sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 04:49 pm
(First post)

I've been dipping in and out for ages so decided to just sit down, put on some music, and finish the damn thing. And then the last quarter turned out to be references and notes so the task wasn't as hard as I thought it would be :D

Some notes on the last third or so:

If there is a physical brain difference, it is that small brains (which tend to be female) are wired differently than large brains (which tend to be male), probably for practical reasons of space. And while DNA determines some things, your brain (and hormones/mental capacity etc) changes dramatically based on the way your life plays out. So even if there was a proven difference between male and female brains, it wouldn't prove nature over nurture.

But as it turns out, such proof does not exist. There are very small studies that show a difference, but what that difference is varies from study to study (though it regardless always "proves" that men are thinkers and women feel-ers) A quote:

"Using standard statistical procedures, they found significant brain activity in one small region of the dead fish's brain while it performed the empathising task, compared with brain activity during "rest"."


Huge difference in behaviour towards children of different genders from parents even ones who think they are showing no difference. Kids will prefer things based on how they are coded not what they actually do eg classifying a spiky tea set as for boys and a ribbon bedecked truck as for girls. Implicit attitudes like body language affect children's learned attitudes much more than adult's stated opinions. If you subconsciously hate black people chances are so will your kids.

And of course even the most "egalitarian" parent may pause at buying their son a barbie.

Children police each other pretty harshly, and are very susceptible to in-group stereotyping and bias eg if you randomly divide them into blue and red then say "good morning blues and reds!" and make them line up by colour etc for a few days they will start to identify as a "red", want to play with other reds etc.

All of this adds up to me pondering sending a complaint to Cottees about their Boys vs Girls campaign.
sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 02:03 pm
I've been slowly working through this book, it's fairly light but still a bit dense for my foggy hard-science-oriented brain.

Basically it's about demolishing gender essentialist pseudoscience.

The first part is a whole bunch of examples of how amazingly easy it is to affect people's decisions and abilities by "priming" them with stereotypes, either by putting stereotypes into their heads or just by reminding them of the stereotypes they've already been exposed to. Just putting a gender tickbox at the start of a maths test lowers women's scores, since they go "That's right, I am a woman. Women are bad at maths." (And thinking "I AM NOT BAD AT MATHS DAMMIT" still takes up valuable mental energy that could be spent calculating) And of course there's all the examples of exactly the same resume being judged differently depending on the gender/race etc associated with the name attached. People THINK they're being objective but really aren't, and will come up with complicated justifications for why their choice is logical, eg if you swap the "male" and "female" names on a pair of different resumes suddenly the traits that were unsuitable for the job when they belonged to a woman make a man the perfect choice.

She also demolishes some of the specific claims of Bad Gender Science, like "girl babies look longer at faces therefore women are naturally more intuitive therefore men are better at hard sciences" and so on (and of course as gender roles change the arguments have to twist themselves into stuff like "Women are attracted to forensic pathology and microbial biology because they...like faces and people")

Overall I'm finding it really informative but I am annoyed by how it assumes the reader is a cis het woman living in Australia/the US etc who is probably going to get married and have babies. She does acknowledge trans people, intersex people, same sex relationships, people from other cultures etc but mainly for what they can teach us about heterosexual cis etc people rather than as examples of everyday people who have to deal with gender stereotypes themselves. And, ok, most of her arguments are statistical and so the "average" woman is what matters, but she could still do better on being inclusive and intersectional. She does mention assumptions about race every now and then, but not in a very meaty way.

I'm onto part two now and she seems to be implying that there is some evidence for men and women (and male and female primates in general) being biologically hardwired differently in one particular way: men care about fitting into the male gender norms of the culture they've been brought up in whatever those norms happen to be and the same goes for women(*). The nice thing about this theory is that it says that specific gender roles are socially defined rather than innate, but that gender identities and divisions themselves are hardwired enough to debunk radfem etc dismissal of the trans experience.

