Friday, December 27, 2013

Movie Review: The Wolverine



I’m a comics fan, specifically a Marvel fan, and even more specifically a fan of X-Men. Like any good X-Men fan, my favorite X-Man is…Nightcrawler, actually, but also Wolverine is great. Who doesn’t love that yellow angst-ridden tornado of poor impulse control? As a Wolverine groupie, I fully expected Fox’s The Wolverine to shamelessly cater to me and fans like me. Turns out they did cater to people like me, only by “people like me” I don’t mean “people who like X-Men,” I mean women.

First, a little background on how movies get financed. Rich people called “Producers” dress up like the cat and the fox from Pinocchio and knock on the doors of uber-rich people called “Idiots.” The cat/fox Producers tell the Idiots to put a bunch of money in a hole in the ground so that it will become more money, because one time eleven years ago someone put some money in a similar hole and now a few of the people associated with that hole are rich. Then they promise to call the Idiots “Associate Producers,” too, but they actually continue to call them Idiots behind their backs.

So the Producers go on their merry way, throwing money at various things in an attempt to get more money. But soon the Idiots are scratching at the door. It seems they heard that there’s another hole that turned money into more money. Shouldn’t we bury money in twice as many holes in order to get twice as much more money? Indeed! And so the gritty action film is injected with a lethal dose of romantic tangent and just enough comic relief to be unbearably annoying, no one likes it, no one makes any money, and absolutely no one learns anything from the experience other than to go out and do it again.

The Wolverine may be immune to bullets, fire, bullets that are on fire, and any possible combination of bullets and fire, but he’s apparently not immune to the inanity of film producers. Watching this movie, I could almost hear the producers saying: “But what about the womyns? Yes, 90% of our fan base is male and probably masturbating alone as we speak, but how can we cash in on the market of comic book nerds who would like to take a date to see a Wolverine flick?”

Apparently the way to do that is to spend half of your $120 million budget on women’s shoes and photoshopping Famke Janssen.

So we open with Logan’s nightly wet-nightmare about Jean Grey, the only significantly powerful X-Man, whom Logan banged and then watched die and then killed over the prior X-Men films. Or maybe he banged her twice, or possibly not at all. It’s not really important. What *is* important is that they photoshop the fuck out of this bitch. I mean Jesus H. Christ, can they even legally show this film in the UK with all that CG on her face? I actually watched Hemlock Grove, and I’m here to tell you that Famke, while still a lovely woman, is not a fucking Lord of the Rings elf. If men truly mentally whitewash their crushes to this degree, the entire makeup industry is a waste of time.

Meanwhile the one who is actually supposed to be ageless, Logan, is looking a bit worse for wear. I mean, I’m sure dude could bench the Washington Monument while doing bicep curls with a triceratops, but he’d look like a 50-year-old doing these things, not an endlessly young 30-something. I guess it’s not surprising, though. Between the crapstorm that was X3 and a rendition of Les Mis that, were it a high school musical, even the most devoted parents would walk out on, the guilt alone has probably taken years off his life.

Anyway, so we find out that, in a shocking turn of events, Logan is sad and running away from his problems. Shocking, I know. He’s also conveniently having dreams and flashbacks that remind us of what happened in both X3 (which is unfortunate since I worked really hard to forget all about that film) and in WWII. I would give a spoiler warning at this point, except they showed this in the preview, and you’re a fucking moron if that wasn’t enough for you to figure out that the dude Wolverine saves from the bomb in Hiroshima is now going to steal his immortality.

Then Logan sees a bear, the bear sees him, and it’s typical celluloid love at first sight. When is Hollywood going to present us with a realistic portrayal of man-bear love? So frustrating.

Things take a tragic turn (again), however, and the bear ends up dead. Sad Logan is now Angry Logan as he tracks down the inconsiderate bastard who had the gall to defend his own life against a wild animal. Logan soon explains that revenge is totally justified, since the jerk violated §331, paragraph 12 of the Hunter’s Code. As we all know, the Hunter’s Code is enforced solely by other hunters via bar fight rather than by a judicial body.

But wait! A fish-faced girl shows up and the actual plot begins. The girl is Japanese and obviously very cool due to her edgy hair color. You might think she’s a mutant, since she looks like a fish, but that’s actually just because she’s from a poor fishing village. She wields a sword and the Power of Friendship with the “practically sisters with the richest heiress in Japan” expansion pack. For a second there, it seems like she might be relevant to the plot.

Wolverine’s in Japan, meeting with the man he saved and who is obviously going to steal his powers. Unfortunately Logan doesn’t watch the previews to his own movies, so he doesn’t know this. We meet the heiress, and since she’s pretty, aloof, *and* rich, we know we can forget about fish-face. We also meet the most obvious villain of all time: an 8-foot Caucasian blonde “doctor” wearing 25 pounds of makeup on her obviously mutant face and $20,000 worth of Valentino on her equally mutant-y feet. She gives Logan the “I’m going to steal your powers” look and presses a lot of buttons in the sketchiest way possible.

Unlike literally everyone else, the dying guy gives a pretty convincing performance. Maybe he’s a sweet guy after all. Haha, not a chance! Meanwhile the heiress maybe attempts suicide, and Logan maybe saves her. That part was confusing, but not as confusing as everything that happens next. The sexy doctor has the bug from The Matrix and puts it in Wolverine while he dreams about Photoshop. Dying guy pretends to die, and everyone goes to the funeral. Obvious villain ups the ante on obviousness by dressing like a slutty Star Trek villain, strapping on her funeral Louis Vuittons, and playing Candy Crush on her phone while ninjas attack. Logan escapes with the heiress, but she’s either strong or suicidal and doesn’t want his help either way. We’re all shocked- shocked!- when Logan’s powers begin to fade.

