Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

2,105 posts in this topic

While I do agree strongly with djpretzel that no trope should be discredited from media simply because it is offensive, and to honestly question whether "gender stereotypes" have a biological basis and thus be explored and approached in such a way. (Arguably, to find the best ways of subverting them if needed), I still have some questions

Not when you're talking about the entirety of recorded history, which we were for awhile. Also, must the discontent of one group trump the discontent of another for it to be valid, and/or actionable? Who quantifies this stuff? I think some straight white males make this argument because they feel like the topic is actually being approached this way - "MY grievance is bigger than YOUR grievance!!" Reminds me of "MY god is better than YOUR god!!" - and sounds about as mature. So of course it will elicit that reaction. Also, you forgot some demographics... A "straight white male" can still be:

  • poor
  • mentally disabled
  • physically disabled
  • atheist
  • etc.

... any of which could marginalize him quite a bit. Just sayin'

While I do not contest that "white straight males" do not experience oppression in the form of classism/ableism/etc. A white straight male still cannot be said to fully conceptualize the effect of racism/sexism/homophobia on their lives IN ADDITION to any problems that may already experience as a consequence of being human. A straight white male has many privileges that can cater to the problems that he experiences. A white child born to drug-using parents? Tragic. Call child protective services. A black child born to drug-using parents? The status-quo, throw him into juvie and the world keeps turning. I realize I am making a generalization and these may not apply to many parts of how society operates, they are still larger "social tropes" that illustrate the inequality (and at least, radical difference) in the problems that each "group" experiences.

I am not arguing for a pissing contest of who suffered more, but I am saying that the worst thing that anyone can do is to deny that suffering and injustice has occurred. The pissing contest, is at it's heart a clamor to get one's problems solved first and given the most attention. If anything, all human love martyrdom. This is a very human problem and honestly, I don't see anyone being "mature" enough to put down their plate to assist others. (Although by no means am I saying that struggles against oppression are futile, just that everyone loses)

Wow... have you done the research? Science's response to that question is much more than a dismissive shrug. There is plentiful evidence that gender roles are rooted in biology AND deeply affected by culture. The consensus response is that "nature vs. nurture" is moot, and the answer is that gender roles are attributable to both environmental AND genetic characteristics. Again, homo sapiens is not a snowflake - we are affected by the same evolutionary process & constraints that other species are. At least we were, up to a certain point in our history.

What is this evidence? Science itself is not infallible and can lead to social ideas being codified into hard science without question. For example, for many decades scientists thought that the egg did nothing as sperm penetrated into the nucleus. However, recent evidence suggests that the egg actually does assist in bringing sperm in using filamentous protein fibers. The relevance of this becomes clear when you see how this process is described differently by scientists. Some will say the sperm is "harpooned" by these fibers and dragged in (Trope: femme fatale, consuming mother), while others maintain that the fibers play a more passive role and the primary energy is provided by the "complex and powerful" machinery contained within the sperm. (Tropes: DiD and powerful rescuing male). Even in describing the language, the social tropes show.

tl;dr

Science is still an old boys club, and it's descriptions and findings would be radically different depending on the composition of it's scientists. Also, all scientists are humans, and thus still falliable.

(Not saying science is a bunk, just that this is why peer-review and criticism is paramount)

Further reading:

http://www.math.jussieu.fr/~daubin/cours/Textes/Martin_EggSperm.pdf

Edited by Final_metroid

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I am not arguing for a pissing contest of who suffered more, but I am saying that the worst thing that anyone can do is to deny that suffering and injustice has occurred. The pissing contest, is at it's heart a clamor to get one's problems solved first and given the most attention. If anything, all human love martyrdom. This is a very human problem and honestly, I don't see anyone being "mature" enough to put down their plate to assist others. (Although by no means am I saying that struggles against oppression are futile, just that everyone loses)

I'm not sure how what you said actually contradicts what I said, per se; it seems like more of an extension... a bit pessimistic, perhaps, but not at odds. Surely the worst thing anyone can do is inflict suffering and injustice, not deny that it occurred? At any rate, at this point in time, if you scope the statement enough and add enough qualifiers, you CAN come up with a meaningful definition for "white male privilege" that I could agree with. As a concept, it can have merit, at least in exploring pervasive bias. But it is also vulnerable to a form of abuse & bad faith assumptions that are just a shade off from the very racism it seeks to expose!! The ones employing the concept in arguments also appear to be the ones abusing it in this fashion, from my own personal observations.

What is this evidence? Science itself is not infallible and can lead to social ideas being codified into hard science without question. For example, for many decades scientists thought that the egg did nothing as sperm penetrated into the nucleus.

Okay, firstly, no. While science is the first to acknowledge fallibility, "codification" into "hard science" without "questioning" is, simply and plainly, NOT science at all. Perhaps you're referring to science the institution as opposed to science the methodology, but even so, there clearly WAS questioning or we wouldn't know now that we were wrong!!

As for evidence that gender roles are formed, in part, by our biology? This isn't even a contested claim - the mainstream debate surrounds the degree of influence, not the existence of influence.

