Calling all radical homosexuals: take this survey!

An organization called American Family Patriarchy Values wants to demonstrate that the world is actually just as bigoted as they are, so they’ve put up an internet survey to get “data” bolstering their views. I think we should help them out.

Radical homosexuals claim YOU support same-sex marriage, special job rights and promotion of homosexuality in schools. Please fill out the survey below and let your voice be heard.

1. Should businesses, schools, churches and daycares be required by law to hire and advance homosexuals or face prosecution and multimillion-dollar lawsuits?

2. Do you support the use of taxpayer dollars for AIDS-awareness programs and homosexual research grants?

3. Should homosexuality be promoted in school as a healthy lifestyle choice rather than leaving education on such matters up to the child’s parents?

4. Do you support same-sex “marriage” or marriage-like benefits for homosexual couples, such as adoption?

5. Should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn traditional marriage between one man and one woman?

I notice they do a little skewing of the questions, but ignore that; the first one in particular is dishonest, since no one is advocating requiring that homosexuals be hired, only that they not be discriminated against. But yeah, the rest are cool.

Unfortunately, they don’t publish any of the stats — you’re basically signing a petition that they want to flaunt at congress and claim that Americans really do hate gays, so let’s make more laws to discriminate against minorities. They’re unclear on the concept of democracy in multiple ways, I’m afraid.

I think they’re going to have to throw out their poll or lie about the data after we’re through with them.

(via JT)

Someday, maybe social media will apply their rules consistently

Remember when Facebook started censoring the pages of breastfeeding women? They were removing photos that showed…nipple. It was a violation of the TOS! If they didn’t hold the line on nudity, they were on a slippery slope to open pornography. Think of the children! And most importantly, they were enforcing a consistent policy that simply banned all nudity without judgment about its purpose or context.

The situation has a apparently changed in 2011. Now there are crass Facebook pages filled with crude jokes about rape, and that’s all right despite the fact that they do plainly violate the TOS, that states “You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” Is rape not hateful? Is it not threatening? Is it not violent?

Have no fear, Facebook has a rationalization. Rape is a joke.

Facebook’s initial response to the public outcry was to suggest that promoting violence against women was equivalent to telling a rude joke down the pub: “It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining” went the bizarre rape apologia. “Just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.”

Does breastfeeding a baby get you thrown out of a pub? Shouldn’t joking about rape be more likely to get you thrown out? (I know,it isn’t).

Personally, I don’t think Facebook should censor the rape pages: they’re awful and shameful, but it’s good to see that the hateful morons are out there so you can guard against them. I’d rather that social media were open and that they allowed all — they simply shouldn’t be in the business of monitoring user-created content.

But Facebook has gone the other way. They are regulating what people are allowed to say, and they are creating a culture in which a bare breast is obscene and disgusting, while violent sexual assault is considered amusing. It isn’t that they allow rape jokes, it’s that they’ve exposed themselves as two-faced and untrustworthy, and are actively promoting an environment in which men have carte blanche and women are targets, and had better like it.

(Also on Sb)

Some students should not go into a health profession

I’m afraid Ben Cochran is one of them. He’s a nursing student who wrote a column in a newspaper because he was upset at the time it took for the emergency medical services at his local clinic to help him with his sneezy, phlegmy cold (which, I would have told him, is going to put a low priority on something they can’t really treat anyway). He places the blame: the clinic offers women’s reproductive services, and they were busy helping a “gaggle of preemie sluts [] get a free pass on harlotry” and treating their “cunt problems”.

But he really doesn’t have a problem with these women, he says. He just wants to end women’s medical services and the distribution of condoms on campus.

I don’t take issue with sex mongers. They serve their place. Hell, according to the bible, it’s the oldest known profession on earth. So you sultry sex fiends are clearly established, but this is a place of higher being. Please take your gaping holes elsewhere for medical services, and leave the real health issues to those that actually belong on a college campus

Yeah, he’s going to make a greeeeeat nurse. He’s already an expert on triage: men with runny noses must be treated before sluts with gynecological issues.

He’s going to have a tough time doing the work, though, with all the holes Ema ripped into him.

