) to signal gender, especially in baby clothes. It allows people to look at a baby, and say “Oh, isn’t [he/she] adorable” with confidence.

    You’re a bit off there. Pink was still considered predominately a boys colour in the 1920s. It wasn’t really until the 1940s that PINK=GIRL was hard-coded into American culture. [source]

  102. says

    PZ,

    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.

    But the artist’s intentions and the artist’s biases are not the only population we’re sampling here. It’s not as though this artist is the first person to ever portray gender in art.

    For social representations of femininity in general, we already have an enormous sample size. This population is where the cartoon fits in objectionably.

    Imagine you’re shopping for books with a friend, who has a daughter of primary school age. You see this cartoon in a book, and suggest it to your friend. Your friend says “It’s cute, and it has a good point, but I’m sure my daughter is exposed to ten stereotype-reinforcing representations of women at school each day, and I don’t want to read her an eleventh at bedtime.”

    Would you argue that your friend’s decision not to buy the book, on that basis alone, is “fighting the wrong battle”? Or is it understandable and acceptable to ask for one less such representation in the world, rather than one more?

  103. PaulG says

    “I would like to clarify: I am not denying that it is likely that the cartoon has at least a subconscious stereotype. But I’d like to take PZ’s position that we do not have anymore comics from this author, so we do not know if that is true. And without further info discussing it and taking a strong stance about it is pointless”

    This was my argument and is now being used by PZ myers.

  104. says

    <> I suppose if this had appeared on a Fundie blog the indignant protests would be because the boy bunny was the one portrayed as the blasphemous numbskull…

  105. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    vexorian #109

    I would like to clarify: I am not denying that it is likely that the cartoon has at least a subconscious stereotype. But I’d like to take PZ’s position that we do not have anymore comics from this author, so we do not know if that is true. And without further info discussing it and taking a strong stance about it is pointless.

    Your concern continues to be noted.

    You’re wrong, we do have further info. We have millennia of sexist stereotypes to compare the cartoon with. The stereotypes are that women are illogical, emotional and unreasonable whereas men are logical, lucid and reasonable. The cartoon reinforced these stereotypes.

    If you bring more data confirming the subconscious stereotype then I will agree that it is unfortunate. If you bring data showing that the comic also has some intentional chauvinistic or misogynistic views I will bring hell to it.

    I await your denunciation of the cartoon. However I expect you’ll continue to play the dismissive “you womenz are too illogical, emotional and unreasonable about this cartoon” game.

    I also recognize that the mere act of participating in the discussion makes it worse, and thus I will avoid further involvement, bye.

    Please collect your porcupine on the way out, asshole.

  106. echidna says

    Role-reversal from accepted norms is a comedic staple. Smart competent male + dumb or less competent female juxtapositions are more or less baseline, show up in serious settings or genres, and generally go without comment as long as the female character isn’t too egregiously portrayed.

    No, I disagree there completely. It’s not a role reversal. It’s a lingering theme from earlier decades. Much of earlier Australian (*not only Australian, but I’m more familiar with it) literature includes the background of the sensible woman holding things together while the man gambles, drinks and otherwise is unhelpful. It matches the world I grew up in quite well.

    It’s not just my observation. C.S Lewis, quite cluelessly, describes the common problem of having a smarter woman (like a school teacher) henpecking her not-so-educated husband, because of course the “proper” pairing is to have a dominant male.

    What has changed since not-that-long-ago is that smart women are now able to achieve status through their own achievements, more or less, and don’t need to put up with idiots for spouses, unless they so choose.

  107. says

    I agree with PZ. I was thinking to myself “well if we found who wrote this and saw a pattern of female characters as the religious or unscientific role, we’d have a point here.

    *sigh*
    The problem is that it’s pervasive in society.
    Nobody said the artist set out to create a series of clever cartoons to reinforce bad gender stereotypes.
    The artist, most likely, just reproduced the standard tropes present in society.

    I sometimes write short stories. And then I read them again and often i notice that I’ve written the same crap people have been writing for ages: strong heroes, rescue-needy women-folks.
    And then I’m half-mad because I did it again, and half glad because I noticed it.
    Why do i tell you this?
    To show you that we’re not demonizing anybody. We’re trying to raise awareness.

  108. Seamus says

    LOL!

    I give up!

    One bunny wearing a skirt, speaking with a pink/peach coloured bubble.
    Another bunny wearing a pair of red and purple dungarees, speaking with a purple bubble.

    (YES! They are NOT pink and blue as people keep suggesting!!)

    Anyone who reads gender stereotyping into that really need to take a deep breath!!

  109. KING LORFADORF says

    You guys are crazy. In like a million RPG’s I have played all the girl characters have higher magic power/intelligence then the dudes for the most part and you don’t hear me crying that guys are portrayed as brainless muscle-heads.

    God.

    Really now. I read this comic, and I thought nothing of the color bubble thingies or the clothing. Like, I read through the thing it was like, this funny thing about religious denial and stuff. I thought it was pretty funny and sick. Sick and funny. Like, sick as in SICK, DUDE. Not SICK sick. Then looking at it again it’s like-

    “Oh. Alright. I suppose there is a guy and a girl bunny. Going by the colors and outfits and stuff. I guess. One of them is the religious denial dude and the other is the rational one that follows the evidence. Alright. Gotcha.”

    Uh, yeah. Not this insane patriarchy conspiracy some of you guys are flipping out about.

    I suppose if I ever decide to make a cartoon or some story where one dude is the fool and the other dude is rational and stuff I have to make both of the dudes be the same gender so that people can’t flip out over it. Wowzers mowzers, like, chillax with the over-analyzing, gaiz.

    And for any crazy dudemanbros that are angerfied at me, please don’t use the words “cupcake” or “dear” or something about a porcupine in response. That is SO uncool, and makes you look like a total LOSER trying to look cool.

    Cupcake.

    Rock out, yo.

    ……….That was what I was going to post, then the thread got closed by Lord Badass. Good stuff, dude.

    Like seriously. I like never post anywhere. But the ONE time, CLOSED. WOW, dude. Wow.

    But yeah. Crazy stuff going on in these CRAZY days. It’s just a cool cartoon about crazy religious dudes spitting in the face of evidence, right?

    Wait. More then anything, the comic was a visual “god of the gaps” thing, right?

    I think so.

  110. echidna says

    You’re a bit off there. Pink was still considered predominately a boys colour in the 1920s. It wasn’t really until the 1940s that PINK=GIRL was hard-coded into American culture.

    Quite right. I should have said 7 decades.

  111. says

    PZ, I am disappoint. This is exactly the same old usual feminist/MRA discussion, as seen recently with reference to elevators. The exact topic really doesn’t matter.

    Feminist: Huh. Here’s a small thing. Guys, don’t do that, kthx?

    MRA: BAAAAAAWWWW U R OPRESING ME!! FREE SPEACH! coffee means coffee not sex. RIDICULOUS SPACE ALIEN CULTURE FAIL!!! skirts & pink don’t mean woman. BAAAAAAWWWWWWW!!! CENSORSHIP!! U R OVERREACTING!!!

    Funny thing is, the more they BAAWWW about it, the more puzzle pieces we get to put together, and finally the picture is quite clear. Oh look, it’s a sexist trope! BAAAW NO ITS WHAT IT SAYS ON THE BOX ITS BUNNIES!!!!

  112. Emilie says

    I don’t see why some people (including PZ) are calling for more samples from the cartoon’s author to find a pattern…of what, exactly? That this person is a misogynist? The issue is not to put the cartoonist to trial, but noting something that might be another example of unconscious sexism…among a sea of other more potent examples.

    I reacted to the comic as many people here did: I enjoyed the message, but still noticed that the bunnies and colors used were rather clichéd.

    As to saying that we should choose our battles, that the fight is elsewhere and don’t sweat the small stuff…how about letting me choose my own battles, and let me deal with the consequences if and when I choose unwisely? Right back atcha.

  113. municipalis says

    ahs ॐ:Imagine you’re shopping for books with a friend, who has a daughter of primary school age. You see this cartoon in a book, and suggest it to your friend. Your friend says “It’s cute, and it has a good point, but I’m sure my daughter is exposed to ten stereotype-reinforcing representations of women at school each day, and I don’t want to read her an eleventh at bedtime.”

    Would you argue that your friend’s decision not to buy the book, on that basis alone, is “fighting the wrong battle”? Or is it understandable and acceptable to ask for one less such representation in the world, rather than one more?

    I would rather “my friend” teach their daughter critical thinking and expose her to a wide variety of viewpoints rather than censor otherwise good material on the shallow basis that it is not explicitly opposing gender-stereotyping, or any other nastiness. Not being explicitly sexist, racists, etc. is enough for me. I think that level of child “care” is on the same disgusting level as a fundamentalist Christian family refusing to buy anything but “Christian-Certified” products for their children and themselves.

  114. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Would one of you guys pretending the cartoon isn’t sexist please show how it supports women? Come on, you’re all so sure it’s not sexist, so give us some evidence it’s pro-women. Or are you all too intellectually dishonest to deny your male privilege?

  115. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s “trivial and inane,” and immensely entertaining.

    Yep, your posts are trivial and inane, but not entertaining…

    This was my argument and is now being used by PZ myers.

    Nope fuckwit, you had no argument, merely concern trolling. But then, to have an argument, you must be able to recognize one. You are incapable of that, but also incapable of shutting the fuck up and listening…Why is that???

  116. says

    Thanks PZ, that needed to be said. That was the most ridiculous, peurile thread I’ve seen after three years of reading this blog. A complete embarrassment to the community.

  117. says

    I couldn’t even finish reading your post (though I will do so when I calm down). You are wrong, wrong, wrong, PZ. This isn’t a sample size of one. This is a sample size of my whole life. Every book I read, every image I see, every ad on television, every song I’ve ever heard, every toy store I’ve ever been into, every social interaction with other people, every teacher in every class I’ve ever attended. The majority of all that input says: girls/women = dumb, stupid, vapid, irrational, less than full human beings, or even non-existent.

    You didn’t see it in this instance? Not a surprise. The message isn’t meant for you (well, it is, but since it makes your life generally better, that’s not so much of a problem for you if you don’t notice it). But when people point it out, don’t fucking mansplain and pooh pooh it and say we should just lie down and take it. It will only ever change if we keep pointing it out. You denying it? That makes the problem worse. We can’t ever move beyond trying to convince people that the fucking stereotype exists if every instance of it is treated in a vacuum. FUCK!

  118. Seamus says

    @134 Alethea H. Claw

    “Feminist: Huh. Here’s a small thing. Guys, don’t do that, kthx?”
    “MRA: BAAAAAAWWWW U R OPRESING ME!! FREE SPEACH! ”

    So, apparently, all feminist points are made calmly…

    Whereas all who oppose the notion of the cartoon being a gender stereotype are MRAs(which like mansplaining appears to generally be used as a pejorative).

    So, in the serious debate about gender stereotyping, tell me, how does your portrayal actually help matters (as it is clearly a misrepresentation)?

  119. Pteryxx says

    Emrysmyrddin:
    There’s actually a short discussion on why the artist made the girl bunny the ‘believer’. Conversation starts here:

    Interesting, thanks. In my interpretation, I can see why the artist justified having believer-bunny be the female one, citing greater religiosity among women. (I think that justification’s a mite thin, but okay.) I still think color-coding the word balloons pink and blue took the gendering too far, because it was a) too blatant a gender association and b) gave away the conclusion by giving one speaker a less-serious color association before the argument itself became obviously irrational. Personally, I’d have picked a couple of shades of aqua and yellow to contrast with the background. /artstudent

  120. says

    I would rather “my friend” teach their daughter critical thinking and expose her to a wide variety of viewpoints rather than censor otherwise good material on the shallow basis that it is not explicitly opposing gender-stereotyping, or any other nastiness.

    By which I deduct that you don’t have a daughter.
    Or at least not one old enough to be in much contact with the world outside, like school and kindergarten

  121. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Seamus #144

    So, in the serious debate about gender stereotyping, tell me, how does your portrayal actually help matters (as it is clearly a misrepresentation)?

    Your tone trolling is noted, asshole. And yes, I called you an asshole on purpose. I did this for two reasons:

    (1) To show my disdain for your tone trolling; and

    (b) Because you’re an asshole.

  122. Carlie says

    The author seemed to think carefully about using a female for the religious one, and based it on the fact that there are more women who are religious. That’s fine, but what message was he/she trying to send? If it was “be like the boy bunny”, or “the girl bunny is wrong”, they might have stopped a moment to think about how women in the atheist movement are already marginalized and not taken seriously even in such an “enlightened” group, and how that decision just marches right in step along with it.

  123. municipalis says

    Emilie says: I don’t see why some people (including PZ) are calling for more samples from the cartoon’s author to find a pattern…of what, exactly? That this person is a misogynist? The issue is not to put the cartoonist to trial, but noting something that might be another example of unconscious sexism…among a sea of other more potent examples.

    Because without further information, you’re accusing the cartoon and the cartoonist of ‘unconscious sexism’ on the basis that other cartoons (“more potent examples”) fall prey to such stereotyping. Hmm… I know there’s a word for when you assume commonality among things on the basis of a shared characteristic, but it’s slipping my mind right now…

    More to the point, there is a rather disturbing implication from some that any media containing a “dumb” female and a “not-dumb” male is inherently sexist, even if (for all we know), the genders were assigned by random chance.

    In this case, we now have more information: the author stated in the reddit thread tahat he based the genders on the fact that women are more likely to profess a belief in god. Right now I’m unconvinced that the use of demographic statistics to determine the gender here had any sort of “unconscious sexism”, but I’d be willing to listen to a good argument to the contrary.

  124. echidna says

    PZ:

    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.

    When I read this, before I got sidetracked by the comments, I thought of the the women who will be unveiling themselves for 5 seconds every Thursday starting this week in Tehran, Mashad and Shiraz as a protest against systematic oppression.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2011/11/24/new-5-by-5-anti-veil-movement-in-iran/

  125. says

    I am not denying that it is likely that the cartoon has at least a subconscious stereotype.

    which is pretty much all anyone here has been saying.

    not that it matters. apparently the artist chose to perpetuate the link between religiosity and women (and reasoning and men) on purpose, as per the discussion linked above

  126. Suezboo says

    The patriarchy rules the world. Men, even the most well-intentioned, seldom notice subtle or unconscious sexism because they don’t have to.It’s not part of their everyday experience, just as white people seldom notice subtle or unconscious racism, although they may well deplore its more overt expression.
    So, pointing out that this cartoon, cute and clever as it is, contained subtle, possibly unconscious sexism, was trying to make our brothers-in-atheism see what we see for their own edification and education in the ways of the ruling class.
    Women know from sexism. When we point it out to you, say: “Huh! Really? Jeeze, I never saw/thought of that. Thanks.” Apt response. Unlike denial, mansplaining or melodrama.Unuseful responses.

  127. municipalis says

    Giliell, the woman who said Good-bye to Kitty:By which I deduct that you don’t have a daughter.
    Or at least not one old enough to be in much contact with the world outside, like school and kindergarten

    I admit, I don’t have a daughter. I don’t have a son either, but if the discussion here was about, say, militarism and machismo within Farwell to Arms, I’d say the exact same thing.

  128. Pteryxx says

    echidna:

    It’s not a role reversal. It’s a lingering theme from earlier decades. Much of earlier Australian (*not only Australian, but I’m more familiar with it) literature includes the background of the sensible woman holding things together while the man gambles, drinks and otherwise is unhelpful. It matches the world I grew up in quite well.

    Good point; I’d clarify that I was speaking primarily about on-screen portrayals, in which women’s competence is usually shown to be nonthreatening somehow, often via comedy. (And men’s INcompetence is also nonthreatening because comedy.) It’s not funny when considered in any sort of depth, much less in real life.

    ———–

    Carlie: And still, why did the bunnies have to have gender in the first place?

    I’d assume they’re toys from some line or other, which the comic artist acquired, so the heavy gendering of the figures themselves may come from the toy line’s designers (I don’t recognize them myself). The artist probably didn’t notice; most people don’t realize gendering isn’t natural law.

    I’m still wondering why folks are assuming the artist is male. ~;>

  129. Krasnaya Koshka says

    I did not even think of the girl vs. boy thing when I showed my Russian girlfriend the comic. To me, the most important part was, “Hey, we think philosophically in America!”

    Russians think Americans are philosophically impaired.

    In my real world dealings, it has been half and half–ardent god-bot boys and ardent god-bot girls.

    Is there actually a turmoil about this?

  130. Andy Groves says

    I think some of the commenters on this weblog can sometimes be one puzzle piece short of a duckie………..

  131. says

    Because without further information, you’re accusing the cartoon and the cartoonist of ‘unconscious sexism’ on the basis that other cartoons (“more potent examples”) fall prey to such stereotyping.

    actually no. the artist was not “accused” of anything. “unconscious sexism” is pretty much a given for people who grow up in sexist societies, even for people who actively work to purge themselves of that programming; so unconscious perpetuation of a stereotype is a perfectly sensible hypothesis, given how attitude formation works.

    but again, it doesn’t matter. the artist admitted to have made the girl-pink-religious, boy-blue-rational choice on purpose, consciously

  132. says

    I have to wonder, would we be so quick to anger if the economy wasn’t so screwed up? So eager to blame and condemn if we had control over our lives?

  133. Dave R says

    echidna:

    Yeah, but why would we want to talk about oppression of women in Iran if we can get angry at each other over bunnies, elevators and ice cream instead?

  134. splenda says

    Would one of you guys pretending the cartoon isn’t sexist please show how it supports women? Come on, you’re all so sure it’s not sexist, so give us some evidence it’s pro-women. Or are you all too intellectually dishonest to deny your male privilege?

    You are creating a false dichotomy. It is not true that something is either misogynist or it is not. If I write a text on higher homotopy groups in algebraic topology, the text cannot be said to be “pro-women” per se. Does that make it anti-women?

    The cartoon implemented one of the three possible gender pairings of two people, and people are having a knee-jerk “sexism” reaction? Unless someone can present evidence that cartoons really have an unfair anti-female bias, I am chalking this one up to personal feminist confirmation bias.

  135. Yar Sir says

    Yay For the sharing of Information!

    Knowing that pink was a boy color in the past will allow for more disarming remarks to people I chat with that are set in their “current-culture is the one and only truth!”.

    Well, I can only Hope they will be disarming =\.

  136. anon commenter says

    In contrast to what the elevator guy did the cartoon clearly is sexist. But it’s okay that the cartoon is sexist. We noted that and hope that in the future when somebody has a cool idea for a cartoon she will brake the stereotype. And then some day we will wonder way the boys are always displayed as irrational.

  137. municipalis says

    Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe: actually no. the artist was not “accused” of anything. “unconscious sexism” is pretty much a given for people who grow up in sexist societies, even for people who actively work to purge themselves of that programming; so unconscious perpetuation of a stereotype is a perfectly sensible hypothesis, given how attitude formation works.

    I can see your point, but I can’t agree with its inherent cynicism. Lest we move into “thoughtcrime” territory, the assumption of innocence before proof of guilt should rule.

  138. says

    But because again and again men told women (and people perceived as such, and male feminists, also known as our enslaved lapdogs) that they were shrill and overreacting and should shut up.

    You were overreacting, and it was not just men saying that you were.

    Look, I get that there is a lot of “Geez feminists overreact so much”, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t ever be actually overreacting.

    And for the record, the thread did not go from “Oh look, the irrational one is a girl bunny” to “NOPE NOPE NOPE SHUT UP WOMEN.”

    It was more “Oh god, they REALLY jumped to stereotypes” without mentioning the subject matter at all, someone else calling them out on being a killjoy, and then going on to explain how insanely vague that assumption was.

    If ANYTHING, the “The bunnies are sexist!” side was overreacting and had ALREADY taken over the comment thread before anyone disagreed, so don’t try to pin the blame on some imaginary MRAs trying to silence you.

    Disagreeing =/= silencing.

  139. James C says

    I’m deeply saddened that all this nonsense has detracted from the real prejudice here: Rabbit Bias.

    Not one person has suggested that these might be hares, not rabbits. For too long hares have been overshadowed by their more socially acceptable cousins. Equal rights for all leporids!

  140. says

    Yeah, but why would we want to talk about oppression of women in Iran if we can get angry at each other over bunnies, elevators and ice cream instead?

    Dear Muslima…

    That’s twice I’ve had to use that now. Here’s the thing, Dave R… We can do both.

  141. says

    I can see your point, but I can’t agree with its inherent cynicism. Lest we move into “thoughtcrime” territory, the assumption of innocence before proof of guilt should rule.

    “inherent cynicism”? “thought crime”? my comment implied none of those things, it merely noted that implicit attitudes usually reflect the culture one comes from, so growing up in a sexist society creates implicit sexist attitudes in everyone who isn’t immune to social learning due to atypical brain wiring.

    And no, you don’t get to come back and say you know you don’t have any implicit sexist attitudes; because you wouldn’t know, since it’s near impossible to accurately know a person’s implicit attitude. The subconscious is a wee bit hard to measure. (there are tests for racial implicit attitudes, but i don’t have the link right now)

  142. Dave R says

    Tabby:

    Well, I for my part would just reduce the ‘anrgy-at-each-other’ bit, but then again I’m a proud member of the tone troll brigade.

  143. Tom S. Fox says

    [blockquote="Carlie"]It was just an offhanded notice – as remarked several times, a simple sigh of “oh, this again”.[/blockquote]

    The problem is that by doing this you pretty much say that a woman must never, ever be portrayed negatively and that a man should be used for this purpose instead, making you the sexist you accuse others of being.

