I don't like your language, young man. December 13, 2007 12:55 AM   Subscribe

Am I the only one to find this questions language offensive/sexist?

I've flagged it and written a comment but I'm the only one. I don't think I've ever flagged before. Or maybe once. What happens next?

And why am I the only whinger? It seems like an entirely reasonable question with tacit misogeny thrown in for the prurient factor.

I wouldn't normally post in the grey. This is my first time. But my beloved Jessamyn didn't slap this chap, so I'm confused.

I notice that people often take their whinges here. So here I whinge.
posted by taff to Etiquette/Policy at 12:55 AM (187 comments total)

Good job flagging. That's usually all you need to do. Fishing for commiseration in MetaTalk is generally asking for trouble.
posted by carsonb at 1:05 AM on December 13, 2007


I thought it was a crappy question, but basically on this side of acceptable. In fact, more to the point it was a totally unclear question which was made more confusing by the "prude" title and by the OPs follow-ups. Is he just trying to model vectors and diseases? Is he trying to make a model of an article he seems to have read and only partly remembers? Is he trying to make an argument about promiscuous women? His stated request and all the supporting info for his request seem to be somewhat at odds and so it's a little hard to see what he's getting at. Then again, we don't have a "this doens't make sense, try again" flag, so we'll leave it, keep an eye on it, and see what happens.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:06 AM on December 13, 2007


I can't comment if it is offensive/sexist or not (I try to stay out of these discussions), but the asker is certainly very confused about what he is asking.

A "graphical model" involves probability tables and matrices and such, but the question is looking for video results.
posted by lenny70 at 1:13 AM on December 13, 2007


The question is offensive, insofar as it is an incredibly stupid and ill-formed question. But that's usually not enough to merit deletion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh. The inherent sexism in the language appalled me. But I'm a pus-filled snot machine and probably horribly grumpy at the moment. And devastated about Terry Pratchett. So feel free to ignore this, folks.
posted by taff at 1:46 AM on December 13, 2007


I'd be willing to bet that English is not the OP's first language (judging from past posts), which may explain the post seeming a bit strange (and the use of the word "prude" as an antonym for "promiscuous" when they have fairly different connotations). Biologists use "promiscuous" to describe animal behavior in the same way as the OP is using it to describe human behavior. I can see how the word can have negative connotations, but it doesn't appear that the OP intended to communicate any of these.

I'd also say, taff, that your post in the thread was rude. MetaTalk is the place to talk about which questions you deign to answer, not AskMe.
posted by ssg at 1:48 AM on December 13, 2007


taff, just wanted to say that you should learn to make links so we don't have to copy and paste a url. :)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:52 AM on December 13, 2007


I work (when not on maternity leave) in the HIV sector and we most certainly do not ever ever ever use the word promiscuous when discussing sexual partners. I'm not a biologist. But this is a question about human transmission. You're probably right, ssg, that I was rude. But after the recent furore about sexism here, I was surprised that question got through. And stayed through.

Oops to flapjax. Can't you click on the link? I'll try harder next time. Thanks for the tip possum.
posted by taff at 2:15 AM on December 13, 2007


I never thought of promiscuous as a loaded word. If it accurately describes an individual who has multiple sexual partners, then only people who disapprove of multiple sexual partners would be offended by having the term applied to them.

A thesaurus search comes up with these synonyms: abandoned, alley cat, bum, cheap, debauched, dissipated, dissolute, dog, easy mark, fast*, for free, immoral, indiscriminate, lax, libertine, licentious, loose*, musical beds, profligate, pushover, put out, run around, sex job, sleep around, slut, swinging, tramp, two-time, unbridled, unchaste, undiscriminating, unrestricted, wanton, wild

All of those words are either judgemental or not specific to sexuality. What word would you have preferred the OP to use?
posted by happyturtle at 2:39 AM on December 13, 2007


I'd also say, taff, that your post in the thread was rude. MetaTalk is the place to talk about which questions you deign to answer, not AskMe.

Agreed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:40 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


taff, I'm not trying to suggest that "promiscuous" is a good word to use in this context (especially in light of recent discussions here). I was merely trying to sketch a reasonable explanation for the wording of the OP's post, because my reading of it was clearly quite different from your reading.
posted by ssg at 2:44 AM on December 13, 2007


Taff it is the middle of the night or early morning in the US. I think as more people wake up and read the question, well, the OP is going to be beaten like a rented mule.
posted by mlis at 2:59 AM on December 13, 2007


Hmmm happy turtle. You raise an interesting question. For the "no sex before marriage" crowd, promiscuous could mean any partners >1. It's not an accurate word. It has different meanings for every person that uses it, I would suggest.

Instead of promiscuous, he should have asked about a number of sexual partners greater than x. Or greater than a national average. Or greater than he's had. Or greater than his mum has had.

I agree that I was rude Brandon. I also think the thread deserved it. But I am happy to have my comment removed. And this thread closed if the powers that be think so too.

And MLIS, thanks for reminding me about the time zone thing. I forget that Metafilter is not Australian. Even with all that silly American spelling.
posted by taff at 3:07 AM on December 13, 2007


I feel bad that my seemingly interminable celibacy is contributing to the epidemic. I hope I stumble upon a willing mate or ten someday soon so that we can get this thing under control.

There's rarely a graceful way to call out offensive language in a way that ensures isn't just quietly removed without an actual discussion about why it's offensive.
posted by loiseau at 3:22 AM on December 13, 2007


Yeah, on the face of it that was a hamfisted way of constructing a question, but it's a big call to attribute 'prude' and 'promiscuous' to any intentional slur; the benefit of the doubt would say that Markovich was just being lazily insensitive about the language choice. Anyway, jessamyn's called it.
posted by peacay at 3:29 AM on December 13, 2007


Nelly Furtado "A Number Of Sexual Partners Greater Than X". ... catchy.
posted by benzo8 at 3:44 AM on December 13, 2007


I read promiscuous as shorthand for "exhibiting a higher probability of engaging in intercourse with more than one partner compared to those specimens designated as being not promiscuous in this model."

I'm not sure, even if you take however unfavorable reading of "promiscuous" you care to, that I see how it's the word that is sexist. Granted, the premise he's discussing sounds like bunk to me, but if you take, for example:
AIDS spreads faster in societies where people in general are less promiscuous.
or
AIDS spreads faster in societies where the men are less promiscuous.

It seems to me, if anything is sexist there, it has to be the fact that the study focuses on women that is making it sexist and not anything to do with the meaning of the word "promiscuous." Am I completely missing something?
posted by juv3nal at 3:46 AM on December 13, 2007


Juv3nal, I'm no scholar, but I see the historical use of the word (and words like "slut") as a manner of shaming women for their choices as adding a strongly negative connotation to the word.

The word itself might (or might not) be neutral in the dictionary, but cultural forces can affect their meaning to people. I can't imagine hearing or using "promiscuous" apart from the connotation of judgement of "too many partners".
posted by loiseau at 4:00 AM on December 13, 2007


I agree that I was rude... I also think the thread deserved it.

Jessamyn made an excellent comment in another, which I currently can't find, where she eloquently stated that even if someone is rude to you, that is not a reason for you to be rude back. Metafilter and the world would be a lot better if people followed that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not an accurate word. It has different meanings for every person that uses it, I would suggest.

Agreed, which is why the word choice is poor. However, it is worth noting that the narrow, technical meaning of the word is well defined: having more than one concurrent partner. I don't presume to read the OP's mind, but I'd be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was using the word more along those lines.
posted by ssg at 4:07 AM on December 13, 2007


In my world promiscuous has a very positive connotation. Just another data point, but there you go.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:03 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't really find the question offensive, unless you're talking about the unspoken assumption that all men are completely promiscuous. I do think the basic premise of the question is flawed, though, but not enough to move me to comment in the askme thread.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:22 AM on December 13, 2007


A thesaurus search comes up with these synonyms: abandoned, alley cat, bum, cheap, debauched, dissipated, dissolute, dog, easy mark, fast*, for free, immoral, indiscriminate, lax, libertine, licentious, loose*, musical beds, profligate, pushover, put out, run around, sex job, sleep around, slut, swinging, tramp, two-time, unbridled, unchaste, undiscriminating, unrestricted, wanton, wild

Doesn't the fact that most of these synonyms for "promiscuous" have intensely insulting associations make it clear that "promiscuous" itself is not remotely a neutral term? When it's applied to human behavior in general discourse, it pretty much always suggests that one has, in the eyes of the speaker, an inappropriately or immorally large number of sexual or romantic partners.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:22 AM on December 13, 2007


I don't think you were rude. I think you were straightforward. You found it offensive and you said so. I think we should be able to treat posters as reasonable adults (in terms of thought and maturity if not age) who can be spoken to in a straightforward way. It would have been rude if you'd said "You sexist asshole," or something, but you didn't!

If we can't, calmly and straightforwardly, call something offensive when we find it offensive, how can we call ourselves adults? Pointing out the sexism IS giving the benefit of the doubt: to the poster, that maybe s/he didn't mean it that way and would *want* to know how horribly it reads; and to the community, that we are capable of speaking and listening to criticism, and that we don't want sexism, or even just unintentional offensiveness, to go unchallenged.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:28 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, the very premise of the question is sexist. It doesn't matter how 'promiscuous' the women are if the men are unwilling to sleep with more than one woman ever, therefore it assumes that both the men and the women are sleeping with multiple partners, yet only the women's behaviour is marked as promiscuous.

