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Male-strom in a Teacup

No, not THAT kind of “male study.”

“Men’s Studies” has existed as an academic discipline for several decades now. Not surprisingly, most of those involved in it identify themselves as feminists – as people interested in studying gender tend to do. But not all of them: A couple of years back, a group of mostly anti-feminist academics and popular writers with an interest in gender decided to try to do a sort of end run around the discipline of “Men’s Studies” by conjuring up a whole new, altogether un-feminist discipline called “Male Studies.”

Recently, The University of South Australia announced that it would start offering postgraduate courses in Male Studies sometime in 2014; our old friend Eoghan/Sigil1 brought this earthshattering news to the Men’s Rights subreddit the other day, where it was greeted with … suspicion and hostility.

GotMyFrogHatOn wrote:

Great, now men have the same opportunity as women to waste their time and money on a worthless degree!

Liverotto was even blunter:

YES, because the cure to bullshit is… MORE BULLSHIT! /s

That’s right: Men’s Rights Redditors hate Women’s Studies, and Gender Studies, and apparently every academic discipline with the word “Studies” in it so much that they’ve transferred this hatred to a new academic discipline that could well have been (and sort of was) designed just for them.

But don’t worry, they still hate Women’s Studies the most:

What was I saying the other day about projection?

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Ruby Hypatia
Ruby Hypatia
8 years ago

Beauty=symmetry. That’s how beauty is measured.

Interesting, patriarchy in the West has diminished greatly in the past 100 years, yet the emphasis on beauty in women has remained just as important. Hmmm, maybe there’s more than culture at play.

Sharculese
8 years ago

Beauty=symmetry. That’s how beauty is measured.

wow that is actually dumber than i imagined.

Interesting, patriarchy in the West has diminished greatly in the past 100 years, yet the emphasis on beauty in women has remained just as important. Hmmm, maybe there’s more than culture at play.

man, it’s almost as if patriarchy is still fucking everywhere or something. also, good to know were adding basic correlation/causation errors to the list of things you dont understand about science.

lauralot89
8 years ago

Just symmetry, eh? There’s nothing else? I mean, I could have a perfectly symmetrical face and roll around in shit and nobody would mind?

You humans are a strange lot.

Sharculese
8 years ago

brb guys i just saw the hottest isosceles triangle ever

Snowy
Snowy
8 years ago

Ruby, I know you’ll appreciate the science-y article from this very science-y source http://popsci.typepad.com/popsci/2006/06/angies_asymmetr.html Angelina Jolie, the most beautiful woman in the entire world, has an asymmetrical face. What now?

Sharculese
8 years ago

ruby you are like every caricature of a feminist mras accuse us of being rolled up into one

Kyrie
Kyrie
8 years ago

Well Ruby, that’s you’re opinion but:
– can you prove it’s this definition of beauty they used, when we don’t even have the names of the studies?
– can you prove “symmetry equal beauty”? Or even “more symmetrical is more beautiful”?

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Did we ever decide if we think she’s a poe or not? On the one hand, could be, but on the other hand, stupidity is a thing that exists in the world.

jumbofish
8 years ago

Interesting, patriarchy in the West has diminished greatly in the past 100 years, yet the emphasis on beauty in women has remained just as important. Hmmm, maybe there’s more than culture at play.

Strict beauty standards on women is biology yo.

Sharculese
8 years ago

it just occurred to me that ruby’s pretend version of history completely ignores the fact that we had a major sea-change in beauty standards within the last hundred years, and it didn’t have anything to do with biology.

i mean, there’s no reason i would expect ruby to know anything about history of fashion, because i dont expect her to know anything about anything, but still

Kyrie
Kyrie
8 years ago

I don’t think she’s a poe. I vote genuine and voluntary stupidity.

marc2020
marc2020
8 years ago

My word some people really can’t bear to let go of that binary can they?

Dracula
Dracula
8 years ago

Symmetry is beauty, eh? So everyone who’s symmetrical is considered beautiful, and vice versa? Are you really trying to make that claim?

Cliff Pervocracy
8 years ago

So, uh, chaining the logic… Women have gotten more symmetrical in the last forty years???

Sharculese
8 years ago

16% more

actually no, its not even that, because contrary to the headline, all that was found was that ‘beautiful’ women had more children, there wasn’t anything included about the beauty quanta of these children

Cliff Pervocracy
8 years ago

It’s kind of a waste, really, because have men gotten (genetically!?!) any richer over that time period?

We’re spending all this beauty and not getting full value!

