Buffy’s choice

Can you juggle new parenthood while being a slayer? Fictional vampire slayer Buffy has to decide.

“In an interview with USA Today executive producer (and Buffy creator) Joss Whedon explained the two most important details he wanted this issue had to convey were that this decision would be portrayed as a difficult one for Buffy, and that it would be handled with respect creatively: “It’s not something we would ever take lightly, because you can’t. You don’t … It offends me that people who purport to be discussing a decision that is as crucial and painful as any a young woman has to make won’t even say something that they think is going to make some people angry.”” from io9.com

Read more here.

A different perspective on sexuality and disability

If the Sundance Channel’s new program “Push Girls” doesn’t strike you as the best or most inclusive portrayal of disabled bodies, you might be interested in the work being done by Sins Invalid:

Sins Invalid: An Unshamed to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility (aka “Sins”) is a San Francisco/Bay Area based performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.  For the last five years, our performance work has explored themes of sexuality, embodiment, and the disabled body to sold-out audiences.

They’re currently fundraising for a film that will help transmit their work to those who can’t make it to the Bay Area to see the live performance. You can view the kickstarter page for the project here. The fundraising deadline is imminent, so go check it out!

Anyone want to take a survey?

Helen De Cruz writes:

I would be very grateful if readers could fill out the following, very brief survey: https://surveys.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_6XKYbWbsP5SBsBS
It will take only about three minutes of your time. The survey is part of my current project on cognitive science and natural theology. The aim is to get a better idea of how philosophers today evaluate natural theological arguments for or against the existence of God. Note that you do not need to be a philosopher of religion or a faculty member to complete this survey. I will post a digest of the results in a few weeks. The survey will be active until I have gathered a predetermined number of responses that would allow for statistically robust results or until two weeks have elapsed.

Helen has posted this survey on a few other philosophy blogs, but so far the percentage of female respondents has been disappointingly low. Go help her out!

Prinz on social VS evolutionary explanations for male violence

He does an awesome job. A couple of examples:

A historical explanation of male violence does not eschew biological factors, but it minimizes them and assumes that men and woman are psychologically similar. Consider the biological fact that men have more upper-body strength than women, and assume that both men and women want to obtain as many desirable resources as they can. In hunter-gatherer societies, this strength differential doesn’t allow men to fully dominate women, because they on the food that women gather. But things change with the advent of intensive agriculture and herding. Strength gives men an advantage over women once heavy ploughs and large animals become central aspects of food production. With this, men become the sole providers, and women start to depend on men economically. The economic dependency allows men to mistreat women, to philander, and to take over labor markets and political institutions. Once men have absolute power, they are reluctant to give it up. It took two world wars and a post-industrial economy for women to obtain basic opportunities and rights.

In response to a recent article supporting the evolutionary “male warrior” hypothesis:

The authors claim that men are more xenophobic than women, because they are wired to wage war. But this is also predicted on the historical account, because men control governments and handle foreign relations. It follows too that men start all wars.
The authors contend that, compared to women, men prefer social dominance hierarchies, which testifies to their innately competitive nature. But this is easily explained on the social story: in male dominant societies, men gain from dominance hierarchies, and women lose.
The authors note that men are more prone to cooperate when under threat than otherwise, which may suggest an instinct to form armies. But a simpler explanation is that, having obtained power, men are reluctant to cooperate except under pressure.
The authors cite a disturbing study in which men endorse war after being primed with a picture of an attractive woman, which suggests that male violence has a sexual motive. But the link between sex and violence may derive from the fact that sex is often coercive in male dominant societies.
The authors link the male warrior hypothesis to racism: white men, they say, show greater fear responses to pictures of black men, than do white women. But this is difficult to explain on any evolutionary hypothesis, since there would have been little ethnic diversity in our ancestral past. Racism is more readily linked to the social history of slavery, an industry run by men.
The authors also remark that women become more racist at times of peak fertility, suggesting fear of impregnation by foreign invaders. A different explanation is that menstrual peaks also bring out strong emotions, which lets latent racism come to the fore.
The male warrior hypothesis makes many predictions that don’t pan out. There is no evidence that men prefer foreign women–the Western ideal is Barbie–and women often like effeminate men: David Bowie would not be sexier with an enormous beard. On the male warrior hypothesis, women should fear foreigners as much as men do, because foreign men are hardwired to attack them, but women are actually more sympathetic to foreigners. This may stem from their firsthand knowledge of discrimination.

(Thanks, R!)