It is also heterocentrist: if all or some of the men/women are gay, the model he's trying to build would be completely altered, but the poster assumes, without feeling the need to say so, the straightness of their characters.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:32 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


So now we're banning sexist questions on the green?
posted by smackfu at 5:33 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


So now we're banning sexist questions on the green?

The sexist-or-poorly-worded question is still up, no?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:38 AM on December 13, 2007


What alternative would you suggest, FelliniBlank? Or is 'number of sex partners greater than x' the best anyone can do?

I still think promiscuous is the least offensive word that could be used, unless we are going to put 'libertine' back into common usage.
posted by happyturtle at 5:40 AM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's pretty clear that the poster read an article or discussion about the Landsburg article/book More Sex is Safer Sex, and those are the terms that he uses (promiscuous vs. prudence), correct or not.

See here.
posted by Caviar at 5:41 AM on December 13, 2007


The sexist-or-poorly-worded question is still up, no?

Seems like that's because of the poorly-worded part, not the sexist part.
posted by smackfu at 5:42 AM on December 13, 2007


I think we should be able to treat posters as reasonable adults (in terms of thought and maturity if not age) who can be spoken to in a straightforward way.

Speaking to someone in a straightforward way usually means avoiding a condescending, arrogant and pissed off tone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:45 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can't you click on the link?

Can't you tell it's not clickable up there?

It's easy to make a link active: just highlight the word you want to link, click the blue "link" button at the bottom right of the preview window, paste the url in the box and click "ok."
posted by mediareport at 5:57 AM on December 13, 2007


I would just like to say that I find "your language is unacceptable" to be far more offensive than the word "promiscuous." Far more.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:02 AM on December 13, 2007 [13 favorites]


When it's applied to human behavior in general discourse, it pretty much always suggests that one has, in the eyes of the speaker, an inappropriately or immorally large number of sexual or romantic partners.

Except if the speaker doesn't consider any number inappropriate or immoral.
posted by ersatz at 6:02 AM on December 13, 2007


I think this form of hyper-correctness is much more harmful to polite discourse on MeFi than fairly neutral words, even if these words have been used in pejorative ways by somebody somewhere at some point.
A person who has sex with a lot of people (using whatever definition of "a lot" you want") is promiscuous. That's what the word means. That's what the poster meant, and that's what everybody understood, because that's what the word means.
Any implied judgment or sexism is in the mind of this MeTa post's author.

taffPoster: "I work ... in the HIV sector and we most certainly do not ever ever ever use the word promiscuous when discussing sexual partners."

Right. In the context of your workplace, this word has negative connotations. It doesn't in most of the rest of the Reality, including MeTa.
posted by signal at 6:06 AM on December 13, 2007 [8 favorites]


Salamandrous said it better than I can, but I agree that the very premise of the question was sexist. It's offensive that only women get labeled as promiscuous. The word, while it might be used neutrally in certain contexts, is overall anything but. If the OP wanted to be clear, he could have said something like, X women sleep with Y men, etc. without resorting to loaded terms like prude and promiscuous.

The question really left a bad taste in my mouth, and I was glad to see the callout.
posted by bassjump at 6:10 AM on December 13, 2007


I think the way it's written right now (lumping all women into either prudery or promiscuity) is horrible and tiresome, and the further explanations--"[I don't care if it's right or not, help me graph it]"--don't do much to make me feel like this is an honest question.

I flagged it, and it's the second thing I've bothered to flag ever.
posted by zebra3 at 6:21 AM on December 13, 2007


Damn.

Sometimes it gets me down how many really dumb people there are running around on this planet.
posted by chunking express at 6:26 AM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think you were straightforward. You found it offensive and you said so.

That is not what AskMe is for. If you think a question is offensive, flag it, write to a mod, and if you feel really strongly, start a MeTa thread. Do not post in the AskMe thread unless you have an answer.
posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


You should try and answer the question in a snarky obnoxious somewhat offensive way.
posted by chunking express at 6:42 AM on December 13, 2007


I'd be willing to bet that English is not the OP's first language (judging from past posts),

This is good point and should be repeated. The original poster described themselves as European and went to a German University. Cultural differences may apply.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on December 13, 2007


The word promiscuous shouldn't be gender specific, but unfortunately, it's usually used that way. Google has 69 returns for "he is promiscuous" and nearly 9,000 for "she is promiscuous". Amazing.
posted by taz at 7:03 AM on December 13, 2007


I know a lot of people see this all as splitting hairs but the disquiet that the question generates derives from the way the language is used and in that sense I agree with CunningLinguist that we don't want to remove the ability to use specific words.

In my view the word promiscuity is fine in this situation if used right (the adjective promiscuous is laden with sexist baggage as loiseau notes and is associated 3x more often with 'woman' than with 'man' on a google search so should probably not be deployed to describe a woman in most contexts*)

If the poster had said something along the lines of:

--I saw an article that used promiscuity as a criterion in measuring the spread of HIV and I'd like advice as to the sorts of statistical/computer models I could use to demonstrate some basic results.

The scenario has a nightclub with 10 males and 10 females and for the purposes of this simplistic model I want to vary the level of promiscuity among the females and keep the promiscuity levels among the males the same.--

and had not lazily begun with the provocative "Prude women, more HIV?" title, then the question would have been totally fine (or any missing facts could have been supplied in followups).

*That just means that people ought to exercise sensible caution when using a sexually categorising term.
posted by peacay at 7:04 AM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I did this -vs- this. Taz, I'll hire you as my accountant and divorce lawyer.
posted by peacay at 7:07 AM on December 13, 2007


smackfu, are you really that stupid?
posted by OmieWise at 7:10 AM on December 13, 2007


First they came for my sexism. Then they came for my dwarf-tossing. Then they came for my homina homina hominas. Then they came for my HIV surveys. And by the time they came for my masculine pronouns, there was nothing left.
posted by WCityMike at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2007


Heh. The problem with your way, peacay, is that 8,200 of your returns for "promiscuous man" were actually something like "she is SO promiscuous - man, what a slut!"

;)
posted by taz at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2007


Ha! See. Lawyering away on the details already!
posted by peacay at 7:17 AM on December 13, 2007


Billable hours, peacay - billable hours.
posted by taz at 7:18 AM on December 13, 2007


I have nothing to say, but am posting this comment just in case the stars align and I think of something witty and pb implements comment editing, sometime in the promiscuous future.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:19 AM on December 13, 2007


If you women weren't so frigid I wouldn't have all these homosexuals sucking my cock.
posted by chlorus at 7:22 AM on December 13, 2007


I have flagged this callout as sexist. Should I post another callout in the gray now, or is this an appropriate question for AskMe?
posted by psmealey at 7:22 AM on December 13, 2007


I still fail to see how using 'promiscuous' in that AskMe is offensive. What the hell is the asker supposed to use?

SLUT!
posted by C17H19NO3 at 7:25 AM on December 13, 2007


smackfu, are you really that stupid?

Ha, now that's something I find offensive, you fucking shithead.
posted by smackfu at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2007


(See, I can insult people directly too out of context. So there!)
posted by smackfu at 7:30 AM on December 13, 2007


I think it bears repeating again and again that the OP is obviously referencing Steven Landsburg's "More Sex is Safer Sex." Read an excerpt here. Note the common usage of the word promiscuous.
posted by proj at 7:31 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Your facts have no place in this thread.
posted by smackfu at 7:31 AM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Count me with those who found the question poorly worded, but not sexist. Promiscuous doesn't appear to be a judgment term here, it's used to describe people who have sex with multiple partners. This is an accurate term if the gender of the person is male or female.

The term 'prude' might factor in, but really, if we are going to start calling out 'sexism' on terms like 'prude', then this place is going to go downhill like a greased bobsled.
posted by quin at 7:37 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]



Right. In the context of your workplace, this word has negative connotations. It doesn't in most of the rest of the Reality, including MeTa.


I disagree with this statement. I think "promiscuous" almost always has negative connotations. It's fine if it doesn't *to you*, but your opinion isn't evidentiary.

A very very quick Google search shows that there are many studies, books, papers, and so forth which examine the negative connotations of promiscuous. It is a value-laden word. It is also unspecific, which is worse in the context of scientific study. "Promiscuous" would need to be operationalized before being used in a study, and given a precise definition such as "having sexual intercourse with more than one person in a given time period" (a week? a day? a month?), "having sexual intercourse with more than 100 partners over a lifetime" or something like that.
posted by alicetiara at 7:39 AM on December 13, 2007


Ha, now that's something I find offensive, you fucking shithead.

No, fuck YOU.

But, seriously, there isn't a zero-sum game here with respect to sexism. We can both discuss and lament it, and still have a functioning site that everyone can use. Your hyperbole is directly akin to the "war on christmas" douchebags', who continue to claim that being more inclusive is somehow an attack on their most deeply held values. Inflammatory questions suggesting that the site is running PC-amok are bullshit, and it's reasonable to question whether the people who ask them are stupid. This is especially so when the answer is already evident but doesn't happen to support the inflammatory questioner's bullshit.

posted by OmieWise at 7:41 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


That came off as far harsher than I intended. Sorry.

