I get email


Sometimes it might even be well-meaning, even when I suspect it probably isn’t.

Dear PZ,

You need to get over your obsessive phase with the shallow feminism displayed by Internet “feminists” and begin to think critically about the world again. Yes, vaginas are objectively gross. This is essentially an objective fact, except for “feminists” who believe being a feminist means women poop butterflies and rainbows, such as yourself. (I’m disappointed, as a biologist you should know better.) This isn’t because women are gross. It’s just part of our biology. You know what else is gross? Balls.

Many people, including comedians, have talked about balls being disgusting. Somehow I doubt you’d be all butthurt over this, for instance http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clips/vw576k/stand-up-whitney-cummings–balls-are-disgusting

Those are also funny commentaries on genitalia by comedians. Yet because they’re about men, not those oh-so-fragile women who dare not hear that their genital-that-is-an-orifice is gross, it’s funny. Hypocrisy, much?

Honestly, PZ, you have gone from a critical thinker into a stereotype of feminism. I know groupthink is hard to break, but if you don’t break it, you’re only doing the world and yourself a disservice. I hope you can, if not for your sake, then for the sake of the freethought movement. And if not for the sake of the freethought movement, then at least for the sake of a rational feminism that is not on a witch hunt for good people who organize rallies to fight sexual violence, but happen to think body parts that ooze are gross, regardless of the sex they belong to. As it stands, you’re doing that rational feminism a disservice. And by unintentionally helping to discredit feminism by affirming the stereotypes about feminists, you’re hurting women in the long term, despite your (hopefully) good intentions.

Best wishes,

Nancy

Is that a fallacy of the excluded middle I see up there? Why, yes it is! Has Nancy ever considered the possibility that there other attitudes somewhere in between “Yuck, that’s gross and disgusting!” and “Oooh, pretty butterflies and rainbows!”? And really, “objectively gross”? How can you say a subjective impression like that is at all objective?

As a biologist, I do know better. All this talk about “grossness” is culturally shaped. Apparently, many people now regard pubic hair as gross — is that an objective truth, too? A great many people have no objections to fluids and squishy oozing things and slippery slimy stuff all over the place — again, it’s cultural conditioning that calls reveling in that abnormal.

I am impressed with the twisty kind of rationalizing that ends up arguing that not finding vulvas hideous and horrible is hurting the cause of feminism. What next? Declaring that the complexions of black people are objectively horrible, and therefore avoiding saying how much more delightsome the skin of Europeans is would be racism?

Also, my balls are very sensitive and delicate, and I find your rude dismissal of their beauty very hurtful.

Comments

  1. Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun) says

    Now, balls in a vagina. That’s pure beauty.

    Or at least it’s prettier than the other sort of teabagging.

  2. carlie says

    except for “feminists” who believe being a feminist means women poop butterflies and rainbows, such as yourself.

    So are you the butterflies or the rainbows or both? I can’t tell from the syntax. [/grammar pedant]

  3. CaitieCat says

    LOL, you’re a Gamma Male now, PZ, just like Scalzi. You’ll have to settle for just approbation from people with empathy, and not thoughless douchebags.

    How will you survive?

  4. Randomfactor says

    Pretty good spelling and grammar for what is essentially a third-grader’s argument, though. Get Rid Of Slimy girlS!!!

  5. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Yes, vaginas are objectively gross. This is essentially an objective fact, except for “feminists” who believe being a feminist means women poop butterflies and rainbows, such as yourself. (I’m disappointed, as a biologist you should know better.) This isn’t because women are gross.

    Have to laugh at the fact that the bolded sentences are in the same paragraph.

    Also, I have never pooped butterflies and rainbows. What have I done wrong?

  6. doublereed says

    Vaginas aren’t gross. They’re wonderful and magical and make women ooo and aah and moan etc.

    Seriously, I don’t get this. How can you be a straight guy and think vaginas are gross. I’m so confused.

    And PZ Myers is a biologist. Biologists don’t think anything is gross. So Nancy is asking for the impossible anyway.

  7. yazikus says

    Tell it to Georgia O’Keefe, Nancy.

    Hah! Yes indeed. I always wondered why my mother (very conservative) had such a problem with Okeefe’s “pretty flower pictures” that I liked so well.

  8. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    How come I am afraid of what Nancy thinks is “rational feminism”.

  9. says

    Yes, vaginas are objectively gross

    I would like to publicly and loudly disagree. Like all genitalia, they are tremendously fun and interesting to explore (with their owner’s approval!)

    “Gross” is only meaningful in the sense that we are programmed by evolution to want to avoid certain things that are potentially dangerous (the smell of rotting meat-> there is rotting meat around->there are meat-eating bacteria around->I am made of meat->problum!) It’s a matter of, ummm, understanding and thinking – both of which activities I heartily recommend.

  10. says

    I think Nancy missed the part where Nutnot said that penises are not gross, unlike those oozy vaginas he was complaining about. A big part of the offensiveness of Nutnot’s piece wasn’t that he said vagina’s are gross (although he’s wrong on that), but that he basically said “Girl parts are gross, and boy parts are soooo much better!”

    And then Nancy shows up and says ‘No, no, no! Nutnot’s rant isn’t offensive, because boy parts are gross too!” Completely missing the point.

  11. Rey Fox says

    “Body parts that ooze are gross”. The tongue immediately comes to mind. As do the eyes, when I think about it. Heck, as I think about it more, almost the entire skin surface oozes when heated through either external heat or vigorous activity. <– hint hint

  12. ottod says

    Oddly enough, I’ve never thought of you as either butterfly or rainbow. Perhaps it’s due to the distortion of the small LED screen.

