Archive for the ‘sex’ Category

And it was a perspective desperately needed

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

The completion of the review of Self Made Man

JDN 2455791 EDT 16:15.


I’ve now finished Self Made Man—it reads quite quickly, as, I suppose, do I. Norah Vincent, as Ned, went through a bowling club, strip clubs, dating, a monastery, a door-to-door sales job, and a men’s therapy group disguised as a man. In every case, she did so successfully—hardly anyone even suspected that she was not really male, though it’s interesting to note that a few found her effeminate or suspected her of being gay.

The general message Vincent derived from the experience is exactly the message I’ve been trying to convey to feminists for about the last decade: Masculinity is fragile. Male privilege has to be defended. It isn’t something that is handed to you because you have a penis and a Y chromosome, to keep and use as you like with no questions asked; on the contrary, it is something that you have to constantly defend, building a barricade around your emotions and guarding them to the last, well, man. Your every move is scrutinized; you can lose your privilege in an instant with a second of eye contact or half an octave of vocal pitch.


A perspective most of us never have—perhaps all of us, really

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

A review-in-progress of Self Made Man by Norah (Ned) Vincent

JDN 2455790 EDT 17:29.

If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s really quite a brilliant idea; a woman spends several months posing as a man in order to gain new perspectives on gender. But of course in doing so she can’t really be an ordinary woman—she has to be the sort of woman who’d be interested in such a thing, and capable of pulling it off. As it is, she’s apparently a butch lesbian, which makes her almost halfway there already, doesn’t it?

Moreover, she can’t really escape her own gender identity, only conceal it and paper it over with stereotypes about masculinity. She chose to be a naive, androgynous, nerdy type (probably because it was easier to pull off), but even then some of the things she says she did or watched strike me as very narrow concepts of what it means to be masculine. I mean, come on; I can’t bowl either, that doesn’t make me  a woman.


How our obsession with our bodies destroys them

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011


A review of Am I Thin Enough Yet? by Sharlene Hesse-Biber


JDN 2455784. EDT 23:38.


On some level, I think we all know that the culture of thinness and bodily perfection is harmful, especially to women. But sometimes we need to be reminded of just how severe the problem really is. Thin people are actually judged as smarter and morally better in experiments—and this is true even when the judgments are made about children. Statistics show that women who are fat or unattractive are actually less likely to be hired—even in jobs that have nothing to do with looks or interacting with the public. (Does it really matter how pretty your tax accountant is? Or your neurosurgeon?)


Almost all my interests are things you’re not supposed to talk about in polite society.

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Religion, evolutionary psychology, sexology, behavioral economics—all these have implications that make ordinary folk uncomfortable. Specifically, there is no God, we owe much of what we are to our chimpanzee ancestors, men and women aren’t that different, and markets don’t work because people aren’t rational.


Even cognitive science, which seems at first relatively esoteric (and hence safe), actually has the deep implication that there is no soul—hence no chance for immortality or eternal reward.


Atheist sexism? Clearly not the problem.

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

JDN 2455746 07:11 EDT.


It is a well-established fact that women are less prominent in the atheist community. I think it’s also a pretty well-established fact that there simply aren’t as many women in the atheist community, either as supporters of atheist causes or simply as out atheists.


There are many hypotheses as to why this might be so, ranging from the vaguely plausible to the obviously silly. None, thus far, are really compelling. I wish I knew why there are so few women active in the atheist movement, but I really don’t.


There is a particular wing of the community, exemplified by Blag Hag, Skepchick, and PZ Myers, which contends that this is due to the huge amount of sexist behavior by men in the atheist community. Here is why that cannot possibly be right.