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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Hej allihop.
I denna video kommer jag att presentera nio ord för nio begrepp. Nio fenomen som de flesta av er har stött på förut. Men som de flesta av er inte har funderat på, eller satt ord på. Det handlar om sociala och psykologiska mekanismer som kan vara svåra att överblicka. Genom att sätta ord på dem blir de lättare att hantera.

Dessa nio begrepp handlar om hur vi människor delar in oss själva och varandra i grupper och kategorier. Många av er kommer att ha användning för flera av dessa ord. Förutsatt att ni orkar ta dem till er, så att ni förstår vad orden innebär – och vad de fenomen som orden representerar innebär. Att läsa denna lilla ordlista i text kan vara lättare att överblicka. Länk till detta hittar ni i beskrivningen av videon.

När det gäller ordens bakgrund får man skilja på fenomen, begrepp och term. Vi förstår fenomen i tillvaron genom att skapa begrepp för dem. Och för att kunna hantera begreppen behöver vi ha ord för dem. I dessa nio fall har jag skapat själva termerna på egen hand. De fenomen som termerna beskriver är jag däremot allt annat än ensam om att diskutera. Och jag har försökt välja termer som är så naturliga och intuitiva som möjligt i sina sammanhang. Därmed är det inte alls osannolikt att andra har börjat använda samma ord, oberoende av mig.

Det första ordet är Kategorism
På engelska Categorism.
Kategorism är fördomar, diskriminering, marginalisering och så vidare, baserat på en kategorisering av människor eller riktat mot en kategori av människor. Exempel på sådana kategorier är ras, kön och sexuell läggning. De mest kända orden där är rasism, sexism och homofobi. Det finns många sådana ord för när kategorism drabbar en eller annan specifik grupp. Själva ordet kategorism fungerar dock oavsett vilken kategorisering det handlar om, även när det inte finns något särskilt ord för kategorism med just detta specifika fokus.

Det andra ordet är Dikotomism
På engelska Dichotomism.
Dikotomism är att sitta fast i att “allt är antingen A eller B”. Detta inkluderar begreppet “falsk dikotomi”, men är inte begränsat till detta utan omfattar även de motsatspar som i sig själva är helt vettiga. Ta till exempel motsatsparen “natt och dag” eller “man och kvinna”.

Dessa dikotomier är ofta användbara, men om man sitter fast i dem helt så blir det svårt att förstå gryningar respektive transpersoner. Eller att helt enkelt övervärdera denna kategoriserings beyudelse. Biologen Richard Dawkins har skrivit en hel del om fenomenet. Men har inget ord för det, utan hans fras för begreppet är “The Tyrrany of the Discontinuous Mind”.

Det tredje ordet är Monolitisering
På engelska Monolithization.
Monolitisering innebär att se en kategori av människor som enhetlig. Som om dessa människor var en och samma individ, någon slags kollektivt medvetande, eller någon slags sciencefiction-kloner med identiska egenskaper.

Det fjärde ordet är Zerosumming
Samma ord på svenska och engelska.
I verkligheten är social rättvisa sällan ett nollsummespel. Zerosumming är att direkt eller indirekt göra det misstaget. En skev analys där varje vinst för en grupp är en lika stor förlust för en annan grupp, och varje förlust för en grupp automatiskt är en vinst för en annan grupp.

Det femte ordet är Dubeldefinition
På engelska Doubledefinition.
Dubbeldefinition innebär att en etikett ges två helt olika innebörder samtidigt. Ofta handlar det om att man använder en definition för vilka som ingår i en viss kategori, och en helt annan definition för vad det innebär att ingå i den kategorin. Till exempel finns det personer som med hänvisning till Sveriges historia hävdar att alla svenskar per definition är kristna. Men samtidigt hävdar att för att vara kristen så måste man tro att Bibeln är bokstavligt sann. Termen dubbeldefinition bygger på termen dubbeltänk i George Orwells briljanta roman 1984.

Det sjätte ordet är Obegripliggörande
På engelska Incomprehensibilization.
Obegripliggörande innebär att göra något obegripligt. Detta är en skarpare form av mystifikation. Grunprincipen är att vårt sätt att tala om något… ibland till och med vårt sätt att akademiskt forska om något… inte alltid är till för att göra det vi talar om begripligt. Ibland kan det tvärtom handla om ett aktivt obegripliggörande. Don Kulick har skrivit om detta fenomen i antologin Queersverige.

Där använder han begreppet, men kanske inte termen. Jag hade tidigare för mig att han använde termen, men vid senaste genomläsningen kunde varke jag själv eller min kompis hitta den termen i texten. Don Kulik använder helt klart begreppet, men i stället för att ha ett enda ord för det använde han konsekvent frasen “att göra något obegripligt”.

Det sjunde ordet är Nollkategori
På engelska Zero Category.
Nollkategori är när en grupp är så normativ att den blir osynlig. Att den ses som så självklar att den inte framstår som en kategori överhuvudtaget. Till exempel att kön är något som kvinnor har, medan ras och kultur är något som ickevita och ickevästerlänningar har – samtidigt som vita västerländska män ses som människor utan särskild kategoritillhörighet: Objektiva och fria från särintressen.

En viktig effekt av nollkategorin är man missar detta med intersektionalitet – alltså att varje person ingår i en massa olika kategoriseringar, inte bara en enda.

Till exempel kan man retoriskt ställa invandrare och homosexuella mot varandra. Som om det inte fanns några homosexuella invandrare, eller några homosexuella muslimer. I verkligheten har en person inte bara kön, etnicitet eller sexuell läggning, utan alla tre.

Det åttonde ordet är Avgrundskategori
På engelska Abyss Category.
Avgrundskategorin är en kategori som samhället i stort definierar sig mot. Detta är den vanliga indelningen i ingrupp och utgrupp, men på en symbolisk nivå och en episk skala. För något decennium sedan rådde det konsensus i Sverige om att avgrundskategorierna är Nazisten och Pedofilen. Med stor bokstav och bestämd form singular. Alltså monolitisering. I dagens Sverige finsn det dock krafter som fått visst gehör för att vi bör definiera oss mot Muslimerna i stället för mot Nazisterna. Därmed ger man både kristna och sekulära högerextremister luft under vingarna.

