feminism

How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism

It’s been five years now since I first became involved with the atheist and skeptic movements. And for most of those five years, I felt like I belonged. When I started the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only atheist on my campus. So when I realized there was an even greater national movement, I was elated to become a part of it. I had finally found people who shared my passion and values. I was welcomed with open arms.

Until I started talking about feminism.

You see, my previous atheist activism wasn’t sullied by the f-word. People applauded me for starting an atheist group on a conservative college campus. For blogging about our events and getting local media attention. For volunteering as a board member of the Secular Student Alliance. And most of all, for creating Boobquake.

I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but I used to be one of those teenagers who assumed the awesome ladies before me had solved everything. But Boobquake made me wake up. What I originally envisioned as an empowering event about supporting women’s freedoms and calling out dangerous superstitious thinking devolved into “Show us your tits!” I received sexual invitations from strangers around the country. When I appeared or spoke at atheist events, there was always a flood of comments about my chest and appearance. I’ve been repeatedly told I can never speak out against people objectifying or sexually harassing me because a joke about my boobs was eternal “consent.”

So I started speaking up about dirty issues like feminism and diversity and social justice because I thought messages like “please stop sexually harassing me” would be simple for skeptics and rationalists. But I was naive. Like clockwork, every post on feminism devolved into hundreds of comments accusing me being a man-hating, castrating, humorless, ugly, overreacting harpy. Despite the crap I received, I continued to publicly support these movements and stress that the haters were just a tiny minority. I thought this flood of sexism I had never experienced before was just a consequence of me growing up and heading out into the real world, and had nothing to do with these movements in particular. I can’t count how many times I publicly stressed that the atheist/skeptical movement, while not perfect, is still a safer place for women and other minorities.

But now I recognize that I was trying to convince myself that this is true.

I don’t feel safe as a woman in this community – and I feel less safe than I do as a woman in science, or a woman in gaming, or hell, as a woman walking down the fucking sidewalk.  People shat themselves with rage at the suggestion that cons should have anti-sexual harassment policies. DJ Grothe, president of JREF, blamed those evil feminist bloggers for TAM’s female attendance problem instead of trying to fix what’s scaring women away (and then blocked me on Twitter and unfriended me on Facebook for good measure). A 15 year old girl posted a photo of herself holding a Carl Sagan book to r/atheism and got a flood of rape jokes in return. The Amazing Atheist purposefully tried to trigger a rape survivor. Paula Kirby decided we’re all feminazis and femistasis. I’ve become used to being called a cunt or having people threaten to contact my employers because a feminist can’t be a good scientist. Rebecca Watson is still receiving constant rape and death threats a year after she said “Guys, don’t do that.” And mentioning her name is a Beetlejuice-like trigger for a new torrent of hate mail.

Groups of people are obsessively devoted to slandering Freethought Blogs as a whole because many of us have feminist leanings. They photoshop things to try to humiliate us, they gain unauthorized access to our private email listserv. And anyone associated with us feminists are fair game. People have tried to destroy Surly Amy’s business, and Justin Vacula has publicly posted her home address with a photo. One blogger who describes their blog as “rejecting the watson/myers doctrine” ridiculed skeptical teen activist (and feminist ally) Rhys Morgan for flunking his exams because he had severe physical and mental illnesses.

I now realize I was never truly welcome in this movement. I just managed to unwittingly sneak in before I opened my big fat feminist mouth.

I was exactly what a Boy’s Club wanted. I was a young, not-hideous woman who passionately supported their cause. I made them look diverse without them having to address their minority-repelling privilege. They liked that I joked about sex and boobs not because it was empowering for me, but because they saw it as a pass to oggle and objectify. But the Boy’s Club rescinds its invitation once they realize you’re a rabble-rousing feminist. I was welcome at TAM when I was talking about a boob joke, but now I’m persona non grata for caring about sexual harassment. I used to receive numerous comments about how hot and attractive I was, but when I politely asked for people to keep the discussion professional, the comments morphed into how I was an ugly cunt. I was once considered an up-and-coming student leader, but now I’m accused of destroying the movement.

