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Tags elevatorgate , rebecca watson , sexism

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Old 14th July 2011, 05:55 PM   #1
Skeptic Ginger
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EVIDENCE of skeptic/atheist/freethinker sexism REQUESTED

This thread is a request for evidence.

First the thread rules, thank you for respecting them, I think most of you know why they are needed.
This thread is not about elevatorgate, please do not derail it.
This thread is not about men who are sexist, or women who've been sexually assaulted if the anecdote did not occur within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities. No one is arguing sexism and sexual assaults don't exist.
I reserve the right to request off topic posts be removed if they threaten to clutter up the thread or cause off topic drift.

Having looked for some evidence of sexism specifically within or promoted by members of the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities, in particular something specific to these groups, not just an occasional sexist jerk one would find in any group this size, I only found general complaints about sexist men and a couple referenced incidents like elevatorgate and a "boobquake" comment which I've yet to get the details on*.

There was this letter to Dawkins with testimonials posted in Bug Girl's Blog: A letter to Richard Dawkins from Victims of Sexual Assault.
Quote:
Dear Dick
[snipped a long list of women who signed on describing their sexual assaut experiences, but with no specificity to skeptic/atheist/freethinker events or communities]

As many of you know, Rebecca Watson has claimed that sexism is a problem within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities. For the record, she has made a point of saying there was a minority of men within the communities who were guilty of this. But that's a bit contradicted by her additional charge that this sexism has a significant impact on female attendance at conferences and other events.


*Looking for more evidence I found this comment in the Nerd Is My Gender Blog: Overcoming Sexism in the Freethought Community
Quote:
Why donít we see more women in our groups? Maybe because when Jen McCreight showed up to an atheist meeting, guys in the group stood around comparing her to her photos from Boobquake. ...
Since Jen did join our Seattle Skeptic's group (and gave a well received synopsis of her visit to the Creation Museum) I plan to ask her about this if she's willing to comment. (Hopefully she's seen the Nerd Blog and this won't embarrass her.)


OK so on to the purpose of the thread. Apparently we have more white males than females or minorities at our conferences and other events. Locally, I'm not sure that's true, but it is at least true for speakers at the larger venues. I see no evidence that a cause for this imbalance has been established by an analysis of the evidence. The claim has been made that sexism at these events contributes to the imbalance. I can only see that is an assumption which has not been established as a fact.

Disclaimer: I'm skeptical and hypothesize other reasons for the imbalance. I think some of our female members have let their other interests in feminism causes bleed over into their views at the skeptic/atheist/freethinker events. This conflating of causes seems to me to be un-skeptically influencing some people's perceptions.

We all have our blind spots and pre-existing tunnels we see the world through. I am no exception. So I'm not looking to fault anyone for their unsupported assumptions. But I do want to look for evidence of the sexism-is-hurting-us hypothesis before I reject it based on my own experiences and underlying assumptions.


This thread is requesting specific anecdotes (yes, anecdotes sometimes are evidence) that support or refute the hypothesis that sexism is a problem within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities beyond a handful of random individual incidents.

Have members witnessed sexist comments about event speakers?
Do members know of sexist incidents at meetings or events where the men's behaviors bothered or could have bothered women there?
Do you have alternative hypotheses for the gender imbalance within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities or evidence there is not much of a gender imbalance in your local group?

Is the sexism real specifically within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities or is it an imaginary boogyman created out of unsupported assumptions and misinterpretations of benign incidents? Is this really an issue about our community, or is it just an issue about men in general? Or was this always about men in general and never about our community?

Thank you in advance for your contributions.
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Old 14th July 2011, 07:28 PM   #2
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It's been an hour let me stir the pot:

No anecdote, but my inclination would be that the skeptics would be less sexist. More open minded, by definition.

And I suspect the higher than expected number of males could be selection bias? Like this: If the net is the major point of news about upcoming events, what is the m/f ratio of the net? And/or, are women less prone to be skeptics naturally?
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Old 14th July 2011, 07:52 PM   #3
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Thanks. casebro for breaking the ice. I was about to bump the thread myself, given I'm still searching for evidence that is already on the Net.

There was some kind of brouhaha back in Feb when the Blag Hag Blog posted about a single incident and PZ took it from there.

When Gender Goes Pear-Shaped

Feminist hypersensitivity or masculine obtuseness?

The gist was a panel at an atheist event with a ratio of one female commentator to 5 guys answered a question.
Quote:
A panel of five guys and one woman discussed what an atheist group should do to attract more women. The all-too-common problem came up of a woman showing up to a meeting and every dude there hitting on her. First, the panelists grabbed a theme that had been floating around all weekend: that men hitting on women is just biological (therefore excusable), making it sound like a woman in that kind of situation should just STFU and get over it.
Apparently the complaint was dismissed as biology, get over it and the person submitting the question went to pieces in the bathroom.

This blog discussion originally included a video of the actual panel discussion(? I think) that is now blocked with some apology/retraction so we have to rely on a lot of opinons I'm not finished wading through.

My first comment is that this "problem" of too much attention given women attendees still needs quantifying. Then we need some kind of quality evaluation. It disappoints me that we are supposed to assume the typical woman cannot handle this unwanted attention. Is it really that overwhelming? Or are there a couple women who vocalized their own distress and it's being amplified as if it were a common problem?