I länder som USA och Indonesien finns det starka krafter som ser Ateism och Kommunism som sina avgrundskategorier, eller ännu hellre som en gemensam avgrundskategori där man inte gör skillnad på dessa båda mycket olika begrepp. I USA tappar dessa krafter ständigt mark när det gäller ateism: Det blir allt mer accepterat att inte tro på någon Gud.

Det nionde ordet är Representationsbias
På engelska Representation Bias.
Med representationsbias menar jag att när man träffar företrädare för en viss kategori av människor, så är det lätt att tro att dessa är representativa för kategorin. Särskilt om man ser ett tydligt mönster av att de man möter från i en viss kategori är på ett visst sätt. Men detta mönster kan handla om varför man möter dem, snarare än att ha med själva kategorin att göra.

Som terapeut, kriminalvårdare eller dylikt stöter man på minoriteter som man inte kommer i kontakt med annars. Man möter invandrare och homosexuella, som alla har det gemensamt att de är brottslingar eller har psykiska problem. Ute i verkligheten är de flesta invandrare och homosexuella både laglydiga och psykiskt friska, och just därför kommer terapeuter och kriminalvårdare inte att möta dem i tjänsten.

För ett sekel sedan var samhället övertygat om att onani leder till sinnessjukdom. Denna vanföreställning byggde på forskning, som helt riktigt konstaterade att nästan samtliga onanister som sitter på mentalsjukhus lider av fenomen som idag skulle kallas för psykiska funktionshinder eller psykiska störningar. Medan välfungerande medborgare ute i samhället så klart inte visade upp sina onanivanor för några läkare.

Detta var alla mina nio ord. Kategorism, Dikotomism, Monolitisering, Zerosumming, Dubbeldefinition, Obegripliggörande, Nollkategori, Avgrundskategori och Representationsbias.
Många nya ord på en gång. Hoppas att jag lyckades göra dem begripliga. Fråga jättegärna om förtydliganden om det är något ni är osäkra på. Och om ni vill veta mer, kolla gärna in min blogg eller mina båda youtubekanaler.

Alla nio orden kommer att finnas med i min Masteruppsats på programmet Mänskliga Rättigheter. Denna går under arbetsnamnet “Categorization of Human Beings Versus the Universality of Human Rights”. Vad den handlar om torde framgå dels av namnet, och dels av de nio centrala begrepp som jag precis har definierat. Eventuellt kommer det även att dyka upp fler nyord under resans gång. Det är också tänkbart, om än osannolikt, att jag kommer att döpa om något av de nio orden. Eller rentav omdefiniera själva begreppet.

Senast detta skedde var igår eftermiddag. Alltså den trettionde mars 2013. Dessförinnan kallade jag representationsbias för professional bias, och begränsade begreppet till att enbart omfatta professionella såsom terapeuter och kriminalvårdare. Men jag insåg att samma fenomen uppkommer även i andra sammanhang, och att det därför vore skevt att begränsa begreppet till att per definition bara gälla dem.

Kom gärna med synpunkter och konstruktiv kritik. Särskilt i form av nya synvinklar som jag kanske har missat.

Detta är allt jag har att säga för denna gång.
Live Long and Prosper.

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Hi there. This is my third and most likely final video regarding the so-called donglegate. In this episode, I will discuss principles for how to let events such as conferences and festivals be friendly and inclusive environments for everyone.

For those who organize or otherwise help to uphold the event, there are three basic points to consider.

First of all, festivals need to have good rules. Rules that cover all kinds of bullshit. Rules that forbid rude and hostile behavior… without having any exceptions that make it permissible to be hostile to people who are being perceived as being rude or hostile themselves, but also without catering to trolling and flamebaiting. Rules that forbid public shaming. Which includes publicly shaming people for doing public shaming.

And also without having any exceptions that make it permissible to be hostile to other participants for belonging to certain categories of people. For example people of color, or white people. Women, men, or people who don’t fit into the male versus female dichotomy. Heterosexuals, bisexuals, homosexuals, or people who who don’t fit into that particular way of categorizing people. And so on. You get the idea.

The idea is to put a lid on overt and covert hostility, so that the conference or festival doesn’t turn into a battlefield – or into a place of silent exclusion that drive people away. People are there to learn, or have fun, or contribute, or all three rolled into one. Not to get subjected to people’s dysfunctional need for supremacy or attention, their need for silencing or for feuding.

As the second basic point, it must be unproblematic to report when the rules are being violated. Or when you think that the rules are being violated. You shouldn’t have to be sure. With unproblematic, I mean that proper channels must be available, safe and meaningful. Channels designed to avoid snowball effects where filing a complaint is likely to ruin the day, or worse yet life, for yourself or for the person you report.

Properly trained staff should be available and easy to reach. The staff must have procedures that handles problems quietly and efficiently. Being reported by someone – who isn’t making a habit of filing malicious reports – should always have consequences, although normally it should be consequences that are not hostile, hurtful or overly disruptive. Having a word with the staff representative should normally be enough. And normally the staff should not have to pick a side. Having a chat about it as reasonably mature human beings is usually enough. But it must also be possible to kick people out, in the few cases where it actually gets necessary.

The staff must dare to get involved. In the debates that followed the so-called donglegate, I was told a horror-story about another conference, where a participant was stabbed with a knife. She reported it to the staff… which said they didn’t want to make a scene. This kind of neglect do happen sometimes, and it severely undermines the authority of the organizers. When they need to take measures, they must do so. In the case of someone getting stabbed, the appropriate measure may be to get the police involved rather than dealing with it personally. But one way or another, the situation must be dealt with. And it must be dealt with by appropriate authorities, not by some individual or group seizing power.

This brings me to the third and final point. The organizers must never allow the event to be usurped by those who would make it their turf and exclude everyone who don’t belong to the categories they prefer or who don’t share the values they prefer. There will always be those who try to make a more public space into the more private turf for their own category of people. By making aggressive bids for power.

Or simply by taking up space in a way that is inappropriate, and is at other people’s expense. People who talk during other people’s speeches need to stop disturbing other people in the audience. Even if they don’t make “jokes” that make some of those other people feel unwelcome. But even more so if they do that, and especially if they might actually be aiming for making a certain group of people feel unwelcome at the event.

