If I could stop time

When asked if I could do anything what would it be, my answer is quite simple.

I would like to stop time.

I would keep time on pause at a specific moment where I was the happiest. Each one of us has these moments where time slows and the world becomes a faded image in the face of what makes your insides glow. To pause the clock and examine the moment from every angle, to better commit it to memory, would be the ultimate ability.

If we all stopped to appreciate a single moment in time for the simple beauty it holds…

Well, you decide what that experience would do to who you are.

2cp

Of Bridges and Bombs

Saskatoon Police reopened a bridge after a report of a mysterious case beside a heavily trafficked bridge. I laughed at the absurdity of this for a while until my brain actually started to think.

It’s good to be vigilant in todays day and age. We have to go to these lengths to protect ourselves due to the seemingly random bomb attacks of extremists. I blame religion for this kind of paranoia. Had the pious decided to work together instead of killing each other with random acts of violence we would not be in fear of attack. Times past the atrocities in other countries would be meaningless and distant. Today the global media has brought these acts into our living rooms every night to remind us that people are killing one another every moment in horrific manners while we are sitting there eating a T.V. dinner. I get sick when I watch the news during dinner making the meal unappetizing to say the least. I should patent that as a weight loss program and make millions. Try to eat a chocolate bar when watching 10 people get vaporized by a roadside bomb, or an infidels head get cut off for not praying at the right time. I bet you can’t.

Scenes like this are on our screens every night.

There are Canadians who blow stuff up without religious motivation. However, I would not fear being in a public place and getting obliterated by these extremists. If I was a pipeline, I may think differently (if at all).

Would you be more afraid of this scene if the person was holding a copy of the bible or Mein Kampf?

The enemy of peace has changed but the fear will never go away. During the crusades one might fear a man holding a bible and a weapon. The 20th century world wars had the Nazi’s threatening to conquer the world. Today, we have Islam attempting the take over the world. Fanatics such as the one above will not rest until everyone bows down to Allah. Everyone else is to die. I do not believe this is a universal Islamic way of thinking, however it is allowed to occur without any serious opposition which implicates the entire religion for the crimes committed by the few. The “moderate” Islamic people fear reprisal on themselves and their families from these ignorant fools as much or more than the rest of western civilizations. I believe that is why they remain as silent as they are. Governments also fear the Islamic terror machine going as far as to destroy a man’s career for drawing a political cartoon featuring Mohammed. These creatures are adept at keeping the rest of civilization on their toes. Every so often they change the rules of the game just enough to create panic in societies thousands of kilometers away.

As the Joker said:

Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!”

So true.

2cp

Libya television station under siege

I want to warn you, the following video is disturbing. A reporter at al-Libiyah channel has decided to fight the rebels if they attempt to take over the state-run television station.

“With this weapon, I either kill or die today, you will not take al-Libiyah channel. You won’t take Jamahiriyah channel, Shababiyah channel, Tripoli or all of Libya, and even those without a weapon are willing to be a shield in order to protect their colleagues at this channel. We are willing to become martyrs.” (translation courtesy of  Al-Jazeera)

When will these people learn that bloodshed is not the answer? Life is more important than a silly television station. I can’t help draw parallels to the coveted position of martyrdom that is promoted by Islam. But how could being killed defending an oppressive state-run television station constitute martyrdom? This is not a noble act.

Libya NEEDS reform. Bottom line is the dictator Gaddafi must be removed from power.

Please Mrs Reporter Lady, put down the gun and stand aside. Your life is not worth losing over your job. I beg you, lay down your arms.

2cp

Mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be Fundamentalist Christians

For all those interested, the following story is worth reading. http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/new-bethany-ifb-teen-homes-abuse

When I was young I went to a bible camp. I can say it was nothing like what Kathryn Joyce wrote about, per say. I think the worst I had to endure, other than the constant Christian subliminal brainwashing, was the milk served at meals. Every meal came with a glass of powdered milk. Every drop had to be consumed or you where not allowed to leave the table. I wonder what was in that “milk”.

Archie and the Gang are up to no good. Tune in next time when Jughead eats all the wafers.

I nearly died in that camp as well. The camp was located next to a lake and there were daily swimming sessions which were monitored by an adult. When walking along the bottom of the section designated for swimming I lost my footing and went under water. Luckily I was pulled out, resuscitated and proceeded to cough out water.

Still, nothing I can relate to compares to the horror that these young women go through. Young girls may rebel, may fight and swear, but no one deserves this torture. I you know someone who is currently rebelling, help them. Just talking about issues may actually accomplish something. Refer them to secular counselling that will look at what is actually going on, rather than attempting to exorcise demons.

If you know of a parent who is thinking of sending their child to a place like this, forward them this article. Hopefully they cringe and decide to see professional help as opposed to spiritual help.

2cp

Women’s equality. Am I privileged?

I am a man. I scratch what itches. I belch on occasion after a beer or several large meat sandwiches. I grow moderate amounts of facial hair to which I must shave off once a week to maintain my youthful visage. I like guns but not hunting. I think anything covered in barbeque sauce is instantly better similar to everything becoming that much more awesome the second you add more power or give the item power. Power rakes for example are sweet but are even sweeter when you hook it up to an alcohol fuelled race car engine. I even sit on the couch with my hand in the waist of my pants (I believe this is an evolutionary behaviour as it resembles protecting genitalia from harm by, for example, a pouncing dog, and true story).

Even I dress up some days.

So when I read that women are going to have their own secular conference , naturally I think, Fantastic. I bet you thought I was going to object. Anyone who says women should not have their own voice should not consider themselves human. Women are still emerging from under the heel of the boots of man and they should be expressing themselves in a venue that is geared towards their safety and solidarity.

Being that I am a thorough skeptic, I started to think. Is this conference the right idea? Does this conference have the unexpected side effect of division? After a 4-6 hour conversation with Flora on the subject while I drove across Canada (I lost track of time driving through Saskatchewan which was fantastic!), I felt that this may not be the best venue for discussion women’s rights in a secular community if the goal is to achieve an understanding between the sexes. Flora likened the conference to the human rights rallies associated with racial amalgamation. She inferred that a “Women in Secularism” conference was a venue to strategize and come up with a plan to deal with the sexism issue as a group of like-minded people (men are able to attend this conference as well). I was unconvinced. Are women somewhat special in the Secular community as to deserve special treatment that their male colleagues are not privy to? A simple solution would be to apply ideology expressed in modern professionalism to the attendees of any conference regardless of topic. Outlawing hook-ups at after parties is not the answer to indecent proposals at conferences. Adults should be treated like adults as long as they demonstrate respect. If they want to go off and have consenting sex then by all means. Why should I care?

I can see the side effects of separation and division associated with this conference that may have a ring of truth even if I don’t mirror the philosophy in my own dealings with women. I can see why the males of the community are upset; this meeting has an unfounded yet real feeling of guilt associated with it. Are we all misogynistic? I don’t think so, but shame resonated within me anyway.

In the event that we are going to blame males for all the ills regarding female treatment I would like to point out that it does take two to tango and, unless otherwise proven, both parties should be conscious of their actions when in a high-profile position. I am not implying that women are asking for this treatment but rather some women don’t want anything to change based on their actions. Similarly, some men are extremely sexist. That being said, I prefer to presume innocence of males until proven guilty, as there are plenty of good men out there who are subject to this “privilege” label that we, frankly, cannot comprehend. Either we are ignorant to the issue that we are apart of or not involved at all. The Winnipeg Skeptical community celebrates its equal representation of women and men by not drawing any attention to it, making sexism in their community a nonissue. It’s interesting to gossip but entirely boring to talk about at length, in my opinion, at one of our gatherings. We would much rather discuss diet and Dr.Oz quackery of the month. I am not saying that misogyny does not exist; rather it is outside this particular community’s comprehension.

Also, if this is a Secular conference for women’s rights in the secular community, why is this only community labelled with this issue? Is this not the main topic in all communities of a similar nature as of late? Should the CFI (Center for Inquiry) really be only promoting Women in Secularism or should they also include Atheism, Skepticism and humanism representatives?

And USB storage device manufacturers apparently

An article on this very subject was read to me by Flora as I drove. You can read it here. I understand that the dog, in this analogy, could not have a concept of cold with such a large fur coat. But I also feel that the Lizard did not communicate her discomfort with enough of an assertive tone for the dog to understand. I also think the lizard could bridge the gap between the dog and herself by utilizing education and experience. The lizard should have engaged the dog in an open discussion with the goal of finding a solution (not that she didn’t try but she managed to allow herself to be suppressed). I fully believe a solution could have been found so this story would have a happy ending.

My happy ending would consist of the understanding between both parties that they cannot exist with one another without compromise. For example, the lizard could have used the dog’s hair to make a coat to keep her warm (assuming the lizard can obtain enough heat to maintain its body temperature, as lizards are cold-blooded and need a heat source at all times to survive). Women are not cold-blooded, even if their feet are constantly freezing, so I feel the Lizard may have been a poor choice of animal by the author. I would have chosen a dog of equal size but having no fur. I would also make them, for the sake of the analogy genderless, as gender adds a dynamic that is unnecessary to the point. But a lizard was used so I will run with it. Removing the fur of the dog would have an interesting side effect. The dog would be able to experience cold! The temperature would have to rise to keep the dog warm. By working together to come to a solution both parties would not have the perfect arrangement but they would both be morally better off. The lizard would function normally in her new coat and the dog would gain some respect with a much-needed haircut. He may even be able to find a job and build the lizard her own desired biome within the house.

Women are marginalized by men. This is a fact. But it does not have to be the norm.

I can’t help feeling that “Elevator Gate” had something to do with a “Women in Secularism” conference. Not that it makes a difference what was the catalyst, as it is a topic that should be discussed, but undesired as the whole fiasco is and how sick of talking about it people are, it has made a real and lasting impact on the secular, atheist and skeptical communities. Nerds of the world have been forced to mature, socially, nearly overnight making the opposition to the change so powerful as to excrete ignorance. Do you blame them for their ignorant actions? Yes. I think though that all hope is not lost.

