Pharyngula

Daughters need letters

When I teach genetics, I like to pull a little trick on my students. About the time I teach them about analyzing pedigrees and about sex linkage, I show them this pedigree and ask them to figure out what kind of trait it is.

i-580c0dd61b0cb406e199859f54e9d6a2-weird_ped.jpeg

It’s a bit of a stumper. There’s the problem of variability in its expression, whatever it is, which makes interpretation a little fuzzy — that’s a good lesson in itself, that genetics isn’t always a matter of rigid absolutes. They usually think, though, that it must be some Y-linked trait, since only males (the squares in the diagram) have it at all, and no females (the circles) are ever affected.

Then I show them the labeled version, and there’s a moment of “Hey, wait a minute…” that ripples through the class. Keep in mind that even the science classes at my university contain typically 60% or more women.

i-ea0301306359fa3819a3c4806256381c-weird_ped_labeled.jpeg

It’s a truly horrible pedigree. Not only is it trying to reduce a very complex trait like “scientific ability” to a discrete character, but its assessment is entirely subjective — a point that is really brought home by pointing out that the pedigree was drawn by Francis Galton, who judged himself brilliant, and that he was evaluating his own family.

The silent tragedy here, though, is all those women judged as lacking in the characters of brilliance and scientific ability. They are rendered as nullities by the prejudices of the time — even if they had shown the spark of genius, they probably would not have been recognized by Galton — and by a culture that wouldn’t have trained or encouraged girls to do more than master needlework and laundry and household management, and would have brought them up to value the fruitfulness of their ovaries over the product of their minds.

Look at all those empty circles. I’m sure some of them had the capacity to be an entrepreneur like Josiah Wedgwood, or an eclectic philosopher like Erasmus Darwin, or a deep and meticulous scientist like Charles Darwin, or even just a successful doctor like Robert Darwin (II-4; not someone I would have characterized as brilliant, and also an indicator of the variety of abilities Galton was lumping together in his arbitrary judgments). Half the scientific potential in that pedigree was thrown away by restrictive social conventions.

That’s the kind of blind bias we have to end, and I think this Letters to our Daughters project is a wonderful idea. Stop pretending the circles are empty, and ask them to speak; color in those circles with talent. If you are a female scientist, or you know a female scientist, write in and set an example, and show the next generation of our daughters that they have a history, too.

You can read the first letter in the project now. I think it needs a few thousand more.

Comments

  1. #1 TheBiologista
    May 2, 2009

    My gf studied the influence of female musicians during the 19th century for her PhD. Most of them lived through Darwin’s time and were always similarly disregarded by their male contemporaries. But more disturbingly those who excelled, inasmuch as they were allowed, have since been wilfully forgotten by the history books in favour of male counterparts who were their equals. Every couple of decades someone will research such women and bring their names back into the world. And then they’re pushed aside again and not mentioned for another 20 years.

    So there’s two forces at work- the social structure of the 19th century and continuing biased history. I wonder if we might find the same forces at work in the history of science.

  2. #2 Bone Oboe
    May 2, 2009

    If only I could wake up every day and read something this cool.

    And if only there were still cartoons worth watching Saturday mornings.

  3. #3 Russell
    May 2, 2009

    Squares are guys, circles are gals, and the diamond is…?

  4. #4 Hieronymus Braintree
    May 2, 2009

    The point of your study seems to be belaboring the obvious. Everybody already knows that women were denied opportunity in the 1800s. If 60% of your bio students are women it would seem the problem is being handsomely fixed.

    Isn’t it true that the more significantly current problem, and the one in greater need of attention, is that the splendiferous males of our species are falling behind in school–something that has been shown in numerous studies?

    I wish people would accept that gender equality is being firmly established and get over this obsession with past victimization. It’s everywhere in the liberal left and it really, really isn’t interesting.

  5. #5 PZ Myers
    May 2, 2009

    Diamonds are hermaphrodites. No, not really — that just means the sex is not specified.

  6. #6 Ryan
    May 2, 2009

    It’s great to see you write a positive post PZ. The world can get better, and your readership is a large part of the worlds movers and shakers.

  7. #7 Ferrous Patella
    May 2, 2009

    So…the problem was with the y-chromosome after all.

  8. #8 rtp10
    May 2, 2009

    I think we should be weary of using our ethical standard from today to judge those in the past. Also by all intensive purposes Galton appears to be pretty smart (first correlation, started fingerprinting etc) as he is often called Darwin’s smarter cousin. Although I have to admit it is hard not to kill or hate on him for being into eugenics but a lot of people in his time who were in the learned community were- but that definitely does not make it right.

  9. #9 Dahan
    May 2, 2009

    Great post. Thanks PZ.

  10. #10 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    Shorter H. Braintree: “But what about Teh D00dz!!???”

    Sheesh. Believing that gender equality is well-established is nothing more than willful ignorance – something I’m pretty sure that this blog is opposed to. If we do indeed have gender equality, why do we still not have equal pay for women? Why, when a couple decides to start a family, is it simply understood in our culture that the woman in the partnership will be the one to sacrifice, at least temporarily, her career or opportunities within her career to handle childraising? Why are people like Larry Summers, who openly believes (like many Americans) that women are underrepresented in mathematics and sciences because of a lack of aptitude, still taken seriously despite a lack of any convincing data to this effect? Why are women still stuck doing 80% of housework and childcare in their partnerships?

    Do remember that, while biology classes at the University of Minnesota Morris may be 60% women, I can guarantee you that engineering and computer science classes are NOT. Nor are they anywhere in the country (except at womens’ universities, like Smith College, which recently established an engineering program). The faculty of university science departs, including biology departments, are still overwhelmingly male, and the majority of tenure track positions go to men. If we no longer need to worry about gender equality, why is this the case?

    Of course, you’re also overlooking, perhaps deliberately, perhaps out of simple myopic foolishness, most likely because you’re a whiny misogynist asswipe (whether intentionally or not) that ‘both/and’ is an option. Yes, declining academic performance among male students, if it exists, is a problem. Your implication that we cannot – and should not – spend time and energy on the issue of gender equity in math and science (which is a real problem) because there is a problem in the performance of male students is disingenuous. Given that your whine is part of a well-documented blog-trolling phenomenon known within the feminist blogosphere as “But what about teh MENZ!??” I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re full of shit – that, really, you aren’t actually concerned about student performance at all, but that all this telling women and girls that they’re like, smart people with potential and shit, has a big ol’ bug up your butt.

  11. #11 rnb
    May 2, 2009

    Ferrous Patella:

    There is no more reason to blame the y chromosome for this than there is to blame the genes of white women for the
    racism they treated my mother with.

  12. #12 PZ Myers
    May 2, 2009

    Gender equality is not established, most definitely not. The numbers of these women in undergraduate classes testifies to their desire to follow scientific pursuits, but then what happens is that they hit limits imposed by a male-dominated leadership and experience greater attrition than their abilities would warrant.

    Trying to overcome the social prejudice that you are expressing is one reason we have to make a special effort to equalize opportunity for women. That we want to encourage women does not imply that we are discouraging men, and it’s very annoying to see the guys getting peeved and complaining every time something positive is promoted for women. Put a sock in it.

    Boys are falling behind, and that’s a different worry. It’s not because they are told that they’re no good at math, or because they need to stay home and care for the kids, though. We need a solution to encourage the boys to stop being such slackers and take advantage of the opportunities they have, but it is going to be a completely different solution than the one we need to correct the problems facing women — and implementing one should not detract from implementing the other.

    Except, of course, in the minds of the privileged who demand that their group always receive all of the attention.

  13. #13 littlejohn
    May 2, 2009

    No, no, no. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. So they’re gay. Geez, don’t you guys know anything?

  14. #14 Karey
    May 2, 2009

    Can any women say “gender equality is firmly established today” without laughing bitterly?

  15. #15 rnb
    May 2, 2009

    I’ll agree gender discrimination is as much of a problem as racial discrimination still is.

  16. #16 Chris P
    May 2, 2009

    I already did my bit and bought my daughters Technix Lego when they were small. I took them to work and showed them engineering. In fact, before they were conceived I said I wanted daughters so that I could bring them up with a desire to correct the inequality that PZ notes.

    One is now a high school science teacher who has a degree in genetics. The other is supposed to graduate with a degree in astrophysics this year.

    The craziest part is that, even though I am an engineer, I cannot read and understand some of their textbooks.

    A daunting and unintended consequence.

  17. #17 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    that’s a great example PZ.

  18. #18 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    Gender equality is so *not* firmly established. I wrote copy to advertise work done my brother and I, and I used this phrase, “award-winning duo.” So, what did most editors, including one of my publishers who should have known better do? They stripped that out and rewrote like this: …author, Lynna Howard, and award-winning photographer, Leland Howard…”

    Technically speaking, the first award we won was in my name alone, but it was for work to which we had both contributed.

    Not an isolated incident. The mistake was even repeated on Amazon thanks to copy sent in by a publisher. Having finally had enough of that crap, I insisted that the error be corrected.

