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37 Responses

  1. AtheistChick
    AtheistChick August 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    It would be funny if it didn’t hit the nail on the goddamn head.

  2. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan August 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

    Eew, carpentry reference? Could you reframe it as a scrapbooking metaphor, please? I am teh girlz. :D

  3. Pidgey
    Pidgey August 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm |

    Treating women as unique individuals is most important.

    But pink desserts (or really any dessert) sounds like a good idea!

  4. Ophie
    Ophie August 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm |

    Seriously? I think I can sell Atheism better than that.

  5. Nahida
    Nahida August 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    Irrelevant: Her eyeshadow makes her eyes look AMAZING.

  6. ZimbaZimbu
    ZimbaZimbu August 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm |

    Super video, probably went over the head of a few though.

  7. haley
    haley August 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    A male friend of mine once asked why radical groups/movements tend to be primarily male, using atheism as an example. In extension, despite religion being highly patriarchal/ male lead, why do so many women still follow? I shared my thoughts.

    A different male friend made the assertion that women (as a whole) occupy the social “middle”, so to speak, where as men are more willing to occupy the fringes of the human experience spectrum. He alluded to the fact that more crimes are committed by men, more acts of extremism and violence on one end of the spectrum, and on the other, most people engaged in extreme sports, scientific exploration, revolutionary leaders etc. are men. He concedes that there have been female exceptions, but his point is that women seem to be less willing to act in risky or radical ways. He acknowledges environment and sexism, but still think there must be some biological reason for this.

    We had an interesting conversation but I am curious if any feminists here have any ideas about either of my male friends’ assertions. I ask because as much as it hurts, I look around at the atheist and union groups I am active in and they are predominately male.

  8. Jadey
    Jadey August 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm |

    @ haley

    Confirmation bias is important – sometimes the reason it seems like men do more cool things is because their cool things are better publicized, whereas women tend to have their achievements overlooked, minimized, and misattributed, especially if they’re marginalized in other ways. Nevermind that it’s harder to step outside the box when your access to resources is so much more restricted. Perspective counts – I mean, challenging centuries of patriarchy, classism, and racism is pretty radical and there are many women all over the world engaging in that, but somehow it never really gets seen that way. If you’re motivated and go in with the assumption that men will do more amazing and extreme things, then it’s not hard to find reasons to highlight those examples and discount disconfirming ones. I think your friend probably overestimates his own objectivity and clarity of perspective.

  9. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm |

    To add to what Jadey said often certain groups were created as spaces to help men. Women were historical not welcome or supported so in some instances they formed their own networks separate from those “official” groups. Perhaps now those groups are willing to be supportive and welcoming to women, but women have their own resources now so its sort of useless to us. Why go to the effort of teaching some dudes how to treat us with respect when we can get the same benefits from our own networks.

  10. Moshalas
    Moshalas August 8, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    PONIES! It’s about time this happened!

  11. Florence
    Florence August 8, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    Kristen J.: Women were historical not welcome or supported so in some instances they formed their own networks separate from those “official” groups… Why go to the effort of teaching some dudes how to treat us with respect when we can get the same benefits from our own networks.

    Totally. And this backlash against women trying to assert themselves in these historically male social groups is documented time and time again. See, for example, the very recent “Elevatorgate” in the skeptic community, what? A month ago?

  12. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 8, 2011 at 11:01 am |

    Ack…WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TYPOS. *historicALLY* The ends of words aren’t important, amirite?

  13. Nifty
    Nifty August 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    I’d convert to just about any religion if they offered me pink things and ponies and desserts…

  14. Moshalas
    Moshalas August 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm |

    It ain’t too important. I fail at this a lot of the time, so I could be worse off.

    I’m still trying to stop myself from saying that word from eariler. I kind of feel guilty about myself now.

  15. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm |

    Florence – my roomie frequents atheist/skeptic blogs and told me all about this. I’m suddenly very glad I don’t visit those blogs.

    Not to get all No True Scotsman – but it seems to me that an apparently significant percentage of men who claim the label “skeptic” are ANYTHING but.

  16. Jadey
    Jadey August 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm |

    Rare Vos: Not to get all No True Scotsman – but it seems to me that an apparently significant percentage of men who claim the label “skeptic” are ANYTHING but.

    For reals.

    I don’t think it’s a True Scotsman argument either – “skeptic” is as much a behaviour as an identity, and you can’t claim the latter when consistently failing at the former.

  17. Rare Vos
    Rare Vos August 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    It also has a specific definition. You can’t honestly claim to be a skeptic if you refuse to be skeptical about something.

    Which is exactly what happened. A fair number of “skeptic” dudes heard “don’t do that” and turned it into “femnazis are trying to criminalize sex and imprision all men and destroy the human race!!”

    Not a whole lot of skepticism there.