Look, if you want to make a deliberately inflammatory statement in the form of a question to which you already know the answer, then surely you should be prepared to accept a question about your motivation as something less than a purely personal attack.
posted by OmieWise at 7:48 AM on December 13, 2007


Promiscuous is probably the least offensive single word the OP could have used. Dodging around using any word by writing out a list of numbers seems excessive.

I suppose assuming that all men have sex with everyone and sometimes women have sex with everyone and sometimes women don't have sex with anyone is pretty offensive, but it would be more useful (and just better.) to bring it up in that thread with some kind of statistics showing how that works in real populations. (Trying to say flat out that men and women both choose sexual partners in the exact same ways, numbers, and frequencies is just delusional.)

Oh, and the jokey title? Not great, but I think the OP can be forgiven seeing that jokey titles just abound... see ^^^ up there.
posted by anaelith at 7:48 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I didn't find the use of promiscuous as obnoxious as the implication that stopping the spread of aids lays at the feet of skanky women, when it obviously takes two people to have sex. And in this scenario one of those people would be a dirt dog dude.
posted by chunking express at 7:50 AM on December 13, 2007


The way the question is put forward, it is obnoxious irrespective of the language used.
posted by chunking express at 7:52 AM on December 13, 2007


I find the word itself offensive, every time it is used it carries a lot of sexist baggage. I think it's very head-in-the-sand to deny that it has connotations beyond its denotation.
posted by sondrialiac at 7:55 AM on December 13, 2007


this place is going to go downhill like a greased bobsled.

Fun just barely relevant fact. When The Soul of a New Machine was about to be published (before being a popular Pulitzer winning book about the computer industry in 1980) the publishers objected to my Dad using the term "go as fast as a raped ape" and gave Tracy Kidder a bunch of hell about removing it. He said no, saying the phrase was evocative and, yeah, offensive at some level but was accurately quoted and that was that.

I don't think there's anything wrong with talking about these sorts of things as they come up. Anyone who wants to just wander into these MeTa threads and scratch your nuts and describe the fact that these discussions exist as The End of Everything Good, well I don't know what to tell you. They're a facet of MeTa and no one is making you participate. As Omie says, it's not zero sum. Unless you're offended that someone would call something sexist or ask for a reality check about something and that seems a little GOML for my tastes.

To repeat: nonsense hyperbole about how talking about sexism makes this place suck just sounds like grousing. I defy anyone to point to a place where MeFi has gotten to be Bad Place by dint of any of the recent discussions we've been having outside of these discussions themselves which, are totally optional, just like consciousness raising. Geez.

The question was dodgy but not deletable, crapping in it wasn't okay, people have different feelings about what the word promiscuous means.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:01 AM on December 13, 2007 [7 favorites]


This is why we say that presentation matters. The fundamental question is fine (even if I think the premise is a non-starter; I'd be intensely curious to see good research supporting the model he's proposing, because I doubt it exists).

It would have been very helpful if markovich had been explicit about promiscuous being used as a strictly technical definition, because while agreement on how loaded a word it is and in what contexts is clearly not forthcoming (see this thread), it clearly is loaded in the aggregate sense. A lot of other little details (nixing that post title, for one) would help too.

But there we are. It's a flawed question, but it's not impossibly bad and, like jessamyn said, we're going to try and see what happens. I'm seeing some pretty decent answers regarding systems modeling and system dynamics in there, so I think maybe it's going to be okay.

smackfu, if you want an honest administrative answer, I'd like it if you would rephrase your question upthread as a clear statement of what you think/suspect is and isn't the situation, so I would know what to actually respond to instead just guessing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on December 13, 2007


It wasn't a question for the admins. It was a question for the person who posted this thread. I want to know whether they want this question deleted because they think it's sexist.
posted by smackfu at 8:16 AM on December 13, 2007


It's odd to me that promiscuous, which is quite an accurate word, is seen as loaded, but not prude. Is a woman a prude if she is not promiscuous? Being called a prude is one of the ways a woman may be pressured to have sex. Prudishness, to me, connotes a dislike and fear of anything sexual. A person can be pro-sex, well-informed, not squeamish, etc., and choose not to be sexually active, can't she?
posted by theora55 at 8:18 AM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


HEY GUYS LET'S TALK ABOUT SEXISM SOME MORE
posted by ODiV at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2007


I MEAN GUYS AND GIRLS.
posted by ODiV at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2007


OOPS, WOMEN.
posted by ODiV at 8:21 AM on December 13, 2007


So now we're banning sexist questions on the green?

Um, the only people "banning" things would be me or cortex or mathowie and we're not doing that. If you have a question for taff, please feel free to not make it look like a question for the mods.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:23 AM on December 13, 2007


Are we going to have another 800 comment thread that is going to make me hopelessly fed up with people I previously admired? Because I hated those.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:24 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


theora55, that struck me as interesting too; they strike me as both pretty dicey to just bandy about without context if you don't want to piss people off. But I think maybe there's something more directly engaging about implying sluttiness than about implying insufficient sluttiness, so that the former is often going to produce a quicker and hotter response than the latter, potential for overall offense aside.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:29 AM on December 13, 2007


I'm shocked anything in this discussion could still be interesting.
posted by smackfu at 8:31 AM on December 13, 2007


In full-on non-snark mode: why are you still hanging out in the thread, then?
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The OP didn't use the word "promiscuous" as a defining label. It was used in the form of comparative terms such as "more promiscuous" or "less promiscuous". Nowhere was there an implication that a certain level of promiscuity warranted a label of "promiscuous", with it's inherent negative connotations.
posted by rocket88 at 8:33 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


why are you still hanging out in the thread, then?

Nothing better to do. It's snowing out!
posted by smackfu at 8:34 AM on December 13, 2007


Are we going to have another 800 comment thread that is going to make me hopelessly fed up with people I previously admired?

Yeah, I agree and this is where I see the constant rehashing of the subject of sexism, every time someone brings it up, as being detrimental in the long term.
Hell, the original poster of this thread said "But I'm a pus-filled snot machine and probably horribly grumpy at the moment. And devastated about Terry Pratchett." and then went on to encourage people to ignore her. As such, is it really necessary to keep this thread open?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:37 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are we going to have another 800 comment thread that is going to make me hopelessly fed up with people I previously admired?

Pretty please with a flameout on top?????
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:37 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nothing better to do. It's snowing out!

Lucky! It's too cold here to snow.
posted by ODiV at 8:46 AM on December 13, 2007


I can't see that the word promiscuous is sexist in and of itself. I suppose it implies some kind of normative view of appropriate number of sexual partners, but I take that to be a separate issue, notwithstanding the points above about who it get applied to.
As to the whole premise behind the question, I don't have a problem with sexist ideas coming up for debate (if that's what it actually is, I confess I only gave it a casual glance). I'd tried to say in those long threads that it was casually off-putting stuff that seemed more likely to exclude than the odd wacky notion coming under discussion. Of course, if all we talked about was dubious sexist notions, I could see that would get old.
posted by Abiezer at 9:02 AM on December 13, 2007


pro·mis·cu·ous - characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, esp. having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis.

Lots of sex with many partners. This is clearly the exact behavior that the poster was describing. The poster wasn't passing judgement on them, or calling them sluts. He was using an accurate term to describe a social phenomenon.

Hell, in science, we sometimes describe molecules as promiscuous - it just means that they interact with a large variety of other molecules. We certainly aren't being insulting to chlorine when we say it.

The only thing offensive in that thread was your BS callout. Just chill.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:04 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've participated in the recent sexism threads, but I would like to state on record that this question doesn't bother me at all.

We can get all deep and talk about the history of the word "prude" and "promiscuous," but I don't see this as something to fight about, or anything that would benefit from a long, dragged-out discussion on sexism in MeTalk. I'd rather that wait for a much more egregious example of sexism. The question mostly sounded poorly-thought-out and poorly-written than anything.
posted by agregoli at 9:05 AM on December 13, 2007


I mean I'd rather wait for a more egregious example.
posted by agregoli at 9:09 AM on December 13, 2007


It's snowing here too. Merry Chr Happy Han Have a nice few weeks, everybody!
posted by languagehat at 9:09 AM on December 13, 2007


Also, what agregoli said.
posted by languagehat at 9:09 AM on December 13, 2007


It's never too cold to snow.
posted by edgeways at 9:33 AM on December 13, 2007


I posted in there, and I'll add here. If you take "promiscuous" as a value-free term describing a person who has a total number of sexual partners in their lifetime in some excess of their dominant culture's median or average number of sexual partners for their cohort, then it's still a crap term when applied to the question. You can have a population with people favouring multiple concurrent sexual partners as opposed to a population where people tend to favour multiple serial sexual partners. The lifetime number of sexual partners may be less in the former than in the latter. Yet some models show the former has a greater risk for HIV transmission through the general population. Which model contains the more "promiscuous" outliers? The label is useless, the question is crap, and we are still in an Eternal September.
posted by meehawl at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2007


"What, are you talking about this again? This place is going up in flames! Horrible. I can't believe you're still talking about this. Here I am, checking in on this thread, seeing that you're still talking about it. Let me comment so you know how deeply ridiculous I find that. Holy shit, you're still talking. Crazy. I totally don't care about this subject, and neither should you. So I'm commenting to tell you that."
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:39 AM on December 13, 2007


"I still fail to see how using 'promiscuous' in that AskMe is offensive. What the hell is the asker supposed to use? "

"Popular".
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:47 AM on December 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


I defy anyone to point to a place where MeFi has gotten to be Bad Place by dint of any of the recent discussions we've been having outside of these discussions themselves which, are totally optional, just like consciousness raising.

