Kenosha School District officials don’t seem aware of history

Ash Whitaker is a transgender boy in Wisconsin, and school officials are having difficulty dealing with it. So they’ve come up with a not at all novel solution.

A federal Title IX lawsuit filed in Wisconsin on Tuesday alleges that the Kenosha Unified School District instructed guidance counselors to have Ash Whitaker, a 16-year old transgender boy, and “any other transgender students at the school” wear “bright green wristbands” so that the school could “more easily monitor and enforce [their] restroom usage.”

First come the colorful wristbands, then the big bold armbands, then a symbol stitched to all of their clothing, and then tattoos.

Just a suggestion: the problem isn’t with Ash Whitaker, it’s with people who think they need to monitor restroom usage…which, when you think about it, is really creepy.

Don’t watch this if you’re at all squeamish about blood

I was just reading this post by Shiv about the expectations of femininity, making the point that there is a huge role for perception in how we react to sex-based phenomena — women are supposed to be hyper-emotional, even when they’re not, and we’ve all got this idea that extremely high level cognitive/emotional phenomena can be reduced to a simplistic measure of how much of which steroid you’ve got in your blood.

Here’s the thing: I’ve read the literature attempting to link estrogen to anything but physiology. It’s quite desperate. It’s EvoPsych levels of bad. The problem is that even if you do find a correlation, there’s a million and one moving parts–the biggest problem being “how do you measure levels of emotionality.” In the absence of anything remotely convincing, I remain skeptical of the exact role estrogen supposedly plays on emotional expression. It is far too convenient for these poorly designed experiments to support cultural stereotypes. The problem runs so deep that we’re asking the wrong question–how, exactly, does one measure the null hypothesis? Are you able to reasonably assess stoicism without the gender of the subject prejudicing your measurement?

Men don’t cry, but it’s not because testosterone dries up your tear ducts — it’s because men are mocked fiercely if they show that kind of emotion. Women are supposed to be emotionally expressive, but it’s not because estrogen somehow disinhibits emotional centers of the brain, but because they’re conditioned by years of expectations that girls are supposed to be this way.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, and different cultures have different expectations of gendered behavior, and that is what shapes us most. One of the best discussions I’ve seen of that is in Sarah Hrdy’s Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species, in which she takes a cold hard anthropological look at the myth of the woman enslaved by her instinct for mothering, and shows that it’s bunk.

And then I ran across this commercial, which is the most fucking macho thing ever. There’s a lot of blood in it, so you may not want to watch it. It’s an ad for feminine napkins.

Who we are is partly a product of biology (but there’s more commonality between men and women than our sexist society wants to accept), but how we think of ourselves is a matter of attitude.

Bye, Bill

I’d heard the stories, but I had no idea how awful William Shatner was. And then…

And then

Thousands of fans turned out for Montreal Comic-Con July 8-10, many to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Overall, the mood was positive, forward-looking, and particularly supportive of diversity in the franchise. But then William Shatner opened his mouth, and took us all back in time (not in a fun Voyage Home way) with a string of sexist jokes.

And no, they weren’t even funny sexist jokes. They just kind of flopped there, looking stupid. He even repeated one of the more pointless ones three times.

So Leonard Nimoy turns out to be a thoughtful, interesting, enlightened human being, and he dies. William Shatner is a raging dillhole, and he lives forever. It all makes the old Star Trek really hard to watch.

Oh, hey, how about that Rogue One? No asshats involved in that one, I’m sure.

The Bible demands that gender is binary

Ken Ham is disgusted. Ontario, Canada is going to allow an “X” designation in addition to “M” or “F” on their drivers licenses, for people who “do not exclusively identify as male or female”. This is unbiblical! Don’t you know that the Bible specifically prescribes what material must be present on your motor vehicle licenses? What is St Peter going to do when you die and you have to present your ID in order to go through the Pearly Gates?

But seriously, he’s concerned that this is a sign of creeping moral crepitude.

Many people in the church—especially young people—have been so influenced by the culture’s do-whatever-feels-right ethic that they accept whatever is popular, regardless of whether or not it contradicts God’s Word. Christian leaders and parents need to note this growing trend and teach their young people to think biblically, starting with God’s Word. That’s the only way we can raise up a generation that stands solidly on the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ. And they need to be reminded of Scripture such as, “But from the beginning of the creation, God “made them male and female” (Mark 10:6).

You can learn more about a compassionate, biblical response to transgender issues in the Answers magazine article, “Transgender Identity—Wishing Away God’s Design.”

Oh, this explains everything. Transgender men and women are making this choice because it’s popular. Declaring yourself to be a gender different from the socially imposed one is done simply to get oneself invited to all the chic parties and to be loved by all the other kids at school. But wait! That tract Ham cites, “Transgender Identity—Wishing Away God’s Design” includes this comment:

The rates of suicide among transgender people show the brokenness this choice causes. Paul McHugh, former Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist in chief, has noted in the Wall Street Journal that the suicide rate among transgender individuals is 20 times higher than in the normal population. Embracing transgender identity at the cultural level does not produce happiness and wholeness. It goes hand in hand with personal confusion and disorder.