(Second post)

(*)Non binary gendered people seem to be entirely off her radar, though being a small and poorly defined/understood group I guess it would be hard to come to many useful conclusions right now.
sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Saturday, December 31st, 2011 11:25 am
It's very good, and very readable too, I've had real trouble concentrating on non fiction (or anything much) for the last few years but found this fairly easy to get into.

Russ makes SOME attempt at intersectionality, but there are some glaring omissions. She's also almost entirely focussed on American/British English Literature, apart from one or two examples. But regardless I think the silencing techniques she talks about are pretty universal and this book would be useful to anyone thinking about how marginalised group voices are suppressed.

The cover contains a summary of her argument:
“She didn’t write it. But if it’s clear she did the deed… She wrote it, bit she shouldn’t have. (It’s political, sexual, masculine, feminist.) She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. (The bedroom, the kitchen, her family. Other women!) She wrote it, but she wrote only one of it. (“Jane Eyre. Poor dear. That’s all she ever…”) She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (It’s a thriller, a romance, a children’s book. It’s sci fi!) She wrote it, but she had help. (Robert Browning. Branwell Brontë. Her own “masculine side”.) She wrote it, but she’s an anomaly. (Woolf. With Leonard’s help…) She wrote it BUT…”

She wrote it BUT… )
sqbr: (bookdragon)
Friday, August 12th, 2011 09:39 am
You were right, that was awesome :D

I have Things To Do Today, so no actual review, and I can't tell how objectively good it is but where with the Theif I had a sinking feeling about a plot twist and was sad to be proven right with this book I was sitting there going "Could the plot really be that awesome? Noone ever writes that..." and was filled with glee when twists happened the way I'd hoped. Though overall I think her writing would benefit from not trying to so hard to have twists at all.

Now to get my hands on the next book...
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sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Sunday, September 26th, 2010 04:53 pm
Female sexual dysfunction discussion bingo, all the things that come up reliably in any discussion of the subject.

I've been meaning to post a link to Feminist with Sexual Disfunction for ages, even if you don't have sexual disfunction they're just a really good general feminist/sexuality etc blog and have a unique POV.

One of the reasons I've been putting it off is that I feel that, as part of trying to reduce the stigma around sexual disfunction, I should mention that I have had issues with that sort of thing myself, though at this point it's only around the middle of the list my many irritating incurable poorly diagnosed health problems that make life less fun. Not something I feel like talking about at all but there you are.

I find it interesting if rather depressing how the "It's all big Pharma making healthy women think they're broken" attitude contrasts with the "Clearly if you don't feel like having sex you must have some medical condition" crap pushed on asexual people. In both cases the experiences and opinions of actual people count for nothing in the face of The Way Things Are Supposed To Work.

(Also, I hope it goes without saying but: Please do not say any of the things in those bingo squares here)
sqbr: (happy dragon)
Thursday, July 29th, 2010 09:51 am
Saw Fanboys last night. It's not a good film, but enjoyable enough as a geek road movie (and it's not like that's a large enough genre that one can afford to be too picky) It was VERY much the story of a bunch of white straight dudes, though, the writers clearly had no idea what to do with their one female character and the homophobia was pretty intense. That said, I think I liked it as much as the geek guys I've discussed it with, since the main problem with the film is that apart from the odd quite funny scene it just isn't very good!

Anyway, it was thus nice this morning to read ‘CAUSE I’M NERDCORE LIKE THAT: Toward a Subversive Geek Identity which then led me to Riot Nrrd, a very cute webcomic about "being LGBT nerds, female nerds, nerds of color, disabled nerds, and other kinds of nerds that don’t get as much love" which is like a cross between "Dykes to watch out for" and geeky slice of life comics like "Weregeek"(*). It even has a transcript, huzzah!

There's geeky female characters in lots of webcomics, often but not always done fairly well, but I'm having trouble thinking of any I've really liked in mainstream-ish films or books. Any suggestions?

(*)Not that "Dykes to watch out for" doesn't have geeky aspects and geeky webcomics don't have any female/LGBT etc characters. But this is more concentrated.