Hope you all had a great Christmas. I am luxuriating, so this comic comes to you via the magic of autopost.

(Hat tip to OB’s place)

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Discussion (55)¬

  1. Another great punch line, Author. You just keep ’em coming.
    Happy Boxing Day.

  2. This is just a test to see if my avatar will come back. Here’s hoping.

  3. And there I am. Whoohooooeeeee.

  4. Sondra says:


    aaaand… in Guatemala, the men crochet and it’s odd for women to crochet. And the men sew because machines are complicated and women are thought of as less intelligent. So, time and Place play a part in ridiculous prejudices.

    Peace and Love and Joy to you and yours.

  5. Julia says:

    I sent this to my gay friend who loves to crochet. Someone told me that in Guatemala it is the men who crochet. Apparently they stand around on street corners talking and crocheting. Did you know that has several knitting/crocheting atheist groups? Thanks again, author. This one really resonates with me.

  6. Author says:

    @Sondra & Julia – I didn’t know that about Guatemala and crochet. Very interesting. But I do get frequent influxes of traffic to J&M from Is that you, Julia?

  7. Julia says:

    It’s hilarious that Sondra and I posted at the same time. And, no, Author, unfortunately it is not me promoting you on Ravelry. I just discovered the Atheist groups and am too busy now to even look at them, but I want you to know that I adore J & M. When I open my e-mail on Wednesday mornings, I make myself read all my other mail first and J & M is my treat that I save for last. I have all your books but the last one and lend them to family members. So much easier to read than going through the archives. God bless you;).

  8. SomeBloke says:

    I see a subtle link to recent controversial remarks by a certain Michael Shermer.
    Nicely done.

  9. Hahahaha. Love this. Well I would, wouldn’t I.

  10. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Good heavens you have to be joking
    Not enough that they banned tobacco smoking
    So to pass time of day
    They hang out and crochet
    Till grass is legal, then they’ll be toking.

  11. Knitting isn’t a girl thing either. Jacques Plante (1929-1986), a famous Canadian hockey goaltender,

    “used knitting as a form of relaxation . . . ; this was his way to unwind after being the target of onrushing pucks. However, typical of the man, there was also a practical side to his needlework.”

  12. E. A. Blair says:

    Football star Roosevelt Grier was well known as a practicer and proponent of bothe needlepoint and macrame. He even wrote a book about needlepoint for men.

  13. E. A. Blair says:

    Sorry – misspelled “both”.

  14. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    The following is culled from the knowledge that I gained during my many years in and around the antiques trade, and is concerned with the western culture as it is here that the idea of needlework being ‘girly’ is prevalent.