  • http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct00/maccoby.aspx
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_determination_and_differentiation_(human)
  • http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n11/mente/eisntein/cerebro-homens.html - list of references:
    • Frederikse, M.E., Lu, A., Aylward, E., Barta, P., Pearlson, G. Sex differences in the inferior parietal lobule. Cerebral Cortex vol 9 (8) p896 - 901, 1999 [MEDLINE].
    • Geary, D.C. Chapter 8: Sex differences in brain and cognition. In "Male, Female: the Evolution of Human Sex Differences". American Psychological Association Books. ISBN: 1-55798-527-8 [AMAZON].
    • Harasty J., Double K.L., Halliday, G.M., Kril, J.J., and McRitchie, D.A. Language-associated cortical regions are proportionally larger in the female brain. Archives in Neurology vol 54 (2) 171-6, 1997 [MEDLINE].
    • Collaer, M.L. and Hines, M. Human behavioural sex differences: a role for gonadal hormones during early development? Psychological Bulletin vol 118 (1): 55-77, 1995 [MEDLINE].
    • Bishop K.M. and Wahlsten, D. Sex differences in the human corpus callosum: myth or reality? Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews vol 21 (5) 581 - 601, 1997.
    • LeVay S. A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men Science. 253(5023):1034-7, 1991 [MEDLINE].
    • Shaywitz, B.A., et al. Sex differences in the functional organisation of the brain for language. Nature vol 373 (6515) 607 - 9, 1995 [MEDLINE].
    • Rabinowicz T., Dean D.E., Petetot J.M., de Courten-Myers G.M. Gender differences in the human cerebral cortex: more neurons in males; more processes in females. J Child Neurol. 1999 Feb;14(2):98-107. [MEDLINE]
    • Schlaepfer T.E., Harris G.J., Tien A.Y., Peng L., Lee S., Pearlson G.D. Structural differences in the cerebral cortex of healthy female and male subjects: a magnetic resonance imaging study. Psychiatry Res. 1995 Sep 29;61(3):129-35 [MEDLINE].
    • Wilson, E.O. - "Sociobiology". Harvard University Press, 1992 [AMAZON].
    • Moir A. and Jessel D. - "Brain Sex". 1993 [AMAZON] See also: Excerpts from the book
    • Blum, D. - "Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women". Penguin, 1998 [AMAZON]
    • Kimura, D. - "Sex and Cognition". MIT Press, 1999 [AMAZON]

On a MUCH simpler level, allow for the following layman reasoning: Do testosterone levels influence behavior? Yes. Do men naturally have higher testosterone levels? Yes. Is this likely to manifest itself in ways that would cause common, observable differences in behavior? ...

tl;dr

Science is still an old boys club, and it's descriptions and findings would be radically different depending on the composition of it's scientists. Also, all scientists are humans, and thus still falliable.

(Not saying science is a bunk, just that this is why peer-review and criticism is paramount)

Further reading:

http://www.math.jussieu.fr/~daubin/cours/Textes/Martin_EggSperm.pdf

Peer-review and criticism are indeed highly valuable - they are the exact mechanism by which you might PROVE a statement like "it's descriptions and findings would be radically different depending on the composition of it's scientists"- which you seem to take as a given, without any evidence, peer review, or even due consideration!! I'm sensing a huge double standard, personally...

With apologies to zircon, I'm going to use BIG FONT again:

There is a piece from YESTERDAY by Steven Pinker that I hope EVERYONE reads: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114127/science-not-enemy-humanities

Beautiful, beautiful stuff...

Sums up a lot of what I've been trying to articulate, perhaps more clearly...

Edited by djpretzel

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We're not talking about "sexist ideals," we're talking about gender roles,

"we're not talking about arbitrary standards of what men and women 'should' do, we're talking about arbitrary standards of what men and women 'should' do"

and there is ample evidence that gender roles have played a factor in every known human culture to date.

the statement wasn't that there's no proof that gender roles exist, it was that there was no proof that gender roles are the manner through which society should function

As for sexism - sexism isn't the existence of gender roles per se,

nah gender roles are more or less the epitome of sexism

Science's response to that question is much more than a dismissive shrug. There is plentiful evidence that gender roles are rooted in biology AND deeply affected by culture. The consensus response is that "nature vs. nurture" is moot, and the answer is that gender roles are attributable to both environmental AND genetic characteristics.

again, the statement wasn't whether or not there's proof that people have been subject to these things, it was about whether or not people should be and, ethically, whether or not evidence of gender roles being rooted in biology is information that won't be abused

because again, when do you ever see this concept brought up in a discussion that isn't a thinly argument about whether or not women should basically be in the kitchen? because seriously -

Please keep in mind, by saying that there's ample evidence - historical and biological - to support the existence of gender roles that favor more prominent/active roles for men and more nurturing/nesting roles for women, I am not at all saying that this is the way things SHOULD be.

then why do people keep bringing it up? why does the historical existence of gender roles matter in a discussion that's arguably about the negative consequence of gender roles?

imagine if people were discussing the pros and cons of war and someone came into the thread and said 'guys, wars happened a lot in the past!'

like yeah they sure did good job einstein but why does that fuckin' matter

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"we're not talking about arbitrary standards of what men and women 'should' do, we're talking about arbitrary standards of what men and women 'should' do"

An "ideal" very clearly states desire and intent - it is something to be striven towards. To conflate the concept of "gender roles" and "sexist ideals" as you have done above is to misunderstand the English language on a fundamental level. Gender roles are observable patterns of behavior, not goals or edicts... or ideals.

the statement wasn't that there's no proof that gender roles exist, it was that there was no proof that gender roles are the manner through which society should function

Your statement was none of the above; it was, rather, that there was no evidence for any biological influence on gender roles.

nah gender roles are more or less the epitome of sexism

Lions are sexist? Ants are sexist? Penguins are sexist? Chimpanzees are sexist? It's meaningless to say that gender roles are the "epitome" of sexism; sexism is a human construct, gender roles are a biological phenomenon that, for us, are ALSO strongly influenced by culture. Once again, sexism is about how we think of gender roles, not whether they exist, or whether there are biological causes that tend to precipitate their development. The fact that culture can so strongly affect our ideas about gender roles is a fantastic thing, so fears that any rough biological factor will subvert decades of progress towards human rights are far-fetched and, frankly, a little bizarre.

again, the statement wasn't whether or not there's proof that people have been subject to these things, it was about whether or not people should be and, ethically, whether or not evidence of gender roles being rooted in biology is information that won't be abused

You're doing the same sort of backtracking that you accused Jesse of in his post. Do I really have to quote you AGAIN?