(Also on Sb)

Atheism has a sexism problem

It’s rather like a case of acne; we’ve got it, people are pointing it out, and we’re trying out denial as a solution. It doesn’t work. I think Victoria Bekiempis is quite right in pointing out that New Atheism is a boys’ club.

But other female atheists are blunt in their assessment of why the face of atheism doesn’t necessarily reflect the gender makeup of its adherents. Annie Laurie Gaylor, who founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation with her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor, in 1978, sums it up succinctly: “One word – sexism.” Gaylor’s husband, Dan Barker, who helms the organisation along with her, is usually the one invited to speaking engagements, despite her longer tenure as the organisation’s leader and her numerous books on atheism. Doubt author Hecht, too, identifies basic chauvinism in the persistent lower profile of female atheists, stating that in her own experience, the work of female atheists tends to be individualised, rather than contextualised as part of a watershed scholarly movement. “Nobody talked about [Doubt] as a ‘phenomenon’,” she notes. “They just talked about the book.” Finally, when well-known atheists also happen to be just as well known for their misogynist statements – like Hitchens, as well as fellow skeptic Stephen Fry, who once theorised that women “don’t really like sex” – it just adds to atheism’s existing public-relations problem.

Representation matters, and when various media reports combined to create the “New Atheist” meme without mentioning the contributions of the women involved in the movement, the result was that the meme itself became masculinised. And because contemporary atheism has become so synonymous with this initially identified group, women atheists may well continue to be overlooked by the mainstream (or will, as some female skeptics have, reject inclusion on principle). It’s a state of affairs very much in line with the history of women in other fields in which battling continued institutional neglect – as opposed to intrinsic hostility – is an ongoing theme.

I know what happens next. Hackles rise, men get all defensive, and get huffy and angry while simultaneously denying that they have a pimple and how rude of those nasty feminists (said with a sneer) to point it out. But the facts are all there. Women have been activists and leaders in this movement for a long, long time — I blame Susan Jacoby and her book Freethinkers as the catalyst that first really inspired me — and yet, somehow, they always get forgotten when it’s time to give credit or build a list of invited speakers for a conference or when the media, largely ignorant of atheism, tries to name a few atheists. I’ve seen it happen over and over. It’s a very real phenomenon that Bekiempis is describing, and what’s also real is how some people will get very angry if anyone mentions it.

I think that last line is mostly correct, though. It’s not an intrinsic hostility to women (although we’ve encountered a few people who are nasty haters — but they are a fringe minority and definitely not part of the leadership), but a pattern of blindness. The good news is that this is a problem we can easily correct: we have no shortage of talented women in atheism right now, most of the atheists I’ve talked to readily acknowledge atheist women’s existence with a little nudging, and every conference organizer is receptive to the idea of greater inclusion.

It isn’t just atheism, either. I’ve noticed the same phenomenon in my classes: I often put optional, extra-credit questions on my exams, and one I used many times is the simple, “Name a female scientist”…and students are often stumped by it. The most common answer I get is “Marie Curie”; the second most common is no answer at all. And this is in a department where half the faculty are women! There are other famous female scientists besides Marie Curie, and they ought to be at least aware of the local talent.

The solution is relatively easy: more of that consciousness raising. The women are here, the guys just have to notice…and that doesn’t mean noticing that there are breasts around, but that there are good minds without Y chromosomes, and that we can be equals without diminishing the male contribution.

Our one obstacle? The small number of indignant people who will be in denial, and take recognition of a common problem as an insult. Get over it. Appreciating women as partners actually doesn’t hurt, and the only insult here is the bizarrely obtuse attitude of some men and women.

What is wrong with these animal rights organizations?

There is a severe and disturbing disconnect in the minds of the fanatics behind the animal rights groups. First there’s NIO, harassing and threatening students. Now look at what PETA is up to: they plan to launch a porn site to benefit their cause.

The nonprofit organization, whose controversial campaigns draw criticism from women’s rights groups, said it hopes to raise awareness of veganism through a mix of pornography and graphic footage of animal suffering.

“We’re hoping to reach a whole new audience of people, some of whom will be shocked by graphic images that maybe they didn’t anticipate seeing when they went to the PETA triple-X site,” said Lindsay Rajt, PETA’s associate director of campaigns.