    Until relatively recently, crochet and other forms of needlework were pretty much the norm for both sexes to indulge in.
    The main difference between gender participation was that girls were taught neeedlework as part of their general education in preperation for their future life; be it in service; as seamstresses; or for clothing the family and decorating the home. For young women in the higher social classes, having excellent seamstressing skills on their c.v. was deemed vital if they were to attract the serious attentions of a suitable suitor, whilst for many of those of the lower classes it could represent the only difference between their gaining ‘respectable’ employment and a life of poverty. Young girls who found themselves in orphanages or workhouses were forced to learn needlework, and the samplers they produced were designed to show potential future employers that thet were profficient and familiar with working in different types of yarn and in several styles of stitching. These samplers always contained the name of the school, workhouse, orphaneage, etc. where it was sewn, along with the makers name and age, and it is exceptionally rare to find one that was produced by a boy or young man (only the most exquisite early examples produced by girls are now worth anything like a significant sum of money, but because of its rarity the owner of even a mediocre piece carrying a boys name as maker could sell it for a small fortune, far in excess of the prices achieved by the best of the female-produced pieces).
    For those women fortunate enough to have their households run from ‘below the stairs’ needlework was a hobby was essential to stave off the boredom that came with having nothing to do all day, and it was in this sense that the girls born into such privelege were taught needlecrafts.
    For men however, needlework skills were largely self taught, and most commonly taken up when the men were ‘in extremis’. The majority of existing pieces made by men are ‘love tokens’, elaborately embroidered cards or cushions made by men in the trenches in WWI during the lulls between bouts of action as a way of distracting their minds from the horrors of war and their own probably imminent deaths. But there are also quite numerous existing examples of pieces that were made at sea when life on board a ship could be excessively boring, with many dating from as far back as the early 17thC. Again, these were mainly love tokens, though in similarity with the ‘Scrimshaw’ carvings and engravings on whale bones and narwhal tusks (genuine early examples of which can now worth as much as a small house despite – or maybe bacause of – their crude artistry) they also document places visited and peoples met, or battles engaged in, etc. (the WWI pieces may also contain the name of the nearest town to where they were made, but were mostly concerned with the girls of their hearts; their mothers and other family members; or religion).
    Finally, needlework was and still is popular among prisoners, the most famous examples coming from French POW’s during the Napoleonic wars. Their British captors encouraged the prisoners to make things to sell to townsfolk at markets held at the prison gates, the money raised allowing the prisoners to buy for themselves tobacco or wine or extra food to bolster their rations. There were some pretty astonishing works produced by the prisoners, especially considering they could only use what was to hand in the prisons; they hadn’t the means to buy materials or tools so worked mainly with scraps: pieces of fabric (the yarn they uses, for example, being the unravelled remains of uniforms and clothing of the dead that was beyond repair), bits of wood, scraps of metal, and bones from their meals, needles and crochet hooks most commonly being made from carefully whittled chicken bones.

    Crochet a girl-thing? Not in my experience it ain’t.

  15. I used to be an avid knitter. I was working doing customer service for a long distance phone company and for MSN, a true low point in my work history. I wore headphones and a microphone, so my hands were free and after a few hundred phone calls I no longer needed the screen shots. Knitting is very relaxing. I’d like to get back to it. But then I’m bi, so that explains it. Never considered myself girlie though and i don’t think others see me that way either.

  16. Henry Turner says:

    Thank you AoS, I appreciate you taking the time to inform us on a subject of which I personally had no awareness. This sort of thing is why the internet is so awesome.

    Which is kinda ironic, cos the secret of getting the most out of the internet is to never read the comments 🙂

  17. kev_s says:

    So … why is crochet good for critical thinking?
    Because it help you pick holes in an opponent’s argument!

  18. smee says:

    My granny taught me to sew and my mother to iron and cook. Looking after yourself is the thing. As for reinforcing social stereotypes. I’ve never been shagged up the arse in my life!; to the best of my knowledge?

  19. Tomas the Doubter says:

    In Swedish schools boys and girls alike are taught at least the basics of woodwork and “textilework”, i.e. knitting, crocheting, sewing et. c. In my family I’m the one doing almost all sewing whether it is by hand or machine. I’m not sure my wife even knows how to thread the machine (or whatever it is called when you pull the thread through the loops and hoops on the machine)…

  20. hotrats says:

    My mother taught me to do tapestry as a small boy – a good introduction to pixel-based graphics as it turned out – and later for a couple of years I made my living with a sewing machine, turning out velvet shoulder bags, quilted waistcoats and Japanese dressing gowns. In the days before you could buy Chinese clothes for less than the retail cost of the fabric, making your own clothes was not only a huge saving, but also looked better, as there was a broader choice of fabrics and everything had a tailored fit.

  21. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Thank you, Henry, it’s nice to be appreciated. You’ll find that the comments section here is the exception to that particular rule.

    On the subject of the ‘boy-thing/girl-thing’, I remember one of the current crop of young British comedians – possibly Jack Whitehall – saying something along the lines of “I learnt a lot from my parents. I was taught to cook, clean and iron by my dad” (pause while audience tittered) “and my mum taught me how to expose an audiences’ assumptions about gender roles.”