everybody talks about the 'men work, women care' idea as if it's this big thing that over the past century science has decided was based in genetic or historical fact but when you actually go and look up whether or not that's true it turns out that Science At Large's response is essentially
This isn't a statement of whether the information might be abused, it is a statement that the information does not exist. Use your words.
because again, when do you ever see this concept brought up in a discussion that isn't a thinly argument about whether or not women should basically be in the kitchen? because seriously -

All over the place, in Evolutionary Psychology and elsewhere... See the list of links I provided in my recent post. Reasonable adults can discus information without jumping to conclusions, and to say that the information shouldn't exist because YOUR experience has been that it is abused is at once both wondrously egocentric and optimistically short-sighted. Furthermore, I'm doing this very thing right now, as I write this - I'm bringing up the concept, and I'm not at all arguing (nor do I agree) that women should "basically be in the kitchen"... so there you go. Done.

then why do people keep bringing it up? why does the historical existence of gender roles matter in a discussion that's arguably about the negative consequence of gender roles? imagine if people were discussing the pros and cons of war and someone came into the thread and said 'guys, wars happened a lot in the past!'

like yeah they sure did good job einstein but why does that fuckin' matter

Do you need me to regurgitate this entire thread for you? Do you honestly not recall? I can certainly do so, but it would require a modicum of effort, and I'm not sure you'd bother parsing it, so I think it might be a waste of my time. Does anyone ELSE not understand how we got here, and want to request a recap along with Bleck? I can certainly spell out how we got from point A to point B, for anyone who missed it, who forgets, or who can't follow things. If I get another taker, I'll go for it...

Edited by djpretzel

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At any rate, at this point in time, if you scope the statement enough and add enough qualifiers, you CAN come up with a meaningful definition for "white male privilege" that I could agree with. As a concept, it can have merit, at least in exploring pervasive bias. But it is also vulnerable to a form of abuse & bad faith assumptions that are just a shade off from the very racism it seeks to expose!! The ones employing the concept in arguments also appear to be the ones abusing it in this fashion, from my own personal observations....

...On a MUCH simpler level, allow for the following layman reasoning: Do testosterone levels influence behavior? Yes. Do men naturally have higher testosterone levels? Yes. Is this likely to manifest itself in ways that would cause common, observable differences in behavior? ...

So what would your suggestion be? There really is no way to have any kind of argument without it being co-opted to make strawmen or be used to make ad-hominem arguments. For example, right now I construe that you taking up the banner of science shields you from criticism because you monopolize it's objectivity to further your own arguments, which may actually not be very objective at all. Social darwinism attempted to do the same thing, and we know how that turned out.

Now before you go ahead yelling that "OF COURSE OBJECTIVITY IS THE GOAL OF REACHING A GOOD CONCLUSION." I'm not talking about the very concept of objectivity, but for what seems to pass as objectivity. The scientific method prides itself on reproducibility of results, but there are always exceptions to every rule and theory which gets created. How does testosterone affect behavior? Does it explain why there's female kickboxers and male interior designers? No doubt there is some kind of an effect and that I may be nitpicking with these exceptions, but why keep a generalizing theory when it is clearly wrong in some ways? Additions to the theory to explain everything fully can only be elucidated with further study.

This is why I actually take some offense at your dismissal of white privilege and your attitudes towards anecdotal evidence as fallacy. There's a reason why a wealth of information hasn't been built up around certain subjects (See: old boys club) so the only way to introduce it into the discussion may be by anecdote. Is this ideal at all? Not in the slightest. But until these areas start getting more recognition we really are at an impasse of teasing apart the emotional with the factual. Why do we necessarily have to narrow definitions or reduce the scope of inequality to include this? Would you like me to dig up some statistics on the glass ceiling for women or the under-enrollment of poorer minority students (who are just as qualified as their wealthy, white counterparts) at Ivy League schools? It is definitely pervasive and a phenomenon worth discussing in itself.

Okay, firstly, no. While science is the first to acknowledge fallibility, "codification" into "hard science" without "questioning" is, simply and plainly, NOT science at all. Perhaps you're referring to science the institution as opposed to science the methodology, but even so, there clearly WAS questioning or we wouldn't know now that we were wrong!!

That is true, but how do you suggest separating the two? To me that's akin to the argument that since communism is perfect in theory, we must whole-heartedly embrace the models of communism that have come before us to emulate the model better. Science is ever-evolving, and there are techniques and theories which quickly become obsolete in the pursuit of objectivity. The institution always fails to get that gold standard of objectivity simply due to human nature.

Peer-review and criticism are indeed highly valuable - they are the exact mechanism by which you might PROVE a statement like "it's descriptions and findings would be radically different depending on the composition of it's scientists"- which you seem to take as a given, without any evidence, peer review, or even due consideration!! I'm sensing a huge double standard, personally...

The "Sperm and the Egg" article is one. And you see this kind of thing happening all the time with scientists butting heads over whose theory is right. I don't have any citations on hand at the moment, but scientists are still arguing over why gravity exists or how certain features evolved. By common sense, wouldn't you say that their preexisting views, education, and the like influences how they research and what they believe?

I really don't know why you feel like I'm anti-science. I for one just say that there are more experiences and arguments aside from what has been published in scientific journals. It's impossible to divorce the institution from the principle in this case, so bias and the like will always be present in the sciences one way or the other. I'm not arguing that all scientists should bend-over backwards for any sociologist or activist making sweeping claims and trying to place their own agenda over the interests of real objectivity, I'm just saying that science as an institution can be looked at in a variety of different ways.

Going back to the topic, I want to just say that Sarkeesian may be poorly researched and inflammatory. But that's all it is. Why do people even feel so threatened by her anyway? Criticism is criticism, and you can take it or leave it. In all, it is the consumers, whether they be stridently socially-conscious feminists or basement-dwelling chauvinists who ultimately dictate what gets made and what succeeds.