We need a serious well worded, anonymous poll.

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Old 14th July 2011, 09:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Thanks. casebro for breaking the ice. I was about to bump the thread myself, given I'm still searching for evidence that is already on the Net.

There was some kind of brouhaha back in Feb when the Blag Hag Blog posted about a single incident and PZ took it from there.

When Gender Goes Pear-Shaped

Feminist hypersensitivity or masculine obtuseness?

The gist was a panel at an atheist event with a ratio of one female commentator to 5 guys answered a question.Apparently the complaint was dismissed as biology, get over it and the person submitting the question went to pieces in the bathroom.

This blog discussion originally included a video of the actual panel discussion(? I think) that is now blocked with some apology/retraction so we have to rely on a lot of opinons I'm not finished wading through.

My first comment is that this "problem" of too much attention given women attendees still needs quantifying. Then we need some kind of quality evaluation. It disappoints me that we are supposed to assume the typical woman cannot handle this unwanted attention. Is it really that overwhelming? Or are there a couple women who vocalized their own distress and it's being amplified as if it were a common problem?

We need a serious well worded, anonymous poll.
People are individuals, not just women and men. We all have baggage and that means that some people cannot 'handle' everything we might think they should be able to. Even if sexism isn't especially a problem in the skeptical community, or even if unwanted levels of being hit on isn't especially a problem, it's of course a problem for some people. If a woman or a man cannot handle this unwanted attention, yes, they should develop some way to deal with it because really that's the only thing always in their control, but we should also expect people to make reasonable accommodation.

So even if women aren't being kept away because of hoards of nerds lusting after them and sexism isn't especially a problem, it really won't kill the community to try being a little more accommodating. Now this doesn't mean you have to agree with any given criticism or worry, but what's the harm toning down the sex stuff a little bit until one knows if any given person is comfortable with that.

What I don't want to see myself is debate stifled because it involves naughty bits. If that does really get to someone, it's incumbent upon them to leave for those parts.
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Old 14th July 2011, 09:20 PM   #5
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Assuming this is a legitimate inquiry and not a venue for further condescending toward women who call out poor male behavior, I would start here:

http://www.blaghag.com/2011/06/context-matters.html

The Context Matters section has a list of incidents that happened to the poster on that blog. I'm sure digging through her page would reveal more.

As for a larger scale epidemic, the skepicism movement is tied closely to the academic world, specifically science and philosophy departments (The major figures in the movement are almost all philosophers--Harris, Dennett--or scientists--Dawkins, Myers...etc). Thus, it may be worthwhile to study the incidents of harrassment in those settings:

Quote:
DesAutels said she personally could verify that some of the top philosophers in academe have mistreated many women over the years. "There are well known, famous, serial harassers," she said. And she said that most women in philosophy have seen firsthand that famous philosophers don't seem to pay a price for the way they treat women. "To the degree that they are famous, they move from university to university," she said.
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2...ual_harassment

Here's another blog on the issue:
http://www.newappsblog.com/2011/03/w...ession.html#tp

Here's a blog that collects individual examples of harrassment:
http://beingawomaninphilosophy.wordpress.com/about-2/

Here's a movement of philosophers trying to involve more women in journals and conferences:
http://feministphilosophers.wordpres...ence-campaign/

Obviously philosophy departments aren't the exact same thing as the "skeptical movement," but just like men, the female philosophers are a natural fit as speakers at these conferences. If they put up with all the nonsense described at those various links in their professional lives, I can't imagine many of them would be excited to run off and deal with similar crap at less formal events.
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Old 14th July 2011, 10:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
People are individuals, not just women and men. We all have baggage and that means that some people cannot 'handle' everything we might think they should be able to. Even if sexism isn't especially a problem in the skeptical community, or even if unwanted levels of being hit on isn't especially a problem, it's of course a problem for some people. If a woman or a man cannot handle this unwanted attention, yes, they should develop some way to deal with it because really that's the only thing always in their control, but we should also expect people to make reasonable accommodation.

So even if women aren't being kept away because of hoards of nerds lusting after them and sexism isn't especially a problem, it really won't kill the community to try being a little more accommodating. Now this doesn't mean you have to agree with any given criticism or worry, but what's the harm toning down the sex stuff a little bit until one knows if any given person is comfortable with that.

What I don't want to see myself is debate stifled because it involves naughty bits. If that does really get to someone, it's incumbent upon them to leave for those parts.
My goal is to first assess the problem.

How can we judge the concerns without assessing the problem first?
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Old 14th July 2011, 10:19 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
My goal is to first assess the problem.

How can we judge the concerns without assessing the problem first?
Oh, I didn't mean to say that your search was meaningless! My point was that even if it turns out that there isn't greater sexism in the skeptical community than in the general public, and even if it isn't keeping women away, we should still try to be accepting and accommodating within reason.

I actually applaud your effort to find some sort of solid line of inquiry for a subject with so many confounding factors and emotion.
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Old 14th July 2011, 10:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
Assuming this is a legitimate inquiry and not a venue for further condescending toward women who call out poor male behavior, I would start here:
I assure you it is a legitimate inquiry. I cited the disclaimer in all honesty about where I thought the evidence stood, and what I thought about women handling benign come-ons.