    People run on automatic when it comes to gender inequality. They don’t realize they’re doing it half the time.

    I once did all the work to set up, staff, and run a display. When my then-husband showed up the male manager of the space thanked my husband.

    Thanks, PZ, for this post. My daughter still holds the #2 spot for highest SAT scores in the state of Iowa (over a decade). She has a brain and she knows how to use it.

  19. #19 Hieronymus Braintree
    May 2, 2009

    If you’ll reread my post, you’ll see I wrote “is being firmly established” not that it’s already been established. That “is being” was put there for a reason. When three out of our last four Secretaries of State, to use one example, have been women (two of them competent), I think the bad old patriarchy is well on its way out. If it hadn’t been for a certain former Senator Obama, we’d in all likihood be looking at the second Clinton Presidency.Things are undeniably getting better, which again (because it seems necessary for me to stress this point) is not to say that we’re there yet.

    As far as my so-called social prejudices. I think gender equality if a fine idea. I support it. But I think it’s fair to say that feminists tend to hit the victimization button way too much in ways that are not helpful to anybody including women. If you want to be against sexism be against sexism. Feminism has been guilty of making numerous allegations and overstating victimization in a way that has been factually documented (read “Who Stole Feminism?” for a good history on the subject).

    Women are on the way up. Men are falling behind. I want BOTH groups to do well. All I’m doing is objecting to liberal feminist myopia. Is that clear?

    In the liberal left I see a lot more anti-male sexism than anti-female sexism (Duke lacrosse, anyone?). It’s really annoying to see liberals ignore, gang up on or dismiss men on the one hand and piously go on about how they’re fighting sexism on the other.

  20. #20 Susan
    May 2, 2009

    Step 1: Read awesome post by PZ
    Step 2: Make it about the Menz
    Step 3: Set two disadvantaged groups against each other (as if there’s no overlap)
    Step 4: Divert the conversation to Steps 2 & 3
    Step 5: Avoid any comprehension or attitudinal change
    Step 6: Profit

  21. #21 Phyllis
    May 2, 2009

    So… In #19, you’re ADMITTING that “men are falling behind”. So women are doing better work and yet are being paid less for it. Isn’t that what we’ve been saying all along?

    Or are men “falling behind” because in a few spheres, women are getting paid the same? Which makes men lesser, because everyone knows a man should be paid more?

    (Bear baiting)

  22. #22 rnb
    May 2, 2009

    I think there is a tendency to focus on the inequalities that effect one directly; they are the easiest to see. Then, those that effect ones family, which are somewhat less visible. Then those that effect those like you. Finally those that effect others outside your in group, which are invisible to most people.

  23. #23 Karey
    May 2, 2009

    Who’s dismissing men and their issues? All PZ and others posted about was the inequalities women face and all you can do is ignore and dismiss them (they’re clearly still second class but hey, its on the way out) and say its really men we need to worry about, in much the same capacity as when trolls say the white man is oppressed by minorities and christians are being persecuted for their beliefs.

  24. #24 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    rnb @22: Exactly. People indulge in gender inequality without being conscious that they are doing so (for the most part, anyway). Which is why we need to bring the issue to the forefront, as in this post from PZ.

  25. #25 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    As far as my so-called social prejudices. I think gender equality if a fine idea. I support it. But I think it’s fair to say that feminists tend to hit the victimization button way too much in ways that are not helpful to anybody including women. If you want to be against sexism be against sexism. Feminism has been guilty of making numerous allegations and overstating victimization in a way that has been factually documented (read “Who Stole Feminism?” for a good history on the subject).

    Oh, we get it. You’re all for gender equality – on your terms, and as long as feminists play nice and give plenty of lip service to your privilege, whether it is relevant or not to the matter being discussed. In this case – not. Let me make this clear: it’s not about you. That’s my feminist watchword. Build a bridge and use it to get the fuck over yourself. As for the silliness about feminists “hitting the victimization too much,” YAWN. Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much, given your entirely irrelevant upthread whine.

    Women are on the way up. Men are falling behind. I want BOTH groups to do well. All I’m doing is objecting to liberal feminist myopia. Is that clear?

    Oh, I bet you do, as long as we’re all paying more attention to men. “Women are on the way up, men are falling behind,” is an absurdly counterfactual overgeneralization from one data point, the underperformance of male students. Women are catching up. Men are NOT falling behind in any way, shape or form in any general sense. Your protests to the contrary are demonstrably false. Yeah, so male students are falling behind. BFD. We should deal with that problem, but the idea that this is somehow relevant to the under representation of women in science or part of some systematic problem of male inequality problem is farcical. If women are still in the process of gaining equality, how are men falling behind them? Logic FAIL. And yes, true gender equality means you will have to give up a lot of power and privilege. Boo-fucking-hoo.

    In the liberal left I see a lot more anti-male sexism than anti-female sexism (Duke lacrosse, anyone?). It’s really annoying to see liberals ignore, gang up on or dismiss men on the one hand and piously go on about how they’re fighting sexism on the other.

    Ah yes, the Duke Lacrosse incident. That was clearly part of a larger societal problem of “anti-male sexism,” which is totally a real thing. Oh, wait, no – it was an isolated event, rape has the same false reporting rate as other crimes of assault, around 3%, and the hysterical predictions of how the Duke athletes’ lives would be “ruined” by a false accusation of rape have turned out to be empty. So the alleged “anti-male sexism” in play is nothing more than a big, steaming pile of bullshit, since there is no such thing as systematic prejudice or oppression against men that the case fits into. Yes, the Duke case and the hysterical exaggeration of its implications by douchebags like you – “all sound and fury, but signifying nothing.”

    You are so full of shit – apparently you believe that feminism is about making shit up about victimization, without data or theory to explain patterns and where individual events fit into them. I can only assume that this true, because your version of the process simply doesn’t work. Let me say it again: everything is not about YOU. Men in general seem to be doing just fine, your allegations about “liberal feminist myopia” notwithstanding. Given the absurd preponderance of liberal misogynists, I’m not about to take your claims seriously. Unfortunately, we do need to address your bullshit because there are too many other douchebags out there who just eat this stuff up.

  26. #26 rnb
    May 2, 2009

    Lynna,

    I agree it needs to be brought up, same as the possibility of continuing racial inequality does.
    Unfortunately, I do see a lot of white women using the same arguments in discussions of racial inequality that they complain about men using when the discussion is about gender inequality.

  27. #27 Sniper
    May 2, 2009

    I think gender equality if a fine idea. I support it. But I think it’s fair to say that feminists tend to hit the victimization button way too much in ways that are not helpful to anybody including women.

    Is there an award that is the opposite of the Molly? I nominate this asshole.

  28. #28 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    rnb @#26: Some women, of all colors, participate in perpetuating gender inequality as well as racial inequality. I was brought up to be my own worst enemy. It’s not an easy attitude to overcome.

    Some of the editors who stripped me in print of my award and gave it to my brother were women. They were on auto-pilot.

  29. #29 'Tis Himself
    May 2, 2009

    In the liberal left I see a lot more anti-male sexism than anti-female sexism (Duke lacrosse, anyone?). It’s really annoying to see liberals ignore, gang up on or dismiss men on the one hand and piously go on about how they’re fighting sexism on the other.

    I haven’t noticed anti-male sexism. I haven’t seen men being denied jobs, equal pay, equal promotion, etc. I have seen a fair number of men, mainly conservatives, complaining that about “anti-male sexism.” What I think is happening is that certain men are seeing women refusing to accept gender inequality and thinking “oh no, they might push us out of our position of power.” I heard similar things forty years ago when racial discrimination became unfashionable, only instead of uppity women the complaints were about uppity blacks.

  30. #30 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 2, 2009

    The craziest part is that, even though I am an engineer, I cannot read and understand some of their textbooks.

    What’s crazy about being an engineer and having trouble with a genetics textbook? Astrophysics isn’t exactly the same thing as engineering either.

  31. #31 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    #8

    I think we should be weary of using our ethical standard from today to judge those in the past.

    Argh, I HATE this fallacy. Just because everyone was a sexist tool at that time doesn’t mean we can’t call out one person as being, by modern standards, a sexist tool – because that’s exactly what he was. It doesn’t mean that he didn’t have many other good qualities. Darwin, though very progressive on the issue for his day, had a casual aristocratic racism that makes modern people cringe. And Darwin is very much worth admiring! It bothers me that we’re willing to call out murderous warlords and tyrants throughout history, though that was similarly pretty standard behavior, but not say that other historical figures were racist or sexist. Come on, people! The label fits, just use it.

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 2, 2009

    Forgot:

    by all intensive purposes

    That’s an eggcorn for “for all intents and purposes”.

  33. #33 Ferrous Patella
    May 2, 2009

    Now I am wondering if humor impairment is on the y-chromosome or is recessive on the x.