As in, cracking jokes at their expense. Or worse, misuse the event as a platform to spread prejudice and bigotry. If you are convinced that quote “niggers and faggots” unquote are inferior, you should of course still be welcome at a conference for computer programmers or whatever… But only as long as you leave your off-topic hostile values and beliefs at home! It is not the time and place to soapbox about how you consider yourself to be of the superior race or whatever.

When it comes to making people feel unwelcome based on race or gender or similar, everybody have the same right. But there are also at least two things to consider. First, is this category of people mainstream or marginalized at the event? Second, is this categorization relevant for the event itself?

At a conference for technology, it shouldn’t matter if you are a man or a woman or something else. It shouldn’t matter what your skin-color or sexual orientation is. Yet, a majority of the attenders are likely to be white heterosexual men. A vast majority, if you count these categorizations separately. This makes it less important to make sure that white heterosexual men as a group are welcome: They are already included, so included that they are in fact the norm and the mainstream.

At such a conference, it is more important to be inclusive to women, people of color and people who don’t conform to heteronormativity. Not because these people would somehow be more important or valuable, or more sensitive. But because they as a group are at risk of being excluded and being made the out-group – in ways that the mainstream and norm never have to risk and may therefore have a hard time understanding in the first place. Having one person pick on you and on everyone else usually hurts less than having a lot of people picking on you and on a few others.

At a conference for nurses, the gender ratio is likely to be inverted. 80% women, instead of 80% men. This event still need to show people of color and sexual minorities the same consideration as a tech conference should. And it also need to show this same consideration for men, as a tech conference should for women. Male nurses are marginalized in their field, so their needs need to be shown some extra consideration. Not because their needs would somehow be more important, but because the needs of the marginalized is more easily overlooked.

An event for women’s issues may have the same gender ratio as a nursing conference, but the context is different. Such an event need to take the same steps to make people of color and sexual minorities feel welcome. Men, however, only need to be treated with basic decent human respect.

There is no need to go out of one’s way to make men feel included at a conference for women. Unlike the female programmer at the programmer conference or the male nurse at the nurse conference, the man at the women’s conference is merely a guest. He is not really part of the crowd that the event is for, and should keep that in mind.

The same is true for heterosexuals of any gender, at a strictly homosexual event. However, when it comes to Pride Festivals, they are not strictly homosexual events, and have not been for a long time. These days, the Pride Festivals exist for a wide range of minorities of gender and sexuality identity and expression.

While heterosexual men as a group is not part of the target audience, a lot of heterosexual men are indeed part of the target audience – for one reason or another. I’m talking about Sweden here. There’s a lot of variation from country to country. Here in Sweden, we finished the big debate about trans people over a decade ago, and sort of finished the big debate about BDSM and fetishism last year. There are still some people who don’t understand including those particular minorities, or are against it – hence the “sort of”. Internationally, lot of countries don’t include BDSM in their Pride Festivals yet. Some don’t even include trans people and bisexuals.

Speaking of pride festivals, I would like to return to the issue of groups trying to usurp an event. At the Swedish Pride Festivals, we have had problem with anarchists or whatever, trying to harass the policemen and soldiers who participate in the festival. For example, a speech in Gothenburg 2012 was ruined when some activist who decided to disrupt the event wasn’t handled properly.

Should certain organizations, in this case the police and the military, be allowed to participate in pride festivals? Well, that’s a choice for the organizers, who by the way are an NGO with fully democratic procedures. It is not a choice for self-appointed dictators to make. And no, defining yourself as fighting for a good cause does not automatically make your behavior democratic or in any way honorable.

When people try to coerce others through being disruptive and verbally abusive, they often invoke some grand and glorious principle. Such as their right to feel safe, or their right to free speech.

Lets take two cases that has been constructed as a matter of the right to feeling safe versus the right to free speech. One is the one I just mentioned. The disrupter actually had the audacity to first go to a speech officially announced to be held by the police… And then complain that she don’t feel safe when there are policemen in the room, arguing that the people holding the speech should therefore be forced to leave the room. Extreme misuse of that concept, if I ever saw one.

A key issue here is how you view the principle that you always have the right to your own experience. Reasonable people regard this principle to be a one of the truths that needs to be taken into consideration. If you instead elevate it to be the one and only truth, then we are all welcome to your world of destructive bullshit.

Not only does it become okay to seek people out for the purpose of complaining that you are not comfortable in their presence. It also becomes a logical strategy for self-defense that you make haste to accuse them. If they feel unsafe in your presence as well, then whoever complains first is the one who everyone is obliged to side with. Right?

Does the police force have a right to hold speeches at the pride festival? Is that a matter of freedom of speech? No, of course not. Just like the rest of us, the police has a right to send in an application for holding a speech at the festival. If they don’t like that, or don’t get their application approved, they can hold their own festival or press conference or whatever. That’s their freedom of speech.

In this case, the police did get their application approved. Stopping them from holding their speech thus do becomes a violent act against freedom of speech. Not only against the police’s freedom of speech, but also against the very festival’s freedom of speech.

The other case I would like to bring up is the so-called “elevatorgate”. Just like “donglegate”, a horde of angry men at the Internet went berserk because a single woman at a conference behaved in a way that was not to their liking.

At 4am, a woman says she is tired and need to sleep. One of the men follow her into the elevator, and politely ask her to come with him to his hotel room instead. She declines, and afterward she politely but publicly mentions that she personally don’t appreciate that kind of behavior. She don’t want to be hit on, at least not cornered in an elevator by a stranger at 4am, when she just said that she need to sleep.

Cue a horde of men who never even met her, but consider her preferences to be their business anyway. Hear some of them roar: “How dare she say that she don’t like it when guys hit on her! Alone in an elevator at 4am or whatever… I have a right to hit on her whenever and wherever I want to, whether she likes it or not. And I have a right to think that she enjoys it, no mtter how she really feel. While she, on the other hand, do not have any right to express herself. If she opens her mouth, I’ll bring down hell on earth. That ought to teach that little female her place. And shame on you if you don’t like my crusade. Because that proves you are a feminist. Which is evil, because misogyny is only a myth. I am a man who has never seen any misogyny, which proves that it doesn’t exist.”

