Daenerys' Note: This is the last item in the LW Women series. Thanks to all who participated. :)

Standard Intro

The following section will be at the top of all posts in the LW Women series.

Several months ago, I put out a call for anonymous submissions by the women on LW, with the idea that I would compile them into some kind of post.  There is a LOT of material, so I am breaking them down into more manageable-sized themed posts.

Seven women replied, totaling about 18 pages. 

Standard Disclaimer- Women have many different viewpoints, and just because I am acting as an intermediary to allow for anonymous communication does NOT mean that I agree with everything that will be posted in this series. (It would be rather impossible to, since there are some posts arguing opposite sides!)

To the submitters- If you would like to respond anonymously to a comment (for example if there is a comment questioning something in your post, and you want to clarify), you can PM your message and I will post it for you. If this happens a lot, I might create a LW_Women sockpuppet account for the submitters to share.

Please do NOT break anonymity, because it lowers the anonymity of the rest of the submitters.

Submitter E


I'm a girl, and by me that's only great.

No seriously. I've grown up and lived in the social circles where female privilege way outweigh male privilege. I've never been sexually assaulted, nor been denied anything because of my gender. I study a male-dominated subject, and most of my friends are polite, deferential feminism-controlled men. I have, however, been able to flirt and sympathise and generally girl-game my way into getting what I want. (Charming guys is fun!) Sure, there will eventually come a point where I'll be disadvantaged in the job market because of my ability to bear children; but I've gotta balance that against the fact that I have the ability to bear children.

In fact, most of the gender problems I personally face stem from biology, so there's not much I can do about them. It sucks that I have to be the one responsible for contraception, and that my attractiveness to men depends largely on my looks but the inverse is not true. But there's not much society can do to change biological facts, so I live with them.

 I don't think it's a very disputed fact that women, in general, tend to be more emotional than men. I'm an INFJ, most of my (male) friends are INTJ. With the help of Less Wrong's epistemology and a large pinch of Game, I've achieved a fair degree of luminosity over my inner workings. I'm complicated. I don't think my INTJ friends are this complicated, and the complicatedness is part of the reason why I'm an "F": my intuitions system is useful. It makes me really quite good at people, especially when I can introspect and then apply my conscious to my instincts as well. I don't know how many of the people here are F instead of T, but for anyone who uses intuition a lot, applying proper rationality to introspection (a.k.a. luminosity) is essential. It is so so so easy to rationalise, and it takes effort to just know my instinct without rationalising false reasons for it. I'm not sure the luminosity sequence helps everyone, because everyone works differently, but just being aware of the concept and being on the lookout for ways that work is good.

There's a problem with strong intuition though, and that's that I have less conscious control over my opinions - it's hard enough being aware of them and not rationalising additional reasons for them. I judge ugly women and unsuccessful men. I try to consciously adjust for the effect, but it's hard.

Onto the topic of gender discussions on Less Wrong - it annoys me how quickly things gets irrational. The whole objectification debacle of July 2009 proved that even the best can get caught up in it (though maybe things have got better since 2009?). I was confused in the same way Luke was: I didn't see anything wrong with objectification. I objectify people all the time, but I still treat them as agents when I need to. Porn is great, but it doesn't mean I'm going to find it harder to befriend a porn star. I objectify Eliezer Yukowsky because he's a phenomenon on the internet more than a flesh-and-blood person to me, but that doesn't mean I'd have difficulty interacting with a flesh-and-blood Eliezer. On the whole, Less Wrong doesn't do well at talking about controversial topics, even though we know how to. Maybe we just need to work harder. Maybe we need more luminosity. I would love for Less Wrong to be a place where all things could just be discussed rationally.

There's another reason that I come out on a different side to most women in feminism and gender discussions though, and this is the bit I'm only saying because it's anonymous. I'm not a typical woman. I act, dress and style feminine because I enjoy feeling like a princess. I am most fulfilled when I'm in a M-dom f-sub relationship. My favourite activity is cooking and my honest-to-god favourite place in the house is the kitchen. I take pride in making awesome sandwiches. I just can't alieve it's offensive when I hear "get in the kitchen", because I'd just be like "ok! :D". I love sex, and I value getting better at it. I want to be able to have sex like a porn star. Suppressing my gag reflex is one of the most useful things I learned all year. I love being hit on and seduced by men. When I dress sexy, it is because male attention turns me on. I love getting wolf whistles. Because of luminosity and self-awareness, I'm ever-conscious of the vagina tingle. I'm aware of when I'm turned on, and I don't rationalise it away. And the same testosterone that makes me good at a male-dominated subject, makes sure I'm really easily turned on.

I understand that all these things are different when I'm consenting and I'm viewed as an agent and all that. But it's just hard to understand other girls being offended when I'm not, because it's much harder to empathise with someone you don't agree with. Not generalising from one example is hard.

Understanding other girls is hard.



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I am female, and (to a large extent) my experience agrees with Submitter E's. I'm glad to see this posted here, because after reading the other LW and Women posts, I had begun to suspect that I was a complete outlier, and that I couldn't use my own experiences as a reference point for other women's at all.

This relates to something I've been concerned about in regards to social justice discussions-- the discussions actively discourage people from saying that they aren't being hurt even though they're in a group which (probably) gets hurt more than the other group on the same axis.

While I can see discouraging people from saying "I'm not getting hurt, therefore getting hurt almost never happens/doesn't matter", leaving out single data points about not getting hurt leads to another version of not knowing what's going on.

Expressing truths which don't benefit the cause is seen as betraying it.

Reading both of your comments I am no longer confused although I still think that E was being a little self-consciously self-indulgent.

I found the anonymity-inducing paragraph interesting for a number of reasons. The submitter asserts that she's not like most girls, but then goes on to list a bunch of things, half of which, in my experience, most girls, including most self-described feminists, would also say about themselves. She likes looking pretty, and getting better at sex -- shocking! Within the bedroom, I also suspect a plurality of women are at least somewhat submissive.

Regarding "get in the kitchen!" -- submitter seems to be making an implicit connotative jump, because she likes cooking, to take it as if the sentence were simply equivalent to "Go do your favorite thing!" But that's not the connotation that is usually there. The people saying something like that usually mean it more like "Go do this thing whether or not you like doing it all, because it's too low status for males to bother themselves with it." That may not be the intended connotation of everyone who says it, but it doesn't take that many bad apples in the barrel to get people pattern-matching, so this is what more feminism-inclined people hear when they hear "Get in the kitchen," and that's w... (read more)

Regarding wolf-whistles and such, it seems like in an ideal world, we'd invent a new obvious signal, like a red bracelet or something, that explicitly showed that a woman enjoyed this sort attention.

If some women set themselves apart in this way with an unambiguous signal, I think they'd attract negative attention from people who disapprove of their attitudes.

It's possible they'd be at increased risk from sexually predatory men, but I think it's even more likely they'd be stigmatized by other women who take it upon themselves to enforce social norms.

That's why only "in an ideal world", methinks.

I realize that there are fields in which men seem to perform better. But I had thought this was usually attributed to differences in brain architecture, not hormones.

Brain architecture is significantly influenced by hormones during the gestation period.

Regarding "get in the kitchen!" -- submitter seems to be making an implicit connotative jump, because she likes cooking, to take it as if the sentence were simply equivalent to "Go do your favorite thing!" But that's not the connotation that is usually there. The people saying something like that usually mean it more like "Go do this thing whether or not you like doing it all, because it's too low status for males to bother themselves with it."

Also of "you ought to be feeding us because you're not important/competent enough to otherwise contribute"

I interpreted it in view of this: Which is to say, she feels fulfilled by being told to do something, and takes particular pleasure in it because it's something she's good at.
That is a plausible reading. At that point, I stop agreeing with you that she is typical of average women, however. In the grandparent, I agreed that a plurality of women are submissive in bed. I emphatically do not agree that most women I have met are secretly suffering from not being lifestyle-submissive.
I assume you're disagreeing with my top-level comment. I'll try to elaborate. "Submissive" has some heavily loaded connotation. Most women (I have met) prefer to have the man ask them out; this is submissive behavior. Most women prefer to be chased, than to chase. Most women in relationships prefer the man to plan and execute dates. Most women prefer to be asked to marry, rather than to ask to marry. So on and so forth. These are all submissive behaviors that aren't typically labelled as such, and most women don't suffer from not being submissive, they -are- submissive. That doesn't mean "I'll do whatever you want". It doesn't mean "I don't expect anything from you." It doesn't mean "There are no boundaries in our relationship, do whatever you want." Same as in sex, part of the dominance-submission framework is understanding what is and isn't acceptable, and ideally having some kind of framework in place (if simply communication - safewords in a sexual context as one example) for dealing with the boundary cases where it's not really clear. Dominance/submission aren't binary, they're pretty wide spectrums. Women, generally speaking, are on the submissive side of that. (Much to my chagrin, actually, since I'm a switch with a personal preference to be submissive. Fortunately guys are on the table for me as well, so that's not too much of an issue.)

Most women (I have met) prefer to have the man ask them out; this is submissive behavior.

This is not obvious to me. That makes sense if you think of it as hunter and pursued; you could alternatively view it as supplicant and bestower of favor.

Well, what percentage of women would you anticipate regard it as the former versus the latter?