  22. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Reading through the commments, it’s becoming apparent that there is something of a ‘sliding scale’ rule linking sexuality and needlecrafts; Julia’s gay friend crochets, bisexual Darwin Harmless knits, whilst I am heterosexual and can sew both freehand and with a machine (as can hotrats, though his own sexuality is as yet unknown to us, so could easily blow my hypothesis out of the water) but have absolutely no aptitude for either crochet or knitting.
    D’ya think there could be a paper in this. Anybody want to help fund my research?

  23. Yahweh says:

    I tried knitting for a little while when I was a boy (c. 8 yrs).

    How my mother and grandmother laughed.

    I soon stopped.

  24. hotrats says:

    I have heard that the famous Arran cable-knit sweater was first made by dead-butch Scottish fishermen – perhaps HaggisForBrains can confirm this?

    If it helps with the research, Acolyte, I can confirm I am heterosexual, though I might make an exception for Bill Nighy – I trust you left a place for this on your sliding scale.

    But it’s an interesting point – does solo masturbation count as homosexuality, even with heterosexual fantasizing? If so, there might have to be a recount…

    As the great Bill Hicks used to warn the women with dates in his audience, if men had that one extra vertabra that would let them suck themselves off, “tonight you would be sitting here alone … looking at an empty stage”.

  25. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Yaweh, you should have told them you were making a start on their burial shrouds. That would’ve stifled their giggles somewhat.

  26. FreeFox says:

    I never did any needle stuff until very shortly, and I prolly would have beat up anyone trying to make me. Had to prove too much that I was a bad boy to let that happen. A friend showed me how silly that was. Nowadays I may sew on a button or mend a tear, but that’s about it. And I’m pretty much 100% queer. (Though some of my best friends are women…) ^_^

  27. HaggisForBrains says:

    Hotrats, that’s a new one on me, but perhaps you need to ask the Irish. Arran is an island in the Clyde estuary, but the chunky pullovers come from the Aran Islands, in Galway Bay, west coast of Ireland. As an ex Scottish fisherman (for about a year – bloody hard work), I can confirm that they are all dead-butch. I used to be able to knit a repair in a fishing net, if that helps. Anyone mentioning tights will feel the weight of ma heid on their neb.

  28. Yaweh, that’s just sad that you got laughed at by your mom and gramma. My mother was the first to teach me to knit and sew. I’ve done crochet too, but never got very fast at it. The math involved can be fun.
    My understanding is that knitting was invented by men, and started out with making fishing nets. But I don’t think anybody was there to do a gender check at the time.
    Funny thing. When I first read this strip I thought they were talking about croquet. I wonder what the gender split is on that one. Do real men croquet?

  29. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FreeFox, thanks for blowing my hypothesis out of the water so soon….I’d got such plans for that research grant too.

    HFB, there’s nothing wrong with tights. I used to wear them regularly when I worked in banks. Had to be careful over the denier though, too high and vision was obscured!

    DH, what’s not manly about carefully aligning one’s balls by dint of swinging one’s mallet between parted thighs, with penetration of a tight opening one’s final goal?

  30. hotrats says:

    Despite its reputation for gentility, cameraderie and fair play, croquet is a game of cold-blooded calculation and fierce rivalry, often leading to flagrant cheating, and allows shots which gives scope for merciless punishment of one’s opponents; so on every level, I would have to say it sounds like more of a woman’s game.

  31. hotrats says:

    In your reply to DH, is it really you, or are you channeling Julian Clary?

  32. Hotrats, careful there, lad. You swing dangerously close to misogyny with that clever remark.
    I must say I prefer AofS’s description of the game. In fact, with that symbolism in mind, I just might have to buy me a croquet set someday soon. I could think lascivious thoughts…

  33. ironbark says:

    Tailoring is traditionally a male occupation as was weaving in English culture pre industrial times.

  34. Don says:


    ‘Do real men croquet?’