Meh. When talking about the woman in the elevator or the woman at the tech conference… The part I find the most pathetic is the people who did not only call her a narcissist who is simply desperate for attention… but who called her that, while chanting her name back and forth over the entire Internet. Hey, if you consider someone to be a troll… then don’t feed the troll. If you consider someone to be a narcissistic attention-whore, don’t contribute to making her famous. Yes, yes, I know that of the people I’m advising to not feed the trolls, many ARE trolls. Trolls who in some cases have a very creepy undertone of “But she wanted it! She was asking for it! They’re all asking for it all the time!” But there’s also a lot of honest people out there.

As for the true meaning of freedom of speech, it’s an interesting topic. So is the whole thing about havin a right to feel safe and not be stepped upon. I will return to these topics in the future. For now, I have talked long enough.

Live long and prosper

***

Hi there. Lately, a lot of people has explained to the world what “really” happened at the PyCon conference the other week. Each of us has constructed their own scenario for the whole mess.

The vast majority of us was not there. We have simply presented the case as we have envisioned it. Based upon what we have read and heard from various sources. Each of us told the story we found most likely and to the point, with focus on whatever aspects we found most relevant to our own views and interests.

By now, there are hundreds of different versions of what happened. Lots of storytelling going on. I guess the seats where the PyCon audience were sitting will live on forever in mythology. Just like a certain elevator.

My own scenario was a rather bland one. Person A this, person B that. Very little adjectives and judgments. That’s because I wanted to divert people’s concern away from the whole outrage. And instead towards pondering how cases like this are handled in general. I find that more productive than whether or not anyone involved in this particular case deserves to be called heroic or evil or mentally disturbed, or any of the many things that everyone involved in the incident has been publicly called over these last few days.

Today, I’m going to bring up two other scenarios. I’m picking the ones told by TJ Kirk and PZ Myers. Also known as The Amazing Atheist and Pharyngula, respectively. You’ll find the links below. Two very different stories, both being about a woman complaining about a joke between two men.

In the story told by TJ Kirk, the woman who complained had all kinds of hostile intent. In sharp contrast to her vileness, the guys who made a joke about dongles most certainly didn’t mean any harm whatsoever.

In the story told by PZ Myers, the woman who complained had only the best intentions. The guy who joked about dongles was not outright evil. Not like his adversary in the Kirk version of the story. However, in the Myers version, he and his friend are still the bad guy side of the story. They were not only rude and obnoxious, but also quote “TRYING to assert their dudely privilege” – end quote, my emphasis.

In other words, Myers describe the two guys as actively and deliberately taking hostile action towards the women of the conference. Although he does so in much softer and much more reasonable words than what I have seen from any of the guys who instead paint the woman as being the villain.

TJ Kirk and PZ Myers are not telepaths. I mean, I don’t believe that they are. More importantly, I don’t believe that they mistake themselves for having such suprpowers. And I don’t believe that they are trying to trick anyone else into believing that they do. No, these men are not truly claiming to be able to read the minds of the man who made the joke and the woman who complained. Instead, they are simply telling a story. A story expressing how they view the situation. Their view as outsiders, who as far as I know did not attend the conference – much less witness the incident in person.

Each version has a key story element that the other version leaves out completely.

In the Myers story, the guy told his sexualized joke not only loudly enough to be obnoxious in itself, but also perfectly timed to be hurtful. The Kirk story leaves out the timing, focusing on the joke being sexualized. Kirk makes a big deal about the woman having made her own sexualized jokes in the past. Kirk thus present he case as being an issue of women allowing themselves to make sexualized jokes, but not allowing men the same amusement.

The Myers story, however, does not focus this part of the story on the joker being a man. Instead, it focuses on the joker being a man who rather loudly tells a sexualized joke… “during a presentation that was about women coders”. Timing does affect the connotations a lot. This detail is not included in the Kirk story, letting the joker off the hook for a detail that looks quite bad on him.

On the other hand, the Myers story has it that the complainer tweeted the jokers picture to the organizers. This description makes it look like a private message. The Kirk story tells us something completely different: He portray he as broadcasting what basically amounts to “Hey everyone! Look at this guy! He’s an idiot! This is what a bad guy looks like, here’s his photo”… to an audience consisting not only of her own 13.000 followers but also everyone who was reading the official #PyCon hashtag.

Not including retweets or people forwarding the picture elsewhere. Including the complainer herself, posting the picture on her blog later. This detail is not included in the Myers story, letting the complainer off the hook for a detail that looks quite bad on her.

I don’t care whether or not Kirk and Myers hadn’t heard about these details, or left them out on purpose. It’s not their job to be impartial. And their real interest is hardly with the individual case anyway. Lets go back to their storytelling and to what they are really telling us.

Myers is telling us that a person who calmly send a complaint to the staff at a conference should not be criticized for that. Much less hated. Every conference participant has every right and reason to politely stand up against any other participant perceived as belittling other participants or breaking the rules. In many cases, it is even an admirable action, which helps making the conference a better place.

Kirk, on the other hand, is telling us that it is not cool to work up an outrage in order to draw attention to yourself. It is not cool to narcissistically believe that everything revolves around you. And it is not cool to publicly humiliate some random guy, even IF you have a valid reason to be angry at him or to have a very low opinion of him as a person.

These are messages I would never make a choice between. Instead, I wholeheartedly agree with both of them. To what extent each message applies to a certain incident at a certain conference, that is none of my business. And none of yours. What is our business… What should be the business of you and me and everyone else… is how these two messages are handled in the future. Each messages has applied to many cases in the past, and will apply to many cases in the future.

There will always be people who are rude, obnoxious, disrespectful and so on. They need to be handled, no matter whether they intended to behave badly or not. In fact, all humans make mistakes sometimes, and sometimes need to be called out on their bullshit. No exceptions.

There will also always be people who use loopholes in rules and social conventions to get away with harming and terrorizing other people. There will always be people who, given the chance, elevate themselves to being a self-appointed police, judge, jury and executioner. All rolled into one. There will always be people who see the world as revolving around them – as individuals, or as whatever collective they identify with.

Those who organize conferences need to listen to stories such as the ones told by PZ Myers and TJ Kirk: Realizing that both kinds of cases do happen… and are likely to eventually happen at the very conference they are organizing. The rules need to cover both kinds of bullshit.