I have no idea. Nor can I think of a good way to test this, since neither of us seems likely to accept women's self-reporting of the answer as an accurate reflection of what their system 1 is actually doing.

My wild-ass guess is that it's not even computing anything from scratch in the first place, it's just reading from a look-up table. (This doesn't answer the question who wrote that table in the first place, though -- but see this.)
I think that's actually the common model that sex is something women have and men want. So, which of the two simply depends on whether you're inclined to grant it or not, and on the side you view it from. This may be an unrelated phenomenon to dom/sub (or, alternately, the source of a dom/sub effect.)
That's an interesting "model", but it doesn't seem to be making any predictions here - it fits whether Wilde is right or wrong, so it's probably irrelevant.
Are you suggesting that "I prefer that you ask me for things and I get to say 'yes' or 'no'" is a submissive posture in general? Or is this limited to the kinds of romantic/sexual contexts you're talking about here? Either way, can you point me at some references for this claim? It seems pretty counterintuitive to me.
References for a subjective evaluation? Er, no. At best I might be able to pull some evidence together about how the average person evaluates the situation. But let's turn this on its head. Do you think the US president's veto power gives the president a dominant power position in terms of legislature? Who has more power over legislature - the president, who can say no, or the legislature, who get to determine the questions the president gets to say "No" to?
(blink) OK. If what you mean by "dominant" and "submissive" is a claim about how people feel about a situation, rather than a claim about who is able to implement their preferences, then I misunderstood your initial point and am content to drop the subject here. To answer your question, though: in practice the legislative veto situation is a lot more complicated than you present it here, because there are lots of preferences had by both sides that have almost nothing to do with whether the law gets passed or not, and often the law itself is simply a stalking horse. But leaving the specifics of veto politics aside, I certainly agree that there are contexts in which the person framing the request has more practical power (in the sense of being able to implement their preferences despite opposition) than the person acceding to or denying the request. There are also contexts in which the reverse is true.
How d'ya know that's not a biased sample?
I don't, which is why I made sure to make it clear that that was the sample set I was working with.
I like this idea, but it isn't obvious to me that the majority of wolf-whistlers will want to suppress their whistles when the signal is absent.
Not without enforcement they wouldn;t.
I've heard career advice for women to the effect of "If you are in a male-dominated field, you need to act more aggressive, or else men will walk all over you because of their different social style." Example: women get fewer salary increases simply because they don't ask for them. (This advice is sometimes given with the implication that this difference in social styles is culturally-enforced, rather than biological; I don't know which of these factors is more important in creating the difference, but it does exist.)
The salary effect isn't what I was referring to here, though. The submitter said the extra T made her "good at a male dominated subject." I took that to mean she is more skilled at performing her job than she would be otherwise, rather than that she makes more money than she would otherwise.
Maybe that was a bad example; the salary effect isn't what I was trying to get at, either. I think that that kind of gap in assertiveness could affect women's productivity as well. If you have trouble making your ideas heard in the workplace, then your effectiveness there is diminished. Being assertive about asking questions and taking more responsibility can build skills, too.
I really like the red bracelet idea. That could work for both men and women who want to advertise themselves as open to being hit on, whether or not they are actually available.

We have a tendency to escalate - if wearing a halter top could mean "it's hot out", some people will take it to mean "I want strangers to hit on me." If you wear a bracelet whose official meaning is "I want strangers to hit on me," some people will assume the wearer wants a step farther than that.

When Emma Goldman published essays in favor of "free love" (sex outside marriage) in 1910, she began to have trouble with men banging on her hotel door in the middle of the night, thinking that this meant she was sexually available to anyone at any time.

So my guess is that people wearing such bracelets would get more wanted attention but also more unwanted attention.

I would also expect some women complaining that men don't distinguish between women who wear red bracelets because they are open to being hit on, and women who just want to wear red bracelets without getting that kind of attention. And then we would have campaigns telling men that it's creepy to treat women with red bracelets differently. More generally -- sometimes signals are confusing because some people want them to be confusing. They want to eat their cake and have a plausible deniability about eating their cake, too. These people could be in a minority, but they will ruin the signals for the rest of the population. EDIT: Oops, this was already said here.
I also like the idea of this sort of thing, though I can see ways it could go wrong quickly. (In particular: instant high intensity rape culture against anybody who wears the symbol, leading to only the most extremely accepting people wearing the symbol). My mental worldbuilding involves both something a bit like this, and a modern both-genders form of fan flirtations.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digit_ratio
We did. It's called dressing provocatively. It's just it got ruined when a bunch of people decided to complain about people wolf-whisling those wearing the bracelet.

We did. It's called dressing provocatively.

It's just it got ruined when a bunch of people decided to complain about people wolf-whisling those wearing the bracelet.

Alternate hypothesis: Not everyone dressing in the way that you call "dressing provocatively" intends to dress that way with any such goal like that in mind. Large amounts of how people dress are culturally dependent, and many women dress for complicated reasons involving internal signaling to other women, not to men. These are only the most basic issues at hand.

And some people will wear red bracelets because they like the color red, and they like bracelets - or they'll start wearing red bracelets because -other- people wear red bracelets and it's the "in" thing to do (internal signaling to other women). And then other people will wear red bracelets to show solidarity with those who object to being catcalled while wearing red bracelets, and then the whole signaling gig is up.

This is the reason we can't have nice things.

I guess that in the hypothetical Prismattic was thinking of, there would be common knowledge that people who wear red bracelets enjoy wolf-whistles, so that wearing a red bracelet and not enjoying wolf-whistles would amount to lying. (Think of it like the rings people in the early 20th century in Ireland wore on their lapels in order to communicate that they were able and willing to speak Irish.)
I think you're missing some dry social commentary there: This is exactly how dressing provocatively was at one time regarded.
Highly culturally dependent though on what constituted dressing provocatively. In much of the Middle East for example, dressing provocatively consists of having one's face or hair uncovered if one is a woman. Even in some parts of the US similar standards apply. Look for example at Kiryas Joel. Even within the same small cultural group things can get complicated (if you want to have some real fun, get a bunch of Modern Orthodox Jews together and ask them what constitutes dressing provocatively, and you'll see an extremely wide range of answers). And that's before the other issues of signaling, practicality (e.g. it is hot out so I'm going to wear less), or other issues. And even the same people can have different notions of what counts as dressing provocatively depending on the social setting (e.g. walking down the street or at a beach). This is different than the ring which is substantially less ambiguous. And such signals do sometimes work in sexual or gender contexts, look at the signal systems used by much of the gay community (e.g. earrings and hankerchiefs).
The earring signal has been completely destroyed by straight people who got earrings because it was cool, and... handkerchiefs? What? A quick Googling immediately informs me why I haven't encountered this. This code wouldn't work where I grew up; Hispanic gangs use colored handkerchiefs as their own form of signaling. ...and apparently my white handkerchiefs I always carry with me signal that I'm into masturbation. Huuuh. Oh well. Getting back on track, the lack of cultural unity was not in fact generally a problem a few decades ago, before the internet. Each community could have its own standards and this wouldn't pose too much of an issue, and this is more or less the way things worked. This system dissolved long before television, which was heavily regulated (hell, they weren't allowed to show belly buttons), became able to seriously impact standards of provocative clothing. (I'm not arguing those were "the good old days" by any stretch of the imagination, mind. I'll take society as it exists today. But certainly we had this kind of signaling capability before and it was dismantled.)
Even at the time and within communities that nominally observed it, the handkerchief code was so convoluted as to be generally considered more of a joke than a real thing.
I think we're blowing things out of proportion here. Clothing, and appearance more generally, has widely-recognized signaling value in sexual matters, even today. It's just that the signals involved are quite a bit fuzzier than 'dressing provocatively means that wolf-whistling is welcome'. And it's not even clear that this is a bad thing.
Apart from wedding/engagement rings, can you name a single piece of clothing [eta: or ensemble, vaguely-defined or otherwise] with a widely-recognized heterosexual sexual signal? By widely recognized, I expect that at least half of all men, and at least half of all women, would know what it means?
I think you are overestimating pre-internet uniformity here. If for example one spent time in Crown Heights one would have Orthodox Jews, generic African-Americans (mainly Christian), and some Muslim African-Americans. Each group has different ideas of what would constitute provocative clothing. Or to use a different example: when I was an undergrad I was involved in an interfaith Jewish-Muslim group. One thing that struck me was that among many of the Orthodox Jews, women wearing pants was considered what you would probably call provocative, but hair covering wasn't an issue. In contrast, for many of the Muslim women, the reverse held (pants fine, uncovered hair immodest).
ಠ_ಠ The reply:
I'm not sure what your point is with those two quotes. Are you trying to say that OrphanWilde already addressed what I was saying? If so, the points are different: Orphan was discussing was how distinct groups have different standards. The point I was making that in small geographic areas one can have a large number of groups with different standards that all have to interact with each other. And the example of the Modern Orthodox showed, even within a small, superficially uniform group, there can be a lot of variation.
Sorry I thought you were pointing out something Orphan had acknowledged already - that's a different point. Retracted & upvoted.
Either those straight people by wearing those earrings were deliberately lying about their sexual orientation (which doesn't sound likely to me), or there wasn't actual common knowledge about the earrings' meaning.
That assumes that the straight people in question cared about what their piercings signaled. Given the culture of the group which popularized ear piercings in men, I'm not sure that's a safe assumption.
Well, if I really don't care about whether people will mistake me for a gay man, I won't complain when they do mistake me for a gay man, either, so there's no problem (except for the momentary confusion in gay men who were going to hit on me).
Not for you. There -is- a problem for gay men, who are no longer able to reliably interpret the signal. It directly raises the odds of rejection on the average approach based on that signal.
I wouldn't care about gay men momentarily mistaking me for gay, because there is an immediate opportunity to correct the misapprehension. Attractive women mistaking me for gay, on the other hand, would be problematic. If they never strike up a conversation in the first place, you never get the chance to clarify.
I'm not sure that's a problem. I've heard that women are more likely to start conversations with men they think are gay because they won't get hit on. There are PUA techniques based to initially pretending to be gay.
I had linked “common knowledge” to the wrong place, sorry. (Fixed now.) Do you mean that not only everyone (within a given society, except for tiny minorities of non-neurotypicals and the like) knew that people dressing provocatively were communicated that they enjoyed wolf whistles, but also that everyone knew that everybody knew that, and everybody knew that everybody knew that everybody knew that, and so on, so that someone dressing provocatively would immediately lose all plausible deniability?
Less specifically (that is, not referring to "wolf whistles" in particular), and more "a majority" than "every single person above -.5 sigmas of social consciousness", but yes. Hell, even as recently in the 90's, there was a difference between the way married people and available people dressed. Clothing is declining as a useful sexual signal.
If the minority who doesn't know something is large enough, you don't lose plausible deniability by doing that.
I'm not sure what using plausible deniability as a social metric serves in this case. People who wear a red bracelet without knowing what it means should be admonished, in a society in which the bracelet serves as a signal, not punished.
It's more a case of people arguing for their right to wear red bracelets without getting cat calls. Or possibly even women wearing red bracelets hoping to get cat calls from high status/attractive males, getting cat calls from geeks and using the plausible deniability to complain.

