1. says

    SXSW reinstates two panels following Gamergate backlash:

    South by Southwest (SXSW), the popular Austin, Texas–based annual event for music, film and digital culture and technology, has reinstated the two panels on harassment in the gaming industry originally canceled over safety concerns.

    The cancellation of the panels—titled “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community” and “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games”—prompted a backlash against SXSW, with digital media outlets BuzzFeed and Vox Media threatening to pull out of the conference for its giving in to cyberbullying.

    SXSW Director Hugh Forrest wrote in a blog post on October 26 that, since announcing the panels, SXSW has received “multiple threats” of on-site violence.

    Four days later, Forrest apologized for the decision in a different post, calling it a “mistake.”

    “By canceling two sessions we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry,” wrote Forrest in the company blog post.

    In addition to the reinstatement of the panels, SXSW will host a daylong summit on March 12 to examine harassment. SXSW will live-stream the summit for free.

  2. says

    Male/female brain differences? Big data says not so much.

    “Sex differences in the brain are irresistible to those looking to explain stereotypic differences between men and women,” said Dr. Eliot. “They often make a big splash, in spite of being based on small samples. But as we explore multiple datasets and are able to coalesce very large samples of males and females, we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.”

    Once again, an MRA talking point is debunked by science.

  3. says

    But as we explore multiple datasets and are able to coalesce very large samples of males and females, we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.”

    No kidding. I wish there was more emphasis on said differences being a matter of social conditioning.

  4. Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ says

    If this is simply a naive question I’ll shut up and go do my homework. But, if anyone has an understanding of the following, please let me know. How does gender dysphoria and all of its fairly recent recognition relate to the greater understanding of sex differences (or lack thereof) in the brain?

  5. microraptor says

    Morgan @4- My understanding is that the recent thing PZ was previously talking about was about things like problem solving ability and relative intelligence not actually having statistically significant differences between the sexes, so gender dysphoria wouldn’t be related to the findings.

  6. F.O. says

    Feminist movement in Indonesia:
    (A good friend of mine is Indonesian, but is finding the society there too oppressive, to the point where she’s feeling estranged from her more conservative friends. I’m trying to find out some information about any secular women association in Jakarta, but without much luck. Not speaking Bahasa Indonesia also doesn’t help…)

  7. says

    The Daily Dot has picked up on the story of the Steven Universe artist who nearly committed suicide after being bullied:

    It all started last week when a fanartist going by the name Zamii caused a scare on Tumblr when she posted an apparent final note to her Tumblr, then disappeared for three days. When she re-emerged, it was to post a tearful video she claimed was being filmed at a hospital where she said she was getting the help she needed.

    Prior to Zamii’s alarming initial farewell, members of the Steven Universe and Homestuck fandoms had reportedly created more than 40 critical blogs and other social media accounts directed at her because they believed she was purveying problematic depictions of many of the characters she drew. During her time in fandom, Zamii had been accused of a litany of flawed portrayals of characters, including perpetuating “racism/stereotyping, transmisogyny/transphobia, apologism, incest, pedophilia, fatphobia, and ableism” in her art. For example, when Zamii drew a Japanese character from the popular anime Yowamushi Pedal, she came under fire for giving the character yellow skin and slanted eyes; when she drew a black character, she came under fire for removing her Afro and giving her blonde hair; when she drew a “Native American Fluttershy” from My Little Pony, the response was mixed and often critical, pointing out that she had further stereotyped the character.

    It’s one thing to criticize an artist for racism or transphobia. It’s quite another for who knows how many people to create over 3 dozen blogs and use social media to target an individual without social, economic, or political power. That’s disproportionate to any offense she caused. This isn’t a case of thousands of people taking to Twitter to mock and excoriate someone like Pharmabro Martin Shrkeli. He is a public figure in a position of power with a lot of privilege and a distinct lack of empathy who’s actions could impact a great many people. Zamii is nothing like him. She doesn’t have his position, his influence, or his wealth. While she isn’t free from being criticized for racism or transphobia, the extent of the criticism against her was wildly out of proportionate to her actions. The people who bullied her went too far.

    The article didn’t mention if they were social justice advocates or not, but whether they were or not, they seriously need to rethink their approach. Especially when they continued even in the face of her apologies:

    Part of the “evidence” that she was transmisogynistic included her using the words “dude” and “man” as interjectory statements while talking to a woman, then joking about the word use. Over time, Zamii created a list of rebuttals and explanations, including apologies, to many of the accusations of transmisogyny and problematic elements in her art. In response to claims of racism against Native Americans, she wrote, “[I] have apologized for it countless tims and have deleted the picture within a few days of posting it.”

    It wasn’t enough to halt her feeling that she was being bullied. Though Zamii is recovering—her most recent update was Monday—the concern over the abuse she received has caused a maelstrom throughout her fandoms. A post made last week on Reddit’s Homestuck subreddit about the situation garnered dozens of supportive comments condemning the culture that motivated the bullying. The Steven Universe and related tags on Tumblr have been overflowing with similar outrage, backlash to the sentiment that harassment and bullying are somehow justified when they’re in the name of progressive ideals. The wave of support for Zamii on Tumblr has led to a paradoxical campaign: Other fanartists are deliberately drawing the character of Rose Quartz as thin in protest.