  18. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    Apparently another way to make women skeptics feel comfortable is, to respond to one of the most brilliant atheist based youtube video’s I’ve ever seen, with complaints of the narrator’s ‘tits hanging out’ (i.e. showing a quarter inch of cleavage.)

    Said video and douchy comments here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE

  19. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm |

    Skeptism is an actual philosophy. *fumes* I generally don’t give a shit whether people coop phrases particularly when its an archaic philosophical school/info most people don’t have access to BUT I hate that some of these asshats are cooping my philosophy and turning it into pretty much the exact opposite of its intended meaning.

  20. Momentary
    Momentary August 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

    haley:
    He alluded to the fact that more crimes are committed by men, more acts of extremism and violence on one end of the spectrum, and on the other, most people engaged in extreme sports, scientific exploration, revolutionary leaders etc. are men. He concedes that there have been female exceptions, but his point is that women seem to be less willing to act in risky or radical ways.

    People who grow another human being inside their own body, versus people who jump out of airplanes — who is the risk taker here?

    People who as a matter of course regularly place themselves in situations of intimate vulnerability with significantly bigger and stronger people, versus people who climb mountains — again, who is claiming to be more comfortable with risk?

    Yeah.

  21. April
    April August 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm |

    Caperton: Me, too. Like, “Yeah, no, stereotyping women and neglecting our individual whateverness sucks. Totally with you. Woman power. So do you line under your eyes, or do you use a lot of mascara?”

    That was an excellent example of how Jadey mentioned the consistent under-valuing of things deemed “feminine.”

    Jadey: Confirmation bias is important – sometimes the reason it seems like men do more cool things is because their cool things are better publicized, whereas women tend to have their achievements overlooked, minimized, and misattributed, especially if they’re marginalized in other ways.

    I don’t disagree that the visibility of successful, innovative, and otherwise amazing women is often very low, and that, based on the historical fact that women have been denied access to education, resources, and other things vital for our various successes, it’s not possible to accurately determine whether men are more like to do “awesome” things than women are. But I’ve heard similar theories as Haley, based on statistics about apparent intellectual differences between women and men. I don’t remember where I read or heard this, but here’s one blog post discussing the merits of the findings that I found after a sloppy Google.

    I guess, what I’m trying to say, is: are we to believe that there is literally no difference whatsoever between men and women when it comes to tendencies to do certain things? Absent any and all socialization and oppression, do you really believe that women and men are inherently identical, mentally, emotionally, etc.?

    On a side note, I don’t think that Haley was necessarily trying to claim that no women could be an atheist (or whatever) to the degree that men are; just that women are less likely to attend conferences and be outspoken or extreme in the delivery of that belief than are men. That says a lot about temperament, and nothing about intellectual capacity or ability to “succeed,” whatever that even means.

    I can’t really believe that women and men are 100% identical in our emotional, intellectual, and other makeups. That’s pretty well explained by simple hormonal fluctuations. What I think is that the ways in which women express those qualities is that traditionally feminine activities and ways of thinking, behaving, etc., like you mentioned in another part of your comment, is undervalued to the point of erasure when it comes to mainstream society.

  22. rae
    rae August 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm |

    There might be some mental tendencies more biologically likely to occur among female people than male people, but with all the overbearing socialization in areas such as in what manners it is appropriate to express opinions, it’s impossible to tell. That said I’m not convinced “male” and “female” as binary and discrete categories are much more than vaguely useful (and sometimes counterproductive) oversimplifications of sexual difference in humans.

  23. haley
    haley August 8, 2011 at 8:51 pm |

    @22

    “On a side note, I don’t think that Haley was necessarily trying to claim that no women could be an atheist (or whatever) to the degree that men are; just that women are less likely to attend conferences and be outspoken or extreme in the delivery of that belief than are men.”

    Yeah, I most definitely was NOT claiming that women were less able to be atheistic (etc.) to the same degree as men!

    I am an atheist, anti-theist really, and my experience in a local community group called “atheists, agnostics and freethinkers” was excellent. We had a broad range of people in regards to politics, education, educational interest, work, sexuality, ethnicity, but I was one of 3 women. The other (give or take) 20 people were men! The creator of the group was a female, and we were some of the most active out spoken members.

    I never experienced sexism in that group and it always felt like a safe space. I think a huge difference was made in my being in a real-time face to face group, versus an online community /blog/etc, which is where many people experience vocal atheism.

  24. zuzu
    zuzu August 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm |

    Fat Steve:
    Apparently another way to make women skeptics feel comfortable is, to respond to one of the most brilliant atheist based youtube video’s I’ve ever seen, with complaints of the narrator’s ‘tits hanging out’ (i.e. showing a quarter inch of cleavage.)

    Said video and douchy comments here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE

    My life has been much, much happier since I decided to never look at the comments at YouTube. Or Yahoo. Or Salon.

