Women are so bad at computer games…


But that’s the stereotype, that men are more competitive and better at playing games, so of course women are just naturally squeezed out of the gaming environment. The thing about computer games, though, is that performance is stored in digital data, so researchers can take it apart case by case and assess performance objectively. In a study of 11,000 players, researchers found no gender gap in performance.

Do men advance faster than women in MMOs? Prior research found a perceived gender gap in participation and performance, suggesting men as playing more and better than women. This article challenges this gender gap through a longitudinal performance analysis of men and women in two MMOs in the United States and China, EverQuest II and Chevaliers’ Romance III, respectively. Controlling for extraneous factors such as play time and guild membership, our results showed that women perform at least as well as men do. Perceived gender-based performance disparities seem to result from factors that are confounded with gender (i.e., amount of play), not player gender itself. The stereotype of female players as inferior is not only false, but it is also a potential cause for unequal participation in digital gaming.

However, while men and women are just as good at playing the games, there’s a huge difference in participation: the sample for this study was 18% women, 82% men. That’s something that has to be explained, but at least now we can throw out the old ‘girls suck at games’ excuse. As the authors suggest, it may be that the stereotype itself is self-reinforcing.

Maybe philosophy can be entertaining


You might want to read Terminator: The Simone de Beauvoir Chronicles if you don’t mind seeing philosophers shoot each other or run over each other with trolleys. This one rebukes hyper-rationality and utilitarianism, and includes a few cool quotes from Simone de Beauvoir…and also makes up a few that she should have said.

There are hints to all the philosophical in-jokes, and I like this summary of the line in the excerpt I posted here.

The final line is a play on Beauvoir’s famous phrase from The Second Sex, “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman”. By this she meant the the roles, characteristics, and attributes that make up “womanness” are not essential traits to women, but rather adopted individually and culturally. There is no essential woman for Beauvoir, as indeed there was no essential humanity. It is up to us to decide what we are.

Why, that’s downright inspiring.

It’s been a good day in the courts

Mississippi passed a bad law. HB1523 said that employees of the state did not have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they had a sincere belief that it was wrong, where those sincere beliefs were:

(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;

(b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and

(c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

So if we assume those premises, those premises are legally valid because we’ve assumed them, and you don’t have to do the job you were hired to do if you don’t want to do the job you were hired to do. Tautology seems to be a way of life among good Christians.

Good news, though: a federal judge has ruled that Mississippi cannot do that. Start issuing those marriage licenses, clerks!

[Read more…]

Choice wins

The Supreme Court has overturned a restrictive Texas anti-abortion law.

In a dramatic ruling, the Supreme Court on Monday threw out a Texas abortion access law in a victory to supporters of abortion rights who argued it would have shuttered all but a handful of clinics in the state.

The 5-3 ruling is the most significant decision from the Supreme Court on abortion in two decades and could serve to deter other states from passing so-called “clinic shutdown” laws.

You can read the decision (pdf).

It feels funny to have a Supreme Court decision go the sensible, reasonable way.

Convergent evolution of jerks

This sounds terribly familiar.

The self-identified Men’s Rights Advocates just seemed eager to lay into someone they perceived as a liberal “value-signaler.” They targeted my masculinity and sexual orientation, labeling me a “cuck” and a “libfag.” Before I knew it, I was receiving multiple email notices that I’d been signed up for a variety of hardcore gay pornography services.

What did Jared Sexton do to deserve such hatred? He wrote up a factual account of his attendance at a Trump rally, and noted that a lot of the attendees were loud bigots.

It’s a curious phenomenon. I got exactly the same kind of response from Catholics, years ago, and then I got it from right-wing atheists, and then from “scientific” racists and fans of evolutionary psychology, and of course I get it from MRAs. What’s strange is how they all sound alike, and the tactics haven’t changed at all. Email death threats, rage with a common set of slurs, and oh yes, signing me up for gay porn. Do they even realize that that stuff doesn’t disturb me in the least? I might glance at it, be impressed with the remarkable muscle tone of their models, and trash it for lack of interest.

