Speaking of Zombies

It’s time for a little necromancy.

From time to time, I frequent the website and blog of The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, an intelligent and witty guy (and former NERD) who spends a fair bit of time debunking myths about the universe.

Over a year ago, the Bad Astronomer was advocating the skepchicks calendar and its companion, the skepdudes calendar, in which he was featured. I posted a comment (which you can see here) regarding my decision not to purchase either calendar. I apparently spawned a relative storm of controversy including the (AFAIK) unique appearance of Phil’s wife, who took apparently considerable umbrage at my opinion.

Naturally, as Phil’s is a fast-paced blog and I often have better things to do than look at comment responses to my comments on other people’s blogs, I had moved on without noticing any of that response. While looking for another one of my comments this morning, I stumbled across Mrs. BA’s response to my comments and, though this happened some time ago and she likely doesn’t read this, I’d like to take some time to respond.

“I realize the BA may delete my entry and ban me for my attack on poor JediBear. This is why I don’t post on these things – I’m an obnoxious loudmouth. Farewell, for I fear we shall never meet again.”

While this was the last part of her response, I’d like to address it first, and copy-paste gives me the power to do so. Obviously, Phil didn’t either delete the comment or ban her, and her remarks were pretty tame. My blood didn’t get even slightly hot. As an obnoxious loudmouth myself, I have to say that her reluctance to post on her husband’s blog likely stems from another reason and that this is just a copout. I’m honored that she decided to come out of hiding just to “attack” poor little old me.

“Second, I feel I must respond to JediBear’s post of October 3 at 11:21 am. JB – if both your mother and girlfriend would seriously be bothered by a calendar that contains very tasteful and modest nude pictures, you need to dump the girlfriend and stop inviting your mother over”

“These women are either prudish or insecure, and no one should willingly acquiesce to the sensitivities of either of these traits, as it will only reinforce them. “

In this life, a man is issued only one mother. Mine is, to be sure, a bit of a prude, a sometime killjoy, and a young-earth creationist. I still love her, and I’d be a poor kind of son if I were to choose nude pictures of women I don’t even know over my own dear mother.

And I should dump a girlfriend because she might object to nude pictures of other women on my walls? Of all the vices that might negatively impact a relationship, prudishness and insecurity factor pretty far down the scale, behind such things as addictive or abusive behavior and cheating, for example.

As I alluded to in my original comment, I don’t consider the nude photograph to be a particularly appealing art form, regardless of the subject. I’d be a poor sort of person if I were to choose nude pictures of women I don’t even know over an intelligent and wonderful woman who may (quite reasonably) not appreciate any apparent preference on my part for looking at OTHER women’s nude bodies.

” (unless of course you still live with her, which I strongly suspect based on your comment that you “might have to get a job or something”). “

Ouch. She missed the mark on that one, but not by much. I live with my father, not with my mother. I’m an otherwise unemployed student, and the place is both conveniently located and inexpensive. My pride is not worth more than the difference in cost between a room in my dad’s basement and an apartment.

” Also, in reference to your comment that you don’t support outreach programs based on gender, I would invite you to join the rest of us in the real world.”

I live in the real world, thank you very much. In this real world, I am surrounded by feminist discrimination against men and rarely see its reverse. I see ALL targetted outreach programs as being harmful, as all discriminate against those not included.

” It’s the twenty-first century, and women STILL don’t get paid as much as men or promoted as quickly for the same work,”

This is actually unrelated to the education of the women in question (in general, women earn better marks and are more likely to go on to higher education.) Institutional discrimination cannout be addressed by targetted outreach programs. These things take time, and 2007 is not so far removed from 1977 that we should be surprised if women still make a little less than their male counterparts. (also, this is only in the mean, nationwide. There are numerous examples of women who make more than men for the same work.)

“girls are STILL not as strongly encouraged as boys to pursue interests in science and math,”

Probably true, but possibly irrelevant. Is there any compelling reason why girls should be encouraged as strongly or more strongly than boys to persue the geekly lifestyle? Is there a difference between men and women which makes the inclusion of women in the field an important imperative? Would science really be that badly staggered if, by some bizarre coincidence, all of the best scientists, mathematicians, and engineers were men? or women? or [insert group of interest]?

Boys aren’t especially encouraged toward geekishness either. We’re supposed to play football and use small words. Women, we are told, won’t like us if they feel intimidated by our intelligence (as opposed to our muscles?) It’s a harsh world for geeks all around.

“and we STILL have not had a woman President.”

Women rarely seek the nation’s highest office. Hillary Clinton has a good shot in 2008. We’ll see if you can make that same statement in 2009.

We have female Representatives, Senators, and Supreme Court Justices. Washington State has two (that’s 100%, folks) female Senators. To expect representative demographics in a job pool numbering 500, 100, 10 or 1 is simply absurd. There haven’t been enough presidents in the country’s history for every minority to be proportionally represented. There have only been four presidents since 1980 (that is, in my lifetime.) To be sure, all were “old white men,” but it simply makes sense that this singular office would be the last to catch up.

Even then, I have to repeat my objection to the previous. Is society especially ill-served in not having had a woman president? Is there some great difference of which I should be aware that makes women superior executives? Were women excluded by law or tradition from the nation’s highest office, this would certainly be unfair, but as it stands it’s simply a matter that none have yet sought and gained the office.

To promote women for any office or position simply because they are women is as sexist as excluding them on the same basis, and that’s why I have to oppose all gender-based outreach programs. Sexism disgusts me.

One thought on “Speaking of Zombies

  1. mame_snidely

    Amen. Well said. All of it.

    The prevading problem that drives all of this is that the femnists teach not the women are equal to men, but the same. We are not. In some subte but important ways, there are differences that while they do not make one gender better than the other, they give us different directions and purpose. For example, about 75% of the time, a woman is much better equiped to raise children in their infancy. Our instincts come into play. Men, on the other hand, are often far more suited for the competetive world of corporate America.

    This is not the end of the world or the end of equality. Unfortunately, we need to learn that there is a real state of seperate but equal (though this was not evident during the Jim Crow era) that is very very important in understanding humans.


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