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Go stuff it up that hole of yours which is shared by both male and female jackasses alike.
July 22, 2010 8:46 PM   Subscribe

In his Scientific American column Bering in Mind, Jesse Bering wrote an article about why we masturbate (previously). Emily Nagoski, a self described feminist "with strong opinions and a big vocabulary", took offense to a line in the column in which he expressed disgust about the idea of researchers gathering and studying vaginal secretions, and wrote about it in her blog Sex Nerd, accusing him of anti-feminism. Bering responds.

Just for the sake of completeness, here's Nagiski's response to Bering's response (though honestly, it isn't even really worth reading).

And just as a general note, Bering in Mind is all sorts of awesome.
posted by DZack (118 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The foolish feminist: Be careful who you call a misogynist, you misandrist

Two wrongs, and all that... right?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 8:56 PM on July 22, 2010


I liked Scientific American better when it was about science.
posted by lukemeister at 8:56 PM on July 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


This post seems pretty biased. When you write a post comparing two view points you aren't supposed to declare your choice of winner. And, Nagoski's response to the response IS worth reading as she makes several good points. Plus you spelled her name wrong.
posted by amethysts at 9:03 PM on July 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


Bering's response has only established in my mind that he is a colossal douchebag. Not that I have anything against douching, mind you.
posted by mek at 9:03 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fair enough. I think it was some sort of freudian slip with Nagasaki. I'll let someone else figure that one out.
posted by DZack at 9:05 PM on July 22, 2010


Talking about bodies in positive ways is brilliant but two day old conjealed anything is pretty gross. Mr shinybaum used to conduct barium enemas for a living, the mystery and wonder of the human body was soon eclipsed in favour of vicks vapour rub and a healthy dose of denial in the evenings.
posted by shinybaum at 9:07 PM on July 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I like Bering in Mind, but Jesse Bering's response to that blog post makes him seem kind of ... unhinged? I mean, Nagoski's issue was that he described the cervical mucous samples - but not the semen samples - as gross. That accusation is based in fact - Bering doesn't deny it. But the crux of his defense is that he finds the semen of strangers just as disgusting as the cervical mucous of strangers - which is fine, except that he didn't say as much in his original post, and there's no way Nagosaki could have known he felt that way when she wrote her own blog entry about it. A measured and mature response from Bering would probably have:

- acknowledged that describing female sexual fluids as disgusting wasn't up to the journalistic standards of Scientific American
- clarified that it was an issue of stranger's bodily fluids being gross, rather than women's bodily fluids being gross
- and left it at that.

Instead, Bering wrote an extended and hostile rant about his childhood experiences with bullying and the perils of feminism in science. This is to say nothing of the numerous and totally uncalled-for personal insults he directs at Nagoski (" Curiously, though, if such secretions came from your body, Nagoski, I’d writhe on the ground like the devil himself just spat on me, suggesting to me an intriguing, empirically testable idea that interpersonal liking acts as a moderating variable on degree of disgust toward others’ bodily fluids", " hypocritical, self-righteous, sanctimonious schmuck", etc.)
posted by mellifluous at 9:09 PM on July 22, 2010 [22 favorites]


When you write a post comparing two view points you aren't supposed to declare your choice of winner.

When one side starts off by suggesting the other side is disgusted by decaying bodily fluids because they are homosexual I think I will probably automatically go with whatever the other side is. Or maybe there is no winner here. Yeah.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:12 PM on July 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wow. That Bering column was cringe-inducing, start to finish. Thanks?
posted by chinston at 9:13 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


But the crux of his defense is that he finds the semen of strangers just as disgusting as the cervical mucous of strangers - which is fine, except that he didn't say as much in his original post, and there's no way Nagosaki could have known he felt that way when she wrote her own blog entry about it.

You know, I know people can multitask and deal with small issues and large issues at the same time but...I don't think this is worth any time for people concerned with the welfare of women in a world where women are sold into sex slavery or forced to wear burqas or work for less money, etc.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:16 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


When one side starts off by suggesting the other side is disgusted by decaying bodily fluids because they are homosexual I think I will probably automatically go with whatever the other side is.
Except that's not really what happened. She also clarified this statement and apologized for causing offense, in her response to the response (the one that supposedly wasn't worth reading).
posted by amethysts at 9:18 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


furiousxgeorge, I mostly agree. It's not something that I, personally, would launch a feminist crusade over. (Or even bother to write an irate blog post about.) I can see where Nagosaki is coming from, though - I think women do contend with more cultural disgust about their genitals than men do. (Douching, menstruation, etcetera.)

But the same thing applies to Bering, right? I mean, he certainly exceeded Nagosaki in both verbosity and anger.
posted by mellifluous at 9:18 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]



Except that's not really what happened.


No, it's exactly what happened, even in the "apology".

I just thought, “The only person I know who’s this viscerally aversive to female parts and fluids is this friend of mine who is gayer than a gay, gay thing; I wonder if Dr Bering is too, because that would go a little distance in explaining the aversion.”


Her apology boils down to, "Not that there's anything wrong with it." She is standing by 100% the theory that gays have an exceptional aversion to the decaying bodily fluids of the opposite sex.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:21 PM on July 22, 2010



But the same thing applies to Bering, right? I mean, he certainly exceeded Nagosaki in both verbosity and anger.


He was defending himself from a false accusation, that is worth anyone's time when they feel they have been wronged.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:23 PM on July 22, 2010


Something about the fiercest fights occurring over the most meager prizes comes to mind.

Or, two academics get pissed at each other and rant about it. Why should we care?
posted by oddman at 9:32 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll stand 100% by the theory that people have an aversion to the bodily fluids of people other than themselves or people they are sexually interested in.

That's totally beside the point, which is there is no room for "ickiness" in science writing.
posted by mek at 9:37 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, dear readers, I’d venture a guess that, unlike “misogyny,” many of you had to look up the word “misandry” (I did), which probably says something about the double standard by which society feels it’s perfectly acceptable for women to hate men, but men aren’t permitted to hate women.

You know what's really gross? Conclusions based on untested hypotheses.
posted by dosterm at 9:38 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


The foolish feminist: Be careful who you call a misogynist, you misandrist
Bering is pretty much a clown. In addition to being, apparently, afraid of girl's cooties. He's also throwing out the whole "nu uh you are" defense to being called a misogynist by calling her a misandrist. Except there was absolutely nothing misandrist about what Nagoski wrote. complaining about one particular man does not make you a misandrist any more then me complaining about Ann Coulter makes a misogynist.