They occasionally come up with a new term, but it sweeps through the population so rapidly that it loses all impact. The latest example is “cuck”: one moment, no one is saying it, and then suddenly it’s ubiquitous among that certain group of people. For the record, I love the word “cuck”, because when someone uses it, it is an instant classifier. It’s like spotting a notochord in an embryo — you just snap your fingers and say, yep, phylum Chordata. I see “cuck”, I know instantly that it’s phylum Blustering-Asshole-Authoritarian-Obsessed-With-Controlling-Women.

But really, what’s sad is how uniform they all sound — like their personality has been excised and replaced with loud yelling, and their creativity has been obliterated with a cancer of buzzwords.

Steve Hofstetter shuts down a heckler

Someone in the audience didn’t much care for a bit in which this comedian talks about a woman announcer calling a baseball game…for the first time in 2015. So he shouts his disapproval. Then Hofstetter puts him in his place.

You’d think people would figure it out. Heckling puts you in the sights of a trained professional who will skillfully make fun of you.

You probably shouldn’t read this

I read the news today, oh boy, and there’s nothing reassuring.

  • This big name hacker, Jake Appelbaum, has been using his reputation to harass, stalk, and abuse women. I’ll spare you the details, but jeez does this ever sound familiar.

    This didn’t happen because we’re broken as a hacker culture, or because we’re hackers and thus too undeveloped to comprehend empathy. People like Jake can be found in other places; priests and churches, Hollywood, the porn industry, and more. Wherever power imbalances, hero worship, and secret-keepers intersect. People like Jake are found in hacker culture, too, and it’s past time for hacker culture to deal with it.

    Know any other organizations with “power imbalances, hero worship, and secret-keepers”?

  • A boy writes a graphic letter describing how he’d rape and murder girls at his school, and hands it to a girl with a smirk. Again, I’ll spare you the ugly details. What’s shocking is that despite a clear school policy, administrators did nothing to punish him or assure the girls that they were safe, only requiring that the boy take his exams in isolation.

    “The principal and school staff didn’t do a thorough investigation and were negligent in ensuring protection of students, and school staff against a potentially violent person,” said a parent of one of the girls. The Sentinel is not naming the parent because it would identify the minor girl.

    Another parent of one of the girls said, “I am in complete shock and disbelief at the principal’s response to this dangerous situation. I felt like the school was protecting the perpetrator and ignoring the possible threat to the victims. I am at a loss of words that a person who would write such a descriptive rape and kill list would be allowed to stay on campus at all.”

    No one thinks there might be something deeply wrong with a student who writes explicit, violent pornography about fellow students and hands it to the subject of his fantasies?

  • Don’t worry, though. Someday, Earl Erhart will be there to defend men like him accused of rape.

    Earl Ehrhart is worried about his sons. Both boys attend Georgia public universities, and Ehrhart, a state representative from the Atlanta suburbs, has heard all about the college sexual-misconduct hearings in which young men are presumed guilty until proven innocent. The proceedings are flawed, he says, they’re like “kangaroo courts.” And their rulings are so biased against the accused, Ehrhart fears that his boys—as with male students across the state—could end up expelled based on a false accusation of rape.

    Somehow, these guys are always far more worried about men being accused of rape, then of women being raped.

    I went through fraternity rush once, way back in 1976. I attended one frat party — it was all about alcohol and getting women drunk enough to go to bed with you, and was an evening of crass jokes and boorish behavior. I never went to another frat party, but when people say some aspects of a university encourage rape culture, I can say yes, they do.

    But Earl Erhart will be there to protect it.

  • I wonder how some jobs get to be so male-centric. Masonry, for instance. That’s highly skilled labor, and in a competition, Shania Clifford excelled at it.

