Not cool, Hemant

I love ya. You’re an awesome friend and a brilliant blogger. I know you’re an all around good guy and you thought you were just being funny.

But please don’t ruin a brilliant interview with Kari Byron of Mythbusters about her atheism by saying “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari.”

It’s not funny, it’s disappointing.

I know you were just joking and you’re a supporter of diversity. And before people accuse me of trying to make you a eunuch – you’re allowed to remark that she’s attractive. Hell, I think Kari is hot.

But to too many people, only appreciating a woman for her looks and not for her intelligence is not a joke – it’s a negative mindset that joking helps perpetuate.


  1. says

    Yeah…I was squicked out when I read that. It looks like Hemant got called out by some of his commenters, too. Way to speak up – we all slip up now and then, and it’s good to have friends that will call us on our sh*t when that happens.

  2. says

    Yeah. Please don’t joke that the looks of an intelligent woman are more important than what she has to say, because there are plenty of people who believe that in earnest and they don’t need the encouragement.

  3. says

    I feel like this would be a great opportunity for a dissection joke, but I’m pretty sure my fetal pig was female and my frog was overflowing with eggs.

  4. Leroy says

    Don’t you have more important things to do than complain about such a small issue? Why don’t you focus on people that are actually demeaning women and/or reducing them to objects and not, you know, and stop complaining and such an innocuous joke.

  5. Gus Snarp says

    Demonstrating that even the most enlightened members of a privileged group don’t always recognize the extent of our privilege or the way our words may be received by those outside our group. I never would have thought of this, but the point is well taken.

  6. Clayton says

    I think I need to hear more about why this is offensive. I’m honestly trying to understand how acknowledging her attractiveness is the same as implying it is her ONLY good attribute. I’m sure there is probably some good, well thought rationale – but I’m having difficulty finding it myself.Kari is in my ‘top 3’ attractive women on the planet (the other two being Felica Day and Morgan Webb, because I’m a huge nerd) and, IMO, owes a great deal of her attractiveness to her intelligence. If the joke was “This whole post was really just an excuse to post pictures of random girls in bikinis” I’d completely agree. Attractiveness, it seems to me, is an incredibly subjective thing and is strongly influenced by things like intelligence and personality. It is not ONLY a matter of genetically inherited physical traits. (I, for one, could never find a close minded anti-intellectual attractive – no matter what her physical attributes may be). So, given the context, I’m not sure why it is offensive to want to post a picture of an attractive (and intelligent) atheist.

  7. Gus Snarp says

    It seems obvious to me. The words: “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari,” couldn’t more clearly say that the words in the interview that express her mind are meaningless and only the picture that shows her appearance is worthy of a post. I fully realize it’s meant as a lighthearted joke, and I never would have noticed it had it not been pointed out, but that’s exactly what the sentence says. It’s not implying, it says it.

  8. says

    You’re right. I propose that instead, Jen should write a post about people who demean her by telling her what she should write about on her own blog.Oh wait–

  9. J04NN4 says

    Seriously? No, this isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to womankind – no one’s saying it is – but do you not see that sexism being considered funny is generally not a good thing? Can you really not see how this would bother women? Or how it’s representative of a trend? Jeez.

  10. KarlVonMox says

    This is a prime example of hypersensitivity at its worst. Hemant didnt mean that we should only appreciate her because of her looks and not the content of the interview – he was just remarking on how attractive she is. You are putting words in his mouth and distorting a trivial comment. Honestly, thats one of the first things that came to my mind when I saw the picture (Hemants comment just seemed to verify that this is what we are all thinking). Stop wasting our time.

  11. Melody says

    I know that you are going to be called out by the ignorant, the insensitive, and the members of the privileged class, but just know that you are right on about this one, Jen.

  12. says

    The problem with joking is that it makes it okay. The mentality of, it’s just a joke, so its alright that I’m being sexist, creates an environment where sexism will be allowed and it shouldn’t be. It just helps perpetuate the problem.

  13. Clayton says

    Thank you. That does clear it up a little. I’m still not 100% certain I agree, but I do at least see the issue a little more clearly.To be fair (and not trying to be argumentative), the post does include more than JUST Kari’s interview. In fact, as I read it, the original inspiration for the post was the Ricky Gervais interview (that was the lead, anyway).As a thought experiment, I can’t help but wonder what the overall reaction would be if Kari was someone who was generally considered unattractive (physically). Would the joke no longer make sense (indicating it was based entirely on her attractiveness) or would it be assumed he wanted to post a picture because he liked her for other (nonphysical) reasons? For me, it would probably be the latter, but a single data point doesn’t prove anything. (And I’m not really sure it is relevant anyway – just something I’d be intellectually curious to know).

  14. OverlapingMagisteria says

    I was wondering if you’d be (rightly) calling out Hemant on this one as soon as I read it. You never disappoint!

  15. Leroy says

    There is sexism and there is sexism. This is Jenn overreacting. She said Hemant ruined the interview with that joke. Again, there are more important things.

  16. Leroy says

    It is implying. Saying it would have been Hemant saying “I don’t care what she said in that interview. All that matters is her looks and clearly nothing else matters.”But he didn’t say that. He made a joke. Get over it.

  17. says

    He didn’t acknowledge her attractiveness – well, I guess he did, but only implicitly. Similarly, but less implicitly, he dismissed the entire value of anything else to do with the interview or posting it or anything. He effectively said “this was a pointless interview, but it gave me permission to post the pic”.This is obviously not what he intended to say, but it is, unfortunately, what he did say. Making that mistake doesn’t make him a bad person (although it obviously shows room for improvement). I know I’ve made similar. The ‘bad’ ones are those that don’t acknowledge, or deny and get very defensive about, such issues.

  18. Gus Snarp says

    The problem with that thought experiment is that the comment just would never have been made if she weren’t attractive. Unless the point was to make fun of the unattractiveness in some way, in which case the comment would be even worse, but I don’t imagine Hemant would have done that.Here’s another thought experiment: What if the line had been: “This whole post was really just an excuse to post pictures of Kari and Ricky”? Would balancing it make it OK? It seems to me that it would, but I don’t know.

  19. says

    “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari” – this fairly clearly says (and Hemant obviously didn’t mean, but ended up saying anyway) that the post wouldn’t be worth having without the picture. It would be a bit better without the ‘just’, or said something like ‘this post also makes a great excuse to post a picture of Kari’.Intention isn’t all that matters.

  20. kimmbot says

    It’s because including a line like that reduces her to just a pretty face, and insinuates that the interview wouldn’t have been worth posting if she hadn’t been attractive. Hope that helps.

  21. Rex says

    “But to too many people, only appreciating a woman for her looks and not for her intelligence is not a joke – it’s a negative mindset that joking helps perpetuate.”This statement is true for far too many people, far too much of the time.It is also very much NOT what Hemant was doing with his post.

  22. says

    I absolutely adore your blog, Jen, I really do. But I honestly think when it comes to something like this, you just need to lighten up. This post is very disappointing.. I chuckled at the post about Kari just moments before I read this, and then I was disappointed.. not by him, but by you. It really was just an unnecessary buzz-kill.I know you’ve got that whole “feminist thing” going on.. I’m not personally a fan (and yes I am a woman), it’s not really my thing I guess, but I just take it with your posts. But this? Really? It might be a good idea to just choose your battles.. some things are just honestly not even worth a foot-note.You know, I used to moderate a Christian online community back in the day when I was still enslaved by religion, and we used to often reprimand individuals for airing grievances in public by constantly calling each other out like children in public posts, because it was more something you should do in private. That is actually one of the first vibes I received when reading this post.. the “What the hell, send an email if you’re so upset about it” vibe.So if it isn’t the subject matter that has me disappointed, I guess it is sort of the manner in which you decided to go about mentioning it that kinda pisses me off. It seems a little juvenile. Sorry.. this is just an honest from-the-heart critique that isn’t meant to attack you or anything like that. I still love everything you do and the majority of your blog. I just think this was completely a waste of your time and my time as it is *seriously* a non-issue.

  23. says

    Hey, can we make that ‘some members of the privileged class’? :pSemi-serious and unimportant jocular points aside, you are quite right to say Jen’s quite right, IMO, and we should all be applauding Jen some more. I just wish this got things through to the people who don’t get it, or at least to more of them.

  24. says

    If this is so unimportant, why have you stuck around to make so many comments? Is Jen’s “overreaction” really worth the time of someone who obviously has so many better things to do?

  25. says

    Taking the thought experiment at face value for a moment, then I have to say that the hypothetical case would still be dismissing any potential value in the rest of the piece, whatever motive is assumed.