Do you need me to regurgitate this entire thread for you? Do you honestly not recall? I can certainly do so, but it would require a modicum of effort, and I'm not sure you'd bother parsing it, so I think it might be a waste of my time. Does anyone ELSE not understand how we got here, and want to request a recap along with Bleck? I can certainly spell out how we got from point A to point B, for anyone who missed it, who forgets, or who can't follow things. If I get another taker, I'll go for it...

Please don't

Edited by Final_metroid
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So what would your suggestion be? There really is no way to have any kind of argument without it being co-opted to make strawmen or be used to make ad-hominem arguments. For example, right now I construe that you taking up the banner of science shields you from criticism because you monopolize it's objectivity to further your own arguments, which may actually not be very objective at all. Social darwinism attempted to do the same thing, and we know how that turned out.

Did you just mention strawman arguments and then, in the same paragraph, play the Social Darwinism card? You, sir, deserve 500 bonus points and a delicious burrito! The ad hominem thing is nice, but that line of reasoning could be used to dismiss any argument that values objective data; it doesn't put forth an alternative perspective, it doesn't address the objective data being put forth, it simply sidesteps the entire conversation with an accusation of bias. Do you find that acceptable, or mentally stimulating? When you ask what my suggestion would be, my suggestion would be for everyone to use precise language, to allow for multiple possibilities, to value what objective data we DO have without necessarily deeming it final and conclusive, and to be respectful that each person is unique. I sometimes struggle with that, personally, but it's a fine set of guiding principles. Since you asked.

Now before you go ahead yelling that "OF COURSE OBJECTIVITY IS THE GOAL OF REACHING A GOOD CONCLUSION." I'm not talking about the very concept of objectivity, but for what seems to pass as objectivity. The scientific method prides itself on reproducibility of results, but there are always exceptions to every rule and theory which gets created. How does testosterone affect behavior? Does it explain why there's female kickboxers and male interior designers? No doubt there is some kind of an effect and that I may be nitpicking with these exceptions, but why keep a generalizing theory when it is clearly wrong in some ways? Additions to the theory to explain everything fully can only be elucidated with further study.

Sometimes a generalizing theory is the best we have at the moment, but I wasn't articulating anything as controversial as saying that testosterone is the end-all, be-all dictator of human behavior! If I had, you'd be absolutely justified in questioning such certainty. I was merely articulating that it DOES have a measurable effect. Since you mentioned strawman arguments, if you want to twist that statement into something more than what it was to make your own point, go right ahead, but don't expect me not to notice. Additions to the theory to fully explain everything are absolutely critical, but you still work with what you ALREADY have. You do your best not to let it color what else you expect to find, but science is cumulative. You know that, of course...

This is why I actually take some offense at your dismissal of white privilege and your attitudes towards anecdotal evidence as fallacy. There's a reason why a wealth of information hasn't been built up around certain subjects (See: old boys club) so the only way to introduce it into the discussion may be by anecdote. Is this ideal at all? Not in the slightest. But until these areas start getting more recognition we really are at an impasse of teasing apart the emotional with the factual. Why do we necessarily have to narrow definitions or reduce the scope of inequality to include this? Would you like me to dig up some statistics on the glass ceiling for women or the under-enrollment of poorer minority students (who are just as qualified as their wealthy, white counterparts) at Ivy League schools? It is definitely pervasive and a phenomenon worth discussing in itself.

I agree, more or less. Anecdotal evidence can have value, but it needs to be sussed out, as I think you've alluded to. As for dismissing "white privilege" - I don't believe I did. I think I was only stating that the concept is abused, and results in prejudices of a similar nature to what it is intended, ostensibly, to address.

That is true, but how do you suggest separating the two? To me that's akin to the argument that since communism is perfect in theory, we must whole-heartedly embrace the models of communism that have come before us to emulate the model better. Science is ever-evolving, and there are techniques and theories which quickly become obsolete in the pursuit of objectivity. The institution always fails to get that gold standard of objectivity simply due to human nature.

It's the best we've got. You can hoist up an argument that it will always be fallible due to human nature, but most of what we know ABOUT human nature has been discovered through science. The fundamental assumption of science is that the world is intelligible - knowable. It makes no claims to complete objectivity or perfection, but it IS designed to address human weaknesses by virtue of the processes we've already mentioned. In order to challenge it on any given topic, rather than simply saying "well, science isn't perfect!!!," I really do think there's an obligation to put forth more of an actual... argument.

The "Sperm and the Egg" article is one. And you see this kind of thing happening all the time with scientists butting heads over whose theory is right. I don't have any citations on hand at the moment, but scientists are still arguing over why gravity exists or how certain features evolved. By common sense, wouldn't you say that their preexisting views, education, and the like influences how they research and what they believe?

Yes, but less so than any other method of inquiry, as peer-review, repeatable experimentation, and sigma certainty measurements are all powerful measures to address what you're describing. No competing methodology or method of inquiry about the nature of the universe has such protections.

I really don't know why you feel like I'm anti-science. I for one just say that there are more experiences and arguments aside from what has been published in scientific journals. It's impossible to divorce the institution from the principle in this case, so bias and the like will always be present in the sciences one way or the other. I'm not arguing that all scientists should bend-over backwards for any sociologist or activist making sweeping claims and trying to place their own agenda over the interests of real objectivity, I'm just saying that science as an institution can be looked at in a variety of different ways.

I like how you categorized sociologists as not being scientists... I'm not sure all of them would agree. Science can of course be looked at in a variety of ways, but none of them truly undermine its core values; that the world is knowable, that we should attempt to discover as much about it as we can, that we should admit uncertainty and revise our understanding as new information is presented, and that humans are fallible and measures need to be taken to address this infallibility. You can of course point out numerous instances where science has gotten it wrong... but what else is getting it as right, as often?