  34. #34 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    I already posted this in the “A Little Study in Contrasts” thread, where it was OT. The comment fits better here:

    This thread is missing Hitler. Doesn’t he have to appear in every discussion? “Hitler’s Private Library” by Timothy Ryback notes that Hitler had several books about horse breeding. He went through them and marked out with a red pen the mares in pictures that showed both stallions and mares — females being inferior in all species, apparently.

  35. #35 Marc Abian
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, the label fits almost everyone from previous centuries, excluding the 20th, which makes it rather meaningless.

    (women in science) hit limits imposed by a male-dominated leadership

    Which are?

  36. #36 Erp
    May 2, 2009

    The most prominent woman in her own right in the family in the 19th century was probably Frances Julia “Snow” Wedgwood a niece of Emma Darwin.

    Robert Darwin seemed to have thought highly of another, his sister-in-law, Catherine Wedgwood’s, ability.

    “My father added that he had known during his whole long life only three women who were sceptics; and it should be remembered that he knew well a multitude of persons and possessed extraordinary power of winning confidence. When I asked him who the three women were, he had to own with respect to one of them, his sister-in-law Kitty Wedgwood, that he had no good evidence, only the vaguest hints, aided by the conviction that so clear-sighted a woman could not be a believer.” (Charles Darwin’s autobiographical sketch)

  37. #37 Robyne
    May 2, 2009

    Re #19:
    Things are undeniably getting better, which again (because it seems necessary for me to stress this point) is not to say that we’re there yet.

    Agreed.

    But I think it’s fair to say that feminists tend to hit the victimization button way too much in ways that are not helpful to anybody including women.

    There are some people who take feminism to the absurd extreme, I agree. That’s not surprising in any debate. But that generalization does not apply to all, or even most, supporters of gender equality. I’d rather have a few people guilty of crying wolf, than to have the issue be considered over and done with.

    Much progress has been made in gender equality, and that progress has been driven by people speaking up and reminding each other that inequality exists. It has been driven by mutual respect and support and hard work and by speaking truths that no one wants to hear. Yes, the ball is rolling. But the ball will not continue to roll under its own steam. If we want progress to continue people need to keep speaking out, keep reminding us of our challenges as well as celebrating our successes. To assume that the solution is so far along as to be taken for granted is dangerous.

  38. #38 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, the label fits almost everyone from previous centuries, excluding the 20th, which makes it rather meaningless.

    Um, no, that’s absurd. The label “human” fits almost everyone from previous centuries. Does that make it meaningless? Terms like sexism or racism (indeed, most descriptive words that I can think of at all) derive no meaning whatsoever from their relative distribution in historical populations. You’re going to have to explain that claim more thoroughly if you want me to take it seriously, because from here it comes across as outright bizarre.

    Why should we not say that Francis Galton was sexist? Of course he was. Other aspects of his character, as well prevalent cultural attitudes are certainly relevant in making a broader judgment of the quality of his character, but that’s not what I was getting at. It’s fallacious to say “Oh, we shouldn’t judge [historical figure] by the standards of our time,” when someone says [historical figure] was racist/sexist whatever, because a) We don’t hesitate to judge historical figures on other modern standards, like violence, and b) it’s not actually a judgment. If you want to argue that Galton wasn’t sexist, have at it, but I’ll warn you that “Everyone was sexist then,” is not exactly an effective argument.

  39. #39 Hieronymus Braintree
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, I would like to thank you for providing us with strident, hysterical posts that do such a fine job of proving that so many of our most prevelant anti-feminist stereotypes are, in fact, true.

    The speaker of the house is a woman. That’s not a patriarchy.
    The Secretary of State is a woman. That’s not a patriarchy.
    In Washington State, where I live, the governor and both our US senators are women. That’s not a patriarchy and I voted for them.
    The reactionary right wants to make Sarah Palin president. That’s not a patriarchy. She’s a reactionary asshole but, as the conservative governor of the conservative state of Alaska, sexism doesn’t appear to have held her back, which, in this case, is unfortunate.

    The Duke lacrosse case did show the prevailing anti-male sexism of the liberal left. Let’s say the shoe were on the other foot. Let’s say a white woman falsely accused a black fraternity of raping her. Let’s say that she had a history of mental instability and that another white woman who was also there at the time the rape supposedly took place said the allegations were untrue. Let’s say that the stories of the accused held up and that their white accuser kept changing her story to fit the actual facts. Let’s say that, as in the Duke lacrosse case she had DNA of seven different men inside her after being “raped” but that none of the DNA matched that of any of the accused, while claiming that she hadn’t had sex for days before the supposed incident. Now let’s say that Republicans ignored all the exculpatory evidence to insists that the accused were guilty while constantly harping on the fact that they were black. Now try to imagine yourself believing that Republicans don’t have a teeny weeny bit of a problem with racism. Can you do that? Me neither.

    So please don’t tell me that feminism and liberal left don’t having a rather bigoted anger management problem with white straight males because you quite obviously do. If racism is wrong, it’s wrong no matter who the target. Same goes for sexism. Your snide, belligerent sarcasm does not spare you from being a hypocrite.

    I intensely dislike feminism for the very same reason I intensely dislike religion. They both claim forms of goodness that are quite flagrantly unjustified. Christianity claims to have a god who is all about love but promises a punishment for nonbelievers that is infinitely worse than anything Hitler could have ever done. The Christian god is a psychotic torturer. Feminism claims to be about fighting sexism and stopping the victimization of women but stereotypes men as violent, rapey oppressors and lionizes misadrist kooks like Andrea Dworkin as their biggest heroes. They have also been historically guilty of making up whole swaths of victimization that don’t actually exist, like snuff films, an international Satanic conspiracy, the Super Bowl Sunday domestic violence hoax and sceams that girls are being denied their education in favor of boys when, factually, it’s the boys who are falling behind. Feminists sexism and lust for victimization could really hardly be any more obvious.

    Everybody speaks well of Orwell but no one apparantly ever actually listens to him. Orwell pointed out that the mental dodges that people use to convince themselves that they’re thinking honestly when they’re quite obviously not, is something that ALL groups are prone to, which is why, though a socialist himself, he spent no small amount of his time going after socialist. Most liberals refuse to apply the same critical thinking skills against their allies that they use against their enemies. Apparantly this is known as fighting prejudice.

    I have things to do. Try to have fun without me.

  40. #40 Paul H
    May 2, 2009

    I was trying to find a reference for the Galton-Darwin tree above, and came across this little “gem” using the same figure as above! I thought it was worth mentioning:

    http://www.dhushara.com/book/socio/turner.htm

    Unfortunately, the ignorant sexism of Galton’s day is still with us.

  41. #41 tmaxPA
    May 2, 2009

    I’m gonna build me a tree house and I’m gonna only let Braintree, nothingsacred, and MosesZD in it.

  42. #42 Falyne
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, I would like to thank you for providing us with strident, hysterical posts that do such a fine job of proving that so many of our most prevelant anti-feminist stereotypes are, in fact, true.

    I daresay this sentence speaks more about you than Grolby.

  43. #43 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, I would like to thank you for providing us with strident, hysterical posts that do such a fine job of proving that so many of our most prevelant anti-feminist stereotypes are, in fact, true.

    Ah. “Strident and hysterical.” To borrow a phrase, thanks for proving that so many of our most prevalent stereotypes about privileged douchebags are true.

    The speaker of the house is a woman. That’s not a patriarchy.
    The Secretary of State is a woman. That’s not a patriarchy.
    In Washington State, where I live, the governor and both our US senators are women. That’s not a patriarchy and I voted for them.
    The reactionary right wants to make Sarah Palin president. That’s not a patriarchy. She’s a reactionary asshole but, as the conservative governor of the conservative state of Alaska, sexism doesn’t appear to have held her back, which, in this case, is unfortunate.

    Yes, the existence of a few women in positions of power totally proves your point. Now Nancy Pelosi, who has never – EVER – been the subject of misogynist hysteria, just needs to rally the 51% female House of Representatives and… oh, wait. 75 of the 534-member 110th Congress are women. That’s 14%. So, what exactly was your point about there not being a patriarchy?

    We’re just going to skip right through your insane hypothetical musings, okay? Simple fact: rape is endemic. False accusations of rape by those lying sluts (your love and regard for women is coming through loud and clear, Mr. Equality) are not. Hysterical screeching and what if!!??-ing by creepy woman-haters is irrelevant to the irrelevance of the Duke case to the matter at hand.

    So please don’t tell me that feminism and liberal left don’t having a rather bigoted anger management problem with white straight males because you quite obviously do. If racism is wrong, it’s wrong no matter who the target. Same goes for sexism. Your snide, belligerent sarcasm does not spare you from being a hypocrite.

    Quick definition of sexism for you: prejudice backed by privilege. If some women are (probably with good reason) angry with men and that hurts your feelings, that’s not sexism. Under normal circumstances it would be prejudice, though in your case, it’s no more than what you deserve. As for the idea that I am angry, okay, whatever you say. I’ll just point out that contempt requires no anger.

    I intensely dislike feminism for the very same reason I intensely dislike religion.

    And heeeere we gooo!!!