    I had a friend who was a tenant of a National Trust property (sweet deal if you can get it) which had a croquet lawn. It’s a vicious game. I also had a couple of friends who were ex merchant navy who could knit up a storm.

    But I suspect Shermer more mis-spoke than anything more culpable. A simple ‘Oops, I expressed myself badly.’ would have covered it rather better than taking the pained victim stance.

  35. Yahweh says:

    Both boys and girls at my eldest son’s school do ‘food tech’ aka cookery. He loves it but 40 years ago, when it was called ‘domestic science’, it was only for girls and I would have been absolutely mortified had I been made to do it.

    Boys and girls also have to routinely stand up and present in school nowadays, when it used to be a much rarer and bigger thing. Maybe when this generation starts going to atheist conferences, the girls will be as forward as the boys and Shermer will be wrong (but still evil, of course).

  36. FreeFox says:

    Archivist: On behalf of my Ministry and the future of Unanimity, I want to thank you for the final interview. Remember, this isn’t an interrogation or trial. Your version of the truth is all that matters.
    Sonmi-451: Truth is singular. Its “versions” are mistruths.


    Isaac Sachs: Fear, belief, love phenomena that determined the course of our lives. These forces begin long before we are born and continue after we perish.


    Sonmi-451: From womb to tomb, our lives are not our own. We are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime; and every kindness we birth our future.

    (Cloud Atlas; Tom Tykwer, Andy Warchowski, Lana Warchowski; Ger/USA 2012)

    Wishing everybody here a magnificent 2013. ^_^

  37. steve oberski says:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    –Lazarus Long

  38. hotrats says:

    …Hotrats, careful there, lad. You swing dangerously close to misogyny with that clever remark…

    And you sir, swing close to reflexive, politically correct, pompous reproof with yours. There is no hatred involved in acknowledging the well-documented fact that women, despite their image of sensitivity and generosity of spirit, approach the selection of a mate in a manner much more ruthless to their own sex, than men ever do; given that they are the ‘pursued’ in most cultures, it is only to be expected.

    To characterise this as even approaching misogyny is to assume that some sexist agenda lurks behind my observation, which is not at all the case. I am always good to women, you never know when you might need one.

  39. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Hotrats, did you learn nothing from the aftermath of my M&S ladies joke? Did you not get that you can safely say that women are equally able to cheat and display ruthlessness as men but not more so.
    This is a brave and brand- (bland-?) new gender-neutral world, a world where suggesting that one sex is better or worse than the other in any given situation is strictly verboten. Right across the animal kingdom, the female of the species may indeed be more deadlier than the male (as observed by zoologists and natural historians for centuries) but that’s only because nobody’s taught them political correctness, and so they aren’t aware that the genders have to be on an equal footing with each other. The female of our species is allowed to be as deadly as the male, but not a single iota more, or less, deadlier, and vice versa.
    Too sarcastic? Well, I won’t apologise for it. I despise sexism as much as anyone, but I also despise the current McCarthy-esqu trend of seeing the sexist ‘enemy’ everywhere, even in places where it doesn’t exist.

    DH, you know that I have great respect for you, that I hold you in high regard and consider you a friend (and I know that my next line will confuse the crap out of almost everybody else here), but I have to ask: would you consider bestiality to be more-, or less acceptable than Hotrats’ badly worded but nontheless potentially quite clever joke?

    And on that happy note, I wish you all an excellent 2013.

    ps. I have noted with pleasure the lack of the dreaded ‘@’ in this comments thread, and that it appears to have caused no confusion among the commentariat or caused the interwebs to dissolve with a final gurgling sigh. Thank you all for that; even if it was accidental – and I don’t believe it was for a second (so please don’t disillusion me) – you’ve given this grumpy old git a glimmer of hope for the future. 🙂 😉

  40. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Looks like you were posting as I was composing, hotrats.

  41. Second Thought says:

    A of S, Hotrats, why does croquet (or almost any other activity) need to be earmarked as either woman’s or man’s?

