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Feministing Friday: Why does the F-word bother some men?


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That word would be FEMINISM.

(click on images to embiggen and read)

Late night on Monday, January 14, the day before Dr. Martin Luther the-King Birthday I happened upon a Twitterbeef. I was a casual observer noting the typical side-eyes of Luvvie (I totes love her – in her totality. She’s funny, smart, innovative. ERRTHANG, as she would say).  Anyway, there is this…DUDE (not sure how to describe him) who offers advice to men on Macking. Yes, you read that right: MACKING, as in the ‘art of macking these hoes, ah-hah!‘ *wipes nose with thumb, then points and winks at you*. (Let me warn you now, this post will use profanity and other insulting images.)

“A pimp is only as good as his product, and his product is women. Now you’ve got to go out there and get the best ones you can find. And you’ve got to work them broads like nobody’s ever worked them before. And never forget: anybody can control a woman’s body, you see, but the key is to control her mind.” ~ The Blind Mind from the movie, The Mack

This movie is an icon but it has also shaped several generations of Black men (and women who interact with them) and their/our expectations of relationships.  The life of a hustler, a commitment-phobe, a womanizer, a user of people, a materialist – misogynist is what Black men ought to aspire to be. And don’t get it twisted: This is the message that this dude –Tariq Nasheed shares (and believes).

He has a significant presence online and one of his popular vehicles lately is an Instagram account where he shares little nuggets of information – or Game (the stock and trade of Macking) with folks.  It is worth checking out just to see how not-fake all of it is – here.  Personally, I find his quips stupid and hilarious.  What isn’t funny is the fact that so many people take him and his advice seriously (see the thread of comments from Stans above).  He seems to have a  legion of faithful and dick-riding vocally supportive men – young and old alike; and much to my heartache some women, too.

I jumped into the Twitter cross-fire very calmly and innocent enough to say that I had some recollection of the dude – @TariqNasheed and these rest is Storify History.

His is a social construct (MACKING HOES) that is very real and it is a lived experience or attempted ideal for many (in the Black community). Women are products. Men are consumers.  Women are subordinate. Men are superior.  Females are interchangeable widgets judged on the F***ability index which is based on how much she keeps her mouth shut, how pretty she is, how shapely her body is, how attractive she presents herself in public, and having phenomenal sexual skills. And consumption of women (with very high F-scores) by psychologically manipulative men is the pinnacle of (black) masculinity.  And as if it were advice taken directly from a Mack handbook, he routinely makes references to slaying bed wenches – a term he uses to define hard-headed Black Women (and feminists).

All respect to those who break their neck to keep their hoes in check. ~2Pac in “I Get Around”

His sentiments upset me, yes, but it mostly saddens me. His ideas of what an ideal black relationship looks like and how men and women should behave and treat each other are supported by a not-too-small portion of the population. And maybe not explicit support, but if we fail to have conversations about respect and behavior and model healthy interpersonal interactions/relationships then we are sending a message to your youth that we are complicit.  There already are too many images of hyper-masculinity that condones violence, dismisses dialogue and intellectualism and encourages hyper-sexual activity and availability of women.

And the reluctance of many smart, ambitious self-defining women to identify themselves as feminists (or even womanists) says that the F-word bothers some women, too. I was once that way.  I didn’t comprehend what Feminism was. I only heard what opponents of feminism had to say about feminists and feminism. Feminists were ugly, unattractive, manly, undesirable, mean.  I didn’t think of myself as that and I did not aspire to be any of those things.  But with exposure to good female role models who articulated the philosophy with word and in actions, I came to comprehend it; and discovered I had a host of feminists – men and women – who influenced me.

Basically, feminism means as a female, my life and my options are not PRESCRIBED to me by others based on the fact that I have a vagina and breasts. There are no separate set of rules that says that I have to endure less comfort and respect simply because I have two X chromosomes.  I define myself for myself, not for anyone else and especially not to benefit someone else at the cost of my own happiness and safety.  It means I resist and sometimes speak out (or retaliate) against those/ideas who/that would disrespect me or other girls and women for these same reasons.  My beef with his dude’s philosophies is that impressionable young minds may not fully comprehend how hurtful and harmful his words are to men and women.

