Your stereotypes are not helpful

Fascinating. My daughter is a graduate student in computer science at the University of Colorado. I wonder if Colorado is just like Maryland, where the TA handbook has different advice depending on your sex?

Advice to male TAs, in summary: Take charge and pay special attention to your male students, and watch out for the female students, who may be trying to get into your pants for a better grade.

Advice to female TAs, in summary: Be patient and friendly with students, and face it, people aren’t going to regard you as a professional in your career anyway.

Both sets of advice look terrible.

I don’t think my daughter is the type to put up with much nonsense, and she’s got more professional experience than any of her students, or many of her peers. Maybe UMD ought to rethink the message they’re sending here?

Fortunately, UMD recognizes the problem and has deleted the advice.

Have you ever wondered why the #MeToo movement hasn’t caught up with Michael Shermer?

I can tell you why: it’s because he bullies people, is litigious, and does his best to make life miserable for anyone who squeaks. I publicized a woman’s first person account of how he took advantage of her at a conference — she was terrified that he’d go after her and he did — and he responded by encouraging conference organizers to blackball me, and threw a lawsuit at me (he later backed down, since it was just going to be a parade of witnesses describing his deplorable behavior).

That turns out to be a common reaction on his part.

Shermer spoke at a west coast college lately, and one faculty member objected, sharing articles others had written about his behavior to the college’s in-house e-mail list. Shermer went ballistic. He sent a long, angry email to the professor; had another person who writes for his magazine contact them; made legal threats; defamed them (confirmed by a lawyer); sent multiple aggressive emails to the campus email list; blustered as he does, and eventually backed down on his threats of a lawsuit, after compelling my correspondent to hire a lawyer to deal with all the sabre-rattling. A portion of their email to me:

Shermer was a recent campus speaker at my college and after I shared articles about the allegations against him, I received legal threats from him (among other things in a 10 paragraph long email), intimidation from someone that writes for his magazine, I had to retain a lawyer, all while my college administration knew it all has been happening and stayed quiet (and then sent a late night email saying “let’s not get distracted…” after the campus faculty and staff generated a 8k gofundme account so I could afford a lawyer, but I’ve digressed…). This Saturday Shermer sent his second all-campus horrible email defaming me for the second time and said even though he has a “really good case against me” (he doesn’t) he’s decided to not sue me (when really his lawyers probably told him there is no case after my lawyer responded twice). There’s a million more details that I’m leaving out for now.

Now doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s what he did to me, except, at least, he didn’t spam my campus email server with his diatribes. This is how he always reacts, rushing to silence others’ free speech.

Somehow, though, those alt-right/right wing crusaders for “FREE SPEECH” never get around to criticizing their libertarian hero. I don’t know why, other than that it’s entirely clear that they’re actually interested in suppressing some free speech…just not their own. Another email from my correspondent:

I guess he’s shut down now, as he sent a second letter to my campus (that was sent all campus for the second time by a problematic adjunct faculty member who is acting like Shermer’s lap dog), but what bugs me is he gets to do this over and over again to people. He sent me two cease desists from his attorneys. Luckily my attorney shut it down both times. I knew he had no case from her go, as all I did was share articles written years ago with my campus.

His first letter that went all-campus (literally everyone I work with!) was 10 paragraphs of vitriol where he threatened to have a restraining order against me and his wife was going to be on “the look out for me”. He defamed me in it (actually defamed me, as confirmed by my lawyer).

Why does Scientific American employ such an asshole? As you know best, he’s been accused of this stuff multiple times by multiple people and even had a title ix investigation on him at Chapman….and he’s uses heavy handed letters to silence people. I was hoping someone would write an article about his tactics. Is that not interesting in the wake of the me too movement to see how people like him operate to silence people? Perhaps you have grown tired of him, but maybe you know someone in your circle that wants to pursue this further? After living through his reign of bullshit of a month, there’s a level of Justice I haven’t felt by him getting the last word on my campus AGAIN with his nonsense with “I’ve decided not to sue.” (When he had no case).

