What passes for ‘sexist’ nowadays’?

I saw a story about South Korea which went something like this. The government has funded female-specific parking spaces, marked with a pink cartoon charicature, which are also wider than conventional spaces. I am sure they had their reasons. I lived in South Korea for a long time. They have practically no social net for the poor; no retirement plan for the elderly. They aren’t going to waste money on something unless they believe they need it. South Korea is more fiscally conservative than the USA; they test better and have a more stable economy. The money the government spends, save that which is caught up in corruption (yes every country has it), is going to be wisely spent. So it is logical to assume they had data backing up decisions. Accidents, scrapes, dents, opinion polls, and activism, what have you.

But that really isn’t the point here. Well it is and it isn’t. The point is that there are a fairly large number of women, to a lesser extent men, who will indiscriminately point their angry, shaking fingers at a given situation and scream the hallowed, shrew words: SEXISM! Fine, ok. I do not deny there exists a measure of sexism in any society. Both men and women are subject to a broken, biased and downright unfair social and law system. But to use the word in such a way is rather… depressing. To reserve a word, with such extreme social connotations, is quite important. Just as we selectively impose ‘racist’ for both intent and action, we do not reserve the same intelligence, it seems, for uttering ‘sexism’.

Are there some actions which are inherently sexist? Can the context be disregarded for a snap judgement? If a man wolf whistles at a girl, is that immediately sexist? What about if they are married, or friends prone to joking around. What about gender assignment labels – pink for girls, blue for boys? Is this sexist? What about if you live in a society where women will predominantly recognise pink as a gender assigned label, helping society run. Is it still sexist? Would it be easier if a random colour was chosen for signs? Or should we end all segregation of the sexes. Unified bathrooms, gyms, schools. No choice in the matter for both male and female – anything deemed inherently sexist just has to go. Isn’t disregarding the choices of males and females to suit your own agenda sexist?

It seems to me the situations where such judgements are made are often, but not always, in error. The degree to which this error exists depends on a number of factors for sure, but there is never a contrite person when confronted with counter evidence. At least, none I have met. So set in their ways, these people usually double down.

So what of the South Korean parking spaces? Well say they had data, which I am sure they do, that supports the creation of such parking spaces. Showing preference for one gender based on practical needs is, in my book, not inherently sexist at all. This covers the width, now what about the little pink woman? Ok so… What about her? She is a woman and the parking spaces are in fact, for women. Quite a bit more practical than adding bold letters in a small parking space that can be recognised from any angle. Why isn’t she blue then? Or green, grey. Why pink?

Oh dear. Society has assigned gender specific colours. And by society, I mean both males and females. And by assigned, I mean personally adopted over time – there is no Dr Evil style boardroom conjuring new ways to subjugate people in strange, masterful ways. They are just colours – objectively meaningless – which happen to be useful. All women will recognise the colour. Does this make them bad people? I really hope not… I myself am quick to link being male with Guinness and Lynx deodorant spray. There is nothing inherently sexist about products, colours, sounds or objects being associated with one gender or the other. Not only is it a fleeting product of contemporary society, often gone the next century, but it is also has absolutely no function other than to make life a bit easier.

I conclude with this. If there is a resounding vitriol inherent in people, it should not be toward abstract concepts or meaningless whimsy. To re-channel  10% of the empty, incoherent and fallacious anguish directed at socially constructed issues toward real issues; the world would be cured of famine, free of war and, most importantly, liberated from obstinate politics.

Cogent elocution; the downfall of Gun toters

This subject beholds a myriad of arguments, opinions; tragedy and activism. A bi-polar, bi-racial issue; represented equally in almost any linear dissection of American society. A set of issues spiralling, entwined in free-fall. Influenced not with the language of politics or politicians, whose universal responsibility to majority shareholders renders action impervious.

The rights of man. The aspirations of evil thwarted by good men with positive intentions. Born free, live free and die free. Myths perpetuated by lies created by the broken minded.