As for PyCon, they are doing just that. They already had rules against the sort of behavior the heroine of Myers story complained about, and they are now also adding rules against the kind of public shaming described by TJ Kirk. Good work, PyCon.

Speaking as someone who has held speeches at several pride festivals over the years, I would like to add that I am STRONGLY opposed to the practice of filming or photographing “enemies”. As well as other antics popular among extremist groups of various kinds. Taking a photo to show the conference staff is one thing. Taking a photo to broadcast for public shaming is something completely different.

If we accept that kind of behavior from someone who does it for a cause we consider to be good… then we leave ourselves with very weak arguments when this same tactic is used in the name of causes that we are not so fond of. In the case of pride festivals, this tactic of using the smartphone camera as a weapon is most notably used by neo-nazis, christian fundamentalists, and other kinds of right-wing extremist groups. Normalizing such behavior would be good for those groups. And bad for everyone who want to enjoy the actual conference or festival, rather than the circus or battlefield some would have it turn into.

That’s all I have to say for now.
Live long and prosper.

***

Hi there. I’m going to give you a scenario. Lets call it a hypothetical scenario. Persons A, B and C are at a conference. As they listen to a speech, person A is not okay with overhearing a joke that person B makes to person C. Person A considers the joke – in context – to be against the conference’s code of conduct, and demeaning against a certain category of people. Person A thus contacts the staff. Which have them sit down and talk. Person B apologizes to person A.

What do you think about this scenario? My own thought is simply “So what?” Some people had a disagreement, and sorted it out. In the future, B and C are likely to abstain from making such jokes in public. Or at least to keep their voices down, so they don’t offend others. Maybe they’ll even rethink their views a bit.

Person A had three valid options. Staying silent, confronting the guys in a reasonable manner, or contacting the staff. All three options are acceptable. The preferable option, of these three options, is the one that feels best for person A. Simple as that. Do you agree?

What should happen afterward? Preferably nothing, in my opinion. The whole thing is over and dealt with. Time to move along and enjoy the conference. Do you agree?

After the conference, each of them make a blog post about the incident. In these posts, person B apologizes again, while person A makes a recap of the event. Including a photo of person B and C, taken and published without their consent. No other personal info, however. Posting photos to point fingers at people you think have misbehaved or you otherwise dislike… That’s a shitty move, but shouldn’t have to be a big deal. Politely ask for the photo to be removed, and that’s that.

So far, I have not mentioned gender, age, race or whatever of the persons involved. And I haven’t mentioned what the joke is about. Those parameters would be relevant if my question had been whether or not you felt offended by the joke. Or if I had asked you to judge how hard or important it might have felt for person A to speak up. But that’s not what I’m talking about. My previous statements are true, regardless of what categories of people A, B and C belong to. And also regardless of at what group of people’s expense the joke was made, or perceived to be made. Do you agree?

However. While my example is hypothetical, it is based on an actual case. And in this case, all sort of shit did hit all kinds of fans after the conference was over. The internet boiling over with hate, threats and flames over what happened at the conference. Denial of Service attacks against websites. Persons A and B both getting fired, apparently because their employers thought it would be the best way to stay out of the whole circus. Seriously… what the *BEEP*?

Firing either of them was entirely inappropriate, assuming that this incident was indeed what got them fired. If it’s true that person A got fired because some extremists did a DDoS attack against the employer, that’s truly awful. To reward terror and bullying is as immoral as it is spineless.

If you don’t know about this case yet, you still might be able to guess the involved persons races or genders by now. While not relevant for how to handle of the situation at the conference – everyone should be treated equally, you know – it is highly relevant for how things exploded afterward.

Yep. Person A was black and female, while person B and C were white and male.

If the races and genders been reversed, would anyone have been fired? Would there have been any Internet hate-storm or DDoS attacks? Personally, I highly doubt it. If anyone would have been fired, it would have been person A only. And if so, it would have been for posting the photo. Not for speaking up against a joke he found insulting, or for receiving a DDoS attack from some online jackasses. Firing him for the photo would also have been wrong, in my opinion. Just have him remove the photo and apologize. To fire him would at least come across as if they fire him for using his right to report perceived violations of the code of conduct. And that’s disgraceful. I’m sure many would have agreed with me. In any case. Would anyone have threatened anyone, or done DDoS attacks? Hardly.

Nope. It is when a woman stands up to a man. Or when a black person stands up to a white person. That’s when the craziness explodes on “Teh Internetz”. And it’s facking disgraceful.

One thing that annoy me quite a bit is the tribalism. People being up in arms, requesting that people take sides and make a commitment to hate person A. Or to hate person B, as the case may be. Hate, or at least demonize. One is required to divide this little conference incident into one evil villain and one heroic victim. We are required to assume bad faith, on the part of person A or person B. Portraying this person as having an agenda to oppress. Surely this must be some monster who lives only for the sake of hurting other people. Assuming that they BOTH acted in good faith ought to be the norm. But there are quite a few online spaces where that assumption doesn’t seem to be appropriate right now.

If I’m going to to assume bad faith about anyone, it’s not person A or person B. It is the people who did the DDoS attack and the people who fanned the shitstorm of rape-threats and death-threats et cetera. I think that some of those people were simply waiting for their next excuse to get that creepy little hobby of theirs on the road again. If any of those people attended the beginning of that conference, or otherwise heard the lovely opening speech, they might have been all the more excited to get up in arms.

For the record. Sending a torrent of rape-threats and death-threats to a man just because he opens his mouth would be just as bad as it is to do it to a woman. Would be. It is just that such a thing doesn’t seem to happen.

Yes, some men gets threatened sometimes. Hell, over the decades I have gotten my own share of death-threats from neo-nazis and communists alike. Totalitarians sometimes don’t like me. Regardless of what their excuse for totalitarianism might be. But that hardly ever happens when I simply point out that it’s not cool to hate or belittle a certain category of people, and that this does in fact include all races, genders et cetera. Including the one that they happen to blame all the problems in the world on.

It seems to happen only when I explain in some more detail why I think their worldview is bullshit. When I explain the conceit of their epic story about how they are heroes and everyone else in the world are the villains who deserve to die or whatever. I can understand why they don’t take kindly to that. My purpose is not to cause emotional distress. But I won’t shut up about these issues, just because some people are uncomfortable with having their views challenged. I can respect these feelings, although I can’t respect uncivilized expressions of those same feelings. Threats are contemptible.