…Also, I’m fat and masculine and have small breasts and messy hair, but I’m pretty symmetrical. So I’m glad to hear I’m Scientifically Beautiful! That explains why this pack of rich men follows me everywhere.

Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
8 years ago

Does this mean that if I part my hair to one side, I become less attractive than if I part it down the middle?

cloudiah
8 years ago

I just looked at a picture of myself, and one side of my jaw is more pronounced than the other. I am doomed to die bitter and alone. I will redirect any myopic rich men who mistakenly want to mate with me to more symmetric partners, in the interests of evolution.

Cliff Pervocracy
8 years ago

Hang on. If beauty and richness are equivalent (eyeroll), and that means that beautiful women pair up with rich men, it follows that ugly women aren’t dropping off the face of the earth–they’re breeding with ugly men!

We shouldn’t see people getting more beautiful, because there should be tons of ugly poor people still around.

Nobinayamu
Nobinayamu
8 years ago

ruby you are like every caricature of a feminist mras accuse us of being rolled up into one

Ruby isn’t a feminist. She’s a ruby-ist.

If she were a man she’d be an MRA. And she’d still be hopelessly stupid.

By the by, Ruby? You still haven’t provided any evidence which proves that naked men are unattractive. I mean, you’ve proven that you find naked men unattractive but you haven’t proven that I find naked men unattractive.

Just so you know.

Cliff Pervocracy
8 years ago

Whoops, I meant “they’re breeding with poor men.” Obviously all men are ugly.

…Except John Barrowman. I mean for God’s sake. If you’re going to claim John Barrowman has no physical effect on any women then I just don’t know what to do with you.

Nobinayamu
Nobinayamu
8 years ago

Also: Fireflies!

Yay summer!

Sharculese
8 years ago

It’s kind of a waste, really, because have men gotten (genetically!?!) any richer over that time period?

not genetically, but weve done a good enough job of ensuring the rich get richer and the poor get poorer without it

cloudiah
8 years ago

Ruby gets a hamster: http://qkme.me/3ph2x1

John Barrowman does appear to be fairly symmetrical…

cloudiah
8 years ago

Oh Sharculese, you libruls always have such a problem with inequality, but the poors have options! They can become more symmetrical via plastic surgery. Or cover themselves with peacock feathers, maybe that would be cheaper? That’s it, I’m going down to a soup kitchen tomorrow with a bag of feathers and a pot of glue — who wants to join me?

cloudiah
8 years ago

There was a funny, if not perhaps scientifically rigorous, critique in Jezebel of an evo psych study “proving” that men like their women dumb and sleepy when they’re looking for one-night stands. Some helpful tips for the ladiesdirty sluts who are looking to be picked up:
* don’t suck on straws
* do be married
* don’t be skinny
* do be a punk
* and if all else fails glance over your shoulder, yawn, and give your boob a honk

Cliff Pervocracy
8 years ago

As I sit here typing this, I just noticed that my boyfriend has a peacock feather in a vase on his desk.

I’m suddenly worried he’s going to leave me for it when his raise comes through. It’s symmetrical and everything.

Lady Zombie
Lady Zombie
8 years ago

Seems to me a perfectly symmetrical person would be in the Uncanny Valley.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

I apparently missed all the fun by being nocturnal. Damnit! Warning, this is really long because bad science really does grate on my nerves.

I really want to tear apart that discovery “article” but that’s been done, so I’ll make actual science notes on it instead:

Perhaps more surprising are findings regarding gender and language. In women, the brain is wired to process language in both the right and left hemispheres. As a result, women are more likely to excel in language-associated thinking and to possess superior language skills [source 1=”Archives” 2=”of” 3=”Neurology” language=”:”][/source]. This wiring also affects susceptibility to communication-related disorders. Men are more prone to conditions such as dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome.

Italics is inferring shit without data to back it up, the non-italics leaves out one Super Important note about language processing — if you have brain surgery, they’ll test which side your language processing is on so as not to fuck it up (yes that’s over simplified) — point is that having both hemispheres processing language is like Super Mega Important if one side of your brain gets fucked up. It *may* have a role in dyslexia, ADHD and Tourettes, or it may not, but it definitely improves your odds of keeping the language centers intact if something Really Bad happens. I’m seriously skeptical this always and only happens in women though, that’d be huge news to know that women don’t need those tests pre0sugery, all of them do this in both hemispheres already, neurosurgeons can just cut the other one out, you aren’t using it anyways.

Ruby — that’s a science based inference from that discovery article — would you really let someone cut into one hemispheres language center on the principle all women have two?

“It’s bad feminism to ignore science. Or call it pseudoscience if you don’t like the results.” — It’s bad science to ignore the methodology and insist the results are valid no matter how crap your study actually is. (Unlike Ruby’s claim, this is TRUFAX)

Re: Angelina Jolie and that article — “Researchers found that attractive women have more children than their less attractive counterparts” — is probably true, it seems logical that those perceived as more attractive are morel likely to partner (note the lack of genders here, John Barrowman would not have trouble finding a woman if he liked women) — this would also be true in past times with different beauty standards of course.

Re: symmetry, iirc, it wasn’t that there’s a direct perfect correlation between symmetry and mating (lol) but that the more symmetric someone is the more likely they are to be perceived as attractive because noticable asymmetry *generally* means “less than perfect” genetics — there’s some science behind the idea, but Cliff is right that the science does imply that ugly people mate with each other. And this is all ignoring that humans have sex for reasons having nothing to do with mating, I suspect Ruby’s never had a brain-crush on someone.

“‘beautiful’ people have 16% more children, according to a research at the university of helsinki’s institute of non-falsifiable claims” — so it’s more like — “people who are currently perceived as beautiful, and care about such things in a partner, have more children” — potential third variables: people in non-fertile relationships (gay, trans*, infertile, there are *many* options here); people planning to have kids care more about looks? It’s as likely as any other guess. Correlation is not motherfucking causation. (That’s directed at Ruby, not Sharculese despite my quoting zir [Sharculese idk your pronouns, sorry!])

Oh and they studied the same people throughout 4 decades and found that women in general are getting “more beautiful” how that even make sense?! Women age better? That’d only mean that *those* women got more beautiful over time (could generalize to say that all women get more beautiful as they age, but that would never fly, so they didn’t say that) … I almost want the original study just because longitudal studies are rare and expensive and I have doubts they were following women over 4 decades and not looking at women of different ages >.<

"The fairer sex is just a cultural idea?!" — yep, and art clearly displays this.

“…Except John Barrowman. I mean for God’s sake. If you’re going to claim John Barrowman has no physical effect on any women then I just don’t know what to do with you.” — I do, I direct you here (not really SFW, his genitals are the only thing covered)

“EARTH TO COLLIDE WITH NIBIRU ON JULY 21, 2012!” — my birthday is that weekend, would it be terrible of me to wish that wasn’t BS?

Cliff — “Science has proven some differences between men and women under some circumstances.” — sort of? Science has disproven that men and women are exactly the same? Science never really proves anything, they just disprove the null hypothesis, which in this case would be something like “men and women react the same to visual stimuli” — disproving that doesn’t prove that the differences in reactions actually mean anything, it just proves that exactly the same reaction is unlikely.

Pecunium — “1: SCIENCE has not proven it. Some scientists have argued it.” — this is much closer to being pedantic about science (not that you’re wrong Cliff, just a pedantic statistics lesson there, more for Ruby than anyone else)

Oh and that Captain Jack shot is from the Bad Wolf episodes from Doctor Who season 1, for those who want to watch that scene ^.^

Ithiliana
8 years ago

@Argenti: Just my perception, but I thnk there was a bit more activity during daylight hours today (sunday of a weekend that is a holiday in the US at least)–seems like a lot more activity takes place at night (I have to go to bed fairly early because WORK, but I can always count on opening up manboobz at breakfast and getting enough reading during the meal to keep me entertained and at times wake me up with extra SHOTS of adrenaline).

Ithiliana
8 years ago

*more activity than usual, I meant to say

lauralot89
8 years ago

@LadyZombie: Have you ever seen the perfectly symmetrical poster for Orphan? Total symmetry is definitely unsettling.

Lady Zombie
Lady Zombie
8 years ago

@lauralot Yep. Totally creepy.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

The way in which “humans seem to find profound and striking assymetry unattractive” gets translated down into pop culture as “beauty is symmetry so if you want to know if someone is hot that’s all you need to consider” is actually a really great example of the disconnect between research and the way in which that research is interpreted by the general public. Part of it is bad reporting, obviously, but I think the problem goes a lot deeper than that. People want simple, definitive answers to big complicated questions, and that’s just not how science actually works.

Manjaw the Mighty
Manjaw the Mighty
8 years ago

A study might turn up data suggesting something like “humans seem to find x un/attractive.” It is poor scientific method to then jump to a conclusion like “To find x un/attractive is therefore ‘hard-wired’ or innate.” All human behavior occurs in a complex social and cultural context.