The heroic Wolverine heroically goes to the lavatory where he has another fight with the survivors of the Crazy 88. When he goes back to the heiress she’s all “What’s wrong with your face?” and he’s all “Hrmph,” because a man like Wolverine cares about nothing more than how his face looks in front of Japanese heiresses. They go hide at her secret house that somehow no one, not even her father, knows about, yet it is perfectly maintained. Must be one of those Japanese self-trimming, self-watering gardens.

Wolverine embraces the domestic life by lifting heavy things, because he’s still secretly Jean Valjean because the Les Mis monstrosity WILL NEVER DIE. Also: Florence Nightingale-inspired sexy time! This is the first time Logan actually gets to fuck in these films, or maybe the second, or possibly the third. You’d think this would be exciting, but it’s mostly awkward, because Hugh Jackman is really old and really large and this chick is 22 with a waist circumference half that. I found myself hoping for her sake that the steroids have shrunk certain parts of him down to a more Japanese-friendly size.

During all of this, we occasionally cut to our villainess, suddenly making a small effort at secrecy now that there’s no reason for it. It’s pretty ridiculous to even try to disappear into a crowd when she’s two feet taller than every other person on the island except Logan. She isn’t helping anything with those 4-inch Louboutins, either (shoe cost total approaching infinity dollars!). She uses her height powers to bitch out the heiress’s childhood boyfriend and advance the plot in some way that I don’t really care about.

Domestic bliss is shattered when the heiress is kidnapped (read: bad guys grab her and she does nothing to resist). One might wonder why she’s the only person in this extended family of samurais who was never given martial arts training. Not to worry: Angry Logan is on the case! Men in embarrassing underwear are thrown out of windows, disenfranchised fathers don lobster armor, a few pointless complications are thrown in, and it all leads to the secret lair. In a gesture symbolizing the oppression of bitchy white women, the now openly evil Venom throws off her Fendi footwear and catsuit and is finally free to be her naked, serpenty self. After giving Logan the Miley tongue, she dies or something.

Something or someone saves the day (teamwork? family? love?), leaving the heiress not only single and CEO of Japan, but in possession of Venom’s shoe collection. Oh, but too bad: Venom’s size 10s won’t fit your tiny Japanese feet. So sad. Logan and Miss CEO make a polite attempt to turn their fling into a serious relationship, but who are they kidding? But we’ve all learned something from this experience, such as how to run a multinational conglomerate, I guess. Also they’re making a new X-Men movie, so Wolverine really needs to find his way back to America. After a tearful goodbye, everyone goes shoe shopping. The end.

So, producers: look, I understand the allure of a product that appeals to everyone. It sounds like a gold mine, certainly. But what you actually get when you try to please everyone is crap, or at least something really, really silly. Which is what happened here. Not crap, but a lot of “WTF?” moments followed by “Oh, it’s because girls,” realizations.

Also: buy your actors some Regenerist, for god’s sake.

All my love,

S. Misanthrope

Friday, December 20, 2013

Point of Order

In case any of my five readers have ended up at www.strategicmisanthropy.com, yes, that is my site, but no, it's not where you should be. I'm working on moving this blog to that address, but it's a slow process, mostly because I don't care that much. There's stuff up over there, but it's the same stuff that's here, plus a bunch of draft posts that somehow got published (many of which are just titles with no text) and also a ton of what I assume are spambot comments. It's also just really ugly and a big mess, so stay away.

I'm ready to get back to our regularly scheduled programming, so stick around here and you'll be rewarded by a brand new movie review. Happy Christmas!

~S.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pretty Sure Nelson Mandela Was a Bad Person

...purely based on the fact that absolutely no one has anything bad to say about him.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thin Privilege Is...

...not being able to find a wedding dress, because strapless dresses don't fit you.

...getting dirty looks from random girls whenever you go out.

...hearing "go eat a sandwich" comments from strangers most every day.

...having to stuff your face at every meal to ward off accusations of anorexia.

...everyone you meet suddenly becoming a doctor, a psychologist, and a nutritionist qualified to diagnose, test, and treat your "condition."

...having entire sections of the internet devoted to hating you with the kind of vitriol usually reserved for racist mass murderers.

...suffering a direct, public attack from the Oprah of a movement supposedly dedicated to a rational philosophy, complete with a 100+ comment Facebook thread in which at least 25 people who have never met you or even seen you in person join in viciously and repeatedly denouncing you merely for being young, thin, and pretty, while dismissing all evidence that you are healthy both physically and psychologically without consideration.

...being told that all of this is out of concern for your own well-being.

You know, I think I might stick with my thunder-thighs after all.

Yours in privilege,

S. Misanthrope

This post is dedicated to all the lovely, thin women in my life. And what the heck, to the bitchy ones, too.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stupid of the Week: Banned Books Week

Ironically I'm currently working on a big post on censorship (the private kind rather than the government kind) and why a good rule of thumb is "don't trust people who do it," yet the neuron-deprived drones at the American Library Association at the moment deserve more censure than the censors do, so here we are.

Alright, the 411: today marks the end of "Banned Books Week," the ALA's annual attempt to draw attention to itself. Admittedly it's an improvement over their normal routine of shushing everyone and charging overdue fees that would make Blockbuster cringe if Blockbuster were still a thing. (Out of curiosity, how many of my readers have actually rented from Blockbuster? How many ever had an account in their name at Blockbuster? How old do I feel right now?)

