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tigtog blogs a lot elsewhere, but here on Feministe she mostly does the tech support and feeds the giraffe. tigtog tweets in irregular flurries @vivsmythe.
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88 Responses

  1. anna_k
    anna_k November 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm |

    Life is hectic- finals finals finals deadlines argh. My local coffee shop, which has wonderfully long hours and a lax drinks:hours spent ratio, is getting me through this, pretty much!

    Thank you to everyone who replied with lovely encouraging messages to my rant on last week’s OT. It’s taken me an age to reply as December finals mode has really kicked off in my life, so I thought I’d do it on this thread rather than the last (hope you all don’t mind!)

    @macavitykitsune, thank you very much for the kind wishes. And may I say as someone with a bit of Tamilian in me that I very much enjoy reading your perspective here! :)

    @trees. Thank you. You are right about getting in where you fit in- it’s that frustrating “let me into your club”/wait do I actually want to be in that club” feeling. I’m not sure I could have been in that course and held in all my unwanted POVs for an entire semester, so there is that! Unfortunately, there aren’t really any collections I can work or similar. I think I will just have to play the long game, and hope to get experience in a slightly different area and eventually slot back into mine at a hopefully higher-than-entry level at some point. Who knows, it could happen.

    @BBBShrewHarpy You are so right. I just don’t think such people realise that I do quake in my boots (and frequently, ha!). I probably will take up the prof’s invitation eventually, when I’ve made peace with the hurt/angry feelings. The very same professor just *this* week gave me a 100% mark in a returned mid-term assignment, said extreeeeemely complimentary things about it, and asked if he could use it as a model for future years, so I guess his view of my intelligence is genuine(???) but somehow being his best student isn’t enough for him to teach me in another course(!?!). So yeah. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the place of biting my tongue enough to collaborate with him next term. I just wish any of his actions in the past two weeks would map onto a logic I could understand.

    @EG Gosh, I am so so sorry to hear that for your student. I at least know that my degree is only a year long, whereas knowing you’ve got that fight to fight, in addition to the entire slog of academic hard work, throughout your PhD is really terrible. And thank you for the validation- I know I need to remember that these qualities are actually good things that I have, even when people decide to take it out on me.

  2. Andie
    Andie November 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

    I am going to fricking lose it on the next company I deal with that tells me one thing and then does another. Be goddamned clear with people. Got my final bill for the sewer work I had done, oh, almost a MONTH ago now. The couple of times I’ve asked the plumbers about the invoice, they’ve mentioned that the cost may be *a little* more than the original estimate. No, the final cost was nearly DOUBLE the original estimate.

    Between that, the costs from the flood last week, needing new snow tires and a battery for my car, making sure I have enough money for heating oil through the winter, finding out my property taxes are going up by about $150 bucks a month, AND shopping for Christmas (thank God santa is out of the bag this year), not to mention my sick benefits have not kicked in and probably won’t before i am back to work, I am losing my freaking mind from money stress.

  3. Ally S
    Ally S November 29, 2013 at 7:51 pm |

    I want to thank everyone who sent me words of encouragement and advice in the last open thread. I have yet to leave San Jose, but I will most likely do so very soon. There are some things I still need to figure out before I leave. If anyone has any helpful advice to share, I have an email in my DreamWidth profile (you can find it through my journal, which is linked to in my username).

    [Content note: sexual abuse]

    I have recently realized that I was sexually abused when I was 12. It was all non-contact, but it was still harmful. My sister’s abusive then-boyfriend constantly sexually harassed me, telling me that I should have PIV sex with the “opposite” gender because I needed to become a “real man.” Every time I saw him, I felt like he wanted to manipulate me into sexual activity with an older woman. I am coping well with these memories – better than I expected – but when

    1. Ally S
      Ally S November 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm |

      (Dammit, I wasn’t able to finish my comment. X_X)

      Anyway, I am coping well with these memories – better than I expected – but when I first came to that realization, I had an anxiety attack. And then a troll on another feminist blog I frequented tried to deliberately trigger me, and he succeeded. I ended up shaking and almost crying. I have since calmed down and I feel more secure now that I understand that part of my past and that horrible ex-boyfriend is gone. I hate him even more than my father.

      1. anna_k
        anna_k November 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

        [Content Note: Sexual abuse]

        I’m so sorry that happened to you, and how absolutely vile that someone worked to trigger you. I’m glad you’re able to feel more secure now. Comforting and stabilising thoughts and feelings from me to you, if you want them.

        I’d also just like to say, as affirmation because I know this is the kind of thing I needed to hear (not that you necessarily do- obviously I don’t know where you are at with this and people don’t react or cope identically) that I’ve experienced “non-contact” sexual abuse which I didn’t allow myself to remember as such for a while, and I had a tough time reconciling myself to how abused the experience had made me feel, and how bad the harm was, because I had no real contact “hook” on which to neatly hang and categorise it.

        You seem to have a much better handle on calling it by what it is and thinking/working through it than I did at the time, but I just wanted to add a comment and support in case you have/have had to battle with your mind/thoughts on the harmfulness/abusiveness, as I know I did.

        1. Ally S
          Ally S November 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

          I appreciate it. I have a tendency to downplay the abuse that’s happened to me, so things like what you’ve just said are validating to me.

      2. bowsercrushes
        bowsercrushes December 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm |

        I lurk, but I just wanted to say that ive been following your posts and im getting impatient for you to get out because im worried about you.

        1. Ally S
          Ally S December 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm |

          Hi bowsercrushes!

          It’s okay. I’ll be out of here very soon if everything goes according to plan. And I have some good backup plans as well. I have even figured out some easy ways of making money, although they are risky. Hopefully I won’t have to settle for risky decisions and instead find another job that involves coding, although I’m worried about whether anyone would want to hire me since all I currently have is decent knowledge of some programming languages (which, as I have found out via job searches, often isn’t enough for a lot of these positions I’m looking at).

          It feels overwhelming, honestly. I’m a mixed-race, bi trans girl with rudimentary coding experience asking mostly elitist, class-privileged, white straight cis men for coding jobs. I almost feel like I don’t have any chance unless someone pities me for being a “runaway” – and even that is unlikely.

        2. Ally S
          Ally S December 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

          BTW, you are not the first lurker to delurk and show me support. I really appreciate comments like yours – it shows me that I have a lot more support (at least in spirit) than I realize. Thanks.

  4. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll November 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm |

    So glad yesterday is over. Today was NA Heritage Day. Not that the media mentions it. Or the net.

  5. kittehserf
    kittehserf December 1, 2013 at 1:15 am |

    I’m visiting the US in May. Very much looking forward to catching up with friends again (and, I hope, meeting Manboobz friends for the first time). I just wish I had longer, but my bff there can only get a week off – USian lack of annual leave and paid annual leave SUCKS.