  13. otrame says

    Her problem (assuming the writer is really a woman) is self-loathing, both as a woman and as a human. The best way to solve her problem is to not have sex. Not only will she be happier, but the gene pool will be short some messed up alleles as a result*. Win/win.

    *Yes, of course the self-loathing is culturally conditioned, not hereditary. I still think she’ll be happier not having sex and so will any potential partner who won’t get body parts labeled “objectively gross”.

  14. says

    Yes, vaginas are objectively gross.

    Say What? I will add to the objection to this idea. I don’t find female (or male, for that matter) to be gross. To the point where I’ve “convinced” my current partner to enjoy oral. She wasn’t about it when we started dating, but since I’ve slowly worked on it, she now loves it. I assume her previous partners had the same feeling about down there as Nancy. Once my GF realized that her body isn’t anything to be ashamed of, that woman can enjoy their sex life (something that came as a surprise to her), she began to really love it!

  15. juniperann says

    Ah, I love when people who are too lazy to consult a dictionary use the word “objectively”.

    And, aaronpound, if I remember correctly, the argument continued with “girl parts are gross, boy parts are not, therefore boy pleasure is good and girl pleasure is selfish.”

  16. says

    “…vaginas are objectively gross. This is essentially an objective fact, except for “feminists” who believe being a feminist means women poop butterflies and rainbows, such as yourself.”

    Wait. Nancy does know that feces emerge from an orifice that is not a vagina? She keeps using the word “vagina,” but I don’t think it means what she thinks it means. Nancy: rectum=/=vagina. Neither of these, nor any of the other vulval attributes you fail to mention, is objectively gross.

  17. carlie says

    I keep thinking that the Vagina Monologues is dated and old news, but then people like this keep happening.

  18. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I’m no grammar genius, carlie, but I’d say PZ is definitely a rainbow.

    I’m disappointed, as a biologist you should know better.

    That poop comes from a vagina? Hm.

  19. says

    It may as well be acknowledged that there’s a nugget of truth at the bottom of this “$GenitalBit is gross”: bodily orifices and crevices in general are hygenically problematic, and the genitals specifically are mixed up with excretory functions (thanks a heap, evolution!). Also, there seems to be a partly innate (though amplified by culture) aversion to bodily fluids.

    The first is easily easily fixable by anyone with access to soap and water. The second seems to get suppressed by, among other things, sexual arousal.

    I have no idea what “objectively gross” means. I think Nancy is (mis)using the first word the way many people use “literally” — as an intensifier, rather than for what it means.

    (Personally, I’ve always thought male genitalia looked a bit ridiculous, just dangling there. Yes, I do own a set, and I try not to take myself too seriously.)

  20. grumpyoldfart says

    I read the first paragraph. Now I’m going to have a look at something else. Whatever it is, it will be classier than this crap.

  21. says

    Why yes, I’m sure somewhere in the Cochrane Library there is a comprehensive meta-analysis of all the measurements ever made of the ickiness of the female nether regions, along with a handy table for unit conversion (kiloCooties to Standard Yuck Units and vice versa). It’s science!

  22. Louis says

    Vaginas are gross? From someone called Nancy?

    Oh for a truly world class therapist.

    If you think your genitals make you a bad person, please stay away from high towers and powerful rifles.

    Louis

  23. ButchKitties says

    Unless Nancy is talking about GAAP accounting, I have no idea what she could possible mean by “objectively gross”.

  24. says

    “Objectively gross.” I don’t think I can get beyond that chunk of absurdity. What’s next, complaints of cooties in the sense of an intangible contaminant associated with the opposite sex?

  25. The Mellow Monkey says

    Also, there seems to be a partly innate (though amplified by culture) aversion to bodily fluids.

    Is there any evidence for an aversion to bodily fluids being innate? I was under the impression that the tasting or bodily application of urine is a mating practice found in multiple primate species, as well as sniffing or licking vaginal fluids.

  26. A Hermit says

    What unit of measure are we using to compare relative grossness of body parts?

  27. says

    And really, “objectively gross”? How can you say a subjective impression like that is at all objective?

    This. The word “gross” refers to a subjective emotional reaction to something. It simply isn’t possible for something to be “objectively gross”. Can’t happen.

  28. doublereed says

    What unit of measure are we using to compare relative grossness of body parts?

    I usually use the Garybusey.

  29. Brian says

    I have no idea what “objectively gross” means.

    What is wrong with all you people who can’t understand simple English? “Objectively gross” means that there are, objectively, 144 of something.

    Oh, man. Sorry, can’t concentrate any further. Too busy thinking about 144 vaginas.

  30. busterggi says

    I grossly object to that writer’s attitude even though I have to work from memory as to what lady parts are like.

  31. frog says

    For something so “gross,” an awful lot of guys seem to want to get up close and personal with ‘em. What does that say about those guys?

    Wait, don’t answer that. I’m sure it’s something along the lines of the poor, weak-minded dears can’t help themselves, it must be some mystical mojo that women do to attract those helpless fellows. Why else would a man be interested in ladyparts?

  32. Randomfactor says

    I usually use the Garybusey.

    That’s like the farad. You have to have a pretty “out-there” component to reach “1” on the scale.

  33. Sven says

    Yes, vaginas are objectively gross. This is essentially an objective fact…

    Pretty much stopped reading. I remain astonished at how many people are unable to discern between fact and opinion.

