The Catholic Crackdown on Feminism, Continued

There are some times when it gives me little pleasure to be right, and this is one of them:The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America's 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women's ordination.This isn't the result of the "apostolic visitation" I wrote about earlier, but the findings of a separate Vatican inquiry (PDF) into the Leadership Conference of Women … [Read more...]

More Elucidation of Mansplanation

My previous post on the term "mansplaining" was turning into a zombie thread, so I had to drive a stake through its heart. But there's more that needs to be said on the topic, and today it comes in the form of this study covered by Scientific American. (HT: Justin Wolfers, via Michelle Goldberg on Twitter. The original article is also available online, but requires free registration.) Researchers trained four actors, two male and two female, to give the same short physics lecture to 126 … [Read more...]

Your Daily Dose of Mansplaining

Sometimes, when a comment thread bogs down in a long and protracted debate, highly enlightening comments can get lost in the heap. In the cause of preventing one such comment from being lost to obscurity, I'm giving it its own thread so it can receive the degree of respectful attention it clearly deserves. There's a term coined by the feminist movement that's very useful in contextualizing what you're about to read, which is "mansplaining". Mansplaining occurs when a man explains to a woman, in … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: March 17

There's a heap of news I didn't get to write about in greater depth this week, but all these stories deserve at least a look: • Remember the Anglican church, that blandly, Britishly polite bastion of modern liberal Christianity? So it turns out that they're officially against same-sex marriage. In a hilarious piece whining that they should get to vote on the rights of other human beings, Anglican homophobes also argue there should be no such thing as civil marriage in the U.K., that … [Read more...]

The Catholic Crackdown on Feminism

In 2009, the Roman Catholic church convened an "apostolic visitation" - a sort of modern-day auto-da-fe - a rare step taken when the Vatican feels that a church-affiliated institution has gone seriously astray. The church officials in charge of the investigation conducted interviews at almost 400 religious institutions throughout the U.S., and this month, they submitted their final report, whose contents as of now are still secret. What is this pervasive evil within the church that the Vatican … [Read more...]

Fighting Gender Apartheid in Israel

The world is increasingly taking notice of the turmoil brewing in Israel, where a growing culture war between the rest of Israeli society and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, or "haredim", is becoming impossible to ignore. Simply stated, what the haredim want is gender apartheid: the forced segregation of the sexes in all public accommodations and the erasure of women from public life. And they've repeatedly proven that if they can't achieve this through the political process, they're … [Read more...]

On Skeptical Sexism and Comfort Levels

Earlier this week, Penn Jillette posted a link to this essay by Mallorie Nasrallah on his Twitter account, concerning her experience as a woman in the skeptical community. To sum it up, she's never felt mistreated because of her gender, and she doesn't see what all the fuss over sexism is about. So, let me say one thing right away: If she hasn't experienced sexism, that's great! We need more women who can say the same. And if she'd left it at that, I'd have no complaint. Unfortunately, she … [Read more...]

Religion Imprisons Women

One hypothesis for the origin of religion is that it's a kind of "costly signaling" - a way for people to prove their loyalty to the group by participating in complex rituals and extravagant shows of devotion. But there's an underappreciated danger to this: when everyone in a community already follows a strict interpretation of faith, religious belief will have a tendency to spiral out of control into extremism, as group members go to greater and greater lengths to express their piety. And when … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 5

On my old site, I had regular link roundups for all the stories I saw that interested me, but that I didn't have the time to write about at greater length. And I've had a lot of those stories this week, so here's some things to read over your Saturday morning coffee: • I've previously reported on whether the American Cancer Society turned down a big donation because it came from atheists. Now the redoubtable Greta Christina has written a lengthy follow-up piece for AlterNet, laying out the … [Read more...]

Is the Arab Spring Hurting Arab Women?

While protests continue to rage in Syria and a new government takes shape in Libya, the origin of the Arab Spring has attained a huge milestone: Tunisia successfully held its first election last week, and aside from scattered protests and violence, the contest appears to have been largely peaceful, free and fair - not to mention high-turnout (over 70% of eligible voters cast ballots). Three cheers for Tunisia! But Western secularists may have reason not to be entirely sanguine about the … [Read more...]


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