  26. S2VpdGgA says

    Here’s a thought experiment for you: let’s say that Hemant’s article just had the Ricky Gervais photo. At the end, he says, “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Ricky”. Because, let’s face it, that photo is truly awesome.If that doesn’t clarify things, let’s say that some blogger named Rebecca had this same article, word for word, but ended with my new sentence mentioning Ricky.Switching around the genders of the people involved has always helped me decide whether something is objectionable or not. Your chilometraggio may vary but I hope it could help others as well.

  27. Gus Snarp says

    Your reading comprehension skills need work. Now if you actually have a constructive argument please make it and quit repeating yourself.

  28. says

    This is a prime example of hypersensitivity at its worst.

    Please tell me you are referring to your own comment as the prime example of hypersensitivity.

  29. J04NN4 says

    OK, so even if we forget the fact that the little things add up and are indicative of attitudes on a whole…Just because ‘there are more important things’ we shouldn’t be offended? OK… ever complained that you’re hungry? Hey, what about those starving kids in Africa? Ever whined about your home, job, family? Hey, there are people who’d kill to be in your position. Quit whining. We’re only allowed to moan about THE most terrible things ever. Your position makes no sense on a number of levels.

  30. says

    Wow. If Jen is so prone to fill her blog with “overreactions” to sexist comments why don’t you just start frequenting other blogs that focus on “real” issues?

  31. says

    Just to clarify and expand… this could have worked, somehow, if it was more blatantly ironic. Irony can still be damaging when people don’t realise it’s ironic – like Ali G ending up effectively promoting gang culture, because kids who were already somewhat inclined towards such activity saw it and didn’t realise that it was a joke (or at least that that part was a joke).

  32. Gus Snarp says

    Except that men don’t generally face the very real situation that women do in which they are judged primarily on their appearance as sex objects rather than what they say or do.

  33. Michael Hare says

    Probably not worth jumping in. People who don’t understand why it is offensive never will. Jokes have their place. Sexist jokes that demising women or anyone for that matter, have no place. Those who are offended and say so are not being up tight or thin skinned. They are taking a stand to right a wrong.

  34. says

    Ricky’s photo is awesome because it’s interesting– he did something to make a statement. Considering that Keri is doing nothing in her photo apart from sitting there wearing regular clothes, the obvious conclusion is that he thinks her photo is worth posting simply because she’s hot. Interesting, hot. Two very different things. See?

  35. says

    Thanks for calling this out, Jen. I read that post, and once I hit the last line just rolled my eyes and sighed. I guess I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who did.

  36. The Nasty Christian says

    Feminism or dourness have always been lead balloons that stifle the human spirit.

  37. says

    That only works well when you assume that gender relations are symmetric in general. When you work from a premise of privilege, it doesn’t work so well.In the male-male case, it would, in fact, make perfect sense if it was “an excuse to post this picture of Ricky”, or even without the “of Ricky”. In the female-male case, the gender asymmetries endemic in our society would tend to encourage people to read it as ironic. One of the big problems with the textual medium, of course.

  38. Rob says

    I think what upsets me most in situations like these is when I realize how easily I do and say these things about women without even realizing it. It frightens me on some level. I guess I don’t think about it because being objectified by women (or gay men, I suppose, for that matter) doesn’t bother me or affect me. Does it not bother me because its not an overwhelming trend of society?

  39. Jonathanjo_no_fscing_spam says

    Jen, I can’t help but notice from casually following your Twitter feed and your blog that you keep trying to make a difference within the organized Atheist community and you keep encountering douchebaggery from hordes of clueless, arrogant, sexist men. Your critique of Hennant is spot-on, but I can’t help but read it within the context of your stories of the abuse you’ve seen and received, which must make this ill-chosen one-liner feel like piling on. And, frankly, I’ve seen more Privilege Denying in the comments on your blog than in almost any other venue.So, why bother? What is it about the particular group of people who congregate at Atheist events and Atheist blogs that makes you want to contribute to that community? Of all people who don’t believe in a supreme being, the proportion who go to these events has to be negligible. Surely there are venues with rational, skeptical people who aren’t douchebags. It’s none of my business, of course, since I’m just a blog lurker, but this has been bugging me. You’re better than them.

  40. says

    I agree with you Jen, stupid tasteless joke, but the one problem (and this is NOT your fault), every time someone points this out (as they rightly should) it makes the internet feel like a minefield. It makes everyone a little more hesitant to try and be funny, you second guess yourself. I am doing it now with this comment, oh wait, will this come across as just another sexist excuse? I mean how hard is it to avoid stupid tasteless jokes, really?Hemant is a good guy, I am sure he will see the problem. So why not send him an email, and only post a blog post if he doesn’t issue a: my bad, sorry about that and strike a line through it on the original post?PS so much hotter now I know she is an atheist, just saying.

  41. Clayton says

    But that statement (or even one excluding Kari completely) would still make sense, right? In other words, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to assume that he wanted to post the picture for reasons beyond attractiveness, right?That’s not to say I don’t agree with you as to his motives – I think it is highly likely given the context that he was indicating his desire to post a picture of a girl he found attractive. However, I think it might be worth taking in to account the potential reasons he finds her attractive. I highly suspect intellect and personality are chief among those reasons. If we had someone who looked like Kari but acted like, say, Sarah Palin (whom I’m lead to believe many find physically attractive, although I can personally barely look at her) would he have been likely to have been as eager to post a picture?I think I have a clear understanding of the issue – but to me it seems like there is a lot of grey area. Even if you don’t believe that it being a joke excuses it (which could be debated either way), attractiveness itself can (and in this case probably does) rely on non-physical qualities. At the very least, wanting to post a picture of someone you find attractive does not necessarily mean you don’t respect them for other reasons.

  42. says

    Picking up on the slips of folks who otherwise pretty clued-up and switched-on about this stuff is important for different reasons.Any number of things can be important; I’m tired of the false dichotomy people paint in these situations.

  43. says

    I really don’t understand people who comment on blogs to tell people “You shouldn’t waste your time writing about X.” It’s their blog, life, and time. If they enjoy writing about X, then that’s there business. And, that’s totally different from “I disagree with you about X, here’s why.” That’s a totally appropriate comment, but I really don’t understand the need to tell people what they shouldn’t spend their time on.

  44. says

    I can understand why a sexist joke isn’t helpful in the world we live in, although I probably wouldn’t have noticed it myself.Help me understand something though. Would it have been an OK joke if we lived in an alternate reality where every guy was like Hemant already?Unrelated, that Gervais picture is genius.

  45. says

    But quite often the people who say offensive things are otherwise intelligent and good people, and will understand what’s wrong with what they said if it’s pointed out. Jen is assuming Hemant is such a person, which is a compliment to him. And Gus said above that he wouldn’t have noticed anything if Jen hadn’t commented. So yes, it’s worthwhile to speak up for the sake of the people who aren’t *trying* to be offensive.

  46. says

    I’m with Jen here.Basically– for those defending it–that last line is a throw away joke–but really–it’s not that funny. Seriously–I think Ta-Nehisi Coates standards for such things (he focuses more on racism generally) is pretty good.. He generally notes that whether some joke is racist or not–it better be damn funny if you are going to play with racism at all.. Along those lines–the last line of the post is just lame. It isn’t funny, is sexist, and it doesn’t add anything to the post. Why have it??

  47. says

    I think that’s why a lot of men get really defensive in the comments to these posts. Nearly all of us have said or done something similar to Hemant here at some point. The mature among us will examine our previous behavior, accept our past mistakes and try to do better in the future. The immature will lash out at those calling it a problem. Jen thus becomes the bad guy for calling their actions sexist.

  48. says

    Eventually they (some) will. Maybe not from reading blogs, but I’ve personally contributed to people being less racist. Maybe to them being more sensitive to feminist issues, also.

  49. The Nasty Christian says

    Sorry Adam…not an elitist…functional illiterate…had to check out of school half way through Grade four…stuff to do…

  50. says

    Just to speak for myself: when I am objectified by men, which only theses days happens on the street, it causes a fight or flight reaction. I am 5’10” and have broad shoulders and occasionally get mistaken for a man (once while wearing heels and a skirt). I have a much less visceral reaction to whistles/honks than many of my female friends who are smaller than me. I’m not physically scared. If we did not live in a society where sexual assault happens to 1 out of 6 women (in US), then maybe objectification would not matter so much. I’m not equating them, just saying that the culture allows both.

