The perfectly representative Fox News story

How it begins:

An Arizona pro-parent school board member, who was recently elected into office, leaked and alerted parents to a radical science curriculum that is currently being considered in the Peoria Unified School District.

Notice that it calls this new school board member “pro-parent,” to distinguish her from all the anti-parent parents on the school board. Aren’t you curious to find out what “radical science” she objects to? Someone who looks this smug must have oodles of opinions.

I bet you already know what she’s going to freak out about.

Within a month of being at the school board, Rooks leaked a proposed textbook that would be used in the district’s high school. She said she was alarmed that the science curriculum discounted the reality of biological sex.

“I mean, these are kids we’re talking about. It’s not adults making adult decisions. These are children. So their minds are… not developed completely yet,” Rooks said.

Here we go again. At least the news article actually quotes what the textbook says, so we can judge how “radical” it is.

According to a post by Nicole Solas of the Independent Women’s Forum, the textbook said, “The biochemical, physiological, and anatomical features associated with ‘males’ and ‘females’ are turning out to be more complex than previously realized, with many genes involved in their development. We now know that sex is not a binary state, with just two defined outcomes.”

“Because of the complexity of the genes and proteins involved in sex determination, many variations exist. Some individuals are born with intermediate sexual characteristics, or even with anatomical features that do not match an individual’s sense of their own gender (‘transgender individuals’). Sex determination is an active area of research that should yield a more sophisticated understanding in years to come.”

Yeah, no. That’s pretty conventional. Also true and valid.

Fox News also helpfully (?) includes this illustration.

Male and female chromosomes.

OK, which one is the “male” chromosome? Does it have a penis? Does it make little tiny microgametes? What’s with the blue and yellow and green and purple pseudocolor? Why even include the right panel, are some of those male and female chromosomes, too?

You’ll have to go to the link to see some truly triumphant stupidity, though. They bring on Jack Brewer to opine on the subject. Brewer is a former football player who then became a “wealth manager” for Merrill Lynch, and then founded The Brewer Group, a Christian consulting firm focused on Building the Kingdom through Business. He is completely unqualified to contribute to the discussion.

Brewer mumbles along about how the transgender agenda is witchcraft, literal witchcraft, and also throws in the statistic that transgender teens are 5 times more likely to commit suicide, implying that being transgender is the cause, rather than the oppression brought on by Christian fanatics tormenting them.

I don’t normally watch Fox News. This reminds me why.

These people are mad

In all senses of the word. This has been a disease raging through certain people since at least the Gamergate days — they are ideologically warped, committed to a bizarrely hateful perspective.

So here’s this guy, playing the shiny new role-playing game du jour, and he gets to the beginning character creation screen, a staple of these kinds of games since Dungeons & Dragons. It asks what pronouns his character will use, and he fucking melts down.

Jesus, guy. It’s a game. A role-playing game. You’re going to have to save some of that energy and fury for when it asks if you want to be an elf or a dwarf or whatever (I haven’t played Starfield. Martian or Venusian? Whatever.)

A woman has to be brave to work at a remote research station

I wonder if NSF regrets making their logo so prominent in these photos of the McMurdo research station in Antarctica. I can see where there is some pride.

Antarctica’s ancient ice sheet and remoteness make it ideal for scientists studying everything from the earliest moments of the universe to changes in the planet’s climate.

The population at McMurdo, the hub of US operations, usually swells from 200-300 in the southern winter to over 1,000 in the summer. Typically, around 70 per cent are men.

Funded and overseen by the NSF, the US Antarctic Programme is run by a tangle of contractors and subcontractors, with billions of dollars at stake. Since 2017, Leidos has held the main contract, now worth over $200 million per year. Subcontractor PAE, which employs many of the base’s workers, was bought last year by the government services giant Amentum.

Money, isolation, lots of men, it does look like an opportunity for research, but you’d think someone would recognize that it’s also an opportunity for men to behave badly, and that precautions would be taken to protect all the workers there. They weren’t.

The National Science Foundation, the federal agency that oversees the US Antarctic Programme, published a report in 2022 in which 59 per cent of women said they’d experienced harassment or assault while on the ice, and 72 per cent of women said such behaviour was a problem in Antarctica.