  144. says

    municipalis

    I admit, I don’t have a daughter. I don’t have a son either, but if the discussion here was about, say, militarism and machismo within Farwell to Arms, I’d say the exact same thing.

    And you’d probably change your mind if, despite your best efforts, you saw your son turned into the worst possible incarnation of violent macho guy at age 5 because the outside world chose to reinforce those stereotypes 24/7.
    You’d probably tell your friend: ya know, how about something different for a change, how about a story about a cool guy who doesn’t turn the rest of the characters into mash but who actually cares and has emotions and is allowed to be a full human being?

    Because that’s what happens in the world.
    That’s what this fuss is all about

  145. eigenperson says

    #167 James C: Well, would you look at that. Another white-knighting hare defender overreacting to every little thing as usual. I swear, you morons won’t be satisfied until every single rabbit is dead, will you? Hares and rabbits are equal these days. Get over it.

    By the way, I have two hares at home and they both thought these were rabbits. Are you going to accuse them of holding pro-rabbit biases? Plus, I love my hares like my own children so I could not possibly be anti-hare.

  146. Randomien says

    Carlie said:

    It’s which fabric softener to use. It’s which brand of chicken to buy at the grocery store. It’s how to coordinate Tommy’s baseball practice with Susie’s ballet performance and still have time to make a nice dinner.

    Yeah, it’s Womanspace, basically.

  147. Pteryxx says

    I can see your point, but I can’t agree with its inherent cynicism.

    Unfortunately, “unconscious sexism is pretty much a given” is demonstrated by evidence. See implicit association, chilly climate, and stereotype research.

    Starter: What? Me Sexist?

  148. Carlie says

    The problem is that by doing this you pretty much say that a woman must never, ever be portrayed negatively and that a man should be used for this purpose instead, making you the sexist you accuse others of being.

    Not at all. If it were a woman being portrayed as knowing nothing about taking notes in a meeting, or doing laundry, or doing dishes, or cooking, or taking care of the kids, and it was the man who knew about it, I’d find that a bit refreshing, actually. Heck, I’d find it refreshing if there were situations portrayed wherein there was a clearly defined right person and wrong person where it wasn’t a binary woman/man combination.

    I think I know the solution. I mean, it’s got to be tiring for the guys to keep having to knock us down when we get all unreasonable and suchlike. So tell you what: you guys come up with a scale showing levels of sexism (with descriptions and examples, of course), and a nice bright line indicating where all levels below it are too insignificant to mention and we should just pretend not to notice. Should be pretty easy to do; you must have that scale all figured out already, since you all seem to know exactly when we’re crossing that line and overreacting. Just give us a nice chart to refer to, okay? That way we only bother you about sexism when it’s really important and worthy of your attention.

  149. David Marjanović, OM says

    Equal rights for all leporids!

    Oh, so you’re trying to say that HARES get into more religious battles than RABBITS?

    Bunny bigot.

    Oh no. Rabbits are leporids, too.

  150. eigenperson says

    #173 Tom S. Fox:

    The problem is that by doing this you pretty much say that a woman must never, ever be portrayed negatively and that a man should be used for this purpose instead, making you the sexist you accuse others of being.

    No, that is not what is being said.

    The statement is that women should not be portrayed in ways that reinforce damaging stereotypes. In a possibly more familiar context, it is not a problem to have a black man (or a bunny representing one) in your comic. It is not a problem even if the black man happens to be an unsympathetic character. But it is a problem if the black man happens to love watermelons.

    A bunch of people here perceive that there is a damaging stereotype of women as godbots. Personally, I was not aware of this stereotype, but if it exists (and I quite honestly have to concede that the people who say it does are much more observant about these things than I am), then this comic is a bit like having the obviously black bunny be a big fan of watermelons.

  151. says

    You were overreacting, and it was not just men saying that you were.

    What’s next, calling me “hysteric”?
    So, #2 in the last thread was overreacting:

    Please tell me that in the above, it isn’t the little girl rabbit who is brainlessly insisting on believing the box whereas the intelligent little boy rabbit bravely insist on working out the solution for himself.

    Because that would truly suck.

    Yep. Basically violent and calling for a boycott of all bunnies.
    Oh, and my personal overreaction:

    When I saw the first picture of the cartoon, I thought “please don’t let it go that way”.
    And I was disappointed.
    When I saw the thread I thought “please, don’t let it go that way*”
    And I was disappointed.

    *You know, somebody mentioning casually that it is a great cartoon indeed but it would be even greater if it didn’t reinforce hurtful gender stereotypes.

    A first grade flame war.

    and then going on to explain how insanely vague that assumption was.

    Ah, yes, I see. We just needed people to point out that the pink/skirt bunny probably wasn’t even female and that the female one wasn’t intentionally the stupid one (which has been confirmed by now, are you still saying the cartoon doesn’t reinforce women=uncritical?) because we’re just too stupid ourselves to find out.

    Anything else you need to tell me?

  152. Aquaria says

    “Feminist: Huh. Here’s a small thing. Guys, don’t do that, kthx?”
    “MRA: BAAAAAAWWWW U R OPRESING ME!! FREE SPEACH! ”

    So, apparently, all feminist points are made calmly…

    In that thread they were, fuckface. Why don’t you deal with them in a calm way, rather than in a privileged, dishonest scumbag way, eh?

  153. Krasnaya Koshka says

    This is exactly why some (perhaps armchair) feminists are not taken seriously. You get yourselves bunched up by this?! Have you lived in the real world? Have you been a lesbian?

    Let me break it down. Boy rabbit is sensible. Girl rabbit is not.

    Hey, that’s normal. As is vice versa.

    Do you NEED it to be Girl rabbit is sensible and Boy rabbit is not? Do you want to be equal? Girl rabbits, I assure you, can be as dumb as boy rabbits. EQUALLY.

    Sometimes I really think you get on some sort of roll and don’t look up. Ugh, I can’t believe I’m fighting for the equality of rabbit toys here. I have enough real fighting for myself to do.

  154. capnxtreme says

    Can we maybe just stop associating colors with things that have nothing to do with light wavelengths? I mean, sure, it’s useful in applications such as traffic signals or warning beacons, and so on, but I grew out of the whole “pink is a girl’s color!” thing when my age could still be described with a single digit. The artist of the comic in question may (if unwittingly) be perpetuating the stereotype of the irrational woman, but I’m seeing a lot of people here perpetuating the equally asinine idea that colors need to be associated to genders.

    And that’s not even considering the possibility that both bunnies are female! Women are perfectly capable of wearing pants and speaking with blue speech bubbles! This whole thing is fucking outrageous, and for all the wrong reasons.

  155. says

    When I saw this post talking about perceived sexism in a previous post, I immediately scrolled down to see the subject of controversy, and failed to see what all the fuss was about. My first guess was the choice of pink border for the Christian’s text, but then I noted that the rationalist’s text was in a purple border, so it’s not like one is more feminine than the other in any meaningful way; my guess would be that since the characters are both bunnies, whoever made this chose those cutesy Easter colors for their dialogue borders. Not really something to get worked up about.

    I didn’t notice until it was pointed out plainly in this post that the bunnies were wearing different clothes. They’re bunnies; it’s kind of odd to think of them wearing clothes in the first place. But isn’t there a simpler explanation for what’s going on here? The maker of this comic was trying to make a message with some toys he or she had lying around, and among them were some bunnies wearing different clothes.

    Suppose the person making this comic didn’t have two bunnies. Suppose they had a bunny and a badger. Would that make the whole thing a racist allegory instead of a sexist one?

    To give some background on my own views here (and to address some rather misguided analogies I’ve seen in the comments), I’d like to state that I was firmly on the side of feminism during the whole Elevatorgate debacle, for a simple reason that is missing here: There was a great deal of precedent of hateful, abusive, demeaning, bigoted rhetoric that was exemplified by an inappropriate proposition with hideous implications behind it. But here, as PZ has stated, we only have one isolated event, for which there are much handier explanations than “it must be sexism”.

    Which is not to say that it’s not sexism here, nor that it should be overlooked if it is. I just don’t think there’s enough information to start lunging for each other’s throats.

    In closing, I guess one positive thing to come out of this, as with any debacle where axes of difference come up, is that it does expose a number of people who stick to their guns about bigotry being something that can be ignored.

  156. David Marjanović, OM says

    I can see your point, but I can’t agree with its inherent cynicism.

    You mean you don’t want to agree with it.

  157. Nonentity says

    I didn’t notice the gender thing at all on first reading, but that’s pretty much because it had nothing at all to do with the comic aside from a way to visually distinguish between two rabbits.

    But evidently one should never, ever, EVER make an internet cartoon with a feminine character who does anything that could be considered silly or not rational. Male characters are the only ones that can safely be overly religious, or weak, or emotional, or anything else that might fall under someone’s definition of a “bad” female stereotype. Even if you’re dealing with characters who have almost nothing in terms of distinguishing characteristics.

    For all the people blaming the flamewar on people denying sexism: the very second post completely dismissed the comic based on this one incidental detail. Would it really suck so much less if the religious one was wearing pants and had blue speech bubbles? By all means, seek out and prefer examples of strong female characters who don’t fall into stereotypes you dislike. But expecting every author of a throwaway funny to think “oh, no, the religious character can’t be female” is a bit much.

    Since when is religious denial of scientific evidence a female stereotype, anyways?

    I’ve had english teachers who loved to read all sorts of extra things into the stories we had to read. Even the author directly saying “no, that didn’t have anything to do with it” and explaining *why* it had nothing to do with it had no effect on them – they still insisted that their interpretation showed what was really important in the story. Rather similar to religion in a lot of ways.

  158. eigenperson says

    #187 capnxtreme: The bunnies could actually be frogs. Frogs are perfectly capable of dressing up as bunnies.

    But if they are frogs, then why did the author use the traditional method of depicting bunnies to depict these frogs? Is it just to confuse us?

    In the absence of ALL evidence (and actually in the presence of the author’s own statement that one of the bunnies is male and the other female, and that the female one is the religious one), your suggestion that the author is deliberately using the traditional signals of gender to mislead the reader of the comic is quite frankly idiotic. As I am sure you well know.

  159. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    have to wonder, would we be so quick to anger if the economy wasn’t so screwed up? So eager to blame and condemn if we had control over our lives?

    This fuckwittery from someone who believes bigfoot the imaginary is real??? Come on, get real.

  160. Emilie says

    municipalis:

    I can see your point, but I can’t agree with its inherent cynicism. Lest we move into “thoughtcrime” territory, the assumption of innocence before proof of guilt should rule.

    Who said anything about being cynical? Identifying attitudes or reflexes that might (after one thinks about it) perpetuate sexism is a positive reaction, as calling these out might foster change.

    And to Jadehawk, Carlie, Giliell, Pteryxx et al.: rock on.

  161. Carlie says

    C’mon guys, quantify. We need that chart.

    but I’m seeing a lot of people here perpetuating the equally asinine idea that colors need to be associated to genders.

    Cause and effect, man. We’re not perpetuating it, we’re pointing out that it exists. It’s pushed from infancy on. And the author has already said they used pink because it was supposed to be a girl.

  162. Pteryxx says

    …but I’m seeing a lot of people here perpetuating the equally asinine idea that colors need to be associated to genders.

    Colors don’t need to be associated with genders. Unfortunately, culturally, they are. (That’s an is-ought fallacy, correct?)

  163. David Marjanović, OM says

    But it is a problem if the black man happens to love watermelons.

    Please explain to this non-American.

    A bunch of people here perceive that there is a damaging stereotype of women as godbots. Personally, I was not aware of this stereotype, but if it exists (and I quite honestly have to concede that the people who say it does are much more observant about these things than I am)

    Over here, women are culturally expected to go to church and to have a social life there much more than men. They’re also much more expected to believe in woo.

    Kinder, Küche, Kirche – children, kitchen, church: where women traditionally belong.

  164. says

    You know what’s weird? I think I read that cartoon about 3 times, and I resized it to fit on my Facebook, and I actually had a conversation with a graphic designer about the layout, and the actual depth of field…

    I honestly didn’t realize one was in pants and the other a dress. They’re so abstracted they were just wearing ‘clothes’.

    But… well, that’s why my boyfriend is a costume designer who dresses me and I’m just the skinhead-fag producer.

    That this thread happened strikes me as really weird.

  165. eigenperson says

    #190: They are not in CAPTIVITY. What a horrible suggestion. They are my FRIENDS. After all, many of my best friends are hares.

  166. melior says

    Some day a cure will be discovered for Ellen Jamesianism. It’s like PTSD, only more threadkilling.

  167. says

    I’m really disappointed, PZ. It wasn’t that long ago you posted Someone took the red pill, which was about noticing how surrounded we are by sexism.

    My initial comment in the other thread (#21) would have been it, if it hadn’t been for all the MRAs and mansplainers showing up. There’s nothing like being told to be a chill girl and lighten up.

    That said, have a good holiday. I’m out of here for a while.

  168. eigenperson says

    #197: Regarding watermelons: http://abagond.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/the-watermelon-stereotype/. (As it says at the top of the page, “WARNING: Racist images follow.”)

    It is mostly of historical interest (as far as I know), but at times it has held a major position among the common stereotypes of African-Americans.

    Regarding women and religion in Europe (Germany?): That is interesting. I wasn’t aware of it (obviously).

  169. happiestsadist says

    Seriously, PZ? You’re just going to tell the silly wimminz (and otherwises, and male allies) that we’re just being irrational and overreacting to sexism, of which you have a far better understanding? That’s disappointing. You could have slapped at the MRAs/misogynists/assorted fools/fervent deniers for blowing up an offhand statement remarkably similar to “Guys, don’t do that” into a flamewar, but no, you’re going to complain that pointing out sexism is doing feminism wrong?

    I am disappoint.

    As opposed to Carlie, Ahs, Giliell, Pteryxx, Ogvorbis, Nerd, and others. Who are awesome.

  170. Rachel P says

    There’s nothing wrong with taking note of the fact the stereotypically female gendered bunny was portrayed as the dummy bunny, which is frustrating for women who struggle to be taken seriously as thinkers. It would have sucked if it went the other way too. Men may not have the same social challenges as women but being deemed stupid sucks. I’d much prefer if neither bunny had been gendered and we didn’t see any association between dumb and a specific gender.

    I just don’t see any evidence it was intentional and malicious.

  171. echidna says

    In my, oh so humble view, there was no need to assign gender to the cute little bunnies at all. By assigning gender to the bunnies, this becomes part of the artists statement, which indeed the artist describes as deliberate because females are more likely to be religious than men.

    As part of the deliberate statement on the part of the artist, it is up for discussion.

    As for whether it’s important, the unspoken assumptions that people make without thinking are really important when in a new situation.

    For example, when trying to establish Indigenous cultural norms, the Australian Government talked to men, assuming men controlled society, rather than women, who traditionally have a large role as cultural custodians. The Indigenous men, I am given to understand, were not always completely honest in their representations, and tipped the balance of power in favour of men.

    Examining these assumptions is important, and difficult. It can only be done by listening, not by shouting over people trying to tell you something.

  172. shawnthesheep says

    The way I saw this was that the producer of the bunny piece had two identical bunnies in different types of clothes. He had to choose one to be the “fundamentalist” and one to be the “rationalist.” The fact that the woman is chosen as the “fundamentalist” did not smack to me of sexism at all. If these two bunnies were being randomly selected for the two roles, the “female” bunny would be selected for the less flattering role just as often as the “male” bunny. So perhaps the producer of this piece did randomly select the bunnies. We don’t know. To insist that the gender of the bunnies is further proof of institutionalized sexism seems to simultaneously miss the point of the piece while proving the point of the piece. Those screaming “sexism” don’t have anything like a complete picture of how this piece came to be. But they are looking at a single data point, or puzzle piece, and seeing sexism, when the completed puzzle looks like a couple of bunnies puzzling over a puzzle.

  173. Cat of Many Faces says

    Hey wait, did you get mad at Dawkins for this sort of thing?

    My first reaction was “meh, just a cartoon, no need to get worked up about it.” then I realized that the bubbles and clothes for the rabbits are a bit more work for it to be just a bit of luck. (seriously, it looks like the clothes just come right off…)

    This is comic shows the sort of thing i hate about ‘Romantic Comedies’ these days… The woman is always the one who is un-fun, or a wet blanket. The woman is Especially shown as irrational about things.

    Now, you are right that we can’t be sure that it’s on purpose without knowing the source, but sexism IS present in this.

    just my 2 cents.

  174. echidna says

    So perhaps the producer of this piece did randomly select the bunnies. We don’t know.

    We do know.
    Jerfoo (the artist):

    I deliberated on it for a while then I let the Internets decide. I did a few searches to confirm my suspicions: women are more likely to believe in god… so girl bunny lost this round.

  175. Randomien says

    I don’t even know what to say about this post. I frankly kept checking to see if it wasn’t supposed to be a borked opening quote from someone, to be followed by PZ’s analysis/mocking. It’s not that you can’t have a different opinion from the Horde, the feminists or whoever. It’s that I don’t think you can coherently maintain both this line of reasoning and the one you seemed to be endorsing when posting about red pills, elevatorgate and pink microscopes.

  176. Emrysmyrddin says

    . So perhaps the producer of this piece did randomly select the bunnies. We don’t know.

    But we do now know the artist’s intent. Check the link that I posted above, where they discuss the deliberate decision to make the female bunny the godbot. Reading the whole thread would be helpful. A discussion on the issue now that we know the choice was about religiosity would also be helpful. Plus? No one’s screaming here.

  177. says

    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.

    A newspaper article in a recent New York Times, I don’t have time to search for the link.

    In Afghanistan, a woman was threatened and raped by a relative. She was put in prison for it. And she was expected to marry the idiot who attacked her.

    We’re wasting lives and taxpayer money in that dirtbag country for what?

  178. capnxtreme says

    Colors don’t need to be associated with genders. Unfortunately, culturally, they are.

    The idea being that we can do something about that. Cultural “norms” like gender/color association aren’t set in stone. Letting go of them would be just one more positive step toward gender neutrality.

    your suggestion that the author is deliberately using the traditional signals of gender to mislead the reader of the comic is quite frankly idiotic. As I am sure you well know.

    I see your point, and in retrospect I do feel sort of silly posting that bit. It was poorly thought out and sort of off-the-cuff.

  179. eigenperson says

    #214: Wow, that response is like 200 times more rational than I expected.

    I agree. We should do something about the stupid association of colors with genders. I don’t actually mind it in the context of this comic (it’s just an artistic convention), but I hate it when it comes to actual people, clothes, etc. because it leads to very harmful bullying of kids in the early grades of school if they happen to like the “wrong” color.

  180. eigenperson says

    On second thought, I’m not really sure how separable the comic version and the real-life version are. Probably to some extent they are separable, because even though the little bathroom symbol still has a woman wearing a dress, it is now perfectly acceptable for women to wear pants. But I don’t know.

  181. shawnthesheep says

    I consider myself a male feminist, but this whole flaps seems silly. And I don’t mean, “The wimminz are silly.” I mean your reaction to this particular cartoon is silly.

    BTW, in the future, if you want to be taken seriously about eradicating all gender bias, please refrain from using insulting terms like mansplaining, k? It’s not constructive.

  182. bookworm says

    I agree with Emilie @135 – authorial intent is not the significant issue; finding a pattern with which to talk about the author is not the issue, and, frankly, a bit pointless, unless you want to move from the cartoon to a discussion about the author’s role in gender relations. The product exists outside the author’s intent. Eco describes this beautifully in his book Interpretation and Overinterpretation when he bemoaned the myriad readings of his books, some he could accept even though not consciously intended, and some he emphatically rejected, even if his voice as author was simply lost in the interpretive stream. His conclusion: he wrote it, but had no control over how it was received. I confess I read the comment without noticing the gender roles, but when it was pointed out, I didn’t feel slighted (as a white male who grew up in a small conservative town) that yes, it was stereotyping, and it forced me to think a bit harder. Since we don’t often read/interpret without reference to wider sociological and cultural norms, and our own experiences, there was nothing wrong in someone noticing and pointing out ‘good cartoon, pity about the sexism’. Pity it couldn’t just end there as an heuristic observation.

  183. Gregory Greenwood says

    First off, an admission. Like ‘Tis and some others, I did not immediately see the sexist subtext to this cartoon, and so I experienced a little consciousness raising of my own in the last thread, but once it was pointed out to me, I found the logic of the argument hard to deny.

    As such, I think PZ is wrong on this. As has been observed by other commentators, the trope that women are flighty, irrational and emotional, whereas men are supposedly empirical, logical and considered – the ‘bimbo meme’ if you will – is pervasive in our culture. In isolation, the cartoon is harmless, and I think it likely that sexism was not consciously intended, but it is the unconscious replication of discriminatory tropes that is the hardest to eradicate, and this cartoon has to be viewed in its broader social context as part of a clear pattern of depictions of women in our society as lacking critical faculties and a serious turn of mind. Yes, pop culture has it’s ‘smart girls’ but they are the exception, notable because our society still views academic ability and rational thought in women as atypical.

    In a culture where the spheres of the public, the intellectual the serious and the authoratative have for so long been seen as a boy’s club, with women relegated to the sidelines, it is not good enough to dismiss concerns over the possible unconscious discrimination in an image by essentially saying “there, there, calm down, it’s only a cartoon” – these images are still part of the social discourse, and cartoon or no, they can still replicate harmful memes.

