sparr: (cellular automata)
It really bothers me when someone tries to frame *every* discussion about men or women being oppressed or insulted as being based in misogyny. I get it, misogyny is a problem. It's a bigger problem than any of the other problems in question. It's big enough that it has side effects that some people might misrecognize as misandry. But it's not the only problem. Not everything is about misogyny, and I don't need to have experienced misogyny for that conclusion or my reasoning in reaching it to be sound.

Most of the ways you can insult a man for being un-masculine also imply that he is being feminine. If being feminine is an insult, that's misogynistic. Most of the ways you can insult a woman for being un-feminine also imply that she is being masculine. If a woman not conforming to her gender roles is an insult, that's misogynistic. There's a whole argument to be had about whether misogyny is to blame for every possible insult of that sort, where someone of one gender behaves similarly to the common perception of the other gender. For the sake of this post I'll agree that it is; every such insult is rooted in misogyny. But those insults only make up *most* of the insults that can be levied at someone just for being farther from the social perception of their gender. Try on this counter-example:

"Geek". This word is commonly used as an insult in school-age settings, although it's gotten a lot less insulting in the last 20 years. Applied to men, it often includes connotations of not engaging in "masculine" pursuits. Geeks don't like sports, etc. Applied to women, it often includes connotations of not engaging in "feminine" pursuits. Geeks don't like fashion, etc. However, unlike the majority of cases, where being farther from feminine makes you more masculine, and vice versa, in this case you can be farther from both at the same time. Like the political spectrum, it's not one-dimensional, no matter how common that perception is. Libertarianism can mean being farther from the left without being right, and farther from the right without being left; Geeks can be farther from masculine and feminine at the same time.

I would welcome more examples in comments, or discussion of the phenomena mentioned above. If you're guilty of the generalization I've pointed out here, I hope you'll make it less often after reading this. If you want to try to convince me that "geek" being an insult is somehow rooted in misogyny... good luck.
sparr: (cellular automata)
You: "Murder is bad because the sky is blue."
Me: "What you just said is wrong."
You: "Why do you think murder is good?"
Me: ...

You: "Murder is bad because the sky is orange."
Me: "The sky is not orange."
You: "Why do you think murder is good?"
Me: ...

These two examples represent a fundamental failure of communication that I'm trying to figure out how to address when and where it happens, without confusing people further. It took me a long time to figure out that a lot of people can't tell the difference between me contradicting their argument or premise and me contradicting their conclusion. Since that dawned on me, I've only ever managed to successfully navigate this conversational space by accident. Starting from "Murder is bad because the sky is [blue/orange]", how do I get to a position where you understand the following things:

1) I agree with you that the sky is blue / I disagree with you that the sky is orange.

2) I agree with you that murder is bad.

3) The statements I have made that do not include the word "murder" are not about murder

Anecdotally, I can report that simply breaking the statement apart into those components does not have the desired effect. If anything, using more words in such a straightforward way makes things worse. Actually naming the logical fallacy being employed, more so. So, I am looking for different words to use.
sparr: (cellular automata)
Our society refuses to take organs from a corpse without the person's consent, even when it would save multiple lives. We refuse to take blood or bone marrow from an unwilling donor, even when it would save a life or cure a disease.

However, we are quite willing to subject a woman to months of pain, risk of injury or death, and mental trauma in order to preserve the life of one fetus.

This analogy has been a commonly occurring meme in pro-choice internet discussion communities recently, and it's an amazingly good one. It's so good that my powers of devil's advocacy are failing me. I need someone more creative than me, or a real anti-abortion advocate, to answer this question for me...

Why does a corpse have more right to bodily autonomy than a pregnant woman? Why do we give the dead body more rights than we give the living person?

PS: No arguments here about whether a fetus is alive, please. That's another issue for another thread. For the purpose of this discussion, I will concede that a fetus is a living person.
sparr: (cellular automata)
Trigger warning

I recently included a clarifying footnote in a post: "the belief that rape is worse than murder, which is not universal". I had two people contact me to inquire about this. They were otherwise reasonable and informed people who did not think they had ever encountered any belief contrary to this one. I write a lot about value systems, priorities, decision making, and outcomes. I'm surprised that I've overlooked such a good example, amid the few others that come up with regularity. In this writing I'll try to elaborate on why this matters.

Rape, torture, murder. Even the most rationally ethical people can have different opinions about the ranking of these three evils, based on how they value others' lives, agency, happiness, etc. In the general case, considering each of these as a whole, they can go in any order. In more specific cases, it gets even trickier. Some people believe it's worse to murder an infant than someone on their death bed. Some people believe it's worse to rape a virgin than a whore. Some people believe it's worse to torture for fun than for information required to do good. And many (most?) people who have one of those beliefs also allow them to overlap. Torture can be generally worse than murder, while murder of an infant is worse than torture of an octogenarian for good reasons. Making it even more tricky, that good reason could be saving a life. Skipping rape, both torture and murder can often lead to saving one or more lives, and even a completely rationally ethical person can decide that it's preferable to intentionally murder one person than to let two others die through lack of action (look up the Trolley Problem).

Now, to throw some irrational, but very prevalent, people into the mix, consider devout religious adherents. The holy books of many religions give strict rankings of some types of evil, often including some of these three. Consider a Catholic, to whom suicide may be the only unforgivable sin, followed by the mortal sins that include idolatry, adultery, murder, slander, etc. Depending on their precise sub-sub-sub-sect, rape and torture might not appear on that list at all, not having been entirely proscribed by their deity. I know less about various other religions, but I do know that other Abrahamic religions have similar aspects, if not such a rigid ranking, and some even include rules mandating these actions in certain situations.

All of these factors combine to form an environment where it is often not fruitful to have a conversation with someone about avoiding or preventing evil, or doing good, without first getting at least some hint of whether their value system and priorities align with yours, and the ways in which they conflict. If you disagree on whether murder is worse than rape, or even whether slander is worse than rape, you'll be spinning your wheels trying to reconcile conclusions that stem from those base premises.
sparr: (Default)
Let's talk about tipping food service wait staff professionals. These are people you would typically call "waiter" or "waitress". I am going to systematically address every argument I have heard in favor of commonly advocated American tipping practices.

Before I start, I need to tell you that I give my waitress a larger tip than her average, on average. I tip more than most people in my party, most of the time. I am not a cheapskate. *I* am not the problem.

Read more... )
[1] For the sake of this post, I am discussing the typical range of restaurant prices encountered by my friends (particularly of the LJ variety) on a regular basis. "cheap" is somewhere around $4 entrees and $6 meals, at places like Waffle House or Denny's. "expensive" is $20 entrees and $30+ meals, at places like Maggiano's and Ruth's Chris.
[2] Georgia has, afaik, the lowest state minimum wage in the country. It is one of a handful of states that do not improve on the federal laws in this regard. Almost every server in the country is earning more than $2.13 as their base wage.


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