  6. Ally S
    Ally S December 1, 2013 at 11:06 am |

    [Content note: transmisogyny, abuse]

    Ugh, I just had a terrible dream in which my dad found out I was trans. I accidentally outed myself to him – I mentioned something about me embracing my identity as a trans girl. He got furious, saying stuff like “Oh, so that’s what you were hiding from me? COME HERE RIGHT NOW!” And then my heart started racing and I hid behind my older sister, who was standing in the same room.

    What makes that dream scary is that it depicted exactly how I’d react in such a situation. When there are other people in a room and my father is infuriated at me, I tend to hide behind other people. And he demands that I sit/stand right in front of him when he’s upset at me – just like he did in that dream. It terrifies me when he does that because that’s usually when he is most willing to be abusive towards me in some way – whether it’s hitting me, invading my personal boundaries, or yelling in my face and not letting me keep a distance from him.

    Fortunately, I won’t be in this horrible place for much longer.

    1. EG
      EG December 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

      I’m so glad you’ll soon be out. Nightmares are bad enough, goodness knows, but I–and I suspect others here–worry for your safety in your waking life as well.

  7. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve December 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

    I was rather shocked to read this article’s definition of ‘naughtiness’ as I would define it more as ‘sexual assault’.

    http://nypost.com/2013/11/25/husband-broadcasts-drunk-naked-wife-on-playstation-4/

    1. EG
      EG December 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

      I probably wouldn’t go so far as calling it sexual assault, but I would totally call it grounds for divorce and taking the bastard for everything he has, and smashing the PlayStation for good measure.

  8. trees
    trees December 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

    Mods: I hope this is appropriate for this thread; I decided against posting this at Signal-Boosting Wednesday since they’re older links.

    I’m sharing these posts with the aim of soliciting response from folks more knowledgeable than me on sex-positive feminism:

    I am Not Sex Positive: A Riff On the Collusion Between Sex Positivity and the Carceral State
    and
    sex-positivity isn’t so positive

    1. EG
      EG December 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm |

      On a personal level, however, I have always felt that sex-positivity was inadequate. For one thing, it universalizes a narrative of sexual liberation. The more sex you have, the more “liberated” you are. This is the dominant and overarching theme of sex-positive rhetoric (besides, maybe, that one page in that pamphlet, weakly assuring that “it’s ok to not have sex too!”)

      What if it’s hard to discern the difference between your desire/attractionality and your oppression? In fact, what if desire/attractionality is a mechanism, an enabler, through which such oppression takes place? Sex-positivity tells us to blindly submit ourselves to such constructs, rather than interrogating and critically exploring them, seeking our own unique paths towards true sexual liberation. After all, sexual liberation does not exist in a vacuum; it is entangled with the ongoing project of liberation from coloniality as well. I don’t even want to call it sexual “liberation”, because that word suggests that there is a magical point when we will be “free”. There is not such “point”; if coloniality is ongoing, so is liberation.

      I am not a WoC, so I do not want to appropriate an aspect of this writer’s critique that is not about my situation, but the above paragraphs speak directly to my experience of sex-positive feminism and why I have no time for it. As a white Jewish girl growing up in a counter-culture that came out of the ’60s New Left, I felt…pressured by my family to be OK with sex. My mother assured me that sex was the most awesome thing in the world, and when my dad left when I was a teenager, probably shared too much information about too many of her experiences. My grandfather has no boundaries at all (my mother and I both hate this; thank God for my stepfather who point-blank tells him to stop talking when he does it). A close friend of my family routinely gave me sexually explicit collages he made and too-wet kisses. My family eagerly anticipated me dating. I never felt just OK about developing sexually at my own pace, because the narrative of sex as cool liberation was so strong, and I never felt OK about expressing my discomfort. And I’ve never found sex-positive feminism addressing any of that beyond the week paragraph referenced above, right before going into detail for pages and pages about the marvellous cool liberation of sex.

      1. trees
        trees December 1, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

        Good grief. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
        This sentence resonates with me:

        I never felt just OK about developing sexually at my own pace, because the narrative of sex as cool liberation was so strong, and I never felt OK about expressing my discomfort.

        I struggle to make sense of these issues, but maybe this has to do with my history of sexual violence.

        Whenever this subject comes up on this blog, it always seems to become a contentious discussion on authenticity. Do you suppose this sex=liberation narrative is widely accepted in theory and/or practice?

        1. EG
          EG December 2, 2013 at 11:41 am |

          I think it’s a very powerful narrative, and I think it’s partially a powerful narrative because it has a grain of truth in it, in that in the US and the UK and France, the New Left movements that sought to advance various kinds of political liberations were often deeply immersed in the sexual revolution as well, so the two ideas got linked. And the idea of “free love” and sex are easier to commodify than the radical principles and actions that were also informing those movements, so popular culture highlights sexual activity as the defining aspect of those movements (and peace, but a peace movement so defanged of any political critique, content, and militancy as to be completely risible and non-threatening), and so the narrative is strengthened.

          But it’s a narrative that ignores the way sex and pressure to be sexual have been loci for oppression for many women, particularly but, as my example indicates, not only, WoC.

    2. EG
      EG December 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

      Longer reply in mod, but the summary is that even growing up as a white girl I felt immense pressure to be sexual (not from my peers, either, but from my family), and have never found sex-positivity to address that adequately, and that’s not even factoring in how much worse that pressure is for WoC (not necessarily from family; that’s just my personal situation). So I really like those links.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune December 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

      I’m always left really uncomfortable and alienated by “WOC are pressured to be sexual so sex-positivity has no place for WOC!” arguments. I’m a WOC, and believe you me, I was pressured to be sex-negative every bit as hard as any lily-white kid, and probably more than most. So were my north Indian friends. So were my South Korean friends, and my Chinese-American friends, and my Singaporean friends, and my Middle Eastern friends…

      You* want to talk about how black women, or Native women, are pressured to be sexual, assumed to be sexual, treated as unrapeable, etc? Go for it! I’m with you 100%; that’s sick and should be stopped. Don’t tell me your experience is the “WOC experience”, though. Like…fuck that idea with a tree. Otherwise, come right out and say that we’re not “real” WOC, or at least have the basic human decency to acknowledge that not everyone in the world has the exact same experience as people in the US and that many sex-positive narratives might actually be quite useful to some WOC. We’re not a fucking monolith ffs.

      *general you obvs

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune December 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm |

        This is obviously not to say that some desi, Asian, middle-eastern etc WOC don’t face the exact same pressures as black women (the geisha and harem girl thing don’t come out of nowhere). I’m just saying that it’s not “WOC”, it’s some WOC.

        1. trees
          trees December 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

          This is obviously not to say that some desi, Asian, middle-eastern etc WOC don’t face the exact same pressures as black women (the geisha and harem girl thing don’t come out of nowhere). I’m just saying that it’s not “WOC”, it’s some WOC.

          I read the articles as an exploration of the differing issues faced by white vs. WOC in a western context. So even though your home culture may enforce “sex-negativity”, mainstream U.S. culture may see you, the exotic other, very differently.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 1, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

          If a blogger’s writing about “WOC in North America”, then they should say it’s “WOC in North America”. They don’t get to paste it on yey for the rest of the world and then wonder why it provokes bristling because readers don’t magically understand words that don’t actually exist on the page.