Going back to the topic, I want to just say that Sarkeesian may be poorly researched and inflammatory. But that's all it is. Why do people even feel so threatened by her anyway? Criticism is criticism, and you can take it or leave it. In all, it is the consumers, whether they be stridently socially-conscious feminists or basement-dwelling chauvinists who ultimately dictate what gets made and what succeeds.

Speaking for myself, I don't feel threatened by her, I feel disappointed that people I know and respect are agreeing with her without fully analyzing her arguments and their implications.

Edited by djpretzel

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If I get another taker, I'll go for it...

Do it! DO IT! YOU AIN'T GOT A HAIR ON YOUR ASS IF YOU DON'T DO IT!

I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU TO DO IT!

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Just chiming in in response to Final Metroid's point regarding the dismissal of anectdotal evidence:

Aside from scientific and academic reasons why you don't just accept anecdotal evidence in the first place, I'ma be hella pissed if anyone here did, as I've gathered plenty of "anecdotal evidence" for arguments in a similar previous thread, and was totally lambasted for it. I don't think you get either side of the argument(if there are even sides) gets to pick and choose what they'll consider valid on a whim.

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Just chiming in in response to Final Metroid's point regarding the dismissal of anectdotal evidence:

Aside from scientific and academic reasons why you don't just accept anecdotal evidence in the first place, I'ma be hella pissed if anyone here did, as I've gathered plenty of "anecdotal evidence" for arguments in a similar previous thread, and was totally lambasted for it. I don't think you get either side of the argument(if there are even sides) gets to pick and choose what they'll consider valid on a whim.

Haven't all scientific endeavors began at anecdotal evidence? Yes, personal stories by themselves are extremely flimsy especially when using them to argue against mathematical and logic-based evidence. But the point of introducing anecdote to me is to at least show there is exception to a scientific rule or accepted generalization to open up more inquiry to it. Nascent scientific discoveries are nothing more than anecdote until they get researched and discussed by more people.

To avoid another quote storm, I agree with djp that I have derived the point that science cannot be objective from science itself. But again, I'm not insisting that the idea of science is bad. I'm just saying that the institution definitely has it's own agenda and that we ought to be mindful of that. You can say that all these things about gender roles and the like have scientific basis and that we shouldn't discount years of research in favor of some new wave social phenomenon, but the very fact that the institution and their findings can be heavily influenced by these changes in the political climate shows that we shouldn't discount every argument counter to the established as nutty.

With specific reference to the existence of gender roles, I wholeheartedly agree with their existence. But having said that, why should this affect us in any way? Science has also supported the fact that human intellect and social patterns are incredibly plastic, so why burden ourselves with the labels? There's tribes in Africa where the men nurse their children. Females are usually larger than the male in many animal lineages. And humans seem to be one of the few species where the females must be garish and put on colorful displays to attract mates.

In line with what was said with regards to Hobbes, men are selfish. And so are women. So understandably, they'd get pissed off if they were told what they could and could not do.

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I'm just saying that the institution definitely has it's own agenda and that we ought to be mindful of that.

Definitely? Just curious, how would you describe this very definite agenda of the institution? I think that groups and individuals have agendas, but I'd be curious as to what your take was on the overall agenda of science itself...

You can say that all these things about gender roles and the like have scientific basis and that we shouldn't discount years of research in favor of some new wave social phenomenon, but the very fact that the institution and their findings can be heavily influenced by these changes in the political climate shows that we shouldn't discount every argument counter to the established as nutty.

We should discount nutty arguments as nutty, and insubstantial ones as insubstantial. Arguments that run counter to the scientific mainstream should absolutely be considered, but that consideration should still involve the scientific method itself. Happily, this process seems to be working rather well, relative to anything else you might compare it to. There's always room for improvement, though... which is a very scientific sentiment!

With specific reference to the existence of gender roles, I wholeheartedly agree with their existence. But having said that, why should this affect us in any way? Science has also supported the fact that human intellect and social patterns are incredibly plastic, so why burden ourselves with the labels? There's tribes in Africa where the men nurse their children. Females are usually larger than the male in many animal lineages. And humans seem to be one of the few species where the females must be garish and put on colorful displays to attract mates.

It's interesting to describe it as "burdening ourselves with labels" - why isn't it, quite simply, "discovering our nature"? Unfortunately, for everyone involved, people LOVE to burden themselves with labels. We are categorizing creatures, through and through, hence my concern about the concept of "white male privilege" - or almost anything that requires a true understanding of probability vs. actuality. But I digress; while anthropologists love to point out anomalies, there are also a ton of similarities when it comes to human culture. Learning about them doesn't require inherent assumptions about what is preferable or ideal. Your point about the plasticity of human intellect is quite valid (although it's really the plasticity of the human brain, isn't it?), but there are still some very common characteristics which, if better understood, could be more easily manipulated, for better or worse.

Do be sure to read http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114127/science-not-enemy-humanities - I really think you'll get a lot out of it.

In line with what was said with regards to Hobbes, men are selfish. And so are women. So understandably, they'd get pissed off if they were told what they could and could not do.

Absolutely; I think studying the origins and nature of gender roles will go a long way towards undermining their apparent inevitability to some, and NOT the other way around. But part of that conversation also helps explain why some patterns keep manifesting themselves over and over, and why SOME things that seem natural to us ACTUALLY ARE. Social construction would have you believe that 100% of what seems culturally natural to you is constructed, and I suppose there are extremists on the other side who would argue for moral objectivism or a direct genetic causation for every last aspect of human behavior, but the reality appears to be somewhere in between. Learning about that dynamic and interplay means having an open mind towards biological and environmental explanations.

Nothing about Anita's outdated feminism, or ideas about sexual objectification, or belief in an almost conspiratorial patriarchy is conducive to that sort of frank & open inquiry.

Edited by djpretzel

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Man, this thread moves fast. Wow.

I guess all I can say here is... be more observant??

Agree to disagree, I suppose. If you want to make a PPR thread about MALE stereotypes in media we could take the discussion there, but I think it's pretty far off-topic at this point.