I don't think it's a very disputed fact that women, in general, tend to be more emotional than men.

I thought the present-day standard position among people who have actually thought about the issue rather than just repeating stereotypes is that men don't actually feel less emotions than women -- they just show less emotions, for fear of being seen as feminine.

I am reminded of this column. Summary:

I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else.


I thought the present-day standard position among people who have actually thought about the issue...

By 'thought about the issue' do you mean that someone has gathered evidence to this effect? Why do you believe this view to be more accurate than the old stereotype?

Here is a study about emotional changes in transgendered individuals as they go through hormone therapy . I think it's more accurate to say that women are more likely to display distress, whereas men are more likely to display aggression, than to say one that women are more "emotional". But there is almost certainly something which is more biological than social in origin going on here.
There is also a difference in which emotions are felt by (statistical) males vs females and even difference in which felt emotions the statistical males will show when felt.
How else would they estimate how much emotion people feel but by how much they can observe? Do they have measurements? I don't care much who has thought about the issue - I'll go with those who have measured it, and the prima facie evidence supports the original claim in my eyes.
Look at the people who you know privately, and how much emotion you think they actually experience, vs. how much emotion they show in public, and extrapolate. Noisy because of individual variations, but it's a starting point. The proposition certainly isn't impossible.
fMRIs. Or anonymous surveys, under the assumption that people lie less on them than the rest of the time.
Anyone got those FMRI measurements? As for surveys, I'd probably go with observation over self report. The possibility of accurate observation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for an expectation that self reports would be properly normalized.

This, right here, is my problem with feminism. This person isn't allowed to exist.

I don't think women should be required to be like this. Actually, given that I'm a switch, and tend to be unhappy in one-sided power relationships, I strongly prefer that not all women be like this.

But I also despise the position that women aren't -allowed- to be like this. Look at the response from some of the commenters - this person must obviously be a troll, because nobody is actually like this. Actually, yes, some of them are. Indeed, many, and possibly most. The average woman, in my experience, prefers a submissive role in a relationship.

The author of this comment is -most women I have encountered-. (From here on out, when I say "most", that is what I refer to, so I don't have to keep repeating myself.) Most women enjoy magazines like Cosmo. Most women enjoy dressing up, and are hurt when you would rather they wear sensible shoes than high heels. Most women want to be pretty, want male attention, want to be feminine.

Feminism doesn't stand up for these women. As a movement, taken as a whole, it actively attacks, harasses, and rejects them. There are a few who stand up for ch... (read more)

This, right here, is my problem with feminism. This person isn't allowed to exist.

What evidence do you have for this claim and what do you mean by "this person isn't allowed to exist"? It may help to keep in mind also that "feminism" is not a single monolith but a wide variety of different movements. So what form of feminism are you talking about? For example, most forms of Third Wave Feminism wouldn't have a problem with someone choosing this. The primary objection that this sort of thing comes up is thinking that a) all women want this or b) that this is inherent rather than potentially highly cultural c) that there's something wrong with women who don't want this.

The rest of your statement is similarly extremely overgeneralized. It sounds like your idea of feminism is an extreme version of some of the more problematic bits of 2nd Wave feminism which hasn't been prominent for some time.