Maybe Bering instinctively feels that all men are as grossed out by female sexual fluids as he is, despite the fact that it would be a pretty big impediment to enjoying straight sex.
He was defending himself from a false accusation, that is worth anyone's time when they feel they have been wronged.
I dunno, if you're going to try to defend yourself from a false accusation, it's probably a bad idea to do so in a way that makes you look like a huge douche.
posted by delmoi at 9:42 PM on July 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


How about grain masticated and then expelled in a jar as one ingredient to make an alcoholic beverage? I think it's disgusting, but some cultures do it. Does that make me a culturally biased person?

What's wrong that someone makes a personal observation about a personal distaste, not matter what the object, or situation?

Nagosaki *read in to* the original SA piece, and then went on to make aspersions about gays, in general. She's supposed to be a competent cultural critic? Please. She *created* an intention in the SA writer where none existed, and please don't start telling me that the guy is not conscious of his anti-feminism. Bullsh*t. Nagosaki set up a Catch 22, calling attention to *herself* - hey, anything for a few more page views, right?

Nagosaki is a nit-picking jerk, period. She is a blight on feminism, and what the movement could mean to *men*. We need less of her ilk, and more balanced narrative in the feminist press. How's that?
posted by Vibrissae at 9:45 PM on July 22, 2010 [9 favorites]


Wow. That was kind of disappointing on both fronts, really. Bering needs to realize that he writes for Scientific Fucking American and chill with the "eew, isn't Science! icky?" thing, and Nagoski turned what seemed like a fairly reasonable complaint once she explained it in her rebuttal (sex researchers have a professional responsibility to be sex positive to counteract the many many other participants in the public discourse that are not) into this vituperative and homophobic attack.

The mental image of some poor lady squatting over a beaker right after sex is, well, gross. I don't think that's sexist at all: human beings seem to be programmed to find other people's bodily fluids disgusting except under fairly specific circumstances. It's not an image I'd like to pop up while I was, say, eating tapioca pudding.

I may be off base here, because I'm not nearly as educated about feminism and gender relations as I'd like to be. In fact, until I started lurking MeFi a year or so back, I was about as unintentionally misogynist as the average white male growing up poor, which is to say quite a bit. And it's hard to determine, looking at the feminist discourse from an outsider perspective, what makes sense and what doesn't---I have no real way to judge, seeing as I'm not a woman. And I know anecdotally that there are specific situations wherein men have it worse than women, although I completely buy that those are much more infrequent and (usually) less consequential than what women have to face.

Is there some kind of Dummies Guide to Gender Relations?
posted by nerdinexile at 9:50 PM on July 22, 2010


Oh, and for the record, Bering's reply was totally uncalled for.

And I would totally subscribe to Scientific Fucking American.
posted by nerdinexile at 9:52 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]



That's totally beside the point, which is there is no room for "ickiness" in science writing.


It's a column in a magazine, not a friggin journal. If he was writing about studying poop it would make perfect sense to sympathize a bit with having to do the job. It isn't a breach of professionalism to find something icky as long as it isn't interfering with your work.


I dunno, if you're going to try to defend yourself from a false accusation, it's probably a bad idea to do so in a way that makes you look like a huge douche.


Granted, and he does look like a huge douche, but responding is still worth his time. If someone insinuated I was being unprofessional because of my sexual orientation you can bet I'll get pissed off and a bit douchey.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:54 PM on July 22, 2010


Delmoi there is just a lot wrong with your post and I think I'll just assume it is because people get crazy late at night around here.

He called out this for misandry, not what she said about him specifically.

"I LOVE the word mucus! Like a cross between music and kiss—and cervical mucus is my favorite of all the bodily fluids because it’s INTELLIGENT. It changes with fertility. Men don’t quite deserve the word mucus. Semen’s good enough for them."
--


In addition to being, apparently, afraid of girl's cooties.

Maybe Bering instinctively feels that all men are as grossed out by female sexual fluids as he is, despite the fact that it would be a pretty big impediment to enjoying straight sex.


That is just some really strange shit to say in context of discussing a gay man.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:07 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a column in a magazine, not a friggin journal. If he was writing about studying poop it would make perfect sense to sympathize a bit with having to do the job. It isn't a breach of professionalism to find something icky as long as it isn't interfering with your work.

Women get shit about their vaginas being icky and gross from pretty early on. Scientific American may not be a journal but it is a magazine more respected than most and for Bering to make his icky-gross statement was hugely hugely unprofessional. And we know that same message has been happening at least as long as we've been writing things down (see menstruation in the Bible). It's not like it needed SA to perpetuate it and people like Bering need to seriously grow up. Frankly, as a once avid reader of the magazine I'm disappointed.
posted by 6550 at 10:07 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I know people can multitask and deal with small issues and large issues at the same time but...I don't think this is worth any time for people concerned with the welfare of women in a world where women are sold into sex slavery or forced to wear burqas or work for less money, etc.

OMG dude, you just got an Anti-Feminist Bingo Space!

Specifically the one labeled "Get off your bum and spend your time on more important causes."

See also: "Why don't you feminists stop bitching about your minor problems and go solve the problems in of women in Saudi Arabia!" I liken this to the Republican complaint that Obama didn't put on a wetsuit and go plug that oil hole all by himself, the lazy bastard.

Man I love it when other people tell me how to do my feminism!
posted by emjaybee at 10:08 PM on July 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: 5-120 min after copulation as a relatively discrete event over a period of 1-2 min
posted by furtive at 10:08 PM on July 22, 2010


Bering's response confirmed what I suspected from the original article - he's not that bright. In addition, it's also remarkably tone-deaf - especially the opening narrative.

His intellectual shortcomings come through so strongly in his choice to include that vignette that it's worth unpacking. He writes of being accused of saying something he didn't say and having that accusation turn into being labelled as something that he wasn't.

It's completely inapt. It's not like his response focused on the claim that he never expressed disgust and revulsion at female anatomy while not showing the same disgust towards men. He did write that. It's in print. What he now claims is that he's also disgusted by similar male bodily functions (although how he analogizes to having someone put semen on him against his will is also telling).

So here's how he should have started his response, or at least how someone who was somewhat thoughtful and intellectually honest would have started. One time growing up I used the n-word. An African-American kid called me a racist. It was unfair. When he wasn't around, I also used various other racial epithets. I'm not a racist, he is. Suck it, you dumb n-word. That would be the perfect analogy to his pathetic diatribe.