    I dislike putdown humour regardless of the target. It is at the expense of someone or a group of someone’s (I have probably broken grammar rules with that construction). It’s not about politically correctness, it’s about being decent to fellow human beings.

  42. Iona says:

    I knit all the time, as does my brother. Why? We use public transport a lot. It’s amazing how much people don’t bug you when you’re sat there with a pair of pointy metal sticks.

  43. Hotrats, this is interesting. You made a mildly sexist joke. I called you on it, though I was incorrect to call it misogynistic when it was merely sexist. You responded by name calling and then added an observation which I can only describe as extremely sexist. Your “well documented fact” is about as well documented as the “fact” that women aren’t good at science or can’t be trusted to make rational decisions. In other words, it is pure prejudice. That should be obvious to anybody who is willing to examine his assumptions, but I suspect it will only provoke another defensive response from you.

    AoS, your sarcasm is noted. I appreciate your friendship and misguided respect. I have no problem with a discussion of ideas and people disagreeing with my opinion, nor with agreeing that there may be differences between men and woman. But every time some man points out a difference it seems to be to label women with negative traits. Unless you take “of cold-blooded calculation and fierce rivalry, often leading to flagrant cheating, and allows shots which gives scope for merciless punishment of one’s opponents” to be positive characteristics. It is bullshit pure and simple.

    By the way, I found Hotrat’s sexist joke to be rather clever. It actually made me laugh. That doesn’t mean I want to let it pass without comment.

    And in answer to your question, AofS, I do not find bestiality any where near as offensive as sexism. (Please do not confuse bestiality with cruelty to animals, which is something I would turn violent over.) Hotrat’s joke was not “poorly worded”. It actually was brilliantly worded and perfectly structured as a joke. It was its content that I found mildly offensive. It becomes more offensive the more he defends it.

    So Hotrats made a lame and mildly sexist joke. I called him on it. He responded with name calling and doubling down. I would like to humbly call on Author for an opinion, if he has time to honour us with one. Did Hotrat’s joke constitute a statement of a sexist nature, in violation of your comments policy? Or am I being “reflexive, politically correct, pompous” to to suggest that he’s getting very close to crossing a line? If so I’m happy to stand corrected.

  44. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Ahh, how best to respond?
    Firstly, whilst I saw nothing wrong with hotrats’ initial joke (save for the wording; more on that later), the closing line of his response to you, DH, was unacceptable and I think was done as a ‘you wanna see sexist? Here’s sexist’ type of retort just to get a rise out you (I’ve no idea why, but I see hotrats as a bit of a sulker. No offence, mate), though it’s possible that he thought it was an ironic line: either way, it wasn’t funny as a written joke. That said, I have seen stand-up comedians say similar in their acts and found it very funny, but it was clear that the target of the humour was the bigots who spout the nonsense for real, something that is hard to get across clearly to the reader in this format where it’s almost impossible to tell the bigot from the person holding up a mirror to the bigot. I’m not trying to make excuses for hotrats, I’m just not comfortable condemning him without further evidence, not least because I was accused in a similar vein recently (with, as I recall, hotrats being one of the first to twist the knife. But I don’t do grudges).
    But back to the initial joke. The line “cold-blooded calculation and fierce rivalry, often leading to flagrant cheating, and allows shots which gives scope for merciless punishment of one’s opponents didn’t need the reference to ‘flagrant cheating’; the only part of the joke that I would take issue with, and probably says more about hotrats’ personal experiences with women than he intended (honest, no grudges!). As for the rest, there’s nothing that I’d call negative in there, whether applied to a man or a woman. As it happens,we’ve had a small gathering of friends tonight and I’ve canvassed opinion on the joke. Only the ‘cheating’ part earned unanimous disapproval,with the general consensus being of the ‘when the gloves are off, aren’t we all like that?’ type.
    I’d like to clear one thing up with you, DH. My sarcasm wasn’t aimed at you but stemmed from my general confusion with the world at the moment, where it seems that there is always somebody just waiting to take offence, either for themselves or on behalf of others, and it really pisses me off having to run every sentence I want to say through my head a few times just to make sure it’s bland enough to not cause offence to anyone. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d have to think twice before holding a door open for a woman to walk through before me, something that I was bought up to do and still consider basic good manners. Yet in the last month alone I have twice been called a ‘sexist bastard’ for doing just that, by the very women I was holding the door for. Is there any wonder I get a little jaded when I see the sexist card played over something that is no more and no less than a (I still insist) badly worded joke?

