Archive for February 28th, 2009

It’s no secret that I am, at least, critical of science. The fact that science is culturally constructed, and hence is influenced by cultural norms is never talked about. I’m also downright antagonistic of the ways that science is used by popular media: the health and science sections of the NYT, or CNN and BBC segments. Those places where one study is taken as unquestionable fact. The ways these studies are portrayed is always questionable to me, especially when they deal with gender. Too often, I think, a critical eye is not cast onto these reports (and science in general). Especially since when these reports about gender are published they often support patriarchal, heteronormative structures. Case in point is a recent CNN.com piece about how men objectify women.

It may seem obvious that men perceive women in sexy bathing suits as objects, but now there’s science to back it up.

First line. What? I’m curious as to how science is able to back this up.

Although consistent with conventional wisdom, the way that men may depersonalize sexual images of women is not entirely something they control. In fact, it’s a byproduct of human evolution, experts say. The first male humans had an incentive to seek fertile women as the means of spreading their genes.

This is a little later down the article. Why does science continue to back up the “Boys Will Be Boys” sentiment that is prevalent and continues to be an excuse for misogyny. Who are these experts by the way?

So the evidence is based on a study of 21 male Princeton students. They were given a survey to determine if they harbored “Benevolent” sexism (i.e. women belong in the home) or hostile sexism (women try to dominate men). As if there were only two categories of man who must fall into these.

The article goes on to explain the study and how they showed these 21 male college students images of both bikini-clad and fully clothed women, and how these men were more likely to view the bikini wearing women as objects to be acted upon.

What this entire article, in trying to determine some essential male quality, ignores is that 21 men who go to Princeton who choose to participate in a psych study is not a sample that can be conflated with the entiretiy of all 3-4 billion male human beings that exist on this planet. It ignores that the culture we are raised in has an effect on how our brains function. It ignores that even if certain parts of our brains are going off, it doesn’t mean we are thinking identical things as to when those areas activate over something else.

Read Full Post »

So Vassar offers mini-courses, small classes taught by any member of the college community who signs up and gets approved. Imagine my surprise when I saw this course on the list:

The Language of Ladies
Instructor: ———-
Thursdays 7:00pm- 8:00pm, Rocky 101, starting March 26

This course aims to take a critical look at dating across lingual/cultural barriers. Experts in each local will be brought in to the class for instructional purposes. Coming out of this class students should feel informed enough about different mating rituals to approach women of different national backgrounds.


I’m amazed that this got approved, but maybe I still have too much faith in my school, and common sense in general. A course for learning how to seduce women from different cultures, with experts? I guess it’s so when you go JYA (Junior Year Abroad) you can fuck a local woman no matter how different she is from you.

The use of the phrase “mating ritual” also gets me. It highlights a major problem: it’s not enough to want to have sex with women as objects, but you have to reduce them to an anthropological/biological object of inquiry.

Fortunately, I’ve heard that there have been a number of complaints.

Read Full Post »