Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

A New Blog in The Skeptchick Network!

There is a new blog in town!  It is called Grounded Parents and it is part of the Skepchick network.   As managing editor of Skepchick.org, Elyse, says in her introduction of the site:

We’ll be covering the usual parenting blog BS, but we’ll do it with all the snark and wit and drunken profanity you’ve come to expect from the Skepchick network. We’ll also be covering the shit they’re too boring to cover on the other parenting sites. We’ve got sex and drugs and mental health and intersectional feminism. We have opinions. And we back them up with motherfucking citations. We’re the bosses of parenting. We’re not your mom’s mommy blog.

And even more exciting is that the "We" mentioned about includes me! 

There are already several great posts there.  Go read them and if you like them, subscribe. 

We really have a bunch of great parents with an incredible depth and variety of experiences.   Best thing is, all of these experiences, advice, what have you, is based in reality.  We are secular, science-based, and rational, but also crazy, fun, and as Elyse says, we all "actually look too sexy in yoga pants"! (But, trust me, you’ll never catch me in yoga pants, promise).

December 17, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, Skepticism | Leave a comment

Taking Sides

There has been a battle going on in the atheists/skeptical movement over the past year or so.  It is a battle about sexism.  I won’t go into the details because there are too many incidents and opinions to mention here.  For an introduction, if you are not familiar with what’s been happening, see PZ Myers’ blog post.  Make sure you visit the links there, and the links in those links.  

PZ feels that it is time to take sides, and I agree.

Sexism is wrong.  Rape is horrible and wrong.  Anyone who supports these things whether openly, through making excuses for them, or just pretending they don’t matter is wrong; period.  These people try to explain away sexism, to rationalize it, to excuse it in any way they can.  They make threats of violence, rape, and even death agains the women who come forward with their experiences of being victimized.  

These are the same people who claim to be rational.  They deride the religious for being irrational in their beliefs; for supporting and rationalizing their beliefs with senseless excuses and rationalizations while they do exactly the same thing in their defense and denial of sexism in the atheist and skeptical communities. 

These people are wrong and no amount of rationalization can change that.  They are immoral, plain and simple.

I take the side of every woman, all women, who live with sexism every day.  I take the side of inclusion.  I take the side of equality and fairness.  I take the side of humanism.  I take the side of what is right and moral; the idea that every woman has the right to not just be safe, but feel safe, at all atheist and skeptical conferences and events, to never have to live with threats of violence, rape, and death just for speaking out about their experiences with sexism.

These are painful times we are going through, but if we want to advance the causes of atheist and skepticism, we must clean our own house or we can never claim the high moral ground against the religious, who use their gods to claim the same.

We must demand of our conference organizers that they not invite speakers who are known to engage in sexist and predatory behavior.  We must demand that they bar these people from all conferences and events.   If they refuse, then we must refuse to attend their events and to contribute to their organizations.  We must insist that the CFI, the JREF, and all other atheist and skeptical organizations refuse these sexists and predators venues for their speeches and writings.  We must insist that they remove these people from their organizations.  If they don’t, then they don’t get our support or our money.  

As a society of atheists and skeptics, we must shun those sexist predators and all who support them.  This is not a war, but a boycott.  We must boycott their speeches, their appearances, their books, and their podcasts.     We must make them outcasts and pariahs.   

It is time to take sides.  If you truly care about your community and what it should stand for, then take the side of what is right and moral, or be left in the dustbin of history.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, Humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , | 3 Comments

My Response to the CFI’s Response to the Skeptical Community’s Response to Ron Lindsay’s Opening Statement at the Women in Secularism 2 Conference

I’ve been out of action here for quite a while due to work and family and just life in general.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on in the skeptical and atheist communities.  There has been a lot going on there, but it took something unbelievably appalling and rage inducing to motivate me to start writing again.

As you can see by the title of this posts,  something happened at the Women in Secularism 2 Conference.  Something so unthinkably insensitive you would have thought it was said by one of the disgusting Republican, Tea Party loving, rape apologists.  But, no.  sadly , it was said by the leader of one of the leading and most influential secular groups in America; the Center for Inquiry, or CFI.