It's not Scientific American. It's Science Journalists American. And it shows.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:11 PM on July 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Coupla wack jobs.
posted by stargell at 10:12 PM on July 22, 2010


(though honestly, it isn't even really worth reading).

Wow, and here I thought she generally got the better of it. Her basic point seems fair - selectively calling out of vaginal secretions reinforces (intentionally or not) tired old "women sex parts are icky" stereotypes - but she needlessly personalized it.

But good lord, Bering's reply is deeply deranged and inappropriate.
posted by mediareport at 10:14 PM on July 22, 2010


Women get shit about their vaginas being icky and gross from pretty early on.

He wasn't talking about vagina, he was talking about examining days old post sex decaying fluids from strangers. If you get shit for having an ugly nose, people being disgusted by your snot is not a symptom of it.


Specifically the one labeled "Get off your bum and spend your time on more important causes."


I straight up said people can multitask, but Scientific American being grossed out by decaying bodily fluids is so far down the list of even trivial issues I just can't fathom what the less important issues could be.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:15 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think what Bering was calling out as icky in the first place (third link in the post) was NOT pure female bodily fluids, it was sperm that the female body had "rejected." Personally, I do not think this sounds terribly appetizing either, and I'm a female. How on earth is this misogynistic? He's not saying vaginas are terrible and gross; he's actually saying that the man's contribution tends not to...um....age well? Again: how is this misogynistic and why does this mean that I should celebrate mucus because it's a musical kiss?
posted by deep thought sunstar at 10:21 PM on July 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


he was talking about examining days old post sex decaying fluids from strangers women FTFY
posted by 6550 at 10:21 PM on July 22, 2010


It's not like his response focused on the claim that he never expressed disgust and revulsion at female anatomy while not showing the same disgust towards men. He did write that. It's in print.


This is what is in print.


Well, Baker and Bellis are clever empiricists. They also apparently have stomachs of steel. One way that they tested their hypotheses was to ask over 30 brave heterosexual couples to provide them with some rather concrete samples of their sex lives: the vaginal “flowbacks” from their post-coital couplings, in which some portion of the male’s ejaculate is spontaneously rejected by the woman’s body.


What is in print is him being disgusted by the combined fluids that are generated by heterosexual sex, specifically referring to ejaculate in this wonderful mixture, after they have been decaying for several days. That is what is in print.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:21 PM on July 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


And 6550 read the fucking article before attempting to fix the posts of those that do.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:24 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


He called out this for misandry, not what she said about him specifically.

"I LOVE the word mucus! Like a cross between music and kiss—and cervical mucus is my favorite of all the bodily fluids because it’s INTELLIGENT. It changes with fertility. Men don’t quite deserve the word mucus. Semen’s good enough for them."
Hmm, well I don't really see that as an example of "misandry" because I actually have no idea what it's supposed to mean, as a man it doesn't really bother me.

The problem with his response is that it took a relatively minor complaint and turned it in a "Oh the poor oppressed mans! I Society has a double standard because I didn't know what the word 'misandry' meant and bla bla bla." There's really no justification for saying that she hates men.
he was talking about examining days old post sex decaying fluids
Decaying? Seriously? We're talking about taking fluids directly out of woman's vaginas. Do you really see that as an example of where things 'decay'? Do you also apply the same standards to people's mouths and think kissing is gross because of the 'decaying' food in their mouths? Do you refuse to touch other people's skin because of the microscopic insects crawling all over them? Jesus.

And by the way, where does htis "days old" thing come from? From the article:
The flowback emerges 5-120 min after copulation as a relatively discrete event over a period of 1-2 min in the form of three to eight white globules.
After which they presumably freeze the samples.

And people are specifically talking about what you so charmingly refer to as "the snot" -- the various fluids that come out of vagina, not the shape. Saying "If you get shit for having an ugly nose, people being disgusted by your snot is not a symptom of it." isn't really an appropriate metaphor because in this case they're talking about "all vagina" not just one or two particularly ugly vaginas?
posted by delmoi at 10:24 PM on July 22, 2010


So furiousxgeorge, I have a question. Let's imagine someone wrote a column about sex researchers who watched pornography as a research method. Let's further imagine that after a few hundred words talking about straight pornography, that author then said that some researchers must have stomachs of steel because they watched really gross gay pornography.

You could argue they were really talking about the cinematography and not expressing any disgust towards gay people. And maybe your charitable reading is what Bering really had intended. Yet reading his response, specifically this line: "What a sad state of affairs for the feminist movement. So there’s my apology, Nagoski. Go stuff it up that hole of yours" - I think that's nearly impossible to believe.

If the only time he shows disgust is when talking about vaginal secretions - and when called out on it he goes apeshit instead of clarifying - well, I think the call out was pretty valid. His nonsensical narrative just shows that he's not bright enough to understand what's happening.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:27 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've spoken with mid-senior people who work on the business side at Scientific American. It is not a journal. It is intended to be a popular magazine about scientific topics.
posted by wuwei at 10:31 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Why don't you feminists stop bitching about your minor problems..."

It doesn't mater what you are or what you believe, if you insist on getting all wound up about trivial crap you're going to wind up camping on a very dark piece of psychic real estate. You do what you want, but don't say I didn't warn you.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:31 PM on July 22, 2010



The problem with his response is that it took a relatively minor complaint and turned it in a "Oh the poor oppressed mans! I Society has a double standard because I didn't know what the word 'misandry' meant and bla bla bla." There's really no justification for saying that she hates men.


Agreed. Nor is there justification for saying he hates women. I agree they are both douches.


Do you also apply the same standards to people's mouths and think kissing is gross because of the 'decaying' food in their mouths?


I don't think the food is disgusting in that context. In the context of the decaying food matter from the mouth of a total stranger, yes I find that icky.


And people are specifically talking about what you so charmingly refer to as "the snot" -- the various fluids that come out of vagina, not the shape.


In that post I was specifically replying to post that simply mentioned vaginas and mentioning that we were talking about fluids as a separate issue. So, yeah.


If the only time he shows disgust is when talking about vaginal secretions


...vaginal secretion full of semen.


His nonsensical narrative just shows that he's not bright enough to understand what's happening.


His reply is unhinged, I'm simply defending the original article. I do suggest the possibility that he may have become unhinged because of the bizarre statement about his sexual orientation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:33 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, Bering, you foppish cad! Forsooth, thine overwrought vocabulary blunts the stab of your ripostes, giving instead a coxcomb mien to your cavilling!
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hmm, well I don't really see that as an example of "misandry" because I actually have no idea what it's supposed to mean, as a man it doesn't really bother me.


