Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why Shia LaBeouf’s Rape Should Be Taken Seriously


shia

Recently, Shia LaBeouf has come out and said that he was raped. A number of people have made comments along the lines of “Why didn’t he do anything?” and “Did he say ‘no’?” Some have even laughed about it. But this is no joke.

Whether you like LaBeouf as an actor, or think he’s not a very good person, doesn’t matter. Nobody deserves to be raped. And assuming he’s lying or deserved it is victim blaming. Shia LaBeouf is the victim in this case. And he deserves to be treated with the same respect that all victims deserve.

He’s also been accused of lying and attention seeking. That may very well be the case. But does that mean his accusations shouldn’t be taken seriously? Of course not! False rape allegations still only make up 2% of all rape allegations. And this is a serious issue. His accusations should be looked into. He shouldn’t just be brushed off as a liar with no investigation. That’s not how we determine what’s true.

And I can’t help but wonder why people think he would lie about being raped to get attention. Rape victims don’t usually get treated well, and they aren’t often believed, so it’s a good way to get blamed, but not a good way to get any sort of positive attention.

todd-akin-meme-rape

Im-not-victim-blaming-She-just-shouldnt-have-walked-down-there-on-her-own

This is the type of shit women face after being raped. Why would anybody want this kind of attention?

rape

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What is Secular Humanism?


In my last post, I discussed atheism. In this post, I’d like to discuss what Secular Humanism is. To put it simply, Secular Humanism is a personal philosophy. It is the view that morality can exist separately from a deity. Secular Humanists believe that humans are responsible for ensuring that all humans thrive.

Official_AHA_logo

This is the American Humanist Associations logo. As you can see, their slogan is “good without God.” Secular Humanists don’t necessarily believe that every human is good, but they do believe that you can be good without religion.

secular humanism

While Humanism can be theistic, Secular Humanists tend to be atheists or agnostics. Most believe that gods are imaginary. This is one of the main reasons why they do not believe that gods are required to be good: if humans created gods, then the moral codes dictated by gods were actually created by humans. If humans created all moral codes, then they can do so without the guise of a deity.

secular humanism 2

Secular Humanists, like skeptics, freethinkers, etc, tend to be very interested in seeking out and discovering what is true. Secular Humanists generally believe that we should always be seeking more information and trying to learn as much about our world as possible.

Those are all qualities that many Secular Humanists hold. But you may have noticed that there is no clear definition offered. That’s because there is no clear definition. Secular Humanists are those who label themselves as Secular Humanists. Many atheists and agnostics don’t like Secular Humanism. Many feel it is a weak position held by those who are too afraid to just call themselves atheists. Others like Secular Humanism because it is about morality and ethics. It really depends on the person.

Both Withteeth and I are happy to call ourselves Secular Humanists, because we both care deeply about ethics and Social Justice.


What Is An Atheist?


Not that long ago, I sent out a post asking my readers a series of questions. I don’t think we’ll get many more responses to those questions in the near future, so we’ll being making posts on what we to be the most relevant areas of that post. I’ll begin with a post on Atheism.

If you remember, I asked what atheism is. While most people answered that it is a lack of belief, or disbelief, in gods, we did get some more interesting responses. Here are the most interesting responses that we received:

“Atheism: To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living is Atheism. To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism. Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.”

“Atheism is just another theism — a theory. You cannot prove or disprove god; Atheists are just stupid enough to try and stop the unstoppable — you can’t stop a belief; it is form of hope. Hope to see loved ones again, a hope life is not meaningless, a hope that something lies beyond the misery of this world.”

As I’m sure many of you already realize, these definitions are wrong. But they made us realize that it is important to actually discuss what atheism is. Defining our terms will help eliminate any miscommunication, and it is also an important step that must be taken before any real education can begin. So what is an atheist? Well, an atheist is defined as “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.” To call yourself an atheist is to make a belief claim. It is to say that you do not believe that there are any gods. It is not a knowledge claim. To say that you know that there are no gods is to be a gnostic atheist. Most atheists are agnostic atheists, ie. they do not believe that there are any gods, but they won’t say that they know there are no gods. To save time explaining, here is a useful chart:

Agnosticism-Atheism

As you can see, it is possible to be gnostic or agnostic while also being either a theist or an atheist. Basically, if you don’t believe that any gods exist, or that it is likely that any gods exist, you are an atheist. However, if you believe that gods exist, or that it is likely they exist, you are a theist. I feel it is necessary to add that not everybody who is an atheist wishes to label themselves as such, and it is that person’s choice to label themselves as they see fit. But I would like to mention that labeling yourself an atheist adds one more face to the label, which make it harder for people to discriminate and challenges the stigma associated with being an atheist. As such, if you find that you are an atheist, I would encourage you to use the word to describe yourself. It is not a bad word and it does not make you a bad person.