    “Abortion is always evil. This is an objective fact.”
    “Homosexuality is immoral. This is an objective fact.”
    “God speaks to me. This is an objective fact.”
    “Homeopathy healed me, this is an objective fact.”
    “Jesus speaks to me, this is a fact.”

    Ugh.

  34. says

    PZ please send a nice gift to that philosopher who wrote you. Glad s/he idd not include the joke about why god is a civil engineer and the reasons for the sewage canal passing through the fun park.

  35. says

    @30: I won’t insist on the point; I may be relying too much on Haidt’s Moral Foundations, or perhaps some ev. psych. thing I’ve read sometime. However, I note that the counter-examples you cite are in a mating context, which I acknowledge as a suspension of whatever aversion there may be.

  36. Randomfactor says

    I imagine the original author has taken his/her reward out of the reaction to his/her prank.

  37. unclefrogy says

    there is so much wrong with that.
    if genitals are gross would that not imply that sex is gross also. If sex is so gross why are there so many people being born?

    I feel pity for someone who is so cutoff from their body to feel that way about themselves. Sad that it is not a very rare thing in the christian world.
    uncle frogy

  38. Aaron Pound - LG says

    And, aaronpound, if I remember correctly, the argument continued with “girl parts are gross, boy parts are not, therefore boy pleasure is good and girl pleasure is selfish.”

    Yep. The whole rant was simply a justification for Nutnot to demand that women give him BJs without any expectation of reciprocation. And to call them selfish for objecting to his selfish demands.

  39. says

    I didn’t initially catch the reference to pooping butterflies/rainbows and the link to our biology, implying that women poop out of vaginas and that pooping was some special part of women’s biology. Thanks to pharyngulites for adding a funny wrinkle to the otherwise head-shaking inducing email.

  40. says

    rational feminism that is not on a witch hunt for good people who organize rallies to fight sexual violence, but happen to think body parts that ooze are gross, regardless of the sex they belong to.

    Thinking that genitals are gross, oozing and offensive is rational? That’s not how it goes in my reality.

  41. John Horstman says

    Vaginas are objectively gross? Everyone who, for example, loves sticking hir face into vulvae (or a particular vulva) and licking like crazy strongly disagrees.

  42. John Horstman says

    Also, are noses, eyes, and skin all gross? They ooze mucus, mucus and tears, and sebum respectively.

  43. No One says

    “Yes, vaginas are objectively gross. This is essentially an objective fact…”

    Ahhhh Nancy? You need to find a partner that will hold up their end of a 69.

  44. Cuttlefish says

    “Have you ever noticed how much they look like orchids? Lovely!”
    Robert A. Heinlein, Notebooks of Lazarus Long

  45. John Horstman says

    @24: I’d argue the aversion to body fluids is entirely conditioned. Watch a baby giggle with glee as ze urinates or defecates all over hirself, for example. Look at the lack of concern exhibited by people for whom living next to an open-air sewer is just normal, everyday life. Most of our cultural hangups with body fluids or ‘dirt’ come from the Victorian obsession with ‘cleanliness’.

  46. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    Vaginas are objectively gross? Um…my internet browser history would like a word with you.

  47. cuervodecuero says

    ….then at least for the sake of a rational feminism that is not on a witch hunt for good people who organize rallies to fight sexual violence, but happen to think body parts that ooze are gross, regardless of the sex they belong to…

    …did I miss an inning or is this stream of consciousness autonomic writing?

  48. unclefrogy says

    I think that the roots of the idea that sex and sexuality is wrong or dirty has its roots in St. Paul and St. Augustine and the practice of celibacy as the way to god.and salvation.

    uncle frogy

  49. says

    One hundred forty four would be entirely too many vaginas. What would you do with that many?

    First, I would pile them up in the middle of the floor. Then, I’d put on some quiet music and turn the lights down low, maybe light a few candles…

  50. mnb0 says

    “Yes, vaginas are objectively gross. This is essentially an objective fact”
    I stopped reading here.

  51. says

    A great many people have no objections to fluids and squishy oozing things and slippery slimy stuff all over the place — again, it’s cultural conditioning that calls reveling in that abnormal.</blockquote<
    I remember, long ago, a post by PZ, over on ScienceBlogs, I think, where he describes the beauty of a bucket of squid. Slimy, slithery, squishy squid in a bucket of water. It was probably the post that turned me into an obsessive PZ reader.

    Unfortunately, I can't find it anywhere now, or I'd quote it. The post itself was beautiful.

  52. thomasmorris says

    @25

    (Personally, I’ve always thought male genitalia looked a bit ridiculous, just dangling there. Yes, I do own a set, and I try not to take myself too seriously.)

    While it’s good not to take yourself too seriously, it strikes me as a little bit sad that anyone would feel that way because of their genitals. (As an aside, I’ve always found the male form underrated and quite beautiful.)

    …Which is not to distract from the risible nature of the email. Calling the vagina “objectively gross” is (“objectively speaking”) extremely ridiculous. It’s sad that someone would feel that way about their own body.

  53. GodotIsWaiting4U says

    DISCARD YOUR DISGUSTING MEAT BODIES AND BECOME PART OF THE MACHINE

    Oh…wait…is that NOT the logical conclusion we’re supposed to draw here?

  54. ButchKitties says

    First, I would pile them up in the middle of the floor. Then, I’d put on some quiet music and turn the lights down low, maybe light a few candles…

    …and then jump into them like they were a pile of leaves?

  55. Pteryxx says

    A great many people have no objections to fluids and squishy oozing things and slippery slimy stuff all over the place — again, it’s cultural conditioning that calls reveling in that abnormal.