        3. trees
          trees December 1, 2013 at 10:02 pm |

          If a blogger’s writing about “WOC in North America”, then they should say it’s “WOC in North America”. They don’t get to paste it on yey for the rest of the world and then wonder why it provokes bristling because readers don’t magically understand words that don’t actually exist on the page.

          Good point. I read the second article in the context of the first. Do you also see this issue in the first article?

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 1, 2013 at 10:15 pm |

          No, I don’t. I see a clearly US-centric perspective throughout the article, as well as a clearly Black perspective, and though the author’s unqualified endorsement of the second article is problematic as fuck, it’s a minor point in the overall article, and one I wouldn’t really be bothered by, considering she’s writing in a defined and specific context where critique of sex-positivity in the abstract is in fact entirely valid IMO.

      2. trees
        trees December 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm |

        Yes, absolutely. WOC doesn’t equal only U.S. black or NDN. The first link doesn’t seem to so much speak in generalities; are you responding to the second link? I think that second author may be South Asian, and neither black or native.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 1, 2013 at 9:47 pm |

          Yeah, I was addressing the second link, but also sex-poz critiques in general, which seem uncomfortably universalising and alienating to me. I mean, if they want to No True Scotsman me out of WOC-ness, fine. I mean, look at this quote:

          While straight middle-class women may have been stereotyped as pure, asexual virgins, women of color were hypersexualized as exotic, erotic beings (see hottentot, harem girl, lotus blossom, fiery Latina, squaw, etc.)

          Which women of colour? All of us? Ever? No distinctions of region, of culture, of caste? Okay, then. I’ll go be white. Seems like a good gig if you can land it.

          I also take exception to the notion that sex positivity’s idea is that “more sex=liberation”. To me, the idea of sex positivity is basically adopting a position where sex is a neutral factor, and aiming towards an ideal where people are having exactly as much sex as they want (ranging from “zero forever bye” to “I am actually in a sevensome right now, with just one hand free for posting on the internet”), in the way they want, and with the people of whatever gender they want, PROVIDED it does not harm anyone else mentally, emotionally or physically. Everything else is pretty much icing.

        2. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll December 1, 2013 at 11:39 pm |

          I think the people behind the stereotyping might explain it. To straight white western men, all woc fall into the stereotypes she listed and it all focuses on the males sexual perspective and desire. The dominant oppressor group has a cultural narrative, then there are the narratives of poc which don’t necessarily reflect or align with the dominant oppressor view. So woc get two bags of shit handed to them. The bag the dominant oppressor group shoves on them plus their own cultural shit shoved at them. The result can be two contradictions woc have to wade through to figure out how they feel as individuals. Great fun.

        3. EG
          EG December 2, 2013 at 11:45 am |

          I also take exception to the notion that sex positivity’s idea is that “more sex=liberation”. To me, the idea of sex positivity is basically adopting a position where sex is a neutral factor, and aiming towards an ideal where people are having exactly as much sex as they want

          I absolutely believe this of you, mac. But my experiences with sex-positive feminism and feminists do not lead me to believe that they are mostly like that. I was at a private feminist women’s college in NYC in the 1990s, which I kind of think of as ground zero for “mainstream” sex-positive feminism, and I have interacted with sex-positive feminists on line and in real life, some of whom are my friends, and I have only ever come away from those experiences with the narrative of sex=liberation. In many ways, Clarisse Thorn is very representative of those experiences.

        4. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon December 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

          I have only ever come away from those experiences with the narrative of sex=liberation

          Same, and not just sex=liberation, but this feeling that any boundaries about types of sex or particular sex acts means you are not comfortable with sexuality itself. And this is not really a problem for me on a personal level, so I don’t think I’m reading in judgment where none exists.

        5. TMK
          TMK December 4, 2013 at 7:13 am |

          But my experiences with sex-positive feminism and feminists do not lead me to believe that they are mostly like that. I was at a private feminist women’s college in NYC in the 1990s, which I kind of think of as ground zero for “mainstream” sex-positive feminism, and I have interacted with sex-positive feminists on line and in real life, some of whom are my friends, and I have only ever come away from those experiences with the narrative of sex=liberation. In many ways, Clarisse Thorn is very representative of those experiences.

          Wait, how? Clarisse Thorn, the woman who was in long relationship with celibate man gave you an impression that her sex positivity is all about sex=liberation? And she is *very* representative of it?

          Huh. There seem to be really serious communication issue there.

        6. EG
          EG December 4, 2013 at 9:33 am |

          Look at every single thing Clarisse Thorn posted while she was blogging here, paying particular attention to the post asking how sex-positive feminism could be improved and reach more people, which she then shut down comments on because she didn’t like what people were saying, and then particular attention to the post that Jill took responsibility for which reprinted a piece claiming that every single woman in Ancient Rome was a sex worker from a blogger who turned out to be massively anti-feminist (think “your man cheats because you let yourself go” kind of thing), and was praised by Thorn in its comments.

    4. Denise Winters
      Denise Winters December 2, 2013 at 10:45 am |

      As a U.S. black woman, these articles actually highlight the problems I find with people who denounce sex-positivity, and the reasons I identify as sex positive.

      1. The idea that sex-positive feminism means that more sex=liberation seems to be a complete straw argument and denies the situation from which sex positivity arose. There were, and still are, women who are literally shamed and accused of doing feminism wrong or not being committed to the cause because they enjoy sex with men in general, and PIV sex with women and/or men specifically. This was happening, and it is still happening. The posts of one of the people who posted the above article, even includes a quote promoting lesbianism and asexuality as rejections of the patriarchy as oppose to sexual and romantic orientations. Not a problem in and of itself, but people like Leslie Feinberg and bell hooks can attest that that mentality was used to shame women who enjoyed PIV and sex with men as being complicit in the patriarchy with regards to their sexuality.

      2. These articles both seem to reinforce the notion that black women who are not only sex positive (which doesn’t correlate to more sex or any sex) but actually do enjoy sex and are open about that, are responsible for reinforcing negative stereotypes. It undermines the belief that we should try to claim our sexuality as much as possible, and that any shame associated with it is the result of the oppressor’s mentality, not with our sexuality itself. It seems to incorporate the mentality I see too often applied towards and by black women and men, that we should strive for the pedestal simply because we were never placed on it to begin with, and that not doing that is furthering our shame.

      3. The fact that in many ways black women have been painted as “hyper” sexual (with the concept of their being a normative sexual from which a hyper can be determined being messed up to begin with) is actually used as a source of sex negativity in that the responsibility for appearing normative sexually is foisted on black women instead of people attacking those who would seek to define any individual’s, let alone any group’s, sexuality to begin with.

      4. The idea that sex-positive feminism doesn’t address the needs of black women in the U.S. is reductive and erases the voices and experiences of black women in the U.S. and paints us all as a monolith. It also fails to acknowledge the sex negativity in many black communities that arises from socially conservative Christianity, a way to combat baby mama stereotypes, and as a means of promoting heteronormative family models.