Now to the first quote about what atheism “is.” The commenter wrote that atheism is “To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living.” If this were true, then everybody would be an atheist. Who doesn’t believe that they are alive and the sidewalk they walk on is not alive? They go on to say that “To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism.” Many atheists celebrate Christmas. Is this not a theist tradition? Atheism is not about traditions and rituals. It is very easy to believe that the Bible is made up while still celebrating the holidays with your family. Some atheists do negate these rituals and traditions, but that is not what atheism is. Here is a podcast that discusses this very issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IidLsnn1WL8. They conclude by saying “Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.” How is atheism contradictory? Nothing in their explanation of atheism contradicted anything else they said (assuming it was true). And the actual definition contains no contradictions either. It is a simple statement of disbelief. To say that atheism is false at this point is unsupportable. In fact, given the actual definition, the only way to show atheism to be false would be to prove that there are gods.

The next commenter said that “Atheism is just another theism — a theory.” Neither atheism nor theism are theories. A theory is “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.” Atheism is a belief claim. There is no intent to explain anything. And atheism is the opposite of theism, thus the “a” in from. Theists, as the chart above shows, believe that there are gods, or a god. Atheists believe the opposite. To say that atheists are theists is insulting to both sides. They go on to say “Atheists are just stupid enough to try and stop the unstoppable — you can’t stop a belief.” While there are atheists out there who want to get rid of religion, that is not part of what it means to be an atheist. Most atheists are happy to live in harmony with religious people so long as no one tries to force us to abide by their religions beliefs. While it is difficult, you can actually stop beliefs, at least on an individual level, but that’s really irrelevant. They then claim that “it is form of hope. Hope to see loved ones again, a hope life is not meaningless, a hope that something lies beyond the misery of this world.” While those are pretty words, they don’t really mean anything. Atheists have hope. And this world is not miserable, at least not to most people. Again, most people are not interested in stopping anyone from believing, but the ones that are aren’t trying to take peoples hope away. I had hope when I was religious and I still have hope today. Most people who deconvert feel the same, so the idea that taking away a persons belief will take away their hope is kind of silly.

I’m sure this is all basic information for most of you, but I hope this post will help some of you understand what we mean when we say we’re atheists, and I hope it will help bring about mutual understanding in the future.


Labeling Genetically modified food, why it’s a waste of time and money.


Anyone who has read my posts about GMO’s (Genetically modified organisms) and the anti-GMO movement know I am a proponent of genetic modification.

I suggest those who are not actually sure what genetic modification is go read the post I’ve previously written explaining the types of genetic modification in broad terms. Link below.

https://hessianwithteeth.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/tackling-the-gmo-problem-part-5-what-the-heck-is-a-genetic-modification-anyway-2/

Now this demand for GMO labeling, from my understanding, is largely a byproduct of the anti-GMO movement and the massive ignorance surrounding the fields of biology related to genetic modification. People really just don’t understand what is going on in the production and modification of food crops. Even Bill Nye The Science Guy is a proponent of these labels, but this is only further proof that people don’t understand the biology. Allow me to defend these statements, and explain why the labels will not help consumers.

Genetic modification, and what kinds of genetic modification are considered “problematic,” is poorly defined, and even more poorly understood by the general public and most policy makers. Much like how people think Organic food means no pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizer (this is actually true in some areas, but not all), and healthier (which it isn’t). People think GMO means “bad” and unhealthy, but this is childish and flatly wrong. Why? because genetic modification refers to a wide array of methods, some of which have been used for hundreds or thousands of years. That, and genetic change occurs all the time. When advantageous mutation spring up, farmers and horticulturists have jumped to capitalize on these mutations. The only difference now is some times we are able to take a well understood (if it isn’t well understood then you simply don’t have the necessary information to transfer the genes) advantageous trait from one crop and put it into the other without mucking about with hybridization or artificial mutation.

But this is the biggest problem: genetic modification is massively complex. I’m 5 years into my degree and I have only in the last year and a half become competent in speaking about this topic. So to expect the lay person to understand is unreasonable without first devoting some serious resources to publicly educating the population. But moving along, why are the labels likely to be ineffective at communicating anything useful?

