Science Is Polluted By Sexism

“What priceless treasures of human potential are being lost to science because men in positions of power are unzippering their libidinal urges?” asks the excellent article, The Sexism Problem, by female scientist Margaret Wertheim.
how_it_works

From website xkcd.com https://xkcd.com/385/

As a college freshman, I, myself, was interested in STEM fields. I took calculus, physics, logic design, chemistry. I had excelled in these areas in high school and taken extra STEM electives. I learned too late that an academic advisor had signed me up for remedial physics instead of the physics classes needed to advance further in the sciences. All of my college courses were taught by men. My classes ranged from majority male students to almost 100% male students. I definitely…. stood out.
 
Since my environment and the people who surround me are important to me, and I was unable to feel comfortable in the STEM classrooms, I looked for fields with more women and less obvious discrimination. I drifted to languages and helping professions.
 
I am so happy to have an education in languages and social work, but I always will wonder what would have happened if my initial interests had met with a welcoming environment.

Queer Masculinity and Misogyny

I am so happy the insightful and brilliant writer Katie Barnes took on this topic in her article On Queered Masculinity and Misogyny for Feministing. In a lot of queer spaces you can’t talk about this because masculine women and other masc-presenting people assigned female at birth are more visibly queer than femme women. So they get more shit from straights, but they get more recognition and celebration amongst queers for that visibility. Double-edged and confusing sword there.

Because of that visible queerness, for which they are oppressed, it feels like we can’t talk about the way some queer masculinity uses misogyny to prop itself up. This Is How To Be Masculine. This Is What You Do. You need to denigrate, sexualize, objectify, condescend to, trivialize and mock femininity. The outside world may oppress you, but in your queer world, you can now oppress femmes and get your power back.

Here is what Barnes experienced:

It became more important for me to be read as masculine, and so I performed masculinity in the ways that I had been taught through media, my friends, and my family. I would often open doors for women, offer to carry items for them, and openly objectify women with my father and brother, because I was one of the bros after all and this was what bros did.

She goes on to own up to other excellent examples from her own experiences, which she takes apart and examines with excellent self-reflection.

I guess this kind of critique could sound like tired old critiques of the butch-femme dynamic. I don’t want to do that. I am not critiquing anyone’s gender identity or presentation or roles, because FREEDOM & Taste The Rainbow. So no, I am not trying to rehash old bashes of butch-femme identity. Also there is no need for #NotAllMascQueers. No need.

I am just saying queer masc misogyny is still misogyny, it is still patriarchal and male-supremacist, and it still hurts women and femmes. End transmission.

Word of the Day: Grunch

A page on the Geek Feminism Wiki defines a grunch as one of those little moments that just causes all of your illusions of being seen as an equal to fall apart.

From an outstanding article by Tim Chevalier about programming, women and sexism, entitled How To Exclude Women Without Really Trying. Read it!

Here is just a taste:

Countering sexism requires courage and (in Samuel Delany’s words) moral stamina. It is work that largely needs to be done by men, since men who tacitly believe that women aren’t quite human are hardly going to listen to women’s opinions on the subject.

Male Senator from Wisconsin Is Expert On Women’s Natural Stupidity & Sneakiness

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn GrothmanWisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman is an unusually intelligent man. And we both know that men are usually intelligent.

How intelligent is he? Let me count the ways.

1. He authored a bill to label single parenthood “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” 31% of children in his state live in single parent homes.

2. He blames single parenthood on “the choice of the women”.

3. He identifies the government of making the “single motherhood lifestyle” desirable. (What about single fathers? Well, they’re men, so there’s no need to criticize them.)

4. He illuminates that women actually don’t have unplanned pregnancies. They just lie and say the pregnancies were unplanned. Because they’re women. Lying’s what they do.

5. He draws the fine line that women are dumb enough not to know that it’s hard to be a single parent, but smart enough to have a country-wide conspiracy to lie about their covertly-planned unplanned pregnancies for reasons that they have as of yet not revealed. No word yet on single fathers or the baby daddies of these nefarious single mothers. Which is probably because these smart-stupid single ladies have found a way to reproduce that doesn’t even involve men, meaning that we are only a short journey away from a dystopian future of feminazi fascism and male slavery.

Why do I think I hear the infamous welfare queen lurking behind his words?

Liking Indie Music Does Not Make You A Good Person

A recent Guardian article repeats the misperception that somehow indie music and its fans are more progressive and less sexist than other genres of music.

I am here to tell you, not so. Lived experience and whatnot.

Or, for the sake of a fun example in the empirical world, read this article about how there are more review writers named Mark than women at famed indie music review site Pitchfork. Or this one about the, ahem, “special” language that male Pitchfork reviewers use when discussing female artists.