I’ve also read some of the responses of his defenders on campus. Some are shocked and regretful — they’ve been using his articles in classes for years and never heard about any of this (Why haven’t they? Because Shermer launches lawyers at anyone who mentions it). Others flat out lied, saying that all of the accusations against him had been formally debunked. That is flatly untrue.

My correspondent was willing to publicly identify themselves, and it was my decision to keep them anonymous for now — although, at least, there’s enough information in this post that Shermer could figure out who his accuser is. Maybe. It could be there are so many of them he can’t be sure. But they did ask that I include one additional comment — they aren’t going to back down from his bullying behavior.

These horrible attacks by Shermer are intentionally hurtful and you can add mine to the voices objecting to this treatment.

I also have to repeat their question. Why does Scientific American employ such an asshole? It’s not as if he’s even producing competent articles, as has been noted yet again recently.

If only she’d said “no” 91 times…

It’s unbelievable what we men can get away with. Here’s an account of an ongoing trial in which a naval officer is accused of raping a junior officer.

The junior officer testified that Neuhart forced his way into her home and attacked her, only stopping when her screams alerted a neighbor. Neuhart ran out a back door and was caught by police after he fell and broke a leg.

Forces his way into a home, attacks a woman who screams so loudly a neighbor shows up, and then runs away. This is an open and shut case so far, right?

During the trial both sides acknowledged that the woman was intoxicated after drinking heavily with Neuhart earlier at a hotel bar. Hotel surveillance video showed her hugging and kissing him. They drove back to her home in a limousine.

Jurors heard video from Neuhart’s cellphone in which she screams at him to leave and tells him some 90 times to stop trying to have sex with her.

They’ve got an audio recording of the woman clearly saying “NO!” 90 times? That she was drunk and affectionate earlier shouldn’t matter at all.

In case you’re wondering how they came to have a recording sufficiently detailed that they could count how often she told him to stop, this is the unbelievable part — the rapist gave it to them. He thought it was exonerating evidence.

Neuhart testified that the woman consented to going home and having sex with him. He said he recorded part of their encounter in case the woman later alleged rape.

Our foreign enemies will quail before the brilliance of our naval commanders. He’s like Horatio Hornblower made flesh.

If your jaw is hanging open in disbelief at this guy, just leave it there, maybe grab it with one hand to keep it from falling off: the jury was deadlocked. This was declared a mistrial.

People still insist there is no such thing as rape culture.

Uh-oh. This might just turn everyone gay.

It’s the Straight Pride pin. I am horrified by how boring it is.

This is supposed to represent my sexual orientation? It just makes me look back on my life with regret. Put it away. Honestly, I have no problem with being a straight married man, I just think the symbol for my lifestyle ought to communicate at least a little joy and happiness and enthusiasm, rather than this tepid blandness.

It doesn’t even have any squid on it. What is the point?

The pay gap is painfully real

How about this for a revealing graphic? It’s a plot of average salaries for biology majors in a range of occupations, from airline pilots on the left (almost entirely male) to dental hygienists on the right (mostly female), and the gray dots and pink dots connected by lines show the relative salaries for men and women in the same job. Yikes — it turns out that being a gray dot means you get paid more money, no matter whether it’s a “female” job, or a “male” job.

I had to look hard to find exceptions to that rule. Women who are dishwashers or bank tellers get paid slightly more than their male counterparts. I wonder how much they use that biology degree in those jobs?

It’s a chicken-and-egg problem, says Michelle Ball, a career counselor at the University of Virginia. “Do teachers get paid less because the workforce is largely female, or is it that education is just underfunded and women are willing to go into it anyway?” she asked.

Even in such female-dominated professions as nursing or teaching, men are paid more. And the pay gap is even more severe for women of color: While college-educated white women earn only 55 percent of what college-educated white men do, college-educated non-white women earn even less.

I think we can answer that question from the graph: the proportions of men and women in a workforce doesn’t seem to matter at all, women will get paid less. How much less, and how badly screwed are people of color?