"Banned Books Week" might be the single most dishonestly named "pause for a cause" ever. First of all, none of the books on the list promoted by BBW are banned. None of them. Not a one. Instead they are "challenged books." What constitutes a challenge? Well, basically, it's "incidents people decided to report to the ALA." There's nothing scientific about it, and there's little in the way of fact-checking or publicly available record-keeping, which is odd for an association of fucking librarians. Is that not the majority of your job? This just proves my theory that the whole "library" concept is really just a front for shushing and fine-collecting.

A "challenge" usually means that someone petitioned either a library to remove a book from circulation or a school to remove it from a curriculum. The vast majority of libraries petitioned are primary school libraries. Petitions to both public and private institutions are included. Almost all challenges are about allowing or requiring children to read books their parents consider inappropriate. So a "challenge" includes everything from a religious nut trying to get the government to ban Harry Potter from all public schools and libraries to a parent objecting to the Kama Sutra being required 1st-grade reading at a private school. It would include someone arguing to replace 1984 with Anthem in an Honors English course, and it would include a liberal nutjob's effort to remove anything by a "dead white man" from the Library of Congress. It would include me trying to get Gatsby off the syllabus on account of it's fucking stupid and boring as shit. In other words, it says nothing about whether the challenge was legitimate or not.

Morally speaking, that a book was "challenged" means absolutely nothing. To then conflate "challenges" with "bans" is disgustingly dishonest. It corrupts the whole concept of freedom of expression in the worst way. Don't believe me? Just take a look at the list. What's at the top? Harry Potter. Perhaps the government of one of those sub-Saharan countries that occasionally burns witches has indeed banned the beloved fantasy series, but not a single Western government has in any way banned Harry Potter. We build theme parks for the kid, for Christ's sake! He's an industry unto himself, an estimated 5% of U.S. GDP (probably 99% for UK).

Now look at what's not on the list. Notice anything missing? You probably don't, so I'll just tell you: Mein Kampf. Yes, that Mein Kampf, the one written by Hitler. Mein Kampf is actually illegal to read or own in Germany, one of those Western "rights-respecting" nations you may have heard of, without a special permit from the government. Because "Never Again" apparently doesn't include book-burning and violent suppression of minority beliefs.

Aside from the conflation of legitimate challenges, illegitimate challenges, and actual bans, the list also does more harm than good because of its focus on frequency of challenges. That a book is frequently challenged means that it is frequently read. Those aren't the books you need to worry about defending. It's the ones that don't need to be challenged because they've already been set aside that are at risk. The ones that are never added to the syllabus in the first place, because they don't fit the accepted narrative. The ones the library never purchases, because they're "distasteful" and, well, no one's ever requested them anyway.

It's a bit late now, but I encourage to you all to say "Fuck you" to Banned Books Week, and, instead of picking up a book everyone's talking about, try one you've never heard and that no one recommends. It will probably suck, but at least you'll get to judge for yourself.

Eruditely yours,

S. Misanthrope

P.S. By the way, how do they decide what dates your  cause gets? Is it a time-share thing? Are there turf wars? Does Lincoln's Birthday get along with Black History Month or do they have periodic rumbles over the issue? These questions need answering!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

SunnyTV at The Daily Caller

SunnyTV has debuted at The Daily Caller. In a game of Blind Date, who would win: Putin or Obama? I think we all know how this is going to end. Check it out:

http://dailycaller.com/2013/09/18/presidential-blind-date-obama-v-putin-video/

I didn't help out with this one, yet I think it might be the funniest one yet. Hmmm, must be a coincidence. Anyway, go clicky-click so Sunny can get paid to be funny!

Gracias,

S. Misanthrope

Monday, September 16, 2013

Viewers Like You

I'm so very, very happy to have so many views coming my way. Thank you so much, and especially thanks to those who've linked me around the Webz. It just makes me want to churn out content like there's no tomorrow.


But alas, there is a tomorrow, and a day after that, and a day after that. And on many of those days, I have shit to do in my real life as a responsible (ha) adult, which means I need to pace myself. I'm not going to stop, but the furious production rate I've been going at for the last month or so needs to abate.

Expect me back at full-force in November. In the mean time, I'll try to get out a post a week. You can also peruse the 200+ other posts up on here. I think most are good for at least one chuckle. And of course you can follow me on Twitter (@SMisanthrope) where I bitch more informally and using fewer characters. I promise an adequate daily dose of snark when taken as instructed.

Big X's and O's,

S. Misanthrope

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Trouble with Women Ignoring Boys

This article was originally published at A Voice for Male Students [http://www.avoiceformalestudents.com/the-trouble-with-ignoring-boys/]

I’ve long been fascinated by the 1998 study [1] that showed that there are right and wrong ways to praise children. In the study, kids were given a puzzle to solve. Then they were told to choose between two other puzzles, one equal in difficulty to the first and one that was more difficult. When kids were told “You did it! You must be really smart,” after solving the first puzzle, they were more likely to choose the puzzle of equal difficulty, but when they were told “You did it! You must have worked very hard,” they chose the more difficult puzzle. The moral of the story is that calling kids smart makes them want to appear smart, and they’ll aim lower as a result to ensure success[2].

What I wasn’t aware of until recently was how this finding has been employed to serve the feminist agenda.

“The Trouble with Bright Girls” was published in Psychology Today (and yes, I realize I’m setting myself up for disappointment already by reading that shitty publication) in January of 2011. The author, Dr. Heidi Halvorson, discusses a study performed by Dr. Carol Dweck. The study examined how fifth-grade students responded to difficult material. Dr. Dweck found that girls, particularly girls with higher IQ, gave up more quickly than boys with higher IQ. Dr. Halvorson suggests this disparity arises because smart girls tend to be praised for being smart, whereas boys tend not to be praised at all. Smart girls end up believing that their success derives from their state of being (“being smart”), whereas smart boys believe it derives from their actions (“working hard”). In the long run, she concludes, this holds adult women back in the workforce as they will be less eager to take on difficult tasks with greater chance of failure.


