Author Topic: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?  (Read 23197 times)

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #75 on: August 09, 2009, 01:05:09 PM »
So it's sexist to call someone pretty? Or it's only sexist to call someone pretty if it's a man calling a woman pretty? Or is it only sexist to call someone pretty after saying she's smart? Is it sexist to tell your wife she's pretty? Sorry, for all the questions, but this sounds suspiciously like a no-win scenario. In other words, "it's sexist, until I don't want it to be sexist."

Maybe "pretty" wasn't the best example. Just telling someone they're pretty isn't sexist, but it does presume that they care and that it is important to them. And, yeah, I chose how I phrased that.

The problem isn't that guys in the skeptical movement call women pretty or even that they (along with some female skeptics who shall go nameless <_<) objectify women occasionally (hello explicit thread). The problem is that it plays up stereotypes. I think there was a similar discussion when Kirsten Sanford was on the show. A lot of guys were all "she's pretty, we need more smart, beautiful skeptical women," etc. I'm paraphrasing of course, but why did the fact that she was attractive even need to come up? Yes, she is, but what does it have to do with her science? And it does happen occasionally the other way around, but we're talking disproportionately. And even that can be a problem. Who cares how attractive someone is - when the topic is science, let it be about science. When it's about who's hot and who's not, then we can bring out the mud baths and wet t-shirts.

I guess I'm trying to say that it does depend on the greater context of the conversation or discussion being had. If you're talking about neuroscience, and quote Dr. Novella, it is sexist to add "the dreamy" in front of his name. If you're talking about Dr Sanford and want to make a point about how smart she is, adding "pretty" to the mix just doesn't make sense. Her intelligence and beauty are mutually exclusive.

And this is a tangent, but I got to thinking about some of my experiences on this board. How many of you, based on my posts and the way in which I interacted, made the assumption that I was a dude? How many "omg panda's a chick" posts have been made? Some of you made assumptions about me based on my posting method (well, that and my "boobs rool" comments, sure) - granted, I don't post like a chick, I'll be the first to admit it. But you (general) saw how I was interacting with others on the board and added it up in your (general) head and came to the conclusion that I was male. I'm not trying to argue that this is sexist, but just that assumptions are made and sometimes they're grossly wrong. Sometimes women don't want you to tell them they're pretty, just like sometimes guys don't want to hear about how cute a woman thinks their butt is.

Oh, and footnote, there are some people that way overreact about these things. We call them "crazy".

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #76 on: August 09, 2009, 01:10:13 PM »
I don't find being called pretty being sexist.  This is a by product of our culture where apparently women aren't supposed to lust after men and men are supposed to be uncontrollably horny.  I'm a hot bitch, and there is a reason I wear low cut shirts.  I like the attention.  Not only am I sexy, but I'm smart!  For someone else to affirm my high opinion of myself is just awesome.  Of course if a man were to say he's both sexy and smart, us women would just roll our eyes at him and call him narcissistic.  Who is being sexist then?  Apparently only men are capable of being sexist I guess.

Well, you are a hot bitch, Karyn.

Also, women are just as sexist. I never claimed that. I thought the discussion was about how men can be pigs, not how women can be pigs. I'm good either way.

Quote
This is one reason the suprernazifeminist movement bugs me.  It attempts to blame men for suppression of women but then doesn't really do anything to empower women to be anything other than megabitches.

Yeah, that gets annoying. But there are a lot of movements that have their extremist followers. The ones that kind of get it, but end up getting it totally wrong. Again, we call those people "crazy."

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Offline Karyn

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #77 on: August 09, 2009, 01:13:30 PM »
I always say 'the dreamy' Niel DeGrasse Tyson.  Seriously.  That man is dreamy.  :p
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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #78 on: August 09, 2009, 01:14:36 PM »
I always say 'the dreamy' Niel DeGrasse Tyson.  Seriously.  That man is dreamy.  :p

ZOMG SEXISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




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Offline seaotter

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #79 on: August 09, 2009, 01:37:11 PM »
I always say 'the dreamy' Niel DeGrasse Tyson.  Seriously.  That man is dreamy.  :p

I was going to say this. Well, not this, but I have noticed similar comments when the male is seen as being attractive. It isn't mentioned when the male or female isn't. Course I have also seen it used as an attack when you don't like the person. Actually I was saying last night that the only sex I'd mentioned in the last 100 posts was on sexism in these threads, but really I did at least imply that Zabulon was too hot to post anymore pictures.

Also remember DJ Grothe being accused of being ughhh the sexiest man alive. Who was being favorably compared to him?
« Last Edit: August 09, 2009, 01:38:42 PM by seaotter »
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Offline robotoverflow

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #80 on: August 09, 2009, 02:07:59 PM »
So it's sexist to call someone pretty? Or it's only sexist to call someone pretty if it's a man calling a woman pretty? Or is it only sexist to call someone pretty after saying she's smart? Is it sexist to tell your wife she's pretty? Sorry, for all the questions, but this sounds suspiciously like a no-win scenario. In other words, "it's sexist, until I don't want it to be sexist."

