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6th Jun, 2008

Question.

If life begins at the moment of conception, why don't we measure our age from that moment? Why wait until we're actually born to start counting?

It seems to me like evangelical Christians should be campaigning to get how we measure age changed if they're really serious about this idea. Think of all the desperate 20 year olds (and 15, and 17..) who'll be delighted to find themselves suddenly legal for whatever nefarious activity it is that they want to get up to.

17th May, 2008

The Next Generation.

Watching Miami Animal Police with my (younger) sister:

Me: Is it really necessary for them to show women in bikinis stepping out of the ocean every time they cut to or from commercials?
Her: Yes. I like to feel bad about the animals and my body.

Heeh. She's not really into political stuff, but it's nice to be reminded that she still has her head on straight. :)

15th May, 2008

"You need to get laid."

I apologise in advance for the vulgarity, but. Just so we're all on the same page here: When you tell a woman or a group of women "you need you get laid," what you are actually saying is "I hope someone sticks a cock in you so you will shut up."

There are times when it does not mean this - if, for example, you're saying it to a friend in some context where you're not saying it in a derogatory way because the friend is putting "too much" energy into something you do not find worthwhile. (Because as we all know, we should be having lots of sex instead of wasting time on things some other people may not understand, even if it makes us happy.)

I'm really sick of hearing this comment directed at whatever woman is daring to forcefully express herself on TV most recently, so to see it used by a 16 year old (albeit a troll) in reference to a group of women (and let's face it - Harry Potter and Twilight fandoms = largely women) who she is actually speaking to personally is a little.. ugh. Disheartening. And of course, she uses it because that group are unanimously telling her she's wrong, so while it is alright for her to express an opinion, for anyone else to counter it indicates that they're a shrieking harpy who spends all day scouring the internet looking for things to argue with; that is, a loser who "needs to get laid." (Because also, having sex magically fixes all your personality defects and makes you cool, you see. Losers do not have sex. Ever. Because they are too busy debating people on the internets. But the cool kids have their priorities straight.)

Obviously, I am not anti-sex or something that stupid. But I am against telling someone that they "need" to have sex because you find what they're saying distasteful. It's conflating two completely unrelated things, and to me, it conjures up all sorts of associations with the very nasty history of female sexuality. For those of you who think I'm crazy, consider the origins of the concept of "hysteria":

The term originates with the Greek medical term, hysterikos. This referred to a medical condition, thought to be particular to women, caused by disturbances of the uterus, hystera in Greek. The term hysteria was coined by Hippocrates, who thought that suffocation and madness arose in women whose uteri had become too light and dry from lack of sexual intercourse and, as a result, wandered upward, compressing the heart, lungs, and diaphragm.

Surprise! Women get all uppity and crazy because they don't get enough sex! For god's sakes, doctors in the 20th century were still bringing female patients to orgasm to cure them of this "hysteria." It was extremely popular in the Victorian Era. Here's a list of symptoms which commonly indicated "female hysteria": faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and a "tendency to cause trouble". Basically, any vagie physical symptoms combined with a general dissatisfaction or, god forbid, outspokenness indicate that you're suffering from hysteria and need something between your legs, now. (Also consider the use of the word today: with the exception of instances of mass hysteria, how often do you hear someone observe that a man is "hysterical" or "in hysterics"?)

Of course, "female hysteria" has since disappeared as a medical diagnosis and no sane doctor would suggest its existence as a legitimate condition. But obviously society still believes in it, and we evidence it every time someone tells an uppity woman that she "needs to get laid."

Just some food for thought, which will at least have you notice what you're saying next time you inform a friend of this "need" of theirs. (Also, before anyone brings it up, I think it is just as dismissive when put towards a man who's likewise exerting "too much" energy on a project you deem stupid, but I also feel that it is used less often towards men with the intention of being a biting insult and command to shut the hell up in the way that it's used towards women.)

30th Apr, 2008

Crowd sees woman being raped, cheers rapist on.

