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Sep 09 2013

This crap is everywhere

One question I got at my CFI-DC talk was about the prevalence of sexist/misogynistic scumbags in the atheist movement — aren’t they just a minority? And my answer was that I don’t know what percentage they are, but that it’s a mistake to dismiss it as a fringe phenomenon; it’s too common, and the people who are doing it aren’t some bizarre handicapped aberrant group, they’re people you wouldn’t look at twice if you saw them in the street. And some of them are your friends and family.

And then I get home to discover the latest misogynistic screw-up in the tech industry: a conference called TechCrunch which features presentations about quick hacks had a couple of, to put it generously, inappropriate presentations, including one called “Titstare”. This is the entirety of the talk.

Let me just say that not only was it grossly sexist, but it was unimaginative, uncreative, incompetently done, and terribly presented. These two guys ought to be deeply embarrassed to have thrown up such a pathetic joke on a public stage — even if it hadn’t been a sad attempt at a breast joke, it was a total failure.

These people are all over the place. There’s just something wrong with the culture.


My theory: boys are brought up with a lack of sexual responsibility. The aggressive aspect of male sexual behavior is celebrated and treated as entirely natural, and therefore excusable, while girls are brought up with all of the responsibilities. Crude sexual humor is an outlet or venting, rather than a mistake or exhibition of ineptitude.

You know that right now those two guys are back with their bros, who are not telling them, “you fucked up.” They are being told that bitches are crazy, women have no sense of humor, grim somber feminists are ruining everything because they hate men and don’t know how to laugh. All blame is being placed on women because men are not accountable for what their testicles make them do.

You know who else ought to be really outraged at that spectacle? Comedians. Because boys are also brought up to think the most stupid crap is hilarious, as long as it’s about getting sex (see also that crass young man who was yucking it up on camera about the Steubenville rape), and it really lowers our expectations for humor.

67 comments

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  1. 1
    cityzenjane

    Thank YOU! It is indeed going on all over the place.

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    They’re reading off a script.
    and giggling.
    Yeah. I’m convinced.

  3. 3
    bad Jim

    This also showed up at The Guardian.

    All of this underscores the dichotomy of the tech scene: a world presented as an egalitarian free for all where anyone can get ahead on merit, and where ideas are the best currency. In other words, a perfect meritocratic system. And yet the industry runs on privilege, with sexist and juvenile behaviour based on gender stereotypes being routinely displayed.

    The comments are about what you’d expect. Sigh.

  4. 4
    piegasm

    First comment on the post is “Of course a profession that’s 98% guys is going to be full of people acting like guys” or something similar.

    WOOOOOOOOOSHHHHHHHHH!

  5. 5
    Inaji

    Adult men, giggling over breasts, and thinking hey, look, there’s this stupid myth about staring at breasts, so we can call it science! No, no, it isn’t harassment or any kind of violation of privacy, and it’s certainly not sexist! Nope. Science! :giggle:

    These two very dull witted assclams need to visit a sex shop, where they can get a nice pair of breasts for themselves. It would be ideal, as the breasts wouldn’t be attached to a pesky individual person, who thinks they just might be more than their tits.

  6. 6
    bad Jim

    I wanted to say that the way to fix this is to make sure there’s always a woman on the panel — and it probably wouldn’t hurt — but of course in this case there was:

    What message does this send to the men, women and children who attended the event? Like Alexandra, the nine year old girl who presented her own app and was able to win over an audience with behaviour more mature than others?

    Is it worth explaining to Alexandra that if she continues to study development with a view to employment, she will be absorbed into the 19% of women who work as engineers in the industry and get 49 cents to every dollar a man receives? Perhaps we could show Alexandra the job ads that refer to women as a hiring lure, because apparently they’re not there to work?

    No, I want to insist that there must always be a woman included in every program. Absolutely always, forever. Not one more all male panel. This shit has got to stop.

  7. 7
    Alex

    Hey you there, are you real guy! Want to do some staring at tits? Here you go!

    …or chickadees, as I like to call them. Hurr hurr.

    First comment on the post is “Of course a profession that’s 98% guys is going to be full of people acting like guys” or something similar.

    How offensive. So these people are telling me that this is how I should *really* be behaving naturally because otherwise I’m not a real guy? That’s right, decency is only something you do when you have been tamed (or shall we say neutered) by the woman.
    Where is the misandry police when I really need them?

