Fifth Floor: Ladies’ Apparel, Douchebags

How a woman dresses, by Floyd Mayweather

This bit of douchebaggery was attributed to Floyd Mayweather, a professional American boxer.  I don’t know if Mayweather actually said this or not, but it doesn’t matter:  it’s still reprehensible.

I feel like I’ve covered this before (in fact, I’m sure I have), but I guess it bears repeating:  Nobody asks to be disrespected.  Saying that a woman’s attire makes her responsible for the horrible things visited upon her by unscrupulous idiots is dumb.  It’s dumb, and it’s reckless.  When you say things like this, you are implicitly giving your consent to all levels of disrespect, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, even rape, because a woman stepped out of the house wearing clothes that were, in your opinion, immodest.  You’re also suggesting that it’s not your fault what you do to her, since you’re just responding to her advertisement.

What a tool.  What an utter tool.  If you made, passed on, or agree with this meme, then I want you to go to your room and repeat the following words until you understand them:

Women are human beings who have rights, just like me.  A woman might dress in ways that I personally find immodest, but that does not allow me or anyone else to disrespect, abuse, or harm her.  I should stop perpetuating the idea that women are responsible for all the evils that befall them.

When you understand what’s wrong with this meme, you can come out of your room.

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There Certainly Is A Hack Here

Every now and then I come across a meme that is obviously meant to be a joke.  It’s hard to know what stance to take with memes like this; it is a mostly harmless piece of fluff, easily forgotten, and probably not something worth getting worked up over.

Of course that’s never stopped me before.

See, I don’t mind jokes, even mean-spirited jokes made at other peoples’ expense – as long as the butt of the joke has actually done something worthy of contempt.  Take the asshole in this video.  He’s strung together a bunch of worn-out stereotypes about women – masquerading as “jokes” – and presented it as a farcical representation of “science”.  He’s basically painted a target on his back for snarky assholes like me, so let us waste no further time with introductions, explanations, and what have you.

At about 12 seconds in, Professor Jackass (PJ for short) draws a pair of intersecting axes on his White Board O’ Science.  He labels the vertical axis “Crazy” and the horizontal axis “Hot”, then scales the “Hot” axis from zero to ten, saying that “we’re all familiar with that.”

We’re all familiar with that?  What kind of scientific presentation is this?  Any scientist worth his salt would first define the terms and values used in his graph.  He would never just assume that the audience knew precisely what he was talking about.  By what standards are we to evaluate a woman’s physical attractiveness on the zero-to-ten scale?  See, I’m already starting to doubt this guy’s scientific bona fides.

At 28 seconds, PJ says that the “Crazy” axis is measured from four to ten because “there’s no such thing as a woman who’s not at least a 4 crazy.”

I haven’t read the DSM cover-to-cover, but I’m certain it doesn’t evaluate a person’s “crazy” factor with a simple zero-to-ten scale.  Once again, I have to question where the professor earned his scientific credentials. (No, I don’t think I’m being too harsh: the video’s title contains the word “Science”, so I expect a certain level of scientific integrity!)   Also, if there’s no such thing as a woman who scores less than 4 on the “Crazy” scale, then you should rejigger your scale, Professor.  Don’t malign the sanity of women in general just because you can’t properly scale your stupid axis.

At 40 seconds, PJ draws a diagonal, roughly-straight line and says that it represents the “Hot-Crazy Line”.  It’s very important, the Professor tells us, to keep in mind where the Hot-Crazy Line is.  Sadly, the good Professor does not give us an equation or any other means of reproducing the line on our own; we’re simply left to guess.  I call balderdash!  From what data was this line established?  I demand error bars!

Ahem…anyway, the Professor bisects his graph with a vertical line rising from Hot = 5.  He designates everything to the left of the line as the “No Go Zone”, meaning that women who are, “in our mind”, less attractive than 5 should not be considered for dating, marriage, hanging around, etc.