I am trying to visualize the kind of people who would be drawn to a site featuring naked women and tortured animals…and no, those aren’t the people I’d want to associate with. It sounds like it might be popular with serial killers, anyway. Is that the audience they want?

And then there’s this:

PETA has been accused of campaigning for animal rights at the cost of exploiting women. A Facebook group, Real Women Against PETA, was launched after the organization paid for a billboard showing an obese woman with the message: “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber. Go Vegetarian.”

They are sending a consistent message, at least. They love kittens. They hate women.

(Also on Sb)

What lies beneath

As a nerd myself, I think the majority of nerds are just fine, but there really is a privileged subset that just doesn’t understand how to deal with women as human beings. Here’s a marvelous example: a woman gets into a geeky conversation about comic books on twitter, and her correspondent keeps trying to push the discussion into something about her appearance and her views on sex; she firmly resists, asks him to stop hitting on her and says that he makes her uncomfortable, and tries to redirect the conversation back to the Batgirl comic book. He doesn’t stop! Now you might be thinking that this is fairly innocuous, it’s just a silly chat on Twitter, and nothing harmful can come of it: the male side of the exchange is just being persistent and oblivious, and he means no harm.

But then, frustrated that she won’t talk about what he wants to talk about, i.e. sex, he drops this little bomb in frustration.

I suppose if you wanted to be extremely charitable, you could argue that all the prior conversation was just flirtation — hey, he’s just being friendly and flattering and sweet-talking the nice lady on the internet, how can you be offended at that? — but that outburst lays bare all the privilege and selfishness and resentment that lies beneath the facade, and ought to make you understand why, when you ignore “no” in the little things, you violate the other person’s trust.

(via Almost Diamonds)

Sexism is a problem we should address

Let us dig up a grave and gnaw on some old bones. USA Today has just now gotten around to an article on that elevatorgate tempest. Fortunately, I think it takes the right tack; it takes the perspective that sexism isn’t particularly a problem of the atheist community, but that what’s going on is that the atheist community is taking the problem seriously and is trying to address it.

Yet many, including Watson, say Elevatorgate is less a calamity and more an opportunity to welcome women and other minorities into a community that’s long been dominated by white men.

“The majority of emails I have gotten have been from men who said, ‘I had no idea what women in this community went through, and thank you for opening my eyes,'” Watson said. “There has actually been a net benefit coming out of this that I think has made everything worthwhile.”

No one is suggesting the freethought community is more sexist than other segments of society — after all, the most famous American atheist, the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, was a woman. [And what about Ellen Johnson, Margaret Downey, Susan Jacoby, and so many other atheist leaders? –pzm]

Nonetheless, the incident has struck a chord, perhaps because atheists and other skeptics pride themselves on reason and logic — intellectual exercises that theoretically compute to equality.

They’ve got a few quotes from me in there, too. I tried to make the point that whenever I’ve brought this subject up with meeting organizers, they’ve been very receptive, recognize the problem, and try to deal with it. What this one incident did was expose a small, fringe group of obsessive sexists who suddenly had the privileges they took for granted questioned…and oh, how they did squeal, and continue to squeal.

The bad news is found in the comments. It’s as if most of the commenters didn’t even bother to read the article. The comments section at USA Today is a grisly sight — I don’t recommend it unless you’re strong of stomach. A few samples:

[Read more…]

Prodding the feral otaku

The Skeptic Lawyer has discovered the dirty little secret of nerd boys…only it’s not really a secret. This has been a problem for a long time.

While doing the research for this post, I found that the largest gaming convention in North America has to remind attendees to wash daily and use deodorant in its program. I’ve seen a man who a woman rejected on the basis of his online gaming hobby tell her she ‘needed a good raping’. And there was worse than that in some places, which had to be closed down on the basis that they had reached the incitement stage. Incitement, in case you didn’t know, is a crime, and I’m afraid saying ‘it was only on the internet’ will not impress any judge of my acquaintance.

