Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I Love You, Camille Paglia

In your view, what’s wrong with American feminism today, and what can it do to improve?
After the great victory won by my insurgent, pro-sex, pro-fashion wing of feminism in the 1990s, American and British feminism has amazingly collapsed backward again into whining, narcissistic victimology. As in the hoary old days of Gloria Steinem and her Stalinist cohorts, we are endlessly subjected to the hackneyed scenario of history as a toxic wasteland of vicious male oppression and gruesome female suffering. College campuses are hysterically portrayed as rape extravaganzas where women are helpless fluffs with no control over their own choices and behavior. I am an equal opportunity feminist: that is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women's advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women, which I reject as demeaning and infantilizing. My principal demand (as I have been repeating for nearly 25 years) is for colleges to confine themselves to education and to cease their tyrannical surveillance of students' social lives. If a real crime is committed, it must be reported to the police. College officials and committees have neither the expertise nor the legal right to be conducting investigations into he said/she said campus dating fiascos. Too many of today's young feminists seem to want hovering, paternalistic authority figures to protect and soothe them, an attitude I regard as servile, reactionary and glaringly bourgeois. The world can never be made totally safe for anyone, male or female: there will always be sociopaths and psychotics impervious to social controls. I call my system "street-smart feminism":  there is no substitute for wary vigilance and personal responsibility.

The Anita Sarkeesian Business Model

One of the brilliant — if frauds can be so described — things about the dot-com biz in its earliest days was just how you could get away with almost limitless grift if you had the moxie, sociopathic nature, and right connections to pitch a fabrication that ended with "on the Internet".,, —all it seemingly took was the majikal suffix, and you were golden. I find myself getting the same sense about Anita Sarkeesian's "Feminist Frequency" business model, which appears to be an incremental improvement over the infamous Underpants Gnomes in that it has a middle step:

  1. Hold the right opinions, ideally with a built-in and vociferous enemy eager to engage
  2. Possibly make video
  3. Launch Kickstarter = profit!
That is to say, she is just the modern (if more singular) version of what a think tank does, save for the scope of fundraising. Inevitably, this model would naturally expand to other entrepreneurially-minded individuals, and so we arrive at Femsplain, which for a time was a staff pick on Kickstarter, a featured position on their front page. They somehow plan on "chang[ing] the way women are perceived", which I presume means they will emit more clouds of the same women's studies gas that causes tenure in academia, and chronic unemployment elsewhere. Unfortunately for them, they appear not to have found the kind of troglodytes opposite that makes Sarkeesian's gig so rewarding. Whoever Amber Gordon is, she really needs to give serious thought to finding the right enemies first.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Represented By Choice

Scott Alexander has yet another great essay on the nominal subject of black underrepresentation in polyamority, but really, it's a sermon on the subject of "how do some people cluster to some groups and not in others?"

Some people try to explain the underrepresentation of blacks in libertarianism and the Tea Party by arguing that these groups’ political beliefs are contrary to black people’s life experiences. But blacks are also underrepresented in groups with precisely the opposite politics. That they make up only 1.6% of visitors to the Occupy Wall Street website is no doubt confounded by who visits websites, but even people who looked at the protests agree that there was a stunning shortage of black faces. I would have liked to get current membership statistics for the US Communist Party, but they weren’t available, so I fudged by looking at the photos of people who “liked” the US Communist Party’s Facebook page. 3% of them were black. Blacks are more likely to endorse environmentalism than whites, but less likely to be involved in the environmentalist movement.

Some people try to explain black people’s underrepresentation on Wall Street by saying Wall Street is racist and intolerant. But Unitarian Universalists are just about the most tolerant people in the world – nobody even knows what they do, just that they’re extremely tolerant when they do it – and black people are in Unitarianism at lower rates than they’re on Wall Street.
 "[N]eighborhoods and churches tend to end up mostly monoracial through a complicated process of aggregating small acts of self-segregation" he continues, and while we know that redlining was a real thing, it's also not 100% responsible for various neighborhoods' racial makeup. People's individual choices have consequences en masse, which brings me to the next item: a research paper by Maria Charles at UC Santa Barbara (PDF) with a number of fascinating findings, on the subject of women's economic progress.
International trends lend considerable credence to evolutionary arguments. Public tolerance for discriminatory policies has declined sharply since World War II, and principles of procedural equality and nondiscrimination have garnered near-universal affirmation in national and international forums. As most of the world’s governments have formally recognized the human and civil rights of women, legal barriers to female employment, education, voting, and property ownership have been largely eliminated. [emphasis mine -- RLM]