But the problem goes beyond the harassment, the Associated Press found. In reviewing court records and internal communications, and in interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, the AP uncovered a pattern of women who said their claims of harassment or assault were minimised by their employers, often leading to them or others being put in further danger.

In one case, a woman who reported a colleague had groped her was made to work alongside him again. In another, a woman who told her employer she was sexually assaulted was later fired. Another woman said that bosses at the base downgraded her allegations from rape to harassment. The AP generally does not identify those who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they publicly identify themselves.

72%! That’s a rather significant number. You’d think that would be enough to prompt major changes in policy and enforcement. Nope. Instead, it encouraged denial.

Buckingham was hired by PAE. Amentum didn’t respond to questions from the AP. Leidos senior vice-president Melissa Lee Dueñas said it conducts background checks on all its employees.

“Our stance on sexual harassment or assault couldn’t be more clear: we have zero tolerance for such behavior,” Dueñas said in an email. “Each case is thoroughly investigated.”

Those are words that put me on edge: you’re saying “zero tolerance,” but when you’ve got a strong majority of women reporting harassment, that says you’re pretty tolerant. “Thoroughly investigated” sounds more like “thoroughly covered-up.”

I’ll spare you the many personal accounts of sexual abuse documented in the article. I’m most appalled by how the contractors who profit from McMurdo respond to the reports. Here’s how a woman, Liz Monahan, who was assaulted, was dealt with.

With her employers doing nothing to address her concerns, Monahon’s immediate boss and co-workers came up with their own plan, according to two employees familiar with the situation.

Monahon was told to pack her bags, and the next morning joined a group trying to navigate a safe route across the sea ice over eight days to resupply a tiny US outpost. The crossing is risky because the ice can crumble in the spring.

“To protect her, they put her in a dangerous situation,” said Wes Thurmann, a fire department supervisor who had worked in Antarctica every year since 2012.

But they all felt it was safer than her remaining at McMurdo.

It’s a pattern of neglect, denial, and protection of the abusers.

The woman told her bosses she’d been sexually assaulted by a coworker. Her performance was subsequently criticised by a supervisor, who was also the girlfriend of the accused man. Two months later, she was fired.

Many of the woman’s colleagues were outraged. Julie Grundberg, then the McMurdo area manager for Leidos, repeatedly emailed her concerns to her superiors in Denver.

“The fact that we haven’t come out with some sort of public statement is making the community trust our organisation even less,” Grundberg wrote.

Supervisor Ethan Norris replied: “We need your help to keep this calm and be a neutral party, as you have only one side of the story at this point.”

Wow. Leidos has been contracted by the NSF to manage the station since at least 2017; their contract expires in 2025. It’s part of the problem that their incompetence didn’t get them immediately terminated.

The deeper pattern here is that our scientific organizations are setting up remote research stations in places like Antarctica or the tropics while neglecting basic social obligations. They’re building cozy little cabins free of accountability that draw in rapists and abusers.

Men’s superior brains give them an edge, I guess

I’m not all clear on the logic here, but trans women have been banned from chess competitions.

The world’s leading chess federation voted this week to bar transgender women from its women’s competitions.

Federation Internationale des Echecs, or FIDE, acts as the governing body of all international chess competition. In a ruling approved Monday, the organization said that a competitor who changes their gender may gain competitive advantages.

No one has come out to say what those competitive advantages might be. More cc of brain tissue? Should we break out the calipers and ban people with cranial capacities larger than 1500cc? Let’s teach those big headed freaks a lesson.

Fox News is brave enough to say it, though. They consulted super brain scientist Riley Gaines about the matter, because real scientists would just snort and tell them to fuck off. Gaines, whose sole claim to fame is that she tied with a trans woman for 5th place at a swim meet, and made a huge stink about it, was asked whether she agrees with this discrimination. Of course she did. Maybe she can explain the biological reasoning behind it?

No, she can’t. What is that argument about brain size and ability anyway? I need one that wasn’t debunked a hundred years ago.

Consent is obedience

Also, up is down. George Orwell saw it coming. A woman named Kelly Schenkoske gave a talk in Philadelphia and made a remarkable assertion.

During the session, Schenkoske strongly objected to the concept of “consent” being included in sex ed curriculum. She argued that teaching kids about consent is counterproductive and leaves children vulnerable to sexual exploitation. “[K]ids are often taught to be obedient.” Schenkoske said. “And to teach kids consent is a shift away from really strongly teaching, it’s okay to have those really strong boundaries and to say no, because not always do kids have that faculty to strongly say no.”

