Random comment on a small-penis-man #notallsmallpenismen from like 6 years ago

So about 6 years ago, this douche named Ed Rybicki wrote a really sexist short story that inexcusably and inexplicably got published in Nature, because the board of Nature was (is?) full of sexist asshats.  We talk about it some in this post from November of 2011.

In that post, we’re making note of the fact that tiny-penised* Rybicki kept harassing women who called him out, but completely shied away from giving men who called him out the same treatment.  We assumed he was going to wander into our comments as well because he seemed to enjoy googling himself and going into the comments of women (and only women) to generally be a clueless asshat.  Oddly, even though we dared him to, he didn’t show up in our junk mail filter (or it’s possible he did later and we didn’t notice, in any case, he didn’t do it right away).

We didn’t know if we’d scared him off or if he’d just missed our blog or if someone close to him had finally hit him with a clue stick and told him to get a life.

Well, the other day, for a completely unrelated post, I was wondering why we were getting so many hits from twitter.  Unlike my usual situation, I was on my cell rather than on the computer, and it turns out that searching twitter on the iphone gives a LOT more hits than does searching on the computer (which seems to just limit to major twitter feeds like @DLFreedman), and curious, I followed our twitter cites to nicoleandmaggie back to 2011.

In the middle of years of praise (thanks grumpy tweeters!), I found this little gem:


Well, we did get tenure.  And we’re still not on twitter.  And it took us 6 years to see your passive-aggressive whatever that was.  But thanks for playing.  Really hope in the intervening 6 years you’ve become less of a sexist asshat!  No, really!  (But it’s likely we’ll never know.)

*#notalltinypenisedmen — penis size actually isn’t that important, but misogynists tend to think it is


Notes from a 3 hour implicit bias training

Faculty and staff had mandatory implicit bias training this year.  Last time (>5 years ago) we did this it was voluntary and all I remember from it was the speaker bringing up a (female, foreign-born, adjunct) volunteer from the audience and white male full professors commenting on her clothing and appearance because the speaker asked them what their initial impressions of her were.  It was enormously cringe-worthy.  This time it was a bit better, but I still came away with the feeling that, like economics, perhaps a little training is worse than no training at all.

I think I understand now why implicit bias training has been shown* to decrease implicit bias in people who already understand implicit bias and increases it in people who don’t really believe in it.

The first audience comment was an ageist joke.  Most people laughed.  I told the commenter that was not appropriate.  If I hadn’t been there, would anybody have said anything?

The students took this training for the first time last year.  I now understand why I got comments on my course evals saying that I was micro-aggressive towards white men and favored under-represented minorities and women over said white men.**  This training is focusing on making everybody in the audience feel like victims and giving them the language to talk about that.  I work very hard at inclusion in my classes and inclusion can feel like micro-aggression to the majority who is used to feeling like they’re special.  The first example the speaker gave was an example about the speaker hearing someone using the term “redneck” and joking, “you did not just say that.”  To her credit, she noted that most of the (Southern) audience was staring at her in disbelief and asked why.  After some native Southerners pointed out that was a pretty milquetoast insult, I noted that there really aren’t any powerful epithets against native straight white men in the US.  People in the audience seemed to agree.  (They probably didn’t need me there for that one.)

During various exercises, one straight white guy after another shared anecdotes about when they felt like they’d been discriminated against or stereotyped.  So many short-haired white guy heads nodded during these recounting while the rest of us just sat there.  The speaker applauded them for their sharing and made points about how everyone is put into groups.

It went on like that.  I broke in a few times to note that thinking you’re aware isn’t enough– people don’t realize that they’re calling on men more than women– they think they’re being equivalent.  They think 35% is 50%.  So you really do need to keep track of who is talking, or (as another professor suggested) you need to randomize cold-calls.  I talked about how to make cold-calling less scary and how to include more students, even those who are silenced.  I talked about other techniques that can be used to make groups more inclusive.  Having good intentions isn’t enough.   But thinking it is enough is dangerous.