Well, that last bit is partially true. I want to destroy the part of the movement that has privilege as its foundation, as Natalie Reed perfectly describes:

The creepy thought that the reason a lot of outspoken, committed, passionate atheists are choosing this as their arena is because they’re too selfish, too entitled, or too sheltered, to allow any other issues to really matter to them. That they choose this ONE civil rights issue to dedicate themselves to, because it’s the ONLY legitimate civil rights issue that actually affects them, secure in their absence of ovaries, melanin, exogenous hormones, medical devices/supports, welfare checks, track scars and rainbow flags.

[…]It seems that there’s some kind of weird psychological need that a lot of people, perhaps in response to feelings that their belief of their privileges being earned is under threat, valorize and mythologize themselves as valiant Robin Hoods who dare to speak truth to power and stand up for the little guy against the tyrannical… …. Jews? Blacks? Trans people? Atheists? Women? The theme is always the same, however.

And what I worry is how much Atheism might be offering a similar sort of feeling without requiring the same levels of divorcing oneself from reality and diving into some kind of Bizarro World inversion of actual social dynamics. That what atheism is offering so many middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men is the capacity to see themselves as these savvy, smart, daring, controversial rogues who are standing up against an oppressive dogma in order to liberate the deluded sheeple. They’re, like, totally against swallowing the blue pill, dude. And so they get to be the heroes of their own narratives, instead of a passive passenger adrift on social forces more or less beyond their control… social forces that happened to guide them into a relatively safe and comfy position.

No matter how limited your views, no matter how much privilege you have, when you prop yourself up against Christianity, you get to be clever, and you get to be the rebel.

I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift. I want Deep Rifts. I want to be able to truthfully say that I feel safe in this movement. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people. We throw up billboards claiming we’re Good Without God, but how are we proving that as a movement? Litter clean-ups and blood drives can only say so much when you’re simultaneously threatening your fellow activists with rape and death.*

It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

Changing a movement seems like a mighty task (especially when you lack a witty name – the Newer Atheists doesn’t have a great ring to it). But the reason I’m not throwing my hands up in the air and screaming “I quit” is because we’re already winning. It’s an uphill battle, for sure – in case you’ve forgotten, scroll up and reread this post. But change is coming. Some national organizations accepted anti-harassment policies with no fuss at all. A lot of local or student groups are fabulous when it comes to issues of diversity and social justice. A number of prominent male leaders have begun speaking out against this surge of hate directed at women. I’m working with others to hopefully start an atheist/skeptical organization specifically focused on issues of equality. And although the response from the haters is getting louder and viler, they’re now vastly outnumbered by supportive comments (which wasn’t always true). This surge of hate is nothing more than the last gasp of a faction that has reached its end.

There will inevitably be people who use this post as evidence of some gynocratic conspiracy and will hunker down even more (for examples, check the comment section in a couple of hours – odds are good you’ll find some). There will be organizations, conferences, communities, and individuals that will never care about diversity or equality or social justice. There will be some that continue to devote their free time to harassing and threatening the rest of us instead of going outside for a walk or reading a book. Though these people claim to love reason, no amount of reason will ever get them to admit that they’re wrong. So to them, all I have to say is have fun as you circle jerk into oblivion. Keep unintentionally or intentionally excluding women, minorities, and progressives while cluelessly wondering why you’re losing members, money, and clout. The rest of us will be moving on.

If you’re ready for this new wave of atheism, now is the time to speak up. Say that you’re ready. Vocally support organizations and individuals that are already doing it right. Vocally criticize the inappropriate and hateful behavior so the victims of such actions know you’re on their side. Demand that your organizations and clubs evolve, or start your own if they refuse.

The Boy’s Club may have historically ruled the movement, but they don’t own it. We can.