Here’s the message I’m getting from this:  People who don’t meet our narrow criteria for hotness are worthless human beings; they contribute little-to-nothing to the enjoyment of our lives.  Got it, Professor.  Will this be on the test?

To his credit (not that he really deserves any) PJ’s use of the phrase “in our mind” does remind the viewer that this is all subjective bullpuckey.  That was a kindness.

Professor Jackass then defines a sub-area between Hot = 5 and Hot = 8 below the Hot-Crazy Line.  He tells us that this is the “Fun Zone”.  Girls in the “Fun Zone” are good for having fun (as the name implies) but should not be considered for long-term relationships.

I think I understand, Professor.  Women who are moderately attractive and sane should be used for our personal enjoyment, but have no value as life partners.  Golly, Professor Jackass, I sure could learn a lot from you…you know, if I didn’t care about being a decent human being, that is.

According to the Professor, all women above the Hot-Crazy Line, regardless of hotness, are in the “Danger Zone”.  This includes “redheads, strippers, anyone named Tiffany, and hairdressers”.  The women in the “Danger Zone” are terrifyingly unstable and will make Fatal Attraction look like a day in the park, if you believe Professor Jackass.  You know, the Professor has spent so much time insulting, stereotyping, and marginalizing women that I was afraid he wouldn’t have time to insult mentally ill people.  What a relief that he worked that in there.

At 2:25 Professor Jackass says that the chart isn’t static, and that one must “use this chart over time to develop some reliable data.”  I am happy to hear you say that, PJ.  When do you think you’ll get around to doing that?

Confusingly, the Professor says at 2:30 that any woman can vanish from her station on the chart and spontaneously reappear elsewhere, presumably at some other combination of Hot and Crazy.  I don’t see how that’s possible, but let’s take the Professor at his word.  In that case, what is the point of this chart?  If a woman’s position on the chart is randomly mutable, then any attempt to classify the relationship-worthiness of a woman is futile.  The Professor indicates that the bachelor should collect a “cluster” of data points (But how?  From the same woman?  From different women?) and that over time, you can begin to consider that reliable.

What?  You just said that women can spontaneously teleport to any other location on the chart.  In what way does a random smattering of data points indicate a reliable pattern?  The only people who see patterns in that kind of data are the people who think television static is a secret government code to communicate with lizard people from Alpha Centauri.  Come on, Professor, this isn’t even college-level statistics we’re talking about.  High school students know you can’t draw valid conclusions from randomly generated data, and yet you claim to be able to make important relationship decisions based on magic category-hopping women!  Truly, your skills require much more than a six-minute video to teach.

Professor Jackass subdivides the remaining section of the graph into the “Date Zone”, the “Wife Zone”, and the “Unicorn Zone”.

Women in the “Date Zone” are above Hot = 8 (so, you know, they’re not disposable), below the Hot-Crazy Line, but above Crazy = 7.  PJ says you can stay in the “Date Zone” indefinitely – even introduce these women to your parents and friends.  I note that the extreme upper corner of the “Date Zone” (that is, the craziest woman it’s still okay to date because she’s incredibly hot) shares a border with the extreme rightmost corner of the “Danger Zone” (that is, the hottest woman that you shouldn’t date because she’s just too crazy).  This makes me think: on a planet with seven billion people, approximately half of whom are women, there must be a significant number of women who straddle the border between these zones.  One wonders what the Professor’s advice would be in a situation like this.  Then again, maybe it’s pointless to worry about; by the time you’ve got it figured out, she’ll spontaneously shift to some other part of the chart.  No wonder men have such trouble understanding women.

Any woman for whom Hot > 8 and for whom 5 < Crazy < 7 is in the “Wife Zone”.  Professor Jackass says you should marry these women.  Just so we’re clear: women with sufficiently troublesome mental disorders should not be married, only dated.  Moderately attractive, sane women should be led on but never committed to.  And of course unattractive women are worthless.