    They both claim forms of goodness that are quite flagrantly unjustified. Christianity claims to have a god who is all about love but promises a punishment for nonbelievers that is infinitely worse than anything Hitler could have ever done. The Christian god is a psychotic torturer. Feminism claims to be about fighting sexism and stopping the victimization of women but stereotypes men as violent, rapey oppressors and lionizes misadrist kooks like Andrea Dworkin as their biggest heroes. They have also been historically guilty of making up whole swaths of victimization that don’t actually exist, like snuff films, an international Satanic conspiracy, the Super Bowl Sunday domestic violence hoax and sceams that girls are being denied their education in favor of boys when, factually, it’s the boys who are falling behind. Feminists sexism and lust for victimization could really hardly be any more obvious.

    Holy shit dude, you’re accusing feminists of being too angry? You are a scary, hateful man.

    I have things to do. Try to have fun without me.

    These sign-offs never cease to be amusing. It’s the crazy misogynist version of “kind regards.”

  44. #44 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    Lynna at 28

    Lots of people are blind idiots.
    Had one of my uncles on the latino side of the family disown a cousin because she married a black man.

  45. #45 Voldemort13
    May 2, 2009

    I am a Computer Science major who also happens to be a women. I would estimate that about 1 third of my classmates are women maybe a little less. My first year I don’t remember being discouraged from being a computer science major but I did feel a little intimidated by the smarter men in the program. I was more intimidated by the fact that I thought everyone else in the program must be smarter than me than the fact that there were more men in the program than women. It didn’t help that I was comparing myself to people who said they had taken apart their first computer at age seven(He didn’t put it back together until age 11) When I took my first computer science class I realize that my worries were irrational. I only have had one teacher so far that was sexist and he taught computer ethics. I think the main reason there are less women than men in technical fields isn’t because of some invisible glass ceiling but because they are afraid to be labeled as a nerd or geek. I don’t know whether I fit into the category of a stereotypical computer science major but a friend of mine said she was apprehensive about getting going into the computer science program at our school because she was afraid all the other guys there would be nerds. Then she realized that she was a nerd too so she didn’t care.

  46. #46 happier in the non-profit world
    May 2, 2009

    My PhD advisor sat me down and told me that women never get good tenure track faculty jobs because they’re more willing to put more collaborate on their papers and are less likely to fight for first authorship. He told me I need to be more assertive, “like a man”. This was not an inspirational discussion.

    I’ve seen enough “superstar” males get hired at Generic State University who are terrible teachers and mentors to be jaded about the whole academic thing. I think a lot of other women feel the same way from their own grad school experiences.

  47. #47 Skemono
    May 2, 2009

    What I think is happening is that certain men are seeing women refusing to accept gender inequality and thinking “oh no, they might push us out of our position of power.” I heard similar things forty years ago when racial discrimination became unfashionable, only instead of uppity women the complaints were about uppity blacks.

    Forty years ago? I heard it as recently as two years ago:

    On the other side, you have people who hate America, and they hate it because it’s run primarily by white, Christian men. Let me repeat that. America is run primarily by white, Christian men, and there is a segment of our population who hates that, despises that power structure.

    Agreed, O’Reilly, a thousand times agreed! I do hate that!

    My first year I don’t remember being discouraged from being a computer science major but I did feel a little intimidated by the smarter men in the program. … When I took my first computer science class I realize that my worries were irrational.

    I’m glad that you realized your fears had no basis. Unfortunately, many other women do not. I too was a computer science major, and in the first year there were many females–almost certainly not as many women as men, but a fair number. By my third year, I was in classes with zero women, or only one. One of our TAs mentioned that he knew a girl who had similar fears to yours: that all the boys were so much smarter than her and that she really didn’t belong in the program. The TA, however, knew that she was in the top of the class (I don’t think he was allowed to tell her that, though). She dropped out of the program.

  48. #48 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    I think the main reason there are less women than men in technical fields isn’t because of some invisible glass ceiling

    I hate to say this, but wait until you start applying for jobs in the field, and then compare your pay to men who do the same job. I sincerely hope that you personally will be fortunate enough to be paid equally, but statistically this is unlikely.

  49. #49 Standard curve
    May 2, 2009

    Hopefully things will be a bit better by the time my daughter gets to college and beyond. She’s 2.5 right now.

    Maybe she’ll be the first PhD in our family… unless I pull a Brian May… only how do you pay bills AND go back to school at 40 seeing as how I don’t have the rock star savings to fall back on?

  50. #50 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    To TheBiologista @ #1.

    You’ve just caused me to pull out an old CD of mine:
    The Music of Francis Johnson and his Contemporaries:
    Early 19th-Century Black Composers……..

  51. #51 blueelm
    May 2, 2009

    I just have to say that this has to be one of the most awesome posts I have read here. I had a similar experience when I was a small girl. I was standing in a cemetery looking at the headstone of a Mrs. Some Dude’s Name. She had died over a hundred years ago and for some reason it was at that moment that I had a terrible epiphany that her life had likely amounted to little more than being Mrs. Some Dude and that not even the freaking piece of stone provided an inkling into what kind of person she had been or that she had any identity outside of having been married. The course of my life was shaped by that moment. Since then I have faced tremendous discrimination in some of my pursuits. Surprisingly, in technology I have seen far more equality than in my other vocation. I hope that this is because of conscientious efforts such as this to encourage girls who enjoy science and math to pursue those things despite the social pressures.

  52. #52 Dale Husband
    May 2, 2009

    Hieronymus Braintree blabbed:

    I wish people would accept that gender equality is being firmly established and get over this obsession with past victimization. It’s everywhere in the liberal left and it really, really isn’t interesting.

    Your ignorance becomes obvious when you consider that in most countries run by Islamic law, most women are still not appreciated for talents beside food preparation and child rearing.

  53. #53 Sili
    May 2, 2009

    It’s only the 2nd, but I’ve already made a note for my May Molly vote.

  54. #54 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    The Duke lacrosse case did show the prevailing anti-male sexism of the liberal left.

    huh?

    It showed nothing of the sort. It showed that when people in power want to retain or increase that power that they sometimes will do unethical and illegal things to accomplish that. And those acts often leave a trail of bodies either virtual or actual behind them.

    If you had made a case for hysterics from the Media over race, you may have been closer to the point. But you didn’t.

  55. #55 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    In that sentence….

    must preview first

  56. #56 Evolving Squid
    May 2, 2009

    We need a solution to encourage the boys to stop being such slackers and take advantage of the opportunities they have, but it is going to be a completely different solution than the one we need to correct the problems facing women — and implementing one should not detract from implementing the other.

    I don’t know how it is where you are PZ, but here it’s starting to show that boys are falling behind not because they’re slackers, but because girls are given every POSSIBLE accommodation in the interest of equality and the boys are left to fend for themselves. We’ve had a decent amount of articles published about that in newspapers in Ontario.

    Needless to say, they recognize that they are being disadvantaged, and many just give up. University entrance stats are becoming skewed toward women (60%F, 40%M, something like that, and the gap is widening), although engineering and computer programs are still very largely male.

  57. #57 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 2, 2009

    I think a good part of the problem with boys is that it isn’t seen as “macho” by the peer groups to excel academically in middle/high school. Which usually translates into problems with college. We see this in our area, particularly with black (and some latino) families, where the woman is more highly educated and the primary wage earner.

  58. #58 Turcano
    May 2, 2009

    They usually think, though, that it must be some Y-linked trait, since only males (the squares in the diagram) have it at all, and no females (the circles) are ever affected.

    See, when I first looked at the diagram, I thought it was a X-linked trait, with the females as carriers.

  59. #59 Jupiter
    May 2, 2009

    PZ Myers:

    “Boys are falling behind, and that’s a different worry. It’s not because they are told that they’re no good at math, or because they need to stay home and care for the kids, though. We need a solution to encourage the boys to stop being such slackers and take advantage of the opportunities they have, but it is going to be a completely different solution than the one we need to correct the problems facing women — and implementing one should not detract from implementing the other.”

    Actually a lot of the solution is the same. It’s because boys are told they’re wonderful and super smart and girls aren’t. Give this encouragement to all students.

    Stop treating boys and girls differently. Don’t reward boys for interrupting if you chide girls for it. Don’t lead boys on to better answers if they’re not right while cutting off girls for the same answers.

    Anybody wonder why girls retreat into silence or passing notes in class, or become meticulous suckups? Because they get the two-by-four between the eyes if they dare to answer and are wrong. Few of us have the intestinal fortitude to push through such bullshit. This is sometimes described as “not having what it takes,” but what it takes to make discoveries and move forward includes brains, too.

    Few people would claim that Black people are less suited for science work because they’re underrepresented. Somehow it’s okay to include cultural biases in thinking about race, but not about sex.

    There’s a new edition out of the book, Still Failing At Fairness by David Sadker, Myra Sadker and Karen Zittleman. Anyone who thinks boys and girls get the same education in science or actually in anything else should read that book. Preferably with their denial glasses off.