So, she opposes sex ed and the principle of consent because knowing that you have the power to refuse sex is a suggestion that you will obediently consent. It makes no sense. But then, Schenkoske is a member of Moms For Liberty, so you already know it’s garbage.

She even makes the Orwellian comparison explicit.

On August 15, Schenkoske promoted a post stating, “Diversity is segregation” and “Inclusion is exclusion.”

Her audience was just as awful.

The session concluded with the opportunity for audience members to ask Schenkoske questions. “In Michigan, we voted on Proposal 3… we literally voted our parental rights away,” one audience member said. “[W]e have lost our parental medical rights of our children… the schools have all the things that they are able to pass out, the abortion pills, they are able to start transgender, trans, you know… Your child can go to the clinic between 2nd and 3rd hours and have their abortion pill… This is in our middle school and high schools.” Later the audience member said, “[a] boy can start the process of cutting his penis off right there in his high school on his lunch.”

Now there’s an image. What is gender affirming care? That’s when you hand a schoolkid a steak knife and let him hack away at body parts. I don’t know what they were thinking to specify that it happens on lunch hour — does he saw it off and slap it on a hot dog bun? There are weird twisty things going on in these people’s brains.

“Barbie crotch”?

Uh-oh. I’m contributing to the Barbie mania a little more. Sorry.

But this was interesting, and I hadn’t thought about it before! The Vagina Museum posted a thread about the long history of portrayals of the female genitalia, and I was surprised to realize that Greek sculpture did the same thing — Praxiteles was sculpting Aphrodite with a Barbie crotch in the 4th century BCE. It was a whole trend for centuries: male nudes get the anatomically correct treatment, while female nudes get a smooth featureless curve.

This says something about Western cultures different attitudes towards men and women. I wonder what effect this has had on women’s ideas about their bodies.

At least we took a step towards gender equality in 1961 when Mattel castrated Ken and made his crotch identical to that of Barbie.

Dawkins embarrasses himself again

Oh no, Richard Dawkins, stop. He’s asked in an interview what he thinks of doctors being arrested for gender affirming care, and his old eloquence is completely gone. He stutters, he stammers, he struggles to get an answer out, and he looks for an excuse to evade the question — for adults, he asks, or children. Like it makes a difference, like there’s an age that justifies suffering. He finally gets out…

I would have strong objections to doctors injecting minors, children, or performing surgery on them to change their sex

Note that this does not answer the question. Should doctors be jailed for providing gender-affirming care? I don’t care if someone has opinions and objects, the question is whether it is right for the state to arrest care-givers for giving care?

OK, so he doesn’t think children should be treated for this issue — not that they’re getting sex change operations anyway, they might at best be given therapy and reversible puberty blockers. What about adults?

If they’ve thought about it properly

As if trans people don’t even think long and hard about it, and as if he’s the right person to judge if they’ve properly thought about it. He goes on to say that it might be OK if if they struggle and suffer over it. You can be trans, according to Dawkins, if you’ve been made sufficiently miserable.

What we’re seeing now is a fashion, a craze, mimetic epidemic which is spreading like an epidemic of measles or something like that

Oh, just go ahead and spit out the words woke mind virus, it’s what you really want to say, boomer.

That doesn’t even make sense. Is measles a meme now? Is it really a good idea to compare a fashion to a serious, life threatening disease? Is the state of being trans a biological disease at all?

Dawkins really needs to learn that if he doesn’t have an informed opinion on a topic, he should refrain from answering…especially if he’s just going to regurgitate that anti-trans crap that is so popular over there on the other side of the Atlantic.

Two hours of Shaun?

Oh god, two hours of anything on YouTube is absolutely deadly, but in this one, he absolutely shreds Kellie-Jay Keen AKA Posey Parker. You can’t listen to this without realizing that yes, she is a horrible anti-feminist Nazi sympathizer, and you can’t possibly argue against it.

Also, if anyone asks you to name one thing that makes JK Rowling a raging fascist TERF, thanks to this video, you can just point to her promise to use her wealth to shield Kellie-Jay Keen.

Fortunately, it’s mainly just the guy talking, so play it on your headphones like it’s a podcast while you get other stuff done.