-“They can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles”

Let us first not digress the nature of this belief. You are putting a cold, emptiness into the flesh of another human being. Tearing the veins that carry their life blood, rupturing the organs that sustain them. There was not a day in history when it was not understood.

There is no such thing as a heroism devoid of emotion. Of pain. The vision of a street lined with clad men, bathed in white light, Children coercing them for just one more look down the sights; A utopia but for one wretch is never attainable. All societies are dystopian in nature. As long as people constitute a society, they will be nothing but.

What do you do when your son keeps kicking your seat on the way to Disneyland? Your blood. Dependent on your work and skills. One mealtime away from escaping through the catflap and throwing stones at next door.  What do you do?

What about if he starts screaming too. Kicking and screaming. Kicking and screaming. Red faced, perturbed by the moral disconnect between your struggles and his pleasure. Grateful as a recipient to what he receives only. He escalates, this time a half-filled soda hurtles into the windscreen. He’s kicking and screaming and now… well now he is throwing things. Larger things. What do you do? Pull over to validate his behaviour with a McDonald’s toy? Enforce his actions? Treat a gangrenous leg with moisturiser and a tan? Wind the window down and let the laws of physics and human nature take their course?

I don’t know what you would do. I am, in all respects, closer to knowing what you would do through my observance than what I would decide. But I am one person. My thoughts and opinions and actions are one. Maybe 10 of me could make a decision. Maybe 20, 30, 50. Maybe 100 would make a reasonable decision. Maybe a 1000 would get it right, if exists such a term in our flawed predisposition.

Guns and America. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

Elliot Rodgers: almost the hero.

6 people dead. Random, individual – probably like yourself in a lot of respects. Names that don’t stick out either; Katie Cooper, Christopher Michael. Prime examples of people we will never meet and, under normal circumstances, will never hear of. Even if you subscribe to the notion six degrees of separation – a truly wonderful film – it is still quite alien. All of a sudden you are sad for them. Their families and friends and pets. Their teachers and carers; co-workers and pen pals. It isn’t the kind of sad you feel when your family dies. When your friend or even your pet dies. But it is enough to feel down. Enough to write some tribute or condolence.

I looked at the YouTube page of Elliot Rodgers. He seems similar to myself. An ardent enthusiasm for Pokémon. The kind of vice that says ‘I really am happy for once, fuck you society’. At least that is my take. (Blastoise really was my best childhood friend). But then, there are some troubling things there. Among the few things he posted were rants about society and women. I’ve never had sex and I want to. I want to be with a girl but they won’t have me. I am just too awkward; too deep for people. They don’t even look at me… I haven’t even been kissed. They always go for the Jocks. The captains of the basketball or football team. The guys who refer to girls as bitches and pussies to be tamed and abused. It’s so unfair…

And I just began thinking. Shit. This is a film. This is an American, coming of age romance. This is the beginning to 40 year old Virgin or 10 things I hate about you. This is a golden opportunity; a happy ever after enacting itself in real life.

Of course, It’s horrible. it didn’t end in a good way. It didn’t end with the cute girl with glasses being taken behind a closed door. It didn’t inspire the ‘American pie feeling’ where stifler grows up, Jim gets Michelle and the side characters get laid by a god-like European empress.

But was it really that far off? The ending is what… 15 minutes? Just enough time to have sex or die. Two choices, two endings. Two endings I don’t think are far apart from one another. This is hard to hear for some but we are all capable of murder. All capable of cold blooded violence. Rage induced malice. Milgram, in a simple experiment, showed this in the majority of people. Our primal instincts are animalistic. Natural selection does not simply recognise a ‘civilized’ society and delete our malice. Our rage. Our Psychopathy. It adds on top of it. These qualities have served us quite well until now; enough to be propagated.

So you have one main storyline. Rejection, humiliation, loneliness. The obscure, esoteric little geek in the corner. Who’s teachers and peers ‘know’ from the age of 4 that they aren’t really normal. Don’t really fit in. Aren’t ever going to. The loners at the edge playing with string and glue while all the other kids play tag and practice kissing. Ah, memories.

