sex

My Skepitcon pin-up calendar photos

I was initially hesitant when JT Eberhard asked me to be a part of the Skepticon 4 pin-up calendar, but now I’m really happy that I did it. Not only is it a great fundraiser for an awesome conference, but I’m alongside amazing women like Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina. Plus, it’s sexy and artsy – like this photo from last year.I definitely had my reservations. I mean, I’m already known for my boobs, and I don’t want to get pigeonholed into some sexy stereotype when I have many intellectual accomplishments. But at the same time, it’s my body, and I don’t want others telling me what I can do with it. If I want to pose nude, then damn it, I should be able to!

These are just the proofs – for the high quality version, you’ll have to buy the calendar.
I’m not embedding them here since full nudity is NSFW, but you can check out my favorite shot here.

Be gentle!

Yes, I know

My boobs are stock footage for Fox News (0:16). You can all stop sending me the video now.

Maybe that’s why we kept having earthquakes since boobquake. Maybe my cleavage keeps appearing on television! God, could Fox News get any more evil? Stop causing natural disasters!

Hickey gives women a mild stroke

Yikes.

I will never make out with someone ever again.*

*This is obviously a lie.

Interview at the Journal and Courier

My old local newspaper in Lafayette, IN has a nice interview with me about how my life is still a little crazy post boobquake. I think it’s a good one – go check it out.

My favorite comment on the story so far is the one that calls me smelly. The creativity is overwhelming!

Oh, how things change

I rediscovered my old Xanga blog the other day. Most of my entries are from age 13 to 15*, so it’s both painful and hilarious to read. For example, I found a post where I was whining about fashion – nothing new there, I suppose, but I loved this line from 2003 (bolded):

None of the clothes I like fit me anyways. At least in the junior department, which is were all the nice stuff is. I’m not like, overweight, but everything there is just so tight that is looks crappy. Like, if I lost 10 pounds it would be perfect. All the jeans are too short even when they’re in the Long style (curse you, height!) and all the shirts seem to be built for girls who are like AA cups >_< I’m not even what you would consider busty and they don’t fit me. Stupid fashion.

…lolololol

God, how was I complaining about fitting into things when I was barely a B cup? If only Young Jen knew how much more annoying it would get to find well fitted shirts.

If you want to read more…well, don’t bother looking for it. I have it friends-locked. No one needs to be subjected to that many Japanese emoticons and personality quizzes.

*I later switched to Livejournal for most of high school and part of college, then finally set up Blag Hag publicly on Blogger. If my trend of upgrading blogging platform continues, I’ll switch to WordPress right when something more awesome surpasses it.

‘Tis the season for giving

Boobquake is still making an impact months later*. You may remember that I sold some boobquake t-shirts in my store promising the royalties would go to charity. The total royalities earned from boobquake shirts was $621.87, and my April volume bonus thanks to the shirts was $369.53. That’s a total of $991.40 raised from Boobquake! Well, the donations have finally been made.

$500 has been donated to the Red Cross for disaster relief, and

$500 has been donated to the James Randi Educational Foundation

The delay in donation paid off, since the JREF is having their Season of Reason right now. What does that mean? An anonymous donor is matching all donations, meaning Boobquake’s contribution to the JREF is effectively doubled to $1,000!

I know that’s still not much for a big organization, but it’s equivalent to one of my paychecks, so I feel like quite the philanthropist right now. But really, the money wasn’t mine – I should be thanking all of you who bought merchandise in order to support these organizations. So, thank you!

We may still debate if boobquake did any good in terms of politics, religion, or women’s rights, but it’s certainly not debateable that it raised money for two wonderful causes.

*The months later part is mostly due to me moving twice after April, first to my parent’s house and then to Seattle. This resulted in Zazzle checks (which are already notoriously delayed thanks to waits in processing) to get returned to sender for a while as they tried to find me. I then realized I could just get paid through PayPal, so that solved that issue. …But yeah, it’s also partially due to procrastination. Oh well, I guess it worked out, since we ended up having a matching donor!