I'll have to refer you to the women commenters here who feel marginalized by feminists. (I could also refer you to blogs by women who feel the same way, if you want.) Or I could just mention Sarah Palin and Margaret Thatcher, Gender Traitors. Feminism is a diverse movement, I don't disagree. But the face of feminism as a whole is one of hostility. A few good apples doesn't change the fact that the barrel is rotten. It's not an accident that a majority of men and women believe in equality, but only a minority identify as feminist. Feel free to point me in the direction of choice-positive feminist blogs, incidentally. My list has gone from six down to one over the past few years. Those six were the best I could find and five of them -still- couldn't refrain from hostility, either towards women, or towards men.
I fail to see the relevance of either of those people. We're getting perilously close to politics here, but let me suggest that the primary issues they had with those people wasn't their choices. In fact, both chose power positions that are traditionally masculine. There's no question that the face of feminism as a whole has been hurt largely by some aspects of second wave feminism. (I recently heard a story from someone talking about how in the mid 1970s she was kicked out of the main feminist organization because she had a boyfriend.) But the fact that there are self-identified feminists who approve of stay at home mothers or similar roles, or even are in those roles themselves is robust. See for example here. But Second Wave feminism really hasn't been that major for a long time. I'm not particularly inclined to play the "list blogs" game. To much of Third Wave feminism, the issue of choice in this context simply doesn't matter one way or another, so they don't talk about it much. One thus has the problem of where what one is going to see the most of is the vocal minority.
And yet they got attacked on those choices. Feminists attacked Sarah Palin for -not- getting an abortion. (That was sort of the beginning of the end for me, as far as respect for feminism as a movement went.) I don't disagree, except with your odd word choice there. (Did you change "evidence" to "fact" at the last minute?) That doesn't rehabilitate feminism, however, any more than a non-racist membership could rehabilitate the KKK. More, what exactly is the -point- in rehabilitating the label? Why does it matter to you that I, and many other people, regard the label as referring to a misanthropic belief system? What's so hard about picking a new name that doesn't carry that baggage? Do you realize that rehabilitating the name is providing umbrella protection to second-wave feminists? You realize what the halo effect does there? You're validating their views. You're making it -harder-, not easier, for society to move on from a destructive ideology.
What was happening here was a little more complicated than that. Some of it may, as you suggest, have been motivated by Palin making the "wrong" choice. But there were a lot of other issues. First, the child in question has Down syndrome, making it ethically unlcear whether it is even best to have such a child. Second, Palin used her own personal experience to argue against abortion and abortion rights as a whole. It wasn't like Palin was arguing "I didn't have an abortion but you have a right to one if you so choose". But the most serious issue here was likely the most common one: old-fashioned tribalism. Palin was a leader of the Greens, and so the Blues didn't like that. This is problem with lots of movements and by far isn't the only example where a large fraction of the feminist movement on a large scale has had issues with this (look for example how differently many feminists treated nearly identical accusations about Bill Clinton and Clarence Thomas). I don't remember making that change, but that word would certainly make substantially more sense in this context, so probably. So, I'm not sure by and large that 2nd Wave Feminism was a "destructive ideology" as a whole. It accomplished real things, and was a reaction to a much more sexist society. In the 1960s, in many US states, a woman couldn't have electricity and phone utilities in her name if she was married. Woman had trouble being accepted into science classes in universities and were treated poorly. It wasn't until the early 1970s that the entire Ivy League admitted women. Etc. But the general point you raise is an interesting one: When is an identity, movement or affiliation so bogged down by history that we're better off leaving the term out entirely? I think if someone had a German group that advocated lots of scientific research, strong central government, pride in cultural heritage, and expansion of autobahns they'd probably be correct not to identify themselves as "Nazis" for reasons completel
Which doesn't justify attacking her choice in the matter at all. MRAs - yes, but for a different reason. The men's rights movement is still unheard-of enough that few people have actual opinions on them. The reason I'd advocate -they- change their name is that I suspect a lot of the hazards feminism ran into was the gender bias inherent in the label. The Tea Party and Occupy movements are too young, I think, to recommend changing their names. That would just be capricious. They don't get to complain about the negative connotations if they're mining the word specifically for its connotations. That's just hypocrisy. That's part of the idea, yes. Dissolve the old structures and start anew.
Sure. But it does give a pretty decent explanation of what is going on and makes clear that this isn't useful as evidence for the initial claim (that she was being attacked for the choice made), when there are so many other circumstances,. (Feminism, like any other political movement has the same standard problems political movements have. This shouldn't be surprising and shouldn't be a specific strike against feminism any more than it is against any other group.) So this seems like one of the stronger(strongest?) arguments for changing the name of feminism. But at the same time, the MRAs have a serious problem: in the same way that some people have extremely negative associations with feminism, many have similar issues with the MRAs. If someone were to want to seriously deal with gender inequality issues in custody disputes, I'd strongly advise them to keep themselves away from being associated with the MRAs. Really? I suspect that most Americans at least at this point have opinions about both these two movements, and for many they aren't at all positive. See for example this study which shows that slightly under half the US has a negative view of the Tea Party. The difference here is connotations and having fuzzy boundaries, or a denotation of bad history. In this case, the connotations and denotations get sort of wrapped up. But it isn't unreasonable to use a term because it has some positive connotations and specifically use a variant of that term to mean "the version with these positives and not these negatives", e.g. "Third Wave Feminism" or something similar. So this means you can't benefit from the old structures. Worse, when one does try to do this sort of thing, people who want to smear your movement can still connect you to the old term and accuse you (correctly) of essentially changing your name for marketing purposes. And when one does this sort of thing, often the end result is that you still get the negative associations. (See e.g. the whole debac
Okay, who else moused over the first URL, then the second one, and immediately deduced what the Youtube video would be, without even bothering to check? :D
Actually, it is unreasonable. That's pretty much precisely what I meant when I called it hypocrisy. "Give us the accolades [for things we didn't do], but don't give us any criticism [for things we also didn't do, but this time because we didn't do them]." Especially when you then go on to complain about how unfair it is to be painted in the same light as your intellectual forebears. Well, if it's unfair of other people to regard you harshly for the actions of past feminists, it's equally unfair for them to regard you positively for the actions of past feminists. "Trying to have your cake and eat it too" I believe is the idiom generally used in these kinds of cases.
So, it may help to think of movements as sets of associated memes. In that context, it may make sense to say something like: "Instead of this version of movement A1, we're going to have slightly different strain A2, which has the following additional basic memes and takes out the following. Since most of the good results of A1 have been due to the ideas we are leaving in, please continue with those positive associations."
First, if you're dealing with minds -capable- of breaking it up into memes and dealing with them individually, why do you need the memeplex? Aren't you double-counting the positive associations? Second, suppose some -completely different- movement comes along, and takes all the good memes from A1, and adds something -bad-; stereotypically, and putting "feminazi" to a more literal purpose, putting Jews in ovens (in a gender-neutral way, of course). Does it get to use the "positive associations" for the good memes of A1? Supposing the good memes of A1 were -good enough- to balance out the bad memes of this new movement, FN1, is FN1 on the whole a good thing, even if A1, in its time, already did all the good that the good memes of A1 could possibly do, and FN1 can only have a negative impact? I don't mean to draw literal parallels between FN1 and any real-world ideology - my point there is that your position on the matter seems to declare that certain memes represent unlimited caches of "goodness" that any memeplex can draw upon. A hostile memeplex is fully capable of using these positive associations as a defense mechanism against criticism. (I do hint at a real-world analogy there.)
People deal with thoughts much more effectively as groups of associated thoughts. Similarly, movements work with groups of associated thoughts. The set of movements based on a single meme is pretty small. It may help to remember that these are movements that are trying to be genuinely politically successful. Yes, a hostile or dangerous memeplex can use similar techniques, but that doesn't make them intrinsically bad techniques (or for that matter any worse when one specific movement is using them.)
I'm just wandering past your conversation, but I think many people are just offended by the concept of men demanding rights - y'know, because they have enough damn rights already, and so on. That is, the very term "men's rights" has negative connotations even without negative associations (and probably contributed to those associations, via bias.)
Possibly, but as someone with lots of negative associations with MRAs, I'm not sure how big of a factor this is. I'm sympathetic to goals like making custody fairer or paying more attention to male victims of domestic violence. My extremely negative opinion of MRAs is based on what they're actually like, not an abstract skepticism that there could ever be a legitimate cause with that name.
Not abstract, to be fair, usually ... But yes, even those without such skepticism (like myself) tend to notice that the quality is, in fact, low.
No links in my pocket but I think I've encountered those. Maybe you were being to strict with the criteria? Few people could live up to that, I think.
If you mostly date within the BDSM community you might get an odd view of how many women prefer to submit. [Actually, more BDSMers, male and female, prefer to submit than to top IME, but men who prefer to submit are more likely to learn to top as well. Also, I think female tops may well be more picky than male tops.]
I don't. (BDSM is one of many things I regard as fun, and I'd hate to limit myself. Variety, and all that.) BDSM, and its community, gives me very useful language, which in turn allow for some interesting insights. (Odd how the ability to perceive things depends in part on the ability to describe that perception.) I don't expect most women would react positively to "Go make me a sandwich" - submissiveness is a pretty wide spectrum, and few women are in the "Give me a collar and orders, master" end of the spectrum. Mostly they're on the "Don't make me make the decisions" end. Somewhere between 60-80% (I'm giving the range of values found on Google, on the theory that at least one of them must have used good methodology) of women prefer a stay at home role. Assuming that our society as it exists regards this as a subservient role (I disagree that it is, but I find myself in the minority in every argument I've had about this, so I'm assuming mine is the minority position), this suggests a majority of women would prefer that role.
What search are you using? I'm not getting those numbers. In any case, most women don't stay at home entirely, even after children, though they might work part time for a few years while the kids are small.
"what percentage of women want to be stay at home moms" It's hard to sort through the chaff, but a couple of links: http://www.moxiemag.com/moxie/articles/perspectives/womenwhowant.html http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/09/12/is-opting-out-the-new-american-dream-for-working-women/ (It depends heavily on what questions are asked. I discarded surveys which didn't differentiate between working for financial necessity/security and working as the preferable choice.) Women don't, this is true. However, this appears to be out of financial necessity, rather than desire. (And there's a substantive question there to me - if women weren't working, would the contracted labor supply increase wages so that they didn't have to? Is the dual-career parental model a game-theoretic defection which forces others to defect in turn?)

If you discard financial necessity / security as a reason, how many men want to work?

http://www.gallup.com/poll/157313/half-women-prefer-job-outside-home.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=Business <- This doesn't satisfy my necessity/security criteria (and why the hell are the statistics -weighted-?), but suggests that men may be less likely than women to prefer to stay at home. Couldn't find a study which eliminated financial necessity/security, unfortunately. Google Scholar is worse than useless (or else I suck at formulating searches on this matter), and Google mostly brings up links to the increasing number of stay-at-home-dads (in our current economy, who is surprised?).
College educated women are more likely to want to work outside the home - perhaps women who can get more interesting/responsible jobs prefer that to looking after children. Women's preferences here may be to do with many low skill jobs being incredibly boring.
Perhaps also college educated women have a selection bias in favor of women who want to work outside the home.
Wish I could find better data on these things. Would also like to find out how the figures vary between countries that make it easy for mothers to work (eg Sweden) and countries that make it harder for women to work (eg the US).
What makes you think the US makes it harder for women to work? (Apart from the fact that we don't pass laws penalizing men for not taking [edited for accuracy - previously wrote one year, which apparently was only under consideration and not passed - not sure about the status of the alternatives of six months and three months which have more popularity] two months of paternity leave when children are born, I mean, which sounds to me like something out of a Vonnegut dystopia.)
It is easier for mothers to work in Sweden than in the US due to more childcare provision, more maternity leave etc. I'm not arguing that it's good that the state should make it easier for mothers to work,* but they certainly do make it easier. *I do think that that's the case, but I'd rather not have an argument about that right now.
Nobody actively believes this, mind. They just haven't thought about it.

I want to be able to have sex like a porn star.

Porn stars optimize for "sex" that looks interesting to a watcher, rather than sex that feels good to the participants. I suspect that's not what the anonymous author actually wants.

It does seem to have some effect on the performers' private life however. Here is a question from Matt Williams, answered by Courtney Taylor: [1] From the rest of the interview, I gathered that "civilian" was a bit derogatory. Just to say that doing porn may tend to raise one's expectations. Sure, they optimise for the viewer, but I'd be surprised if they didn't try and have fun along the way, just like actors in mainstream films. I'd be surprised to learn their knowledge and experience doesn't make them very good partners, should they optimize for that.
I don't know, if a porn star finds sex with non-porn stars unsatisfying, then I'd think they wouldn't be a very good sex partner for people who prefer enthusiastic, well-satisfied partners.
Good point. I can think of two possible workarounds: they can still have fun among themselves, or they can teach their partner whenever they engage in long term relationship.
Couldn't you make the same argument about professional basketball players? (tried to think of a professional cooperative sport, but couldn't find any examples) EDIT: Got one... hunting. Would you say someone was a bad hunting partner because they are accustomed to hunting with people who know how to move silently through the forest and not give away the position, and are frustrated hunting with novices? The novice would likely enjoy the experience, since they get to pick up skills and stuff.