Despite the spectacular scope and speed of these egalitarian trends, it is well known that certain forms of gender inequality remain firmly entrenched. In labor markets, educational systems, and households around the world, women concentrate in female-typed occupations and fields of study and perform much more than an equal share of unpaid work. It is becoming increasingly evident that changes in women’s status occur not through the sort of across-the-board degendering of social institutions that is implied by evolutionary accounts, but rather through processes of partial, domain-specific equalization.
 Nothing in this paper is more important than the finding that women opt out of STEM programs at a rate weakly and negatively correlated to national GDP (r=-0.48):

If it's true that "American girls who aim to 'study what they love' are unlikely to consider male-labeled science, engineering, or technical fields, despite the relative material security provided by such degrees", perhaps we should be asking what their priorities are, and why a misguided egalitarianism isn't liable to change that.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jessica Valenti's Wall Of Delusion

It's true that lunatics seek power, and power tends to draw in lunatics, so I found myself not too surprised that Jessica Valenti chirpily dismisses any damage her preferred due-process-lite proceedings might do to men.
No one wants to see innocent people accused of horrible crimes, but there is a distinct lack of evidence that young men on college campuses – even the ones who have raped women – are suffering any harm due to the increased focus on ending rape.
When I first read this sentence, I turned about fifteen shades of purple; hasn't she heard of the Phi Kappa Psi house vandalized in the wake of Sabrina Rubin Erdely's journalistic malpractice? Or of Paul Nungesser (whom, conveniently, she does not name at all)? Why, of course, but Emma Sulkowicz (whose name she misspells) is the real "victim". "How did the system fail him, exactly?" she asks, coyly. Meanwhile, Sulkowicz continued to lug that mattress around after he was found not responsible, publicly slandering Nungesser, and more ominously, even getting face time with a United States Senator because of her supposed victimhood. I presume Valenti has never been in trouble with the law, and yet it's pretty clear she never attempted to hear Nungesser's side of things. Indeed, she calls anyone with an interest in determining the verity of charges a rape "truther", as though false charges could never occur.

But after I got over my initial fury, it occurred to me that in one sense, she is right, because of a peculiarity in Title IX law: the proceedings are secret, not public, which means even if she wanted to find such falsely accused men, she would have a terrible hard time of it. The public courts are another matter, of course, and there she could have found 58 cases against universities filed by men (many of them John Does) claiming injury under the system. Valenti's refusal to do any research whatsoever is a testament to her utter lack of concern for men; they simply don't matter in her universe. False accusations can't and don't happen, and if they do, they are consequence-free for the accuser.

This veil will come off shortly, I expect; such a flood of lawsuits will eventually yield one against Title IX itself and its expansive, unconstitutional overreach. Valenti's delusion that there are no men injured by her secret tribunals bereft of due process proceedings can last only as long as they stay secret.

Monday, February 9, 2015

We Need Feminism Because We Need Censorship

So, uh, remember this?
There was a great deal of hand wringing about Google's autocomplete results when one put in certain leading phrases, such as "women should", "women shouldn't", and so on. As the UN ad campaign these came from was launched back in October, 2013, I was curious to see whether things have changed since then. Running a test on all the phrases, not one of them autocompletes anymore.

I have no proof of this, but one does wonder whether these weren't lifted as a result of pressure on Google to stop these completions. Or, maybe they just have a general policy of quietly silencing controversial (and possibly even criminally-minded) autocorrects, and these are some they've shut down. But if this is controversial, it is controversial precisely because it was drawn out as an algorithmic proxy for the zeitgeista questionable assertion:
While the autocomplete restrictions may imply that Google is masking just how bad things are, there are also causes for hope. The top search results for “women shouldn’t have rights,” if you type it in completely, are now dominated by pages about the ad campaign. [Note: autocomplete no longer works on this phrase as of this writing. — RLM] The sheer volatility and self-modifying nature of the Web makes it difficult to pin down prevailing notions for any great length of time. Autocomplete and search results are very sensitive to so-called “freshness,”—all the better to pick up sudden trends—so they use less long-term hysteresis (the dependency of a system on its past states) than you might think.

