You have to decide which part of the club charter matters most

Remember when Francis Collins published a book containing his goofy, ridiculous testimonial about how he became a Christian because he was out hiking and saw a waterfall in three parts, demonstrating the Trinity? Oh man, that was stupid. Then he became director of the NIH.

Remember when Francis Collins announced that equality in science was so important that he was refusing to speak on non-inclusive science panels?

“It is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels, sometimes wryly referred to as ‘manels,’” Dr. Francis Collins wrote in an online statement this week. “Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences.”

“When I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities,” he continued. “If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part.”

Good for him. That’s the right decision.

Hey. Hey…remember when swarms of popular atheists proudly declared that god is a fiction, and that feminism is a cancer and women can’t be funny and atheism doesn’t have the estrogen vibe that would encourage women to disbelieve in gods? Remember that?

Fucking hell. You get to choose between the club that still does silly prayers and wacky rituals, but thinks women are people, or you can choose the club that supports the obvious conclusion that gods don’t exist and girls and brown people are inferior. I hate choices like that, but I guess they aren’t choices at all — I’m part of the former, at least until atheism wises up.

I think it’ll be a long time before that happens. People are sneering at Collins not for his religious beliefs, but for his ideas about human equality — people like Geoffrey Miller, evolutionary psychologist and atheist.

What an ugly clubhouse…

A gathering of the broflakes

The Boston Straight Parade has faced a couple of major setbacks.

  • Tomi Lahren has endorsed it. That’s the kiss of death right there.
  • Their chosen “mascot”, Brad Pitt, has ordered them to stop using his name and image.
  • To fill the gaping void left by Pitt’s rejection, organizers asked Milo Yiannopoulos to fill in. Tomi Lahren pouts at the rejection.
  • Tragically and confusingly, desperate-for-attention Milo accepts.

    The organization later named Yiannopoulos, who is openly gay, as its grand marshal for the event.

    “I might technically be a sequined and perfectly coiffed friend of Dorothy’s, but I’ve spent my entire career advocating for the rights of America’s most brutally repressed identity — straight people — so I know a thing or two about discrimination,” Yiannopoulos said in a statement released by the group.

    “This parade is a gift to anyone, male or female, black or white—gay and transgender allies, too!—who will stand with us and celebrate the wonder and the majesty of God’s own heterosexuality. Men, bring your most toxic selves. Women, prepare to burn your briefcases! Because it’s great to be straight, and we’re not apologizing for it any more. We’re Here, Not Queer.”

  • The parade organizer, Mark Sahady, has been revealed to be a far right thug who has organized violent and anti-semitic events.

    David Neiwert, author of Alt America and a longtime observer of the US far right, believes the march is primarily opportunistic. For the Daily Kos, he described Sahady as a “street brawler” with “a history … of organizing violent events”.

    Neiwert told the Guardian: “What we know about these street-fighting gangs is that they latch on to whatever they can in order to go out and fight with the left.”

    He added: “In this case it’s so utterly juvenile that it’s like a sixth-grade taunt.”

There’s a word for these people.

What is this “pride month” of which you speak?

Would it be OK if I called this an example of toxic masculinity, or will it hurt young men’s feelings?

Arrests have been made, at least.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated burglary on Saturday morning, Scotland Yard said.

Four other men between the ages of 15 and 18 have already been arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated grievous bodily harm and are being questioned separately.

We also get an example of why it’s called pride.

“I was and still am angry. It was scary, but this is not a novel situation,” said Chris. “I’m not scared about being visibly queer. If anything, you should do it more.

“A lot of people’s rights and basic safety are at risk. I want people to feel emboldened to stand up to the same people who feel emboldened by the rightwing populism that is, I feel, responsible for the escalation in hate crimes. I want people to take away from this that they should stand up for themselves and each other.”

Geymonat added: “The violence is not only because we are women which are dating each other. It’s also because we are women.”

Maybe somebody should explain this to Peter Boghossian.

Does the missionary position even need defending?

Quillette is a strange site. It tries to hide its unpleasant reactionary perspective beneath a pretense of academic objectivity, but it’s like trying to pour perfume on a garbage dump — it just makes the whole thing even ickier. Usually the reek oozes through most pungently in their numerous articles promoting pseudo-scientific racism, but the latest stinker that has bubbled to the surface is an article on sex.

