Category Archives: Feminism

Third wave feminism seems pretty misogynistic sometimes….

The latest “feminist” movement is to get the government to pay women to stay at home with their kids and caretake for older adults.  (See, NYT essay.)   The basic argument:

The feminist argument for a U.B.I. [Universal Basic Income] is that it’s a way to reimburse mothers and other caregivers for the heavy lifting they now do free of charge. Roughly one-fifth of Americans have children 18 or under. Many also attend to ill or elderly relatives. They perform these labors out of love or a sense of duty, but still, at some point during the diaper-changing or bedpan cleaning, they have to wonder why their efforts aren’t seen as “work.” They may even ask why they have to pay for the privilege of doing it, by cutting back on their hours or quitting jobs to stay home.

For eff’s sake.  Let’s talk about basic economics and family structure.

You get paid for “work” because someone would rather you do those things at the office than have the money they pay you.  It is not a reflection on your self-worth, contributions to making the world a better place, or anything but the fact that you are performing labour that someone would give up money to have performed. When we pay people to scoop ice cream, mow our lawns, or change the oil, it’s not because we are saying that scooping ice cream is more worthwhile than singing your child to sleep; it’s because we need the oil changed.  This is not a way to advance cosmic justice or give people the warm fuzzies; it’s about (pardon the language) getting shit done that needs to get done, which you cannot or do not want to do yourself.

The important thing in all that is the person who pays the money gets something in return – an ice cream cone, a functioning automobile, or a lawn that does not resemble Einstein’s hair.  You figuring out how to make your household work is not anything that benefits anyone outside the household, which is why no one pays you for it.  If you want to get paid for raising kids or the cleaning the house, raise someone else’s kids or clean someone else’s house, and have that ‘someone else’ give you a check in exchange.  But your kids, your house? It’s called being an adult.

(Incidentally, we already pay people to have kids: child tax credits, maternity care that is included in all health insurance premiums, free public schools for 13 years, subsidised state universities, after-school programmes, youth sports leagues.  We also pay people who are old through Medicare, Medicaid, Elder Services, and heaven only knows what else.  Let’s not pretend that women are doing the lion’s share of the work already that needs to be shifted even more to the taxpayer.)

Now, actual feminists have a good solution to this problem about not getting paid for “women’s work:” it’s called equally sharing their husband’s paychecks, or, in the case of elderly relatives, having a sit-down conversation with their siblings and saying, “Look, it’s going to cost $X in either foregone salary for me, or $Y to pay someone else to do this, to take care of Dad.  Either come up with better ideas or open up your checkbooks, because this one isn’t falling all on me.”  Sad, pathetic excuses for adults look to strangers to make their households function properly.

Readers, am I being harsh, or is this beyond absurd?


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Filed under Economics, Feminism

‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Group May Close

The Cambridge, MA based Our Bodies, Ourselves organisation is at risk of closing. They cite “onsumers’ shift to the Internet, dwindling grants, and the lack of a long-term financial plan” as the reasons for the potential closure. (Article.)

When Our Bodies, Ourselves was published, public schools didn’t have the comprehensive health classes they do today; the stories many women tell indicate that their biology classes didn’t even cover human reproductive biology; and the topics it discussed (abortion, birth control, etc.) were taboo.  Of course grants were readily available and many people purchased the book.

Almost fifty years later, support for abortion is on the decline; innumerable forms of birth control are available over the counter; hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding are given to providing women with birth control; and practically every school in America teaches the basics of human reproductive biology (even if they do not teach ‘comprehensive’ sex ed).  The White House was lit up with rainbow lights when the Supreme Court mandated same-sex marriage.   It’s hard enough to see how Our Bodies, Ourselves is anything but redundant, let alone why people or the government would prop up a small bureaucracy around it.

If the goal was to change the conversation and the culture, OBS won. The downside of ‘winning,’ however, is that they became irrelevant. In fact, much of the screeching about “infringing on women’s rights” (by, for example, suggesting that women are capable of purchasing their own condoms if they don’t want to be pregnant) has nothing to do with the actual policy, so much as justifying the existence of these grant- and donation-supported groups.  The subtext is that this group is only viable so long as it is controversial, ground-breaking, and has something to rebel against.