Because almost everything is genetically modified. If you read my other blog post about about the kinds of genetic modification here, you will quickly come to realize there is a lot going on with everything on the shelves, and I think it very probable that labeling will result in either a whole lot of things been labeled or very few, and the problem is that all that will accomplish is a reduction in sales of those things labeled, since there is a strong anti-GMO bias in much of the population. But that bias is not based in the science, so we will not see a direct health benefit, nor will we see a better informed populous.

Why won’t we see a more informed population? Because the number of potential combinations are unfathomable. Just sticking a label on a fruit isn’t going to tell you anything, and even if you do add a much more substantial label to the fruit telling you what genes and methods were used and how to get more information, people in general don’t have the biology, or specifically genetics knowledge to make effective use of that knowledge.

This, as far as I’m concerned, is the realm of government regulation and independent researchers to test the safely of these foods and products. And you know what? It’s already happening. There are many thousands of research papers published and many more each year that indicated the safely of, as far as I’m aware, all genetically modified food organisms currently sold in the west.

As for those papers, here are a selection of over 600: http://gmopundit.blogspot.ca/p/450-published-safety-assessments.html

So why would we spend money (any expenses will ultimately come out of us consumers) on labels that won’t help a damn thing?

Withteeth


Lamenting the Loss of Another Great Vlogger


I didn’t want to write this post yet because I still would like more comments on my last post, but I feel I need to write this post.

Many years ago, probably as many as ten to six already, I used to watch a lot of youtube videos. That was during the time, and a bit after it, of the great youtube atheists. Back when there were a handful (okay, more like two) of really well known atheists that made daily videos on youtube. Very few of those people are left, or, at the very least, very few make videos anymore. That was the whole reason I stopped, almost completely, watching youtube videos: most of the people I was subscribed to had stopped making videos and it was becoming very difficult to find people worth following.

About three or four years back I was lamenting the loss of a particular youtuber. A man who at the time was in University and made wonderful philosophy, music, and atheism videos. He was also a feminist. In my opinion, he was the best youtuber at the time. Now I’ve learned that another youtuber who I feel to be his equal has left. She actually left back in August, but I only found out tonight. She was young, and I can’t blame her for leaving because she had been dealing with a lot of online abuse. Unfortunately to put your voice online is to be subject to a certain amount of abuse, but it boggles my mind that people who would be so nice in a face to face conversation feel it appropriate to tell someone to “go die” online. But I’m sad to see that she has gone.

I’m sad because of the saying “the only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” She was one of the good “men” doing something, but now she’s gone. And I think it’s partially due to the fact that more good “men” did nothing that caused her to leave. I saw plenty of comments saying things along the line of “go kill yourself feminazi” in her comment section but, while there was plenty of debating, I saw no comments chastising the people telling her to die. Nobody asked why they would say that, and nobody pointed out the hatefulness behind those words. And that really isn’t uncommon. It’s almost just accepted that people threaten to kill people online and it’s not taken seriously. That frightens me.

So now there’s one less good person on youtube trying to make a difference. There is one less person willing to say that they are a feminist. There is one less person willing to have a reasoned discussion about feminism to bring about understanding and end misinformation. There are plenty of MRAs and anti-feminists willing to abuse any feminist who makes their voice heard, but there doesn’t seem to be very any people speaking for feminism. I know that there are still a number of atheists on youtube, and a number of them seem to support feminism, at least that’s the impression that I get from comments that they have made. But while there are youtube atheists that openly oppose feminist, the ones that support it seem to avoid talking about it. I think that this is a problem. It makes youtube a hostile place for feminists, and it makes it seem acceptable to say things like “go kill yourself feminazi” to anyone who openly professes to be a feminist.

I have to say, I’m really glad I found wordpress. While there are anti-feminists and MRAs here, they aren’t so much more vocal that the feminists. And the conversations are a lot more civil. I haven’t been told to die for being a feminist here. In fact, minus a few exceptions, I’ve been able to actually have good conversations with people that I disagree with without it devolving into name calling. It’s not perfect, but it makes me glad that I moved away from youtube when I did.


Quiz Time!


But don’t worry: I give an A for effort. Okay, actually there will be no grades because this is more about getting your opinion. This blog will be a year old in a month, and our semester is about to come to an end. As such, I think it’s about time to see where we are with the blog. If you are willing to help us out, please answer these questions in the comment section. That way we can figure out how to make the most of our blog over the winter break.