Let’s consider a few quotations from the article:

At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science. So there were no differences between these boys and girls [in the study] in ability, nor in past history of success.

Emphasis mine to highlight the contradiction in these two sentences (which, incidentally, ought to be one sentence). She just identified a major difference between boys and girls, that girls consistently outperform boys, then immediately claims there are no differences between these boys and girls in terms of ability or past history of success.

Huh?

What exactly does “outperform” mean if it’s not based on either ability or success? The only way this can possibly make sense in someone’s head is if they believe that equal ability and equal success between boys and girls should lead to a disproportionate outcome that favors girls. Conveniently, such an orientation also explains why she’d find boys outperforming girls in this one very limited area so concerning, while boys constantly coming in second to girls in all other areas is of no concern.

The sad thing is, I only had to search "girls boys" to find this.
Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their "goodness." When we do well in school, we are told that we are "so smart," "so clever, " or " such a good student."


And in the next paragraph:

Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., "If you would just pay attention you could learn this," "If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.")


Take a look at these sample phrases. Directed at girls, we have:
“You’re good.”
“You’re so smart.”
“You’re so clever.”
“You’re such a good student.”

Directed at boys, we have:
“If you would just pay attention, you could learn this.”
“If you would just try a little harder, you could get it right.”

The difference is not that we praise boys in a constructive way and girls in a destructive way. It’s that we don’t fucking praise boys at all.


But now that we’ve discovered an unanticipated advantage to all the criticism we launch at our boys, we simply must harness this power for the benefit of our girls. Heaven forbid boys, who again are behind girls in literally every subject, receive a single advantage. Intolerable!

Boys are in fact behind girls from preschool through high school, not just in fifth grade. They currently make up only 40% of college students. In the under-30 workforce, women outnumber and out-earn men. And here we have an article that acknowledges both the disadvantage boys face in school performance and the fact that they are deemed unworthy of praise by their nurturers- teachers, parents, and other caregivers and educators.

Yet somehow this article ends up being about helping girls.



I’d really like to go on. I’d like to rant about how the “advantage” conferred on boys is the same “advantage” conferred on the bacteria that live in geothermal vents: the environment that kills 99% makes the 1% who survive pretty fucking strong. I’d like to rant about how feminists constantly overgeneralize. Against whom are these women who “suffer” as adults from excessive praise as children being compared? Against the men in male-dominated professions, according to the first paragraph of the article. Really. Male-dominated professions like coal mining, perhaps? Garbage collection? Ice road trucking? Deep sea fishing? Something tells me no. They’re not even being compared to the hordes of code monkeys I see in SOMA every day; they’re being compared to the fucking 1% of the 1%. “Where’s our Steve Jobs? Where’s our Bill Gates? Sexxxxxiiiissssmmmm!!!!!”

We constantly communicate to our boys in myriad subtle and direct ways that they are useless to us unless they do something, while we constantly reaffirm to girls that they are valuable to us merely by being. Yes, that often means men end up doing more useful shit. Occasionally they even get credit for it. But when they don’t do enough useful shit (or do shit society deems unuseful), they have zero self-worth to fall back on. If you want girls to be as motivated as boys to solve puzzles and tackle big problems when they grow up, fine. It’s not a bad idea. I can even tell you how you might be able to tell when you’ve succeeded: when women start committing suicide at the same rate as men.

Ouch,

S. Misanthrope

Endnotes:
[1] Mueller CM and Dweck CS. 1998. Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal for Personality and Social Psychology 75(1): 33-52
[2] Note that “success” here really means “praise,” not solving the puzzle, which is its own can of worms in terms of what we teach our children to value.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Holy Crap, Is This Really Happening Right Now?

I really, really want to do work today, but instead I have to write this post.

If you haven't heard, George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin earlier this year, is divorcing his wife Shellie. Yesterday, Shellie placed a 911 call in which she made a massive number of false statements to police involving George having a gun, waiving a gun, threatening her and her father with a gun, and telling her to "Come closer" so he could shoot her with a gun.

Other outlandish, unproven claims include:
-That George broke Shellie's father's nose
-That George stabbed Shellie's iPad with a pocket knife
-That George was "trying to close the garage door on us" at the same time he was in his car and threatening both Shellie and her father with the gun.

Some pertinent facts not covered by the 911 call include:
-Shellie was filming George against his consent in George's own home using the iPad
-Shellie had agreed to collect her belongings from the house on Saturday, but instead showed up unexpectedly (allegedly with a few hours warning) on Monday with her father
-The location of George has been a closely guarded secret due to the numerous death threats against him; that location is now known to everyone due to the 911 call.

An hour after the 911 call, Shellie and her father signed a document stating they would not press charges. Shortly afterward George was released.

The police have confirmed the following:
-That there was absolutely no gun involved whatsoever
-That absolutely  no one was injured whatsoever
-That the iPad was shattered (not stabbed), but video may be recovered
-That Shellie will not face charges for blatantly lying to the police during the 911 call on the grounds that "divorce makes people emotional"
-That George or others may face charges depending on what the iPad video shows.

No word on how the "emotional" nature of divorce, death threats, hostile people unexpectedly invading your home and filming you without your consent, and watching your wife make false accusations of violence against you to police will factor into any decisions with respect to charges against George.

