Friday Fluff – February 18th, 2011

By Razib Khan | February 18, 2011 4:53 am


1) First, a post from the past: A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind.

2) Weird search query of the week: “pictures of a famous woman drinking alcohol.”

3) Comment of the week, in response to D.I.Y. population structure inference, part 1 of many. I won’t quote it since it has a lot of links, but aesthetic suggestions for bar plots which I’ll probably take to heart.

4) And finally, your weekly fluff fix:

MORE ABOUT: Friday Fluff
  • Brett Stevens

    That kitty critter appears to be immersed in the sleep of the innocent. We should all be so lucky.

  • Katharine

    This is a sort of half-jokey, half-serious question:

    Why don’t male Muslims wear hijab? (I think they should because otherwise it’s a silly double standard.)

    I, a female atheist, think the fact that only one sex of Muslims wears hijab is very funny.

  • EcoPhysioMichelle

    Oh, what the hell, I’ll take a shot in the dark at that one:

    1) Men have a degree of agency that women don’t.
    2) Masculinity is considered the default and therefore it isn’t necessary to cover it.
    3) Perhaps like in many cultures, men are considered more vulnerable to sin (and therefore lust) than women are.

    etc etc. If you think it is so silly for women to be required to wear a headscarf, think about how many places in the USA it is illegal for a woman to walk around topless but the same isn’t true for a man. That is equally silly. (I’m not implying that you wouldn’t think it’s silly, I’m just saying that this sort of double standard certainly isn’t the monopoly of muslims.)

  • Razib Khan

    #3 is the one i’ve heard. women are objects of lust from men, as it is their nature, so they need to be modest. sometimes people who are muslim do poke fun at the double standard. women can look at men, but not vice versa. the hijab is not nearly as big of a deal IMO as full-garbage-bag garb. covering one’s head is not that uncommon across many cultures for both sexes no matter the rationale (hats?), but face covering is usually more exceptional. tuareg men do so.

  • Katharine

    Michelle, Razib, I know defacto that these appear to be the usual reasons from the outside.

    I never got the ‘dudes are more immature and more likely to do dumb shit therefore women take responsibility’ thing, though. It’s as if the religious figures, who are basically 100% male, are implying that they are mentally still teenagers.

    Probably a dumb question to ask, but I was feeling pensive and a bit snarky this morning. Perhaps the next time on campus I’ll put a sticky note on the Muslim Students Association board, because I’m an asshole that way.

  • Razib Khan

    It’s as if the religious figures, who are basically 100% male, are implying that they are mentally still teenagers.

    kind of. though often the bearded ones imply women are temptresses.

  • Sandgroper

    “mentally still teenagers” – We are. I am. The women were having a belly-dancing class in the aerobics room this morning while I was doing weight training (s0me fool of an architect put a full-length window betweem the aerobics room and the gym), and I was so distracted I dropped a 20 kg dumbell on my finger. Twice. Same finger.

    If you want to see something really funny/totally irrational, go to Brunei Darussalam. All of the young girls, and I mean all, wear skimpy little T-shirts and skin tight shorts or jeans, and hijabs. I kind of get it, but it still strikes me as funny.

  • Sandgroper

    Further, there was that wretched Egyptian Imam in Sydney who referred to Australian girls as “raw meat”, and others have implied pretty directly that they bring rape upon themselves – i.e. men are incapable of sexual control, hence if women don’t wear the garbage bag deal they are responsible for what happens to them. That’s the part that I take really strong exception to, to the point of thinking that people who make such public statements are inciting violent sexual crime against women and should be locked up.

    I find the south-east Asian style hijab as worn in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei etc to be totally harmless and actually rather attractive as a fashion accessory, particularly when paired with a nice outfit.We had an Indonesian girl living with us who had a range of hijbs in different colours that she would match or contrast to her going-out outfits in a very arrractive manner. I would never see any ground for banning it – I think the French secular schools thingwas a bitof a special case. When I was a small child and my mother took me to town on the bus, she and all the other ladies always wore hats or scarves, stockings and carried gloves , and wore high heel shoes, which my daugher considers a form of torture designed to please men’s sexual interests (they make your bum stick out) and not far short of foot binding. In a climate where the summer temperature regularly exceeds 42 Celsius, that was more of an imposition than a simple and functional hijab, which is no more of an imposition than the scarves that my mother used to wear in the French style of the time.

    As a little boy of 4 years old, I regularly used to travel to town on the bus with my mother, and a lot of the other ladies on the bus would be openly breast feeding their babies during the journey. No one found that remotely offensive. Now in the same city a woman who discreetly tries to feed her baby under cover of a blanket is objected to by other partons, and told to either do it in the women’s toilet or leave the cafe and go elsewhere.

    I’m not clear on when the perfectly harmless and rather touching sight of a woman feeding her child became connotated with some sort of sexual display and became morally reprehensible to the extent that it has become highly distasteful and requires her immediate removal, but I’d say the society that takes that view has lost the plot, and has no grounds to object to a simple attractive head scarf, particularly when the woman wearing the scar is adamant that she is doing it because she wants to, not because she is forced to by the patriarchy.

  • Katharine

    I’m not clear on when the perfectly harmless and rather touching sight of a woman feeding her child became connotated with some sort of sexual display and became morally reprehensible to the extent that it has become highly distasteful and requires her immediate removal

    ‘Cause she’s showing her boobies!

    But seriously, though, Sandgroper, when you refer to your mishap on account of the belly-dancing women, that was sort of an involuntary action that required little thought and was more of a ‘lost control of your muscle coordination’ problem, probably similar to an erection – which does not harm anyone except, perhaps, prudish old ladies who get the vapors; the erection is presumably not poking into anyone’s orifice. When someone makes the decision to rape a woman, that presumably takes considerably more voluntary action and probably involves a certain amount of choice.

  • Sandgroper

    Well yeah, sure. Actually, I train to ‘failure’, which really means nervous system failure, so the muscles are literally incapable of performing another single repetition of that exercise. At that point I’ve lost fine motor control, and it takes concentration and an effort to place the dumbels accurately back on the rack in a controlled manner without getting a finger caught under one of them.

    I just thought being distracted by belly dancing ladies enough to drop one twice in the same place was evidence of a kind of juvenile subsconcious reaction. I mean, you know when you’re moving a 20 kg lump of steel around one-handed and with diminished muscle control it requires care and concentration.

    On the other hand, few things can have been more deliberately designed to distract males and capture their attention as the broad group of dances under the ‘belly dance’ umbrella – they’re really a statement like “Hey boys, look what I got and what I can do with it”. Yes, I know modern ladies do them for exercise benefits, but the fact remains – I have do doubt it’s a liberating and fun experience for the women who do it. These ladies were having fun, no question.

    None of that has anything to do with rape. It has to do with evil lust-inducing females (I’m obviously joking here) seducing ‘innocent males’ because they are the weaker sex when it comes to seduction. The dances grouped under belly dancing probably started as tribal fertility dances.

    Whatever, they’re evidently very fitness inducing and good exercise for the abdominal muscles :) I still think aerobics and weight training will get them there faster and in a more ‘whole body’ manner.

  • Katharine

    Belly dancing is probably more fun than aerobics and weight training, though.

  • Sandgroper

    I don’t know, it looks extremely difficult, at least the way that Didem Kinali does it. But then, I’ve seen a few references claiming she’s the best in the world. I don’t doubt it.

    She’s Roma. I wouldn’t mind seeing her on a PCA plot.

  • Katharine

    Anyway, my point is there’s a big difference between involuntarily dropping a dumbbell and rape.

  • Sandgroper

    I agree with your point 100%.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar