SCOTUS and Collateral Damage.

(Content notice: Misogyny.)

I hadn’t been planning to say much here about the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS ruling. Obviously you know I’m pissed about it; obviously you know I’m dismayed that five Catholic dudes who don’t seem to understand contraception have ruled about women’s access to contraception. Obviously I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg is da bomb of all bombs and loved her dissent and think it’s spot-on. But if I talk about something, I want to add something new to the discussion. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time.

Then I saw this thing about what Hillary Clinton’s take on the ruling was, and it changed my mind. It made me want to say something here that maybe hasn’t been talked about a whole lot. Here’s the quote:

Part of the reason I was so adamant about including women and girls in our foreign policy, not as a luxury but as a central issue is because they’re often the canaries in the mine. You watch women and girls being deprived of their rights, some of them never have them, some of them lose them. Among those rights is control over their bodies, control over their own health care, control over the size of their families. It is a disturbing trend that you see in a lot of societies that are very unstable, anti-democratic, and frankly prone to extremism. Where women and women’s bodies are used as the defining and unifying issue to bring together people – men – to get them to behave in ways that are disadvantageous to women but which prop up them because of their religion, their sect, their tribe, whatever.

This quote made me realize just how much the control of women’s bodies is used by the Religious Right as a unifying force to rally behind.

They may not agree on a whole lot, the right-wing of Christianity, its most toxic people, but they do agree on one thing if nothing else: this control of other people’s bodies is what really matters.

Only this gender expression is allowed. Only this sexual expression is allowed. Only this kind of sex is allowed. Only this kind of dress is allowed. Only this kind of contraception is allowed. Only this kind of private life is allowed.

They may argue about some of the specifics, like exactly which contraception should be allowed for women to have in order to control their fertility, or exactly what exceptions they’re willing to graciously grant to pregnant women who do not wish to be pregnant, but they can agree on a few basic things above all else:

* That they have the right, as total outsiders who are largely ignorant of the biological processes and individual situations involved, to meddle in another human being’s most private and intimate decisions, and–

* that they have the obligation to do so as a demonstration of their great “care” or even “love” for that person and–

* that they are far more qualified than the person in question to decide these things.

They genuinely believe that women are too stupid to drive our own bodies or make our own medical decisions or conduct our own sex lives. And whether they’re right-wing Mormons, right-wing Catholics, right-wing Muslims, right-wing Pentecostals, or right-wing atheists, and oh my yes those exist, they can all gather in the same big tent labeled “THE DESIRE TO CONTROL WOMEN.” And they can totally agree on this one thing above all else: controlling women.

And though this control hurts my gender enormously, though every grab for control is another setback for women, these moves are hugely advantageous for toxic Christians because it gives them something in common with a lot of disparate groups who might otherwise deeply resent their shameless, naked grabs for power.

I was shocked the first time I heard a Christian leader “joke” that he might not agree with Muslims on doctrine but they sure did know how to control their women, but I’m not shocked anymore when I hear that grudging admiration, that wonderment in the voice of the person “joking” like that. If you’re wondering why I used scare quotes, it’s because it’s not really a joke when people talk like this. Humor is actually funny and it punches up, rather than down. Here’s a great explanation of “punching down:”

Punching down is a concept in which you’re assumed to have a measurable level of power and you’re looking for a fight. Now, you can either go after the big guy who might hurt you, or go after the little guy who has absolutely no shot. Either way, you’ve picked a fight, but one fight is remarkably more noble and worthwhile than the other. Going after the big guy, punching up, is an act of nobility. Going after the little guy, punching down, is an act of bullying.

So when people “joke” about how awesomely hilare it is to see a culture viciously suppressing the rights of women, they are punching down, and it is not funny but rather an expression of equally vicious misogyny.

This awe is the same element of misogyny I hear in the voices of men who complain about “American women” and hold in much greater esteem the women of brutally suppressive countries. They are very critical of women with voices, with sure knowledge of their rights, with impatience for sexism, with disdain for the control tactics used by men like themselves. Out come the “jokes” about American women: How can we get our women that ground-under, that downtrodden, that submissive, that voiceless, I hear in these “jokes.” At the base of all of this chatter is a scheming whisper: How can we strip our women of all their rights and liberties like that? How did these cultures manage to do that and how do we repeat their success? Damn, wouldn’t that be great if we could do that?

Misogyny, you see, is a vaster tribe than any religion.

That’s why I think a lot of folks view feminism as an “us vs. them” thing when it isn’t really at all. It isn’t men vs. women. It’s humanity vs. ignorance. But some people can’t even conceive of a world where neither men nor women are superior to the other. If men are not superior, then it’ll be women, as far as they think. That women don’t actually want to be superior–or to perpetuate the same abuses against men that have been committed against women–doesn’t ping the radar at all because that kind of mentality is totally foreign and alien to trapped minds.

What feminism really wants is to opt out of the entire game that says there has to be one superior gender. When offered a blue or a green pill (sorry, you don’t get red ones anymore, blame the idiots at that Reddit for why you can’t have nice things), we want to do what one Redditor suggested and punch Morpheus in the face and say we don’t want either pill at all. We want to opt out of the whole game and start something new. We question the entire paradigm that says someone has to be in control of anybody else.

But that paradigm still controls our culture for a little while yet, though its dominance is slipping by fits and starts.

When Mitt Romney was running for President, his religion–Mormonism–was a real issue for a lot of non-Mormon religious leaders in the United States. Some of those leaders had written extensively about how Mormonism was a cult and Satanic and whatever else. But now here’s a Mormon running for President on the Jesus Party ticket. Fundagelicals had a choice of either the scary black Muslim Kenyan space alien, or else a Mormon. That Mr. Obama had repeatedly stressed that he’s Christian didn’t matter. That his form of Christianity probably looks a lot more like theirs than Mr. Romney’s did was also immaterial. They went with the guy with the Satanic cult. Even Pat Robertson, who’d come out against Mormonism in general before the elections, called Mitt Romney an outstanding Christian when elections loomed closer (he also said that his god had informed him that Mittens would win, so I’m not sure his judgement is really that great).


English: President Barack Obama and sec. of St...

English: President Barack Obama and sec. of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Besides the race issue–which was a big one, don’t get me wrong, with many people voting against Barack Obama purely because he was black–Mr. Romney and his party are way into controlling women and Others. For a guy who wants small government and personal responsibility, he sure did stress (after flip-flopping on the issue, of course) his desire to expand governmental control of women and to make life even harder for us. He wanted government small enough to fit in my panties, as the saying goes. Mr. Obama said that I owned my body, so he got my vote. It’s really that simple, and yes, I resent the fact that my vote was manipulated by my desire to retain my rights. I’d really rather vote based on economic plans and foreign policy and all that, carefully weighing the pros and cons of each candidate’s suggested plans, but I view human rights as fundamental to the entire American way of life. It doesn’t matter to me what a candidate’s foreign policy is if he or she thinks that what America really needs is a nice shiny theocracy that controls everybody’s intimate decisions and private lives. That desire to control others and meddle in individual citizens’ lives and negate their consent will inevitably infect everything else that candidate thinks and does post-election day.

I resent that it’s come down to that deciding factor. But as it becomes glaringly apparent that Republicans talk a very big game about economics and jobs but concentrate solely on negating and erasing people’s rights and advancing right-wing Christian Dominionism in service to their corporate masters, that’s how it’s going to have to be till they figure out why they keep losing national-level elections and stop trying to use the control of my body as a pandering tactic to get votes from angry, scared misogynists.

There needs to be more attention paid to this controlling aspect of Christianity–and religion in general no doubt. As a blogger named PostMormonGirl has written about her post-Mormon life, it’s all about control. The women who don’t keep in line get excommunicated, while others get hounded about returning. The only common element to all of our experience is that nothing we do is good enough unless we are totally compliant with these misogynists’ wishes–and often not even then.

It’s all about control. My body, my essential rights, my liberties, my dignity are all just collateral damage–just bargaining chips for this huge Christian machine as it grabs for the power and dominance it’s lost, as a way to gather hugely-disparate elements under one big tent so that grab is easier to make.

As PostMormonGirl has written: “I’ll find a way to get past my failed resignation attempts and see the manipulations of the Mormon Church for what it really is – the futile attempts of a church that is desperate to avoid facing its own impotence and irrelevance.”

She could have been writing about the entire Republican Party at this point, about the entire Christian church as a body politic, about misogynists in general too. The system is breaking down, that much is apparent. I don’t think they have the sheer numbers they need at this point to sustain themselves. Twenty percent of Americans–and 1/3 of people under 30–are now Nones, which means they don’t subscribe or affiliate with any particular religious ideology. Along with that disinterest in organized religion comes an equal disinterest in conservative politics. And these Nones are only increasing in number at this point. Already they outnumber fundagelicals and a number of other voting blocs.

That means that if Dominionist Christians want to install their theocracy after all, they’re going to have to find a way to appeal to people way outside their tribe.

It’s as simple and as evil as this: if these right-wing toxic Christians want control, they will have to pander to misogynists, racists, and other such elements. They’ll have to convince these folks that their shared base, their ideology, and their worldview transcend religious labels. This isn’t a new strategy; back in the Nixon days, right-wing Catholics figured out that they needed to get in bed with right-wing Protestants if they wanted their favorite candidates to win elections, and Republicans figured out very quickly thereafter that race-baiting and misogyny were winning tactics to get everybody into the right mindset and voting together. That tent is still rocking with the party going on inside it. What we are seeing now is nothing more than a decades-old plan finally seeing fruition.

And everybody in that tent can agree on this one thing: how important it is to control women’s lives and keep the old system of patriarchy going.

Ms. Clinton is quite correct: as women’s rights go, so goes the culture. She’s certainly not the first to say it that way, but she is one of the most visible people to make that connection. If women’s rights get rolled back to appease power-mad Christians, it’s going to be that much harder to move forward in any other way. They see the rollback of women’s rights as the necessary first step in reproducing their gauzy, error-filled notion of a Godly Christian Culture. And they’ll happily take votes from anybody at all to suppress women’s rights, though many of these voters may not realize that once they’ve accomplished that goal, they’ll be moving on very quickly with the rest of their agenda.

Please make sure your voting papers are in order, if you’re American. November’s knocking on the door.

One way people try to dominate the future is to rewrite the past. Christians are especially guilty of committing this fraud, and at this point I have to think their constant overuse of this tactic is studied and deliberate. Even many of the “nice” Christians really think that there was this magical time in the near past when men were men, women were women, and fundagelical dominance was complete–and their leaders’ revisionary tactics are a big part of why they mistakenly believe in this mythic past. We’re going to talk next time about why revisionism is so dangerous as we talk about yet another major Christian entertainer who turned out to be nothing but a bag of lies.

* Birth Control and the Religious Right’s War on Women – interesting blog piece I thought you’d like.

* Why the Red Pill Will Kill You Inside – where I found the phrase “punch Morpheus in the face” and an excellent analysis of the entire anti-feminist movement. If you’ve never clicked on any related post I’ve ever linked here, please click on this one and read it. It’s that important (and not nearly as long as my blog posts).

About Captain Cassidy

I blog over at Roll to Disbelieve about religion, culture, cats, and tabletop RPGs.
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30 Responses to SCOTUS and Collateral Damage.

  1. Matt says:

    It’s amazing to me how much my eyes have opened in the past 5 years or so.

    For 10 years or so of my adult life I had my feet on both sides of the line. I considered myself non-partisan. I was a christian but I didn’t like church. When politics came up I changed the topic (or the channel if it was on TV). I really though that both sides were messed up, and the best place was to be the “normal guy” in the center.

    I don’t know if it’s just that I started paying attention since, or that the republicans really have gotten worse (or at least more open about how bad they are), but I started noticing myself going more and more democrat as I realized how much my inner values didn’t line up with republicans at all, and soon after christianity at all. I think I probably just finally took off my blinders and realized I had to stop lying to myself.

    Plus, I believe people tend to question religion/politics more when their immediate needs are taken care of. Early in my adult life it was a struggle to survive. I was concerned with my immediate problems more than those of the country and the overreach of religion.


  2. karenh1234567890 says:

    A couple of observations:

    Did you notice that all of the members of SCOTUS are old Roman Catholic men? Nothing like putting the teachings of your church before the US Constitution…

    I checked out the Red Pill link. Wow. The mens rights movements seems to be a bunch of male “old teenagers” griping about the fact that the only women who want anything to do with them are also “old teenagers”. Growing up and learning that relationships take work from both parties to be long–term and satisfying doesn’t seem to be something that they are going to do.


  3. sjl1701 says:

    This is a case of what I call: “Only old white guys think they know how to run uteruses”, despite the fact that their knowledge of the subject is lower than that of a dead gnat. Fortunately we have sensible people here in the state of two seasons and when things are not being done correct, we, for the most part, Michele Bachmann not withstanding, generally do things right. We’ve have prevent care for women mandated for coverage in health plans and most plans here do NOT cover Viagra. While birth control coverage can vary depending on the method, it has been covered by most plans.

    The only good outcome of this extremely short sighted and stupid decision, is that it should get a bunch of people up in arms and back being poltically active in a mid-term election.

    I’m still appalled that anyone calls this a “victory for religiious freedom” when it allows my boss to regulate my sex life based on his religious belief.



    • I agree and think this is going to backfire so big time. I’ve heard some right-wing sites already saying this is going to bring Hillary the White House if she cares to run for it.