Of the top results that aren’t about the UN Women ad campaign, not one of them unequivocally promotes an anti-woman position. Some are websites attacking the anti-woman positions, such as an atheist blog on Patheos that quotes and ridicules a Baptist preacher’s misogynistic sermon at great length. Others are debate websites that tend to come down on the equal rights side. One is a Yahoo question, “Reasons why women shouldn’t have equal rights?” posted by a high school girl looking for anti-woman arguments for a school debate. (“Being a girl, I obviously don’t agree with this.”) Most of the respondents say they’ve got nothing. The worst it gets is a troll-infested forum on, which, despite being described by poster KingOfChaos as “heavily populated by males who like to think of themselves as 'alpha' or dominate over women,” still has a number of sentiments such as “IRL most sane ppl think that women should have equal rights.”
If the point of feminism is meaningful equality between the sexes, learning what people think of women is important, offensive or not, and shutting off such knowledge is ultimately counterproductive. Whether Google has taken this step due to external pressure or internal desire to silence a controversy, we are the poorer for the outcome.

A Response To Maggie McNeill: On Heinlein And Sexual Outliers

So, this happened:

A few words there. First, it's not unreasonable to assert that Robert Heinlein's female characters are entirely rare (to the point of near extinction) amid the universe of women. Women have consistently lower sex drives than men, taken as a population, and form two-thirds of asexuals. It's not so much that outliers don't exist as their extreme rarity. Heinlein's obsession with such women did a good deal to turn me off of his fiction as entirely too implausible.

Take insult, if you wish; none was intended. Life, for any real grownup, is about learning to live with things as they are, not as you wish them to be. Obviously, your experiences are real, and happened, and denying them would be pointless and silly. But for most men, the sad reality is they must contend with women for whom sex is a thirteenth or even thirtieth priority, and its place in line goes down even further upon becoming a mother, and with age more generally. Humans are a package deal; you don't get to pick the exact set of flaws and virtues you're going to live with in a spouse. So, yes, for a lot of men, a woman of equal libido is a grand fantasy — but there it remains, mostly.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Is Shanley Kane The Feminist Alex Jones?

I don't know the answer to that, but she does seem to have checked off the "paranoid lunatic" box:
Hey, um, interesting. I wonder who would staff such an outfit? Ninja women? Well, we know who she wants to pay for it:
Shanley's approach for dinner tabs must be a hoot!

Probably driving their Ferraris and ignoring squeakers like you!
Meanwhile, habeas corpus?
The big prize remains ahead:

A deranged mind is a terrible thing to waste! Maybe I was wrong likening her to Alex Jones: this is more like the ravings of a trustafarian.

Rape Charges, Now With Secret Evidence

Jezebel has its heart on the "always believe rape victims" bandwagon, of course, which is to say, actual investigation of charges is right out. Anyone paying attention during the University of Virginia/Rolling Stone fracas got to watch in slow motion as the Washington Post wiped the smirk off their faces upon digging through Sabrina Rubin Erdely's hyperbolic and false tale. So it's no surprise to read that same snark in their piece today willfully refusing to accept any contradicting evidence in the Emma Sulkowicz rape charges introduced by Cathy Young's fine article appearing in The Daily Beast. Author Erin Gloria Ryan's claim that "There is not, by these students' accounts, much ambiguity in their experiences with Nungesser" couldn't be more wrong; the evidence Cathy Young uncovered of friendly Facebook interactions days afterwards and the length of time between the purported rape and its report to authorities make for a pretty open-and-shut case against Sulkowicz's version of events. Ryan also goes so far as to purposefully misquote Christina Hoff Sommers as saying "rape isn't real"; whether intended as a summary or not, it's the sort of red-meat hyperbole that exposes the author as endorsing kangaroo courts and conviction upon mere charges, i.e. lynch mob justice.

There it would have stayed, except for the "context" she provided Jezebel:

So, Paul's comment that "this room is a mess, I mean there is no chance I'll be moving tonight. but would have been nice to see you" she reads as "Paul guilt-trips me for not helping him".


So, here he asks her to bring "some peepz" to a party, which she reads as "girls" — and agrees to do so! What kind of deranged lunatic would expose other women to someone she personally knew to be a rapist? The answer is pretty obvious: she didn't consider him a threat.