Yesterday I was accused by Twit @AniOBrien of hating women, so I want to make something perfectly clear:

I absolutely 100% believe that Shellie Zimmerman is a shameless, lying whore who is using every tool at her disposal to destroy her husband during this divorce.

Before I even read the CNN update linked above, I was prepared to bet $1,000 that she lied substantially during the 911 call. Even I didn't dream that she lied so completely.

Shellie has put George's life at risk by revealing his address. She is expertly employing every tool in the Divorce for Women Playbook to destroy her husband's life. She's taking away his home (he can't stay there now that the address is known), his family/support system (she's been telling them how "unstable" he is), his freedom to move about in the world at all (changing the times of agreed-upon meetings, forcing him to change his plans to accommodate you [bonus if he has to miss work!], threatening him with arrest and another criminal trial). I can only be grateful there are no kids in the mix; that's the only way what she's doing could possibly be worse.

It's absolutely incredible to me the way the rights of men are shoved aside and the privileges of women taken as a matter of course every way I turn. Once you start to see it, it's hard to see anything else. Which I guess is why I'm going to have to start wearing a blindfold. You guys will still read this if it's in braille, right?

To blind Justice,

S. Misanthrope

Monday, September 9, 2013

Misogyny in Tech Part II: TechCrunch Disrupt

EDITS:
-Corrected 44% figure in first paragraph. 44% of the age 16-30 workforce are female, but 46% of the 16+ workforce are female.

Hello, and welcome to part two of this multi-part analysis of misogyny in the tech community.

Last time I addressed the question of whether or not the under-representation of women in tech was 1. real and 2. important. I concluded that the commonly cited "25%" figure was a low-end estimate at best. I also pointed out that there are many examples of industries with a much, much lower female/male ratio than what we see in tech, as well as many industries in which women outnumber men more than men outnumber women in tech. Finally I ask everyone to remember that women make up only 46% of the workforce, as only about 57% of women choose to work compared to about 70% of men, and that therefore an "even split" would actually be 46/54, not 50/50.

Today I'm going to explore the theory that women avoid the tech sector due to misogyny by analyzing two recent occurrences labeled "misogynistic" by the media and the tech community itself. The question of whether or not an actual misogynistic community would willingly admit to and police its own misogyny is one I leave for another day.

It is certainly true that more men than women choose tech. I find it telling that this state of affairs is immediately rephrased as "women avoid tech." Is it women avoiding, or is it men flocking? Picking one side over the other before analysis even begins is a bona fide example of question-begging.


Regardless, we can evaluate this claim pretty easily. If misogyny is keeping women out, it's doing so in two possible ways: companies are not hiring women because they hate women (remember this is the definition of misogyny) or women are not applying because they sense they are hated by tech culture. We know the first one isn't happening, because sex discrimination in hiring is illegal. By now we'd see rampant lawsuits going after all that Google money if employers were refusing to hire women, and we simply don't see that. So what's happening, if anything, must be self-selection by women in a response to perceived misogyny in tech culture.


But certainly there are plenty of folks ready to leap forward with examples of misogyny. In fact I received one without even having to ask via my Facebook feed today:
http://valleywag.gawker.com/techcrunch-disrupt-kicks-off-with-titstare-app-and-fa-1274394925

Wow, two instances of blatant misogyny in a single tech event! I guess I may as well pack it in and go home.

But wait, where exactly is the misogyny? Start with the second instance (watch the video rather than relying on the article's description of the video, please). A developer who has less than a minute to make an impression demonstrates his product in a suggestive manner. Impression successfully made, dude. Well done.

Oh wait, angry feminists on the horizon! Congratulations, you've now been banned from all further conferences for your "misogyny."

Just take a second to consider the absurdity of the claim that a parody of male masturbation is misogynist. Jesus, I mean, for all you know, that guy's gay! How is making fun of an activity that literally involves only a man and his man-parts, all by himself, in any way offensive to women? Oh, right, because he's a man. I remember now.

Eeek, a penis!
 Also note the skeevy tactic common to those who hate male sexuality employed here: the sideways accusation of pedophilia by mentioning the presence of a 9-year-old girl. You know, I really don't think the 9-year-old got the reference, and if she did, that means someone else already introduced her to the fact that sometimes when a grown man loves himself very much he gives himself a special handshake. What about this is traumatizing? Would we say the same thing if a female presenter mentioned vibrators or Sex and the City?

Recall that these are the feature attraction in a children's movie.
Ok, now watch the first video, and tell me honestly: what is so offensive here, really? Based on the name of the fake app and the offense it gave the author of this crappy article, I thought "titstare" was going to involve photographing women without their consent or at the very least a catalog of pictures of vulgar boobs. But no, it's for pictures of men looking like dorks while staring at boobs. Also: it's a fucking joke. So men are made to look like idiots, but it's women who get offended. Again.

All of the photos shown in the presentation are either selfies or show the woman clearly smiling at the camera. Women take and post pictures of their boobs all the fucking time. That's why they do that weird shoulder thing when posing for pictures. That's why that down-the-shirt selfie angle exists. That's how these dudes got the images for their presentation in the first place! Women fucking love showing off their tits. The dudes even toned the pics down substantially, putting a bar across the first one and generally showing closeups of only moderate cleavage.

Again misogyny is hating women. If you like their boobs, you probably don't hate them.

The subject of the humor in this presentation is "men like to stare at boobs." The object of the humor is "men who stare at boobs." The whole fucking thing is a couple of men making fun of themselves and other men for being exactly what feminist dickheads like the author of this article say men are: sex-obsessed beasts. But somehow this is offensive to women.