The idea of social construction is a theoretical concept rooted in linguistics and semiotics, actually (the idea that humans in a sense “create” their environments by describing them with language). Overall, the social sciences involve as much methodological rigor as the “hard sciences;” many contemporary social scientists just concede that human behavior is not as “hard” or fixed as some of the apparent “laws” that govern other physical phenomena. An evolutionary psychologist could perhaps see how this quality could be said to exemplify human adaptability.

darksidecat
8 years ago

Fairer in English means both more beautiful and more pale/having lighter skin or hair (that’s why phrases like “fair skinned” or “fair haired” mean having light skin or light haired). Sexism plus racism/colorism built into that phrase, yay.

darksidecat
8 years ago

To be fair, I don’t think Ruby is a poe. A ridiculous essentialist fool and giant ass though, yes.

I wonder if she whipped out the calipers to measure her husband’s symmetry as well as getting credit and bank statements before she agreed to marry him.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Well of course not, since women don’t find men attractive. She was too busy studying his bank statements to notice his face.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

“The way in which “humans seem to find profound and striking assymetry unattractive” gets translated down into pop culture as “beauty is symmetry so if you want to know if someone is hot that’s all you need to consider” is actually a really great example of the disconnect between research and the way in which that research is interpreted by the general public. Part of it is bad reporting, obviously, but I think the problem goes a lot deeper than that. People want simple, definitive answers to big complicated questions, and that’s just not how science actually works.”

QFT!

“Well of course not, since women don’t find men attractive.” — and then John Barrowman is just hot because he’s gay and gay men love the idea of standing a chance with him? (Sorry guys, he’s in a committed relationship)

Cliff Pervocracy
8 years ago

No, no, she used the calipers to demonstrate her symmetry to him. Men’s appearance doesn’t ever matter! Just like women’s wealth is totally irrelevant. (Except for, like, buying things. But you’re supposed to make your man do that.)

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

I just noticed blockquotes auto-italic. Argh.

Perhaps more surprising are findings regarding gender and language. In women, the brain is wired to process language in both the right and left hemispheres. As a result, women are more likely to excel in language-associated thinking and to possess superior language skills . This wiring also affects susceptibility to communication-related disorders. Men are more prone to conditions such as dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome.

Italics Bold is inferring shit without data to back it up, the non-italics non-bold leaves out one Super Important note about language processing…

There, that should make more sense now >.< (one should never quote before coffee?)

Cliff — "Except for, like, buying things. But you’re supposed to make your man do that." — idk about Ruby, but wouldn't the MRM call that like, frivolous gold digging bitch or something? I think you just aren't supposed to need stuff. (Stuff because that’s how the MRM seems to see things, men need important things, women need nothing, or if they do, it’s frivolous, or else a man would willing have given it to her already….or something)

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Another thought if I’m going to be pedantic about neurosci (which I should maybe avoid as I was a psych major, not neurosci) — but all brains have language centers in either hemisphere, that either could be the primary one is why that’s tested before brain surgery — that men only use one could be socialization. Though I suspect wtf is really going on there is that a combination of socialization and hormones result in differences in how language is processed — the brain is always innately wired to process in both hemispheres, which one gets that task in adulthood seems to be a matter of chance (which suggests, to me anyways, that it’s not biology doing the assigning but socialization). I’m open to being corrected by someone with an actual neurosci background though, that’s from psych classes a decade ago after all.

And this — “Men are more prone to conditions such as dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome.” — is so very wrong…ADHD isn’t a language disorder, at all, and Tourette’s really isn’t either, it can be, but it’s primarily. Also, ADHD is probably underdiagnosed in girls because the attention problems are taken as daydreaming and girls are daydreamers by nature! Perhaps an actual problem for feminism somehow lies in Ruby’s articles?!

There’s so much wrong in those articles that to frisk them all would bore everyone to tears. Regarding minor differences between the average man and average woman though — there will almost always (if not always) be greater variation within either gender than between the two genders. And these studies always fall apart when someone actually studies trans* people.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

but it’s isn’t primarily*

Fuck, when will I learn to review my comments before hitting post?

Jessay (@jessay)
8 years ago

LOL at the discussion of women not liking to see naked men. I was straight up swooning when the singer of this band I went to see stripped down to nothing but short shorts because it was like 100 degrees in the venue (which is funny because his audience was mostly straight males and it seemed to be more of a “silly” look in his opinion). But this man was also exactly my type physically which is different from the supposed “norm.” When I think of playboy, I think of like, buff, greasy men who I have no interest in looking at. Similarly, in porn, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a man I was actually attracted to.

