Sometimes you can’t win

That’s the look I give when I’ve just lost a couple more brain cells.

Day 1:
Man: Men are sexual beings! We evolved to be promiscuous!
Woman: Um, but biology isn’t an ultimatum. You can control your actions.
Day 2:
Man: We should care about a skewed gender ratio because then I’d have more women to date!
Woman: No, we should care because women also have ideas to contribute. We don’t just exist so you can have sex with us…
Woman: *stares blankly at viewer*
The Joys of Feminist Blogging]


  1. philosoraptor says

    Yup. My girlfriend is an engineer and it’s amazing the sort of stuff she has to put up with. Although I am at times to blame for this, I think the worst thing is a bunch of MEN sitting around and discussing how to make it better for women as if they’re not there. :/

  2. says

    I’m… not convinced? It sounds more like what happens when we compare a small human child to a very mature human adult. We accept that a child can outgrow selfish and self-centered behavior, and don’t blame the child or its gender for the issues involved. We accept that children aren’t magically done maturing when they hit puberty. We don’t treat them as full adults when they hit 16 years, or 18 years, and only sometimes at 21… but when someone makes a social faux pas, screw it, let’s nail them to the wall!!!

  3. says

    Who wants to bet that the men who will complain about this cartoon are the same type of people who bitterly assert that feminists are too “sensitive” and “can’t take a joke” about their own flaws?

  4. says

    I don’t give a damn what “dating” means in the context of this discussion. It could mean sex; it could mean candlelight dinners and walking on the beach in the moonlight. Either way, it’s not why we should want input from women in secular/atheist groups. Is it really so painfully difficult to acknowledge that if half of the population isn’t interested in your very important ideological cause, there might be a problem more important than a lack of potential romantic prospects?

  5. Epimetheus says

    Somehow, the use a graph paper strikes me as a signature quality of this artistic work. That is all.

  6. says

    You’re exactly right. It’s a stupid semantic argument. It’s obvious that “We don’t just exist so you can have sex with us…” is just shorthand for “We don’t just exist to fulfill your romantic and/or sexual desires.”

  7. Jon says

    Not having heard the original conversation, I can’t say, but it’s possible that a guy could talk about more women in atheism = more women to date, just to make a joke.It’s not funny, it’s not appropriate, but this may be less about prejudice, and more about male social skills, or lack of same.

  8. says

    Eman al-Obeidy was raped by Qaddafi’s soldiers. She is now being sued for slander by them because she crashed an event in a hotel and told Western journalists about it.A girl in Texas was raped repeatedly by a large group of men and is now being subjected to character assassination.Women in some parts of the world have their genitals butchered.Maybe I’m insensitive, but I don’t think the whole “sexist/not sexist” discussion is important. Women all over the world are being victimized in ways that are horrible. That is what we should be working on.

  9. says

    Sorry, but that whole “It’s so much worse in country XYZ than here, you western feminists should be focusing on THIS, instead of whining about your little problems” is a big fucking red herring, one that’s been so thoroughly discredited I can’t believe I even have to type this. But thankfully, Melissa McEwan at Shakesville wrote about this just today(…, and said it better than I ever could: “The ‘plight of women in other countries’ is “dire,” you see. That’s an assessment with which I don’t disagree. I do, however, disagree with his contention that it’s not dire here. But I guess Goldberg thinks that it’s good enough for his daughter to make 3/4 of what she’s worth, have a 1 in 6 chance of being raped, and have no right of bodily autonomy, just for a start. Cool.I also have this wacky notion that I don’t have better solutions for women abroad than they have for themselves. I am happy and eager to play a support role, and it is important to me to personally support as well as publicly promote programs like Prajwala and SANGRAM and Kofaviv and, among many others. I have given permission to every international women’s organization who’s ever asked to translate and reprint feminist content from Shakesville that they find useful, and I always will.I do not find that it is my place, as a white Western feminist, to “save” women in other parts of the world. (Frankly, I’m not inclined to tell any other woman at all how to do feminism.) That’s not solidarity; that’s colonialism.”

  10. says

    I’ve been toying around with the idea that every person is trying their best. Even when they’re not behaving or saying anything productive. It helps me to look at them in a more compassionate way.

  11. KarlVonMox says

    Dudes, there are plenty of other places to meet women. No need to limit your dating pool to atheist groups.

  12. says

    Don’t play that game. It’s not as though people are incapable of being concerned about more than one issue at a time. If that’s the case for you, then I’m sorry.

  13. Azkyroth says

    “The original conversation” was discussed on this blog and the non-jokingness of the comment was made clear.Additionally, even if it were a joke, it’s a tasteless one that needlessly reinforces stereotypes.

  14. Azkyroth says

    I love these little reminders of why I try to avoid hanging out in large groups of other males. >.>