I sometimes suspect that my own life would be easier in a number of ways if I were female, but I'll note that when I and other people I've known to discuss the question consider the pros and cons, we usually seem to consider by default what it would be like to be an attractive woman. A lot of the ways in which "women have it better" really seem to apply only to women who're particularly good looking.

(Of course, I like to think I would be a good looking woman, but I'm a bit vain as it is.)

... Not sure if you need to be particularly good looking, just > -0.5 sigma.

I think there's a pretty big difference in experience between being a good looking woman and being an average looking woman. Nerdy men may be less picky about women's looks, and expect other men to be also, but women who're particularly good looking attract a whole lot more attention than women who're about average.

But it's just hard to understand other girls being offended when I'm not, because it's much harder to empathise with someone you don't agree with

I think it's less of an opinion disagreement and more of an experience disagreement.

For example - in middle school and high school, I experienced extensive racism at least twice a month, sometimes involving physical violence. I was pretty angry about the whole thing, My race was affecting my life negatively, and I thought that society was deeply, deeply fucked up to harbor these beliefs. I got angry whenever people displayed ignorance.

In college, I experience racism directed at me only about twice a year - and none of it is ever violent. My attitude about race in my current situation maps well with your attitude about gender - I don't think it really affects me negatively, in fact it has a few advantages, and many of the stereotypes actually do apply to me and I won't fault people for making assumptions. If people display ignorance now, I just take it as part of how they were raised - it's not any barrier to friendship.

I've had both experiences, so I can relate to either situation. If I had only had bad experiences, it would be hard fo... (read more)

I'm complicated. I don't think my INTJ friends are this complicated

I'm more complicated than I (think I) show to people, and I kind of assume that most people are the same, so I wonder how you'd determine this.

I think "complicated person" here means "A person who has many conflicting motives". If we follow the MBTI's notions (which we probably shouldn't) an INTJ would be less in touch with what they want, but once they figure it out they are able to work out which actions would lead to logical consequences that further the desire. Because of this they are good at explaining the reason for the actions that they take. In contrast, an INFJ would be extremely in touch with what they want, but would act directly on what the feelings said. They would often be at a loss to explain the reasons behind the actions that they took, beyond "My feelings told me to". Thus, from an INFJ perspective, it would appear that one who can explain the reasons for nearly everything they do in a few simple sentences must therefore have simple motivations, when in fact what is actually happening is that in the INTJ the more subtle motivations simply remain unexpressed.

Home Comforts is a book by a woman who is suited to homemaking by temperament and upbringing, but who went to college when women weren't supposed to care about making a pleasing environment to live in.

The first section ("My Secret Life") is about how she decided to come out about homemaking, and how much pressure she was up against.

This is the first of the LW women posts which seemed promising to me after the first paragraph. However why use the myers-briggs? Sure, it is not total bollocks but come on, this is LessWrong.


Eh. I've been known to use the Harry Potter house metaphor occasionally (though not, as best I can recall, here), and I find it attractive mainly because it's a casual and vaguely silly typology on its face: it gives a useful shorthand for stuff like "conviction-driven personality; values justice and courage" or "ambition-driven personality; values winning" without pretending to be anything more than that.

The MBTI's dressed up in more scientific clothes, and if I used it in the same contexts I'd be giving the impression of more rigor than I've actually got -- but it's got too many internal problems for me to use it when I actually need rigor.

(This is sorta tangential to your comment, Nornagest, but to express the emotivation behind my original comment: sure, MBTI is a scratched up magnifying glass, not a microscope, but magnifying glasses can be pretty handy and there's no reason to scoff at them. Not that you (Nornagest) were sneering at MBTI, but a lot of folks do and it strikes me as masturbatory.)
One problem with HP/HPMOR house is that even in HPMOR some of the houses sound awesomer than others. (Subjectively).
Which ones precisely? (I am reminded how Gryffindor is glorified in HP to the extent that even Hermione is put in there whereas HPMoR tends to present it as the least of the four.)
Broader than 'awesomeness': Hufflepuff doesn't seem very awesome, people might not feel they deserve Gryffindor or Slytherin, to a certain naive sort of person Slytherin sounds about the way it does in canon!HP and to a certain sort of cynic Gryffindor sounds even worse than it does in HPMOR.
I don't know, Hufflepuff seems pretty awesome to me; they're the people most likely to Get Shit Done.
They're also poorly defined. I'm not sure if they are "conscientious", "Kind", difficult to classify, or lacking traits of the other houses. If it's conscientious, Hermione belongs there and Neville does not. I prefer "Kind", because that is the trait that complements the other houses nicely - in real life, human motivations do seem to classify nicely into [ambition, altruism, knowledge-seeking, justice-seeking] ...but both the cannon and hpmor seem confused on whether Hufflepuff is "altruistic" or simply "rule abiding"...

Furthermore, I hope that the women of LessWrong do not perceive any downvotes or negative comments as a general dislike for them. I feel that most downvotes and comments are aimed at the content and the execution of the idea not at women as a whole or even the women behind the posts.

I find Myers Briggs usefully predictive. Similar to what Haidt is doing with emotion. Is it something to snicker at around here?
This is a good starting point for finding out what is wrong with myers-briggs (the most important paragraph is the third if I am not mistaken). Sure it usually seems predictive to you but this is at least partially due to the Forer effect. The in thing right now (and for the last two decades) is the Big Five/OCEAN.
I/E is obviously a thing. S/N has big correlations with g so it's obviously tracking something. F/T is perhaps less obvious statistically(?) but introspectively and anecdotally-observationally still pretty clear, and P/J is the most questionable and confusing part of MBTI so I won't defend it. Hypotheses and conceptual frameworks shouldn't be pet causes.
Data: Wikipedia claims E/I is very correlated with E, S/N is very correlated with O, F/T fairly correlated with A, J/P fairly correlated with C and somewhat correlated with O, and Neuroticism isn't measured in MBTI. So this backs up your claim that P/J doesn't measure any concrete "thing". Clicking through the citation gives that N is not well-correlated with anything in men (a tiny bit with E/I), and somewhat correlated with the F/T in women. Also F/T has a small effect on extraversion in men, but it's S/N and J/P which has the effect on women.
This abstract follows the Wikipedia excerpt: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0191886996000335
As far as I know S/N as measured by MBTI does not have big correlations with anything and it doesn't even correlate with other scales designed to measure the same type of thing(intuitions etc.). Same for F/T.
"High correlations with comparable scales of other instruments" seems to be an odd metric to demand - is there some reason this would imply a flaw in Myers-Briggs rather than a flaw in the other instruments or simply that they're measuring different things? The second paragraph's criticism that Myers-Briggs scores aren't bimodal is something I find even more baffling. I wouldn't have expected any accurate test of non-sexual human behavior to show bimodal results, but I would expect the results of any test to be oversimplified into "you're more/less X than average" categories. The Forer effect probably is a significant factor in people's appreciation of Myers-Briggs, though. And the criticism of its dependence on honest self-reporting hits close to home: when I took a few versions of the test long ago, I found that where I fell on the J/P scale seemed to be heavily determined by what fraction of the questions were phrased as "do you try to X" versus "do you typically X".
This is the usual modus tollens/ponens question: just pointing out inconsistency (low correlation) doesn't tell you who to favor. In this case, the argument for rejecting MBTI rather than the others would go something like 'it has a highly questionable origin and does not seem to measure anything interesting; the other scales have good theoretical justifications in their areas or were derived directly from the data, have demonstrated various forms of usefulness like predicting relevant behavior, and are less likely to be collectively wrong than MBTI uniquely correct' As for measuring different things, well, then you get into other things like the lower psychometric reliability of MBTI compared to Big Five - if a instrument is not reliable, then it may be measuring nothing of interest.
This is how you typically meassure test validity.
I don't know about snickering, but here's something that has me knocking my head against the wall:
Indeed, that is interesting, especially given that the first published MBTI preceded the first modern publication of Big Five by something like 20 years. (On the other hand, psychologists are known to be able to see into the future as their invariably-successful-in-disproving-the-null experiments demonstrate.)
Unfortunately, once we're talking about snickering, I'm not confident I can infer why you're banging your head against the wall. I only read one of five pages, but your quote was what stuck out to me. I'm disappointed at the academics turning away from doing research on a huge already measured base. If they found out anything useful, they would be creating value for a huge number of people. Reading more, I'm probably more annoyed at the intellectual property racket that has grown up around it. I think I recall early internet years where the place I originally took the test was shut down under legal threat.
The extended self-reinforcing lack of research is what got to me. The intellectual property angle doesn't bother me as much.
Ok. I share the first, and see the second.
Sometimes, but not justifiably so. (I would snicker at the claim that MBTI is the optimal way to categorize personality traits, or even a claim that it is close to optimal. But I certainly wouldn't snicker at people finding it useful given that it is what they have.)
I wouldn't think it's optimal either. Certainly better to do measurements and verify predictions in a controlled manner, but not all evidence comes in plecebo controlled double blind trials. I like the move of at least some interpretations of breaking open the black box of personality in terms of finite function and attention that imply limitations and tradeoffs.
Well, there's the Big Five...
I approve of the methodology used to construct Big Five. Specifically the part where there actually was one. I'd be a little surprised if the submitter happened to have access to big 5 test results for a sufficient number of peers for it to have been significantly useful for her. Most people don't. In such cases I don't sneer at use of MBTI nomenclature because it is being used as a partial replacement to implicit 'common sense' cultural psychological nomenclature that is inevitable in any human language and which is even less rigorous.
I guess most people don't have access to MBTI test results for their peers, either, so that's not a good reason to prefer MBTI to Big Five.
Well, in my experience they're frequently self-reported on forums, social networks, etc. And - again, in my experience - knowing people's MBTI (with some confidence that they're honestly reporting actual results from a real test) is certainly better for very broadly predicting someone's personality (and constraining expectations about at least their social actions, so not just Forer effect) than their star sign or political affiliation (barring the more extreme options... although I have seen a few fascists who were just generally confused and alienated and liked cute things) or religious self-identification or whatever!

