The danger of bad law

Paging James Damore…..

There isn’t currently a report of this that I can find that isn’t behind a paywall. Do your own search however, as it’s bound to be picked up by the news outlets with a broken business model shortly.

In summary, the University of Adelaide has sought dispensation from the legislation governing workplace equality to advertise half a dozen roles as only open to female applicants.

Hang on, what? Isn’t that, erm, discriminating against all the potential male job applicants in the Adelaide area, most of whom presumably have families to support with their income?

How did we get here?

Well, it would seem the university has consistently failed to hire female lecturers qualified to teach computer science and, wracked with guilt over this egregious example of patriarchal oppression, they have decided that the only course of action is to close the door to any lecturer who identifies as a bloke.

That’s bound to work, isn’t it?

Let’s hypothesise as to why they’ve not managed to hire lecturers in a 50:50 gender split. Possible reasons might include one or more of the following;

  • Qualified women feel overwhelmed by the prospect of applying, for some reason.
  • Qualified women are explicitly or subtlety dissuaded by the interviewers.
  • Qualified women fail to impress the interviewers because the interview process is skewed in favour of male candidates in some way.
  • There aren’t many (or even any) qualified female candidates in Adelaide or outside Adelaide who are prepared to relocate.
  • Some other reason related to duh patriarchy.

Putting the possible reasons why we arrived at this situation aside for a moment, let’s explore the legislation. How can it be that anti-discrimination laws can be ignored like this?

Because the legislation is terrible, that’s why. Section 44 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 allows for “The Commission” (which refers to the loathsome Australian Human Rights Commission) to grant exceptions as it sees fit.

I’m sure the legislators back in 1984 thought this was a good idea, in between enjoying the Australian theme to Bowie’s Let’s Dance video and the national pride of having a Prime Minister who held the world record for the yard of ale.

Of course, what they couldn’t should have anticipated was the creeping takeover of the commission by the radical left, resulting in it becoming a mouthpiece for those who would hector and nag and worse, embark on vindictive and flawed prosecutions.

Bill’s Opinion

At its core, this is a problem created in 1984 by poor legislation. Subsequently, the unelected and unaccountable body with discretionary powers to waive legislation has become highly-politicised.

The second problem is that the University of Adelaide is in denial of reality. The two most likely reasons they have not managed to hire an equal number of female IT lecturers are;

  1. As Damore rightly pointed out, IT is less attractive to females than males because women generally prefer to work with people and men generally prefer to work with things.
  2. Adelaide is a very small city in a very small (population wise) country and is geographically remote from even Australia’s large population centres.

Why does the second point matter; because we always see fundamental problems manifest themselves at the margins. Presumably the reason we haven’t seen the University of Sydney requesting this legal waiver is because there is probably just about enough potential female candidates for it not to be a problem. One suspects there are unlikely to be any unemployed female IT lecturers in Sydney.

Of course, it raises the question, what does it say about the likely quality of the lecturers at a Sydney University if ownership of female genitals results in you being accepted for a role over a more qualified male?

Unicorn excreta

….and we’re back. Life rudely interrupted last week, apologies.

This news article presented itself on my Creepbook for Business feed this morning, proving yet again how LinkedIn has become a virtue signalling, leftwing propaganda echo chamber with a very mild utility as a job hunting resource attached.

One hopes that the Monash University staff were commensurately recompensed for a study with such stunning insights as this. After all, it must have taken huge amounts of effort and intellectual ability to log on to the Australian Statistics website, open a CSV file with workplace injury data, insert a pivot table and sort by profession.

What piqued our interest however, was LinkedIn’s choice of stock photo to accompany the headline;

A young female driver with dark skin.

This academic study (demographics page 21) suggests that, after taking the photo of our lady driver above, the photographer might have considered buying a lottery ticket as it was his/her lucky day – a young female driver is rarer than unicorn shit.

We can’t comment on skin colour of truck drivers because we haven’t found any demographic data linking melanin levels and heavy vehicle licences.

Bill’s Opinion

The most dangerous profession in Australia is almost exclusively undertaken by men. LinkedIn is quite correct in their sentiment: we should start a campaign for 50:50 gender equality in this profession.

Mr. Chesterton’s Fence

This popped up on my Creepbook for Business timeline today;

Firstly, if anyone can explain in the comments what a “Gender Economist” is and what tangible benefit they bring to the species, I’ll be very grateful.

I’m more curious to examine Mrs/Miss/Ms Moore’s idea in more detail, however.

G. K. Chesterton famously described an imaginary fence in the middle of a field and suggested that we shouldn’t allow someone to take it down unless they could describe precisely why it was originally built. His point being that there was presumably a very good reason it was there in the first place and, although that reason may not still be valid, we should not remove it until we’ve understood the consequences.

What then, might we be giving up if we were to remove all honorifics when addressing each other? Why have honorifics been in use for all these years of human history?

Here’s a few reasons I can think of immediately;

1. A sign of respect and deference when addressing someone.

2. To add further information to a person’s name, such as gender and, in the case of females, marital status (since the 1960s, this additional item of information can be opted out of by the request to use “Ms”).

3. To assist in efficiently providing context and clarification particularly in situations when there are two people with similar names, Joe Smith and Jo Smith, for example.

4. Professional information and status, such as Doctor, Reverend, Professor, Captain, Darth, etc.

5. To provide additional information about the age of the person, particularly for males (Master), but more ambiguously for females (Miss).

There’s probably other reasons but five seems a good enough number to justify not removing them without fully planning for the consequences.

Bill’s Opinion

Susanne Moore might want to consider legally changing her name as, simply by looking at her first name, we can tell she’s female regardless of whether or not it is prefaced with an honorific.

However, it’s still not clear to me why it is a problem that people receive additional information with a person’s name.

Nobody could have predicted a negative outcome

A woman walked into a shop and started swinging an axe at people.

Well, when we say “woman“…..

Ah.

So, in summary and using clarity of language that everyone would have understood 10 years ago;

A man with a history of severe mental illness was prescribed female hormones, operated on to remove his penis and testicles, create a “vagina” (that will require constant “maintenance”to prevent it from healing up) and is then referred to by a female name yet, somehow, “she” still has underlying severe mental illness?

It’s almost as if, I dunno, and I’m just putting this out there, it’s almost as if pretending that someone with an inherent serious mental illness just has a physical problem that can be fixed with a knife and hormones, actually doesn’t work.

Bill’s Opinion

As we’ve discussed previously, the outcomes for post-surgery transgender people is no better than for those who have yet to have the surgery.

Mental illnesses are highly unlikely to be cured by gender surgery and hormones therapy.

In the future, many fortunes will be made by lawyers challenging decisions taken by psychologists, doctors and public officials that have not helped and likely severely harmed transgender people and members of the public, such as the victims of this axe attack.

God only knows what I’d be without Zhou/Zhe/They

Picking holes in the belief systems of the religious is a fun but ultimately unsatisfying exercise.

By definition, faith doesn’t require empirical evidence. Therefore anyone with an enquiring mind can use the Socratic method to dismiss claims of the reality of reincarnation, prophets flying to the moon on winged horses or all animal life descending from ancestors saved from a flood on a boat.

We couldn’t let this pass, however; Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral.

The headline is, in itself, amusing. Presumably God might have an opinion that should be considered by the committee, given that he/she/zhe will have to live with their decision?

I’m sure the church committee wouldn’t have phrased the headline in the same way so we won’t dwell too long on it.

Obviously the motivation behind this investigation is erm, something, something, blah, blah, diversity and inclusion.

One wonders whether there’s a a risk of a guest appearance by our old friend the law of unintended consequences, however?

Why?

Let’s look at the uneasy relationship the Christian faith has had with science, particularly evolutionary biology over the previous 159 years. There has been a cautious dance undertaken by people of faith to accomodate the increasing evidence that all life today is a result of millions of years of evolution and, therefore, the planet and all the beasties crawling on it wasn’t actually created in 6 days a few thousand years ago.

Somehow, otherwise intelligent senior members of the church have managed to negotiate a position whereby God still exists but the parts of the bible that seem to describe particular biological or geological situations that conflict with observed reality are to be taken as symbolism not “gospel truth”.

So, a gender neutral God, what’s the problem?

Firstly, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the evolutionary history and purpose of there being any genders at all. Put simply, having 2 distinct genders enables genes to be more effectively passed on to the next generation as new combinations will find evolutionary advantages that neither parent might have exploited with theirs.

Gender, therefore, is a function of reproduction.

A discussion about the gender of the creator of the universe and all life therein should also seek to answer what purpose the gender (or not) serves?

Does God reproduce sexually? If so, with whom? Mrs. God?

If God doesn’t need to reproduce sexually, then there’s no obvious use for a gender for God. Presumably this is going to be the crucial question the church committee pondering God’s gender has to get to grips with.

A supplemental question might be, “if God has a neutral gender, how might he/she/zhe reproduce?”. Presumably reproduction does occur by God as humans were made in their image (Genesis 1:27).

Bill’s Opinion

It might seem like a smart move to decree that the Christian God is gender neutral, but it risks opening up a much wider set of questions for which the church may struggle to find comforting answers.

Ultimately, the dogma behind most religions (probably all religions but I’ve not investigated every one) require a suspension of the use of logic and empirical evidence. Exposing logical fallacies with religion is therefore the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

Biology is unfair

It’s been a busy week here at Chez Ockham, so our usual pastime of laughing at the news has taken a back seat.

This did pop up on the radar however, from the keyboard of our favourite Australian feminist; Clementine Ford has spotted that childbirth is painful and risky.

As is her idiom, La Ford jumps around several topics never quite finishing a thought or driving to a conclusion. However, the column is worth a fisk in the context of the use (or lack thereof) of critical thinking;

July 1 to July 8 is Australian Birth Trauma Awareness Week, and it’s probably more relevant to you and any birth parents you know than you might think. According to the Australasian Birth Trauma Association, “one in three women identify their births as traumatic” and “one in four first-time mothers suffer major physical damage”.

Firstly; what is a “birth parent”?

This is probably another one of Clementine’s land grabs to redefine language; it is possible that, rather than using the universally-accepted noun, “mother”, she’s positing the idea that a transgender person who calls themselves male but has a uterus is not a female.

Ok, Clementine, you are free to use language as you see fit but we are also free to ignore your attempt to redefine the meaning of words we all previously understood.

Trauma and physical damage can occur regardless of what kind of birth you have, whether it’s vaginal or caesarean and with or without planned intervention. As part of Birth Trauma Awareness Week, the ABTA are asking women and birth parents to share their stories either in a recorded video or a written narrative. Survivors of birth trauma are also encouraged to use the hashtags “#ABTA2018” and “#yourstorymatters”.

This second hashtag is particularly powerful because birth trauma is all too often minimised or dismissed entirely as self-indulgent whining from women who are just looking for something to complain about. Scan the comments section of any online article discussing birth trauma (or women’s complaints with the birth system in general) and you’ll find significant numbers of people snapping that “these bloody women” just need to get on with things and stop “seeking attention.” “Birth isn’t hard! Women do it every day! Get over it!”

There’s a few things to unpack there….

Quite how “powerful” are hashtags do we think? Ask anyone who doesn’t live their life on Twitter (i.e. 95.6% of the global population) what #yourstorymatters means to them for a quick indication.

As for using the comments section of online news articles as any kind of information data point, well, best of luck. Seek and ye shall find (whatever extreme view it is you’re looking for).

People do indeed give birth every day. In Australia, we’re lucky that the maternal mortality rate associated with birth here is far lower than many other countries. But something being common isn’t the same as something being safe, and the fact remains that childbirth is still one of the most dangerous things a person can go through.

“People” give birth? Oh, we’re really trying to avoid saying “women” aren’t we? Desperately trying, in fact.