*EDIT: I want to clarify that I did not mean the people and organizations involved with the official “Good without God” campaigns are the ones behind the rape and death threats. My intent was to show that if we’re publicly promoting atheists as good people, we need to deal with the not-so-good stuff that’s happening behind the scenes. I chatted with Greg Epstein specifically and he’s super supportive of the mission of A+.

I won’t be visiting Russia any time soon

A hooligan like me would certainly be thrown in prison:

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been jailed for two years after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had “crudely undermined social order”.

The women say the protest, in February, was directed at the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for Mr Putin.

Judge Syrova said Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, had offended the feelings of Orthodox believers and shown a “complete lack of respect”.

“Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism – in other words, a grave violation of public order,” she said.

What was this horrific act of hooliganism?

Along with other members of their band, the women staged a flashmob-style performance of their song close to the altar in the cathedral on 21 February.

Their brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, enraged the Orthodox Church – its leader Patriarch Kirill said it amounted to blasphemy.

Yep. Two years in jail because you dared to swear, mention some religious figures, and speak about a theoretically democratic election. I know the US is fucked up, but at least I don’t get thrown in prison when I say FUCK THE CHURCH.

Hopefully something positive happens with their appeal, and hopefully even more international pressure is put on Russia. Not that I’m expecting much coming from the US. Can you imagine Obama having to defend a blasphemous band called Pussy Riot during an election season?

Geek Girl Con was a blast

This is only the second year for the completely volunteer-run Geek Girl Con, and I had a great time. There’s something liberating about going to a geeky con that recognizes your existence in its programming and its demographics. It actually feels strange for me to walk around a geeky con being part of the majority gender – a strange sense of security knowing that my odds of being randomly harassed or creeped on are greatly decreased. The most interesting part was probably listening to Anita Sarkeesian talk about the awful flood of harassment, rape threats, and death threats she has received…all because she made a Kickstarter to examine gender stereotypes in video games. I loved meeting random blog readers – thanks for saying hi!

I bought this delightfully geeky skirt from a blog reader, Tea Time Inc.

Pixel approves. I think.

I also bought some artwork from The Gorgonist Illustration:

 I ran into Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones:

And this little girl’s costume had to be my favorite:

Forget educated women being unsexy – they probably don’t exist at all

A Voice for Men, an MRA site, is currently celebrating the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars… as a victory for men. Not women. Only men. This comment alone should make every female scientist or engineer’s blood boil*:

“It made me so proud to be a man when I saw this. Men are the abstract thinkers, the ones adventurous of mind, body, and spirit. As Paglia said, if technological advancement were up to women we’d still all be living in grass huts.

There were a handful of women in the NASA video they showed when the Rover’s touchdown was announced. I wondered, “How many are camera whores who really work in public relations or human resources or some other non-related nonsense? Which ones are actually scientists but aren’t held up to the same standards and discipline as their male counterparts (e.g. Take a dump and they give you a plaque for being such a great empowered womyn, or, spend most of their time doing commercials for NASA or on speaking tours with the NASSA public relations people instead of being actual disciplined NASA scientists moving up the ladder slowly by merit).

In any case. It was an astonishing achievement BY MEN. If there were any REAL accomplishments by REAL women scientists or engineers who both had the “right stuff” and refused special favors, hats off to those individuals as well.”

That’s right. This commenter already knows that women are intellectually inferior and incapable of doing science. So all those women in the room that most observers would take as evidence to the contrary? Nope, there has to be some other explanation. Camera whores. HR. Diversity hires. It’s simply inconceivable to this guy that a woman could actually be as good as a scientist or an engineer as a man.

I love knowing that no matter how hard I work or how much I accomplish as a scientist, there’s always going to be people out there who think I’m just there as a token diversity hire.

Way to kill my buzz about the landing.

*And any other man or woman that isn’t a flaming delusional asshole.

GeekGirlCon and other weekend debauchery!

If you’re in Seattle, this weekend is packed with a lot of fun, nerdy, godless, feministy things for you to enjoy.