The most blatantly racist/sexist/whatever people tend not to be the truly powerful; they tend to be marginal members of privileged groups, seeking scapegoats and any distraction from their marginal status. But everybody is biased in favor of those who they can get along with, those who think similarly, who they can understand and who can understand them. The truly powerful all have that bias, like everyone else. And so people with the same backgrounds as the powerful are more likely to fit in, to benefit from this bias. But some people are just good at fitting in, even without the similarity of background. Such people are likely to underestimate the general influence of privilege. And their existence also makes it easier for members of privileged groups to underestimate their own privilege; they have examples of people from marginal groups who they get along with perfectly well and who seem to do fine to show that they or the system couldn't really be all that biased against such groups.

And, of course, there are people who are no good at fitting in regardless of similarity of background, who aggravate everyone because of poor social skills or whatever. They also don't benefit from the bias in favor of those who fit in, so if they're members of privileged groups they become convinced that privilege is a myth (since it doesn't seem to be helping them) and they become MRAs or white supremicists or whatever.

So what your trying to argue is that the effect of privilege is not as strong as critical theorists claim, and that this is a problem because in causes people to believe that the effect of privilege is not as strong as critical theorists claim.
While I found your comment hilarious, I'm not sure it's the most friendly interpretation of the argument. I interpreted more as "Some forms of privilege can be circumvented through other forms of privilege, which leads to people incorrectly gauging the impact of the original form of privilege."
Do you have proof of this assertion? Maybe, say, a stronger statistical correlation between minority success and social ability and non-minority success and social ability?
I'm afraid not. I suppose my best reconstruction of my thinking is that there is ample evidence of high levels of bias against marginal groups, often in cases where those involved appear to be unaware of it. Further, I know anecdotal cases of people like E who seem to fit the pattern. It occurs to me that I don't have statistical evidence for the other side of my theory either; I've frequently encountered the observation that the MRAs/white supremicists/anti-semites/etc., the various hate group types, are disproportionately losers, but I don't think I've seen any actual studies which demonstrate such a correlation[1]. In any event, I've presented what seems to me to be a plausible explanation of part of people's tendency to underestimate bias against members of marginal groups. Still, people are prone to all sorts of highly inaccurate reasoning, as we so often discuss around here, and perhaps no special explanation of the tendency to underestimate the effects of bias is needed beyond that it's the kind of complex phenomenon people aren't very reliable about assessing. So of course you're right that some relevant studies would be welcome. [edit] I suppose I can think of one example that isn't just personal anecdote. I've encountered an observation from feminists doing history of philosophy that there are a number of examples of women who were highly respected thinkers in their own times, despite the prevailing climate of sexism, but their influence tended not to extend beyond their lifetimes. It seems that could be a result of personality overcoming the effects of bias, with bias reasserting itself among later people who were never exposed to the personality, though admittedly that's hardly the only possible explanation for the pattern. [1] For example, Sartre makes this observation in "The Portrait of an Anti-Semite," and Nietzsche made similar observations which may have influenced Sartre, but of course neither ever did controlled studies of anything.
That's part of why I often think that it would be better to provide diverse spaces rather than slay heroes.

I've read all the "LW Women" posts now, and I still don't see that anything useful has come from them. The submissions never really add up to more than a series of often contradictory anecdotes. Due to the small number of submissions overall and the obvious selection effects, there is little reason to think of generalizing any kind of lesson from them. Since the posts are anonymous, they aren't even useful for generalizing to one person.


Falsifying most or all simple hypotheses is extremely useful.

They can still point at certain regions in hypothesis-space that certain people may have never thought of before.

Was there something in particular you were hoping to learn from them? I don't think the point of the exercise was to get an accurate profile of the female demographic on LessWrong, but to give people who wanted to speak up, a chance/incentive to do so. The submitters would probably not have posted the submissions on their own without the prompt, but they did submit these when they saw were prompted. The anecdotes may be more useful when you consider that someone felt like she should say it. If nothing else, the contradiction in the anecdotes hints that there is no universal element among women that drives them away from LW.
I think they're all useful. People rarely really share their full opinions on social matters, and seeing them and discussing them together has been instructive, IMO. We discussed generally taboo subjects, and I found it useful.

So do these female submissions get some sort of prompt to respond to? Or are they just "Hey, you're a girl! Write whatever!" I'm trying to understand how to read some of these details.

Thanks for the link! It makes it much clearer to me how this project started.

Feel free to discuss any gender-related issues that you find relevant, especially responses to the questions that are posted in the thread below by your fellow LWers. [...] It is ok if they are half-formed, stream-of-consciousness writings.

However, I'm wondering if we would make more progress on gender issues if these submissions were structured essay prompts that requiring more argument or analysis? For example, a weekly (monthly?) gender-related question prompt with compiled responses. I ask because my reaction upon seeing this post was that this person is probably just sorta rambling about themselves, but if they were trying to make a cohesive point, then it would be kind of an unflattering one. Now that I have more reason to think that it's most likely the first option, I'm wondering if there's room for more structured posts.

An example of a gender-related writing prompt might be:

Do you believe that flirting with others is an ethical means of accomplishing non-sexual goals? Please define your terms and provide examples to illustrate your stance.

It's also gender-neutral, so anyone could respond? I guess the examples might be anecdotes that might require anonymity, but then the authors can use analogies instead.

If you think it's a project worth doing, you should go ahead and do it! :)
I'm both waiting around to see if anyone wants to write up an answer to the flirting question, while also thinking about whether some gender relations questions can first be decomposed into a series of well-written polls, so we could see which issues are the most contentious. Can polls be embedded into top-level posts?

generally girl-game my way into getting what I want. (Charming guys is fun!)

I'm trying to unpack this sentence, I think it means something like this: "I signal sexual availability so that males will offer me favours in exchange, but I have enough plausible deniability so that I don't have to follow through" plus "whenever a male accepts such an exchange, I get a self-esteem boost". I don't know if such an interpretation is generally what other people have in their minds.

my attractiveness to men depends largely on my looks but the i

... (read more)

I'm trying to unpack this sentence, I think it means something like this: "I signal sexual availability so that males will offer me favours in exchange, but I have enough plausible deniability so that I don't have to follow through" plus "whenever a male accepts such an exchange, I get a self-esteem boost". I don't know if such an interpretation is generally what other people have in their minds.

Just a bit of personal experience / observation / commentary:

Your interpretation is the Evo side of the Evo-Cog boundary. The cognition (adaptation-executer) side of it is that when a young appealing-to-the-target woman "girl-games", it triggers conditions where the targeted man (or men) executes adaptations that survived in human genetics that make him act more friendly and helpful towards the woman, or make him feel valued (which for other reasons explained in a previous post on Dark Arts that I can't find, incites reciprocation by doing things of value to the other person) and therefore already situated in a different type of social interaction where it appears more advantageous (to the subconscious) to cooperate.

Basically, yes to your interpretation in ... (read more)

Well, I am imagining it's something along the line of "I'll give you a kiss if you get me a soda from the fridge." Guy: You mean I just have to walk over to the fridge and I get a kiss? Score! Girl: You mean I just have to give out a kiss while sitting and I don't have to get up and get my soda? Score! I mean, if my wife said "I girl-game my way into getting what I want (Charming you is fun!)" That's what I would assume she meant. Of course, you CAN girl-game your way to a favor with Sex, but I would imagine you usually don't need to go anywhere near that far for much smaller favors. That being said, I'm thinking of already being in a relationship. I'm not entirely sure how this would work on a flirting with an unattached person level, since I don't recall ever receiving much flirting before I was in a relationship.
Oh, I had in mind this picture instead: "I'll give you a kiss if you get me a soda from the fridge." Guys fetch the soda, girls walks away with the soda. In my experience, I've seen plenty 'egalitarian' exchanges between two engaged people, while I've never ever seen such an exchange between a girl flirting with a stranger. I wonder which was the intended interpration...
If it is explicit, is it really a "game"? Sounds more like "I sure could use a cold drink right now" smile wink shoulder rub etc.
I interpreted the sentence as saying, "a certain class of Dark Arts are easily available to me, and I use them to get what I want".

Understanding other girls is hard.

Understanding people is hard.

The post does seem to imply that she finds understanding men easier.

That's an interesting question: is exploiting (neutral connotation) men a way of understanding? Intuitively, the answer would be no, but on the other side, hackers are often very knowledgeable about the systems they hack.

Apropos of everything else, I would just remark that Submitter E should've taken way more care of staying pseudonymous. [Details redacted]

Also, it's a bit disturbing and creepy to see a woman conflating her private sexual and lifestyle preferences with internet quasi-ev-psych and PUA jargon. I've read quite a few good blog posts by women who talk of combining feminist views on society and gender roles with a personal desire for performing traditional femininity and a submissive role in a relationship/BDSM.