      5. These critiques not only set up straw arguments, but they fail to acknowledge the degree to which consent is the basis of sex-positive feminism, with the notion that people need to have the power and confidence to explore their sexuality as free of social coercion or restriction as possible. Within relationships, there will always be different levels of power and status, and economic pressures will influence sexual decisions for some people. However, one thing that can be done, is to lessen social stigmas around certain sexual practices and to combat the idea of women as prey that need to be convinced to “give up” their sexuality and men as sex hungry predators. Women who actually want sex and enjoy various sex acts should not be goaded into feeling bad about their desires just because the U.S. is a puritanical society that wants to undermine women’s sexual agency and because some feminists want to convince women that the only reason they agree to and enjoy sex with men and PIV is because the patriarchy made them.

      1. EG
        EG December 2, 2013 at 11:49 am |

        The idea that sex-positive feminism means that more sex=liberation seems to be a complete straw argument and denies the situation from which sex positivity arose.

        I actually take strong exception to what seems to me to be a caricature of the situation in which sex-positive feminism was developed. A celebration of sexuality is as strong a tradition in feminism as the puritanical, anti-sex tradition to which you refer (my mother, who was as feminist as they come as early as they came, thinks of feminism as what validated and encouraged her to express her sexuality), and there were and still are women who are shamed and accused of doing feminism or leftism wrong for not being comfortable with sex. Many of the “anti-sex” feminist critiques arose in response to the pressure leftist culture and the sexual revolution brought to bear on women to have and enjoy sex when they didn’t want to.

        1. Denise Winters
          Denise Winters December 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm |

          You seem to call the situation I mention a caricature, and then admit that it existed. My focus was on sex poistivety as a movement within a larger feminist movement that actively shamed those of its members who slept with men or desired/enjoyed PIV sex. The idea that women should not feel pressured to have sex or seek a certain type of sex is absolutely central to sex positive feminism, and I think it should be central to feminism in general. But I see a lot of problems arising when women who are not comfortable with sex or certain acts decide that most women, if not all, must not be truly comfortable as well. Women who enjoy certain acts are not trusted to examine their own desires and know what they are and are not comfortable with. Some non sex-positive feminists have gone so far as to tell women that the only reason they enjoy PIV is because they have been conditioned to be fuck-holes, and that enjoyment from some acts is possible only because of patriarchy and they reinforce the patriarchy by participating in these acts and having sexual/romantic relationships with men. My problem with many radfems and some non sex-positive feminists is that they take it upon themselves to decide what sexual acts other women should or should not be comfortable with. I see sex-positive feminism as challenging the patriarchial control of sexuality which includes a focus on strong boundaries and pro-active consent, and a weakening of the shame narrative that surrounds female sexuality (including shame for not wanting to engage in sex when it is patriarchially approved to do so). I just see a lot of anti-sex rhetoric as continuing to center the patriarchy and male experience.

        2. Denise Winters
          Denise Winters December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

          And I realize that any rhetoric can be twisted to aid oppressors and people whose interests are counter to those of the movement. But I lay that blame at the feet of the manipulators who use whatever they can get hold of to reinforce their dominance.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

          I just see a lot of anti-sex rhetoric as continuing to center the patriarchy and male experience.

          Yeah.

          I mean.

          “Women only have sex because they are required to”

          “Women have no ability to really consent to sex”

          “Women aren’t capable of deciding whether a sex act is something they like or not”

          Can you even tell if this is a sex-negative feminist’s position or some fundie fuckmook’s opinion? ‘Cause I sure as fuck can’t.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |

          And maybe it’s liberating and empowering for some women here to be told that women en masse have no ability to really have any rational thought or consent consciously to anything that involves a man. Personally, I find it upsetting and triggering as fuck, but I suppose that’s just my patriarchal fuckhole training speaking.

        5. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          Some non sex-positive feminists have gone so far as to tell women that the only reason they enjoy PIV is because they have been conditioned to be fuck-holes

          Gah, the willingness of some feminists to throw around words like ‘fuckhole’ really really disturbs me.

        6. EG
          EG December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

          And I realize that any rhetoric can be twisted to aid oppressors and people whose interests are counter to those of the movement. But I lay that blame at the feet of the manipulators who use whatever they can get hold of to reinforce their dominance.

          Why do you do that for sex-positive feminists, but not for the state of feminism prior to their self-proclaimed movement?

          I was basing my use of the word “caricature” on the fact that you did not give a full–or even even-handed description of the pre-sex-positive-movements feminist context, not on an assertion that what you described never happened.

        7. EG
          EG December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

          Basically, I don’t see a whole lot of twisting going on in the experiences I have had with sex-positive feminism and feminists. If it is twisting, it is twisting that is wide-spread and going under the name of “sex-positive feminism,” and that’s good enough for me.

        8. Denise Winters
          Denise Winters December 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |

          And the outright shaming and demeaning I see being carried out by “anti-sex” feminists and radfems is enough for me to decide that a movement that centers consent, boundaries, exploring desire, and non-shaming is central to my feminism as oppose to one where women are accused of embracing being fuck-holes if they happily display sexuality that includes any desire for men, BDSM, or penetration. That isn’t criticizing a patriarchal context where women’s sexual desires or lack thereof isn’t respected, but rather reinforcing the idea of sex being purely male-centered and policing what kind of sex truly liberated women should and shouldn’t want.

          I think the sex-shaming that happened prior to sex-positivity was inherently harmful and exclusionary in and of itself (such as bell hooks being questioned on her commitment to the cause for having relationships with men), that’s why I don’t apply benefit of the doubt to the theory as a whole when radfems today apply it in a way to convince women their enjoyment of certain sexual practices is probably only a result of patriarchial conditioning. When people try to convince women that should enjoy or try a certain thing sexually, I find that disgusting as well and completely counter to anything I consider sex-positive. But with the radfem “anti-sex” position, I see the shaming and policing as central to the position. I’m not going to try to True Scotsman anyone out of the movement and cannot state enough how much I deplore pressure on women either way and see sex-shaming and “prude”-shaming as two sides of the same coin, with both being means of controlling women’s sexuality. Sex-positive feminism mattered to me when I was questioning if I was asexual, questioning my orientation, and questioning my desires, and reminded me that either way it was fine and that it should not be someone else’s to control or dictate, whereas radfem opinions were a plethora of shaming and brainwashing accusations. At least when conservatives define the boundaries of what a “good” woman’s sexuality looks like, they do so without calling us complicit fuck-holes.

        9. Denise Winters
          Denise Winters December 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm |

          And I do not think that rejecting the label of sex-positive necessarily means someone embraces a shaming narrative. But I am not going to agree that context serves as an excuse for telling women what kind of sex and relationships they really want, and that if they think otherwise they are brainwashed by the patriarchy. I didn’t bring up the context because frankly, I don’t think it matters. Yes it is terrible to tell women that they should be open to trying everything and that they should stay in unfufilling relationships, but I do not see telling women that penetrative sex is predatory, that having relationships with men hinders their ability to challenge the patriarchy as good counter-arguments.