Having sex like a scientist

What does that even mean? According to this person asking Dan Savage for sex advice, having sex like a scientist is not so good:

He’s a scientist, and he has sex like a scientist. He’s not a good kisser, but worse, he flies through foreplay like its his weekend chore list, and goes straight to the fucking as quick as he can. He’s a voracious bottom, which should work out for me, but in the end, I’m always left finishing off alone using porn or sites like https://35p-cheap-phone-sex.com/ to help me. He always comes within minutes, and the whole time does nothing sexy, does nothing to help me along. In fact, he does lots of stuff that turns me off. I’ve never lost hard-ons during sex until I was with him. I might as well be a cucumber glued to a body pillow, he’d have about the same interaction.

That’s what this person thinks having sex like a scientist is like?! Man, I’m hurt.

Not that professions necessarily affect your sex lives, but this doesn’t even make sense. Science is effectively based on making observations, experimenting, gathering data, and then correcting your theories through further experimentation. Not to mention reading the literature before setting up any experiments. Sounds like a recipe for a great sex life to me. Surely as a scientist, someone would check out sites like https://www.pornbl.com/ to do thorough research so that they could perform as well as possible in bed, but clearly not.

Now, engineers, on the other hand…

Feminists’ selective science phobia

Evolutionary psychology gets a lot of flack from both inside and outside science. And to be honest, a lot of it is well deserved criticism – too much of evolutionary psychology is arm chair philosophizing and overly optimistic adaptationism, rather than hard data.

But I still assert that’s no reason to write off the field as a whole. For one, there are plenty of good studies out there, and it’s often the media that warps results into broad conclusions, not the scientists themselves. Two, it’s a baby field that’s still learning quality control – give it another ten years to refine its standards and come up with improved ways to make measurements, such as advanced brain activity imaging technology. And three, it is completely unreasonable to insist that the brain is magically not under selective pressure like every other thing in nature.

Unless it doesn’t mesh with your philosophy, of course.

Sometimes I hate calling myself a feminist because of who it associates me with. For example, this latest example of feminist sciencephobia from Jill at I Blame The Patriarchy:

Evolutionary psychology rests on the shaky (often enpornulated) hypothesis that modern human social behaviors are actually species-preserving adaptations.

No, it rests on the very strong hypothesis that the brain evolves like any other organ.

Because evolutionary psychology, like all psuedoscience, is administered by jackasses who are heavily invested in patriarchy, the behaviors in question just happen to be the very same behaviors commonly observed to be beloved of patriarchyists. And also of sexists, misogynists, horndogs, militarists, straight people, politicians, consumers of online pornography websites like https://www.tubev.sex/, consumers of “beauty,” racists, godbags, liberal men, Hollywoodists, homophobes, matrimonialists, and other cogs in the megatheocorporatocratic machine. Everybody who loves the current world order loves the romantic myth that it is the result of the random interaction of mindless genes, or biological “design.” Sadly, the world order is actually the result of something way more sinister: the completely arbitrary social construct of the culture of domination and submission.

I should have stopped reading here, but I was impressed. I didn’t think someone could fit so many straw men and ad hominems in a single paragraph! But I know Jill thinks this is her “snarky” “style,” so I kept reading to see her views on the science.

Annie Murphy Paul uses revelations facilitated by evolutionary psychology to make the (tired old) case that women are pretty much prisoners of biology, or, more specifically, of the menstrual cycle. Her apparent thesis: ovulating women are constrained by biological impulse to go to bars, wear tight dresses, and emit musical, magical laughter, whereupon they become attracted to male lantern-jawed superheroes. Non-ovulating women, on the other hand, are practically a different species. They are drab and dull and fail to effervesce or mate, and prefer pansy-ass dudes.

As an evolutionary biologist, I’ve yet to hear an evolutionary biologist who claims people are prisoners of biology. We are, however, not immune to our biology. It’s not insane to suggest that some of our behavior is innate – humans just have the special ability to consciously choose to overcome some of it. That may be difficult for behaviors that are really ingrained in us for evolutionary reasons.