There was a lot of talking about problems, nothing about solutions.   The speaker brought up examples of incidents and asked if we’d seen them and to discuss them (and how they make people feel), but didn’t talk about possible bystander reactions.  There was no discussion of relative difficulty, no checking white guy privilege.  Most of the exercises had the purpose of making people understand what it feels like to be discriminated against… but, as I said before, for people who aren’t actually discriminated against, not being treated like princes feels a lot like discrimination.

I suspect there’s implicit bias training that works better than what most universities are presenting.  This is not yet a solved problem.  What can be done in a 3 hour lecture hall, even with group exercises?  I don’t know.  But my other colleague who has studied this a lot for that university-level committee we were on thinks that maybe not trying to cover everything and instead focusing on the major problems affecting our students and our faculty right now according to the latest campus climate survey (islamaphobia, racism, homophobia, gender discrimination, or some subset thereof) and providing solutions on what to do for various instances might be the way to go.  If these were smaller sessions, maybe the IAT (though again, its use has had mixed results depending on how receptive the participant is).

Have you seen implicit bias training that actually works?

*too lazy to look up the citation, but it featured heavily in a university-level committee I was on

**fairly sure I’m not micro-aggressive towards white men.  However, I am intentionally micro-aggressive (as well as explicitly “you coming in late is disruptive stop doing that”) to people who wander into class late, and last year only white men wandered in late.  Most white men did not wander in late.

Should we empathize with Trump voters?

In a word, no.

People who vote for Trump care about racism, and to a lesser extent, misogyny over *any other issue*.

There’s a movement among some liberal white folks (even our beloved wandsci) to empathize with these jerks.  They’re poor.  They’re seeing privileges stripped away.  They’re not used to being so close to the bottom.  They’re uneducated.  They’re scared and don’t know any better.  We should try to understand their point of view.  That’s the argument.

First, although the media narrative is an economic one, it’s not actually true.  White Trump voters are better off than the average American.  It is true that they’re generally not college educated.  But that’s on them.  They’re making plenty of money without the fancy degree that they could still get if they wanted.

Second, even if the media narrative were true, which it isn’t, that’s still no excuse to be racist.

Racism is deplorable.  As the ladies on the Here to make friends bachelor podcast note, plenty of people have bad things happen to them and don’t become assholes.  Your reaction to hardship or tragedy doesn’t have to be voting against your economic interests so that you can feel superior to someone with a different skin color.

There’s no point in trying to empathize with racists anymore than there’s a point in trying to empathize with dangerously misogynistic Chad on the Bachelor franchise.  Empathy will not change their behavior.  Shaming might.  More likely these hardcore racists are just lost to humanity and will either someday see the light or they will die bitter horrible people.  And that’s ok.  The importance of shaming is not to change their beliefs.  Shaming does two things.  First, it changes the behavior of the bulk of these horrible people because it forces them to watch what they say and how they act, so it is harder to hurt minorities.  Second, it shows that bulk of easily-led people that casual racism is not cool and tilts them for good over evil, which means they too are less likely to commit acts of overt racism.

Empathy has no place.  These people are racist.  Their behavior is deplorable.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  We should shame them.  This behavior has no place in mainstream society and if it can’t be removed entirely, it should be treated as the abomination that it is.  Let them dress up in their costumes and play their stupid games by themselves where we can laugh at them as losers who can’t get past 1865.  But when their behavior starts affecting normal people, and when it starts having a negative effect on people who are already discriminated against, that’s when any residual caring about their racist fee-fees should disappear.  They are bad people with bad beliefs and hopefully one day their children will escape and see how much better the world can be without their hate.

Driving douchy 1960s country songs out of my head with Anne Murray and Aretha Franklin

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of Little Green Apples or Gentle on my Mind?  They’re both about patriarchal douches asserting their male privilege on devoted wimmenfolk.  The Apples guy does these creepy power tricks to prove his wife’s devotion, calling her up specifically when he knows she’s busy because he loves seeing her drop everything for him and then he’s always late on purpose because he likes the proof that he can force her devotion.  He brags about how she loves him.  He doesn’t say anything about loving her and definitely doesn’t respect her time.  But that’s the ideal of womanhood– self-sacrificing.  What more could she want than to bear his children and take care of him with selfless devotion?  Similarly the Gentle on my Mind dude is all, I travel a lot and also cheat on you with young women who don’t know they’re being cheated on, but it’s ok because I always come back to you so you’re devoted to me.  Both these dudes make a big deal about how selfless unquestioning devotion eases their minds.  Of course, because they’re douches.