In response to the Elevator gate scandal JREF had implemented a zero tolerance policy at this years TAM9 in Las Vegas which was talked about by D.J. Grothe in a statement which said:

“We want TAM Las Vegas 2011 to be a welcoming experience for everyone who attends . . .

 Please respect your fellow attendees by not disparaging them based on unfair grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability; and by not making uninvited sexual comments toward others.

 If someone asks you to leave them alone or to otherwise stop a behavior that is directed toward them, please do so. Continued unwanted behavior directed toward another person is harassment. People who harass others or cause multiple complaints of disrespectful behavior may be required to leave without a refund. 

 Problems can be reported to TAM staff or volunteers who will bring it to the attention of JREF management. A warning will be given when appropriate, but there will be zero tolerance for violence, physical intimidation, and unwanted intentional physical contact.”

 My personal belief is this should be a standard clause in the rule book of conferences. The CFI would do well if they adopted this mentality for all the conferences they put on. Women should feel welcome and accepted in a group dedicated to the acquisition of knowledge for the betterment of mankind. I put the word “mankind” in there for a reason and to demonstrate a point about how we think as a society.

It was not until the Khitomer accord that the United Federation of Planets (UFP) included all races and denominations in their slogan “To boldly go where no man has gone before”. The slogan was changed after the peace treaty when inducting another powerful race into the UFP to “To boldly go where no one has gone before” and rightly so. Neil Armstrong stated the famous phrase “That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.” when stepping onto the surface of the moon. I wonder if that iconic statement would have had a different impact on how women are viewed today if it was more inclusive. Neil perhaps did not state these iconic words in such a way as to offend women, but he would have to confirm this assertion with me to be sure. This is an indicator that we (as a civilization) should also be looking at the everyday devices that we overlook to see if we too can be more inclusive. “Onekind” is awkward to say at best. “Everyone” sounds much better and has the added effect of being inclusive to, for lack of a better word, everyone. Humanity works just as well.

I hope everyone wakes up, as we are all to blame for the faults of our culture. I feel that we, as men, have plenty to gain from the women in our lives if we only just listen. Segregation or special accommodation is never the answer. Thinking of humanity in boys vs. girls, gays vs. straights, Able bodied vs. handicapped (I prefer “differently abled” as it does not degrade the worth of this group of people) or us vs. them has never and will never lead to the betterment of humanity. Only by working together and sharing ideas can the Homosapian species bring the walls of the chasm close enough together to enable bridges to be built. Eventually the canyon representing the separation of people’s will be nothing more than a footnote in the history books.

If I can change so can you. I am a person. I scratch what itches. I belch on occasion after a beer or….

2cp

Of note: An amazing woman in my life instilled in me two concepts; the ends don’t justify the means and respect the women in your life. I hold both truths close to my chest, the latter being deserved until proven otherwise. I also go one step farther and respect the humanity in my life, unless proven otherwise. I cannot blindly follow the rules. In this case, the rules which state women are the weaker sex grossly are incorrect, which just so happens to be another lesson this woman taught me. Thanks Mom!

Where is the objective morality?

My recent evenings have been spent at my computer logged into a Christian chat room. I recently viewed a video on Youtube promoting this chat room as the atheists defeat zone, the narrator exclaimed that Atheists have lost 31 debates, in a row, to the theists of this chat room. Challenge accepted.

And he has fricken laser beams that shoot out of his eyes! Evolution Win!

Being a curious cat, ever ready to punce on something shiny, I clicked the links and logged in. I was immedatly bombarded with “Atheists have sex with goats” and other derivitives of the concept of beastiality. A fellow by the screen name of American Christian proclaimed “This is the reason I will never ask an atheist to look after my dog.”

The conversation was based on objective morality being proof of a god. The theists argued that god gives morality and therefore anyone not subject to gods “law” would be free to do whatever they want including rape, torture, murder, theft etc. without consequence or rational thought. To a theist, objective morality falls under the umbrella of God and without belief in the almighty dictator a person is incapable of being objectivly moral.

With garlic butter.... /drool

I argued that a belief in god is not a requirement nor is it recommended to be objectively moral. I cited the many immoral people who believe in god far exceed those that do not in federal prisons. I also argued that morality is a product of civilization.

Bottom line, Religion does not make you moral. Morality is a product of social pressure. What is perfectly moral in the middle east, could be considered completely atrocious here in North America (ex. Women being stoned for adultery, female genital mutilation, arranged marriages, etc.) and vise versa (ex. Eating pork, Pornography, bikinis , etc.). Morality is a philosophical manifestation of social norms and has demonstrated that neither a God or humanity has the slightest clue as to the proper interpretation of the rules of objectivity.

The conversations then turned when a man by the screen name of Nephilimfree decided to exclaim that “science has disproved evolution!” He then went on to babble for nearly half an hour citing every creationist unsubstantiated claim he could in support of a god created world. He then posted several articles where he quote mined the first paragraph, which was meant to sensationalize the actual study, which stated that “Hundreds of natural selection studies could be wrong.” This character refused to stop talking and allow an opposing view point to come into the discussion. He repeatedly kicked a speaker off of the microphone with his abused moderator privileges.

Plugs ears "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!"

Yesterday, I came across this story in which a man killed his 4 year old boy under suspicion that he was a homosexual and a 28 year old woman for being infertile. Both these killings were done in the name of christianity and ultimately a personal god.

At least the fish get fed, right?

I asked what these christians thought about this man. They said it was gods will or something to that effect. To be fair, one person said it was wrong and he should be punished by law. Christians are not all bad. Just most of the crazy ones are.

Paying dues

The PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada) has taken it upon themselves to recruit a new group of people to the unionized world: post-doctoral fellows. A call to all has gone out to sign a letter to President and Vice-Chancellor Amit Chakma to show your support for 35 “workers” at the University of Western Ontario.

Let’s read the letter shall we:

“I am writing to support Postdoctoral Associates at the University of Western Ontario and urge you to negotiate a fair contract with these workers as soon as possible.

Postdoctoral Associates at UWO have some of the worst working conditions on campus.

These highly-educated scholars do cutting edge research for UWO and have been trying for two years to negotiate a first collective agreement with the university.

Now, after 24 months at the bargaining table, postdocs are being told that they deserve to earn not even $1 an hour above the minimum wage in Ontario. It is shameful that the university is offering a guaranteed salary of only $25,000 per year for a 44-hour work week. That’s only $10.93 an hour, just 68 cents above the minimum wage – and $21.57 an hour less than UWO pays its Teaching Assistants, who are graduate students!

I am appalled to hear that UWO wants to deny postdocs the basic rights and working conditions that are enjoyed by all other full-time employees of the university. The Postdoctoral Associates are asking for a decent benefits plan, reasonable rules to govern overtime pay and an adequate number of sick days.

Faculty, administrative staff and tradespeople at UWO have access to a full extended health care plan, including prescription drug, dental and vision care benefits; overtime after 37.5 or 40 hours in a week; family-related leave; and up to 15 weeks of sick leave.

Postdoctoral Associates are asking only for working conditions on par with other employees on campus. After spending more than a decade earning at least three academic degrees, these workers deserve fair treatment and reasonable compensation.

I urge you to negotiate a fair contract for Postdoctoral Associates at UWO.” 

AHHHH!! AHHH!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagghhughguhugh-flurble!

Neat. Not only is the union being disingenuous, but they are misleading the public to think that there is an issue here. For the layman, a postdoc is a recent graduate of a PhD program who is working towards an academic career. Post doc positions usually last one to two years and is then followed by a professorship running a research program and teaching or other bigger and better things. To be clear, this is not a permanent position.

Post docs are like Higgs Boson particles. No one's quite sure what they are, we know they're there because of the work they do, and when you do get a hold of one, they're gone before you're able to study them.

First, postdocs are salary workers, with open hours. To calculate this as an hourly wage is not accurate – post-docs show up when they want, go home when they want, and work as hard as they would like. If they want to work a 80 hour work week (as one of our friends was prone to doing) they are welcome to. If they want to go see a movie in the middle of the day (as another had a propensity for), go for it! Furthermore, to compare this salary to the TA hourly wage is apples to oranges. Teaching assistants are a part time job and are there to supplement the grad student income (in Flora’s department, grad students make $15-17k a year), while taking a load off the professor. Representing the information as “less than TAs make” implies that the TAs are making 3x as much as post-docs, which is not the case at all.

The wage referred to in this letter is the university’s minimum standard to allow post docs to live more comfortably than they did as grad students. Please note, however, that it is not the money the university is paying, but rather, the guaranteed minimum for post-docs negotiating a contract with the principle investigator (PI, the professor who runs the lab) they’re working under. This monetary value is also variable by department – although the university standard may be a certain number, many departments choose to exceed this in order to attract students to the program. Most important to note is that this salary is paid, not be the university, but the post doc’s supervisor. This money comes out of the PI’s operating budget, the majority of which is federal and provincial research grants. The university is only creating the minimum code, and any department, institution or PI are welcome to create their own standards which exceed that minimum.

Also not forthcoming in this letter is the fact that the majority of postdocs receive grants and funding from other sources, which again, exceed the university’s minimum. These funding sources are not guaranteed, of course, as they are competitive. The student must apply to different organizations and win this funding, based on their research accolades and academic merit. However, these awards are common and pay reasonably well. The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s post-doctoral fellowship award is a $40k/annum stipend for two years. The Big Three federal funding bodies (CIHR/NSERC/SSHRC) offer prestigious awards ranging from $50-70k/annum. All other post doc awards that I’m aware of remain in the $35-80k/annum range. All of these awards are non-taxable. For those of you playing along at home, by the union’s arbitrary calculations, that’s $15-35/hour for a 44 hour work week. Fortunate graduate students with independent funding get $7. Fuck off.

From Piled Higher and Deeper

Of course, it’s not just about the money. Post docs are fellowships. This means that they are independent to the University but still hold the title of student. Like other professions (Medical, engineering, etc.) a graduate does not receive full accreditation to practice their discipline until they can prove their competence in practical application. Engineering, for example, requires a person to work for four years under a qualified engineer before they can stamp drawings. For the four years, the individual enters a fellowship with the Engineering firm where they receive nominal pay and training on all aspects of their discipline. Science is the same way. During this time, the post doc learns new techniques they can apply to their own future research program, gains practical independent research experience, and buffs their publications and awards record. It is nearly impossible to begin your own research program without one, and recent university cutbacks have lead many talented academics to do multiple post-docs to pad their CV sufficiently to receive an academic position.