  8. 8
    piegasm

    @7 Alex

    Seriously, the attitudes of your garden variety misogynist are far more misandrist than anything a mainstream feminist would say. Apparently being a grown man who can’t say the word “breast” without collapsing into giggles is the pinnacle of masculinity.

  9. 9
    Snivelling Little Ratfaced Git

    I wish they were only pretending to be Australian. But then, look at the election results… they pretty much sum us up right now.

  10. 10
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Is it worth explaining to Alexandra that if she continues to study development with a view to employment, she will be absorbed into the 19% of women who work as engineers in the industry and get 49 cents to every dollar a man receives? Perhaps we could show Alexandra the job ads that refer to women as a hiring lure, because apparently they’re not there to work?

    The sad thing is that as parents, being intrested in the wellbeing of your daughter you might even want to shoo her gently away from such a toxic environment.

  11. 11
    bad Jim

    Why is it always birds? Tits, boobies. But look: a bird with a knife!

  12. 12
    bad Jim

    There are going to be more women in every line of work from now on. For a little while longer they’re going to have to face the reality that they won’t be treated or paid or judged equally, and they’ll have to fight for every shred of dignity, but it will get better.

    Men are going to have to put up with working with them and, as often as not, working for them. The funny thing is, most of them will wind up liking it, and why not?

    The only way to steer girls away from a career in which they won’t be treated equally is to steer them into “women’s” work, which in pretty much any respect is likely to be worse.

  13. 13
    Alex

    Men are going to have to put up with working with them

    Oh the burden!

  14. 14
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    “Aren’t they just a minority?” – it’s a good question. The answer is yes, they are. But unless the majority is willing to stand up to them, they will get their way.

  15. 15
    Jafafa Hots

    “Aren’t they just a minority?” – it’s a good question. The answer is yes, they are.

    I’m not so sure I agree with that. Reason is, I dunno about you, but I’m a white guy… and the one thing all white guys experience is what other white guys say when only white guys are around.
    That’s when the smartest assholes reveal themselves. Every kind of bigot assumes that everyone else like them feels the same way… if not openly, then they are in denial, being PC, whatever.

    We get to hear the “locker room” comments, etc. It’s assumed we’re in on it, feel the same. So it all comes out.
    I think it’s more than half.

  16. 16
    Hank_Says

    Oh, FFS. Look at them giggling at boobs like it’s 1970. I was actually going to defend Australian males, but fucking hell – this country just elected a misogynistic homophobic climate-change denier who thinks a girl’s virginity is some magical “gift” to bestow upon a lucky guy, that the HPV vaccine is a license to slut about, that asylum-seekers are some kind of red-alert security risk and that abortion is the “easy way out”. Fuck him and fuck this country.

  17. 17
    unclefrogy

    “Aren’t they just a minority?” – it’s a good question.

    yes but what does it mean exactly?
    Are women a minority or dolts like those?
    I would say that women might be a minority as conference organizers, participants and many work related fields as here hacking/IT.
    I am pretty sure in the population as a whole not so much certainly not in all age groups.

    Dolts on he other hand are very common and it has been my experience that it is the rare one that is very consistently doltish it is a spectrum of doltishness that varies from the rare golden semen type guy to the guy that only displays his doltishness in the company of other more advanced individuals and more so in groups. They seem to be more attracted to groups of like minded men and more comfortable in those then with the women whom they seem to be focusing on so much..
    Engaging in many competitive activities between themselves and displays of aggression being some what predominant .

    uncle frogy

  18. 18
    Jafafa Hots

    (I should clarify I mean men in general. Never having socialized at atheist or skeptic events, I have no idea what the “average” skeptic is like in person.)

  19. 19
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Well, I do believe that the truly horrible are a minority of men. And then there’s the dolts. And the “don’t rock the boat” kinds who don’t stand up. They are all problems, but one lot is potentially reachable.

  20. 20
    Inaji

    Alethea:

    Well, I do believe that the truly horrible are a minority of men. And then there’s the dolts. And the “don’t rock the boat” kinds who don’t stand up.

    There’s the rub, though. Define ‘truly horrible’. It’s the regular guys who enact, accept, let it slide, or enable toxic sexism, and Jafafa Hots is right – when men are alone together, there’s immense pressure to support other men in these things, or at the very least, keep your mouth shut. I recommend Guyland by Michael Kimmel. Explains all this very well.