And so, back to the final insult I want to discuss here, the exchange between Young and Sulkowicz, in which Young tried to get Sulkowicz to verify the conversations as authentic. Sulkowicz responded:
If I gave you the post 8/27 screenshots plus annotations, would you still publish snippets of the earlier conversations in your article? If you publish even a snippet of the earlier conversations without context, it will be out of context, and thus misleading.

I just want to understand one thing. You wrote, "unless of course they contain material that violates the privacy of a third party, which would have to be redacted." Do you just mean that you would have to redact their names? You are unwilling to violate the privacy of a third party, yet you are willing to violate mine? If you are only publishing conversations that you have both parties' consent to publish, I do not give you my consent to publish any of what he has sent you.

Lastly, about your deadline. If I don't get this to you by tonight, you are just going to go ahead and publish what you have? I may need more than a day to complete this. This is not easy work for me. How dare you put a deadline on the moment at which you violate my privacy and carve out my private life in order to gain publicity for your website. I think that is despicable.
What in fact is despicable — the most despicable thing — is the idea that any exculpatory evidence whatsoever constitutes a violation of privacy on the part of someone who is making very public accusations of a felony. Sorry, but you don't get that. What Sulkowicz is really demanding here is the right to do exactly what Brett Bellmore claimed in discussions of proposed rape criminal law changes: reduce the standard for conviction to mere allegation.

Update 2/7/2015: Cathy Young has a Twitlonger update on the only question I have heard raised by the Jezebel piece that makes even the slightest bit of sense, and that is, why is it that Nungesser now has three accusers?
Sulkowicz comes to feel that she was coerced into anal sex by Nungesser. When she talks to his ex, "Natalie," and concludes that Natalie's experiences with Paul were abusive, this conversation reinforces them both in the belief that their sexual experiences with Nungesser were non-consensual. (Perhaps not coincidentally, this was all happening in spring 2013, just around the time of the Steubenville trial, when there was a huge upsurge of "rape culture" rhetoric, especially on college campuses.) However, Sulkowicz decides to embellish her account with violent details (choking and hitting) because she has heard that rape survivors often have a hard time securing a conviction unless they report a violent attack.
She goes on to speculate (because university proceedings are under seal) that both "Josie" and the anonymous male student file complaints on the grounds of arriving at a warped sort of justice. 

Deadspin's Perfect Sermon On The NFL's Fake Charity

If there is a better one-paragraph summary of everything wrong with the NFL's fake, mass-market, superficial "charity" — and a zillion others besides — than this graf from Deadspin I simply don't know where it is.
What No More sets out to do is good. Still, this is the beginning of a story we've all seen before with Pinktober, LIVESTRONG, and even the incredibly important but eventually coopted AIDS ribbon. What begins as a push for change becomes an invisible force telling us that we must buy specific items and wear certain logos so we can feel better about ourselves, and if we go along, we do so not because we care but because we don't want to feel left out. What good this does for people in need of help isn't always clear, but it's great for the brands, because all they have to do is slap logos on a few products and/or advertisements and throw a few pennies to charity to make themselves seem socially conscious. These logos are an embodiment of magical thinking, promising that you can do good without having to actually do anything. They're shams, basically. Now, we've got another one.
Good grief, yes. It's hard work finding good charities, researching them, trying to determine whether their beliefs and operations are in tune with yours, or whether they aren't just scams separating lazy but well-meaning people from their money. There are people who will think that by buying a t-shirt they are somehow helping the victims of domestic violence, but the far end of that cash flow goes through many hands taking a cut along the way. And always, always, always be skeptical of anything whose principle goal is "to raise awareness". It's a self-licking lollipop.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Followups On The Emma Sulkowicz Rape Story

A pair of stories today that follow up on the Emma Sulkowicz rape story at Columbia university. Sulkowicz, you may recall, was allegedly raped by one Paul Nungesser; in protest of the university's response, she started hauling a mattress around the school with her. Cathy Young, who continues to do yeoman's work (or is that yeowoman's work?) on this topic, wrote of the ensuing coverage that
The tone was set by a piece in the online publication Mic by feminist blogger Julie Zeilinger deploring “the narrative of the ‘perfect victim,’ in which female survivors’ stories are evaluated in terms of gender stereotypes such as those related to idealized virginal purity and simplified fallacies about uniquely felt and lived experiences, like the identity of a rapist and the nature of the relationship survivors have with them.”