  4. David W says:

    Hi Captain,

    I haven’t posted here before, but I read many of your posts; I found you via godlessindixie, whom I have been reading for a long time; you post there all the time :)
    Anyhow, I agree with many of your points, but I would like to start a conversation in regard to one aspect of your post.
    You linked “why the red pill will kill you inside,” and then you said:
    “What feminism really wants is to opt out of the entire game that says there has to be one superior gender. When offered a blue or a green pill (sorry, you don’t get red ones anymore, blame the idiots at that Reddit for why you can’t have nice things), we want to do what one Redditor suggested and punch Morpheus in the face and say we don’t want either pill at all. We want to opt out of the whole game and start something new. We question the entire paradigm that says someone has to be in control of anybody else.”

    First, I am a 32 y.o. male, happily married for 5 years. I know this will be the first question on many people’s minds reading my post.
    One caveat, I do agree that there is some toxic bs spewed on those forums, however, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the info is incorrect.

    Alright, so I just came across this whole red pill blue pill idea a few months ago, and as a result, my outlook has been adjusted toward reality, and I am happy to have stumbled across the idea.
    As I see it, the whole red pill blue pill idea is basically concerned with evolutionary psychology.

    There is much to say here, but I will stick with limiting my post to the following point for now.
    In the article, the author says:
    “In order to have a healthy relationship, you have to be a healthy human being first. A healthy human being doesn’t use sexual strategy. You’ll only ever have a healthy relationship if both parties refuse to play that game,” and I understood you to essentially echo this sentiment.
    First, there is nothing I would like more than to opt-out of this BS game. For the MBTI junkies out there, I am INTJ, and if you know anyone with that profile, you will understand why I would like to opt out.
    Anyhow, honestly, the game is sooooooooo terrible, I really don’t like it. Unfortunately, (and here is what I want to really emphasize), we CAN’T opt out.

    There are two main issues here, one is gender equality, the other is sexual attraction. I have never met anyone who is willing to take a stand against gender equality, and if I do, I sure as hell won’t speak with them again; this is a no-brainer; all we can do is wait for those old men, who really believe that men are superior, to die, and they their ideas will die with them.

    However, in regard to sexual attraction, we have been molded by natural selection to prefer certain traits, this is not something that we can control.

    When we see a woman or a man, we are either sexually attracted to them, or we are not, end of story. Sure, we can “learn to love them,” and then include sex into that deep friendship that we develop, but it is NEVER the same thing as raw attraction; we all know this, and anyone who has ever had sex with someone whom they had that raw sexual attraction for knows exactly what I am talking about here.

    The idea that we can just opt out of hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection is, well, rather silly on it’s face.

    What we can do, is learn what is attractive, in regards to evolutionary psychology, admit it, and then enhance the hell outta it to the best of our ability.
    For example, does my wife get all hot n bothered seeing me vacuum, NOPE; does she like to see me do something involving manual labor and physical strength, YUP. So when possible, I should try to do those things she likes when she is around, and avoid the things she doesn’t like when she is around. (Of course I am still going to vacuum and wash dishes etc, I would never suggest that anyone refuse to be a partner in household duties.)

    What I see as the core of the red pill blue pill idea is that evolutionary psych is something we will never escape as a species; we need to be aware of it, and we need to integrate those ideas into our interactions with the opposite sex, and we need to do so in a positive way which is aimed at making everyone happy; and the good news is that this is possible.

    The trope that I see tossed around on my ‘red pill blue pill’ site of choice is ‘you need an appropriate mix of beta male and alpha male to keep your relationship optimized;’ this is what I see as the take-away of the ‘red pill blue pill’ movement.

    I am interested to hear your thoughts, and I hope that I have made a few people take a second look at their knee-jerk reactions to the ‘red pill’ idea; after all, this is in everyones interest, women WANT a better man; they want a man whom is a good mix of beta and alpha; not a single one of you wants, in the long term, a weak beta or a strong alpha, you want the appropriate mix of both.


    • Welcome! You’ve asked for my input so I’m happy to give it — mainly I think you’re maybe not understanding some things about attraction and maybe mistaking your own experience with universal experience. I can tell you from having talked to a great number of people that yes, actually, people can form lifelong love relationships very slowly and gradually. And yes, actually, many women find men doing housework to be incredibly sexy. You’re buying into a really gender-essentialist model here, one that seems to apply to you all right, but which is far from universal. And when you move outside the gender binary into LGBTQ land, your observations become even more problematic.

      I think you need to be really careful with the evo-psych stuff and assigning alpha or beta labels to people. At best you’re buying into some really iffy behavioral pseudo-science masking serious misogyny. At worst you’re still playing the game of angry losers, borrowing labels you have to fit into to game a system, and making women into objects of conquest to be analyzed and approached like video-game bosses.

      Evo-psych adherents are generally regarded as pseudoscience cranks who are missing some really big points. I gently suggest you find out more about it and where its shortcomings are before you start using it as a model for interacting with real people. Nobody but MRAs take that idea seriously anymore–and MRAs only take it seriously because it affirms the things they think about women and relationships.


      • Matt says:

        I have to agree with Cass here. I met my wife online. Didn’t even know what she looked like for over six months. There was an attraction of personality between us from the get go. When I finally saw her picture, and then met her in person, she wasn’t exactly the type of woman visually that I had imagined in my head, but that didn’t matter.

        We’ve been together for 14 years now. I love her as much as ever. One thing I’ve realized througout the years is that there’s so much more between two people the what they appreciate evolutionarily. Yes, I like my wife’s ass. Yes, I find her shape appealing. No, it’s not the shape that I THOUGHT I wanted as a young man. But the point is that doesn’t matter anyway. There’s so much more to a sexual relationship than physical sexual attraction. In many cases it’s the key to the door (people meet because they decide to talk to someone they’re attracted to), but the treasure lies behind the door. In other cases, like mine, attraction wasn’t the catalyst, since we met “blind” in a chat room.


        • Matt says:

          In case it’s not clear, part of my point is that what we find physically attractive is maleable. It changes depending on what we value at the time. When you’re young you think you prefer certain shapes of people. As you get older you realize that ideal can change.


      • David W says:


        Thanks for the welcome.

        -You said “I can tell you from having talked to a great number of people that yes, actually, people can form lifelong love relationships very slowly and gradually.”
        I agree completely. I tried to be careful to say that I think this is possible.

        -You said “You’re buying into a really gender-essentialist model here, one that seems to apply to you all right, but which is far from universal. ”
        First, let me say that I am not well-read in evolutionary psychology; with that said, I understand gender-essentialism to state that men and women are essentially different in many ways; I really don’t see how this is up for debate. Although, I do allow for plenty of debate in regard to the ways in which men and women differ.
        You also said “…but which is far from universal.”
        Your right in that it ‘seems to apply to me,’ but even if the ideas applied only to 80% of men and women, this would still give the idea huge explanatory power. (of course assuming that the model was accurate.)

        -You said: ” And when you move outside the gender binary into LGBTQ land, your observations become even more problematic.”
        Sure, good point. First, I want to say that I unequivocally support LGBTQ rights. Second, I would like to point out that LGBTQ community makes up about 3.4% of the population in the USA. A model that describes the other 90+% of the population would still have great explanatory power. (

        -You said: “Evo-psych adherents are generally regarded as pseudoscience cranks who are missing some really big points. I gently suggest you find out more about it and where its shortcomings are before you start using it as a model for interacting with real people.”
        As I mentioned above, I am not well-read when it comes to evolutionary psychology.
        My main familiarity with the subject comes from the many logical fallacies that we make as humans, and how these are tied to historical benefit in early humans.
        Also, Dennett, in breaking the spell frequently argues that religion has roots in evolutionary fitness.
        Anyhow, despite my superficial grasp of the subject, It seems to me that if you accept the theory of evolution, you then are forced accept that our brains/minds are a product of evolution; as such, it would follow that we can look to our history as early humans in order to help to describe and understand the ways in which we think and interact today; does this general idea seem reasonable to you?

        -Finally, you seem to reject evolutionary psychology, rather vehemently I might add, seeing as you mention that it’s adherents are “cranks” and that at best it is “…really iffy behavioral pseudo-science masking serious misogyny.”
        I have very recently developed a great interest in the subject, and I think it has great explanatory power in regard to logical fallacies that we make, as well as the origins of religion.
        Would you please refer me to the material on the subject that you find most pertinent, and that would be accessible to someone who is just beginning to learn about the subject?

        (My writing tends to slant toward the logical side, and away from the emotional; this is a weakness as I am often misunderstood as being rude/curt/cold etc. Soooo, let me know if I am coming across poorly, or if I am not being clear, and I will do my best to revise and explain anything I have written.) =)


        • Thanks for the clarify :) If you’re not very well-read in the subject I confess I’m baffled about why you seem so dead-set on using it as an explanatory model for human interaction. I think you’d do very well to look up information about it. Greta Christina’s written some great stuff debunking evo-psych, as has Amanda Marcotte. I believe that PZ Meyer has also debunked a lot of it (he’s actually a biologist so his words might carry further with you). Before we go a lot further, I think you need to educate yourself. You’re really hooked on this idea, which you think might explain perhaps 80% of human interaction. It might not explain much at all of human interaction, and might only explain interactions between people caught in sexist binaries (in the same way that Freudian psychology applies best to white, upper-middle-class European women). As you have observed, yes, I reject evo-psych almost completely; I don’t reject the idea that people might be conditioned to think in certain ways (for example: agency, which might be a precursor of religious thought; the way that humans the world over react to babies and baby animals, which seems clearly to be some method of ensuring babies’ survival; the way that babies get very distrustful of new foods right about the time they start toddling, which would protect them from eating dangerous things on their own), but I don’t think that the way that men and women interact in the modern era is one of the ways humans have been thus conditioned.