The Professor fills in the final space in the graph – representing women for whom Hot > 8 and Crazy < 5 – as the “Unicorn Zone”, because “these things don’t exist.”  Professor Jackass urges you: If you find a Unicorn, capture it safely so it can be studied and replicated.  Because that’s exactly what should be done with rare and beautiful animals – or, you know, meaningless women.

But I have another problem with the so-called Unicorn Zone.  PJ says Unicorns don’t exist, but earlier, he said that any woman can change her position on the graph.  He made no restrictions on the regions into which a woman can shift, so…following his logic, at any given time there should be at least some percentage of women in the Unicorn Zone – ephemeral visions of perfect beauty and clarity of mind…right?  I mean, he did say that.  That seems like a pretty large and glaring logical hole in your theory, Professor.  Perhaps you should reconsider your position before you submit to a peer-reviewed journal.

Even if we assume that the Unicorn Zone has some weird exclusionary property that prevents women from morphing into it, that still doesn’t satisfy all the logical problems.  To wit, how come a woman with Hot > 8 cannot be Crazy < 5?  Less hot women can apparently be less crazy; Professor Jackass placed the lower limit of feminine craziness at Crazy = 4, remember?  I wish he had taken the time to explain why a woman for whom 4 < Crazy < 5 cannot simultaneously have a hotness factor greater than 8.  Does being exceptionally hot somehow make a person more crazy?  The Professor’s thesis opens more questions than it resolves.

Professor Jackass relates an anecdote starting at 4:25 about a fellow who objects to his theory (Imagine that!).  His friend claims to know a woman who is smoking hot, at least a 9, and not crazy at all.  PJ’s response: she’s a dude.  “You’re talking to a tranny”, says the learned Professor, once again displaying the breathtaking sensitivity for which he is famous.

What have we learned?  Any person who was biologically male at birth has the potential to be more sane than any person who was born female, even if he decides later in life to become female.  And any woman who is both uber-hot and completely sane is in fact a man.  That’s the gist of this “joke”.  Men are better in every conceivable way than women…even at being women.  Classy, sir.  Very classy.

After the Professor’s presentation, a bearded douchebag asks the professor if there is a similar matrix for men.  The Professor enlightens us all with the Husband Hack, a much simpler graph with axes labeled “Cute” and “Money” and three regions:

  • A large “No Go Zone” wherein broke, ugly men reside,
  • A “Fun Zone” populated by men who are broke but still good-looking, and
  • A “Husband Zone” populated by wealthy men, regardless of physical appearance.

And in presenting his second masterwork, Professor Jackass manages to get in one last insult against women: he insinuates that they are as shallow as he is.  Ouch.

Quick Memes

I’ve had a few memes sitting around for a while that just didn’t seem to merit an entire post.  Enjoy!


Being Offended

Actually, we have to stop this recent culture of people not giving a f*** when somebody else is offended.  You might not understand why somebody is offended, or if you do, you might not agree with their indignation, but the least you could do – the most basic acknowledgement you could afford somebody – is to recognize that they are offended, and perhaps to offer your condolences.  Don’t worry…you can still maintain your tough guy individualist persona without being a total jerk to everybody.


Child and Gun Control

Either this meme is a complete non sequitur, or it’s suggesting that many of the societal issues which are frequently blamed on guns (and the public’s easy access thereto) could instead be solved by a liberal application of parental strictness.  It’s hard to imagine how we might test this hypothesis in the United States, so let’s look to other nations.  A 2010 study assessed the relative toughness of parents in Canada, France, and Italy.  The results showed that Italian parents are the most strict, French are moderate, and Canadians are fairly laid back.  If I’m correctly interpreting this meme’s implied hypothesis, gun violence should therefore be most pervasive in our neighbor to the north, and least common in Italy.  But is that the case?