  15. says

    Hmm… I’m a bit mixed on this one.On the one hand, I also disagree with the whole “It’s so much worse in country XYZ, so shut up about country ABC” thing.But that’s simply because it’s a stupid argument, from the word go.First up, it smacks of tu quoque.But since we atheists are criticized for being overly fallacy-oriented, the counter argument is something like this:Firstly: Just because foreign country XYZ has it worse than local country ABC, that doesn’t mean that the problems in country ABC shouldn’t be fixed too. Additionally, affecting change locally is much easier than affecting change internationally. We should divide our efforts sensibly.Secondly: It’s down to each person to decide how and where they choose to help. If someone takes the time and effort to engage in a bit of activism to improve things in their local area/home country, it takes a convoluted stretch of logic to turn that into a character flaw.The whole thing is just a transparent attempt to get feminists to STFU already. Which is all you need to know.That said, I have to respectfully disagree with Melissa McEwan’s closing paragraph in the section that you’ve quoted:”I do not find that it is my place, as a white Western feminist, to “save” women in other parts of the world. (Frankly, I’m not inclined to tell any other woman at all how to do feminism.) That’s not solidarity; that’s colonialism.”I get seethingly annoyed by this particular stance towards international humanitarian aid, so I have to take a deep breath to make sure I don’t get emotional about it. I always overreact when that happens and regret it immediately afterwards… So give me a moment…Okay.What I hear when I read that closing paragraph is: “It doesn’t matter if brown foreign women are raped and mutilated for seeking independence or education. I’m just going to stick to improving the world for white females within my own country who happen to be just like me, because we’re the only group that I should care about.”I understand that given the historic context of colonialism that there is much in white history that should be lamented. It is appropriate to exercise caution when engaging with other cultures, such that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.But it’s a very, very large jump between ‘be careful about colonialism – don’t make the same mistakes our ancestors made’ and ‘therefore, don’t help non-white foreigners to advance themselves’.As far as I’m concerned, no woman (or man, for that matter) anywhere should be subject to deprivation and oppression. However we choose to deal with that problem should of course be sensitive to the history of colonialism and other such labels. However, raising artificial boundaries that say ‘I’m going to help these white people over here’ but ‘I’m not going to help those brown people over there’ isn’t a good, sensitive, solution.To the contrary. To me, singling out white Western people as the only ones that are deserving of our aid, concern, and assistance smacks of an implicit racism to me.Of course, this may very well be entirely unfair characterization of Melissa McEwan. I only know of her what you have quoted here, and that is very little indeed. So I want to go on the record very clearly here: I don’t claim that Melissa McEwan is racist. To the contrary, I entirely expect that I’ve taken this section out of context and read into it a stance that she does not in fact accept.But even so, that closing paragraph touches on a nerve with me. It encapsulates an attitude that people really do hold, and its an attitude and a rhetoric that angers and frustrates me. It’s a rhetoric that cloaks racism behind the guise of multicultural sensitivity and anti-colonialism. The oppression of anyone is a problem that calls out for a solution. It is one thing to say: I will focus my effort here or there, prioritizing according to my abilities and preferences. I only have so much time, and cannot help everyone.It is one thing to say: I am not an activist, let other people fight that battles.But it is entirely different to say that in principle white people shouldn’t try to alleviate international problems or issues, simply because they ‘aren’t our problems’.Segregating people into groups like that doesn’t strike me as a particularly enlightened attitude to be taking.Don’t raise boundaries around race.Don’t raise boundaries around nationality.Don’t raise boundaries around culture.These distinctions aren’t what matters in this context.What matters is that we’re all human beings. We’re all in this together.Isn’t that what counts?

  16. says

    According to UNICEF 1.4 million children die each year from preventable diseases. Why do you hate children!?There’s always another “bigger” issue that people could be spending their time and effort on. That’s why it’s a stupid game.

  17. Azkyroth says

    Given that the “guy” is a symbolic placeholder for a relatively homogeneous community which usually claims to speak for “men” in general…

  18. says

    How could you possibly draw and write things without lines? Forget all of the possible disagreements over what crosses the line from “general immature douche-nozzlery” to “blatantly sexist evil”… who can draw or write anything without lines on the paper?!?!

  19. says

    Yeah, and I have no doubt that “sexist guy” who sounded like a jerk would also be willing to punch one of those rapists in the face. Just because someone isn’t perfect when it comes to etiquette doesn’t mean they aren’t an ally when we’re all looking in the face of obvious evil.

  20. says

    No, it’s not what counts. What counts is listening to what non western feminists have come to say, and the same message has been heard repeatedly: “Shut the fuck up and listen to what we have to say. Don’t silence us because you think you know what’s best based on your own narrow perspective. ” Melissa isn’t advocating for boundaries by race to be drawn on who we help and where we help them. She’s saying it is not our job to think we know better than the women in those countries and situations on what to do. Non-Western feminists will not stand for us hijacking their movement and their causes any longer, and if we continue to do so, then we will just permanently alienate them. If you want an idea of what Melissa McEwan’s thoughts are on the subject, then the link to that blog post is wide open, and Melissa, as well as Shakesville’s many contributors have had a multitude of posts done on the subject of racism and colonialism. Don’t make the mistake of forming rapid conclusions on a half-paragraph.

  21. says

    I entirely agree with you.You’re correct that forming rapid conclusions on a half (full?) paragraph is a mistake.Not that it really matters, but out of curiosity, did you notice this section?”Of course, this may very well be entirely unfair characterization of Melissa McEwan. I only know of her what you have quoted here, and that is very little indeed. So I want to go on the record very clearly here: I don’t claim that Melissa McEwan is racist. To the contrary, I entirely expect that I’ve taken this section out of context and read into it a stance that she does not in fact accept.But even so, that closing paragraph touches on a nerve with me. It encapsulates an attitude that people really do hold, and its an attitude and a rhetoric that angers and frustrates me. It’s a rhetoric that cloaks racism behind the guise of multicultural sensitivity and anti-colonialism.”Whether you did or didn’t, your response to me remains equally valid.I’m just wondering if I’m falling victim to Huge Wall of Text syndrome again. Methinks I need to write smaller posts.

  22. says

    I have never been sure if dating is about sex or getting to know people, the optimist in me hopes for both.I am too damn socially awkward and lazy to ever be any good at being promiscuous.Also, I like doing my own house work, and an keep my whites white.

  23. says

    Making the assumption that when a guy does something like this, he’s joking, is a very common way of excusing sexism though. I’m not saying he definitely wasn’t joking, but guys are excused for joking a lot more often than they actually are.

  24. says

    All these discussions on atheism and feminism makes me want to go to a real life atheist gathering of some kind just so women are more represented. And at the same time, it makes me not want to do that at all.

  25. Johnny Vector says

    Well this has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic, but I recommend putting that transcript in the ALT attribute of the IMG tag. Braille readers and text-to-speech readers will replace the image with the ALT text automatically. As a government employee, I am required to do this for web pages I write.In olden days, some browsers (incorrectly) displayed the contents of the ALT attribute as a tooltip. I think they’re all fixed now.