On Friday the 10th I’ll be joining the Seattle Atheists to see my friend Rebecca Watson give a talk on “How Girls Evolved to Shop, and Other Ways to Insult Women with “Science.”” Tickets are $15 but include dinner. I’ll be trying to convince everyone to go get drinks at the Narwhal afterward, because what can beat fruity drinks in a carnival themed bar filled with pinball and arcade games? Did I mention it was called the Narwhal?

On Saturday and Sunday I’ll be at GeekGirlCon! Here are the two panels I’ll be on with other fabulous ladies:

Saturday, 4:30 PM – 5:20 PM

Misogyny Online – RM205
Moderated Roundtable Discussion

Women who speak out online are often the targets of very nasty misogyny. Harmful, threatening, and degrading comments are all too common when a woman posts opinions in social media outlets or even on their own blogs. This panel will discuss how it happens, why it happens, and how to deal with it. An essential panel for women who have or want a strong Internet presence.

Presented by Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson, Amy Davis Roth, Sophie Hirschfeld

Sunday, 3:30 PM – 4:20 PM *

Women and Skepticism – RM303
Moderated Roundtable Discussion

What is real and what isn’t? A panel of renowned skeptics will analyze some of the current claims marketed to or directed specifically at women. From psychics to super-antioxidant juices, this panel will show you how you can use the tools of skepticism to protect yourself, your family, and the contents of your wallet from pseudoscience and scams.

Presented by Rebecca Watson, Amanda Marcotte, Desiree Schell, Ericka Johnson, Jennifer McCreight, Cloe Ashton

I’m sure I’ll have absolutely nothing to talk about on that first panel after my last couple of posts.

Will I be seeing any of you there? Make sure to say hello if you spot me!

The parade of misogynistic twits is live now!

I love waking up to a slew of comments about how repulsive I am. It always means some MRA has linked to me so he and his buddies can pat themselves on the back, and that’s exactly what happened. The author of the post I eviscerated yesterday tweeted this this morning:

The link comes here, which features this profile picture (for the weak of stomach, avert your eyes!).

And boy, I guess I’m just so hideous that I make misogynistic eyes bleed or something:

Because, you know, my life revolves around attracting and pleasing clueless misogynistic fuckwits. Oh wait, it doesn’t.

Some of his supporters have decided to dive into the comments to offer wisdom that just can’t be constrained to 140 characters. Like AnonJon:

You do realize that only Men can determine what is sexy to them?

No matter of projecting from females on to males of what females think men SHOULD find sexy will have any impact.

The biggest problem of feminism has been this very notion.  That females try to decide for men what they should find arousing.

it just doesn’t work that way

You do realize my sole purpose in life isn’t to worry about what men find sexy, and that many men don’t agree with you that educated women are repulsive, right?

Here’s Zorro to the rescue with more stupidity:

Female college professors all stink like yeast and tuna. Everybody knows that!

This dumb broad should learn how to make a sandwich and STFU.

To be fair, S. cerevisiae culturing can smell kind of weird. But I have a feeling that’s not what he’s talking about.

Herdasperser:

Attractive and happy women have no use for feminism.

And because he says so, it’s true. Or something.

Karl:

Your overall level of physical attractiveness (negative 10, if your photo is anything to go by) is enough to keep self-respecting, non-totally-desperate men away from you. Misogynistic or not. Your level of education has nothing to do with it.

I know it’s useless to say it to a feminist, but… get real.

I’m just so hideous, I am a negative 10. Not a zero. I’ve broken the scale. Damn. Do I get a gold medal for that? Is there an Olympic Sport for Repulsing Assholes?

I really don’t get why these people think I care. I would never date anyone who thought women must spend all their time and effort on being “attractive” to men. I put “attractive” in scare quotes because these guys fail to realize that not all men agree with them on what’s sexy, which was kind of the point of my last post. I dress and look how I want to dress and look, and I only date people who are okay with that. But apparently this makes my boyfriend a “latent homosexual” because he doesn’t follow their ideals of what’s sexy.

