Nothing frustrates me more than the fact that a woman shared this on Facebook

Empowering isn’t it, to be infantilized and then judged based on your shape, but it’s okay because you can feel superior to those skinny bitches and let’s not even talk about the fat bitches, but are you really fit enough to look good naked? What if not everyone thinks you look good naked? I guess you’ll just have to spend more time at the gym, because obviously that’s how you’re getting fit, not by any sort of manual labour because then you get gnarly hands and ruin your manicure and then you don’t look good anyway. Also don’t worry about your head because that’s not where everybody’s going to look anyway, and all that matters is how you look. You will always be fit and beautiful, so that is a totally legitimate thing to base your self worth on.

Nothing frustrates me more than the fact that a woman shared this on Facebook

I fixed that for you.

The Women’s Congressional Hearing (with apologies to Nellie McClung)

With apologies to the indomitable Nelly McClung

SCENE

[Interior of congressional hearing chamber. Behind a large and impressive wooden table sit three middle aged women in well-tailored suits, hands neatly folded in front of them.]

CHAIRWOMAN: Welcome, all, to this House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the insurance coverage of erectile dysfunction medication and religious liberty. The chair recognizes the esteemed panel.

Today we are here to discuss the recent White House proposals regarding pharmaceutical coverage. The Obama administration wishes to force private insurance companies to provide coverage for erectile dysfunction medications. I’d like to ask the panel to provide an opening statement.

REV. CHASTITY: Thank you Ms. Chairwoman. The Obama administration has put a stranglehold on religious liberty in this country by forcing all Americans to accept practices antithetical to Christian doctrine – that is, that we should all pay for men in this country to be having recreational sex. The Bible clearly condemns sexual activity that is not for procreation – in Genesis 38:9-10, it stats “He spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring…What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight.”

These men are sinful, and the people of America should not be held financially captive by the lustful, wicked ways of the godless left wingers of this country. Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” We, as Christians, should not be forced by an overbearing government to fund mortal sins!

CHAIRWOMAN: Thank you, Reverend. I’d like to now ask the panel to comment on whether this medication could be seen to be medically necessary.

DR. PROSTATE: Oh, definitely not. Sexual activity is entirely optional. In fact, erectile dysfunction isn’t so much a medical condition as just a normal part of aging. Men have lived for centuries without drugs that allow them to have sex for purely recreational purposes and I certainly don’t see why they have suddenly been rendered unable of coping. Indeed, it seems that popular media portrayals of older men like Hugh Hefner as sexually active has lead to a move away from traditional values. There is really absolutely no medical reason why individuals would ever need to have sex beyond their child-raising years. It is excesses in the medical system like erectile dysfunction treatments that are sending health insurance costs skyrocketing.

I’d also like to preemptively counter the point that sometimes erectile dysfunction medication can be given for legitimate medical issues and say: the majority of erectile dysfunction drugs are given to people who want them for recreation, not people who need them. Sexually transmitted infections in elderly populations have been on the rise since the introduction of erectile dysfunction medications. Adding barriers to access will prevent people from being sexually active and prevent the spread of STIs. The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to abstain from sexual activity. Everybody wins and nobody needs to pay out of pocket for somebody else’s jollies.

CHAIRWOMAN: Thank you, Doctor. And now, could we have a final word from Senator McClung?

SEN. MCCLUNG: We have heard men speak out in support of the Obama administration’s proposed coverage, and although some may be well-spoken and seem capable, we must remember that men are ultimately weak at heart and easy to be persuaded into sexual activity by women and the media. Supporting the use of erectile dysfunction medications puts these vulnerable men at risk of being preyed upon by women, and promotes irresponsible usage of the medication. This could lead to promiscuity, STIs, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and other horrors that plague our modern society. If I may be so bold as to paraphrase the words of my great grandmother:

If men were all so intelligent as these representatives of the downtrodden sex seem to be it might not do any harm to allow them access to erectile dysfunction medication. But all men are not so intelligent. There is no use in allowing men to have Viagra. They wouldn’t use it. They would let the pills spoil and go to waste. Then again, some men would have sex too much…Giving men Viagra would unsettle the home….The modesty of our men, which we reverence, forbids us giving them Viagra access. Men’s place is in the workplace, not the bedroom..It may be that I am old-fashioned. I may be wrong. After all, men may be human. Perhaps the time may come when men will be responsible enough to have sex with women for reasons other than procreation–but in the meantime, be of good cheer. Advocate and Educate. [adapted from Nelly McClung, The Women’s Parliament]

[Thunderous applause erupts]

CHAIRWOMAN: Well said, Senator McClung. If there are no further opinions-

LONE MAN IN CROWD: Wait, don’t we get to-

CHAIRWOMAN: I’d like to thank the expert panel for their time and we will await the committee’s decision.

[The hearing chamber noisily clears out.]

END SCENE

If you have no idea what this is about, read here. If you are horrified that the words of a suffragette 99 years ago resonate today as much as they did then, SPEAK UP!

Something doesn’t add up (Girls can do math, right?)

So let me get this straight. As early as 13 years old, Canadian girls are outperforming boys in reading and math, and are as good at science.

When they graduate high school, they are more likely than men to go on to have a diploma, certificate or bachelor’s degree.

There are more women graduating from university annually than men.

And of those graduates, the only programs where men outnumber women are Architecture, Engineering and Related Degrees, and Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences. There are more women than men with degrees in Agriculture, Physical and Life Sciences, Business, Education or Health.

And yet… and yet!

If you look at the hourly wages of permanent employees, Canadian women make an average of $19.94/hour while Canadian men make $23.97/hour! And if you say, well it’s unfair barganing practices, women can’t negotiate… then that should be controlled for by unionized jobs. Not the case: $24.01/hour for women while men make $25.55.

Given that the economic downturn was harder on men than women in terms of unemployment, helping the wage gap shrink, the mind boggles. I found an interesting bit of older information at Stats Can looking at the wage gap between women with and without children, which found that women without children earned 9% more than their counterparts with one child. “Aha!” you say, triumphantly as any good rhetorical puppet should. “It’s because they take a year off to have babies that sets them back in wages!”

Sadly, this is not the case, as the wage gap between the childless and mothers doesn’t begin until age 25, and if it were as simple as maternity leave, the gap would appear immediately. Interestingly, being more educated seems to exaggerate this gap.

Being good statisticians, they tried to elucidate why this gap might be there, and so they controlled for:
“age, years of education, work experience, marital status, full- or part-time status, union membership, employer size, family income (earnings from spouse and other family members as well as non-employment income), industry, occupation and management responsibilities…”
These factors taken out of the equation, there was still a statistically significant gap between childless women and women with children: 2% decrease with one child, and a 3% decrease for two.”

Is that it then? We tell our girls that they can be anything they want to be, we encourage them to do well in school and pursue the career of their choice. We tell them that they can have a family and a career – and then when they do, we punish them financially. Not because of how much experience or education they have, not because they’re part time, not because they enter lower paying industries. Just because they have children.

So, I guess it’s time to spread the word: tell your girls that they can be highly educated and have a high paying job… or they can have a family. And while we’re at it, tell your boys that they should be highly educated and have a family: They’ll make more money that way.

Dear paternalistic asshole, fuck you.

So, there’s this:

In fact, the Saudis are protecting women and society by not permitting women to drive cars or move about freely.

Cars, freedom of movement and modern hotels are excellent tools to help women commit adultery and fornication. This may sound very strange to people in the West, but it is a hard fact of life.

Men are born hunters and that includes 84-yearold men like Hugh Hefner. Therefore, the restrictions on women by Saudis appear to be relevant.

I think it is not a wise policy to let the women roam freely in the jungles we are living in at this time.