It’s very clear to me that the vast majority of porn was not made for me, and the stuff that is is very hard to find. When I watch porn and the ridiculous positions they stick these women in, all I can think of is “that looks painful” and that she’s not moaning in pleasure but screaming out in pain. They do like the jack-rabbit thrusting immediately and the slobbery, degrading blow jobs. The entire thing is more of a turnoff than anything based solely on how it’s presented. I get more out of the sex scenes in movies with male actors I’m into than porn.

And amen to all of you mentioning that it also has more to do with female sexuality being repressed. Women admitting to watching/liking porn and being open about liking sex is getting more common, but it’s still shamed a lot. It’s not until you get a bunch of women together who are totally comfortable talking frankly with each other that you realize how wrong society’s views of women’s sexuality is.

And when Ruby compares boobs and dicks, try comparing boobs and just a male chest/abs. Just because it’s socially acceptable for a man to walk around shirtless does not mean it can’t/doesn’t turn women on. Have you never seen women “woo” when a good looking entertainer takes off his shirt? I mean, honestly, skinnier than me, slightly toned male body with an attractive face (don’t know how to describe my facial type) to me is like the “perfect” hour glass figure for the so-called average male.

And no, AGAIN, greased up, buff men in banana hamocks thrusting their junk at me is NOT SEXY, but watching what I just described jumping around on stage half naked = lady boner central.

Ruby Hypatia
Ruby Hypatia
8 years ago

Oh boy, there goes the strawman arguments again. I never said men weren’t attractive. It’s just that generally men focus more on looks in a potential mate than women do. The emphasis on female beauty has not diminished with patriarchy. Playboy far outsells Playgirl, most strippers are women, beauty contestants are mostly women, women are more likely to get plastic surgery, and women spend a lot more time and effort on their looks. Other cultures have women doing crazy things for beauty. I can’t think of any culture where it’s men who are the fairer sex. I’m sorry you extreme feminists can’t handle the truth.

Pecunium
8 years ago

Ruby: Have you ever looked at 16th century fashion? Who is the “fairer” sex is a cultural ideal.

Gametime
Gametime
8 years ago

I know it’s already been pointed out multiple times, but I still can’t get over the fact that Ruby keeps insisting, with a straight face, that patriarchy is over immediately before bringing up the fact that porn, stripping, and beauty pageants overwhelmingly feature women presented for a heterosexual male gaze.

It’s almost as if the very pieces of evidence she’s trying to use to support her ridiculous notions of beauty and sexuality are, in fact, evidence of the patriarchy and institutional sexism that she thinks are gone.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Ruby —
“I never said men weren’t attractive.”
Yeah, you did — “Having looked at those pictures of that naked man, I agree with Elaine from Seinfeld. Nudity is not a great look for men. Sorry guys.” That’s actually what you started this all with.

16th century men’s fashion example — captioned elsewhere on wiki “Charles IX of France wears an embroidered black jerkin with long bases or skirts over a white satin doublet and matching padded hose, 1566.” (That’s the King of France a few years after his coronation btw)

French fashion the men were better dressed until…the Victorian era? But even that…men’s rational dress came first, unsurprisingly, thus the corset stayed longer than men in tights (and goddamned is that a shame!)

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

@ Jessay

I can think of at least two entire segments of the music industry that are based around appealing to girls and women on a sexual level via men in sexy clothing/posing/various stages of undress (boy bands anywhere, and Japanese visual kei, the latter being rather more obvious about it, but the former being just as based on selling men’s bodies and sexual appeal). Then there are the genres where it’s not as obvious, but still there, like your scenario with the singer the other night – bet you weren’t the only woman appreciating it, and if the dude in question is good looking, bet his band have a fair number of female fans for that reason alone. Or you could look at movies, and see the same pattern playing out.

I’m beginning to think that the issue with Ruby is not just that she’s stubborn and not that bright, it’s also that she has a remarkably crass and unsubtle way of understanding how sex and attraction works. The idea that the only way we can tell if X group is visually intersted in Y group on a sexual level is if there are strippers who cater specifically to the groups in question? That’s, um, not indicative of a very sophisticated understanding of how human sexuality works.

Posted this video here once before I think, but it’s so hilariously apt every time someone makes the argument that Ruby is making! Behold, a commercial for cell phone service that is quite blatantly using a man’s body and sex appeal to sell things to women (and gay men too, but the main market is women).

He’s a singer, not a stripper, but I think what’s being done with that commercial and why should be fairly clear.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Or, actually, you want a REALLY obvious example of the way the music industry sexually objectifies men and uses the fact that their bodies are appealing to women and girls to sell stuff? Here you go. There are even stripper poles at the beginning!

(Not my musical cup of tea at all, but damn he’s gorgeous.)