I won’t get into the particulars.  If you haven’t heard about it, you can read the outrage from different individuals here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  The CFI response to all this outrage can be found here.  

My personal response, which I’ve emailed to the CFI Board of Directors is below.

June 22, 2013

To Tom Flynn & the CFI Board of Directors

Dear Mr. Flynn and CFI Board members,

I am writing today to express my outrage at your response to the outcry caused by Ron Lindsay’s opening statement at the Women in Secularism 2 conference.  

You have shown that you are either incapable, or unwilling, to take an definitive stand on sexism in the Skeptical community.   Your official statement regarding this issue, far from helping to quell the protests, only exacerbated the situation.  

Your refusal to issue an apology, either as an organization, or though Ron Lindsay personally, is a disgrace.   Your insipid claim to value equality in the community is woefully inadequate at best, and pretentiously self-serving at worse.

Over the past year or so, sexism has become possiblty the most important and divisive issue in the Skeptical community.  The examples of blatant misogyny and raw hatred by  a relatively small number of members of the community toward anyone who dares support feminism and women’s right are disgusting, abhorrent, and almost too numerous to count.  They include vile insults, threats of rape, and even death threats against those, mostly woman, who speak out against them.

By refusing to take a stand against these misogynistic, hate-spewing members of our community, you only encourage, enable, and by your silence, tacitly accept their continued hatred and harassment of those who work tirelessly towards equality for all in our community.

I can no longer support the CFI, given it’s stance regarding sexism within our community.  I will no longer be donating to your organization, and this includes renewing my subscription to Skeptical Inquirer magazine.  This last honestly pains me because not only do I feel that it is the best skeptical magazine tin existence, but having been published in it, I can no longer in good conscience submit my work to be published there.

I fervently hope that the leadership of CFI will take an unambiguous public stand in support of ridding our community of sexism, misogyny, and hatred.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that I feel sums up my feelings toward the current state of the CFI leadership.

In his “Letter from a Birmingham jail” he said:  “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Sincerely,

James Walker


If this issue upsets you as much as it does me, please do something about it.  At the very least, let the CFI know how you feel.  You can email them, as I did, at tflynn@centerforinquiry.net, or snail mail them at:


Center for Inquiry Transnational
P.O. Box 741, Amherst, NY 14226


Do something!  Don’t let your “appalling silence” allow the injustice to continue.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , | Leave a comment

Atheism+. Why I Am More Resolved Than Before To Support It

Jen McCreight quit blogging yesterday.  This from Almost Diamonds who wrote a post explaining some of the reason why.

I’m angry that Jen has been pushed to the point where she has to stop blogging.  She’s done so much, especially with the SSA, to help advance atheism.  The detractors say that those who support Atheism+ are trying to take over the atheist movement, that we are being hateful and divisive, that we are not thinking critically and are letting our emotions cloud our judgement.  

Of course it is emotional.  We are enraged and appalled at the misogyny that has become so apparent in the past year.  We aren’t automatons, but human.  Using our anger at the misogynists and others like them in the atheists movement to try to build something better is good, as Greta Christian says in her book.  

Anger can motivate people to right wrongs and gain rights and recognition in society.  We want to be seen as atheists who do more than just attack religion.  We want to take this movement to the masses, as it were, beyond the atheist community, by working openly, and publicly on important social issues that, until now, religion or other organizations have owned.  At least, that’s what I would like to see.  I think many who support Atheism+ feel this way too.

The people who drove Jen away want to attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  It can’t, and won’t, stand.  But, I’m not going to attack those people, I’m going to ignore them.  They aren’t worth my time.  Instead, I’m going to do something positive and try to make Atheism+ a thing that will unite all those atheists who want to focus on social issues instead of just bashing religion and slapping ourselves on the backs for how much more clever we are than theists.  

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Atheism+: Doing Good Without God.

It’s been said that getting atheists to agree on something is like herding cats.  I’d say it’s more like trying to herd cats into a tub of water.  Atheists tend to be an inquisitive bunch; an intellectually bunch.  We reject dogma and the authority that goes along with it, hence we are loathed to being told what to do and what to think.  You could say we are fiercely independent (at least I say that we are).  