Pictured: Flora, Circa 2016

Entering a contract with a Union as a post doc could be detrimental to their careers. Science in Canada is struggling as it is, with the Conservative government clawing back funding in all sectors of research, making money availability tighter than ever. PIs with well established research programs, doing ground breaking research are losing major funding sources. 30 years ago, the top 25% of funding applications were funded – now 10% is the norm. Not only would demanding more money out of the pockets of PIs result in them being unable to hire post-docs, but it hurts the post-docs themselves. If you are unhappy with your university’s minimum standard, it is your job to make yourself an attractive applicant for funding. Coddling post-docs and saying there, there, you can have $40k a year too without needing to work hard utterly defeats the point of the post doc (padding your CV), and shoots them in the foot for when they do gain an academic position. If you do not know how to obtain funding as a post doc, life only gets harder as a professor. Funding is based on your hard work and initiative, as it should be. The university’s minimum salary is there to prevent PIs from forcing post docs into slavery. I would be shocked if a significant number of post docs ever received such a salary, as even the “bad” funding sources seem to give $40k/annum.

Let’s also be clear that if the postdoc wanted more money, they could work in the private sector rather than for the university. Research is a tough world – everyone in academia knows this. Graduate students are drilled over and over again – funding is hard to get. Research is hard to do. It does not pay well, you will have no outside life. Most prominent researchers who talk to students actively discourage them from pursing science, unless they really, really love doing it. Grad students are prepared for the ups and downs of their academic future. These people are there because they want to be there and money is not and should not be a factor.

From Dent Cartoons

“The university does not want to give them benefits or a reasonable number of sick days.”

As I said above, the hours are open ended for these fellows. They can come and go as they please as long as after the 1-2 years they demonstrate progress in their area of research. As mentioned earlier we know postdocs that show up when they feel like it, and others who work nearly 20 hours a day. Both enjoy their position and both demonstrate exceptional research when asked to do so. Again, it’s also important to remember that this is merely the minimum standard. Most PIs are not unreasonable and freely give stress leave, sick leave, maternity leave, etc, regardless of these minimum standards. Happy students means a productive lab.

“Postdocs have the worst working conditions on campus – their hourly wages are lower than student teaching assistants, housekeepers and clerks”

The working conditions are the same as every one else. They work in labs, libraries, coffee shops, and even their own homes. So, maybe they are dirty people but that does not mean the university should go clean up the bedrooms of all the PhD students on campus. Flora is presently working long hours on her thesis and is getting paid to do so – if she cared about an hourly wage, she could work 2 hours per day and be paid handsomely, or she could (as she is doing) work hard and get it done. It’s also important to reiterate that this wage is dependant on merit and is standardized by the university in the same way minimum wage is controlled by the government. If these fellows want more money, it is only a few funding applications way.

“After spending more than a decade earning at least three academic degrees, these workers deserve fair treatment and reasonable compensation.”

Most PhDs don’t also have a Masters. The majority transfer to the PhD program from an MSc. Either way, a PhD does not require an MSc (merely an honours Bachelor’s degree or enrolment in a Masters) so certainly these individuals do not hold at least three. They hold at least two. Indeed, this concluding statement only seeks to further reinforce that this is a poorly informed letter, reactionary, and based on gross misrepresentation of academia, either intentionally or unintentionally. Unionizing post docs will only serve to damage their career in the long term by reducing the number of post doc positions available, and fails the primary objective of post doctoral training – preparing them for the real world.

Cheer Routine vs. Feminism: A Facebook Debate

Morning Sports Fans,

Recently I posted this video on my Facebook account garnering some interesting conversation I did not expect.

Because Facebook has become difficult as of late, I would like to have the debate continue here. The following is a transscript of the debate. Please ignore the formatting, wordpress is a pain in the rear to work with sometimes! Take comfort in knowing that the formatting is bugging me.

Speaker 1

Harmless? Read the comments:

“…good riddance!”

“…devouring her (and presumably filling her holes)”

“Raptor hell…more like Raped’er”

“…What happens in the suit, stays in the suit”

No connection between the idea of consumption of women as sex material and this? The comments speak for themselves.

Jusarious

Rule of thumb, never read comments. Truely it was unexpected and rather funny. And because I made a pun with a sexual undertone does not make my comment offhand.

Laugh, it was funny.

Speaker 1

Busy morning. I was actually trying to get back on here and add that this isn’t just about you.

I’m interested in pointing out the full context of what this is indicative of. Of course I’m not suggesting that watching this is going to make people go out and do something (at least not directly). As with all media it is both a product of, and a cause of attitudes.When you understand the full social context and how this translates into oppression of women, it’s no longer funny. I don’t mean a bunch of men in a board room conspiring and twisting their mustaches, I mean attitudes and beliefs that play out into larger effects… like the economy. Our intent may not be malicious, but it needn’t be. It doesn’t make a lick of difference why when you’re at the butt end of it.The fact is that if we are passive in our dealings with understanding gender, then without any malicious intent, we can (and are) continuing to support a system that oppresses women.