  60. #60 m
    May 2, 2009

    PZ, thanks so much for this wonderful post. I like this exercise and will try to think of a way of incorporating it into my teaching in the future. Its sad that most of the comments got distracted by a dumb troll, but hopefully folks will divert their frustration productively by adding to the Letters to our Daughters project.

  61. #61 Hieronymus Braintree
    May 2, 2009

    Hi, I’m back.

    So, PZ. If women are being kept down then how do you explain the fact that almost 50% of all medical students are women?

    The other angry responses are too stupid to respond to.

    You might want to look up Stockholm Syndrome some time.

  62. #62 Lynna
    May 2, 2009

    Anonymous @44 (is that you rnb?): Yikes. Holy Crap — that’s awful.

    This link may interest you. Scroll down and you’ll see that as late as 1989 the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of the Mormon Church was openly racist. Not that long ago. I’d like to think that racism of that ilk was over and done with, but I doubt it.

    http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon409.htm

  63. #63 nails
    May 2, 2009

    This highlights exactly why sexism is so depressing, the sheer amount of knowledge that humanity has lost through being sexist/racist/classist is a real thing we all got screwed out of. Excluding almost everyone from science has cost us something we won’t ever be able to measure.

    Posts like this always attract MRA type losers. ew.

  64. #64 nails
    May 2, 2009

    braintree- you seem to be too stupid to understand that success in school=/=success in industry. that is the fucking problem, there isn’t a real meritocracy when it is clogged up with racist and sexist people calling the shots. Women get paid less and get promoted less the vast vast majority of the time, even when they do the best in school. Not only that, but industries where the majority of workers are women get paid less than comparable work in industries that are made up of mostly men. It is a huge problem that doesn’t go away until people at a minimum see that its an actual problem.

  65. #65 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    You might want to look up Stockholm Syndrome some time.

    Um, YOU might want to look it up. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  66. #66 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    If women are being kept down then how do you explain the fact that almost 50% of all medical students are women?

    Well, for a start, that fewer of 50% of all medical students are women…

  67. #67 Hieronymus Braintree
    May 2, 2009

    Those of you hyperventilating might want to remember that I originally maintined that the war was being won, not that it was yet won.

    Stockholm syndrome is when you adopt the world view of your captors so you don’t feel so victimized. That is, you accept that your victimization is just. This well describes the averaqe liberal man’s response to feminism.

    Now, get angry, you fierce independant thinkers, you!

    Incidentally, I’d like to point out that women overwhelmingly refuse to identify themselves as feminists. Feminists, of course, bear absolutely no responsibility whatever for the problem, seeing as you respond so well to criticism.

  68. #68 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    Stockholm syndrome is when you adopt the world view of your captors so you don’t feel so victimized. That is, you accept that your victimization is just. This well describes the averaqe liberal man’s response to feminism.

    Just, wow. I mean, holy cow are you stupid.

  69. #69 jackalopemonger
    May 2, 2009

    @61:

    So, HB. If women AREN’T being kept down then how do you explain the Gender Wage Gap? I’m curious. Enlighten me.

  70. #70 Azkyroth
    May 2, 2009

    Feminism claims to be about fighting sexism and stopping the victimization of women but stereotypes men as violent, rapey oppressors and lionizes misadrist kooks like Andrea Dworkin as their biggest heroes. They have also been historically guilty of making up whole swaths of victimization that don’t actually exist, like snuff films, an international Satanic conspiracy, the Super Bowl Sunday domestic violence hoax and sceams that girls are being denied their education in favor of boys when, factually, it’s the boys who are falling behind.

    I don’t know. As far as gender relations and sexuality go I wouldn’t call Dworkin a feminist, seeing as how the core principle of feminism is that men and women are morally and intellectually equal, whereas, even if one or more of the most egregious quotes are fabricated, many of her verified statements are inconsistent with any view of the world except the assumption that all men were conniving psychopaths and all women except herself and her followers were gullible morons.

    And yeah, the historical entanglement of feminism with lunacy like Prohibition and Postmodernism has done violence to the cause of gender equality as well as to sense and reason. And there are citable cases of individuals who shoot first and ask questions never, or who exercise little or no critical thought when it comes to claims that flatter their prejudices. There’s nothing special about feminism in either regard, though. So what?

  71. #71 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    Stockholm syndrome is when you adopt the world view of your captors so you don’t feel so victimized.

    Good grief that’s a shitty definition of Stockholm syndrome.

  72. #72 Tassie Devil
    May 2, 2009

    The fall in male applicants to medical school is due to many things.

    Up until about 20 years ago, medicine and law were seen as high kudos, high salary jobs. In the last two decades medicine has been overtaken by other career choices.

    The increase in numbers of women going to medical school has been faster in countries with nationalised health systems – because the earning opportunities are significantly less. The UK hit the 50:50 mark when I went to medical school in 1987.

    Medicine has also moved to a more collabarative stance, promoting teamwork and patient involvement in decisionmaking. I teach junior doctors, and it is without exception the men who have difficulty with the idea that they can no longer tell patients what to do. This does make it less sttractive to men; several male colleagues have said in my hearing that if they’d known that all this ‘bloody nonsense’ was going to be important they’d have chosen another career.

    I think that medicine, like nursing, will eventually level out at around 70% women, 30% men. Then maybe as society changes and the underlying difference in gender associated personality traits evens out, it will move back to 50/50.

    I am aware of the sweeping generalisations here; of course there are some men that deal very well with the ‘new’ requirements of medicine. But it’s interesting that in a GP surgery (family medicine practice) I worked in, that was entirely male except for me – when I was away all the patients with psychological problems booked with only one other doctor, a gentle, fatherly type who enjoyed listening to his patients. The other six men preferred the ‘here’s the prescription, there’s the door’ technique.

    As a side note, it’s interesting to watch how the gender success rate changes as you move down the class scale.

  73. #73 Hieronymus Braintree
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, calling me “stupid” is such an intelligent and comprehensive argument. I don’t see but how I can respect your opinion. Or why anybody would think to call you think-skinned or strident. You keep refuting those anti-feminist stereotypes, OK?

    jaklelopemonger, if you go by the year, the gender wage gap seems substantial but if you go by the hour it’s much closer. See, guys put in more hours on the job than women. Check out “Who stole feminism?” It’s a little old but gets the point across..

    In any case, having been lied to so many times by feminists about nonexistant victimization I am not about to accept anything they say as true. Sorry, it’s feminisms fault. Not mine. Gal who cried wolf and all that.

    Azkyroth, feminists do not get to make AD a big-time feminist celeb and then renounce her when people like me start bitching. She was big cheese in the feminist movement and you are stuck with her, like it or not.

    Reverend Big Dumb Chimp, you can say that my definition of Stockholm syndrome is shitty but, unless you can provide a better one, lease tell me why I should give a crap what you think?

    In any case, I’m off for better things. I can’t spend all my time arguing with angry, self-rightous fatheads. There are other pleasures in life to attend to. Ta!

  74. #74 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    #70 – I think it’s fair to concede both that Dworkin is a feminist, of one kind, and even that she has made important contributions to the literature. However – to suggest that she is part of the mainstream of the feminist movement and that most or even many other feminists agree with everything she believes. As you say, feminism is nothing special in terms of its problems and its proponents. Andrea Dworkin doesn’t discredit feminism because she exists and she pisses people off.

    A point worth mentioning by the way, is that if feminists went out of their way never to piss anyone off or make anyone uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be much of a movement or academic field.

  75. #75 Sniper
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, calling me “stupid” is such an intelligent and comprehensive argument. I don’t see but how I can respect your opinion. Or why anybody would think to call you think-skinned or strident. You keep refuting those anti-feminist stereotypes, OK?

    Gosh, I can’t imagine why feminists would get pissed of now and then with standup guys like you around.

  76. #76 jackalopemonger
    May 2, 2009

    Incidentally, I’d like to point out that women overwhelmingly refuse to identify themselves as feminists. Feminists, of course, bear absolutely no responsibility whatever for the problem, seeing as you respond so well to criticism.

    Considering how much the word has been demonized in this country, particularly by whiny men with entitlement issues who use words like “strident” and “hysterical” as derogatory phrases, I’m not surprised. The majority of Americans – men and women alike – actually agree with the feminists on major issues such as equality of pay, women’s rights to their own bodies, etc. But they wouldn’t call themselves “feminists” because, well, then they’d open themselves up to harassment by assholes like yourself.

    Also, re: the gender wage gap. Women work fewer hours than men principally because they bear most of the burden of child-rearing and housekeeping, both of which are jobs that pay absolutely nothing to the “employee”. My point still stands.

  77. #77 Azkyroth
    May 2, 2009

    PS: Off-topic, but does anyone else think that it might be useful to pro-choice rhetoric to frame anti-choice legislation as “corporate welfare for the coat-hanger industry?”

  78. #78 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    Reverend Big Dumb Chimp, you can say that my definition of Stockholm syndrome is shitty but, unless you can provide a better one,

    It’s about forming an emotional attachment with, not “adopting a world view” of the captor. The emotional attachment is the important part. And it’s about survival not “feeling less like a victim”. They liken it to what a baby does in forming an attachment to the person that is most likely to be responsible for their survival.