And what does he consistently propose? That women are defined by men according to our utility to them.  No compromise. No discussion. This is the antithesis of quality healthy interpersonal relationships. And really why is this a surprise? He gives Mack Lessons. His philosophies are sexist because his ideas place a higher value on men (their opinions, desires, needs & wants) than on women. Moreover, women only ‘endear’ themselves to men (like him) if they are quiet, obedient, compliant, fulfilling someone else’s desires, being non-confrontational, and meeting someone else’s preferences for beauty/sexual gratification. And if you didn’t win the genetic lottery for beauty or do anything to reduce your F-score, then you are automatically cast off as unworthy of love, attention, or basic human respect.

That’s a whole heap of bullshit to live up to and to get all worked up over and in the end a woman’s happiness and worth is determined by another – a man, the one with the power & privilege to define his own worth, happiness, desires, etc.
This is patently unfair and individuals who participate in these unbalanced (read UNHEALTHY) relationships suffer.

Being a (black) feminist doesn’t mean that black women hate men.  No it means we would rather cultivate healthy relationships (with any man) that allows us to be ourselves, to have the freedom to disagree without fear of insult, threats, retaliation or rejection. We desire the opportunity and have a right to be our best selves and not called names or be told that we don’t deserve love because we may not be very pretty or have great curves.  It means choosing male friends who make us feel appreciated as persons – not objects or potential sexual conquests. Yeah, feminism is some revolutionary stuff. I don’t suppose this post will change Tariq’s mind, but I hope it does inspire a mature dialogue among Men and Women about what we would like from each other.

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. priddseren 5:05 pm 01/18/2013

    How is this post in anyway related to Science?

    Well I can see why. Try watching a colleague be on the recieving end of a feminist attack, suffer from the what was at first effectively racketeering and then outright attack from a feminist, resulting in financial loss and loss of a job for nothing. The woman was later jailed for fraud, so it was nothing but the damage was done because in this new world order, when it comes to men and feminism, mere accusation is guilt, even when the accusation is later proven to be a fraud.

    Then in general spending your entire adult life ensuring conference and office room doors are open, never ever being anywhere alone a woman, always ensuring witnesses and constantly being wary of coming to work one day and PMS being turned into a civil lawsuit.

    All because of feminists. It is not because I or any male I know actually does anything wrong.

    There was obviously a problem in the past. And considering other parts of the world, such as Japan where a woman is basically a fondling toy for men from the age of 20 to 29 and then told at 30 she is too old, the world has a long way to go with women’s rights.

    However, what women did was not obtain their unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then instead put reversed the problem and put screws to the men. I would hate to be a 20 year old male now. No college will take you because you are male. No job will hire you because you are male. No women will marry you because you didnt go to school, dont have a job and of course you are not in touch with some ridiculous feminine side.

    Hate to break it to the feminists but being male is just as good as you and not actually a crime.

    BUT as I said, spend your life living under the potential threat of unfounded retribution from any random feminist and you will be afraid of the word too.

    Link to this
  2. 2. marximo 5:18 pm 01/18/2013

    And I quote from the author:

    “He seems to have a legion of faithful and dick-riding vocally supportive men..”

    I’d expect to see that kind of verbiage on a website or tweet like the one she describes. Pretty weak Scientific American to publish this. Of course when your moral compass is guided by only what you can prove, then it does open up a tendency to not ‘judge anything.’

    Please stick to actual science.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Archimedes 5:57 pm 01/18/2013

    It is entirely “inappropriate” for the “Scientific American” to support feminism or feminist principles in any manner. Why?
    Feminism rejects those logical, rational, and scientific principles upon which the scientific method and Western Liberal ideology was premised.while asserting that the same represents “Patriarchal” ideology oppressive towards women.

    Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., in his article.”Why Radical Feminists Concern Us.” begins by noting the schizophrenic nature of feminism-it is, at its root, a departure from reality. He states, “Feminist theory is an unstable dialectic. Truth, justice, logic, history, scientific evidence, repeatable results, reproducible research, observations of natural phenomenon, all these are simply words to radical feminists. Words that they believe are designed to cover up a monstrous oppression of women under the masks of religion, marriage, and motherhood that cloak the patriarchal family. “Psychologists call this need to have reality match your preconceived notions regardless of the evidence “fantasy thinking.” More down-to earth folk call it “building castles in the air.”
    Therefore, says, Corry, “The only acceptable theories are those that give power to women.”