Jusarious

I am lost. How is this particular event opressing

Jusarious

Start writing on a blackberry and finish on my iPhone.*….Oppressing women?

Speaker 1

It’s the depiction of women and a sexual commodity to be objectified and then consumed. The typical response to it, is indicative of that being the perception, conscious or subconscious though it may be.

Objectification:
http://evebitfirst.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/a-little-gir/

Speaker 2

Speaker 1 – are you a major in women’s studies?? being a woman, I am still giggling about the video and think it’s very funny/hilarious and don’t know what your issue is…..????

Speaker 2

and btw…how do you know that the raptor is a male raptor and not a female raptor????

Speaker 1

Speaker 2 – “are you a major in women’s studies??”No I’m not. I’m self studied I guess you could say? I’ve listened to women, explored the rationale, and gathered and analysed my own data (to use scientific terms). To use an analogy, sometime trees don’t look like trees at first until you start to see the forest.”how do you know that the raptor is a male raptor and not a female raptor??”Does it matter? This is men’s sports, with female cheerleaders (for men), with an aggressive animal mascot. In this kind of context, if it were supposed to be a female it would be pink, with a pink skirt, and jewelry and probably get grabbed in the ass by another male mascot as another attempt at “humour”. Let’s be real here. In our culture, if it’s not overtly feminine or not indicated, the default is male. Men are the default human, women are “other”. There’s basketball, and then there’s women’s basketball. That’s not to say that everything like this is laced with intent, but the result is the result and needs to be addressed.Unfortunately as a feminist, you end up pointing out things that are very not obvious at first glance. Like a drop that becomes part of the waterfall. It’s hard when these things are screaming in your face and that when you point it out, people will think you just don’t have sense of humour.

Speaker 1

I happen to have a fantastic sense of humour :) I just don’t share it on Facebook very often. I have too much passion for ideas and understanding most of the time. May the humour gods have mercy on my soul ;-P

Speaker 3

My initial impression of the stunt is that it was somewhat humorous, and I think that it would have been equally funny if a male fan had been consumed.Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I’d say that they used a cheerleader probably because they were available, and I assume that she was in on it. The way cheerleading is handled (and the legitimacy of the cheerleading sport) strikes me as a better target for a discussion of objectification of women than this stunt.It seems to me that the comments are fairly indicative of a misogynist attitude, true. But that doesn’t necessarily speak to the tone of the stunt itself, just the callibre of some viewers. I agree that reading comments on YouTube videos is apoplexy-inducing, and I generally recommend against it. :)

Speaker 1

This blog post eloquently describes the gut wrenching awkwardness of trying to speak out about these issues… and I don’t have it near as bad because of these handy little extremities hanging between my legs. They afford me so much privilege. I don’t have to be the victim.http://www.fugitivus.net/2009/06/24/a-woman-walks-into-a-rape-uh-bar/

Jusarious

Can’t look at blogs at work. Care to sum it up?

Speaker 1

I really recommend reading it at home then. It really hits home.

What I was referring to is only the first part of the post, where she describes in detail how there is no way of dealing with it (including ignoring it) that doesn’t leave her holding the bag in the end… either suffering silently, or looking like a humourless you-know-what.

Jusarious

I find it interesting how this video has sparked debate. Showing it to my female colleagues has garnered laughter rather than contempt.I prefer to support women’s rights rather than comment due to the very nature of the subject. That being said it is important that men discuss this topic.Cheerleaders. The very idea is open to interpretation. My thoughts are women are strong enough to make the right choice for them and cheer leading is over analyzed as a sexuality construct when it may very well be a tribute to athleticism.

Speaker 1

Speaker 3 – Yes, that is all certainly possible. Again, I’m not necessarily just concerned with the intent of those who did it. I’m interested in the effect it has and how it’s perceived.Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have someone who, for whatever reason, is ignorant of the racial connotations of black people, cotton and watermelons. They dress a black person up in watermelon suit and parade them around, advertising “Cottonelle”.Obviously, people would be very upset. Should our response be “well, we didn’t intend that so it’s not a big deal. It was just a joke so why don’t you just get over it? Just have a laugh, it’s funny (to me)”We believe that the response is threatening to our sense of being “good people”, so we react this way. We’ve learned to characterize people who decry racism, sexism, oppression as sentimental and whinny. We have latched onto the idea of oppressive corporate-style language sanitation (which can be excessive since it’s about negating liability) and characterized entire movements by it, which is horribly misleading.For women this is a double whammy because they’re already viewed as hysterical.
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Women_have_hysterectomy_from_the_word_hysteria_men_have_orchidectomy_from_the_word_orchid_How_do_these_different_terminologies_reflect_how_diseases_of_men_and_women_are_viewed
Hence one of the biggest obstacles to understanding of feminist issues.It isn’t about wanting to punish everyone who steps out of the “PC” line and label them as “sexist”. Nor is it to forcibly sanitizing the universe. It’s for people to understand the subtle messages embedded in so many seemingly innocuous things (with or without intent behind it) and begin to analyze the world around them.