That's the thing. It's not in all cases sexist to say something like that. If you're just talking to the guys about some girl you like then it's perfectly fine to make an assessment like that about a woman, and it's perfectly fine to make it public too. Now if there are women around who are a bit touchy about finding out that another woman is attractive, then the situation's a bit different but you still haven't done anything sexist. If you swap it around then it's the exact same situation. It's unreasonable to expect that, for the sake of women who have image issues, you should shut up. Tonnes of guys have image issues just the same.

It's really about the context of the assessment. There have been a few times on the podcast when I cringed a little as the guys mentioned having women skeptics as guests. After bringing up their credentials they'd say "and she's a hottie". Something like that obviously never would have been a factor when the guys chose guests, but does invite the speculation.

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #81 on: August 09, 2009, 02:52:10 PM »
Quote
Who cares how attractive someone is - when the topic is science, let it be about science.


That's the thing with guys (and I don't know, but I assume it's different for women, but correct me if I'm wrong--I've never been a woman), we always care how attractive someone is.  When we're, hypothetically, picking someone to speak at TAM, a woman's attractiveness may not be a (concious) factor, but it does get processed by the brain.  I believe Karrie was brought up as the interview as a sort of model woman-in-the-media.  Ahem...



... or is it that (and this is in response to the interview conversation, not the forum one) a woman can only be portrayed as sexy if she's also smart?  Isn't that a little prejudiced against all the hot, dumb women out there?  Or, wait, I forgot, the two women in that discussion completely ignore the existence of the stupid woman.  How many men got upset at the movie Dude Where's My Car?  "That's sexist!  It adds to the steriotype that men are just attractive, stupid, frat boys!"  Nobody said that because we all acknowledge that attractive, stupid, frat boys exist in great number.  Who do you think breeds with the stupid, attractive women?

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #82 on: August 09, 2009, 03:16:57 PM »
Quote
Who cares how attractive someone is - when the topic is science, let it be about science.
we always care how attractive someone is.  When we're, hypothetically, picking someone to speak at TAM, a woman's attractiveness may not be a (concious) factor, but it does get processed by the brain.


I would differ slightly.  I don't necessarily 'care' whether or not she is pretty, I DO note it, but I do not consider someone's pretty factor when I evaluate their position....... 

That being said, I do agree with an earlier post in this thread.  Picking someone over someone else merely because their sex or their skin color is bigoted REGARDLESS.

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #83 on: August 09, 2009, 03:20:10 PM »
1. It's fine that guys are always interested in whether a woman is sexy. You don't have to announce it, especially in contexts when sex isn't the topic.

2. I am surprised that this idea of context is so difficult to understand. It is OK to think that women--smart and dumb alike--are pretty. It is OK to tell women that they are pretty in social situations. It is OK to think that intelligence makes a woman sexy, and to tell her so, especially if you are just talking to a woman in a friendly, flirty way. But if she's a renowned world bird expert, and she just gave a talk about her experience and findings, and the first thing you can think of to say is how pretty she looked at the podium, or how hot it is you think birds are when they are described by a girl like her, that's sexist.

3. If you take some beautiful scientists and run a magazine photo shoot called "The Sexy Side of Scientist," that's one thing. Those women are posing for a sex reason, and would like to hear how they look and measure up on the sexy scale. I don't think it's necessarily sexist to pick women scientists as a subject for sexy magazine pictures; that's a different topic. But if you start reading in Scientific American (or Sports Illustrated or Forbes) about what a woman scientist is wearing to the interview (or what a tennis player wore to compete, or how the color of the executive's blouse contrasts with her eyes), then that's diminishing the value of what the woman has learned or accomplished in order to focus on her looks. These remarks are almost never, ever associated with men (scientists, athletes, or otherwise). You can argue about the degree to which these asides about a woman's looks are sexist, but you are forcing sex into a context it doesn't belong because the subject is a woman and somehow--because men like sex and apparently cannot be expected to keep their mouths shut about it--it is perfectly fine and she should be flattered.

Is this really that hard to understand? I will admit that I am perplexed by what seems like an obstinate refusal to look beyond this pretty/smart paradigm. It's hard for me to tell online if people are just spouting off for the sake of spouting off or if these are concepts that are foreign. It isn't rocket science, guys.

Maybe that's the problem.

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #84 on: August 09, 2009, 03:24:36 PM »
Quote
Who cares how attractive someone is - when the topic is science, let it be about science.

That's the thing with guys (and I don't know, but I assume it's different for women, but correct me if I'm wrong--I've never been a woman), we always care how attractive someone is.  When we're, hypothetically, picking someone to speak at TAM, a woman's attractiveness may not be a (concious) factor, but it does get processed by the brain.

This is a well-established phenomenon. Attractive people are more successful in just about all parts of life. It's not so much physical features, but more like clothing, haircut, skin tone, and weight/fitness, but people who look better enjoy a lot of prosperity and general approval. There are all sorts of explanations for this, from evolutionary psychology to sociology, but that it happens is not really controversial. Good looking men get picked to be convention speakers a lot more often than ugly ones, too. I bet that everyone on the short list for speakers for TAM was an attractive person. It's probably because the more attractive people rise high enough in life to make the short lists in the first place.