So the apologists at Answers in Genesis are simultaneously declaring that transgender people are only in it for the popularity and happiness it brings, and recognizing that there are high rates of misery imposed on the transgender population. And they don’t even pause to realize the contradictions in their position.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It goes hand-in-hand with how they read the Bible — there are no contradictions here, while happily embracing both sides of every contradiction.

Taylor Swift’s vulva and the worst Christian ever?

Holy crap. You think you’ve plumbed the depths of the Internet, and then you find a Christian making sandwich sculptures of her daughters’ crotches and sneering at Taylor Swift’s labia.

Taylor Swift hasn’t had any nude photos published, has she, so how does she know? And what’s wrong with the sandwich on the left? This is weird, ignorant body shaming and using anatomy as a proxy for piety.

She sucked me in. I had to look at this woman’s web site: An Elegant Life by Jennifer: Spreading Positivity through Jesus Christ. You may be thinking that her sandwich art is neither elegant nor positive, and this is pretty repellent stuff. But that’s because you haven’t read the other stuff she writes.

It’s worse.

[Read more…]

Not even terrible people deserve to be sexually harassed

I cannot abide Gretchen Carlson, the awful co-host on the dumbest news show on Fox News, Fox & Friends, so I should be pleased that she has left her job…except that the reason takes all the joy out of it.

Carlson, who just announced that she was no longer working for Fox News on her Facebook page, alleges that she was fired because she rebuffed Ailes’s sexual advances. Carlson, who had spent 11 years at Fox News, alleges that her firing from Fox was a retaliatory move after she not only refused to have sex with Ailes, but also tried to challenge what she claims was unfair treatment from her male colleagues.

Among other things, Carlson alleges that Ailes told her last September that “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” Carlson also claims that Ailes instructed her to turn around on multiple occasions so he could ogle her posterior, while also requesting that she wear outfits that showed off her figure.

You know, this is the kind of behavior I expected of Fox News, but that doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

Carlson also accuses Steve Doocy, the guy who has been vying with Brian Kilmeade for the title of the dumbest guy on the dumbest show on Fox News, of also harassing her. Who knew Fox News could get even uglier?


Carlson’s full complaint is available online (pdf).

Nope. Nope nope nope.

I’m feeling a bit dismal this morning, thanks to some petty and entirely trivial interactions, and then I read this–an eyewitness account of female genital mutilation in Kenya. I won’t describe it, except to say…old blind woman with a razor blade, no anesthetic, swarm of women holding the victim down and silencing her screams.

I’m done. Mars is looking increasingly attractive. Humanity, you suck.

No, not my alma mater!

It’s yet another academic scandal, this time at the university where I was an undergrad, the University of Washington. A top virus researcher, Michael Katze, has been committing all kinds of inappropriate behavior.

In the summer of 2014, as Ebola ravaged West Africa and unleashed panic across the U.S., Michael Katze was a voice of reason. As head of one of the biggest virus labs in the country, he frequently appeared on TV news spots — sharply dressed, with his signature black glasses and deep tan — preaching calm in the face of fear.

But away from the cameras, the University of Washington lab in Seattle that Katze had led for nearly 30 years was descending into chaos. Over the next year, one of his most important collaborators severed its $1.2 million partnership. Employees left in droves. And a lab administrator filed charges accusing him of sexually harassing her and a colleague. In August 2015, the university banned Katze from entering his own lab.

This past January, a university investigation concluded that Katze, 66, had violated the school’s sexual harassment policies with both employees. A second investigation, by the university’s School of Medicine, determined that in the process, he had misused university resources for personal gain, including by asking an employee to do chores for him and solicit a prostitute. It recommended a comprehensive internal audit to determine how far this misuse of public funds went.

This was a guy who was rolling in grant money — he was sitting on top of $30 million in awards — and he acted like some petty pimp, doling out grant money explicitly for sexual favors. And no one noticed?

One of the employees was an administrator whom Katze had hired, at an unusually high salary, on the implicit condition that she submit to his sexual demands. He personally rewarded this woman, known as Mary Roe in some court documents, with “thousands or even tens of thousands” of dollars a year in cash and gifts, the investigation found.

The university found that Katze also sexually harassed another administrative employee, known as Jane Doe in court documents. According to the investigations, Katze asked her to clean his apartment, purchase marijuana and Percocet for him, email escorts and place personal ads for him, and “schedule his manicures, pedicures, haircuts, and hair lightening appointments.” Meanwhile, he joked about having sex with her, made sexual comments about her appearance, sent her sexually suggestive emails, and, on two occasions, tried while drunk to kiss or touch her

He’s still getting paid, but he’s lost his lab, his employees, and his grant money. I guess that’s good. But I still can’t imagine the lack of oversight that would allow such a sleaze to run rampant. There’s clearly a problem with Katze, but there’s also a problem in UW grants administration.