    Well, I failed to find PZ’s squid post referenced in #62, but here’s Sid Schwab on Surgeonsblog describing the beauty of the liver.

    http://surgeonsblog.blogspot.com/2007/02/liverly.html

    Ever soaped your sweetie in the shower? Or, to be less (so I’ve been told) disturbing: have you held a piece of hardwood, turned and sanded smooth as glass, oiled and rubbed until it’s like hot ice; passed your hand over the surface, thrilled at its silkiness, its undulating shape? Did you find it stunningly beautiful? If so, you have an idea of what your liver feels like. But really, because it’s warm and taut and alive, the first question conjures it more closely. In terms of touch.

    While it’s good not to take yourself too seriously, it strikes me as a little bit sad that anyone would feel that way because of their genitals. (As an aside, I’ve always found the male form underrated and quite beautiful.)

    seconding this, as a fellow admirer (so to speak). It’s sad that male beauty gets obscured by shame, homophobia, and conflation with rampaging sexual dominance. Ordinary guys that aren’t cockmonsters get to be lovely, too.

  56. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It simply isn’t possible for something to be “objectively gross”.

    Unless it comes in units of 144.

  57. says

    @Azkyroth
    We’ve already done that joke. We’ve moved on to jumping into big piles of gilded Mormon genitals, now.

  58. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    @Azkyroth
    We’ve already done that joke. We’ve moved on to jumping into big piles of gilded Mormon genitals, now.

    ….don’t you think I would have noticed that when I went back to reading the comments starting with the one below the one that prompted that response?

  59. congenital cynic says

    Late to the party, but women’s genitals are not gross. They are, IMHO, beautiful. In every sensory way. The woman who thinks otherwise may have some kind of issues with her body, herself, or her sexuality.

    Granted, there are probably some homely pussies out there, but most are quite fine, and many are stunningly beautiful. They kind of run the range of variability like most other human traits: faces, butts, legs, etc, with the observers’s subjective response layered on top of that.

    But to call them “objectively gross”?!?!?! Nancy is flat out wrong.

  60. says

    @Azkyroth
    I really don’t know. I was kinda using your comment as an excuse to note how (objectively?) weird this thread has become.

    Not that that’s a bad thing.

  61. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I don’t have any idea why, but all this thread makes me think of is Barry and Levon and their $240 worth of pudding.

  62. LicoriceAllsort says

    Is this where we share our opinions about vaginas? I find vaginas to be gross when infected. They are beautiful when my brain is awash in oxytocin or weed or alcohol or romanticism. They’re funny when they queef, in a kindergarten-funny kind of way. Day to day, though, I’m pretty “meh” about them.

  63. says

    You might not have found the squid post you were looking for because it was about Aplysia. I am polyphyletic in my passions.

    2006! Good excuse for a poor memory. At least I got the

    and undulating and engulfing my whole arm in this thick, slick, wet, slippery knot of rippling smooth muscle…

    idea right.

  64. roro80 says

    The woman who thinks otherwise may have some kind of issues with her body, herself, or her sexuality.

    Which would put her pretty much right in the average in our deeply screwed up culture. Duh: lots of people, and women in particular, have deep-seated hate, fear, and “issues” toward their bodies. I’m personally pretty squicked out by bodies in general, to the point of fainting during many doctor’s appointments, or even sometimes when other people talk about their doctor’s appointments or surgeries or eyeballs (oh I really really don’t like eyeballs!). Give blood? Sorry…I…uh…forgot to eat breakfast this morning and can’t possibly. Lazik? Hahaha, I’ll stick with glasses, thanks. Dad wants me to go to medical school??? Um, I’ve heard mechanical engineering is highly lucrative these days.

    BUT!!! (a big but!! a but so big it might poop rainbows!), Nancy has gone way beyond a decision between being a doctor and being an engineer because of personal hangups about bodies. Stating the axiomatic grossness of genitals is pretty fundamentally wrong, for a thousand reasons. Nancy’s vagina can be as gross as she imagines it, and she very well may have deep issues with her own, and with her own body, as so many of us do. But let’s not hate on the fun bits of every human, or insist that others hate their bodies and genitals too, Nancy Pants. Hating my body and fainting whenever people talk about anatomy too graphically has been a fundamental negative thing in my life that I wouldn’t wish on anyone; awesome sex and the process of learning to love my body has been an unmitigated good. You’ve got it all backwards, Nancy.

  65. silomowbray, sans frottage pour la douche says

    If vaginas are objectively gross, why do I love them so much? Maybe because beauty or appeal are subjective qualities?

    And I do love me some vagina. From time to time I kinda wish I was surrounded by them.

  66. says

    vaginas are objectively gross

    I’m not sure if it’s possible for me to put into words just how strongly I disagree with this. I mean, I pretty much had to stop reading there. If there were any truth to it at all, high school would have been an entirely different experience.

  67. bassmanpete says

    One hundred forty four would be entirely too many vaginas. What would you do with that many?

    I’d have a gross tasting session. Mmmmmmm, yummy!

  68. Akira MacKenzie says

    Another guy who loves vulvas, vaginas, clitorises and everything else that’s female and genital.