    Link to this
  4. 4. DNLee 6:42 pm 01/18/2013

    I actually have NO idea how to respond to these comments, because I can’t make any sense of them.
    But please enjoy the rest of the Scientific American website and blog network – amazing news and updates on science and social commentary.
    >_>

    Link to this
  5. 5. Paleoecologist 6:47 pm 01/18/2013

    Trolls: Why is this appropriate for Scientific American? Two reasons come to mind right away:

    1) The diversity of scientists does not match the diversity of the general population, and that’s not okay. Therefore, discussions of topics that are relevant to diversity in science are relevant here.

    2) A person’s identity as a man or woman, or a person of color or a white person (etc.) cannot be separated from their identity as a scientist. The way we do science, the way we are perceived by people in the public or our colleagues, our domestic situations that determine how much time and energy we have for science, heck– even the questions we ask– are all shaped by culture and our identities. Therefore, discussions that are relevant to our identities are relevant here.

    If you’re not interested, Danielle has a handy tag for these posts: Feministing Friday. If you’re not interested, move along (though I suspect if you kept your minds open, you might learn a little, and challenge those stereotypes about feminism that you’re clinging to).

    For those with a genuine openness to learning about feminism, I recommend Feminism Is For Everybody by bell hooks. Contrary to common stereotypes, feminism isn’t about advancing women’s rights at the expense of men. What these folks are referring to are straw feminists, and they don’t actually exist (http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=341).

    Danielle: you put yourself out there as a feminist scientist, even though I suspect that you had some inkling that you might come under fire. For that, you have my everlasting admiration and all the props in the world.

    Scientific American: I love you, but you really need comments moderation.

    Link to this
  6. 6. paleoromano 6:57 pm 01/18/2013

    I am a white man married to a black woman, we have been together for seven years, and I still love every second we are together, our secret? Let the other person be themselves, don’t try to make them into someone they are not. She is a black woman who loves Dr. Who, Brit pop, and cats. I am a white guy who keeps snakes, spends $50 a week on comics, and wears the same flannel shirt everyday.

    And we love each other for it. Simple as that.

    Link to this
  7. 7. DNLee 7:00 pm 01/18/2013

    Thank You Paleoecologist. Re: comments -The network is getting there.
    (And I kinda suspect it is the same person..the tone sounds the same, doesn’t it?)
    I’m letting these comments stand because they don’t violate my #1 rule: Rudeness. And I think it is important for folks to see how, when given a chance for discourse, how some opponents of a philosophy respond…

    I want folks, especially young adults to see the line of (il)logic and random blathering going on. I want them to be mindful of NOT becoming associate with the nonsense.

    Link to this
  8. 8. kejames 7:11 pm 01/18/2013

    ‘How is this post in anyway related to Science?’ Science suffers when we undervalue and undermine the contributions of half of our brain trust… that’d be women, in case it wasn’t clear.

    Link to this
  9. 9. paleoromano 7:16 pm 01/18/2013

    Just realized I didn’t include the first part of my comment (#6), here it is, which will put my comment in context…

    I think the key to men and women getting along is in line with that you said, “No it means we would rather cultivate healthy relationships (with any man) that allows us to be ourselves, to have the freedom to disagree without fear of insult, threats, retaliation or rejection.” This does of course apply to both men and women. Both need to go into the relationship (friendship or dating/marriage) without having a preconceived notion of what the other person should be and with a desire to learn who the person is.

    I am a white man married to a black woman, we have been together for seven years, and I still love every second we are together, our secret? Let the other person be themselves, don’t try to make them into someone they are not. She is a black woman who loves Dr. Who, Brit pop, and cats. I am a white guy who keeps snakes, spends $50 a week on comics, and wears the same flannel shirt everyday.

    And we love each other for it. Simple as that.

    Link to this
  10. 10. JayPee 7:59 pm 01/18/2013

    This “Tariqism” came out in Neon: “The game isn’t about CHASING women. . .It’s about getting yourself to a level where you are CHOSEN by women.”