Actually, the only fallacies here are Zeilinger’s, since her critique has nothing to do with the questions raised by the Daily Beast article. As far as I know, no one has ever suggested that Sulkowicz’s lack of “purity,” or the fact that she had previously slept with Nungesser twice without being in a romantic relationship, makes her a “bad victim.” It’s what happened after, not before, the alleged rape that matters.
Sulkowicz "exchange[d] chatty, flirty messages with" Nungesser after the alleged incident, which is hardly in keeping with someone brutally, anally raped only a few days before. If anything, Young is entirely too kind to Sulkowicz, of whom she says "there is certainly not enough evidence to brand her a false accuser". Charlotte Allen's take is much more aligned to my own thinking:
Now, I actually feel sorry for UVA’s Jackie. She was a delusional young girl who got herself in over her head and was exploited by an ideologically driven writer who had her own agenda. I don’t feel sorry at all for Emma Sulkowicz. She got her reward hobnobbing with Gillibrand and Obama. I hope she’ll have a good time with that memory.
It will, of course, make no difference to those whose first cry is "believe", e.g. this exchange, but what such advocates miss is they are poisoning the well for others.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Strip Mining Shanley Kane's Model View Culture For Comedy Gold

Discussing my last post with a friend on Facebook, it occurred to me that any group blog that would run such an obviously self-indulgent and lachrymose whinefest would clearly have other ore to strip mine. And I was not disappointed! Forthwith, a few of the lower-hanging fruit:
  • They apparently are new to the idea that renting is not the same thing as buying, and so people can be kicked out of their apartments in favor of new tenants when rents go up. (The editors subscribe to the naive belief that "responsible" renters will check to see whether a prior tenant has been evicted to make room for them. Good luck with that!)
  • Stop Swinging Your Dicks, C Programmers! It may come as a surprise to Jean Yang that men engage in mostly pointless trash talking about programming languages, but the reason this must stop now is predictably hilarious:
  • There is also a gendered perception of language hierarchy with the most “manly” at the top. One Slashdot commenter writes, “Bah, Python is for girls anyways. Everybody knows that PERL is the language of true men.” Someone else responds, “Actually, C is the language of true men…” Such views suggest that women might disproportionately use certain languages, but Ari and Leo found in their programmer surveys that knowledge of programming languages is largely equivalent between genders. Women are slightly more likely to know Excel and men are slightly more likely to know C, C#, and Ruby, but not enough to establish any gendered hierarchy.

    A major reason to eradicate these false stereotypes is that they perpetuate biases against women.
    It's always all about the women. We esteem Linux kernel contributors over PHP slingers because of the rigor needed for each discipline. If you want to write kernel code, do that, but be prepared for the wrath of Linus along the way. And sorry, ladies, it's not about you. Like, at all. Sisyphus, please pick up the white courtesy phone...
  • Interviews Are Too Stressful, So We Shouldn't Have Them, And No Men Because They Skeer Me. No, seriously, this was a thing Anonymous wrote (emboldening mine):
    Before each interview, I was overwhelmed by one thought: They’re going to figure out that I’m a fraud. I was afraid that, if I couldn’t understand the problem or arrive at a solution, the interviewer would realize that I don’t have what it takes to be a software engineer.
    Logically, that doesn’t add up. I have a degree in computer science. Internship experience.  A good GPA. I know about data structures and algorithms. I did tech-related extracurriculars. I work on coding projects in my free time. I’m not a fraud.