  26. says

    That look is one I have on my face way too often. With some exceptions (mostly medical) I tend to find excuses based on gender (regardless of the gender of the person making them) frustrating.Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to live on Gethen/Winter (….

  27. says

    Thanks for the tip! I thought about it, but I wasn’t sure if they’d pick up alt text. Now I know :)

  28. says

    I have never been sure if dating is about sex or getting to know people…

    When one is younger, mainly the former. As one matures, increasingly the latter. Generally, anyway.

  29. says

    Because it’s the same thing? People aren’t magically different because they live in a different country. Just because women/LGBT/racial minorities etc. etc. in country X. have it worse than in your country does not make the problem any less serious in your country. The same types of people that are making life hard in country X. are the same types of people that are waiting for the opportunity to do exactly the same thing to you in your country.If you don’t think so, just look at the slut-shaming, anti-choice, forced birth, forced marriage, pro-rape, pro-female infantilisation, anti-gay, racist, anti-poor, anti-education right-wing religious nutcases in the US, and to be fair, in my own country, the UK.It’s exactly because we can see the unspeakably grotesque evils of sexism/homophobia/racism in country X. that we need to do something about them in our own countries, because the second we stop pushing to make things better, then the bastards will push in exactly the opposite direction and wreck everything we’ve worked for in the last 150 years.Plus there is the fact that leading by example counts for a lot. If the US/UK type countries show that women/LGBT/racial minorities are treated equally and with respect, then there is a far greater chance that country X. will do the same thing, not through the force of arms, or sanctions, but simply because the people in country X. will not accept the horrific treatment anymore. Just look at Egypt, men and women, Muslims and Christians in the street together, protesting peacefully because they know they can have something better.

  30. says

    I have the rather unusual belief that the vast majority of individuals are actually quite nice, and are trying their best to live ‘good’ lives.That doesn’t make them necessarily right about what is ‘good’ though.Makes me feel better at night actually, that maybe one day the people that are trying to do evil things for their own vision of ‘good’ will learn their error.

  31. Palebluevoice says

    FUCK YES. THIS SO MUCH. Quit whining women, because you’re not being burned alive anymore and you get to choose who to marry! Black people complain “oh wahh I got discriminated against” well at least you can have a job now! You would have been a slave 200 years ago. Jews need to quit complaining too. Ohh you got beat up by some skinheads? If you lived in Germany during the holocaust, you would have been killed! Did you get falsely imprisoned for 20 years? psssh, quit whining. In Pakistan people are falsely imprisoned and tortured all the time! I mean yeah, we could oppose all injustice, since its not going to do a goddamn thing one way or another for a rape victim if we examine how women are talked to by certain people, but THAT WOULD BE HARD WORK. LETS FIND THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING WORSE THINGS AND WE’LL LOOK REALLY GOOD AND WE DON’T HAVE TO MAKE ANY SOCIAL PROGRESS! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  32. linguistenator says

    I think people bring deeply flawed assumptions to arguments like these. Assumption 1: Everything that evolutionary biologists publish is totally true and unbiased. There’s some definite confirmation bias going on up in there sometimes, and the publications should be taken with a grain of salt. Assumption 2: When someone says “you can control your biological impulses,” they mean “you must squelch your every biological impulse because you can.” Usually, reasonable people mean, “you can express your biological impulses at appropriate times, and know when to not express them due to mitigating factors that would make expression a bad idea.” Which I’d say is pretty uncontroversial.The “day two” scenario above is a great example of dodging the actual point, because the actual point is uncomfortable, and nobody likes feeling uncomfortable for saying dumb shit. So instead of owning up and saying, “dang, that was a pretty lame thing of me to say, I see your point and I get it. Maybe I was wrong,” what you get in reality is: 1.) Oh shit I was wrong. 2.) Make the issue about a leap in rhetoric from “dating” to “sex” that my conversational partner fairly reasonably made. 3.) Make a less reasonable leap from opponent’s implicit assumption that “dating usually means sex or sexualized activity at some point” to “my opponent is saying that because I want to date people, I must be a slave to my biology.”That was rambly — blame the scotch in me — but I think my tl;dr summary is: If you’re going to be a skeptic and/or atheist you can’t go making crappy flawed leaps of logic when you’re trying to make your point. It won’t help you in ANY situation where you’re arguing for your stance on atheism, gender, etc. Logic is your friend! And also cuts down on frustrating conversations that devolve into shouting and ad hominems and irrelevant comparisons. Sigh./alcohol-assisted musings

  33. Evita325 says

    LOL!!!It is so nice and thoughtful that you actually wrote the transcript. You rock.

  34. Ol_Froth says

    I find the use of graph paper charming.Seriously though, as a male, I find it really hard to relate, as I don’t have to deal with random people looking at my cleavage or buttocks with lustful intent, or seeing me as nothing more than a reproductive unit. I really have a hard time comprehending how women deal with this attitude. One of the things I love about this blog is how it makes me step back, think, and wonder how my thoughtless actions may negativly effect others.

  35. says

    Nobody wins when stereotypes are being thrown around but sometimes it’s just fun to play games where nobody wins. It’s like the Special Olympics.*ducks*