    On the other side of the issue, plenty of people have insisted that it’s more important to continue calling out what they see as problematic behavior—even if that extends to the kind of social ostracism that led to all this to begin with. “Me not being a pushover for oppression makes ME toxic??” wrote one user. “Fuck that.”

    There’s a line between legitimately criticizing someone and contributing to a campaign of bullying and/or harassment. I don’t have an easy answer on how to find that line, but as I mentioned above, one important thing to keep in mind is the person you’re criticizing. Are you adding your voice to a chorus of people lambasting Donald Trump on Twitter for his vile racist or misogynistic comments or are you adding your voice to a chorus of people coming down on an individual with a blog and a level of power that is not remotely comparable?

  8. says

    Tony! @ 7:

    Part of the “evidence” that she was transmisogynistic included her using the words “dude” and “man” as interjectory statements while talking to a woman, then joking about the word use.

    Oh FFS. There has to be over a thousand instances here at Pharyngula (going back to Sciborg too), of people using dude and man with no regard to gender. When I was a young hippie, man prefaced about every other fucking sentence: Oh man, it was unbelievable! Man, was I ever embarrassed about that, and so on.

    “Me not being a pushover for oppression makes ME toxic??” wrote one user. “Fuck that.”

    This reminds me of a conversation with Chris Clarke, where I finally understood that people can use anything, including something like ‘safe space’ or ‘oppression’ as a brute cudgel to silence a/o torment others. Yes, there’s a line, one people should be mindful of, when it comes to criticism a/o critique: are you treating everyone, including the target of your criticism, ethically? You can leave civility right out it, but you should always ask yourself if you are behaving in an ethical manner. Are you dealing with bad or flawed ideas, or are you just having fun throwing rotten fruit at someone? Are you trying to help someone understand where they are wrong, or are you joining in with a mob, continuing to kick someone who is already curled up and down?

    People who claim to be fighting for social justice issues have an obligation to examine themselves, their motivations, their attitudes, and their behaviour, every single fucking day, and there should be no hesitation about turning that spotlight not only on yourself, but on others who claim to be on your side as well.

  9. Lesbian Catnip says

    How does gender dysphoria and all of its fairly recent recognition relate to the greater understanding of sex differences (or lack thereof) in the brain?

    In order to answer that question, we would have to understand the precise details of how identities form and where they’re theoretically present in the brain.

    Gender dysphoria’s existence is more inferred from the fact that, in some people, transitioning genders is an almost magical cure for a host of problems including depression, body image issues, anxiety, and lack of self-confidence. As a trans person who monitors these studies closely, it is currently dubious to claim that we understand what dysphoria is, in the sense that we can’t point to a brain with it and find characteristics that make it different to a brain without it.

  10. emergence says

    What irritates me is that even though you guys and I are horrified by what people did to Zamii and recognize that, whatever flaws her art might have had, she did nothing to deserve what happened to her, the anti-social justice brigade is going to use this as evidence that every social justice advocate is pure evil. They’re probably going to use this incident as a blunt instrument to beat social justice advocates into silence with.

    The funny thing is that MRAs and racists are in absolutely no position to be taking the moral high ground. There have been multiple incidents of anti-social justice stooges stalking, harassing, and even assaulting people. How many times have they completely blown off concerns about sending people death threats or making bomb scares? Their entire MO up to now has been to try to justify all of the hateful bullshit they’ve been spewing at feminists, anti-racists, and LGBT people.

    I realize that it’s crass to shift focus from the victim to defending yourself, but if people are going to try to use this against us, I feel like we have to at least address them.

    Going back to the main topic, these people come across like the cartoonish “SJW” that people imagine in their heads when they say that they hate us. Don’t people realize that when they act like this they’re just making themselves look bad and reaffirming negative stereotypes about them?

  11. brucegee1962 says

    4 & 9: My response would be that, even if the sentence “Gender identity is mostly a social construct” is true, it can also simultaneously be true that “Gender identity is real.” After all, money is also a social construct, but if you start pretending that therefore you can act as if it doesn’t exist, you probably won’t do very well.

  12. Lesbian Catnip says


    I would never imply that gender identity isn’t “real,” merely that our understanding of the brain is inadequate to point to a certain spot in the tissue and say, “see that there’s the lady blob.”

  13. microraptor says

    Does anyone else think that “The Lady Blob” would be a decent name for a rock band?

  14. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    There is no good quantitative research on trans* people as a group, nor on transgender people as a group, nor on transsexual people as a group, and almost no good qualitative research.


    There is unlikely to be any good quantitative research any time soon, and, unfortunately, what good qualitative research is happening at the current time will be subject to distorted projections (either by the researchers themselves or by just about everyone else).