Speaker 1

‎”Showing it to my female colleagues has garnered laughter rather than contempt.”Many black people “knew their place” too.Jusarious, have you ever considered what happens to a woman in a workplace when they don’t laugh when presented with sexism?Oh, and by the way. If you presented it to them in the context of this discussion, you’ve just shown them their place too.. Don’t worry though. They’ll probably be too intimidated to say anything…

Speaker 3

‎”Obviously, people would be very upset. Should our response be ‘well, we didn’t intend that so it’s not a big deal. It was just a joke so why don’t you just get over it? Just have a laugh, it’s funny (to me)'”.Oh, I agree, certainly it shouldn’t. I’m not convinced that the stunt really does qualify as sexism, but I’m fine with discussing its implications, and the obviously sexist way in which many people have responded to it.

Speaker 2

Just a quick comment Speaker 1….I am one of Jusarious’ co-workers and am a Woman. I take great offence to your comment that I would be too intimidated to say anything if I found something to be totally sexist and out of line. I also take offence with your comment that something would happen if I didn’t laugh when presented with sexism. I am sick and tired of MEN telling ME what is and isn’t sexist and how I should react to things such as the video of the goofy raptor devouring the cheerleader. Oh and btw…you made a SEXIST comment when you said that it was presumed that the raptor was male because the outfit/costume didn’t have pink on it, wasn’t wearing jewellery and a pink skirt….wow! who’s being sexist here.

Speaker 1

Pretending sexism doesn’t exist, isn’t un-sexist. Sorry

Speaker 1

I’m also not “telling you to be offended”. Absolutely no one should. However, you also don’t speak for every woman, any more than I do.
I realize that I didn’t necessarily choose the best jump-off point for hoping to be understood. I seem to have a propensity for uphill battles. In a way though, it’s the less obvious stuff that is more insidious and begs to be drawn out (at least in my mind). I saw this RIGHT after reading a story about yet another aboriginal woman to fall victim to foul play here in Manitoba. Our attitudes towards gender are in almost everything we do and relates to why men rape. This is why I no longer find it funny.
Anyway, I apologize if what I said seemed to imply that you or any woman might be deficient in some way in speaking out against sexism. My thoughts go towards many women who I’ve listened to who tell me that they feel pressure in their daily lives to laugh, when they are actually hurt for fear of judgment and ostricization. Obviously they don’t speak for you…

Speaker 3

This is a hard subject to discuss, obviously, because everyone has such strong feelings. I think that it’s fair to say that nobody’s trying to force anyone to do or feel any particular way, and that we’re all just trying to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities and the ability to be comfortable and safe in our society.

Speaker 1

I think we can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether or not this or that particular thing is sexist or not. This is a pitfall. If you argue logistics like this in the context of a romantic or other close relationship, you are destined to miss the point.If something carries a message that has the EFFECT of making another person feel encumbered in their person (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), then the only way to resolve it (regardless of whether their fears or perceptions of the originators intent are confirmed) is to acknowledge their feelings and work to resolve the issue. Logistical debates about whether or not your loved one should feel the way they do, is a great way to fast track to the lawyer’s office. The same principle applies to social issues.Of course you may have concerns that someone is accusing you of “being a sexist” rather than maybe having inadvertently said something that hurt them. OK. Fine. This is valid, but it doesn’t begin and end there. This is where you have to keep going and visit the rest of the issue, acknowledge each other’s concerns and change something going forward… or it just stays buried under the rug.There appears to be a great fear among men that women are out to get them and flip the power imbalance the other way, or at least to stifle our manhood. In years of delving into feminist literature, I’ve seen nothing to indicate anything of the sort.I have to reiterate that I’m not speaking for all women, but I do have a pretty good understanding of what tends to have this kind of effect in a world where 99% of the time, there IS a message between the lines (intended or not). In the broader scheme of things, this video is far from the worst I’ve seen. It’s also far from meaningless.

Flora

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I agree with Speaker 3’s initial post, that I’m all for springboarding to a discussion of professional cheerleaders and sexism. But I’m just not seeing it in this video, really. And I’m all for attacking subtle stereotypes, especially gender roles in the media. I just don’t see the sexist undertones here, just some goofy fun with the available participants.
Jusarious
I want to be clear that I do not mirror your thoughts on this type of narrative. The “eating” of the cheerleader was obviously part of the show, albeit unexpected part of the show, with all parties informed and consenting. Should the Raptor eat a fan it would incite law suites for obvious reasons.

Cheerleading, while based on the show of female bodies in the past, has evolved to be a powerful and dramatic athletic event. Both males and females compete in teams against each other and for the attention of the fans.

Uniforms have changed to accent the body while providing the mobility and grace expected of such an athlete. Tagging along behind the scenes is a huge production crew ranging from choreographers to costume designers.

To make a long story short, to wage war on this type of display (Cheerleading) without understanding the people behind the program is disingenuous at best.

I think your efforts would be better placed in the islamic countries (or any country for that matter) currently prohibiting women from being seen, heard and smelled.