Titled A Modest Defence of the Missionary Position, it immediately trumpets its pointlessness. Why? Is there some political faction or avant-garde wing of the culture wars that has denounced certain sexual positions? Does anyone care, outside of religious fanaticism (one thing I don’t think Quillette favors), what postures you assume in your intimate heterosexual moments?

No.

So the author has to manufacture an anti-missionary position position held by those annoying third-wave feminists.

In the post-#MeToo, third wave feminist climate, it often feels as though, in order to be an ethical progressive women, I need to search out and identify aspects of our society that are sexist, oppressive, unfair. Much of this takes the form of critiquing tradition, which we view as largely inhibitive and repressive. Pointing out oppression, raising consciousness, is women’s strategy for getting out from under the patriarchy. “The Future is Female” signals that it’s our turn to be on top.

So of course the author gets very literal with Simone de Beauvoir: “All sex is rape”, “It is he who has the aggressive role”, etc. None of this is about the missionary position, but about control and dominance and how sex can be used as a tool of oppression. We’re going a bit far afield here, you know, from the specifics of who is concerned about what position you favor.

Then it gets ever more airy and soft-focused. Sex is wonderful and beautiful and part of our nature and an essential aspect of the relationships between human beings. OK, even if I grant that kind of greeting card optimism, what does that have to do with the missionary position?

Our erotic nature is the very foundation of human civilization, which is grounded in the bonds of affection and mutual care that result from the promptings of our sexual instincts combined with deeper emotions of love, self-giving, esteem, and friendship. If we view sex as the fulfillment of our natural instincts, then we really have no grounds to take offence at sexual harassment, or even sexual violence, since it would simply and unashamedly be the expression of male animal sexual aggression. It is rightly unthinkable to define our sexual nature as wholly instinctive. To do so would puts us at the mercy of appetite and invites brutality.

I don’t even know what point she is trying to make here, that simultaneously sexual harassment is perfectly normal as a consequence of instinctive male aggression, and that maybe we should throttle it back just a little? Throughout there’s this implicit idea of what male and female (and only those two!) natures ought to be, and a weird vibe about the beauty of heterosexuality, as long as it fits her preconceived mold. “Normal” is best, and she has a very traditional view of normal. She’s willing to nod condescendingly at people who do things differently, but ultimately the best way to “encounter our deepest selves” is to conform to social expectations, even in your most private moments.

“The ancients,” writes Camus in The Rebel, “even though they believed in destiny, believed primarily in nature, in which they participated in wholeheartedly. To rebel against nature amounted to rebelling against oneself. It is butting one’s head against a wall.” There is a kind of tragic heroism in rebellion. And a kind of deeply human beauty in it—rebellion, too, seems to be our nature. But there is also a uniquely human courage in participating in nature wholeheartedly, with abandon. The irony is that what we often consider the most boring, the most quotidian, the most comically old-fashioned, and unremarkably ordinary way to have sex with another is also the way we encounter our deepest selves because we transcend ourselves to find union with another.

Sheesh. Fine, lady, you have a preferred sexual position. Talk to your partner about it. You don’t have to convince everyone else that your favorite way of boning best reflects the transcendent nature of humanity or that it’s encoded instinctively in our psyches. There are a lot of people in the world who don’t fit your pattern, gay/lesbian/asexual people, or people with specific kinks, and they’re all part of glorious human diversity, too.

I’m straight, I should get a parade!

This is going to be amusing. A small group of white men are planning a “straight pride” parade for Boston in August.

“Straight people are an oppressed majority. We will fight for the right of straights everywhere to express pride in themselves without fear of judgement and hate. The day will come when straights will finally be included as equals among all of the other orientations.” – John Hugo, President of Super Happy Fun America

It’s three bros with a website who think they are oppressed. For being so diamond-hard straight, they’ve strangely chosen Brad Pitt as their “mascot”, presumably without his permission. They have made a flag.

They are so danged rigidly straight that they’ve looped all the way around to gay, themselves. I expect their parade (with floats!) will either be the campiest event in Boston, or will simply droop in pathetic impotence…which will be fine with them, since if no one joins in their limp effort, it will be evidence that they really are persecuted!