But as a skeptic, I have no more desire to dismiss a real problem than I have to buy a contrived one based on declarations with little substance. I will look at your links thoroughly before commenting further. I don't suggest I will be without bias looking at the evidence, I have what I consider is a liberated female view. I think it's an oxymoron to be a feminist that wants to be coddled. But I do have a desire to be honest about the evidence.
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Old 14th July 2011, 10:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
Oh, I didn't mean to say that your search was meaningless! My point was that even if it turns out that there isn't greater sexism in the skeptical community than in the general public, and even if it isn't keeping women away, we should still try to be accepting and accommodating within reason.

I actually applaud your effort to find some sort of solid line of inquiry for a subject with so many confounding factors and emotion.
If the evidence shows we have no more, no less of a problem than the general population, that gives us information with which to address the problem more effectively.

Given male skeptical thinkers logically should not be thoughtless oafs, and male atheists should be more than aware on average that religious dictates about women's roles are not valid, I would expect our community to have less sexism, not more than the average. So if it turns out that is not the case, then it's worth pursuing why that not so logical finding exists. Again, it would give us more precise information to direct a response.

And if it turns out our community has less sexism than the norm, perhaps the people who are convinced not enough people care about their "feelings" will reconsider that some of those uncaring males are not part of the skeptic/atheist/freethinking community. After all we do have a following of contrarians trying to convince us the things we are skeptical about are true. I'm pretty sure that at least has something to do with Rebecca's emails that use sexual threats in their replies. If the 'feminists' among us recognize it is not the skeptics/atheists/freethinkers that are the problem, they might also change their response to something that actually addresses the right etiology, not the wrong one.
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Old 14th July 2011, 11:23 PM   #10
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No evidence to offer but something I have been thinking about. Exactly what is sexism? I have always felt it is when someone is excluded/prevented from doing something because of their gender but now it seems to mean anything that anyone takes offence at, no matter how stupid or trivial.

For instance, tonight as I drove home from visiting with friends I saw a beautiful young woman walking her dog along a park pathway. I found myself looking at her body which was clothed in skin hugging spandex that showed it off very well. I even thought to myself, "WOW! Great body!"

Was it sexist of me? I mean, if it was a work of art, the Mona Lisa say, and I admired it, no one would think it was sexist. Or an even better analogy would be if it were a new Ferrari parked on the street and I stopped to admire it and comment on it. No one would see that as sexist.

Some will say that these aren't good analogies because the woman isn't wearing clothes, or keeping fit, for me to admire and comment on but for her own reasons. I don't think that is true though. First, the owner of the car, or the artwork, didn't buy it and look after it, so that I could admire and comment on it, either. Second, fashion, the clothes the woman was wearing, is indeed meant to be admired and commented on.

So, what would make my admiring and commenting on a woman's appearance sexist but not my admiring or commenting on a car or piece of art?

My own personal feelings are that my admiring this woman, the elevator incident, and most of the silliness that gets labelled "sexist behaviour" isn't.
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Old 15th July 2011, 12:51 AM   #11
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Well, I'm having a hard time seeing the expression of interest as sexist. So I'm just waiting to see how the thread progresses.

As for my own opinion of sexism, I have some examples. Having people assume weakness and incapableness of me because I am a woman is sexist. Snide comments that tie criticism to my gender apply. I was called a skeptic bimbo once on the politics forum. Since I have a master's degree and a successful professional career the ad hom was absurd. That qualified as a sexist comment. If someone ignores everything about you except your body, that can be sexist. This is not the same as simply admiring someone's physical features. It takes more than that. You'd have to never consider anything about women except their bodies.

And in the culture I exist in, when guys treat women as "them" and the guys as "us" it can be very sexist. That doesn't mean guys can't do something together without the gals, but when they make too much of it, it crosses into sexism. I'm used to guys and gals all being in the same circle of friends, not two separate groups. But there are guys who don't view the culture that way. It's hard to say one way is right and one way wrong since they just happen to be two different cultures. But I don't personally view the segregated culture positively.

I think if a speaker at one of our conferences was ignored except for comments about her looks, that would be sexist. I really have not seen that occurring though. If I thought a male speaker were good looking, I can't see that would be sexist unless I only considered his looks and not his talk, so just admiring a female speaker's appearance is not enough to be sexist.

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Old 15th July 2011, 01:50 AM   #12
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Hmmm, well I've gotten as far as Jen McCreight's "Boobquake" and it turns out it was her idea.
Quote:
In the name of science, I offer my boobs
This little bit of supernatural thinking has been floating around the blogosphere today:
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.
I have a modest proposal.

Sedighi claims that not dressing modestly causes earthquakes. If so, we should be able to test this claim scientifically. You all remember the homeopathy overdose?

Time for a Boobquake.
Sounds to me like she wouldn't have cared much that some guys were talking about Boobquake while she was giving an unrelated talk. It was all in fun and had a point. I await her comments but one has to wonder if the outrage wasn't misplaced.