          I think evo-psych as it is currently used as a behavioral model is just an excuse for sexist behavior at worst, and an explanation for it at best. It relieves me to hear that you’re trying not to fall into such thinking. Before we talk about it again, I’d like you to look up critiques and criticisms of the subject so we’re all on the same page. I regret that I’m not set up to educate someone in such a broad subject, but Google is your friend.


          • David W says:

            Hi again,

            You said ” If you’re not very well-read in the subject I confess I’m baffled about why you seem so dead-set on using it as an explanatory model for human interaction.”
            I hope I am not coming across as dead set, I am asking for reading recommendations and admitting that I don’t know much about the subject. My reason for being enthusiastic about the idea, is that in some areas, it is obviously right, and in my personal experience, much is explained. I am hoping that it stands up to scientific scrutiny, and I am going to go looking for info on the subject.

            You said: “I believe that PZ Meyer has also debunked a lot of it (he’s actually a biologist so his words might carry further with you).”
            Nope, I don’t really put much weight on any individuals opinion.(This includes my own opinions as well, seeing as I am often wrong.) What I was hoping for were links to a scientific consensus paper by multiple professional organizations for example; if such a consensus doesn’t exist, how could you and the others be convinced that the subject matter is bs?

            You said “I think evo-psych as it is currently used as a behavioral model is just an excuse for sexist behavior at worst, and an explanation for it at best. ”
            I am very sure that you are right, at least in regard to select groups of people.
            I have no doubt that any idea/subject, can be twisted around and used as a weapon to abuse others; however, I just don’t really see how this has any bearing on the truth or falsity of the idea/subject.

            You said: “Before we talk about it again, I’d like you to look up critiques and criticisms of the subject so we’re all on the same page.”
            Sure, I don’t know if we will end up on the same page, but I will do my best to search for scientific consensus papers by professional organizations; If I find anything I will shoot ya an email; or if you don’t mind, I will resurrect this thread.

            Thanks for the convo.


          • You’re very welcome. I would like to caution you against coming off as “JAQing off.” Basically, you’re “just asking questions” — asking me for things that you could have looked up in the time it took you to write your reply. You’ve added nothing to anybody’s understanding of the subject, but only reiterated your desire that I feed you all your information. This tactic is hugely disrespectful of my time. The resources are out there and I would like you to avail yourself of them. I am highly resistant to spoon-feeding people information they could easily attain for themselves, especially about stuff that has been used in the past to excuse and explain misogyny. You’re using a tactic that I’ve seen MRAs use countless times in the past, as well as fundagelical and “logical” Christians–all groups, incidentally, madly in love with evo-psych. I’ve gone down that road with JAQing-off people before and it is both thankless and unsuccessful. So before we engage on this again, please educate yourself. I regret that I do not have the time nor the inclination to spoon-feed someone information that is easily accessed. I hope you’ll take this suggestion to heart this time. I don’t accuse you of using a dishonest or shady tactic with me because I think you’re doing it out of sincere ignorance, but your ignorant card’s now officially been played.

            Next time we talk about this, I really do expect something that shows you’re aware of the serious criticisms of evo-psych and I also expect whatever comes next to be something besides a request for easily-found information. I want to have a constructive conversation with you, but I cannot while you’re stuck in JAQoff mode. This will be the very last time we engage on this topic before you’ve done your own research. JAQoffs make spaces unsafe and therefore cannot be tolerated. If you really need a 101 type of space in which to explore these basic types of questions, those spaces exist; however, this isn’t one of them. I hope that clears up some questions.


          • Psycho Gecko says:

            David W seems to be the one asserting that evo-psych is a valid way to view all this, then admitting he doesn’t know much about it, then asking you to prove that it isn’t reasonable. He built his view of things based on Reddit, but asks you to hunt down lots of peer reviewed papers to change his mind.

            Also, the thing about knowing a woman finds him more attractive if he does physical labor being evolutionary…well, that’s completely contrary to evolution. Humans have been hunter-gatherers most of their existence as a species. That meant that men went out and hunted generally, but it also meant that, on a day to day basis, men came back empty-handed. Women were the ones who consistently provided food.