Unfortunately Little Green Apples has a really catchy chorus, and Gentle on my Mind shares enough chords with it that they both get stuck in my head.  And not even Yellow Submarine can drive them out because it’s not similar enough.  The 1960s sucked really hard for women.  It was the backlash before the storm that would be the 1970s.  And when you’ve got 1960s country stuck in your head, sometimes the best thing to drive it out is 1970s country.

We played Could I Have this Dance by Anne Murray at our wedding.  Very sweet song about joint love and devotion.  Catchy tune.  A reasonably good earworm.  And when you put it into youtube to listen to it, the next song that comes up is one that is strikingly similar to the sentiments behind Little Green Apples and Gentle on my Mind, but absent the douchiness, “You Needed Me,” which is an anthem to being loved… and loving in return.

you put me high upon a pedestal
so high I could almost see eternity
you needed me

I needed you
and you were there
and I’ll never leave
why should I leave I’d be a fool

And isn’t that a better kind of love?  One where both partners love and respect each other?  Not selfless devotion on one side and mildly appreciative power on the other.  And isn’t it better to love someone who loves you in return?  To love a person or a goddess and know your sentiments are returned in full?  Leave loyal devotion to your pets, not your partner.  And that’s the power of feminism– elevating love to love between consenting adults, not a jerk and the two-dimensional pet he doesn’t even respect.

What happened when I rage bought the $450 laser hair removal thing

As predicted, one day I had enough of plucking my chin and went to amazon and bought this home laser hair removal thing.

You’re supposed to use it once every two weeks.  I’ve been using it once a week instead because my ability to remember something every other week is pretty bad and also I don’t think I’ve been using it as intensely (overlapping zaps) each time as the instructions say to do, so a second treatment probably doesn’t hurt.

There are five levels.  They say to use the highest that you are comfortable with.  I started out with level one, which was a light tingle.  Two weeks later nothing had really changed.  Level two hurt more and Level three was unbearable.  I had to ask DH to take over because I was flinching too much when I tried to do it myself.  Level two did seem to help some.  Then I had a conference and plucked for that.  When I got back, level three wasn’t so bad pain-wise.  I think the difference in pain was because there were fewer hairs to kill given the plucking.  I can also tell a big pain difference between heavily populated follicle areas and areas of sparser hair density.  Level three works much better at killing hairs.  Chin hairs die and fall out over a two week period after use.

I’m not done with the treatments yet, but I have a lot fewer chin hairs at this point.  There’s still plenty, but if I stopped now, it might be a manageable plucking number (at least for this hair follicle cycle– apparently hair grows in cycles and you have to kill off each cycle).

So, on the whole, I’m glad I purchased it.  Of course, I wasn’t expecting all the hair to go away, just to get a decrease to more manageable levels so I don’t spend 20 minutes or more plucking hair every single day.  And that decrease seems to be happening.

And that’s my mid-use update.

We’ll see if I can remember to keep it up once school starts!

Reject the double-bind of female success

As should be abundantly obvious from this election season if nothing else, women are condemned if they are anything less than perfect, anything less than 120% or more of their male counterparts.

On the other hand, they’re also generally hated if they seem to be perfect, seem to be better than average, or seem to have their excrement together.

You see this on the political stage.  You see this on mommy blogs.  It, as part of the patriarchy, is the water we drink and the air we breath.

Woman are constantly calling “perfect” women out saying no, they’re not actually perfect.  They secretly suck but just don’t show the parts where they suck.

In order to not be hated, women talk about how no no, they’re imperfect too.  Their house isn’t always tidy.  Or whateverthef patriarchal standard they’re not meeting, no matter how successful they are in other spheres.

And other women are soooo grateful.  You are so brave to talk about your imperfections.  This makes me feel so much better.