And you have two endings. Happily ever after arising from incalculable fortune or the other. You live under laws that allow guns for everyone. You don’t get the fortune. You don’t get the big break; the girl or the self-realization. Eventually you end the rut by punishing the people who hurt you. The society that tormented you.

Then we disavow. They are damaged, always have been. Their thoughts, writings, videos – all of these point to a disturbed sociopath with mental problems. The freak that lives next door washing his car at 2am. The human being you laugh about in a coffee shop. The kind of people that start half your conversations; the social satire of the freak. Then they act exactly how you expect. They were always that miserable waste of skin that was waiting to go off. Even their family subscribe to this in hindsight. Distancing themselves from their own genes. Their own environment. Their own society.

I think the point I am trying to make is this. The next time you watch one of these films, appraise it on realism and not on a euphoric, absent minded ending that fills you with unadulterated joy. Think of the millions out there who don’t get this watered down version of life. Likewise, the next time – and there will undoubtedly be a next time – hear of one of these shootings, really look at it rather than stopping at every point to utter ‘tragedy’ while ignoring the true, systemic reasons why a 22 year old fucking kid can so easily shoot a bunch of people.

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The rape scream

I have been following Cannes film festival since it started this year. Some of my favourite films of all time have premiered here and I see it as a bastion against mainstream, hyped nonsense. So I caught onto a story yesterday: Jennifer Lawrence made a joke. So excited was she to meet Cuarón, she made a rather risqué joke in front of many dinner guests. ‘I broke out my rape scream for you!… AAAH!’

Holy crap. Doesn’t she know rape is a REAL THING??! Doesn’t she know it is COMPLETELY out of limits for JOKING??!! This is the consensus amongst some people, with the majority finding it rather innocuous and harmless. Surprise surprise, much of her criticism comes from females. Despite rape being as big a problem, if not bigger, for males. But let’s ignore this glaring hypocrisy, you can interpret it yourself.

Let’s look at the facts. How many people are going to look at her joke and say ‘rape isn’t serious anymore’? None. How many people are going to look at her comment and say ‘I am going to rape the next guy/girl I meet’? None. How many people are going to even process this joke in a way remotely linked to an act of brutal rape? None.

Pretending our minds work in a way that intricately links everything and is, as a result, influenced by such jokes is pathetic. I don’t understand how people can use outrage as a form of reasoning and paint it as activism. You are hurting your cause by doing this. But that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that. Your cause, whatever little fad name is used for it, is not worth protecting. It has nothing to do with the real issues faced by people. Faced by rape victims and potential victims.

The next time you inadvertently listen to a rap song and hear the word ‘nigger’ ask yourself this. Are black people insensitive of their own past suffering? Or are they trying to take some power back from the snarky little shits painting themselves as the protectors of society.

Racial segregation and blind inclusiveness

So slate just released an article discussing so called ‘racial segregation in schools’. In the 20 years between 1991 and 2011, the percentage of black children who go to schools with 90% or more of their own race has increased 5%, from 35 to 40. The article subtly blames private or semi-privatised schools for such a difference. The conclusion is that it must be a conscious effort to revive segregation based on racial difference.

 

While this does seem a rational conclusion in the light of America’s not so distant past, it is also grossly simplifying matters. Here is my take on it.

 

I think the first important discussion is that of what private schools really aim to achieve. While the presence of capitalism has a corrupting effect on most companies, schools may be impervious. The main aim of a private, for profit school is money; however, paradoxically, the only way to attain this is through student success. Their source of money is from parents. This relies on enrolment which, in turn, relies on success of students. The profit is contingent, for once, on the actual success of society; something rarely seen in an age where corporations are worth many times more than the labour that substantiates them.