And this example of that horrible, horrible misogyny that is being- gasp!- looked at by a man is actually very clever in the way it addresses a gender disparity that should bother any decent human being more than tits at tech conferences: the fact that male life expectancy- already over 6% lower -is falling further behind female life expectancy every year. 

Please kill me before I have to go through this again with another example.

As a woman who enjoys- and writes- raunchy humor, I'm offended at the notion that "gender inclusivity" requires obfuscating if not outright demonizing male sexuality. I can't think of anything less sex-positive. The argument for banning sexual humor in professional contexts should not depend on the ridiculous notion that male sexuality is inherently offensive or threatening to women.

And now some pictures of boobs:


You're welcome,

S. Misanthrope

Misogyny in Tech Part I: the Numbers Game

EDITS:
-Corrected the idiotic 44/66 thing.
-Added some more figures that should have been in the original post (from comments section). Appended at the very end.
-IMPORTANT EDIT: 44% of the workforce between the ages of 16 and 30 are female. For the 16 and over workforce, the correct figure in 2012 was 46%. I've corrected the post to show 46%.

If you live in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco, you can't help getting sucked into the tech community and all its bullshit. I've berated them before, and I'll no doubt do it again and again, but today I want to get into what seems to be viewed by most people as the "big issue" in tech: the low ratio of women to men, and, more broadly, the supposedly rampant misogyny that's to blame. This will be covered over a series of posts as there are a great many fallacious arguments and outright lies to tear apart.

Are there enough vaginas in this house? Informal survey of 20-something male employees says "No!"

Let's start with my favorite part: the numbers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics[1], 26% of people employed in "Computer and Mathematical Occupations" during 2012 were women. This category includes a lot of jobs that wouldn't be considered "tech," but the 1:3 female/male ratio give or take is pretty consistent across the subcategories. But this ignores big chunks of the tech community: marketers, office administrators, lawyers, journalists, etc. Product promoters are far more likely to be female, as are office and administrative support professionals.  Professional writers, even technical writers, are mostly women. Reliable sources that separate out all members of the tech community by gender simply don't exist, but the available data suggests that 25% is a low-end estimate.

So the first question has to be: is this a scary number? Is 25% (remember: low-end estimate here) cause for concern? This is a question that can only be answered in comparison to some idea of "the norm." Consider "Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations": a mere 3.9% women according to the same source. Gosh, we'd better get more women into coal mining and farming right away! Oh, and look: men are only 28% of "Office and administrative support occupations." Better fix that inequity by making secretarial work more male-friendly, right? And wow, men are only 27% of our "Education, training, and library occupations" and a mere 19% of elementary and middle school teachers. That can't possibly be good for equality between the sexes, handing over the education of all our children to one sex, can it?

Oh, and you might want to consider this little fact: women make up only 46% of the workforce. That means that "equality" in tech would be 46% women and 54% men, not 50% and 50%. It also exacerbates the disparity between men and women in the female-dominated professions.

By any reasonable standard, the 25% number is not a problem. The only reason any of us think of it as a problem is that tech jobs are glamorous. We see a few people making a shit-ton of money in tech, and the immediate response from women is "Hey, why don't I get a piece of that?" No one is banging a gong trying to get women into animal husbandry or oil rig work, despite the grosser gender gaps in those professions. Women just want the good stuff, and for some reason we're all eager to give it to them, whether they deserve it or not.

But that's a topic for another post.

Until next time,

S. Misanthrope

Next time, on Strategic Misanthropy:
We know women eschew tech in favor of other professions, and conventional wisdom says misogynist attitudes in tech are at least partly responsible. If so, examples of such misogyny should be easy to find. Join me next week on a magical safari to track, capture, and dissect the mythical misogynist beasts of tech!

[1] You can reproduce all of these figures from here: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat39.pdf
Don't you fucking dare come back at me with a link to a HuffPo article. Primary sources or bust, bitches.

Addendums:
Are women leaving tech?
Let's talk about a few more numbers, shall we? A lot of newspaper articles have claimed that tech is losing women, at least proportionally. This is somewhat true. Here are the % of men employed in "Computer and Mathematical Occupations" from 2002 to 2012:
2002 - 71%
2003 - 71%
2004 - 73%
2005 - 73%
2006 - 73%
2007 - 74%
2008 - 75%
2009 - 75%
2010 - 74%
2011 - 75%
2012 - 74%

Again, we can't equate this to "people employed in tech," but let's be generous and do so anyway. That means we've seen a 3% proportional decrease in women in tech over the past decade-plus. Not exactly something to stop the presses about, in my opinion, given that fluctuations are to be expected, particularly in a volatile industry like tech. The trend also appears to have leveled off if not reversed recently.

More importantly, however, this proportional change gets twisted into the claim that women are leaving tech. That is outright false in every way. The number of women in (our proxy for) tech *increased 10%* from 2002 to 2012. Over those same 11 years, the number of women in the workforce increased only 5%. This means that not only are more women being drawn to tech, they are being drawn at a faster rate than they were 11 years ago.

No one is being driven away. All we're seeing is two groups, both being drawn in and both being drawn in more intensely than in the past, with one group being drawn in a bit more strongly than the other.

Education vs Employment
I really should have addressed another question in the article: is there parity between the percentage of women majoring in computer science/IT in undergrad and the percentage of women in tech. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduating college students in 2008 who majored in comp sci/IT were 24.5% female. That's even lower than the raw estimate of 26% employed in tech (which is actually the % employed in computer and math occupations, remember, expected to be *lower* than the number in tech.)

So if anything the tech industry is *increasing* the number of women getting into computers between undergrad and employment.

Suck it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Twice in One Week!