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Filed under Bioethics, Feminism

If it makes you feel better, gents, they don’t like us, either

“They” are radical feminists; “us” are female nerds.  Glenn Reynolds linked to an interesting piece about how lefty feminists treat nerd men.  (Short version: very badly.  Somewhat longer version: the women like reminding the men that they were dorks in high school and do their best to forever keep reminding those nerdy men that they aren’t good enough.)

Thing is, these women don’t like us, either.  I remember putting in eighty or hundred-hour weeks studying chemical engineering.  Far from making me a darling of the “feminist” Left, they screamed about how “unfair” it was that I was going to make more money than, say, a social worker or a writer. (It has not gone unnoticed that their tax policies hurt professional women in the private sector.)  Life didn’t get better as I got older; all I ever heard from “feminists” was that being a lady engineer wasn’t “feminist,” didn’t make me a “feminist,” or didn’t make me understand the plight of women in STEM.  Also in the “#@&$Q# I can’t make up” category is a games journalist who condescendingly implied that I can’t do math and that my space elevator work isn’t real engineering. They tell me that I’m “anti-science” because I don’t ignore every embryology textbook out there that explains why human life begins at conception.

This isn’t just me. All of two days ago, a woman at a NYE party described feminists as “for the most part, c-nts” who try to cut other women down.

I don’t know what it is – perhaps jealousy, perhaps the fact that a woman’s success undermines the ‘narrative’ of women as victims – but “feminists” aren’t that much kinder to nerdy women than they are to nerdy men. Sure, they bleat about “women in STEM!!!,” but it mostly seems like they want men to stop doing STEM, not to have more women kick butt in the field.

That’s not feminism; that’s just pathetic.

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Filed under Feminism, Science & Engineering

My big fat feminist Christmas?!?

Jessica Valenti wrote  a column in the Guardian about how Christmas is fraught with “gendered expectations”:

We all know that women do the majority of domestic work like child care, housework and cooking. But the holidays bring on a whole new set of gendered expectations that make the season less about simply enjoying fun and family and more about enduring consumerism, chores and resentment so that everyone else can enjoy rockin’ around the Christmas tree. (I bet even Mrs Claus gets upset that Santa works one night a year but she’s dealing with hungry elves 24/7. That would be almost enough to make you want to over-indulge in eggnog and hurl yourself in front of a reindeer-pulled sleigh.)

The rest of the column continues in the same vein, with an occasional reference to how her husband doesn’t create his share of Christmas joy.

The latter is interesting, as Valenti and her husband, Andrew Golis, loudly proclaim that he is a feminist.  It’s a free country, so they can so proclaim all the want, but saying it doesn’t make it so.  My boyfriend, sometimes nicknamed “Mr. Moderate” because he’s politically dead centre, has arranged for about half of my Christmas presents for my family to be shipped to my doorstep.  He has Amazon Prime; I don’t.  I pick out presents on Amazon, add them to my Wish List; he ships them; I pay him back.  He also shipped me an ignition coil for my car so that I could install it the very next day.

We don’t do that because we’re trying to have a big fat feminist Christmas; we do that for the same reason that I’ve used some of my vacation time to clean his condo.  We care about each other and want to try to use whatever assets we have available (e.g. free time, a tool set, Amazon Prime) to make the other person happier.

Jessica, your problem isn’t “gendered expectations;” it’s a husband who will let you become a stressed-out mess before acting like a freakin ADULT and pitching in.


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Thoughts on #ShirtStorm

This blog post should have been about the amazing human achievement of landing a space probe on a comet that moves at 40,000 mph and is located hundreds of millions of mils away from earth. Instead, it is about a nasty woman named Rose Eveleth, a woman who got her panties in a wad when Matt Taylor, an astrophysicist who was part of the team that landed Philae on the comet, wore a T-shirt that was made by one of his friends.

In a nutshell: a brilliant scientist wore a T-shirt made by his friend (a woman, for the record) when he was taped on the biggest night of his life.  It’s a Hawaiian-themed shirt with ’50s-style cartoons of women in bustiers who are shooting guns.  It’s fun and lighthearted, although not exactly professional.  But hey, when you land a rocket on a comet, you can wear whatever you damn well please.