I don’t think Wahabism or the Saudis are responsible for producing suicide bombers or terrorists. Islam absolutely forbids killing any innocent person of any religion, and taking your own life is also forbidden.

It appears the suicide bombers and terrorists are the products of injustices and the oppression of Muslims in many parts of the world, which lead young and ignorant men to commit horrible crimes, including the 9/11 tragedy.

The Holy Qur’an says: “And do not go near Zina (fornication). It is indeed a shameful and an evil path.” (Ch. 17; Ay32).

Anwar Sultan, Calgary

Wait wait wait. So when young men are oppressed, they commit horrible crimes and it’s totes not their fault guys, for serious. But oppressing young women is necessary. You know, for safety. Because if they drive, then they will be near fornication… somehow. And because men are hunters, they can’t be held responsible for just up and raping a woman, or committing adultery with a married woman. Because they’re oppressed, you see. So the only way to cure this horrible problem is with more oppression.

They see her rollin', they hatin'.

It must hurt to have to do these sorts of ridiculous yogic stretches to justify your asinine and contradictory beliefs.

This is why we need women in skepticism!

There is a lot of post-Elevatorgate buzz about women in skepticism, including the announcement of a conference to specifically deal with women in secularism, more specifically the lack thereof. A lot of people who think that this is a non-issue have said that women (and other minorities in skepticism) will join the movement when they want to, that women simply aren’t interested in hearing about it. (And if you don’t think people actually believe this, please read the comments on the “Women in Secularism” announcement.) Since secularism is about self-improvement and education, I’m going to call Bullshit! on that. Yes, part of the problem is an environment in secularism that is intimidating to women, a lack of prominence for female skeptics, and so on. But the inverse of that is the amount of woo that is promoted to women.

Manitoba women use the health care system more than men, averaging 5.4 physician visits annually (4.4 for men), and 85% of women see a physician at least annually (79% for men.) Even healthy women of reproductive age receive birth control from their physician, have annual Pap tests, get mammograms, have prenatal consultations, and use health care services before, during and after childbirth. Women who are sick visit their physicians more frequently than men with similar illnesses. Women are more likely to be injured due to domestic violence (1 in 5 Manitoban women have been victimized by their partner in the last five years). Women are more likely to be proactive with their health, seeking screening and taking preventative measures more often than men. Now here’s the scary bit: almost 1 in 5 women in Manitoba consulted a CAM practitioner in 2003 (the most recent data). Only 1 in 10 men did the same! These statistics are in reality even worse, as the analysis excluded chiropractic, which partially covered by the province and therefore “not alternative.” Women are more preoccupied with their health, more concerned with prevention, and therefore more likely to be taken in by quacks.

Here’s a figure from the report I’m getting my data from:

The higher the household income, the more likely the women would seek CAM (here denoted CAHC for "health care"). Men did not seek more care as it became financially feasible.

In other words, as women were able to afford it, likely due to both increased income and increased private insurance coverage with the better paying jobs, more women were using CAM. I certainly would be interested to see if the discrepancy is access in lower income brackets, or a lack of awareness.

Well, maybe, you helpfully offer, chronically ill women are more likely to use CAM, and the wealth changes represent their ability to try unproven treatments for their disease! Nay nay….

The majority of women using CAM are healthy!

So what now? We have a bunch of healthy, wealthy women who are out there spending money on homeopathy and reiki and healing meditation and detox regimens and spiritual communicators. Why is it our problem if women want to waste their money on unproven crap? Well, because it’s not right, and it’s not fair. We don’t teach girls to ask questions, we tell them to trust authority, we tell them that their problems aren’t important, we tell them that they’re not an important part of the skeptical community, and then we proceed to laugh at them for finding a sympathetic ear and falling prey to placebo effects!