I don't think I've made serious comment about this sexism issue since for a while it looked like the whole thing was going OK with the new flags and the new attitude or whatever, but this points the way towards (while not in itself being) the bad result I feared when I saw the long threads - a loss of frankness or openness, replaced by a requirement to dance around sensitive issues. Here we have complaining about a discussion of people sleeping around because the guy didn't properly euphemize his choice of words, not because he's judging anyone or displaying prejudice. Euphemistic discourse is less useful - in my opinion it leads to this false worldview where no one's sleeping around, no one's doing drugs, no one's mentally ill, no one's gay, etc., because we are forced to dance around these things as sensitive issues. In the real world, some people are more promiscuous, some people are less promiscuous, some people are prudes, and so on, and not talking about it doesn't make it any less true.

Basically, readers are attaching their moral judgments about "promiscuity" to the question's use of the word when the question did not make any such moral judgment, or, even worse, worrying about some vague sense of society's prejudice against "promiscuity" when both the reader and the question don't feel these prejudices. The proper response to the second feeling is "Society doesn't like people sleeping around? Too bad, this is a discussion about sleeping around," not "Society judges people for sleeping around so we have to start mincing words."

The proper response to the first is to be a little less uptight, which I have learned because the shit that I morally judge is way off from the shit that other people morally judge, even on this place. For example, like Meatbomb, I find questions about how to be the best moneygrubbing corporate douchebag offensive and would prefer that they did not exist. However, the existence of moneygrubbing corporate douchebag behavior leads to the existence of questions about it, and so I must accept their existence.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:53 AM on December 13, 2007 [7 favorites]


P.S. The fact that the question might be lacking a proper metric or definition of promiscuity, or that it's more complex than prude vs. promiscuous isn't a huge problem. Question could ask "Are people who run fast likely to injure themselves," and the answers might have to involve defining how fast is "fast" or discussions of how improper form causes injury, not speed, etc., and there would not be a shitshow about it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:59 AM on December 13, 2007


Here we have complaining about a discussion of people sleeping around because the guy didn't properly euphemize his choice of words, not because he's judging anyone or displaying prejudice.

See, I'm reading this as largely a case of people complaining because he didn't avoid euphemizing his choice of words, or at least seeming to euphemize. He's seemingly asking about group sexual interactions, and nobody is saying he shouldn't be, or that he shouldn't ponder systemic differences between male and female sexual practices for his model, or anything of the sort.

The problem is that some people were taken aback by where the presentation diverged (whether intentionally or accidentally or somewhere in between) from the question of the model to the euphemizing of the behavior presented in the model.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:00 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's never too cold to snow.

Literally true, I guess. Practically the colder it gets here, the less it snows.

"If the air cools to truly frigid Arctic temperatures such as -40 C and below then the moisture capacity of the air will be so low that likely not much snow can occur. Only at these extremely low temperatures is the phrase "it is too cold to snow" fairly valid."

From here.
posted by ODiV at 10:03 AM on December 13, 2007


"but this points the way towards (while not in itself being) the bad result I feared when I saw the long threads - a loss of frankness or openness, replaced by a requirement to dance around sensitive issues."

No it doesn't, and here's why: Because the discussion has been (largely) hashed out, and no change has been made save that we've had the discussion. If people are required to think a little bit more before they post, because they now realize that sexism will be contested, that's a good thing. It doesn't mean that people are dancing around sensitive issues, it means that people are being sensitive about sensitive issues.

That's it. That's all of it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:23 AM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


I agree: "prude" is more sexist and damaging than "promiscuous." But if the continuum is presented as Prudence vs. Promiscuity, the choice of words falls into place a little more understandably.

The Google search bit is interesting; I'm sure women are called "promiscuous" more than men, though I can remember a day (without the clarifying benefit of Google searches) when "promiscuous" was applied like crazy to gay men. Remember AIDS in the late Eighties? It seemed like most articles blamed the spread of AIDS on gay male promiscuity. I dunno how it is anymore: in the intervening years, I've mostly seen "promiscuous" in a scientific context describing non-humans.

I wonder, though, if many of those articles brought up by the Google search aren't, like the "promiscuous -- man, what a slut" example (which I understand as humor, but I also find true and enlightening), actually decrying the "promiscuous" label, as in, "When a woman sleeps around, she's promiscuous; when a man does it, he's a stud." Which statement I have little issue with; it's just an example. Don't hate me because I'm skeptical.

I'm not saying that my skepticism makes the sexism nonexistent, I'm saying basing statistics on Google search results is problematic and can be misleading.
posted by breezeway at 10:36 AM on December 13, 2007


Exactly. The original question, while so imprecise and fuzzy as to be pointless (as meehawl cogently noted), doesn't particularly bug me, and one could argue that people who are offended could just shut up and flag it . . . but jeez-o-pete, during the earlier discussions about the flags, a lot of folks were saying that flags were stupid because one SHOULD confront people or do an overt callout about perceived offensiveness. (Although I suppose that was aimed more at the blue than the green.) So taff does just that, and immediately the "Oh, stop being so hypersensitive" palaver begins.

Anyhow, I just find words interesting is all, and I don't see how it's ever really a bad thing to hash over the implications of language. It's fun. Perhaps it is overthinking, but I never could figure out why THAT was a bad thing, especially on MeFi, which is where we come to, like, think, and shit. I certainly like you maniacs better when you overthink than underthink.

Also, about the "value-free" issue:

pro·mis·cu·ous - characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, [emphasis added]

Yeah, that's totally judgment neutral.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:39 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


On preview, the "exactly" was for klangklangston.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:40 AM on December 13, 2007


Lots of sex with many partners. This is clearly the exact behavior that the poster was describing. The poster wasn't passing judgement on them, or calling them sluts. He was using an accurate term to describe a social phenomenon.

Did you read the actual question? It's obnoxious because "promiscuous" is only applied to the women in a hypothetical "simple model of 10 people with no external factors."
posted by desuetude at 10:46 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I avoided that question because the wording turned me off. There are societies in Africa where men with AIDS are raping young virgins at an alarming rate because they think it will cure their AIDS. There are young girls who are pretty much sex slaves to men because many older women already have AIDS. So personally, I would have a very difficult time using the word "promiscuous" to describe sexual practices of women when often they are violent and not consensual. The textbook definition is: "Having casual sexual relations frequently with different partners; indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners." which implies that a girl is a bit of a slut and is choosing to sleep around. Those girls cannot be judged in that manner at ALL.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:14 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


So I'm confused.

Has anyone in the thread recommended a better term to use than the gender neutral term promiscuous to represent someone who fucks a lot? I mean, besides taff's admirable but completely unworkable "person with sexual partners greater than x."

or is it that we're not allowed to talk about how much people have sex, even when we're just talking about how an std spreads?

also, while I can understand someone feeling off about the question at hand, it surprises me that the word promiscuous is the problem, seeing, as I mentioned above, as it's a gender neutral term.
posted by shmegegge at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2007


shmegegge, I think the bulk of this has been about, in one sense or another, how presentation has a lot to do with whether or not "promiscuous" is gender neutral and value neutral. I don't think it's accurate to say that the word promiscuous is the problem so much as that the use of the word promiscuous in the question as it was asked was pretty clearly problematic for a lot of people despite its applicability if taken as a face-value, neutral technical term.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:24 AM on December 13, 2007


Has anyone in the thread recommended a better term to use than the gender neutral term promiscuous to represent someone who fucks a lot?

Lucky? Happy?

posted by quin at 11:27 AM on December 13, 2007


a loss of frankness or openness, replaced by a requirement to dance around sensitive issues

There's no such requirement. To raise the bar on community standards so that language that is dismissive or exclusive is objected to is not 'dancing around' issues. The issue itself is still being addressed and discussed. What's under discussion here is how that can be done with respect.

I agree with those who objected to "prude," as well. In fact, when I entered this thread, I expected the callout to be about prude, for the reasons theora55 mentioned. Whereas there is some argument that promiscuously can be used as a legitimate term in the social sciences, there is no such argument for "prude."

This little question title definitely is not the worst, most offensive thing that's ever come around on MeFi, but these days, we want to discuss the ways in which the language used on the site, subtly or not-so, defines who its audience is, who is welcome, and who is an outsider. MeFi is strong enough to sustain such a discussion. If anything, language call-outs and discussions, over time, encourage everyone to write more precisely, define their terms more clearly, construct their arguments more tightly, and think a lot harder, which in my mind is a good thing.
posted by Miko at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Seasoned"
posted by Bookhouse at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2007


that made more sense when it was below Quinn's
posted by Bookhouse at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2007


I think the bulk of this has been about, in one sense or another, how presentation has a lot to do with whether or not "promiscuous" is gender neutral and value neutral.

I can get on board with that, but a lot of this thread hasn't really been about that at all. what's bothering me is that people are saying things like "well, in this thread that word is sexist" and to prove it they're doing things like breaking out the dictionary definition of the term. that is precisely the opposite of regarding the word in context.