It’s a common narrative and it sucks donkey gonads.

When you see someone is successful, here’s what you should try to do.

  1. Think about whether or not this is something you care about for yourself.  If you don’t care, then don’t compare yourself along that dimension.  Don’t hate the woman because she can bake or craft if you don’t care about baking or crafting.
  2. If you do care, first decide if this is something you really care about or if it’s just something that patriarchy makes you think you should care about (see: having a clean house).  If the latter, then refer to #1.
  3. If the former, then instead of hating on the other woman, instead of trying to cut her down to size, see if you can get tips on how to do it better yourself. If that’s something you want to spend time doing. Share your joy of doing whatever it is.  It’s not a zero-sum game.

Don’t get your self-value from comparisons to other people.  Work on yourself.  Value your progress.  Compare yourself to your ideal and work on getting there.  Don’t negatively compare yourself to other people.  Especially not along lines that have nothing to do with your own values and priorities.  Or even if they do match your values and priorities.  Move yourself forward, don’t push other people back.

We want the world to be a better place.  There’s enough pie for everyone if we keep making the pie bigger.  No need to force someone to take a smaller slice if it means a smaller pie.

Smash the patriarchy.

We live in interesting times

We live in interesting times.

I often think that this is must have been like what it felt for our parents growing up in the 60s.  Marches and riots and violence in the news all the time, but a sense that progress was finally being made.

Life was so much easier during the booming 90s.  Of course, that’s not really true.  Life was easier for us white folk, and we just didn’t know about what was going on elsewhere.  The Rodney King riots were a glimpse into what life was like for others, but the rest of us really stopped paying attention until recently.

One of the reasons Hamilton is doing so well is that it isn’t really about the 18th century.  It is about today.  This musical number really encapsulates it.

Change comes slowly and then it comes all at once.

Change comes with violence.  Or rather, that’s what we perceive.  Those of us who are sheltered and privileged.  The violence was always there.  On the plantations.  Against share-croppers.  Burning crosses on lawns.  Killing people in our cities.  Lynching, rape, murder, beatings.  Those of us who are outside don’t notice.  We believed things were accidents and tragedies or isolated incidents or provoked by criminals.  But that’s not what was going on.  That’s not what is going on.

Like now, change happens when violence is made visible.  Then violence escalates.  Violence escalates because the people in power, the ones doing the terror attacks against minorities, the ones subjugating their wives, girlfriends, and daughters, are afraid.  And they are afraid.  And violence is their only real weapon.

Which isn’t actually true.  Violence is not and has never been their only real weapon.

The Voting Rights Act was in response to their hold on local governments.  They own state and local governments again.  We MUST organize locally.  We must pay attention to downstream races.  We must run candidates even in red areas.

They’ve owned the media before, they own some of the media now.  Fox News isn’t the first news organization to have a racist misogynist agenda.  Not the first media organization to sway angry poor uneducated white men for their own causes.  It makes sense for uneducated white losers to want to keep women and minorities down– if they don’t have them to scapegoat and feel superior to, then they’ll be at the bottom of whatever metaphor you can think of.  It doesn’t make as much sense for the people who control these empires.  Why are there evil rich people?  Is it because they want more power than their horrible rich white associates?  But isn’t it better to be a Philanthropist than a Bond Villain?

Revolution means progress.  But revolutions are rarely easy.  Those in power fight back to maintain the status quo.

It’s best when revolutions occur with the fewest lives lost.  With the least blood spilt.

I think there’s a politician and bureaucrat who can help the revolution shed less blood while moving forward.  But she can only do it if she gets support downstream.  Senators.  Representatives.  State Government.  VOTEWRITE.  Be angry.  Protest.  Support protestors.  Become woke and stay it, even when the media moves on to the next story.  We want a government for all people, not just some of the people.

And after this movement dies down, we’ll still have a long way to go.  But let’s go as far as we can towards equality of opportunity, freedom, peace, and happiness as we can, so that maybe it won’t be as hard or dangerous next time around.  And so people can live closer to their best lives while we wait for the next revolution to bring them closer still.