The new site A Voice for Male Students has just published an article I wrote, which I guess makes me an activist now as well as a collaborator. Eesh. The article addresses disparities between boys and girls in education and the way our society responds to those disparities (hint: boys get fucked no matter how you slice it.)

If you hurry, it will still be the first item on the page; if you don't, you can follow this link:

http://www.avoiceformalestudents.com/the-trouble-with-ignoring-boys

Next week I'll post the article here, but I'd like to thank AVfMS for their support by driving the traffic their way first. So please go check it out, leave a comment, whatever. Merci beaucoup mes petits choux.

~S. Misanthrope

Friday, September 6, 2013

Some Further Comments on Syria

I want to try and quickly address the much broader question of what the fuck the U.S. thinks it's doing as regards Syria.

What I'm hearing from those in favor of a military response (the White House, journalists, random Twits on Twitter) is essentially this:

Regimes that employ chemical weapons must be punished. That punishment should take the form of an air strike/bombing.

And, separately:

The conflict in Syria will end more quickly with fewer casualties if we intervene via air strike/bombing.

As far as I'm aware, we're only talking about remote warfare (that is: no troops on the ground, near-zero chance of U.S. casualties). We're also only talking about attacking the Syrian government, not the rebels. To make things simple, I'm going to refer to the Syrian government as "Assad" and the rebels as "the rebels" for the rest of this post.

My prior post addressed chemical weapons, specifically why they were actually banned in historical context and why the supposed disproportionate harm caused to civilians is not disproportionate at all. More importantly it is certainly not an inherent property of this class of weapons; conventional weapons can kill more civilians than soldiers too depending on how they're deployed, for example in the bombing of London by Germany during World War II. Banning one type of weapon because it can be used against civilians while allowing other types of weapons that are used against civilians is as arbitrary as banning AR-15s (which are rarely used to kill people) while allowing .22s (which are the most popular choice for murders).

Oh wait, we actually do have stupid gun laws. Huh. Maybe instead I should say it's like banning soda just because some people make bad decisions that have negative consequences for their health. No wait, we do that too. Maybe it's like punishing some countries for violating "international law" but not others. Wait...

At least no one's claiming we're consistent.

Anyway, so much for the "chemical weapons = bad" part of the claim. Let's do the Locke thing and pretend it's actually true. How about the question of appropriate punishment? We're told the point of this punishment would be to act as a deterrent, so Assad and other countries will never use chemical weapons again, knowing the consequences will be horrific. How far must "the horror" go before it's effective, not just to get Assad to stop, but to get all countries on earth, no matter how batshit insane, to never even consider using chemical weapons ever again?


That's right. If we were serious about punishing the use of the second most hated class of weapon, we'd employ the first most hated class of weapon. But we won't, and it's obvious we won't, so it's also obvious that we aren't serious about this deterrent bullshit anymore than we're serious about the "War on Terror" or fucking Due Process.

Ok, now for the second argument, that this air strike against Assad will end the conflict sooner and with fewer casualties. That's just incredibly unlikely to be the case. We're talking about an uprising versus an entrenched regime. In what scenario does the conflict end sooner when you aid the weaker side? Not that I'm a Sith-sympathizer or anything, but you have to concede that a third parting bombing the Rebel Alliance to hell would have brought peace and stability to the Star Wars universe faster than doing it the other way around. Regime change is the opposite of stability.

What makes it worse is that, unlike with Iraq, we don't seem to be talking about a regime change; we're talking about a slap on the wrist for Assad. A slap that will take the form of killing a ton of people who aren't Assad. You know, the ones who didn't make the decision to use the chemical weapons and who don't really have any power in the situation at all. That's the joke of me in this post using "Assad" as a stand-in for "people we decide represent the Syrian government." Obama, the media, and everyone else do not get the joke, unfortunately.

So we're going to weaken the side that's more likely to win the conflict, but we won't weaken them enough to actually change the outcome of the conflict. We're just going to draw it out. You know, the exact opposite of what we say we're trying to do.

This is too stupid to be stupidity. This is conspiracy. A fake-out. Some fucked up tail/dog relationship. Blood for oil? Nah. You think too small. Think wartime powers. Think suspension of liberties. Think of all the NSA warrants speedily approved by secret courts when we're actively at war. Think of all the stories- the police state, the IRS state, the nanny state, the surveillance state- that will be pushed from the front page once the bombs start falling. Think of the expansion of government that can be justified when the war expands beyond Syria to Iran, Pakistan, Russia. Think of all the evil that can be swept under a Persian rug made from the bodies of actual Persians.

The crazy thing is I don't even have to touch on the usual topic of why humanitarian wars- indeed, any war not fought purely for self-defense- are bad, evil, and dumb. But I'm still not going to convince anyone, because we're Team America, World Police, and we're exactly as imbecilic as we sound.

Toodles,

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In which S. Condescends to Work with Other Humans

I've long enjoyed the antics of Sunny from "House of Sunny." It's mostly for right-wingers, but I'd like to think we can all get something out of watching a girl with great comedic timing. Here are a couple of my favorite videos of hers:




And just to prove they aren't all in black and white:


So there's a little taste. Sunny's recently changed to more of an SNL news format. Here's the video on which we collaborated (to which I contributed very little, but hey, who says you have to earn that Associate Producer credit?):


Check her out, subscribe, donate, share, etc.

~S. Misanthrope

My Chemical Weapons Romance



So here’s the deal with chemical weapons:

The “Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare” prohibits the use (not the manufacturing, storage, or sale) of chemical and biological weapons. It was signed in Geneva on June 17, 1925, but by World War II, the United States still had not ratified the treaty (nor had Japan). This is what people actually mean when they say “the Geneva Convention” with respect to chemical weapons.