    The way I read the last thread was a couple of commenters stating that they felt that the message of the piece was undermined by an unfortunate subtext that seemed to denigrate the rational faculties of women, only for a tidal wave of angry male privilege to flood the thread, with charming terms like ‘fembot’ being thrown around. We have seen this before – angry ‘what about teh menz’ types who think they have something to prove taking a shot at feminists. What I can’t work out is how PZ got on what I still genuinely think is the wrong side of this issue this time.

    On the up side, the next time some troll says that Pharyngula is just an echo chamber where PZ keeps his sycophants, we should really point them to this thread…

  184. Pteryxx says

    On second thought, I’m not really sure how separable the comic version and the real-life version are…

    J Crew ad sparks controversy

    Boy dresses as Daphne for Halloween

    If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, O.K., I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

    (I love that quote.)

  185. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    @Caine, Fleur du Mal of 102

    That’s exactly what happened. Somebody points this issue out from the start and some ignorant MRA dude in isle 11 tells her to STFU. Thems are fighting words – ballooning an issue that may have died few comments with reasonable discourse if that idjit left it well alone. I’m a little disappointed though that PZ didn’t pick up on that, instead in a fit of dispair decided throw up his hands and walk away. I see MRA trolls are already lining themselves up telling him, “I told you so.” This does not bode well for this blog that has been up to now very strong on women’s rights. Just saying.

  186. echidna says

    I mean your reaction to this particular cartoon is silly.

    Specifics? Who are you talking to? Which reaction? There have been quite a few.

  187. capnxtreme says

    #215: I always try to maintain a certain amount of rationality on the internet. It’s thankless work, but somebody has to do it, you know?

    Back on topic, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking along this line as of late. About the various stereotypes that are almost inherent in culture that nobody questions, that is. Comics like this can be great consciousness-raisers. I don’t bother with stereotypes like women only wearing dresses or liking pink, so I read it as simply an atheistic “parable” of sorts. Gender never entered the equation. Nonetheless, the stereotypes are still present. It may be just the tiniest bit misogynistic, almost to the point of insignificance, but it all adds up. I feel like I’ve learned something here.

  188. Arkady says

    @David Marjanovic: Eigenperson has already posted a good explanation for the watermelon thing, apparently fried chicken is also commonly included in the stereotype. As a fellow european I only read about this during the 2008 US elections when some of the less-than-pleasant right-wing pundits started trotting out that crap about Obama.

    Yes the stereotyping in the cartoon is pretty minor, and there are bigger problems (e.g. Not a sexism issue, but personally I’m currently putting off walking home as there were 10 violent attacks on students last night near my campus. Specifically targeting students near Halls of Residences, and the victims have said that the violence seemed to be more the goal and the robbery was incidental). Pointing out, ‘Great point on the religion, but huh, way to unthinkingly use existing gender stereotypes’ hardly prevents us from caring about the bigger stuff! I’m a big fan of a lot of classic SF but still cringe at the casual sexism, I don’t stop reading or enjoying the rest of the novel but I acknowledge it exists (e.g. currently rereading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and once more noticed the bit where the narrator thinks that a woman raped and murdered led her attackers on in some way). Would those complaining of our ‘overreaction’ please show us where they magic the line to be about what we’re supposed to care about or ignore?

  189. Emrysmyrddin says

    It may be just the tiniest bit misogynistic, almost to the point of insignificance, but it all adds up.

    It does all add up. I think the proper sociological term for it is microaggressions.

  190. Gregory Greenwood says

    shawnthesheep @ 271;

    I consider myself a male feminist, but this whole flaps seems silly. And I don’t mean, “The wimminz are silly.” I mean your reaction to this particular cartoon is silly.

    A male feminist who lightly dismisses the concerns and experiences of women in relation to gender issues as ‘silly’?

    You might want to reconsider how you self identify. This is not a position that most feminists would accept as feminist.

    BTW, in the future, if you want to be taken seriously about eradicating all gender bias, please refrain from using insulting terms like mansplaining, k? It’s not constructive.

    ‘Mansplaining’ is a recognised meme with a specific meaning used to describe men who engage in gross condecension to women, often based on the assumption that their opinion must be right by virtue of their gender, particularly those who like to explain to women how they should go about feminism properly.

    Oh, look, rather like your august self, in fact…

    And, lest I forget, your concern is noted.

  191. Ricky says

    I demand a comic where the clothes and chat bubble colors are switched, if we don’t get to see the girl bunny being the logical one then the world will never take sexism seriously!

  192. says

    Jerfoo (the artist):

    I deliberated on it for a while then I let the Internets decide. I did a few searches to confirm my suspicions: women are more likely to believe in god… so girl bunny lost this round.

    A little more thought could have easily rendered the comic fantastic and free of sexist tropes. Yes, women are more likely to believe in god, and more women are now going into science fields. So…making both bunnies girls and losing the pink and blue text bubbles would have lost the standard sexist tropes.

    It’s not a terrible thing to point this out, so that a bit more thought goes into doing such works and helps to eradicate entrenched sexism at the same time. That’s a win-win.

  193. Pinkamena, Panic Pony says

    PZ.

    Ban every single person who throws the bombs. Every. Single. One. If people want to turn on you for daring to disagree, then turn them away. If they want to defend you for what they see as supporting their stupid, destructive biases, turn them away as well.

    If it means there’s nobody left, then it means there’s nobody left. If you must scorch the fucking earth to make the point, then scorch away.

    I await my turn beneath the banhammer. I would prefer it, in fact, to the company I would be keeping were I to stay.

  194. The Rat King says

    I see MRA trolls are already lining themselves up telling him, “I told you so.” This does not bode well for this blog that has been up to now very strong on women’s rights. Just saying.

    So an entire forum goes totally librarian poo over a comic about bunnies and because the overlord of the forum, a human with demonstrably pro-feminist views, is shocked at a bunch of people squabbling over a fucking colour selection like it is heralding in a law forcing women to wear gingham dresses 24/7… you think it is the end of Pharyngula.

    Chicken fucking Little or what…

  195. says

    @227: Just because something is recognized as a meme doesn’t mean it isn’t a *shitty* meme. For example, the meme of referring to all constructive criticism as “concern trolling”.

  196. says

    Pinkamena:

    I await my turn beneath the banhammer. I would prefer it, in fact, to the company I would be keeping were I to stay.

    I know you are new here, but this is incredibly idiotic and most certainly unhelpful. This isn’t the first time much of the commentariat have disagreed with PZ and it won’t be the last.

    If you don’t like it, instead of whining for a banhammer, take the simple route and leave.

  197. Dave R says

    Kwolek:

    Or anyone who says “maybe we should be less angry” a tone troll, for that matter.

    Caine, Fleur du Mal, didn’t you want to leave this thread? I remember you calling me names for posting I’d leave but then didn’t. Well you called me names for any sort of opinion I had, but hey.

  198. eigenperson says

    #230 Pinkamena:

    It appears you are suggesting PZ should ban people for disagreeing with him.

    This makes no sense to me.

  199. echidna says

    @227: Just because something is recognized as a meme doesn’t mean it isn’t a *shitty* meme.

    And Godwin. My parents were children in Nazi Austria, and this experience shaped their lives, and mine as well. Crying “Godwin” effectively shuts down discussing important events that shaped the world, and that are personally important to me.

  200. Richard Eis says

    I’m with Carlie on this.

    but… oh look, the genders he chose WERE directly related to the artist’s idea behind the comic.

    So much for probability eh rad_pumpkin.

  201. Philip Legge says

    PZ:

    I just despair.

    There is sexism everywhere, and there are battles to be fought. [...]

    This is the WRONG BATTLE.

    For my part, I think you’ve missed the point PZ: the defining characteristic of almost every Pharyngula flame-war on the subject of feminism of late has been that there is no rebuke too mild, no criticism so small and trivial, no minor point that reasonable people would consider and come to the conclusion, “Oh, now I see!” and then move on, no thread touching however obliquely on feminism, where some of your readership can’t help themselves but dig themselves in to troll and derail the thread with the standard anti-feminist clichés, and often employing substantially more vitriol than is being used in return.

    I’m really surprised that wasn’t noticeable to you on the previous thread, because it bore all the hallmarks of say, the recent thread on the Pharyngula shop where a couple of trolls determinedly dug themselves into troll bunkers and one of them went nuclear. That was unusual because the content of the thread was so innocuous. The bunny derail was not unusual, because once a point on feminism or sexism occurs it happens every single time. The reasonableness or the unreasonableness of the point at hand (was there unconscious sexism in the cartoon or not? Perhaps) is completely immaterial: it’s the merest of pretexts for the anti-feminist trolls to move in and begin #occupypharyngula with persistent “la la la I can’t hear you, let me post again and again and again until I’ve drowned out everything else” derailing.

  202. says

    The trouble with sexism (and marginalization of other groups) is that much of it consists of these small actions and silent attitudes, and much of the time you’re not even 100% sure a thing is actually sexist! And when you point something out, you’re forced to make a big deal out of it, and forced to be certain in your accusation.

    I did not notice that the bunnies were gendered, but I’m noticing it now thanks to this post. I think the proper response is to not worry about the specific example, and just be more aware of the stereotype in the future.

  203. Pteryxx says

    Funny how often this happens:

    I really don’t feel like you can make a rule that women can NEVER be put in the role of the Christian/unscientific character in a comic.

    The problem is that by doing this you pretty much say that a woman must never, ever be portrayed negatively and that a man should be used for this purpose instead, making you the sexist you accuse others of being.

    But evidently one should never, ever, EVER make an internet cartoon with a feminine character who does anything that could be considered silly or not rational.

    if we don’t get to see the girl bunny being the logical one then the world will never take sexism seriously!

    Yet from all the discussions I’ve seen in the last year, how often can an instance of sexism be called out and NOT get condemned as absolutist, no matter how mild the critique? Well… never.

  204. Will Moore says

    I don’t think you understand the concept of impression if you cannot see the sexism about this (I am a guy by the way). In the world today amongst a lot of educated people the argument of religion is seen to be without logic and facts while science is seen to be logical and factual and hence more reliable. Attributing those traits to women reinforce stereotypes we already deal with. The repeated impressions of such subtext or should I say sub image ultimately serve to solidifying the very ideas that birth feminism from stereotyping. This is the foundation of branding and advertising. In this case women are being branded an advertised in a certain way. It might have been an outright mistake, but is definitely suggestive of sexist behaviour and as such should be taken seriously. Just how I see it.

  205. TommyP says

    It’s funny, many of the women I’ve known have been more reasonable than the men I’ve known. It’s an arbitrary experience yes, but I fully expect the little dress bunny to be in her burrow tonight thinking about Duck and Pooh, and come back and sit there sipping cawwot juice and considering. And then she’s probably going to end up writing a note to duck expressing her disappointment and future unwillingness to judge a puzzle by it’s beautifully printed and compelling box image.

  206. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Christopher Kwolek #233

    Just because something is recognized as a meme doesn’t mean it isn’t a *shitty* meme. For example, the meme of referring to all constructive criticism as “concern trolling”.

    Why look, a concern troll is pretending his “concern” is actually constructive. Why he thinks whining is constructive is a puzzlement, but I’m sure he can pull some kind of explanation out of his rosy red rectum.

    Dave R #235

    Or anyone who says “maybe we should be less angry” a tone troll, for that matter.

    And his buddy the tone troll pops in to whine about tone trolling.

    Gentlemen, thank you for showing that stereotypes can be true. Concern and tone trolls are generally regarded as whiners and you two are no exception.

  207. eigenperson says

    #242 Pinkamena:

    If you are going to write “If people want to turn on you for daring to disagree, then turn them away,” how do you expect people to interpret that?

  208. Circe says

    Pteryx:

    Yet from all the discussions I’ve seen in the last year, how often can an instance of sexism be called out and NOT get condemned as absolutist, no matter how mild the critique? Well… never.

    This is almost begging the question. What you are implicitly assuming is that there was sexism there in the all those instances in the first place. To me, it seems that people are just too ready to cry “Sexism” whenever a feminine character is portrayed as the not-that-perfect one, and are all too ready to impute intention where there might have been, and probably was, none. And I can understand why someone would try to condemn strongly any such inaccurate hyper-deductions of their “intentions”.

  209. Carlie says

    the defining characteristic of almost every Pharyngula flame-war on the subject of feminism of late has been that there is no rebuke too mild, no criticism so small and trivial, no minor point that reasonable people would consider and come to the conclusion, “Oh, now I see!” and then move on, no thread touching however obliquely on feminism, where some of your readership can’t help themselves but dig themselves in to troll and derail the thread with the standard anti-feminist clichés, and often employing substantially more vitriol than is being used in return.

    Yes, exactly exactly exactly. This is the atmosphere that silences anyone who dares to say “hey, maybe please think about this a minute?” I know I’ve thrown up my hands and quit and left it to other people a countless number of times. Swallow shit, or ruin the entire afternoon?

    Yes, it gets old. Yes, we sound like broken records. Yes, it gets brought up all the time. Why? Because it fucking happens all the damned time. Because I’m a privileged white overeducated middle-class white-collar woman who’s never been raped and (almost) never sees overt condescension to me at work and never paid enough attention to notice if people were telling me I couldn’t do something because I’m a girl, and I still feel the energy sap out of me every time I see little tiny reminders everywhere that everyone really knows the place women are supposed to have, and how many people really believe that, and realize what some men really think of me because I’m a woman. And this happens, at the minimum, weekly. It’s only not multiple times daily because I don’t watch tv most of the time and I carefully choose the media outlets online I read and what I listen to on the radio. And every instance of a meek “hey, that sucks” gets attacked like that woman just suggested castrating all men. It makes me weary to my very core, and it’s only my evil heart of spite and the huge backlog of privileged easy times I have built up that keeps me from just giving up trying to ever point it out altogether.

  210. eigenperson says

    #251: Where did you get the idea that anyone was imputing intention?

    For that matter, where did you get the idea that for something to be sexist, the author had to INTEND for it to be sexist?

    Because I’m pretty sure none of the feminists here have been advancing that view.

  211. Ray Fowler says

    aw, shoot. I was hoping that we could rally together and make the creator grovel out an apology, only to then throw it back in his face.

    Apparently sexism is not as bile-worthy as theism.

  212. municipalis says

    Giliell, the woman who said Good-bye to Kitty:And you’d probably change your mind if, despite your best efforts, you saw your son turned into the worst possible incarnation of violent macho guy at age 5 because the outside world chose to reinforce those stereotypes 24/7.

    Maybe I should have been clearer; I’m not against restricting exposure to the mindless pap like Call of Duty. But barring For Whom the Bell Tolls because it contains elements of machismo and militarism would be silly, because the treatment of those elements is far more complex than simply “TURN PEOPLE IN TO MUSH”. And for the record, I don’t really have a problem with people raising the point that the cartoon used a stereotypical color palate – I agree that it did. But if you go back to Crys T’s original comment, she wasn’t raising that point, she was dismissing the whole thing as “brainless” because the ‘girl’ character was the fool in the piece. Baby with the bathwater, as it were.

    Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe: “inherent cynicism”? “thought crime”? my comment implied none of those things, it merely noted that implicit attitudes usually reflect the culture one comes from, so growing up in a sexist society creates implicit sexist attitudes in everyone who isn’t immune to social learning due to atypical brain wiring.

    Maybe cynicism isn’t the right word, I’m sorry for that. I think what I’m uncomfortable with is the usurpation of the neutral position; of the null hypothesis. The idea that we should assume everything is tinged with sexism until proven otherwise, and regardless of how much information we have on it, resembles far too closely the “god of the gaps” epistemology. I’m fully willing to concede that, probabilisticaly, you are correct, but I think it’s always better to make post hoc judgments rather than pre-conceived assumptions.

    Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe: And no, you don’t get to come back and say you know you don’t have any implicit sexist attitudes; because you wouldn’t know, since it’s near impossible to accurately know a person’s implicit attitude. The subconscious is a wee bit hard to measure. (there are tests for racial implicit attitudes, but i don’t have the link right now)

    I’ve italicized the part above which I think shows how much common ground we have here.

    Emilie: Who said anything about being cynical? Identifying attitudes or reflexes that might (after one thinks about it) perpetuate sexism is a positive reaction, as calling these out might foster change.

    As I said above, cynical was the wrong word for what I was trying to express. Otherwise I agree with you fully, especially your insertion of “might (after one thinks about it)”.

  213. greame says

    I knew that I’d seen the whole missing puzzle piece premise beforem somewhere. This one’s better then the bunnies IMO. It’s animated, and it’s about knowledge, not Whiny the Pooh and ducks.

  214. says

    I have been reading your blog for about a year and a half. I’ve never commented before, but you are the reason that right now I’m still struggling to reconcile my own white male privaledge view points. But honestly, sex did not even register to me with the cartoon in question. If you had not brought the different sexes of the bunnies into light, I never would have noticed. I thought the cartoon was a valid lampoon of the theist mind set and nothing else. Now, I know that I still have a way to go, but doesn’t that mean something when sex doesn’t register when reading a satirical cartoon?

  215. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    For that matter, where did you get the idea that for something to be sexist, the author had to INTEND for it to be sexist?

    Because I’m pretty sure none of the feminists here have been advancing that view.

    I’m curious is any portrayal of a character who is a less intelligent woman sexist at all times.

  216. Pteryxx says

    Circe, except that you’re mistaken.

    What you are implicitly assuming is that there was sexism there in the all those instances in the first place.

    I said nothing in #243 about the call-outs being accurate. But you assumed that I did.

    You may note that when I critiqued this comic way back in #19, I specifically said that pink is feminine-associated, and being not worth listening to is also feminine-associated, with references. For any reasonable argument, I’d expect someone who disagrees to say “I don’t think this is sexist, and here’s why” or at least “I don’t think those associations you’re describing hold up, and here’s why”. Not to use blanket statements like “always” and “never” as a lazy discounting tactic.

    To me, it seems that people are just too ready to cry “Sexism” whenever a feminine character is portrayed as the not-that-perfect one,

    sigh.

  217. Carlie says

    Rev, this is a particularly sore trigger point given the sexism specific to the atheist movement have been dealing with for the last year. And again, by a dozen comments in it was no longer about the comic, but about the overreaction to a mild criticism.

  218. frankb says

    I am another white middle aged guy who initially didn’t notice the gender thing in the cartoon. But when it was pointed out, I did notice. Even the obnoxious PaulG admitted to the unintended sexist stereotype so those who are denying that genders were assigned have lost all credibility. But PaulG and others still don’t get it. Noticing and commenting on the stereotype has brought out all the fierce and angry deniers. Complaints that the artist’s intent is unknown is irrelevant. Complaints that the comic is only one example is irrelevant. The flame war is about the angry deniers who don’t have a leg to stand on and the commenters who are calling them on it.

  219. Ganner says

    I’m continuing to look up atheism comics (first mentioned in post 108) and I’m continuing to find that women seem to be portrayed, similarly to men, in both rational/atheist and irrational/christian positions. I’m not finding any patterns of one gender being put into certain roles more often than others. I really do just want to get a clear answer, then, that we’re being asked to NEVER portray a woman in an irrational perspective compared to a man in any medium or format. Because that’s the only way I’m able to interpret this.

    I’ve been with the feminist side on pretty much every argument up to this point. I was with you on elevatorgate. I’m with you on pretty much all the ideas of the subtle stereotypes that get portrayed over and over, with the conditioning of girls to be different than boys, and how it’s wrong. I’ve identified myself as a male feminist (though, according to some in this thread, I’m not worthy of the title and to ever disagree with a woman on a point of offense makes me an MRA when I’m anything but and look at women in an equal light as men) But what I take from all this is that I need to treat women equally to men. And that’s what I do. If I draw comics (I don’t, but from my surveying of what I can find this applies to the people making them) I’m going to have examples of men irrational compared to men, men irrational compared to women, women irrational compared to men, and women irrational compared to women. I certainly respect your right to take offense if I do this, but in this case I would not change my behavior when I absolutely do not think I’m in the wrong, and think it is not a serious request that any comics I draw be limited to men irrational compared to men, men irrational compared to women, or women irrational compared to women. If I went out and looked and saw a predominance of atheism comics portraying women as irrational and men as rational, I’d completely agree that its a problem and this comic was a piece of the problem. But I don’t see that.

  220. says

    If this was gender stereotyping, shouldn’t it have been the guy who was the dumb one?

    From what I’ve seen on virtually every family sitcom – from Married With Children and The Simpsons to Everybody Loves Raymond and Family Guy – it’s the man who’s the bumbling idiot while the woman is the smart one who keeps sanity alive.

    This comic strip certainly attempted to reverse THAT stereotype.

  221. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    @The Rat King of 231

    …if you think that then you are missing the point. /shrug

  222. osteenq says

    I’m sorry, but this all just seems beyond insanely retarded to me.

    It’s not sexist. We all know that there are just as many male bunnies out there who have crazy beliefs.

  223. Phoenician in a time of Romans says

    The artist didn’t bother thinking for 10 seconds about whether the choices regarding dress and balloons reinforced bad stereotypes.

    From the link here
    http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/kvpbc/evidence_vs_belief_a_tale_of_two_bunnies/c2nlq3f

    “I know, I know. I deliberated on it for a while then I let the Internets decide. I did a few searches to confirm my suspicions: women are more likely to believe in god… so girl bunny lost this round.”

  224. David Marjanović, OM says

    MUTINY!!!

    Arrrrr.

    So does that make PZ a cupcake / MRA?

    We’ll find out when he’ll come back from dinner.

    One bunny wearing a skirt, speaking with a pink/peach coloured bubble.
    Another bunny wearing a pair of red and purple dungarees, speaking with a purple bubble.

    (YES! They are NOT pink and blue as people keep suggesting!!)