Worst of all, thanks to “integrative” “medicine,” woo is pervading our hospitals. While walking through the Women’s Health Centre, I saw a poster for upcoming health workshops being hosted at the Centre that made me do a double take. Yes, sponsored by Alberta Health Services, you can take a $40, 2-hour workshop in Reiki (“massage for your soul!”), a $190, 12-hour class in Feng Shui, or a $48, 3-hour workshop entitled, I kid you not, “Talking to Your Angels and Learning How to Listen,” run by Sandy Day, who claims to be a Reiki Master, Shaman, and Intuitive Healer. This is not some backwoods hand-waving Natural Healing Centre Of Happiness and Puppy Dog Kisses, this is at the biggest teaching hospital in the city, the centre for the high-risk pregnancies, for breast cancer: the medical hub! Or, on Wednesday, September 17th from 7-9 pm, the classroom for “Energy Medicine – The Internal World.” Oh but don’t worry, in tiny text:

Women’s Health Resources does not support, endorse or recommend any method, treatment, product, remedial center, program or person. We do, however, endeavour to inform because we believe in the right to have access to available information in order to make informed individual choices.

Now, call me skeptical, but I’m pretty sure if I wander over to the Urology clinic, I somehow doubt that I will see the same advertisements promising healing touch lessons for prostate problems.

For more than one reason, really. (zpeckler@flikr)

If we don’t teach our girls to question, and if we don’t ask our women to think, stuff like this is only going to get worse. No amount of half-assed disclaimery is going to change the fact that misinforming anyone is the opposite of giving them an informed individual choice. Talking about the dangerous of being teleported to Neptune by devious extraterrestrial cows does not come into discussions of which car you’d like to buy. Yes, you should be aware of the pros and cons of every car, and yes you should be free to make that choice, but having some random loon come in off the street to convince people that our Bovine Neptunian Overlords only abduct people who drive Chevies is pretty much the opposite of informed consent, particularly if the random loon also happens to sell Toyotas. Why is the Women’s Health Centre not bringing in drug companies to give presentations on why everyone should be taking Lipitor? Perhaps because there is a major conflict of interest when you are essentially charging people to sit through a sales pitch? And this is actually a bad example, because at least Lipitor actually has demonstrable, independently reproducible benefits!

So yes, we do need more women in skepticism. We need women standing up for themselves, saying that they are tired of all this bullshit being thrown at them. Without female allies telling Oprah to go stuff herself and Dr. Oz to take his reiki elsewhere, the skepticism movement will never succeed at exposing fraud in CAM. Women’s voices don’t just deserve to be heard in skepticism, they need to be heard, for the sake of everyone’s health.

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!

Top three things that have appalled me today!

Apologies in the break in posts – I’ve moved provinces to begin medical school, but I’ve started classes and gotten settled in now, so all should be well. Also, hooray, I’ve finished the first draft of my thesis!

Number 3

Made by Nestle, whose corporate slogan has recently been updated to "Nestle makes the very best effort to hold onto antiquated sexist marketing schemes despite all better judgement"

You can sort of see what they were going for in 1976 when this chocolate bar first came out – chocolate is a “girl” thing so they were trying to include men into their market. Perhaps in 1975, perhaps any man who ate a dainty looking chocolate bar had his gender identity put into serious question. I don’t know, it was a different time. In any case, this is a common marketing scheme in the chocolate industry. Snickers and O Henry bars both have advertising campaigns which prominently or exclusively feature hungry men going for a tasty hunk of chocolatey diabetes to quell the need. There’s nothing wrong with targeting your marketing like that (and the “You’re not yourself with you’re hungry” commercials make me laugh).

But seriously, “It’s not for girls?” Seriously? I mean, even if they’re going for “it’s not for wimps” concept, which I still take offence to, couldn’t they do it in a way that doesn’t tell 50% of their potential market that they are undesirable as customers? And they even take use a derivative, dismissive word (girls). Why not market it as “Chocolate for men?” They also make separate packaging for the British military on which it says “It’s not for civs [civilians].” That’s fine! This product is only going to military personnel, and they’re trying to imply that the chocolate is as awesome as the members of the military. FINE. But don’t say Yorkies: It’s not for retards. It’s stupid, bigoted, and condescending.