In a word: no.  A 2012 tally of firearm-related deaths per 100,000 population per year lists 0.51 for Canada, 0.06 for France, and 0.71 for Italy.  There doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between parental strictness and gun-related deaths, at least among those three nations.

The firearm-related death rates of all three nations pale in comparison to that of the United States: about 2.97 of every 100,000 people in the United States are killed by guns each year.  Instead of blaming lax parenting for the United States’ relatively high rate of gun-related violence, maybe there’s another explanation.  If you sort the list in terms of gun ownership, the United States is at the top of the list for which data is available: there are 88.8 guns for every 100 people in the United States.  Let me put that into perspective: there were only about 83 registered passenger vehicles per 100 people in the United States in 2009.

Now I’m not going to preach about gun control this time: you may make of these statistics whatever you like.  But know this: there’s no reason to think that stricter parents will lead to a decrease in gun violence.


Angels

Although the Bible never explicitly states that all Angels are male, it always refers to them in masculine terms, and they always seem to appear as men.  Some argue that Angels are genderless.  While I suppose it wouldn’t be beyond the power of an Angel to assume a feminine form, this picture is not, strictly speaking, Biblically-based.  That’s not a point against the picture, by the way.

Also, here we see another example of the awesome power of Facebook to bend the will of the Immortals.  Zuckerberg be praised!


PEMDAS

Perhaps you remember learning the Order of Operations in elementary school.  You may have learned Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, or PEMDAS, which tells you that when you evaluate a sequence of mathematical operations, you should first heed anything in parentheses, followed by exponents, multiplication and division (left to right), and addition and subtraction (left to right).  If you’re a PEMDAS purist, you get 7 as the answer:

6 – 1 x 0 + 2 / 2

6 – 0 + 1

6 + 1

7

Here’s the trouble: contrary to what you may have been taught, there is no single correct Order of Operations, as this video demonstrates.  In fact, the Order of Operations we’re taught in school is quite arbitrary.  This problem could be correctly evaluated to give several different answers, which means it is ambiguous and therefore useless.  Writing intentionally vague math problems and then demanding that your audience use one particular Order of Operations to get a prescribed answer does not show how smart or dumb your audience is; it shows how much of a pedant you are.


Two Different Bands

Ah, so the message is: Throw your money around and you’ve got a dance partner, but put a ring on it and you’ve got a slave!  Classy.

Now I know there are women who happily make their living as housewives, cooking and cleaning and so on, and that’s okay.  I’m just really uncomfortable with the idea that a marriage band mandates a woman to that kind of life.  I just can’t get rid of this idea that a marriage should be an equal partnership, with each partner able to pursue his or her ambitions.  The view of marriage expressed in this meme is…well, it’s kind of Medieval.

Why We All Need Feminism

Male Feminists

In 2012, sixteen students at Duke University began a social media campaign to shed light on issues of gender equality. It was called Who Needs Feminism? As part of the campaign, participants displayed posters around campus. Each poster bore an image of a man or woman holding a whiteboard sign starting with the words “I need feminism because…” The students’ motivation was to show that feminist principles could be important to everybody, and that there was no feminist archetype.

Images from and inspired by Who Needs Feminism?

Images from and inspired by Who Needs Feminism?

The students also launched a three-pronged online campaign on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Within hours their message was spreading rapidly across the Internet, and they had garnered a lot of attention, from men and women; from feminists and antifeminists.

A quick word about antifeminists: I’m not going to universally bash antifeminists by assuming that they are all misogynistic sexual predators-in-training. Just as there is no feminist archetype, there is no antifeminist archetype. They each have their own motives, even if I disagree with their conclusions. But there are those among the antifeminist crowd who betray a spectacular misunderstanding of women, their desires, and their struggle by creating garbage like this meme. If you are an antifeminist who thinks this meme is hilarious, it is to you that I address the rest of this post.