        10. EG
          EG December 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

          Well, there you go, because I don’t find sex-positive feminism’s context any justification for the facile shaming it engages in.

          Further, the context that you left out was not only what the anti-sex feminists were responding to, but the fact that sex-positivity’s self-aggrandizing narrative of how it rode in to heroically save feminism from some kind of wasteland of anti-sex thought and feeling is, again, facile, and erases the variety of approaches to feminism in play not only shortly but also significantly prior to s-p feminism’s inception.

          That’s one of the things I hate most about s-p feminism, actually, that rhetoric. It’s the same thing I hate about the “pro-life” movement. Oh, I don’t agree with you, so I must be anti-life. Oh, I find s-p feminism’s rhetoric self-aggrandizing and its analysis incomplete at best and shaming on average? Gee, I guess if I don’t like s-p feminism, I must be sex-negative. It’s such a bullshit rhetorical trick.

      2. Miriam
        Miriam December 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

        Yes, this is exactly my experience with sex-positive feminism as well. Whenever I read critiques of it, the critiques always seem to be talking about something completely different.

        In regards to the sex=liberation, I do think that’s there in sex-positive feminism but that it’s qualified as authentic sex=liberation rather than all sex=liberation. What I mean by that is that sex-positive feminism is responding to a state in which people (of all gender identities) are pressured by culture to perform sexual identities that may or may not reflect an individual’s own desire. The point of destigmatizing desire and conversations about sex is to let individuals identify their authentic desire and behave accordingly. I’ve never understood it to be about promoting any one form of sexual behavior over any other.

        Of course, if I reflect on it, my understanding of sex-positive feminism is largely shaped by the feminist organization at my university when I was there… which means it’s really shaped by how a small handful of college students understood and promoted the concept. I couldn’t comfortably name any theorists associated with it (not counting someone like Susie Bright, who writers from an explicitly sex-positive perspective but isn’t a theorist as far as I know) or seminal texts that lay out the principles of sex-positive feminism.

        1. trees
          trees December 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

          Does this radfem versus sex-positive feminism dichotomy apply to these particular articles? Does criticism of sex-pos fem always equate with a desire to control women’s sexuality?

  9. rw1928
    rw1928 December 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm |

    I was wondering if someone here could help me with some suggested research material. I’ve been getting in fights with some males about neurobiology of men and women. I was doing research on google but I’m having a hard time finding good information. I’ve seen people make arguments like that on average men have a 20% higher IQ than women, that men have fundamentally better faculty for spatial relationships and mathematics. If someone is a scientist, are the studies that people usually sight in these circumstances legit? Is the research actually complete enough? If it isn’t, someone needs to challenge this narrative because it really seems to justify past misogynist practices. I mean, if it was true, it would be really easy to justify not giving me a job over a man.

    Also, I want to point out, I’m not asking you to do the research for me, I was just wondering if anyone had good sources. Thanks in advance.

    1. Ally S
      Ally S December 1, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

      I’ll let you know if I remember any other good sources, but you should totally check out the book Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. It’s a fabulous book that addresses the exact same arguments you mentioned.

      Another good book is Myths of Male Dominance by Eleanor Leacock, which I have yet to read, but I’ve heard that it’s an interesting critique of biologist arguments about the “inevitability” of patriarchy as a social structure.

      And then there’s Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Nature by Philip Kitcher. I haven’t read that book either, but it’s supposed to be a strong critique of sociobiology, the field from which many claims about biological male superiority originate.

      1. Ally S
        Ally S December 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm |

        I’ll add that Fine’s book goes into the topic of stereotype threat, which is very interesting as it serves as a strong critique of claims about women’s intelligence.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L December 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm |

        Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine.

        I haven’t read it, although I’ve heard good things about it. I’m made a little queasy by the fact that TERFs like to cite it — all the time — as supposedly proving that trans women are delusional. Whether that’s a remotely fair characterization, I have no idea.

        1. Ally S
          Ally S December 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm |

          Yeah, even the title sounds TERF-friendly! However, whoever is using the book to support anti-trans sophistry is missing its central point. Nowhere does Fine argue that sex characteristics can’t possibly influence cognitive abilities. Instead, she only criticizes 1) influential studies used to reinforce beliefs about innate differences and 2) widely-held methodological assumptions about finding sex differences. So I would be a little surprised to see a lot of TERFs citing the book, although I believe what you’re saying because there are plenty of TERFs who think that trans people are just buying into patriarchal stereotypes for identifying as a different gender.

          If I recall correctly, the book is not openly hostile to trans people. In fact, I just skimmed through it, and the first chapter begins with a quote from Jan Morris’s autobiography about gender stereotype effects. And Fine doesn’t misgender her. That’s a good sign, I suppose.

      3. rw1928
        rw1928 December 3, 2013 at 7:59 am |

        Thanks Ally, I was kind of at a loss as to where to start. Unfortunately there is so much negativity surrounding the subject, I really didn’t want to wade through all of that to find good information.

    2. Miranda
      Miranda December 1, 2013 at 11:55 pm |

      This isn’t my academic area, but you could look into things like “stereotype threat.” My understanding is that there ARE studies suggesting men score better on IQ measurements than women and ditto whites/asians re: other races. However, only assholes jump to arguing that this means there is some intrinsic biological difference. I’ve seen the gap explained many ways: that there is something deeply wrong with IQ measurements or the studies in question; that “stereotype threat” worsens oppressed people’s performances; that early life socialization affects male versus female ability to do math or reason spatially; and other ways, I’m sure.

      If I remember correctly, there have been studies indicating that all of the above solutions could be at work: e.g., women perform better on math/science in all women’s schools; black students score significantly worse on SATs when they are reminded before the test that black students have a lower score on average; building with legos boosted your spatial reasoning abilities; and I’ve definitely seen a lot of stuff on the SAT being racist although it sounds like no one agrees on why exactly that is; etc.

      Do you have access to a database of scholarly articles or can you access one from a library? That would be a good place to start.

      1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        The Kittehs' Unpaid Help December 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm |

        I just finished Bill Bryson’s One Summer. He mentions the whole horrible eugenics crap of the 1920s (and before and after, of course), but one thing caught my eye: he says that IQ tests were devised to find out how stupid, not how smart, people were. If he’s right, that creeps me out about them even more than I am already.

        1. Hermione Stranger
          Hermione Stranger December 2, 2013 at 11:05 pm |

          Yeah, that’s right. And they’re still useful for people with intellectual disabilities in applying for various accommodations, SSDI, etc.

    3. Miriam
      Miriam December 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

      Per Flynn’s recent research, women actually outscore men on IQ tests. I am not a big believer in IQ tests as anything other than a snapshot of cognitive skills at the time of test, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of good books/articles to recommend.

      Oh! A book that I’ve seen recommended a lot but haven’t read is Pink Brain, Blue Brain. That’s supposed to be a critical and nuanced examination of what contemporary research indicates about gender-based innate differences and plasticity.