I've held off posting about this until I had some news report to cite, and the Statesman's finally deigned to give it a mention, so here we go. The local Fox affiliate also has a report up, although they do not have a clip from their television coverage up, which is a shame because they interviewed one of the bouncers and a police officer and revealed far more sordid facts than those reported in either of these clippings.

Early Friday morning, a woman was raped in an alley behind a dumpster on Sixth Street, here in Austin. Two bouncers from the bar Spill noticed a crowd of people hooting and cheering and went to investigate, and discovered a man "having sex" with a woman who was "clearly drunk" and "at times unconscious." They intervened and when the man claimed that he "knew her" (because knowing someone entitles you to have sex with their unconscious body in an alley, clearly) they challenged him to tell them her name - and he was unable to. They immediately called the police, and the man took off, but one of them actually chased, captured, and restrained him until the authorities arrived.

The woman was taken to the hospital, where her BAC was .32 and she has no memory of this incident. A detective who responded to the call was interviewed and said that the local police are absolutely horrified that no one bothered to intervene or see if this woman was alright, and they claim they're making some effort to track down those in the crowd, I suppose with the intent of trying to hold them responsible for some sort of Good Samaritan statute (or criminal negligence, though I'm not sure where the law in Texas stands on that, and you don't generally have an affirmative duty to help a stranger).

Words can not describe my own sense of horror upon learning that in this city, the one tiny patch of liberalism in the state and full of college students and academics, if you are unconscious and being raped, not only will no one stop to help - people will actually stop to cheer on your rapist.

Note also that no media coverage I have heard or read of this incident has used the word "rape." Despite claiming that the man was "having sex" with the unconscious woman (how does one "have sex" with an unconscious body?) and his being charged with sexual assault. Ugh. Just disgusting. However, I do have to commend the local news for never once implying that the woman was to blame; a police officer did say that men were often "looking for women in this state to take advantage of," but the focus was on the reprehensible actions of the rapist and the crowd. It's sad when you actually feel the need to applaud a station for treating a victim like a victim.

23rd Apr, 2008

Atheist Spokeschick?

Comments aren't working over at the Friendly Atheist (already got one eaten about atheist dating sites.. sadness), so I thought I'd post here instead. Normally I adore Hemant, but... Just the thing the atheist community needs? Yeah, we totally need a scantily clad hot chick to objectify! That's the perfect idea for a movement based on treating every human with dignity. And I'm sure it won't alienate anyone. After all, it's working so well for the animal rights movement.

Seriously, it's a petty thing to gripe over, but having to scroll past two giant images of some "sex symbol" every time I check AC is getting on my nerves.... Richard Dawkins isn't a sexy enough spokesperson?

(Before anyone jumps down my throat: Come on. Hemant is volunteering this girl - however in jest - solely because she's a hottie. So she's being classed with a bunch of older men who are accomplished scientists and best-selling novelists - the other "spokespeople" for atheism - when all she could possibly bring to the table to compete with their contributions to the field is... sex appeal. You know, it would be really fucking refreshing to see a woman applauded for her brain or accomplishments for a change. Nevermind the fact that he felt the need to share not one but four images of this girl with the post. And it's not because she's flashing a Darwin fish tee or reading The Portable Atheist on camera.)

21st Apr, 2008

Beware the Believers



I can't get over this video. It's pretty much brilliant. PZ's hat is made of win. :) (Yeah, I'm a little slow. How I missed its mention on Pharyngula is beyond me.)

I've no energy for a big long post, but I want to give a little cheer that just about everyone seems to have decided to spend their money on things other than Expelled this weekend. Not that I'm that surprised - with Forbidden Kingdom opening (and the option of seeing something like 88 Minutes, 21, Prom Night, etc if that's somehow not your cup of tea), is it really any wonder people would choose to spend two hours watching anything but Ben Stein droning on about a bunch of crap?

ETA: Almost forgot, on the subject of Expelled:

15th Apr, 2008

Fun quotes.