Apart from the elevated risk of post-birth incontinence (at my first maternal health appointment, I was handed a leaflet titled One in Three Women Wet Themselves After Birth), roughly half of all those who birth vaginally will experience some kind of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime.

Nature has indeed, made mammalian live birth a physically-intense and potentially damaging act. I blame the patriarchy of the bloody therapsids.

The use of forceps presents a particular risk for pelvic floor avulsion (when the pelvic muscle tears away from the bone, leading to irreversible damage), yet a lack of education around birth options and “what’s best” means it’s still often considered preferable to emergency caesarean intervention.

Foreceps’ deliveries account for less than 5% of all births in Australia. Presumably the medical profession don’t rush into this procedure without defensible reasons?

The lack of space available to those of us who’ve given birth to tell our stories honestly and without apology is significant. It’s been almost two years since I gave birth to my son, but it’s only been in recent months that I’ve started to process what we both experienced that day, having previously always spoken about it matter-of-factly.

Hands up those who believe Clementine Ford suffers a lack of space to air her opinions? You sir, at the back? Oh, you were scratching your head.

I knew that birth trauma was a reality for many women who had given birth, but I was lucky to have escaped it. I was induced, labour lasted 18 hours, he was born, we were fine. The End.

She said “women”! Fire the sub-editor!

Or so I thought.

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend about the kinds of scars (both physical and emotional) that are commonly accumulated during labour and childbirth. As I told her about my own experience, I suddenly began to cry. Huge, wracking sobs. I realised I had spent the first two years of my son’s life repressing trauma in order to protect us both, but it was, at last, finding its way to the surface.

Clementine might be describing post-natal depression. She might also be describing the symptoms of a pre-existing mental illness. Just putting that out there.

The truth is, the birth of my son was traumatic. It was traumatic for all the normal, common reasons birth is traumatic. The intense physical pain made worse by synthetic drugs designed to bring on labour, the fear and anxiety about the health of my baby as labour progressed, the impact of vaginal birth itself…

But it was traumatic too because a lot of shit went wrong in ways that were potentially life-threatening. As my son emerged, it was with a slick of meconium over him (a sign a baby is in distress during labour and has defecated in-utero). I was given the briefest of glimpses of him before they whisked him away to a resuscitation table to make sure he hadn’t inhaled any of the fecal matter, which can lead to an extremely serious case of meconium aspiration. Thankfully, he was fine – but as they brought him back to me to hold, it became apparent that I was not. My tired, worn out uterus had stopped contracting which meant I was continuing to bleed.

As I tried to hold a wriggling newborn on my chest, the midwife furiously palpated my stomach to try and stimulate contractions, but it had given up completely. I was told I’d need to spend the next few hours on a low dose of syntocinin (the drug used in inductions) to help prevent post-partum haemorrhage (one of the leading causes of maternal mortality). By the time I was able to properly hold my baby, it had been at least a few hours since he was born.

It’s all about me, I am the first woman in history to give birth. Why are you not more interested?

This is a common story. But as I said earlier, being common isn’t the same as being safe or risk-free. Heart surgery is also common, but no-one would tell someone to get over that. The feminised nature of pregnancy and childbirth is what establishes it as some kind of “niche” concern in a sexist, patriarchal world. Women are expected to swallow our trauma because, as we’re repeatedly told, “the only thing that matters is a healthy child”.

A guest appearance for duh patriarchy there. We were wondering when it would be our fault.

Australian Birth Trauma Week is about reclaiming control over the horrendous, traumatising narratives that often rest uneasily alongside the powerful, transformative love we feel for our children. We are allowed to tell those stories. Our stories matter.

Lovely. And what tangible actions are we taking to improve the situation other than hashtags that nobody is looking at (2 days after publishing, the most daily uses of that hashtag was 20)?

Bill’s Opinion

Global maternal mortality fell by half between 1995 and 2015. There is obviously much more to be done to improve on that situation but the trend is very promising.

However, evolution has handed humans, and mammals in general, a dangerous method of reproduction compared to other animals as a compromise which allows for the post-birth development of larger brains. Until duh patriarchy finds a way to improve on that, childbirth will incur risk.