    Also, before defining ‘truly horrible’, keep in mind the Meet the Predators and Predator Redux studies. None of those men thought of themselves as horrible, they certainly didn’t consider themselves rapists, they were just doing what guys do. This is why the problem is so damn deep, and why it really doesn’t do any good to try and classify the ‘truly horrible as those other over there’.

  21. 21
    Lofty

    Local news writeup here, with predictable comments.

  22. 22
    ludicrous

    All girl parts are terrifying, breasts are just the most visible. You must stare them down or they win.

  23. 23
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I love Tech Crunch’s apology, mind:

    Normally our hackathons are a showcase for developers of all stripes to create and share something cool. But earlier today, the spirit of our event was marred by two misogynistic presentations.

    Sexism is a major problem in the tech industry, and we’ve worked hard to counteract it in our coverage and in our own hiring.

    Today’s issues resulted from a failure to properly screen our hackathons for inappropriate content ahead of time and establish clear guidelines for these submissions.

    Trust us, that changed as soon as we saw what happened at our show. Every presentation is getting a thorough screening from this hackathon onward. Any type of sexism or other discriminatory and/or derogatory speech will not be allowed.

    You expect more from us, and we expect more from ourselves. We are sorry.

  24. 24
    carlie

    Although the first story I read about it said that TechCrunch tweeted a supportive message about the titstare presentation, and then yanked it down, so that “failure to properly screen” gambit doesn’t hold much water.

  25. 25
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    carlie

    Fuck. There goes my nice warm “somebody actually managed to do summat right” moment.

  26. 26
    Alex

    There’s still hope. The supportive tweet wasn’t necessarily from the same people who gave the apology.

  27. 27
    teejaykay

    …I made the mistake of reading the comments on The Guardian. Now I only wonder exactly how insecure those XY chromosomed ones who whine are, over there.

    @22

    You nailed it.

    Nice apology, tweet aside, anyway. Someone got PR skillz.

  28. 28
    Cuttlefish

    As I understand it, a 9-year-old girl also gave a presentation there, for an app she developed herself. One of the sadder parts of this whole thing is that she really should have been the good-news headline coming out of the conference–instead, the news cycle is dominated by a couple of yahoos.

    I looked for the video of the girl’s presentation, but could not find it. *sigh*

  29. 29
    piegasm

    My favorite comment at the linked article so far is the one where the guy explains that:

    1) Women are the ones with the real power but they’re too stupid to realize it. Meanwhile men rule because teamwork. But women have the real power. But teamwork. Or something.

    2) He doesn’t like anything that degrades people but [a bunch of derogatory stuff about women and how stupid and vindictive and frivolous they are].

    3) The answer is for women to stop allowing men to victimize them. Because men are such abject slaves to their violent and/or sexual impulses that they can’t choose for themselves to be decent people. Or something.

    Honorable mention goes to the guy who, in response to a woman joking that she’d make a douchebagstare app, declared that women would hate men when they stop staring at their tits and opined that her tits were probably wrinkled and saggy already anyway, thus demonstrating that we totes live in a post-sexism culture folks.

  30. 30
    notsont

    We get to hear the “locker room” comments, etc. It’s assumed we’re in on it, feel the same. So it all comes out.
    I think it’s more than half.

    This. I don’t generally talk to people ever if It can be avoided. But a few years back I decided letting things like this slide was not acceptable and it has caused me some great difficulties. Once you say something you become the “troublemaker”. It’s always “hey relax, it was just a joke” “you’re the one who is making a big deal about it”.

  31. 31
    LewisX

    @ 28 Cuttlefish

    I looked for the video of the girl’s presentation, but could not find it. *sigh*

    Here you go

  32. 32
    Lou Doench

    I just don’t get it. It’s the 21st fricking century. If I want to engage in the perfectly normal consumption of images of female secondary sexual characteristics, like yah do, then there are literally hundreds of ways for me to do that in the privacy of my home and/or hotel room. This ridiculous juvenile “hey look at the tits” behavior isn’t just harmful to women in a professional setting, it’s embarrassingly anachronistic. It’s not 1970, we live in a wonderful age where it is fantastically easy to keep that shit to yourself…

  33. 33
    piegasm

    Of course 4 comments into the article about the little girl’s presentation there’s a dude who just had to let everyone know that he thinks the woman who interviewed her is hot. *eyeroll*

  34. 34
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @LewisX:

    That’s awesome. She’s got a great future ahead of her if we can be reasonably able to get rid of this ridiculous misogyny.