  51. says

    On your second point, I often do email or IM Hemant about something he just posted and why it’s not the best taste. And he almost always clarifies or changes it. It’s just particularly annoying that he did this *right* after we discussed this exact issue here. That and it serves as a learning opportunity for others, instead of an under the table discussion.I would also like to not that Hemant is always totally levelheaded and understanding about criticism – unlike some of the commenters here.

  52. Gus Snarp says

    I’ve just noticed that he actually kind of did make the same comment about Ricky, “That’s not new. I just like this accompanying picture:” Now it’s not side by side with the comment about Kari’s picture, and somehow when coupled with “That’s not new, ” it seems less dismissive than “This was just an excuse,” but he did sort of do the same thing. I don’t know that means, and I don’t think it changes the fact that his choice of the joke about Kari was a mistake.

  53. says

    I’m no help, my cadaver dog this semester is also female. And I can’t think of anything to pun about the tunica albuginea. Maybe something about severing the spermatic cord?

  54. says

    I am not speaking for Jen or all women, but my own opinion is: As a woman who used to belong to a church in which my voice was not heard or wanted, the fact that atheist communities will actually pay attention is reason enough to speak up and try to promote change from within. I do think someone has to. After one person speaks up, others will, and then the minority Privilege Deniers will be less and less welcome.

  55. says

    I was thinking about this the other day. What would it take for jokes about sex to be funny and not harassing? I’m not entirely sure, it’s an interesting intellectual exercise. I think it has to do with safety, first. Second maybe religious attitudes with sex- or slut-shaming.

  56. says

    I’ll give you ‘illiterate’ but I think the ‘functional’ part is up for debate.If your definition of an ‘elitist’ is someone who made it past the 4th grade, I can certainly understand why you might feel surrounded by elitists.

  57. says

    This is so very petty that it is counterproductive. If you don’t think that Hemant is a bad guy, going after him and making a big stink about this seems like a waste of time and effort, one step away from going all grammar Nazi on someone. It is the sort of thing that allows some idiot to claim “PC gone mad” and dismiss more substantive and valid criticisms.

  58. says

    I don’t get it.It’s an extremely common joke to make. Men and women (gay and straight) use that tired old joke all the time. Is it only sexist because it was a man commenting on a woman, or would it still be sexist the other way round? What it was a man commenting on a man?I suspect I’m going to get yelled at about privelege shortly, but I realise that’s an easier thing to do than actually explain what the problem is.I’ve read the comments, and the consensus seems to be that the caption implies that Hemant thinks her looks are her only important attribute. I strongly doubt that’s the case. If a dude can’t make a joke, even if it’s not a very good one, then switch the internet off now :S::edit::It looks like Ricky gets objectified more in that article than Kari does. He gets a half naked pic and only a link to justify it :P And Hemant also says he just liked the pic…

  59. says

    I read Hemant’s post this morning. I noticed the comment, and, even though I have spent 30 years of my life railing against the objectification of women, I was not offended by it. My reaction was, “hmmm, she must be pretty in real life. I can’t tell from this picture.” My instantaneous second reaction was, “Awww, Sweet Hemant’s flirting!”Call the poor guy out if you must, but man, is he gonna think twice before he tries to send a smart, articulate, and -gasp- pretty girl a message publically again.

  60. says

    I don’t mean an under table discussion, I mean something like putting an update at the top of the post, and a line through the comment (so it was still readable). That is still a learning experience, just a gentler one. It is exactly because Herman is level headed that I think is a better tactic.But the debate you have started here does give the issue a more thorough airing, so all depends on what you are trying to achieve I suppose.

  61. says

    Jen is absolutely right to point this out and as it sounds from previous experience, Hemant will learn from it. It would have been really easy for Hemant to make his point that Kari is a beautiful woman without discounting her opinions on things in the process. There is nothing wrong with thinking she is hot. She is. And she is very intelligent and has well thought out opinions. Can’t we celebrate both without discounting her intelligence? It shouldn’t be very hard.And I have to say that all of the commenter’s here who can’t understand why this is even an issue make me very sad. I don’t understand how intelligent people can be so utterly clueless, especially after these types of issues have been pointed out repeatedly! Wow, that really sounds familiar doesn’t it?

  62. says

    Assault, not rape for the 1 in 6. I tried a quick google search but did not find it. I am quoting various people, but not sure who. Ugh. I’ve seen it more than once. I usually try to only quote things where I can name my source. Damn.

  63. says

    Hemant slips up more often than I would have thought. And any time anyone points out a small issue, they get jumped all over in the comments for making something out of nothing.

  64. says

    It would be confusing in that alternate reality, because it couldn’t be irony any more (unless it was irony aimed at history, or something), so it would either be literally sincere or just weird…

  65. says

    I think the answer for sex-as-comparable-to-gender are different to the answers for sex-the-fun-range-of-activities… sex-negativity is a big aspect of the problems with jokes about the latter, and I think the pervasive attitudes coming from and reinforcing male privilege is probably a big part of the former.

  66. Alopiasmag says

    Boys will be boys. She is intelligent, cool, and pretty. Many women would do the same when they talk about smart, cool, handsome males. I did not see anything wrong with it… Then again, I am a boy.

  67. says

    “Going after him”? “Making a big stink”? Dude, read the OP more carefully; Jen didn’t vilify or attack Hemant, she just posted some criticism. She even went out of her way to point out that she thought his intentions were benign.If you disagree with Jen, that’s fine: critique her critique, that’s pretty much what blog comments are for!But, if you want to talk about things that are “counterproductive”, I think your comment and the many others like it are a good example. They’re not criticizing the content of Jen’s post, but objecting to the fact that it exists at all.

  68. says

    Its an issue for a few reasons. One, throughout history, women’s opinions have been discounted for many reasons. Just because they are women, or because women have their period, or whatever. And this still happens often. I was at a department colloquium a while back where a senior professor made some comment, in front of the entire department about women not having the same mental capacity as men. These types of attitudes are extremely prevalent in both overt and subtle ways still. Our society also seems to often only consider women as one dimensional individuals, as either beautiful, or smart, or a mother, or whatever where as men are often viewed as multi dimensional people. The comment that Hemant made, in my opinion is of the second kind. Saying that the only thing important about Kari is her looks. I also doubt thats how he feels, and if there is a difference between what he thinks and what he said, what is wrong with trying to correct it? If what you write doesn’t reflect what you are thinking its a problem with your own communication skills.Thats at least the problem as I see it. Hope that helps. If others see the problem differently, please share as well.

  69. says

    Well, firstly, he can make a joke. He doesn’t have to make that joke, but he can even make that joke if he wants. One reason to call it out in this case is the very fact that he didn’t really mean what he said. Obviously, he meant it ironically – a more honest and complete statement would probably have been “another great thing about this post is that it gives me an excuse to post a picture”. That’s not without problems, but far less clear-cut, and I’m not sure where I’d come down on it.A big problem with making that sort of joke (as in the one he made) is that people won’t always realise it’s a joke, especially people who don’t know those involved. I generally compare these sort of things to what happened with Ali G. Sacha Baron-Cohen came up with this ironic character lampooning the adoption of stereotypical African-American ‘gang culture’ by people of all races in the UK. He exaggerated behaviours and fashions, and attitudes (including attitudes to women). However, some of those who were already inclined to the tastes and attitudes he was satirising didn’t get that it was satire, and some tool the character as a hero of their subculture, and tried to emulate the specific and extreme thing he described.It’s not the only problem or the biggest problem – or at least, I’m not qualified to make any assertions about that.

  70. says

    I took it almost as Hemant making fun of himself. “Oh, look at me, I’m faced with this intelligent woman and all I can do is look at pictures of her.” I don’t think he was necessarily implying that her looks are what’s important about her. I could be misinterpreting though.

  71. says

    No one likes to be pigeon holed into only one category. When I was younger I hated when I got treated like a dumb jock. I like it if people think I am attractive, but I would not like it if that was the only thing some person valued with me. I wouldn’t be flattered if someone said “I think you are hot, but your thoughts and feelings aren’t important”. Women get this sort of treatment all the time, both overtly and more subtly too. I’d feel terrible if a woman I was dating got the impression from me that I only valued her looks, and nothing else about her. Although probably unintentional by Hemant, thats the impression he gave, in my opinion.

