Blag Hag Grab Bag 8/11/2013

As an intro to this social-justicey link roundup, I have a request for all of you: Please don’t send me the stupid crap misogynistic assholes write about me unless it contains threats that I need to forward to the police. Thanks.

  • The Good Old Days – Jamie at Skepchick has a great post addressing skeptics who long for the “good old days” where everyone seemed to be happy and get along:

    In a way, this sentiment is true for them. They really are worse off now than they were then. In the old days they could go to any event they wanted and see all their friends. Now they have to pick and choose events based on which “side” they support, often being judged by their friends who would never be seen with the kind of people who attend that event. Just going to a party or taking photos with certain people has become a political statement of whom you stand with. Perhaps they have even lost some friends over these internal movement squabbles. Certainly, things for them were better back before everyone started talking about harassment.

    What they fail to consider is that even as things seem to have gotten worse for them, the good old days had a dark underbelly. Back in the pre-elevatorgate days, harassment of women at skeptic cons was rampant.

  • When Power Goes To Your Head, You May Stop Listening To Your Heart – A new study from neuroscientists at Wilfrid Laurier University shows that feeling powerless boosts the mirror system in people’s brains, resulting in higher empathy, while power diminishes empathy. Explains a lot, huh?
  • Virginia Crisis Pregnancy Centers Caught Lying About Abortion and Contraception – An anti-choice pregnancy crisis center has been caught on video saying disturbingly wrong information:

    The woman working at the center tries to convince the client not to use any kind of contraception whatsoever. She starts slow, claiming that hormonal contraception will make your hair fall out. Then she gets really excited, stating that she’s not interested in judging, but, “First of all, if you’re not married, why are you having sex?” and proceeds to make the following claims:
    – “Condoms are naturally porous,” so don’t protect against STIs.
    – “Within a marriage, sexual relations are procreative.” Also, you don’t need to use contraception in marriage because you can just avoid sex “two or three days a month” to prevent pregnancy. (In reality, the numbers range from 8 days to 11 days, depending on the source.)
    – Taking the birth control pill is like putting a small child on steroids.
    – On IUDs: “Sometimes it grows into the tissue of the uterus,” she says, though that’s not a known risk of the IUD. Perforations do happen, but they’re rare and usually happen during insertion.

  • The Daily Show tackles racial privilege like no one else can.
  • I’m going to end on this comic from Jim C. Hines without comment:


  1. skemono says

    This is something I think about every time I hear someone wax about “the good old days”–and probably requires a trigger warning.


    My step-father has sometimes talked about the “good old days” when there weren’t so many guns, and where communities were small and everybody knew everybody, and if you ever got in trouble your mother already knew about it by the time you got home (pretty sure this didn’t apply to cities even when he was a child, but I digress).

    He has also talked about how when he was growing up in the American south, some people considered it weekend entertainment to go into town and kill some black people. (I feel I ought to stress that he was not among them.) And how he was paternally lectured by older white people that black people weren’t human, etc.

    Sometimes he has said these things in the same conversation, without noticing any contradiction.

    So, yeah. Whenever I hear people complain about how much worse things are today, I generally have to insert: “Worse for you, maybe; better for other people.”

  2. says

    The comic is obviously wrong. Where are the comments “Show us your (body parts)!” and “Stop being such a (epithet)!” and “You deserve to be….” Well, you get the idea. The blowback is never this polite.

  3. says

    My first job out of Grad school was at Bell Labs in Columbus, Ohio. The year was 1978 and women were few and far between at the Labs. As luck would have it, one of this handful of women was my boss, one of the others was my office mate. Being a bastion of male privilege that was only slowly coming to terms with the 20th Century (at least when it came to women, and male-female relationships), the Powers That Be determined that what was needed was a Department Meeting to “let the women share their experiences being female at the Labs.”

    Big mistake.

    You had a bunch of old guys – like my age now – who really could not get beyond calling every woman, regardless of her position, “Honey” or “Sweetie” or “Babe” – as in, “Hey, Babe, fetch me a cup of coffee, wouldja?”

    They kept insisting that these poor, brave women – who only wanted to do their jobs like everybody else – explain to them why they felt harassed. As with the cartoon, they would start by speaking generally – patiently explaining about getting asked to do menial tasks, or even being groped – and the men would deny it happened and say if it really had, they would be able to actually name the offenders.

    Woe be to the woman who fell for that bait. As soon as a specific incident was cited and the perp named, there would be a shower of indignation rained down on their heads.

    It was ugly.

    Afterward the women would repair to a friendly office and vow to never put themselves through that ordeal again. But, of course, they would be called on at every subsequent Department Meeting (mercifully only twice a year or so) to go through the whole ritual again.

    So while the cartoon makes the point in a humorous way, believe me, there was no laughter for these women.

    Oddly enough, I left after 4 years to go teach math and computer science in an all-girls high school – but that is a different story…

  4. CaitieCat says

    Yay for Wilfrid Laurier U, that’s just up the road from here. I use their library regularly. :)

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