Nor do I. I see it as an example of "stupid."

Decaying? Seriously? We're talking about taking fluids directly out of woman's vaginas. Do you really see that as an example of where things 'decay'?

Sperm? Yes. Sperm has a limited shelf life once it's in a vagina. Whichever 10, 000,000, 000 or so don't reach the goal do, in fact, die in there. Not that it's all gross and nasty - it is a natural part of life and sex. But once it dies, it certainly doesn't stay frozen in its perfect sperm shape for all eternity. It "decays."
posted by deep thought sunstar at 10:35 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It doesn't mater what you are or what you believe, if you insist on getting all wound up about trivial crap you're going to wind up camping on a very dark piece of psychic real estate.

Seriously. Can you imagine if the Founding Fathers had wasted their time on arcane changes to tariffs on tea instead of immediately fomenting revolution? Or if Gandhi had gotten all distracted by salt instead of focusing on immediate Indian Independence? Or if the Civil Rights Movement had gotten all wound up about lunch counters at Woolworth instead of addressing the real issues? My God. They would have accomplished nothing.

It's only trivial when it's not you. When someone is willing to take a stand and say X bothers me, and I find X trivial, I tend to ask why and not say "you're wrong." People who shut down the complaints of others because they see them as trivial and say "you're wrong" instead of "explain this to me" tend to camp in pretty dark places as far as I can tell.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:36 PM on July 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


And frankly, Bering's a fan of all sorts of Evo-psych just so bullshit anyway, so I find it hard to take his complaints about anything seriously. He doesn't even have the rigor of Bill Bryson, for chrissakes.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 PM on July 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


So furiousxgeorge, I have a question. Let's imagine someone wrote a column about sex researchers who watched pornography as a research method. Let's further imagine that after a few hundred words talking about straight pornography, that author then said that some researchers must have stomachs of steel because they watched really gross gay pornography.


Dude, no. A better analogy would be, "Let's imagine someone wrote a column about gay porn, and then let's imagine that someone mentioned offhand that the combined secretions of two gay guys was pretty gross." That's what Bering did with straight couples - offhandedly mentioned that the COMBINED secretions, with emphasis on the "rejected" sperm - was pretty gross.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 10:39 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously. Can you imagine if the Founding Fathers had wasted their time on arcane changes to tariffs on tea instead of immediately fomenting revolution? Or if Gandhi had gotten all distracted by salt instead of focusing on immediate Indian Independence? Or if the Civil Rights Movement had gotten all wound up about lunch counters at Woolworth instead of addressing the real issues?

...explain more precisely how this situation is like those situations...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:39 PM on July 22, 2010


...explain more precisely how this situation is like those situations...

I was responding to Kid Charlemagne. It seem that like Bering, you don't really get analogies all that well.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:40 PM on July 22, 2010


Christ, what a waste of time.
posted by borges at 10:42 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seem that like Bering, you don't really get analogies all that well.

I constantly think on how I can improve on that, I am much like the Buddha meditating under a tree, or Scipio Africanus contemplating strategy for the Second Punic War, or Thomas Edison working on the light bulb in that way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:44 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Keep at it furiousxgeorge and maybe you'll get somewhere.

Until then, feel free to insist on the most charitable reading possible of the original text all you want. For a piece that talks about sex, the only time any word that matches vag* is in a context of disgust - a disgust that is nowhere else expressed. You can continue this charitable reading even with the added context of the totally disproportionate reply. You can also insist that anything but the most charitable reading is demonstrably false. It just doesn't strike me as a natural reading of the text or a particularly defensible argument.

But keep at the self-improvement, there's hope for us all.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:49 PM on July 22, 2010


It isn't charitable to read the text as written, it's what you do when you aren't axe grinding.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:51 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter=Christ, what a waste of time.

Sometimes it takes a good analogy to snap me back into the important things in life, like dustbusting my couch and drinking beer.

For the record, neither men nor women are icky.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 10:54 PM on July 22, 2010


It isn't charitable to read the text as written, it's what you do when you aren't axe grinding.

So the fact that the author included a graphic description of women removing cervical mucus was really all about how gross the sperm in that mucus was. Ah yes, portraying women squatting over a tube in order to disturb - it's really about the combined fluids.

Wow, I'm really not that good at "just reading the text." It's so convenient when it just happens to support your side. I hope nobody tells church hierarchy or conservative Supreme Court justices about this.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:55 PM on July 22, 2010


This is why we can't have nice things. Because reasonable, privieiged, intelligent people would rather engage in this kind of wankery than actually do anything that changed the world.
posted by unSane at 10:58 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until then, feel free to insist on the most charitable reading possible of the original text all you want.

furiousxgeorge is reading the text correctly, as far as I can tell. At least, that is, the text of the original comment (third link in) that seems to have generated this furor. Bering's response to the response is utterly weird and absurd, but there's no justification in the ORIGINAL comment for her equally weird response to it.

Yep...couch is looking pretty dusty right now....MMMMMMMbeer........
posted by deep thought sunstar at 11:00 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the fact that the author included a graphic description of women removing cervical mucus was really all about how gross the sperm in that mucus was.

This is the offending paragraph. It describes combined material.


Well, Baker and Bellis are clever empiricists. They also apparently have stomachs of steel. One way that they tested their hypotheses was to ask over 30 brave heterosexual couples to provide them with some rather concrete samples of their sex lives: the vaginal “flowbacks” from their post-coital couplings, in which some portion of the male’s ejaculate is spontaneously rejected by the woman’s body.


How about this, in the part of the article where he talks about sex between a monkey and a dog, was he more disgusted by the dog or the monkey?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:01 PM on July 22, 2010


Ugh. The high point of this is Nagoski's "I'm sorry if you were offended when I said that Real Gay Men are misogynists and are repulsed by women's bodies, but you all just misread me. I have gay friends and am down with activism and stuff."

And she's the one I would otherwise agree with!
posted by Marty Marx at 11:03 PM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now read it in context. Specifically, the next paragraph:

The flowback emerges 5-120 min after copulation as a relatively discrete event over a period of 1-2 min in the form of three to eight white globules. With practice, females can recognize the sensation of the beginning of flowback and can collect the material by squatting over a 250 ml glass beaker. [And here comes a useful tip, ladies…] Once the flowback is nearly ready to emerge, it can be hastened by, for example, coughing.


Yeah, it looks like the disgust is really about the combined material and isn't about lady parts.