  36. Clayton says

    I think there are a lot of ideas here that are being assumed to be antithetical or even mutually exclusive which simply are not.For example, sex may be a very important part of dating for most men (and women), but that does not mean that dating equates to sex. There are many important components, including emotional bonds, intellectual compatibility, a shared world view, and of course, sex. When someone indicates they would like to expand their dating pool, it does not mean that they are looking solely for sexual partners. In fact, if that were the case, it would be completely irrelevant as to whether or not the women were atheists or not. The fact that this IS relevant could easily be considered evidence that the person in question was looking for someone with whom he shared common interests.Clearly it is difficult for men (myself included) to properly see things from the female perspective. It always requires effort to look at something from someone else’s point of view. This is something we men need to be aware of and continue to put effort in to. However, it can also be advantageous for women to do the same. The plight of the atheist male who is looking for a loving relationship with a woman he respects and with whom he holds a common philosophy is a real one. With the large gender gap within the community, the options are essentially to either find a partner whose religious views you disagree with (possibly strongly) or simply resign yourself to the fact that you are statistically unlikely to find a compatible mate. This can be a very difficult position for those of us who really want to find a life partner. So while it may be selfish, it seems like being concerned about the issue should at least be understandable. (As an exercise, imagine that the skew was not in gender, but in age. With the vast majority of the atheist community being well outside of your acceptable age bracket. Eliminating this gap, then, becomes not just good for the community at large, but also for your own romantic prospects)As for being slaves to our biology, I do think all humans are strongly driven by their instincts and, while it is possible to overcome them, it is both difficult and rare. Instead, it seems the tendency is to first decide on the action and then search for rationale. This is unfortunate but, in my experience at least, seems to be generally true (even when we don’t realize it). I would also point out that this cartoon could be rewritten to be a mirror image of itself. A reversal of positions has taken place in both columns – even though it is highlighted only on the male’s side (left). In an objective reality, it would seem that regardless of which answer is ‘true’ (mean are/are not slaves to their libido) each side is wrong once and right once.To be clear: My views are in no way intended to be argumentative or derogatory. Just to present an alternative perspective in an effort to better establish an objective truth. There are many underlying views regarding gender bias and discrimination as well as a need for increased sensitivity to these issues with which I whole-heartedly agree. But highlighting areas where one agrees rarely serves to make progress.

  37. says

    Playing the feminist card against men is a sure way to lose. Jen (as feminist) vs Men (thinking with a penis) = 0:1Next time, try the volition/free will card and bring up the issue of the differences between animals and humans. Philosophy is a better card to play than (pure) biology. ;-)My expectation on the strategy, Jen (volition) vs Men (thinking with a penis), is P(outcome=1:0) = 80% and P(outcome=1/2 : 1/2) = 15% and P(outcome = 0:1) = 5%.

  38. unclexbob says

    The crime in question is saying what he was thinking, and not to put too fine of a point on it, all guys think such things. Every person would like to meet people that have similar beliefs, hobbies, etc. It seems utterly obvious that, if you feel atheism is central to what makes you you, meeting people that you are attracted to at atheist gatherings would be by far the best odds for finding a person compatible to you.Kind of like geeks meeting girls at star trek conventions.I’d call this socially awkward statement/bad joke. It is only belittling to women if you think men should never show interest in finding women that have similar interests and intellect. I would hope that isn’t what feminism is about.

  39. says

    imo, people with that level of unselfconscious cognitive dissonance have gone down the same hole as hard core creationists. as such, perhaps, the best policy would be ‘gnu feminism’. concentrate on raising the consciousness of people who can still think and go all pz on neopaleolithicists.

  40. says

    I agree with @Clayton and @unclexbob. Picking up girls at the bar isn’t that easy for those of us who don’t have the most sophisticated social skills and it’s not the most fulfilling. Trying to date Christians is bound to be problematic. Even if she’s compatible on 90% of issues now, that’s very likely to change once there are kids in the picture. In a lot of areas, finding someone with a compatible world view can be very difficult.Sure, these guys were being asses. We should want more women in the movement and in our atheist groups to bring more viewpoints and opinions that we miss out on if we are too male dominated. But let’s be realistic here, most people would like to be in a relationship either now or sometime in the future, and just about every single atheist would like to find another atheist. A larger pool of like minded people with whom we can have meaningful relationships should be viewed as a happy benefit of having more women in the movement, not the primary motivating factor.

  41. says

    According to astronomers, sometime in the next 4 to 6 billion years the Sun will enter a red giant phase, expanding until it literally swallows Earth, making the planet uninhabitable. Why do you hate life!?(Do I win?)

  42. R2 says

    Does no one read? From the previous post that this one is in reference to:”Super Duper Hint For The People Who Don’t Get Why This Is A Problem: Women don’t exist for the sole purpose of dating you. They can actually participate for the same intellectual and social reasons that you do. It’s fine to be attracted to someone and date within a group, but don’t only see a woman as Person Who I Want to Sleep With.”I think that makes it clear that she gets the difference between dating and sex, and that men are not evil for wanting to date in the Atheist group.

  43. R. says

    That sounds lame, also, nice username BTW. It’s a lose-lose though, if they talk like she’s not there, they’re arrogant “benefactors” (which it sounds like they are), if they ask her, then they’re making the false-assumption that because she’s a woman she’s representative of women (“who are uniform”, etc.).

  44. jose says

    “Man: Men are sexual beings! We evolved to be promiscuous!”Another Man: We didn’t evolve to be promiscuous. Stop blaming biology.

  45. R. says

    I appreciated it. :) It enabled me to found “graphical chauvinism”, whereby I rate and prejudge women based upon the number of boxes they occupy (or would) on graph paper. *Man-fives*

  46. says

    ::edit::I just saw Lodevijk’s post. The perspective helps. Now it seems more like feeding the trolls :S

  47. says

    “Man: Men are sexual beings! We evolved to be promiscuous!”Um, and women aren’t? People did not evolve to be monogamous, in general. But we still get to decide what we do. People who say “but I was evolved to be X!” concede half the argument — in saying that, it sounds like they agree that X is bad, they just say they can’t help it. What the guy should have said (and what he probably meant!) was: “I choose what I do, and my choice is to be happily promiscuous!” Indeed, people, stop blaming biology — not just because it doesn’t work, but mainly because you shoot yourself in the foot by doing so.”We should care about a skewed gender ratio because then I’d have more women to date!”Me: Oh yes, definitely. But with all due respect for this reason (and there is respect), there are more important reasons as to why we should care about this (although the other reasons are not all about YOU :-)) Such as: [and then goes on to say what Jen said]I would suspect that the guy doesn’t mean the reason he brought is the only one or even the only important one — it was simply the first thing that leaped to his mind because he’s a) self centered b) blurts out what he thinks right away. And I can relate to that very much, so I tend to be very forgiving of it.