1) What do you consider yourself as far as religion is concerned?

2) How do you define religion? How do you define spirituality?

3) How do you define God or gods?

4) In your opinion, what is the importance of the Bible? The Quran? The Bhagavad Gita? Any other religious texts?

5) What is Atheism? Secularism? Secular Humanism? Agnosticism? Anti-theism?

6) What do you want to know about the above? What are your concerns about the above?

7) What is the importance of Philosophy? History? Science?

8) What do you want to know about Philosophy, History, and Science?

9) Are you a feminist? Why or why not?

10) What do you want to know about feminism?

11) What would you like to know about us as feminists?

12) If you are willing to tell us, what is your gender (not sex, but gender) and sexuality? How do they affect your lives?

13) What do you think affects a person’s sex or gender?

14) What would you like to know about gender and sexuality?

15) What are your hobbies? What do you believe to be the importance of hobbies?

16) What would you like to know about our hobbies?

For those of you who remember my Bible project, I will be getting back into it. My semester was far busier than I expected, so I had to put reading for pleasure aside. As such, I haven’t read either the Bible or Mere Christianity in a while. However, I’ll try to get Mere Christianity finished before the winter semester begins. The Bible will probably need to be put aside during the second semester, so I doubt I’ll finish that before next fall.


A Conversation About Gender and Sexuality


As many of you know, I am involved in an interfaith group. Today was our weekly meeting. At the end of the meeting, five of us stayed late to talk about gender and sexuality. Three of us are in our 20’s and we all consider ourselves queer. I have said before that I am demisexual and gender queer. There was another gender queer person who identifies as a lesbian there as well, and the final twenty-something identifies as bisexual. The final two members of our small group were a retired teacher and a Lutheran pastor. They were both very interested in how gender and sexuality are discussed today because the language we use today was not used when they were young.

One of the main concerns discussed was education. For my generation, it is very easy to take a Sociology, Psychology, or Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality course and learn all about the terminology and what it all means. We often take that for granted because the language we use is so easily available to us. But this information is not easily available to those outside of the post-secondary community. So how do people become knowledgeable about the nuances of sexuality and gender without going to university or college?

There are resources available online, but they aren’t resources that would be found by anybody who doesn’t know to look for them. This is unfortunate. It also means that those of us who identify as queer are forced to educate others about ourselves. This is important, but it is also not fair.

Why is it important? Because we don’t identify as the majority identifies. We are the minority. If we want people to understand how we feel, we need to explain our feelings to them. By creating a community of those who understand us, then we create a community where we are accepted and treated as equals. This is something that we all want. Luckily there are a lot of queer people who are willing to take the time to educate other.

But not everyone is willing to educate others, and we shouldn’t be expected to. This is why is is unfair. It is not uncommon for people to demand that we educate them. It is not our job to educate we. I am willing to talk about my gender and sexuality to help others understand who I am. I am willing to talk about them to create empathy and understanding. But I don’t have to do so. And a lot of other people don’t want to talk about their gender or sexuality. They aren’t often comfortable conversations, especially when someone isn’t fully accepting of one’s identity. As such, nobody should be made to educate others.

I felt it necessary to discuss this today, because I do want to create that understanding. I want to make the resources available to those who don’t know where to look. So here are a few:
http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=_kH0L1x8B88C&oi=fnd&pg=PA133&dq=gender+and+sexuality&ots=lGPcLVDLA4&sig=7_jTuCaU5egj8mgyhVQl01o7LDc#v=onepage&q=gender%20and%20sexuality&f=false
http://www.med.monash.edu.au/gendermed/sexandgender.html
http://www.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/
http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/sexuality-definitions.pdf
http://groupthink.jezebel.com/i-am-genderfluid-1558789334
http://www.genderdiversity.org/resources/terminology/
http://gender.wikia.com/wiki/Genderqueer
http://www.tolerance.org/gender-spectrum
http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2013/01/a-comprehensive-list-of-lgbtq-term-definitions/
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/sex-gender-and-sexuality-its-complicated/
http://www.genomebc.ca/education/articles/separating-gender-from-sex/

For those of you interested in learning more about gender and sexuality, I hope these resources help. If you want to learn more, I will happily find more resources, or answer questions to the best of my ability. I’d also suggest finding a local LGBTQ community willing to offer education to those interested in becoming allies. But please don’t demand that anybody educate you. Please be respectful and understand that they are doing you a favor by giving you the information, and they are probably willing to give it to you because they want to improve the community in which they live.


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