Everyone is dealing with raging sexism nowadays, it seems: the atheist/skeptic community, the video game community, the philosophers, everyone…including the SF community. Over on Making Light, I read something hopeful, though — a comparison between what we’re seeing now and dog training.
In dog training there is a thing called the Extinction Burst. Let’s say you’re training the dog to not bark when someone comes to the door. You’ll be chugging along, working your operant conditioning like a boss, and you’ll notice your dog is finally starting to catch on. “Oh, you mean if the doorbell rings and I woof my servant monkey turns her back to me and ignores me, but if I don’t make a noise I get a treat? Awesome!” But just when you think the dog has it all down and it possibly the smartest dog in the universe, your friend will ring the doorbell and the dog will go bugshit crazy, barking, woofing, yelping, whatever, and you’ll just want to sit down with a pitcher of margaritas and give up. Don’t do that. Keep going, because what you’ve just experienced is the Extinction Burst. A few more tries and your dog will be so silent it’s like she’s bored whenever the doorbell rings – like she never even reacted in the first place.
OK, I can hope — we’re going through an Extinction Burst in sexist behavior (it’s not entirely valid to extrapolate from individual psychology to sociology that way, though). I still want that pitcher of margaritas right now. Now, you hear me? I’m waiting.