Stiff upper lip v misogyny


Last January the first meeting of the All-Party Women’s Group in the UK Parliament met to discuss “The Media: A Female Politician’s Worst Enemy?” Well there’s a subject, eh?

British women no longer apologise in a whisper: they blame themselves and each other in loud and strident voices, refusing to admit or allow any vulnerability, and advocating nothing more to counter misogyny, sexism and gender discrimination than an upper lip so stiff even Brief Encounter’s Celia Johnson would have balked. [Read more…]

Civil but not sedate

More on this issue about how to discuss things without everyone getting out the flamethrowers, and do we even want to discuss things that way, and is it the right thing to do even if we don’t want to.

I do think it’s better to err on the side of avoiding calling people names, but I have to add that I don’t actually want a Fully Sedate™ discussion. Chris Hallquist explains one reason today.

Furthermore, most of Dan’s suggested alternatives are to a degree academic and there’s a risk of classism in demanding people put their criticisms of others in academic terms. Robin Hanson makes a good point about this:

Lower “working” class cultures tend to talk more overtly. Insults are more direct and cutting, friends and co-workers often tease each other about their weaknesses. Nicknames often express weakness – a fat man might be nicknamed “slim.”

Upper class culture, in contrast, tends more to emphasize politeness and indirect communication. This helps to signal intelligence and social awareness, and distinguishes upper from lower classes.

I hadn’t thought of that. I don’t think cutting insults are a good thing even if they are part of working class culture, but I think there is something to the idea. I know that I don’t want this place to be academic-like.

I’ve read a couple of Fully Sedate™ threads on distant sites lately, and while it’s good that there’s no “hey you’re stupid and ugly,” the trouble is that they were also quite lifeless and boring – even stilted. I don’t want that.

This is no doubt because I’m shallow and lazy and frivolous. I don’t like dryness in writing. Then again I also don’t like too much poppyness – I’m a good deal too fussy.

But there it is. I don’t want ponderousness. Maybe I should, but I don’t. I want lively writing. That doesn’t mean rude or flamey or permananently hostile – but it does mean leaving room for irritation and frustration and exasperation, along with humor.

So not flamethrowers – how about those party favor things that unfurl and toot when you blow on them?

Known (among women at least) as someone to avoid

It’s well known (to people who follow such things) that philosophy stands out among academic disciplines in its shortage of women.

For years, many philosophers have been frustrated by the status of women in the discipline, which remains male-dominated in many ways, even as other humanities fields have seen more women advance into  leadership positions. Various efforts have focused on issues that range from sexual harassment to questioning traditions that make many women uncomfortable.

Oh gosh, that sounds familiar. What does that remind me of? Oh yes, I remember now.

Let’s follow the link on sexual harassment, shall we? What do we find? It’s Inside Higer Ed again, Scott Jaschik again. What’s the story?

Let’s say there is a scholar in your field who is known to harasswomen. Maybe you witnessed an incident. Maybe you heard from friends who were his victims. Maybe you heard from friends of friends. The person is known (among women at least) as someone to avoid, but he continues on in a professorship at a top university, serving on influential editorial boards, turning up on the programs of all the right conferences.

If the man has never been convicted by a judicial body or punished by a university (at least not that you know of), is this just a case of “innocent until proven guilty”? Or does this suggest disciplinary negligence — or tolerance of serial harassment?

Oh gosh, that sounds super-familiar too. Isn’t that amazing? In fact it sounds kind of…identical. Top dude, known to harass, known among women as someone to avoid, still invited to all the things.

I wonder if the next part is about the president of Yale or Harvard rebuking women for talking about this issue. [reads on] No, I don’t see that. Strange.

The comments are very familiar though. Fanaticism, medieval persecution, McCarthyism, witch hunts – it’s all there.

A camel with a hammer offers a tap upside the head

Dan Fincke has a good point in comments on his own post about namecalling on blogs (or on his blog, which comes to the same thing). It’s a point that I probably ought to do a better job of keeping in mind.

The post says don’t call people demeaning names, and says why. (It’s obvious why, of course, but having it spelled out is useful.)

Words like these use emotional violence to coerce people with the aim of driving them into submission. These words aim to do that by demeaning them so that they feel worthless and hated. These words aim to irrationally gain leverage in an argument by making someone feel intellectually insecure and interpersonally rejected if they do not concede the other person’s debating point. These words try to drive people away with hostility. And, finally, these words try to coerce moral agreement by making the implicit threat of stigmatization and ostracism of any who differ.

A commenter makes a distinction between kinds of namecalling.

Stupid, jerk and asshole though? These are NOT minority-bashing words that silence a marginalized group of people. They’re just offensive words (and even there, jerk and stupid are just mildly offensive, IMO).  Sometimes the actions and words of others deserve to be called out for being stupid.  Often, people act in certain ways that are indeed undesirable and they deserve the label of jerk.

Dan rejects the distinction.

Stupid is a serious word that torments more people than tranny does.