Given all that, you can see why trying to get a consensus about where to go for breakfast might be hard enough, never mind were we should all stand on a particular social issue.  And that’s the real issue in getting us all to band together for a common cause: we don’t like to be told what we should think or feel.

Still, being openminded and skeptical (yes, they do go hand in hand) we are able to listen to each other and really consider what each one of us has to say.  This attitude tends to lead to civilized debates, respect for each other’s rights to express ideas, and compromise, or at least it should.  I believe that it can and that it does.

The atheist/humanist/secular/(add your own label here) movements have much more in common than they do differences.   Most of us in these movements (and most of us identify with more than one) understand this and this has allowed us to begin to come together in the past few years in greater numbers and with great effect in support of issues that we all feel that we have a stake in.

Still, there is an ugly side to us as well.  Anti-feminism has shown its self to be much more prevalent that most of us imagined it was.  This is both bad and good.  It is bad, for the obvious reason that it shows that we all are not as enlightened as we’d like to be.  It is bad because it distracts us from working together to achieve our common goals.

It is good, however, that this is now out in the open.  You can’t tackle a problem until you can first acknowledge it.  Also, it is an opportunity to clean house, as it were.  By exposing the misogynists in our midst ( actually they tend to expose themselves) we can shame them into recognizing  their misplace sense of privilege or shun them from our ranks.  It is vital that we do so because we have the fight of our lives with the religious and social conservitives on our hands.

This is where Atheism+ comes in.  The new movement is not an attempt to establish an atheist dogma, as some try to claim.  Atheism+ is an attempt to bring together atheists who believe that we have a responsibility to go beyond fighting against superstition or fighting for the separation of church and state.  We strongly believe that we have a responsibility as atheists to fight for social justice for everyone, theist and non-theist, the superstitious and the skeptical, the religious and the non-believers.  

Feminism, gay rights, separation of church and state are just a few of the issues that most of us feel are important and that we are doing a good job of brining to the forefront of the social and political forums.  

We have already begun to raise our profile in the general public’s minds.  Just this year we had the Reason Rally, which made the national news.  We also have many good organizations supporting critical thinking and humanist issues such as the Secular Student Alliance, CFI, FFRF, American Atheists, the JREF, and American Humanists.  

Except for American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance, most of these, while they might have many atheists as members, are not atheistic groups.  What Atheism+ is, or can be, is a way for those of us who self-identify as atheists to get out and fight for social issues in public where we can meet “average” people and have them get to know us.  It will allow us to be seen as people who care for others, who do good things.  This is vitally important if atheists hope to ever become accepted by a society that currently sees us a amoral, selfish, heartless.

I urge those of you want to fight for social justice for everyone, who want to fight against misogyny, racism, bigotry, homophobia, poverty, and ignorance to consider joining the Atheist+ movement.  Talk about it with your friends and family (if they are still talking to you, that is), write about it, blog about it, tweet about it, set your Facebook profile picture to the Atheists+ symbol (see below), join the Atheist+ forum.

Let’s show the world that we are not only good without God, but we do good without God.

 

Apluslogo sm

Use me as your profile picture on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or any other site of your choice.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Follow-up and Apology

I posted the other day about some comments DJ Grothe made about women feeling safe at TAM.  I was dismayed and angry about how his words were perceived as sexist.

I overreacted.  I’ve had a chance to read more from other sides of the issue and I can no longer stand by my condemnation of DJ.  He has done much to help the skeptical community become more inclusive and I was wrong to be so quick to judge him.

I let my emotions get the best of me.  I allowed my bias (the fact that Rebecca was the first one to really inspire me to become a skeptic) to get in the way of clear thinking.  Worst of all, I didn’t do any digging to find out more about all sides of the issue.  I didn’t use reason, but I let emotion guide my writing.  It was a disgraceful performance equal to the sloppy woo ridden drivel that I constantly rail about here.  

To DJ, and to all of my readers, I most sincerely apologize.

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Feminism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , | 5 Comments

Skepticism’s Dirty Little Secret Isn’t Secret Anymore

It started with Elevatorgate.  Rebecca Watson related an experience she had at a conference at which she’d just spoken about how uncomfortable it makes women to be constantly hit on at conferences.  Afterwards she was going up to her hotel room in the elevator and there was a man there with her who was at the conference.  He asked her if she’d like to go back to his room.  That was exactly the type of unwelcome advance that she was speaking out about.  In a video blog about the incident she simply asked men to please not do that.  