Hipster Kitty Loves Pitchfork

Via Her $5 Radio.

Never Treat Your Girlfriend Better than You Treat Your Wife

Democratic Alabama State Senator Hank SandersWhat’s not to like about this opinion piece in the Selma Times-Journal, written by Democratic Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders? My personal favorite part is using the wife-girlfriend dichotomy to symbolize the “home-grown industry” versus the “new industry”. Rhetorical genius.

I would suggest that this article is offensive towards women, but by its very nature, Sanders indicates that the Selma Times-Journal has no female readers, and therefore there are no women to offend.

Oh, and what is it that riled Sanders sufficiently to write such a rousing polemic against Alabama governor Bob Riley? Riley’s treatment of Bush Hog, “the world’s most successful” manufacturer of rotary cutters for clearing land. So you can imagine that emotions are running high and the only way Sanders could express the true tenor of his feelings is incredibly derogatory language against women.

h/t Drew

Gender-tastic!

Meeting a beautiful woman can be bad for your health, scientists have found.

IT’S SCIENCE!(tm)

Oh yeah? Whose health? All people? Bad for other beautiful women? Bad for whom?

Oh, right. Bad for men. Who are the only ones who read the news, and therefore addressing all news readers as though they are men is totally appropriate. Also, these male readers must all be straight, since it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to assume gay men may not have the same feelings about women as straight men.

But remember people, IT’S SCIENCE!

Is it the existence of an attractive woman that is bad for men’s health, or is it society’s and men’s unhealthy attitudes about women that trigger men’s supposedly negative health reactions?

Obviously, this is something that women are deliberately doing to men, to harm them. We women are deliberately attractive to men as a gigantic plot to destroy them. The University of Valencia in Spain, where this study was conducted, has finally outed our massive, world-encompassing secret! Women are nefarious by nature and can never be trusted.

Bonus info: Apparently in Germany, this news was an even bigger hit, and the headlines are even worse. For example:

Schöne Frauen sind schlecht fürs Herz (Beautiful Women Are Bad for Your Heart)

Nachrichten : Schaden Schöne Frauen Der Gesundheit? (Do Beautiful Women Harm Your Health?)

Schöne Frau, gestresster Mann (Beautiful Woman, Stressed Out Man)


Schöne Frauen stressen
(Beautiful Women Are Stressful)

The Exciting Times v.5

So much news, so little time!

Grassroots Oil Clean-up Efforts
Seeing a complete lack of action on the part of the US government or BP, some Louisiana residents take control as oil washes ashore. Some even commandeered idle BP-hired boats!

Men, Masculinities, and Peacebuilding
Gender Across Borders discusses an awesome new manual for men against violence and sexism. International case studies included!

Drug bust or racist revenge for Louisiana Jena 6 victory?
Uh oh.

At 4 a.m. on July 9, 2009, more than 150 officers from 10 different agencies gathered in a large barn just outside Jena, Louisiana. The day was the culmination of an investigation that Sheriff Scott Franklin said had been going on for nearly two years. Local media was invited, and a video of the Sheriff speaking to the rowdy gathering would later appear online.

The Sheriff called the mobilization “Operation Third Option,” and he said it was about fighting drugs. However, community members say that Sheriff Franklin’s actions are part of an orchestrated revenge for the local civil rights protests that won freedom for six Black high school students – known internationally as the Jena Six – who had been charged with attempted murder for a school fight.

One thing is clear: The Sheriff spent massive resources. Yet officers seized no contraband. Together with District Attorney Reed Walters, Sheriff Franklin has said he is seeking maximum penalties for people charged with small-time offenses. Further, in a parish that is 85 percent white, his actions have almost exclusively targeted African Americans.

Conservatives Scared of Imagined “Terrorist Transvestites”

Rob Long, at the Wall Street Journal, is concerned that the world may no longer be able to protect itself from terrorist transvestites.

His hilarious fear stems from a UN report notable for its nuance and sensitivity towards people who find themselves marginalized due to their gender expression.

Martin Scheinin, UN Special Rapporteur, wrote a report for the UN General Assembly titled “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”.

In it, he makes ‘controversial’ statements like:

Gender is not synonymous with women but rather encompasses the social constructions that underlie how women’s and men’s roles, functions and responsibilities, including in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, are defined and understood. This report will therefore identify the gendered impact of counter-terrorism measures both on women and men, as well as the rights of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. As a social construct, gender is also informed by, and intersects with, various other means by which roles, functions and responsibilities are perceived and practiced, such as race, ethnicity, culture, religion and class. Consequently, gender is not static; it is changeable over time and across contexts. Understanding gender as a social and shifting construct rather than as a biological and fixed category is important because it helps to identify the complex and inter-related gender-based human rights violations caused by counterterrorism measures; to understand the underlying causes of these violations; and to design strategies for countering terrorism that are truly non-discriminatory and inclusive of all actors.

