Monday, June 7, 2010

The more feminists distrust science, the more women look like fools

I want to make this clear: This post is not about porn. I am not saying it's awesome, and I'm not saying it's horrible. There is a time and place to discuss the effect porn may or may not have on men and women, and that is for a different time.

This post is about rational discussions, and the feminists who fail at them.

I've often said one of my big pet peeves about feminism are those feminists who distrust science. Not all feminist are like that, but there are definitely some vocal ones. Our newest example is Twisty Faster, over at I Blame the Patriarchy. From the title alone, you know it's going to be a real winner: "Science dudes declare porn good, support claim with Danish graphs, flawed reasoning"

Not Danish graphs. Nooooooooo!

I suggest you go read the post on your own, since there's just too many goodies to quote. But here I'll offer a summary of how Anti-Science-Feminist logic works:
  • Scientists who study sex are totally just doing it to get their rocks off, not for the insights into human reproduction, medical breakthroughs, or the sheer pursuit of truth. The only reason they're sticking a thing in your vagina is to go beat off later.
  • Put scare quotes around any description of the equipment used, to make sure the reader knows it's wrong and icky. Ignore the fact that all the subjects are volunteers.
  • If science disagrees with your ideological/philosophical/ethical/political viewpoint, it is science that is wrong, not your subjective opinion. If it agrees with you or actually improves the lives of women, conveniently ignore those studies
  • When persistently presented with research, belittle it by using "science" as a derogatory word. Make sure to sneer, similar to "neeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrddddddddd"
  • If it's a man disagreeing with you, it's because he has a penis. This logic is so obvious that you must make sarcastic remarks about how shocking it is, and belittle him by calling him a "dude"
  • If it's a woman disagreeing with you, it's because she's brainwashed by all the humans with penises around her. Completely disregard her comment, even if that may seem unfeminist of you. It's for her own good
  • Moderate your comments so only people who agree with you can add their opinions, thus making your argument seem even more airtight!
Therefore: You are always right.

Seriously though, were some science experiments misogynistic? Probably, sure. Are some scientists still misogynist? Again, probably, just because scientists are people too. But you know how we deal with that, other than educating men? By getting more women in science, NOT by acting like woo-filled idiots screaming conspiracy theories.

Every time a feminist treats science like some great big boogeyman, she makes all feminists and women look foolish and ignorant. Science isn't a bunch of horny dudes in plush chairs sitting around a grandiose table commiserating about how they can best oppress women and get to poke a vagina in the process. To treat it that way by disregarding all scientific studies is simply ignorant. If someone shows me a bunch of scientific studies and I disagree, my response is not going to be a lot of hand waiving, speculation, opinion, and anecdotes. It'll be scientific studies that contradict their findings, or critiques of the methods and analyses of those studies. One of the comments really illustrates how pervasive this woo-thinking is:
"Alas, this is why I prefer to hold up women’s intuition, which is actually a rational scientific tool of reasoning, over dude science any day. That doesn’t mean science is bad, it means that woman’s intuition is often far superior."
No. Woman's intuition is not far superior because it does not exist (you also have no idea what "scientific" or "reasoning" means). PZ Myers just wrote an excellent post on how supporting the myth of women's intuition actually hurts women and science:

One of the most cunning tools of the patriarchy is the assignment of woo as a feminine virtue. Women are supposed to be intuitive, nurturing, accepting, and trusting, unlike those harsh and suspicious men. It's a double-trap; women are brought up indoctrinated into believing that being smart and skeptical is unladylike and unattractive, and at the same time, anyone who dares to suggest that intuition and soothing, supportive words are often unproductive can be slammed for being anti-woman, because, obviously, to suggest that a human being might want to do more with their life than changing diapers and baking cookies is a direct assault on womanhood.

This naive imposition of unscientific modes of thought on women specifically leads to the state we have now. Assume a fundamental difference in attitude: women feel, while men think. Now declare an obvious truth: science requires rigorous thought. The conclusion follows that women will not be taking advantage of their strengths (that woo stuff) if they are trying to do science, therefore they will not be as good at science as men, and they will also be harming their femininity if they try to shoehorn their tender and passionate minds into the restrictive constraints of manly critical thinking."