This whole matter is hardly a paradox at all; pers... (read more)

Regarding PUA jargon...

I'm female and submissive and I've always been attracted to guys about eight years older than me. (When I say "always", I mean since my first serious crush at age 13.) My parents are feminists, they're the same age as each other, and they strongly believe in power equality in relationships. Thus, growing up, I always thought there was something terribly wrong with me.

In college, I learned about PUA and alpha males an all of that. Suddenly, here was an ideological system that treated my desires as natural instead of perverted. I was immediately entranced, and began to read PUA blogs very seriously. I saw a lot of truth in the PUAs' discussions of male-female interactions. From what I could tell, feminism was just another optimistic belief system built on a very common but very rotten foundation: the idea that humans are rational creatures, that our rationality elevates us high above our brutal and bestial forebears. I saw that while we may have intelligence and cunning far exceeding that of our ancestors, we often use that intelligence to serve animal aims - for instance, procreation. I had many supposedly just-friends relationships with g... (read more)

From what I could tell, feminism was just another optimistic belief system built on a very common but very rotten foundation: the idea that humans are rational creatures, that our rationality elevates us high above our brutal and bestial forebears.

I believe that at least a large part of feminism was created by women who were unhappy in an environment which didn't suit their personalities and/or made it very easy for men to abuse women.

Suddenly, here was an ideological system that treated my desires as natural instead of perverted.

Revolutions generally come with from an impulse to throw off imposed ideals, but usually end up imposing new ideals. The king is dead. Long live the king.

The desire for freedom is freedom from a constraint, and doesn't allow the naturally coalition building and power accretion of those who would impose constraints.

...I'm not really sure why I'm telling this story.

My guess - you saw the value to yourself of seeing your views not being portrayed as perverted, and took the opportunity to give the same kind of support to others who might feel that way.

I think PUAs' essentialist explanations are correct statistically, the way men are taller than women statistically, but there still are quite a few five-foot-six (1.68 m) men and five-foot-eleven (1.80 m) women.
In the interests of luminosity, to what extent do you believe this statement is an example of the naturalistic fallacy? That is, if feminism is an ethical stance, then it is concerned with how people ought to act, not how they do act. Your justification of PUA seems to be that it better describes reality, which wasn't the goal of feminism to begin with.
Most of the ethical claims of things like feminism are I would argue, instrumentally rational rather than terminally rational claims.
"Perhaps the same could be said of all ideologies!" (But enough talk, have at thee!)
I agree. I was responding to Argency's claim that feminism only makes purely ethical claims and is the non-disprovable.
Hang on, I don't think that feminism is non-disprovable! If you think I do then you've misinterpreted me in a big way. I don't agree that feminism is an instrumentally rational theory, I think it's justifiable (and justified) on moral grounds. It doesn't (or shouldn't) make any predictions about the way the world actually is or will be because it isn't a science, it's an ethics, and ethical theories make predictions about how the world should be. Of course, that makes it harder to disprove but not impossible. If I thought that morals were totally relative and non-disprovable then I'd give up on them altogether and s̶t̶a̶r̶t̶ ̶b̶u̶i̶l̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶ ̶t̶o̶w̶e̶r̶-̶o̶'̶-̶d̶o̶o̶m do whatever I wanted without thinking hard about whether or not it was right. I really do believe that consequentialism is the way to a correct theory of ethics, and I think that it leads to feminism, given our current situation. EDIT: see ̶s̶t̶r̶i̶k̶e̶t̶h̶r̶o̶u̶g̶h̶

If I thought that morals were totally relative and non-disprovable then I'd give up on them altogether and start building a tower-o'-doom.

I very much doubt it. Analogously, theists subscribing to the divine command theory of ethics who end up losing their faith generally don't slaughter everyone they know and assemble a giant blasphemous meat-effigy out of the pieces.

Touche. I was speaking for effect: obviously I don't actually want a tower-o-doom so I wouldn't build one even if it was morally permissible. On the other hand, if I thought morals were relative, I wouldn't be able to mount an argument for NOT committing atrocities that didn't boil down to, 'please don't do that'. I think I can mount a better argument than that, so it follows that I think ethical statements are objectively justifiable. UPDATE: edited the grandparent in response to Nornagest's accurate criticism.
Do you consider "we prefer nobody do that and are willing to enforce our preferences in that matter against anyone who doesn't share them" to boil down to "please don't do that"?
More or less. Both of them are along the lines of 'don't do what you want, do what I want instead'. A good moral argument on the other hand should convince the other person to adopt a different set of desires, more along the lines of 'don't want what you want, want what I want instead'.
OK, fair enough. Do you prefer good moral arguments to other methods of altering someone else's preferences? (Or perhaps I should back up and first ask, do you think there are other methods of altering someone else's preferences?)
There are other ways of altering people's preferences, sure. In simple situations where you have the option of argument and think it'll work I guess I favour moral argument for convincing, since it tends to give the other person more agency. I could give a thorough justification for those opinions but I think we've strayed from the topic of conversation a little here.
It sometimes happens.
So you believe that encouraging people to act in accordance with feminism will lead to maximizing utility? Because evolutionary psychology/PUA has something to say about this claim.
It's worth noting that our concepts of feminism probably differ from one another at least slightly - really these days feminism is just an umbrella term for a big splintered tree graph of ideologies and social theories and ethical theories and literary perspectives... Half of the time they disagree with one another, and there's a lot of variance when it comes to sanity. But, broadly, yes. None of the terms of my utility function are labeled 'feminism', but when I 'run the numbers' I find that the function tends to endorse courses of action and social heuristics that are roughly functionally equivalent to some strains of feminism. I have read some of the ev-psych/PUA literature and I found it unconvincing for a variety of specific reasons and some overarching general ones. Also, I agree with Prismattic.
Evolution has selected for successful reproduction. That might correlate with utility or happiness, but that's an empirical question, not a given.
No one is claiming it is. Edit: The argument is not "evolution has selected us for X, therefore we should do X". It's "evolution has selected as for X, therefore humans have property Y, therefore organizing society according to principal Z leads to more efficient utility generation."
2nd try replying to this, since people worried first was hard to parse: I think that sexism is mostly folk psychology - false when tested, but not untestable given smart experimenters. Thus, feminism predicts that sexist hypotheses are not the way the world actually is, and that's empirical. But, there are a lot of people rallying under flags with "feminism" on them, and they vary widely. So many of them probably just assume the current facts as we know them (good) and so merely claim that under those facts certain things may be wrong, ethically. And you have others who actually believe sexist claims but still want to be called feminist. So maybe tabooing is needed.
I think the empirical claims of feminism are now successful, but they did exist. Sexism, after all, has empirical claims.
I can't seem to parse this literally. Do you mean that some past empirical claims of feminism are no longer true do the success of the political advocacy of feminism? That seems true (with some controversy on the degree of 'some').
For "successful" read "accepted". (Some are now accepted as historical facts.)
OK I'm downvoted so I must have missed something. Help guys?
I think one problem is what wedrifid says: it is difficult to work out what your comment actually means. * "the empirical claims of feminism are now successful": what does it mean for an empirical claim to be successful? Is that the same as "true", or something else? * "but they did exist": why "but"? what's the opposition between existing and "being successful"? I gather that you were disagreeing with Argency's statement that feminism "doesn't (or shouldn't) make any predictions about the way the world actually is or will be" on the grounds that you consider that feminism does (among other things) make claims about how the world is. Fair enough (and for what it's worth I'd agree), but it seems to me that the obvious diagnosis is that you and Argency disagree about what "feminism" means, in which case merely saying "but it does make empirical claims" doesn't achieve much. So: two problems. A statement whose meaning is hard to make sense of, treating a disagreement as one about how the world is when it's probably actually more about how to use one particular word. I'd guess that whoever downvoted you had one or both of those in mind. (I'd also say: being downvoted by one person is not particularly strong evidence of anything; don't get upset about it. But if you find yourself being downvoted a lot, the chances are that either you should change something or else LW just isn't a good place for you.)
Ah yeah successful should maybe have been accepted, or universal, or maybe claims should have been arguments. Thanks! My first attempt to clarify was downvoted too :( ... oh. It is a very vague word ... I figured they were just underestimating the coherence of opposing arguments, since it's easy to when the position in question is quite discredited so you don't encounter them... I'll try asking them what they meant, good idea.

There are actually quite a few female authors in the PUA arena, including wives advocating men adopt some of these techniques on the basis that it improved their own relationship. I don't find it surprising here.