I'm not sure what they're talking about here, though.
Despite not having ratified the treaty, the United States did not use chemical weapons during WWII. Why could this be? We’re all familiar with the horrors of mustard gas and whatnot during WWI, but where were these horrors in WWII? Are we really supposed to believe that this treaty, not even ratified by two of the primary players during the war, kept us all in check [1], at the same time that we developed and deployed the first nuke?

It's scarier in color, isn't it?
The answer is no, we shouldn’t believe this, because the idea is fucking idiotic. The reality is that, by the end of WWI, chemical weapons were no longer effective thanks to those famous gas masks we all like to use during foreplay. Uh, we all do that, right?


Anyway, even the fucking horses had gas masks by the end of WWI, which made chemical weapons next to useless against any well equipped army. The whole effort to ban these weapons would never have happened had they retained their usefulness. Just look at how nukes have played out: no one who has them will agree to get rid of them, because they’re fucking effective. No one’s going to give that up. But we’ll gladly ban the blunderbuss and pat ourselves on the back for being great humanitarians.


So why do we still see Saddam Hussein dropping mustard gas on the Kurds and whatnot? Well, remember what I said about chemical weapons being ineffective against well equipped armies. In the Middle East, or any place where the “armies” are about as well armed as your average goat herder, it’s a whole other story. Without a gas mask, you’re fucked.

They use blunderbusses too, the bastards.
This is why the only use of chemical weapons during WWII, Japan in China and Italy in Ethiopia [2], were against poorly armed populations. It’s also why chemical weapons tend to be used against populations that are often defined as “unarmed” or “civilian.” This gets peaceniks all in a huff and claiming that chemical weapons are instruments of “terror” and “mass murder,” but somehow not of warfare.

Newsflash: winning a war requires both terror and mass murder.

Pictured: mass fucking murder
The people who want to put rules around warfare seem to think that a war involves clearly divided lines, like a video game that doesn’t let you shoot non-combatants. All of the soldiers are in this place, all of the civilians in that one. The civilians have nothing to do with the soldiers and vice versa. When the last soldier is defeated, the war is won.

Good guys white, bad guys red. How hard is that, Syria?
This is not how it works. People are not born soldiers. They have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the civilian population. Nor are armies supported, financially and spiritually, by themselves in a purely internal, self-sustaining process. The “home front” is an actual front on which successful wars must be fought. This is why Hitler expended so much effort to win over German women and why Rosie the Riveter continues to be one of the most iconic women of all time. Civilians are a crucial component of any war effort, and when the war is actually taking place within your borders (“at home”), the line between civilian and soldier can be invisible if not non-existent. Those are some actual blurred lines for you.


So if your justification for “punishing” Syria for its use of chemical weapons is that chemical weapons are illegitimate because they don’tfurther the ultimate goal of war, you need to check your superpower privilege. Not every country can afford gasmasks for all of its soldiers and civilians. Not every country has had over 100 years of domestic tranquility. Oh, and when we didn’t? You’d better believe we targeted the shit out of civilians. We burned farms, we burned cities. Hell, even the Emancipation Proclamation itself was an attempt to gum up the works not in the Confederate Army but in Confederate society.

This never would have happened had the South ratified the Geneva Protocol.
Wars end when the costs rise too high to continue, and that cost is usually being tallied and weighed by civilians. A soldier’s life is already viewed as forfeit. How many soldiers have to die for war to end? All of them [3]. Not because they’re the ones doing the fighting, but because they’re the ones standing between the bullet and the people who put them there to catch said bullet. We talk about human shields- what are soldiers but the ultimate human shields? Ones we don’t have to feel bad about using, because once a man becomes a uniform and a serial number, it’s easy to ignore his humanity.

On a scale from 1 to sociopath, how comfortable are you with sending these men to die?
The correct response to a human shield is to ignore it- or to go around it. To end a war, make the civilians feel the cost of war. For people who already live in gross poverty under an oppressive society, a tyrannical government, and perpetual civil unrest, it’s going to be pretty fucking hard to drive the cost to the point where they finally think “Yeah, I was better off before all this revolution stuff.”

"The rebels gave me a sweet ride!"
I don’t support the Syrian government. It’s evil in just about every way. But what makes them evil is not the way in which they choose to fight their civil war. Latching onto chemical weapons to justify entering this conflict is a cowardly cop-out. It’s a tactic to avoid evaluating the two sides, because if anyone looks closely at these rebels, they won’t be able to justify taking their side any more than they can justify taking Assad’s. It’s a long and difficult debate to identify who the lesser of these two evils is and from there an even longer debate to justify intervention. For starters, you’d have to recognize that “Syria” is not now and has never been a cohesive entity and that there aren’t really two sides at war with each other but ten or twelve. Arab Sunnis, Alawite Shias, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Turks, Christians, Ba’athists, and Druze, to name a few. Oh, and then you’d have to answer the question “Why Syria?” and not any of the other mass-murdering, civilian-torturing, chemical weapons-using countries. Unfortunately the “yes we can” presidency doesn’t have the stamina for this debate, thus we fall back on the tired old WMD standby.

"It was the other guy, I swear! OSCAAAAAR!!!"
Let’s hope Assad looks as good in a hole.

Peace and love,

S. Misanthrope

Endnotes:
[1] Japan did employ chemical weapons against China, and Italy did so in Ethiopia.
[2] Italy had even ratified the Geneva Protocol already. Tsk tsk. Can we bomb them next and annex all the gelato?
[3] During World War I, approximately 71% of the eligible male population (males between ages 18 and 45) of France were killed or injured in combat. 71%. Just let that sink in.