  72. Clayton says

    Yes, but would that be an issue? It might be dismissive of the interview, but is saying something to the effect of “Truthfully, I don’t care about the interview, I just like this person” really insulting if you eliminate the perception that the reason he likes her is purely physical?I agree with Gus’s original explanation – the insult is the implication that he does not care about her thoughts (contained within the interview) but only about her appearance (presented in the photo). But there ARE other reasons to appreciate a photo (such as simply liking the person – as a person).Also consider that this single post isn’t his entire view of Kari. If he had never heard of her, and posted something similar (‘Here’s some girl giving an interview, but really I just wanted an excuse to post this hot picture of her’) then I wouldn’t have any doubts about the issue. But he doesn’t live in a vacuum. He knows who she is and, I’d be willing to wager, has previously factored in her mental attributes in to his view of her.

  73. says

    And its ok if it wouldn’t/doesn’t bother you. All that matters is you can see why it might bother someone else and accept that it does.

  74. paisley says

    “At the very least, wanting to post a picture of someone you find attractive does not necessarily mean you don’t respect them for other reasons.”I totally agree with this. And I would be fine with Hemant posting her picture and even mentioning if he has a crush on her; it was mostly and unfortunate choice of words – because as Gus says above it did imply that nothing posted mattered all that much, I’m just glad I get to put this picture up. Now even though the last sentence explicitly says that the post was an excuse for Kari’s picture – I don’t think Hemant actually means that, I think he’s just playing fun. However, I think that it’s important for Hemant and others to realize that statements like that can be biting (especially if someone isn’t a frequent reader). Also, I know I would normally let a statement like that slide, but because I feel like that there has sorta been a call to atheist women to try to steer the movement into a more woman-friendly environment, I’ll call out even things like this that I feel like are subtle (because even something that I will find to be subtle sexism may be invisible to our atheist colleagues who make statements like this, and yet they may be very visible to those who have just started checking out the atheist movement). I’ve been so happy to have people like Jen doing this because although I’ve been an atheist for a few years, I haven’t participated in any of the atheist communities (online or otherwise); I’ve only lurked. This is because I’ve felt like the environment is sometimes hostile and/or dismissive to women. Only since more visible atheists like Jen have been actively talking about issues like sexism in the community have I felt that I want to more actively participate.

  75. says

    Aww, that is disappointing! Is Keri hot? of course! But even if she wasn’t (and even if she was a he), she’d still be an awesome role model celebrity for atheism.

  76. Zuche says

    People frown on change all the time, including those times it involves growing up. It’s a very human fear. It is also an impediment to thinking.

  77. paisley says

    I’m only speaking as myself (I know you asked Jen) but because by someone speaking up, things can change. By Jen speaking out people like PZ have listened and spoken up too. Others who have been lurking in disappointment whenever Jen brings up an issue about feminism (disappointment not at Jen but with the commentary back-lash) have started to participate because more people are talking than used too. I’m not as strong as Jen either, but I feel strong enough now because Jen and some others have been speaking up. So I’m going to start participating. I’m going to be another women in the conversation – and you know what, maybe another person will feel strong enough to make the transition from lurking to actively participating.

  78. lomifeh says

    I will admit I did chuckle at the comment, then I shook my head because I saw it was in bad taste because it is a touchy topic for so many.But I don’t think it was meant as more than a joke and should be taken in that context.

  79. paisley says

    I think it’s interesting that because so many of us read Hemant’s blog that when we read the line we didn’t actually take it as “he thinks the only thing important about her is her looks”; we’re more trying to make him correct himself so others who don’t really read him take him the wrong way. Kari is smart, yet she’s also pretty and so many people would say in seriousness that “she not actually smart; she just plays that on t.v.” or would acknowledge her intelligence but still discard and only care about her appearance. Again, I think Hemant really likes her because she is both – but it’s not hard to see how someone could take his words at face value if they weren’t a regular reader.

  80. says

    Like if he had followed “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari.” with *sticks tongue out at Jen from BlagHag and prepares to duck incoming fire*. Or something.

  81. says

    Suicide Girls is a softcore porn and pinup site. The women on this site are fierce, independent and own their sexiness. In short, they rock. No one has mentioned it because where the original interview was posted isn’t relevent to the discussion at hand.

  82. Eric_RoM says

    Indeed. The phrasing was poor in the extreme. If he had said, ‘And this gives me an excuse to also post her photo”, it would have been better, although still pretty lame. Instead the phrasing seemed to imply “Whatever she says, her looks get her onto this blog.”An actress from “Farscape” started a (very woo) health-related site, based on her own health issues, and I noticed she very specifically did NOT include her photos, and I always suspected it was because she was/is an almost supernaturally attractive person. I’m guessing she felt, why include the distraction?

  83. Eric_RoM says

    Not comparable, ‘cuz guys don’t get the same crap pulled on them.Especially comics.

  84. says

    Instances of rape is 1 in 10 when figured conservatively, according to my deviant behavior text this semester (Russell & Bolen, 2000; Koss, 1995). If it’s ‘just’ sexual assault, it goes up to 1 in 5 (Elliot et al., 2004). (Specific textbook is Deviant Behavior, 10th Ed, Thio, p. 85.)Sorry for the lack of easylinks to sources.

  85. says

    I really don’t understand why Hemant’s joke is innapropriate. He was obviously being sarcastic, and it’s no big shocker to say that Kari is hot. And let’s be honest, chances are slim she’d be on the show if she wasn’t hot. Same rule for the guys (save for Jamie and Adam, who are the reason the show exists) on mythbusters btw, not a one way street.I’m sure Jen has made comments about guys being hot/sexy/attractive/her celebrity crush. Why can’t guys do it?

  86. Alopiasmag says

    I understand your point, and how someone would not like it. But there are many many more serious sexist offenses against women for people to be complaining about a silly post.

  87. says

    Actually, it’s completely relevant. That the article was sourced from a website whose primary purpose is to make money off scantily clad women should be an indicator as to _why_ Kari was selected for the article. If the intent of the original article was to interview an intelligent female role-models, there are a great number of alternative choices that Suicide Girls could have made who are much more active in whatever cause celebre Suicide Girls might be pushing at the time. Kari Byron was picked foremost because she’s a hot chick from a popular TV show. That she gives a good interview was merely a bonus. This is why I’m taking issue with Jen taking issue with Hemant. In the context of where the original article was placed along with the general mission of that website, Hemants’ comment deserves little more than an eyeroll. If Jen really has an issue with overt sexism tainting the content of the interview, how does she square the fact that the original interview is linked from the front page on the Suicide Girls site bracketed by links to ‘photoessays’ with the teasers “I finally got to meet Rayde one night. Grabbed her number. Called her up the next day and invited her over for a little fun. Damn girl, you’re tasssty! ” and “TEVYN wants to be a SuicideGirl. Dance moves break up the all-too-serious process of getting naked.”‘ruined the interview’? please……

  88. says

    And why do you think she was interviewed by suicide girls in the first place? If you thinks it’s because she happens to be intelligent, you’re badly mistaken.

  89. says

    Reader 1: I don’t get the joke?Reader 2: Well, the blogger’s audience knows full well that he/she is an avid supporter of a particular cause (in this case atheism and feminism), as is supported in the other blogger’s opening statements in his/her rebuttal. Therefore, when the original author erroneously inferred that he/she does not really support said cause, by slipping in the ironic statement, which is in stark contrast to his/her history of supporting said cause(s), it sets up a conflicting and humorous view of the original blogger.Reader 1: Oh. You know, they say if you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny, but clearly this isn’t the case here!Reader 3: That wasn’t an example of irony.Reader 1: Shut up!

  90. Tony says

    I generally support your previous point, but “If you don’t like this kind of post, leave” is just a completely fucking stupid thing to say.

  91. Lena915 says

    This is Jen’s blog. She can write whatever she wants. She is completely within reason and her rights to tell people that if they don’t like a post, they don’t have to read it. Hemant’s blog is his. He can write whatever he wants. He is completely within reason and his rights to tell people that if they don’t like a post, they don’t have to read it. As for Kari and Ricky, I would love the opportunity to have a conversation with both of them about their views and experiences regarding atheism. I would also love the opportunity to have sex with both of them, seeing as how I find them both very attractive. This whole post was really just an excuse to be self-indulgent.

  92. Ben says

    I love your blog and its articles – but i am one of those that just shake my head at this. While, on one hand, i sort of understand what your saying – i think trying to make sure every comment isnt taken the wrong way is just impossible. The target audience of his blog 9 times out of 10 would have understood he was joking – and those that didn’t… well they probably dont understand much. Trying to sanitise articles so they dont contain any personal touches or things that may be found offensive is part of what athiests fight again isnt it ?

  93. says

    Actually, Leroy, said that Jen has done this multiple times, which is why he thinks he needs to make a big deal out of it. Since blog reading is typically a leisure activity, if one doesn’t like what an author chooses to write about they probably should find different authors to read.