  69. satanaugustine says

    If Nancy is a straight woman I can kinda see how she might personally think vaginas are gross to her, but objectively gross? How can an allegedly “rational” person believe sexual tastes or aesthetics even can be objectively true. Most of the guys I know and have known, only a few of whom would identify as feminist, would never use anything like the word gross to describe any vagina. As one friend said “I never met a vagina I didn’t like.” So based on my anecdotal evidence most guys don’t find vaginas to be anything close to gross. I’ve had lots of female friends in my life (more than male friends in fact) and I don’t recall any of them referring to vaginas, theirs or anyone else’s, as “gross.” They may have expressed their disinterest in vaginas, but didn’t dismiss them as gross. It seems rather self loathing.

    If Nancy is indeed a straight woman (I can’t imagine a lesbian calling a vagina gross) and not an OB/GYN then she her sample size for her “objective truth” is exactly one. The way she describes vaginas seems disconnected from reality. This sounds like a personal issue for her (assuming it is actually a her).

  70. satanaugustine says

    And I do love me some vagina. From time to time I kinda wish I was surrounded by them.

    Only from time to time?

    Women are awesome in oh so many ways.

  71. CaitieCat says

    Just to inject a teeny bit of trans awareness to this cis-fest, may I point out there are an identifiable class of people, several of whom post here, who grew up finding their genitalia unpleasant, and the constant stream of “Gosh, nobody could ever hate their genitals” here is…well, just a little bit cis-privileged?

    Just a thought, as it were. Something for you to ponder: it just might be your cis privilege that allows you to be mystified that someone might dislike their body.

    Carry on.

  72. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Umm, I think attacking the letter writer by emphasizing just how much you love vaginas is (a) missing the point and (b) a little bit offputting.

    Guys… Don’t do that.

    /ducks

  73. rogerfirth says

    Yes, vaginas are objectively gross.

    When I hear this from a guy, I imagine somebody who’s really never been around one. Never really been up close. He knows they can drip and ooze. He knows they can sometimes have a scent. But that’s about it. He may demonize them because he’s basically scared of his own ignorance about them.

    But when I hear this from a vagina owner, supposedly someone who’s been around one for her whole life and knows how they work under all sorts of conditions, I’m baffled. I am truly baffled. To be grossed out by a part of your own body shows you’ve got a serious problem.

  74. says

    Just to inject a teeny bit of trans awareness to this cis-fest, may I point out there are an identifiable class of people, several of whom post here, who grew up finding their genitalia unpleasant, and the constant stream of “Gosh, nobody could ever hate their genitals” here is…well, just a little bit cis-privileged?

    Just a thought, as it were. Something for you to ponder: it just might be your cis privilege that allows you to be mystified that someone might dislike their body.

    Carry on.

    Which further demonstrates the point that it is not, in fact, objective. I don’t think anybody here was trying to argue that vaginas are objectively desirable. Just pointing out that the notion that they are objectively gross is patently silly.

  75. CaitieCat says

    You’re missing the point, I think. Go back down the thread, read how many people said some variation on this (picked because it’s the nearest, not because it’s especially egregious or the person who said it the MOST AWFUL or anything):

    To be grossed out by a part of your own body shows you’ve got a serious problem.

    That, right there? That’s a cissexist statement. And they’re all over the thread.

    All I’m asking for is maybe for people to broaden their view a touch, and notice that this construction delegitimizes trans* people’s lives, and isn’t doing any favours for the trans* folk who are definitely reading this thread. Not least because I’m one of them, so I know damn well it’s happening.

  76. says

    missing the point

    I thought the point was that the writer apparently has no idea what the word “objective” means. But like I said, once I saw that bit of absurdness, I kind of stopped reading very closely. Anybody who writes something as idiotic as a body part being objectively gross is not somebody worth taking too seriously.

  77. CaitieCat says

    And I probably would not have realized that even if I had read that comment.

    101 – thank you, that’s my point. :)

  78. rogerfirth says

    That, right there? That’s a cissexist statement. And they’re all over the thread.

    All I’m asking for is maybe for people to broaden their view a touch, and notice that this construction delegitimizes trans* people’s lives, and isn’t doing any favours for the trans* folk who are definitely reading this thread. Not least because I’m one of them, so I know damn well it’s happening.

    It’s one thing to feel that you really shouldn’t be the owner of a certain body part — that you really feel you should have been born with another part. But it’s an entirely different thing to be *grossed out* by the body parts you were born with. One mindset is dealt with by countless trans people who were simply dealt a bad hand by the universe. The other mindset is truly fucked up. There *is* a difference.

  79. CaitieCat says

    Dude, did you just seriously double-down by saying I don’t know what I felt about my body?

    Seriously?

    No really, seriously?

  80. John Pieret says

    vaginas are objectively gross

    No more than a colon is. And if you don’t use that, guess what you wind up full of!

  81. The Mellow Monkey says

    It’s one thing to feel that you really shouldn’t be the owner of a certain body part — that you really feel you should have been born with another part. But it’s an entirely different thing to be *grossed out* by the body parts you were born with. One mindset is dealt with by countless trans people who were simply dealt a bad hand by the universe. The other mindset is truly fucked up. There *is* a difference.

    People can be disgusted by all sorts of things, especially when they’ve been dealt a really hard fucking hand in life like being trans*. There’s whatever conflicts already came with their body and identity, plus a lifetime of internalized cissexism and all of the baggage that even cis people get about their bodies. It’s an endless minefield. Some people are lucky and escape relatively unscathed. Some people don’t.

    Saying everyone who suffers from that kind of distress has a mindset that is “truly fucked up” is downright cruel. You’re basically declaring yourself the arbiter of how much suffering is appropriate.

  82. CaitieCat says

    Thanks, Mellow Monkey. I was beginning to wonder if being polite and suggesting it was an issue was a complete waste of time.