    Yet in interview situations, my anxiety would get the better of me and I’d start to believe that I was wasting the interviewer’s time by simply being there, regardless of how well I performed.  Being a woman writing out code in front of a male interviewer (because let’s face it, it’s almost always a man), or worse, a panel of male interviewers, creates an intimidating power imbalance that shouldn’t exist in a real work environment, much less the hiring process for it.
    Um, hello, I thought you actually wanted a job programming? No? And what happens when you have to explain your ideas to male peers, and male bosses, and ... oh, never mind. What planet do these special snowflakes think they're going to get a job on? (Incidentally, I actually agree with the author that technical interviews are a poor means of grading potential hires, but it beats what came before it, i.e. the silly résumé dance that does nothing to assure the employer that the candidate has even a slight clue.)
  • MOAR WIMMENZ IN HARDWARE! At least this rant makes the point that hardware defines the software environment, which is true if trivial; but then, MOAR WIMMENZ, which benefit to the corporation and its customers is left, as ever, unexplored. Something, something, diversity, something, something.
  • Look, If You're Gonna Diss The 10X Superstar Programmer Idea, Maybe You Should Provide Better Data? Betsy Haibel's post purporting to debunk the high productivity of superstar coders rightly questions Sackman, Erikson, and Grant's methodology, which used the notoriously flawed "lines of code" metric, long-ago abandoned by anyone seriously studying the subject. But then having claimed to slay the dragon, she suspiciously eschews any actual better data of her own, declaring such creatures an unequivocal "myth". (A fine rebuttal that, indeed, the 10X programmer is alive and well may be had here.) She later whips out what seems to be a running trend in these pieces, that of the horrible "imposter syndrome" monster. Is this a uniquely female problem? I would argue that it's certainly a very common one, for reasons elucidated by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in their May, 2014 Atlantic article, "The Confidence Gap". But your lack of confidence does not a crisis for a potential employer make. If anything, it makes you sound like a problem employee waiting to happen.
Shanley Kane, the progenitor of Model View Culture, seems to be something of a fragile flower, having only recently restored her Twitter account to public visibility. Model has her precious stamp all over it. The risible fear of men and of conflict, the refusal to act like a grownup, the asinine insistence on special treatment because, somehow, diversity is better. When do they ever think of the value they're supposed to deliver to an employer?

Inexperience Is The New Sexism

I was going to leave this awful Newsweek piece about sexism in Silicon Valley on the shelf unread, but tweep @YeyoZa (who you really should be following, by the way) used it as an entryway to Shanley Kane's group blog, Model View Culture. There, we find a wholly enlightening post on Silicon Valley sexism, one which reveals much more about the sense of entitlement of the author (and idiotic reliance on credentials) than it does about actual sexism. The author opens her piece by mentioning that she went to a job fair hoping to find an internship gig, but returned disappointed.
...[W]hen I asked about internship opportunities, the company representatives said no right away, or, assuming I was a CS student, asked me “What year are you?” When I told them I was self-taught, I was out. Other companies just wanted me to sign up for their newsletters, just a cheap marketing strategy, or a way of being nice. People weren’t interested in reading my CV. Out of thirty copies I had printed out, I gave out two. Some people advised me straight away to try “one of those programs designed for women.” They didn’t even listen to me. They saw that I was a woman, a beginner, looking for an opportunity to learn, and clearly not someone they would want to hire.
This first point is an important one, and speaks to how firms find and acquire programming talent. The people at job fairs are infrequently actual hiring managers; such people are too busy doing actual work to be bothered. So who do you find at such events? Human resources types, who are most emphatically not programmers. This is, in fact, a great example of why most of them should be fired: they simply are incapable of their jobs outside filling out checkboxes and keyword searches. (That companies persist in this behavior is utterly baffling.) And determining the difference between a good and great coder can mark the difference between success and failure; the order of magnitude of productivity differential between the merely competent and the genius has been long documented.

From my own experience, good and even great coders can come from a variety of backgrounds, not just people with computer science degrees (although that does help). I've known programmers who were film majors, communications majors, business majors, physics majors, math majors, and some who didn't even have a college degree. The best all had an ability to achieve a state of flow on the job, to see inside problems, an analytical mind married to a creative streak, and the tenacity and discipline to complete projects. And none of this has anything to do with credentials, academic or otherwise.

Which is to say, I have some sympathy for author Anna in this instance; she fights an unseen host, a bureaucracy at odds with not only her own quest to find gainful employment, but with their own companies, as well. The game is rigged against the uncredentialed. The checkbox mentality of human resources is itself a lazy way of distributing the task of hiring programmers — arguably the most important single decision a software shop can make.

But my sympathy for her plight ends there. Apparently, having any kind of requirements at all for programming interns amounts to sexism:
Being self-taught is accepted and even highly respected when you’re a white male. If you are a woman or belong to other underrepresented groups, it’s totally different. Besides being experienced you need to have a blog, website, GitHub account and contribute to open source. A recruiter once told me that if a candidate doesn’t have all of those things, they wonder whether that person is really willing to learn. That statement made me angry – who came up with these requirements? And who benefits from them?
I'm guessing, people who actually hire programmer wannabes?
Why don’t I have a blog, or my own website? Because there’s so much harassment going on nowadays that I’m actually scared to put my thoughts on the internet.
Hey, newsflash: in an actual working software development shop, you will have to propose and defend ideas from harsh criticism. I know, it's not fair to point this out, but I have had pushback on one issue or another my entire professional career. I did not crumple on the floor like a vase of wilted posies; I argued and won, or lost, and moved on. What this really exposes is an overarching sense of entitlement — hey, I have the right to never be offended or hurt — and a painful lack of resilience.

That is to say, this is not someone you want on your dev team.
Why don’t I contribute to open source? Because I tried, and people were unwelcoming and even cruel.
Hm, I think I've heard that before. Yes, it's true that open source is rife with people who refuse to suffer fools (and individual definitions of "fool" can be the subject of much heated controversy), not to mention have a distinct lack of tact. But neither is everyone Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds. My advice here would be, find an itch and scratch it, i.e. start your own project. (Of course, another possibility might be, you're just not that good. Gross incompetence gets found out pretty quick when it's on public display.)
I do have a Github account. People expect you to have one, so they can see that you can “actually code.” But while your GitHub account shouldn’t be your resume, a lot of recruiters think it is, even though I am more than my GitHub account or resume. I organize free programming workshops for women. I run an interview series about women who code. I try to learn new things every week. Just because I don’t have my own blog, don’t contribute to open source and don’t own fifty GitHub repositories doesn’t mean I’m less driven, can’t code, aren’t talented, aren’t willing to learn nor willing to share my knowledge.
There's enough entitlement here to drain a trust fund. First, you should be grateful that a potential employer wants to see your Github code; its presence alone means you've cleared the first hurdle. Second, I thought you wanted to be a programmer, not an organizer of seminars. Who gives a damn about that? I mean, it's nice and all, but what value does it add to a potential employer? They are supposed to hire you to write code, so why do you object to showing that you can? And actually, yes, your Github code is the strongest part of your resume: it is what your employer wants to see. What does your code look like? Is it well structured? Does it contain meaningful comments? How do you approach decomposing a problem? What is your approach to unit testing (and if you don't, what the hell is wrong with you)? There's simply so many questions your code can answer that an interview will necessarily miss, it's outrageous for her to take this tone. I have to conclude that this is a person who simply isn't as into coding as she claims to be. Why so defensive? I think we're about to find out:
And trying to live up to the expectations of recruiters means I mainly do what I would call “resume driven development” in my free (and unpaid) time: I work on things that would look good on my resume, that people would like to see, that “prove” that I can code, not things that I actually really want to do or enjoy.
Okay, well, then. Speaking as someone who worked for the better part of a year, uncompensated, on a project that later became an interesting (and remunerative) day job, let's unpack this nonsense: it's really saying I don't like programming enough to do it for free. There are an awful lot of opportunities out there that start as unpaid gigs which later turn into full-time employment. And the fact that she declines to actually work in her free time on skills that would be useful to prospective employers tells me a whole a lot more about her bad attitude than it does about those mean old employers. Her inexperience and apparent refusal to better herself (because the work isn't intrinsically rewarding on its own) are, in her warped view, really manifestations of sexism:
My boyfriend at that time was an experienced software developer, with two CS degrees. He attended the job fair with me — he wasn’t looking for a new job, just supporting me and scanning the market to see if there were any interesting opportunities. His resume was great, he got several job offers, people wanted him. My best shot at scoring an internship would have been if he had made a deal with a recruiter: he would accept their job offer, but only if they gave me a chance as an intern too. It’s a humiliating experience to witness that people have so much respect and admiration for an experienced male developer, but there’s no place for you because you’re female and a beginner.
How many years had he been writing code to get to that place? Did he do it for free? In high school and college? (We know the latter is definitely true.) In which case, wasn't he paying for the privilege to write code? Instead of bucking up and learning what employers demand, she insists they should pay her for what she knows now, regardless of whether it's a good fit. Inexperience: it's the new sexism.