      1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        The Kittehs' Unpaid Help December 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

        Aren’t IQ tests heavily slanted toward mathematical or logic-type problems? That says as much about someone’s educational background as their intelligence, if so.

        1. Miriam
          Miriam December 3, 2013 at 2:15 am |

          I know that when I received an IQ score in sixth grade, I was given a verbal, mathematics, and overall score. So whatever test was used in my school district was not slanted towards math.

          I did tutoring for a while for a cognitive enhancement company, though, and we divided up abilities more than that… I want to say there were 9 core components to cognitive ability. That job was a revelation because I’d previously believed in the idea of innate intelligence, but my students made huge improvements through the training. I even noticed improvements in my own abilities, even though I had to test at a high level to start out with in order to hold the job (tutors have to be able to do the drills along with the students). It made me realize how much plasticity there is in mental abilities as well as reinforced how much of an advantage it is to come from a family with disposable income because it was not cheap to do the program.

        2. kittehserf
          kittehserf December 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

          Ah, that’s interesting. I’ve never had to sit an IQ test, but the ones I’ve looked at I’d have no chance of passing, because they’re maths or logic or puzzles and I have no education in those areas, and, I suspect, low-level discalculia. It irritates me enormously that one could be classed as not very smart because of that sort of focus. I know damn well I’m intelligent, but it’s never going to show in that sort of test.

        3. KP
          KP December 4, 2013 at 10:09 am |

          I don’t remember taking a formal IQ test either, or if I did, I was never told my IQ. We did take a number of standardized routine standardized tests, and they were always broken down into mathematical/logical and verbal sections, the verbal sections further broken down into general vocabulary and reading comprehension. I had an odd mix of abilities and disabilities (large vocabulary, but poor reading comprehension, which I think had a lot to do with having low vision — my reading problems magically cleared up when I got glasses), that they didn’t know what to do with me. I usually did quite well on visual/spacial tests, which I credit to taking extra art classes and art “camps” (which was really just day camp at my grade school for kids who like to draw.) I learned to draw dimensionally at a fairly young age; I’m pretty sure that had a lot do with it. I also played video games (at least until my teen years), which I’ve read narrows the gap between girls and boys when it comes to spacial intelligence.

    4. a lawyer
      a lawyer December 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

      rw1928 December 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      ….I mean, if [an average IQ difference]was true, it would be really easy to justify not giving me a job over a man.

      No it would not. Average scores don’t predict individual performance any more than the fact that “men are generally taller than women” would mean that all women are shorter than I am.

      Certainly there are an increasing # of studies that suggest that there is some biological basis for brain function. I would be amazed if there wasn’t some significant effect of genetics: genes play such a huge role in our development and biology generally, and have such a known effect on other brain issues (psych issues, etc.) that it would be VERY odd if they played no role in the development of intelligence–which is, from an evolutionary perspective, arguably our most valuable and defining human asset.

      But even if smart parents tend to have smart kids (so to speak) it’s much less likely that any such effect would be “racial” in nature, because the way that we categorize “race” is almost wholly unrelated to underlying genetics.

      Sex, however, IS likely to be linked to some sort of difference, though. To choose two of the more obvious reasons why, it’s because the way we categorize sex tends to be highly related to the underlying genetics; and because there are known differences in physical brain structure (on average) between men and women which have not been fully understood but which seem unlikely to have absolutely zero effect. (And of course there are hormonal differences.)

      But there’s no reason to shy away from the concept, though. That’s a mistake, and a common one. Don’t be one of those “everyone is equal in my eyes so there’s no biological link to intelligence” people; “different” doesn’t mean “worse.” It may just mean “different process, same result.” Or it may mean “different result,” with a set of pros and cons (there are very rarely pros without cons.) If ___ are better at Task A, they’re almost certainly going to be worse at something else, whatever it is.

      Anyone who thinks that there are probably gender differences in brain function is likely correct. Anyone who thinks that there are some genetic effects on brain function is certainly correct. But if they ALSO think that they are more likely to favor men, especially in some overall “more intelligent” or “better” way, they’re wrong. At this point, most folks don’t really know enough to pinpoint the differences, identify nature/nurture, and so on.

      And of course, the end scoring is based on a wholly arbitrary value judgment that it is “smarter” to do ___ than ____, and “smarter” to follow directions than challenge them, and “smarter” to know your vocabulary than to be able to catch fish, and “smarter” to be able to do the whole thing on paper, in a testing room. Even if you knew there was a biological difference, you’d still have to argue about what to test–and how.

      1. TMK
        TMK December 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

        Sex, however, IS likely to be linked to some sort of difference, though. To choose two of the more obvious reasons why, it’s because the way we categorize sex tends to be highly related to the underlying genetics; and because there are known differences in physical brain structure (on average) between men and women which have not been fully understood but which seem unlikely to have absolutely zero effect. (And of course there are hormonal differences.)

        I think the differences are hormonal, not genetic (i mean, we all mostly have the same genes, with the slight difference being that some have different copies of one of 23 chromosomes. So what happens to the brain is that it differentiates based on hormonal influnces, especially pre-natal and childhood. I guess.

        And the curious thning is that despite pretty significant differences in averages, the results are very unimpressive and brains seem to differ much more based on other factors than on sex. I dont recall much now, but for example the differences between males and females in grey and white matter is pretty significant, at least as generally low human sexual dimorphism goes.

        On a side note, i always had results pointing to androgynous mind on various tests. I liked it a lot :)

        1. a lawyer
          a lawyer December 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

          Hormonal/genetic is hard to differentiate, because of course the genes tend to control the hormones. But I agree it could certainly be hormonal.

          Also, this is worth repeating: And the curious thning is that despite pretty significant differences in averages, the results are very unimpressive and brains seem to differ much more based on other factors than on sex.

          The within-group variance exceeds the between-group variance by a HUGE margin. That’s true for pretty much every group. Right now, you have no way of knowing if a given person seems smart or dumb; if there was a small IQ difference, you still wouldn’t.

          Imagine that we could conclusively prove that women had an average IQ which was five points higher than men. As a statistic for mass data, that would be useful. But as a statistic for “what do you personally do in daily life when you meet a new person?” that would be pretty much useless: the person you are talking to would be what they would be, statistics aside.

          And of course, even the most genetically-oriented folks concede that there is an enormous effect of “nurture” over “nature.” That is particularly the case with the bad stuff.

          IOW: You can’t take someone who has a severe brain malfunction and make them brilliant, no matter how well you treat them. But you can absolutely take someone who has outstanding genes and prevent them from reaching their potential through malnutrition, under-education, etc. As you can imagine, that happens all the time worldwide, and basically makes many IQ comparisons even more meaningless. It’s like saying “hey, what a surprise, rich powerful healthy well-educated well-fed people know more about math!” Useless.