    While there are many reasons for this, there is one that makes it obvious that looking further will be quite useless. Thus this reason is quite important to understand:
    There is no baseline research on any of those 3 communities (or even any of the 6 sub communities if you divide each of those 3 up by AFAB/AMAB). We don’t know and can’t know exactly how many people belong to those communities, nor how those communities break down demographically. Thus even if we had large samples that showed significant differences compared to the general population on some attribute – yes, including some specific physical measurement of size regarding a subset of brain tissue – we couldn’t actually say if our sample of convenience in any way represented any of those 3 groups (or 6 subgroups) at all faithfully.

    We would be right back where we started because at this point a sample of trans*, transgender, or transsexual people isn’t possible to acquire. All you ever get is a population defined as all the people involved in your study. The non-overlapping universes/ populations in different studies likewise add up to zero scientific information.

    We are, at this point, in a state where only idiographic research can be carried on scientifically. Experimental, demographic, and nomothetic research are beyond us. Anyone that tells you they know something for certain about trans*/transgender/transsexual folk from scientific research (other than the tautological: that some of those folk are recruited into studies as research subjects) is deluded about science or about the state of our understanding of trans* people and their communities or both.

  15. emergence says

    Okay, yesterday I read some articles on We Hunted The Mammoth about A Voice For Men, and I’m genuinely disgusted that people could be that misogynistic, and I need to vent.

    These are guys who think that women with short hair are “self harming”, or that it’s perfectly alright to abuse women to keep them in line, or that you should keep your wife away from her family and friends. They honestly think that their narrow, culturally defined standards of attractiveness in women are somehow completely objective and biologically based. They don’t seem to get that standards of female beauty have varied greatly in different time periods or in different cultures.

    There was one guy who proudly stated that he was going to punish any sign of ambition in his daughter, or belt her for trusting her own judgement. These people don’t see women as people, they see them as toys that they can abuse and control. They honestly seem to think that they’re “real men” for trying to control and dominate women. Why is it that the guys that insist that they’re macho “alpha males” tend to be so insecure in their masculinity?

    It’s like basic concepts in ethics escape them. Concepts like “attempting to control people is tyrannical and evil”, “women are their own people and don’t exist to serve men”, or “reducing half the population to a single biological function is wasteful and short-sighted”. They honestly think that it’s okay to use physical force to make people do what they want, or that it’s perfectly fine for a man to effectively “own” a woman like a slave.

    The way that they attempt to justify all of this bullshit is to spew a load of bullshit stereotypes about women and claim they’re absolute truth. It doesn’t matter to them that women have been outperforming men academically in recent years, it doesn’t matter to them that numerous studies have been done that prove women and men’s brains aren’t all that different, it doesn’t matter to them that there are massive numbers of women that are successful in societal roles other than breeding machines, they still insist that women are weak, stupid, and need a man to take care of them.

    I’m actually glad that these guys are mostly just inconsequential assholes that even the most rampantly misogynistic of mainstream politicians wouldn’t want to be associated with. If someone like this was actually in a position of power, I think that I’d puke.

  16. emergence says

    On a less rage-fueled note, I still hear from tons of sexist assholes that women are too physically weak to ever be useful in a fight. Funnily enough, I watched Mad Max: Fury Road a couple of days ago and thought that Furiosa was a cool character. Remember how MRAs were complaining that she was “impossible” because women are too fragile to fight? How much truth is there to that, really?

    Are women actually all that much weaker than men? Is it “unrealistic” for an action movie to show a female character as being able to win a fight against a man? I have a sneaking suspicion that the difference in physical strength between women and men is exaggerated. Besides, isn’t the strength thing just on average?

  17. says

    @emergence #16
    On the April 5th 2014 episode of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe they had a really nifty interview with James Marsters, who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ( The interview is about 45 minutes in. It’s a really nifty conversation. Somewhere towards the end he talks about the criticism of the Buffy heroines being too “waify” to kick anyone’s ass and he calls that bullshit because he’s gone toe to toe with their stunt doubles and they could take him easy if they wanted.

  18. Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ says

    Microraptor, Lesbian Catnip, CD, (especially CD) thank you. I have learned a lot, and I enjoy being schooled by you.

  19. microraptor says

    I know better than to read the comments in a video like that. Honestly, I do. *Bangs head on wall.*

  20. says

    Today in ‘What the fresh hell is this shit?’
    A petition has been started by a group of transphobic LGB people who want the ‘T’ dropped from LGBT. They’re petitioning Lambda Legal, the Advocate, Out, and several other media organizations.

    We are a group of gay/bisexual men and women who have come to the conclusion that the transgender community needs to be disassociated from the larger LGB community; in essence, we ask that organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Lambda Legal and media outlets such as The Advocate, Out, Huff Post Gay Voices, etc., stop representing the transgender community as we feel their ideology is not only completely different from that promoted by the LGB community (LGB is about sexual orientation, trans is about gender identity), but is ultimately regressive and actually hostile to the goals of women and gay men.