Not all see it this way.  Science journalist Rose Eveleth tweeted out comments about how the T-shirt makes women unwelcome in STEM and “ruined the comet landing” for her, thus turning the EDS achievement into a Rose-Eveleth pity party. Matt Taylor was forced to make a tearful, blubbering apology, which wrecked the greatest week of his life. (It is worth noting that Eveleth is a science writer precisely because she sucks at doing actual science.  In an interview with Scientific American, she said, “It really wasn’t until college when I was studying abroad and doing research that I realized I’m just not a very good scientist. I didn’t really care as much about the data as I did about the stories I could tell about it. “) Feminism doesn’t have to be this way, kids.

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Filed under Feminism, Science & Engineering

The Cruel Paradox of Modern Feminism

I have called myself a feminist since I knew what the word meant.  Back in the day, I was an athletic nerd, a girl who loved to do math and play sports.  Ballet, knitting needles, and dolls just really weren’t my thing.  Those were the times when feminists made a passing claim to stand for the less fortunate, those who had not been anointed as one of society’s chosen ones since birth.  Feminism proudly stated that we need the talents of all people, that everyone has something to contribute to society.

Feminism deserted me.  When Lena Dunham, Wendy Davis, and Sandra Fluke – three wealthy, educated women – parade around their unfortunate circumstances as an excuse for acting like terrible human beings, those of us who believe in equality and justice are left behind.  For those who have missed the news, Dunham wrote a book in which she admitted to basically molesting her baby sister.  Davis ditched her kids to attend Harvard Law, ditched her husband the day after he cashed out his 401(k) to pay off her loans, and became famous by filibustering a bill that would have restricted abortion after twenty weeks.  Fluke firmly believes that it is oppression to buy your own contraception, a burden that justifies overriding the consciences of religious people.

These women are the elites in our culture, from wealthy families or married into wealthy families, with snobby degrees and plenty of connections.  Yet they believe that their “oppression” is an excuse to treat babies, their own children, nuns, and their own siblings like dirt, as if children, women of conscience and faith, and the unborn are not actual human beings who also have rights.

I fail to understand how “feminism” can justify molesting a girl child, or how women who won life’s lottery ought to be crying foul about their circumstances.  Thankfully, not many other people can, either, which is why those three sorry excuses for women have imploded in spectacular fashion this week.  Good riddance.

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Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

As #GamerGate and the associated scandals enter their second (third? fourth? this is what I get for working insane hours all summer) month, the commentary from all sides continues.   I found this post by Serious Pony, a feminist in gaming, to be particularly interesting.  She describes online threats, harassment, and an environment that is unusually toxic to women.  (Hat tip.)

As a former R&D engineer, now attorney, I’m no stranger to the plight of women in high-powered and male-dominated professions. Unfortunately, neither am I a stranger to sexual harassment.  (Description of my career path: I needed a lawyer, not to become a lawyer.)  My stepmom, who was the highest-ranking woman in her division of a multi-national bank before she retired from banking, is no stranger to sexist crap.  I have friends who are engineers, PhDs, and private equity rock stars, all of whom face sexism in their industries. Yet what is described by Serious Pony completely eclipses the problems they’ve had.

As one of my former colleagues said about being a woman engineer, “When you’re in college, all the men think you only got there because of affirmative action.  But once you make it through, they know that you’re capable and often respect you even more for doing it despite the hurdles women face.”  With the exception of a few people (although what doozies they were), that is a completely accurate description of my experience when I was in STEM.

A woman in STEM.  As Serious Pony, aka Kathy Sierra, wrote,

There is only one reliably useful weapon for the trolls to stop the danger you pose and/or to get max lulz: discredit you. The disinformation follows a pattern so predictable today it’s almost dull: first, you obviously “fucked” your way into whatever role enabled your undeserved visibility. I mean..duh. A woman. In tech. Not that there aren’t a few deserving women and why can’t you be more like THEM but no, you are NOT one of them.

“A woman. In tech.”