More from Wiki:
Quote:
Boobquake, which took place on April 26, 2010, was devised by Jennifer McCreight, then a senior in the Purdue University College of Science, in response to news reports that Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi had blamed women who dress immodestly for causing earthquakes. On April 19, it was reported that Seddiqi advised his listeners that "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes" and Iranians should "adapt their lives to Islam's moral codes" to avoid being "buried under the rubble".[1]
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Old 15th July 2011, 02:08 AM   #13
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OK, this is great, I have to share: And the Boobquake results are in!

This is an example of a feminist who is comfortable with her gender and confident in herself. I have a hard time reconciling this with the complaint on the Nerd Blog. But I await input from Jen on how she sees it.
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Old 15th July 2011, 02:08 AM   #14
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Old 15th July 2011, 02:31 AM   #15
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Oh my! That's very interesting, Darat. Thanks. And it was only a year ago.

Quote:
Wild West Bordello hosted by a women’s skepticism group
It wasn't hosted by men, but by other women.

Quote:
For me, it was the last straw with Skepchick.
Wow, just wow.

Quote:
I don’t agree that the party girl image is effective in promoting skepticism. I think it’s nice someone’s out there saying “Skeptics aren’t all humourless old cranks” and but I don’t like that they are the most visible face of women in skepticism. They come across as cheerleaders to me, nice to look at, and I’m cheering for the same team, but I’d rather see more women players on the field. They come across to me as the popular girls in high school, and some are just as mean. (I think Heidi Anderson said it better than me in her blog.)This is not to say there aren’t some nice Skepchick people, but it’s the general image I have a the biggest problem with.
So was this response on the JREF or Skepchick forum?
Quote:
by voicing my concern with this one issue, I stepped over the party line into the “against us” territory. I was labeled a hypocrite, a femi-nazi, a hater, anti-sex, anti-feminist. I was accused of being a troll, a drama queen and worse. Sure, I had a few people who were on my side, or who at least could understand my point of view, but the loudest, most obnoxious voices threw words at me that stung. My darling husband got into the fray to back me up, and after getting into several pointless arguments, he finally left the Forum forever. I followed soon after.
I don't understand. Noblecabose left this forum, but her complaints are directed at Skepchick. Is there a JREF thread that goes with her blog post?

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Old 15th July 2011, 02:57 AM   #16
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Gods yes. It's in FC, IIRC.
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Old 15th July 2011, 04:16 AM   #17
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I'm a man and have had sexual advances on me that I didn't appreciate. Both incidents occured in Seattle.

It was a Halloween night and I felt a pinch on my butt. I turn around and see a dude dressed up as a maid winking at me.

I didn't get all huffy about it. I just gave him a "Heh it ain't happening fella" look. Told my friend to stick close to me and act like she was my girlfriend.

Problem solved. He was probably feeling a bit frisky and hoping to find another gay guy. I wasn't offended. It felt like an episode of embarassing humor.



Another time I was in a public restroom going number 2, which I hate doing and only as a last resort if I have to go. I am positive the next stall had a guy masturbating, based on the sounds I heard. Oh boy did I especially not like using a public restroom that day.

I'm minding my own business and wanting to hurry up and finish so I can leave that odd situation. Unfortunately the stall had a hole between them and I see an eyeball in that hole staring right at me. Well I finished my business especially quickly then. Kinda wished I had some sharp object to poke that eyeball.

The 2nd was definitely more uncomfortable since it was daytime and there really wasn't a drunk guy being silly. It was a bit more perverted, creepy, and dirty.


I see the experiences as a mix of being funny and embarassing. I told my friends waiting for me outside and jokingly said "Oh now I really hate going to the bathroom in public"

If I got raped, I wouldn't look back on this and laugh. But some creepy sexual advances that I didn't want to reciprocate weren't that horrible to me.
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Old 15th July 2011, 04:47 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I don't understand. Noblecabose left this forum, but her complaints are directed at Skepchick. Is there a JREF thread that goes with her blog post?
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=176131

Noblecaboose and Athon left on page 2 and 3 of the thread and haven't been back to the forum since.

Linda
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Old 15th July 2011, 05:03 AM   #19
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I don't think it has anything to do with the current make-up or behaviour of the skeptic/atheist/freethinker "community".

I think it's a reflection of a wider problem that women do not see certain activities as a good fit for who they are or what they want out of life.

For example, women have less of an interest in pursuing careers in STEM subjects than men. For those women that are interested in STEM subjects and go on to pursue a career in one of them, they tend to gravitate towards biology, medicine and psychology rather than engineering, mathematics and physics.

I think this is probably all that's going on. I.e. it's a feed-forward effect caused by men's and women's different interests drawing them to different pastimes rather than feedback effect caused by misogyny in the skeptic/atheist/freethinker community.
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Old 15th July 2011, 05:06 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
If the evidence shows we have no more, no less of a problem than the general population, that gives us information with which to address the problem more effectively.
...
No evidence to offer, but some thought on interpretation of potential evidence, if any is forthcoming:

1. The skeptic community may have more, or less, of a problem with sexism than the general population, but that would not mean that the common characteristic of being member of the skeptical community is the significant variable. Skeptics are not a random selection of the general population: They are probably more educated, maybe they are predominantly male to start with, etc. So the evidence for occurrence of sexism within our community needs not be compared with that among the general population. Rather, we'd have to define a control group that shares the relevant characteristics other than being skeptic.