    There are several areas in which the ideology of the trans community is at odds with or actively hostile to that of women and gay men; among the most important are:

    • The vilification and harassment of women and gay/lesbian individuals who openly express disagreement with the trans ideology; a simple disagreement over an issue can result in responses that range from insults (“transphobic bigot”) to threats of physical harm (often, in the case of women, rape) and even death; the harassment by the transgender community of prominent individuals ranging from iconic gay rights activist/drag queen RuPaul and legendary feminist Germaine Greer has been particularly loathsome.

    • The infringement of the rights of individuals, particularly women, to perform normal everyday activities in traditional safe spaces based on sex; this is most pernicious in the case of men claiming to be transgender demanding access to bathrooms, locker rooms, women’s shelters and other such spaces reserved for women.

    • The appropriation and re-writing of gay and lesbian history and culture, most notably attempting to re-cast the majority gay white men who participated in the Stonewall riots as transgender, specifically casting as “transgender” men who adopted feminine attire but still identified as men (they called themselves transvestites, which is not the same as the modern transgender identity); particularly frustrating was the fact that media outlets such as The Advocate, Out and Huff Post Gay Voices, who should have been the first to point out the fallacy of this notion, actually went along with the lie.

    • Most troubling, by persuading parents and health professionals to diagnose children as young as four as transgender, despite considerable research that shows that more than 90 percent of children who express “gender dysphoria” at a young age grow out of it by adolescence and, in most cases, grow up to be well-adjusted gay men and women; ideologically, it runs counter to traditional LGB and feminist philosophy – whereas feminists and gay men/women advocate for expanding and re-defining gender concepts, the trans movement is regressive, insisting upon re-asserting and codifying classic gender concepts of what is masculine and what is feminine.

    Please note that we are not advocating intolerance or prejudice against the transgender community: we recognize and respect the right of adults to determine their own path in life, including transitioning to the opposite gender if they so wish. However, that cannot occur by infringing upon the rights of women, gay men and children.

    At the very least, a discussion must be opened up to these issues, which for too long are being suppressed and censored – they are genuine concerns that need to be aired. In the end, we feel that the transgender ideology is not compatible with the rights of women, gay men and children and ask that the organizations and media outlets mentioned above disassociate themselves from the transgender movement and return to representing their base support of gay men and lesbians.

    GLADD basically said ‘hell no’.

    Oh and that odious douchebag Milo Y has given this petition his stamp of approval.

  21. says

    Researchers find that female PC gamers outnumber males:

    Surveys conducted by analyst firm Superdata Research have found that in the US, women play more PC games overall than men. They also play more RPGs on PC than men, while men outnumber women in the FPS and MMO genres.
    For all practical purposes it’s a 50/50 split, but once you get into decimal places, female PC gamers do slightly outnumber males. Women represent 50.2 percent of PC gamers across all genres, including social (Facebook, Kongregate), versus 49.9 percent for men. The scales dip slightly further toward women when it comes to the RPG genre, with 53.6 percent of the market made up of women, while men represent 46.5 percent. In the FPS and MMO genres, however, 66 percent of players are men.

    But women don’t play video games…mmm hmmm.

  22. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    So I am in a discussion on another blog about police warning women to take safety precautions when rapists are on the loose, and the blog owner asked what is the difference between that and police warning gay men as a result of an increase in hate crimes and robberies against gay men in a specific area. I answered:

    one difference is that gay people are not told from before the time they can write or read their own names that if something happens to them it’ll be all their fault for not being safe enough. They are not taught “safety precautions” to the point of nausea from before the time they’re old enough for a training bra. They do not spend most of their energy when planning a night out on how to avoid homophobes who want to hurt them. They do not get blamed when they do get attacked for being at the wrong time at the wrong place because they should have had better sense than to be at the wrong time at the wrong place. They do not *already* do just about everything they can do while still living a life that’s worth living to avoid being attacked by homophobes

    He accused me of trying to play oppression olympics and said that I was not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong, in other words that gay men do live their lives like I described. From the long discussions I’ve had with feminist LGB friends (note that I didn’t mention Trans* people, because the above is actually true for Trans people as well) and other folks, I don’t think I am wrong, and I certainly don’t think that I’m playing oppression olympics. Thoughts? Am I wrong? Am I trying to play oppression olympics? Input very much appreciated.

  23. says

    Gen @27:
    I think you’re completely in the right here. First of all, you’re not playing Oppression Olympics bc you’re not trying to rank homophobia and sexism/misogyny. You’re comparing and contrasting differences between the two, but at the end of the day, your goal isn’t to support a conclusion of one being worse than the other (I say this based not only on what you said in your comment, but also on the things I’ve read from you over the years; you’ve never come across as someone indulging in Oppression Olympics).
    Secondly, I agree with you that women and girls are taught from a young age that there are precautions they have to take. I’ve listened to so many women say that yes, this is indeed something that is drilled into their heads over and over and over again. From a very young age. I’ve *never* heard anything comparable from any gay person. It was not my experience either. It wasn’t until I came out of the closet and became more aware of societal attitudes toward homosexuality that I began to learn about paying attention to my environment.