If his disgust was really about studying post-coital secretions (which seems odd given the relative comfort with which he talks about everything else in the piece) that could have been his response. Not a ranting angry piece that ends with him telling his critic to shove something up her "hole." Yeah, no problem there.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:05 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If his disgust was really about studying post-coital secretions (which seems odd given the relative comfort with which he talks about everything else in the piece)

He talks about the combined secretions with disgust.

In the next paragraph which you quoted, he does not talk about disgust on the part of the researchers. And why would they be disgusted by something they probably weren't even watching.

Never mind all that, since that Nagoski's article did not even cite the paragraph you are citing as a problem. The person you are trying to argue for does not agree with you on that paragraph being the problem.


You are objectively wrong here, this isn't the constitution or catechism.


Not a ranting angry piece that ends with him telling his critic to shove something up her "hole." Yeah, no problem there.


No one is defending the contents of his response, this thread isn't the second amendment or transubstantiation either.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:15 PM on July 22, 2010


And I want to reiterate what I said before in response to Kid Charlemagne - although I worded it poorly then.

If someone who you respect takes the time to address something that concerns them and you find trivial, it's a big mistake to immediately dismiss it and get angry, even if you feel like it targets you. When others care passionately about something that you find trivial, it's a remarkable opportunity to understand another's perspective, to ask questions, to learn. Hell, they may even be right, although it's certainly not guaranteed.

There is no objective definition of triviality. If the author really didn't mean what he was accused of, there's nothing stopping him from saying "look, I have no idea what you're talking about, I meant, X, this whole thing seems crazy to me, please explain why you thought otherwise." It starts a debate, it allows for the exchange of ideas, etc. To immediately go ballistic, respond by denying everything and insulting the accuser, is just a terrible move. It calls into question not only the author's judgment, but his willingness to be challenged, to examine new perspectives, and to understand that people might see things differently.

When confronted by someone who's aggrieved about something with which you don't agree, saying "please explain" just seems substantially smarter than saying "you're wrong."
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:17 PM on July 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: soon eclipsed in favour of vicks vapour rub and a healthy dose of denial in the evenings
posted by JackarypQQ at 11:23 PM on July 22, 2010


There is nothing trivial about female body and self esteem issues in any of the multiple forms that can take. There is everything trivial about making a controversy over nothing to try and pretend a science writer is making an anti-woman statement when he isn't, and arguing back and forth about it using borderline homosexual slurs. That is some trivial shit, again, objectively.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:23 PM on July 22, 2010


Speaking of objectively wrong:

Never mind all that, since that Nagoski's article did not even cite the paragraph you are citing as a problem. The person you are trying to argue for does not agree with you on that paragraph being the problem.

This is just silly. Of course context matters. Nagoski doesn't need to cite to it directly for it to have influenced her reading. When you read the two paragraphs together, I think it's entirely fair to believe that the disgust is directed towards cervical mucus and the process of gathering it - and not towards the idea of "combined secretions." Furthermore, the response matters quite a bit - as I think it lends quite a bit of insight into how to understand the contested piece.

You're twisting as hard as you can to make your interpretation the only possible one - instead of recognizing that Nagaski, or me could be right. Do you honestly believe there is no plausible interpretation of that paragraph in context (both with the following paragraph and the whole piece) that could lead someone to believe that Bering's disgust is directed towards female anatomy and not the fact that there were combined secretions? That this is as plain a fact as the spelling of the author's name?

You're saying there's no possible way to interpret it other than the way you do. I think Nagaski has a valid reading and it should have been engaged with on an intellectual level and not by screaming "you're objectively wrong,." And that's sort of what both you and Bering seem to be advocating.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:24 PM on July 22, 2010


I don't understand all this discussion of "decaying bodily fluids".

Bering talked about needing stomachs of steel to collect washback that occurs minutes after sex. There are no decaying bodily fluids here unless we are talking about zombies.
posted by eye of newt at 11:30 PM on July 22, 2010


Bering talked about needing stomachs of steel to collect washback that occurs minutes after sex.

Actually, the researchers received the specimens from the subjects - a process that Bering describes in the piece. They needed stomachs of steel to simply examine the specimens.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:36 PM on July 22, 2010


This is just silly. Of course context matters.

Could you drop the disingenuous bullshit? Who said context doesn't matter?

Nagoski doesn't need to cite to it directly for it to have influenced her reading. When you read the two paragraphs together, I think it's entirely fair to believe that the disgust is directed towards cervical mucus and the process of gathering it - and not towards the idea of "combined secretions."

You can try and claim it applies to BOTH paragraphs, but not only to the second. You can't discount the paragraph the word actually appears in and call it context. Combined fluid is clearly included in the description of what he found disgusting meaning it applies to fluids of both sexes even if you want to claim disgust applies all the way down to the monkey sex paragraph.


You're saying there's no possible way to interpret it other than the way you do.


Indeed, there is no way to interpret it that does not include disgust at combined fluids. None.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:39 PM on July 22, 2010


Indeed, there is no way to interpret it that does not include disgust at combined fluids. None.

This doesn't do any work for you. The whole piece is about sperm. There's never any disgust until it combines with vaginal fluids. To say the disgust includes combination is not interesting. Especially given the call-out that Nagoski wrote. I think that like Bering, you just don't understand what's happening here.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:45 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The whole piece is about sperm.

Yup, it is. Even the part you are pretending isn't for the sake of axe grinding.


There's never any disgust until it combines with vaginal fluids.


There is never any disgust at sperm alone. There is never any disgust at vagina fluid alone. There is disgust at combined fluid as the product of sex between strangers that researchers have to poke at. That's it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:00 AM on July 23, 2010


Bering's editor in chief is a woman.

I'd be embarrassed to have him working for me, and I think I might be embarrassed to have him working for me if I were her, too.
posted by jamjam at 12:06 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Storm in a wee cup.
posted by biffa at 1:07 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually a good counter example would be this post about a "feminist" lesbian anti-porn advocate. I actually wrote "
If you read the rest of the interview, it's pretty clear she pretty much hates men."