    I’m not calling for bans, or anything remotely like it. I really just wanted to do a little mild consciousness-raising, because it was my assumption:

    read how many people said some variation on this (picked because it’s the nearest, not because it’s especially egregious or the person who said it the MOST AWFUL or anything)

    …that it wasn’t intentional, that it wasn’t especially horrible, just that it might be a good idea to recognize that when you make judgements like this, you can end up hitting a much wider target than you meant to.

    And since FtB is, or so I’m given to understand, the idea of atheism + social justice, I didn’t figure it’d go amiss to just make a fairly polite, mild point about how some of the assumptions and judgements were kinda ignoring the existence of people like me. I didn’t point at anyone (and made clear that the example I used was only to save myself scrolling, not that it was particularly a problem). I didn’t say “you can’t ever say this”. I just asked for a bit of awareness of cis/trans differences.

    I’m a big girl. Been around the block a time or two. I’m not gonna get broken cause someone said something that might hurt my feelings. But I will, always, point out when I see something being done that disproportionately affects a group the speaker may not have thought about. That’s what social justice activism is to me.

    Act local. This is me, acting local.

  83. CaitieCat says

    Oh, borked the HTML. Inevitable. Sigh. Sorry, folks. Quote should end after the “or anything”.

  84. magistramarla says

    I learned a lot about my body from reading “Our Bodies, Ourselves” back in the ’70s. It encouraged women to explore their bodies and to appreciate just how beautiful all the parts of it were. It also helped that my boyfriend and soon to be husband was also enthusiastically exploring those body parts and declaring them beautiful. I guess that this gave me a pretty good self-image about my body.
    I also figured out that his body was pretty cool-looking, so I don’t find balls at all disgusting either.
    Later, I delivered my babies at home and assisted my midwife in delivering 35 other babies. Anyone who has witnessed the beauty and the squishiness of childbirth quickly gets over being squeamish about body parts. Heck, anyone who has changed diapers has to get over it, too.
    I really feel sorry for Nancy. She must have a very low self-esteem.

  85. CaitieCat says

    Oh, 113 magistramarla, one of the BEST things in social justice I ever got to do, is that my name is in the latest edition of OBOS. They reached out to the feminist trans* community to ask for feedback on the stuff dealing with trans-ness in the book.

    Totally. Awesome.

    I’ve been watching anime, so I want to jump up, wave my arms amid the sparklies and shout “tsugee, tsugEEEEEE!”…but I’ll settle for totally awesome.

  86. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    CaitieCat,

    I really just wanted to do a little mild consciousness-raising,

    I really appreciated it.

    People, don’t get lazy with criticism and cause splash damage just because the idea you are mocking is very silly.

  87. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    I’ve been watching anime, so I want to jump up, wave my arms amid the sparklies and shout “tsugee, tsugEEEEEE!”…but I’ll settle for totally awesome.

    What are you watching? I am trying to find a new series. I am currently waiting for a new Attack on Titan episode to come out.

  88. CaitieCat says

    Just finished watching Ookiku Furikabutte, both seasons, so now I’m going back to my old standby, my very favourite, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Just about to hit music-change at the end of the first bloc. Enjoying singing along with the music, cause this series has the BEST music I’ve ever found in anime; I think there are ten different songs used as beginning and ending, and I like (LOVE) eight of them, don’t mind one, and don’t like one. Rekoodo wa tsugoi yo?

  89. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Hmm, Ookiku Furikabutte looks interesting. I have been meaning to watch Fullmetal Alchemist. Can I/ should I start with Brotherhood?

  90. CaitieCat says

    FMA is a funny one. There was the first series, FMA, which started shortly after the manga’s popularity hit, but since it was being made alongside the manga, it departed from the story, and went a really different, and (to me) much less interesting way.

    The second one was made after the manga finished the story, so it’s quite faithful to the story, leaving out only a few small bits from the manga (it runs 65 episodes, plus 4 OVA). There was a voice-actor change on the English side, too, with Aaron Dismuke (the younger brother in the first adaptation) having his voice break, so they went to the more usual thing of having a woman voice him (in English; in japanese it was always women for both Ed and Al). Romi Park, the voice actor for Ed, is amazing. Vic Mignona does the English Ed, and he’s good, for sure, but Romi Park just NAILS it. She’s incredible. The English cast are pretty good, though, with the same voices you usually get from Funimation: Travis Winningham, Caitlin Glass, et c. Good actors, definitely, but in this one, the Japanese is better.

    So, given my own prejudice, I’d say go straight to Brotherhood, and then maybe see the older one/other if you like it. After the split, it goes quite differently, hardly the same story at all – some of the characters have changed, some disappear, the great secret is quite different.

    I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve been working in my head for a couple of years now how I could write a book with a vaguely-plausible alchemy-as-rare-superpower-in-ordinary-world, and I think (oddly enough) I hit on the answer this morning (it’s not about what you can do, it’s about how fast it happens!).

    Which I’m kinda jazzed about, hence my going back to my beloved FMA:B this evening when I felt the need for a little comfort-show.

  91. CaitieCat says

    Oh, and Ookiku is a baseball nerd’s dream. The entire first series is basically one game, after the training part finishes. Very shounen, coming-of-age, boys learning to be with one another, good comedy and good serious bits, some nice drama and unexpected twists in the game and how the boys respond to challenges. Typical underdog team-made-goodish, but very enjoyable.

    Which I should probably leave there, given it’s not really an anime thread. Apologies for the off-toppo, horde-sama.