She didn’t  call the guy a scumbag, she didn’t rail against men in general, or even those types in particular.  She didn’t call for all women to rally around the feminists flag.  She merely asked men to be respectful of women and not hit on them.

For her troubles she was called a bitch and a cunt.  She was told that she deserved to be raped.  She was threatened with rape and violence.  Even the venerable Richard Dawkins weighed in saying that women like her needed to stop whining and think about all the women in the world who are forced into prostitution, abused by men, forcible raped, etc.  

All of this highlighted the ugly underbelly of the skeptic, humanist, and atheist communities: men just don’t get it.   Yes, there women around the world in much worse situations that Rebecca and other women like her in our society.  That’s not the point.  The point is that women feel unsafe in places where they should feel safe.  The point is that women are being treated like objects.  This treatment may not raise to the level rape, forced prostitution, or genital mutilation, but it is still unacceptable because it creates fear in thousands of women.  No one she feel unsafe, especially in a community that prides itself on its inclusiveness.

Not only do some men in our community not get it, some are downright misogynistic.  They are quick to call women who speak out about sexism in the community feminazis, whores, and man-haters.  

Then there are the, what I will call, accommodationist.  They try to show their understanding and support of women while at the same time making excuses for mens’ bad behavior.  They say that these men are a product of their society, that they didn’t mean to offend, or some other lame assed excuse.  

The fact is that there is no excuse for sexist and myogynistic behavior.  And there certainly is no excuse for character assignations and threats of violence.  

Women in the community have had enough of this disgusting behavior from men.   They have said resoundingly that they do not feel safe at conferences.  The vicious attacks from the misogynists have frightened them.

The effects of this may be seen at this year’s registration for TAM.  Up until last year, registration for women was close to about 40%.  So far this year it is 18%.  Once can’t help but wonder if the events of this past year have had an influence on the huge drop in female registrations for TAM.

JD Grothe, president of the JREF and TAM’s organizer certainly thinks so.  He recently stated, 

Last year we had 40% women attendees, something I’m really happy about. But this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed. (This is misinformation. Again, there’ve been on reports of such harassment the last two TAMs while I’ve been at the JREF, nor any reports filed with authorities at any other TAMs of which I’m aware.) We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.

He singled out Rebecca as one of those who were being, as he claimed, irresponsible.

Rebecca: Off the top of my head, your quote in USA Today might suggest that the freethought or skeptics movements are unsafe for women. This is from the article:

“I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”

Rebecca recently announce that she will not be attending TAM this year.  I don’t blame her.  This is incredibly sad, not because a well know skeptic won’t be attending, but because that those 40% of woman attending last year is in large part due to Rebecca and others at Skepchick.  They have been raising money for years to send women to TAM and have succeeded in helping the number of women attending TAM to double over the last few years.   This surge in women attendees have spilled over into other conferences such as Skepticon, and has fueled a flowering of hundreds of skeptical female voices in the blogosphere.  

I was pondering attending TAM, but decided against it several weeks ago for financially reasons.  Now I’m defiantly glad that we didn’t register.  I would have been compelled to not attend TAM, despite losing  a substantial amount of money for the registration fee.  But more importantly, I could not attend TAM because I can not condone, or support with my money and presence, DJ’s stance here.  Blaming women who speak out about their feelings and fears is no different than blaming a rape victim for being raped.  

Of course this doesn’t rise to the level of rape, but the results are in the same.  Women are being victimized by being blamed for speaking out and taking action against an injustice.  They are being made to feel violated simply by saying they feel unsafe.  

I won’t consider attending TAM until I see that the organizers are willing to stop blaming women and take real, meaningful actions to stop sexual harassment at their conference.  I am also withholding my financial support for the JREF and will no longer write for the JREF blog while these conditions remain.