    I think your screen has a red tint. On mine, the blue is precisely baby-boy-clothes blue (nowhere near purple!) and the pink is precisely baby-girl-clothes pink. Because everyone else except Christopher Kwolek says they’re pink & blue, I think your screen is the one that’s off, not mine.

    Regarding watermelons:

    Interesting, and quite surprising. Thanks.

    What I can’t work out is how PZ got on what I still genuinely think is the wrong side of this issue this time.

    Probably by not having time to read the entire thread but commenting anyway.

    I want someone to make a better comic, is that so much to ask?

    Why don’t you make one yourself?

    Ban every single person who throws the bombs.

    What bombs? ~:-|

    I await my turn beneath the banhammer. I would prefer it, in fact, to the company I would be keeping were I to stay.

    Why wait for the banhammer? Why not leave just so?

    In other news, here’s a video of an octopus crawling on land:

    PZ has already posted it.

  225. shawnthesheep says

    Gregory Greenwood,

    Fuck you. If I see something as silly, I will dismiss it as such. As a gay man, I occasionally see other LGBT folks complaining about something that I find silly. It does not mean that I’m homophobic or uncommitted to LGBT equality. It just means that sometimes everyone–women, men, feminists, fundamentalists, astronauts, epidemiologists, sexists–are silly. I don’t have to agree with every member of an oppressed group in every instance to be considered an ally to that group.

    I’m not dismissing any and all concerns about institutionalized sexism as silly. Just this one. Personally, I believe that distractions such as this one are a waste of time and do little or nothing to advance the cause of equality. Feel free to call that concern trolling. It doesn’t make it any less true.

    As for “mansplaining” being a widely recognized meme, so the fuck what? It’s still gender biased. If I came up with a term like womansplaining, regardless of the explanation or definition, I would be skewered and rightfully so.

    I’m allowed to have an opinion on effective ways to fight for equality. I’m allowed to have an opinion on what I see as good uses and bad uses of our limited energies/efforts. I share PZ’s disappointment in the ridiculousness of this controversy.

    I don’t need to re-examine how I self-identify. I am a feminist. I have worked hard to eradicate gender bias anywhere that I’ve encountered it–at school, at work, on the intertubz, etc. And I’m sure there are some forms of institutionalized sexism that I don’t recognize and/or unconsciously perpetuate. But in this instance, after really thinking about it talking to several women that I know and respect greatly, I just don’t see a there there.

    Your condescension is noted.

  226. HMDK says

    Sure, it’s only one sample.
    Here’s the thing, though:
    The point could be made without any gender at all.
    It could be just two non-sexed bunnies talking.
    Why make one feminine and the other masculine, when it isn’t even needed and only distracts, unless you’re making a point?
    I do think there’s been an overreaction to it, but no reaction?

  227. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    @#236: And you’re illiterate. Now shut up.

    Well shit.

    How the hell is he going to know you want him to shut up?

  228. David Marjanović, OM says

    If this was gender stereotyping, shouldn’t it have been the guy who was the dumb one?

    Read this thread before adding to it.

    Besides, dumb guys are a very new stereotype. Have you watched any 1950s TV? Chock full of living, breathing blonde jokes – this is not an exaggeration.

  229. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I give up. Certain people* are unwilling to admit sexism is pervasive in Western culture. Nothing that’s said will show certain people that male privilege exists. They’re too busy sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU to actually shut up and listen to womens’ genuine concerns.

    *Notice I didn’t call these fuckers MRA wannabees even though I really wanted to.

  230. Carlie says

    All anyone has asked for is “hey, writer person, would you consider not making the girl the dumb one if you do this again?”

    Why is that bad?

  231. says

    Did I mention before that evolution is impossible? Because teeny tiny microscopic changes can never ever result in a macro event like speciation. No teeny tiny microscopic thing can ever be important, or worth studying, or even worth noticing.

  232. Pteryxx says

    I really do just want to get a clear answer, then, that we’re being asked to NEVER portray a woman in an irrational perspective compared to a man in any medium or format. Because that’s the only way I’m able to interpret this.

    I still can’t figure out what it is about sexism that triggers this reflexive retreat into all-or-nothing binary-world.

    Look, you people in Never-Never land. Y’all can figure out sliding scales and balanced responses. You figured out how much sugar you want in cookies and how much heat you want in chili. You know about Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You probably drive slower in the rain. This ain’t rocket surgery.

    It shouldn’t be so darned difficult to develop a sexism-meter so you can run a quick check and say “Ew. Better dial it back a notch.” Yeesh. It’s just consciousness-raising, people.

  233. says

    @249: So, who determines what’s “whining” and what’s “constructive”? Should there really be an arbitrator of what deserves consideration and what should be ignored?

    Or should any seriously-offered comment be regarded and replied to seriously, without resorting to the lazy and dishonest tactic of discounting any and all dissenting or unwanted opinions as “trolling”?

  234. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I still can’t figure out what it is about sexism that triggers this reflexive retreat into all-or-nothing binary-world.

    Yeah and it isn’t relegated to any one camp.

  235. joed says

    any sexism found in the cartoon is created by you.
    saying the cartoon is sexist says more about you than about the cartoon.
    The cartoon is about claiming to have the real picture when infact you only have a small amount of the picture.
    Does anyone else see the irony here.
    Calling the cartoon sexist is like the probably female bunny saying she has the real picture.
    There just ain’t enough info folks. info in this one cartoon that is.
    so, tyr some introspection to find out why you be so uptight about a cartoon. why are you so very uptight about the bunny seeing a whole picture when infact the picture is not whole.

  236. Ganner says

    Because there is nothing to dial back, in this instance. My consciousness is raised. Sexism exists. It’s all over the place. I’m usually found arguing against the people who refuse to accept that women may be put off in a situation where they’re fewer in number and overwhelmingly hit on and reflexively sexualized, telling people to consider the position of the women involved. But a comic where a woman is irrational and a man is not, compared to a balance of atheism comics I’ve been able to find where there is no pattern of women being more likely to be the irrational subject than the rational subject, or more often irrational than men, is not an example of sexism needing to be dialed back. If any single instance of a woman being portrayed as irrational merits “hey that’s sexist, dial it back” then an all or nothing IS being established by YOU. It’s saying, in the only way I can interpret it, I am never allowed to portray a woman as more irrational than a man, in any isolated instance, or else I’ll be taken as sexist. Even if I’m not, even if I’m just as likely the next day to have a man be irrational compared to a woman, or have gender-neutral characters, or have only men or only women in a situation.

  237. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    @Caine, Fleur du Mal of 248

    Pinkamena is most likely a troll. On who has named him/herself such for the color being debated for the controversy of this thread. Since I don’t recall this person ever posting here before. This person is either not taking this debate seriously but wants to stir the crap anyway, or has likely some nefarious motive. Hense a troll. Either way, I wouldn’t give this person the time of day.

  238. happiestsadist says

    Shawnthesheep, here’s an actual feminist, who has actually lived as a woman, telling you that you don’t, as a dude, get to say what’s sexist. Especially to women. So stop trying to speak for them. You wanna help with feminism? Go right the fuck ahead. As an actual ally, not some mansplaining asshole.

    Also, LOL, claiming that mansplaining is so meeeeean. Asshole, it’s all about some dude like you telling the wimminz what’s what. Which you’re doing. Stop that, and go collect your porcupine.

  239. says

    Ali A. Rizvi:

    This comic strip certainly attempted to reverse THAT stereotype.

    No, it didn’t. Portraying the man as always stupid is sexist, portraying the woman as always fuzzy-brained is sexist. If you think the latter isn’t pervasive (bimbo trope), you aren’t paying attention.

    Please, read my post @229, which addresses the artist’s choice as to portrayal. A sexist trope was easily avoidable, in more than one way. There’s the one I talked about in #229, if the artist was intent on having the religious one female. The artist could have chosen to take the clothes off both bunnies, and lose the pink/blue, going with no gender issue at all.

    Reinforcing sexist tropes, either way, don’t help anyone. It’s by drawing attention to them when they happen, that raises consciousness and changes perceptions.

  240. Bob Loblaw says

    I want to apologize for my poor behaviour on the other forum. To Crys T and to Caine, Fleur du Mal. My humour was wrong and off putting and didn’t add to the dialogue. I believe strongly that poor stereotypes of women and men exists and that people have a right to be sensitive to these stereotypes.

    I misrepresented Crys T’s, as well as Calie’s points of view for my own trolling entertainment.

    By trolling I took away from the serious discussion of subliminal imprinting of traditional gender stereotypes in rabbit cartoons.

    I have no wish for men to have power over women or vice versa.

    People react poorly though when someone attempts to frame the issue as follows: the rabbit can never just be the rabbit and if you don’t agree you’re a sexist.

    Women can be/ not be zealots
    Men can be/not be zealots
    There is nothing wrong with asking the author to not repeat it.
    There is nothing wrong with the author refusing as long as there is no consistent pattern.

    I just want them to make the same cartoon in each possible combination of genders so we never have to revisit this again.

  241. says

    Utakata:

    On who has named him/herself such for the color being debated for the controversy of this thread. Since I don’t recall this person ever posting here before.

    Oh, the colour is innocent enough, I think, as they first showed up on the my little pony thread. I’m pretty sure the nym is associated with the pony thing.

  242. says

    @283: I’m left to wonder where the idea of referring to observations made by men as “mansplaining” comes from in the first place. I mean, men exist, as a part of this world, and we see things as individuals in it. Is there not, then, some level of validity in our observations on things that are happening in the world?

  243. Pteryxx says

    Ganner @281: You’re mistaken when you draw a line around “atheist comics I’ve been able to find” and pretend they’re floating in a void. Sexism’s an established pattern in culture as a whole, as I cited back in #19. Atheism didn’t establish pink and blue, or dresses and pants, or women being taken less seriously than men; so you’re making a flawed generalization, similar to cherry-picking.

    I stated my critique of the comic already in #19, #60 and in #145 quoted here:

    In my interpretation, I can see why the artist justified having believer-bunny be the female one, citing greater religiosity among women. (I think that justification’s a mite thin, but okay.) I still think color-coding the word balloons pink and blue took the gendering too far, because it was a) too blatant a gender association and b) gave away the conclusion by giving one speaker a less-serious color association before the argument itself became obviously irrational. Personally, I’d have picked a couple of shades of aqua and yellow to contrast with the background. /artstudent

    How do you justify calling my interpretation “all-or-nothing”?

  244. Carlie says

    I’m left to wonder where the idea of referring to observations made by men as “mansplaining” comes from in the first place.

    Have you not read the links you were provided? Because the initial incident was a man explaining a book to a woman who happened to be the author, he refused to acknowledge her corrections of his misunderstandings of the book at all, then refused to believe she was the author because he was sure the author was a man, and when it was proved to him that she was indeed the author and he was actually wrong, he simply turned his nose up and walked of. This was followed by a deluge of hundreds and hundreds of comments by women relating stories that followed exactly that pattern of a man telling them things they had more expertise in than the man did and the men refusing to believe it. Most of them also clarified that this had never happened to them in conversation with a woman, and that it generally happened with a certain kind of man whose views on the roles of men and women in society were distinctly patriarchal.

  245. AlanMacandCheese says

    You found some weasel who wants to deny that women are treated like second-rate citizens?

    Yes. That would be Stephen Harper, Prime Minster of Canada. He has declare that women in Canada are equal therefore the Government will no longer fund women’s organizations that engage in advocacy and/or activism or support pro-choice, which is essentially all non-religious women’s groups.

  246. Gentry says

    A quick question here.

    So, after the “wars” have been waged, and a consensus is formed one way or another (if it gets to that point), how does one proceed? Do you say, “okay, so we’ve agreed it marginalizes women, is sexist, and has no place in an equal society”, and drop it? Find the artist and lecture them on the error of their ways? Demand an apology from PZ? Campaign harder for equal rights? I’m being serious – once you’ve convinced people of your viewpoint, what do you plan on doing with it in this particular instance?

    Perhaps you agree that this one data point is inconclusive. Where do you go from here? You’ve made that determination, now what actions come of it?

    Maybe you stick with the idea that it’s not sexist in some way. Again, what do you do with your decision going forward?

    My point is, you’re all arguing for what you think is right, but the N+1 point after you’ve finished your argument has never been explored. You’re arguing to prove your point, but to an end that hasn’t materialized yet. Sure, you convince more people to open their eyes a bit more and see the subtle sexism in culture (if that’s what you end up agreeing upon) but that’s the end of it as far as your involvement is concerned. I’m fairly certain you’ll continue doing what you typically do, and won’t immediately go out and be any more active against injustices like these because of the comments made on this forum.

    I think that’s PZ’s point. Once the dust settles, and most everyone agrees on a conclusion, we’re all left feeling a little more enlightened and… that’s it. That’s why this is a trivial fight. Why sit here arguing about a comic when there are better and more productive ways to promote enlightenment and equality? Sign a petition, protest, write a blog, write your congress member, enter into a public debate (not on the internets), or any other number of things that promote your message. Arguing about the thoughts of a comic artist, intent of color usage, subtle sexism in anthropomorphic characters, or rabbit stereotyping with the unwashed masses of the internet is a huge waste of your energy.

  247. happiestsadist says

    @289: You could fucking google the term? Or read the explanations of the term in this very thread.

  248. Carlie says

    but the N+1 point after you’ve finished your argument has never been explored.

    You are seriously not paying attention. The goal has been stated a few dozen times between the last thread and this one. No, I’m not repeating it for you again now. Go read for comprehension.

  249. eigenperson says

    #259 BigDumbChimp:

    I’m curious is any portrayal of a character who is a less intelligent woman sexist at all times.

    No, I don’t think so. Only if it plays into a specific stereotype.

    For example, if you have a work with a Jewish character who is really greedy, that’s probably anti-Semitic. But if you have a work with a Jewish character who is stupid, I don’t think this plays into any existing stereotype, so I would not say there is a real problem with that. Now, if the work has 30 different characters, 10 of whom are Jewish, and all of whom happen to be stupid, that would be problematic again, but for a different reason (now it’s more revealing some bizarre internal bias of the author than playing into cultural stereotypes).

    Also, it makes sense to consider the work as a whole rather than parts of it. If you look at a work like Harry Potter, and focus in only on one small part of the work, you would notice some rather characters who conform to unfortunate stereotypes, like Moaning Myrtle (just one example that comes to mind). If Harry Potter consisted only of the parts dealing with Moaning Myrtle, then it would probably be a sexist work (regardless of the author’s intentions). But if you consider the work as a whole, I do not think it is sexist. Especially as Myrtle is a very minor character.

    In this case, the work as a whole is very small. I do think this places the onus on the author to treat the issue carefully. Normally if you want to write some material that is not sexist, you would have some characters who conform to certain stereotypes and some who do not, because that is how things are in the real world. However, in a miniature piece like this one, you have only two characters, and in this case, they both conformed to the stereotype in question.

  250. says

    Gentry:

    Arguing about the thoughts of a comic artist, intent of color usage, subtle sexism in anthropomorphic characters, or rabbit stereotyping with the unwashed masses of the internet is a huge waste of your energy.

    No, it’s not a waste of energy or time. It’s called consciousness raising. Raising awareness is never a waste of any kind.

    As for your presumption “the unwashed masses of the internet” – no. That’s being an idiot. Yes, we get a lot of MRAs and assorted douchecakes, however, many of the people who end up discussing the deeper issues of entrenched sexism are simply people who are new to the concepts of privilege and the extent of everyday sexism. They aren’t terrible people, simply people who haven’t delved far into this aspect of life.

    We’ve had a lot of people who have learned, thanked us for our efforts and they are not only better human beings, they go on to help educate others.

    Staying silent and shrugging over it certainly doesn’t change anything.

  251. Gentry says

    Shawnthesheep, here’s an actual feminist, who has actually lived as a woman, telling you that you don’t, as a dude, get to say what’s sexist. Especially to women. So stop trying to speak for them. You wanna help with feminism? Go right the fuck ahead. As an actual ally, not some mansplaining asshole.

    Did you even read what he wrote? Who are you to be the ultimate authority on sexism in general? Apparently because he’s a man he can’t comment on sexism. Yeah, that’s not sexist. Not being able to comment about sexism against women? I might be able to see that, but to call him out like that without cause is asinine.

    He makes a good point- people can still have dissenting opinions about particular instances of a movement, but still support the movement overall. What about that do you disagree with?

  252. says

    As has been observed by other commentators, the trope that women are flighty, irrational and emotional, whereas men are supposedly empirical, logical and considered – the ‘bimbo meme’ if you will – is pervasive in our culture.

    This is entirely true. The question is whether the cartoon is trying to promote it.

    Equality does not mean that the smart bunny in the dialog will always be the one in the dress.

    It does mean that the bunny in the dress isn’t always the dumb one.

    There is a difference between those two sentences, you know. It means you can’t focus on a particular instance and declare it an example of the general phenomenon.

  253. says

    The origin of mansplaining, as far as I can tell, refers back to this article about an incident where a man was explaining to a newly-met woman how he knew oh soooo much more than her on some subject, and she would surely appreciate a little lecture on the topic. He’d just read some very important scholarly work on the topic, and would like to explain it to this little lady here, at length. Shoosh, interrupters, this is an important subject! As it happened, she was the author. Oopsie.

    It turns out that most women don’t really like it when men act like an authority on something that we actually already know quite well, thanks. And also it turns out that this is incredibly common behaviour. Solnit’s phrase “men explain things to me” went rather viral for a while, and settled into mansplaining somewhere out there on the innertubes.

  254. eigenperson says

    Addendum:

    I also notice that some people have mentioned the coloring of the speech bubbles, and said that perhaps this makes the work more sexist because it calls extra attention to the genders of the bunnies (essentially, encouraging the reader to identify them principally by their genders). This is true, I think.

  255. Pteryxx says

    Once the dust settles, and most everyone agrees on a conclusion, we’re all left feeling a little more enlightened and… that’s it. That’s why this is a trivial fight. Why sit here arguing about a comic when there are better and more productive ways to promote enlightenment and equality?

    I’m aspiring to the field of science communication, so clarity in communicating through artwork is important to me, as is reducing sexism.

    In fields such as CVA and forensic anthropology, students train to identify human or animal bones. Leg from arm bones, cervical vertebrae from thoracic, which pair a particular rib is from, whether a wrist bone is left or right, whether a given bone is human or animal. When students are just starting out, a practical exam’s worth of bone samples to identify may come in a paper grocery bag. By graduation, the entire final exam could fit in a matchbox.

    The character portrayal in this comic’s a small, very subtle instance of sexist association, but it’s there nonetheless.

  256. Gentry says

    Wow, you guys are missing the point, big time.

    I’m aware of the sexism of the comic. I see that. I don’t particularly like it.

    However, I’m not gonna sit here and “raise awareness” on the comments section of Pharyngula to enlighten only the people that read this site.

    I’m gonna go out and campaign for equality. I’ve already written plenty of emails to my representatives about the issue. I’ve donated money and time to the cause.

    Those are far worthier endeavors than complaining on this site. That’s my point.

  257. Randy says

    The cartoon neglects the possibility that the centre of the apparently missing piece (which we are never shown) does in fact contain an entire miniature picture of a duck.

    Sure, it may be a duck-of-the-gap, but while we can make reasonable guesses about what the gap contains, and there’s little reason to expect a duck, we cannot actually know what it contains until we see it. This is science (and product testing). I’ve seen too many projects fail because it was “obvious” what the missing piece was, to let this go.

  258. says

    PZ, you’re answering the wrong question. The question that needs answering is why, when a mild note is made of how an otherwise good comic adheres to a sexist trope, the response is so disproportionate.

  259. Bob Loblaw says

    @287 no

    @AlanMacandCheese : And religious groups that do advocacy work as well.

    @Everyone: You are all perfect just the way you are. I love you all

  260. Ganner says

    Pteryxx 288:

    Your quoted argument is not all or nothing. My interpretation though continues to be that, if I’m drawing a comic, I am ok to make it gender neutral or a woman more rational than a man, but never ok to make a woman less rational than a man. THAT to me, still seems all or nothing, if my genre I’m working in, or my personal art, has no pattern of gender stereotyping. I do understand where you’re coming from in your argument, but I disagree with you. It is enough for me, in my opinion, to be unbiased, and for my genre to be unbiased. I am not sexist, or perpetuating sexism, or mansplaining (You have not accused me personally of this and I don’t inted to imply as such) if I equally as often treat a woman as irrational compared to a man as I treat a man as irrational compared to a woman. You can disagree with me, but I will stand by my position. And where there IS a pattern of gender bias, I’ll stand with you in opposing it. Where there is explicit sexism, I will stand with you in opposing it. I just don’t see it in this instance and don’t think it wrong for me to express this.

  261. Tethys says

    I mean, men exist, as a part of this world, and we see things as individuals in it. Is there not, then, some level of validity in our observations on things that are happening in the world?

    This is an extremely red and highly odiferous herring.

    No cupcake, you aren’t an expert on being female. Your opinion is beside the point, and your deflecting only serves to prove the point.

    Could you possibly admit that the cartoon can be interpreted as sexist?

  262. says

    PZ:

    It means you can’t focus on a particular instance and declare it an example of the general phenomenon.

    It’s one more example in a sea of them. So much for the red pill. The author said they chose to do it that way because after checking with the mighty internet, women are more religious. Why couldn’t the author have thought a bit more, as I suggested in #229? More women are going into science fields, too. So why not two female bunnies, and lose the stupid pink/blue? The same great message gets across, without a wealth of women looking at that and feeling exasperated at seeing the same old trope.

  263. says

    @290: See, if “mansplaining” were only used in those situations, I would completely understand and accept it as a legitimate term and argument against sexist behavior. But overwhelmingly I’ve seen it just as I initially said, as a catch-all term for any time a man has a viewpoint that is potentially dissenting, unwanted, or inconvenient.

    @293: I’m sure if I Googled it I’d find more examples of my wrong view of the term than the original correct usage.

  264. Gentry says

    No, it’s not a waste of energy or time. It’s called consciousness raising. Raising awareness is never a waste of any kind.

    I agree that raising awareness is good. I disagree with the disproportionate amount of energy used in this forum to promote that awareness. It’s simply not an efficient use of resources to get a very important message across.

    As for your presumption “the unwashed masses of the internet” – no. That’s being an idiot.

    That was meant sarcastically. It’s tough to convey via text when mingled in a serious comment. I apologize for the misunderstanding.

    Staying silent and shrugging over it certainly doesn’t change anything.

    I’m not advocating that. I’m asking what you would do to not remain silent since you and I agree its sexist. What are you going to do (other than post your comments here)?

  265. says

    @308: Never said I was an expert on being female. But I have seen females as they exist in this world, as I do, and have seen the interactions that go on in our world, many of which involve women.

    And I *already have* admitted that the cartoon could be legitimately interpreted as sexist; that was my first comment in here.

  266. happiestsadist says

    Gentry, I did read what he wrote. It was horseshit.

    No, men cannot be as informed on sexism, because women don’t have the institutional power to commit it. Men are the fish not noticing the water. Sorry, dumbass, words mean things.

    As a dude, he gets no fucking say on what’s sexist to women.

  267. Russell says

    “, it may be a duck-of-the-gap, but while we can make reasonable guesses about what the gap contains,”

    Duck ?

    Why not Drake ?

    Has the hominten wecruited these silly transwestite wabbits into waging culture war against Western Ciwilization ?

    Why are there no playboy bunnies in the puzzle ?

  268. says

    Gentry:

    I’m gonna go out and campaign for equality. I’ve already written plenty of emails to my representatives about the issue. I’ve donated money and time to the cause.

    FFS, I am so tired of this shit. What, exactly, makes you think it’s not possible to both raise consciousness and be involved in other activism? I’ve been a feminist and GLBTI activist for over 30 years. That doesn’t make what we do here less valuable. All you’re doing is a form of Dear Muslima.

    Those are far worthier endeavors than complaining on this site. That’s my point.

    Your reading comprehension isn’t too sharp. Discussion does not equal complaining. Once again, raising awareness is a good thing.

    As you seem to be feeling happily superior to those of us here, perhaps you shouldn’t be wasting your ever so valuable activism time by continuing to complain about us on the internet. I’m sure you have letters to write.

  269. shawnthesheep says

    happiestsadist-

    You’re full of shit. I’m allowed to have an opinion on what is sexist and what isn’t. I don’t cede my ability to discern sexism to a woman because she’s more sensitive to it. I respect the opinions of women. I love, work with and am friends with many wonderful woman feminists and there are all sorts of things I’d respect their opinion on above my own. That does not mean I have to trust any woman’s opinion above my own any time sexism is brought up in discussion. That’s ridiculous. I’ve emailed this thread to a few female feminists I respect and none of them seem to have an issue with it. If one or many female feminists I knew said to me, “Shawn, this is sexist. Trust me/us,” I would accept that it’s sexist and seek to be more sensitive/understanding in the future about such forms of gender bias. But this is a few posters on pharyngula I do not know. The women I do know and love and respect don’t seem to have a problem with it.

    Oh, and mansplaining is still a sexist term. Just because it’s a term the oppressed use to describe their oppressors does not mean it’s any less gender-biased.

    I love and respect women. I revere women. I long for the day when they gain true and full and lasting equality. But I still think the bunny controversy is stupid and silly.

  270. Dianne says

    I love and respect women. I revere women. I long for the day when they gain true and full and lasting equality.

    And some of your best friends are black too, no doubt.

  271. Pteryxx says

    Ganner:

    My interpretation though continues to be that, if I’m drawing a comic, I am ok to make it gender neutral or a woman more rational than a man, but never ok to make a woman less rational than a man. THAT to me, still seems all or nothing, if my genre I’m working in, or my personal art, has no pattern of gender stereotyping.

    I suggest taking another look at my quoted argument, since you accept it as not all-or-nothing. In my critique, I just described what change I would have made to that comic to reduce (i.e. “dial back”) its problematic sexist association to a level I’d find acceptable. It would then be a comic portraying a woman as less rational than a man, in a manner acceptable to me.

    If you can understand why my critique works that way, then you should be able to apply similar troubleshooting to any character portrayal you might make where a woman was shown as less rational than a man. You’re not expected to never do it; just do it well.

    “Once you decide that you’re going to have the death of Spock, then how does that affect the other people? Why is it there? I got a lot of stick from a lot of people from the very beginning about the idea of killing Spock. Somebody said, ‘You can’t kill him.’ And I said, ‘Sure you can; the only question is whether you do it well.'”

    ~Nicholas Meyer- Director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

  272. Kate says

    Pink microscopes?

    Does anyone remember them? At first, they were kind of cute looking being a pink color. But then, there were scientific microscopes being sold right next to them and we all puzzled as to why. And it turned out the pink microscopes had a sort of “EZ-Bake” lense, but the scientific ones had the real lense.

    Anytime I see pink (other than the artist), I suspect cultural conditioning and not in a good way.
    I got the broader meaning of the cartoon but I didn’t like the delivery since I am a woman.

  273. Dianne says

    This post really does have a “Dear Muslima” feel to it. No, the bunny cartoon isn’t the worst example of sexism I’ve seen in the last month, week, or day, but it is an example and why shouldn’t it be pointed out as such?

    I haven’t read the original thread extensively, but the posts I saw complaining about the sexism were fairly mild and non-accusatory. Generally along the lines of “funny cartoon…but check out the implicit sexism: the author could have avoided it by doing X, Y, or Z”. Why not point that out? What harm does it do apart from drawing the ire of MRAs? And if the MRAs ire can be drawn over this sort of trivia then that suggests that maybe it isn’t just trivia and there is a problem that should be explored further.

  274. Gentry says

    Gentry, I did read what he wrote. It was horseshit.

    No, men cannot be as informed on sexism, because women don’t have the institutional power to commit it. Men are the fish not noticing the water. Sorry, dumbass, words mean things.

    As a dude, he gets no fucking say on what’s sexist to women.

    Please read again what I wrote.

    Feel superior much? I agree you’d know more about sexism against females, but to state that you know more about sexism than any man is a bit much.

    Also, I can recognize that you read what you want to and not what’s actually written. You’re detrimental to the cause for equality because its a vendetta to you, apparently.

    Feel smug in your victimhood and fight people who are on your side. Good idea.

  275. Jeremy says

    Can’t something perpetuate a stereotype and not also be sexist? I at least associate sexism as a quality belonging to a person, so when people point out that they feel this comic is unconsciously sexist, it is implicit to me that they are saying the author is unconsciously sexist. You simply can’t come to that sort of conclusion from a single comic though. It can be easily concluded, though, that this particular comic perpetuates or conforms to a stereotype, which is no sin, though it may be regrettable and unfortunate.

  276. Gentry says

    FFS, I am so tired of this shit. What, exactly, makes you think it’s not possible to both raise consciousness and be involved in other activism? I’ve been a feminist and GLBTI activist for over 30 years. That doesn’t make what we do here less valuable. All you’re doing is a form of Dear Muslima.

    You’ve convinced me. I shall continue to flamespray anyone I think isn’t promoting my viewpoints on Pharyngula. Yeah, I can do that and continue my other work, because spending 3 hours here is exactly worth 3 hours of writing letters, organizing events, or otherwise being active.

    Your reading comprehension isn’t too sharp. Discussion does not equal complaining. Once again, raising awareness is a good thing.

    As you seem to be feeling happily superior to those of us here, perhaps you shouldn’t be wasting your ever so valuable activism time by continuing to complain about us on the internet. I’m sure you have letters to write.

    Most of this isn’t real discussion. It’s people reiterating their positions over and over again. It’s heads banging against walls.

    And the superiority tables are turned, Fleur. Why don’t you take a second to get off your pedestal and realize people are fighting for the same thing you are.

    I do have letters to write, even if you feel you’re too good to write yourself.

  277. happiestsadist says

    Gentry, I’m not a woman, idiot.

    Here’s a top: You are part of the problem. You are not part of the “cause”, not matter how much you feel like pretending you are.

    Dianne @317: My thoughts exactly.

    “Listen Missy! I’ll tell you what’s sexist and what’s not, because I’m a MAN feminist, that’s why!”

  278. eigenperson says

    #322 Jeremy:

    I think it’s fair to say that if the comic perpetuates this negative stereotype, then the comic is sexist by definition. But I wouldn’t take that as an implicit indictment of the author. I think that’s reading too much into the assertion.

  279. Gentry says

    In the meantime, I’ll gladly take my porcupine and leave this comment section, as the discussion has devolved into the banging of heads and gnashing of teeth. Good day.

  280. Tethys says

    ChrisK

    And I *already have* admitted that the cartoon could be legitimately interpreted as sexist; that was my first comment in here.

    If you accept that, why are you asking for definitions of mansplaining?

  281. Dianne says

    The question is whether the cartoon is trying to promote it.

    I disagree. I think the question is whether it is promoting it, whether it is trying to or not. Subconscious bias is still bias and still causes problems.

    Equality does not mean that the smart bunny in the dialog will always be the one in the dress.

    I agree. One problem I see with the media at the moment is that female characters are ONLY allowed to be anything other than complete comic relief if they are “perfect”: smart, beautiful, etc. Men can be flawed-less than brilliant, not so great looking, unable to hold a job, etc and still be “serious” characters, but women, never.

    My main problem with the cartoon is that it would have been so easy to avoid gender signifiers altogether. For example, make the blue boxes associated with the bunny in a dress and the pink with the one in the pants. Confuse the issue a bit and no one will have much of a complaint. Or put them both in pants and use yellow and green boxes. It’s not exactly difficult.

    But most of my problem isn’t with the cartoon at all. It’s a tad questionable in isolation, maybe the artist is sexist, maybe not. Maybe the complete works of the artist would look entirely different. But the hysteria over people saying, “Please, could we just for one minute notice the possible sexism here a little? If it’s not too much trouble?” is more concerning. It’s yet another in a long line of trivializing every complaint women make. And not something I would have expected from Myers.

    Oh, yes, and the cartoon is cute, if a bit anviliscious.

  282. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    See, this is the really insidious thing about privilege and prejudice and patriarchy. We can absorb it without knowing. And even if we had the best of intentions, there will always be the lingering doubt in the mind of a woman or a person of color or a gay friend, “What did he mean by that?” And we will always look at what we said after the fact and wonder if it was taken the wrong way.

    What can we do about it? We can be aware. We can talk about it. We can listen to each other’s perspectives.

    I do not doubt the author of this cartoon is a smart, funny, progressive person who means well. I hope that if they looked again at the cartoon, maybe they’d see, “Oh, yeah. I guess it could be taken that way.” Maybe next time, they would do things differently. Maybe next time WE can do things differently.

    The goal is freeing ourselves of the bonds of patriarchy. The reward is interaction as free men and women.

  283. Gentry says

    Oh, one final jab:

    Gentry, I’m not a woman, idiot.

    Here’s a top: You are part of the problem. You are not part of the “cause”, not matter how much you feel like pretending you are.

    See

    Shawnthesheep, here’s an actual feminist, who has actually lived as a woman, telling you that you don’t, as a dude, get to say what’s sexist. Especially to women. So stop trying to speak for them. You wanna help with feminism? Go right the fuck ahead. As an actual ally, not some mansplaining asshole.

    So, by your logic, when you are a woman you can speak for them, but when you’re not, you cant.

    You are no longer a woman, ergo you can’t speak for them anymore. Perhaps you could even say that since you’re not a woman any more, yet you’re speaking for the cause, that you are part of the problem, no matter how much you feel like pretending you are.

    Your words, not mine.

  284. says

    @327: If you’re a man, and if, as you say, men have no place stating opinions on what’s sexist towards women, then why are you stating opinions on what’s sexist towards women?

    @330: Because I’ve seen the term used in wildly different ways than its original usage, and wanted to see what’s up with that.

  285. HidariMak says

    I remember one of the older podcasts from The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. They were interviewing the head of an action group who would examine the school texts for accuracy, and as you might imagine, the guy at the head of the operation had become quite jaded. He recounted how history texts were being rewritten, in order to have equal representation of all races and genders in the historical discoveries. Since many discoveries of the past involved white males, many key figures had to be removed for “equality” purposes, and many more minor people in those discoveries had to be pictured as if they were somehow the ones responsible.

    But it gets worse. Despite all that effort, there were still complaints of unfair representation. Some group had counted the appearance of each gender in the animals, and was complaining that the two sexes in the images of the animals wasn’t fair and balanced enough.

    Sorry I can’t remember more details than that, like the name of the person being interviewed or the name of his organization. But arguing over the representation of the genders in childish stuffed bunny rabbits in a single cartoon somehow is no longer surprising.

  286. ariamezzo says

    I think people are missing the true underlying pro-woman message of the bunnies. Notice how the “female” bunny is really wearing a skirt, not necessarily a dress; it covers her lower extremities. This bunny, if we take it to be a woman and not a man, is not wearing any top covering. Coincidentally she’s religious, but she’s free and liberated from society’s double standard of forcing women to cover their shame.

    Some people are so shortsighted. Geez.

  287. says

    Gentry:

    And the superiority tables are turned, Fleur. Why don’t you take a second to get off your pedestal and realize people are fighting for the same thing you are.

    My nym happens to be Caine. Work on that reading comprehension. I’m not on a pedestal. I’m not the one who insists that internet discussion is worthless and that we should be doing “important” stuff. Raising awareness and educating is important stuff, and yes, it often involves having to reiterate points.

    When you show up here to simply whine at people and pull a Dear Muslima, you aren’t helping and you are not fighting for the same things I am.

    I do have letters to write, even if you feel you’re too good to write yourself.

    Good, go write them. I don’t seem to recall saying I was too good for anything in particular. I pointed out that I’ve been an activist for over 30 years. That has involved protesting, fighting for education rights, access to birth control, equal pay, equal rights, escorting, and being an advocate and counselor, along with many other things. I don’t just sit on my ass and write letters.

    Be sure to stick your flounce, Cupcake, you wouldn’t want to dent your “credibility”.

  288. says

    A_Ray:

    What can we do about it? We can be aware. We can talk about it. We can listen to each other’s perspectives.

    I do not doubt the author of this cartoon is a smart, funny, progressive person who means well. I hope that if they looked again at the cartoon, maybe they’d see, “Oh, yeah. I guess it could be taken that way.” Maybe next time, they would do things differently. Maybe next time WE can do things differently.

    The goal is freeing ourselves of the bonds of patriarchy. The reward is interaction as free men and women.

    QFT.

  289. Dianne says

    @335: I think you have your outrage backwards. I can see the argument for not demanding “equal time” in history-white men did shape the current western society more than minorities or white women simply because they had more opportunities, both to act in a meaningful way and to have their contributions acknowledged. Some attention to making sure that the contributions of those not white Christian men are acknowledged is needed because of the infamous unconscious bias that we’re not discussing here because it has no relevance at all, really. But a simple body count is not the way.

    Animals, OTOH. I have no idea what excuse there is for showing more male than female animals. Did male animals contribute more to history than female animals or what?

  290. Pteryxx says

    Can’t something perpetuate a stereotype and not also be sexist? I at least associate sexism as a quality belonging to a person, so when people point out that they feel this comic is unconsciously sexist, it is implicit to me that they are saying the author is unconsciously sexist.

    I don’t think sexism/stereotyping in a work implies anything specific about the author’s mindset, especially when it’s this subtle. We know what’s in the image itself, and that the author stated believer-bunny being female was a deliberate choice. Past that it’s a matter of degree; the author either chose the clothing or colors to strengthen the gender association, or chose them for other reasons or just by instinct. The association still exists either way.

    However, part of the necessary consciousness-raising about sexism in culture is to point out that implicit bias exists in the first place, and has real effects that need to be countered. People seem really fixated on sexism as something only nasty bad people ever express, instead of a near-ubiquitous cognitive error.

    ——–

    One problem I see with the media at the moment is that female characters are ONLY allowed to be anything other than complete comic relief if they are “perfect”: smart, beautiful, etc. Men can be flawed-less than brilliant, not so great looking, unable to hold a job, etc and still be “serious” characters, but women, never.

    …I swear, everyone needs to watch more MLP. (youtube link)

  291. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Gentry,
    I, as a male, cannot speak for any woman. I can try to amplify what she says and repeat it until a bonehead, such as you, hears and maybe even understands it. I can speak for myself as a male who has lots of women friends and would like to see a society in which men and women interact more freely and with more equality, security and trust.

  292. procyon says

    Even though I am a privileged white male I have always considered myself non-chauvinistic. Both my daughters, my sister, and my girl friend have told me over the years I am not sexist or condescending toward women. But reading what some of the women on here have to say, especially Carlie, my eyes have been opened to the fact that in order to really not be sexist I have to be as conscious of the insidious “micro” issues as I am of the obvious “macro” issues.

  293. Carlie says

    All right, let’s say that something conforming to a traditional gender stereotype that women are less rational than men is, in this instance, completely not sexist at all. Given that 90 some-odd percent of the time things that conform to that stereotype ARE sexist, how exactly are we supposed to tell that this one instance is not? What is the magic characteristic that makes this “woman is irrational” story different than the sexist “women are irrational” stories?

    And again, it’s really not about the comic any more. The sexism was very tiny, and the response was equally tiny, and then it got all blown to hell because some guys couldn’t handle that there was any response to that tiny sexism at all.

  294. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Been off having T-day dinner with the Redhead. Some of the same arguments going on as when I last posted.

    Looking at the cartoons, I can see how it can interpreted as being a tad sexist. Small things that could have lessened the effect, even just different colored text balloons, would have helped here.

    There is still the problem of folks telling those who do see sexism in the cartoon, that they are being zealots, over sensitive, out of perspective, and it is these deniers that are the ones really continuing the argument and keeping it going. Your opinions, once voiced, need not be repeated umpteen times to get everybody to agree with you. There is a difference between having your say, and attempting to impose your will upon others. Five posts might be considered where the line is crossed from having your say to attempting to impose your will. How many of you trying to ignore the sexism went over that line?

    It is also a bit sexist to try to poo-poo the concerns of folks, especially the women, who do see sexism. The only way to end sexism is to be sensitive, aware, and vocal when it happens. Otherwise, male privilege remains in effect, which is what some of those doing the poo-pooing really want. That is something you need to keep in mind too. Being too vocal about perceived oversensitivity is really helping the MRA brigade, in exactly the way Dr. M. L. King thought of those “sympathizers” in his letter from Birmingham, where he expounded that the real problem with civil rights in the south wasn’t from the real bigots, but from those who said “I support you, but not now, as the time isn’t right”, and other delaying tactics that weren’t really confronting the problem of discrimination. Take a look in the mirror and see if you are really doing the same thing.

  295. Ganner says

    Pteryx, I guess I’ll just have to disagree with you that the color of the speech balloons pushes it from ok to not ok territory.

  296. says

    Carlie:

    The sexism was very tiny, and the response was equally tiny, and then it got all blown to hell because some guys couldn’t handle that there was any response to that tiny sexism at all.

    This^. As exasperating as PZ might be over the tiny response to the tiny sexism, I’m just as exasperated by the overblown response of the menz circuit.

  297. Pteryxx says

    Ganner, that’s fine to disagree with me. I appreciate it. My main point was that it’s possible to have fuzzy boundaries between okay and not-okay, and to have critiques that aren’t absolutes.

    *ahem* MLP link part 2

  298. says

    It would seem that sexism is a fractal problem, the deeper you go, the more you see. I must concede (to my embarrassment) that my own eyes are not sufficiently in focus to see the fine grained nature of it without squinting. It is easy for me to see the Elephant in the Fridge and the 800-Pound Gorrilla in the Living Room. But the CL-20 Weilding Tardigrades? There I need some help.

    We must not go and ringfence this problem. As ahs ॐ points out, we should not be restricted in our scope when examining or discussing the issue of sexism. Sexism is pernicious and we must not fall into the illogic of the “Dear Muslima” trap.

    Once we have become more sensitised, we can point it out. When we point it out we raise the awareness of others. It is that simple. Just say “did you notice what happened there” and move on. I don’t think feminists and their allies do more than that in the first instance.

    But for some reason this pointing out gets under certain peoples’ skins and festers there. They are really put out by it. Which seems to prove my point: We must point it out wherever we see it, we must raise awareness. Especially in the skeptical community. If we follow the obtuse middle ground we might as well call it a day.

    To paraphrase Sally Strange : “it is puzzles all the way down”. It is in the nature of a scientific mindset to want to solve ALL of those puzzles. Let us not back away from the issue of sexism at all scale levels.

    So, Dear Ebil Oberlawd, on this matter I need to disagree with you (also on the issue of Teh Supremacy of Cats, Making Tea, Teh Awesomeness of Physicists & Engineers, etc etc etc).

  299. Carlie says

    Thanks, procyon.

    I find that the little stuff is a lot harder to talk about than the big stuff. The big stuff is easy. It’s clear-cut. The small stuff? That’s the kind of thing you can get gaslighted about. Hell, that you can gaslight yourself about. That’s the stuff that you think well, I ought not to be bothered by that, but somewhere in the back of your mind it prickles anyway. It’s such a small thing, and it’s likely to start such a large battle, and it’s really not worth it because it’s not a big deal, right? And yet if you don’t say anything, it keeps happening again and again and again. And really, it’s such a small thing that perhaps saying something would be ok, because the change to avoid it would be so minor too? Like if someone always leans in a little too close when they’re talking to you, and it really isn’t a big deal that they do it, but it really wouldn’t be a big deal for them to stop doing it either. So maybe you could say something, but then the shitstorm might start and it will be all your fault for bringing it up in the first place. So most of the time you don’t say anything. And occasionally you do, and occasionally it works, but more often things go bad and it’s all your fault. And all over that tiny little thing.

  300. Gentry says

    Gentry,
    I, as a male, cannot speak for any woman. I can try to amplify what she says and repeat it until a bonehead, such as you, hears and maybe even understands it. I can speak for myself as a male who has lots of women friends and would like to see a society in which men and women interact more freely and with more equality, security and trust.

    See, it’s things like this that make me have to respond after I said I wouldn’t.

    (a) I never said men could speak for women.
    (b) The bonehead comment was uncalled for, especially since you didn’t read my posts.
    (c) Please re-read posts. I’m saying simply that one gender can’t speak for the inequality another gender sees. Therefore, a man can’t speak for a woman’s inequality, as a woman cannot speak for a man’s inequality.

  301. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    @Caine, Fleur du Mal of 285

    …hmmm, that’s interesting. Just that name orgininally and the subsequent replies of this person got my trolldar going. Thanks for explaining that though.

    As for my handle, incase your wondering…well, it’s based on my avatar (which for some reason I cant find how to display it on FTB) which has pink hair. And been that way for 6 years before this contoversy. I just happen to find the Nickname display mechanic for that this evening…which is completely unrelated to the discussion. :)

  302. happiestsadist says

    @Christopher Kwolek: I’m not a man either, shitforbrains.

    And Gentry: I’m read as a woman by most people, I lived as one for 20some years, and get to suffer from many misogynist assumptions based around those. Seeing as I am not a man, I get the same shit from the same worthless dudes. Like you.

  303. MyShirtIsBrown says

    Re: this

    PZ Myers wrote: “…I truly, deeply despise the idea that religion must be a walled garden that may not receive the same criticism as any other wacky idea…”

    The mark of true losers is the complete inability to handle any criticism in an adult manner. Your walled garden is very, very churchy. Just when you think you can’t make yourselves look any more like some 3rd world tinpot junta too… You are so special, criticising you is enough reason to bring back the electric chair isn’t it? Sensitive little creatures.

  304. Gentry says

    @Caine,

    Fair enough – you fight for what you believe in, and I’ll fight for what I believe in.

    As a side note, I’m not belittling your methods of getting your message across. I only said I thought there were better avenues and ways to do that. If that wasn’t to your liking, I apologize for offending you unintentionally, but my opinion is unchanged.

    Also, I’d expect a tad more civility when discussing a topic like this. If I were someone that didn’t agree with the sexism in the joke because of my ignorance, people calling me “bonehead”, “cupcake”, “fuckface” etc etc wouldn’t be the best way to convince me. It’s at the very least impolite, and at the worst condescending and inappropriate. Again, just my two cents.

    Again, I’m heading off to do what I think is the best way to create a fair and equal world. If you think my brand of activism fall under Dear Muslima, that’s your business. I don’t see it that way, but to each their own. Good day.

  305. says

    MyShirtIsBrown:

    Re: this

    Disemvoweling is not a common occurrence here. According to the dungeon write up, the person in the post you reference was someone from the slimepit.

    In case you didn’t notice, there’s a whole thread of people disagreeing with PZ and criticizing his stance. That’s hardly an effective walled garden.

  306. Gentry says

    And Gentry: I’m read as a woman by most people, I lived as one for 20some years, and get to suffer from many misogynist assumptions based around those. Seeing as I am not a man, I get the same shit from the same worthless dudes. Like you.

    So instead of amending your statement to mean unless you have lived as a woman or been a woman then you can’t speak for them, you have instead continued with an ad hominem. Well played!

  307. says

    PZ

    This is entirely true. The question is whether the cartoon is trying to promote it.

    That is not the question that is relevant to many of us, because we have to live with the outcomes no matter what the artist’s intentions were.

    Equality does not mean that the smart bunny in the dialog will always be the one in the dress.

    But all the other indicators show we haven’t reached equality yet, so it’s silly to pretend that here we’re witnessing a brand new state of equality—achieved 24 November 2011, apparently—like this is the Allegory of the Cave, grudge-holding feminists just can’t see the new dawn for what it really is.

    Rather, it is more likely that equality is delayed ever so slightly every time the dumb bunny is the one in the dress.

    It means you can’t focus on a particular instance and declare it an example of the general phenomenon.

    So, sexism can only be studied either in aggregate or by rooting out the wicked intentions of an individual? We can never be rationally justified in thinking that an individual might be well-intentioned but contributing to a pattern?

    That’s incorrect. Again, for social representations of femininity in general, we already have an enormous sample size. We can in fact measure in which direction the mean shifts when we add this new sample.

    +++++
    Does it mean we shouldm’t be able to say—

    “Please tell me that in the above, it isn’t the little girl rabbit who is brainlessly insisting on believing the box whereas the intelligent little boy rabbit bravely insist on working out the solution for himself. Because that would truly suck.”

    —without being blamed for embarrassing you, PZ? That’s where you identify the problem beginning, in comment #2 from the last thread.

    So maybe you could do your readers the favor of quoting that quote and explaining just what you find so objectionable about it.

  308. happiestsadist says

    So you’re actually telling me how to describe my previous experience as a woman?

    I see.

    That stands rather tellingly on its own.

  309. says

    @355: This is getting to be more hilarious than infuriating. The best you can do is fling insults and say “you’re wrong” without actually offering a correction? If you’re so insistent on being this nebulous figure that’s not anything, then fine, be nothing and have no impact.

  310. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The mark of true losers is the complete inability to handle any criticism in an adult manner.

    And the mark of an MRA bore is ignore what is said, and complain about how it is said. Real adults concentrate on the real message, not the delivery. Right immature loser?

  311. Pteryxx says

    If you’re so insistent on being this nebulous figure that’s not anything, then fine, be nothing and have no impact.

    O_o

    Oooo, this should be interesting. *fetches popcorn*

  312. happiestsadist says

    I’m sorry, was that a request for junk pics? I think I’ve been amply clear.

    I love that my actual, for-realz lived gender is apparently a game or joke to you. How about you go cram yourself throughly with porcupines, you transphobic piece of waste?

  313. happiestsadist says

    Apparently, to our mansplaining idjit friend here, if you ain’t cis and binary, you ain’t shit and are actually nothing. I have been told, y’all.

    Wait. No. Actually, he just waved his ass around a bit.

  314. says

    @365: You’re making an awful lot of assumptions, though I guess that should be no surprise. And you haven’t been clear, though that may be due more to the nature of this medium for conversation; the sum of what you’ve said so far is fragmented across a multitude of posts, directed towards several different people in separate conversations. I would think, then, that a modicum of patience would be appropriate, rather than jumping to assumptions of what people do and do not know going into a post, and what they do and do not mean when writing a post.

  315. says

    @366: You know, after posting that I thought I’d need to explain it a bit further, and what do you know, I was right.

    I wasn’t saying “if you ain’t cis and binary, you ain’t shit and are actually nothing”. I was complaining that you’ve only given negative details about where you’re coming from, which makes it awfully hard to know what you’re trying to say about where you’re coming from.

  316. happiestsadist says

    Shorter Kwolek: Because I couldn’t be arsed to actually read the comments here, I demand an inquisition of your drawers!

    I said I wan’t a man, and I’ve said I’m not a woman either. That should be fucking answer enough for you. So, what are you demanding here: labels that will likely clear up nothing for those as uninformed as you? chromosomes? diagnoses? surgical records? junk pics? Is it junk pics?

  317. happiestsadist says

    Caine @#369: I know, but I’m tired, yet insomniac and kinda tetchy.

    And I would worry about anything grown from that compost.

  318. Bruce Crutchley says

    If you want a good example of sexism, my sister provided one a while back. She and here fiancé were looking for a a student to help work on the farm on the holiday. She complained on Facebook that every time a student would call about the job the first thing they would do would be to ask for her fiancé (who I might add had only live on the farm for a period of months). I don’t think she took it that seriously, but if I had been in a position like that it would sure piss me off (and do no good to their job prospects).

  319. says

    @371: See, if it were only a matter of “who is happiestsadist”, then that would certainly be enough for me. It’s not for me to ask for more than that. But for the topic at hand, you’ve used identity as a cudgel to tell people their opinions are irrelevant and they should be ashamed for showing those opinions in public. You made identity important, not me. So don’t try to tell me I’m wrong for trying to get a better idea of just what you’re doing when you swing identity around to try and shut people up.

  320. shawnthesheep says

    And fuck you too, Dianne. I realize that, to you, because I have dared to challenge a female opinion on sexism that I must be a sexist asshole. But guess what? Your attitude is part of the problem. Placing your own opinion above mine strictly based on your gender is no better than me doing that to you.

    As a gay man, I understand how insulting it can be when someone who has not experienced the prejudice you have tells you what should and should not be offended by, but I also recognize that, looking back, sometimes those people were right. Sometimes, I was so angry that I lashed out at every perceived slight no matter how small or imaginary. I was so filled with righteous anger that I attacked friends for their subconsciously homophobic/heteronormative behavior even as they supported me, loved me and fought for my rights. Sometimes it took others who were a level removed from my anger and frustration to tell me that I was tilting at windmills.

    I have the greatest love and respect for women. I was raised by a family of strong, smart, dignified women. I fight for their rights as an oppressed group just as I fight for my own as a gay man. I see our struggles as sharing a great many commonalities. I have ended lifelong friendships with men because of misogynistic behavior. I have left jobs because of the sexist attitudes of my co-workers. Hell, I reported my own grandmother for housing discrimination after she refused to rent the apartments she owned to women because they were “too much trouble.”

    But feel free to dismiss my dedication to gender equality with an insulting cliche like, “some of my best friends are black.” A man can both passionately advocate for gender equality and disagree with women from time to time. It is allowed. It does not make him a misogynist or a traitor.

  321. crissakentavr says

    There’s a simple answer to this: The fact that this isn’t a sample of one. We have an entire context imported to mass media with the main character is a boy, compared to a very small segment of it containing main characters being girls. Then of those samples, most often the main character is ‘reasonable’ and not-main characters are ‘unreasonable’.

    By that standards, this is an example of sexism in the world.

    Is this particular item intentionally sexist? I don’t know and I doubt it.

    But that doesn’t stop it from being a symptom.

  322. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Also, I’d expect a tad more civility when discussing a topic like this.

    Gentry, you being more civil is you actually shutting the fuck up and listening to those who disagree with you. You are preaching your gospel, not listening. Think about that. If you were listening, you wouldn’t be poo-pooing peoples feelings which is uncivil of you.

    It’s at the very least impolite, and at the worst condescending and inappropriate. Again, just my two cents.

    And my two-cents is that tone trolls like yourself should be trebucheted to the Bering Straits. And this is typical tone trolling. You are worried more about how things are said than what is being said and why. And if you are a full adult in your thinking, you would realize that the message is more important than the delivery, and you are condescending when you pretend otherwise.

  323. says

    happiestsadist:

    I’m tired, yet insomniac and kinda tetchy.

    I know the feeling. In between reading and posting, Imma trying to work too. We could use a Cerberus signal right about now.

  324. Zerple says

    About 70% of the feminist threads I see are stuff of equally low consequence. The other 30% are amazing. Unfortunately, most of the, inane or not, tend to devolve into shouting matches about rape, which is not relevant in most of the threads.

  325. crowepps says

    Carlie @ 350

    So maybe you could say something, but then the shitstorm might start and it will be all your fault for bringing it up in the first place. So most of the time you don’t say anything.

    This!!

    And every single time you decide not to say anything, you are reminded that when something bothers you, that doesn’t matter, which makes you feel like you don’t matter.

  326. happiestsadist says

    Practical, lived experience of decades = cudgel in a argument. Gotcha. Not like those entirely theoretical assumptions of yours! (Well, those are pretty insubstantial and dull, so they would make a poor melee weapon.)

    Also, I love the my list of mostly absurd, non-answering answers would be “enough” for you if it were just your curiosity about my being.

  327. Liesmith says

    Since the great deal of strife here doesn’t seem to be directed at the comic, itself, but instead about attitudes revealed by someone making an idle observation, I want to get a little back on track.

    The next question I ask isn’t asked to be a smartass, but because I genuinely don’t understand. If it’s already been asked and answered, I apologize…there are now over 300 comments and I just couldn’t keep up.

    If the cartoon was misogynistic for implying that the foolish character was female, then is it *ever* acceptable to create a completely fictional negative character that’s female? All of this is in the context of having an intelligent or wise male character as a contrast. I might be dense, but I do understand that two opposing female characters would effectively cancel each other out, as far as reinforcing stereotypes go.

    If there are no acceptable scenarios for a foolish completely fictional* female character, are any negative attributes acceptable when contrasted against a male character?

    Conversely, are any/all attributes which it is sexist to assign to a female character acceptable to assign to a male character?

    Again, I ask because I genuinely don’t understand, and the discussion was buried under buckets of vitriol.

    I look at that comic, and I see exactly two characters that are a parody of the overly cutesy style I associate with sickeningly saccharine Christian-moral posts on blogs. I didn’t notice any gender indications at first and, once I did, I thought it was just a continuation of the parodied style.

  328. says

    @381: It’s because I understand that grasping at labels can be futile that I would be satisfied with what you’re provided thus far–after all, there is a decent amount of detail in simply saying “not man, not woman”. And it’s not that your experience (or anyone’s) *is* a cudgel, but you’ve been using it as one.

  329. Cassius Corodes says

    Nerd: “And if you are a full adult in your thinking, you would realize that the message is more important than the delivery, and you are condescending when you pretend otherwise.”

    I don’t know where you get this idea from. In pretty much all of society delivery is just as important as the message (or rather its considered an integral part of it). It becomes more so the more your grow older. This is why people dress nice for work and social occasions, and behave politely. It is a way of showing respect to one another and not some kind of sign of immaturity or weakness. If you are unable to formulate your ideas without insult then your argument is weak or non-existent.

  330. happiestsadist says

    Liesmith! I have discovered the small bottle of good faith I was hiding from myself after the last binge, so I’ll answer you.

    The cartoon displayed an unintentional piece of sexism in an otherwise lovely cartoon about bunnies. The flamewar that was touched off was actually a result of outraged defenders of sexism piling on a small, offhand comment expressing disappointment that that was in an otherwise fine comic. So it wasn’t so much about the comic as about how people reacted to it.

    Answering what you actually said now! One of the things I do with a lot of my time offline is tell stories. And the people I tell stories about are all flawed, fucked-up people, because they make for good stories. However! I try to avoid Unfortunate Implication Cliches in my characters and stories, because that is both hurtful and really lazy in terms of storytelling. There are plenty of negative attributes that you can give to characters of any and all genders that don’t have the weight of centuries/millennia of oppression and belittlement, so why be an asshole and a hack one at that?

    Hopefully this makes sense. I can see how you would not notice the sexist implications, because, as others have said, microaggressions work that way.

  331. Ariaflame says

    I agree that the colour bubbles could have been made better. Though I’m not sure that the artist/author could have removed the clothes. A lot of children’s toys don’t have them removable easily. And cutting them off might have made the author’s preschool daughter unhappy with what parent had done to her toys.

    Sometimes working with the materials you have to hand leads to non-optimum conditions.

    I have noticed that some, but not all, people commenting on this thread have made the assumption that the author was male. Is there proof of this? Or is this another subtle assumption about genders that we tend to make?

  332. says

    Shawnthesheep:

    As a gay man, I understand how insulting it can be when someone who has not experienced the prejudice you have tells you what should and should not be offended by, but I also recognize that, looking back, sometimes those people were right.

    I think you need to have a chat with Josh, Official Spokesgay. Waving “I’m a gay man!” about like a get out of sexism and privilege free card isn’t helping. It doesn’t matter how much you love and respect the women you know. Saying you “love and respect women” is both insulting and not true. Yes, you love the ones you know and who are important to you. There are men in my life I love and respect, however, I’m not going to say “I love and respect [all] men.” I can truthfully say I don’t have a problem with men.

    You have, no doubt, experienced bigotry as a gay man. I’m not a man, so I cannot speak to male experience any more than I can speak to male privilege. I do understand much of what men face in life, I do understand much of what gay men face in life. However, I am not a gay male and it would be extremely presumptuous of me to say that “yes, I grok your life and experiences completely.” That would also be a lie.

    I’m a female. I’m bisexual. You have not lived as female, Shawn, and no matter how much you love and respect [some] women, you’ll never know what it’s like to be a woman or what it’s like to live as one day to day. This is why I wish Josh, OSG were here right now, because he groks this and freely admits it took him a while to realize all that.

    What you are doing is not empathizing with women. What you’re doing is telling them that you know exactly what it’s like to be one, and that we’re all being silly. You just keep piling on more insult with your insistence of loving and respecting all women. Please, stop. We don’t need love, what would be helpful is listening and trying to actually see things from a woman’s point of view.

    *Sets off the Spokesgay Signal™.

  333. says

    Liesmith:

    If the cartoon was misogynistic

    The toon wasn’t misogynistic. It simply repeated an old, tired trope of entrenched sexism. As these things go, it wasn’t all that bad, either. The problem lie in that a couple of people wearily pointed the trope out, expressing a wish that it was handled better and immediately, there was a rash of over-the-top reactions to that, telling the silly fembots to shut up, chill out, lighten up, pick our battles better, etc.

  334. Liesmith says

    @happiestsadist 386

    Thanks, that does make sense. I still can’t say I fully agree with the initial observation, but I do understand where Crys T was coming from a little better now.

  335. says

    Equality does not mean that the smart bunny in the dialog will always be the one in the dress.

    But all the other indicators show we haven’t reached equality yet, so it’s silly to pretend that here we’re witnessing a brand new state of equality—achieved 24 November 2011, apparently—like this is the Allegory of the Cave, grudge-holding feminists just can’t see the new dawn for what it really is.

    Rather, it is more likely that equality is delayed ever so slightly every time the dumb bunny is the one in the dress.

    No. I am not claiming that equality has been achieved, but that we won’t achieve it by self-consciously making the man the villain or dummy in every fictional dialog. You’re raising a ludicrous straw man here.

    The claim that equality is delayed if we don’t force every plot decision in a story to favor a woman is absurd. That’s suppression of diversity and denial of reality, and it’s just as sexist as painting women as uniformly ditzy.

  336. Pteryxx says

    If the cartoon was misogynistic for implying that the foolish character was female, then is it *ever* acceptable to create a completely fictional negative character that’s female? All of this is in the context of having an intelligent or wise male character as a contrast.

    (What’s with the EVER and ANY and ALL again? Much less “misogynistic”? Yeesh…)

    Of course there can be negative female characters, as long as they’re not just stereotypes. Even when contrasted with strong male characters. Off the top of my head, I suggest Dolores Umbridge contrasted with Dumbledore (from Harry Potter) and Azula contrasted with Zuko (from Avatar TLA).

    Conversely, are any/all attributes which it is sexist to assign to a female character acceptable to assign to a male character? [struck because the generalizing is annoying me]

    Not necessarily. For instance, squeamishness is generally sexist whether applied to a male or female character, because having a squeamish male character makes them “girly” and thus of less consequence. Another example: stupidity can easily be sexist in both masculine-coded and feminine-coded ways, depending on how it’s handled and what character the stupid one is paired with.

    *refreshes* Also, what happiestsadist said in #386 about Unfortunate Implication Cliches. They exist; so be aware and try not to make the same old mistakes.

    Honestly, there’s a reason I keep mentioning My Little Pony: FIM in this conversation. It’s the best and most accessible example I know of well-played female characters, where being cute or dainty or clueless are just part of someone instead of the end of them.

  337. MikeM says

    This doesn’t surprise me, after my own experiences.

    After Harold Camping’s failed “prophecy” of May 21, a bunch of Reddit pranksters bought what was clearly a spoof ad. Clearly.

    So I forwarded the link to PZ, who published some pretty harsh criticisms of some of us. In short, PZ didn’t get the joke, and led the charge against those of us who found a joke to be, well, funny.

    This one:

    http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/wghp-story-nc-man-billboard-110523,0,2180059.story

    I’ve been reluctant to come back here ever since.

  338. Gentry says

    Gentry, you being more civil is you actually shutting the fuck up and listening to those who disagree with you. You are preaching your gospel, not listening. Think about that. If you were listening, you wouldn’t be poo-pooing peoples feelings which is uncivil of you.

    And my two-cents is that tone trolls like yourself should be trebucheted to the Bering Straits. And this is typical tone trolling. You are worried more about how things are said than what is being said and why. And if you are a full adult in your thinking, you would realize that the message is more important than the delivery, and you are condescending when you pretend otherwise.

    (a) I’ve listened to them and value their opinion. Since you can’t be civil how about you shut the fuck up and listen and value my dissenting opinion?

    (b) I don’t preach a gospel, asshole. I voiced my opinion. You calling it gospel and telling me I’m not listening instead of trying to convince me my opinion is wrong isn’t gonna change my fucking mind.

    (c) I’m concerned about getting a point across in a civil manner. Apparently you don’t get that, so I have to cuss and berate you and call you name, like fuckface, fuckface. Apparently the only way I can be “real” and have an opinion that isn’t tone trolling is to cuss and be condescending. Does this speak more to your level, you insufferable fuck?