    And therein lies a key difference between LGB people and women. We can and often do remain in the closet for some time. People don’t know that we’re queer. Hell, sometimes we don’t know we’re queer. We can hide it too. Women cannot do that.

    Also, because of the nature of homophobia in this country, LGB people aren’t really taught much of anything in the way of survival skills from our parents, teachers, or religious officials. I’m speaking broadly here, and I’m sure there probably are some people who have been warned here and there, but I don’t think for one fucking second that this is in any way equal to how women are taught to be aware of their environment.

  24. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Planned Parenthood in Colorado – anybody we know working/volunteering there? We’re just the type of folks who might be in the building. If anyone here knows someone inside, you have whatever support I can give over the internet.

    And, oh, if it was going to be in Colorado, of course it would be Colorado Springs. It just had to be.

  25. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Saad, #35 – that is appalling. :sigh:

  26. blf says

    Action after c.150 years is exceptionally fast for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland law on abortion ruled ‘incompatible with human rights’:

    ● High court judgment in Belfast could lead to women being allowed to have terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest
    ● Attorney general in Northern Ireland says he was “profoundly disappointed by this decision and I am considering grounds for appeal.”

    A high court judge has ruled that Northern Ireland’s almost outright ban on abortion breaches the human rights of women and girls, including rape victims.


    At present, under a 19th-century law, local medical teams could be jailed for life for carrying out abortions even in these circumstances. Unlike the rest of the UK, the Abortion Act 1967 has never applied to Northern Ireland and since devolution [end of the English–provo (IRA) civil war –blf] was restored the Stormont assembly [Nothern Ireland’s toy parliament –blf] has resisted any attempt to relax the near-total ban on terminations in local hospitals.

    […] Mr Justice Horner told the high court in Belfast: “In the circumstances, given this issue is unlikely to be grasped by the legislature in the foreseeable future, and the entitlement of citizens of Northern Ireland to have their convention rights protected by the courts, I conclude that the article eight rights of women in Northern Ireland who are pregnant with fatal foetal abnormalities or who are pregnant as a result of sexual crime are breached by the impugned provisions.”


    At least 1,000 women and girls from Northern Ireland travel to hospitals in Britain for terminations every year. Official figures for 2013, for instance, suggest 800 Northern Irish females had abortions in Britain — although that number is regarded as an underestimate. Among the 800 was a 13-year-old who became pregnant through incest.

    The only law applying to abortion in Northern Ireland is the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861, which contains a life sentence for anyone convicted of carrying out a termination even in cases of rape or incest.

    Amnesty International said it was shameful that laws on abortion “date back to the 19th century and carry the harshest criminal penalties in Europe”.

  27. Saad says

    Naming online misogynist trolls and abusers campaign takes off

    A campaign started by a group of Australian women to name and shame the worst online abusers of a female commentator has gone viral within minutes of its launch and sparked discussion about the broader impact of targeted social media abuse against women.

    The #EndViolenceAgainstWomen campaign was started in response to a barrage of online abuse and hate that outspoken Australian columnist, Clementine Ford, was subjected to this week.

    Fed up with being targeted by men, Ford posted a screenshot of a message she had received on Facebook from a man who had called her a “slut”, and linked his employer in the post, asking if they were aware of his behavior. The man was subsequently fired from his job, after which Ford was targeted by trolls with death threats and sexually-explicit abuse.

  28. quotetheunquote says

    @Rowan vet-tech #43:

    “If I had seen this played upon a stage, I would have dismissed it as an improbable fiction”
    -W. S. (more or less)

    This reads like something straight out of story of a dystopian future, penned by Margaret Atwood. To find that this is actually happening, right now, is beyond appalling. The barbarians are not at the gate, evidently – they have taken over the state legislature.

  29. blf says

    Some extremely odious fascists were recently elected to the national government in Poland. They already done a bunch of knuckleheaded things, and here is one of the latest, Protests in Poland as proposed laws curtail women’s rights:

    Religiously conservative Law & Justice party embarks on nuclear family agenda, described as ‘payback time for the church’ after years of liberalism

    Campaigners are planning to step up resistance to Poland’s ultra-conservative government after it cleared a constitutional path for hardline law changes, expected to include a total ban on abortion and curbs to gender and human rights.

    Tens of thousands joined mass demonstrations in the run-up to the law change, which would curtail the independence of the constitutional tribunal — the country’s highest legislative court. […]

    Since the Law & Justice party gained an absolute majority in parliament in October, it has not fully declared that it will ban abortion but its MPs attempted the move under the previous coalition with the centrist Civic Platform party.

    The avowed feminist politician Barbara Nowacka, leader of the United Left coalition, called for defenders of the constitution to embrace women’s rights. “The defence of democracy and equality go together. Poland has taken several steps backwards in the past couple of weeks. Issues such as women’s equality and LGBT rights seem suddenly to have been cancelled as unimportant.”