Yorkies: It's not for cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Number 2

Britain set ablaze as unrest sweeps throughLondon, and other UK cities, in 3 days of riots

What the hell, London? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for peaceful, positive protest. It’s the moral high ground when things are not as they should be. I don’t know the full story behind the cause of these protests (there was a gunfight with police during which a 29-year old man was killed) and perhaps police violence is a major issue in the area, which has many disadvantaged populations and economic issues. I see no problem with protesting outside the police station to make sure that justice is served for the man who was killed.

What I do have a problem with is this:

More here

And not just one night where oops! things get out of hand, someone in downtown Vancouver thinks it would be awesome to loot or light that garbage can on fire because the Canucks lost. This is the third night in a row that there has been massive destruction of private property. There is no justification for this. It appears that organized crime is using the chaos to capitalize on the situation and initiate the looting and destruction. I repeat, what the hell, London?

Number 1

Michelle Bachmann is a front runner as a Republican Presidential candidate. You know, the one who’s married to a guy who has an alleged de-gaying program. The one who advocates intelligent design. The one whose platform isn’t just a violation of the separation of church and state, it’s based on advocating religion. The one who believes that all abortions, no matter when, how or why (including medical emergencies which could kill the mother), are wrong. The who believes that the law comes from and should be based on the Bible and only the Bible. This woman has a shot at being the next leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world, whose economic problems are presently shaking the global market, whose problems ripple back to us.

If that doesn’t appall you, then I don’t know what will.

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.

Equal Opportunity Jackasses

Recently, a Houston newspaper put a contentious article in their online blog – the 10 Hottest Woman on the Texas Sex Offender List. Like most pieces of sensational journalism, clearly the title was designed to be a controversial but intriguing attention grabber. The editor knew that there would be people upset, and that was surely meant to be the point. I must admit, when I read the headline, I was disgusted myself. How could they trivialize such a heinous crime? How could they acknowledge, and shrug off, that these woman raped children? How could they objectify a woman to the point where her actions became irrelevant in comparison to her photo?

This woman was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a two year old boy.

And then, I read the addendum by the editor.

…it’s a way of getting readers to look at the info, maybe get them to realize there are people out there like this and they all don’t look like the obvious stereotypical pervert.

I really struck me. Indeed, the women in those photos look like they might be your real estate agent, or your kid’s t-ball coach. They don’t look mean, let alone like someone that would violate a kid or rape a teenager. We’re using to kids coming forward to accuse priests and male celebrities of sexual abuse. We’re used to male coaches of sports teams perpetuating heinous crimes on their charges. We expect the pedo-stached loner with the white van with that teardrop window. We don’t expect our accountant. Maybe they had a point.

After all, we’re using to fighting for equal consideration for women. However, a sort of idealist undercurrent pervades feminism. I was educated in a girls-only environment, one that was strongly supportive of female ambitions and challenged us to break the stereotypes. On numerous occasions, my friends and I would muse about a “woman run” world, where it wasn’t a big deal for a woman to be elected leader of a country, and how women could prevent all these petty wars through diplomacy. Who hasn’t entertained such notions? And yet, they are so clearly wrong. Could anyone seriously say that Sarah Palin would actively end the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, even if she could? Would Elizabeth May liberate society from its male-dominated shackles (real or imagined)?

"Okay, but first I need to ban all that life-saving medical research because it uses animals. And replace medicine with homeopathy. YAYYYYY!"

So why is it that women get this sort of free pass, where we assume the best of them, and the worst of men? Women are murderers too. Women can be foolish, ignorant and self-centred in a massively destructive way too. There are ten photos of women at that link who raped children. If you still can’t grasp the horror, imagine reading a news story about a male kindergarden teacher who sexually assaulted his student. Capture that rage and revulsion, and apply it to Sharon up there.

If we’re willing to believe that women can be equally good, it’s time to also fess up that women can be equally bad.