Despite what you may have heard in the last meeting of your He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, feminism is not about women dominating men. Most feminists will tell you that feminism is about equality; they subscribe to the notion that women are actual people who deserve the same social, political, and economic benefits as their male counterparts. Now really, there shouldn’t be anything too upsetting about that, unless you’re part of the privileged class and you’ve bought into the fairy tale that an increase in someone else’s rights means a decrease in your own rights. Don’t worry, rights are not a limited resource. There are plenty to go around.

If you are one of these misogynistic antifeminists, then you no doubt believe that any man who espouses feminist ideals does so only because he’s trying to get laid. Let’s take a few seconds to enumerate everything that’s wrong with that position.

  1. Blogger Feminspire writes that one of the most harmful aspects of the “male feminists just want to get laid” argument is that it betrays a complete indifference to the humanity of women. Anybody who makes this argument apparently cannot understand why any man would feel otherwise; ergo, any man who appears to support a woman’s cause must be trying to con a woman into sleeping with him.
  2. Men are not all single-minded sex-seeking missiles. It is conceivable that some men have interests outside of sex. It just might be possible that some men are interested in equality for everyone, and they can express their support without expecting any sort of sexual compensation.
  3. If a feminist ally truly understands feminist ideals (and he’d better), he knows that being feminist is not a free pass to having sex anyway. A woman chooses her sexual partners based on many qualities, not just ideological compatibility. If he didn’t already know this, he would learn real quick.

I am a white, straight male. I occupy three of the five sides of the American Pentagon of Privilege (a concept I just now invented, as far as I know. The other two sides are being wealthy and Christian.) I am aware of my privilege, but I don’t want to give it away. I want everybody to have the same privilege. That means I don’t want to tear others down or block their progress. When I identify myself as an ally to feminists (and to homosexuals and to people of color), it’s not because I want something for myself; I want us all to be in the same boat. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Eminem: A study in opposites

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I am inclined to agree with Mr Mathers in one regard: a person’s ethnicity, sexual orientation, body shape, or socioeconomic status should not affect how you treat them. It’s always a good idea to be nice to those who have been nice to you, but it also wouldn’t hurt to break some ground by being nice to somebody who hasn’t necessarily been nice to you. That’s how you build relationships and establish community…if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

Of course, Eminem’s lyrics and public comments indicate that he is definitely not into community-building. The rapper is notorious for homophobic, misogynistic, violent lyrics. In interviews he shrugs it off, essentially saying that although some of his songs are a constant stream of vile anti-social sentiment, he’s really a nice guy who doesn’t mean anything he says and people should stop taking him so seriously.

Sorry, Eminem, but you don’t get to dictate how other people respond to your lyrics. In the song “Rap God”, Eminem says he’ll be able to break a “table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half”. When confronted by his critics, Eminem’s response is that the word “faggot” doesn’t specifically refer to a homosexual, but to anybody who is…well, let’s just say annoying and leave it at that.

But don’t you see, Eminem, that word has specifically applied to effeminate male homosexuals, and when you use it you degrade them, whether you mean to or not. You use the word as an insult.

It’s impossible to explain to people like Eminem why using terms like “faggot” or “gay” as insults is a bad thing, because they have never been part of an oppressed minority. Don’t bother telling me about Mathers’ rough childhood in a poor neighborhood; at the end of the day he’s still a white straight male with all the attendant privileges. And now he’s a rich white straight male, which is even a greater reason why he shouldn’t be using language that demeans minority groups. Whether he likes it or not, he has a responsibility to make sure that he doesn’t repeat the mistakes of his forebears, mistakes that include using language that a reasonable person would know is insulting.

In defense of his homophobic lyrics, Eminem says:

I think people know my personal stance on things and the personas that I create in my music. And if someone doesn’t understand that by now, I don’t think there’s anything I can do to change their mind about it.

Actually, there is. You can take some responsibility for what you put out and stop pretending that it’s everybody else’s fault for being offended. And if you won’t do that, then you can stop claiming that you’re nice to anybody.