            If they wanted big, beefy specimens, they’d go grab some big manly Neanderthals, who were so musclebound that they couldn’t throw spears. Yeah, throwing spears. As in, human men didn’t run around wrestling lions to the ground or beating them with clubs. It was more manly to throw a lot of spears at animals, or maybe drop rocks on them from a cliff. Neanderthals did go hand to hand due to their Schwarzenegger-esque physique, and you may notice that they’re the species that didn’t make it. Plus, they had to team up to do all that stuff, so women wouldn’t be attracted to any individual physical labor if all this was evolutionary.

            So really, if attraction was more related to how people evolved, a woman would be whistling and catcalling construction workers while they dreamed about having a woman who was a steady provider.


          • Oh, that’d be a neat as hell way to run a world. Someone was telling me she’d gotten “women like pink because women gathered berries way back when” from an evo-psych enthusiast, which makes me wonder if that person had ever actually seen any berries, none of which are actually pink, or knew that “girls = pink, boys = blue” is actually a fairly new thing since it was the reverse in most Western cultures for a while and certainly not a universal thing outside those cultures.

            Most of these ideas evo-psych has built up come from a very faulty understanding of Western history–they’re not applicable outside a very narrow range of people and culture, and they get a lot of history flat wrong. They make a lot of assumptions about ancient culture that they can’t support–many of which are just on the face of it absurd. They can’t even see that almost everything they’re saying is just a cultural construct. It’s gender-essentialist, as well, allowing no room for the wide spectrum of femininity and masculinity or expressions and orientations of sexuality.

            I’ve come to think that evo-psych is simply “just-so stories” for misogynists. It’s a series of fairy tales like “how the cougar got her red lipstick” and “why assholes get all the girls” to make a little more sense out of things, but they don’t, not when reality intrudes.

            Also, thanks for distilling why I was so hugely annoyed there. You’ve succinctly summed up the situation.


          • Psycho Gecko says:


            There’s a little bit about gender-colored clothes. It even starts off pointing out how, in the 1880s, the custom was for all kids to wear dresses early on. And the idea of really gendered clothing about what we have now really goes back to the 80s.

            To quote the article:
            “Gender-neutral clothing remained popular until about 1985. Paoletti remembers that year distinctly because it was between the births of her children, a girl in ’82 and a boy in ’86. “All of a sudden it wasn’t just a blue overall; it was a blue overall with a teddy bear holding a football,” she says. Disposable diapers were manufactured in pink and blue.

            Prenatal testing was a big reason for the change. Expectant parents learned the sex of their unborn baby and then went shopping for “girl” or “boy” merchandise. (“The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” Paoletti says.) The pink fad spread from sleepers and crib sheets to big-ticket items such as strollers, car seats and riding toys. Affluent parents could conceivably decorate for baby No. 1, a girl, and start all over when the next child was a boy.”

            How about those ancient berry-picking gatherer women, eh?


          • Fascinating info–and I can totally see that, yeah. In Finland, where the gubmint gives all mothers baby boxes for their babies full of starting-out supplies, the clothes are gender-neutral-colored for exactly reasons of economy, and I know parents who go that route so they can upcycle clothes when the baby’s outgrown them.

            Blue was a girl’s color for quite a while in a lot of places, btw.


          • Psycho Gecko says:

            Before the pink for girls, blue for boys, it was neutral for a bit, then prior to that, in the early 1900s, it was pink for boys (a stronger color) and blue for girls. When I said the colors as we know them, I mean the modern notion that girls where pink and boys where blue.


      • Mau de Katt says:

        Not to mention that ideas of women’s sexual attractiveness are in large part culturally conditioned, as well. One can trace the change (“eveolution,” if you will) in “what men thinks makes women sexy” just in the last century, and it’s usually based on what is seen as “upper class female” attractiveness. It used to be that fleshy, curvy women were considered attractive, because that implied they came from (or were going to) families/husbands with the wealth to properly provide for them, and they could afford a life of relative leisure. Look at Renaissance paintings for what used to be considered the apex of female sexuality — fleshy, curvy, and small-breasted. (Not sure why large breasts weren’t considered sexy, unless it’s because larger breasts might imply nursing, and therefore the female in question is not a virgin? Were small breasts considered virginal?)

        Now that the lower classes have become larger and larger in body size (due in large part to the lower-quality food choices available to them), and that maintaining a “ripped bod” is a time- and money-intensive endeavor, slim and toned women are “what makes men aroused.” Earlier, it was “slim but not toned”; somewhere in there is also the “adolescent boy” look for women, as well as the “toothpick with boobs.” Go back to Captain’s post about Standards of Female Beauty and her time in Japan; Japanese men “became aroused” by American women, or the “Western look,” because it was a status symbol to “own” a Western girlfriend.

