Timon for Tea (#15)
Shermer self-identifies as a feminist and is enthusiastic about encouraging the involvement of women in all things skeptical.
You know, it’s not impossible to self-identify as a feminist and still hold deeply toxic ideas about women. Being a feminist is not a merit badge you pin to your sash one time or an achievement you unlock; it’s a journey outside the borders of ingrained belief and a process of self-correction. You have to be willing to do more than adopt certain principles; you have to make sure that they are consistent with reality and effective at improving the world. And if they’re not, you have to change them—and change yourself.
A lot of folk who self-identify as feminists look at things like sex difference in convention attendance (as speakers or guests) and are more than happy to say that men and women should be equally encouraged to come. Which would be great, but they stop short or fail to study why there’s a difference in the first place. So when encouragement doesn’t even the split, they’ll opt for the easy answer and opine that the skew in attendance numbers stems from men and women possessing, on average, different psychologies and temperaments.
And, whatever their professed principles, that is sexist.
I don’t say that is the case, but it isn’t a sexist theory because it might be true and it is likely to be at least partly true.
“It might be true” is not the meter for whether something is sexist or not. Also, consider that how we assign plausibility is influenced by growing up in a deeply sexist society. In other words, you can’t objectively judge “might” and “likely.” You can’t even get close without deconstructing a fuckton of your biases.
Nuggets of awesome is an occasional feature highlighting comments on other blogs that are full of win. It often helps contextually to also read the original post.