  92. CaitieCat says

    Oh, and one more teeny thing – FMA:B? The main protags are both explicitly atheist. They make the point on multiple occasions, and…well, I don’t want to spoil that bit. But yeah! Atheist heroes, who say they’re atheist, and everything!

  93. says

    :nods: It’s vagenius!

    It certainly helps further our vagenda.

    I shall be sorely disappointed if this thread does not end with precisely 144 comments.

  94. says

    Hmmm. I did not mean to give the impression that there’s anything wrong with being born into a body that does not quite fit/is not quite right. I merely meant that she seems, from the comment, to be incredibly self-loathing.

    My apologies.

  95. ck says

    And what’s worse, they give you cancer.

    It’s a fact. Nearly everyone who has contracted cancer has come into contact with one in their lifetime. A single exposure is all that is required.

  96. CaitieCat says

    Like I said. I don’t figure anyone meant to do anything hurtful. But, as we have to come to know, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and it’s good to be able to just kinda say, “Hey…hadn’t thought of that.” That’s all I’m after. I’m too old and busted to spend my time policing people. But the flipside of that is, I got over my embarrassment about being trans* some time ago. It’s been 20 years since I swan-dived off the privilege-ladder. And if there’s a chance that speaking up can mean that someone reading along can say, “Hey…maybe she’s right, maybe it’s not self-loathing or just being crazy, maybe it’s trans-ness of some sort”, then, well, my work is done here.

    We don’t know; maybe Nancy is trans*. Maybe she isn’t. But since we don’t know, what do we gain by ridiculing her for her feeling something that a lot of trans* * people (not at all am I saying all!), that is worth the harm it might well do to some folk reading along? Is it worth winging them to score off this person?

    Thanks for the kind comments and apologies, honestly appreciated, but not my need, in this case.

    * And before someone needs to ask, trans* is my own personal way of saying “people who aren’t cis”, because there are a lot of different types of gender and transition around, and it takes a long time to say all those different things. So I take the trans- bit of transition (something most of us do in some manner or another, from a presumed part of the binary to somewhere else, even if that’s another part of the binary), add the * of wildcardness, and ipso-facto-presto-changeo, a word to express the idea. This is idea is not necessarily something everyone approves of, either, so don’t come back and point at me when someone says you shouldn’t be using it. Be aware, is all. Social justice in practice is about mindfulness. Being aware of who and where and how you are.

  97. CaitieCat says

    Tsk, tsk. Blacksmith!

    A gay man born by Caesarean.

    That wasn’t even a hard one. :)

    Better riddles!!! :D

  98. CaitieCat says

    And, before I sign off for the night, having made WAY too many comments already…

    An apology. This was clumsy and ableist, and a poor choice of words:

    Hey…maybe she’s right, maybe it’s not self-loathing or just being crazy

    Would have been better to just leave out the bit about “just being crazy”. Nothing “just” about mental illness, or the stigma going with it, and the point is made well without it anyway.

    Sorry for that.

  99. coffeehound says

    Nancy,when did the definition of groupthink change to ‘a number of people who realize what you think is asinine’?

  100. says

    This… is a discussion we’re having, is it? We are actually talking about the relative “grossness” of different kinds of genitalia. I… that… it… I don’t think I can express in words just how bizarre I find this.

    But if this is something I need to have an opinion on, I’ll borrow the words of a certain video game character. And note that he’s talking about men and women here.

    “The Maker made us who we are. He made our urges; He gave us these parts. You think He made them for looks?”

  101. Banecroft says

    Uh… Do we live in the same world? Vagina’s are gross? Since when? Perhaps we are talking about something else, but, assuming we are not… When did that occur? Did I miss a memo? Did a 12 year old write that? Seriously, this isn’t a joke?

  102. vole says

    There’s a senator in Vonnegut’s “God Bless You Mr Rosewater” who felt strongly that “the difference between pornography and art is bodily hair”. For the avoidance of doubt, it was pornography if it showed it.

  103. says

    “The Maker made us who we are. He made our urges; He gave us these parts.

    He made the parts imperfectly, though, so we are left with hacking bits of them away to get them to look like how the Maker really intended them to be.

  104. Banecroft says

    Well, when the “maker” is high on coke it is high on coke… You can’t expect perfection when that happens.

  105. aramael says

    @CatieCat: thank you. I’ve found this thread horrifying. I should never read these things.

  106. says

    How can an allegedly “rational” person believe sexual tastes or aesthetics even can be objectively true.

    In my experience, when it is the person themselves doing the alleging, having no idea what the everloving fuck “objective” actually means is pretty par for the course.

  107. says

    @63:

    While it’s good not to take yourself too seriously, it strikes me as a little bit sad that anyone would feel that way because of their genitals. (As an aside, I’ve always found the male form underrated and quite beautiful.)

    No, no: you’ve got it the wrong way round. Not taking myself seriously is a general rule I try to live by. Chuckling at my body is just one manifestation of that (and one that, as I head towards 60, may come to be an increasingly self-protective attitude to take). And the “silly dangly bits” is just something that occurs to me when I’m in a certain mood, toweling off after my shower, in front of the bathroom mirror. IOW: don’t read too much in it, because I don’t ;-).

  108. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    Last time my Maker was high on coke I lost all my hair and it spat out a pair of asymmetrical googleglass

  109. says

    Snort.. I wonder if this is the same guy whose “blog” includes commentary on how we “evolved” clothes, so we wouldn’t have to, “Gasp!”, be nude, and his earlier comment that, among all the horrible horrible things he ever saw, among porn, TV, movies, etc., was a women in New York who took her top off, in front of her kids (I mean.. just think of the children!).