Now, one more point:

I know when I point out trollish behavior I’m receiving, a lot of people like to run to the rescue and say how attractive they find me. One, if you think what you’re going to say might come off as creepy, then just don’t say it:

I feel immature sharing this information, but given the context I hope you find it amusing rather than creepy.  I developed a mild erection while reading your list of “masculine” traits and thinking about your potential as a girlfriend.  What can I say?  I like nerdy, laid-back, slightly chubby women.  (I am aware you are taken and live far away, but it’s a mostly involuntary response.)

I think this is the definition of TMI.

Two, the point of these posts aren’t for people to swoop in and heal my bruised ego by telling me how hot I am. My ego isn’t bruised – I love laughing at these nitwits. But the point is my attractiveness shouldn’t matter. Even if I was a negative 10, my appearance has nothing to do with the content of my arguments. But notice these guys never actually addressed what I wrote. When you don’t have an argument to make, you have to resort to pot shots about appearance as a desperate attempt to take someone down. Too bad they just make me giggle instead.

Those boner-killing educated women

I’ve never been more glad that I’m getting my PhD. Apparently it’s a great way to keep away misogynistic idiots who think educated women decrease men’s happiness because they aren’t sexy. Because you know, fuck becoming educated and pursuing a career you’re passionate about – you should be acting sexy for some guy! Sorry lesbians and bisexuals, you don’t count. I know it sounds like nonsense, but he has a GRAPH!

Can’t argue with something made in Excel! How did he come up with this highly scientific, objective measurement of femininity and education?

A good test to see if a girl is over-educated is to add the word “sexy” before her job title. If the resulting phrase ignites arousing images in your head, then she’ll most likely have what it takes to satisfy you.

Sexy Waitress? Unf. Sexy Professor? Get the barf bag. I guess this explains why you never hear about Sexy Librarians or Sexy Nurses, and why nerdy girls universally repulse guys on the internet. …Wait.

Anything beyond a bachelors at a public university is a near guarantee she’ll possess a large basket of masculine traits that will prevent boners.

I’m getting nervous at this point. Why, I’m pursuing something beyond a bachelor’s! Though at least I’ve never attended a private, elitist, feminazi university. What terrible masculine traits have I been subjecting my boyfriend to?

1. They’re fat. (This guy probably thinks so)

2. They’re constantly glued to their phone. (Only men are allowed to do this)

5. They think being funny and witty is a quality that men love. (We all know women can’t be funny, right?!)

8. They wear flip-flops even when they’re not at the beach, pool, or in their house. (Comfort be damned, you should constantly be subjected to only the highest of heels!)

9. They have condoms in their drawers because they expect to have random sex with strange men. (I’m such a slut, using condoms)

10. They cannot dance. They also do not know how to sing or play basic musical instruments. (Doing the “shopping cart” counts as a dance move, right?)

12. They acquire pets instead of putting effort into landing a quality man. (I do have more photos of Pixel on my phone than my boyfriend…)

18. Their idea of travel is going to the beach or France. (Paris was awesome!)

24. They make lame excuses for not putting effort into their appearance. (Like “I look fine without makeup and don’t care enough to put forth the time or effort.” LAME!)

25. They obsess about the environment above what is reasonable, even though they pollute more than 90% of people in the world. (#1 pollutant is apparently the rays of masculinity I’m exuding)

33. They insist on eating pizza or otherwise fattening food after a night of binge drinking. (I guess only guys are allowed to fulfill their late night munchies with some nice biscuits and gravy or a Seattle Dog (hot dog with cream cheese and sautéed onions, mmmm))

35. They care more about maintaining their career than a good home. (Pay no attention to the mounds of dirty dishes and laundry)

36. They rarely wear high heels. (Because I don’t own any)

40. They like Ikea furniture. (But it’s like adult Legos! It’s a furniture amusement park! LINGONBERRY SAUCE!)

Pixel enjoying my Ikea furnishings

42. They go on and on about the stupidest shit. (Well, I am a blogger)

That’s only 15 out of 42, which is probably around the Average Masculinity Unit for 3rd year graduate students. By the time I’ve graduated, I’ll probably have picked up a few more terrible traits, like getting acne and watching too much tv.