    Judges in the masonry program, a field usually dominated by men, originally awarded Clifford first place by a whopping 72 points.

    Larry Moore, her instructor, said the scores of the top performers usually vary by only a couple of points, but Clifford’s column for the state competition was exceptional.

    “She had the best plumb there,” Moore said. “Two or three corners were perfect.” Plumb refers to how straight a vertical edge is.

    And then later the competition officials retracted the win and gave it to the guy who finished third, instead.

    I wonder how some jobs get to be so male-centric?

  • Laila Alawa wrote “9/11 changed the world for good“, where “for good” is a common English idiom meaning “permanently”. Unfortunately, the usual gang of professional illiterates and idiots, like Pam Geller and Milo Yiannopoulous, seem to have had to run it through Google Translate to get it from English to their native tongue of Hate, and it garbled it to “for the good”, and they then announced to the world that Alawa is a Muslim who thinks 9/11 was wonderful.

    On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, I woke up to a hell that even I could not have predicted,” Alawa wrote yesterday in a post on The Tempest, an online publication she founded and runs. “Hundreds of people were tweeting at me, the vitriol, hatred and fury in their messages each worse than the last one.

    It’s remarkable how often stupidity and hatred go hand in hand.

  • The latest scandal out of Australia is that a wealthy radio presenter and football team president joked on air about paying $50,000 to drown a woman football reporter. He apparently doesn’t like her, comparing her to a spider, which makes it OK. I really don’t understand where he gets his casual sexism.

    This is a promotional ad for his radio station.


    Nope. Nothing unusual about that picture. Nothing at all.

I really should stop reading all this stuff people send me every day. It’s not good for my mood.

Oh, heck. One more.

  • Another college football player flushes his career and life away.

    An ex-Vanderbilt University football player will serve at least 15 years in prison after he was convicted by a jury Saturday of encouraging three teammates to rape an unconscious woman he was dating, and filming it in his dorm room.

    It’s not just the rape that was awful. On what planet is it considered fun to invite your friends to join in a rape, and to record it? Planet Privilege, I guess.

Maybe we should outlaw ownership of guns by men?

It has been pointed out many times that there is one almost perfect correlation in the US’s mass shootings: it’s not that they’re done by Muslims (that would be laughably false, if it weren’t a conclusion that is harming innocents). It’s that almost all of the mass shootings are done by men. Soraya Chemaly points out something that is almost as terrible: most of their murder sprees begin with killing women and children.

As Huffington Post reporter Melissa Jeltsen wrote last year, “The untold story of mass shootings in America is one of domestic violence.” According to a conservative estimate by the FBI, 57 percent of the mass shootings (involving more than four victims) between January 2009 and June 2014 involved a perpetrator killing an intimate partner or other family member. In other words, men killing women intimates and their children and relatives are the country’s prototypical mass shooters; these killings are horrifyingly common. In fact, on Sunday, while the world watched in horror as news poured out of Orlando, a man in New Mexico was arrested in the fatal shooting deaths of his wife and four daughters.

Even when intimate partners are not involved, gender and the dynamics of gender are salient. According to one detailed analysis, 64 percent of the victims of mass murders are women and children, and yet the role that masculinity and aggrieved male entitlement plays is largely sidelined. Schools, for example, make up 10 percent of the sites of mass shootings in the U.S., and women and girls are twice as likely to die in school shootings. Gyms, shopping malls and places of worship are also frequent targets, and are similarly places where women and girls are predictably present in greater numbers.

Also chilling is how we look the other way.

The Washington Post reported Monday that “although family members said Mateen had expressed anger about homosexuality, the shooter had no record of previous hate crimes.” But that depends on how you categorize domestic violence.

There are people who think domestic violence doesn’t even count as violence. The Bible condones beating your wife, so do some factions in Islam, and there are always idiots who argue that rape in marriage is impossible.

It makes me wonder how much courage it takes for a woman to enter into any kind of relationship with a man.