I'm having difficulty empathizing with the problem of the context in the question because no one's really saying precisely why the context is problematic I think.

for myself, what DOES seem problematic about the question to me is that the dude is basically saying "i just read that women should fuck more. how can I make a video demonstrating that?" he asks for something that requires data he does not have, but he's not asking for a source for the data. you know? it's questionable and his motives are suspect. but it's not that word that bothers me. not even in that context. it's everything else he's saying.

but if the word does bother somebody, I'd genuinely like to know what should be said instead. because otherwise the solution really is that we need to never ever bring up [people with sexual partners greater than x] again.

also, could someone PLEASE put some html around the http address in this meta post? I'm getting tired of copying and pasting every time I revisit the thread.
posted by shmegegge at 11:46 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't care that he used the word "promiscuous," despite what Taz said, which I think is key. The question is obnoxious because the other option is that she's a "prude." It's this whole stupid binary system of judgment whereby women are either uptight and frigid and therefore unworthy of respect or cheap and easy and therefore unworthy of respect.

That's what these words are loaded with, at least for me. If he had just said one of them, I would have rolled my eyes at the whole ridiculous premise and moved on, but putting both of them in there is the alchemical recipe for sexist horseshit. I mean, that's about as clear as it gets for me, that that's how women's sex lives are summed up for some men: by their willingness and availability to men. That's the definition of marginalization.

I am fully aware that this is a fictionalized scenario, but the poster, in my opinion, didn't seem to know what he was needing, and just sort of dumped all this absurd, hot-topic garbage in our laps and waited for us to sort it out.
posted by zebra3 at 11:47 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Question as written:
Prude women, more HIV?
I read online that AIDS spreads faster in societies where the women are less promiscuous. What is the best way of creating a model which will show me the development and spread of the virus in the case where women are less vs the case where women are more promiscuous?

Short of sitting down to program this, is there any tool that will quickly let me graph the development of the virus? I need something that shows it like a video, with spread from one person to the other.

The constraints are as follow:

Assuming you have a nightclub visited by 10 men and 10 women, if all 10 women are promiscuous, how long would it be till all men are infected? If however only 5 are promiscuous, how long would it take then?

I also need to do things like find out the exact promiscurity level to spread the disease as fast as possible.
Question as revised to avoid pejorative terms:
Less sex, more HIV?
I read online that AIDS spreads faster in societies where the women have fewer sexual partners. What is the best way of creating a model which will show me the development and spread of the virus in the case where women have fewer vs the case where women have more sexual partners?

Short of sitting down to program this, is there any tool that will quickly let me graph the development of the virus? I need something that shows it like a video, with spread from one person to the other.

The constraints are as follow:

Assuming you have a nightclub visited by 10 men and 10 women, if all 10 women have sex with all 10 men, how long would it be till all men are infected? If however only 5 have sex with all 10, how long would it take then?

I also need to do things like find out the exact number of partners to spread the disease as fast as possible.
Is that so terrible?

I mean, it is still a terribly formed, illogical, and confused question, but is the change in language so terrible that you would read it and say "Hell in a handbasket! This site has gotten so PC!" If you wanted to be a little flip'n'fun with it, you could even headline it "fewer fucks, more HIV?" or something similar.
posted by Miko at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


It still seems backwards to arbitrarily focus on Women over Men. Men carry the aids virus too, and they can be promiscuous.
posted by chunking express at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2007


That's totally true, but more appropriate for the thread itself.
posted by Miko at 12:00 PM on December 13, 2007


shmegegge: ... it's questionable and his motives are suspect. but it's not that word that bothers me. not even in that context. it's everything else he's saying.

Miko: I mean, it is still a terribly formed, illogical, and confused question

It's not the first one, either. There was also the theoretical African Depression Retreat. He took objections to his premise pretty well in that one, though.
posted by CKmtl at 12:04 PM on December 13, 2007


This reminds me of a talk show (Ricki Lake?) where there was this fat-people-advocate who insisted people say "big" instead of "fat". People would ask questions, saying something like "my mom was fat..", and the advocate would interrupt them and say "you mean 'my mom was big'..." with a smarmy school-teacher smile on her face. The questioners would usually just go on, using 'fat' when they meant 'fat', and the smarmy advocate would 'correct' them every time. At some point somebody asked her what she would call Danny DeVito, who is certainly fat but hardly big, and she just sputtered some nonsense about harmful language and such.
Anyway, this reminds me of that, as she also seemed like the kind of person who would say "I don't like your language, young man".
posted by signal at 12:16 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is that so terrible?

What does the original poster, markovich, think?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2007


It still seems backwards to arbitrarily focus on Women over Men. Men carry the aids virus too, and they can be promiscuous.

No, it makes sense because in this context, women are generally the "gatekeepers" when it comes to sexual activity. Not making a judgment here, just pointing out how the distribution of sexual partners looks. Lots of women with few sexual partners, fewer women with many sexual partners. The distribution for men is more even on average. Note the word "average" for the people wanting to bring up rock stars and such who get laid all the time.

Miko's rewording of the post worked well, I think, but calling out the original was pretty lame considering that "promiscuity" was exactly what the OP meant and english wasn't his first language in any case.
posted by Justinian at 12:39 PM on December 13, 2007


By the way, titling this post "I don't like your language, young man" strikes me as at least as problematic as the AskMe post. Jesus, that's rude and offensive.
posted by Justinian at 12:40 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really really don't like to derail, but I have to let it out. I saw markovich's "Redemption Camp" question before..it's a one off, I said. But I have this image of a sadistic prison warden in my head... then I read this question, found it slightly odd in terms of word choice, till I saw this:

"I also need to do things like find out the exact promiscurity level to spread the disease as fast as possible."

I don't think the question was sexist per se, but it did scare me, for a split second.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 12:45 PM on December 13, 2007


No, it makes sense because in this context...

No it doesn't. A lady can't have sex with me unless I take my dick out of my pants. For real.

The distribution for men is more even on average.

Are you pulling that fact out of your ass?
posted by chunking express at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2007


A snow day, and this is the best that we can do? Geez.

To actually weigh in: I find "prude" to be far more problematic than "promiscuous" (which I have seen used in a scientific context, usually referring to monkeys). Dudes. They're words. They mean things. Sometimes, lots of things. In this context it simply meant "many sexual partners" and not "a bunch of sluts." If we take stuff out of context, we're going to have 1,000 post MeTa threads discussing the inherent sexism of "mankind." I'm all for progressive language, but when you sacrifice descriptive power in favor of a much clunkier phrase simply to avoid a loaded word, you're not doing much for man-or-wymyn-kind.

"Prude," on the other hand, is almost always used to describe a woman, and never in a flattering way. "Wow, that chick! She's such a prude!" isn't something that you're going to hear said in a positive way. If you want to use a word that actually means "no sexual partners," well, there already exists such a word! Celibate! Look at that!

If you want to use a word to describe why I am discussing this: Bored.

(I would also like to nominate the use of "frigid" instead of "prude" as it is more seasonally appropriate.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2007


Are you pulling that fact out of your ass?

No. Have you pulled your head out of yours?

CDC report: Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15-44 Years of Age, United States, 2002
posted by Justinian at 1:01 PM on December 13, 2007


Here's my n = 1: "promiscuous" can be a loaded term but it can also be a non-loaded descriptor. Better for everyone to interpret it in the kinder light, which was entirely feasible in this case. (Offense is in the eye of the beholder, here.)

"Prude" struck me as worse than "promiscuous" since it can't be explained away as a technical (sociological) term. But people often miss the mark when attempting jokey titles, so hey, let it go.

The whole question struck me as confused, unclear on what exactly the OP was trying to do, and smelling somewhat of a last-minute homework project. That's what rubbed me the wrong way, but not enough to flag it.

A MeTa callout? Unworthy. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt before accusing them of offensive behavior; not only does it make the site run better, it also helps one's credibility. There are quite a few of us here but we manage to get to know each other pretty well by what we write. I would think that nobody wants to get a reputation as a whiner or prude, which is a danger of being too quick to take offense.

which is pretty much what lots of people upthread have already said
posted by Quietgal at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2007


What exactly do you think that report says, because Figure 1 in the report would suggest men and women aren't so different. I haven't taken stats in a long time, so maybe those 10% of men being skankalicious versus 7% of women makes a big difference.
posted by chunking express at 1:23 PM on December 13, 2007


Never use the word "promiscuous" when you can use the phrase "exercising free will and choosing to behave like a slut".
posted by spock at 1:25 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


That citation actually seems to support greater variance in number of sexual partners for men (6-8) than for women (4).
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on December 13, 2007


I don't find the use of either 'promiscuous' or 'prude' to be offensive; juvenile and mildly annoying, but not offensive. Like shmegegge, the thing that strikes me the most about the question is that it reads like the OP is trying to muster evidence that more fucking on the part of the laydees = less HIV. If English is not the OP's first language, he may not intend that, but that's how it reads to me. Baby, it's your duty to fuck around more! By holding back you'll increase the spread of HIV! See, proof, right here! What say we go prevent the spread of HIV together right now?