    Seriously, some people really, badly, need some serious help (or, maybe, in this guys cases, a rethink on his sexual orientation, if he hasn’t already, since we seems to think women are gross).

  110. dogfightwithdogma says

    Yes, vaginas are objectively gross.

    You know what else is gross? Balls.

    Dear Nancy: citations please. I would like to read the peer-reviewed literature that establishes these statements as objective truths.

  111. nancyg says

    I have read many of the reactions to the e-mail I sent PZ, and they have been incredibly disappointing. They range from the inane – “she’s using the word ‘objective’ colloquially, ON THE INTERNET?! Blasphemy!” – to the stupid – “she doesn’t even know poop comes out of her ass!” – to the downright sexist – “she must be a self-loathing woman who hates her vagina.” To be fair, for the first comment you are just mimicking PZ, at least. Nevertheless, I expected a bit more substance to the critiques from both the commentators and PZ himself.

    PZ’s brand of feminism represents “e=mc^2 is a sexed equation,” Vagina Monologues-feminism (the Because He Liked to Look At It act, specifically), rather than gender equality feminism. There are intelligent, good aspects of it, yes, but in the end it does not see women and men as essentially equal. It views women as objects that need to be constantly reassured their bodies and its functions are beautiful in every aspect, bodily fluids, fecal matter, and all.

    I believe in truly robust gender equality that is anti-gender. People are individuals who should make their own choices in how they behave. Both women and men are treated unequally under the law and under society. To give one example that was in the New York Times recently, the issue of “forced fatherhood.” The MRA types complain about how it is unfair that men are often forced by sexist judges to pay child support for accidental pregnancies. I actually agree with them: this attitude both treats all women as infantile and also puts all the onus on men to be fully responsible and rational agents. While this is certainly not the most pressing issue, true gender equality recognizes that this is unfair for the reasons Professor Laurie Shrage, a prominent philosopher and women’s studies professor, outlined in her article.

    I am pointing this out because I feel the movement has rejected gender equality feminism in favor of a simplistic, knee-jerk understanding of feminism that more closely resembles complementarianism. It is one thing to fight back against those who are wrong, but it is another to fail to analyze your own thoughts and acknowledge you are probably wrong about some things yourself — in fact, that is why I am commenting in the first place. It is not like the other side is right and you are wrong or even that both sides are equally wrong. The anti-feminist, rape-threat-making individuals should not be part of the movement. But just because they are more in the wrong does not make you in the right, either. You should have higher expectations for yourselves than that. That includes not demonizing people who disagree with you and lumping them all into one category. In that sense, at least, you’re no better than the people whose irrational attitudes you supposedly are trying to fight against.

  112. John Morales says

    [meta]

    nancyg:

    I believe in truly robust gender equality that is anti-gender.

    Do you believe in human equality that is anti-human, too?

    You should have higher expectations for yourselves than that. That includes not demonizing people who disagree with you and lumping them all into one category. In that sense, at least, you’re no better than the people whose irrational attitudes you supposedly are trying to fight against.

    The irony is palpable.

  113. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    also puts all the onus on men to be fully responsible and rational agents.

    And this is bad how? Men should be responsible for actions. If sex results in a baby, they are responsible. And I say that as a man.

    I am pointing this out because I feel the movement has rejected gender equality feminism in favor of a simplistic,

    Whereas your “gender equality” has been rejected by responsible people, for the reasons I mentioned above. It isn’t equal, just pretend equal.

  114. anteprepro says

    PZ’s brand of feminism represents “e=mc^2 is a sexed equation,” Vagina Monologues-feminism (the Because He Liked to Look At It act, specifically), rather than gender equality feminism.

    I am pointing this out because I feel the movement has rejected gender equality feminism in favor of a simplistic, knee-jerk understanding of feminism that more closely resembles complementarianism.

    The above is an example of why you didn’t get much in the way of rebuttals, nancy. Baffling bald assertions. Unintelligible “arguments” that rely more on presuppositions than logic. What are we supposed to do with those aside from point and laugh?

  115. says

    “she’s using the word ‘objective’ colloquially, ON THE INTERNET?! Blasphemy!”

    So, your defense is “when I said ‘objective’ I obviously didn’t mean ‘objective'”.

    If you communicate poorly, you don’t get to blame other people when they don’t understand you.

  116. anteprepro says

    So, your defense is “when I said ‘objective’ I obviously didn’t mean ‘objective’”.

    Not only that, but even if she didn’t literally mean “objective”, her argument of that section of the e-mail was basically “nuh-uh, vaginas really ARE gross, just like testicles”. Even if she didn’t actually really mean that this was an absolute fact, she definitely meant to imply that it wasn’t simply her opinion on the matter (i.e. it’s not just her opinion, and it isn’t just subjective, that is actually a subject that could be factually true or false). Unless she really went on for two paragraphs about something she admits is just her subjective assessment of the matter and chastising PZ for not degreeing with it in a way that is indistinguishable from someone who believes that it isn’t just a matter of personal preferences. Making “objective” more figurative only saves her from criticism by making her opening screed irrelevant instead of ridiculous and wrong.

  117. Rey Fox says

    It views women as objects that need to be constantly reassured their bodies and its functions are beautiful in every aspect, bodily fluids, fecal matter, and all.

    What a bizarre strawman.

  118. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Ooooh, Nancy actually showed up? Nancy, why do you hate your own genitals?