    I’m sorry if none of that makes sense. I don’t drink as a rule, but I’ve just got around the outside of my annual bottle of Merlot.
    Merry New Year.

  45. AofS I hold doors open for men too, and sometimed my wife holds the door open for me. Any woman who takes offense is very confused about manners and courtesy and gives feminism a bad name. I could see a woman taking offense if a man refused to go through a door she was holding open, but that response from a woman to a man holding the door for her is just silly and calls for a lesson in perspective.

    My initial response to Hotrat’s joke was not intended as a severe rebuke or even an attack. I did not think I was comdemning him. His joke was so mildly sexist that I would normally just let it pass. Never the less it was sexist, as is any statement about an entire gender. Which is truly ironic because it fits so well with this strip. It should have been qualified by “some women”. It was his doubling down that makes him look the ass.
    I do detest criticism of a comment as “politically correct”. Somebody makes an asshole remark and anybody who comments on it is accused of being PC. I also think that we men should be the ones pointing out sexism to other men. I’ve been as guilty of it as anybody. It’s mostly unconscious, just part of the hidden assumptions of our culture. It goes deep, and men should fight just as hard as women get rid of it.
    Anyway, cheers mate. Happy New Year. Let’s all start over.

  46. And yes, it would have been equally accurate and equally sexist for the punchline to have been: so on every level, I would have to say it sounds like more of a man’s game.
    But that wouldn’t have been funny now, would it? Why is that? Seems to me the punchline contained a reversal of expectations, as any good punchline does. So what expectation was it reversing? That we expect women to be sweet and gentle and it’s men who are expected to be ruthless fighters? Intesting. The joke gets more interesting the more I think about it, and more a comment on men than on women.

  47. HaggisForBrains says:

    OK guys, a happy New Year to one and all. Typical holiday season, when the family gets together and it nearly ends in a punch-up. Let’s all kiss and make up and start the new year afresh. Friends?

  48. HaggisForBrains I can assure you I was a long way from anger. I find the dissection of a joke very interesting. If nobody else is finding it interesting, I’m happy to drop the matter. So yeah, Happy New Year. Still the best crowd to hang out with. Sorry if I made things turn ugly when everybody else (read Hotrats) was just having fun. I should know better. Cheers, mates. Hey there, Hotrats. Give us a kiss then. No point in starting the new year with bad feelings. 🙂

  49. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    “Reversal of expectaions”.
    That’s the phrase I was grasping for! Thanks, DH. although I still say it would have been far better without the ‘cheating’ element, but that probably says more about my very British sense of fair play.
    There must to be an as-yet unnamed internet ‘law’ in action here, a comedic form of the ‘Poe’, whereby the subtle nuances of spoken humour don’t always carry over to the written word, thereby making it impossible to distinguish between the bigot and the clever comedian and so leading to misunderstanding.
    And speaking of reversal of expectations: a Scot acting the role of peacemaker?
    And on that note, a very happy and gods-less 2013 to you all.

  50. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I forgot to ask, has anybody else here seen the new Go Compare advert starring Stephen Hawkings? If not, I shan’t be the spoiler, but I will say that I almost choked on my supper when I saw it for the first time.

  51. noreligion2 says:

    Veronica Abbass, were those knitted creations by any chance called Jacques straps?

  52. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    BA-BA-BOOM! Let the silliness recommence. Thanks for that, noreligion2.