    I hope so, and I hope you recognize that you’re a fucking idiot.

  339. Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says

    @385

    No, it’s a way of pretending to show respect. Fake respect is for assholes.

  340. Cassius Corodes says

    Sir Shplane: If you only pretend to respect people around you then the problem is yours not anyone else’s.

  341. Pteryxx says

    I have noticed that some, but not all, people commenting on this thread have made the assumption that the author was male. Is there proof of this? Or is this another subtle assumption about genders that we tend to make?

    Personally, I glanced at the reddit thread and saw nothing identifying the artist’s gender, so I’m inclined to think people are assuming, yes. Obvious sexism’s more likely to come from men; but this instance is SO subtle I don’t think it tells us anything about the artist’s gender. That just leaves the default-male assumption.

  342. raygarton says

    “The ship is sinking! Everyone to the lifeboats! Women and children first!”

    “That’s sexist.”

    “What?”

    “That’s sexist! You’re suggesting that women are weak and need coddling, that they should receive some special — ”

    “THE SHIP IS SINKING FAST!”

    “But you’re just perpetuating sexist stereotypes that have held women back for centuries.”

    “Okay, okay, FORGET the women and children first part and everybody just GET INTO THE LIFEBOATS!”

    “And by FORGETTING it, we’re simply allowing it to continue. It needs to be pointed out and STOPPED!”

    “This is neither the time nor the place for this discussion because the ship is — ”

    “Then when IS it the time and place for this discussion? By ignoring the existence of these sexist stereotypes, we allow them to continue and women go on being — ”

    “THE SHIP IS SINKING!”

    “Maybe so, but this is important. We can’t just go on repeating these sexist tropes that continue to hold women down and allow them to be oppressed!”

    “GET IN THE LIFEBOAT!”

    “And allow you to go on oppressing women? I’m not going to stand here and let you — ”

    Glug-glug-glug-glug …

    ====

    There’s a time and place for everything.

  343. Pteryxx says

    No. I am not claiming that equality has been achieved, but that we won’t achieve it by self-consciously making the man the villain or dummy in every fictional dialog. You’re raising a ludicrous straw man here.

    … ARGH *facetalon*

  344. says

    PZ at #298:

    Equality does not mean that the smart bunny in the dialog will always be the one in the dress.

    But why put the bunnies in clothes to begin with? Why make the bunny in a dress also have a pink speech bubble unless you’re indicating that this bunny is female while the other is male?

    The comic would have made the same point if the bunnies weren’t given those clothes or those specific colors. The fact that the person who made it went out of his/her way to indicate that the logical one was male and the illogical one was female shows some sexism (it may not have been conscious (as these things often aren’t).

    Anyway, I’m not the first person to point these things out nor to point out the obvious solution. I’m a little disappointed that you’re not replying to these points (which were made many, many times in this thread and the other).

  345. says

    I’ll argh you right back. I was referring to ahs’s comment:

    Rather, it is more likely that equality is delayed ever so slightly every time the dumb bunny is the one in the dress.

    I’m glad you agree that that is absurd hyperbole.

  346. says

    I’m posting kinda drunk, so bare with:

    I just glanced over this thread. For what it’s worth, I think the whole thing would be a non-issue if people weren’t so reactionary of criticism. The problem here is that people see these type of criticism as “knee-jerk accusation of sexism” rather than accepting the criticism as valid, and moving on. Generally, people who point out elements of sexism aren’t going “OMGZ YOU’RE SEXISTS” but rather “Oh, there are some unfortunate implications about sex and gender. Perhaps we can view it more critically next time.”

    At least, that is what I thought the problem is about. And I hope that make sense. I’m kinda drunk, so if I say something wrong, please don’t hold it against me.

  347. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    Only in a mansplainin’s wetdream would ever raygarton’s scenario would ever hold weight. /shug

  348. Cesar Hechler says

    It is an odd argument to get into. The bunnies are from the Calico Corner Critters series, and my little girl loves them. The fact that if you get a box with the kids in it, you get 2 figures, one of each gender. You have a 50/50 chance of choosing one gender for one side of the cartoon and the other going to the other side of the argument they got into. If someone is defaulting to self-ruffling of feathers because they thought misogyny was going on, there’s a 50/50 chance they are just looking for a fight when there isn’t a reason for one. If the world is now wired in such a way that the guy always has to be on the side of wrong and silly, Fox is already running with that ball on The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, Cleveland Show, and whichever failed fillers came and went the last few seasons.

  349. says

    Sure. You could strip out all the anthropomorphisms. You could just use stick figures. You could just use genderless text. So?

    Part of the art of the comic was to put it in childlike terms: little talking animals, animals dressed in kid’s clothing, a child’s puzzle. It’s rather glib to suggest that all you have to do is rip all of visually interesting elements in the comic to make it palatable…because then there wouldn’t be anything attractive about it in the first place.

    I disagree that the artist went out of their way to assign stereotyped gender roles. It’s not making a point about sex! For all any of us know, the artist flipped a coin to determine which of their two bunny dolls would take which role.

  350. happiestsadist says

    Hey, drunk Gyeong Hwa, I agree, at least those commenters who are arguing in any kind of good faith. As Jay Smooth has put it, it’s people turning a What You Said/Did into a What You Are conversation, and those seldom go anywhere productive.

    I suppose what I’m saying is that you’re talking more sense drunk than a lot of folks here are (presumably) sober.

  351. Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says

    @Cassius Corodes #397

    I am fairly certain that only respecting people who earn respect is a sign of psychological health and/or not being an idiot. The idea that everyone should be respected all the time forever is an incredibly shitty one.

    Also, god damn this thread holy shit.

    I guess the bunnies could be construed as a smidge sexist? Like, I can sort of see that, and don’t really see why the two characters had to be so far to either end of the gender stereotype scaleamabob. In fact, I’m reasonably certain that they didn’t have to be at all. Having a Male/Rational bunny and a Female/Irrational bunny on its own seems like it would be fine, but did they need the dress/pants and blue/pink dichotomies? Was it necessary to rub everyone’s faces in the facts that “THIS SMART BUNNY IS A BOY” and “THIS DUMB BUNNY IS A GIRL”? It’s only really that the two bunnies both invoked so many gender stereotypes that hits flags for me, personally.

    Now, it’s not to say that I don’t find this whole situation a tad inane, but I don’t see anything wrong with the actions of the feminariat here. Some peeps posted some comments to the effect of “Hey that’s a little sexist” and some other chucklefucks decided to start a four billion post argument with it. Could the 4th Airborne Estrogen Brigade* have backed off? Sure, probably. Does it make any goddamn sense for anyone else to try to force them to? Fuck no. These are blog comments. This is the internet. Pointless discussions about animals are what we do here. In fact, I kind of thought that semi-pointless discussions about sexist animals was the whole point of Pharyngula? It’s at least a significant subtheme.

    *Sometimes I make up mildly offensive names for things because I like making up mildly offensive names. This is not for offending anyone and is not always actually indicative of my actual views. I honestly mostly agree with the segment of the Pharyngula population I am referencing here. I just have a weird sense of humor.

  352. MoonShark says

    Maybe not the first to say it, but goddammit I’m angry that people refer to rabbits as “bunnies” and anthropomorphize them as bipeds with human clothes. Grow up already. Sheesh!

    (this post brought you you by my tongue from within my cheek)

  353. says

    Caine:

    You thought right.

    That means I’m either good at reading comprehensions when I’m drunk, or that I’m not drunk enough. :D MOAR RED WINE!

  354. happiestsadist says

    PZ, there’s a link to the artist upthread, saying they picked the girl bunny to be dumb because women are more religious.

    So no.

  355. Pteryxx says

    Heya PZ.

    I’ll argh you right back. I was referring to ahs’s comment:

    Rather, it is more likely that equality is delayed ever so slightly every time the dumb bunny is the one in the dress.

    I’m glad you agree that that is absurd hyperbole.

    Well, stereotype threat effects can be seen with one single reminder, even one as small as students checking a box for male or female before a math test, instead of after. So I’m not sure it’s hyperbole at all, at least to the stereotype’s targets.

    But it’s definitely been hyperbole to claim that any critique is absolutist critique, as in the four, now five w/ Liesmith, instances I’ve quoted in this thread before your post.

  356. says

    If someone is defaulting to self-ruffling of feathers because they thought misogyny was going on, there’s a 50/50 chance they are just looking for a fight when there isn’t a reason for one.

    First off, it would be sexism, not misogyny, that we’re talking about here. Secondly, those clothes could easily have been removed. The fact that they weren’t, and the fact that the artist chose the female bunny as the irrational one, indicates that this may have influenced by conscious or unconscious sexism.
    I also find it really annoying that you say that we’re “defaulting to self-ruffling feathers”. I really wish I never had to think that a cute comic like this might be sexist. It’s not like I enjoy thinking about these stereotypes. And I’m sure that’s true for most people who pointed these things out.

  357. Gen, or The RadFem of Dhoom says

    @PZ, 416

    I disagree that the artist went out of their way to assign stereotyped gender roles. It’s not making a point about sex! For all any of us know, the artist flipped a coin to determine which of their two bunny dolls would take which role.

    No. Sorry, but you’re wrong. From the artist, found on Reddit:

    I deliberated on it for a while then I let the Internets decide. I did a few searches to confirm my suspicions: women are more likely to believe in god… so girl bunny lost this round.

    (Soource

    Someone just pointed out (paraphrased) “hey, that was maybe an unfortunate reinforcement of the ‘women are irrational’ stereotype. Still, the bunnies were funny”. And then the doodz came in to say “Fuck you, killjoy” (that was comment 11, if I remember correctly) and slinging around words like “fembot” and “hypersensitive”. Which is par for the course and what got addressed and challenged.

    So no. Sorry, but no. You are wrong.

  358. Gen, or The RadFem of Dhoom says

    All hail Tpyos! My offering to you is in 418. Enjoy your extra o and have a ).

  359. Cassius Corodes says

    Sir Shplane: Respect is not binary. You can give someone some respect without making them your personal deity. You can and should afford a basic level respect of respect to everyone you meet, and then increase/decrease it as needed.

    You make it sound like you turn up your nose at everyone who hasn’t done something to impress you.

  360. Pteryxx says

    If the world is now wired in such a way that the guy always has to be on the side of wrong and silly,

    …I CAN’T STOP SEEING IT EVERYWHERE GYAAAAAH

  361. says

    PZ at #410:

    It’s rather glib to suggest that all you have to do is rip all of visually interesting elements in the comic to make it palatable…because then there wouldn’t be anything attractive about it in the first place.

    That’s just not true. If the bunnies didn’t have clothes and the speech bubbles were different colors it would still be cute and visually interesting. This has to be the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever seen you use. I’d expect this from a troll, not you.

  362. happiestsadist says

    StarStuff: Nude adorable toy bunnies, green/yellow/purple/peach speech bubbles, and we’d have all agreed on a cute comic being pretty excellent.

    Sexism is why we can’t have nice things.

  363. Cesar Hechler says

    It’s Yanksgiving (because it’s only in the US today). You’re supposed to be yelling at relatives, not SIWOTI’s on the intertube thingies.

  364. Gen, or The RadFem of Dhoom says

    In fact, here’s Carlie @ comment 6 (comment 6!) in Ye Olde Threade:

    *before anyone says it, yes, of course it’s possible to completely coincidentally have chosen the girl as the zealot and the boy as a skeptic. It just so happens that that follows right in direct line with every other trope about men being the intelligent rational ones and women being irrational and overly religious, that’s all.

    That was really all it was until the shouting about being killjoy hypersensitive paranoid fembots for pointing that unfortunateness out started and was subsequently addressed.

  365. Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says

    @Cassius Corodes #420 (Hurr hurr pot hurr hurr god I am so tired)

    Of course things like “Respect” and “Disrespect” are a continuum. However, it is somewhat nonsensical to call the baseline point where you are neither respecting nor disrespecting anyone “a basic level respect of respect” is nonsensical, and not just because of the typo. The neutral baseline by which you treat someone cannot really be defined as “respect” unless we want “giving respect” to not actually mean any fucking thing.

    Then there’s just how moronic our society’s ideas of respect/disrespect are. “You didn’t wear a type of clothing that has been arbitrarily defined as formal! YOU DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THIS JOB!!!” “You used a word that people have arbitrarily decided is bad! YOU DON’T RESPECT PEOPLE YOU TALK TO!!!” “You didn’t perform some meaningless, perfunctory token gesture that has no real effect on anything and is ultimately just a waste of everyone’s time! I HATE YOU!!!”

    Personally, I am actually far, far more foul-mouthed and frank with people I respect, because I expect them to not be morons.

  366. says

    PZ:

    It’s rather glib to suggest that all you have to do is rip all of visually interesting elements in the comic to make it palatable…because then there wouldn’t be anything attractive about it in the first place.

    Oh c’mon. Who said anything about ripping out all the visually interesting elements? What would have been so deadly dull about having green and yellow text bubbles? Just that much of a change would have helped tremendously.

    I disagree that the artist went out of their way to assign stereotyped gender roles. It’s not making a point about sex! For all any of us know, the artist flipped a coin to determine which of their two bunny dolls would take which role.

    The artist said they let the internet decide, in that a little searching revealed that women are more religious.

  367. Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says

    Readers: Feel free to cut out either “is nonsensical” constructions from the second sentence of my previous post. Either one would do, really.

  368. says

    But it’s definitely been hyperbole to claim that any critique is absolutist critique, as in the four, now five w/ Liesmith, instances I’ve quoted in this thread before your post.

    That’s what’s irritating. What I was saying was the opposite of absolutism: I’m arguing that you can’t expect uniformity of role assignment, that you CANNOT demand that in every story women have one role and men have another, and that was in reply to ahs’s comment that every deviation from female superiority harms the cause of feminism.

    And I’m the one who gets accused of making an absolutist critique? That’s entirely backwards.

    I deliberated on it for a while then I let the Internets decide. I did a few searches to confirm my suspicions: women are more likely to believe in god… so girl bunny lost this round.

    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 was the guy thinking? He let the internets decide? Stupid. And then he puts another datum on the internets to further bias the case.

  369. raygarton says

    Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome — The scenario is, of course, ridiculous. Like this discussion. Which was the point.

  370. says

    PZ:

    Part of the art of the comic was to put it in childlike terms: little talking animals, animals dressed in kid’s clothing, a child’s puzzle.

    Given that girls still hear about not being naturally good at math along with a whole lot more crap, this point doesn’t help from my perspective. Childlike is great, I get the delight of that, but it hardly invalidates the negative implications of the worn out trope that girls=no critical thinking skills.

  371. Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says

    I deliberated on it for a while then I let the Internets decide. I did a few searches to confirm my suspicions: women are more likely to believe in god… so girl bunny lost this round.

    Oh hey, look at this thing I missed.

    In light of this, I have to say: Fuck that guy, and fuck his bunnies.

  372. GodotIsWaiting4U says

    I could express an opinion here. I could, but I won’t, because I’m not sure what the opinion would be but it would probably be wrong.

    I will observe, and hopefully learn something. That is all. I am essentially posting to say I will not post anything.

  373. says

    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 was the guy thinking? He let the internets decide? Stupid. And then he puts another datum on the internets to further bias the case.

    So, if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and sounds like a duck, it just might be a duck.

  374. PyreSpirit says

    There is more sexism present in claiming that the pink one wearing the dress is female and the blue one wearing the pants is male, than there is in the cartoon itself.

    Dress+Pink=Girl is way more sexist than having a female character taking the role of the twit is.

    Of all the women I know, a very small minority of them like pink and wear dresses.

  375. Agent Smith says

    Trouble is, the sexism was observed in the wrong place. Sexist tropes are supposed to be found chez religious-right rants and the mumbling of musclebound jocks who never got the memo that women are humans, not props or appliances. Then, when someone points out the sexism, everyone can breathe deeply and murmur in agreement while enjoying a bracing schadenfreude jolt.

    But this time, His PZNess and many others were sitting back to bask in the reverie of a cute cartoon and its gently subversive message. Instead – oh noes! – someone pointed out that it was just a wee bit sexist. That struck a discordant tone. To all you pink and blue people, I say that the brown note is real. It’s called mentioning a sexist aspect in something we were supposed to be enchanted by.

    That’s too bad. Privilege stoners like me need to be told when something’s a bit off, otherwise how will we ever learn? Sexism can, indeed, show up in things we have an affinity with, not just nasty stuff we would’ve rejected anyway. I think it’s important for those of us on the listening end to learn how to take an observation on board, to say “Yeah, you’ve got a point” rather than treat it like a Gremlin that needs a good dousing.

  376. Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable says

    @PyreSpirit #436

    Except that Pink+Dress is a very, very widely accepted cultural marker for “Has a vagina”. The fact that the marker exists may be a symptom of sexism, but that doesn’t make people who pick up on it sexist.

  377. eigenperson says

    #438 Agent Smith:

    Yeah, I have to agree. I am glad that this was pointed out, ESPECIALLY now that it turns out the “unfortunate implications” were not in fact unfortunate, but rather deliberate.

  378. RahXephon231 says

    I can’t be the only one seeing shades of Elevatorgate in this. It’s not the same subject but it has similar components. In both cases, something sexist occurs that a feminist calls out with the mildest of criticism, as in “hey, isn’t this kinda sexist?”.

    Instead of receiving rational responses, the criticism itself is denied (“There is no sexism, move along!”) and the critic concern-trolled (“You need to pick your battles! Don’t you have better things to do?”) or just normal trolled (“You’re oversensitive! You’re looking for reasons to get mad!”). Then the trolls look back at their own mess and claim it as evidence that the entire incident was an overreaction, glossing over the fact that the original criticism was, and remains, “hey, isn’t this kinda sexist?”

  379. Pteryxx says

    PZ:

    That’s what’s irritating. What I was saying was the opposite of absolutism: I’m arguing that you can’t expect uniformity of role assignment, that you CANNOT demand that in every story women have one role and men have another, and that was in reply to ahs’s comment that every deviation from female superiority harms the cause of feminism.

    And I’m the one who gets accused of making an absolutist critique? That’s entirely backwards.

    Nope; what I said was, that slight critique gets taken as absolutist. The flaw isn’t in what you claimed, but what you inferred in order to make your claim. Specifically, compare:

    and that was in reply to ahs’s comment that every deviation from female superiority harms the cause of feminism.

    to what ahs actually said:

    Rather, it is more likely that equality is delayed ever so slightly every time the dumb bunny is the one in the dress.

    Nothing in there about female superiority or deviations thereof; just noting the pairing of “dumb” with “in a dress”. Again, because there are proven negative consequences of stereotype threat that can be evoked by a reminder as small as checking a box, I don’t think ahs made a hyperbolic statement. But you reacted as if it was one.

    I don’t understand this reaction, but it’s happened so often in this thread, by so many different individuals, that I don’t think it’s just coincidence anymore.

  380. RahXephon231 says

    One other thing I wanted to address was that I hate the phrase “pick your battles”, because that’s not what the person who says it actually means. They don’t mean that one should establish what battles they do and do not want to fight based on their own experiences, but that which battles are valid or not rely on the approval of the person saying “pick your battles”.

    There’s also something in there that, if this were TVTropes, I would be tempted to call “Feminists Can’t Multitask”: the idea that a feminist cannot, for example, combat gender discrimination in the workplace and also call out subtle forms of sexism. The thing is, yes we can. Not only can we do both, but I think feminists do a damn good job of ascribing appropriate degrees of interest in both things. That’s why gender discrimination gets legislation and Subtly Sexist Bunnies get a “hey, isn’t this kinda sexist?” offhand remark.

  381. Phoenician in a time of Romans says

    I deliberated on it for a while then I let the Internets decide. I did a few searches to confirm my suspicions: women are more likely to believe in god… so girl bunny lost this round.

    BTW, if you’re interested in the actual odds, check out the Pew Report 2008 – page 62-64

    http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-chapter-3.pdf

    The chances of a Protestant/Catholic American being female are almost the same as those of a voter in 2008 voting Obama.

  382. pelamun says

    I’m glad PZ came around.

    However, I think context matters more than the artist’s intent, a work can be sexist without the artist having such intentions.

    I like the Harry Potter example brought up by someone upthread; if you have a large work with many characters, this is different from one cartoon with only two characters. And at the time of the posting, it wasn’t known if there was a larger context for the piece in question. Taken as one piece of art, the selection of the roles for the characters was sexist, irrespective of the artist’s intent. Any piece of art gets contextualised within (or with?) our societal norms, which do have this sexist stereotype.

  383. Steamshovelmama says

    445 comments so I’m sure someone has said this but it bears repeating. It’s NOT drawing a pattern from a sample of one, it is recognising that this is yet another trivial representation of gender roles that is one small insignificant strand amongst many other small, insignificant strands that make up the huge hawser of the Patriarchy.

  384. pedrotimoteo says

    To anyone who thinks this comic is sexist: are you saying that we can’t EVER have a cartoon where the man is right and the woman is wrong?

  385. pelamun says

    To anyone who thinks this comic is sexist: are you saying that we can’t EVER have a cartoon where the man is right and the woman is wrong?

    Context matters.

  386. Pteryxx says

    To anyone who thinks this comic is sexist: are you saying that we can’t EVER have a cartoon where the man is right and the woman is wrong?

    …AISJHAFGHHARGHAA *explodes*

    *feathers drift down*

  387. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    shawnthesheep:

    I have been summoned by the SpokesGay Signal (which I’d never seen before and which tickles me more than I can say). Having been roused from my post-prandial stupor, I crankily pronounce:

    1. I know you think of yourself as a progressive guy who fights against sexism and homophobia. And you are. No one is questioning that.