How can we change this? One cause of the difference is that the labor of raising a family falls almost entirely on women’s shoulders. We could fix that by changing the culture and having men share more of that labor (sheeyah, right), or employers could recognize that and adjust their practices to take it into account.

The labor of raising a family, then, is one of the biggest sources of divergent career paths for women and men who attain the same degrees. A recent U.K. study found that universities with generous maternity leave policies employed twice the number of women professors as those without, and a 2009 Center for Work-Life Policy survey found that among college-educated women who had left their careers, 69 percent said that they wouldn’t have done so if their companies had offered more flexible work options.

There are a whole lot of smart, ambitious women graduating from our biology program every year. Maybe employers should think more about what it takes to attract the best and brightest?

First step in writing about others is self-awareness

Check out this thread. A man tries to prove that he can write good woman characters, and all of his writing samples are like cheesy porn.

Then it descends into parody as the women on the thread are challenged to “describe yourself like a male author would”.

So I thought about how a male author would describe me, and given my experience with the nastier side of the internet, it was easy: they would just write “cuck”.

I let my kids watch Ren & Stimpy!

And I even got a laugh out of watching it, too. Now I learn that the creator, John Kricfalusi, was a sick, manipulative pedophile. He actually groomed a couple of young fans, encouraging them to be animators, then brought them out to work with him, and at least one of them, he had live with him. He seemed to regard young girls and women as his trophies.

Sometime between 1998 and 2000, Mora went to a party at Kricfalusi’s house that has bothered him for years. He remembered Byrd, who was no older than 20, was drunk and seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness when Kricfalusi called Mora over to him. “And then he pulled out these Polaroids of Robyn basically — how can you say it? — going down on him. … He’s like, ‘What do you think of that?’”

Byrd doesn’t remember Kricfalusi taking explicit photos of her; she also wasn’t aware, she said, that he showed explicit photos of her to other people. But Wyatt recounted an interaction with his then-boss that was similar to Mora’s. He said that at a party at Kricfalusi’s house between 1999 and 2002, Kricfalusi showed him “a stack of Polaroids” of Kricfalusi and Byrd having sex. He never mentioned the photographs to Byrd, nor did he confront Kricfalusi about the interaction. During another party at Kricfalusi’s house, Swarr said the artist pulled out a binder of photos that showed Byrd naked in his pool. “It was gross,” Swarr said. Affecting a gruff voice when he spoke as Kricfalusi, Swarr recalled, “He was like, ‘Oh, you like that?’ I was like, ‘No!’”

He encouraged this relationship when he was in his late 30s and 40s, when when the girl was 13 or 14.

It’s distressing that he was surrounded in his working relationship with this team of animators, and they knew he was carrying on with these teenage girls, and he was bragging about the sexual nature of the relationship (which would not be OK, even if they were his age), and no one spoke out. No one brought this to the attention of authorities. He was making cartoons for a children’s network, and no one thought this was important enough to mention anywhere.

His lawyer has made a statement now, though.

The 1990s were a time of mental and emotional fragility for Mr. Kricfalusi, especially after losing Ren and Stimpy, his most prized creation. For a brief time, 25 years ago, he had a 16-year-old girlfriend. Over the years John struggled with what were eventually diagnosed mental illnesses in 2008. To that point, for nearly three decades he had relied primarily on alcohol to self-medicate. Since that time he has worked feverishly on his mental health issues, and has been successful in stabilizing his life over the last decade. This achievement has allowed John the opportunity to grow and mature in ways he’d never had a chance at before.

I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for him.

I guess I oppose them in everything

Answers in Genesis is advertising a patriarchy conference this summer. In their promotion, they obligingly list all the values they endorse, which I include below.

[Unfortunately, there was one important word that they consistently misspell — it’s a common failure among fundagelicals, where they even misspell it in the names of their organizations, like Focus on the Patriarchy and the Patriarchy Research Council. I’ve taken the liberty of fixing that for them here.]