  53. hotrats says:

    Here we are again, beating ourselves up for thoughtcrime. It is the nature of irony and sarcasm, that to flag them as such (only joking!) kills the ambiguity that creates the humour. It would be nice, at least among the regulars here, if we could make the default assumption that our motives are humourous and ironical, rather than sexist, homophobic or misogynistic. I hereby swear that any apparently sexist remarks, in any of my posts, do not represent my attitude towards women, OK?

    DH, your thoughts on this seem to be a work in progress; first describing my little joke as both clever and lame, then noticing that it can be read as a comment against men. But you put your finger on the central difficulty when you claim that statements about a whole gender are neccessarily sexist; “Women have ovaries, and men don’t” is a simple statement of fact, not sexist propaganda. And the reason I characterize your response as reflexive PC, is that it fails to make this distinction.

    (A quick Google of ‘female intrasexual rivalry’ should disabuse you of the idea that I was expressing a prejudice; women scrutinize other women more exhaustively and critically than men do; women deceive each other more about how experienced or promiscuous they are; women consistently ascribe negative character traits to other more attractive women. These are empirical data from peer-reviewed academic papers.)

    Men and women are different (and vive la difference) physically and hormonally, and pointing this out is also not sexist, even though the same facts can be used to inform, or excuse, a sexist attitude, I’m not talking about stone-age biological determinism – though that seems to be the best explanation of why some women are attracted to heartless bastards – in terms of intelligence, psychology, ability and political rights, I make no distinction between the sexes. But as AoS rightly points out, we need to have some mode of talking about the different qualities of men and women in general, that is neither mealy-mouthed nor automatically suspect.

    I notice that being rude about men never seems to qualify as sexism; for instance Pastorius’s joke about the mullah who wanted women to expose only one eye – he says, so their lack of depth perception would flatter their husbands’ little dicks – passed without comment on this site, although it is sexist in the extreme. This would seem to indicate an imbalance at odds with the stated PC aims of gender equality; taking the attitude that ‘women can’t be sexists’ seems as tenuous an assumption as ‘all men are rapists’. In practice, accusations of sexism are just coded accusations of misogyny, so the distinction you make in apology is academic.

    The more I think about it, the more it seems that ALL sexual humour has to exploit the ambiguities in the no-man’s land between stuffy, unfunny political correctness on the one hand, and the guilty frisson of overt sexism on the other. You can’t be funny with either alone. I cite two examples, the first from Jimmy Carr, who walks this line better than anyone:

    “I can’t understand men who are violent to their wives, it makes absolutely no sense to me at all (so far, so PC…) I mean she’s YOUR wife! It’s like keying your own car!” (undiluted sexism).

    The second example is a style comparison, the first element written by female academics:
    ‘Supporting the biosocial analysis, sex differences derive from the interaction between the physical specialization of the sexes, especially female reproductive capacity, and the economic and social structural aspects of societies.’ (Utterly PC)

    The second by Richard Pryor:
    “Women got all the pussy, and half of all the money, and they still bitchin’.” (Pure sexism, but saying almost exactly the same thing).

    So to be told that I am ‘flirting with misogyny’ is just to acknowledge that one can’t make any sexual joke without doing so, and had I tried to square the circle with weasel qualifications (‘some women’) the whole joke would have gone tits up (again, not sexist in itself, with no disrespect intended to breasts or their owners of either sex – see how ludicrous this gets?). I’m sorry I called you pompous, I know you’re not, but if you found it funny, which is what we are here for, there was really no need to call me out.

    Anyway, we’re all just talking here, no harm no foul, and certainly no harsh feelings, in the spirit of the New Year let me say that I feel that I have found genuine friends here, and I happily kiss you – XXX

    Quite right about the cheating, I really only meant it to apply to croquet. The ‘Go Compare’ ad is a classic, but for UPOTW’s sake, its Hawking, no ‘S’.

  54. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    It’s my blind spot, hotrats: Hawking/Hawkings, Dawkin/Dawkins. I can never remember which way around.


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