 

If you take this a step further it is quite logical that school admissions are based on two things:

1)      The ability of a parent to pay admission fees and/or support in other ways

2)      The potential success of the child in question

Satisfying both these means immediate success and shoring up the future. So… Why the ‘segregation’? Well, there is none. Segregation actually means something; it is not a buzzword at the sole disposal of outraged libertarians. It means you separate people into racial groups in a conscious effort to exclude and dehumanize one group. It is a vile, disgusting ideology that is both illegal and extremely rare in the world today. That is, compared to recent history. There is no evidence of a conscious effort to revive pre-war segregation. That is not what these statistics show. Reading them in this way is a feeble attempt at riling up people to a disingenuous issue.

 

So what do these statistics show? Simple. Black children are either less likely to succeed than white children or their parents sit lower on the economic ladder. Or, in part, both. This is the only logical conclusion based on the previous assumptions. I’m not going to argue, as a lot of people do, that Black people are innately undervalued. Or that their failures are discriminatory but their successes are proof of almost demi-god like status. I am neither qualified nor inclined to make such sweeping, unfounded claims based on personal intuition. I am however qualified to talk about statistics.

 

It is a fact that, as measured in 2011, the median income for black men was $23000 lower than white men. This is a pretty telling statistic. $23000 can make all the difference when it comes to paying for a private education or not.

 

Let’s consider the other fact. Achievement. Black children, on valid tests which measure scholastic capability, score 75% that of white children. This manifests itself before kindergarten, according to a New York Times article. Again, I am not going to say anything about some notion of innate intelligence or genetic superiority. Anyone with a simple grasp of Darwinian natural selection would know these are horseshit. But for whatever reason, whether it be remnants of a past era or cultural regression, this will also decrease admission rates to successful, private schools for black children.

 

My personal opinion is that I would want my children to be happy and successful. I want to have the option to send them to a school where university admission and scholastic achievement is 2x better than in public schools. Regardless of race, I would like to see these schools into the future largely unchanged. There is, as I have shown, no inherent racism or segregation in the disparity between racial admissions. When the two races close the gap, which they will inevitably do, I would be happy to have my children study with all races. Until then, I really don’t give a damn. This is really a problem for governments and the black communities themselves.

The disadvantages of being a white, male westerner

– receiving 63% longer prison sentences than females for the same crimes

– Receiving at least 40% of the overall domestic abuse in relationships but not having access to any ‘shelters’

– Not only having a culture which heavily dissuades reporting male abuse but also has a fraction the success of a conviction compared with women, 

– Being automatically arrested and assumed to have done wrong if a female accuses us of sexual or physical abuse. Being the recipient of these false accusations is likely to be far more common than any estimate as the burden lies on the man to disprove the woman, not the other way round. Women will rarely, if ever, be prosecuted for false accusation yet men are often prosecuted falsely due to those accusations.

– White males are 36x more likely to be targeted by black criminal violence than the other way round.

– being between 5 and 6 times less likely to win their own children during a custody battle

– Almost universally being forced to pay alimony/spousal support allowances after a divorce

– Having no rights over the decisions of pregnant women (e.g. over abortion, keeping the baby, adoption) but regardless are forced to accept any decision and, if the child is kept, pay for both child support and, in a lot of cases, ‘palimony’

– being the sole target of hate crime laws despite minorities being many times more likely to target white people

 

There are a lot more but I am tired.

Proving Atheism.

 

Proving Atheism.

That caught your attention.

‘You’re a moron, Atheism cannot be proven. You are taking the non-existence of god without any evidence and painting it as a logical position.’

‘Give me a break! There is no scientific theory that comes close to explaining how the world was created. How intricate biological structures were formed. And there never will be!’

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”

–          Darth Vader

Just kidding, it was Confucius.

However, the validity of this statement holds true regardless of where it originated. If you are smart then the direction of this discussion is already clear, at least in part.

So… Atheism. This word is pretty loaded now. It conjures up images of Richard Dawkins sitting at a podium and grimacing at his intellectual opponents. His book ‘The God Delusion’ is a metaphorical kick in the teeth for religious people of any faith. It also makes people, especially myself, think of Christopher Hitchens (peace be upon him) and the extended debates he frequented.