    Law & Justice triumphed in the elections on a mix of social and nationalistic promises [including] hostility to migrants […]. Crucially, the campaign had the blessing of conservative bishops.

    “It’s payback time for the church,” said Jacek Kucharczyk of the Institute of Public Affairs. “Law & Justice swept up the armies of people who had stood on church steps for eight years, bearing petitions […]. They were part of the church’s campaign against what it sees as morally regressive so-called gender ideology, perceived as being imposed by western Europe.”

    Law & Justice’s success at conflating Europe with moral decay creates a difficult challenge for rights activists whose strongest weapons are often international treaties. Among the government’s ambitions is to withdraw from the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul convention.


    [Congress of Women committee member Agnieszka Graff said] “There will be moves against gender studies in universities and a clampdown against schools that try to offer sex education. Subsidised cultural institutions will be very exposed.”

    An early signal was sent in November, when the culture minister tried to ban a “pornographic” production of a play by the feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek.

    I commented previously someplace here at poopyhead’s about the attempting banning of Jelinek’s play, but my generalissimo google-fu is being uncooperative and I now cannot find it… As I recall, the theatre basically told the minister to feck off.

  30. says

    From the department of WTF: New strategy in domestic violence: “family therapy”
    From the article:

    The council, which has just begun counselling sessions with the first couple participating in the scheme, believes it can tackle domestic violence by bringing couples together in a “supportive environment” to discuss its impact.

    The programme will be run by psychotherapists and counsellors from the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships who will work with the families to find the triggers for the abuse.

    In other words: what are those damn women doing that makes the poor man hit them?

  31. says

    Giliell @49

    Because the abuser couldn’t possibly see it as a betrayal of their trust to bring a counselor in to the situation, and is never, ever capable of using the counselor (or counseling sessions) as another weapon against their victim…

  32. blf says

    Raw Cooties of the World, Slice! A raw deal: the female chefs challenging sushi sexism in Japan:

    Country’s sole sushi restaurant with women-only team throws down the gauntlet to traditionalists, one expertly sliced piece of tuna at a time
    Despite the global popularity of Japanese food […] the kitchen-side of Japan’s sushi counters continues to be dominated by men.


    Nadeshiko Sushi is one of thousands of sushi restaurants in Japan, but it is the only one where all of the chefs are women.

    For the most part, its decor conforms to the traditional image of a sushi restaurant: a long, lightwood counter, minimalist table settings and sliding screens.

    As they prepare for another busy evening during the hectic December bonenkai (forget-the-year party) season, Chizui and her assistant are a rare splash of colour in their bright kimonos, decorated with pink blossoms, and headscarves. Hanging on the wall is the motto that encapsulates their approach: fresh and kawaii (cute). Illustrations depict Chizui as a manga character, a nod to the restaurant’s location in the capital of Japan’s geek and pop culture scene.

    They chat and laugh as they clean and slice fish in front of a pair of early diners, pausing occasionally to wipe their knives. It is a scene that has horrified traditionalists who prefer their food to be prepared by the archetypal sushi chef: a gruff, older man with short hair and dressed in a simple white jacket.

    “It’s all about having the confidence,” said Chizui. “The hours are long and the work can be physically tough, so that’s why some people believe women are not up to it. If they want it badly enough, they can overcome the sexism.”


    [Kazuyoshi] Ono has claimed that women make inferior sushi chefs because their menstrual cycle affects their sense of taste. Others believe that women’s higher core body temperature adversely affects fresh ingredients, or that their use of cosmetics interferes with their sense of smell.

    There are very few female chefs in higher-end restaurants in France, and (from what I understand) the “reasons” given are quite similar. Not mentioned is that the cooties fall off and not only ruin the dish / food, but also contaminate the other, “proper”, chefs & kitchen workers.

    Chizui laughs when reminded of Ono’s comments. “We don’t wear perfume or nail varnish, and apply just enough makeup to let diners know that we’re making an effort to be presentable. Not to do so would be rude.”

    Most of the chefs at Nadeshiko — a pink carnation that supposedly symbolises the beauty and grace of an “ideal” Japanese woman — have completed a course at Tokyo Sushi Academy, where about a fifth of the students are women.

    Becoming a fully fledged sushi chef usually takes a decade. Under the guidance of a mentor, trainees learn the importance of repetition and form, of looking after their knives and treating the rice with as much respect as the fish.

    Typically, young chefs do not get close to a knife or slab of prime tuna belly for the first year of their apprenticeship, and instead spend long hours taking deliveries and washing up.

    Tip for the “superior” chefs: Hot soapy water does not kill cooties. You have been contaminated.

  33. says

    WMD Kitty
    It’s also not like actually mentioning abuse might make the abuser escalate violence because how dare you suggest they are abusive


    There are very few female chefs in higher-end restaurants in France, and (from what I understand) the “reasons” given are quite similar. Not mentioned is that the cooties fall off and not only ruin the dish / food, but also contaminate the other, “proper”, chefs & kitchen workers.