      2. Miranda
        Miranda December 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm |

        Don’t be one of those “everyone is equal in my eyes so there’s no biological link to intelligence” people; “different” doesn’t mean “worse.”…Anyone who thinks that there are probably gender differences in brain function is likely correct. Anyone who thinks that there are some genetic effects on brain function is certainly correct.

        Well, everyone, a MAN who is also a LAWYER (but not a biologist or geneticist!) has just weighed in, so now the matter is closed.

        You seriously do this shit every time you post. Stop.

        1. a lawyer
          a lawyer December 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

          What’s the matter with offering an opinion? It’s no different from, say, a statement like “only assholes jump to arguing that this means there is some intrinsic biological difference” except that you disagree with me.

          As for the “I’m a MAN” shit: yes, I am a man. I’m guessing you’re not, given the accusation.

          I don’t think you’re wrong because you are in a certain category, though. After all, even if I assume that “miranda” describes a female, you may be a 15 year old student and you may be a MD/PhD geneticist with a passing interest in feminism. You’re still equally right or wrong either way. Similarly, you shouldn’t suggest that I’m wrong because I’m a lawyer, or a male. That’s obnoxious, and insensible.

          And FWIW, I have three years of undergrad science and a year of graduate level science as well as multiple years of professional experience in the sciences. I wasn’t always a lawyer. I don’t claim to be a geneticist (though I’m friends with some of them) though, and I don’t claim special expertise. But that attacking people because you assume they’re uneducated or idiots or assholes is rarely accurate. Sometimes people just disagree.

        2. Miranda
          Miranda December 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

          What’s the matter with offering an opinion?

          I don’t have strong feelings on your opinions; don’t flatter yourself. But I do think you continuously weigh-in with an air of gravitas and presumed authority that most other commentators here to do not assume. I also think you have a tendency to talk down to the entire commentariat, as you are talking down to me, in assuming that I don’t understand the concept of an ad hominem or instructing on what is and isn’t “obnoxious and insensible” to assume.

          This “assumed authority” shtick (and “I’m the only reasonable one in the whole room) is a special kind of arrogance that I see mostly, though not exclusively, from men. The feminist blogosphere uses the term mansplaining. Feel free to google and be instructed.

          I see you do it over and over again, and I am actually shocked that no one has called you out before.

        3. Miranda
          Miranda December 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm |

          What’s the matter with offering an opinion?

          I would also invite you to re-analyze your own rhetoric. You did not couch your reply as an opinion. You not only presented it as authoritative fact based on…yourself, but you also instructed the asker what to think. (“Don’t be one of those people…”) It’s patronizing, especially since you are a man in a feminist space. Yes, context matters. Sorry. If you don’t want to be in a space in which context is taken into account and (in which your viewpoint will automatically be considered neutral), please, go enjoy yourself in the rest of the world.

          I’m not even going to get into the fact that you read my “only assholes think” as me just labeling someone an asshole because I disagree with them. What should be implicit there is WHY I think people get trigger-happy in starting to claim genetic difference when all sorts of other, less grandiose claims could be made.

        4. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable December 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

          I see you do it over and over again, and I am actually shocked that no one has called you out before.

          Rape threads, FWIW. I called out that I was sick of his shit on one. To be fair, I agree with you that it’s a broader issue (e.g. presenting himself as an authority, even within the confines of his chosen screenname), but god did he piss me off there.

      3. rw1928
        rw1928 December 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm |

        Is it illegal for an employer to have perspective employees take IQ tests and then hire the people who scored the highest? I tried to search for this but it sent me into Google hell. Sorry in advance.

        1. a lawyer
          a lawyer December 5, 2013 at 9:34 am |

          Yes and no.

          Certainly, many employers use some form of pre-employment testing. It takes quite a bit of thought for implementation, since the tests can run afoul of ADA or state discrimination laws, among other laws. But they are not per se illegal.

          Almost all employment tests contain some elements which are similar to some parts of the IQ test. But they’re not actually IQ tests. IQ tests are usually complex and expensive, at least if you want something valuable. Unsurprisingly you can get shorter versions; unsurprisingly the shorter versions fail to differentiate as well. And the more complex ones also require some post test interpretation.

          Given that IQ is really a predictor (and not an especially accurate one w/r/t job performance) it would be a pretty stupid way to spend time and money if they wanted to screen employees. If you want to know if someone will make a good manager, you can find out in an interview rather than through an IQ test, and by watching them manage, and by talking to their old supervisees, and so on. If you want to find out whether someone will make a good machine operator then you’d have better results testing them on machine operation instead of vocabulary.

          What you CAN do is to develop a basic screening mechanism. It’s very hard to use a short test to actually determine whether someone’s IQ is 95 or 115, but it’s relatively easy to use a short test that will filter out the least knowledgeable of applicants with a high degree of accuracy (i.e. “most people who pass the test have an IQ greater than 90.”) Those tests are common: for example, it may not matter if your cashiers have a high/low degree of abstract reasoning but it certainly matters if they cannot add or subtract, so you might require applicants to demonstrate their ability to do basic math. All you know after such a test is that “every applicant in Stage 2 can answer “35+17=?” and “137-68=?”; that may be enough.

          I have not heard of an employer who actually requires a full IQ test at the early stages. I think it would be legal but very impractical so I would be surprised if one exists. I’m sure that there are employers who require it for a highly limited # of people at executive-level positions: I know that the Meyers-Briggs is common, for example.

        2. Willemina
          Willemina December 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

          All employment related aptitude testing I’ve experienced has been designed to eliminate unsuitable candidates prior to meeting with a hiring manager. Temp agencies seem to really like them since it’s like a frickin meat grinder, there were about 30 people in one of my sessions and they got it down to 2 of us by the end. It’s all been bottom rung manufacturing/assembly stuff so basic reading, maths, manual dexterity and maybe one or two very job specific tests.

          From what I remember of an IQ test I had elementary school they require a psychologist in order to be considered an valid IQ test, it was individual and took a while to get through (admittedly I was little so 30+ minutes was an eternity). The full blown test really doesn’t lend itself to broad candidate pools, and I think if I were told by a hiring manager they finally came to a decision between me and another potential by the outcome of an aptitude test I’d give it a serious side-eye because they Love Metrics Far Too Much. Or the other person was my bizarro clone with a slightly lower IQ in which case I’d run screaming from the building.

    1. kittehserf
      kittehserf December 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

      I saw the headline (they reprinted it in the Age) and didn’t bother to read any further, partly because my eyes were rolling so hard.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L December 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

      The problem with the “popular press” view of studies like this, from what I’ve read in the past, is that the statistical differences they show are very, very small. There’s a vast area of overlap, and it is overwhelmingly likely that there will be greater differences between any two men or any two women, than between men overall and women overall. The statistics prove nothing at all about any individual person.

    3. kittehserf
      kittehserf December 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm |

      I’m willing to bet without even reading the thing that they don’t take much account (or rather, the journos don’t, even if the study does) of little matters like how socialisation and education affect thinking, or how plastic the brain is (and remains). The very words “hard wired” make it sound like they’re doing some sort of BIOTRUTH drivel.