To put to rest the comment section portion of this discussion, I suggest avoiding it at all costs. Ignorings trolls is the best way to defeat them. Should you see a person face to face being a Troll then you should correct them, assuming it’s safe to do so. But feeding the trolls your comments only makes them grow stronger, and gives you a nose bleed.

Flora

I don’t think that simply because someone is offended by something validates their opinion or puts any onus on the offender to deal with it. Many parents are offended by sex education or “endorsement” of homosexuality in schools, but such offence requires no response apart from telling them to teach their children to be bigots on their own time. Islamic men might find my way of dressing and manner of speaking utterly depraved and offensive, but I owe them no apologies or acknowledgement. This is, of course, not a perfect analogy, but imagine if someone told you that your insistence that women share space with men was offensive to their Islamic beliefs. Would you acknowledge their concerns as valid, and avoid offending them in the future, as you suggest we should?That being said, I don’t agree with Jusarious on a lot of aspects of feminism (leading to many a heated debate), but this is not one of them. If you read into anything too much you can interpret in any light that you wish – perhaps this video is actually an implicit endorsement of creationism, as they portray dinosaur and human being sharing God’s creation together in the eternal struggle after the Fall (symbolized by the dinosaur eating the human). But that would just be silly.

Speaker 1

I guess I’m looking at several facts:
The fact that the person who originally posted it added the “…good riddance” quip.

I know not to expect much from youtube commenters, but the comments are almost exclusively about sexual exploitation (rape).

Flora I understand what you’re trying to say, but you’re still essentially arguing from intent. The most important fact I see here is that, just like the watermelon/cotton thing is “loaded”, so is the fact that she’s a woman in a role of sexual consumption/objectification (aka cheerleader) in a society that perpetually dehumanizes women. What I’m saying is going to sound like hyperbole, but it’s not because what I’m saying is any more hyperbolic than it would be if I was speaking about against the watermelon/cotton thing.

The ONLY difference is that cultural perception of women being oppressed has not hit the same critical mass that racial oppression has. THAT’S IT. Perception. To step outside of common perception about race used to bring out the same reactions (and in some places still does) that you are displaying right here, right now.

I’ll say it plainly. Sexism is more publically accepted than racism. Spend some time listening to “water cooler talk” in the office and you will probably see what I mean, especially if you work with older generations.

Jusarious, cheerleading being a great profession aside, mind warping, hate filled religious cults also to many good things. That argument doesn’t deal with the issues at hand.

Flora, you make a fair point in your last comment. However I’m not proposing that we roll over and grant every demand that people bring up. I’m talking about the nature of the discourse, not the logistics of public policy. As with an arguement in a personal relationship, a very important skill is being able to acknowledge and validate someone’s emotions without fearing that doing is the same as capitulating. The point is to get to the discourse rather than pouring efforts into dismissing feelings and ideas in self-defense. Feminist arguments 99% of the time are about characterizing and dismissing, and maintaining the status quo at all costs. It’s complicated because there are so many emotions. Do feminists ever falter in this too? Of course they do! Is that a reason to say “HA! See! They lose, I win!!”, or do we still try to get to the bottom of the real issues?

Dialectic, not Debate.

I read a quote on my drive this morning. “To understand someone, first you must love them.” I’m trying to absorb that myself as I think I miss it sometimes. I think everyone here is essentially a good person and I’m not looking to triumph or gloat. I just think I have an understanding that is very important. We can agree to disagree is we must, and I guess that is OK. If I have been making anyone feel attacked, I apologize and am willing to listen to YOUR feelings if you want to message me or whatever.

P.S. I realize I also have a (bad?) habit of drawing larger issues into a pointed discussion and I’m probably doing that again, but I tend to see things big picture, so it’s hard not to… not necessarily speaking specifically about people here with every point.

Speaker 1

So I don’t mean to imply that you, Flora are being dismissive. I feel that you are actually trying to engage the discussion. I also shouldn’t say that you are arguing from intent, but that I’m perceiving that that’s possibly how you’re thinking about it. I don’t know for sure.

Speaker 1

OK, I’ve had some time to wrestle with my thoughts on this, and here’s what I think. I think that if you took this same exact scenario and dropped it into a world that had never known sexism, then there would be nothing inherently sexist about it. It would simply be some silly fun (and it certainly is for some people now).

As it stands I still think that it contains negative meaning due to the context it exists in. However, I don’t think it was a very effective jump-off point for saying what I had to say, since it’s not an example that resonates well with my points, or with the audience.

I forget my own advice; that pounding out facts and logistics isn’t what helps people to see your point, and usually just entrenches people even more. Also, whether or not any of you agree with me on this particular point or not, doesn’t necessarily reflect on whether or not we share many of the ultimate values behind it, and I want to recognize that. I hope I have not alienated people too much with this and that we can still have productive dialectic on this and other topics. Thanks.

As you can see this is a touchy subject. You can clearly identify which speakers are women and which are men. A little hint, most of the speakers of men!

Please feel free to add to the conversation in the comments. I would be happy to debate anyone on this subject. If you are one of the people above I labeled as a speaker feel free to identify yourself and I will edit this post to include proper names.