    As in: Display your sorry ass so that good ladies with a near-genetic weakness for saving debased and painfully needy men just can’t resist you. AKA — you be a RESCUE mission to them! Thanks a panty load, Tariq.

    Link to this
  11. 11. DNLee 8:33 pm 01/18/2013

    JayPee came hard. Murked!

    Link to this
  12. 12. EMoon 8:57 pm 01/18/2013

    “How is the post related to science?” Science is related to the human race, and includes the study of human behavior. Therefore attitudes relating to gender identity (how men are perceived, how women are perceived, how transgendered persons are perceived) are a legitimate topic of that branch of science. Also, how men and women are perceived–how their competencies are recognized or denied or simply ignored–determines how they are allowed access to certain areas of study, economic opportunity, and power. How environment affects things is yet another legitimate topic for study.

    The perception that all feminism is “radical feminism” and “radical feminism” is a stereotyped anti-scientific, anti-realistic set of beliefs and practices is flawed in root and branch. On some campuses, at some times, there was a feminist orthodoxy that excluded other women considering themseles feminist. But never everywhere, and not eternally. Back in college in the ’60s, I was told I wasn’t a feminist because I wasn’t a vegetarian (far from it), or a lesbian (sorry–not my thing), or a pacifist. I argued that being for equal access to educational opportunities (those were the days of very small quotas for women to medical school, law school, and grad school in the sciences), equal access to occupations (no women airline pilots, no women pilots in the military, few women in professional orchestras, no women in construction, driving big rigs, etc.) and equal pay made me a feminist. I ate meat, loved a man, and joined the military.

    I still identify as a feminist. Some feminists still don’t agree. But the “How can you call yourself a feminist and not think/do/like X?” is just like the “How can you call yourself a [name the group] if you don’t [name the metric.]” You can be, let’s say, a Christian and not agree that being a Christian means hating gays. You can be an atheist and not agree that being an atheist means thinking all members of all religions are stupid. Some will disagree with you, no matter what group you’re in.

    For me, feminism is about accepting that female humans are as fully human as male humans–and so in culture and in law deserve the same level of respect, opportunity, and choice as males. That males are not the default human (“writers” is usually assumed to mean male writers; “women writers” are always identified as female. Even stronger when the occupation is “traditionally” male: “soldiers” are male, unless specified as “women soldiers.”) As a feminist, I want that distinction to blur and disappear: writers are writers, soldiers are soldiers, biologists are biologists, cooks are cooks.

    I’ve been married over 40 years now to a man who delights in the fact that we both read NATURE, either one of us is likely to introduce a science topic (or anything else) knowing the other will respond eagerly. He has his sites on the internet and I have mine–so we always have something new to point out. I have the field biology background; his is biomedical and organic chemistry, and we have just enough political difference to make life interesting. He served in the Army; I served in the Marines–that bothered neither of us. Respect is the root of the relationship.

    Link to this
  13. 13. Bashir 9:13 pm 01/18/2013

    I don’t even know what to say to these guys. It’s too much ridiculousness. Permanent side eye to all of them.

    Link to this
  14. 14. Percival 10:35 pm 01/18/2013

    May I make a meta-point? In my 60 years I’ve seen many fill-in-the-blank-Power movements come and go (though most still linger on in one form or another, and many are holdovers from earlier movements). All have one thing in common; they assume that one group has disproportionate power over the others, and promote the acquisition of power by those subjugated in order to obtain self-determination for them.

    Problem is that, as in any power struggle, it’s easy to be viewed as an either/or proposition. For some strange reason women who wanted equality in the 19th century decided to name their movement “Feminism” which at the time, as now, was often inferred to promote the *replacement* of the pre-existing male-dominated political/economic system with female domination. Even mere equality for women was famously, and ironically, decried as “mad wicked folly” by Britain’s Queen Victoria.

    Feminism, Black Power, Gay Pride, and all the other _____-Power movements are special cases of Egalitarianism, but that term has the taint of “for all *men* (excluding women by inference)” about it. I don’t know that renaming Feminism would help, considering that some power groups are utterly opposed to equality of the sexes as we see in certain religions.