In my direct and indirect experience, it takes quite a lot before a man starts receiving threats. For a woman, mentioning that there is something she dislikes seems to be enough. Also, nobody ever told ME to confine myself to the kitchen. Not even any of the totalitarian radical feminists and totalitarian Men’s Rights Activsist who freaked out at me over the years. They missed a good line of sarcasm there.

Anyway. A conference should be as pleasant and welcoming as possible. For everyone. Not just for certain categories of people. For this to be possible, three things are necessary. First you must be able to report, or politely confront, people who you feel behave inappropriately. Second, this action must have effect. But thirdly, the effect must not be disastrous – neither for yourself nor for the person you report.

From what I have seen, the conference did everything right. The employers, however, did not. Firing people because of such an incident is a really bad move. And so is firing people for other reasons during such an incident. If you are going to fire them, please wait until things calmed down. Those employers contributed to making conferences hostile environments for everybody. And they should have known better.

As for the people who insist on hating one conference participant or another… Please, get a grip.

***

Hello there. Today I’m going to talk about Evolutionary Psychology. To avoid confusion, lets start with a comparison to Evolutionary BIOLOGY. Lets call them EvoPsych and EvoBio for short.

EvoBio is the study of how life has developed on this planet over millions of years. This science uses not only fossils and such, but also the genetic code itself. You know, the genes of our ancestors still live on within us. And we, as a civilization, has the power to map these genes. To study and compare them. The world is full of unambiguous objective resources out there. So there’s really a whole lot to research.

The theory that life on Earth evolved over millions of years is very much like the theory that the Earth is round rather than flat. All evidence is consistent with the theory, and this evidence has been gathered for hundreds of years. It is very hard to argue for creationism or for flat earth theory, without using evidence that is falsified, manipulative non-evidence, or goes against at lest one of the three principles I mentioned in an earlier clip. These principles are that the universe exists, that the universe is not a conspiracy, and that the universe does not revolve around any particular person or group. If you openly state that one of those principles is false, very few will take you seriously. However, people often get away with breaking those principles indirectly.

For example, lets take this argument: “My father, or my church, has told me that life was created rather than evolved. Therefore, life was created rather than evolved.” If I use this argument, than I’m actually claiming that the world revolves around my father or my church. I could also make this argument more personal: “It is my belief that the Earth was created in six days. Therefore, evolution is wrong.” In this version, I am simply declaring that the universe revolves around ME.

It is true that our beliefs and experiences shape our worlds. It is true that each person’s subjective point of view is objectively true… in his or her own personal psychological reality. However, your individual psychological reality is only one of billions on this planet. The physical world exists independently of each of us. By claiming that the history of the physical world should conform to your personal beliefs rather than vice versa, you are claiming lordship over the world and over all the humans you share it with. Just because something is true for you personally doesn’t make it true for anyone else. Or for the world.

EvoBio is important not just for understanding how life developed, but also for understanding how it keeps developing. Which it does, all the time. That is the reason why you need new flu shots every few years, among many other things.

So, lets move on to EvoPsych now. The basic idea of EvoPsych is that our brains have a long development history. Our instincts and other basic reactions may sometimes be more adapted to the lives our distant ancestors lived than the lives we live now.

[Disclaimer: Please note that the EvoPsych I’m talking about is limited to understanding humans based on how our stone age ancestors (and their primate ancestors) lived. Some people use a MUCH wider (or otherwise very different) definition of Evolutionary Psychology than I do of “EvoPsych”. The critique in this video does not apply to them.]

This BASIC idea of EvoPsych is quite undeniable. Different parts of the brain has developed during different stages of our evolution. We sometimes react if we were animals in the wilderness. Basic flight-or-fight reactions are often quite out of place in our modern world. One might say that we are not as inherently civilized as we would like. However, we are also more inherently civilized than one might think. You see, our ancestors started using fire and simple tools a long time ago.

A VERY long time ago. Long before they could be called humans. They were Homo Erectus, not Homo Sapiens. In other words, there has never been a human who didn’t use technology. Well, maybe one individual human here and there, locked in a room, left in the woods or born with some defect.

But mankind as a whole has always used tools. To use and develop technology was the ecological niche for which we evolved. Using technology is entirely natural. If we are going to divide into natural and unnatural, then using technology is the natural – while ABSTAINING from using technology is the unnatural.

Making such a division at all is not a good idea. Human beings are natural creatures, and human behavior is by definition natural behavior. The concept of something being “unnatural” is a matter of superstition, not philosophy or science.

On a broad sweeping level, EvoPsych can be really good. It help us understand our place in the world. The basic fact that we are a part of nature. Our instincts come from nature, not from some sinfulness inherited from a man made of clay and a woman made of a rib. Our technology comes from our very nature as human beings, not from any deviation from some pre-planned garden.

However. EvoPsych is not science. Yes, yes, it do have two very sciency words in it. Evolution sounds very scientific, and so does psychology. Far more importantly, the BASIC premise for EvoPsych is based in scientific evidence and sound scientific theories.

When you move into the realm of actual research, however, EvoBio and EvoPsych part ways. Fossils, genes and biochemistry can be cataloged and studied in a fairly objective manner. Emotions and instincts cannot.

We, as a civilization, know very little about how emotions and instincts works today. We know enough, however, to realize that the simple explanations are mostly bullshit. Does genes matter? Of course they do! Does hormones in the womb matter? Of course they do! Does the social structures we encounter in our lives matter? Of course they do! It is not nature OR nurture, it’s an eternal interaction.

Here’s a fun fact: If you work out physically, the muscles in that part of your body grows. Likewise. If you work out mentally, the brain center for whatever you are doing grows. The mind and the biology of the brain are not separate from each other. Even if it was possible, it would not be ethical to grow human brains disconnected from the rest of mankind. Therefore, we cannot know where genetic heritage ends and social adaptation begins.