One of the things she said was:
I doubt it. . When I hear the word porn, I think of something that is male yuckkiness and lines men's pockets with money... and semen.
There was a lot more to it then that of course, but being disgusted by male bodies, etc was a very prominent part.
In that post I was specifically replying to post that simply mentioned vaginas and mentioning that we were talking about fluids as a separate issue. So, yeah.
Eh, that's really an incorrect interpretation of what the poster was saying, when 6550 wrote "Women get shit about their vaginas being icky and gross from pretty early on." he or she was obviously including the fluid aspect (and probably menstruation, etc)
posted by delmoi at 1:18 AM on July 23, 2010


Sperm? Yes. Sperm has a limited shelf life once it's in a vagina. Whichever 10, 000,000, 000 or so don't reach the goal do, in fact, die in there. Not that it's all gross and nasty - it is a natural part of life and sex. But once it dies, it certainly doesn't stay frozen in its perfect sperm shape for all eternity. It "decays."
Not if it's frozen or preserved, which I assume they would have done if they planned on doing genetic testing on it. And on top of that he described collecting the sperm as being the gross part, which happened between 5 and 120 minutes after sex. This wasn't collected days later, that's just something furiousxgeorge made up ex nihilo
posted by delmoi at 1:24 AM on July 23, 2010


I like salmon eggs.

I like icecream.


But the two mixed together disgust me.

I MUST BE A MISLACTOPESCEA

(that's wrong. right? just made it up. not drunk at all. really)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:31 AM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


OK, delmoi, you are certainly correct that it could have been frozen. However, it didn't come out of either party (man or woman) frozen and in petri dishes. That's kind of a distraction from the argument at hand, and also a really odd thing to visualize (OOOOHHH i'm so COOOLLLLLD!) So let's agree that we're not talking about frozen sperm samples here. We are instead talking about Bering explicitly (or even implicitly for the love of God) saying that women are gross and so is their discharge. And yes, I went and looked up the sperm death time frame, and it's a lot longer than I thought it was, so you got me on that one. I can't believe I just typed the phrase "sperm death time frame" at this hour of the (new) day. I capitulate. Bering hates women, everyone hates vaginas, you (delmoi) love women more than anyone ever has. I give.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 2:30 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could definitely go for some salmon-flavored ice cream with salmon egg sprinkles right about now.
posted by yeoz at 2:51 AM on July 23, 2010


You are part of the reason lacto-pescetarians have such a bad name, which implicit-association tests have unequivocally confirmed.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:00 AM on July 23, 2010


Something about describing one or both of the combatants in this fight as "douches" or "douchebags" strikes me as quite unintentionally hilarious in this context.
posted by thebrokedown at 3:22 AM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, let's see, as far as I can see ...

1) Bering writes article filled with erroneous assumptions, poor science, and strange conclusions, which makes him come off as a lousy science writer with some very odd pet theories.

2) Nagoski writes 300-word critique focusing on, well ... a really fairly unimportant and odd thing to single out, which makes her come off as missing the forest for a shrub -- especially since the shrub in question was probably a fairly harmless joke.

3) Bering LOSES IT and fires back a 2500-word poorly-written screed in reply, which makes him come off as overreacting, thin-skinned, and kind of loony.

4) Nagoski writes short, fairly reasonable response to screed, which explains her positions better and makes her sound much more reasonable than she did at first.


Neither of them comes off as absolutely stellar here, but if this is a sanity competition or a reaonableness competition, Nagoski is winning it in a walk.
posted by kyrademon at 4:04 AM on July 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Someone hurt a science man's feelings over a non-funny joke he published so he had a very public tantrum about it. Nagoski looks a LOT better in this exchange.
posted by kalessin at 4:44 AM on July 23, 2010


I think "decay" isn't the worst possible word. Semen comes with putrescine and cadaverine already built in! And given how many sperm are already non-motile upon ejection, well ... dead babies indeed.
posted by adipocere at 4:57 AM on July 23, 2010


P.S. if I were this guy's editor, I would have refused to publish his follow up column to save him embarrassment.
posted by kalessin at 4:58 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


His wiki page is interesting and has links to some of his articles, such as why are women bitches? and sex with animals

I agree with above posters, he is not bright enough to write a scientific column, ickyness and displays of disgust should be absent from scientific writing. If he doesn't ralise this, why is allowed to write for SciAm?
posted by marienbad at 5:02 AM on July 23, 2010


And 6550 read the fucking article before attempting to fix the posts of those that do.

Re-reading the article this morning it still sounds to me like he's more grossed out by the vagina aspect given the context of the one and only time the word appears in the article, compared to, say, penis.
posted by 6550 at 5:19 AM on July 23, 2010


I think the whole problem is with the clinical language used. If it was called sperm confit and had a bokeh photo it would have been posted on tastespotting.
posted by srboisvert at 5:23 AM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, I remember reading this article, being taken aback a little by that sentence, then thinking, hmm, yeah so it's a clump of semen that falls out of a vagina after sex. Sounds like a pretty universally disagreeable facet of heterosexual coitus, rule 34 notwithstanding. Hell, it's the sort of concept that Dan Savage might find a politician's name fitting for, in the right scenario.

Had Bering just written up a paragraph explaining this, we wouldn't be talking about his insane screed.
posted by condour75 at 5:57 AM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Excuse me, Miss, that mountain you just made out of that molehill over there? It's not big enough. Christ, you'd better let me make the mountain bigger, just to be sure."
posted by chrominance at 6:01 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bering's response... The guy has never been exposed to a flame war in his life, has he? I mean, that smartass misandry crack was straight out of the 1996 Usenet Follies. The lurkers support him in e-mail!
posted by sldownard at 6:06 AM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow! what a major over reaction. And in such florid prose. Bering's style is so over the top that he does indeed come across as unhinged. But then I guess I always associate the word "Science" with dispassionate and analytical.


I completely agree with the assessment by kyrademon. However I want also want to point out something else that did not sit well with me in Bering's response column.
Several studies have demonstrated that while many people are reluctant to call themselves feminists, they nevertheless agree with the feminist ideal of political, social and economic equality of the sexes. Seriously, what decent person, male or female, wouldn’t want to be a feminist by these basic standards? Unfortunately, the “F” word has become high-jacked by Nagoski and her sanctimonious ilk, and it’s become a term loaded with negative stereotypes of the kind exemplified by her sour and overly vigilant, accusatory, men-are-brutes outlook on life.
And he goes on to site the results from a 2009 hidden bias study.

I don't agree that people have hidden biases against the label "feminist" solely because of "sour and overly vigilant, accusatory women." I think a much greater damage to the term has been the very loud, very militant backlash-- exemplified by the use of the label "femnazi" by Limbaugh. Conservatives have been using the word "Feminist" as a term of disparagement for so long, that many people react in a predictably negative way when reading or hearing the word. Through the 80's and 90's you had to be a pretty brave person to call yourself a feminist unapologetically, but I am heartened to see many young women embracing that term wholeheartedly today.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:08 AM on July 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


You're all disgusting.
posted by grobstein at 6:48 AM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Bering's reply is deeply deranged and inappropriate.

