Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Using Social Pressure To Stop Sexist Behavior

From an article by Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon (via Pharyngula)

Overall, this article brought me great joy.  A dude sends an unsolicited nude shot to a woman he met via a dating service (not that sexting with pics is something that is wrong, if consensual).  She let's him know that wasn't cool and sends the pic to his mom.  I want to give her a high five.  After all, making him pay socially for his actions and the publicity this got might actually spare some women from this unwanted exhibition.  But, that not the only angle.  There's also the trope that moms are supposed to raise respectful young men and sending her the pic isn't a fair thing to do to the mom.  So, in the act of using social pressure (the dude said that wasn't cool, so he cared that his mom would find out), another sexist act happened.  While I think parents do bear some responsibility for setting a good example for their kids to follow, I personally don't blame his mother for what he did.  I don't recall ever sending somebody a naked pic of myself in my less thinking years, but there were lots of other things I did that would make my mom (and dad) cringe.  Parents, and specifically moms, are a special category of people in the list of folks where social pressure can be applied to stop rude behavior. But, asking victims of inappropriate sexual behavior, who are willing to do something about it, to avoid all possible side effects (even if a bit sexist in and of themselves) of their actions is something that I won't be doing.

Feminist Priorities

When talking with other secular folks about the priorities of reaching real gender equality, there seem to be a number of people, generally men, who think that nearly all of the "minor" issues with equality in the US should take a second seat to stopping some of the more extreme injustices still happening around the world.  My reaction is that it isn't a zero sum game and everyone can choose what they're passionate about (where to send their dollars, how to spend their time, etc.).  As long as we're working toward the same goal, then why the need to mansplain to women in the US that ending FGM worldwide is far more important than demanding full reproductive choice?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Obviously, Levin's friends in the military are more important than women

From Dan Friedman at the NY Daily News:

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) plans to replace a measure from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and others that would take prosecution of sexual assault out of the military chain of command with an alternative provision, a step that represents a death knell for the New York Democrat's bill.
Gillibrand declined to comment Tuesday on Levin's plan. But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) who joined the New York Democrat to consponsor the bill creating a separate convening authority for sexual assault, blasted Levin's move.
"I am stunned that when it comes to prosecuting these crimes the committee is largely embracing the status quo by allowing commanders to not only decide whether a case goes forward, but even to handpick the jury that will render the verdict," Boxer said in a statement.
Boxer said the U.S. should "emulate our allies in Israel, Great Britain, Australia and Canada" who review sexual assault outside the chain of command.
Yes, Mr. Levin, the kangaroo, victim silencing, anti-woman prosecution system the military has right now is doing a good job.  Did you give your good ol' boy, brass wearing buddies a pat on the butt after replacing this measure like Chad Johnson did in court the other day?  Shame on you Mr. Levin!  Shame on you for not joining Gillibrand and Boxer in actually doing something to make the military a better place for women.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Secular Musings

Posted this rendition of Martin Niemöller's classic poem in the Pharyngula comments:

First they came to stop me from burning witches,
and I didn’t stop believing in god.
Then they came to take away my slaves,
and I didn’t stop believing in god.
Then they came to marry Adam and Steve,
and I didn’t stop believing in god.
Then they came to give me a hug,
and there was no god to harden my heart.
Feel free to share anonymously.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Positions Of Power

One of the most obvious areas of gender inequality are positions of leadership and power.  It literally boggles my mind that women are so unrepresented and it the apathy seems to be just a part of our culture.  In the day to day whining that is produced by those that are consciously or unconsciously trying to prop up male privilege, and are either ignoring or just not understanding a particular feminist argument, taking a different tact can help.  Here's a stock response:
I'm not interested in what you're saying about <insert topic/subject>.  When women start holding more than 50% of positions of leadership and power, your arguments about <insert topic/subject> may become more interesting to humanity.  Here is a list of those positions:
  • US President's Administrative Cabinet
  • US Senate
  • US House Of Representatives
  • US Military Generals
  • Corporate Boards
  • Corporate Executives
  • Leaders of the Secular, Skeptic and Atheist Movements

Sure, the above is most likely going to be a non sequitur to the actual discussion at hand, but I think returning frustration in kind is OK.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Random Feminist Father Thoughts

Of the various thoughts that occupy my mind are those concerning how to raise my daughter to be free from the standard gender roles of American society.  As with most of these sort of things (I'm an engineer, OK, life is a puzzle :o), there doesn't seem to be an absolutely right or wrong way to do it.  My daughter is still pretty young (3), but you can already see that she's aware of the meme of male and female roles. Mainly I focus choosing words that are as gender neutral as possible, even to the point of saying that both girls and boys can do/have/play with something if she says something is for boys or girls.  I also spend time with her doing things that have more of a stereotypical "boy" bent.  One of things that I think any rational parent should do, which will lead to the detriment of their own authority, is to teach them to question and understand the "why", even if it's something daddy says.

Who is changerofbits?

I care about humanism, secularism, feminism and just fairness in general for folks riding around on this rock called earth.

I'm also paid to change bits.

Military chiefs oppose "removing power to silence" sexual assault probes

So, the military rejects any new approach to dealing with the rampant and increasing sexual assault from within it's own ranks...

From Eliott C. McLaughlin's article at CNN:

Military chiefs oppose removing commanders from sexual assault probes

Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force chiefs expressed opposition Tuesday to removing the chain of command from sexual assault investigations, as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said there may be public confusion about the military's reporting process.

Mr. Levin, there is "public confusion" about why the military is a safe haven for sexual assault criminals.

Legislation has been introduced to give responsibility to military prosecutors, instead of commanders, in these probes.

You mean that a 3rd party, instead of the boss of both the perpetrator and the victim would have the power to prosecute?  But that would remove at least some of the conflict of interest, the horror!

Referring to media reports that there is only one way to report sexual assault, Levin, D-Michigan, asked each of the military heads at a hearing if there currently are multiple options in addition to notifying a unit commander.

The three generals and admiral all replied yes. They also told the committee that instances of commanders ignoring their judge advocate generals' advice in sexual assault cases are extremely rare.

Sen. James Inhofe, the top Republican member of the Armed Service panel, earlier called sexual assault in the military "an enemy to morale and readiness," and urged his colleagues to tread carefully in tackling the issue.

Inhofe said he is opposed to any legislation "removing commanders from their indispensable roles" in the military justice system, and noted that military and civilian courts are different animals because members of the military do not enjoy the same rights as civilians.

"There's a risk of unintended consequences if we act with haste without thorough and thoughtful review," the Oklahoma lawmaker said.


The military has been hit hard over the issue of sexual assault among its ranks, with the Defense Department reporting an estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from rape to groping, in 2012. That was a 35% jump from 2010, the Defense Department said.

Inhofe, we've got 26,000 cases of sexual assault and a 35% increase in two years.  What unintended consequence could be worse than this?

Shame on the military and shame on you Inhofe.