Monday, February 2, 2015

On Sexual Desire

I was reading this thing recently (after being directed thither by a friend), and I wanted to treat author Carsie Blanton's item #2:
2. Women like sex just as much as men. Countless theories have been put forth over the past few centuries about why women don’t like sex. Without going into the tedious details, let me state my own opinion on the matter: they do.
If you don’t buy it, let’s do an experiment. Let’s start a new culture where women, from their girlhood, are told that sexual pleasure is a natural, fun part of being female. They are never told that sex is dangerous, dirty or weird. They are never badgered, shamed, pressured or forced into any sexual experience. When they become interested in sex with other people, they are encouraged to explore it in a consensual, safe, fun way, with whomever they find themselves attracted to. All of their sexual partners are caring, communicative, generous, and happy to take direction.
That will be our control group.
I see this sentiment a lot in the wild, and frequently accompanied by the defining down of what female desire is, or what actually constitutes "sex". For the purposes of this discussion, I define "sex" as "genital contact resulting in orgasm". There are several strong rejoinders to this silliness:
  1. Lesbian bed death. That is, put two women in a sexual relationship, and they will stop having sex altogether, or nearly so. There's a great deal of disagreement over this, but the opposition seems mainly focused on expanding definitions of sexual behavior to avoid things that bring the partners to climax.
  2. Gay couple behavior. This terrific io9 story on sex drive by gender — a go-to survey with lots of great analytic, empirical studies — quotes a survey study by Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Catanese and Kathleen Vohs that's worth repeating at length (emboldening all mine):
    One large investigation that included a sizeable [sic] sample of same-gender relationships was the study by Blumstein and Schwartz. They found that gay men had higher frequencies of sex than lesbians at all stages of relationships. Within the first 2 years of a relationship, for example, two thirds of the gay men but only one third of the lesbians were in the maximum category of having sex three or more times per week (the highest frequency category). After 10 years together, 11% of the gay men but only 1% of the lesbians were still in that category of highly frequent sex.
    At the other extreme, after 10 years nearly half the lesbians, but only a third of the gay men, were having sex less than once a month. Even that difference may be a substantial underestimate of the discrepancy in sexual activity: Blumstein and Schwartz reported that the gay men who had largely ceased having sex after 10 years together were often having sex with other partners, whereas the lesbians who had ceased having sex together had generally not compensated for this deficit by finding other sexual outlets.
  3. Differential masturbation rates. Women masturbate less frequently (or not at all — a significant fraction report having never done so). An interesting sidebar here is the differences in reported masturbation rates between women in the Kinsey era of the 1950's (62% lifetime) versus a modern 2007 British study (71% lifetime), suggestive of the idea that female sexual behavior is socially driven at the margins, and much more variable. (The male numbers, 92% and 95% respectively, were all but unchanged.)
  4. Almost without exception, only men buy sex.
  5.  Transsexual anecdotal behavior. Both the io9 piece above and Scott Alexander cite the experiences of transsexuals who report increased libido after taking testosterone.
    I could hunt down all of the stories of trans men who start taking testosterone, switch to a more male sex drive, and are suddenly like “OH MY GOD I SUDDENLY REALIZE WHAT MALE HORNINESS IS LIKE I THOUGHT I KNEW SEXUAL FRUSTRATION BEFORE BUT I REALLY REALLY DIDN’T HOW DO YOU PEOPLE LIVE WITH THIS?”
    From io9, citing Baumeister:
    A study of 35 female-to-male transsexuals and 15 male-to-female transsexuals also supports the impact of androgens on sex drive. In a longitudinal design that tested patients before and 3 months postoperatively, Van Goozen, Cohen-Kettenis, Gooren, Frijda, & Van de Poll (1995) found a decrease in sexual interest and arousability among the male-to-female transsexuals, who were administered anti-androgens and estrogens. In contrast, the female-to-male transsexuals, who were administered testosterone, reported heightened sexual interest and arousability. These data highlight the importance of testosterone in producing meaningful changes in sexual arousal and interest, even over a relatively short time.
The feminist enterprise has a great deal invested in the false trope that men and women are exactly equal in every way, and that biology has nothing to do with innate differences between the sexes. That's a big, scary word, "biology": it makes changing those things very hard, perhaps impossible. One of my friends has asserted that feminism draws much from the psychology of addiction, with its "I deny reality and substitute my own". You could scarcely find a better example.