It seems to me that you're objecting to people comfortable with liking what they like. She likes what she likes. The teenage boy likes what he likes. Where's your empathy for them?
Well, yeah, you're right. I'll limit myself to a general remark that the post could've probably been written in a less revealing way while still getting her opinion across.
Why? Aren't sexual and lifestyle preferences the prototypical application of ev-psych, and I'd say PUA as well? Perhaps, but feminism is not really incompatible with reasonably sane forms of ev-psych or PUA. Also, this post is really about female privilege rather than feminism persay. The submitter has actually identified a very interesting source of female privilege (i.e. 'biased point of view'), namely the fact that being conventionally attractive allows her to easily relate to men and get positive attention from them. Most men will not have any comparable experience, and it's easy to see how this might unwittingly bias female points of view about such things as PUA, etc.; perhaps even about gender relations generally. Similar points could be raised about what she says re: her emotions and intuitions, since again, these will probably not be shared by most males.
I'm not sure I understand the first sentence, or where the second sentence is going. Do you mean by conflating ... preferences with jargon that you don't like her using the jargon to describe her experiences? And you prefer she use feminist language like you've read in some other posts?
I didn't get that connotation from E's submission, possibly because I do like cooking and stuff and I'm male.
And thus, the quoted piece is ... self-evidently true? One of us is misunderstanding the person the quoted.

my attractiveness to men depends largely on my looks but the inverse is not true.

I think that looks are less important to women than they are to men, but that doesn't mean that they're unimportant. For instance, the male characters in media aimed at women (eg romance novels) tend to be pretty good looking (as well as being high status).

This was all so reasonable and positively feminine, I repeatedly got the feeling she's yanking our chains (or something else) with a wish fulfillment female.

I'm a straight male. For what it's worth: I'm not sure what acting feminine means but I don't think it's anything I require in relationships. As far as feminine dress, I like it when a girlfriend does this at least occasionally but it's not super-important. I prefer an egalitarian relationship both in and out of the bedroom, and confess to being somewhat squicked by other preferences. (But I view this as a personal taste issue and don't hold other people's different preferences against them.) Having a girlfriend who can cook well is great! But I don't think of cooking as a female duty and would not think that a girlfriend who was a bad cook [edit: or didn't like to cook or whatever] was failing to fulfill her role in the relationship. Same with a wife or mother. (Other demographic info: I'm an American thirtysomething nerdy SWPL.)
Not to imply that the submitter isn't being honest, but yeah, she does come across as the kind of girl lonely geeks fantasize about. If this were a dating site profile, I'd strongly consider sending her a message...

kind of girl lonely geeks fantasize about.

You mean most of the other lonely male geeks fantasize about this kind of stuff?

My generalizations from one example were way off the mark, I guess. A girl that loves sex I can imagine, but all the rest of that I wouldn't have expected geek males to fantasize about. I would tend to think a SuicideGirl playing MMOs is the supreme ultimate holy grail of epic geek fantasies, according to my mental model.

*[insert stock audio loop of updates and recalibration]*

/me shrugs The other part of it was that she said that she was in a STEM field herself, so I probably assumed too much just from that...
Funny thing, I had the exact same thought, even though I don't find a lot of those things attractive, come to think. Cultural conditioning? Subliminal messages?
I thought the kind of girl lonely geeks fantasized about wore a gold bikini.
You're assuming they only fantasize about one type of girl.
No, I'm assuming that similar personalities fantasize about similar thingspace-clusters of types of girls, and that they are less likely to or less often fantasize about variations or differences from the center of this cluster proportionally to said variations' distance from it. In plainspeak: I think "loves being in the kitchen and making you a sandwich" is conceptually far enough from "has tatoos, is rebellious and plays MMOs all day" that geeks would rarely fantasize about it, given the assumption that the latter is what they fantasize most about and that the more different it is from that ideal, the less likely they are to fantasize about it. Other described traits I reason with in the same manner, with the exception of wanting sex, where I evaluate it as independent of geek-ness; most males tend to like this regardless of geekness, and the types who don't don't seem particularly under- or over-represented among geeks or nerds to my knowledge. Or... was assuming this. As I mentioned, there were some updates made following this discussion, and it's been a while since then; other events have also allowed me to update related things in different directions.
Yes, or to those most worried about being creepy,somebody who they won't accidentally hurt.
I don't think anything dishonest is happening, but maybe that E was being a little self-indulgent about being that way.
I rather thought that was the point of the series?
Well,sefl-indulgent in an unexpected direction.
But for some of us, that's not a bug, it's a feature, and she seems to be one of "us". Her first link is a youtube clip of a musical, with the song "I enjoy being a girl." What a breath of fresh air. I feel the need to watch a Doris Day movie. It's the healthier version of a book cover of L'unique et sa propriété (The Ego and His Own, Max Stirner) that I liked regardless. http://a4.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/5/ca07185879ef43bd91b74c3d4b3b42c1/l.jpg

Great stuff, E, thanks! I suspect there are a lot of not-as-introspective women who would agree with you if they thought about it. Who aren't fighting biology, and in fact are enjoying the hand they are dealt. And a lot of men doing so as well, including not particularly introspective ones.

Bravo. Sub(mitter) E!

Assuming the title can't be changed, I'd suggest deleting and reposting this with "privelege" corrected to "privilege".

Fixed. Thanks!
Also the tag.

I found the discussion of INFJ interesting and insightful. This INTP always considered expected INFPs to be the best serious intuitive thinkers, as I consider F a deeper and more intuitive evaluation process compared to T. Being intellectually guided by emotion that is checked by analysis - that's the way toward insight.

Though I'd never considered the power of INFJs before, I should have expected exactly what the submitter displays: an emotional but straightforward attitude toward the world, well regulated by analytical self awareness of those emotional a... (read more)

She's in a STEM field, duh.

That was... unexpected. If this was anything other than LW, I'd be assigning ~10-30 percent probability to trolling. It... just seems to come too thickly, and with somewhat strange context. That this exact person exists is totally normal. That this exact person would write this doesn't seem that way, because what they would write would probably be boring and this is not.

Are you up to something, Daenarys?

So... a woman who doesn't complain and is optimistic, and is not ashamed to say it online, is suspicious to be a troll? What a strange society do we live in!

By the way, I don't criticize you for writing that; I think you only said loudly what is already present in the atmosphere. If someone says: "Women, tell your opinions!" it is often a code for: "Women, tell your complaints about men!". As if complaining about men was the only legitimate female opinion.

I suspect this atmosphere harms women, because honestly, who would want to be stereotyped as the complaining one? (With all the consequences, such as... if you want a new person in your team, would you want a creative one, or a complaining one? If you have to choose a leader, would you want a responsible one, or a complaining one? Etc.)

It's all about just how focused her narrative was.
Focused? Seems like exactly the kind of writing and narrative I would expect if I were to imagine a random person of the described personality type writing a stream-of-consciousness-style narrative anonymously on a given subject that the person enjoys thinking and writing about and/or finds rather important enough to engage deeply into.
Damn. I fail at explaining.

That this exact person exists is totally normal. That this exact person would write this doesn't seem that way, because what they would write would probably be boring and this is not.

That's an... odd take on it. I don't think I'd expect gender-conformity to antipredict engaging writing very strongly, if at all, and the life experience the submitter alludes to would positively predict it if I'm reading between the lines at all correctly. And it's being posted on LW, of course, which totally buggers up most conventional demographic analysis.

The submitter is using a pretty assertive and analytical style, which I wouldn't have predicted from the paragraphs on emotionality; the bit about girl-game struck me as particularly unusual. And her ideas do tally well with the conventional wisdom among certain male-dominated metacontrarian subcultures. I might have considered a false flag option of some sort except that she seems to consider hers an exceptional opinion: most of those subcultures wouldn't be satisfied with an existence proof, they'd be trying to frame this as the norm.

I think it's most likely legit. Though I can't rule out a small probability of someone trying to tell LW what it wants to hear for some reason, or to confirm a theory about how such a stance might be received.

(Should the submitter be reading this, please excuse the lack of charity.)

Hell I don't know. All I know is that I am confused. I strongly doubt that anything dishonest is going on here. It's possible that this lady is just being playfully self-indulgent. The thing that is odd about the writing isn't that it's assertive and analytical, or that it is engaging. It's the specific claims and especially the fact that she seemed to have touched all the bases. It is worth noting that she didn't do either of the following: try to frame as normal OR complain about more strongly feminist viewpoints.

That this exact person exists is totally normal. That this exact person would write this doesn't seem that way, because what they would write would probably be boring and this is not.

I suggest you review your prejudices. A person with the traits indicated (self awareness, well integrated preferences and desires, healthy boundaries, developed but not unbalanced rational thought) is not necessarily (or even usually) boring merely because they happen to like to cook, look pretty and be socially successful.

I mean boring in the 'polyamory is boring' or 'it all adds up to normality' thing. I read this and noticed that I was confused.
I think “boring” is an extremely unsuitable word for that. Learn to take joy in the merely real!
Pretty sure "polyamory is boring" was meant as a reference to this post, not in a pejorative sense. (Of course, the phrase is misleading about the content if you haven't read that post!)
I read that post, then re-read the thread root, and re-read E's submission... ...and I still don't see it. I don't notice the supposed difference in "this got normal" or thickness or focus or whatever. To me, both Scott's post and E's submission have about the same level of underlying energy and motivation and "Here listen to this awesome thing I really want to talk about because it gets me intellectually excited!"-ness. Help? (or maybe ikrase is pattern-matching something that isn't really there, but I try to disprove the hypothesis "I'm missing something." first)
I had read that post, and I didn't realize ikrase meant “boring” to be a reference to “Polyamory Is Boring” until he/she mentioned it.

If anyone still looks back at these posts...

I think that this comment thread illustrates the real issues at stake for women and the real reason feminism needs to exist. Not to mention the real reasons women have little probability of feeling welcome here.