Also, keep in mind that evolution loves diversity. You see, evolution is BLIND. It cannot plan for the future. That is, it cannot foresee or plan for any specific events in the future. What it can “plan” for, however, is that unforeseen changes has always happened in the past, and will most likely always happen in the future as well. Having a diverse gene-pool does therefore maximize a population’s chances of surviving in the long run. In other words. Our evolutionary background is likely to give us predispositions for having a wide and diverse range of instincts, emotions and capabilities.

We, as a civilization, know very little about how emotions and instincts works today. We know even less, however, about how they worked in the past. Yes there are still some tribes of hunters and gatherers out there. But they are quite diverse, and they have had many millennia to absorb influence from agricultural civilizations. Genetically as well as culturally. What we DO know, however, is that our present culture has several centuries of misconceptions about the stone age as well as about nature in general.

When people talk about EvoPsych, they often talk about a pseudoscience of making things up and calling it a biological fact. For example, take a stereotype about men and women. Based on this stereotype, make two assumptions: Decide that men and women are really like that now, and decide that men and women were really like that during the stone age. When you want to “prove” one of these two assumptions, just use the OTHER assumption as your so-called “evidence”.

How do we know that the gender roles of American sitcoms from the fifties are the TRUE gender roles? Simple, that’s how Fred and Wilma Flintstone lived! Like it was in the stone age, so are our brains programmed to be today! And… how do we know that the actual people of the actual stone age lived like the fictional characters in The Flintstones? Well, those are the NATURAL gender roles, so that MUST be how they lived. All of them.

One might think that documentaries and history books would give a more accurate view of life during the stone age than cartoons such as The Flintstones. However, they are often equally bad. When a show gives a detailed description of the stone age social structure and lifestyle, these descriptions are educated guesses at best, and pure propaganda at worst.

Until recently, the documentaries about nature, animals and and stone age humans did not even try to make educated guesses. Instead, they simply pushed a heteronormative agenda on the audience. Teaching that the then contemporary but now outdated Christian morality about gender and sexuality was not only God-given, but also inscribed into nature itself. This vision was always a guess based on wishful thinking when it came to the stone age humans, and it was always a pure lie when it comes to animals. If you want to know more, I strongly recommend the book “Biological Excuberance”. I’ll link it in the description.

Generally speaking, EvoPsych works best when it stays on a very abstract level. Or is restricted to generate hypothesises to inspire actual scientific research. Or is used as a metaphor, to point out that whatever feelings and instincts a humans may have, these feelings and instincts are natural.

This works both ways: While it relive us of the shame imposed by certain dogmas, it also show us that “good” and “natural” are two entirely separate things. With even the most heinous acts being “natural”, we will just have to look for our morality elsewhere.

EvoPsych is NOT credible when it’s used to impose dogmas. Please activate your bullshit detector when someone try to elevate a certain set of stereotypes about race, class or gender to be universal biological truth.

Specifically, EvoPsych is often misused to fuel sexist beliefs that one gender is better and more moral than the other. Around the fact that women give birth and men don’t, one can spin fantasies about male or female nature. Tales where men are presented as inherently designed to exploit women FOR their wombs, or where women are presented as inherently designed to exploit men THROUGH the limited access to their wombs.

This sexism can be purely misandric or misogynistic, but it’s often both. Demeaning men and women alike, instead of merely one of the genders. In regards to actual science, these projects amounts to making a very big and aggressive hen out of a very small and inert feather. Invoking Evolution may sound more scientific than invoking God. And it might even get you closer to something that contain a grain of truth. Still. Invocations are not science, no matter what you invoke.

A few days ago, the cardinal of the roman catholic church in South Africa got a lot of publicity. He claimed that pedophilia should not be seen as a crime. This publicity has mostly been negative, and rightly so.

The cardinal fails to make the basic distinction: between a persons sexuality and how this person handles his or hers sexuality. These are not only two very different things, but also things that it is very destructive to mix up.

In the case of pedophilia and child sex abuse, the former is sexual attraction towards children, while the later is to actually approach children in a sexual manner.

People who fail to make this distinction when it comes to pedophilia will make one of two mistakes. They will unjustly condemn chaste pedophiles who stay away from children, or they will excuse actual child sex abuse. The cardinal is making this later mistake.

As I explained in a previous video, pedophilia is very different from other sexualities. Separated from heterosexuality, homosexuality and sadomasochism by the fact that children cannot give valid consent. Separated from fetishism, by the simple fact that inanimate objects don’t have any feelings or need for personal dignity to protect from sexual exploitation.

This means that pedophiles who are attracted to adults as well need to focus on this later attraction. It also mean that exclusive pedophiles need to confine themselves to fantasies and masturbation. Both kinds of pedophiles need to stay the hell away from children. As an adult, I can handle if a woman or ay man lusts after me or develop a crush on me. Children, however, are not ready to handle the desires of adults. And they shouldn’t have to be ready for that. Let them be children.

It is true as the cardinal says, that pedophiles can’t help being pedophiles. And that we shouldn’t blame them for their feelings. However, this does NOT excuse ANY form of child sex abuse.

What we as a society need to do is to help innocent pedophiles to stay away from children. Since I have worked a bit with rehabilitation of convicted pedophiles, this lack of preemptive measures used to be a big source of annoyance for me personally. The programs we had to offer is in my opinion quite good, but all the clients I had were men who had already committed a crime. They were not allowed to sign up for the program without committing a crime first. Some of them would have signed up right away, had they been given the chance.

Luckily, Sweden now has a hotline called Preventell. If you speak Swedish and have undesired sexual urges, please call them. If you know someone who fits that description, please give him or her their homepage or number. Preventell dot se or 020-66 77 88. If you know of such hotlines or similar resources for other languages, or better yet a global directory for them: Please notify me, and I will link it in the description of this video.

Pedophiles are not necessarily the monsters that the cardinal unwittingly portray them as in his misguided compassion. If it was true that they just can’t help abusing children, we ought to lock them up for life even before they commit those inevitable crimes. But those crimes ARE not inevitable!

Every heterosexual, homosexual or sadomasochist is required to stay celibate until he or she find a compatible partner for a mutual relationship on fair terms. For many, this means years without sex. Sometimes the entire lifetime. While this sucks, it is endurable. For pedophiles, there are no compatible partners. Fair terms for mutual relationships are not available.