  48. says

    You’re actually optimistic. In a mere 500 to 900 million years there won’t be enough CO2 in the atmosphere for plants to photosynthesize, thus dooming nearly all life on earth. In about 1 billion years the oceans will have boiled off, thus dooming the rest of life (Source). Over 80% of the history of life on earth has already been written.

  49. says

    No, the views of both haven’t been reversed. Woman Day 1: “Men can control their biological impulses for sex.”Woman Day 2: “Women don’t just exist to fulfill men’s sexual (or romantic) desires.”In objective reality there is no reversal or contradiction at all. There is only a slight change of focus, but they are reinforcing points.

  50. says

    This point was made numerous times in the other post, and it’s still completely missing the point. I’m going to try to walk through it politely this time to see if that gets a better response. There is not a single person here who does not understand that people are often attracted to other people who share common interests with them. No one is arguing that that is a bad thing. The problem is seeing women as only or primarily objects of romantic or sexual desire. That attitude is dismissive of them as fully independent people with their own thoughts, opinions and experiences to add to the group. A lot of guys in the comments seem to be very defensive, as if, someone is calling the entire idea of being attracted to women sexist. That’s not what’s happening. In these cases it’s best to just drop the defensiveness and really try to listen and understand the issue.

  51. says

    I’m pretty sure you don’t know what “hypocritical” means, since it doesn’t apply to the cartoon, and you apparently can’t even make an argument as to why it does.

  52. says

    Reading comprehension isn’t you strong suit is it? The initial conversation happened at a Secular Student Union (SSU) meeting. SSU is not a singles group. It’s a club dedicated to spreading secularism and freethought around campus. Therefore, efforts to be more inclusive to women should focus on furthering those goals and not focus on bringing in more people for the current hetero/bi male membership to date. Is that really so hard to get?

  53. Jwilder204 says

    Good thing you’re a woman, Ola, or else saying something like this would bring waves of dissent about you being sexist.No double standard to see here. Move along, move along.(Is it OK for me, a man, to agree with Ola, since she’s a woman?)((Also, Ola, please start a blog.))

  54. WingedBeast says

    I’m a bit of two minds on this.On the one hand, as a human being, the increased voice of women is better for the whole of humanity, because divergent experiences matter and so does not blocking off certain voices just because of an anatomical difference. On that level, I favor feminism because it’s the right thing.But, on a more base and selfish level, well, here I am a straight guy still looking for someone and feminism has made women hotter in that capable, intelligent equals are more attractive than servants. Though, that is not the side benefit.

  55. A-M says

    I can so relate to this!I am a 25 year old female working in an environment dominated by older men (micro-electronic engineering). I represent my company (on my own because we are a small company) at international trade fairs. I have done this for 3 years now, so I know what I’m doing. This is a professional environment – we’re all wearing suits and speaking to customers. And yet I have had the following conversation with a fellow stall holder:Me: It’s amazing how few women there are here. I’d say it’s at least 80% men.Stand holder: I wish there were more women too, it’d make the place look nicer.Me: …Perhaps I am overeacting, but I don’t think any of the male stall holders were chosen to represent their company based on their looks. I think it was down to technical knowledge and good communication skills. Would it be a stretch of the imagination to hope people could assume I am here for the same reasons? Perhaps this guy was an ass, but after a week of being mistaken for a hostess (many companies hire ladies my age to give out tea and coffee and generally smile) it becomes infuriating that people (mainly men) assume I don’t know what I’m talking about, purely based on the fact I am female and young. I would be stood at my stand alone, and people would ask if I could go and get someone because they wanted to talk business, without even consulting me first. This is indeed a man’s world.

  56. jose says

    I think it’s important to note that, while we do certainly decide what we do, the science in his argument is wrong. We didn’t evolve to be promiscuous. We didn’t evolve to be monogamous, either. Evolution is accountable for the broad outlines of our psychology, the overall framework. We are very unspecialized animals. Our hands, eyes, throat or teeth are not finely tuned for one precise, unique, specific purpose, and so isn’t our brain.We shouldn’t let a scientific error slide. The “Even-if-it-were-true” kind of argument should only be used after we make it clear that it isn’t true to begin with.

  57. Smoking Glacier says

    I first read about hanlons razor on this blog, and I think its a more adequate explanation for the world. Your sentiment is good, but in my opinion, over-optimistic.

  58. jose says

    You are not overreacting at all. In fact, you are underreacting. The properly measured reaction to this world would be an armed revolution. But that won’t happen, because we have nice things.

  59. Zuche says

    That seems backward. Forming social connections with a diverse group of people without regard to gender is more likely to result in meeting prospective partners. Limited connections put undue pressure on everyone involved.

  60. says

    The first question “women aren’t promiscuous?” is actually answered with a “not comparatively to males”. How many societies do you know that practice polyandry? Then compare that to the number of societies that practice polygyny. For some reason, there are practically no single-female with lots of husband situations, but almost all societies had single men with multiple wives in their history.I don’t know why, but this started around the same time as the agricultural revolution (and not practiced so much in hunter-gatherer societies). The guess is that gender differences actually mattered at this point, as upper body strength is useful when physically plowing fields or defending against rapists or neighboring conquerers with spears. Against predators we mostly just ran away. But against conquerers? Anyways, we could theoretically wait for a few thousand years or so for evolution to take it’s course and realize that these differences are meaningless today.To speed this up (and overcome the meaningless male dominance), we should put continuous pressure toward gender equality. We could do this through independent feminists being extremely proactive, and we could do that through teaching our children, and we could do that through changing societal expectations. It sucks for rational people to have to do this, but evolution is stupid.