This is where some context about why the OP wants this info would be helpful.
posted by andraste at 1:34 PM on December 13, 2007


I would think that nobody wants to get a reputation as a whiner or prude

So, people should not complain about subtle sexism because they might be labeled a prude? And that will improve the site...how?
posted by sondrialiac at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


What say we go prevent the spread of HIV together right now?

Is this where someone gets the bright idea to create a 'Ladies, I sure do love epidemiological disease prevention' account?

Unto this person, I say: "Please, no."
posted by CKmtl at 1:46 PM on December 13, 2007


Baby, it's your duty to fuck around more! By holding back you'll increase the spread of HIV! See, proof, right here! What say we go prevent the spread of HIV together right now?

That would be the most hilariously inept pickup technique ever:

Baby, check out this short video-like presentation that shows the spread of HIV from one person to another based on a simplified sample case of 20 people. I've modeled the outcome for various levels of female promiscuity in order to determine your ideal level of promiscuity in order to minimize transmission of the virus. Science compels you to sleep with me!

</joke, no commentary on anyone's comments intended>
posted by ssg at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


klangklangston: That citation actually seems to support greater variance in number of sexual partners for men (6-8) than for women (4).

That bit of the summary is sloppily written. If you look at Figure 6 in the report you'll see what they were suggesting. Men 20-24 report 4 as the median, 25-29 report 6, 40-44 report 8. Women report 3 at 20-24 and 4 everywhere from 25-44. What that suggests, to me, is that women (on average) have sex with different men when they are very young but not later, while men sleep around somewhat more into middle age.

chunking express: Figure 1 is for "last 12 months" I think? Figure 6 is better, as it is for lifetime... or at least until age 44. As we know, people over 44 do not have sex. (pause) Anyway, as you can see from figure 6... by age 44 median number of opposite sex partners for men is 8 and for women is 4. That's double, which is very significant. When you consider that the mean must be the same for men and women when considering only opposite sex encounters, that difference in median clearly suggests that a significantly smaller number of women have sex with lots of partners while for men the distribution is somewhat more even.

Note that these figures also mean the variance must be much higher for women since the mean must be higher than the median. That's just logic. So the average (mean) is over 8, men have a median have 8, women of 4. So the variance for women is significantly higher for women.

If I could find the actual mean in these figures would could calculate it, but for some reason I can't at a quick skim. Don't have time for more.

Anyway, it should be clear at this point that I didn't "pull these facts out of my ass" but rather from the CDC. It would have been nice if you had simply asked what basis I had for my conclusions rather than make a snark about pulling them out of my ass.
posted by Justinian at 2:25 PM on December 13, 2007


So the variance for women is significantly higher for women.

Ugh, that sentence just sucks on every level. Just pretend the second "for women" wasn't in there.
posted by Justinian at 2:27 PM on December 13, 2007


I'm sorry, but since we're having this debate anyway, over what is and isn't appropriate descriptive language, I have to say that yes, the word "prude" gets my hackles up right away, and the addition of "promiscuous" just makes me think the poster is ignorant of the pejorative nature of these terms.

"Well, if you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have you're a slut. It's a trap." Just from this one line in "The Breakfast Club," we know it is not good to be classified as a prude. There is definitely too much cultural nastiness behind that word. And the same goes for "promiscuous."

I flagged the question, as I found it offensive. And I have to say, I wish we could actually flag what kind of offensive a question is so that there was a way to keep track of what MeFites find to be sexist, or racist, or homophobic. Specifically.

When it comes down to it, we just need to edit ourselves a little bit better and put more thought into how we talk about groups of people. I am guessing that for many people the question of what is/isn't sexist doesn't generally come up when framing a question or posting a comment.
posted by brina at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2007


Whether or not the question in question is sexist is open to dispute; what's certain is that taff's contribution constitutes noise. Even Jessamyn agrees, referring to taff "crapping" in the thread. Why have taff's comments remained undeleted? The only hard and fast rule around here seems to be "just answer the damn question"--why not enforce it all the time?
posted by freem at 2:43 PM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Let's not take cues from John Hughes, ok?

Prude does not have a gender associated with it.

Also, can we get back to talking about snow?
posted by ODiV at 3:01 PM on December 13, 2007


Cultural differences may apply.

The ideal of being able to have a sexism-free forum where women feel comfortable is a laudable one, and one I completely agree with FWIW. The problem is simply that not everyone agrees on what is or is not sexist. If you think there's a discrepancy here now, just wait until some hypothetical point in the future when the Internet is more equitably distributed among the world's citizenry.

The more diverse Metafilter's userbase becomes, the more obvious this problem will become.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:27 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The word "promiscuous" does not automatically mean "slutty". It doesn't even contextually refer to sex and it has the same meaning whether you're talking about sexuality or otherwise. Simply using that word does not constitute a value judgment and hence simply using it does not constitute sexism.

It's like the word "expensive". Saying "You have an expensive car" is a value judgment. But asking "How expensive would getting my cavity filled be?" or labeling an axis of a chart "more expensive" would not be.

I hate the notion, "Forget the dictionary, if you use words that have ever been used in an abusive fashion you're just as bad as them!"

I think the real outrage going on is something like, "How dare you try to build a mathematical model of disease propagation based upon this potentially sexist theory about female sexuality you read about online?" It's ridiculous to get outraged about someone asking a question about that or to say that kind of question shouldn't be allowed. Go ahead and criticize the thing the guy read about, don't quibble about whether he should be allowed to analyze it mathematically.
posted by XMLicious at 3:35 PM on December 13, 2007


brina : When it comes down to it, we just need to edit ourselves a little bit better ...

As has been clearly reiterated in this thread, when we can't agree on what is and isn't offensive, who will be the arbiter and editor?

Might a better goal be to accept that many people do not share your nuanced view of the proper and improper turns of phrase, and you'll probably just have to live with the fact that some people will use terminology and have thoughts that you don't agree with?
posted by Dave Faris at 4:08 PM on December 13, 2007


flagged as Republican
posted by Justinian at 4:26 PM on December 13, 2007


I agree with freem... why are the comments by taff still in the thread when they clearly don't answer the question?
posted by happyturtle at 4:36 PM on December 13, 2007


Agreed, about taff's (and bruce's) comments, actually. With the metatalk link in there, and this discussion having come into its own, I think pulling them from the thread's the thing to do. It's been a busy and understaffed afternoon, basically.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:45 PM on December 13, 2007


Let's not take cues from John Hughes
cos prude is rude, dude! a
and saying promisuous gets my bile all viscous...

I got nothin...
posted by jonmc at 4:57 PM on December 13, 2007


I threegree with freem. Those are not answers.
posted by signal at 5:16 PM on December 13, 2007


"What, are you talking about this again? This place is going up in flames! Horrible....So I'm commenting to tell you that."

I am so completely sick of this rhetorical tick of yours, thehmsbeagle. Snidely, and often preemptively, dismissing others' viewpoints with caricature is a really destructive way to make your statement.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 6:26 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Well, if you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have you're a slut. It's a trap." Just from this one line in "The Breakfast Club," we know it is not good to be classified as a prude.


I'm sorry, but that is a ridiculous argument: "Because characters in a film said this, it's true."

Can we please try, also, to make a distinction between saying, "I personally don't like this word because it has negative connotations for me," and, "This is sexist"? Because those are two entirely different things.
posted by misha at 6:43 PM on December 13, 2007


Sondrialiac, I'm not arguing against calling out unambiguous sexism, subtle or otherwise. My point is to consider whether there's another possible interpretation before concluding that something is offensive. If there's any ambiguity, give the other person the benefit of the doubt. A user who consistently cries "sexism" where others don't necessarily see it runs the risk of losing credibility by appearing hypersensitive.
posted by Quietgal at 6:53 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


If there's any ambiguity, give the other person the benefit of the doubt.

So everything but the most egregious examples of sexism should remain undiscussed and unquestioned? That's not what I want this place to look like. Especially since I know that we have nimble brains and somebody somewhere will practically always be able to find some interpretation where something isn't sexist.

And yes, calling out IS giving the benefit of the doubt.

A user who consistently cries "sexism" where others don't necessarily see it runs the risk of losing credibility by appearing hypersensitive.

Yes, they do run the risk. So? My impression from this thread is that there are many people who do think that the phrasing of the question, whether in regards to 'promiscuous' or 'prude,' was sexist. Evidently, they have lost credibility with you.

So?

Of course it's your privilege to afford credibility based on your own values, and to judge arguments about sexism based on your judgments about others' credibility. I don't see how that's an argument against people calling out sexism when they see it...
posted by Salamandrous at 10:06 PM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am so completely sick of this rhetorical tick of yours, thehmsbeagle. Snidely, and often preemptively, dismissing others' viewpoints with caricature is a really destructive way to make your statement.

I didn't realize I figured so largely in your MetaFilter experience, Uranus.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:06 PM on December 13, 2007


Damn, that's a fuckin' crabwalk of a comment. You ever move straight forward or back, or is it always a sidelong scurry around the point?

Seriously, it's like you're bent on proving his point. Maybe if real justification eludes you and your only defense for shitting in this thread is to intentionally miss the point, you might reflect on your own comments. I'd recommend it, for your sake: you write with enough clarity that it's obvious you aren't a dumb kid, but what you write is sometimes as dumb and childish as it gets.