Oh, wait! They had a Straight Pride Parade in Seattle last year!

One guy showed up.

He brought balloons, though. Totally worth it for balloons.

I’m told feminism is cancer

I still get this kind of message all the time — there are ugly hordes of men (and some women) who make this flat declaration that they don’t like feminism, and they’re usually the kind of cretinous clown who doesn’t see anything wrong with Donald Trump’s behavior. So it’s good to see Sadiq Khan rebuking our jerk of a president with a short simple message.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to announce that feminism is cancer, you get to fuck off and leave me alone now. I’ll have nothing to do with you.

Somebody explain this to me

I just got back from a late evening fussing over spiders, when I noticed a new sign in the hallway…or maybe it’s an old sign that’s just recently been uncovered.

OK, walking through this…on the left, an icon of a man and a woman, labeled “Your body, your choice”. Below that, some strange ontology of choices: adoption, abstinence, motherhood, and conception are “options” and also choices, while abortion is an option but not a choice. In the context of the graphic designers’ head, what is the difference between an option and a choice? They all seem like options and choices to me.

On the right, there’s a cartoon of a pregnant woman and a fetus, with a big arrow (to be honest, when I saw the sign from a distance, it looked like a fat man with a gigantic erection which first roused my curiosity) labeled “Not your body, your responsibility”, which weirded me out. So getting pregnant means it’s not your body anymore? Where’s the man from the left picture? It’s not his responsibility?

It seems to me that Option #5, which is not a choice, is the only way to get your body back. It’s a confusing poster with a whole mass of implicit assumptions somewhere in it, that I’m sure make sense to our Students for Life, but not to me. I guess that makes me a Professor for Death, as long as we’re dichotomizing everything. Fortunately, I am not responsible, because it was an option not a choice, and because I’m a man, I think..

I have to stop thinking about this, I’m just getting more tangled up in whatever they’re trying to communicate.

No, I’m not going to their Tuesday meeting. I think that would be even worse.

Yes, Tomi Lahren, I do think. Don’t you?

Conservatives don’t think at all, they just assume their prejudices are true, and demand that you accept them, too.

The “boy” in this ad is not a teenager, he’s a young man, capable of thinking for himself.

It’s not a “little much”, it’s a “bit late”. We should normalize the decision to be a trans person. It does no one any harm, and it does help some individuals.

That said, it’s a little strange to see progressive social issues being used in an ad to sell razor blades. We should take it, though, since that’s what tools we have in a capitalist system.

I look forward to the day that Tomi Lahren realizes that social attitudes are being manipulated by capitalism, and tweets out her rejection of capitalist values.

Man, incels are messed up in more ways than one

In this fascinating article about incels getting plastic surgery to help them get girls, we learn yet more about the twisted minds of that cult-like subculture. I think it’s fine that people who want plastic surgery can get it, even if some of them are clearly getting a little too obsessive about it (multiple surgeries to tweak slight asymmetries? Get over it. Everyone is asymmetric to some degree). If they’re doing it to appeal more to women, they’re operating on the wrong organ. This one paragraph says it all.

Mike recently got a jaw procedure called BSSO, plus a hair transplant. After the surgeries, he met two girls at his other job, teaching comedy, whom he considered “cute,” and he took this as a sign of success. Now he’s investing in cryptocurrency in hopes of getting more procedures with Eppley [the incel’s favorite surgeon]. In a recent forum thread, he posted a selfie specced out with angles and degrees, measurements of his features; he then found a photo of Tom Cruise and gave it the same treatment. (Mike’s jaw angle was 69.02 degrees; Tom’s was 76.31.) “I want to solve this woman thing,” he told me.

Women aren’t a thing to be solved. A jaw angle isn’t an objective measure of your attractiveness. Cryptocurrency isn’t going to get you rich. Your problem isn’t your skull, but what’s inside it.

The article has photographs of various incels and their ideals. They all look fine, although I sympathize with people who find their looks unsatisfactory. It doesn’t matter how much money Eppley makes off repeated surgeries, or whether they end up looking like Tom Cruise — it’s not going to fix their problems. Maybe one step forward would be to get off those self-loathing incel forums?