    Here and it only took me a few seconds to find a link for you.

    lease tell me why I should give a crap what you think?

    Back at ya

  79. #79 Hieronymus Braintree
    May 2, 2009

    Hey, Big Dumb Chimp, check it out!

    http://www.peacefaq.com/stockholm.html

    Long term captivity builds even stronger attachment to the captor as he becomes known as a human being with his own problems and aspirations. Particularly in political or ideological situations, longer captivity also allows the captive to become familiar with the captor’s point of view and the history of his grievances against authority. He may come to believe that the captor’s position is just.

    Oh yes, Big Dumb chimp that COMPLETELY CONTRADICTS my definition! You most definitely are not in any way talking out of your much-abused ass!

    Back at you, too. And congratulations for having come up with such an apt name for yourself.

    And, again, feminists do not get to deny Andrea Dworkin after having made her a big-named celebrity. The reason people think you’re a bunch of man-hating screwballs is because YOU made that a perfectly reasonable thing to think. It’s nobody’s fault but your own. Take some responsibility for a change.

    That’s all folks! Now, I’m really gone, though I may return if a few hours to see what other additional idiocies have been posted.

  80. #80 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 2, 2009

    Oh yes, Big Dumb chimp that COMPLETELY CONTRADICTS my definition!

    It doesn’t support it. See that word MAY in what you quoted? And the phrase Particularly in political or ideological situations?

    It’s a side effect of the syndrome in some cases which you omitted from your haphazard and fine tuned for your purposes definition. A definition that is still wrong.

    Stockholm syndrome is when you adopt the world view of your captors so you don’t feel so victimized.

    See, still not correct.

    So, sorry. You fail.

    I thought you were leaving?

  81. #81 grolby
    May 2, 2009

    Grolby, calling me “stupid” is such an intelligent and comprehensive argument. I don’t see but how I can respect your opinion. Or why anybody would think to call you think-skinned or strident. You keep refuting those anti-feminist stereotypes, OK?

    I had your number at your very first post. Your sort is pathetically transparent, with your immediate whining whenever you see efforts to alleviate gender inequity that don’t make a big deal about how life is so hard the boyz. You are impenetrable, and you have failed to show me any reason to give you any intellectual respect whatsoever. Given your continued evasion of the counterarguments that have been given in favor of asking more “pointed” questions, like “If equality for women is a problem, why don’t they have equal enrollment in medical school,” and your ignoring of responses to those questions, I am somewhat unimpressed by your opinion of my arguments.

    In any case, I’m off for better things. I can’t spend all my time arguing with angry, self-rightous fatheads. There are other pleasures in life to attend to. Ta!

    Will the pathetic, self-conscious posturing of these sign offs ever get old? I’m still loving it, every time.

  82. #82 Jupiter
    May 2, 2009

    Azkyroth: “I don’t know. As far as gender relations and sexuality go I wouldn’t call Dworkin a feminist, seeing as how the core principle of feminism is that men and women are morally and intellectually equal, whereas, even if one or more of the most egregious quotes are fabricated, many of her verified statements are inconsistent with any view of the world except the assumption that all men were conniving psychopaths and all women except herself and her followers were gullible morons.”

    Er, no, it’s that power inevitably corrupts. When men have undue power over women, no matter how nice these individual men are, they (a) tend to think it’s because of something good they are or did, rather than assuming it’s bullshit, and (2) they treat women as lesser beings and don’t even see it, which is called Privilege.

    If you actually read entire works by her, you’d understand how much truth is in them, sad truth that most people would rather just ignore because it means none of us is unscathed, and none of us is guilt-free, and the world can really be kind of a shithole sometimes.

  83. #83 Tassie Devil
    May 2, 2009

    Feminists do not deny Andrea Dworkin her point of view. However, as far as feminism goes she is a voice on the outer edge – beloved mainly of mysogynists because it gives them a chance to ‘justify’ their hatred of feminism.

    And yes, boys are failing at school. Failing because they are not taking up the opportunities offered. Which is somewhat different from a woman not being offered a job ‘because she’ll just leave to have babies’, or the mysogynist prick last week who demanded to see my boss – I pointed out that I am the boss, and the next person in the hierarchy is the CEO.

    “I’ll see him, then”

    “The CEO is a woman”

    “you’re all fuckin lezzie bitches, no wonder this place is shit…”

    Hidden behind no-braintree’s hate of feminism: “all feminists are liars” is the implication that women do not deserve equality because they are all hysterical ranting whingers. And any male who supports them is a brainwashed leftwing pussy, not a real, red-blooded man like himself.

  84. #84 Tassie Devil
    May 2, 2009

    Errr…

    Stockholm syndrome is about captors and hostages. How on earth are women holding men hostage?

  85. #85 Sniper
    May 2, 2009

    Now, I’m really gone, though I may return if a few hours to see what other additional idiocies have been posted.

    He’s a lousy debater, but a fair-to-middling flouncer, give him that.

  86. #86 Nanu Nanu
    May 2, 2009

    Stockholm syndrome is about captors and hostages. How on earth are women holding men hostage?

    Maybe he’s having S&M fantasies?

  87. #87 amphiox
    May 2, 2009

    It may be naively optimistic of me to think/hope for this, but when I look at attitudes towards gender discrimination among people of different age groups, it seems to me that if we simply wait 50-100 years for the older generations (currently still in positions of power) whose stereotypes and attitudes have been entrenched by early indoctrination (not unlike religious belief) to grow old, retire, and die off, most of the gender inequality issues still facing us today should spontaneously resolve themselves. At least in western societies.

    Of course, I don’t think we should be resigning ourselves to waiting 50 or more years for this.

    But, in western societies, the weight of momentum has, I think, reached a tipping point where final victory on this matter is inevitable, not unlike the Pacific War circa 1943, if one wants to use a hackneyed military analogy. Battles remain to be fought, but the enemy is in full retreat on all fronts, what few entrenched redoubts they still possess are isolated, and cut off from reinforcements, the enemy strategy is becoming increasingly desperate, disorganized, and self-defeating, and the quality of the enemy tactical ability steadily eroding due to attrition among their ranks.

    The only question is do we want to push hard for victory early, or are we content to wait for victory late?

  88. #88 'Tis Himself
    May 2, 2009

    He’s a lousy debater, but a fair-to-middling flouncer, give him that.

    No, he’s not even a good flouncer. A really good flouncer will let you know, in no uncertain terms, that he’s definitely not talking to you and go into a detailed explanation as to why.

  89. #89 amphiox
    May 2, 2009

    The pedigree here reminds me of a trick question we were given back in my freshman undergraduate genetics course (minus the social subtext), where we were given the pedigree for an unnamed genetic disorder and asked to figure out what the mode of inheritance for it was, and all the affected individuals were female.

    Turned out to be a disease that affected the ovaries.

  90. #90 amphiox
    May 2, 2009

    The one area of inequality that I think can never be overcome is the inescapable biological fact that women will always have to invest more into reproduction than men. No matter how much a man is willing to contribute to child care and child rearing, it will never be equivalent to having to go through a pregnancy.

    I don’t see any way we can get around this problem short of inventing artificial wombs, or genetically engineering our descendant into egg layers.

  91. #91 intepid
    May 2, 2009

    Hieronymus Braintree, when I dived into the middle of this thread I read your response to someone called Grolby, and though, “wow, she must be awful I can’t wait to read what she said to provoke this response.”

    I did, and doing so rapidly flipped my expectations of her and my opinion of you. You are a tosser, and further you are one of those tossers who pretends to hold the rational high ground while using shitty weasel words to undermine your opponent. Maybe you really aren’t aware of this, but I suspect you are and are now just lashing out defensively and accusing everyone who disagrees with you of being rabid, strident, PC, whatever. You’re the one who took the dialogue to the level of insult, and sulking about being called stupid just makes you a sore loser (why do I never see people bitching about this until they’ve lost the real argument?)

    Hieronymus: Reactionary Shithead!
    Grolby: Winner!

  92. #92 Stars End
    May 2, 2009

    Two things….

    First, I work as a fingerprint examiner and Galton is included in our pantheon of “gods,” along with Faulds, Hershel, Henry,…et. Interestingly, in all my training, I have NEVER heard the fact of Galton’s belief in eugencics uttered, not once! I had to learn of it through my own personal studies. Was shocked to learn of it and irritated that no mention was ever made of it in classes. What if an intelligent and crafty lawyer brought it up in cross at a trial? We would not be prepared.