  35. 35
    unbound

    The video is the very definition of puerile. Was the next group doing dick jokes too? Sooooo original and funny…if you are using heavy drugs…

    And I agree with the comedians comment. I’m amazed at home many views and up-votes go to videos of nothing other than people inflicting pain on other people (they call it a prank). We are raising a generation that really will not understand comedy.

  36. 36
    carlie

    Was the next group doing dick jokes too?

    Yes, actually.

    and second, an app called “Circle Shake,” in which the presenter showed off the app by pretending to masturbate.

  37. 37
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    PZ:

    The aggressive aspect of male sexual behavior is celebrated and treated as entirely natural,

    Sad, then, that PZ renaturalizes this by using

    male sexual behavior

    instead of

    Men’s sexual behavior

    or

    masculine sexual behavior

    words that are associated with gender and not with sex.

    It is this that helps continue the naturalization of behavior, and therefore excuses cis men engaged in sexism and assault (literally – not just sexist or sexual assaults, but almost any kind of assault has been excused in this way), straight folk engaged in heterosexism, and cis folk engaged in trans oppression.

    When even our biology professors don’t distinguish between male behavior and female behavior, then we get not only oppression, but horror of horrors, we get evopsycho which also fails to distinguish between when a behavior is inexorably caused by our bodies and when it is a product of society.

    I get that PZ talks about “male behavior” in fish all the time. And it’s appropriate there, since AFAIK there’s not even debate about the possibility of culture in any actinopterygian, sarcopterygian, elasmobranch, or holocephalian.

    But, in a world that doesn’t distinguish between sex and gender (yes, for purposes of sexism, but not least because it would prefer trans folk not exist) the conflation of sex with gender is so relentless that our biology professors don’t bother to distinguish the words used to communicate sex (male, female) from the words used to communicate gender (man, woman, masculine, feminine – and please forgive while I puke a little right now b/c it’s at all necessary to even write out which are the sex words and which are the gender words).

  38. 38
    hillaryrettig

    >My theory: boys are brought up with a lack of sexual responsibility. The aggressive aspect of male sexual behavior is celebrated and treated as entirely natural, and therefore excusable, while girls are brought up with all of the responsibilities.

    As usual, PZ gets it just right. Check out this gem:
    http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/
    (Interestingly, the blogger initially posted it with swimsuit pix of her sons; then substituted other shots when people mentioned that that might not be the best idea. Shows how ingranied the sexism really is – “I can post seminaked pictures of my sons and not even notice it in a post about why girls shouldn’t post seminaked pictures of themselves.”)

    And here’s a response from 10 bloggers:
    http://www.blogher.com/10-bloggers-respond-mrs-halls-letter-thoughts-slut-shaming-respect-and-selfies

  39. 39
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Like others have said – there’s one message that’s really important with these things:

    Silence is support.

    In the fight against misogyny there’s no middle ground. It’s endemic and epidemic in all major cultures. Because of this, lack of sanctions will always be interpreted as support.

    This is a rather painful realisation for us cis men. Dissent against misogyny is costly.

    I don’t claim to be perfect. As anyone beset by the opposition I pick my battles. I shut up when ideally I should have spoken. I don’t have to go further back than yesterday to find a situation where I ought to have spoken up against misogyny more clearly. I fail regularly to uphold the highest standard.

    What’s important for me and guys like me is that we don’t forget that when we don’t speak up, no matter what’s in our minds and hearts – we’re on the side of evil right there right then. And it’s important to be aware of this. It’s a realisation that might keep you from sliding from picking your battles to not fighting. And it might also spur you on to picking more battles, day by day.

    It’s not easy, but it’s the only thing you can do if you truly believe all humans are truly humans with full rights.

  40. 40
    Erik

    There’s a term for guys like these, and even a whole culture called “brogrammers”. Since computers have become such an integral part of peoples’ lives, and programming as an activity has become more mainstream there’s also been a trend for more and more guys in programming to react against the “geek” stereotype by basically being college fraternity douchebros who happen to program, and who bring all the negative aspects of that culture into programming. Hence “brogrammer”.