[ETA]
2. Some differences between the values of the social statistics of two samples (different groups, or same group at different times) are not due to a real difference of the reported variable, but a difference in reporting. When for example domestic violence is on the rise over the years in statistics, the reason may be not a rise in actual occurrences, but because victims today are more encouraged and informed to report such. Same with different groups in society: IIRC, domestic violence in Germany is reported more often by ethnic Germans than by immigrants, though I suspect in reality it's the other way round, or no difference.
Same then with skeptics: Maybe the women in the skeptic community tend to be more outspoken about sexism than their peers in either the general population, or in an otherwise carefully designed non-skeptical control group.
[/ETA]

3.. Maybe it is true, there is a positive correlation between sexism and skepticism in white men? Could go like this: Equal treatment of both sexes by men is the politically correct norm in our society; a general disposition to question society's norms is the hallmark of a skeptic; at the same time, someone with a general disposition to question society's norms might also question the validity of the norm to treat both sexes equally.

Last edited by Oystein; 15th July 2011 at 05:13 AM. Reason: ETA as tagged
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Old 15th July 2011, 05:20 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I assure you it is a legitimate inquiry. I cited the disclaimer in all honesty about where I thought the evidence stood, and what I thought about women handling benign come-ons.

But as a skeptic, I have no more desire to dismiss a real problem than I have to buy a contrived one based on declarations with little substance. I will look at your links thoroughly before commenting further. I don't suggest I will be without bias looking at the evidence, I have what I consider is a liberated female view. I think it's an oxymoron to be a feminist that wants to be coddled. But I do have a desire to be honest about the evidence.
Right, but you have a rather bizarre notion of what it means to be "coddled." I will give you the benefit of the doubt, but I am guessing we will see a directed effort on your part to minimize and excuse almost every example of sexual harrassment or sexism offered (if anyone cares enough to post in your thread at this point).

Last edited by TraneWreck; 15th July 2011 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 15th July 2011, 05:44 AM   #22
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Another thread where someone complained about sexualisation of female skeptics.
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Old 15th July 2011, 06:16 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Well, I'm having a hard time seeing the expression of interest as sexist. So I'm just waiting to see how the thread progresses.

As for my own opinion of sexism, I have some examples. Having people assume weakness and incapableness of me because I am a woman is sexist.
Agreed.

Quote:
Snide comments that tie criticism to my gender apply.
Agreed.

Quote:
I was called a skeptic bimbo once on the politics forum. Since I have a master's degree and a successful professional career the ad hom was absurd. That qualified as a sexist comment.
Not sure I agree. I called someone on this forum a bimbo but it wasn't because they were female. I call men bimbos as well. But, I can see how it can be sexist if it is only based on one being female as the older definition of bimbo implies.

Quote:
If someone ignores everything about you except your body, that can be sexist. This is not the same as simply admiring someone's physical features. It takes more than that. You'd have to never consider anything about women except their bodies.
But that's what I did with that woman. I only considered her body and clothes but the clothes only because of the way they fit her body.

That's the disconnect I see. A man is not sexist because he finds a woman attractive just like a woman who finds men attractive is not sexist. If it were, only people who found men and women equally attractive would not be sexist.

To me, that isn't what sexist means at all. Sexist must carry a component of denying someone something based on their gender. Which is why I don't think the elevator incident, and most others people complain about, are sexist.

Quote:
And in the culture I exist in, when guys treat women as "them" and the guys as "us" it can be very sexist.
Agreed but it runs both ways. Most men will do more for a woman than they will for a man. Although people don't often hear complaints about it, it is still sexist against men.

Of course, that has to be balanced with the fact that people tend to do more for people they find attractive. So a man finding a woman attractive and doing more for her is not necessarily sexist. Each incident would have to be looked at.

Quote:
I think if a speaker at one of our conferences was ignored except for comments about her looks, that would be sexist. I really have not seen that occurring though. If I thought a male speaker were good looking, I can't see that would be sexist unless I only considered his looks and not his talk, so just admiring a female speaker's appearance is not enough to be sexist.
I don't think who one is attracted to qualifies as sexism regardless of the circumstances. If one was to dismiss a woman's talk just because she is a woman, that would be sexist but to not be as interested in her talk as you are in her body isn't sexism, it is evidence of a poor/uninteresting topic. The reverse, with a man giving the talk, is also true.

I am just having trouble seeing any of this stuff as sexist. No one is being denied anything they would otherwise be entitled to.
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Old 15th July 2011, 06:19 AM   #24
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So overtures towards lovemaking are insults ?

Even talking to an attractive person is 'hitting on her' , even if the attraction is to her personality ?

Sounds like we ought to make social interaction illegal.
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Old 15th July 2011, 07:09 AM   #25
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If I may chime in, here. What we have is a myriad of diffent personalities coming together with a common link but with varying foundational beliefs. I see a parallel issue within my own little local atheist group, though it doesn't involve sexism. We have one thing in common, we are atheists; that's it. We have our monthly library meeting where we discuss what's going on in the news and the conversation tends to digress into personal experiences, personal points of view, and possible solutions/counters to whatever group of politics we would like to challenge.