  61. says

    Jose- But it is true. We did in fact evolve to have promiscuous and monogamous tendencies. My evidence:- Of all polygamous societies (like almost all societies were at some point), their are very few that practice females having multiple husbands, but most of them practiced men having multiple wives. – We also know that testosterone increases sex drive (in both men and women… homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual). Men generally have a lot more than women. – We know at least one mechanism for this: the story of a neurotransmitter oxytocin (…. – We don’t employ tons of other mating strategies (…– Evolution is stupid. Nothing made by evolution has a purpose, but rather just simply survives or doesn’t. With a mechanism for something, and some benefit to propagation and survival, anything can evolve. Since we had these strategies for mating while we were hunter gatherers, it makes sense that it was not all socialized. The problem isn’t the science of why so much as what do we do with the science.

  62. says

    Haha. How subtly and innocently insulting!I’d recommend (oh, unsolicited advice) that you just work harder. Women succeed in dominate male fields all the time, generally by being better than all the guys. If you’re awesome enough, then they’ll have no choice but to raise their opinions of everything about you, including being a girl.Edit: Does it suck? yes. I’m sorry.

  63. Jwilder204 says

    Respectfully disagree with NathanLee here. Do NOT work harder than the men. If you work harder than the men just to be recognized and get ahead, then that’s not fair and you’re perpetuating male privledge.Also, did you notice how NathanLee just told you what to do? MALE PRIVLEDGE. And he tried to cover it up by saying up front (oh, unsolicited advice). Yeah, cause if you say “I know this sounds racist, but black people are violent” then that’s NOT racist, right? /sarcasm/double sarcasmWow, trolling as a radical feminist sure is easy. I see why there are so many radfem blogs now – it requires next to no effort to smack men around no matter WHAT they do.My apologies, NathanLee, nothing personal.A-M, I would recommend you work harder than your co-workers no matter what race or sex you are. There’s a chance you wont’ be recognized, but that happens to men and women for a number of wrong reasons. It might not happen in your generation, or the next, but eventually gender equality will win out, just like the monarchies that dominated a thousand years ago, the patriarchy is on its death bed.

  64. says

    Or, for that matter, why does the guy have only one testicle, why is it at the same height as the boob, and what are those things hanging on the tip?craziness I tell you

  65. paisley says

    I read this as you taking this to be an either-or discussion. I care very much about the issues you’ve just brought up and make sure that the people in my own personal circle are reminded that these things happen – hoping that an increase in awareness will lead to people clamoring for change and providing financial backing to make change happen (which as a graduate student I am unfortunately unable to provide at this time). However, I also think it is important to realize that there are ways that women are shut-down and shut-out in areas of society that many would say are quite woman-friendly and I still think we should critique those as well.Is it reasonable to think that a 20-something (this is an assumption of the above scenario) college atheist would be excited about the prospect of more women in his social circle that share his lack of religious beliefs? Of course it is. However, if I had been single after losing my faith and wanted to find a group of atheists – if I heard that a member of the local atheist group verbally expressed excitement about women joining so his dating pool would expand, I would feel some anxiety about showing up. I would feel like “oh hey, IF I go there I may have to deal with feelings of discomfort because I may be looked at as potential dateable material and not as just a new member of this community; perhaps I should watch what I wear, be careful about what I say and jokes I may make – because all of this can set me in view of ‘let’s try to date her’.” This type of mental weighing of pros and cons of just showing up to an event can lead women into thinking – you know what, I’ll just stay home – and this is counter-productive to the atheist movement.

  66. jose says

    – Societies are explained by sociology, not evolution.- Sex drive != Promiscuity.- Oxytocin (Oxt) is a nonapeptide hormone best known for its role in lactation and parturition … Although Oxt is implicated in a variety of “non-social” behaviors, such as learning, anxiety, feeding and pain perception, it is Oxt’s roles in various social behaviors that have come to the fore recently…Oxt and Oxtr expression is usually higher in females…Oxt seems to enhance memory for faces…”Looks like oxytocin works in a lot of things. You don’t get to say “we evolved to be promiscuous because we have oxytocin.”- Promiscuity is not a mating strategy. If anything, it would be a consequence of a successful mating strategy used over and over with different partners.- Cavemen were people like us who also lived social lives. There’s no reason to make a biological distinction between us and them, or to believe they were more determined or “hardwired” by evolution than we are.The problem is the science.

  67. Alan E. says

    Doesn’t alt text for a photo speak out on readers for blind people? That may be a better solution instead of laying it all out below. This is a short post, so it doesn’t take away from it, but if you have pictures like this on longer posts, then you would have less “filler” that would take away from the rest.

  68. paisley says

    haha. Your Huge Wall of Text did cause me to just glance over. I then read all of the post after reading the entirety of the your second half (everything after the whole paragraph touching a nerve with you).I was glad that I did read the entire post; because I enjoyed it very much. Within the context you provided of the paragraph about it not be the place of the white Western feminist to save women around the world I absolutely agree with you. However, it is important to recognize that white Western feminists have certainly played that whole “we know better than all you other women” and have hijacked positions of leadership and prominence – meaning that these women in other areas of the world don’t get to be the ones to tell their stories and be heard and aren’t the ones in the foreground. This I can totally see as colonialism. Now can white Western feminists still play a role in helping other, I think yes, but that role should be supporting and not commandeering.

  69. Clayton says

    I disagree. Of course, the comic (representing a specific view) doesn’t directly highlight the mutual inconsistency, but it seems to me that it DOES exist.Man Day 1: “Men can’t control their biological impulses”Woman Day 1: “Man CAN control their biological impulses”Man Day 2: “It isn’t fair to suggest dating equates to sex because men CAN control their biological impulses” (A clear contradiction)Woman Day 2: “Dating for men DOES equates to sex because men CAN’T control their biological impulses” (A clear contradiction)It is true that my paraphrasing of the woman on day 2 is NOT spoken directly, but implied. If it weren’t implied, then the man’s final statement wouldn’t make sense. He is defending himself (in an exaggerated cartoon way) from the implication that dating = sex. He said dating, she said ‘sex’ because she believes that to him one is the same as the other. To put it more succinctly: If his position did change, while hers stayed the same, then it would logically be required that on one of the two days they would actually be in agreement. To be fair, I think she is partially correct. Dating does PARTIALLY equate to sex. I believe this is true in both men AND women, although possibly to different extents (not just different between genders, but also – and most importantly – different between INDIVIDUALS). The issue here is not black and white (it almost never is), just because dating consists of sex does not mean they are interchangeable. Equally, just because a man (or woman) is interested in broadening their dating pool, does not mean they are not concerned about increasing diversity for other, less selfish reasons. And, finally, being sexually interested in a person does not exclude you from respecting their ideas or appreciating their intellectual contributions. (That’s not to say that never happens, of course – just that it isn’t REQUIRED to be true).