I am hoping that men in the community will respond to these events by voicing their support for Rebecca and all women in our community who are outraged by this latest turn of events.  I would call on PZ Myers, Phil Plait and other prominent male skeptics, who I know wholeheartedly support women’s rights,  to avoid TAM.  We need to send a message to DJ and other organizers that this behavior will not stand.  Maybe if we start throwing our support and our money behind other events, such at  CFI’s Women in Secularism conference, this will send a message to organizers of conferences to take real, meaningful actions to alleviate this problem.  Hopefully this will allow us to create events and venues where all participants can feel welcomed and safe. 

 

 

 

defiantly

June 2, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Paying For Sex With Your Taxes

Rush Limbaugh has sparked an intense controversy with his sexist, misogynistic, and immoral statements about Sandra Fluke’s testimony supporting mandated provision of contraceptives by health insurers.   Besides his horrendous comments and personal attacks against Sandra Fluke, his comments also begat a strange, terribly misinformed notion that American taxpayers are paying for women to get free contraception, in essence, we are all paying for women to have sex.

First of all, the foundation of this argument is totally bogus.  Taxpayers are not paying for anything here.  Insurers are paying for it.  These insurers pass the cost of free contraception (just as they do free pre-natal care, yearly physicals, etc) onto employers in the form of insurance premiums.  The employers then pay their portion of the premiums and the employee pays their’s.  Nowhere does the taxpayer pay one penny for contraceptives, except for government programs like Medicaid.

So Limbaugh’s argument, which is being taken up by the religious right, is false.  I might give him and others the benefit of doubt that they are just clueless, but I find it hard to believe that anyone in the public sphere, especially legislators, are ignorant of the reality.  They are simple liars, lying to promote their particular political agendas.

But, for sake of argument, let’s assume that Limbaugh’s argument it valid and that taxpayer money is being spent to provide contraceptives.  If that is the case, then it is no different than paying for Viagra for old, impotent men.  Why should we pay for these men to have sex?  There isn’t even any corollary argument for it, as with contraceptive.  Contraceptives prevent pregnancy, STDs (in the case of condoms), help some women regulate periods and treat ovarian cysts. Viagra has no other benefit except to give a man a hard-on.  So all these aging white men can stop getting viagra at taxpayer expense.  I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to pay for Rush Limbaugh to have sex, never mind actually watching him do it on video (as he suggested Sandra Fluke do).

Of course, the above argument is just a spurious as Limbaugh’s.  The real lesson here is that this is one more attempt by privileged men to control women.  The latest outrage is taking place in Arizona (that hotbed of radical religious inspired insanity).  Read Rebecca Watson’s take on the new law that would force doctors to lie to their female patients about the health of their unborn child.

If you don’t think that there is a war on women being waged by the religious right and the GOP (which have become one and the same), there have been dozens of similar attempts to allow the state to control a woman’s body.  For a party that claims that they are for less government and putting a stop to government’s intrusion into our personal lives, they sure don’t seem to think that applies to women.  I supposed that as long as the government isn’t trying to regulate your guns or property, everything else is fair game.

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Feminism, Religion, Social Justice | , , , , | 1 Comment

Religious Freedom: Your Rights Are Special; Your Religion Is Not

No one’s beliefs are beyond question or criticism.  Insisting on special special status for your religious beliefs has nothing to do with your freedom of religion and everything to do with your belief that your religion is somehow better than everyone else’s.  You have the freedom to believe what you choose and to live your life accordingly, unless you try to infringe upon the rights of others.  You do not have the freedom to insist that everyone else live by your beliefs.

I respect your right to believe as you wish but that respect only goes as far as me not trying to stop you from believing as you do, or insist that you believe as I do.  That respect does not include respect for your religion’s ideas, concepts, or particular moral code.

I expect you to question my beliefs and to challenge them.  I have no problems or qualms accepting your challenges to my beliefs.  I believe that if we don’t constantly question, we stagnate, then we stop learning and stop growing.  I question everything, even my own beliefs, constantly.  This brings a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me.

You, on the other hand, recoil in dismay when your beliefs are questioned and claim that you are being persecuted and that your right to freedom of religion is being infringed upon.  You are wrong.  Your beliefs are being questions, challenged, and even ridiculed.  Your right to believe them are not being questioned.  Your right to practice your beliefs and to worship are not being questioned.