In Melbourne, Fl, the second Friday of every month is Friday fest (the road closes and a bunch of local business' advertise). Every so often we put up a table advertising our existence. On these more social events, there is a lot less group discussion and more instances of breaking off into smaller groups, where conversation waxes and waines. Why? Because the only thing we really have in common is our atheism. In the subtext, different things are important to each one of us. One person's "the problem is..." is another person's, "Meh!"

I have never been to a skeptic convention but I imagine that the same happens. Different people go there to see different topics addressed. Some of those people, men and women, might also attend with the hopes of meeting someone with similar views. With so many varying personalities, you are going to also find varying levels of tolerance. So, really, no matter where you go or how careful you are, someone is going to be offended

Now, onto the sexism; I do not see a large sampling of sexism. So far, I've only heard 2 examples of sexism, some of the responses to RW desire to talk about women's issues, even then, they were purely anecdotal. Hitting on someone does not automatically equate to sexism. While their are instances where making sexual advances at say, a woman, because your intent is to reduce the importance of what they are saying to the sexuality of their being; it's sort of reminding a person of their place but that is a bold accusation and requires a little more than the discomfort of being shown attention, to prove it. The other comment RW used as an example of sexism was that the reason there are more men than women is because women aren't as logical/rational/skeptical (I don't remember what word she used), that is a blatently sexist view. "We need more women here so we can **** them," while is may be a little bit dawgist (although kind of one of those funny because of it's shock value), I have a hard time calling that sexist.

I am glad you made this thread Skeptic Ginger because I am intersted in seeing examples of actual sexism, not unwanted advances. I am not deminishing the importance of appropriate advances but that is so subjective, it would be virtually impossible to make a suits all rule about it. The claim is that there is sexism, though, and it's a harsh thing to accuse someone of. What I would like to see are examples of discrimination based on sex or blind stereotyping based on sex.
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Old 15th July 2011, 07:21 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
Right, but you have a rather bizarre notion of what it means to be "coddled." I will give you the benefit of the doubt, but I am guessing we will see a directed effort on your part to minimize and excuse almost every example of sexual harrassment or sexism offered (if anyone cares enough to post in your thread at this point).

She seems pretty reasonable so far to me. I'm interested to see how this develops.
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Old 15th July 2011, 07:22 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Monketey Ghost View Post
She seems pretty reasonable so far to me. I'm interested to see how this develops.
Just don't drink from that well. It's been well and thoroughly poisoned, methinks.
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Old 15th July 2011, 07:58 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
No evidence to offer, but some thought on interpretation of potential evidence, if any is forthcoming:

1. The skeptic community may have more, or less, of a problem with sexism than the general population, but that would not mean that the common characteristic of being member of the skeptical community is the significant variable. Skeptics are not a random selection of the general population: They are probably more educated, maybe they are predominantly male to start with, etc. So the evidence for occurrence of sexism within our community needs not be compared with that among the general population. Rather, we'd have to define a control group that shares the relevant characteristics other than being skeptic.

[ETA]
2. Some differences between the values of the social statistics of two samples (different groups, or same group at different times) are not due to a real difference of the reported variable, but a difference in reporting. When for example domestic violence is on the rise over the years in statistics, the reason may be not a rise in actual occurrences, but because victims today are more encouraged and informed to report such. Same with different groups in society: IIRC, domestic violence in Germany is reported more often by ethnic Germans than by immigrants, though I suspect in reality it's the other way round, or no difference.
Same then with skeptics: Maybe the women in the skeptic community tend to be more outspoken about sexism than their peers in either the general population, or in an otherwise carefully designed non-skeptical control group.
[/ETA]

3.. Maybe it is true, there is a positive correlation between sexism and skepticism in white men? Could go like this: Equal treatment of both sexes by men is the politically correct norm in our society; a general disposition to question society's norms is the hallmark of a skeptic; at the same time, someone with a general disposition to question society's norms might also question the validity of the norm to treat both sexes equally.
This is not a question we can assume as a given. It seems that when one talks of 'sexism' that it is automatically reduced to 'men being sexist against women', which really isn't a fair reduction. Of the sexism I've seen personally (as opposed to seeing on TV or hearing about second hand), more than half were from groups composed primarily of women. Most were from female friends when I was the lone male in the group.

As another example from inside 'the community', the most recent examples were ad homs directed against men for being male. There were ad homs and insults against women for being women too, but came largely from people outside the movement.

So are we talking about only 'men being sexist against women,' or 'sexism in general'?
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Old 15th July 2011, 08:03 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
So are we talking about only 'men being sexist against women,' or 'sexism in general'?
I think in this case it is men being sexist against women.

I mean women are sexist against men but face facts; they are women they know no better.
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Old 15th July 2011, 08:35 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Having looked for some evidence of sexism specifically within or promoted by members of the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities
Did you look at your own contribution?

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
This thread is not about men who are sexist, or women who've been sexually assaulted if the anecdote did not occur within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities. No one is arguing sexism and sexual assaults don't exist.
I think this is technically and ironically within the rules of the thread: Is anyone arguing that sexist women and sexual assaults by women don't exist? Even within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities? If not, why did you feel the need to introduce gender into that sentence?

Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
This is not a question we can assume as a given. It seems that when one talks of 'sexism' that it is automatically reduced to 'men being sexist against women', which really isn't a fair reduction. Of the sexism I've seen personally (as opposed to seeing on TV or hearing about second hand), more than half were from groups composed primarily of women. Most were from female friends when I was the lone male in the group.

As another example from inside 'the community', the most recent examples were ad homs directed against men for being male. There were ad homs and insults against women for being women too, but came largely from people outside the movement.

So are we talking about only 'men being sexist against women,' or 'sexism in general'?
Ah, there we are, you've saved me some work tyr.
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Old 15th July 2011, 08:55 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by qayak View Post

Was it sexist of me? I mean, if it was a work of art, the Mona Lisa say, and I admired it, no one would think it was sexist. Or an even better analogy would be if it were a new Ferrari parked on the street and I stopped to admire it and comment on it. No one would see that as sexist.
Because paintings and cars are objects, Qayak. Women are not. Men are not. Men and women have feelings, and histories, and individual personalities.

Quote:
Some will say that these aren't good analogies because the woman isn't wearing clothes, or keeping fit, for me to admire and comment on but for her own reasons. I don't think that is true though. First, the owner of the car, or the artwork, didn't buy it and look after it, so that I could admire and comment on it, either. Second, fashion, the clothes the woman was wearing, is indeed meant to be admired and commented on.

So, what would make my admiring and commenting on a woman's appearance sexist but not my admiring or commenting on a car or piece of art?
Again, because cars and works of art aren't people. They are objects. They are not sexual beings, but things. To reduce a woman or a man to the level of an object in exactly the way you describe has a label.

It's "sexual objectification," which I suppose falls under the aegis of "sexism." It's a subset of sexism, if you will, or perhaps a piece of the puzzle that is sexism.

Quote:
My own personal feelings are that my admiring this woman, the elevator incident, and most of the silliness that gets labelled "sexist behaviour" isn't.
Across the board, universally, 100% of the time, for all people in all circumstances? No, of course not. But there are times when it is exactly that. The when would be when the person being objectified feels that's what's happening. The jogging woman, not being aware of your momentary thoughts as you drove past, can't feel objectified by you, because she's not at all aware of you.

But in a face-to-face situation, she very well might. Or she might not.

This is exactly why no one can come up with a universal "code of behavior" for this.
There is no such thing; every incident must be taken as an individual incident, and weighed on its own merits each and every time, with all of the variables taken into consideration at the time.

And above all, the feelings of the other person need to be considered. What you meant to do isn't at all as important to me as how what you did made me feel. And if your actions or words make me feel objectified, I want to be able to tell you that without being belittled, or condescended to, or told to stop whining about it. Because that is sexism.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:12 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Kahalachan View Post
I'm a man and have had sexual advances on me that I didn't appreciate. Both incidents occured in Seattle.

[snip].
Did these have anything to do with the skeptic/atheist/freethinking communities? It doesn't sound like it.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:22 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
No evidence to offer, but some thought on interpretation of potential evidence, if any is forthcoming:

1. The skeptic community may have more, or less, of a problem with sexism than the general population, but that would not mean that the common characteristic of being member of the skeptical community is the significant variable. Skeptics are not a random selection of the general population: They are probably more educated, maybe they are predominantly male to start with, etc. So the evidence for occurrence of sexism within our community needs not be compared with that among the general population. Rather, we'd have to define a control group that shares the relevant characteristics other than being skeptic.
This is why I hypothesize sexism would be less within our group. And your point is important. But I think we need to start by assessing the problem. Looking for causes and associations would be the next step.

Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
[ETA]
2. Some differences between the values of the social statistics of two samples (different groups, or same group at different times) are not due to a real difference of the reported variable, but a difference in reporting. When for example domestic violence is on the rise over the years in statistics, the reason may be not a rise in actual occurrences, but because victims today are more encouraged and informed to report such. Same with different groups in society: IIRC, domestic violence in Germany is reported more often by ethnic Germans than by immigrants, though I suspect in reality it's the other way round, or no difference.
Same then with skeptics: Maybe the women in the skeptic community tend to be more outspoken about sexism than their peers in either the general population, or in an otherwise carefully designed non-skeptical control group.
[/ETA]
Another good point and it might be interesting to know something about the people who report anecdotes, either witnessed or personally experienced.

Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
3.. Maybe it is true, there is a positive correlation between sexism and skepticism in white men? Could go like this: Equal treatment of both sexes by men is the politically correct norm in our society; a general disposition to question society's norms is the hallmark of a skeptic; at the same time, someone with a general disposition to question society's norms might also question the validity of the norm to treat both sexes equally.
I can think of a number of scenarios. But without the data first, it's more speculative than useful.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:26 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Thanks. casebro for breaking the ice. I was about to bump the thread myself, given I'm still searching for evidence that is already on the Net.

There was some kind of brouhaha back in Feb when the Blag Hag Blog posted about a single incident and PZ took it from there.

When Gender Goes Pear-Shaped

Feminist hypersensitivity or masculine obtuseness?

The gist was a panel at an atheist event with a ratio of one female commentator to 5 guys answered a question.Apparently the complaint was dismissed as biology, get over it and the person submitting the question went to pieces in the bathroom.
I can think about something that could be seen as sexism that might not really be. Skeptics groups tend to have a high percentage of people who have asperbergers or are socially awkward for what ever reason. That added to the gender discrepancies could come across as it. A few awkward passes being made socially could give the impressions easily.