But this is the money quote for me:

Unless you’re a latent homosexual, you won’t get many benefits from a relationship with a woman on the right side of the chart.

Wow, I never knew my current boyfriend and all of my exes were secretly latent homosexuals! Apparently it’s easy to confuse “latent homosexuality” with “not being an idiotic misogynistic jackass.”

(Via Man Boobz)

MRAs, Christianity, and Ancient Aliens

My three favorite types of nonsense have combined into a Megazord of stupidity:

2,000 years ago Mary Magdalene even if impregnated via test tube in the lab on the alien space ship, gave birth via the cunt, so no tight virginity there.

Ever since then, the holy trinity…

1/ God, an ethreal being that no-one ever saw, except jesus, so if he existed he was an alien ship doctor.. eg he was NOT human.

2/ Jesus, who was NOT human, even the biblical teachings stress this point, he was not a man.

3/ Mary Magdalene, the only human, and therefore the MOST REVERED human in the religion is a wimminz, who fucked an alien to get preggers and got Joe the carpenter to pay for it all and feed and house them.

“Chivalry” in the middle ages was literally based on worship of Mary Magdalen’s cunt, and the chivalric symbology and iconography is replete with cunt symbolism, right down to the order of the garter.

The only remotely male centric tenets of christianity were lifted wholesale from other religions and beliefs and incorporated in an early example of embrace and extend.

Christianity has NEVER been a man’s religion.

Hell even the pristhood, the highest echelons of the meme, were not allowed to fuck.

Is it bad that I’m so used to misogyny, religious nonsense, and ancient alien delirium that my main reaction is “Mary (mom of Jesus) is not the same person Mary Magdalene, dumbass”?

(Via Lousy Canuck)

In which my ladybits further destroy religion

First it was my boobs. Now it’s my ovaries:

Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly (R), an ardent opponent of abortion rights, said that today’s date would live in infamy alongside those two other historic occasions. Wednesday marked the day on which a controversial new requirement by the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires health insurance companies to cover contraceptive services for women, goes into effect.

“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbor day.  The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack,” Kelly said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

It makes perfect sense. When I save that $350 a year on my Nuvaring and other feminine checkups, that’s $350 extra dollars I can spend on other religion-destroying activities!

  • Flight to Skepticon 5 – $250
  • Eating lunch somewhere other than Chick-Fil-A – $10
  • New child-corrupting video game – $40
  • Buying a new cleavage-showing shirt – $20
  • Cover for my favorite gay bar – $10
  • Satan juice, aka “alcohol” – $20
  • Pissing off the religious right – Priceless

Yeah, I’d say all of that is equivalent to thousands of people dying.

Feminazism runs in my family

This story broke while I was still in Europe, so you may have already heard of it:

Republican state Sen. Marty Golden’s office was planning career-development classes for his “female constitutients,” where participants will “‘refresh’ their knowledge of what’s new in 21st century business etiquette and social protocol.”

“POSTURE, DEPORTMENT, AND THE FEMININE PRESENCE: walking with books on the head are outdated,” part of the course description reads. “Women who walk from their power center. The art of feminine presence. Sit, stand and walk like a model. Walk up and down a stair elegantly……and much more.”

So why am I bringing it up now? Because my big brother is the campaign manager for Golden’s opponent, and I just had to share this wonderful quote from him:

“Tragically, this is Golden’s idea of the 21st Century woman,” Chris McCreight, campaign manager for Golden’s Democratic opponent, Andrew Gounardes, told Politicker. “This just goes to show that Marty Golden just doesn’t get it – either that or he lives in a cave and thinks Leave It to Beaveris a new reality show.”

Zing. Good job, Chris!