Gay “Marriage” Actually, there’s no such thing as same-sex “marriage.” Marriage is a Christian institution God created when he made the first man and woman, Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:24). So-called gay (or same-sex) “marriage” is an attack on the patriarchy God instituted in Genesis.

Gender Issues Almost daily we read news stories about transgender controversies, sex-change operations, restroom-gender issues, and the like. This is all an attack on the basis of the patriarchy structure God designed and ordained in Genesis when he created the first man and woman—the first male and female (Genesis 1:27).

Feminism Much of the feminist movement pushes an idea of female superiority. When God created Adam and Eve, he created them in his image with equal value. God gave different roles to husband and wife—they are to submit to each other as they submit to God and the roles he ordained (Ephesians 5; Genesis 3:16, 17).

Abortion One of the primary reasons for marriage is to produce godly offspring (Malachi 2:15; Genesis 1:28). Not only is abortion the murder of a human being made in God’s image, but the act is destructive to the purpose of marriage and the patriarchy as ordained by God.

Evolution The teaching of molecules-to-man evolution and millions of years has sadly resulted in countless young people doubting the Word of God (including its teachings about the patriarchy) and eventually leaving the church. AiG published an eye-opening study of this youth exodus in my co-authored book Already Gone.

It’s remarkable how AiG’s views are consistently 180° reversals of my own. But then that’s hardly surprising when you realize that all of my opinions are, apparently, defined for my by Satan.

The devil knows that if he can get one generation to doubt and disbelieve God’s Word starting in Genesis, he can destroy one of the main purposes of the patriarchy: to pass on a spiritual legacy to the next generation and to the world.

It’s kind of an ugly legacy, you know. Maybe we should smash the patriarchy to prevent it from infecting another generation.

By the way, if you want to be indoctrinated in AiG’s regressive views (and that of the organization they’re partnering with for this conference, PatriarchyLife), it’ll only cost you $250, or $500 for a family of 3 ($40 for each additional child). Don’t complain! It’s cheaper than Disneyland, which is a perfectly cromulent comparison!

So that’s what lesbians do!

My first instance of school yard sex ed was a peer trying to tell me that daddies got mommies pregnant by peeing on them. I had a vague suspicion even then, at the age of 5, that this was incorrect, but it did take a few years before I could get access to the grown-up books at library and learn how it actually worked (and oh, but that was a surprise!). So I guess I’m not terribly shocked at the inanities promulgated online any more, like this one, the claim that “feminists are going to trigger a genomic meltdown…

…because they keep pushing for asexual reproduction, or trying to combine ovaries, when the most likely outcome is a population running about – unable to reproduce sexually since the whole “male genocide” bit – with incredibly damaged chromosomes.

So when a lesbian loves another lesbian, they writhe around a bit and try to push their ovaries together to make a little baby lesbian? I have a vague suspicion that this is also incorrect, I guess I’ll have to go to the library…wait. I don’t think our library stocks those kinds of books.

I will say I’m impressed that modern 5 year olds are so proficient at getting online and typing out those long words, though.

Are all evolutionary psychologists this bad at thinking?

Uh-oh. Gad Saad is polluting the discourse again, this time in a vain attempt to discredit the concept of toxic masculinity. It’s embarrassingly bad. I would say that you need to first understand the concept if you hope to debunk it, and Saad does not; if you do not, then all your floundering about will simply reinforce the idea and lead you to use examples that actually demonstrate the phenomenon.

Toxic masculinity is actually not that hard to understand. It’s not a rejection of masculinity itself; it’s a problem that arises when men are socialized to conform to a cultural stereotype that doesn’t actually match their nature.

bell hooks wrote this quote in her chapter called Comrades in Struggle: “…Yet the poor or working class man who has been socialized via sexist ideology to believe that there are privileges and powers he should possess solely because he is male often finds that few if any of these benefits are automatically bestowed him in life.” One of the “powers” that men are socialized to believe that they have to embody is masculinity. Masculinity seems to be the running force of patriarchy, but this term has a very specific definition under patriarchy that is not inclusive of all forms of masculinity. This phenomenon is called toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity “refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the stereotype of the steely-eyed muscular man who compels women to obey his will. The True Man is sexually aggressive. And what does Gad Saad do? He opens with examples of animals that engage in aggressive competition for mates!