And of course the problem is not women being hit on in some fashion it is inappropriate or awkward being hit on. Aside from asexuals people want to be seen as sexually attractive to people they want to have sex with. So there is nothing wrong with women being hit on, provided it is in an appropriate time and in an reasonable manner. The problem is that there are a lot of people at skeptic events who are bad at determining these things. I am certainly one of them, though in my case it would be more of not asking people out when it would be good to do so.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:35 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by qayak View Post
...
But that's what I did with that woman. I only considered her body and clothes but the clothes only because of the way they fit her body.
Yes but is that all you consider about all women? Having sexual desires does not mean a person is sexist. There has to be a way to distinguish between the two otherwise the term, sexist, is meaningless.

Originally Posted by qayak View Post
...That's the disconnect I see. A man is not sexist because he finds a woman attractive just like a woman who finds men attractive is not sexist. If it were, only people who found men and women equally attractive would not be sexist.

To me, that isn't what sexist means at all. Sexist must carry a component of denying someone something based on their gender. Which is why I don't think the elevator incident, and most others people complain about, are sexist.
I agree.

Originally Posted by qayak View Post
...Agreed but it runs both ways. Most men will do more for a woman than they will for a man. Although people don't often hear complaints about it, it is still sexist against men.

Of course, that has to be balanced with the fact that people tend to do more for people they find attractive. So a man finding a woman attractive and doing more for her is not necessarily sexist. Each incident would have to be looked at.
I suspect it's hard to understand but I find some things which could have a sexist connotation to not be sexist if they are simply part of the culture or a quaint ritual. If a guy wants to buy me dinner, I'm flattered. Opening a door for me can be sweet.

But if these actions are dictated by cultural roles, done out of obligation rather than to please, if I think I'm owed the dinner because I'm female, now the same actions can be sexist. So yes, one can't make blanket statements about everything.

Originally Posted by qayak View Post
I don't think who one is attracted to qualifies as sexism regardless of the circumstances. If one was to dismiss a woman's talk just because she is a woman, that would be sexist but to not be as interested in her talk as you are in her body isn't sexism, it is evidence of a poor/uninteresting topic. The reverse, with a man giving the talk, is also true.

I am just having trouble seeing any of this stuff as sexist. No one is being denied anything they would otherwise be entitled to.
I also agree.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:35 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Well, I'm having a hard time seeing the expression of interest as sexist. So I'm just waiting to see how the thread progresses.

As for my own opinion of sexism, I have some examples. Having people assume weakness and incapableness of me because I am a woman is sexist. Snide comments that tie criticism to my gender apply. I was called a skeptic bimbo once on the politics forum. Since I have a master's degree and a successful professional career the ad hom was absurd.
I wouldn't say absurd, there are a lot of over educated idiots in the world, so educational credentials are not a good defense against such a claim. Though there does seem to be a bit of sexism in that comment as it is an gendered term for an idiot so it certainly brings sex into the discussion when it is not needed.
Quote:
And in the culture I exist in, when guys treat women as "them" and the guys as "us" it can be very sexist. That doesn't mean guys can't do something together without the gals, but when they make too much of it, it crosses into sexism. I'm used to guys and gals all being in the same circle of friends, not two separate groups. But there are guys who don't view the culture that way. It's hard to say one way is right and one way wrong since they just happen to be two different cultures. But I don't personally view the segregated culture positively.
Wouldn't the same apply to women who do the same thing?
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:36 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by ponderingturtle View Post
...

Wouldn't the same apply to women who do the same thing?
Yes.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:39 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Skeptic Ginger - is this useful to you: http://skeptopia.wordpress.com/2010/...mazng-meeting/
So skepchicks are a problem sexist elements in the skeptical community?

Kind of goes to show how much a mine field the whole issue of sexuality and feminism is.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:50 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by jiggeryqua View Post
Did you look at your own contribution?



I think this is technically and ironically within the rules of the thread: Is anyone arguing that sexist women and sexual assaults by women don't exist? Even within the skeptic/atheist/freethinker communities? If not, why did you feel the need to introduce gender into that sentence?



Ah, there we are, you've saved me some work tyr.
To answer you and the related posts, this thread's narrow focus has a reason. It appears there are more men in our community than women. Some people have claimed one reason for this is women are chased away by sexist men objectifying them or something like that.

Feel free to talk about sexism of women against men if it is related to the discussion. For example, it seems sexist to me to hold a Wild West Bordello hosted by a womenís skepticism group last year at TAM while complaining men verbalizing an interest in a woman is objectifying her. If women in our community are sexualizing guys then complaining when it is reciprocated, that is relevant.


The thread is not about men being sexually assaulted. It's not biased, that problem is just not part of the discussion that men are chasing women away from our events.
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Old 15th July 2011, 09:56 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by slingblade View Post
It's "sexual objectification," which I suppose falls under the aegis of "sexism." It's a subset of sexism, if you will, or perhaps a piece of the puzzle that is sexism.
So everyone is sexist? His example is the kind of thing everyone does. Remember how sexist Buffy the Vampire writers were always trying to get David Boreanas to take his shirt off.
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