For example, we’ve evolved to crave sugary food because thousands of years ago, that craving would have kept us alive. It’s subconscious – we don’t think, “Gee, I really want that cookie because I may not be able to eat for another week.” It explains why people are inclined to eat too much sugary food now that it’s abundant, but it by no means says we are prisoners to that behavior and that we must eat sugary food until we’re diabetic.

Many feminists would have no problem with that example, but they still proceed to freak out when the same thought process is applied to behavior between the sexes. Even if we did find some difference between the sexes, that doesn’t mean there’s a value difference between those behaviors, nor does it mean we even have to do them.

But no. Jill and feminists like her are just content imagining a world where Big Bad Male Scientists are out to get them:

Paul cites research conducted, unfortunately, by psychologists and “dating advisers,” since who else would know from this shit? One researcher dude juxtaposed menstrual cycle data with the nightly revenues of (a whopping) 18 lap dancers. Awesome.

Research dude: Hmm. I wonder where we could conduct some research on ovulating women?

Grad student dude: How about a strip club? We can totally multitask by working and abusing the sex class at the same time.

Research dude: It’s pure genius! I’ll take full credit.

In this case research dude concluded that not only do strip club clientele discern whether lap dancers are ovulating, but that pervs lavish more cash on ovulating lap dancers than they do on dull old non-ovulating ones. Paul calls this “one of the most arresting studies of male responses to female fertility cues.”

She goes on to miss the point so badly that I’m inclined to believe she’s misrepresenting Geoffrey Miller’s study on purpose to fulfill her paranoid fantasies. As someone who’s actually read the paper in question, allow me to correct Jill (or you know, you could be a good scientist and go read it yourself.):

Female fertility cues! Apparently women who work in strip clubs are not, contrary to what spinster aunts have maintained through the ages, just trying to make the best of their fucked-up sex class status by working themselves through law school or a drug habit or a musician boyfriend. These hotsy-totsy babes are in fact sending their slavering clients “female fertility cues.”

Jill tries to spin it so it seems like the study is saying women become strippers just to send “female fertility clues.” The study says no such thing about the motivation for becoming a stripper: It looks at women who already are strippers, and sees if there’s any differences in the tips they get depending on where they are during their menstrual cycle. They found that men are more likely to tip when women are ovulating. They don’t have a mechanism for the interaction, but speculate on what sort of cues could clue men in. Do the women behave differently? Is there some sort of physical difference men subconsciously notice? Is is a pheromone or other sort of chemical signal? They don’t make any conclusions.

Furthermore, strippers who take birth control pills are “’shooting [themselves] in the foot,’ since [they’ll] miss out on the bountiful tips garnered by women in estrus.” That’s right. Sexploitation isn’t about male domination, it’s about human reproduction. Human reproduction is natural. Natural is good. Therefore sexploitation is good.

They are shooting themselves in the foot in terms of making tips. Since they don’t ovulate, they don’t receive the boost in tips. The researchers by no means imply that making tips is obviously the most important thing and birth control isn’t important. Seriously
, where the fuck does she ev
en get the rest of that paragraph other than from an overactive imagination?

She goes on and on about how women can’t possibly have any sort of innate behaviors, or as she calls it, a “primal urge to exude pornulated dudefantasy.” Really, and we’re supposed to take you seriously?

I about lost it when I hit the most glaring Biology Fail of the piece:

But isn’t this just a reiteration of the hysterical women stereotype? Not at all, says one of the kindly dude researchers.

“The traditional and rather patronizing male view was that women are fickle, that their preferences are random and arbitrary. Now it turns out that what looks like fickleness is actually deeply adaptive and is shared with the females of most animal species.”

