Thursday, 29 January 2015

Sexism in the Bible

Look, I’m sorry about this. I don’t mean to pick on anybody, honest. But I’m trying to blog weekly if I possibly can, and that means I need to find something to comment on every week, and it’s much easier to comment on things I disagree with. And this is a topic on which I often encounter opinions I disagree with. So it will tend to come up. And Parliament wasn’t in session for the year when I began writing, and my only lecture over the summer is Chemistry, which doesn’t generate many disagreements. So it’s back to religion. My previous post discussed a conflict between Christianity and progressive politics, and that’s also the topic of this one. Sorry.

There was an argument on a friend’s Facebook over how sexist the Bible is. In my experience there are two ways these kinds of argument go, and this was the more common one, between Christians and non-Christians who agree that sexism is bad, disagreeing over whether the Bible is sexist (and therefore bad). The other way it goes is when Christians who think sexism is bad (and therefore the Bible can’t be sexist) argue with Christians who think the Bible is sexist (and therefore sexism can’t be bad). Either way, the non-sexist Christians always end up in a bit of a bind. You can get feminist messages out of the Bible if you wring it hard enough, of course, but then with sufficient verbal gymnastics you can get any message out of any text. Let me demonstrate, using a deliberately outrageous example.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Nerds, feminism, and privilege

Content note: rape, sexual entitlement, homophobia, suicidal thoughts

You know that thing the internet does, where comments inspire blog posts inspire articles inspire whole pop-cultural trends? It reminds me most of a drama-class exercise I once did (in preparation for my only stage performance ever, at Allen Hall Theatre), where everyone stands in a circle and you stare at the person opposite you, and any movement they might make, no matter how tiny or unintentional, you copy but make slightly larger. Gradually something that started as an involuntary twitch of a finger turns into a whole-body thrash. Anyway, it’s starting to do it again, and I find I have something to say on the issue.

It started with a guy called Scott Aaronson, who nearly a month ago wrote a short blog post on a physics teacher at MIT who’d been caught sexually harassing his students via e-mail. His comment section blossomed the way mine don’t, and about a week later the conversation had come around to the question of whether nerdy men are more creepy towards women than other men, or less, or about the same. And something someone said hit a nerve, and Aaronson gave a very personal response.