Surfism

Clementine “the other gift that keeps on giving” Ford directs her ire at professional surfing this week.

Obviously she doesn’t feel the need to write about this week’s survey that lists the worst countries to live in if one was female, Saudi Arabia’s recent relaxation of the laws banning female drivers or, I dunno, any other actual tangible, physical, systemic, legal abuse of women anywhere in the world other than western countries.

Nope, the worst thing in the world of wimmin this week was that there is a 100% differential between the prize money for male surfers and female surfers.

It’s a fact, there is.

Using our razor we might investigate the possible reasons behind this.

A material piece of evidence might be found by looking at the viewing figures for various surfing competitions. Helpfully, direct comparisons between the popularity of male vs female competitions can be seen in real time by simply looking at the ASP World Tour YouTube channel.

The contests are helpfully separated on the channel and by looking at the viewing figures below it’s obvious to anybody with a mind open to the possibility that not everything is sexist that the girls are getting a fraction of the eyeballs than the boys.

No, really. It’s about a tenth of the viewing figures for nearly every comparison made.

How might we explain this anomaly? After all, as La Ford points out, they’re surfing the same waves.

Perhaps the majority of viewers are women and they like to ogle at the chiselled and highly-skilled men? Well, no, this study suggests not.

So, if men make up most YouTube viewers and dominate the viewing figures for sport, why aren’t they watching the athletic, toned girl surfers?

This must surely be the mystery of our age.

Bill’s Opinion

The total consistency of a performance delta in Olympic records (and any other objective sporting test you might use) between men and women would suggest that, as with everything else, elite males are more competent at surfing than elite females.

The professional surfing bodies pay their staff accordingly.

Clementine Ford dislikes the reality of this situation and claims it is due to sexism.

Actually it is due to the biological fact that humans are a dimorphic species.

Facts don’t care about Clementine’s feelings.

When the mathematics of probability is misogynistic

Tragically, a young woman was raped and murdered in Melbourne last week.

She was walking home from her work as a comedienne late on Tuesday night and was attacked by a stranger in a park.

The police officer leading the investigation, Superintendent David Clayton, made some comments at a press conference that have stirred up the professionally-offended.

The egregious comments were reported in the Grauniad, thus;

Clayton told reporters that because the park was an area of “high community activity” women needed to aware of who may be around them.

“So just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings,” Clayton said. “If you’ve got a mobile phone carry it and if you’ve got any concerns, call police.”

The issue seems to be that the statements above somehow partially-exonerate the scum who raped and murdered her.

In the words of the State of Victoria’s Premier, Andrew Daniels, a man who generally gives the adjective “incompetent” a run for its money when trying to describe his capabilities;

…..Because women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.

All men, Andrew, or one man in particular; the one who grabbed Eurydice, forced himself on her and then killed her?

Putting it another way, if we wanted to prevent this type of crime in the future by trying to change male attitudes to women’s right to life and safety, would our resources be best spent on targeting particular men or all men in general? I suppose it depends on whether one believes all men are potential rapists and murderers or just a very small subset.

With regards to Superintendent Clayton’s comments, let’s reverse the meaning to see whether his original messages were 180 degrees incorrect;

because the park was an area of “high community activity” women neededdidn’t need to be aware of who may be around them.

“So just make sure you don’t need to have situational awareness, that you’re or be aware of your surroundings,” Clayton said. “If you’ve got a mobile phone don’t carry it and if you’ve got any concerns, don’t call police.”

If a police officer had made the revised statement above they’d be forced to resign before sunset, surely?

Bill’s Opinion

Most men you will meet consider rape or murder to be most heinous crimes and something completely abhorrent. These men do not need to change.

Sadly, there will always be a tiny minority of men who will commit rape and a small proportion of men and women who will commit murder.

If you are a lone individual walking across a park late at night, being aware of that fact of statistical distribution might just be the difference between you becoming the victim of a tragedy or getting home safely.

Is it right, is it fair? Of course not. It’s reality though and not “victim blaming”.