Perhaps men are simply more worried about appearing "effeminate" than women are about appearing "masculine"... just a thought.

I'll put it this way. I find it impossibly hard to believe that there is some substantial hidden contingent of men who were offended by the portrayal of Guybrush Threepwood as a representation of their gender.

How do you do it? More importantly... why?

Literally the single thing that got us on this topic of debate was someone who thought it's unfair, or hypocritical, that women historically have more reason to be offended over stereotypes of their gender as helpless objects than men. And you agreed with that before, with Vig. I don't understand what changed.

The right place is one filled with a desire to see the art form fulfill its true potential.

You said earlier it's possible the use of, shall we say, 'sexist tropes' could in fact be harmful - albeit difficult to prove. We do know for a fact that there is a large and vocal contingent of women (both game consumers and game developers) who don't like them, that much is not arguable. So if we add 'could be harmful' to 'lots of people don't like them', surely that SHOULD hold some weight in our motivations.

the point isn't that we should behave "naturally," but rather that we should play to the strengths of our nature, attempt to minimize our weaknesses, and act in a fashion that moves our entire species forward.

I absolutely agree with that. What I was saying to Moguta was more that we TEND to value individual rights and freedoms over utilitarianism, at least in most 1st world countries. The "optimal" configuration for our species, or genders, or whatever, might be one that some people find restrictive, and so even if someone were to prove that indeed males should do X and women should do Y, entering into those arrangements would (should) be as voluntary as they are now. We collectively value our freedom too much to sacrifice our ability to generally direct our own lives.

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I'll put it this way. I find it impossibly hard to believe that there is some substantial hidden contingent of men who were offended by the portrayal of Guybrush Threepwood as a representation of their gender.

You misunderstand; I was arguing that the lack of characters like Guybrush was the offense, i.e. that the offense was forcing every male character to be physically overpowering, assertive, etc. I guess you missed the point, but that's okay, because again, if you're going by the number of people claiming offense unpolled, it'd probably be low. If you did some digging and didn't wait for people to speak up but actually asked them directly, I don't know, you might be quite surprised...

Literally the single thing that got us on this topic of debate was someone who thought it's unfair, or hypocritical, that women historically have more reason to be offended over stereotypes of their gender as helpless objects than men. And you agreed with that before, with Vig. I don't understand what changed.

Nothing's changed, women DO have more reason to be offended over stereotypes of their gender as helpless objects. Why would men be equally offended by that? But saying that women have had it worse throughout the totality of history is going eighteen steps (or so) further. Also, saying that men are not offended, or should not be offended, by the flip side of the very same trope is, I think, missing the point. I suppose there's a big difference here between "are not offended" and "should not be offended" and perhaps that's what's tripping us up?

You said earlier it's possible the use of, shall we say, 'sexist tropes' could in fact be harmful - albeit difficult to prove. We do know for a fact that there is a large and vocal contingent of women (both game consumers and game developers) who don't like them, that much is not arguable. So if we add 'could be harmful' to 'lots of people don't like them', surely that SHOULD hold some weight in our motivations.

It should. I like the thinking you're applying here, it's very measured and point-for-point, and yes, it should absolutely hold some weight in how we - and really, how game developers - consider the issue. But here's the thing... what about how many people DO like them? What are you going to do about that? Have you measured that? How much weight would you give it? Surely if a bunch of people legitimately like something, and others don't, the rational approach would be to allow for both avenues to be explored. And surely if you're a game developer, and you want to sell games, you'll listen to a substantive demographic and at least attempt to appeal to them? The games industry seems to be having a hard time doing that, and there are a lot of risk-reward dynamics at play which make certain formulas continuously appealing. What if someone - myself, for instance - completely and totally gets that not every woman needs saving, but still has no problems whatsoever with a plot that involves rescuing a female, so long as she isn't so completely ditzy that it comes off as blatantly disrespectful? Anita is making a "whirlpool" argument that sucks extended, vague definitions of this trope into its perimeter and pulls them down ALONG with more flagrant examples that I would personally find unappealing. This is precisely the risk when transparently applying an ideology without reservation or analysis.

I absolutely agree with that. What I was saying to Moguta was more that we TEND to value individual rights and freedoms over utilitarianism, at least in most 1st world countries. The "optimal" configuration for our species, or genders, or whatever, might be one that some people find restrictive, and so even if someone were to prove that indeed males should do X and women should do Y, entering into those arrangements would (should) be as voluntary as they are now. We collectively value our freedom too much to sacrifice our ability to generally direct our own lives.

Or our own art :)

Edited by djpretzel

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http://victorsopinion.blogspot.be/2013/07/anitas-sources.html

Has anyone seen that yet?

While it's not 100% proof that Anita has NOT played the games she critiques (I'm leaning towards she hasn't, myself...) it most definitely harms her credibility. Why not post sources? Not only does it look suspicious but citing sources is a BIG thing in academics.

inb4sarkeesianapologists

(Just to clarify, I'm not crapping on the dialogue going on in this thread - I'm crapping on Anita Sarkeesian since I believe she's a scammer, fraudulent, and generally sucky. :|)

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An "ideal" very clearly states desire and intent - it is something to be striven towards. Gender roles are observable patterns of behavior, not goals or edicts... or ideals.
gender roles are the "epitome" of sexism; sexism is a human construct, gender roles are a biological phenomenon

yeah see I don't see how you can say something like this and seriously think you're not being sexist; what you're saying here is basically that sexist ideals are okay because biology supports it, even though that doesn't really seem to be true

you then go on to deny that that's what you're trying to argue but I'm not really understanding how saying that women are biologically coded to act in a way that is offensive is somehow not sexist or offensive

Furthermore, I'm doing this very thing right now, as I write this - I'm bringing up the concept, and I'm not at all arguing (nor do I agree) that women should "basically be in the kitchen"... so there you go. Done.