    Not only that, but the worktimes/workload associated with being a chef*. They’re quite incompatible with the demands made of women who have a husband and even kids. Because a mother who is mostly away during the time her kids are at home is a monster, while a father who does the same is a good provider.

    *I have a friend who’s a professional cook. He had the potential to become a serious chef, winning prizes, working in top hotel kitchens. He gave it up for having a life outside of work.

  34. says

    Giliell @52

    WMD Kitty
    It’s also not like actually mentioning abuse might make the abuser escalate violence because how dare you suggest they are abusive

    Because, you know, if there’s a problem in the relationship, it’s your fault, and if you even suggest trying doing things a little differently, well, you’re sabotaging the relationship and why do you want to undermine me you ungrateful little b*tch

    (I need a shower now.)

  35. Saad says

    Criminal charge for sexual assault brought against Bill Cosby

    Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home 12 years ago — the first criminal charges brought against the comedian out of the torrent of allegations that destroyed his good-guy image as America’s Dad.

    The case sets the stage for perhaps the biggest Hollywood celebrity trial of the mobile-all-the-time era and could send the 78-year-old Cosby to prison in the twilight of his life and barrier-breaking career.

    Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault and was to be arraigned in the afternoon.

    Prosecutors accused him of rendering former Temple University employee Andrea Constand unable to resist by plying her with pills and wine, then penetrating her digitally without her consent, when she was unconscious or unaware of what was happening.

  36. blf says

    George Monbiot, who generally knows his stuff, writing in The Grauniad, Who’s driving high abortion rates? It’s the religious right:

    Here is the fact that everyone debating abortion should know: there is no association between its legality and its incidence. In other words, banning abortion does not stop the practice; it merely makes it more dangerous.

    The abortion debate is presented as a conflict between the rights of foetuses and the rights of women. Enhance one, both sides sometimes appear to agree, and you suppress the other. But once you grasp the fact that legalising women’s reproductive rights does not raise the incidence of abortions, only one issue remains to be debated: should they be legal and safe or illegal and dangerous? Hmm— tough question.

    There might be no causal relationship between reproductive choice and the incidence of abortion, but there is a strong correlation: an inverse one. As the Lancet’s most recent survey of global rates and trends notes: “The abortion rate was lower{…} where more women live under liberal abortion laws.”

    Why? Because laws restricting abortion tend to be most prevalent where contraception and comprehensive sex education are hard to obtain, and when sex and childbirth outside marriage are anathematised.


    As for the overall abortion rate, the figures tell an interesting story. Western Europe has the world’s lowest termination rate: 12 a year for every 1,000 women of reproductive age. The more godly North America aborts 19 foetuses for every 1,000 women. In South America, where (when the figures were collected) the practice was banned everywhere, the rate was 32. In eastern Africa, where ferocious laws and powerful religious injunctions should have stamped out the practice long ago — if conservatives are to be believed — it was 38.


    Facts — who needs ’em? Across the red states of the US, legislators have been merrily passing laws that make abortion clinics impossible to run while denying children effective sex education. In Texas, thanks to restrictive new statutes, over half the clinics have closed since 2013. But women are still obliged to visit three times before receiving treatment: in some cases this means travelling 1,000 miles or more. Unsurprisingly, 7% of those seeking medical help have already attempted their own solutions.


    In Northern Ireland the new first minister, Arlene Foster, who took office on Monday, has vowed to ensure that the Abortion Act 1967, which covers the rest of the United Kingdom, will not apply to her country. […]

    Never mind the finding of a high court judge: “There is no evidence before this court that the law in Northern Ireland has resulted in any reduction in the number of abortions”. It just warms the heart to see Protestant and Catholic fundamentalists setting aside their differences to ensure that women’s bodies remain the property of the state.

  37. says

    Judith Butler on why men kill trans women

    Killing is an act of power, a way of re-asserting domination, even a way of saying, “I am the one who decides who lives and dies.” So killing establishes the killer as sovereign in the moment that he kills, and that is the most toxic form that masculinity can take. Trans women have relinquished masculinity, showing that it can be, and that is, very threatening to a man who wants to see his power as an intrinsic feature of who he is
    Obvious HUGE trigger warning, plus content note that Butler talks about how those crimes are “constructed” by the killer, which is hard to read but I think important to understand.

  38. Owlmirror says

    Seen on an image retweet headed: “How and why popular media promotes gendered segregation.”


    Its been NINE YEARS and i still dont think anyone knows exactly why teen titans was cancelled

    Same reason Young Justice and Green Lantern The Animated Series were canceled: Girls liked it.

    To elaborate on this point a bit, the reason this happens is that modern television merchandising aims for total market segregation.

    In a nutshell, it’s much more efficient to sell things to people if you can divide them up into tightly defined subcategories that have no interests in common; that way, you never risk accidentally competing with yourself.