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Hey, #ThankAFeminist peeps, stop trying to take credit for my life

There is now a #ThankAFeminist hashtag that encourages people to thank a feminist for whatever has gone right in their lives. Apparently, I’m supposed to thank Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti, who partied and slept their way through college, for my engineering degree. According to this hashtag, I owe a big thanks for my car-repair skills to women who can’t tell the difference between a fuel pump relay and a timing belt.  My law degree? Some co-ed with a  twitter handle made that happen.

Really, ladies, stop trying to take credit for my life.

To the extent that I owe people for my engineering career, that would be my parents, who paid the bills for university; my grandfather, who first floated the idea of engineering school; and my former manager, who got her PhD from MIT in the ’60s and is a great role model. I owe no thanks to the chickies with Women’s Studies degrees. They weren’t pulling all nighters studying quantum mechanics and differential equations so that I could get my beauty sleep; I was the one studying my arse off while they partied.

We owe particular feminists for the right to vote and own property, the 1963 equal pay laws, and the ability to get an education. But those feminists are long dead, and the proper way to thank them is to vote, work, and study hard.  There’s no reason for us to grovel at the feet of third-wave fauxminists who haven’t done a damn thing besides lobby Congress to force nuns to buy their birth control. (One particular female political figure did inspire me to get involved in politics, but we’ve all seen how modern feminists treat Sarah Barracuda.  #ThankAFeminist for destroying the most inspiring female politician in a generation…?!)

Am I getting worked up about this? Sure. But every high achieving person I know says that their successes have taken a lot out of them as people.  The long hours of work, lack of sleep, delay in starting a family, not seeing the kids, not spending time with friends, missing weddings, moving anywhere in the country for school or a job. They made the sacrifices, and it’s insane to imply that drunken Lena Dunham did the heavy lifting.

They deserve better. We all deserve better. #ThankAFeminist for disparaging every meaningful thing in your life.

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The Dark Side of #MenForChoice

The #menforchoice hashtag is trending on twitter to the great delight of feminists everywhere – and the non-delight of us more cynical types.

If a man finds out that he got his girlfriend pregnant, there are three outcomes: she aborts, and then he’s done with the problem; she raises the kid and either demands that he marry her or garnishes 20% of his paycheck for eighteen years; or she gives the kid up for adoption.  One of those choices creates a lot of problems for men, making it harder for them to find a different woman (if they are not sure they want to marry this one) and costing them quite a bit of money.  That men would then wrap themselves in the mantle of “choice” and piously declare their full support for an abortion does not make them good, compassionate people.

“Hon, I know we weren’t expecting this, but we’ll move in together, get married if you want, and I’ll be the best father I can be every single day of my life” is a much bigger and tougher promise than “I’ll pay for half the abortion and drive you to the clinic.”  Any woman who wants to know if a man really supports her choice and not just what is easy for him ought to ask him if he’ll make the first promise to her – and follow through on it.  Anything else is a prettied-up, self-serving escape hatch for lousy men.

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In which I grumpily disagree with everyone on Emma Watson’s UN Speech

For those of you living under a rock, Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN a few days ago to launch the #HeForShe campaign, which is intended to get men to help eliminate sexism:

I mentioned that I’m grumpy (and overworked), right?

This speech has been called a “game changer.”  Sorry, folks, it’s not.  It’s a speech, which is not worth a damn unless it is followed up by action.  Bush’s Ground Zero speech on 9/11 was a game-changer because it was backed up by the greatest military in the history of the world. Emma Watson’s UN speech is as much a “game changer” as was Obama’s speech after the Arizona shooting.  (If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, you’re making my point.  A brief refresher: after Gabby Giffords was shot and Obama made some allegedly amazing speech, people asked if it would change the course of his very Presidency. For about a week, there was wall-to-wall media coverage about how this speech would ‘transform’ his ailing tenure in Washington.  Turns out, it didn’t change his Presidency, because a good Presidency requires so much more than a cute speech.) Watson’s speech belongs in the same category: lovely, inspirational, not gonna change a damn thing.

Moving along to the content of the speech: let’s not conflate the minor issues that Western women face (i.e. small pay gaps, wolf whistles, ageism, etc.) with having some freak chop off your head or cut off your clitoris.  Both sets of issues fall under the umbrella of “sexism,” but only in the same way that failing to recycle a soda can and the Exxon-Valdez oil spill are both “pollution.”

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Filed under Feminism, Nerdiness