Female fiddler crabs and hens prefer males with extravagantly large claws and tails respectively. Ewes (female rams) will mate with the ram that wins the brutal intrasexual head-butting contest. They reward targeted aggression by granting sexual access. Needless to say, there are innumerable other examples of sexual selection that I might describe, but I suspect that you get the general gist. Are rams exhibiting toxic masculinity? Are female fiddler crabs succumbing to antiquated notions of masculinity as promulgated by the crab patriarchy?

We are not crabs or rams. Saad has cherry-picked a few examples of species with the ideal behavior he’d like to see humans exhibit, which curiously enough, are all about sexual aggression, males beating up on each other to win access to mates. Not only is this the naturalistic fallacy, not only is this selective use of the data, but it also reveals that he doesn’t know what toxic masculinity is. You need to look at animals with more behavioral plasticity and a greater range of potential roles to see toxic masculinity, where among a range of possibilities, males are confined to a narrower and often uncomfortable role by cultural pressures. Rams and crabs do not have that flexibility.

Oh, but let’s watch Saad show off his evolutionary psychology bullshit.

Let’s now apply the exact same evolutionary process (sexual selection) to humans. Evolutionary psychologists have documented universal patterns of mating preferences that are invariant across time and place. In no culture ever studied have women repeatedly preferred to mate with pear-shaped, low-status, tepid men possessing high-pitched, nasal voices. In no documented culture do women’s sexual fantasies revolve around granting sexual access to unemployed, unambitious men who occupy the lowest stratum of the social hierarchy.

First, yes, let’s look at human evolution. The lesson ought to be that humans have not evolved by a strategy of beating up your competition, mating, and wandering away, like a ram or a crab. Relationships between males and females have been far more complex, involving prolonged association, integration with larger social groups, and shared responsibilities in food gathering and child rearing. The “exact same evolutionary process (sexual selection)”? Nonsense.

As for his ideal preferences by women, I will note that both Saad and I share similar physiques, lack a booming baritone, and are in professions that aren’t regarded as particularly manly, and in fact are being ‘taken over’ by women, numerically. Yet we’re both married! And, I assume, we’re both married to women who are happy with their choices! How did that happen?

He also sneers at unemployed, unambitious men who occupy the lowest stratum of the social hierarchy, and yet, unemployed men somehow acquire willing partners. They can even be good partners. I have to think of my own parents, who were loving and dedicated to their family, who were also part of the lower classes that Saad would probably spit upon, and had qualities that Saad has elided — my father was a caring parent, hard-working, a good storyteller, loyal to his friends, sociable, and thoughtful. My parents married for love, against the wishes of her parents, yet most of my childhood was spent watching him bounce from job to job, struggling to get a reliable income, not because he was lazy and unambitious, but because good jobs were hard to find and fleeting when you got one in Seattle in the 1960s-1970s.

Saad relies on stereotyping of lowest stratum men, deciding that they’re ugly and undesirable, and that no woman would desire them, despite the obvious evidence that they do. That’s toxic masculinity! It’s the judgment that there is an ideal man based on a narrow, biased set of criteria, and then heaping contempt on the men who don’t match it in every particular.

Then he uses this bias to stereotype women.

Instead, women are attracted to “toxic masculine” male phenotypes that correlate with testosterone, and they are desirous of men who are socially dominant, who are strategically risk-taking in their behaviors, and who exhibit patterns of behaviors that will allow them to ascend the social hierarchy and defend their positions from encroachers.

Jesus. How did I ever end up with an attractive, intelligent wife? I’ve never had to battle encroachers, ever. Maybe it’s because Saad’s entire argument rests on denying the richness and complexity of human interactions.