  25. Jadey
    Jadey August 8, 2011 at 10:05 pm |

    April: I can’t really believe that women and men are 100% identical in our emotional, intellectual, and other makeups. That’s pretty well explained by simple hormonal fluctuations. What I think is that the ways in which women express those qualities is that traditionally feminine activities and ways of thinking, behaving, etc., like you mentioned in another part of your comment, is undervalued to the point of erasure when it comes to mainstream society.

    Wrong question though. There’s a tremendous amount of variation among individuals, of course, and what we need to be asking is dividing people by gender producing a *meaningful* difference in that variation (protip: a lot of research that has been conducted refers to “statistical significance”, which can actually be a very small difference overall – effect size is much more important measure, but social sciences for one are being slow to catch up on that). So it’s not a question of whether men and women are supposed to be “identical”, but whether there is more variation between the groups than within them, and, if there is any meaningful variation between the groups, what contributes to it.

    The article you linked contains the same argument that haley mentioned, which is that women’s variation is supposedly overall less than men’s (one bell curve inside another), but it seems to be cherry-picking its comparisons again, and I have yet to see any evidence or solid argument for a biological contribution above and beyond socialization and reporting bias effects. More often I see research that shows a small average difference with substantial overlap between similar bell curves. Here’s one highly illustrative example of that in slideshow format, although it does not have a transcript, I apologize: Biology and math do not explain why there are few women in computer science.

  26. Jadey
    Jadey August 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    Also, the research on IQ differences also supports the small average difference, high overlap finding, and I believe that very young children are found to have no average differences in math abilities whatsoever – the gender gap doesn’t occur until later in life, which really suggests the potential for a strongly socialized effect.

  27. Jadey
    Jadey August 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm |

    Not to mention the highly-researched phenomenon of stereotype threat effects, which is a purely situational effect that cuts across multiple social groups – nothing inherent to the biology of “women” (assuming that this group is as homogenous as scientists often reduce it to).

  28. matlun
    matlun August 9, 2011 at 2:03 am |

    @Jadey: There are many measured differences that are significant. Most of these differences are seen in adults and say little about the nature/nurture debate. (Though even the differences that appear later in life might be biological in nature. Puberty changes a lot of biology…)

    To me it seems very natural that there should be biological differences. Since there are such large differences on the physical side, it just would be very strange not to see differences on the mental side.

  29. Seafoam
    Seafoam August 9, 2011 at 3:10 am |

    1. Pink – well that can be a a varied kind of taste from many different kinds of people, depending on the situation. As people age, they begin to accept all sorts of strange colours to associate themselves with.

    2. Ponies – if you haven’t watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, you probably don’t understand why. Times have changed and the gender association crisis is disappearing. This page has been officially invaded by ponies.

    3. Though I understand the general methodology of scrapbook behaviour, it is hard to tell.

  30. Jadey
    Jadey August 9, 2011 at 7:49 am |

    @ matlun

    If you re-read my comment, you’ll see that I did not question the existence of the differences, but rather their actual significance, which I think we don’t really understand because we’ve been so focused on just finding statistically significant differences. Also, while there may be biological contributions, our problem is that we tend to assume that any differences *must* be predominantly biology-driven, which clearly you would agree is a problematic position.

  31. Momentary
    Momentary August 9, 2011 at 7:56 am |

    Somehow we never seem to be obsessing about biologically-based cognitive differences between tall people and short people. Although people sure do like to also obsess about it for white people and poc, and sometimes even for fat people and skinny people. Funny how the importance of those distinctions lines right up with power hierarchies in our society, isn’t it? Life is full of coincidence.

    On the topic of actual science of cognitive gender difference, Elizabeth Spelke (http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~lds/index.html?spelke.html) rocks.

  32. matlun
    matlun August 9, 2011 at 10:24 am |

    @Jadey: I agree. If I implicitly misrepresented your position then I apologize.

  33. April
    April August 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm |

    Caperton: And no, seriously, I want to know what she’s doing with her eye makeup. I think it’s the mascara.

    Oh, my bad. I thought you were being snarky at her for mentioning her eye makeup.

    Jadey- I’m with you there. I don’t think any differences are significant (or at least significant in ways that matter), or that they are properly analyzed.

  34. Remorseless husband-stealing no-good linkspams (15th August, 2011) | Geek Feminism Blog

    […] While we struggle to attract women to tech, the skeptics already have a plan.: First off: Pink! Pink is every girl’s favorite color… As an alternative to these measures, you can treat women like unique individuals whose desires and aspirations can’t be pinned down by their gender. […]

  35. Mikael "MMN-o" Nordfeldth
    Mikael "MMN-o" Nordfeldth September 4, 2011 at 5:25 am |

    We have a scrapbooking club where the main theme is ponies, and every member of this group wears pink at meetings.

    Unfortunately all members of this group are still male. What did we do wrong? That last alternative feels too cumbersome to apply.

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