  94. says

    I’m sure Jen has made comments about guys being hot/sexy/attractive/her celebrity crush. Why can’t guys do it?

    This quote means you really need to reread the post because you have completely missed the point. Everyone of us accepts that there is nothing wrong with finding another person attractive. The issue is that he said “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari.” as if there wouldn’t be any reason to listen to an intelligent atheist woman if she wasn’t attractive. It’s dismissive of her and her accomplishments. It’s also fully understood that Hemant didn’t mean it seriously, but being judged solely on one’s looks is still a major issue that women face and the joke undermines those real concerns.

  95. says

    Yours? Because Jen plainly states in the post “I know you were just joking and you’re a supporter of diversity.” Maybe it’s just your reading comprehension skills that need to be tuned.

  96. Jeanette says

    For those who don’t understand why it made some people uncomfortable, I’d like to suggest (as someone did above me in the comments I see), that perhaps if he’d simply not included the word “just” it would have made it better. The fact that he made it exclusively about her looks is the problem, if he had said something like “This is another great reason to post a picture of Kari” or something, it would have been cute. However, it made a lot of people like me uncomfortable because the “just” element feels exclusionary. Hope that helps. And yeah, Hemant is awesome. I’m a huge fan. This is hardly worth getting mad at him over, which we can all note Jen didn’t do. She just offered some constructive criticism.

  97. Zenjack says

    I find Kari Byron to be smoking hot because she is smart, funny and talented as well as being physically attractive. I would think that most of the people who frequent either of these blogs would feel the same way. Jen does have a point but I also think given the audience it’s a tad bit of an over reaction.

  98. Jeanette says

    He didn’t say Kari is hot. He said her opinion is only worth listening to because she is hot. Big difference.Now, granted, no one is that upset, because he was obviously joking, but it still made some readers uncomfortable because it’s typically not a good idea to reinforce that type of sentiment.

  99. katsudon says

    Gosh, Leroy, don’t you have something more important to do than whine about Jen’s blog post? Seriously, I am so goddamn sick of this particular line of “reasoning” popping up every time a woman points out that something is uncool, offensive, or disappointing. As if we women have such tiny one-track minds that we’re incapable of dealing with more than one issue at a time, so we need someone to point us toward the “big” issues. Because we totally couldn’t figure them out on our own.Funny enough, even as I’m calling my senators to urge them to not defund Planned Parenthood, I can take three seconds while I’m on hold to be annoyed that someone is making a demeaning joke. Shocker.

  100. Xorthon says

    Jen, I believe, has over reacted somewhat. What if this were an interview with Jen McCreight and someone had posted a pic of her and made the same comment? Would she not be doing cartwheels and saying thanks? How DOES a straight man make his thoughts known in a quick little sentence regarding his attraction to a female, without getting rolled up on by other females? Jen said that Stephen Colbert told her she was hot. Did she tell Colbert, “Not Cool’?

  101. says

    It’s difficult to believe that anyone who reads Friendly Atheist regularly could fail to see that it was a joke.That leads me to two questions then:Of course, you can’t underestimate people’s uselessness. So a person could think he was serious even if they’re a regular reader. Lack of a sense of humour. Does that mean he should not use such jokes? personalyl I think not.Secondly, people who know it’s a joke could be offended. I’d like to know the reasoning for that, I suppose. It seems harsh to expect a dude to self-censor that kind of thing, especially when it’s a joke I’ve known women to use with impunity as well (double standard or privelged straight white guy not understanding?).

  102. says

    She wrote a blog post. A short blog post at that. There is pretty much no way that can be an over reaction to anything.There’s a lot to be said for the idea that the original joke isn’t a big deal, but neither is the response.

  103. Liberty says

    “Would she not be doing cartwheels and saying thanks?” I don’t know why she would do that, and I don’t know why you think she would. This very blog post suggests that she wouldn’t be doing cartwheels and saying thanks- she’d be emailing the other person and asking them to not reduce her to just her looks.

  104. says

    I can’t be bothered reading every single comment, so I may be repeating someone. But isn’t humour and satire a way we actually call attention to discrimination, sexism, and other forms of faulty reasoning?Would you say that Stephen Colbert is perpetuating all the positions he’s poking fun at, or using humour to make people think?Granted, this wasn’t some masterful piece of biting wit that will cut expose the stupidity in valuing a woman only for her looks once and for all, but I’m very wary of saying people can’t make sarcastic jokes on principle, just because some idiots might think they’re serious.

  105. moralnihilist says

    I cringed when Kari said “I am an atheist, but I don’t begrudge anyone for whatever belief systems they hold.”I hate it whenever an atheist says “I’m an atheist, BUT” because it only gives creedence to the people who like to unfairly stereotype us. I’m an atheist, and I don’t begrudge anyone for having a belief system, I begrudge them only when they do stupid things that harm others based on ideas stemming from that belief system. But I shouldn’t have to qualify that. Being an atheist doesn’t make one an asshole, so why should any atheist have to apologize right off the bat or qualify that they’re not assholes when people ask them about it? We shouldn’t have to. Stop apologizing for your atheism. Kthxbye.

  106. Rollingforest says

    The question is does it bother enough people to justify changing the rules for everyone. I think it depends entirely on the community.

  107. Rollingforest says

    This is a difficult question. I can see how it might potentially be a problem. I think that whether this is a problem or not depends on whether most people realize he’s entirely joking or if a significant number think that he is being partially serious. Unfortunately there’s no way to tell that easily. You just have to go by your gut instinct on how you think the community will react.

  108. says

    Please tell me how a carefully worded brief post on her own blog both praising Hemant for who he is and what he does and then offering some simple constructive criticism about how the way he worded that joking line (that she also emphasized she believed was a joke) undermined the interview even though that clearly wasn’t what he intended… was an overreaction. Because I just don’t see it. It didn’t take much time and it was simple, calm, and to the point. I also think some of this comment section shows that it was appreciated by many people. I know I appreciated it. So… overreaction?

  109. Johann says

    My initial reaction was basically the same as yours. Followed up immediately by “Damn, there’s got to be a better way to do that.”Tongue-in-cheek jokes are one thing. Tongue-in-cheek jokes where the humor value comes solely from tap-dancing on a deeply uncomfortable issue in the community most of your readers belong to? Can and should be done better, if at all, and I know Hemant can do better.

  110. torero says

    I’d like to know Jen’s opinion on the “Show me your genitals” guy. His songs have these lyrics: “Women are stupid and I don’t respect them/That’s right, I just have sex with them” and “Women are equal and they deserve respect/Just kidding, they should suck my dick”. To me, that’s the same as Dave Chapelle’s blind black KKK guy, it’s parodying the people who hold these views, but maybe to Jen it’s in the same field as this one.

  111. says

    So, I just got brave and left Hemant a comment on his blog about his comment, and I don’t know if he’s taking the criticism particularly well. I thought his reaction would be more open, but it’s coming across as very defensive to me. It’s a shame he doesn’t realize the poor choice of words (even if sexism wasn’t his intent), because I think he’s a very great, open-minded person. He tried to say it was humor misunderstood, but I just think he could have expressed his sentiment in a way that didn’t include that sexist trope. Oh well. :( When it comes to male bloggers, at least my faith has never been shaken in PZ; he is staunchly feminist, and I’m very thankful for that!

  112. Watchout5 says

    What about the fact that she was interviewed by *gasp* SUICIDE GIRLS. I hear they made their money exploiting a specific type of woman as much as she allowed and everyone walked away pretty satisfied, I’m sorry this comment was just an excuse to use the word “girls”.

  113. says

    If this is offensive, I have absolutely no idea what the “rules” are supposed to be.Hemant (like many nerds) respects Kari for her looks as well as her intelligence. Is this not allowed? We KNOW he’s not a sexist, so why should we assume he had misogynistic intentions?I support feminism as a cause, but I really can’t understand feminists.

  114. says

    I believe Jen specifically said that she’s *not* assuming Hemant had sexist intentions. And nobody said that appreciating a woman’s looks is a bad thing. I can’t help but guess that you don’t understand feminists because you don’t actually read what they say, because it has been explained thoroughly both in Jen’s actual post and in the comments.