    ‘Course, that’s not to say *misogyny* in programming is unique to brogrammers or doesn’t predate it. Just look at Revenge of the Nerds–when I first saw it as a kid I thought it was a great movie about geek empowerment against the douchebro jocks. And while there are *elements* of it that are great, it’s still laced with some pretty fucked up misogyny amongst the nerds, and even culminates with a sexual assault scene that’s presented as a nerd victory against the jocks by basically raping “their women”.

    But the “brogrammer” culture, while considered by most be kind of a joke, rather explicitly seeks to perpetuate programming as a boy’s club.

  41. 41
    moarscienceplz

    The vid has been removed and AOL has apologized, but there’s a tweet where the ‘titstare’ dudebros say it’s just “a fun aussie hack”. I’d be interested to hear from Australian tech people as to whether this kind of stuff is tolerated there, but I can say these super-geniuses would have a tough time getting hired in Silicon Valley after this.

  42. 42
    Bronze Dog

    How offensive. So these people are telling me that this is how I should *really* be behaving naturally because otherwise I’m not a real guy? That’s right, decency is only something you do when you have been tamed (or shall we say neutered) by the woman.
    Where is the misandry police when I really need them?

    The old standby troll tactic of questioning a person’s masculinity is one thing that irritates me. Speaking as if I’m being coerced into behaving the way I naturally do is another. It’s like they’re saying it’s a bad thing that I don’t live down to their stereotypes of men. They spout rhetoric that sounds self-hating to me but they apparently enjoy insulting themselves.

  43. 43
    ronixis

    I think the use of ‘handicapped’ in the intro to the post is somewhat ableist and problematic.

  44. 44
    Paul K

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- at #10:

    The sad thing is that as parents, being interested in the well-being of your daughter you might even want to shoo her gently away from such a toxic environment.

    Our son is now 12, and we’ve thought since he was less than a year old that engineering of some kind might be in his future. (He wanted to know how toys and other things worked long before he could actually take them apart.) We are interested in his well-being, and have had serious thoughts about shooing him away, too. The person he’s becoming would not be happy in the cesspool, partially because of the lack of empathy (he’s a very sweet kid), but also just the WTF? He’s thoughtful enough to see right through the bullshit of all this, even now.

    Reading this over, I see it might be seen as an argument with you, Giliell. I don’t mean it that way at all, but as an expansion on your excellent comment.

  45. 45
    chippanfire

    ronixis @43

    I think the use of ‘handicapped’ in the intro to the post is somewhat ableist and problematic.

    Indeed. Equating disability with misogyny is not cool. Grateful for a retraction and an apology here, PZ.

  46. 46
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @ronixis & al.

    I think the use of ‘handicapped’ in the intro to the post is somewhat ableist and problematic

    Fortunately, it’s not like there’s any problematic history of people on the street at which you *would* look twice associating freakishness and dis/ability .

    Cause that would be awkward.

  47. 47
    samihawkins

    I just stumbled onto another example of a grossly offensive ‘joke’ ya’ll might be interested in:

    http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Controversial-Tailgate-Stirs-Community-222620911.html

    I really hope he’s lying about this helping business, but the cynical part of me finds it easy to believe.

  48. 48
    Inaji

    chippanfire:

    Indeed. Equating disability with misogyny is not cool.

    PZ wrote:

    the people who are doing it aren’t some bizarre handicapped aberrant group, they’re people you wouldn’t look at twice if you saw them in the street.

    Those darn words, they are such tricksters.

  49. 49
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Caine:
    I think we’re in agreement.

    I think the point of ronixis was an objection similar to ones you might find here if someone said:

    Those people who repeated themselves in that meeting? It’s not like they were some shrewish, nagging fishwives or anything…

    It doesn’t entail that shrewish, nagging fishwives themselves
    a) exist
    or
    b) form a large percentage of women, b/c women, duh,
    or
    c) shrewish, nagging fishwives are the only/primary people involved in such behavior.

    Yet it relies on it in such a way that some people will find it problematic.

    Thus, agreement with ronixis, disagreement with chippanfire.

  50. 50
    Sandi

    Video is available here.