Continue reading

Pennsylvania-Style Misogyny

Hey, haven’t had enough woman-hating in your day?  How about a little tried-and-true misogyny, NEPA (Northeastern Pennsylvania) style, thoughtfully published in a major (relatively-speaking) Wilkes-Barre, PA newspaper called the Times Leader:

James HolevaThink of the cash your parents are laying down for your “education” as an unlimited account to the Bunny Ranch. If you have trouble charming chicks, that means it’s time for a little sorostitution. You won’t have to worry about c–k blocking yourself with meaningless chit-chat in the presence of sorority girls. They’re usually too wasted to require any sort of legitimate connection.

…All sororities invite a few less attractive girls to pledge in order to make the hotties feel better about themselves. The Ugly Sister will be available and vulnerable.

Written by someone named James Holeva. AH! His name is uncomfortably similar to mine. If you, ahem, enjoyed his article, he invites you to contact him at his facebook page.  If Facebook is accurate, you can see him depicted on the right.

I’m kind of in shock that a legitimate newspaper published that bullshit.  Not okay.  If you want to contact the Times Leader, you can do so here.

Female Afghani MPs Fight Religious Oppression

“These people use Sharia and Islam as an instrument to weaken women’s rights,” says lawmaker [Shinkai] Karokhel.

“In no country in the world can you find spiritual leaders holding such power over a parliament,” says [MP Fatima] Narzari.

Using religion to consolidate your power and oppressing women to control society? These warlord MPs are so original.

Whenever lawmaker Fatima Nazari rose to speak, she says the parliament’s chair snubbed her. Whenever one of her female colleagues made a suggestion, it was brushed aside.

…So Nazari, who represents Kabul province, and almost all other female Afghan MPs banded together and proposed a resolution, asking parliament’s leadership to stop the discrimination. It was ignored.

Female lawmakers say that they are still largely excluded from the political process in Afghanistan, where widespread religious fundamentalism and deep-seated cultural conservatism still pose big challenges to women’s advancement.

…Due to strong international pressure, Afghanistan has one of the highest percentages of female lawmakers in the world. The Afghan constitution mandates that two seats in every province be set aside for women, meaning that 64 of the 249 lawmakers, or more than a quarter, are female.

I am impressed with these women, who surely are at some personal risk for daring to speak out against warlords and religious extremists. I hope that over time, by supporting one another and banding together against the misogynist MPs, they are able to gain a louder voice and get some of the tasks done that they deem important. Read the rest at Anand Gopal Global Dispatches

40 Lashes for 75yo Woman

CNN:

Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a 75-year-old Syrian woman to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from the kingdom for having two unrelated men in her house…

One of the men Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi had raised from infancy as her own son. The other was his friend. They were at her house delivering bread.

What shocking abuse of power by the religious police, sanctioned by a theocratic government. However, the people aren’t taking this silently anymore.

“It’s made everybody angry because this is like a grandmother,” Saudi women’s rights activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider told CNN. “Forty lashes — how can she handle that pain? You cannot justify it.”

…The actions of the religious police have come under increased scrutiny in Saudi Arabia recently, as more and more Saudis urge that the commission’s powers be limited.

I see this as hardly about religion in actuality. This is about control of a populace through fear, using religion as a justification. Which is what I believe any theocracy will look like.

Al Huwaider had great thoughts on this matter: “This is the problem with the religious police, watching people and thinking they’re bad all the time. It has nothing to do with religion. It’s all about control. And the more you spread fear among people, the more you control them.”

Indeed. That is why my liberation and her liberation, while surrounded by such different material circumstances, are bound together. Control and debasement of women is a tool used by corrupted power around the world. Whether in Saudi Arabia or America or elsewhere, women who refuse to be controlled and who insist that they are full human beings are a threat to the powers-that-be and a force for change.

Domestic, outspoken anger and international outrage have forced pardons in cruel anti-woman cases before, so let’s try and muster our outrage again!

Study Claims Palin’s Appearance Hurt Her Electability

Does this study strike anyone else as weird? Did Palin’s looks hurt?.

How many studies have there been of the effects of male politician’s looks on their success? And didn’t this study basically simply determine that being female hurt her electability? Why wasn’t McCain’s appearance tested in the same way?

And what’s with the Angelina Jolie part of the experiment?