  115. says

    So many defenders here seem to be utterly confused, because they understood what Hemant *meant* by his comment, and they’ve failed to pay attention to what he actually *said.* What he meant, I feel quite sure, was “Kari is an attractive woman.” But what he actually said was “Her thoughts and opinions are not as important as her looks.””X is an attractive woman”? Totally okay.”X is only, or primarily, worth paying attention to because she is an attractive woman”? Totally not okay. It’s really not hard to express the first thing without expressing the second thing.Men: if you had grown up in hearing, explicitly and implicitly, “You are only as worthwhile as your looks” from sources all around you on a near-daily basis, I promise you you’d be sensitive about this too.

  116. Anna says

    Um, except for the fact that SG has interviewed many people who aren’t “hot chicks from TV shows.” Off the top of my head, I know they’ve interviewed Billy Connolly, John Hodgman, Kinky Friedman, Rob Corddry, and I’m certain I could think of more if I wasn’t dealing with a splitting headache. The interviews section of the site has nothing to do with sexy pinups; it’s just a series of celebrity interviews like you would find on any other pop culture website.Everyone commenting that the intent of the interview with Kari was just to get to interview an attractive girl simply because it was on SG is writing off a lot more than just Kari. Sigh.

  117. Zuche says

    Mmm, no, it was not. Jen’s made a point of objecting to thoughtlessly made comments before and it’s a point that has to go on being made. If she can’t do that when the comment is made by someone she admires and respects, there’s a problem. Does it overstate things to say that this observation ruins the interview? That’s a value judgment. I know my enjoyment of wonderful things has been marred by things more trivial, so I’m in no position to criticize someone who’s enjoyment of a piece is spoiled because someone who knows better trivialized the value of a person’s insights by joking about how their value is worth less than how she looks. That’s a big deal to Jen, and for good reason.”Don’t like it, don’t read it,” is a view that fosters ignorance. It is an inbreeding ground for intellectual poverty.

  118. Sunnybook3 says

    A dear friend of mine, who is an amazing writer, recently wrote something similar in a piece about racism. He talked about the defensive response–the “but I’m NOT a racist person!” that is automatically felt when something that seems small is pointed out. But then he went on to compare the passive acceptance of these instances to standing on a moving walkway… While the person on that moving walkway isn’t *actively* going somewhere, that person still gets to a destination without doing much at all. The point, of course, is that even without deliberately making large gestures, one can still contribute to an atmosphere of racism–or sexism.

  119. phhht says

    Not cool, Jen.I love ya. You’re a fine blogger. I’m sure you’re an all around good guy and you felt you were justifiably outraged by Hemant’s remark.But please don’t poison a chance for common human tolerance by TAKING offense at what you clearly recognize as mild self-deprecating humor.That’s not liberation, it’s self-indulgence.I know you were offended and you’re a supporter of diversity. And before people accuse me of being a sexist – you’re allowed to remark that you’ve taken offense. Hell, I TOOK offense at your response to Hemant.But to too many people, a casual remark about appearance affords an opportunity to TAKE offense about sexism. You see the remark as evidence of a negative mindset that joking helps perpetuate, even though you acknowledge that no such mindset exists for Hemant personally. You don’t acknowledge that posting a PICTURE of someone gives grounds for judging attractiveness, but no grounds whatsoever for judging intelligence. Am I exhibiting a negative mindset to express attraction to a pictured person, without any reference to his intelligence? Does such expression say ANYTHING, offensive or otherwise, about my estimate of the subject’s intelligence? If you think it does, that strikes me as perpetuating a negative, prejudiced mindset.

  120. Sunnybook3 says

    Dear Jen–As a woman who frequently is reduced to just my appearance, thank you so much for pointing this out and standing up and saying it’s not okay. I’m not drop-dead gorgeous by a long shot, but I’m reasonably cute and a librarian and, for a lot of men, that’s enough to knock me down to the “sexy librarian” stereotype. For others, both men and women, I’m cute and I look younger than I am and that’s enough to assume that I’m not all that smart or that they can otherwise talk down to me.For all of you who are so quick to dismiss this, I would just like to say that it’s not as much fun as you might think. Sure, there’s a rush from someone thinking you look good, but it’s not as cool as someone showing an interest in what you are saying. Ultimately, it gets kind of depressing–you start feeling like a non-person, even (somewhat ironically) invisible.So, Jen, from one cute chick to another, thank you for this. It may feel like you’re beating your head against a brick wall at times, but you’ve made a difference. If nothing else, you brightened the day of someone who deals with this bullshit far too often.

  121. lomifeh says

    I’ve been reading this post comment thread with a lot of interest. As a male I can’t fully understand what it is like to be an attractive woman and have to deal with being reduced to just your looks. But I can understand how it would, to be frank, suck big hairy moose balls.Maybe that is why I can both laugh at the comment and see how it was in poor taste even though it was meant to be a joke. It seems like some people are going “get over it” without understanding what it would be like to have to deal with that kind of reduction all the time. It might not be you specifically but the whole thing piled on top of it. I have a question for Jen though, is it worse for you because of who said it?

  122. phhht says

    I’m sorry you don’t understand my post. Can I clarify anything you didn’t get?

  123. phhht says

    I’m utterly confused. According to Jen, what Hemant *said* was “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari.” He did NOT say “Kari is an attractive woman.” Nor did he say “Her thoughts and opinions are not as important as her looks.” Nor did he say “X is only, or primarily, worth paying attention to because she is an attractive woman”?Those interpretations are *yours*, and NOT necessarily what Hemant *meant*. I don’t know how you’ll ever learn what he meant, since you don’t accept what he says as an expression of what he means.

  124. says

    I don’t think people who don’t understand why an attractive woman might not appreciate being reduced to her looks (“Hey, they’re saying you’re hot! What’s wrong with that?”) have ever thought about how an unattractive woman might feel about being reduced to her looks (“Fat, unfuckable cow”). The former and the latter come from the same kind of thinking.

  125. sunnybook3 says

    I agree with you. I also think that there is probably a difference in how these two scenarios are recognized. It’s easy to see how being reduced to being unattractive is damaging–we’ve all been criticized or insulted and felt what that’s like. It’s harder to understand how being reduced to being attractive is damaging; people see the “attractive” part of that statement (positive!) and overlook the “reducing” (negative!) part.

  126. phhht says

    I don’t understand why it makes any difference whether the person is “attractive” or”unattractive” (in whose eyes? ) I don’t understand what else there is to go on when one meets, let’s say, a librarian. I’d assume that the context (the library) would suggest intelligence, but of course, there is little or nothing to judge by in appearance. It would be JUST AS PRESUMPTUOUS to assume intelligence as the lack of it. In such a circumstance, I personally find myself reduced to judging by appearance. What else is there?It may be bullshit, but judging people by appearance is universal and not limited by gender. Both males and females do it. My feelings of empathy for a “hot” person ora “fat, unfuckable cow” will, of course, affect my relations with such a person, regrettable as that may be. But in my view, it’s far from an exclusively male sin.

  127. says

    I love that she did it publicly because it’s a great example to show some of my friends who think that sexist and racist jokes are fine because they are not sexist or racist.

  128. sunnybook3 says

    If I may be so bold, I believe I can offer a viable alternative to judging by appearance: talking to someone with an open mind.

  129. says

    I didn’t suggest it was exclusively male. Nor is having opinions about someone’s appearance (positive or negative) the same thing as reducing them to their appearance. Having opinions is something we all do reflexively. Reducing someone to their appearance, on the other hand, means assuming that a person’s physical form is the most important thing about them. Apart from perhaps certain forms of porn, there’s no reason to do that with actual people.The difference between being reduced to an “attractive” person or an “unattractive” person is, as sunnybook3 explained, the fact that a lot of people don’t see the former as anything to complain about while failing to acknowledge that the same thinking is behind both.

  130. says

    I was trying to give credit for good intentions by offering an interpretation of his statement. If I take his comment at face value, then it’s DEFINITELY sexist.

  131. Lost Left Coaster says

    That’s because it was demeaning to her. So there ya go. Ever thought about the fact that a woman writing on her own blog may not need a man to come here and tell her what is okay and not okay for her to write about? I mean, c’mon man…

  132. phhht says

    OK, I still don’t understand. I think you must concede that often there is nothing else but appearance to go on, regardless of what one thinks is most important. And as far as what is important, you are “allowed” to find whomever you wish attractive, for whatever reasons you may feel. It strikes me as arrogant (and I take offense) when someone else tries to tell me what “the most important thing” is about a person. Nobody else can tell me that, certainly not you.Your complaint, as I understand it now, is not only that people are judged by appearance, but also that many people prefer attractive people to unattractive ones.If that’s correct, I disagree that “the same thinking is behind both.”