For a more comprehensive analysis of the lunacy of accusations of “victim blaming”, visit the Secular Detective.

Let’s keep it low key and not make a fuss, Darling

Second marriages tend to be understated events; both parties are older, wiser, more experienced and often are focussed on making the public commitment to each other in front of a small group of close friends and family. Unless one or both parties were widowed, there’s a recognition that the “to death do us part” element of the commitment isn’t quite as legally-binding as they may have thought during the giddiness of their first attempt at the ceremony.

Obviously, there’s always an exception to prove the rule. Witness; planning a non-binary wedding.

I couldn’t even pick a pronoun. How was I supposed to decide what costume to wear on one of the most important days of my life?’

Yes, you sound a real catch, nice and stable, a great choice for a long term life partner.

“I’m in a body that isn’t saying the right things. It’s not me,” I explained. “I feel like I’m wearing a rubber suit all the time and nobody can see me inside it.”
“I see you,” he said. I knew he did. I felt it.

Is it just me or does anyone else remember this Peter Cook line from the classic film, Bedazzled;

George Spiggott (the Devil incarnate): In the words of Marcel Proust – and this applies to any woman in the world: If you can stay up and listen with a fair degree of attention to whatever garbage, no matter how stupid it is, that they’re coming out with, ’til ten minutes past four in the morning… you’re in.

I’d recommend not reading the article and, let’s face it, it’s on the Guardian’s website, so few will but it continues in a very similar LOOK AT ME!!! theme;

When I walk down the aisle this time, in front of every person who knows me, it will be as someone who lives in their body. Not a bride on a cake, but as myself, a person who is too complicated for the simple rituals that are the pattern of our lives.

Let’s have moment’s silence for all those poor brides and grooms who were married as people not living in their body, but brides on cakes who sadly were commensurately-simple for those simple rituals.

No, I’ve no idea what any of that word salad means either.

Further ramblings and some pictures of a woman with a short hair cut can be found here.

Bill’s Opinion

There are few modern ironies greater than the fact that the only member of ZZ Top not to proudly display a beard is called Frank Beard.

However, the lack of self-awareness of people who angst about what their preferred pronoun should be is a close candidate.

The swimsuit issue

Reading or watching the news this week will have enlightened you with the fact that the Miss World competition is dropping the swimsuit element of the pageant and will be focussing instead on the achievements and character of the contestants rather than physical appearance.

….which is not dissimilar to existing competitions in the real world such as university entrance exams, job interviews, and other merit-based selection processes.

“How very progressive”, I don’t hear you say.

Of course, the coverage of the news aligns with whichever agenda the news outlet prefers to push; the NY Times piece linked above, for example, makes great mention of the female majority on the organisation’s board.

Statistics that seem to be lacking, on the other hand, include the viewing figures of the current competition. Perhaps my research is flawed but it would seem that, in the USA, only 172,000 tuned in to the 2016 broadcast, which is probably only a few more people than the extended families and friends of the contestants.

This chimes with the anecdotal experience too; think about it, have you ever had a conversation with a family member, friend or acquaintance about the Miss World competition? If so, was it at a time before or after the original Dukes of Hazzard tv series was still in production?

Bill’s Opinion

News articles helpfully informing us of changes to the Miss World competition format are about as relevant to most people’s lives as a 3 hour documentary on the relative merits of the viscosity of engine oil.

As for the future of Miss World now that the diversity balance has been addressed on the board, time will tell. It would seem that the prime objective of the competition (bringing an acceptable level of soft porn and glamour to mainstream TV viewing) has been somewhat usurped and trumped by the vast range of porn available on the internet.

Whether or not the competition can re-launch itself as a merit-based competition where physical beauty isn’t a factor will be interesting to observe, given that’s how most of the rest of human endeavour is judged anyway.

Of course, now that looks don’t matter, it surely won’t be long before the gender requirements will be challenged and dropped and the various attention-seeking types will enter the competition. A prediction for the archives; by 2025 a transgender person will be lauded for winning Miss World.