    2. But that doesn’t make you perfect. It doesn’t mean you don’t have blind spots.

    3. You do. Read that again. You do have blind spots. That’s not a character flaw, it’s not an accusation; it’s something we all have.

    4. Stop typing right now and get over your fit of indignation before you respond. Go yell at your houseplants or something. And yes, I know you’re getting all indignant and defensive because I do the same thing. Stop it. Once again, no one is questioning your sincerity of character.

    5. We all have differences of opinion. But that doesn’t mean that you aren’t, quite unintentionally, supporting sexist arguments when you poo-poo concerns brought up by other people, or say that you find them ridiculous.

    6. You most certainly do not have a get out of jail free card on misogyny issues just because you proclaim how much you adore women. Or just because you’re a gay man who (and we all do) experience many of the effects of misogyny when homophobia is directed at us.

    I’ve been there, done that, thought that, and said that. I’m just like you that way, shawn. But I was also wrong on some counts, and very blind for a while. It’s OK to admit that possibility, and we need good, well-meaning people like you and me to put down the defense screen when it’s called for and re-examine our gut reactions.

    Please think about it.

  388. says

    Gawd save us from the “feminists”.
    What a pit of shit this place has become.

    Hurr durr derp, feminazis! Hurr, I like making pointless comments on a site about how shitty it’s become but I clearly like it enough to read and comment.

    How was my impression of an idiot? I think I’m getting pretty good at it.

  389. says

    I am really disappointed by this. Some pointed out that the comic had implications that were sexist in nature. The reasonable thing to do is acknowledge it and in all likelihood there would have been a peaceful discussion with things we already know about sexism. But no, ya’ll decided to go at each other’s neck.

    It’s a privilege to not notice these, but not everyone has that privilege. What’s so hard to understand about that? It’s not like people are calling you a terrible person because you didn’t realize it.

    /rant

    (One the positive side, despite disagreeing with PZ, I think he’s been well mannered in the situation. I like how he immediately crushed misogynist who wanted to use this as their victory point.)

  390. says

    pedrotimoteo:

    To anyone who thinks this comic is sexist: are you saying that we can’t EVER have a cartoon where the man is right and the woman is wrong?

    Aauuuggghhh! Read. The. Thread.

  391. says

    Gyeong:

    (One the positive side, despite disagreeing with PZ, I think he’s been well mannered in the situation. I like how he immediately crushed misogynist who wanted to use this as their victory point.)

    PZ finally saw how the artist decided on the girl being the dumb bunny and changed his mind. See #430.

  392. Candra Rain says

    I can’t be the only one seeing shades of Elevatorgate in this. It’s not the same subject but it has similar components. In both cases, something sexist occurs that a feminist calls out with the mildest of criticism, as in “hey, isn’t this kinda sexist?”.

    Instead of receiving rational responses, the criticism itself is denied (“There is no sexism, move along!”) and the critic concern-trolled (“You need to pick your battles! Don’t you have better things to do?”) or just normal trolled (“You’re oversensitive! You’re looking for reasons to get mad!”).

    This.

    A million times this.

  393. says

    Caine,

    PZ finally saw how the artist decided on the girl being the dumb bunny and changed his mind. See #430.

    I just notice that.

    /somewhat sober now

  394. RahXephon231 says

    To anyone who thinks this comic is sexist: are you saying that we can’t EVER have a cartoon where the man is right and the woman is wrong?

    We aren’t yet in a world where such things lack cultural context. Having a comic where a man explains to a woman exactly how stupid she is is not, in itself, sexist. However, in the context of a culture where women’s intellects and opinions are devalued like our own, then it is sexist.

    As has been said many times before in many places, this shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

  395. nickhuebner says

    Wow, people need to slow down, think, and read through the other comments before posting. For all the people saying “what if they’re both women” or “it’s about the unconscious sexism,” please read post #119. It explains that one is male, one is female, it’s NOT unconscious, and there’s a reason. Now, we can debate whether it’s a valid or sexist reason, but it’s annoying to see people ignoring important information like this.

    Someone tried again to point this out again at post 138, but again it was ignored. I just wish our culture was less impulsive and we didn’t always feel like we had to restate what other people said, just so we could feel self-important and get our 2 cents out there.

    So that’s my 2 cents =D

  396. ibbica says

    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 was the guy thinking? He let the internets decide? Stupid. And then he puts another datum on the internets to further bias the case.

    I’m not American, but have been inspired to offer a few words of thanks anyway:

    PZ, for the above statement: thank you.

    All of you who lucidly pointed out the underlying tone of the cartoon: thank you.

    All who replied with “Huh, I hadn’t noticed it, but now I realize…”: thank you.

    If anyone leaves this discussion “a little more enlightened”, it was not a waste.

    Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

  397. Rawnaeris says

    PZ, thank you for conceding the point.

    I didn’t instantly pick up on it, but I agree it is there.

    I’ve become so inured to the microaggressions in my work place that I appreciate all the consciousness raising the comitariat here engages in.

    Apologies for any misspellings. I’m on a phone. All hail Tpyos!

  398. coutsoulis says

    “..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.”

    Well well. Sounds much like the response from RD during elevatorgate. How the wheel turns.

  399. Circe says

    I specifically said that pink is feminine-associated, and being not worth listening to is also feminine-associated, with references

    I am not sure I get how “sexism” (at least how I see it) can be deduced from just this. Would the cartoon still be sexist (by your definition) if the roles were switched?

  400. says

    The question remains:
    Why did PZ need the artist to point out that xe was indeed intentionally using harmful gender stereotypes to recognize that the artist was indeed using harmful gender stereotypes?
    Intent isn’t magic, in either way.

    Before we knew of the quote, those of us pointing the sexism out thought that the sexism probably wasn’t intentional and that the only “crime” the artist had commited was that xe didn’t pause and think about gender stereotypes.
    Most sexism is unconscious. It needs to be made conscious in order to change it. Nobody of us is perfect in this.
    Regular readers will know my frustration about todays sexist children’s culture. It’s probably hard to miss.
    I confess: It takes me some real effort not to unthinkingly compliment my daughter’s female kindergarten-friends on their looks every time while it takes hardly any effort to do so for her male friends.
    Because I live in patriarchy, I grew up in it, I’ve been conditioned that the looks are the most important things about a woman to notice even if that woman is only 4 years old.
    But once I make the effort to consciously not say anything about their looks, I manage to find a friendly word, a compliment, a question about what they’re actually doing just as easily as i do with the boys where I’m conditioned to go for the things they do and not for how they look.
    Sometimes I’ll throw in a compliment about the cool Spiderman shirt and the haircut as well.

    Another bit of anecdata:
    This morning (yeah, morning here), my little daughter has brought me three different books to read so far. None of them is actual crap. I don’t tolerate crap-books here. One is a non-distinct cute anthropomorphized animal story about a fearful little bunny, one is by Elizabeth Shaw, a left-wing author and illustrator, one by my current favourite pair of children’s books writers, Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson, who simply rock.
    Total number of female characters: four.
    Yes, you’re right, four in three books.
    None is openly sexist. The Snail and the Whale by Donaldson/Scheffler is the best, having a male/female protagonist who both have strengths/weaknesses that are mostly due to their respective sizes. But still there’s the female humorless schoolteacher who turns pale at the sight of a snail.
    Would it have worked the other way round, a male teacher who freaks out because there’s a snail? I don’t think so.
    It is unfortunate, and it adds a tiny sting to a wonderful book.
    Moral of the story: Cool people get things wrong, too. Feminists get things wrong, too. That’s not the end of the world. Next time try better. (I think they did. Love them)

  401. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I hate having to post without reading everything. Yet, here I am, having read the full first thread but without having read the comments on this one.

    I just want to say, to everyone who used trans* experience as a get-out-of-jail-free card from a discussion of sexism:

    Fuck you and the ass your porcupine rode in on.

    Yes: feminists often not only fail to address trans experience, but also sometimes have it in for trans people. Doesn’t change the fact that the feminine is devalued and the masculine is valued in our culture. Not. One. Bit.

    Try posting about issues that affect trans people in threads that aren’t about sexism first – establish some street cred, why don’tcha? Then, when sexism comes up and you say, “But I can’t possibly know the genders of the characters involved!” a few of us might pause for a screen refresh or two before handing you your well-deserved porcupine.

    Secondly, for happiestsadist: Using trans experience as a GOOJF card is, yes, all kinds of wrong. But you bringing up the fact that trans people who exist within the binary typically dress according to the binary is all kinds of wrong. There are thousands of us that enjoy wearing tuxes to the distress of our neighbors (or balkan peasant-skirts to the same). The fact that trans people who don’t violate stereotypes exist is no reason to assume that there is no reason to question people who justify assuming the genders of others based on a few random scraps of cloth. What was the point of raising that as an objection anyway?

    Once again, I’m off to read this thread now that i’m done with the other, but if you’ve used trans experience on this thread to argue that sexist conditioning doesn’t work (or only works on the already sexist) I’ll be sending you your radioactive, heat-seeking, sexually-kinky but safeword-deaf, zombie porcupines via FedEx at convenient intervals.

    That is all.

  402. Bruce Gorton says

    A lot of the pro-feminist side here push the idea that the MRA’s are irrational, hysterical and basically nuts. Sound familiar?

    /Troll

  403. says

    Bruce Gorton:

    A lot of the pro-feminist side here push the idea that the MRA’s are irrational, hysterical and basically nuts.

    I don’t push the idea, I simply quote them. Speaks for itself. By the way, you’ll find that many (note I did not say all) feminists don’t use the word hysterical at all. There’s a reason for that.

  404. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I think Bruce was being snarky, Caine, considering he signed off as /Troll.

  405. Utakata, yes that pink pigtailed Gnome says

    @raygarton of 431

    …actually the conversation has not been ridiculous, only to its detractors it seems. In fact, the conversation was entirely civil from the original thread until some MRA troll of 11 decided to launch an ad hominem bomb at the first person to point out there maybe a gender sterotyp issue with this cartoon. And figuratively telling her to STFU. Anyone who is remotely intersted in women’s issue would likely not have taken that well. Hense the exploding flame war over what seem to some apparently, inane.

    Remember, usually in many conflicts there is one aggressor. And in this case the mansplainers are have only themselves to blame for this “lol embarrassment” over bunnies, due to direct flaming on this war. So using your quaint anology of the sinking ship, it’s the male who is drowning becuase he spent far to too long explaining why women and children should learn their place instead of jumping into the lifeboat to save himself.

    Furthermore, it’s now been discovered that there had been some validity to the gender stereotypes of this cartoon. Both Gen, or The RadFem of Dhoom of 418 and PZ Myers of 430 have both confirmed that the gender assignments where intended by the artist and for dubious reasons. So this wasn’t so much “ado about nothing” after all that some have complained. And thus, this was likely a good time and place to stand up for it…even though it was over “lol bunnies”. Imagine that.

  406. says

    Josh:

    I think Bruce was being snarky, Caine, considering he signed off as /Troll.

    Yes, I know, however, after two threads worth of feminazis! fembots! lighten up! chill, girls!, cunt! and other such charming chat, my humour is a bit low and I don’t much see the point of posts like Bruce’s, which are taken all too seriously by certain people.

  407. Azkyroth says

    But still there’s the female humorless schoolteacher who turns pale at the sight of a snail.
    Would it have worked the other way round, a male teacher who freaks out because there’s a snail? I don’t think so.
    It is unfortunate, and it adds a tiny sting to a wonderful book.
    Moral of the story: Cool people get things wrong, too. Feminists get things wrong, too. That’s not the end of the world. Next time try better. (I think they did. Love them)

    Given that “freaking out over ‘bugs’ [VERY broadly interpreted, no pun intended]” is a prominent part of female socialization in our culture, and often manifests in unhealthy and destructive ways, I wonder if they weren’t trying to make a point about it.

  408. Crys T says

    Great Myers: nothing like having a man tell the wimminz what we should and shouldn’t comment on.

    Like your buddy Dawkins, you’ve just colossally missed the point.

  409. madtom1999 says

    I thought the thread was quite rational and restrained – just imagine if one of the characters had been talking in comic sans!

  410. Crys T says

    OK, I see it’s my turn to apologise. So I do apologise for jumping the gun without reading the whole thread.

  411. Andy says

    Ok I’ve been watching these threads for hours now. I have not commented until now, but I think I have heard enough that my opinion on the matter is not likely to change at this point. If you’ve participated with the discussion on either side I honestly think you’ve helped score a victory for feminism in the atheist community.

    With all the people that read this blog I have to think I’m not the only one who went from feeling mildly annoyed that a comment thread was derailed for a discussion of gender stereotypes, to feeling gratitude for the lesson on how pervasive and harmful those stereotypes could be after enough ideas and information was brought to the table.

    Granted, there were plenty of pejoratives and porcupines I had to pick through to understand the lesson, but all an all it was reasoned logical argumentation that took me from where I was to where I am. That is how rational people are supposed to engage each other and I thank you all for showing me that side of my community.

    To those of you who actually participated in this discussion one convert (though I sincerely doubt I’m alone) may not feel like much of an accomplishment for all your hard work, but I would not have made it this far without the back and forth that took place tonight.

  412. says

    Azkyroth
    I doubt it. I really love their work and they are making a lot of points about things (one of the reasons I enjoy their picture books myself so much, there’s often more to it than a cute story), but this one really looks like not thinking too much.
    They needed a rhyme on “snail”, so the teacher turns “pale”.
    It’s a very minor character (if you can speak of “characters in a book with about 1000 words total) and hardly noteworthy. And since the trope is so common, I doubt that most people would realize it at all.

  413. Carlie says

    just imagine if one of the characters had been talking in comic sans!

    Oh, you think I was out for blood before…

    Again, I don’t think the intent of the creator matters. And I certainly don’t want to write him/her off now because they specifically chose the girl as the irrational one. I just want them to think about how they are perpetuating that stereotype by using it, even in such a small way, and please don’t use it that way in particular again, because it’s hard enough to get taken seriously as a woman in the atheist/skeptical movement (as we’ve seen). (I already said many hundreds of comments ago that I don’t mind women being the stupid one in a portrayal, just not always in the stereotypical ways)

    I have an anecdote also! This morning I was out doing the early morning shopping (don’t judge!), I went to ye olde big department store, and was driving around looking for a parking spot (of which there were few), and thought “Oh, I’ll go to the tool entrance. That crowd will be a lot calmer”. And then another part of my brain made a big record scratch sound and said “Oh, why is that, exactly???” And the first part went “Well, you know, it’s the tool section, and, um… ” and the other part went “Yes??” and the other part sighed and said “…because that’s where the guys will be. Yeah. Shit.”

    That’s how pervasive this is, and how unconscious. I spent all of my holiday yesterday in this argument about how it’s bad to assume women are more irrational than men, and how it’s something we all have in our minds even when we don’t mean to, and then we perpetuate it without even noticing, and then not a few hours later I did the exact same thing. Ha ha! Silly women go out shopping early and get all store-crazy and stuff, men are more rational and will be calmer nicer shoppers! I mean, fuck. So no, I don’t assume that all sexism is malicious. It’s just unavoidable without great force of effort.

  414. says

    Andy:

    To those of you who actually participated in this discussion one convert (though I sincerely doubt I’m alone) may not feel like much of an accomplishment for all your hard work, but I would not have made it this far without the back and forth that took place tonight.

    It feels like someone just handed me my weight in sniny, sniny silver. Thank you.

    You’re the exact kind of person I was describing in #296, so an extra thank you from me, for showing that raising awareness is a worthwhile endeavor.

  415. Jett Perrobone says

    I dream of a world where people could make “stupid girl bunny / smart boy bunny” and “stupid boy bunny / smart girl bunny” comics in equal measure, and no-one would give a rat’s arse.

    Anyone with me?

  416. says

    Carlie:

    “Oh, I’ll go to the tool entrance. That crowd will be a lot calmer”. And then another part of my brain made a big record scratch sound and said “Oh, why is that, exactly?”

    I caught myself in a similar moment yesterday, I was actually thinking about shopping on Black Friday (which I have never done) and Mister was surprised as hell and when he asked me about it, I said, well, it wouldn’t be so bad, given where I wanted to go, because I’d be after tech stuff and yes…tools. *sigh*

  417. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    ahs ॐ:Imagine you’re shopping for books with a friend, who has a daughter of primary school age. You see this cartoon in a book, and suggest it to your friend. Your friend says “It’s cute, and it has a good point, but I’m sure my daughter is exposed to ten stereotype-reinforcing representations of women at school each day, and I don’t want to read her an eleventh at bedtime.”

    Would you argue that your friend’s decision not to buy the book, on that basis alone, is “fighting the wrong battle”? Or is it understandable and acceptable to ask for one less such representation in the world, rather than one more?

    then, municipalis:

    I would rather “my friend” teach their daughter critical thinking and expose her to a wide variety of viewpoints rather than censor otherwise good material on the shallow basis that it is not explicitly opposing gender-stereotyping, or any other nastiness. Not being explicitly sexist, racists, etc. is enough for me. I think that level of child “care” is on the same disgusting level as a fundamentalist Christian family refusing to buy anything but “Christian-Certified” products for their children and themselves.

    LOL – seriously, brains just seem to rot at the first mention of sexism.

    Read the example again: “expose her to a wide variety of viewpoints” is exactly what ahs proposes to do: there are 10 identical effing books during the day, and so the parent cuts out the one more identical book at night! Following your advice!

    Except that’s not your advice, because since sexism is what all eleven books have in common, it’s okay. We don’t need to have diversity of opinion on sex stereotyping for kids. As long as we have diversity of opinion on the colors of dress a girl can wear, we’re doing fine. Quit complaining! No feminist books for you, overreactor! /snark

    sheesh.

  418. BillyJoe says

    I can honestly say that I didn’t pay any attention to the sexes of these bunnies when I read the cartoon.

  419. Bruce Gorton says

    Caine, Fleur du Mal

    My intent was snarking – it was about the only troll cliché I didn’t see being used openly.

    As to the comic:

    Initially I didn’t take the whole thing terribly seriously, I figured the gendering was simply to have two identifiable characters, but I could see how it appeared to be unconsciously sexist.

    With the added quote – it turns out it was quite consciously sexist.

    Pointing out that sexism is valuable because it helps the rest of us confront the fact that we didn’t particularly notice it first off (privilege works like that) and means we can more easily avoid using those tropes in future.

  420. setar, too lazy to log in on his blackberry says

    PZ, that post was fucking horrible. It read exactly like Dawkins’ Muslima comment for the single reason that, well, it was the same thing worded differently.

    You’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that the debate was caused by the complainant. It, as you should already know from past experience, was not – it was as always started by concern trolls and ERVscum that come out of the woodwork every time the topic comes up. You should be looking at then as you always do and ask how so many people can be so goddamn entrenched that they have to vehemently defend the same bullshit until they die.

    There didn’t need to be debate like that. But it was not us who brought it here, and indeed it never is.

    I await your apology.

  421. says

    Bruce:

    My intent was snarking – it was about the only troll cliché I didn’t see being used openly.

    I know, I’m sorry I jumped. These threads suck the humor straight out of me after a while, and it wasn’t pleasant, getting Dear Muslima’d from an unexpected source (PZ).

  422. Elena says

    Jet @489: I dream of a world where people could make “stupid girl bunny / smart boy bunny” and “stupid boy bunny / smart girl bunny” comics in equal measure, and no-one would give a rat’s arse.

    Anyone with me?

    Unfortunately we’re stuck with the world where girls are routinely told that they belong with fairies (sky or not) and pink kitchens, and boys are told that they belong with astronauts and the cool non-pink microscopes that actually work. *sad face*

    So what do you think would be more conductive to your utopia?

    PZ, thanks for the turnaround @430.

  423. says

    Really? We’re reduced to such nitpicking?

    The person who made the cartoon was trying to make a point about the barmyness of religion, nothing more.

    Why was it one ‘female’ and one ‘male’ rabbit? Chances are they got the little figures from a ‘sylvanian families’ (or similar) playset, which probably had a just a male and female figure in the set.

    The cartoonist just borrowed them from their daughters’ toy box, and used them to represent the roles in the cartoon. There was a 50% chance the girl bunny would get the religious part. As stated before, the conversation between them contains no gender-related wording so no gender bias was intended, or for all I can see, exhibited.

    Honestly. GROW UP.

  424. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    When it comes to bunnies that indeed aren’t bunnies however, I wonder – what is the deal with women wearing Playboy-themed gear that I see ever so often?

  425. says

    fancyplants:

    There was a 50% chance the girl bunny would get the religious part.

    You’d be wrong. The artist’s choice was explained, frequently, supra. There’s even a link to where the artist explains that choice. You’d know that if you bothered to read the thread.

  426. setar, too lazy to log in on his blackberry says

    I hate my BlAckBerry. And myself. And…fuck. I never do Nything worthwhile, do I…

  427. Mick says

    All seems a bit silly to me. No it’s not on par with the Muslima comment. Dawkins was deliberately belittling someone who had been harassed, PZ was just pointing out that arguing over this is a waste of time.

    So the author might have unconsciously assigned the less rational rabbit a female gender, maybe that did happen because of uncritical acceptance of cultural stereotypes-it’s possible.

    But that does not mean that the authors intent was to belittle women, unlike the guy in the R Watson situation who was told that Becs wasn’t interested and cornered her in an elevator anyway. It certainly doesn’t mean that PZ is belittling women’s experiences or struggles. To me it just seems that he’s saying that people are making a bit of a mountain out of this molehill, that’s it. Move on!