If you're bored, here's a charming list of 101 Atheist Quotes, compiled by The Atheist Blogger. A few of my favourites:

Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence.
- Anonymous

We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.
- Richard Dawkins

People will then often say, ‘But surely it’s better to remain an Agnostic just in case?’ This, to me, suggests such a level of silliness and muddle that I usually edge out of the conversation rather than get sucked into it. (If it turns out that I’ve been wrong all along, and there is in fact a god, and if it further turned out that this kind of legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting impressed him, then I think I would choose not to worship him anyway.)
- Douglas Adams

I refuse to believe in a god who is the primary cause of conflict in the world, preaches racism, sexism, homophobia, and ignorance, and then sends me to hell if I’m ‘bad’.
- Mike Fuhrman

When Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy.
- David Attenborough

As with dogs, so with gods - by and large, you should blame the owners.
- Martin Rowson

I am very amused that in a post of atheist quotes, posted in an atheist blog, there are many comments from offended Christians, some of whom even attempt to "rebutt" or mock choice quotes. Further demonstration that merely asserting confidently that you are an atheist (and enjoy discussing the subject) is all you have to do to be perceived as personally attacking people.

10th Apr, 2008

Politicians are depressing.

When John McCain "has a bad day," he calls his wife a cunt. When Democratic Rep Monique Davis "has a bad day," she goes off on tirades about how atheism is dangerous and all atheists believe in destroying. When Hilary Clinton "has a bad day," she takes it out on her Secret Service escorts. When Barack Obama "has a bad day" -- okay, well, actually, Obama doesn't need a "bad day" in order to start belittling Hilary in sexist terms.

Does anyone else feel like politicians need to be slightly better at handling "bad days" than the general populace?

Another reason to be depressed: No Science Debate, but both Democratic candidates have agreed to appear at the "Compassion Forum" - which focuses on religious issues (dedicated to discussing "pressing moral issues" - puke).

Also, this is completely random, but does it bother the piss out of anyone else that the two male nominees are always referred to by their last names, and Hilary is usually referred to by her first? I do it myself without even thinking about it, and it drives me up a wall. My only "comfort" is that she uses her first name on her campaign ads and signs, but seriously? The people of the US were clever enough to figure out that "Bush '00" didn't mean Bush Sr. was running again. Is Hilary trying to distance herself from her husband (for reasons I can't fathom, since he was a generally popular president) or is she trying to prove that she's a distinct entity, or is she deliberately "feminizing" her campaign by using her given name instead of the "boy's club" style of using surnames? Regardless of the reason, it's driving me nuts. We don't refer to presidential candidates by their first names. If she wins, are we going to talk about "President Hilary?"

8th Apr, 2008

Simpsons Did It.

It never ceases to amaze me how mainstream media can sneak in so many anti-religion (generally, they're specifically anti-Christian) messages, and while no one really complains about it, no one ever seems to take issue with the points raised in a positive way, either. I've been noticing more and more commentary on TV that's critical of religion, yet it never seems to have the effect of making anyone take a closer look at their own beliefs. I don't get it.

As an example, I tend to watch reruns of the Simpsons in the evenings that come on after the news. Yesterday's episode was Thank God It's Doomsday, an ep from 2005 which I'd never seen before (I was in Japan when it first aired). The episode revolves around Homer's obsession with and predictions of the rapture after seeing the film Left Below. Read more...Collapse )

4th Apr, 2008

How deep does social satire go?

I am finally catching up on this season of South Park, and I just watched "Britney's New Look." Read more...Collapse )

Anyway. Maybe I'm insane and am just projecting my own feminist lens onto the episode. Did anyone else see it? What did you think? Was it sexist and taking the least intellectual approach possible (lol Britney doesn't even need her brain to survive she's that dumb), or was it cleverer and more cutting than first glance might lead you to believe? Did you think it was funny, or did it just make you uncomfortabe?

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