Now, and hosted from Uranus is geeking on you a bit, but he's got reason. You seriously took a shit on everybody here, and you've done it before, and from your response, it looks like you'll do it again.

Which is up to you; just, for your own sake, ditch the passive-aggressive justifications for your threadshitting. It proves Uranus' point better than he himself could.

Listen, and this is coming from an inveterate threadshitter himself: when someone calls you on something you know was bullshit (am I giving you too much credit?) either drop it, or apologize, or justify yourself. Don't try and fuckin' backdoor him.

I'm seriously trying to help, though it doesn't seem like it. I know; it gets tiresome to be called out constantly for being an asshole. The best way around it: don't be an asshole.
posted by breezeway at 7:57 AM on December 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


This sexist piece of crap is an example of the kind of thing that DOES make me mad, and it doesn't belong on Metafilter. I'm praying it gets removed, despite it being slammed in the thread. We do not need to be known for leaving links like this stand.
posted by agregoli at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2007


Your prayers were answered, and mine too. (Actually, I was so sure that was going to get deleted that I didn't even bother flagging it, but then it stuck around and I started to wonder...)
posted by languagehat at 1:54 PM on December 14, 2007


Thank heavens. I'm too tired for THAT fight.
posted by agregoli at 1:57 PM on December 14, 2007


Cortex's explanation is kind of weak to me though. "Wow, people pretty much hate this." How about that it's sexist crap that shouldn't be on MeFi? I wish that it was described as taken down because of policy - as in, we don't allow such stupid shit on the site, not that the majority opinion was that ooooh, we don't like it.
posted by agregoli at 1:58 PM on December 14, 2007


cortex and I had duelling reasons for deletion there, I'm not sure if his is up or mine is now. At some level the fact that it was terrifically flagged is more of a point against it than the fact that it's a stupid site that was linked to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:05 PM on December 14, 2007


The problem is that sometimes a piece of stupid shit is really well-liked—not in general practice, but mefi is a weird place and sometimes the moment is right—and the reason we don't allow stupid shit on the site is because people don't like it.

Beyond that, this wasn't some spring daisy, new to the site, it was a long-time user with history of mixed success in posting who doesn't really need to have the fact that his post was stupid explained to him because he probably damn well knows it, and just has poor judgement about when a stupid-side-of-things post is going to be well received. If it were some spring chicken who was floundering rather than an oldbie, something more detailed (and maybe an email to boot) would have probably been called for, I reckon.

My deletion reason overwrote Jessamyn's moments-before deletion, and was overwritten again by a new one from her shortly thereafter that kind of hits the nail on the head a bit more evenly anyway, so oh well. It's extremely Friday over here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:07 PM on December 14, 2007


Spring Daisy vs. Spring Chicken: only my bottomed-out bloodsugar knows for sure.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:09 PM on December 14, 2007


I guess I can only hope that stupid pieces of sexist shit will continue to be not well-liked on the site. I'm groovy with the whole "what the community concensus wants" thing, but at the same time, there AREN'T a lot of women here, and every time a link like that stands (glad it didn't in this instance), it contributes to the atmosphere that drives women away from here. I dream of a MeFi where the active users are fairly equally men and women, I guess. Happy Friday everybody! I'm off to get a drink. Or three.
posted by agregoli at 2:15 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


there AREN'T a lot of women here

Actually, there are—that's one of the heartening things I learned from the sexism/boyzone threads. Not as many as there are men, but as the place becomes more welcoming, that may change. Let's keep smiting the sexist crap and see what we can accomplish along those lines!
posted by languagehat at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


In fact, one of the only reasons I am still here after so many years is that the site has come so far in eroding what once was a noticeable 'boyzone' atmosphere, gradually widening in its definition of itself and its community to accommodate more perspectives. Because these discussions happen periodically and are taken seriously, women have felt gradually more assertive about posting, commenting, flagging, and calling out -- in general, participating. If conversations like this were more commonly laughed off, shouted down, or ignored, it would become a different site in which I would expect less female participation.

There's a certain amount of discomfort in accommodating wider perspectives. In groups, it's easier to engage in shorthand, injokes, and an assumption of common belief if group members are more alike than different. But I hope it's worth it. MeFi would be far poorer and conversation less interesting, challenging, and varied without the distaff side of its user community.
posted by Miko at 5:56 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


languagehat, of course I too have realized there are more women here with the recent discussions, please give me some credit, but it's nowhere near 50/50, so you get my point, right?
posted by agregoli at 8:23 AM on December 17, 2007


Well, I don't know what it proves, but every Mefi meetup I've been to has been at least 50% women. And a lot of those women told me that they lurk more than post. What's surprised me the most is that at every meetup, at least one woman pulls me aside almost conspiratorially to thank me and tell me that they enjoy my posts because I talk about stuff that isn't boyzone themed so it stands out to them. It's like I'm proxy for my gender or something. Wish women would post more often, but I get the impression some people are just plain scared.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't think it proves much, really. Until more women actually participate, it doesn't matter much what the total demographic is, but I'm fairly certain that our active user base is mostly male - I'm remembering that it was brought up in one of these threads, but I could be misremembering.
posted by agregoli at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2007


It'd be fairly easy to write a program that could sample a bunch of recent threads and figure out what percentage of the users posting are male versus female -- though it might be trickier now since the gender field is free-form. I also think the majority of posters here are men.
posted by chunking express at 1:42 PM on December 17, 2007


I've had the same experience as miss lynster, and also a corollary experience of being encouraged by other women to post more often and with less fear about the potential reaction. I'm thankful for that encouragement.
posted by Miko at 7:01 PM on December 18, 2007


I've gotten that too (Although I didn't want to acknowledge that people have encouraged me to fearlessly post more, because if you ask me I already post far too damn much and need to walk away from the computer). But yeah, the unsolicited encouragement and support has blown me away. Some Mefi women in particular have been so profoundly kind and positive towards me at meetups, it's felt both touching and kind of surreal. There are some incredibly lovely, heartfelt people on this site. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 7:27 PM on December 18, 2007


I get the impression some people are just plain scared.

Not to betray my gender and all, but that's just lame. It's a fucking web site.

I've had posts ripped to shreds, there was even one that didn't have a single comment that wasn't critical, and wow - I lived! Golly gee!
If people are too timid to post, that's their problem, not the site's.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:09 PM on December 18, 2007


I never said it was anything other than their problem, though. I do wish women posted more. But then again, it IS scary to put yourself out there at first. Especially since people sometimes really enjoy being brutal and it's a struggle to not take it personally when strangers attack you. Few human beings are totally secure and impenetrable to criticism, and this place can be cutthroat at times. It took me about 2 1/2 years to thicken my skin up enough to stop being afraid of what people thought. The experience actually made me stronger and helped me learn how to stand up for myself better in real life. But it was not easy or natural at first.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:00 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


It takes newbies awhile to toughen their skin enough to feel completely confident posting and to write off the few jerky reactions as the work of a few jerks. For females, this effect may be exacerbated a bit because of the general messages women are raised with -- particularly, the message that getting along with everyone, being nice, and smoothing over disagreements is a female's job in life, and her basis for being appreciated and liked. I don't blame it on the site, necessarily, because that is a broader societal expectation that most women need to negotiate at various points on their personal development curve in life. So it's not that the site is actively hostile to women, but the fact that the site is the home of a bit more vigorous and confrontational debate than is usual in real life and in face-to-face conversation. The conventions of conversation are utterly different. Just as it sometimes takes women years to learn to speak assertively in meetings with colleagues in a workplace situation, it can take a little extra gumption to throw yourself into the MeFi fray with MeFi spirit and be ready to defend what you say here, understanding that the end result is that you may not be liked or rewarded for what you've done. Some women, by dint of personality or life experience or what-have-you, have started out as more vocal, adventurous, and confident people and do very well with the usual terms of engagement without any additional encouragement. Others, though, may still struggle with the hesitancy that comes with concern over whether what you're doing is generally socially approved - something that I believe women, particularly younger ones, are more prone to than men.
posted by Miko at 6:30 AM on December 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


If I could favorite that comment twice, i would. You beautifully said exactly what I wanted to say but... ironically enough, I avoided the gender aspect because I didn't want to be attacked for it. It IS deeply inherent for a woman to want people to like her and be nice, and even when we try to convince ourselves it doesn't matter it's hard to shake it. That's just how we are raised and wired. And if you don't put your neck out there, you aren't risking getting it chopped off. This is one of the reasons a lot of times we let stuff slide or don't comment when it bothers us to begin with. Avoiding confrontation or conflict is a form of self preservation and stress control.

For many people, it's less scary to watch the ocean from shore than to run out into the waves and possibly drown. And you can definitely drown here, although it's mostly from people throwing water at you.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:50 AM on December 19, 2007


the site is the home of a bit more vigorous and confrontational debate than is usual in real life and in face-to-face conversation.


This is a feature, not a bug. Sorry, but boo goddamn hoo if you are too delicate and timid to risk airing an actual opinion. On a website. Behind an anonymous screenname. And please - spare me the melodramatic metaphores.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:59 PM on December 20, 2007


Okay then, since I'm no longer delicate or timid, I'll give you my opinion.