  70. Clayton says

    That does happen to women all of the time, unfortunately. And it is completely understandable why the sensitivity to such an issue exists.However, is it fair to ASSUME that just because someone is interested in meeting more like-minded women for “dating” that he MUST, therefore, be looking ONLY for sexual partners, or that he does not believe those women also have ideas to contribute?I think her position is understandable but, at the same time, unfair. Maybe this guy is a jerk (and it is possible that there is some unrevealed history she is aware of that we haven’t been privy to that would confirm this), but maybe he is a nice guy who is just lonely and wants to meet someone who shares his world view.

  71. says

    Atheists have it a lot worse in some countries than we do in the United States, but I don’t hear you complaining that trying to counter negative stereotypes of atheists here isn’t important and we shouldn’t bother with it because there are real problems in the world we should be working on.Sexism is real. It takes many forms. Considering women as potential sex partners first and foremost, rather than as full human beings, is one of them.

  72. Eric_RoM says

    I’m burning w/envy of your superior doodling skills. Seriously. Simple is tough (for me).

  73. Eric_RoM says

    “In these cases it’s best to just drop the defensiveness and really try to listen and understand the issue. “Dood, now that’s just crazy-talk.

  74. says

    Pity that there aren’t many, many women out there blogging and writing and talking about these things every day then, huh? Also a pity that there isn’t a whole branch of academia devoted to it, right?Oh, wait..

  75. says

    This! So many times this!Also, even if it was a joke, given the context (where things like this are often said in all seriousness and can be damaging when put together) it’s a pretty inappropriate joke.

  76. says

    From that premise, the inescapable conclusion is that the vast majority of people are frankly idiots.I know this sounds elitist, and I haven’t the mental capacity right now to explain clearly enough why it’s not (maybe I will one day after I start a blog of my own), but it took me quite a while to realise that most people are less ‘intelligent’ (for some limited meaning of that vaguely like the traditional idea of IQ) than I tend to expect them to be. It’s not depressing that they aren’t, it’s just the way it is. But if that many people were that dumb, it would be.If people really wanted to do their best, they’d be open to understanding how they’re doing things wrong now. I don’t mean to suggest that people are actually malicious (unthinking bigotry is more common than thoughtful bigotry, I’m sure), but the characteristics that lead to people persisting in doing things ‘wrong’ aren’t characteristics that should be celebrated.

  77. says

    To be fair, I’ve heard people in a single conversation explain that men are biologically incapable of doing (insert stereotype aspect here), or doing it well, and also to assert that sex and/or gender aren’t completely determining of anything. I’ve heard similar idiocy in situations that aren’t about gender at all, as well. I’ve heard these things from people of both genders, and I’ve heard them about both genders as well.The type as described in this post is depressingly more common than the others, and the whole sort of inconsistency is depressingly common.

  78. says

    By the dictat of CSS, ALT text is used in situations where the image can’t be displayed, for whatever reason (specifically including non-visual browsers), and title text is the tooltip.And pretty much every modern browser (visual and non-visual) follows this.What to put as ALT text is sometimes hard to determine, but when the image is primarily textual, that text is appropriate.I say this for general information of anyone who’s curious. If I’ve been inadvertently condescending again, I apologise.

  79. R. says

    For all the debate surrounding this or that issue, you ‘gotta concede, Jen was spot on in associating monobrows and evil.

  80. says

    Good point… the common phrasing of “evolved to X” is a misleading shorthand that implies purpose.Better to say “our evolution has encouraged promiscuous traits”… then that can be argued as an actual point – the actual point we’ve been talking about for two posts worth of comment threads…

  81. says

    The studies I remember that looked at sexual behaviour in relation to testosterone level found the correlation fit across genders considering each person’s testosterone relative to that typical of their gender… so I’m not sure that men having more ultimately explains men’s generally-considered greater sexual behaviour and tendency to promiscuity.

  82. says

    If his position did change, while hers stayed the same, then it would logically be required that on one of the two days they would actually be in agreement.

    Firstly, that is only true if the positions are binary, which they clearly aren’t. Secondly, your paraphrasing of the woman’s day 2 remarks seems completely off the mark. She doesn’t equate dating with sex, she just uses “sex” as shorthand for “men’s romantic and/or sexual desires”. That is supposed to be clear to the audience, and it’s why his over-the-top reaction is funny. It’s made funnier because of the contradiction with his statements on day 1.

  83. says

    Ugh. Did it get stuck in moderation or something? it included a link.What I wrote was: “you should draw more cartoons, and get a scanner… or a wooden table :)”(google “wtf wooden table” if you didn’t get the joke)

  84. says

    Not in moderation…. Just sometimes Disqus kills comments that include links. It’s supper annoying.I used to have scanner back when I was doing art a lot more. Maybe one day I’ll get a new one.

  85. TPRJones says

    Clearly men should indeed control their impulses and act with propriety, because what you choose to do and say is what matters and how you are judged.But women shouldn’t expect men not to even >think< about them in a sexual manner, because that’s not going to happen. That’s where the biology comes into play. We can’t help but do this. Some of us constantly and about everyone. (Sorry, Grandma)But what we say and do is how we rise above our biology. And if you knew me you would never know in just what ways I was thinking about you. Or how much.