Begin shameless plug: I’m writing another blog called Nerdy Jokes, in which I try to make sense of some of my favorite math and science related jokes. Check it out. End shameless plug.

Of Knives and Sandwiches

Knives and Sandwiches

If a woman pulls a knife on you, you may conclude that:

  1. she is mentally unhinged and bent on doing you harm, or
  2. she is so threatened by your presence that she feels she needs a knife for self-defense.

In either case, belittling her distress and demeaning her womanhood is probably not the healthiest decision you can make in that situation.

Even if you’re not being threatened by a woman with a knife, passing this meme along is not a good idea. I hate to sound like a broken record, but you’re really just trying to bolster outdated ideas about a woman’s role in a relationship. I don’t know if any of you read the news, but some women are expanding their influence beyond the kitchen. They’re doctors, lawyers, architects, researchers, scientists, politicians. If you open your eyes, you’d just be amazed at all the cool things women are doing. These “womanly instincts” to which you refer, Mr Meme Maker, are really ambitions to succeed and to be a valuable member of society, and those instincts are just as powerful as any man’s.

To be sure, there are women who choose to be homemakers, and it’s perfectly okay for them to choose that path. But regardless of what position a woman has chosen for herself, whether she’s holding a knife on you or not, your first and last thought had better be respect. That means no more stupid misogynistic memes.

Well, There IS An Abomination Here

Uterus and Satan

In what way does this make sense?

Satan is the ultimate bad guy in many religions. He is the deceiver, the spinner of evil, the author of everything foul (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he created this meme). In the video game of spiritual warfare, Satan is the final boss battle. If you’re devout, there is nobody and nothing to be hated and shunned more than Old Scratch himself.

Except for the female reproductive system, apparently. I’m not sure in what way the female reproductive system is comparable to the Prince of Darkness, but then again I’m not a misogynist. In order to understand this meme, I have to step inside the mind of somebody who hates and fears women and the things they can do with their wombs.

Unfortunately, finding somebody to serve as my woman-hating avatar is frighteningly easy. The Southern Poverty Law Center presents a list of blogs and websites that are overtly misogynistic in their message: the overarching statement from each of these sites is that women are evil, slutty, disease-ridden whores and that feminism is a terrorist movement whose only goal is to further torment the long suffering male of the species. I’m not even putting words in their mouths…the SPLC page provides snippets from each blog and that’s pretty much what they say.

If you’re angry about the plight of males in this increasingly female-dominated world, then you are clearly living in a constant dream state. I believe this is another instance of Perceived Reverse Victimization. I’ve written about this before, and it doesn’t seem to have gone away. The people that have been in charge for most of history suddenly feel oppressed when they are asked to stop being such jerks and to treat others with fairness.

With no evidence, I would be willing to bet that each of these men has had their fragile egos bruised at some point by a woman. Maybe the girl of their dreams rejected their prom invitation. Perhaps they were fired from a job after sexual harassment charges were lodged against them, and they just don’t understand what everybody’s so upset about – it must be women’s fault. In any case, I believe they are projecting deeply closeted concerns about their own adequacy onto an entire half of the population. In a way, I feel sorry for them; their attitudes probably stem from the culture of misogyny in which they were raised. Parents, take note: if you raise your children in an atmosphere of misogyny, don’t be surprised when your sons grow up despising women and treating them like filth. There’s a clear cycle of cause and effect.

Now let’s talk about the people that pass this meme along. I don’t know that all of them are woman-hating ass-hats, but they clearly thought this image was funny, so maybe they aren’t thinking hard enough about what the meme is actually saying. Let me put it into terms that everybody can understand: if you pass along this meme (without tearing it apart as misogynistic and stupid) then you give your assent to its message: that the part of a woman responsible for creating life – the part that may one day give shelter to your own children – is a dark and frightening place and the only apt comparison is the most evil being in all of Judeo-Christian mythology. Is that what you meant to say?