Feminism and Sansa Stark

Warning: This post contains Game of Thrones spoilers, especially for the first book/season. There are vague spoilers for books 2 and 3, but I haven’t read past that yet.

I recently read an interesting piece titled “In Defense of Sansa Stark” that viewed the character from a feminist perspective. The author argued that Sansa is so widely hated as a character because she’s a feminine pre-teen girl:

“As a massive fan of Sansa, even I must admit that she is difficult to like at first. She’s spoilt and a bit bratty. She fights with her fan-favorite sister and trusts characters who the reader knows are completely untrustworthy. She is hopelessly naive and lost in dreams of pretty princes and dashing knights. She acts, for all intents and purposes, like the eleven year old girl that she is. Most of us were pretty darn unbearable to older people at that age (and that’s fine, because they were also pretty unbearable to us). Robb and Jon, although older than Sansa, are similarly misguided and bratty, with Jon’s constant “poor me, I deserve so much more” attitude at the Wall, and Robb’s clumsy attempts at being the Lord of Winterfell. But these mistakes are only reprehensible to readers when they come from a girl, interested in girly things and making girly mistakes. Because viewers have been taught that “girly“ is automatically bad.”

You should read the whole post if you’re interested in the series. I think it could apply to some fans who hate Sansa – I haven’t exactly chatted with every A Song of Ice and Fire fan. But as someone who initially hated Sansa nearly as much as Joffrey, I have to say that’s not why I hated Sansa.

Sansa originally contains every quality I loathe. She’s incredibly spoiled and a giant brat. She’s gullible and demonstrates absolutely no ability to think for herself – she just parrots whatever she’s told and never applies any critical thinking. She’s naive to the point of delusion, where she refuses to admit that the world around her isn’t a perfect fairy tale, even when provided with ample evidence. And worst of all, she has no moral compass. Instead of standing by her sister Arya, she lies because marrying a prince is more important and leads to the death of an innocent child and her pet wolf. Instead of standing by her father Ned, she tattles on him and ultimately leads to his death. She has no loyalty or honor.

And frankly, I’m miffed that the author thinks this is all okay because that’s “the eleven year old girl that she is.” The assumption that all eleven year old girls are vain, gullible, boy-crazy brats with no shred of ethics is just as sexist as someone hating Sansa because she likes dresses and is good at needlework. I certainly wasn’t that way when I was an eleven year old girl!

I don’t hate Sansa anymore. She’s grown a lot as a character through books 2 and 3. She’s become kinder and stronger, and it’s impressive that she deals with the daily torture she receives. If I were in her shoes, I would have jumped off a high castle wall long ago, or tried to stab Joffrey with fork knowing I’d die trying. I still don’t like her, though. She’s still gullible and not the brightest tool in the shed. And she’s so passive – instead of actively trying to improve her situation, she basically sits around waiting to be rescued. Cersei, Daenerys, Margaery and Catelyn  are all feminine characters, but they’re proactive about their situations.

But while I no longer hate Sansa, I still dread reading her chapters. Is there a single Sansa chapter where something goes her way? It’s depressing to read about her getting screwed over for the umpteenth time. I feel like her only role in the story is to be a victim, which just depresses me.

This is post 39 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Depressing infographic of the night

Click here to see a larger version:

My initial reaction: Holy fuck is that biased. The only group that comes even close to a 50/50 gender split is Time Warner, and they’re at 67% men, 31% women. If there are any topics where women should be interviewed more often than men it’s abortion, birth control, Planned Parenthood, and women’s rights…but we’re not even close to 50/50! The best ratio for interviews about women’s interests is 52% men, 31% women. Add this to the list of Reasons Why The Main Stream Media Depresses the Fuck Out of Me.

My reaction upon more reflection: I wish I had the data for a control group of random topics. Is this better or worse than average? I’m not sure which would be more depressing.

After a little digging, this was the best I could find (from the same group):

Looks like some categories fair better than others. Women’s rights has more women interviewed than usual, but abortion has less. But across the board, women’s representation is pathetic.

This is post 36 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.