    Second, the letters to our daughters idea is AWESOME! I wish I had even one parent that thought the way the first letter writer did. I, personally,have been called a bitch by my family members on more than one occasion for daring (I know, it IS shocking!) to speak my mind. I was chastisted by male AND female members of my family. I believe this thinking is also the same that genereated their ideas that I was going into a field that was “inappropriate.” Forensic Science? Inappropriate? HOW? I might see things that are nasty..dead bodies and such? I LOVE my job, despite having to overcome family prejudices and chauvinistic behavior by some men (they seem to be getting fewer and fewer over time, but that may be that I just use my “I am in control here voice, now just WHAT is it I can help you with? as soon as I detect ANY sexism) I have encountered in the field. I mean really, “Can’t we all just get along?” :)

  93. #93 cyan
    May 2, 2009

    This is such an excellent example of why I so love you, PZ

  94. #94 apnea
    May 2, 2009

    “Feminism” wasn’t generally abandoned as a label by women because they thought the issue was closed, rather it was utterly demonized by conservative gasbags and sophists quick on the draw about all the RAGING lez out for your manhood. These people used the same tactics as Hieronymus Braintree here: disingenuous de-contextualizing of feminist thinkers, mobilization of already established ‘strident/shrill/unreasonable/victimized’ misogynist lexicon, re-focusing on male-centered scenarios and consequences, etc.

    To actually use the image problem of feminism in the media as an argument against the existence of patriarchy is, in this case, the real Orwellian move, Braintree.

  95. #95 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Incidentally, I’d like to point out that women overwhelmingly refuse to identify themselves as feminists.

    I’m sure it has nothing to do with how hateful people like you immediately and reflexively start yelling at them, accusing them of not caring about men, and shaming them for acknowledging their own disadvantages, as you did in your first comment; telling them they hate men as in your second comment; calling them hysterical and stereotypical while proudly labeling yourself an anti-feminist, then telling them they’re all bigoted, angry, racist, snide, belligerent hypocrites in your third; and so on, however boring and dismissive you feel entitled to be.

    Merely mentioning feminism, or merely mentioning that women face challenges in the workplace, invariably results in disgruntled reactionaries like yourself taking the opportunity to start calling everyone in yelling distance a bunch of man-haters. In such a society, I can’t imagine why any woman might be afraid to call herself a feminist, or hesitant to invite that kind of verbal abuse upon herself.

  96. #96 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 2, 2009

    I hope it takes Braintree a couple of days to get his feet out of his mouth. He reminds of a certain political group, who are their own worst enemy every time they post, which is wwwaaayyy to often.

  97. #97 apnea
    May 2, 2009

    Hats off to you, -strange gods before me-. Nailed it.

  98. #98 Falyne
    May 3, 2009

    This is one of the reasons I <3 PZ, and his blogspace. That shit don’t fly here. ^_^

  99. #99 Skemono
    May 3, 2009

    If women are being kept down then how do you explain the fact that almost 50% of all medical students are women?

    How do you explain the fact that even though 50% of med. students are women, only 25% of doctors are? And that even by 2010, we only expect that to grow to 33%?

    Or that my friend, who’s studying to be a neurosurgeon, met with several voices telling her not to enter that field of study because it wasn’t suitable for women, and that she should become a gynecologist instead?

    Or how that same friend during an interview (I think for residency) was questioned sharply about whether she planned on having children?

  100. #100 maureen Brian
    May 3, 2009

    I think, Amphiox, that you are being a little too optimistic.

    Current research indicates that – despite the great things we women have achieved for ourselves – the old attitudes are still being passed on.

    I highlight just this one – among students – precisely because it was conducted among the supposedly brightest and best of the next generation.

    There is plenty more.

  101. #101 Marc Abian
    May 3, 2009

    So far no one has directly answered my question, what are the specfic limits imposed by a male-dominated leadership on women in careers (in this case it was specifically careers in science, but the response doesn’t have to be).

    Through the thread what I seem to be picking up on is
    1. Employers reluctant to hire a women because she is likely to get pregnant and thus miss work.
    2. Women not being agressive enough in fighting for less names on their papers or putting their name first, and employers which creates the impression that they aren’t as successful (this was based on one anecdote)

    —————-

    The label “human” fits almost everyone from previous centuries. Does that make it meaningless? Terms like sexism or racism (indeed, most descriptive words that I can think of at all) derive no meaning whatsoever from their relative distribution in historical populations. You’re going to have to explain that claim more thoroughly if you want me to take it seriously, because from here it comes across as outright bizarre.

    Perhaps we agree without knowing it here. I think calling someone from the 18th centuary racist would be the same as calling them human in that it’s completely redundant. I think the point of using words like racist and sexist is to describe and distinguish things, but how can they be used to distinguish if they apply to all?

    Sexist and racist meant different things in different times. Huxley by the standards of the day was another bleedin-heart kook, but by our standards he was quite racist (Dawkins makes the same point in the “Moral Zeitgeist” section of TGD I think). So to describe him as racist is rather unfair to him because to describe someone as racist in a historical context means they are very racist, were as to describe someone as racist today usually means they are less racist. Calling Huxley racist makes him sound like some sort of white supremist chapter head unless you clarify that you are not considering the the historical context of his views.

  102. #102 SC, OM
    May 3, 2009

    (I don’t have time to get involved in discussions here this weekend, but I do want to drop in to respond to one thing:)

    So far no one has directly answered my question, what are the specfic limits imposed by a male-dominated leadership on women in careers (in this case it was specifically careers in science, but the response doesn’t have to be).

    Mark, it’s difficult to tell how genuine your interest is since you don’t appear to have made any efforts to answer your question on your own, but there’s a growing literature on women in science education and careers (especially since the MIT report). I would recommend that you go to both Amazon and Google Scholar and do a search for “women science.” You’ll get a decent introduction to work on the topic. You can also go, for example, here:

    http://sitemaker.umich.edu/advance/STRIDE

    STRIDE is an intervention based on the existing research. Hope this helps.

  103. #103 maureen Brian
    May 3, 2009

    Marc Alban,

    This is not from science but from life within a not-for-profit – one which on paper at least had a strong commitment to equality.

    1. A male colleague died suddenly. I was asked to take over his work and I agreed. The manager (male!) did not change the responsibilities but did try to change the job title to one which had a lower status within the organisation.

    2. I applied for a promotion and the job was advertised externally, too. When I was appointed the same manager – and by this time I am no longer in his department – announced that the advertised salary was being significantly reduced.

    3. In the new job I was approached by a man offering a service. In the course of our conversation he asked to speak to a man as he did not do business with women. Yes, in so many words. It was my budget he wanted some of, it would have been my signature on the authorisation for payment and I was delighted to tell him that (internationally known name) did not wish to do business with him.

    With a bit of encouragement I won the first two arguments too! My experience, I know, is mild compared with that of others.

    Those are only the worst cases from my uneventful life. Now multiply them by the number of women in that organisation, the number of women in the workforce. I am confident that a person of good will would eventually realise what a Sisyphean task it is for a woman to stay half-way even – long before we get to the dizzy heights where who gets tenure, who presents at a conference, whose name is first on a paper can determine the course of a whole career.

  104. #105 strange gods before me
    May 3, 2009

    Just out of curiosity; Walton, are you reading this thread?

  105. #106 Isis the Scientist
    May 3, 2009

    Thank you very much for the mention, PZ. I appreciate it!

  106. #107 Falyne
    May 3, 2009

    I swear @98 was a real comment last night. I used a heart symbol with a less-than sign, which must have nommed it…

    Anyway, I wanted to say that I heart PZ and his blogspace for being all feministy. It’s a nice change having a geek hangout that doesn’t ever make you feel out of place for having girl parts. ^_^

  107. #108 jsilverheels
    May 3, 2009

    “Half the scientific potential in that pedigree was thrown away by restrictive social conventions.”

    Didn’t they pass their genes onto the next generation?

  108. #109 dorght
    May 3, 2009

    PZ, what book do you use in your genetics class?

  109. #110 I like Biology
    May 3, 2009

    “So, PZ. If women are being kept down then how do you explain the fact that almost 50% of all medical students are women?”

    Go to a scientific conference sometime in any field of Biology and you might notice an equal ratio of men to women. But if you’re really paying attention, you’ll notice something even more interesting:

    Ages 20-35: Women 60%, Men 40% (in my field, females are more like 70% in this range)

    Ages 35-45: Women 50%, Men 50%

    Ages 45+: Women 70%, Men 30%

    Graduate schools are admitting a lot of female graduate students. However, those females are not continuing in academia. Somewhere between finishing a PhD program, getting 1-5 post-docs, and getting a faculty position, women are choosing other paths.

    The root cause of this attrition is complicated, and frankly, something that universities should be paying more attention to.

  110. #111 grolby
    May 3, 2009

    @ intepid, #91 – I am very flattered, thank you! Still, in the interest of full disclosure, I am in fact a man, though I can understand why you assumed otherwise. I do hope to see more male allies out there, it would be great to see guesses like that become less reliable! ;-)

  111. #112 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    Thinking about grolby’s comment in #111 and Hieronymus Braintree’s various comments, I recognize one possible difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals want to see everyone improve their situations. While conservatives don’t mind if there’s a general improvement, they really only care about their particular group. Braintree believes any improvement for women comes at the expense of men, and, being a man, he resents this idea. Gender equality is a zero-sum game, if one side wins then the other side automatically loses. What’s more, he sees men like grolby and me as being traitors to our gender since we applaud advancements for women.