    [… much more …]

  39. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    Thanks for posting it, and for so clearly contextualizing it so people could know what they were in for.

    I think she makes some important points in the article, but I’m kind of surprised that she goes as far as she does without any indication of having actually talked to anyone who has killed – killed a trans person or any person.

    I have had the rare experience of talking to two people who killed after they killed. I also knew one boy who years after we last saw each other, after he had become an adult, participated in a killing. I found out when I moved into a place with free cable TV and out of curiosity spend a month or two watching a lot of mindless television. A true crime show came on, it featured my home town & I thought, “That’s interesting.” Then the name of the person interviewed for the show, and the age, made it clear it was someone who lived in my stomping grounds. I remember him very well, and the scenario described resonated with several experiences that I had with him.*1

    I don’t have the insight that I should to make valid and general conclusions, but from my very limited conversations I think that she’s missing out on a lot of possible motive. While it’s hard to know what differs (and what doesn’t) in the mind of someone who goes as far as to kill, those who have targeted me for transphobic violence would seem better described (from my perspective, the perspective of the person targeted who had to listen to exactly what they said they were going to do and why), my victimizers statements lend far more anecdotal credence to disgust and attempted erasure as motives, and not very much to a desire to “control” me. So I think she’s misguided in a couple of ways when she says this:

    It would be interesting to know whether their murderers kill because they are repelled by their own attraction, or whether they fear an identification with those they extinguish, and so extinguish a part of themselves.

    before saying what you quoted about asserting domination.

    I think she’s misguided to describe this as “interesting”. Maybe it is to her, but it’s not something I would describe as “interesting”! It’s also seems strange (and in my opinion, but not by any systematically collected or empirical evidence) misguided that she would express the first as something to wonder about, but the second as something about which she has some level of confidence.

    Maybe more later. It’s a hard topic.

    But thanks again for bringing it up, Giliell

    *1 One illustration? When I was 10 and was kinda-sorta old enough to know better, but vulnerable to people who insisted they weren’t lying b/c I avoided confrontation like the plague, I was feeling ill with something a bit less awful than the plague. He and another person gave me pills without me seeing the bottle. I don’t know what they were, but suspect it was “relatively harmless” speed. Nonetheless, the clear overriding of my clearly expressed will – Me: “I don’t want to take anything unless it’s aspirin or tylenol”; Him: “It’s not tylenol brand, but chemically it’s the same thing”; it wasn’t.

  40. microraptor says

    Owlmirror @62:

    Interesting. That directly contradicts things that I’ve heard about the cancellation of Young Justice and GL: TAS. Specifically, that it was Cartoon Network who wanted to pull the plug on the series as part of their larger shift away from action/drama cartoons, as it happened shortly after they killed the Thundercats relaunch and shortly before they ended Ben 10 Omniverse, filling those time slots with comedy driven, low plot/no plot shows like Teen Titans Go.

  41. tbtabby says

    Hoo boy, here’s a doozy from Cracked: Why You Shouldn’t Let A Horny Pervert Make Your Commercials.

    If you were advertising a portable device that allowed you to instantly translate anything you say into a variety of languages, how would you show it being used? Lost tourists receiving help? Doctors trying to calm patients? International diplomacy? Or would you show a creep trying to trick women into kissing him?

  42. Saad says

    Casual, everyday sexism, part 79881

    I was watching this lecture by Maryam Mirzakhani and made the mistake of looking at comment section, thinking how bad could they be on a high level math video.

    Just two comments in we get this gem:

    Why is she wearing old jeans? Why not wear a nice clean skirt?


    A Fields medalist is giving a talk on moduli spaces and dude is concerned about her attire (which is completely normal and commonplace for mathematicians giving talks to begin with).

  43. blf says

    A Fields medalist is giving a talk on moduli spaces and dude is concerned about her attire [old jeans] (which is completely normal and commonplace for mathematicians giving talks to begin with).

    Indeed. I can’t offhand recall ever seeing a mathematician give a talk / lecture in anything else. And usually wearing sandals. (All that’s probably true of the entirety of STEM subjects.)

  44. Saad says

    Schadenfreude all around!

    A grand jury that extensively reviewed undercover videos of Planned Parenthood decided not to press charges against the group, and will instead take action against the creators of the videos.

    Jurors in Houston announced Monday they are indicting a pair of anti-abortion-rights activists, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, for their role in creating a series of now-viral videos attacking Planned Parenthood, according to multiple local reports.

    Daleiden, who has taken credit for the videos, claimed that his footage showed Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the price of aborted organs as part of the organization’s fetal tissue donation program in some states.

    Jurors said they did not find evidence of illegal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood.

    Instead, Daleiden was indicted for the “purchase and sale of human organs” — a charge that appears to stem from Daleiden’s undercover attempts to purchase fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood as he sought to record the encounter for his sting videos.

    He and Merritt were both indicted for “tampering with a governmental record.”

    “It is an affirming day for Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “We feel vindicated.”