  51. 51
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    How……. welcoming…. of those developers. Boy, I’d feel like a part of programming culture if I had gone to present at a conference at which other presenters debuted that sort of app. And it’s not like having a presentation like that would change the culture of the conference, making it seem more ‘funny’ to engage in sexist joking.

    Yay.

  52. 52
    Holms

    You know who else ought to be really outraged at that spectacle? Comedians. Because boys are also brought up to think the most stupid crap is hilarious, as long as it’s about getting sex (see also that crass young man who was yucking it up on camera about the Steubenville rape), and it really lowers our expectations for humor.

    I’m not sure why you think ‘lowering our expectations of humour’ is something a coedian would oppose. This seems to assume that the average comedian is some kind of idealistic, high brow philosopher-of-laughs, interested solely in the betterment of the art of joking. They aren’t. Well, some might be but generally they are simply building their career.

    Low standards of humour spells easy laughs and there are plenty that are all too keen to cash in on lowest-common-denominator tripe.

    All of those clips are highly obnoxious, yet the comedians are quite successful crass honour is simply another way of saying ‘payday’ to many.

  53. 53
    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    This is admittedly a little bit tangential to the OP’s thrust, but comments like this…

    [Jafafa Hots @15]] I’m a white guy… and the one thing all white guys experience is what other white guys say when only white guys are around.

    [snip]

    We get to hear the “locker room” comments, etc. It’s assumed we’re in on it, feel the same. So it all comes out. I think it’s more than half.

    …make me wonder if I’m a “real man”: I’m a white guy, too, and have spent my whole life in predominantly white, middle-class communities, and yet I’ve never really experienced this thing that “all white guys experience.” That’s not to say I’ve never heard people say sexist or racist things, of course, and male privilege is everywhere (even if it did take me a big fraction of my life to understand that)… but the kind of macho, explicitly misogynistic douchebaggery and sexual boasting that “locker room talk” generally indicates? That has been almost entirely unknown to me throughout my 53 years.

    But I’m not arguing with Jafafa Hots here: I’m literally wondering if my experience is atypical among men. Because everyone seems to think “every guy” experiences this stuff; certainly that’s the way it’s portrayed in media and journalism. Admittedly I haven’t spent much time in actual locker rooms, having never been much of an athlete… but “locker room talk” is generally not portrayed as being limited to proper locker rooms.

    Every individual’s experience is particular, of course, but I have never thought of mine as particularly unusual; perhaps I need to reevaluate that. Episodes like the one related in the OP are morally offensive on their face, but they’re also surprising to me, because they’re so far outside the range of behavior I’ve actually observed.

    Maybe I just need to get out more. Or then again, maybe not.

  54. 54
    dvizard

    @Titstare: I just give the guys too much credit probably, but to me it looked like they were making fun of the fact that men stare at tits. In a very boring, unfunny way actually.

  55. 55
    Muz

    I would moderate what’s said in the edit slightly with regards to humour.
    It seems to be true that producing guffaws in your “bros” is basically a sacred act. People feel surprisingly protective of the things and people that make them laugh, without any real reflection on why that is or how they are doing it. The very easiest way to get a laugh, requiring no advanced comprehension on your part or that of your “audience” is with shock value. Saying “bad” and “naughty” things is paralytically amusing, apparently. And over time people have to seek out more and more outrageous subjects to keep social cache. This seems to kick off at puberty and continue just about indefinitely, if the films and audiences of Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler are any indication.
    It’s not necessarily related to sex (which isn’t to say I’m disputing the education part), but since that contains many taboos and awkward subjects and is popular and attention getting, it is an enormously obvious area to use.

    So it’s seemingly true to say that on some level these people do know what is wrong and disapproved of, but only to the point of it therefore being a way to break the rules and make my bros laugh. (who will then defend you for having “given the gift of laughter” I suppose)
    Couple that with the internet being a massive classroom to shout out funnies at when teacher’s back is turned, it’s trivial to be completely disgusting and produce gales of upvotes.
    The lowest form of wit is not sarcasm but shock.

    You could posit, I guess, that it’s a product of people being deeply insecure and willing to use whatever social currency is at hand to boost their self esteem. But it’s a general failure of empathy in any case.

  56. 56
    chippanfire

    @48 Caine, Fleur du mal

    PZ wrote:

    the people who are doing it aren’t some bizarre handicapped aberrant group, they’re people you wouldn’t look at twice if you saw them in the street.