Yup. I agree with those who say Nagoski has the better of the exchange. And this is a shitty post; next time, keep your blatant prejudices out of it.
posted by languagehat at 7:09 AM on July 23, 2010


Eh, that's really an incorrect interpretation of what the poster was saying, when 6550 wrote "Women get shit about their vaginas being icky and gross from pretty early on." he or she was obviously including the fluid aspect (and probably menstruation, etc)

Including yes, but not specifically referring only to that. So when you spouted this:

And people are specifically talking about what you so charmingly refer to as "the snot" -- the various fluids that come out of vagina, not the shape.


That would be wrong. It was referring to vagina in general which is what I said. The disingenuous manner in which every point is being argued here is disheartening. When you come to see that I am correct, just fucking drop it instead of pretending you were making the opposite point.

This wasn't collected days later, that's just something furiousxgeorge made up ex nihilo


No, this quote is what making shit up looks like. I didn't say it was collected days later, I said the scientists were examining it days later. They didn't personally put beakers up to the vagina of the women so why the fuck would they be disgusted by the process.


2) Nagoski writes 300-word critique focusing on, well ... a really fairly unimportant and odd thing to single out, which makes her come off as missing the forest for a shrub -- especially since the shrub in question was probably a fairly harmless joke.

3) Bering LOSES IT and fires back a 2500-word poorly-written screed in reply, which makes him come off as overreacting, thin-skinned, and kind of loony.

4) Nagoski writes short, fairly reasonable response to screed, which explains her positions better and makes her sound much more reasonable than she did at first.


Neither of them comes off as absolutely stellar here, but if this is a sanity competition or a reaonableness competition, Nagoski is winning it in a walk.


Saying he is acting unprofessionally because of his sexual orientation is totally not losing it at all, am I right? If the other side of the debate using that tactic was Glenn Beck instead of a feminist I have very little doubt that part of the whole thing wouldn't be white washed and ignored.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:13 AM on July 23, 2010


My blog has been commended as being strongly vaginal, which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:18 AM on July 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't agree that people have hidden biases against the label "feminist" solely because of "sour and overly vigilant, accusatory women." I think a much greater damage to the term has been the very loud, very militant backlash-- exemplified by the use of the label "femnazi" by Limbaugh. Conservatives have been using the word "Feminist" as a term of disparagement for so long, that many people react in a predictably negative way when reading or hearing the word.

Hear, hear!!

Calling yourself a feminist can be like calling yourself a Christian -- do YOU believe that Jews should be tortured into conversion? But TORQUEMADA did, and HE was a Christian, so you must think so, TOO!

What makes me sad are all the comments on SciAm "defending" Bering by making the usual inaccurate claims about feminism that reveal the writers' own lack of self-awareness and/or willingness to educate themselves.
posted by jfwlucy at 8:15 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, both of them lost it.
I've bookmarked Bering In Mind but will skip Nagoski's blog.
posted by lahersedor at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2010


With practice, females can recognize the sensation of the beginning of flowback and can collect the material by squatting over a 250 ml glass beaker.

I'm sorry, if any group can write this in a non-clinical article and resist the urge to express some mild disgust at some point, then they either have a very pragmatic view of the world, they are just really OK with their bodies, or they have some sort of fetish for this sort of thing. I have no doubt there are people watching videos of this sort of thing, and perhaps having said fluids dripped on them, somewhere in the world at this very minute.

Really, I wish such drippings on both writers at the minute, since their ranting was uncalled for.
posted by mikeh at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2010


females can recognize the sensation of the beginning of flowback and can collect the material by squatting over a 250 ml glass beaker

I hope someone did a risk assessment for this.
posted by biffa at 8:42 AM on July 23, 2010


Nagoski offended me with her "blatant flinching gynophobia, must be gay!" equivalence, but Bering came across as such an insufferable jerk (with evidently maaaaajor rage issues) that it was hard to stay mad at her for very long.

And ..... Bering? The next time you drag Genet into it, you might wanna remember that he was an infinitely more controlled (and concise) writer than you were in that reply.

I disagree with DZack that Nagoski's reply to Bering's reply was not "even really worth reading."
posted by blucevalo at 8:45 AM on July 23, 2010


The weird thing is that when I read Nagoski's original post I didn't really get her point at all. I rather just dismissed it. Then I read Bering's response ("go stuff it up that hole of yours"?), and his other article "Why girls are so cruel to each other" which spewed highly misogynistic evo psycho all over my unprepared brain and I'm starting to think that while Nagoski could have explained her point a LOT better, her intuition was right on. And in her final response, whether you agree or not, she at least sounds like a normal person who can respond to critique in a reasoned manner.
posted by Danila at 9:02 AM on July 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


This all supports my 8yo self's unified theory of GURLS R GROSS.

...Since refuted by my adult self.
posted by LordSludge at 9:03 AM on July 23, 2010


DZack, I just want to thank you for introducing me to Emily Nagoski's blog. It's quite fascinating. Of note: not ever, LUGs, fluidity and what I got wrong about LUGs.
posted by zarq at 9:49 AM on July 23, 2010


I think that Nagoski made a mucus mountain out of a semen molehill. I suspect that Bering would also not want to collect semen out of my ass after I get fucked. Does that make him anti-asshole? Or just fairly normal? Let's face it, even for the vast majority of gay men, semen is a lot less interesting once it's left the tap, so to speak.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:09 AM on July 23, 2010


two day old conjealed anything is pretty gross

A counterexample.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:27 AM on July 23, 2010


Ok, ok, ok. Yes, Nagoski blew up over pretty much nothing.

But.

The vigour with which Bering champions the much-debated field of evolutionary psychology should raise some red flags here.

The fact is that much of what I see reported on evolutionary psych is a whole bunch of just-so stories where the cart is fully before the horse. Most of these so-called studies use tiny samples of undergrad-aged, well-educated and reasonably well-off North Americans to essentially "prove" a foregone conclusion. A conclusion usually based in modern biased views of human sexuality and gender issues.

Now, I wouldn't go out of my way to praise various mucous membranes, regardless of where they came from, and I'm a man who loves getting down (if you know what I mean, and I think you do.) I'm reasonably certain my partner feels the same way. Time and place, right? And a lab working on days-old active-cell biomass is decidedly not the place.

Come on, Nagoski! This is work, not art! I'll sing the praises of stained sheets with you any day of the week, but beakers of cruft described as nauseating is a reasonable way to humorously present this sort of work. Sheesh.