Freedom of religion does not give your the right to insist that every public meeting or event be preceded with a prayer to your god.  It does not give you the right to insist that laws be passed to restrict the actions and speech of others not of your faith just because they don’t hold to the same moral beliefs as you.  Freedom of religion, as stated in the U.S. Constitution, also implies the freedom to have different religions, or even freedom from religion.  It implies freedom of conscience.

The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution was enacted in order to prevent this country becoming a theocracy, as were most countries of Europe at the time, where Kings reigned by the grace of God.  The Founding Fathers,  in whose memories of the vicious religious wars of scant generations past were still a powerful and terrible memory, created the Establishment Clause to forestall just such terrible religious inspired strife in this country.

Today we see our society polarized by religiously motivated groups on the right who would push their vision of a Christian nation under their particular god upon all of us.  Their titular political arm, the Republican party, which once fought against religiously supported slavery, has now become a tool for those who breed hatred against,  homosexuals, the poor, women, and the non-christian or non-religious.  Their justification?  Their religion.  Their Bible.

Their belief that their Bible tells them that homosexuality is a sin worthy of death(1) that the poor will always be with us(2) and will be rewarded in heaven(3) and therefore somehow can be ignored here on earth); that women must be silent(4) and submit to their husbands(5). They claim that their god is a god of love and mercy.  Their Bible, their words, and their actions show otherwise; that their God is an angry, merciless, and vengeful god and that they are a bigoted, racist, misogynistic people who use their holy book to foist their twisted view of morality on the rest of us.

 

We all have the right to our own religion, our own beliefs.  We all have the right to worship as we wish.  We do not have the right, none of us, is to have our beliefs put up on a pedestal that is above question, challenge or even ridicule.  What none of us has is the privilege of having our special religious beliefs, modes of worship, and morals elevated above those of anyone else.  The freedom of religion granted by the U.S. Constitution implies, above all, equality of all beliefs, where no one belief or religion, especially that of majority, is above any other.

 

1 Leviticus 18 and 20

2 Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8

3 Matthew 5:3, Luke 6:20

4 1 Corinthians 14:34

5 1 Peter 3:5

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, Religion, secular humanism | , , , , , | 4 Comments

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name?  you might ask.  Well, in India, quite a bit, if you are a girl named “Nakusa” or “Nakushi,” which mean “unwanted” in Hindi.  In a heartwarming CBSNEWS World article, 285 girls changed their names to reflect a new beginning in their lives.

It is hard to imagine, in our society, that parents could choose such a cruel name for their child.  This  reflects, I think, the sad social insistence in many countries on having male children.

It is known that in many cultures in the past, baby girls were buried in the sand, thrown into rivers, lakes, and seas, or left out in the wilderness to die of exposure and starvation, or be eaten by wild animals.  Where this horrible concept that a female child is worthless came from is hard to understand.  Ok, I get the idea that many cultures desired male children for the purposes of inheritance, protection, wage earning, and so on.  Also, many of those same cultures required that the parents of a daughter pay a dowery when she married, which can be seen as a financial burden.  Still, why was no thought given to the fact that females are needed for reproduction, or that a marriage of a daughter to a man from a good family could be a benefit?  Then there is the most important reason of all to value daughters:  that hey are humans begins just as worthy of love and caring as any male.

These misogynistic ideas have their roots in a major change in human social development.

In their book, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá trace the origins of misogyny to the advent of agriculture, which “…changed everything about human society, from sexuality to politics to economics to health to diet to exercise patterns to work-versus-rest patterns. It introduced the notion of property into sexuality.” (Ryan and Jethá, 2010)

What we see here is the result of the male desire to secure a claim to property for himself and his offspring.  In order for this to work, the woman becomes property as well.  These attitudes have prevailed for close to 10,000 years even though there is really no longer any reason to treat woman as property.

We have made great strides toward sexual equality in the past 100 years or so, at least in the West.  I hope that the cross pollination of cultures we have seen in the past couple of decades will have a positive influence on less enlightens cultures around the world.  Until then, more girls will be shamefully labeled “unwanted”, both in practice as well as in name.

 

References:

Ryan, Christopher and Jethá, Cacilda, 2010, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, Harpers Collins

 

 

October 23, 2011 Posted by | Feminism, Social Justice | , , | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 391 other followers