    Those darn words, they are such tricksters.

    You’re absolutely right. My bad. But equating disability with bizarreness and aberrancy that’s hunky-fucking-dory. Glad that’s cleared up.

  57. 57
    Ichthyic

    But equating disability with bizarreness and aberrancy that’s hunky-fucking-dory. Glad that’s cleared up.

    I do believe he was kinda going for “sexists aren’t wandering about obvious like Quasimoto” but hey, feel free to keep going. Lord knows there was too much bigotry against old Quasimoto!

    there’s been entirely too much bigotry towards fictional characters in general!

  58. 58
    chippanfire

    His target is irrelevant. He is equating disability with freakishness, with aberrancy – other, not normal. Get it yet?

  59. 59
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    @chippanfire,
    I read PZ’s,

    And my answer was that I don’t know what percentage they are, but that it’s a mistake to dismiss it as a fringe phenomenon; it’s too common, and the people who are doing it aren’t some bizarre handicapped aberrant group, they’re people you wouldn’t look at twice if you saw them in the street.

    As an admonishment against equating sexist/misogynistic scumbaggery with aberrancy or disability. Many people do dismiss sexists as some minor fringe element; others dehumanize them as monsters, or as being neurotypical in some way. This is wrong, and PZ was pointing that out. Sexists are normal people reinforcing the same harmful sexists tropes that society hammers into them.

  60. 60
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Woo_monster:

    What does the contrast lose by being written:

    the people who are doing it aren’t some bizarre aberrant group, they’re people you wouldn’t look at twice if you saw them in the street.

    or even:

    the people who are doing it aren’t some conspicuously bizarre, aberrant group, they’re people you wouldn’t look at twice if you saw them in the street.

    here is where you find chippanfire’s critique. While I was with others in finding the first statement in error, and while “equate” is too strong for me (the difference between subset and the whole set is the issue here), save for “equate” I am with chippanfire here.

    ============
    I risk being seen as arguing in bad faith here, but I wish to point out that I’m sure you didn’t mean to say:

    Many people do dismiss sexists … as being neurotypical in some way.

    I make as many of these mistakes as anyone – no blame – I just thought clarification was in order.

  61. 61
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    @60 Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden,

    I agree with your, and chippanfire’s point. Nothing would be lost by a rephrasing. You are right.

    And neurotypical should have been non-neurotypical, thanks for the correction.

  62. 62
    chippanfire

    Thank you both.

  63. 63
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    @Caine, quite true. But I am still free to call the predators horrible, even if they don’t think of themselves that way.

    The “don’t rock the boat” bystanders are the toxic enabler “regular guys” you call out. I think they are potentially reachable – and once they do start rocking the boat, the dolts will go along with the crowd, and the horrible will lose their cover.

  64. 64
    Joseph O

    Hey I am a skeptic and a member of a bizarre handicapped aberrant group and the comment did make me hurt a tiny bit inside. . Anyway, I love PM and immediately forgave him. Keep it coming.

  65. 65
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    And then there’s this shitlord defending Titstare and generally going far and above the call of assholery….

  66. 66
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Episodes like the one related in the OP are morally offensive on their face, but they’re also surprising to me, because they’re so far outside the range of behavior I’ve actually observed.

    Maybe I just need to get out more. Or then again, maybe not.

    I’m not a social person at all, but I’ve heard a fairly decent amount of it. Granted, I went to an all-male high school, where I heard most of it, but I’ve had a handful of people in my professional career who’ve said things that made my jaw figuratively drop.

  67. 67
    euna

    Hey y’all! First comment, though I’m a long-time lurker and PZ fan.

    For what it’s worth, the “bizarre, handicapped, aberrant” thing hurt me too.

    PZ, I don’t for a minute question your motives. I know you absolutely didn’t mean to imply that if it were just some handicapped group their rantings could be disregarded — or that handicapped people are other, NOT “our friends and family”, not part of or representative of “us”. (And I’m sure you had no idea that many people with disabilities eschew the word “handicapped” because of the icky “cap in hand” etymology.)

    I know that’s not what you meant, but it still hurt. Mostly because it was you — someone I have come to trust and respect — that said it.

    Anyway, I love your writes. Back to anonymous fandom now.

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