Also, one obvious flaw is that the researchers are drawing universal conclusions based on what a group of college students, presumably all at the same college, think about Palin. What college students think and what everyone else thinks may not always correlate. Anyway, what are your thoughts on this study?

It’s the Poverty, Stupid

Buried within a lengthy article last week in the NYT about the menace to society presented by a group of middle-aged, single women raising children without fathers, are some interesting tidbits about poverty and single mothers.

Since the mid-1990s, in England, Susan Golombok of the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge has been conducting a longitudinal study of middle-class single mothers. She is comparing the children of 38 two-parent heterosexual couples with those of 25 lesbian couples and 38 single mothers. Most of the mothers have a university degree and a professional or managerial job.

When the children turned 12, Golombok measured their emotional and behavioral development, school adjustment, peer relationships and self-esteem and found no differences among the groups. That held true in the latest round of interviews with the kids, who are now 18.

That’s not what I’ve been hearing from social conservatives, demographic winter types, or the religious right! Perhaps no one has told them of this research. Continue reading

Macho Christ

Mars Hill

The New York Times has a big story on the Mars Hill church in Seattle, led by fiery hipster pastor Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is a born-again evangelical who got way into Calvinism. Apparently, he has struck upon a method to draw crowds of nontraditional Christians in secular Seattle: by painting an image of a Macho Christ!

New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

…God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

…Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.”

How cutting-edge! A Christian leader who mocks women and gay people. I love how Driscoll puts down other brands of Christianity by hinting that they are effeminate and queer. Nice one! *High fives Driscoll*

What does this remind me of? Oh yeah, the taunts of a schoolyard bully.

The only reason I can see that the NYT is painting this as something “new” is that the church attendees have tattoos and dyed hair. Or did I miss something profound?

Campbell Brown Holds Hillary Accountable

Obama’s speechwriter, Jon Favreau, had a little Facebook snafu. A picture of him at a party cupping the breast of a cardboard cut-out of Hillary got posted – uh oh!

The Clinton camp reaction? “Sen. Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon’s obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application,” Clinton aide Philippe Reines told the Washington Post. (from CNN)

Well, Campbell Brown, host of CNN’s No Bias. No Bull. political talk show and avid critic of sexism in politics had a little something to say about this flippant response.

Check out the video here.

Political Correctness

I l-o-v-e it when people agree with me! Hearts out to A Truly Elegant Mess, a blog that recently posted the amazing bit Who wakes up and says, “I wish I could be oppressed too”?.

My favorite part:

As far as this idea of “politically correct” (scare quotes intended) as code for “uptight” or “restrictive,” I don’t see why it is so important to some people to be allowed to use words that create an othering effect of specific groups. One thing that must be put out there right now: complaining about being forced to be “PC” is, in essence, complaining that you can’t be a racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic douchenozzle without there being consequences.

Agreed. I have this train of thought often. I hear people gripe about the expectation to be “PC”, implying that somehow their freedom of expression is cramped, or that it gets in the way of honestly expressing themselves. Well, here’s the thing. Being PC is about respecting all people equally. Specifically, it is about not using terms that traditionally oppressed or marginalized groups find offensive. Using such terms is typically (though not always) something that a privileged group does, with the intended or unintended effect of reinforcing oppressive social structures.

You don’t have to be PC – you don’t have to treat anyone with respect either. But there are, and should be, consequences if you decide to treat certain groups with disrespect by using insulting terms towards them. If your honest feelings towards a group of (traditionally oppressed) people is one of inferiority, feel free to be honest. Like all moments of honesty, if the truth is painful, people will react. So complaining about being PC is like Dori from the above post says: it’s complaining that you can’t be a bigot without some degree of public censure. Allow me to join you in a big Boo Hoo.

Perhaps you’ve always been accustomed to using certain terms amongst your peer group that you realize get a bad reaction when used outside of that group. For example, certain words you use to describe blacks while in your all-white circle of friends don’t fly when the group is racially-mixed. I would suggest to think this one over. If POC find the terms offensive, why use them at all? Especially when out of earshot of people of color? The fact that we would use certain terms when in an all-white (or all-male or etc) group but not in a mixed group demonstrates that we know the difference between offensive and inoffensive remarks, but we still resort to insulting terms when we think it’s safe.

I have this suggestion. Why not use only terms that you would be unashamed to use in any social situation, regardless of the make-up of the group? Particularly for those of us who belong to social groups that have a lot of privilege, why not respect those who don’t? Why actively participate in white supremacy, male dominance, heteronormativity, etc? This is a relatively easy form of rebellion against social inequalities… give it a go!