And no, it’s not about “playing nice”, it’s about having mature, civil discussions like adults, not like playground bullies.

“Stupid” is just not a word that smart people have ruining their self-esteem from the time they’re little kids.

And even yet, it is a false and belittling word that is counterproductive to constructive discourse. Calling someone stupid tempts them to either slink away in shame or to fight back with equal emotional abuse.

As I said – he has a point.

And another point.

I’m pretty sure, based on my knowledge of human psychology and what other less educated people have indicated to me, that when you belittle other people as stupid those who feel intellectually unequal to you are being made insecure and nervous that you would do the same thing to [them]. It’s bad enough they feel intimidated to begin with. It’s insensitive of you to carelessly use words that relate to their insecurity. They are likely to identify with whomever you’re denigrating and feel at least a twinge of anxiety over it. “Check your privilege” (as the kids like to say).

Yes – that is undeniably a point.

The council is leaning

A girl of 16 in the Dominican Republic is in the hospital with acute leukemia. She can’t get life-saving chemotherapy because she’s ten weeks pregnant.

Following a change to the constitution in 2010, abortion in the Dominican Republic is banned under any circumstances, even when the mother’s health or life is in danger.

But wait, you say, chemotherapy is not an abortion. Ah no, but that doesn’t matter, Rafael Romo reports for CNN.

…treatment would very likely terminate the pregnancy, a violation of Dominican anti-abortion laws.

So Dominican “anti-abortion” laws cover even life-saving medical treatment that would very likely end the pregnancy? That’s quite an anti-abortion law.

Miguel Montalvo, the director of the bioethics council that rules on the application of the law, says the council is leaning toward allowing the treatment. “At the end of the day the patient may decide for himself or herself. In this case, the family may decide what’s more convenient for the patient,” Montalvo said. [Read more…]

Mapping the streaks

Skepticism, libertarianism, and conspiracy theory sometimes combine into one package.

new research to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found a link between the endorsement of conspiracy theories and the rejection of established facts about climate science.

In a survey of more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change, people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality. [Read more…]

He battered her about the head

A squalid little story out of Manchester Crown Court.

A Muslim preacher who tried to strangle his 16-year old daughter after she refused to enter into an arranged marriage with her cousin has escaped jail.

Abid Hussain, 56, grabbed the neck of Rabiyah Abid and said: ‘If you don’t follow my rules I will kill you’ after she rejected his plans for her to wed.

Hussain also left the teenager in fear of her life as he battered her about the head at the family home above the mosque he runs at Longsight, Manchester.

A man of 56 assaulted a girl of 16. A father assaulted his daughter, after trying to force her to marry someone she didn’t want to marry.

At Manchester Crown Court yesterday Hussain was convicted of assault and making threats to kill. He admitted his daughter’s conduct had ‘brought shame’ on his family and caused him ‘mental torture’ but denied wrongdoing.

His two sons Nawab Uddin, 23, and Bahaud Uddin, 21 were also convicted of assaulting the teen.

Henry Blackshaw, prosecuting said Rabiyah lived in a ‘very male dominated, patriarchal household’ where she was left ‘exhausted’ by cooking and cleaning.

In accordance with Islamic tradition she had been ‘betrothed’ by her father to his sister’s son in Pakistan at just 15 years old.

In other words, “in accordance with Islamic tradition” her father had attempted to lay out the rest of his daughter’s life according to what he wanted, without consulting her or allowing her the right of refusal.

Her two brother knocked her around some too.

Abid Hussain received a suspended sentence of nine months suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours unpaid work.

Nawab Uddin received a suspended sentence of three months suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours unpaid work and a supervision order for 12 months.

Bahaud Uddin received three months suspended for 12 months, with 200 hours unpaid work.

All via the Daily Mail. Sorry to cite the Daily Mail, but I couldn’t find a single other source.

Number 4

Amy has the latest, from Nick Lee, the President of Atheist Alliance International.

Movement leaders frequently bemoan the gender imbalance in the movement and wonder what can be done to motivate more women to become active leaders. We need the diversity of thought and experiences from females (and minorities), not as tokens but as fully engaged leaders.

We do NOT need to be driving women away with frat house behavior.

Just Stop It!

Stop before it’s too late

Deep question of the day. Is it fun to have protracted arguments about complicated subjects on Twitter?

I say no. Hell no. It’s irritating as fuck. It’s stupid. It’s pointless – because there are better tools available so why the hell use Twitter? Twitter is good for some things, but complicated arguments are not among those things.

I know this extra at the moment because some derp tried to have such an argument with me earlier and it was completely annoying. The derp read Foster Disbelief’s post about misogyny and privilege and tweeted at me

Speaking out against misogyny, and making it clear that the only valid white male opinion is one that lines up with his.

But that’s not what he said – but how boring and irritating to try to make that case on Twitter! But I tried anyway, and the derp kept replying, and I kept replying, and it was all completely futile because 140 characters.

People of the world, stop using Twitter to argue about things that take more than 140 characters! Just stop!