yeah but see people's actions aren't really discredited just because they can also verbally claim to have different intentions

in a thread about the negative consequence of irrational gender roles in video games, why are people talking about the supposed biological existence of objective gender roles if not to imply that said roles should exist? I keep asking this question and I keep being dismissed, it's almost like people just don't want to admit to being sexist or something

Do you need me to regurgitate this entire thread for you? Do you honestly not recall?

acting as though a question is so banal that it isn't even worth answering is what people do in a discussion when they know deep down that the answer says something poor about their position

so if you really have to recap the entire thread to prove to me that all this talk about evolutionary psychology and whatnot isn't just closet-sexists trying to probe around to see whether or not they can imply that gender roles are anything but made up bullshit that only benefit men, then by all means do so

but if you just hand-wave it away again I'm just gonna go on assuming that the 'biological gender roles' brigade are the same people who were earlier trying to argue that sexism in video games doesn't actually matter

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women are biologically coded to act in a way that is offensive

Women are offensive by nature? That's news to me!

p.s. how does it feel to be sexist?

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Women are offensive by nature? That's news to me!

p.s. how does it feel to be sexist?

Bleck is the kind of guy who goes around screaming "you're sexist" at everyone else, but probably is sexist himself by some definition. As I recall, he's married to a woman? I have no idea how she'd put up with him.

So I'm sure that if a sexually attractive woman ever walks by while he's out for a stroll in the park he doesn't look at or think about her. He's probably never looked at Playboy or some picture on the internet and been aroused by such barbie dolls who cater to "male power fantasies" or something like that. If you do, you're no doubt a sexist who likes to reduce women to mere sex objects in Bleck's eyes.

There is no way Bleck has ever done or even thought of anything that, by any definition, dictionary or his own, could even vaguely be considered sexist.

http://victorsopinion.blogspot.be/20...s-sources.html

Has anyone seen that yet?

While it's not 100% proof that Anita has NOT played the games she critiques (I'm leaning towards she hasn't, myself...) it most definitely harms her credibility. Why not post sources? Not only does it look suspicious but citing sources is a BIG thing in academics.

inb4sarkeesianapologists

(Just to clarify, I'm not crapping on the dialogue going on in this thread - I'm crapping on Anita Sarkeesian since I believe she's a scammer, fraudulent, and generally sucky. :neutral:)

If she did rip them off, which it looks as though she did, nothing will happen to her unless the game publishers themselves get pissed about it I'm betting.

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Married? To a woman? That's the most sexist person there is. Real, non-sexist men are single and don't strive to tie down and make housebound a free woman.

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Married? To a woman? That's the most sexist person there is. Real, non-sexist men are single and don't strive to tie down and make housebound a free woman.

Well it would be sexist if she took his last name as that is a tradition of patriarchy, but we really are ranting off topic.

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http://victorsopinion.blogspot.be/2013/07/anitas-sources.html

Has anyone seen that yet?

While it's not 100% proof that Anita has NOT played the games she critiques (I'm leaning towards she hasn't, myself...) it most definitely harms her credibility. Why not post sources? Not only does it look suspicious but citing sources is a BIG thing in academics.

inb4sarkeesianapologists

(Just to clarify, I'm not crapping on the dialogue going on in this thread - I'm crapping on Anita Sarkeesian since I believe she's a scammer, fraudulent, and generally sucky. :|)

We covered this about 10 pages ago. The gameplay videos themselves are not her argument. Whether she recorded them or someone else did makes no difference; her arguments are (as far as I'm aware) original. So, the comparison to academia is not really apt. Not crediting people who did the recording work IS uncool but it doesn't speak to the quality or originality of her arguments whatsoever.

(quick post, more stuff tomorrow)

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yeah see I don't see how you can say something like this and seriously think you're not being sexist; what you're saying here is basically that sexist ideals are okay because biology supports it, even though that doesn't really seem to be true

That was... not at all what I said. In the slightest. To borrow a page from Jesse's book, either your reading comprehension skills need honing, or you're intentionally mischaracterizing what I'm saying, or I'm being wildly unclear...

If anyone else believes that Bleck has made individual points that do deserve addressing & make sense, please let me know specifically what they are, and I've got no problem responding to them, but from where I'm sitting he's just repeating himself and not actually reading what I'm saying...

Do it! DO IT! YOU AIN'T GOT A HAIR ON YOUR ASS IF YOU DON'T DO IT!

I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU TO DO IT!

I lol'd. Okay JUST for the interest of context, the "short" version, from MY perspective:

  1. Anita makes a series of videos identifying/exploring tropes surrounding the depiction of females in video games. While there are a good number & variety of examples, some examples are a bit of a stretch, and/or she ignores important contextual elements. More problematically (to me at least), she peppers the videos with exaggerated one-liners reflecting an absolutist version of second-wave feminism.
  2. Brandon makes a thread, people chime in. I primarily take alarm because no one seems to be noticing or discussing these comments she's making; everyone seems more interested in how much money she got, her release schedule, etc. zircon initially agrees with almost everything she says. I think I've kinda-sorta convinced him that at least some of it is very outdated, extreme rhetoric, and that the certainty surrounding the supposed consequences of these tropes is less than self-evident.
  3. From here the conversation does diverge onto several topics - the merit of science, more recently, but also social construction vs. evolutionary psychology, the role of art, white male privilege, gender roles, sexism from a historical perspective, etc.
  4. To make any Blecks happy, I suppose I'll throw in an explanation of why all of this is relevant... first off, I don't think that it should be, because I think Anita should have made a series of videos that focused more on the details & specifics of the tropes, argued on a general level for the improvement of the art form, and specifically avoided many of the quotes that I isolated and discussed in previous posts. Had she done this, none of these topics would have been particularly relevant to the scope of the conversation. I also think her videos would have been more persuasive, to a wider audience of people that actually NEED to be persuaded, as opposed to preaching to the choir. Nevertheless, because she did things the way she did, and because Andy and Alex and a couple others doubled-down on some of the more... subjective... claims that she made, suddenly the scope of the conversation became much wider.
  5. Gender roles are observable patterns of human behavior, nothing more. How "natural" or "unnatural" any given pattern is could, I suppose, be measured by how often it appears in multiple, disconnected cultures across the globe and throughout history - in other words, how likely any given group of humans is to adopt the same, or similar, practice, if left to their own devices. Even so, this is simply being observed as an increased probability - NOT an inevitability, and certainly NOT an ideal! The relevance to the discussion at hand links back to my comment about male-female protective instincts, and the DiD trope appealing to men on this level. If gender roles are completely constructed and extremely flexible, then hell, we should attempt to eliminate any & all instincts that are the least bit irrational, because why not?? If, however, people are a bit more complicated than that, you might want to cater to their strengths, as I've been saying, while trying to address their weaknesses. In other words, it changes your whole perspective on how to improve the human species - you're not starting with a blank slate, and this should inform, temper, & enhance your approach. This specifically explains why I believe a combination of both the trope itself AND numerous examples that question, defy, or subvert the trope makes the most sense. I believe the male-female protective instinct is strong, and actually something we want to nurture, but that it also needs constant calibration, lest it misfire. This is a different conclusion entirely from "This trope is bad, it is no longer necessary, we should get rid of it!"

I've said this at least a dozen times, and I'm getting exhausted having to reiterate it over and over and over, but I personally believe that culture can, and more importantly should, help us overcome our biology. There is no reason to think that we evolved into an organism that, coincidentally, shares all of our modern values and attitudes about equality, and freedom, and human rights. Nature doesn't give two shits about any of this; it optimizes for survival & procreation, plain and simple. This can result in many unfortunate things, not the least of which is a ubiquitous tendency towards patriarchy. You can explain that tendency by claiming that men have met in dark rooms, since the dawn of time, to secretly coordinate the systematic subjugation of females, and that it's been super-hyper-effective up until the last century or so, but I think that's giving men FAR too much credit, don't you? Does it really pass the laugh test? To simply say that patriarchy is a pattern/system homo sapiens tends to fall into is not in any way an endorsement, so long as you remember that nature doesn't directly optimize for the things I think we all basically agree are our values - equality, freedom, justice, tolerance, reason. These are primarily human concepts, and we have fostered them not by denying our nature, but by building a system of checks & balances around it (Leviathan) and by reinforcing the good while discouraging the bad. I am articulating & endorsing a similar approach to how we think about potentially harmful tropes in media.

I'm not sure how many more dots I need to connect to illustrate the relevance, but hopefully this helped someone....

Edited by djpretzel

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If anyone else believes that Bleck has made individual points that do deserve addressing & make sense, please let me know specifically what they are, and I've got no problem responding to them, but from where I'm sitting he's just repeating himself and not actually reading what I'm saying...

About half year ago I noticed bleck in this thread looking for posts and people to call sexist. Looks like not much has changed. It feels like the only intent of his posts is to twist and turn things around until he can go 'yea see you're sexist'...

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If anyone else believes that Bleck has made individual points that do deserve addressing & make sense, please let me know specifically what they are, and I've got no problem responding to them, but from where I'm sitting he's just repeating himself and not actually reading what I'm saying...

He has not made any points worth addressing. Either Bleck needs to improve his reading comprehension skills, or he is doing this on purpose in an attempt to discredit your posts. It is certainly not you, djp, you're being clear.

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in a thread about the negative consequence of irrational gender roles in video games, why are people talking about the supposed biological existence of objective gender roles if not to imply that said roles should exist? I keep asking this question and I keep being dismissed, it's almost like people just don't want to admit to being sexist or something

From what I gather, the reason people continue to bring up such things is because rather than trying to justify it's existence they're simply explaining why they feel it exists, in the first place. If you thought that it was a problem, and you believed something biological caused it, wouldn't it make sense to first acknowledge what you feel the problem is? Right or wrong, DjP simply wants to point to what he feels is the underlying problem (that is, it's biological/evolutionary) - that doesn't imply that he feels that it's therefore perfectly fine.

In fact...

Original post by djpretzel

Gender roles are observable patterns of human behavior, nothing more... [it's] NOT an inevitability, and certainly NOT an ideal!

I would say this statement pretty much confirms that he doesn't think (or even imply) that it's "okay".

On another note, there is one role that is based solely on gender that biology is responsible for - giving birth to a child - that is not 'sexist' to assume is solely for a woman. The idea that this role could possibly affect how women have evolved over time (and thus became physically less suited to certain tasks due, for example, to how the hips had to shape for this purpose) does have some objective (i.e. not sexist) logic to it... though it admittedly doesn't affect the DiD trope very much, imo, so perhaps it could be saved for another part of the Anita series.

It'd be just as silly to deny that women are very different from men in a biological sense as it would to say that women should be subservient to men (because nature), even if the former would potentially undermine the idea that women are considered equal to men in every way. Both statements are simply untrue, and to base an opinion on either would hurt your stance.

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We covered this about 10 pages ago. The gameplay videos themselves are not her argument. Whether she recorded them or someone else did makes no difference; her arguments are (as far as I'm aware) original. So, the comparison to academia is not really apt. Not crediting people who did the recording work IS uncool but it doesn't speak to the quality or originality of her arguments whatsoever.

(quick post, more stuff tomorrow)

The biggest issue I have is her credibility. I mean she is literally flat out wrong on some of the things she claims(saying Zelda never fights ganon for example). It's shown that she simply copies footage from someone, it calls into question if she's played the game and knows what she's talking about. Even if she hadn't played the game it'd still be fine if she would simply fact check, or show some semblance that she actually either sat through the LP, played the game herself or even just read the plotline somehow.

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