  133. says

    As I put in my first paragraph, his statement was a sarcastic joke. People who understand what’s going on, will take it as such. This brings us to the “what kind of jokes are appropriate” argument, and the “what passes at a person’s looks are appropriate” argument. The same way Hemmant’s comment can be misconstrued to mean Kari is only worth listening to because of her looks, a remark about a guy’s good looks can be equally misconstrued to mean that his looks are more relevant than his accomplishments. Effectively we’re criticizing somebody’s words because they may be missunderstood. If this is the bar we hold everybody to, we’re not going to get very far.

  134. says

    Okay. Can you distinguish between “I’m forming an opinion about this person’s appearance” (whether or not there is anything else to know about them) as opposed to “The most important thing about this person to me is their appearance”? If so, bonus. If so, you should be able to grasp that I’m not complaining about judging people by their appearance at all. I’m complaining about summing up their entire worth by their appearance.As for whether having opinions about what’s most important about a person is arrogant and presumptuous…obviously I can’t *order* you to find some things more important than others. Your mind is your own. But I hope you would agree with me that viewing people strictly according to their working power, as was done in the slave trade, is not optimal. Likewise, women can be worth a lot more than the pleasure that may be derived by looking at them. I say “can be” because I’m not afraid to admit that looking good is actually the best quality of some women (and men). But it’s not the standard by which to judge all women, regardless of what other qualities they may have. Does that make sense?

  135. phhht says

    Often the most important and ONLY thing we have to go on is appearance. Sometimes the most important thing about a person is appearance. Then you have no other way to judge a person’s entire worth.You make a slippery shift from judging an individual based on appearance to judging a class of people (“slaves”, “all women”). But that isn’t what I, at least, was talking about.

  136. says

    In an ideal situation, when you’ve nothing to go on but appearance, don’t go on anything.Sometimes, in some situations, there is some aspect of appearance that is relevant. However, you should never make assumptions about intellectual capacity based on appearance, and you should never reduce someone in your mind to a stereotype – the specific problems of the commenter above. There’s more things you shouldn’t do, so what it really comes down to is – be very cautious drawing conclusions from appearance, and don’t buy in to stereotypes. Virtually impossible, us being the poor faulty beings we are, and socialised as we are, but it’s the aim.

  137. says

    Sometimes the most important thing about a person is appearanceUm. No.Judge someone’s appearance, if it’s relevant. Don’t judge them on their appearance. I don’t know how to make it simpler than that.

  138. Azkyroth says

    For instance, non-speaking parts in movies and television episodes…What does that have to do with Kari?

  139. phhht says

    Sometimes the most important thing about a person is appearance.In a line-up, for example.

  140. dave13 says

    I’ve read some of the posts here (not all – its really long), but a lot of people are saying things that more or less add up to “I know he didn’t really mean it, but others might not, and therefore, he shouldn’t have said it.” Whether it was sexist or not isn’t what I wanted to address. What I don’t like is this whole attitude of dumbing things down for the “other people” who might misinterpret things. Are they out there? Probably. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to stoop to the level of the lowest common (intellectual) denominator, just so that some knuckle-dragger doesn’t misinterpret me. That’s the kind of thing that leads to parents groups and people lobbying against things they feel might have a corrupting influence on “other people.”So basically, my feeling is, if it was a joke, and you know that he meant it as a joke, then don’t try to censor him, since he hasn’t done anything wrong. If you see someone misinterpreting him, then educate them. Otherwise, how are we supposed to progress.just a thought….

  141. Amarantha says

    Objectification isn’t some abstract concept. It’s an unpleasant part of women’s actual lives, that rears its ugly head from time to time, making me for one feel undervalued and disrespected. It isn’t funny. So even when objectification is not intended, joking about it just brings it up again, and makes light of a serious issue. Not malicious, sure. But not very considerate either.I like Hemant. I don’t think he is sexist. But he doesn’t know what it’s like to have to live with this. That’s why we need folk like Jen.

  142. says

    (In reply to your reply to me)That’s not the most important thing about the person – it’s the most important thing in the situation. In a line-up, you’re not making any conclusions about any person there, just identifying (or not) one of them as the same person you saw previously.

  143. says

    I was trying to explain to my husband last night why this doesn’t get a free pass for Hemant from me. Do I think he was intentionally being a douche? No. Do I think he’s sexist? No. But his comment still bothers me, and I had a difficult time putting into words why. Then I realized that it’s very simple; if he’d done it to me, I’d be pissed.If I had an interview for something that I considered important and a part of my personal identity, and worked hard on preparing my responses and making sure that the message that I intended came through, and then found that some guy on the internet had taken a tiny blurb of the interview and posted it along with an enormous, cheesecake-y photo that dominated the page and made some lame joke about all of my hard work only being a reason for he and other men to ogle my picture? I’d be hurt, insulted, angry and above all, feel cheapened.

  144. says

    Sorry, why didn’t you send an e-mail instead of publicly calling her out if it’s so offensive to you? Seems like you brought along your hypocrisy from your online Christian group…

  145. Azkyroth says

    What you’re smoking that made you think what you barfed up was a cogent rebuttal to Jen’s point?

  146. Azkyroth says

    Pretending we’re saying that “you can’t comment on someone’s appearance” is a strawman and it’s gotten old and rained on and moldy. Time to throw it out.For instance, I doubt Jen or most other people would have objected to “while some might argue that merely posting a picture of Kari is a good enough reason for this post,” and then lead in to the rest of what he has to say about the interview and its reflection of her accomplishments. But the phrasing doesn’t just bring up her appearance, it implicitly trivializes everything else about her. I’m mystified at Jen’s tolerance for commenters willfully misunderstanding that basic difference.(Yes, willfully. Even if it’s not true that “no one is THAT dumb” this falls below the “being honestly mistaken is possible” threshold).

  147. says

    Hemant (like many nerds) respects Kari for her looks as well as her intelligence.

    I’m sure he does, as do I. However, what he wrote was “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari.” I know it was intended as a joke. Jen knows it was intended as a joke. That does not change the fact that it reinforces a sexist stereotype, and that’s not funny. Jen is not calling Hemant a sexist, she is saying that he should read his words a bit more carefully before posting.

    Is this not allowed?

    Did you stop reading before Jen’s statement “you’re allowed to remark that she’s attractive,” or just start overreacting? If you really support feminism, you’d read what women write more carefully and respond more thoughtfully.

  148. says

    So why is nobody taking Kari to task for posing for this hot, objectifying picture? Did she allow it to be taken with the intention that it should never be seen? Was her pose and expression intended to inspire only the most sober admiration of her intellect? The simple fact that the photo exists seems to say clearly that Kari is comfortable being admired both for her looks and her intelligence; a balanced approach to life that I find healthy and admirable.Hemant’s remark was funny exactly because it was obvious that he does NOT value Kari only for her looks. This whole thread is an exercise in manufacturing mountains from molehills that proceeds from a seemingly willful blindness to subtlety, and a refusal to understand the text in anything but the most literal terms.Sorry, Jen, but I’m with Leroy and Clayton in my opinion of this post. I think it’s entirely unnecessary, and Hemant did not deserve your criticism.And to those who have been asking Jen’s critics why they bother reading this blog and commenting on the post if they disagree with it… I read BlagHag because Jen’s incredibly sharp and intelligent and I learn a lot from her posts. I comment—usually agreeing, sometimes disagreeing—because that’s what blogs are for. If she didn’t want people to discuss her work, she could turn off the comments. If she only wanted to see praise on her pages, she could moderate the comments. Blogs thrive on engaging their readers, and comments are both the expression and the engine of that involvement.

  149. Charon says

    Yeah, the problem is that everyone has their own level at which they find something offensive. There is no magic one correct level. Hemant didn’t think it was offensive. Jen did. There is no object standard by which one can judge who was right. Some of Hemant’s readers were not offended, some were. Big fuckin’ deal.There are extremes we can probably all agree that are bad – things that are offensive to pretty much anyone, and things that are so milquetoast as to be inoffensive to anyone. Those both suck.In the wide range of, well, everything else, people will disagree. If people are actually oblivious about the possibility of causing offense, pointing this out might help them, but that was not the case here. Jen’s comment was entirely pointless.Though she was, of course, free to make it. It’s her blog. And Hemant’s blog is, well, Hemant’s blog.