I am amused that she’s just discovered this. Every SF convention I’ve attended posts hygiene warnings: it’s not just in the program, but they’ll mention it in the opening program and drop frequent hints during the day. It is a significant concern — try attending a panel or a screening, only to have some guy (it’s always a guy, sorry) sit down next to you who hasn’t bathed or brushed his teeth in a few days, hasn’t changed his clothes, and has been subsisting on a diet of cheetos, peanut butter sandwiches, and beer. And don’t you dare to point out that he’s not fit to be in human company — normal people would sheepishly admit that you’re right and go slink off to the showers, but these are self-righteous nerds who will shriek at you indignantly that they must not miss this essential discussion of the Thundercats or zombie survival or the Doc Savage canon.

It is not a purely male problem: I attend science conferences that are bigger, and unfortunately sometimes even more male-skewed in the attendees, and yes, professionals can manage to take a shower every single day. It is not a purely nerd problem: the majority of attendees at these events are perfectly capable of civil behavior and basic hygiene. This is a problem of a a small subset, the feral otaku or savage nerd, and it’s going to emerge in every subculture that attracts privileged and obsessive males and rises above a certain level of popularity: comic book and science fiction conventions have been there for a long time, and skeptic and atheist groups are just rising above that critical mass that brings in these people.

I don’t think atheism/skepticism has a special problem with nasty sexist nerds — but it’s a real problem that has just begun to rear its unkempt, unwashed head, and it’s good to see that major organizations are taking preemptive steps to deal with it. And then, of course, there are these deeper problems that need wider cultural responses to address. Yeah, we’ve got to occasionally talk back to those oblivious nerds who will reply with the indignant shrieks.

However, of late I have started to encounter ‘geeky’ men (I’m sorry for this appallingly inexact term, but that’s all there is, alas) who demand–even when others find their geek-activity completely boredom-inducing or otherwise irritating–that women date them. This is like women who demand that their large dogs complete with muddy paws be allowed to take up residence on sundry boyfriends’ beds. It is rudeness, pure and simple. Just as the woman in question needs to find a dog-loving boyfriend who doesn’t mind muddy paw-prints, the geek needs to find a girlfriend who shares his interest in whatever geekiness happens to be his passion. And if he finds that men outnumber women in his particular geek environment, then I suggest he learn a little bit about the law of one price and modify his behaviour accordingly.

In an efficient market, all identical goods must have the same price; however, when there are fewer women than men in a given market (and assuming that most people in that market would like either sex or a relationship), then their relative scarcity presents women with an arbitrage opportunity. In financial markets, if the price of a security, commodity or asset is different in two different markets, then an arbitrageur will purchase the asset in the cheaper market and sell it where prices are higher. Women, when they have scarcity value in a given market, do not have to tolerate bad manners. Similarly, the male who shows that he is not ‘an identical good’ by exhibiting courtesy and charm will be able to make the most of the market in which he finds himself, always acknowledging however that arbitrage profits will persist until the price converges across markets (something that may never happen; it is often argued that perfect competition and efficient markets only exist in economics textbooks).

In other words, geek boys, smarten up your act. I mean, really smarten it up.

In related news, John Scalzi is about to get widely reviled by the ferals: he’s written a post titled Shut Up and Listen. Sound familiar? I’ve still got angry people protesting my insensitivity to men’s needs.

No Jerry, no cure

We’re finally rid of Jerry Lewis and his smarmy, condescending sponsorship of a telethon for muscular dystrophy. I think he meant well, but he had the wrong ideas: this article celebrating his absence makes a significant point. There are many diseases for which there can be no cure short of magically rebuilding entire bodies and brains — that is, no cure short of changing essentially the entirety of who the person is.

All that money was supposed to find what Jerry called “a cure.” Every year he said “We’re closer than ever to a cure.” But every doctor and nurse will tell you the same thing: there is no cure. In the program for the 2011 annual meeting of the Muscular Dystrophy Coordinating Committee, the word “cure” does not appear.

What people with the disability need is help with their symptoms and with mobility. Their quality of life can be improved, their symptoms can be reduced. They also need “accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens.” That’s what Mike Ervin says—he calls himself “a renegade Jerry’s Kid” who was an official telethon poster child in the 1960s.

That’s not a message of hopelessness. To the contrary, it’s saying there are positive improvements that can be made that don’t involve relegating the disabled to the rubbish bin of ‘God’s mistakes’.

(Also on Sb)