  112. #113 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 3, 2009

    What’s more, he sees men like grolby and me as being traitors to our gender since we applaud advancements for women.

    That and he’s a dumb ass.

  113. #114 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 3, 2009

    I’m gonna build me a tree house and I’m gonna only let Braintree, nothingsacred, and MosesZD in it.

    The bloodbath! The bloodbath!
    :-o

    I don’t know how it is where you are PZ, but here it’s starting to show that boys are falling behind not because they’re slackers, but because girls are given every POSSIBLE accommodation in the interest of equality and the boys are left to fend for themselves.

    Your source made that up.

    How do I know?

    Because at the university of Vienna, too, 58 % of first-year students are female, and they were by no means “given every POSSIBLE accommodation”.

    I think a good part of the problem with boys is that it isn’t seen as “macho” by the peer groups to excel academically in middle/high school.

    Wouldn’t surprise me at all. “Brainer! Brainer!”

    See, when I first looked at the diagram, I thought it was a X-linked trait, with the females as carriers.

    Me too :-)

    Grolby, calling me “stupid” is such an intelligent and comprehensive argument.

    Nope, it’s not an argument. It’s a conclusion.

    That’s all folks! Now, I’m really gone, though I may return if a few hours to see what other additional idiocies have been posted.

    Claims to leave for the third time in a row ? and adds “I’m lying”. How easy to predict that was!

    Diagnosis: Troll.

    Maybe he’s having S&M fantasies?

    Or just simply paranoia.

    How do you explain the fact that even though 50% of med. students are women, only 25% of doctors are? And that even by 2010, we only expect that to grow to 33%?

    Ehem.

    That article was published in 2003. This explains why there’s such a huge difference between “now” and 2010, which is next year.

    So, how’s it going? Are 30 % of the physicians female in the USA this year? More? Less?

    ==============================

    Still shocked at the article linked to from comment 100.

  114. #115 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 3, 2009

    Braintree believes any improvement for women comes at the expense of men, and, being a man, he resents this idea.

    Always the same: ignorance produces fear, and fear produces conservativism.

  115. #116 Rrr
    May 3, 2009

    @ #114
    Yeah, that article scares me, I had no idea there were that many people with such poorly though through attitudes around. Reminds me of someone’s comment on a case where the fact that the girl was wearing a shirt with “pornstar” printed on it was held against her as one of the “proofs” that it was her fault, and not the rapists’ (yes, plural). “So if a guy is wearing a shirt with ‘Kung-Fu master’ printed on it, he’s asking to get beaten up by a gang of thugs and it’s all his fault?”

    Also, the zero sum game thing reminds me of the women who claim to be feminists yet say that men need to not only make place for them but not to butt in on taking care of children because those are “sacred” “womanly” tasks and women are “getting marginalized enough as it is and the last thing we need are those disgusting opressors making us even less speshul and unique little snowflakes”. Essentially, they want special treatment and not let guys be as free as them to disregard traditional gender-roles too. The stupid, it burns. I’m glad I haven’t seen any of those kinds of idiots for quite some time now.

  116. #117 Lynna
    May 3, 2009

    There’s an article in the May 2209 issue of The Scientist (vol. 23 No.5) titled “Help Women Stay in Science.”

  117. #118 Azkyroth
    May 3, 2009

    Also, the zero sum game thing reminds me of the women who claim to be feminists yet say that men need to not only make place for them but not to butt in on taking care of children because those are “sacred” “womanly” tasks and women are “getting marginalized enough as it is and the last thing we need are those disgusting opressors making us even less speshul and unique little snowflakes”. Essentially, they want special treatment and not let guys be as free as them to disregard traditional gender-roles too. The stupid, it burns. I’m glad I haven’t seen any of those kinds of idiots for quite some time now.

    I think there’s a good argument that the only way we’re ever going to have full acceptance and equality for women in the work world is if the domestic and childrearing contributions of men are valued and expected by society.

  118. #119 Skemono
    May 3, 2009

    That article was published in 2003. This explains why there’s such a huge difference between “now” and 2010, which is next year.

    Um, yes? So? I really cannot fathom what point you’re trying to make with that.

    My point was that “percentage of women who are med. students” was a poor metric for measuring gender equality. Even though half of med. students are female, substantially fewer seem to actually become doctors. This is no doubt in part, possibly wholly, due to a pre-existing population of majority-male doctors, but I do have to wonder how many female med students don’t become doctors (compared to male med students, of course). After all, as Isis said, “It’s not a secret that the largest attrition among female scientists happens in the transition between trainee and faculty.”

  119. #120 octopod
    May 3, 2009

    Well, that was interesting.

    We first looked and discarded the possibility of both an X-linked and a Y-linked characteristic; since there are both strong and mild manifestations of the trait, it is impossible. However, we were left with the problem that it was only ever observed in males. What we ultimately concluded was that it was something that was only expressed in males; the example I suggested was “a deformity of the foreskin”.

    Interestingly, it turns out we were pretty much correct. Genius is about as easily recognised in women in this culture — to some degree still, and to a tremendous degree in previous centuries — as a deformity of the foreskin. Although competence is more commonly acknowledged in women these days, brilliance is still rarely recognized.

  120. #121 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 3, 2009

    wtf

  121. #122 Jerry Billings
    May 4, 2009

    As a dad, I have always been aware that teaching my three daughters that they are the masters of their fates must start early. Here are the results of that teaching. The eldest holds a masters degree Western Oregon University and is a partner in a school consulting business and the author af a book on education that will be published soo. The next holds a BA from Portland State University, a Masters from The London School of Economics and a PhD from Harvard; having had published two books on history and with a third on the art of business negotion soon to be on the market, she is the sole owner of a hugely sucessful business consulting operation with branches in several Asian cities; the youngest attended Oregon State but has no degree; she owns an antigue funiture wholesale and retail businees importing many containers of furniture from Great Britian and India.

    Ladies, YOU CAN DO IT!

  122. #123 Sitakali
    May 4, 2009

    PZ, I truly appreciate your strong promotion of women’s rights. As a proud feminist, I appreciate knowing that others are fighting for gender equality. Which is why I must bring up your statement about boys. Perceiving boys who fall behind as “slackers” is lacking in the fundamental scientific notions of cause and effect.

    Why are they slackers? Is it because males carry a sex-linked genetic trait that causes slackery? Or perhaps it’s environmental; boys are encouraged at a young age to be slackers? Does that explain why so many boys are held back a year? Or maybe, just maybe, is it because many boys require more visual and physical learning than girls, and mainstream education does not fit well with most children’s developmental needs (whether male or female)?

    It would be equally dismissive to say that girls who are falling behind are “lazy.” Terms like “slacker” and “lazy” have no place in an argument about gender equality (or in any argument, I would argue), especially when referring to children.

    As for the repeated comments of our favourite man-lover (saturated with sophisiticated “leftist are this” and “feminists are that” statements), I think he’ll agree with this darling quote:

    ?Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.?

    That’s right, every single one of us is unattractive. And lesbian. And did I mention we have a castration quota of ten (pairs) per year?

  123. #124 catgirl
    May 4, 2009

    Misogynist men will find any reason to hate feminism. They just love their straw man fallacies. I’m a feminist and I am as outraged by legitimate discrimination against males as I am about discrimination against females. I hate it that when a female teacher takes advantage of a male student, so many people just ignore it or even claim that it was good for him. It sucks that stay-at-home fathers are much less respected than stay-at-home mothers. I hate it that my coworker is so insistent that his son become good at baseball (and other sports), even though the kid is bored by it. It’s a shame that men can’t wear skirts in public even if they find skirts more comfortable. I hate it that men are raised with the pressure to “seduce” as many women as possible, even if that means resorting to gray rape.

    But when only 17% of senators are female, and someone starts complaining about how men are falling behind, that’s a complete load of nonsense. Women are making progress, but are still not represented in all areas of study. Engineering is a good example. As an engineering student, I was often the only woman in my classes. Also, there’s a big difference between going to college and getting far in a career.

    You can talk about “Stockholm Syndrome”, but it’s not nearly as bad for men as you think. Maybe you should look up a few terms like “glass ceiling”, “double burden”, and “Mommy track”. Also look up the difference between covert and overt discrimination.

  124. #125 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 4, 2009

    Um, yes? So? I really cannot fathom what point you’re trying to make with that.

    You wrote “only 25% of [medical] doctors are”, present tense, women, and went on to directly quote the article which talked of 2010 as if that were far in the future. That was just weird.

    Your point almost certainly stands, you just argued for it in a confusing way.

    men can’t wear skirts in public

    Yeah, I’ve often wondered about that.

  125. #126 Skemono
    May 5, 2009

    You wrote “only 25% of [medical] doctors are”, present tense, women, and went on to directly quote the article which talked of 2010 as if that were far in the future. That was just weird.

    Ah, I see. Yes, quite right. My apologies.

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