...Woo is powerless; you want to make someone powerless, put them in charge of nothing, but give it a happy-sounding title. Women have been taken on a millennia-long snipe hunt. But, you know, it keeps them busy and out of the hair of the guys doing the real, important work.

Oh, wait. PZ has a penis, I forgot. I get that makes everything he said bunk, and I only agree with him because I'm trying to be a funfeminist or something. Damn. I guess I'll stop thinking rationally, quit my job as a scientist, and sit around expressing how I feel about things with no facts to back my assertions! Good thing I already have a blog.

But the really mindbending thing? The feminist PZ quotes who is so clearheaded about all of this, saying that intuition is just as affected by patriarchy? Yep, that's the same feminist who brought out the major woo-guns when faced with something she personally disagreed with. Um, can we get a little consistency at least, please?


  1. PZ  leaps the chasm from being supportive of women, to being drastically oppositional to reason, when it comes to those who oppose precisely the kind of fulminating feminism to which you refer.

    There are myriad sound and impervious arguments regarding ways that men are granted a raw deal, in gender scenarios that don't especially have a perfect solution.

    PZ takes an presumptuous and obnoxious tone to them, and rather than addressing them, imposes shame-tactic straw-man representations. A very disappointing thing to see from someone so credible and likable in other areas.

    The chasm he leaps, is from fair and equal regard for women, to misandrist favoritism for them. Chivalry, to me, can be a likable custom in social comportment. But it's a corrupting influence in a sociological argument.

  2. I agree with Kadrick.  PZ's reputation as a reasonable scientist is definitely tarnished by the way he sets aside reason in exchange for chivalry--i.e. the defense of women and femininity even when it's clear that the other sex really deserves the defense.  He likely rationalizes this with a conspiracy theory called "patriarchy" wherein women are infantilized and treated as robots with no free will.

    It's quite funny how someone can be so rational in some areas but completely credulous when it comes to patriarchy "theory".
    I really do think that men like him behave this way because of deep, evolutionary pressure to compete with other males for the favor of females. It's not impossible, that's for sure.  It would be difficult to prove but, it makes perfect sense and is completely logical.  I mean, those who didn't behave in a sycophantic manner towards women would almost certainly not have reproduced in numbers as abundant as their competitors, right?I'm not evolutionary biologist, but the idea at least makes sense. 

  3. Hm I wonder where you get your info from. Anyway, the only point of what you call 'anti-scientist feminists',is awknoledging that science is not as objective as it is believed to be. It is as driven by societal and cultural beliefs as everything else in our society. Blindly believing in science is stupid. Not believing in the absolute principle of science is not 'not thinking' it's thinking beyond the obvious and what your society tells you is better. Stop just absorbing what 'scientists' tell you and start thinking about why are they telling you such things. Not that we don't need them, it's just that as everything else in our society we need to critically think about the knowledge we adquire.

  4. "Not believing in the absolute principle of science is not 'not thinking' it's thinking beyond the obvious and what your society tells you is better. "

    So basically what you're saying is "screw the scientific method, my emotions lead me to the correct answers". You are the exact kind of person this article is addressing - the fact that you put the word 'scientists' in quotes is very telling.

  5. Ideologues in general are harmful to the causes they presume to champion.

    Have seen more militant feminists shout down women, who would also identify as feminist, for their subjective experiences. Why? Men agreed with them and they said that it showed they were brainwashed by patriarchy.

    Have seen straight LGBT activists excluded for not possibly being able to understand 'The LGBT' experience. An enemy of your enemy may not make a friend in your book, but they're still power behind your cause.

    Was a leader of a local LGBT-Straight alliance group and idealogues on either side were the absolute bane of any kind of progress. Tolerate each other's subjective experiences and accept the objective truth. If you do that even fundamental religious bloc support for LGBT initiatives is easy to gain.

    Personal and quite subjective experience of course.