This sucks as much for them as loneliness sucks for the rest of us. But many of them, probably most of them, are decent human beings. Persons who are able to control themselves. They don’t need people who indirectly tell them that it doesn’t matter whether they abuse children or not. They don’t need people who out of hate or misguided compassion tell them: “you might as well go ahead and live down to our lowest expectations”.

Preventing a case of abuse from happening in the first place is far better than forgiving it afterwards. What children need is that the pedophiles abstain from exploiting them. Not that the abuser says a certain number of “Hail Mary” after the deed is done.

A few days ago, I saw an interesting series of tweets from Zinnia Jones. It was based on the article “How I learned to hate transgender people”, which I link in the description below. The article described how Hollywood movies portray trans people as predators. Zinnia pointed out that transgender people is such a small group of people to hate.

She concludes: “I’m inclined to think much of this hate is rooted in the portrayal of our lives as more interesting and sensational than they actually are. ”

While this is certainly true in some cases, my personal belief is that most cases of transphobia has very little to do with stereotypes about trans people and their lives. It has even less to do with actual trans people and their actual lives. Instead, it’s mostly about stereotypes about men and women. Some people think of “men” as one narrow little box and “women” as another little box. Separate boxes. Clearly defined. Painted with a really broad brush.

A lot of people don’t really fit into those little boxes, which is very scary for someone who limit their thinking like that. What scare them about trans people is not what they are, but what they are not: They are not easy to squeeze into those little boxes of stereotypes.

This is the short version of what I have to say today. The long version is a bit more complex.

The two boxes I mentioned are an example of the thing called dichotomy. We try to understand something, in this case gender, by dividing it into two categories. These categories are defined by each other: To be a man is to not be a woman, and to be a woman is to not be a man.

While such dichotomies make it easy to get a quick overview, it is easy to get stuck in them. In this case, reducing all human to your stereotypes about what it means to be a man or woman respectively.

Generally speaking, dichotomy is that something is “either A or B”. For example assuming that every person is either a man or a woman, and either a child or an adult. In reality, parameters such as gender and maturity are sliding scales. Any person who refuse to see this will have a very hard time handling individuals who don’t fit their stereotypes of what it means to belong to one of these categories.

Richard Dawkin has named this phenomenon “the tyranny of the discontinuous mind”. Yet another article I’m including in the description of this video. However, the phrase “the tyranny of the discontinuous mind” is too long and cumbersome. Therefore, I call it dichotomism instead. For simplicity. Dichotomism is to get stuck in dichotomies.

Another such “ism” word I often use is Categorism. At the core, Transphobia, Misogyny, Homophobia, and Paraphobia are all the same thing. The same thing as each other, and the same thing as Racism and Sexism. They are different focuses of this same phenomenon: They are prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, marginalization, dichotomism, and so on against a certain category of people, or based on a certain categorization of people. In these cases against the categories trans people, women, homosexuals and other sexual minorities respectively. Or, in the case of racism and sexism, based on the categorization of race and gender respectively.

However. While different forms of categorism are the same basic thing, they often work a bit differently. Homophobia and misogyny are about in-group an out-group. It’s about dividing people in dichotomies and then putting one side on a pedestal. Heterosexuals being better than homosexuals, men being better than women.

Male chauvinists tend to define themselves against women. They have a narrow-minded misogynistic vision of gender. A vision that is so narrow that it leaves no room at all for trans people and gender-queer people.

Likewise. Heterosexists tend to define themselves against homosexuals. They have a narrow-minded homophobic vision of sexuality. A vision that is so narrow that it leaves no room at all for sexual minorities such as fetischists and people who are into BDSM. Minorities sometimes referred to as “paraphilias”, hence the word paraphobia.

Gender and sexuality intersects a lot, and heteronormativity is based on the same gender stereotypes as sexism. We can’t divide people into heterosexuals and homosexuals if we don’t divide them into men and women first. Therefore, heterosexism often includes quite a bit of misogyny or misandry or both. As well of the inability to comprehend the existence of trans people. A wide definition of heteronormativity includes narrow norms for gender identity, and monogamy, as well as limiting and reducing sexuality to being a matter of male on female penetration.

In my opinion, this wide definition is reasonable. I know that some people want to limit the concept of heteronormtivity to the cases where it excludes monogamous, vanilla, cis-gender homosexuals. This limitation is very useful for making these particular homosexuals appear more normal, at the expense of the polyamorous, the sexually kinky, the transgender, the gender-queer, and so on.

What I’m trying to explain here is a system where transgender people are excluded: Not just by being the unfavored side of the dichotomy, but being outside of the dichotomy altogether.

People make up a lot of negative stereotypes against homosexuals or in some cases heterosexuals. Against women and against men.

They do this because the other orientation or gender is on their mental map. It is not only on it, but it is a major landmark for how they understand themselves. For example identifying as heterosexual men, telling themselves that the very essence of their identity is to not be gay and not be female.

While a lot of people identify as heterosexual and male or female, I don’t think a lot of people identify themselves as cis-gender. Not yet, anyway. It will probably come more and more, as trans people and gender-queer people become more and more visible. But for now, trans people is not something that the narrow-minded in general define themselves against. Instead, it is something entirely outside the realm of their comprehension.

They can imagine themselves to be staring into the abyss. Further imagining themselves to discover, that the abyss is staring back. And that it has teeth. This nightmare of theirs has nothing to do with reality. Nevertheless, it is surely very real inside the minds that spawn it.

The article that prompted me to make this video describe how movies accuse trans people of being predators who emotionally harm cis-gender heterosexual men. However. While these movies do point fingers at trans people, I don’t think they actually *portray* trans people at all. Instead, it takes a “predatory male” stereotype, and slaps a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or even “incomprehensible chaos spawn alien” template on top of it. In other words, they use stereotypes not to try to “explain” trans people, as they would explain homosexuals by homophobic stereotypes. Instead, they try to explain *away* trans people, creating a narrative where the trans people are problematic without even really existing.

To eradicate transphobia, we need to eradicate the dichotomism that fuels it: The delusion that mankind exists solely as a cis-gender dichotomy between the male and the female.

Transwomen are simply women who happens to not be cis-gender. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. But to understand this simplicity, you must first come to peace with the fact that gender itself is more complicated than a simple dichotomy. There is no abyss. And therefore, no teeth.