Of course this does not imply that women are not attracted to intelligent, sensitive, kind, warm, and compassionate men. The ideal man is rugged and sensitive; masculine and caring; aggressive in some pursuits and gentle in others. Think of the male archetype in romance novels, which is a literary form almost exclusively read by women. He is a tall prince and a neurosurgeon. He is a risk-taker who wrestles alligators and subdues them on his six-pack abs, and yet is sensitive enough to be tamed by the love of a good woman. This archetype is universally found in romance novels read by women in Egypt, Japan, and Bolivia, precisely because it caters to women’s universal evolved sexual fantasies.

Uh, “six-pack abs” are a culturally constructed archetype. They require very low body fat and a rigorous pattern of focused body building to create, and wouldn’t have been at all common in evolving human populations. Likewise, alligator wrestling would have been a lethal hobby that would have led to grossly reduced fitness. Romance novels are also an artificial phenomenon, and probably represent a kind of super-stimulus, just like the bad sex portrayed in the porn consumed by men. They are a poor guide to the kind of deeper decision-making made by human beings in choosing life-long partners.

When engaging in sexual role-playing in the bedroom, few women ask that their male partners wear their Google C++ programmer uniform. They ask for the fireman suit to make its presence. James Bond, the epitome of “toxic masculinity,” does not cry at Taylor Swift concerts. His archetype is desired by women and envied by men.

Wait…a “fireman suit”? Like this? Once again, Saad seems to confuse reality with fantasy. Most women are going to have a more realistic attitude towards prospective partners.

I do agree that James Bond is an epitome of “toxic masculinity”, and he makes my case for me. If you desire to be like Bond, you are going to be an aspiring asshole. This is not a good thing. I shouldn’t have to say that, but really, not a good thing. I’ve also noticed that James Bond movies are not particularly popular among women — they tend to notice that all of his partners end up murdered or abandoned. And how do you know he doesn’t cry at Taylor Swift concerts? It seems to me that women would favor men with shared passions, and this claim that a truly desirable man would not be brought to tears by music is yet another example of toxic masculinity.

The inimitable equity feminist Christina Hoff Sommers wrote a book back in 2001 titled The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (see our chat on my show THE SAAD TRUTH_144 (link is external)). How prescient she was! There has been a relentless ideological attack on masculinity, stemming from radical feminism, the most recent example of which is the bogus term “toxic masculinity.” It literally seeks to pathologize masculinity in ways that are profoundly harmful to the existential sense of self of young men.

But this whole essay is about pathologizing masculinity! Men are supposed to have six-pack abs, be rich, and live like James Bond — if you were seriously concerned about the existential sense of self of young men, you wouldn’t be promoting these ridiculous and harmful delusions about how men should be. You wouldn’t be setting up rams butting heads as an evolutionary ideal for human beings. There has not been on ideological attack on masculinity by anyone other than the anti-feminists, who set up this unrealistic cartoon of how men are supposed to be that denies the reality of human potential — that thinks that men should be more like James Bond than Mr Rogers. (By the way, if we were setting up an artificial ideal that said all men have to be like Mr Rogers, that would be a different kind of toxic masculinity, perhaps more benign, but also denying the range of human lives.)

Saad really needs to step back and look at what feminists actually say about toxic masculinity.

When men seek that control — when we feel it’s our due — and don’t achieve it, we can resent and hate. Toxic masculinity sets expectations that prime us for disappointment. We turn that disappointment on ourselves and others as anger and hatred.

— James Hamblin

That’s toxic masculinity. And Gad Saad’s article is the pear-shaped embodiment of defining unrealistic expectations for men.

Rather than that phony, Christina Hoff Sommers, perhaps Saad ought to be reading a real inimitable feminist.

All men support and perpetuate sexism and sexist oppression in one form or another … Like women, men have been socialized to passively accept sexist ideology. While they need not blame themselves for accepting sexism, they must assume responsibility for eliminating it.

— bell hooks