        Whatever the case, the “cultural ideal” of female sexual attractiveness, the “what makes a man aroused by a woman,” is always a standard that is difficult, time-consuming, expensive, and often impossible to attain or maintain, at least without artificial aid. (corsets; girdles; makeup; restrictive clothing styles; surgery….) It all boils down to this post’s original point — the general, cultural “what makes men aroused” in a woman is always tied to the ongoing desire for and effort of men to control women.


        • Thanks, that’s well said there. And the thinking at the time was that small breasts–like a small penis–were indicative of a less animalistic person, in much the same way they are thought of today. Take a look at some of the less savory stereotypes of different races, and chances are very exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics are part of that odious package.


  5. Cat Not Included says:

    So does anyone have a good link explaining (in relatively unbiased detail) what was really going on with Hobby Lobby? I’ve just heard a lot of conflicting things (for example, I’ve heard both that they were trying to avoid a fine and just trying to claim a tax benefit, and I’m really not sure which one it really is). Trying to search the topic just tends to find all the opinion discussion.
    The idea that an employer gets to have a say in precisely which medication they will cover is horrifying. They are not a doctor. And it is none of their damn business.

    Note on birth control
    My wife had terrible problems with irregular periods when she was younger, causing her lots of pain and unpleasantness. For years, doctors told her there was nothing she could do, until she was talking to someone about birth control and it was mentioned “oh, it will help regulate your periods as well”. It made a huge difference for her. Why did no doctor suggest it all those years? Well, now I’m realizing it was probably partly because of the stigma against birth control.

    Note on ‘hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection
    Natural selection and evolutionary processes explain a lot of things, but keep in mind that it is evolution. It is change. Italian wall lizards secluded on an island developed entirely new digestive systems in just 30 years to handle a complete change in diet.
    Standards for what is “attractive” have changed radically in past times, and have varied widely from culture to culture. Standards of beauty are noticeably different even within the last generation or two, and are clearly strongly influenced by social conditioning. No reason to think there’s some built in trait that we need to “fight” against.


    • That’s just horrifying about your wife… I bet that’s exactly why she didn’t get birth control to help that health problem. I hope she’s doing better now. My own sister was on oral contraceptives from the age of like 13 for a similar reason–she had super-irregular periods and wow, it was just a nightmare for her.

      As to SCOTUS explanations.. wow, it’s a mess. I’ve found Rachel Maddow’s various evaluations of the subject to be very useful in navigating and understanding what happened. As you can imagine, both sides of the issue have their own very strong looks at the decision, but I’m inherently distrustful of right-wing sources as they’ve not shown themselves to be really dedicated to truthfulness. I don’t know a lot of news sources I’d call genuinely unbiased in some way. Ms. Maddow is a Rhodes Scholar whose upper-level education involved a lot of stuff about government-sponsored healthcare, so I value her opinion about specifically ACA type topics.


      • Mau de Katt says:

        My periods were always widely irregular, and accompanied by really bad cramps; I’d frequently have to go home from school on the first day. When I was 14, my dad (the doctor!) discussed with Mom the idea of putting me on the pill for this very reason, even to the point of mentioning it to me as a done deal… then almost immediately changed his mind, because he thought I’d then go out and sleep with anything that had two legs and a penis. So — health issues lost out to male control of “that dangerous (and in this case, imaginary) female sexuality.”


    • Kare Sevill says:

      “Note on ‘hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection
      Natural selection and evolutionary processes explain a lot of things, but keep in mind that it is evolution. It is change. Italian wall lizards secluded on an island developed entirely new digestive systems in just 30 years to handle a complete change in diet.”

      I had to comment on this. The bacteria in our gut/intestines do most of the work “digesting” our food. The bacteria flora change after what food they get. Anectodes like this are memes working as “truths”, confusing and creates “lies”.


      • Thanks, Kare :) I think it’s important to challenge things. I looked it up and found on the National Geographic site that in just 30 years in isolation on an island that wasn’t naturally their habitat, left by earlier researchers fleeing WWII, the lizards did actually develop new gut structures such as cecal valves to allow them go to from an insect-based diet to a planet-based one. It kinda sounds like it went past just gut flora and into actual new structures; the NatGeo piece likens it to humans growing a new organ like an appendix in just a few hundred years, though they do need to confirm a few things genetically still (they’ve already verified that these lizards are the descendants of the same ones those earlier researchers had brought to this island). I’d heard about this lizard before and even linked this story in the blog in the past, but I hadn’t realized just how big this was till seeing the NatGeo thing. It’s just fascinating stuff, isn’t it?


  6. Cat Not Included says:

    Rational wiki has a nice little write up on evo psych and a lot of links.


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