    Anyway, your attempt at conversation with Tariq Nasheed is doomed to failure; his worldview does not allow for the concept of equality between the sexes. In his worldview equals do not exist; all interpersonal interactions are zero sum games. If he is to win, someone else must lose, and he sees women as the easiest targets. He can’t reasonably be expected to support them getting uppity ideas about being equal with him, now can he? That would require… empathy.

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  15. 15. BrianL 9:25 am 01/19/2013

    I am a fan of hiphop and have been since I was a teenager. As such, I’ve come (and still come) across a lot of misogyny within that genre of music and, yes, the culture of macking/pimping/going hard on a ho too. For quite some time, I used to explain it as mere machismo and exaggarations of an urge in some or many men for sexual conquests. Indeed, I even praised it at times as being more honest, if vastly less poetic, than all those claims of unconditional love and adoration of women you find in so many songs. I felt that this, at least, more openly expressed the fact that sex can itself be a reason to pursue a person with love not always factoring in. I assume that most people know that, perhaps especially for many men, this is quite a common phenomenon, an instinct even perhaps.

    It has only been in recent years that I’ve come to realise this ‘macking’ culture isn’t innocent bravado or open discussion of male instincts: It is truly misogynistic and patriarchial and evidently a symptom of a culture in which this objectification of women is promoted.

    This realisation doesn’t mean I’m going to stop listening to some of the music I’ve collected over the years. I might not approve of the message, but I still like the sound just like I find myself enjoying some gospel music while I am an atheist myself.

    I do not doubt for a second that Nasheed’s ‘macking advice’ is mostly aimed at and consumed by insecure men who might themselves be at least partially seen as victims from being brought up in or influenced by such a culture. What I fear many female feminists do not always realise (though I’d prefer to be wrong about this) is the peer pressure that young men can be subjected to involuntarily when it comes to achieving sexual conquests. Clearly, not all men are as attractive as others and some are more in demand in ‘the market of sex’ than others are. In a culture where men are expected to be succesful pursuers of women, this creates a strong pressure on less attractive males likely to feed into something of an inferiority complex. I fear that many heterosexual men derive a great degree of their feeling of selfworth from their apparent attractiveness to and succes with women. From that perspective, I can easily see why so many men are apparently attracted to the ‘wisdom’ and ‘advice’ of someone like Nasheed. He ‘looks deep into their heart and soul and makes their wildest dreams come true’(to quote from a semi-recent Disney movie) , by offering hope that they too can be attractive. Whether Nasheed deludes himself about this too, I can’t say, but I’m convinced he deludes many, most or all of his followers into hoping or believing they too can be succesful with women. I’d say PUA’s are the same kind of men attracted to the same message, but without requiring a man to be black.

    Personally, I feel that in an earlier stage of life I might have become influenced by such ‘teachings’ myself. I would say that the ‘conquest culture’ I mentioned before, did make me insecure in the past and I still find myself experiencing a sort of desire to ‘conquer’ other women than my girlfriend though whether this is the peer pressure from earlier in my life, some innate instinct or something else I find hard to say. In any case, I still feel that I ‘have to’ be attractive to women and that it boosts my ego when I appear to be. This is an aspect of my personality I do not particularly like (in fact, it’s rather tiresome) but that I can’t deny exists. Perhaps I’m just bothered by being merely human, in this case, but I felt like pointing it out as it might, perhaps, shed some light on ‘macking culture’.

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  16. 16. WildwoodFlower 2:12 pm 01/19/2013

    I have great respect for your courage, DNLee, in engaging in conversation about this. The response on Twitter is very discouraging. I am a white female scientist who identifies as feminist. I agree that feminist does not mean man-hater or Black-man-hater. Your definition is perfect.

    And yes, this discussion certainly *is* related to science – because some of the same attitudes that are expressed openly in the twitter comments you quote here are present among some scientific communities. Also because of the reason that kejames cites so succinctly in comment #8 above.

    Props to SciAm for including this discussion on the blog forum.

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  17. 17. bja8237 6:58 pm 01/20/2013

    There is some irony here. Female sexual freedom is a one of the components of feminism. Tariq wouldn’t have much success with his game if society had the mores from before the sexual revolution. So he really ought to be grateful that his misogynistic lifestyle was enabled by an unintended consequence of the feminist movement.