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #85 on: August 09, 2009, 03:25:46 PM »
You just jumped about fifty different contexts and I suppose that's the point. Are we discussing sexism in the forum, the skeptical movement as a whole, at TAM, or in science articles? And as you say the same action might be sexist depending on which context we were in.
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Offline Citizen Skeptic

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #86 on: August 09, 2009, 03:28:53 PM »
1. It's fine that guys are always interested in whether a woman is sexy. You don't have to announce it, especially in contexts when sex isn't the topic.

2. I am surprised that this idea of context is so difficult to understand. It is OK to think that women--smart and dumb alike--are pretty. It is OK to tell women that they are pretty in social situations. It is OK to think that intelligence makes a woman sexy, and to tell her so, especially if you are just talking to a woman in a friendly, flirty way. But if she's a renowned world bird expert, and she just gave a talk about her experience and findings, and the first thing you can think of to say is how pretty she looked at the podium, or how hot it is you think birds are when they are described by a girl like her, that's sexist.

3. If you take some beautiful scientists and run a magazine photo shoot called "The Sexy Side of Scientist," that's one thing. Those women are posing for a sex reason, and would like to hear how they look and measure up on the sexy scale. I don't think it's necessarily sexist to pick women scientists as a subject for sexy magazine pictures; that's a different topic. But if you start reading in Scientific American (or Sports Illustrated or Forbes) about what a woman scientist is wearing to the interview (or what a tennis player wore to compete, or how the color of the executive's blouse contrasts with her eyes), then that's diminishing the value of what the woman has learned or accomplished in order to focus on her looks. These remarks are almost never, ever associated with men (scientists, athletes, or otherwise). You can argue about the degree to which these asides about a woman's looks are sexist, but you are forcing sex into a context it doesn't belong because the subject is a woman and somehow--because men like sex and apparently cannot be expected to keep their mouths shut about it--it is perfectly fine and she should be flattered.

Is this really that hard to understand? I will admit that I am perplexed by what seems like an obstinate refusal to look beyond this pretty/smart paradigm. It's hard for me to tell online if people are just spouting off for the sake of spouting off or if these are concepts that are foreign. It isn't rocket science, guys.

Maybe that's the problem.

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Offline Hanes

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #87 on: August 09, 2009, 03:35:09 PM »
Maybe I get it now.

I can see how a continual low-level quantity of inuendo and observations of physical qualities could be overbearing.

So I guess there's two things I notice with that.  First is, while the inuendo can be (and probably should be) done without, I'd feel the world would be a poorer place if we couldn't publicly notice someone's attractiveness.

So that's sort of extreme, but the line's got to fall somewhere between the two extremes, and where it does is different from person to person.  So it's tough.

I don't know, it's all very confusing.

edit:
I guess it's confusing because if it were reciprocated it wouldn't be unwelcome.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2009, 03:41:29 PM by Hanes »

Offline KarenX

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #88 on: August 09, 2009, 03:42:36 PM »
And you just don't understand women. ;)

If I'm jumping contexts, it's because the conversation keeps changing. I wasn't at TAM, and I'm not on the committee that picks TAM speakers, but I thought we covered what information we would need to determine how or why TAM speakers were chosen, or if diversity should be a goal.

THEN people started complaining how hard it was to know when it was OK to call a girl pretty, and started collapsing a lot of possible situations into one, and making a lot of false dichotomies.

THEN someone posted a picture of a woman in her bra to make some kind of point, which is that he thought she was pretty, I guess, but was really time away from whatever point he was making about women so we could all see what a pretty woman looks like without a lot of clothes on.

I PERSONALLY think that this board is not unsexist, but it's not a universal opinion and I'm not really interested in arguing about it. I will concede that maybe I'm too sensitive. A lot of NO UR is boring, and won't change minds, and it doesn't bother me if other people don't care. But since they asked what I thought, I'm speaking up.

I REALIZE that people behave differently in person than they do online.

What I think would be interesting to know... to go back to the original thread title... is where the Skeptical Movement is taking place. I'm sure all of you guys are very nice in person. But is the Skeptical Movement an online phenomenon? I am not part of it, so I can't judge it, but if it's happening in blogs and discussion forums, then how people act online is the behavior of the movement. I still haven't heard the podcast, but even if the TAM speaker lineup is ostensibly sexist, does it reflect anything about the Skeptical Movement? Is it the pinnacle of the Skeptical Movement? What exactly are we talking about?

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Re: Sexism in the Skeptic Movement?
« Reply #89 on: August 09, 2009, 03:49:58 PM »
I give all of you guys blanket permission, if you should run into Kirsten Sanford at a bar, or in the park, or at the grocery store, to tell her how pretty you think she is. But if she shows up to speak at your school about birds, don't wait around after the talk to tell her how pretty she is. If she poses in Playboy, gush about her boobs all you want. If you want to run it by me first before you say something, I won't be mad. I'll be happy to help.

 

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