Some times I think these no-wave feminist kids need a refresher course. Feminism is not (just) bad poetry about the power of the vagina.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:16 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Both of them are idiots. One for her response to the original article, the other for his response to that response. Thread. Done.
posted by wierdo at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2010


I hope this turns into an arms race of who likes which mucus more. From Nagoski:

“Maybe I should write a poem to fluids, dribbling, oozing, leaking, smelly, sticky, stain-the-sheets sex juice. Help everyone appreciate their beauty and wonder”
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 12:18 PM on July 23, 2010


Hey! An argument on the internet! Everybody look!
posted by Xoebe at 12:34 PM on July 23, 2010


I was thinking about the Judeo-Christian tradition of calling women "unclean." Under Jewish law a woman must take a ritual bath after menses is finished in order to become clean enough to enter the temple. There is another ritual bath some weeks (depending on the sex of the child) required after childbirth. This became translated in the Christian religion as "Churching of women."

The disgust with menstruation has been perpetuated by ad campaigns for "feminine hygiene products"
the menstrual product industry has employed a three-fold marketing strategy that remains remarkably unchanged almost 100 years later, though its methods may vary: medicalize menstruation as a problematic bodily function; emphasize the importance of hygiene (menstruation as "dirty"); and stress the potential for embarrassment ostensibly inherent in menstruation itself.
The vagina is a dark, mysterious cave and what comes out of it is uncanny and frightening.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:53 PM on July 23, 2010


Wow. I've enjoyed several of Bering's columns in the past but boy howdy, what an asshole.
posted by rusty at 1:54 PM on July 23, 2010


(Also, that screed really really reads like the result of something he already had a huge bee in his bonnet about, and was overjoyed to get an opportunity to write. No way was it anywhere near proportional to the mild little blog post that purportedly provoked it. So, dude seeks platform to expose feminists for the horrible misandrist ("I HAS TO LOOKS IT UP HURF DURF!") bitches they are, dude finds platform to expose same.)
posted by rusty at 1:57 PM on July 23, 2010


Related: on "moist."
posted by grobstein at 3:28 PM on July 23, 2010


The whole piece is about spermThe whoThe whole piece is about spermle piece is about spermThe whole pieThe wholeThe whole piece is about sperm piece is about spermce is about spermThe wholeThThe whole piece is about sperme whole piece is about sperm piece is abThe whole piecThe wholeThe wThe whole piece is about spermhole piece is about sperm piece is about sperme is about spermout sperm
posted by nola at 4:13 PM on July 23, 2010


Personally, I like the "logical" leap that disliking vaginal discharges automatically means disliking females.

As for the "who is a worse person", I think Nagoski's bringing up teh gay wins the prize here.
posted by gjc at 5:54 PM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, delmoi, you are certainly correct that it could have been frozen. However, it didn't come out of either party (man or woman) frozen and in petri dishes. That's kind of a distraction from the argument at hand, and also a really odd thing to visualize (OOOOHHH i'm so COOOLLLLLD!) So let's agree that we're not talking about frozen sperm samples here. We are instead talking about Bering explicitly (or even implicitly for the love of God) saying that women are gross and so is their discharge.
Right. Whether or not it's gross is gross on it's own is one thing but there's no reason to call it "days old" and "decaying" just to make it sound worse.
That would be wrong. It was referring to vagina in general which is what I said.
You weren't the one making the reference, you were responding to someone who brought it up, and obviously "vagina in general" includes the fluids that come out of it, which is mostly what people mean when they say vaginas are gross.
No, this quote is what making shit up looks like. I didn't say it was collected days later, I said the scientists were examining it days later. They didn't personally put beakers up to the vagina of the women so why the fuck would they be disgusted by the process.
What you said was that they were examining 'decaying, days old" samples, implying that they had just been sitting around for a while instead of preserved, trying to make it sound even grosser for no reason.
posted by delmoi at 8:13 PM on July 23, 2010


"I was thinking about the Judeo-Christian tradition of calling women "unclean.""

Well, a hell of a lot more than the vagina was considered unclean in the Judeo-Christian tradition. I mean, anything semen might have touched was considered unclean until purified, too.

While women may have gotten the short end of that particular stick in the popular christian mind through ages, the canon is pretty equal-opportunity in its definition of who gets to be unclean, and what they have to do to purify themselves.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:52 AM on July 24, 2010


the canon is pretty equal-opportunity in its definition of who gets to be unclean,

Oh really? Name something that happens to almost all men every month that renders them unclean. Plus, I feel pretty strongly that the birth of a child-- a gift from God, mind you-- is miraculous event that should be celebrated, not rendering the woman unfit to enter the church or temple.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:50 AM on July 24, 2010


Name something that happens to almost all men every month that renders them unclean.

Read Leviticus, please. Any man with an "issue" coming from his flesh is considered equally unclean as a woman during her time of the month. The prohibitions are nearly equivalent. This is usually considered a reference to male masturbation and 'nocturnal emissions' but can also be translated as a seeping or infected flesh wound

Of course, menstruation / nocturnal emissions and leaking flesh wounds are not something that occur in men on a regular once a month schedule. But (in Judaism at least,) there is something of an equivalence to how both men and women are treated when their bodily fluids are expelled by the body involuntarily. I can't speak to how Christians perceive these passages. They don't generally follow traditional Jewish rituals or beliefs accurately.

I'm fully aware of the stigma that is placed on women's menstruation in modern (and some ancient) societies. But this isn't a good example of that.
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on July 24, 2010


I should probably also mention that this is only my understanding of that section of the Talmud. I'm not an expert, by any means.
posted by zarq at 9:11 AM on July 24, 2010


Plus, I feel pretty strongly that the birth of a child-- a gift from God, mind you-- is miraculous event that should be celebrated, not rendering the woman unfit to enter the church or temple.

Also.. this is due solely to the bleeding which occurs during and after childbirth. It's clearly not a criticism of women in general, nor is it some sort of a vilification of childbirth. Again, this is made clear in Leviticus.

The Talmudic definition of "unclean" is not some sort of meta criticism of women and childbirth in the manner I think you're implying.
posted by zarq at 9:20 AM on July 24, 2010


P.S. if I were this guy's editor, I would have refused to publish his follow up column to save him embarrassment.
posted by kalessin at 4:58 AM


I salute you for this insight, kalessin.

One which completely eluded me, by the way. Based on it, I think the editor in chief has decided to let Bering solve the problem he represents for her by getting out of the way as he self-destructs. And he seems determined to oblige.
posted by jamjam at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2010


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