I do not believe that Atheism is defined, enhanced or diminished by these people. Atheism is one word and it has one extremely simple meaning. I don’t believe your God. I don’t believe in their God. I don’t believe in any specific God that has arisen during and from human civilization.

Bam. That’s it. No need to bring Psychology or anthropology or demographics or even science into the equation. Being an atheist is as innocuous as not believing in a three armed monkey that flips a coin to dictate every human decision.

So why the heated debates? Why the ideological clashes between clergy and scientists. Why the war between statistics and spirituality? Most important, why do people rehash the same arguments over and over with the apparent goal of ‘proving’ Atheism or Theism?

‘Atheism is parsimonious – Theism relies on fallacious constructs such as dualism and spiritualism to forge pseudo-evidence and present it as fact’

‘Theism has absolute morals which could only be derived from an intelligent God – How do Atheists know that killing babies is wrong?’ (True this argument is a little silly but still OU. If the person using it realises the position is such, they will usually resort to ad hominem attacks – an interesting Psychological phenomenon)

I think the problem lies with religious people but not because they are religious. It is perfectly understandable that religion, being an integral part of someone’s life, will be vehemently defended. Furthermore, to Theists who buy into the whole premise of their respective religions, spreading it is usually an agenda. We know that, in the past and present, much conflict is caused when religions ‘invade’ other’s turf. Not to say this is comparable to a street corner in South America but… It kinda is.

Atheists hold a view in direct contradiction of Christianity. And Islam. And Sikhism. And Buddhism. And Mormonism. And, obviously, for cults like Scientology. Therefore, given the vast majority of the world adheres to religion, Atheists are on a perpetual foreign Turf. A passive position that needs two lines of explaining becomes the antagonist of all society. This seems to explain why the public representatives seem to have the grace and acceptance of a Drunken, racist Hermit. Not to be too corny here but this is a little like Newton’s third Law. Two equal and opposing forces are exerted on physically interacting objects. The natural position of Atheism is 100% internal and without any need of explanation. However, introducing other components, then you get people trying to prove atheism.

Of course I am referring to Societies where free speech and belief is unhindered, largely, by law. Where free flowing ideas and discussion are an area unto their own. Sadly, the vast majority of Islamic countries have both these curbed to such an extent that Atheism is often illegal. Even opposing religious beliefs are significantly censored and sometimes outlawed. But I digress.

Atheism is not an argument. It neither relies on nor encourages missionaries. The only relation Atheism has to proof is to mandate it for a supposition. You cannot refute Atheism like a common theory by proposing arguments of moralism or creationism. So yeh… take that Buddha…

The Day I Taught How Not to Rape

An account of translating a multi-faceted issue into teenage dialect.

Abby Norman

Yesterday, the news invaded my classroom. I think the kids aren’t paying attention. I think the kids only care about the news as it relates to Justin Bieber. I think they aren’t listening or capable of advanced thought. Every single time I think one of those things, I sell out the ninth-graders that come traipsing through my room every day.

It started when I picked this poem to go over different ways to look at poetry:

Witness

Martha Collins

If she says something now he’ll say
it’s not true if he says it’s not true
they’ll think it’s not true if they think
it’s not true it will be nothing new
but for her it will be a weightier
thing it will fill up the space where
he isn’t allowed it will open the door
of the room where she’s put him
away he will fill up her mind he…

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The Left Wing honeymoon.

Finding your place in society is not easy. The last time you felt completely fulfilled was probably in pre-school. The agenda for children seems to be largely homogenous. Especially being that their intellectual needs pertain, mainly, to playing tag, throwing objects and hitting trees with sticks. Of course this is a rather male-centric view, but I digress. As you develop certain traits through environmental and biological interactions, such as with epigenetics, a feeling of isolation sets in. You are no longer defined solely by co-dependency and unrestricted play time. You start to develop interests and differentiate your opinions.