  86. Clayton says

    I don’t really want to over analyze a doodle (as great as it may be), but I’m going to – just because I enjoy a good discussion.You are somewhat correct. The question itself (can/can’t men control their urges) isn’t necessarily boolean. One could choose a position somewhere in between (as I have). This could lead to them being in partial agreement on both days (not necessarily to the same level each day of course). For example, we can say the position of “Can Control Urges” is equivalent to 1 (True) and the position “Can’t Control Urges” is equivalent to 0 (False) but also allow for analog values such as .5. That means they could be half in agreement on each day and still allow for a complete flip on one (and only one) side.However, their positions on day 1 ARE both stated as binary. The woman states (no paraphrasing here) “you can control your actions”. That is clearly an absolute position. The man, on day 1, doesn’t make such an absolute statement, but I think it is clear that he feels in more-or-less absolute terms that men can not control their actions.On day 2 the woman states no specific position. But the implication (as I read it) is that she disagrees with his position. Because we know her position was absolute the previous day, that would indicate she must have changed it (or perhaps the bubble that says “Of course you are not slaves to your biology!” was omitted).Regardless, she most definitely equates sex to dating. Again, without paraphrasing, the man says “I’d have more women to date” and she rebuts with “we don’t just exist so you can have sex with us” (instead of ‘we don’t just exist so you can date us’). She is clearly using the terms interchangeably. I don’t really think this is a serious problem. The cartoon itself is still humorous and I understand (and partially agree with) the point it is trying to make. I think the bigger point is that we, as humans (and not as men and/or women) have a tendency to want take a defensive position first, and then try to justify it – which can lead us ALL to be inconsistent sometimes (if you looked hard enough, I’m sure you could find me doing something similar in the very thread – despite my conscious efforts not to). If we want to get to the objective truth of the matter we must labor to see all sides of an issue. That is why I think we should consider motives this guy may have had beyond those that might be distasteful (although we shouldn’t ignore those, either!). Given the information at hand, I don’t think it is unreasonable to consider that he might just be having a hard time finding a girl who shares his views on religion and, without giving too much thought as to how the statement might be received, made a somewhat selfish comment recognizing that there would be a personal benefit to having more females in the movement.

  87. says

    You’re pretty sure I don’t know what hypocritical means now, based on what? That you disagree with me? How very clever of you.One of the key ideas of any movements that espouses removing barriers to equality, such as feminism, is to break down the stereotypes that plague the opinions of the people of the opposite view, but to use stereotypes in doing so is, in fact, hypocritical.I hadn’t thought it necessary to explain why it was hypocritical, it seemed plainly obvious to me, however, since I disagree with Jim the Omniscient, I clearly just don’t know what the word means.

  88. jose says

    “what we say and do is how we rise above our biology.”We don’t rise about biology. When people control their impulses, it’s their brain what allows them to do that, not some incorporeal soul or fairy. Our auto-control is as biological as our impulses. Maybe one is instinctive and the other is socially acquired; so what? Both of them exist only in our body, in our brain, which changes every second in response to everything around us, including social stimuli. That doesn’t mean our behaviour doesn’t come from our body.When we are really really hungry, but we still refuse to eat because we are in a hunger strike, we are not rising above our biology, we are embracing our biology. Our intelligence and our thoughts are biological, too! Now, that doesn’t mean they are determined by it; it means they are made possible by it. Evolution only draws the broad outlines of what we can and can’t do; the specifics are up to us. But we have evolution to thank for giving us that unpredictable sea of possibilities.That distinction people draw (irrational impulses = biology; reason, logic, art = not biology) is false. There is no “mind and body”. There is only body.

  89. TPRJones says

    Well, yes, I can’t argue with that. I didn’t mean to imply anything mystical. I was using the phrase as a counterpoint to the original document in this post.The basic point still stands: to think that most guys will ever stop thinking about sex is folly. The best one can hope for is civility and discretion.

  90. jose says

    Yeah I know I’m not being very friendly here, I should have said I completely agree with you in what you meant. But that distinction really annoys me we I see it and this seemed like a good opportunity to talk about it a little and to kinda get it out of my system.

  91. says

    Maybe I wasn’t all that clear in my statement. A more diverse group increases the likelihood of finding a possible partner both inside and outside of the group. Dating someone within a small local atheist group would be potentially problematic for group unity, but as you increase the size and diversity of the group you not only increase the number of primary social connections but also secondary and tertiary connections. All of which is beneficial for finding partner.

  92. unclexbob says

    Your comment is confusing, since you seem to acknowledge the position, then completely dismiss it and then explain what the “guys” are really thinking. Well, if you say so. We have already agreed that it is, at the least, socially awkward/bad joke. I’m curious what pushes it over the line and makes it, without question, sexist. I’m not seeing the blatant sexism. It COULD be there, mind you. I think it is a large leap to assume it, however. I think it is more likely that, just like the hundreds of other categories of men-dominated social groups, they would love to see more women with similar interests as they have, and there is nothing sexist about that.

  93. Azkyroth says

    No one here is suggesting men should be expected to not even think about women in a sexual manner. Or vice versa. Or of other men in a sexual manner. Or…Can we please put that tiresome strawman away already?

  94. Azkyroth says

    Given that this was posted in response to specific experiences the blogger had, as was pretty fucking clear from the previous posts, dumbass, I don’t see how “stereotypes” would enter into it.I suppose it could be a tad hypocritical in that I hadn’t thought Jen disapproved of promiscuity per se, but I suspect the first exchange in the comic is referencing guys who insist that men just can’t help treating all women as either A) scenery and/or potential ambulatory fleshlights or B) useless distractions. In which case “promiscuous” is just poor phrasing. O.o

  95. says

    I most certainly don’t disapprove of promiscuity – you’re right in what guys I’m referencing. Just a simplistic comic.

  96. Azkyroth says

    Err, “women aren’t promiscuous” doesn’t follow from “polygnous societies are common” unless you’re rather naively assuming none of those women are screwing around behind their husbands’ backs.

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