    Link to this
  18. 18. Pauli 12:47 am 01/21/2013

    This is a magazine about science. A scientist who talks about social issues is not talking about science. There are many places you have to discuss social issues. We can’t let any scientist with an agenda turn this site into a display case to show how fashionable their agenda is. We have too much politics on this site as it is.

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  19. 19. Pauli 12:51 am 01/21/2013

    “A person’s identity as a man or woman, or a person of color or a white person (etc.) cannot be separated from their identity as a scientist”
    Whenever I read a scientific paper, the first thing I look for is whether the author is a woman or a person of color. It matters a lot to me. I’m never going to look at someone as simply a “scientist.”

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  20. 20. Jürgen Hubert 1:55 am 01/21/2013

    bja8237: “Tariq wouldn’t have much success with his game if society had the mores from before the sexual revolution. So he really ought to be grateful that his misogynistic lifestyle was enabled by an unintended consequence of the feminist movement.”

    Hardly that – such lifestyles existed in earlier eras as well. It’s just that women who were fooled by people like him were utterly ruined socially and less likely to speak out against their treatment.

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  21. 21. StutterinSam 7:54 am 01/21/2013

    To answer the question in the title, it’s an automatic Pavlovian response resulting from numerous negative encounters.

    Many – not all, mind you, but many – of the people (women AND men) who identify as “feminists” use emotional attacks and ad hominem labels to slander and defame opponents rather than engage in any kind of rational dialogue. For instance, rather than seeking to understand when encountering a differing viewpoint (e.g., asking, “Is there a reason this individual thinks this way, and not as I do?”), the most common feminist response you’ll see as a man to any view that isn’t shared is a violent proclamation of, “You’re sexist! You’re a misogynist!”

    In this way, feminists suffer from lacking a leader like MLK, Jr., who reined in his followers more vitriolic attacks and instead pursued understanding and joint effort, ultimately a far more effective strategy for achieving real change.

    Essentially, the negative reaction to feminists is because so many of them use shaming tactics to attempt to browbeat others with differing views into submission and censorship. This is a fear-based tactic (identical to those frequently viewed in Republican political commercials) that gets short-term results (shock, surprise, momentary silence), but results in long-term resentment, resistance, and pushback from those it’s used upon.

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  22. 22. Jürgen Hubert 11:24 am 01/21/2013

    StutterinSam: Can’t really say that I have encountered much of such behavior. Perhaps the few instances where feminists really _are_ that unreasonable are simply blown up out of all proportion by their enemies who claim that they “represent” feminism?

    Link to this
  23. 23. Sean McCann 8:46 am 01/22/2013

    Why is this a scientific issue? Because science, and all worthy human endeavors could be so much better in a more inclusive society. Thanks DNLee for the article!

    Link to this
  24. 24. scicurious 9:02 am 01/22/2013

    Wonderful post! Always makes me sad the way people see feminism in a nasty way.

    Link to this
  25. 25. Alison Randall 4:25 pm 01/23/2013

    I always tell myself: “don’t read the comments, don’t read the comments,” and BOOM! “You should shut up because…” Feminism is some kind of scary conspiracy, blah blah, feminists always use ad homs (which is, wait for it, an ad hom!) blah blah, feminism is unscientific, etc.

    Way to drive home the title of the article, eh?

    Link to this
  26. 26. Bob Grumman 6:50 pm 01/23/2013

    I think it revealing that the few anti-feminist comments on this thread were by men using pseudonyms. Why? To me, it’s obvious: the socio-political climate in this country has long been such that any male (Camille Paglia can get away with it) finding a flaw in feminism will be looked upon by many of his friends as a terrible human being. Even those who share his belief will tend to stay clear of him. Note the reaction to the anti-feminists in this thread if you don’t believe me.

    Why am I posting this using my real name? Well, frankly, I don’t know how to get a pseudonym. And almost everyone I know considers me a terrible human being already. But chiefly because I’m an idiot who can’t keep his mouth shut.

    Note, although I do call myself an anti-feminist, I claim to be pro-women. That almost no true-blue feminist will consider that possible further makes my point.

    Link to this

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