      ::checks pockets for loose change in case bet is alllll wrong::

    4. Willemina
      Willemina December 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm |

      Oooh, this game is fun!

      Oreos are as addictive as cocaine

      I’ve got dozens.

    5. Becky
      Becky December 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm |

      So, here’s the thing about brain connections – they are formed and strengthened through learning. So if girls are taught social skills and boys are taught to play sports, then it makes perfect sense that adult women will have more brain connections related to social skills and adult men will have more brain connections related to co-ordination. But that doesn’t say anything about innate differences between men and women. And as Donna points out, the differences between individuals are much bigger than the difference between the groups.

      Here’s an interesting counter point article: http://ht.ly/rsAuf

  10. rw1928
    rw1928 December 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627311010439

    I found this one from someone at the Chicago Medical school. It’s weird because he says that women have more grey matter in important cortical areas than men, even though men’s brains are 11% bigger and they have more white matter. I’ve always heard it the other way around for white matter. Also, a lot of the arguments that women use both sides of their brain and men don’t, not true apparently.

    Another thing that’s odd is that men are only 18% heavier and 9% taller than women on average. I would think it would be a lot more than that. 18% is not that bad.

    1. a lawyer
      a lawyer December 5, 2013 at 9:59 am |

      There’s also some evidence that women’s brains (on average) have more densely packed neurons, which in theory might mean either more connections or faster response time (since there’s a definite “speed of transfer” issue for neurons.)

      So far, I don’t think “cubic centimeters of white matter” isn’t an accurate predictor of general intelligence other than at a very gross level (animals with pea-sized brains are generally stupider than animals with coconut-sized brains.)

      I think that there have been some studies suggesting that there’s may be some limited benefit of increased brain size WITHIN genders in very limited circumstances, but even if it’s true that wouldn’t predict an effect ACROSS genders since the brains appear to have some differences in internal “wiring.”

      We don’t really know what the brain does, at least not in excruciating detail. To use some really bad hypotheticals and illustrate: women’s brains may be much more efficient than men’s brains, which would explain the size difference. And/or, men’s brains may have more “duplicate” systems to accommodate the fact that men get sicker sooner, die younger, used to (evolutionarily) be damaged more (we have thicker skulls, too), and are generally less healthy than women. The list of potential explanations goes on ad infinitum, but it would be astoundingly odd if it was linked to general intelilgence.

      Also, as with IQ, brain size varies hugely WITHIN genders. Just to pull a stat of Wikipedia for ease: “a study of 46 adults aged 22–49 years and of mainly European descent, found an average brain volume of 1273.6cc for men, ranging from 1052.9 to 1498.5cc, and 1131.1cc for women, ranging from 974.9 to 1398.1cc.”

      Plenty of the guys you meet will have brain volumes that are lower than the average woman; plenty of the women you meet will have brain volumes that are lower than the average guy. It doesn’t mean squat. Or, to put it differently: As a guy with a fairly big head (and statistically a fairly big brain), I am MUCH less intelligent than all the geniuses out there, many of whom have smaller heads and, therefore, smaller brains.

      Which reminds me of an anecdote that i heard in a neurology lecture: a Brown student was suspected of a concussion, so she got a head scan. Whereon the lecturer (who was her neurologist) found that (due to some sort of childhood anomaly) she had a huge fluid-filled space where her brain should be, and a relatively thin “shell” of brain plastered next to her skull. but she was very smart and an outstanding student. He gave us that anecdote specifically to point out the disconnect between brain size and intelligence, since her brain volume was far, far, reduced from normal.

  11. (BFing) Sarah
    (BFing) Sarah December 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

    I wanted to share here, b/c I am not sure where else to share. A little while back I had an extremely long and extremely painful conversation about consent, rape and rape culture with my aunt, my college freshman cousin, and my college age brother. It was a very frustrating conversation and I ended up ‘confessing’ (what a strange word in this context) that when I was in college, I was one of the 1 in 3 sexually assaulted (b/c they were saying that they hadn’t ever met someone that had been sexually assaulted and they were inferring the numbers were overblown). It was very hard and I wasn’t entirely sure that they heard what I was trying to say (the guys, my aunt and I were trying to talk to them about consent, etc.). Then, today, my cousin posted this: http://www.upworthy.com/if-a-man-asks-what-women-have-been-asking-for-centuries-will-men-finally-listen?g=2
    And I feel like he heard me. It is not perfect, but it is very, very important to know that he want to be a part of the struggle to work against rape culture. I feel like it was painful for me to go through that conversation, but I feel like he really did hear me. It literally moved me to tears.

  12. Paige
    Paige December 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm |

    Longtime reader first time (maybe second time?) commenter here. I have a tough situation at work right now that I just feel the need to share.

    I do cap work with children with special needs and one of my clients (whom I’ve become very close to) has a father who is one big problem. He is a proud racist who laughs when I ask him not to use the n-word around me, he never leaves the room when I’m working with his child, he demanded to know my sexuality on one of my first shifts in his home ( and he refused to take “that’s personal” as an answer and pushed me further), and recently there was an incident in which he rubbed my neck when I explicitly asked him not to touch me. He constantly comments on my appearance, and has whispered compliments to me so that “His wife couldn’t hear”. I have finally dropped his child as a client, despite my bond with him because I can’t handle the harassment anymore and I’ve heard through the grapevine that he is shocked and believed that we were friends, although honestly I was very cold if not downright mean to him at times in response to his treatment of me. I’m terrified he’s going to try and contact me and I’m considering changing my number. I don’t really know how to ease all of this anxiety. Sorry if this was jumbled, I just needed to get it off my chest and due to confidentiality this was just about the safest way I felt I could express what I’m going through.

    1. EG
      EG December 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

      Hi–I admit that I don’t know what “cap work” is, so I think I’m missing some of the nuances. But what you’re saying sounds really awful, and I’m so sorry. I guess you don’t have a superior you could report him to? Maybe before changing your number–particularly if its a business number–you could try screening your calls for a week?

      1. Paige
        Paige December 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm |

        Cap is “child and parent” support and can contain anything from in-home skill building and personal care (like hygiene and meals), or simply respite time to give relief to families with a child that needs constant care.

        Yes, I did report him to my director, and she’s been trying to come up with a solution with his case manager. The case manager had originally asked me to just have a sit-down conference with him, but at that point I just never wanted to be in a room with him again. I’m not the first person this has happened with, apparently. I’m a bit frustrated that they put me with this family knowing he’d sexually harassed some of the other workers before me. They are very supportive though, which means so much!

        1. Paige
          Paige December 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm |

          It also more generally means “client assistance program.” Not sure why I left that out lol

  13. Niall
    Niall December 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm |

    I just heard about the passing of Nelson Mandela. Although he was 95 and he’d been ill for some time, I was still stunned.

    May he rest in peace and his legacy of courage and bravery always be remembered.

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable December 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm |

      This feels like an especially difficult death – like nothing I say or do will be sufficient to honor him the way he should be honored.

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