You are sounding like an obnoxious asshole. Unnecessarily nasty and patronizing comments like that are precisely what turn a lot of people off and make them feel uncomfortable posting here. So boo goddamn hoo yourself. Spare us.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:23 PM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, run and get your shovel,
Run and get your pick;
They're causing a little trouble—
but it's all over with.
Now run and get your pitchfork,
Run and get your fire.
They're causing a little trouble
and I think it's gonna stay awhile.

Yeah, trouble's gonna stay awhile.

posted by carsonb at 12:11 AM on December 21, 2007


Yeah, CunningLinguist, I'm with miss lynnster. Couldn't have said it better. And by the way, really cunning linguists don't misspell the word metaphor.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:47 AM on December 21, 2007


This is a feature, not a bug. Sorry, but boo goddamn hoo if you are too delicate and timid to risk airing an actual opinion. On a website. Behind an anonymous screenname. And please - spare me the melodramatic metaphores.

This is an opinion, not a fact. Some people here aren't hiding behind screen names, for whatever reason. The whole issue is airing opinions and getting crap like this is return. No one's saying that you can't have vigorous debate, but a lot of people are saying that it would be nice to be able to talk about issues without things getting ad hominem personal. If we want to encourage wider participation -- including those who may not be as net.scrappy as others -- we have to create a place where we walk the talk of valuing that participation and not allowing bolder and snarkier members to administer constant beatdowns over alleged infractions. This doesn't always fall out along male/female lines, I think many of these threads have indicated that it doesn't, but if a side effect is getting more women participating that is a good thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 AM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm surprised to hear this from you, CL.
posted by Miko at 6:35 AM on December 21, 2007


And obviously I think the debate is a feature, too. That's why the site is good. I'm just recognizing that MetaFilter has a specific culture, and participating effectively takes some acculturation, particularly when you've been brought up with a different approach to conversation.

I agree with jessamyn here - there's no need to include epithets in the debate. If the use of them was common and unquestioned, many of the people who make the site interesting and thoughtful would scram, and fast. That would be a loss to the quality of the whole community. So while I believe in "get a thicker skin" as a general principle of discussion here, I don't believe that means yielding the language of discussion to terms that are openly hostile to large groups of users.
posted by Miko at 7:04 AM on December 21, 2007


I think you guys are right about specific language being a turn-off for reasoned discourse. I think CunningLinguist is right, too: much of the uproar is hyperbolic and self-serving. I also believe there are some users who use accusations of ad hominem and other "typically male" logical fallacies as a bolster for their argument, whether it exists or not.

The trouble is, when any of these accusations fly, everyone who reads them reflects on how well they describe themselves, and everyone bases their agreement or disagreement on this personal level. So when someone says "This discussion has become a boyzone," plenty of users say, "I'm not part of that," and they aren't; they get bent out of shape because someone's lumping them indiscriminately in with a fool or two (or thirty or ten thousand; I'm not here to fight). These accused non-offenders then raise a hue and cry, but since they're arguing against an accusation of sexism in a thread that may be full of actual examples of sexism, their protestations fall on deaf ears and the cornering and marginalization that women seem always to be challenged by doesn't disappear, but merely changes its target to the men.

The problem comes later, though; once a style of argumentation is identified as male, its use becomes sexist, no question. And if, instead of a useless and crude bit of sexist rhetoric, it's a useful tool that's been smeared with male association (yuk!), everyone loses. Ad hominem carries the day.

I expect, in most open, active threads, that this perspective would meet with ridicule from someone, demands for specific examples from someone else, and accusations of boyish intransigence and mannish underhandedness from others. But that's the way men shut down a viewpoint, right? Or is it maybe just how people do it?

I should also point out that my mealy-mouthedness here is due to abject fear; I know I'm sticking my nose where it doesn't belong, and if I had a reputation to be destroyed, I'd probably skip it. Cuts both ways, but of course far deeper for women. There's a universal difference that I'm an asshole for not fully understanding, or for trying to sympathize with, or for just mentioning.

So it's totally sexist and passive aggressive to treat a thread like this with kid gloves; I'm sorry. But passing by and watching "I'm surprised to hear you say that" was a bit too much -- sounds like "I never thought you were such an asshole" to me -- and I realized I'd been dipping in on this thread and swallowing my opinions, exactly the way women feel (forgive my presumption) and I decided to stand up and say what I think, and if you really hate the way I've done it and you want to bash my sexist shit into the ground, go ahead; just remember I'm the ridiculous guy who posts about shit-fucking junkies and furry cetaceans, how much lower can you cut me down, really, but I'm trying to understand this as a human problem, because this boys vs. girls shit is second grade.
posted by breezeway at 12:49 PM on December 21, 2007


It's not that I think Cunning Linguist has no point whatsoever. Rather, it's that people can express all sorts of valid (or even invalid) points on a topic without choosing to sound like a patronizing, nasty asshole towards any reader who might possibly not agree with them wholeheartedly. That style of discourse in and of itself is what often alienates others and makes them not want participate in a conversation with you before said conversation has even begun.

But, that's my take.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:13 PM on December 21, 2007


people can express all sorts of valid (or even invalid) points on a topic without choosing to sound like a patronizing, nasty asshole towards any reader who might possibly not agree with them wholeheartedly.

And that's not in any way a boy/girl issue at its core, but it's a topic that's come up a lot in recent discussions and people have been pointing out that they sometimes see those conflicts fall out along gender lines. As I've said a few times, it's just updating the "Don't be an ass" guideline to "Seriously, don't be an ass, thanks"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:34 PM on December 21, 2007


I don't mean to say you've read CunningLinguist wrong, necessarily, Miss Lynnster, but it's worth keeping in mind that it's much easier to take offense at someone's tone when you don't agree with them, and that everyone, regardless of sex, will sometimes bump into a topic where there is an established answer, and even nuanced, slight deviance from that status quo is the kiss of death.

That, and there are those who don't mince words. I've often heard this touted as a male failing, but in my time here I've come to see it as human difference.

No one person or group of people, however big, can coopt shyness and fear: they're there for all of us, just like bullying and rhetorical traps, to muzzle ourselves and others alike. I understand where women are coming from when they say these have shackled them for a long time, and I think they're right. I think also, though, that it makes it difficult for men to legitimize their own reasons for silence; it takes away from everyone's ability to see themselves and everyone else as human, with shared hurdles, and not warring camps, with hardened bunkers and specialized ordinance.

On preview, I agree, Jessamyn, but I think the number of people who divide the way people say things into male and female is larger than you might credit, but then, it could just be they're very vocal about it. "Battle of the Sexes" rhetoric makes for lots of unhappy people, because lots of unhappy people believe not just that it's true, but that everything else is false.

I just hope I'm watching a poisoned well run dry, and not a flood in the making.
posted by breezeway at 2:11 PM on December 21, 2007


I totally agree. I think it becomes a boy/girl issue mainly due to the interpersonal skills of each gender being a little different though. By nature, many women just don't feel comfortable telling strangers that they're being asses, and they will avoid putting themselves in an environment where they would need to if it wasn't necessary. Cuz, you know, everybody needs a hug.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:17 PM on December 21, 2007


I don't mean to belabor my point, because I almost agree, but I think the "by nature" argument is as much a self-fulfilling prophecy as it is a reflection of truth; I might tweak it a little by saying many people by nature don't like to tell strangers they're assholes, but by society's unwritten (and astonishingly flexible) rules more men seem more comfortable doing this than do women. But then I'd just be mincing words.

Thanks for helping me realize my fears were unfounded. It's scary to confront women over nuances of sexual identity, even if the confrontation is meant constructively. But I had nothing to fear, and I'm sorry I cloaked my initial comment in such mealy-mouthed trappings.

I've learned a lot, and I have a lot to learn. Some things never change.
posted by breezeway at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2007


I'd say it's not by nature but by social convention that women are disprorportionately encouraged to be more polite, more sensitive to others, and 'nicer' than men are. However, it's obviously not universal; I can be a loudmouthed asshole here.

The reason I made the comment about CunningLinguist is that honestly, I was genuinely surprised at her put-up-or-shut-up point of view, which seems at odds with what I know of her from her posts. It was just a moment of cognitive dissonance. I think there's language that sometimes gets used here that's genuinely destructive to fair and respectful debate, and that we shouldn't be surprised when people object to it, nor should we punish the objectors with dismissive statements, ideally. We can listen and make a personal determination without saying "MetaFilter, love it or leave it." Because it's a social site and not one person's individual blog, there are norms at play, and the norms are in constant negotiation.
posted by Miko at 6:05 PM on December 21, 2007


Sorry not to reply sooner, but I've been traveling and crazy busy.

I had some stuff typed up, but I think I'll pass. Judging from the endless sexism threads, I'm an outlier on this so I'll just shut up.

But I do have to say this: flapjax, bite me.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:10 PM on December 24, 2007


Wow, nothing to say to anyone but me? Real honored you took time out of your busy schedule to single me out like that, CL.

And such a classy reply, too!

Merry Christmas!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:18 PM on December 24, 2007


For the curious I posted on the original question what the OP was likely referring to. Not really research as much as a thought experiment form a book called More Sex is Safer Sex
posted by vegetableagony at 7:43 PM on December 25, 2007


Isn't that what I said?
posted by Caviar at 6:02 AM on December 28, 2007


« Older note: Everyone needs a hug.   |   Spoiler problem on the front page Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments