15 March 2012

Critical thinking and skepticism are for women too

Pick up any random women’s magazine and you are almost guaranteed to find a prettily illustrated astrology section. Men’s magazines in contrast rarely have a ‘masculine’-looking equivalent to Cosmopolitan’s sorbet-coloured horoscopes. It’s as if the belief in astronomy’s nonsensical doppelganger is essentially feminine, like lipstick and pencil skirts. Do magazine publishers presume that men are too sensible to buy into the touchy-feely mysticism of star signs?

This common stereotyping of women as being more intuitive, more emotional, more irrational than men is not only grossly inaccurate, but also harmful to the cause of gender equality. It sends out the message that reason and critical thinking are the preserve of the logical male. Women, meanwhile, can go channel their inner Goddess and connect with the Sacred Feminine while the men get on with becoming scientists, engineers and humourless skeptics.

Thankfully we have awesome female skeptics and rationalists like the ladies at Skepchick. Amy Davis Roth argues that skepticism is a gender-neutral worldview that, unlike faux-feminist mysticism, truly empowers women by giving them thinking skills that enable them to gain real knowledge. As Davis Roth writes to a Skepchick reader:

Don’t let superstition and the stereotypical roles of women influence your ability to understand reality and to educate yourself. Rise up, continue to speak up and fight back against the flood of anti-intellectualism and ignorance.

Davis Roth also smacks down the ridiculous idea that skepticism and the scientific method are ‘privileged’ worldviews that deny the validity of other ways of understanding reality. You’ll just have to read her post to witness her argument in all its acerbic glory. It’s a thing of beauty.


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