  150. MPH146 says

    I would think that the only person with possible cause to be offended is Kari. The comment in question specifically mentions her. It wasn’t “the only reason to post an interview with a pretty woman is to have an excuse to post her photo”. It was “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari.” People then jumped to the conclusion that this specific statement implied the general statement. This is an example of the Anecdotal Fallacy (see, where a specific instance of, in this case, apparent specific sexism by Hemant, is taken to mean that Hemant is universally sexist. Perhaps Hemant ONLY feels that way about Kari (would that mean he’s “Karist, or displaying “Karism””?).As to those commenters that feel that only women are affected by being judged by their looks, I call BS (the remainder of this comment is directed at those commenters, rather than about Jen’s original post). I have an assignment for the student. Go to a bar, particularly one of the type known as a “meat market” (at least, that’s what we called them in the ’80s), or any similar venue (spring break party, for instance). Watch how the women (of any appearance) treat the good looking guys, and compare that to the way they treat the average/below average looking guys. See which guys walk out with the hot women. Check on what percentage of average/below average looking guys go home alone. When a good looking guy offers to buy a woman a drink, how does she react? What about an average/below average guy? What about when they ask a woman to dance, or for their phone number? Notice any difference? If you don’t, you’re willfully blind.You think it’s bad that some men only value women according to their looks? Well wake up and smell the hypocrisy, because some women only value men based on their looks. The circumstances may not be identical, but it is something that both genders are guilty of, and our culture still ignores, or approves, that women do it (I say this because I haven’t seen any news stories about how horrible it is that women value men based on their looks; I have seen the opposite). For those who think that this kind of “sexism” based on looks isn’t as important as the above example involving Kari, I can only say “to you”. You can rank your list of injustices any way you want, and so can I, and I definitely rate a left-handed compliment like Kari got low on my list. In addition, some women only value men based on their bank balances. Is that not a “negative mindset” that should be discouraged? Everything Jen and others say about how women are treated by some men based on their looks can apply to how men are treated by some women based on their wealth.Sexism exists and is perpetrated by both males and females. It can be based on looks, wealth, power, or other reasons. But I refuse to get worked up about male sexism perpetrated on females of the type displayed by Hemant until the on the job death rates in non-military jobs for males and females are equal, and the life expectancy of men catches up with the life expectancy of women (on average in the USA, women live 5+ years longer than men). If women want to stamp out sexism in our society, how about starting with that? Jen is probably correct when she says “But to too many people, only appreciating a woman for her looks and not for her intelligence is not a joke – it’s a negative mindset that joking helps perpetuate.” But I think Hemant having to look death in the face five years sooner than Kari is far worse than any joke at her expense, or the mindset that may underlie it. Kari can spend her last five years of life laughing her ass off at the stupidity of the underlying mindset displayed by Hemant. Hemant will spend those five years rotting in his coffin. The disparity in life expectancy and job-related deaths shows which gender is truly considered disposable and is undervalued in our society; and it isn’t the women. If thinking it’s acceptable that men live on average 5 years less than women isn’t the epitome of sexism, I’d hate to find out what is. Jokes, no matter how offensive the underlying mindset, pale in comparison.

  151. Charon says

    “If you don’t like it, then don’t read it” has been suggested by Jen to some of her detractors. I suggest the same thing to her. In this case, it’s a blog she genuinely does like the vast majority of the time, so she’s going to read it anyway.Well, some of us feel the same way about her blog.

  152. Charon says

    One further comment: I don’t know, but I wager that some feminists found Boobquake to be insulting and degrading of women. I believe Jen thought it was a funny way of mocking a conservative, misogynistic religious view. I happen to agree with Jen, but I doubt everyone did.And in fact, I can see the point of feminists who objected. Some women in my department participated, and my primary though was, “wow, nice tits.” Because, you know, I’m a straight guy. I didn’t say anything, or treat them any differently, but that was my inevitable thought.So I think what generally pisses me off about Jen’s posts on feminism is that they come from a seemingly oblivious “Jen is always right” standpoint. Of course she thinks she’s right – we all generally believe this of ourselves – but there never seems to be any self-doubt on her part.

  153. Rollingforest says

    I think that if you went and asked 100 random girls in a random town what they thought of what Hemant wrote, I think the grand majority of them would be okay with it (we could test it. It is a legitimate scientific test). It can’t be sexist if people realize it’s a joke because jokes aren’t serious. Everyone realizes that Hemant isn’t really in favor of killing babies to eat them. We can’t go by how people might interpret it, we need to go by how people DO interpret it.

  154. says

    Your example is referring to how someone selects a sexual partner based on physical attractiveness, which is appropriate for the context of that situation, and attempting to compare it to Hemant taking an purely nonsexual situation involving a woman and removing the focus from the intellectual nature of the article and making it about her physical attractiveness. They are completely separate things and your attempt to equate them is intellectually dishonest and quite frankly, weaksauce.

  155. Azkyroth says

    Boobquake called attention to female body parts. In no way shape or form did it imply that they were the only thing worth noting about the women concerned.You are apparently smart enough to turn on a computer, ergo, you know the difference.

  156. MPH146 says

    I see. So after having a 2 hour stimulating intellectual conversation with a woman, if I say “Not only is she smart, she’s hot”, I’ve negated the entire 2 hours of intellectual activity and made all 2 hours of it about her physical attractiveness (to me). Even if it isn’t until the very end of the conversation that I actually see her (however the hell that would happen). That’s like calling Anne Frank’s Diary a book that’s all about a teen aged woman’s vagina, just because there’s a (very) few entries in which she discusses hers. Had a double dose of hypersensitivity lately, have we?There are people that think that any comment on a woman’s looks MUST mean that the commenter only thinks of that woman (or women in general) as a sex object. The idea that someone can appreciate another for their intelligence, or their singing talent, or their (whatever attribute/skill you’d like), AND think of them as a sex object appears to not occur to them. Indeed, if the majority of humans didn’t think of members of the opposite sex as sex objects, regardless of their other attributes, the species would have died out long ago (HEY! STOP thinking about having sex with HER! You CAN’T do THAT! She’s SMART!).In any event, I’ll definitely not get worked up about this until and unless Kari does, since, as I said initially, if anyone had cause to be offended, it was her. I certainly have no right or business being insulted on her behalf, and neither does anyone else.

  157. Zuche says

    Assuming “This whole post was really just an excuse to post a picture of Kari,” doesn’t mean, “Kari is an attractive woman,” it still says, “I place a higher value on Kari’s appearance than her insights.”In other words, the writer did state, “Her thoughts and opinions are not as important as her looks.” It does not matter whether Hemant judges Kari to be attractive, ugly, or funny looking. It matters that his beliefs do not match his words, but that doesn’t change what was written. The meaning of “just an excuse” tells you clearly which of two things is valued more highly.

  158. says

    I see. So after having a 2 hour stimulating intellectual conversation with a woman, if I say “Not only is she smart, she’s hot”, I’ve negated the entire 2 hours of intellectual activity and made all 2 hours of it about her physical attractiveness (to me). Even if it isn’t until the very end of the conversation that I actually see her (however the hell that would happen). That’s like calling Anne Frank’s Diary a book that’s all about a teen aged woman’s vagina, just because there’s a (very) few entries in which she discusses hers. Had a double dose of hypersensitivity lately, have we?Hilarious. You’ve managed to completely strawman the point.

  159. says

    I think what generally pisses me off about Jen’s posts on feminism is that they come from a seemingly oblivious “Jen is always right” standpoint.

    This is a blog. Bloggers express their opinions. Therefore, when you read something on a blog, unless there’s a disclaimer of uncertainty, you’re liable to read an opinion strongly held by the blogger. If Jen’s feminist posts “generally piss [you] off,” you might ask yourself if it’s partly because you have a problem with women disagreeing with you and expressing themselves cogently. Not sure why you used the word “oblivious” there, but it’s certainly a word that describes many of the posters disagreeing with what they seem to think Jen wrote, when in some cases she wrote the opposite.

  160. says

    [intended as a reply to Julie, just above]MPH146’s comment is exactly the sort of thing I referred to above in my reply to Charon, about the word “oblivious.” Hemant’s attempt at humor offended a number of people, both male and female, and the suggestion that their offense is illegitimate is codswallop.No one has labeled Hemant “universally sexist,” W-everTF that means. Jen’s post said that Hemant is a cool guy and a good writer, so the fact that he unthinkingly posted a sexist “joke” was a disappointment to her. She has asked him to, essentially, think twice before posting something like it again, and lots of males are reacting as if she wants his head on a pike. Sorry ’bout your dicks, guys. Can I interest you in a nice Corvette or a Humvee? “Not only is she smart, she’s hot” is the opposite of what Hemant’s “really just an excuse” says. Read it again, MPH.

  161. Derbasementcat says

    Pie is Delicious? And No Sugar Added Pie needs to not cost like twice as much as normal pie?

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