 

By age 16 the majority of people can express themselves on a wide range of topics. This isn’t to say they understand them fully, but you will find a semi-cogent understanding of literacy, social structures, meta-cognition etc. Some of their opinions are highly predictable by just looking at peer influence. These include a vocal opinion on race, gender, sexuality and social equality. Some opinions will differ but are still kept within the accepted bounds of social normality. One teenager might express the opinion that smoking is bad for society and should be banned, whereas another sports freedom of choice over external control.

 

Political Psychology is a useful area to study when talking about these social changes. While a minority of people set themselves apart in a large way, the majority fit into two categories. Conservatism and Liberalism. Right wing and left wing. These are not merely political ideologies. They can be predicted by but a few of your opinions but predict, nearly always successfully, most others. This particularly holds true in Western democratic societies. It is not a coincidence that there is a near 50/50 divide in political opinion within America, a country of 300,000,000 people. Despite the differences between party politics and populist opinion, the voters still cast predictably.

 

The liberal view attracts people who feel they are open and accepting. People who believe in unrestricted freedom of choice, so long as actions do not harm others. While these are very subjective definitions, they can be simply applied in the majority of legislative decisions. They are often pro-choice on abortion, drugs and sexuality. They favour equality in all reaches of society and forcefully oppose opposite opinions. They believe that the moral checklist they employ for situations makes them immune to error. Immune to fleeting, contemporary norms. Their opinions and values hold true both retrospectively and will continue to do so.

 

Let’s take a model from the previous discussion. A bright faced 18 year old, fresh out of high-school. Equipped with an arsenal of opinions and arguments. Confident and happy. Intelligent and aspiring. Progressive and left wing. She knows, without a doubt that gay men and women deserve equal treatment. She knows everyone in general society deserves the same. She knows religion and social classes have their pros and cons. ultimately, these are irrelevant as people are people. And people need to be treated with unrestricted equality. She also knows gender inequality, however skewed toward women, exists in both sexes.

 

Our fictional girl meets new groups out there in the world. In the workplace. In her classes. On the internet. People who seem to be her. They mirror her opinions. They espouse, almost word for word, her innermost feelings and beliefs. Creating a feeling only comparable to the most sexually attractive male or female walking up to you in a bar and talking to you. Seductively licking their lips, smiling brightly and saying exactly the right words. Conjuring images of romance and copulation previously intangible. You are instantaneously infatuated and devoted to this sudden stranger. You read blogs. Magazines. You find people who you have never met but begin to feel like ideological family. You watch videos and write letters. You talk to people at work and in class.

 

This is the honeymoon period. The time when everything fits. When everything has an explanation. Everything has an answer. I am proposing here that this behaviour is a self defence mechanism. A mechanism to cope with life. A way of generalising subjects but coming up with seemingly concrete, rational and complex answers. Fool proof to most, even yourself.

 

I do not deride such a mechanism. It is highly productive in terms of evolution. Group cohesion relies on consistent beliefs and behaviours. This trend exhibits in nearly all mammals with a reasonably sized cerebral cortex. But we are the most evolved of our kingdom. Should there not be a higher standard for attaining cohesion? The implications for a different system are more complicated than I can care to think about. I know we are fated to live out the incrementally changing tautologies of the current zeitgeist. This is not a ‘bad’ thing.

 

I am not saying this is liberal exclusive either. It is a phenomenon in all free societies. With all political wings, however similar.

 

Being aware of this behavioural mechanism means my honeymoon is over. It has not caused an acute flip in any ideology, but it has caused me to be more aware of the validity of my opinions. The science and facts behind the circumstance I wish to discuss. I occasionally try to blanket an issue; call it an infantile regression if you will. But overall this new species of meta-cognition has helped me become a better thinker. A better person. An improving person.

 

The honeymoon may be over but I still retain my wife. My bloated, fun loving and easy spouse. To extend the metaphor; the difference is I now realise the potential outside the orthodox, Lutheran and monogamous relationship with a person set in her ways and impervious to change.