OK, let’s get this out of the way first: does Dude even realize that ‘most animal species’ are either arthropods or nematodes, depending on which geek you’re talking to? Together they number in the millions. Here at Spinster HQ we were unable to locate any research on, for example, the fickleness of female flatworms. Maybe they like to sport around in spandex when it’s that time of the month, but published studies omit to mention it. So this guy, in his attempt to science-ize an enormously detrimental sexist stereotype, grossly mischaracterizes the scope of the planet’s animalian diversity to further his own anthrocentric worldview.

And also, do not speak to me, dude, of “the rather patronizing male view.” How fucking patronizing is it to argue that ‘fickleness’ is a fucking adaptation shared by all females everywhere? That women’s behavior is, in fact, irrational, only now this irrationality has scientifically proven reasons? This dude is killin’ me!

Spinster HQ didn’t look very hard, nor did they read very closely. The “fickleness” this “dude researcher” is talking isn’t about irrationality, it’s about is Bateman’s principle, which is “the theory that females almost always invest more energy into producing offspring than males invest, and therefore in most species females are a limiting resource over which the other sex will compete.” It’s called that because this “dude researcher” named Bateman first found this trend in fruit flies. You know, arthropods. It’s been found across a wide range of taxa.

Also note how it says “almost.” There are plenty of counter examples of males being the choosy sex. And while there’s evidence going both ways in humans, the point is it doesn’t matter. If science did prove, without a doubt, that female humans invested more energy into reproduction and that caused them to evolve with a specialized set of behaviors, it doesn’t mean we are slaves to that behavior or that it justifies our actions, or the actions of others around us.

The cherry on top of the post was Jill’s bullet point that claims evolutionary psychology cannot explain homosexuality. Even though there are multiple competing hypotheses about the persistence of homosexual behavior. Even if you’re not familiar with evolutionary psychology, that was the second Google result. Way to do your research.

The a priori assumption that evolutionary psychologists are all evil dudes with an agenda to instill 50s era gender roles is frankly paranoid. Ironically, Jill wrote a great post about how feminists need to trust science more. Too bad she’s a hypocrite – this isn’t the first time I’ve called her out on it. “Supporting science” is not the same as “Supporting science only when it doesn’t make you uncomfortable about your world views.”

And you know what? Feminists get the “man hater” stereotype exactly because of posts like that*. I’m a feminist because I’m pro social equality for both sexes. Dismissing researchers because they’re male isn’t equality.

*I should clarify because of a comment below. Feminists will carry that stereotype no matter how rational our arguments are or polite we act just because feminism pisses a lot of people off, and they react harshly out of privilege. But there are too many people who basically are feminists except they still believe that stereotype, because there’s one rotten apple that’s particularly stinky and ruins the label.

Still feeling aftershocks from boobquake

On Friday I was interviewed by Definitely Not the Opera on the CBC, which I’m told is sort of the Canadian equivalent to This American Life on NPR. I was for their episode “What happens when you make your ‘private parts’ public,” and of course I talked about boobquake. It was a fun interview, and you can listen here. This interview was especially nifty because I actually got to go into NPR’s Seattle studio to record it. Happens to be a couple blocks from my lab, and I got to feel all officially with the fancy mikes and headphones instead of a shoddy webcam and Skype.

Oh, and boobquake made PC World’s top 8 Facebook memes. Woo.

And I just got a lovely email from a college student who’s on a Forensics team (not CSI forensics, the speech and debate type). She’s used boobquake as her topic for four competitions, and placed first in the last three! Congrats, Kait!

Some of my classmates joked that I should talk about boobquake for my end of the quarter research presentation on Friday, but I don’t think the department would appreciate that much. Sigh, guess I’ll go back to finishing my actual science then…

Sexy feminism?

Feminism is about choice. Sometimes I think if I repeat that enough, people will get it. This time I’ll let another blogger repeat it for me, since I think she’s spot on:

Feminism (at least my brand) doesn’t oppose sexiness, but it opposes compulsory sexiness.

It’s the difference between putting on makeup to look like your slutty fantasy, and putting on makeup to leave the house. Between wearing heels because they make your ass tight and your legs long, and wearing heels because they’re in your dress code. Between smiling at a sexy stranger and having “hey honey, why aincha smiling” yelled at you. Between having sex because your pussy is wet and your muscles are quivering, and having sex because it’s time to put out.

And I’d go further and say it’s also the difference between being a sex worker because that’s a legitimate career option, and being a sex worker because it’s the only way you can eat. It’s the difference between sexified female bodies being used as porn, and them being used as decorations and advertisements. Maybe most importantly, it’s the difference between women being taken seriously when they talk about sexuality, and women not being taken seriously when they’re not sexy enough.

And I’d add that the opposite is also true. It’s the difference between dressing modestly because it’s comfortable or keeps you warm, and dressing modestly to avoid being jailed or raped because you were “asking for it.” Between liking football and Grand Theft Auto because they entertain you, and liking football and Grand Theft Auto because you don’t want to dare to have stereotypically “girly” hobbies. Between forgoing makeup because you’re too lazy in the morning and forgoing makeup because otherwise you won’t be taken seriously at work. Between choosing nerdy t-shirts because you think they’re funny, and choosing nerdy t-shirts because your friends will heckle you if you wear anything feminine.

Compulsory anti-sexiness is not the solution to compulsory sexiness. There’s not one right way to be a woman.

Pope: condoms not just for gay prostitutes

When the Pope recently decided that condom use was okay when preventing the spread of AIDS, many people were suspicious of the example he used – gay prostitutes. Did that mean it was only okay when there was already zero possibility of pregnancy? Was this the Catholic Church snubbing women yet again?

The Vatican has released a clarification today that condoms can be used to prevent AIDS by all genders and sexual orientations:

The pope’s comments in the book implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren’t being used as a form of contraception. Questions arose immediately about the pope’s intent, though, because the Italian translation of the book used the feminine for prostitute, whereas the original German used the masculine.

Lombardi told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended to refer only to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.

“I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me ‘no.’ The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.”

“This is if you’re a man, a woman, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point. The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,” Lombardi said.

[…]In the book, the pope was not justifying or condoning gay sex, condoms as a means of artificial contraception or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage. He reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.

But by broadening the condom comments to also apply to women, the pope is saying that condom use is a lesser evil than passing HIV onto a partner even when pregnancy is possible.

“We’re not just talking about an encounter between two men, which has little to do with procreation. We’re now introducing relationships that could lead to childbirth,” Martin said.

The Catholic Church hasn’t quite joined us in the 21st century, but making it to the 20th century is a good first step. This decision will save countless of lives, even if it is just a publicity ploy to distract people from their child molestation scandal.

Sooooo, can someone explain to me how the concepts of the “infallibility of the Church” and “papal infallibility” meshes with “changing your mind”?

Hooray, a boy! Meh, a girl

That seems to be the opinion of this expecting grandfather. He’s a lawyer asking a (female) judge for a provisional recess in case his grandson turns out to be a boy.

Should the child be a girl, not much will happen in the way of public celebration. Some may even be disappointed, but will do their best to conceal this by saying, “as long as it’s a healthy baby.” My wife will run to Philly immediately, but I will probably be able to wait until the next weekend. There will be happiness, though muted, and this application will be mooted as well.

However, should the baby be a boy, then hoo hah! Hordes of friends and family will arrive from around the globe and descend on Philadelphia for the joyous celebration.

Joyous celebration about chopping off some skin from a baby’s penis. Thank you, religion.

I think he’s trying to be funny, but he just comes of as a sexist asshole. Seriously, imagine being this guy’s granddaughter and Googling Grandpa’s name years later. Nothing says “I love you” like “Well, I gueeessss it’s okay you’re a girl, though I really wish you were a boy.”

I love the judge’s response:

Mr. Epstein will be permitted to attend the bris, in the joyous event that a son is born. But the Court would like to balance the scales. If a daughter is born, there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women.

Sad it takes an order from a judge to celebrate the birth of a baby girl.

(Via Butterflies and Wheels)